Be prepared: Homily for Friday, September 1, 2017

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Readings for Today

I was only a boy scout for one day.  The meeting time conflicted with religious education classes, and so I was not able to be a boy scout.  I did learn enough that first day, however, to know that being prepared is an important motto.  Boy scouts always make sure they have what they need.  In rain or snow, sun or cold, boy scouts had what they needed.

Being prepared is a good motto for the spiritual life too.  We must always be ready to have whatever it is that Jesus wants to give us. We must be ready for whatever moments he is present.  How do we do this? We do this by being ready in prayer, in the sacraments, at Mass, and in all other ways our prayer life can be strengthened.  And when we do this, it is at those times that we find ourselves prepared.

Sanctifying: Homily for Thursday, August 31, 2017

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Readings for Today

Jesus tells his followers to pray always.  Just how is this done? In the midst of our responsibilities, how can we follow this command? The Church, thankfully, through the saints, and through her liturgies, provides the solution.  There is the prayer known as the “Liturgy of the Hours”, with prayers designed to occur at various moments of the day.  There are websites like the bishops’ website that provide the daily readings.

And then there is the little effort to see that all we do can be seen as a way of praying and sanctifying the day.  Loving actions parents make for the children is a type of sanctification.  Making a meal, working at a job, and other aspects of our daily endeavors can be seen as ways to sanctifying our day.  Hopefully, though, it is by taking a little time in silent prayer that we find the presence of God in our lives.

Persistence: Homily for Wednesday, August 30, 2017

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Readings for Today

It can be difficult to stick with something when it gets hard. We can feel like we want to give up.  The real test of value and importance is when we find a really hard challenge that seems impossible.  And yet, to confront evil, to provide justice, and to stand up for what is right does not come easy.  And what if things do not go well? It gets even harder.

When we think of Christian faith, it can feel like we are all alone in our beliefs.  The world has become secular. People do not value the things they used to value. There seems to be more and more a “live for the moment” mentality.  But as Saint Paul teaches us in their first reading today, hard work pays off.  Persistence is a value.  Staying with something means showing we are committed.  The greatest persistence comes from God’s love for each one of us.  And we can continue because God never gives up on us.

Courage: Homily for Tuesday, August 29, 2017

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Readings for Today

The last few days have called for courage.  There has been tremendous devastation from Hurricane Harvey.  There were the protests in Charlottesville by white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and racists.  There remain instances where standing up for what is right does not come easy.  The sharp moral divisions that exist are not easily overcome.  Rather, we must confront the fear we might face to stand up and speak out.

And today’s memorial of the beheading of John the Baptist remind us that often courage has a high cost.  To challenge the immoral behavior of another does not always lead us to something good or better.  Rather, there can be pain for us.  And as Saint John the Baptist’s life shows, there can be death.  We live in a time where all over the world those who are Christians are being persecuted and killed for their faith.  Yet they still stand up for what is right and true.  Will you?

Not Just Words: Homily for Monday, August 28, 2017

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Readings for Today

Sometimes in reading the bible, the words we read can seem rather ordinary.  In fact, readings might not immediately catch our attention.  But today’s first reading reminds us they are not just words.  Listen carefully to the words of Saint Paul.  “For our Gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.”  Whenever we proclaim the Word of God or pray over, it God speaks. Do you forget the bible is the word of God?

Saint Augustine did.  While today we remember him as a great saint, that was not always true.  Day after day his mother prayed for him.  God heard her prayers.  But it was the action of God that made this possible.  Only God was capable of so influencing Augustine he converted.  The movement of God in our hearts is still available.  God can still influence in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with much conviction.

Love Neighbor: Homily for Saturday, August 26, 2017

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Readings for today

Which commandment is the greatest? That was yesterday’s question.  Remember the answer.  Not just the greatest commandment, but Jesus mentioned the second greatest commandment too.  Today it is clear why Jesus felt compelled to say this.  He discusses the difference between the knowledge of the law, which the Pharisees have, and the application of that knowledge, which they do not have.

Too often this is applied to mean Jesus did not care about the Law.  That was not the case.  Jesus says other times that he has come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets, not do away with them.  So just what does he mean?  He clarifies by his words and actions the purpose of the Law.  The Law is always meant to bring a person closer to God.  So to preach is not just about knowing the Law, but helping others to understand it, to apply it, to live it.  And, it is about accompanying others when they fall, and seeking their forgiveness and understanding when we fall.

Greatest: Homily for Friday, August 25, 2017

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Readings for Today

Teachers, at least good teachers, get asked a lot of questions.  Some they like.  Questions that challenge, or demonstrate insight, or seek clarity or understanding.  Others are not so pleasant.  “Will this be on the test?” probably ranks among the least favorite, although the student who comes back after missing a day of school to ask, “Did we do anything yesterday?” is pretty annoying too.

Why did the man ask Jesus about which commandment was greatest? Why wouldn’t a scholar of the law already know the answer? Perhaps because the question was not really a question at all.  It was an attempt to trip Jesus up by giving an answer that could get Jesus into trouble. But the result was an answer that makes it quite easy to develop a guide for Christian life.  Love God.  Love neighbor.

Relationship: Homily for Feast of Saint Bartholomew, August 24, 2017

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Readings for Today

Have you ever thought about the persons who made you who you are? Who brought you into the faith? How was it that you became a believer in Jesus Christ? Who influenced your core beliefs? Where did you learn and accept the fundamental principles which guide your life?

For many, the primary relationship of faith was their parents.  For others, it might have been a parish priest or a religious sister.  Others may have been inspired by people who served the poor, or who prayed deeply.  In today’s gospel, we see a whole web of relationships that impacted Bartholomew (called Nathaniel in the gospel).  Who brought you to faith? And who is it you bring to Jesus?

Wages: Homily for Wednesday, August 23, 2017

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Readings for Today

This gospel goes against our sense of fairness. The same wages are given to all regardless of work.  Whether for one hour of work, or the whole day, everyone receives the same pay.  How is that fair? Yet the first hired agreed to this at the start. Take the job, get paid the usual daily wage.  The rest were told they would be paid whatever is just.  Or, they were not told at all exactly what they would be paid.  But they all agreed, and they all worked.

Yet I can understand the anger of the workers who had worked all day long.  They could have sat around and waited.  But they needed the job, and they answered the call of the owner of the vineyard for workers.  They were not cheated.  What they resent is the generosity of the landowner.  This is a story about God.  The God we follow is more generous to us than we deserve.  But when we see that generosity of God in the lives of others, we too can be resentful.  We can decide to grumble.  Yet when we truly appreciate the generosity of God, it is then we can rejoice every time God is generous, be it to us or others.

Queenship: Homily for Tuesday, August 22, 2017

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Readings for Today

Last week on Tuesday we celebrated the Assumption of Mary.  Mary did not sin, and so Mary did not receive the consequences of sin.  She did not die. More than that, today we celebrate her high place in heaven.  Mary is our Queen.  She is the queen of all saints.  Her “yes” to God was total.  She did not hold back any part of her will to following God.

What this means for us is a powerful intercessor.  We know Mary can only lead us to Jesus.  It is not possible she leads us astray.  The Eastern Church, in her icons, demonstrates this.  Mary is always pictured with a hand pointing to Jesus.  He is always the center.  Today, may we ask Mary to pray for us, that we too might follow her generous response to God.