Remember: Homily for Monday, August 21, 2017

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Readings for Today

It can be easy to forget all that God has done for us.  We do not remember all of the times God has shown love or mercy.  We quickly forget those times where grace filled our hearts.  This is the state of affairs in the first reading.  People have quickly forgotten the promise made to serve the Lord and to reject evil. In fact, even the judges appointed to lead them forget too.  The people worship other Gods.  They choose not to follow the commandments.

In our own lives too, we can find ourselves rejecting God despite all God does for us.  Each day the stark choice to follow or reject God is before us. Every day we can follow God, receive grace and grow in faith.  Or, every day we can choose to reject God and go our own way.  But our faith tells us rejecting God is not without consequences.  God wants to pour out to us his love, mercy, and grace.  When we reject God, we receive those consequences of our choices where we receive death and destruction.  Ask God for an open heart.  Choose God.

Choice: Homily for Saturday, August 19, 2017

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Readings for Today

There comes a time in our lives, perhaps many times, where we must choose God or reject God.  It is the case that God profoundly respects our freedom.  And so God does not force us to follow him.  Rather, God seeks to give us the grace and persuasion to choose to follow him.  Today Joshua puts this choice before the people.

This is the choice: follow God or reject God.  Serve God or serve ourselves. Be open to grace or harden your heart. What will you do? What will you choose? Today, choose God, serve God, love God.  You will not be sorry.

 

Mercy: Homily for Friday, August 18, 2017

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Readings for Today

Once again I am focused on the response to the psalm.  His mercy endures for ever.  This response is so comforting to me.  But packed into this response, especially when considered against the backdrop of the gospel readings of the past few days, is also a challenge.  It will always be true that God’s mercy will last. But it may not be true that I am able to receive it, because of my closed heart.

The readings of the past few days remind us that we must forgive.  It is not that God withholds forgiveness.  Rather, it is the case that our hearts, when we choose not to forgive, are closed to God’s mercy.  To open our hearts, we must seek to be like God.  Even though God’s hatred of sin is just, God’s mercy is given to those who repent.  It can be the case that we do not forgive the actions of others because we find those actions in our own lives.  We commit these sins.  By forgiving, and prayer for the grace to forgive, we open our hearts wider to receive God.

 

Fire: Homily for the 19th Week, August 16, 2017

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Readings for Today

I had a little bit of a challenge when I took a psychological test called the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, or the MMPI for short.  The test is a long (very long) series of statements that are either marked true of false by the person taking the test. The test is constructed in such a way that it can be determined whether or not someone is trying to lie on the test.  I found one of the questions a challenge.  The sentence read, “I am fascinated by fire.” Well, the truth is, well, yes.  Yes, I am fascinated by fire.  But would the test scorer read too much into this? While I am fascinated by a campfire or a fire in a fireplace, I am not fascinated by a building fire.  I have no interest in arson.

The response to the psalm today mentions being filled with fire.  Fire is a powerful image of faith.  There is the fire at the Easter Vigil.  Saint Catherine of Siena said that if we became what we were created to be we would set the world on fire.  When looking at a campfire, we realize its complexity.  There is an interesting chemical process in a fire.  There are many different temperatures.  There are many different chemicals.  There is a power in fire.  And today we realize the same is true for us when we experience the fire of faith in our soul.

 

Fear and Faith: Homily for the Memorial of Saint Maximillian Kolbe, August 14, 2017

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Readings for Today

Would you volunteer to die for another? This is not an easy answer.  The idealist in each of us would probably like to say yes.  But would we? I do not know whether I could summon the courage to die for someone else.  But it is also the case that I really do not know.  Would being thrust into such a situation change me? Would the reception of God’s grace make a difference?

Today we celebrate Saint Maximillian Kolbe, a Franciscan priest who offered to take the place of another at Auschwitz.  He was an interesting man.  With a doctorate in theology, he taught in seminary.  He had a powerful experience of the Blessed Virgin as a teenager which guided his life and predicted his martyrdom.  He was a missionary.  He battled tuberculosis throughout his life.  He was a radio broadcaster.  He resisted the Nazis.  And he was martyred for saving a man with a wife and children at Auschwitz.  Could he have imagined all God could have done in his life?  Probably not.  And neither can we.

Power of Faith: Homily for Saturday, August 12, 2017

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Readings for Today

Don’t sell God short.  It can be really easy to give up on God or to think there is a situation that is too hard for God to see us through.  Somehow we can sink to thinking that it is all up to us, and that only we can save ourselves.  Think of the disciples in today’s reading.  They had seen Jesus do all kinds of miracles.  How hard could it be?

Yet they failed.  Why? Because they did not believe.  They did not have faith.  And then Jesus reminds them: if you had even a little bit of faith, you could move mountains.  If we had a little bit of faith, imagine what we could do? We could move mountains.

Thank God: Homily for Memorial of Saint Clare, Friday, August 11, 2017

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Readings for Today

Thank God.  Do you thank God for his wonderful deeds? I remember when I was in the seminary going through a particularly difficult time.  My spiritual director asked me, “Do you thank God for the challenge?”  I must say the thought never occurred to me.  Thank God for something difficult? Who wants to thank God for difficult things?

And yet, think of the first reading today.  Despite the hardships and the complaining, the people thank God.  Think of the marvels they have seen.  They must be grateful. They must, above all else, know that God is God alone.  Because there will be difficult days too.  Jesus reminds us of this in the gospel.  We will have to take up our cross and follow Jesus.  There is nothing that can compare to the worth of our soul.  It is more valuable than anything we could ever acquire.  So whatever you do, do not trade your soul.  Thank God for all he has done.

Sow Bountifully: Homily for Feast of Saint Lawrence, August 10, 2017

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Readings for Today

Be all in.  Don’t hold back.  Give your all to God.  Following God cannot be half-hearted.  It is no accident that the readings provide a picture of faith that requires everything from us.  If we are to reap the spiritual benefits of a relationship with Jesus, we cannot hedge our bets.  We cannot have one foot in the world and one foot in faith.  It does not work that way.

If we are to have a relationship with Jesus that can lead to eternal life, we cannot hold anything back.  We must trust Jesus completely.  The cost of not holding back is high.  Saint Lawrence died for his faith. All over the world people are dying for their Christian faith. But when we are all in, when we are completely giving ourselves to Jesus, we bear much fruit.

Favor: Homily for Wednesday, August 9, 2017

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Readings for Today

Remember us, Lord, as you favor your people. This was the response to the psalm today.  From time to time, I think it can be good to focus on the psalm, as the psalms have long been considered the prayers of Jesus.  The psalms have also been prayed for centuries in Christian life.  They are still the basis of prayer today.  When we speak the words of Jesus in the psalms, we are attentive to the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit teaches us to pray.

And we do well to listen to the Holy Spirit.  We always need God’s favor.  There is never a time when we do not need God.  By asking God to remember us, we remember God.  When we acknowledge God’s favor, we grow in faith.  We all need the grace and understanding of God.  And so, Remember us, Lord, as you favor your people.

A Ghost: Homily for Memorial of Saint Dominic, August 8, 2017

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Readings for Today

How often do you chase the shadow God?  How often do you limit God? Aaron and Miriam refuse to let God act in a way God chooses.  The disciples do not recognize Jesus. They think he is a ghost. All miss the presence of God because of their expectations.  Since God is not who they think he is, God must be wrong.  Aaron and Miriam do not get it.  The disciples finally do.

We have to let God be God. It is not up to us to tell God what to do.  On this feast of Saint Dominic, it seems similar to his time with the Albegensians.  People are going their own way.  The spiritual life does not guide people to happiness. People want God to do what they want.  People do not want to do anymore the will of God.  And yet, God is not stopped.  Moses continues to do the work God gives him.  The disciples learn more and more from Jesus.  If we are to be true to Saint Dominic’s mission, we too need to go forth to preach in a way that lets God be God.