Light: Homily for Monday, September 25, 2017

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Readings for today

Today’s gospel appears to state the obvious.  A lamp is not good if it is unseen.  If it gives off no light, it is no good. This seems more than obvious.  Of course.  But when we think about the light of faith, do we share that, or hide it? Do we want others to leave darkness behind? Or do we want to leave them in darkness?

It is only when we see faith as a light the end of the gospel makes sense.  Of course, when people receive faith, they get more when they believe.  Of course, people lose what little faith they have when they do not believe. But as Saint Paul reminds us, if people are not able to share the light, how are they to believe?

Sharing: Homily for Sunday, September 24, 2017

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Readings for Today

Do you want everyone to be saved? And if so, what does it mean? When we are saved by Jesus, are we then obligated to be sharing this gift with others? Today’s gospel is not primarily about economic theory or cost-benefit analysis. While I readily admit I am one who wishes that the first workers got more, we miss the point of the story when we reduce it to wages and work.

This is about salvation.  As the Gentiles were also experiencing salvation, as the Jewish people outside the law were experiencing salvation, there were some who were angry.  How can these newcomers be receiving the same as me? How can those who abandoned the Law now be received into a relationship with God? If Jesus has changed our lives, genuinely and sincerely, we should want to share it.  So, imitate the vineyard owner and get more workers.

Failing to Grow: Homily for Saturday, September 23, 2017

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Readings for Today

I am one of those who was a little sceptical of the sanctity of Saint Padre Pio.  There seemed to be a lot of questions for me, and for the Church, around the authenticity of his holiness.  But what could not be denied was the way in which Padre Pio led people to God.  And is not that the definition of a saint? One who is so holy the witness of life leads people to God?

Today’s gospel is a familiar one.  We have likely heard it many times.  And we may even have tried to find ways to prove to ourselves that the soil of our soul is the one that produces 100-fold.  But is it true? Do not I have to consider my scepticism as a potential way in which the seed, the Word of God, misses my heart?

Compete for the Faith: Homily for Friday, September 22, 2017

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Readings for Today

Today’s first reading could easily describe the current climate in our country.  How many feel envy, rivalry, insults, evil suspicions, and mutual friction? How often do we hear insulting words about positions that we do not share? It is much easier to shame than it is to argue convincingly for the truth.

And yet this is contrary to the way in which Jesus gathered disciples.  And thankfully Saint Paul outlines the types of things we should be pursuing.  Pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. This does, however, require trust, not in money, wealth or any other thing, but trust in a person, namely Jesus Christ.

Faith, Not Philosophy: Homily for Tuesday, September 12, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

There are some people who are very clever.  They speak eloquently. We might even admire what they say.  But we can never confuse this with faith.  Faith is not always about the right words, smart thought, or philosophy. Faith is faith.  It is about believing and trusting in God.

This philosophical approach was used by Paul.  But it was not successful.  That is because faith is about a personal relationship with Jesus.  It is not simply about thinking, or “cleverly concocted myths”, but is about allowing Jesus into our lives and hearts.

This is what I think: I am a racist, and you might be too

I am a racist.  There, I said it.  Admitting to being a racist is not something I say with pride.  I am not proud.  But many decades ago I learned about my racism, my prejudice.  And I must confront the racism that lives within me.

I remember the first time I realized I was a racist.  It was an occasion when I was the only white person in a supermarket filled with black people.  For the first time in my life I was a minority.  And I was afraid.  Not because anyone was speaking badly to me, or yelling at me, or following me around the store.  In fact, everyone else did not even notice me, because they were busy shopping.

I was afraid only because the other people around me were all black.  There is no other way to put it.  And while it was decades ago, that experience shaped me profoundly.  It resulted in an awareness that I needed to confront my prejudice.  I had to admit it existed.  Prejudice was not something “out there” but rather was something within me.

And I think of this prejudice when I read about events around the world and close to home.  I remind myself of this experience when I get angry at others for acting differently than I do.  I remind myself of this experience when I feel helpless against events out of my control.

A couple of days ago I stumbled across a video that posed a question: What is it like to be you? The question has gotten me to think a lot.  I should admit I do not know what it is like to be people that are different from me.

As I look at what is going on around the world, I realize how little I know about what it is like to be someone else.  I do not know what it is like to live on a Caribbean island that might be months without power because of multiple hurricanes.  I do not know what it is like to have my house completely flooded.  I do not know what it is like for the land around my house, and perhaps my house too, to be destroyed by a raging forest fire I can do nothing to prevent.

I do not know what it is like to be a victim of crime. I do not know what it is like to be at war, or in war. I do not know what it is like to be a refugee, forced to flee my home because of evil ISIS, with nowhere to go. I do not know what it is like to live in a country with limited freedom, where speaking against the government might get me thrown in jail or worse.

I do not know what it is like to be pulled over by police for no reason, asked what I am doing in a neighborhood in which I do not belong. I do not know what it is like to be in jail. I do not know what it is like to be black, Hispanic, Asian, Muslim or Arab.

I do not know what it is like to be a cop.  I do not know what it is like to put my life on the line every single time I put on the uniform or go to work.  I do not know what it is like to be homeless.  I do not know what it is like to be without work.  There is simply a lot I simply do not know when it comes to the lives of others.

But I wonder what my life would be like if I did. I have celebrated Mass, heard confessions and listened to those in jail.  I have spent time listening and getting to know people who are homeless. I know personally those who were given hope by DACA, only to be worried now it will be taken away. I know more than a few people who have witnessed someone get shot.  I heard from people who got help for a man shot right outside their door.

I do not know what to make of the last few days in Saint Louis.  I have come to love living here.  I am glad my Dominican priory is in the city of Saint Louis.  I like Saint Louis.  I can honestly call it home.

At the same time, I am not naïve.  Like many major cities, and like many small towns, there is in Saint Louis and elsewhere a history of racism.  And I am not naïve.  Racism is still alive and well.  In a small way, I make it so.

While I get angry about broken store front windows, and feel sad for the small business owners who own these small businesses, I must remember that often I am not aware of the broken windows that are part of other areas of the city in which I live. I must remember the unequal education that comes from different schools.  Because I must remember I choose to live with people who are just like me.  And all too often, so do you.

When I get angry about the way the police are treated, I must remember that I have never been pulled over without cause, like other people have experienced. I have never been asked why I am driving in a certain area, because I do not belong there.

When I hear about how people were treated badly by the police, I must remember the many cops I know who risk their lives daily for the safety and well-being of the communities they serve.  I must remember they are people who put their lives on the line every single day. I must remember that often they are heroes.

I must remember that life is not either-or, but both-and.  How often do I fail to listen to another point of view because I do not like it? If there is a sadness I feel for my city, my country, and the world, it is that all too often the other is seen only as an enemy.

I must remember that I can be both afraid of other people and see them as another Christ. I must remember that it is too easy to leap to conclusions without knowing the facts. I must remember that it is easier to disagree with someone by relegating their opinion to extreme mocking and insults.  I must remember how in the short term it is easier to make enemies than friends.

But I also must remember that with the prejudices that live within me so does the Christ.  That I can be filled with the Holy Spirit, and not a spirit of vengeance.  I must remember to seek to understand why people get so angry they destroy.  I must remember to seek to understand people who are afraid, and want greater border security to feel safe. I must remember the fundamental belief that everyone, every person, everywhere, regardless of who they are and where they live and what they look like, that everyone, regardless, is made in the image and likeness of God, and has a dignity that comes from God.

I pray I am less racist today than I was those decades ago when being a minority made me afraid.  I pray that realizing how I have never really been a minority, I cannot know what so many minorities feel and experience in their lives, often every day.  I pray for the grace to confront the prejudice, the racism, the evil that still resides too often in what I say and do.  And I pray that others can do the same.

The Action of the Holy Spirit: Homily for Wednesday, September 13, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Saint John Chrysostom.  The Golden Tongue.  But not such an easy person to live with.  For preachers, today reminds us that it is rarely, if ever, about us.  It is about the Holy Spirit.  And the temptation is to think, as preachers, that if we can just be a little more clever, a little more clear, we too will have great success with the people of God.

But the ultimate goal of any preaching is to foster a deeper connection between us and Jesus.  And this is the role of the Holy Spirit.  We can never forget that.  As preachers, a homily is about the action of the Holy Spirit.

Unlikely Choice: Homily for Thursday, September 21, 2017

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Readings for Today

The choice must have raised eyebrows.  There was clearly grumbling.  People talked about it. There was grumbling.  After all, he was a tax collector.  He hung out with the wrong crowd.  He was beyond hope, wasn’t he? This becomes clear when we read today’s gospel.  Matthew was an unlikely choice to be an apostle.  But Jesus called him.  And Matthew followed.

Who is it we write off as beyond salvation? Who do we grumble against? In what way do we believe there are people who are too evil to be saved by Jesus? How is it we limit the power of Jesus?  Because when we believe that there are people who cannot follow Jesus, who cannot be saved, then we believe that Jesus is not powerful enough to change hearts.  And in doing that, we deny Jesus the chance to change our hearts.

Unsatisfied: Homily for Wednesday, September 20, 2017

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Readings for Today

Have you noticed the excitement any time Apple announces something new? I face the challenge of being tempted by something new.  I am not satisfied.  It seems that regardless of the circumstance, I want something more, something better, something new.  There simply never seems to be a moment where I can be satisfied.

But this is not something new.  Saint Augustine said as much centuries ago. “You move us to delight in praising You; for You have formed us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in You.” Because all of the moments of dissatisfaction have one thing in common:  they do not have anything to do with God.  And only in God can our hearts be truly at rest.

Despair to Hope: Homily for Tuesday, September 19, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for today

Today we encounter a woman who is understandably in the depths of despair.  Her son is dead, and to make matters worse, she is a widow.  This parent must face the death of her son alone. Can there be any greater heartache to a parent than to lose their child? I cannot think of one. I bet most parents cannot think of one, either.

And yet, in the height of her sadness and loss, she encounters Jesus.  And as Jesus always does, Jesus brings life.  Sometimes in moments like today’s gospel, he does so in an easily observable way.  At other times, it is in the challenge that might mean initial sadness before receiving life.  Regardless, today we are all reminded that Jesus is the author and source of life.  Let Jesus raise life in you.