Category: Sunday Homilies

Fear: Homily for 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, June 25, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

It is very easy to feel afraid these days.  There are so many violent events in our world. London. Paris. Brussels. Moreover, we read about so much crime.  People getting shot.  Even Congressmen.  If you live in a big city, especially like Chicago or New York, it is not hard to read about crime.  It is always in front of our eyes.  We can be afraid economically.  Will I have a job? Will I be able to afford health insurance? Will my family be ok?

There is also a moral challenge. How hard it is to speak the truth when people do not want to hear it? How hard can it be to stand up for what is right? This is the problem faced by Jeremiah in today’s first reading.  He is being persecuted, even threatened with death, for simply speaking the message God gave him.

And yet, Jeremiah helps us in our fear.  He trusted in God.  So too should we.  While there are certainly many powerful things that cause us to fear, God is more powerful.  God is stronger.  God is indeed more than anything that can be thrown into our way.  Often, it can be that when we give into this fear, and act from it, that we make our worst decisions.  We need to remember the words of Saint Paul, who assures us that the love of God is more powerful than anything we can imagine.

Reality: Homily for the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, June 18, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

The readings today take great pains to reinforce a particularly important type of reality.  When we think of real, we often think, or many people think, of the scientific world, based upon observation and fact.  And while this is a good and noble way to learn about truth, the way things are, it is not the only way.  There is another type of reality, a way of seeing that equally seeks the truth.  And often these truths are the higher level truths, because they are the truths that do not rest on human reason (though they are reasonable) but upon the spiritual revelation of God which is always real and true, and will always be real and true.

What we celebrate today is just such a truth.  There is with the Eucharist what we see — the host and the wine — and what is really and truly present, the Body and Blood of Christ.  To drive home this point, the gospel of John uses really down to earth terms.  Real terms.  Which causes the listeners to be quite perplexed as to what Jesus means.  John uses the word flesh, not just a symbol of the flesh, or a sign, or a recreation, but rather something real and true.  So today, receive Jesus, body and blood, soul and divinity, at Mass.

Unity: Homily for Trinity Sunday, June 11, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

There seems to be an awful lot of anger.  It appears there is not an issue that does not cause two people to get angry with each other.  It becomes difficult to bring up any issue in certain settings, because it is likely emotions will get out of control.  As a result of this anger, people might decide only to seek out those with whom they agree.  They might choose only to read, watch or listen to those news sources that share or confirm their own bias.  As a result, it can be even more difficult to find areas where a person can encounter a differing point of view.

Does anyone have a desire for greater unity?  More civility?  And in the midst of this anger, what’s a Catholic to do? How can Catholics both commit to the truth on the one hand, while on the other hand choosing the method of conversation and dialogue that leads another to listen? Perhaps the answer lies in the unity of three persons in one God.

Trusting the Promises – Homily for Sunday, June 4, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

I remember a special hospital room visit that changed my life.  There are moments when the presence of holiness becomes clear.  I lived with a priest who had not been feeling well for some time.  Eventually, he went to the hospital for tests, and learned that he had a very serious and aggressive type of cancer.  After the doctor gave the explanation, I asked him how he was doing.  It was not about his physical health.  I will never forget what he said to me. “I’m glad it’s inoperable.”

That was really hard for me to believe.  How could he be glad?  And yet, he was.  His sister had a similar diagnosis, and had recently died, and her cancer was operable.  But the operation really provided little.  “Besides,” he said to me, “I trust the promises.”

Today’s celebration of Pentecost is really about trusting the promises because of the Holy Spirit.

Priorities: Homily for Sunday, February 26, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Priorities.  Living a good life means choosing the right priorities.  What is important to you? What activities matter to you? What people matter to you? What choices do you make about how you live your life? What choices do you make about which people get your time, your care, your concern?  Today’s gospel especially focusses on priorities and making those choices that matter for ultimate and eternal happiness.

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.  This line of the gospel makes it clear.  If your vocation is married life, then you seek the Kingdom of God in a way that makes you the best father, the best husband, the best mother, the best wife.  You make decisions based upon bringing yourself and those around you to Jesus.  You recognize that nothing is more important than living your life for Christ.

This is really what life is all about.  Yet, how often do we seek other things? How often do we seek Netflix, or social media, or games? How often do we first seek job and career success, money, success and wealth? How often do we seek to satisfy sexual desires, not as intended by God, but in pornography?  How often do we seek security for our family by working so hard we never see them?  How often is our quest first our smart phone, and not the people we find ourselves with?

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.  As we stand on the cusp of Lent, this is a good time to think about priorities.  This is a good time to consider exactly what is important.  This is the time when we ask ourselves if we are seeking God and his kingdom first, which causes us to value all of the right people and goals, or whether we allow ourselves to seek something far less.

Law: Homily for Sunday, February 19, 2017

Law. If I were going to make a recommendation for someone who wanted to read the Bible, I don’t know that my first choice is a book to look at would be the book of Leviticus. That is because, most of the book of Leviticus is a book of laws. And while there may be some lawyers who really love reading the annotated laws of their particular state, most of us do not find such legal reading as being terribly engaging. But then there are sections, like the one we see today in Leviticus, that are particularly interesting to examine.

Law is an important topic for us to explore as human beings. That is because it has so many applications. There are different kinds of laws, and we use these different kinds of laws often times in a sloppy or messy way. States have laws. The church has laws. God has laws. We talk about laying down the law. We explore in families this question of law. Some people even refer to the fact that they make the law. But I think today’s readings help us on this particular Sunday, to explore a little bit more completely this question of law and how it relates to our spiritual life.

In the book of Leviticus we read, Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy. That is a very good summary of the purpose of all law, regardless of who proposes it. You see the purpose of law, is to be holy. This is not to say that all law is divine. In some ways quite the opposite. Following the speed limit makes for good law. Because when we don’t harm others, we are more likely to be holy. The ultimate law, is that law which articulates a way of life that brings us closer to God and manifests the holiness of God. So now you know what you need to do.

Heart: Homily for Sunday, February 12, 2017

Heart. Sometimes we can get caught in our own lives, with the idea that following the letter of the law is enough. We don’t break any laws. We certainly haven’t killed, or committed adultery. That means that everything is good with God, right? These readings remind us that the law is not simply focused on a desire to make sure we do the right things. The law is really focused, unchanging our hearts in such a way that we reflect God’s holiness. It’s interesting that when Moses struck the rock twice, when he was only told to strike the rock ones, it was not that he disobeyed the commandment per se. Rather, it was that he did not manifest the holiness of God to the people.

That really is the point of today’s readings. There are these commandments that have been given to us to help us to see and understand what it means to follow God. But as Jesus reminds us in the gospel, it is most about changing our hearts, our attitudes, everything. It’s not enough just not to kill. We should not get angry. It’s not enough to be faithful in marriage. We should not let lust control our lives.

In everything that we do, it is first and foremost about whether or not God has a place in our heart. Really, about whether God has the most important place in our heart. And so today’s readings, are not just about following the law, but more importantly about following Jesus.

Both: Homily for Sunday, February 5, 2017

To listen to today’s homily, click the links above.

It is interesting to me that when there is a debate about helping other people, especially from other countries, there is always mentioned that we should be helping those who live in our own country. All of a sudden, the homeless in the United States are on everyone’s mind. How can we help other countries, when we have so many poor people here?

It is interesting because we have always had the poor. It is not as if suddenly homeless have been appearing on our streets. It is also interesting because those poor who do receive assistance are often insulted by the very same people not wanting to help foreigners. Why can’t these people get a job? Why do they spend their money on this or that? We don’t help foreigners because of the people who need help here. And we insult the people who need help here so that we do not have to give them anything either.

Today’s readings do not mean that we have to choose. It is not just about helping our own. It is not just about helping the stranger and the foreigner. It is about that generous spirit that helps both. “Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own.” It is not an either-or; it is a both-and. If we must choose, we choose both.

This part of Isaiah happens at the return from exile. As can happen over a few hundred years, people who were exiled and people who stayed were no longer known by one another. And so the reminder about the foreigners, and the natives, was quite important. Giving to the poor, to the oppressed, the homeless, was indeed needed. And the hearts of all needed to be changed to make this happen.

We live in an age right now where we seem more divided than ever. It is as if people must be placed into categories. It proved interesting to me during the election and since. When I criticized a policy I believed to be wrong, people assumed they knew what team I was on, what team I was rooting to win. You see, it has become all about winning and losing, and not as much about right and wrong.

There is an urgent need for another way. We need to stop viewing people as a threat — but rather as persons made in the image and likeness of God. We need to stop blaming the poor for being poor. Rather, we need to see the poor Christ in them. We need to stop insulting one another. We need to stop yelling at one another. We need to stop second guessing all of the motives of the people with whom we live.

Because these readings remind us to care for those we know and those we don’t. We need to care for all people who are in need. There are not conditions on which homeless, which hungry, which oppressed and which naked are to be helped. All must be helped to receive what they deserve as human beings. And when it comes to a choice, we should not choose native or foreigner, we should choose Christ.

Humility: Homily for Sunday, January 29, 2017

(Listen to today’s homily, “Humility” by clicking the links above.)
Humility. Knowing who you are and who you are not. Knowing yourself honestly. Knowing that you need others. Knowing that you need the help and love of others. Today’s readings present to us a different way of seeing the world, and of seeing life. Today’s readings focus on knowing the right relationship to which God calls us. Too often we hold to the notion that we always know what is best for ourselves. We know what we should do in every situation. It is simply what we think best. We are the final arbiter. We are the only one who knows what it is that we should do.

Today’s readings destroy this notion because today’s readings remind us that humility is the basic stance before God. We are challenged to wisdom. We are challenged to goodness. And we are challenged to a way of living that demands absolute trust in the Lord Jesus.

To be sure, to trust the Lord absolutely is difficult. It does not come naturally to a culture with a can-do attitude. It does not come naturally to a culture built on rugged individualism. We do not like to depend on others. And we do not always like the way in which God wants us to live.

Who are you with? Homily for Sunday, January 22, 2017

Who is it that you cast your lot in with? Is it God? Or is it some person, or group or cause, that relies on your own efforts? That is the question that is before us today. Over the past few weeks, we have seen a lot of division. We have seen people really get mean to each other with terrible words and phrases. We have just finished a brutal election season, which, even though it seems impossible, seems to get worse and worse. So, who are you with?

The temptation can be to rely more on our own efforts than to trust in God. Paul encounters this in the second reading for today. Some side with him, some side with Apollos, some side with Cephas, or Saint Peter. But when this happens, there is too much trust in the messenger and not in the message. We forget that the disciple of Christ is not more important than Christ. So, who are you with?

The first reading is similar. In the sections that come before what we heard today, it is King Ahaz who forsakes God and trusts in human political alliances to save his country. It fails miserably. The country is taken over, the people are exiled, and it feels like darkness covers the earth. Rather than listening to God’s message that came through the prophet, Ahaz got scared. He simply could not trust God. While he was in a precarious position, he could not place his trust in God. But God delivered anyway. Even though Ahaz did not see the great power of God, the people eventually did. This is what we read about today.

The gospel reminds us that it is in our call by Jesus that we ultimately experience fulfilment. A very important reminder is needed. Jesus was Lord before the election, Jesus is Lord now, and Jesus will be Lord. it is not about what we can do by ourselves. It is what God does for us. Open your hearts to be ready for God. Pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament, find silence in your home, read the Word of God. In so doing, you become the vehicle of God’s grace and action in the world.

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