Come as you are; Sort of: Homily for Sunday, October 15, 2017

Readings for Today

Do you love celebrations? Do you get excited when an invitation arrives in the mail? Today’s readings are all about invitations and celebrations.  The first reading uses rich imagery to describe the invitation to the ultimate feast.  Rich food and choice wines are on the menu.  Yum! God has everything prepared. Get ready, because the feast is going to be something really special.

The gospel too is about an invitation. The king invites guests to an amazing feast. Only they do not want to come. Despite his best efforts, the king cannot convince those invited to come to the feast. So he turns to invite others, who do come. God invites us all of the time to deeper life. But do we arrive ready to say yes to God? Or, do we come ill-prepared by thinking we do not need to change? The invitation to faith by God is an invitation to change.  When we really say yes to God, we allow God to change us. That means being open to repenting from our sins. And when we do that, we come properly dressed for the feast.

Becoming Beautiful Grapes: Homily for Sunday, October 8, 2017

Readings for Today

My aunt and uncle had a vineyard behind their house.  It was not very big, but it produced tasty grapes.  I really liked them.  And while my childhood memory may not be great, I do not remember sour grapes. To be clear, there was care for the grapes that I did not see.  They required care.  They needed to be tended to in order to be tasty.

I cannot imagine what would have happened if in spite of the hard work there were no grapes to be had.  Or, worse, if despite hard work the grapes were sour. And yet that is what we hear in the readings.  Despite the loving self-gift of Jesus to save us, we do not always bear good fruit. We turn away.  We disrupt. And sometimes even, we kill.  The call today is to be the disciple that does not disrupt, but bears fruit.

Who is saved before me?: Homily for Sunday, October 1, 2017

Readings for Today

Sometimes I get a little smug in my faith.  I think that I am pretty good.  I feel proud of myself. And as I read today’s gospel, it is just at those moments that I should worry.  Because I might very well find Jesus saying to me that the less likely in my eyes are going to be saved before I am. The very people I look down upon, they might be the ones who have really heard the word of God.  They might be the ones who have accepted Jesus.

It is so easy to put others down.  It is so easy to dismiss those who do not seem to be much in the eyes of the world.  Sinners.  It is easy to dismiss sinners by convincing myself that I am not a sinner. I am not like one of ‘those people’. But Jesus has a stark message for me when that happens.  ‘Those people” might be the very ones who truly hear what he has to say.  And if I do not humble myself before Jesus, I might be like those locked out of the wedding feast.

Sharing: Homily for Sunday, September 24, 2017

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.

Let Go: Homily for Sunday, September 17, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for today

One of the most interesting books I have read is a book entitled, Why Forgive?. It is a collection of amazing stories, all true, of people who experienced very difficult things and yet found it in them to forgive. These were not small things.  Children murdered. People left with profound handicaps. And yet, each of them comes to a point where often for their own good, they forgive.

This is the message in the book of Sirach.  When we forgive, we are able then to be forgiven.  Our heart expands.  Anger dissipates.  Our lives are often about this choice.  Hang on to anger and wrath, or let go. Allow anger to consume us, or allow God to give us the grace to forgive.

Confrontation 2: Homily for Sunday, September 10, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Last Sunday we focused on Jeremiah, who struggled in proclaiming the word.  This Sunday is our focus on how we ourselves might correct another. No one likes to do this. And yet, we know people must.  Parents must correct their children. We might need to speak with a co-worker.

Today’s gospel gives us a framework to do so. Speak with the person one-on-one. Bring in others who may care. Seek the wisdom of the Church.  Remember that we must always confront in love. The goal is not to prove we are right. Rather, it is to lead someone to a deeper relationship with Jesus.

Confrontation 2: Homily for Sunday, September 10, 2017

To listen to the homily, click here.

Readings for Today

For the second week in a row we find confrontation to be a theme.  Sometimes the loving action is to help someone to see the error of their ways.  And this is not usually easy.  People do not like to be corrected.  People do not like to have errors or sin pointed out. Which is why most of us avoid it.  It is easier to pretend the evil does not exist than it is to do the loving, yet difficult thing which is to help someone grow closer to Christ.

Fortunately the gospel provides an outline for success.  It helps us to see the steps we can take to confront in Christ.  The gospel helps us to use our personal relationship, the wisdom of the Church, and the love of Christ.

You Tricked Me: Homily for Sunday, September 3, 2017

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Readings for Today

He was eager.  Young.  Maybe a little naive.  But Jeremiah willingly followed God.  He became the mouthpiece for God.  Even when the words were hard, and not well received, Jeremiah was faithful.  He tried to avoid saying bad words.  But the love of God and the power of his Word were too much.  His love for God spilled out.  He spoke for God because of love.

Confronting someone is never easy.  We often avoid it.  We look the other way.  And yet, if we love God, we must love others.  Sometimes confronting someone is an act of love.  When someone is doing something wrong, the loving action can be to correct it.  Parents who love their children do this.  Spouses confront each other at times in a healthy relationship.  And as we learn from today’s readings, Christians confront each other out of love for God and them.

True Power: Homily for Sunday, August 27, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Ah, political power. Staff shakeups are not unknown.  They usually occur in times of trouble or crisis.  Sometimes leaders seek to get out of a crisis with “new blood” and a new way of proceeding.  Whether it is in fact really new or not, it provides a fresh start.

Today’s first reading is such a moment.  The city was under siege, and despite warnings from God, the king (and those around him) did not trust in God.  They sought security in military power and political alliance.  The ultimate outcome was the anger of Israel, the neighbor of Judah to the north, and the loss of political power, and ultimately, exile in Babylon.

Today’s gospel poses just such a choice to the apostles.  Will they follow Jesus, by declaring him Lord and Son of God, or will they trust in their own efforts.  Who do you say that I am?  We have the same choice today.  Do we follow Jesus, Son of God, and proclaim his name, or do we trust in something lower and not as powerful?  Who do you say Jesus is?

Jesus the Teacher: Homily for Sunday, August 20, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Today can be one of those Sundays when the readings are not easy to figure out.  Jesus says some things in today’s gospel that seem to display prejudice.  But let’s be clear.  That cannot be true.  Prejudice is sinful.  Jesus cannot sin.  While he is fully human, he is also fully divine.  It cannot be the case that Jesus can sin.  Period. So what is going on here in the gospel?

Keep in mind that we cannot see facial expressions.  We cannot sense tone.  It is not clear what the setting is.  But what is clear is that Jesus is a teacher.  And rather than Jesus learning, it is Jesus teaching.  He is in a non-Jewish area of Israel.  He knows the mission is to everyone.  But it is not clear the disciples do.  And it is not clear the disciples understand the connection between miracles and faith.  It is faith that heals the woman’s daughter. And by the way Jesus handles this woman, and his disciples, we come to know his mission is universal.