Homily for Friday, January 16, 2015

Readings for Today

Who is it that you carry to Jesus? I am intrigued by the people who carried the paralytic and lowered him through the roof to Jesus. This was no easy task. First, they needed to carry the paralytic to the roof. Then, they needed to dig through the roof (it was probably a mixture of branches, leaves and mud). Lastly, there was the task of lowering the paralytic through the hole that was dug out of the roof, to place him near Jesus.

Can you imagine the scene? Both from the outside, watching this process unfold, and from the inside, where pieces of dirt fell to the floor surely caused those on the inside to wonder exactly what was going on. But for Jesus, all of this is clear. It is the faith, both of those who brought the paralytic and the paralytic himself that occasions the healing. Jesus sees their faith, and the effort they exerted because of this faith, and forgave sins, the most important type of healing God provides. But the forgiveness of sins causes great distress. And so, to create an occasion so that others might come to faith, Jesus tells the man to pick up his mat and walk. This Jesus is more than amazing. He has the power to forgive sins!

We know little about the relationship between the people who brought the paralytic. Were they friends? Neighbors? Relatives? Bystanders? Had they been convinced by the paralytic to get involved, or were those who carried the paralytic moved by their love for the paralytic? It is not clear. But what is clear, was the noticeable faith that Jesus could do something for the paralytic.

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Homily for Thursday, July 31, 2014

Readings for Today

It can be hard for a Dominican to speak about a Jesuit without mentioning at least in some way some slight dig. The Jesuits and the Dominicans have certainly had their share historically of what might be called a fierce sibling rivalry. But the beauty of God, is God’s overwhelming desire for each one of us to become holy. The second Vatican Council stressed this personal call to holiness in its documents.  What that means for us on a day like today is that everybody is called to express the holiness of God in a way that is unique to them.

In the United States it can be easy to forget that the Jesuits are a missionary order, because early in the history of the order there was an attraction universities. Great Jesuit Saints like Francis Xavier for example, were not pleased with the desire of the Jesuits to be active in universities. In our country, one of the most common ways we experience the Jesuit order, through high schools and colleges and universities.

It is not to suggest that colleges and universities, or high schools, are not the places where missionary activity can occur.  Quite the opposite. When one considers the place and role of academic institutions the lives of high school and college students, what place could be better suited to helping these students to ask the big questions in their lives but God, meaning and purpose?

We certainly cannot talk about St. Ignatius without mentioning this great gift of spirituality to the Church, in the spiritual exercises that bear his name.  His experiences of being confined to bed ridden because of injuries of war, led him to discover a method of discernment, between those things that lead us closer to God, and those things that do not. To be sure, the work that is entailed in the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius, require brutally honest spiritual assessment.

But that brutally honest spiritual assessment is precisely what image is being given to us today in the reading from Jeremiah. Allowing ourselves to be formed by God is not easy. Entering honestly into an experience like the 30 day Ignatian exercises is not easy either.  This is because it is not easy to allow God to make us, form us, shape us into those people who are capable of the personal holiness to which each one of us called.

But if we allow ourselves to be placed into the hands of the potter who is God, if we allow our ourselves to be shaped and molded, just like St. Ignatius, we will be unable to imagine the greatness that God is placed inside each one of us.