Reputation: Homily for Feast of St Thomas, July 3, 2017

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Readings for Today

What are you known for? Virtue? Vice? Whatever we do results in a reputation.  Our reputation can be accurate, but also not.  We can be known for good or evil.  We can be trustworthy, or untrustworthy.  But once we have a reputation, it can be hard to shake.

Such can be the way we think of Saint Thomas.  In the gospel, he seems to doubt.  But his life is one of belief.  Belief until death. Rather than a person of doubt, Thomas is like all who respond to God’s grace.  Grace changes us.  We are never stuck in our sin because God’s love is greater than all.

Grace: Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles, June 29, 2017

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Readings for the Vigil

Readings for Today

These two very important saints, Peter and Paul, are two wonderful stories of grace.  It was the working of the grace of God that made it possible for these saints to become so holy.  Peter is the clumsy leader with a big heart.  He is on the one hand, very eager to serve Jesus, but often gets in his own way.  Even though he betrays Jesus, he loves Jesus.  He is able to accept forgiveness, and his enthusiasm and love of God does great things.

Paul is a story of grace too.  He goes from persecuting Christ to following him.  His eloquent speech, and his zeal for the faith are well known, since he wrote so much about his work.  Both saints remind us that God’s grace does great things.  Both saints were great leaders.  Ask them to pray for continued great leadership in the Church.

Repent: Homily for the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, June 24, 2017

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Readings for Today

Yesterday we focused on the love that God has for us.  But why is it that we do not always feel loved?  Sin.  Today we celebrate the birth of Saint John the Baptist.  He became quite “popular” by what he said in the desert.  People were attracted to his message, and they came out in droves to hear it.  Why?  It was a challenging message.  It demanded that to be whole, complete, and entire in our relationship with God, that we needed to change.  To repent.  To stop sinning.  Why is it then, that this appealed to so many?

Isn’t it because people know, deep within themselves, that they need to change, to repent?  Isn’t there something that we know deep within us about our relationship with God? We do not always admit it.  We do not always act on it.  Sometimes we run from it.  But, deep down we know it.  We are not always at our best, often deliberately so.  To make a heart ready for Jesus, it needs to be tilled like soil.  And Saint John the Baptist shows us how.  Repent and believe n the Good News.

A New Creation: Homily for Saturday, June 18, 2017

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Readings for Today

Don’t you just love getting something new? A new computer, a new car, a new appliance, a new house.  Isn’t there just something wonderful when you get something new.  When something you really enjoy becomes new, there is just something almost magical about it.  And if this is true for things, how much more when we set a goal to change and accomplish it? How wonderful it is when we succeed?

Or, if you are a parent, just how wonderful is it when you welcome your son or daughter for the first time?  A literal new creation.  Don’t you find yourself wondering what the child will become?  And don’t you tell everyone you know about this new creation?  That is the message we find in today’s first reading, when Saint Paul says that in Christ, each of us is a new creation.

Heart: Homily for Sunday, February 12, 2017

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Readings for Today

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.

Conversion: Homily for Wednesday, February 8, 2017

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Readings for Today

God wants me to change.  God wants me to repent.  God wants me to change my ways.  I need conversion.  I need to change.  When I come to the realization that there is something that needs to change in my life, I face a choice.  I can change the superficial, or I can really work deep within myself to change the evil that is in my heart.

That is the focus in today’s readings.  We can focus, as the Pharisees did, on the external actions of little consequence.  Or, we can seek to really change ourselves into really better people.  This is the change that really is difficult.  It is not easy to change our hearts.  It is not easy to change our attitudes, those attitudes that keep us away from Christ.

But today we are challenged to seek the change that comes deep in our hearts.  We are called to cast away very difficult things. The gospel list covers just about every way in which we can be away from God.  It covers just about every way we can abuse others, treating them in a way like objects.  We can see people only as a means to get what I want, as objects, slaves, that exist for my pleasure, or we can see them as people made in the image and likeness of God.

The purpose of a life of faith is to live in a real way this relationship with Jesus in an authentic way.  We are called to imitate Jesus and his attitude toward people because he is the Son of God.  We are called to get to know him better so that we are able to grow in faith. Today, remember the first word of the gospel.  Repent.

Conversion: Homily for Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Readings for Today

Is there any conversion story that is more dramatic than that of Paul?  First, he is the least likely candidate.  He has persecuted Jesus.  He has rounded up his followers.  He concurs in killing.  He is a zealous Jew who feels the threat from those who believe in Jesus.  He is the candidate for conversion?  Really?

Today serves as a very powerful reminder that God and God’s grace are indeed all-powerful.  God’s grace can soften the hardest of hearts.  God can accomplish the unbelievable.  God can work miracles.  This is true even with me.  And you.  God can work marvellous deeds if we open our hearts.

We need to be ready.  We need to embrace the challenge.  We need to seek out the conversion.  Because God comes anytime.  Anywhere.  Anyplace.  When we have even a little bit of faith, we recognize what God can do.  God is ready to help each of us to turn away from our sins, just as he helped Saint Paul.  God is ready to lead us in the direction of fulfillment, just as he did with Saint Paul.  God is ready to change our hearts, turning them away from sin and toward love.  Today is the day of salvation.  Now is the time of salvation.  Go forth and open your heart to God.

Delighting in the grace of conversion: Homily for Saturday, February 13, 2016

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It cannot possibly be that THAT PERSON is a Christian! How easy it is to decide who is beyond conversion. Yet, it might even be us. But imaging how wonderful it would be if we all could celebrate God’s grace by throwing a big party when we find ourselves embracing God. Such is the case with Levi. And as Isaiah reminds us today, but turning our lives over to God, even darkness and gloom can turn to light and celebration.

Homily for Saturday, December 27, 2014

Readings for Today

I do not remember the exact moment I first thought my faith was beautiful. It is the result of being born into a very Catholic family. For most of my life, being Catholic was simply something that was. It was like being from Vermont, or a member of the family, or any of a number of things that simply were always a part of my life. But make no mistake – I think the faith is beautiful.

When I hear the words of the first reading, I think of the many people I have had the privilege of walking with during the process of the RCIA. It is truly inspiring to hear them talk about a faith that was freely chosen as an adult. This is not to say that I regret my upbringing. I loved it. The flourishing of faith is always beautiful.

But I often take the faith for granted. I forget the beauty of experiencing God for the first time, or many times, I forget the excitement of new understandings of Scripture, or of the many fine examples of faith that have been a part of my life. I suppose it is not much different than a husband and wife who reflect back upon those moments they first fell in love. They can think of the beginnings, the experiences, the love they have experienced.

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Homily for Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Readings for Today

Sometimes we need to be at the bottom before we realize that we are really in need. It is just when we realize that we have nowhere else to turn, that we can be ready to receive what will really help us. It can be the case that when it seems we have burned every relationship that we are ready to seek out the one relationship from which all these relationships flow. Sometimes it takes losing everything before we can really find what matters.

That is what happened to those who heard the message of truth and acted on it. Tax collectors and prostitutes heard the message of Jesus and they realized that only be listening to Jesus, trusting in his word, knowing that by turning their lives to Jesus they could leave behind the life that failed to satisfy. By circumstance or by choice, their lives had become empty. They were broken. They were desperate. And then came Jesus.

And with his arrival, their lives changed. New life became possible. They heard the message, and in so doing they realized that God was the source of all life. Even though the new life they heard about required hard choices and dramatic changes, they realized that it also held the source of fulfillment. They realized that this new way of life could offer far more than what they had lived so far. In hearing the word of life, in experiencing the feeling of fulfillment only Jesus could give, they found their lives had been made whole and complete.

It is not unlike what our experience of Advent and Christmas. We are offered choices during this Advent season. We are offered a vision of consumerism, where the right gifts and the right stuff are held out to us as the source of joy. Yet all too soon we can find ourselves empty. Or, we discover that what we received, even what we have given, can all too quickly give way to the next great thing, the next piece of technology, or the next great piece of clothing, or whatever. We are also invited to turn away from sin, to pray and reflect, to make room in our heart, for the person of Jesus to dwell there.

When we consider the story of the two sons, one was concerned with actually doing the will of the father, even though at first he said he would not. Then there was the son who was more concerned with the external, with image, with something that is fleeting and unimportant. He said he would do the father’s will, but in the end did not do it. As followers of Jesus we can think that simply saying yes to him is enough. But in reality, the conversion of our hearts is what matters, and actually doing the will of God is what matters.

Fleeting or lasting, surface or depth, words or actions, temporary or eternal, materialism or Jesus. These are the choices which are set before us. If you want to welcome Jesus into your hearts, pray. Celebrate the sacraments. Change your hearts.