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.

Confronting the Regret: Homily for Friday, October 13, 2017

Readings for Today

It is common that someone who is dying will review their life.  They will consider things for which they are proud, and they will seek forgiveness for what they regret.  Sometimes that will mean a conversation with someone they have harmed during their life. That is what might be happening in the first reading today. There may be that regret for the sins committed.  The current situation is the result of past actions.

But God is stronger than past sin. God wants what is best for us. And despite our sinfulness, God forgives whenever we seek mercy from God. These past few weeks have seemed like the end time.  Hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes, violence, wildfires. Not a bad time to consider a life review.  Not a bad time to think about confession. While sin can be strong, God is stronger.  Always.

Jason Alexander as Jonah: Homily for Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Readings for Today

I must confess I find this book of Jonah quite humorous, and when I read it I got to thinking about which actor would play Jonah if it were made into a movie.  And I settled on Jason Alexander, the actor who played George on Seinfeld.  This is so because I kind of think of Jonah as a person like George. I can imagine him overreacting, much like we encounter today.

From the beginning of the book we see just how much Jonah does not like the Ninevites.  And today we see just how much Jonah is capable of focusing on himself. Yet, much like Seinfeld helped us to see the humor in the ordinary, about nothing, so too does the book of Jonah show how much we do not think like God.

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.

Let Go: Homily for Sunday, September 17, 2017

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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.

Saving Sinners: Homily for Saturday, September 16, 2017

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Readings for Today

The first line from today’s first reading says it all.  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. So simple, and yet it is the foundational belief of our discipleship. We need a savior because we sin.  And Jesus is that savior.  Every other belief comes from this fact.  Jesus is our savior.

Also, this line gives us hope.  Our sin does not lead to our damnation if we confess it to Jesus.  We know this is true because Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.  And that means I can be saved, and so can you.

The Cross: Homily for Thursday, September 14, 2017

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Readings for Today

A while ago, Cardinal George made a statement about his successors winding up in jail.  I thought it was a bit of hyperbole.  Then I heard the line of questioning from Senators Feinstein and Durbin.  Suddenly what Cardinal George said did not seem so far-fetched.  Apparently, a federal judgeship must not be a serious Catholic.

None of us like the cross.  We do not like to suffer.  But we must recognize the truth.  The suffering of Jesus leads to our salvation. Too often we want the resurrection without the cross.  At other times we may overemphasize the cross at the expense of the resurrection.  The truth is clear: we need both.

The Extraordinary Ordinary: Homily for Thursday, September 7, 2017

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Readings for Today

Human life is amazing.  Sometimes when we are doing something we’ve done a thousand times, it becomes all new.  There are other moments when a common experience is uncommon. Sometimes the miraculous comes at the most unexpected time. God comes barging in when we least expect him.

Such is the case for Peter.  How many times has he been fishing? How often has he come up empty? The miraculous catch of fish changes everything.  After this, nothing is the same.  An ordinary endeavor will be traded for an extraordinary one. Peter will be seeking followers of Jesus, not fish.  Keep your eyes open.  Jesus might just make an ordinary moment unbelievably extraordinary.

No need: Homily for Saturday, September 2, 2017

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Readings for Today

It is a nice thing when we receive a compliment.  How much more when the compliment is about our charity.  Religious life is described as a “school of charity.” In fact, any attempt at living together, whether it is about religious life, a family, or a workplace provides countless ways for everyone to learn to be more charitable.

And yet, even as we grow in charity, we can grow more.  We can seek to understand each other more, to hear the needs of one another more clearly.  We can confront those ways we have not been charitable.  Charity is not simply a question of willpower.  Rather, it is a journey to imitate Jesus.

Wages: Homily for Wednesday, August 23, 2017

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Readings for Today

This gospel goes against our sense of fairness. The same wages are given to all regardless of work.  Whether for one hour of work, or the whole day, everyone receives the same pay.  How is that fair? Yet the first hired agreed to this at the start. Take the job, get paid the usual daily wage.  The rest were told they would be paid whatever is just.  Or, they were not told at all exactly what they would be paid.  But they all agreed, and they all worked.

Yet I can understand the anger of the workers who had worked all day long.  They could have sat around and waited.  But they needed the job, and they answered the call of the owner of the vineyard for workers.  They were not cheated.  What they resent is the generosity of the landowner.  This is a story about God.  The God we follow is more generous to us than we deserve.  But when we see that generosity of God in the lives of others, we too can be resentful.  We can decide to grumble.  Yet when we truly appreciate the generosity of God, it is then we can rejoice every time God is generous, be it to us or others.