Tag: grace

Earthen Vessels: Homily for Friday, June 16, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for today.

One aspect of reading the Bible is that there are so many ways to understand it.  There is poetry, legal text, history and didactic teaching.  The imagry and poetry stands out.  Perhaps because the images are often so common.  It is easy to understand Paul’s point in the first reading.  We are of the earth.  We are fragile.  To be of the earth is the root of the word human.  While we can do good, we are also capable of real harm, real violence.

Contrast the natural analogy, earthen vessel, to God.  God is not natural.  God is supernatural, above the natural world.  It is often this contrast that causes people to misunderstand the claims of religion.  For as much as humans accomplish, they cannot accomplish eternal life.  That is gift.  It comes from God. As much has human beings can do tremendous things, God is far greater.  When we recognize this, when we allow that God enables the truly great, it is then that we understand faith.

Grace: Homily for Thursday, January 26, 2017

Grace. I remember the old definition of a sacrament. Especially that every sacrament gives grace. And so I was reminded today of my ordination. Saint Paul tells Timothy that he should be attentive to the flame that is burning in him because Paul has imposed hands upon him. And as a result of this, Timothy is filled with courage. Timothy can proclaim the gospel. The grace given is powerful and has changed his life.

I thought of my own ordination because like Timothy, I too have received grace from the imposition of hands. And so have you. At our baptism, and again at Confirmation, we received grace from these sacraments. At ordination, again, I received grace. If you were married, you received grace. And this grace is given, and hopefully received.

It can bring us the amazing courage to witness to the gospel. It can help us to be those deeds God does through us that we are all called to receive. This grace is given to us so that we can be the light to the world. This grace allows us to show others in our words and deeds the power of Jesus.

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.

Immaculate Conception: Will you help me? It is going to be hard. (12-08-16)

Will you help me? How often have you heard this question? Parents certainly have.  I have.  The most difficult part is when the help needed is hard.  Who likes to help a friend move?  How about spending time with a person who makes us uncomfortable? These situations, and others like them, are hard.  It is not always easy to say yes to helping. 
What is worse, sometimes we make excuses to avoid helping.  I’m busy.  I have to do this very important thing, like watching television.  I have to lie, so that I do not have to help.  We celebrate today two things. First, we celebrate the great gift of God to Mary to spare her from Original Sin.  Second, we celebrate her “yes” to following God, especially when it is hard.  Mary was aware of God’s grace.  Mary relied upon it.  And she also was aware of the people that God placed into her life.  Elizabeth.  And Joseph. 
So, today, as every day, God gives you grace.  And today, as every day, God seeks your help.  What will you say?  Will you help God?

Homily for Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Lord of the Flies, the famous novel by William Golding, shows the tragic consequences when there exists deep divisions between people. His view of human nature suggests a pessimistic view that suggests that without societal controls humanity will become very destructive. And yet, in that same novel, there are those who seem to rise above the negativity of humanity even if it is the case they pay a great price for holding fast to their conscience and their dedication to the common good.

What causes the great rift between Jack and Ralph, and how is it that each attracts people to subscribe to this way of looking at the world? Why is it that some are attracted to Jack and the type of concern for self-preservation and power that does not appeal to Ralph and those who hold fast to him?

We could ask this same question when we consider the world, both today and historically. In the height of the riots in Los Angeles, it was Rodney King who posed the question, “Can’t we all just get along?” We could clearly still ask that question today? Why is it the world is such a chaotic place? Why is it that the world is filled with such gruesome and gross violence? How is it that things have come to this?

Homily for Wednesday, September 2, 2015

It is usually a good thing to hear nice things said about you. When someone praises you for something that really went well, it is a good thing to hear. This is particularly true if the compliment comes from someone who is important to you. Children love authentic praise from their parents. So too do spouses from each other. A job performance review that is quite positive can be great to hear.

So, imagine the way in which the Colossians heard the words from Paul. There are really very good things that Paul identifies as examples of the praise he has for the Colossians. The similar reaction is seen in the way in which the people want to be connected to Jesus after he cures Simon’s mother-in-law.

But Jesus does not stop to take in his tremendous popularity. Maybe it is because he sees the fickle nature of it. Probably more so that he knows there are a seemingly limitless number of people that need to hear the good news.

Homily for Friday, May 8, 2015

One word that is hard to define is human maturity. What does it mean to be a mature person? How is it that we can tell if someone is mature? It cannot be simply reaching a certain age, because there are people who are “wise beyond their years” and at the same time there are adults who act much more like children. We could, perhaps, try to identify certain behaviors as signs of maturity, but in some ways that too comes up short in trying to help us to understand what it means to be mature. For instance, one characteristic of maturity I proposed to high school students is the ability to put the needs of another person ahead of one’s own, like parents do for their children. But this cannot always be true, because it could result in a person who has a breakdown if time and attention is not legitimately given to oneself.

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