Urgency of the Kingdom: Homily for Thursday, October 5, 2017

Readings for Today

There is no time to waste.  Such is the tone of what happens in today’s gospel.  There is a disciple who will follow Jesus wherever he leads, but not yet.  He needs to take care of a few things first. But Jesus makes the urgency of the Kingdom of God clear. So many blessings await those who accept the kingdom.  There is so much suffering, not a moment can be lost.

Do you put off answering the call of God? Is there some excuse that keeps you from saying “yes” right now? It is easy to procrastinate.  It is easy to put off the miraculous message of the Kingdom of God. But the time is now. The place is here. Say “yes” to God.

Thank God!: Homily for Saturday, June 10, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

I am not nearly as grateful as I should be.  So much in  my life has been a gift I have not deserved.  Certainly the most important is the gift of my creation, my life, from God, which I did nothing to earn.  But there are the countless gifts I simply take for granted.  My basic needs are met.  My education has been provided by others.  The Dominican community which is so important to me has become so because of God’s mercy and the mercy of my brothers.  Again and Again, rather than seeing the overwhelming gifts I have been given, it seems more to me that I am too quick to take credit for my accomplishments, and too quick to focus on my sufferings.

Today’s first reading provides a wonderful picture of the fruit of gratitude.  With a grateful heart that seeks to be seen in a gift to a helpful stranger, Tobit encounters the living God in the Archangel Raphael.  While it certainly did not appear so to Tobit, God was always present in his life moving and acting in grace.  Show your gratitude today to see the active presence of God.

Help me to see: Homily for Friday, June 9, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Yesterday we saw the prayers of Sarah being answered.  Today, it is the prayer of Tobit.  But was the most important prayer really the regaining of his sight? Or, was it rather the realization that his son had embraced the faith so important to him?  Was it because he could see physically, or was it that he could see with pride how the grace of God was active in his own son’s life, and indeed in his own life?

Realization of the presence of God is amazing indeed.  Life in fact, seems so much clearer when we can see the events of our lives unfold not simply with our physical eyes, but also with the eyes of our soul.  It is this type of sight that often accounts for our ability to prioritize, to make important, and to determine the path of holiness which leads us to God.

Unbelief: Homily for Monday, February 20, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click the link above.

Readings for Today

Unbelief.  In the midst of everything that happens in today’s world, it can be difficult to believe. First, there are the things that have always been difficult for people of faith. Such things as an innocent child who gets sick and dies. Or an inexplicable car accident or other type of accident which takes someone’s life to early. Perhaps there are those instances where a relationship fails, and we seek answers. Maybe the difficulty is simply that we cannot seem to believe in what we cannot see, or experience, or touch. There can be many challenges to belief.

That is true even for people who do believe. Such is what we witnessed in today’s gospel. A man brings his son in faith for a cure. But the disciples are incapable. The disciples simply cannot bring about a cure for this man’s son. And the scene seems more than a little chaotic. Not only is there the inability of the disciples for a cure, we hear that there are scribes arguing with a large crowd and the disciples. One can only imagine the depth of this argument in confronting something that is evil.

For anyone who has been involved in pastoral ministry, in trying to console those who grieve, it becomes clear that there is nothing more difficult, or at least few things more difficult, the parent who has a sick child, or a child who dies. It is in this vein that Jesus reminds us in the gospel that faith makes anything possible. But here’s the interesting line: I do believe, help my unbelief! In the midst of a difficult life even for people of faith, there is the recognition of the need for a closer relationship to God. Let us pray that God strengthens our faith as well.

Homily for Monday, May 4, 2015

Readings for Today

Do you believe? So often in the gospels, a miracle or other divine action by Jesus is done because of the faith of the person to be healed. In fact, when he goes back home, he is not able to work miracles because the people do not have faith. We are reminded that our God is not invasive. The way in which God chooses to act in our lives is by respecting our freedom. It is not simply a case of barging into our soul, but rather being allowed in when we allow God to do so. The respect of our freedom is one of the most powerful signs of God’s love for us, for in being free agents we share an important quality of God, who is perfectly free.

But it is also the most problematic in some ways as well. How often have you heard people say, or maybe even you yourself, “Why doesn’t God prevent this disease, or evil?” And when we hear today’s encounter from the Acts we see that Paul and Barnabas are imitating the example of Jesus. Paul sees the man has the faith that he can be healed. This is not small thing. Perhaps this imitation of Jesus is what caused the crowds today to want to make them into something with which they were already familiar. They do not know Jesus, but they do know Paul, and they know the system of Greek gods and so they attempt to make Paul and Barnabas fit into that world.

The readings today got me to thinking about whether or not I would ever be confused for Jesus. In other words, would my actions, my attitudes, my example and witness, would these be so much like Jesus that people might mistake me for something with which they are already familiar. Have you ever wondered this? Have you ever thought about whether the way in which you interact with people is really in imitation of Jesus? Do you seek to have the beliefs, attitudes and actions of Jesus ever before you as the goal worthy of emulation?

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Homily for Friday, April 10, 2015

Readings for Today

What’s in a name? I suspect if I rattled off a few slogans and jingles, it would not take too long to identify the name of the company that uses it. The first question asked of new parents is what the name of the new child is. When a new sports team is created, there is much thought given to the name of the team. When thinking of the name of a website, great care is given to come up with something that is easy to remember.

I remember a former student who was given a nickname because of a character he played in a drama. At first, he really enjoyed the new nickname, and I suspect more, the attention he got from his friends. But over time, he enjoyed the nickname less and less, until the one day in class he told his friends that he really did not like it at all. He did not want his identity reduced to this silly nickname.

And so just what is the power of a name? Usually parents give careful thought to the name of their child. I remember the difficulty very good friends of mine had in coming up with a name if their first child was a boy. (Fortunately they had a girl, and the name she has was the name of the Sister of Mercy who introduced them.) At a baptism, the first question asked of the parents concerns the name of the child.

Today in the first reading we encounter Peter and John who want to make it clear that all they are doing is not in their own name, but is rather, in the name of Jesus. Peter understood the power of a name. First, because Jesus changed his name from Cephus to Peter, based upon Peter’s confession of faith and his role in the Church. Second, and more importantly, it is because Peter has come to believe, by God’s grace, the identity of Jesus as the Son of God. It is not that Peter is the most important, but rather that Peter, by allowing Jesus to act through him, can invoke the name of Jesus through which miracles occur.

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Homily for Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Readings for Today

I do not like being dependent on others. While there are times when it is a good thing, there are also times where I do too many things myself when I would be better to let others help. And so the thought of having to be carried anywhere, to be so dependent upon others that I could not go anywhere without being carried by others, is not in any way an enjoyable situation for me. Every day, day after day, this man is carried to beg. Not only is he dependent upon others to move, he is also dependent upon others for sustenance. Were it not for others, the man would likely die.

But on the day we encounter this man, it is not the same old day. Today, he is carried into the presence of Peter and John, newly emboldened by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the new life of Jesus. While the focus of the story is the man healed, I find myself wondering about those that carried the man to the Beautiful Gate. Were these the same people as yesterday? Did they carry this man every day? What is it they hoped would happen for the man they carried each day? Were those who carried the man honest, or were they the type who might take some of what the man received in donations? Were they people who had cared for this man his whole life? Were they people filled with generosity? Were they themselves poor?

We simply do not know. What we do know is that on this day those who carried the man made possible for him a special encounter with God. Whether they were kind or not, what they did put the man in a place where Peter and John could make something miraculous possible in his life.

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Homily for Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Readings for Today

There is, it seems, a constant tension between the law and the spirit of the law. There are those people who simply cannot see there might be times when to follow the letter of the law is not in fact the moral thing to do. I think this is partly behind some of the tension and upset that some members of the Church feel about Pope Francis. Some see a danger in the pope’s “off the cuff” remarks, for example. It may be the case that some of these people, if they were around at the time of Jesus might have felt the same way.

While it cannot be the case that anything important in life avoids all rules (that is a slavery unto itself) it does mean the rule can never become more important than the purpose it serves. It is for this reason that Saint Dominic did not create an order where failures to follow the rule of the order resulted in sin. He wanted it to be clear the most important purpose of the rule was one that led to holiness. Often, the rules do just this, leading a person to holiness. But there are times when following the rule literally does not lead to holiness.

If Jesus were to have followed the literal rule, he would never have done anything construed as work on the Sabbath. But he never forgot the purpose of the Sabbath. It was to free humans from their work, so that they may make a choice to relax, and to reflect and pray. Healing someone, even if it required “making paste,” etc., had the importance of leading to a potential life of holiness.

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