Not Just Words: Homily for Monday, August 28, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Sometimes in reading the bible, the words we read can seem rather ordinary.  In fact, readings might not immediately catch our attention.  But today’s first reading reminds us they are not just words.  Listen carefully to the words of Saint Paul.  “For our Gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.”  Whenever we proclaim the Word of God or pray over, it God speaks. Do you forget the bible is the word of God?

Saint Augustine did.  While today we remember him as a great saint, that was not always true.  Day after day his mother prayed for him.  God heard her prayers.  But it was the action of God that made this possible.  Only God was capable of so influencing Augustine he converted.  The movement of God in our hearts is still available.  God can still influence in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with much conviction.

Unity: Homily for Trinity Sunday, June 11, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

There seems to be an awful lot of anger.  It appears there is not an issue that does not cause two people to get angry with each other.  It becomes difficult to bring up any issue in certain settings, because it is likely emotions will get out of control.  As a result of this anger, people might decide only to seek out those with whom they agree.  They might choose only to read, watch or listen to those news sources that share or confirm their own bias.  As a result, it can be even more difficult to find areas where a person can encounter a differing point of view.

Does anyone have a desire for greater unity?  More civility?  And in the midst of this anger, what’s a Catholic to do? How can Catholics both commit to the truth on the one hand, while on the other hand choosing the method of conversation and dialogue that leads another to listen? Perhaps the answer lies in the unity of three persons in one God.

Trusting the Promises – Homily for Sunday, June 4, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

I remember a special hospital room visit that changed my life.  There are moments when the presence of holiness becomes clear.  I lived with a priest who had not been feeling well for some time.  Eventually, he went to the hospital for tests and learned that he had a very serious and aggressive type of cancer.  After the doctor gave the explanation, I asked him how he was doing.  It was not about his physical health.  I will never forget what he said to me. “I’m glad it’s inoperable.”

That was really hard for me to believe.  How could he be glad?  And yet, he was.  His sister had a similar diagnosis and had recently died, and her cancer was operable.  But the operation really provided little.  “Besides,” he said to me, “I trust the promises.”

Today’s celebration of Pentecost is really about trusting the promises because of the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday of the First Week of Advent: The Power of the Spirit (Tuesday, November 29, 2016)

We can try to do everything on our own, or we can seek to allow the Spirit of God to enter into our lives.  Which is it?  Perhaps this advent becomes a time to discover opportunities to encounter the Spirit of God and the life-changing power the comes when the Spirit of God is encountered.

Readings of the Day

Homily for Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Readings for Today

I do not know if you have ever thought of yourself as “set apart”, but today’s first reading made me think of the ways in which God describes the people of God. We are described as a people “set apart”. So while today it is the fact that Barnabas and Saul are set apart for a mission, the real truth is that each one of us, because of our baptism, has been set apart for some higher purpose. Our vocation, whatever it is, is the reality that each of us has been “set apart” for some particular purpose that God will use for the best.

I have to clarify at the start that “set apart” does not mean “better than.” It is not that by setting apart Barnabas and Paul God is making a statement of worth. As significant was the mission they undertook, in fulfilling their vocation they were no better than any of the rest of us in answering the call of God to follow him. But it does serve as a powerful reminder that when it comes to the Kingdom of God, it is not our effort alone that makes things happen. No, it is when we cooperate with God’s grace that good things happen.

Jesus makes this powerful reminder in the gospel today. We are reminded that believing and following Jesus means believing and following the one who sent Jesus, the Holy Spirit. But remember — we are sent. We do not go of our own accord. As such, we need to be sure that we do all we can to hear the call. We need to open our hearts and minds to the voice of the Spirit that sends us. We need to place ourselves in places where we are likely to encounter the Spirit. We need to pray, to go to Mass, to go to confession, to read the bible, to pray the rosary and find time for silent prayer. We need to put ourselves at the service of those in need so that we can get to meet Jesus. And so, you are set apart. Time to find out why and for what purpose.

Homily for Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Readings for Today

What’s your excuse? We hear urgent words in the Scriptures. Now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of Salvation! But for us, or at least for me, often it is not. I have excuses. “I cannot pray now because I have to get this done.” “I am too busy to help that person today.” “I cannot make time to hear this person’s story, because they will go on and on.” “I cannot accept the invitation of Jesus, because, well, I have decided there are too many other “important” things to do.”

I have excuses. I have excuses to avoid doing and being what God calls me to do and to be. I hide. I run away. I do not listen. I work hard to make sure I do not have that silence and quiet and stillness that might actually enable me to hear. And as election day has arrived, I also know something else. Just as the ads blast at me, I too am more likely to blame others for my failures.

A recent study I read not too long ago concluded that we, almost all of us, only read those sources of news and other things with which we agree. People who agree with Fox News are more likely to watch Fox News, and associate with others who watch Fox News. People who agree with MSNBC are more likely to watch MSNBC and to associate with others who watch MSNBC. More than once, on Facebook, that “incredible waste of time” according to Betty White (most of the time she is quite right), I have found that people draw conclusions about an event that are not true, because they have chosen to get information about this from a highly biased source.

I do this too. I do not always seek to gather multiple perspectives, and there I times when I take something I have read at its word because I already thought that anyway. And on a day like today, I am tempted not to vote, since I have become more than a little cynical of the political process. I guess I feel that little will change regardless of the outcome.

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Homily for Saturday, August 9, 2014

Readings for Today

We have all had a moment I suspect, where we become so fed up, about the inability of students, or our children, or to an employee, to grasp something we have taught over and over again.  Why worthy disciples unable to cast out this demon? The frustration of Jesus is not about their inability to learn a new magic trick, but rather because of the weakness of their faith.

One constant in the miracles of Jesus is faith.  There are many instances where Jesus says, “your faith has saved you.” There are other instances where people’s desire for signs suggests that people are missing the importance of internal conversion. It seems very clear from today’s gospel,  is it the disciples are unable to cast out the demon, because they doubted God’s ability to cast out the demon.

And yet this doubt can persist in our own lives. There is an area of psychology that seeks to help people to understand how it is that they talk themselves internally. I’m not talking about hearing voices or having mental illness, but what I am saying is that often we doubt our own ability to do something difficult. And it can be the case, do we convince ourselves it can’t be done, even before we begin to try. It is very much the case that we cannot do something, because we believe we cannot do something.

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Homily for Sunday, July 20, 2014

Readings for Today

Just yesterday I was standing outside with a couple of individuals, when one of them looked down, ground quickly grabbed what was apparently a weed.  What was so interesting to me, was how effortlessly they noticed that something did not belong. To me, and to the other person standing there, nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary. To one who had the discerning eye of one who knows a lot about plants, the weed was obvious.

When I was a little kid, I was at times sent out to weed the garden. I cannot ever say that I enjoyed it, largely because I did not see the point. I simply could not understand why weeds were problem in the first place. Some of this comes from the fact that I am not observant when it comes to details, and over my life in terms of raising houseplants I have killed more than I care to admit. I simply forget to water them.

But because Jesus is a master storyteller, I have no difficulty in understanding the point he’s trying to make in this morning’s gospel. Intellectually I understand the problem with weeds. Spiritually, I understand the need for us to be discerning to the events and circumstances of our lives and the lives of others.

The person I mentioned who has such a discerning eye when it comes to notice and weeds, arrived at this point in life through lots of practice, experience, and hard work. The desire to remove the weeds comes from the tremendous outcome of beautiful gardens and spaces. The knowledge to understand which weeds must be removed is due to the great effort put forth to learn. Put simply, the discernment about weeds became possible because of the effort put in to learn about what it takes to be a good gardener.

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Homily for Sunday, June 8, 2014 (Pentecost)

Vigil Mass Readings for Today

Mass Readings During the Day

Perhaps during the civil war we were as polarized as today, but there does not seem to be another time where the country was so divided by political party.  It absolutely seems we are in a time where if the Democrats say one thing, the Republicans will say the opposite.  And, if the Republicans will say one thing, the Democrats will say the opposite.  In fact, mention certain individuals, like Barach Obama, or George W. Bush, or Mitch McConnell or Nancy Pelosi, and there will be an almost immediate reaction of one sort or the other on the part of the persons who hear these names.

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Homily for Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Readings for Today

It can be hard to go where the Spirit leads. Such is the lesson of today’s readings. When we agree to become belivers, we may not fully appreciate what belief will require from us.

I think of my own life. Where I am a priest today is quite different indeed from where I thought I would be when I was ordained. Perhaps the same is true for you. Maybe you took a job that led you far away from where you grew up.

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