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.

Value: Homily for Sunday, July 30, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Good investors are those who know the value of things.  They spend money knowing what something is worth.  They buy low and sell high.  The can see where things are headed, and so make money on their investments. They know how to seek out value.

In a way, the spiritual life is not much different.  It too is about knowing the value of things.  What makes it hard is that spiritual value is not always as easy to see, and certainly not always as easy to live as the more observable types of values in economics.  But if we find something that is valuable, at least to us, we will do what is necessary to get it. This is why parents sacrifice for their children.  And this is why people leave all behind and follow Jesus.

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 Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Reading for Today

Ask any teacher what is a least favorite question from students, and I am sure many will answer with this question: “Will this be on the test?” There are many reasons why this question is so annoying. Perhaps for me, the most annoying reason is that what is usally impied by the question is that if it is not going to be on the test then I do not need to pay any attention to it.

I think this is the spirit behind the question asked today in the gospel, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” I do not think this is a casual question because the disciples are curious. No, I think they are trying to evaluate their chances in being saved. Will it be hard for them to be saved? Do they have to work hard at following Jesus? Do they have to know everything about fostering a relationship with Jesus, or can they only sort of paying attention, like skimming a book instead of reading it.

That is why I think Jesus answers the way he does. “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” In the spiritual life, as in other things, we should not settle for the easiest thing, but rather should strive to be what God wants us to be.

We know this to be true in other important areas of life. True friendship is not about doing the minimum just to get by, but is rather about seeking a genuine friendship. People should not enter into a marriage hoping things are just “OK”, but are willing to give themselves to the other totally and fully, knowing they will be more because of this relationship together.

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Homily for Friday, October 10, 2014

Readings for Today

When it comes to faith, how do we do we do? What I mean to say, is that when great things happen when we are engaged in some type of ministry, how is it that these results occur? When someone arrives at a deep insight in faith, because of something we said, or another person is able to get through a difficult time, because of the support that we have provided, just how is it that these great things occur? This is the question Jesus faces in the first reading today. He is doing miraculous things in his ministry. All kinds of wonderful things are occurring because of his actions and works. The temptation arises in the minds of some that this is all because of Beelzebub.

Jesus tells us something more. When we do these things, in our own ministries, namely supporting another, or helping someone to come to some insight about the faith, it can be tempting to think that these things are something that would’ve happened anyway. We can give in to the temptation that such things are merely coincidental. For persons of faith, what we are challenged and invited to see is that the world looks different through the eyes of faith.

So much of our faith life is really about how we see the world. On the one hand seeing the world through the eyes of faith is not to minimize those things that occur because we collaborate with God’s grace. On the other hand, it is to recognize that there are those things that occur, those insights that happened, and those miraculous events in our lives that can only be understood when we see them through the words and actions of Jesus in our lives and in our world.

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Homily for Sunday, August 17, 2014

Readings for Today

How do you feel about the foreigner or the stranger?  When you hear about immigrants, illegal or otherwise, coming across the border, what is your first reaction?  Do you welcome them?  Do you try to learn more about the situation from which they come?  Do you lump them all together as if they were all exactly the same?  Do we find ourselves angry that countries are not accepting those Christians in Iraq who are being persecuted?  Do we believe there is no need to help other countries because there are enough poor right here?

Today’s readings ask us to examine our attitudes toward the foreigner.  In the early Church, the role of the foreigner was so difficult it almost tore the Church apart.  Should those who follow Jesus be required to become Jewish, following Jewish law?  In other words, the gentiles, the nations, what should they be made to do in order to be baptized?

Today’s gospel is a learning experience for the apostles.  The parameters of Jesus’ mission are wider than they thought.  It was not just to the Jews they were called to go, but to the world.  The invitation to faith is not for a select few, but to all willing to open their hearts to Jesus.  The Canaanite woman, who undoubtedly heard about the works and miracles of Jesus, who may even have heard him speak, calls out after Jesus.  This action itself would have been problematic for a devout Jew, for interacting with her made one unclean.

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Homily for Saturday, August 16, 2014

Readings for Today

When I consider education, I consider elementary school teachers to be the most heroic.  They are with their students literally all day long.  There is no bell to signal release from a student with whom the teacher might not get along with, and if there is a particularly challenging mix of students in the same class, the teacher needs to figure it all out.  So what is it about a child that causes Jesus to use them as an example for the Kingdom of God? Because when you look upon a child, while there are moments when a person might call them “adorable”, there are other moments when they are anything but adorable.  What qualities then, do children possess that make them worthy of imitation of acceptance of the Kingdom of God?

In considering the best qualities of children, there is a sense of trust and wonder in children that we can lose as adults.  There is a genuineness and sincerity in children that can warm even the most cynical heart.  Children are also brutally honest, never afraid to ask the question that as we get older we do not wish to ask, because it might be embarrassing.  Children are able to see the beauty in the world.  Dandelions are not weeds, and just about anything can trigger imagination and play.  And so with this outlook, children possess a mentality that can make it easy to see the Kingdom of God all around them.

Perhaps the quality most common to all of us is that of vulnerability.  Children are vulnerable.  They need the care and protection of their parents, for they have not yet fully come to understand the world in a place that can be safe, but is also dangerous.

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Homily for Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Readings for Today

There cannot be two moves more different than today’s first reading in today’s gospel. Poor Jeremiah. Things are not going so well for him. This is not simply in a small way, but in fact in a way that is so significant Jeremiah even regrets his birth. As the prophet, he has the task of speaking words that no one wishes to hear. He is not a prophet that is popular, and he is not a prophet who appeases.  Yet in the gospel, we encounter someone who is so excited about the kingdom of God, they’re willing to give up everything for it.

How is it that both individuals who have given everything for the sake of God’s kingdom in God’s message, for the sake of God himself, to react so differently? The answer is obvious: it is easy to be joyful when the outcomes of following God are good. And, it is natural to feel sad, even tremendously depressed, and following God’s will brings nothing but difficulty.

That is why great and holy saints, like St. Teresa of Avila, or St. John of the Cross, caution us about becoming too attached to the consolation I can be hours because of the faith. This is so, because they were both well aware that there can be times in our life, even long times in our life, where we do not experience the consolation of our faith. While faith certainly can bring joy, committing ourselves completely to God can also sometimes bring sadness, and heart ache.

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Homily for Saturday, June 21, 2014

Readings for Today

Do not worry.  While it is easy to tell someone not to worry, the fact that Jesus needs to address this in today’s gospel, in concrete and specific ways, means that is not so easy to avoid worry and anxiety in our lives.  Unlike yesterday, where the concern seemed to be as much about those possessions that are not needed for survival, today’s concerns are practical and concrete. Today’s concerns are necessary. We need clothing, shelter, food.

And so it seems quite natural that people would be concerned about such things. Careful attention needs to be paid to what it is that Jesus is saying in today’s gospel. He certainly is not suggesting that we should not be concerned about those things that keep us alive. In fact, again and again in the Bible, we hear about the importance of caring for these basic needs when they are wanting either in our lives or in the lives of others.

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Homily for Friday, June 20, 2014

Readings for Today

What do you value?  I remember being taken aback, the first time I heard someone ask, “How much is this worth?”, rather than “what does it cost?”  I had never thought of something that I associated with the decision of the seller, as something that had worth.

And yet in today’s gospel, Jesus helps us to recognize that many of the decisions that we make, are really about what worth, or value, we place on things, people, our lives. While the point that Jesus is making in the gospel seems clear enough, putting into practice is difficult indeed.

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