Compete for the Faith: Homily for Friday, September 22, 2017

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Readings for Today

Today’s first reading could easily describe the current climate in our country.  How many feel envy, rivalry, insults, evil suspicions, and mutual friction? How often do we hear insulting words about positions that we do not share? It is much easier to shame than it is to argue convincingly for the truth.

And yet this is contrary to the way in which Jesus gathered disciples.  And thankfully Saint Paul outlines the types of things we should be pursuing.  Pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. This does, however, require trust, not in money, wealth or any other thing, but trust in a person, namely Jesus Christ.

You Tricked Me: Homily for Sunday, September 3, 2017

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Readings for Today

He was eager.  Young.  Maybe a little naive.  But Jeremiah willingly followed God.  He became the mouthpiece for God.  Even when the words were hard, and not well received, Jeremiah was faithful.  He tried to avoid saying bad words.  But the love of God and the power of his Word were too much.  His love for God spilled out.  He spoke for God because of love.

Confronting someone is never easy.  We often avoid it.  We look the other way.  And yet, if we love God, we must love others.  Sometimes confronting someone is an act of love.  When someone is doing something wrong, the loving action can be to correct it.  Parents who love their children do this.  Spouses confront each other at times in a healthy relationship.  And as we learn from today’s readings, Christians confront each other out of love for God and them.

Persistence: Homily for Wednesday, August 30, 2017

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Readings for Today

It can be difficult to stick with something when it gets hard. We can feel like we want to give up.  The real test of value and importance is when we find a really hard challenge that seems impossible.  And yet, to confront evil, to provide justice, and to stand up for what is right does not come easy.  And what if things do not go well? It gets even harder.

When we think of Christian faith, it can feel like we are all alone in our beliefs.  The world has become secular. People do not value the things they used to value. There seems to be more and more a “live for the moment” mentality.  But as Saint Paul teaches us in their first reading today, hard work pays off.  Persistence is a value.  Staying with something means showing we are committed.  The greatest persistence comes from God’s love for each one of us.  And we can continue because God never gives up on us.

Love Neighbor: Homily for Saturday, August 26, 2017

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Readings for today

Which commandment is the greatest? That was yesterday’s question.  Remember the answer.  Not just the greatest commandment, but Jesus mentioned the second greatest commandment too.  Today it is clear why Jesus felt compelled to say this.  He discusses the difference between the knowledge of the law, which the Pharisees have, and the application of that knowledge, which they do not have.

Too often this is applied to mean Jesus did not care about the Law.  That was not the case.  Jesus says other times that he has come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets, not do away with them.  So just what does he mean?  He clarifies by his words and actions the purpose of the Law.  The Law is always meant to bring a person closer to God.  So to preach is not just about knowing the Law, but helping others to understand it, to apply it, to live it.  And, it is about accompanying others when they fall, and seeking their forgiveness and understanding when we fall.

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.

Queenship: Homily for Tuesday, August 22, 2017

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Readings for Today

Last week on Tuesday we celebrated the Assumption of Mary.  Mary did not sin, and so Mary did not receive the consequences of sin.  She did not die. More than that, today we celebrate her high place in heaven.  Mary is our Queen.  She is the queen of all saints.  Her “yes” to God was total.  She did not hold back any part of her will to following God.

What this means for us is a powerful intercessor.  We know Mary can only lead us to Jesus.  It is not possible she leads us astray.  The Eastern Church, in her icons, demonstrates this.  Mary is always pictured with a hand pointing to Jesus.  He is always the center.  Today, may we ask Mary to pray for us, that we too might follow her generous response to God.

Remember: Homily for Monday, August 21, 2017

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Readings for Today

It can be easy to forget all that God has done for us.  We do not remember all of the times God has shown love or mercy.  We quickly forget those times where grace filled our hearts.  This is the state of affairs in the first reading.  People have quickly forgotten the promise made to serve the Lord and to reject evil. In fact, even the judges appointed to lead them forget too.  The people worship other Gods.  They choose not to follow the commandments.

In our own lives too, we can find ourselves rejecting God despite all God does for us.  Each day the stark choice to follow or reject God is before us. Every day we can follow God, receive grace and grow in faith.  Or, every day we can choose to reject God and go our own way.  But our faith tells us rejecting God is not without consequences.  God wants to pour out to us his love, mercy, and grace.  When we reject God, we receive those consequences of our choices where we receive death and destruction.  Ask God for an open heart.  Choose God.

Mercy: Homily for Friday, August 18, 2017

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Readings for Today

Once again I am focused on the response to the psalm.  His mercy endures for ever.  This response is so comforting to me.  But packed into this response, especially when considered against the backdrop of the gospel readings of the past few days, is also a challenge.  It will always be true that God’s mercy will last. But it may not be true that I am able to receive it, because of my closed heart.

The readings of the past few days remind us that we must forgive.  It is not that God withholds forgiveness.  Rather, it is the case that our hearts, when we choose not to forgive, are closed to God’s mercy.  To open our hearts, we must seek to be like God.  Even though God’s hatred of sin is just, God’s mercy is given to those who repent.  It can be the case that we do not forgive the actions of others because we find those actions in our own lives.  We commit these sins.  By forgiving, and prayer for the grace to forgive, we open our hearts wider to receive God.

 

Revenge: Homily for Saturday, July 15, 2017

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Readings for Today

It can be difficult to avoid revenge. When someone harms us we want to get back.  If someone hurts us, we want to hurt them.  Being a Christian means rising above this.  Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek.  Jesus tells us to pray for persecutors.  Jesus tells us to love enemies.

But this is not possible completely on our own.  It is only possible with God’s grace.  God gives us the means to do this.  Joseph could have taken revenge on his brothers.  But God’s grace enabled him to see a greater plan of God.  Since we can in no way be greater than Jesus, let us hear his words.

Homework: Homily for Thursday, July 13, 2017

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Readings for Today

Consider the call in today’s gospel.  “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons.”  This is quite the homework.  Thank goodness that like any good teacher, Jesus gives help.  We are never on our own.  We live in the Spirit, we receive grace, we have God’s love.

What does this mean for us? That even if we face hardship, persecution, difficulty or suffering, we will never do so alone.  God is always with us.  And remember: nothing is impossible with God.