Confronting the Regret: Homily for Friday, October 13, 2017

Readings for Today

It is common that someone who is dying will review their life.  They will consider things for which they are proud, and they will seek forgiveness for what they regret.  Sometimes that will mean a conversation with someone they have harmed during their life. That is what might be happening in the first reading today. There may be that regret for the sins committed.  The current situation is the result of past actions.

But God is stronger than past sin. God wants what is best for us. And despite our sinfulness, God forgives whenever we seek mercy from God. These past few weeks have seemed like the end time.  Hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes, violence, wildfires. Not a bad time to consider a life review.  Not a bad time to think about confession. While sin can be strong, God is stronger.  Always.

Who is saved before me?: Homily for Sunday, October 1, 2017

Readings for Today

Sometimes I get a little smug in my faith.  I think that I am pretty good.  I feel proud of myself. And as I read today’s gospel, it is just at those moments that I should worry.  Because I might very well find Jesus saying to me that the less likely in my eyes are going to be saved before I am. The very people I look down upon, they might be the ones who have really heard the word of God.  They might be the ones who have accepted Jesus.

It is so easy to put others down.  It is so easy to dismiss those who do not seem to be much in the eyes of the world.  Sinners.  It is easy to dismiss sinners by convincing myself that I am not a sinner. I am not like one of ‘those people’. But Jesus has a stark message for me when that happens.  ‘Those people” might be the very ones who truly hear what he has to say.  And if I do not humble myself before Jesus, I might be like those locked out of the wedding feast.

Saving Sinners: Homily for Saturday, September 16, 2017

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Readings for Today

The first line from today’s first reading says it all.  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. So simple, and yet it is the foundational belief of our discipleship. We need a savior because we sin.  And Jesus is that savior.  Every other belief comes from this fact.  Jesus is our savior.

Also, this line gives us hope.  Our sin does not lead to our damnation if we confess it to Jesus.  We know this is true because Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.  And that means I can be saved, and so can you.

The Cross: Homily for Thursday, September 14, 2017

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Readings for Today

A while ago, Cardinal George made a statement about his successors winding up in jail.  I thought it was a bit of hyperbole.  Then I heard the line of questioning from Senators Feinstein and Durbin.  Suddenly what Cardinal George said did not seem so far-fetched.  Apparently, a federal judgeship must not be a serious Catholic.

None of us like the cross.  We do not like to suffer.  But we must recognize the truth.  The suffering of Jesus leads to our salvation. Too often we want the resurrection without the cross.  At other times we may overemphasize the cross at the expense of the resurrection.  The truth is clear: we need both.

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.

Choice: Homily for Saturday, August 19, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

There comes a time in our lives, perhaps many times, where we must choose God or reject God.  It is the case that God profoundly respects our freedom.  And so God does not force us to follow him.  Rather, God seeks to give us the grace and persuasion to choose to follow him.  Today Joshua puts this choice before the people.

This is the choice: follow God or reject God.  Serve God or serve ourselves. Be open to grace or harden your heart. What will you do? What will you choose? Today, choose God, serve God, love God.  You will not be sorry.

 

Mercy: Homily for Friday, August 18, 2017

To listen to the entire homily click here.

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.

 

Fire: Homily for the 19th Week, August 16, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

I had a little bit of a challenge when I took a psychological test called the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, or the MMPI for short.  The test is a long (very long) series of statements that are either marked true of false by the person taking the test. The test is constructed in such a way that it can be determined whether or not someone is trying to lie on the test.  I found one of the questions a challenge.  The sentence read, “I am fascinated by fire.” Well, the truth is, well, yes.  Yes, I am fascinated by fire.  But would the test scorer read too much into this? While I am fascinated by a campfire or a fire in a fireplace, I am not fascinated by a building fire.  I have no interest in arson.

The response to the psalm today mentions being filled with fire.  Fire is a powerful image of faith.  There is the fire at the Easter Vigil.  Saint Catherine of Siena said that if we became what we were created to be we would set the world on fire.  When looking at a campfire, we realize its complexity.  There is an interesting chemical process in a fire.  There are many different temperatures.  There are many different chemicals.  There is a power in fire.  And today we realize the same is true for us when we experience the fire of faith in our soul.

 

Mercy: Homily for Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Ligouri, August 1, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

There is a natural tension between justice and mercy.  On the one hand, it is important to know that there are actions that are wrong, and that when we commit them we need to seek mercy.  On the other hand, God does not condemn us when we sincerely seek his forgiveness.  He has mercy.

Today we celebrate Saint Alphonsus Ligouri, founder of the Redemptorist Order.  He lived at a time with harsh rules and a spirituality which considered the human being to be fundamentally evil.  Against this backdrop, Alphonsus stressed the mercy and forgiveness of God.  Moses does this too.  He seeks God’s mercy for the sins of the people.  Perhaps today, in honor of Saint Alphonsus, you might go to confession to receive God’s mercy.

The Power of Repentance: Homily for Tuesday, July 18, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Tyre and Sidon did not really have a good reputation.  In the book of the prophet Joel, they not only rejected the religion of Joel, but placed the silver and gold from the temple into their own temple.  And when mentioned by Jesus, the big problem is the lack of repentance.  There is no acknowledgement of sin.  There is no desire to change ways.  And for this failure, Jesus chastises them.

What about us?  Do we recognize our sin?  Do we bring this sin to Jesus to be forgiven? Do we seek reconciliation? In the modern day it is easy to excuse sin.  It seems that in modern culture there is simply no longer a sense that there are bad or immoral actions.  There can be a tendency to allow anything as long as it does not seem to bother anyone.  Perhaps the challenge is that we no longer believe in miracles.  We no longer can see the action and presence of God.  Make the first words of the gospel your own.  Repent.