The pathway to God: Homily for Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Readings for Today

I have never been in a mine shaft, but I have been in the catacombs.  Being underground in cramped quarters is not always pleasant.  It is poorly lit, there is not a lot of room, and it can be cold and damp. But what is absolutely important is to have light.  Without light, it is pitch black underground.  The saint we celebrate today has a name that means light. And she is often pictured as a saint of light, with candles on her head. Some think this is related to her being able to see in the catacombs.

On the surface of her life, it can seem like it was not easy for her to see.  She suffered an absolutely horrible martyrdom.  Turned over to authorities by a man who wanted to marry her, because she would not marry him.  But look at what happened through her Christian witness.  Faith in the Nordic countries began even though she never went there.  Because she allowed God to light her way, she became a beacon of faith to people she did not know.

The power of holiness: Homily for Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Readings for Today

There have been a few times where I have encountered people I believe are really holy.  It is as if I encounter Jesus himself. There is a calm and a peace about these people.  There is a wonderful sense of purpose and direction. And I think it is for this reason we encounter the Blessed Mother twice during Advent in special celebrations. During this hectic and chaotic time that is December, we need a calm example of holiness.  And Mary gives that to us.

And this celebration of Mary, under the title of Guadalupe, reminds us that Mary is not concerned only with powerful people, or rich people, or bishops and popes, but Mary is also concerned with each one of us. And Mary has one purpose in reaching out to each of us.  She leads us to her son, Jesus. Every time.  Every day.  So on this day, open your heart to the prayers of Mary, so that you may become closer to Jesus.

Opposites don’t always attract: Homily for Monday, December 11, 2017

Readings for Today

The first reading contrasts the desert with blooming flowers. The gospel contrasts the absolute trust that those carrying the paralyzed man and the legalistic Pharisees. This season of Advent is indeed a season of contrasts.  Just when we think Jesus could not startle us any more, he does.  Jesus not only heals, he forgives sins. God makes deserts bloom. At every turn, we see the gift of new life.

As we finish the first week of Advent and begin the second, where is your journey this Advent? How have you made room for the Spirit of God? Where do you see yourself filled with expectation at what God will do?

Ordinary Guy, Extraordinary Grace: Homily for Saturday, December 9, 2017

Readings for Today

There is something really interesting to me about people who appear to be quite ordinary, but wind up with extraordinary lives. We celebrate such a person today.  Saint Juan Diego is just such a person.  He became an extraordinary saint who was the vehicle used by the Blessed Virgin to extend salvation.  Just imagine how much the world was impacted by his sharing of the vision. He was a convert to Catholicism. Even after having an appearance of the Blessed Virgin, he goes another way to avoid her, for he is in a hurry to get to Mass. He was not a person of great influence, or power, or money.  But he was a man of faith.

It causes me to think about the degree to which I would allow God to use me.  For me, it is not a question of whether the Virgin Mary would appear to me, but rather one where I ask, would I listen, especially if the task required more than a little courage. Would I have the faith to believe, or would I doubt? Saint Juan Diego is an example of what happens when one has faith in God.

Fully Divine and Fully Human: Homily for Thursday, December 7, 2017

Readings for Today

Today is the feast of Saint Ambrose.  We might not know much about Saint Ambrose, but he is a very important saint for us.  He was one of the first four doctors of the Church. Saint Ambrose was a politician, who unlike today, was so well-loved he was named bishop by pubic acclaim. Perhaps most importantly, Saint Ambrose fought ceaselessly against a heresy that denied the divinity of Christ in a way which made Christ equal with the Father and the Spirit.

During Advent this matters, because it is not just because Jesus was a nice person worthy to imitate that we celebrate. Rather, we celebrate the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity who takes on flesh to become fully human.  Three persons in one God. So that the incarnation is not just one birth among many, it is THE birth that is connected to our salvation. We seek the promises of God because God has become one of us, and has become savior to a people that do not deserve or earn salvation.

Hungry? God has food: Homily for Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Readings for Today

Today’s readings made me hungry.  Isaiah discusses rich foods and choice wines.  Jesus discusses feeding the great multitudes that followed him. But all this talk about food is not accidental.  We can easily see food is a comfortable thing.  When we are hungry, food fills. But what do you want to fill up with? For it is not just an empty stomach that can make us hungry, but also an empty soul.

And when our soul is empty, it is not as easy to fill it ourselves. We can try.  We can look to eating too much, drinking too much, working too hard, or seeking unhealthy physical comforts in something like pornography.  But the soul can only really be filled by Jesus. It is only when we acknowledge our hunger for something more, and invite Jesus into our lives that we get full.  What are you spiritually hungry for? Ask Jesus for spiritual food.  It fills.

Seeking the presence of God: Homily for Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Readings for Today

Yesterday we discussed a world that seems filled with darkness.  We thought about despair, and how easy it is to lose hope. But ultimately we tried to remember that God keeps his promises. Today’s readings remind us of the need to be attentive.  God is active and alive. This activity is not only in the world,  but also in our soul. God is active in our hearts, in our souls, in our lives. And the images from Isaiah remind us that God’s presence is miraculous indeed.

Do you seek to find how God has been present in your life? Do you search your heart and soul to discover the spirit-filled presence of God? The list of wonderful, unbelievable things that God does in Isaiah, the promise of God’s greatness is impressive.  But so too is the list of things God longs to do in your life. Advent is a time of seeking to find the God that longs to do this for you. And when you discover that, and when God keeps his promise, be sure to give God thanks and praise.

The Season of Hope: Homily for Monday, December 4, 2017

Readings for Today

Looking around the world can cause a loss of hope.  We can despair.  There seems to be new threats of war daily. There is crime.  There are people who are in desperate situations. There are people who do not want to help those in need. We seem so angry at each other. The state of things in Washington with politicians seems worse than ever. How is it we can keep faith in such dark times?

Today’s readings remind us that Christians must live with hope. Regardless of how dark things may seem to be, God’s promise is greater. The Light of the World is stronger than any darkness.  The first reading describes a great promise of hope.  And God keeps his promises.  The gospel demonstrates the faith of an “outsider”. But his faith brings healing.  How can our witness to hope Jesus gives bring light to a dark world?

The signs on the inside: Homily for Saturday, December 2, 2017

Readings for Today

Reading the signs of the times is not just about looking at what is all around us on the outside.  It is also about paying careful attention to the presence of God on the inside of our lives. In a world with so many distractions, it can become so easy to become lethargic about the presence of God. In a world with so many challenges, we need to be attentive and awake. We need to be ready to see the presence of God within.

What have you done to help be awake spiritually? In what ways have you looked inside yourself to see the presence of God? How do you make yourself available to see and learn from God? As we review our past year, and as we stand on the cusp of a new year, ask God to make you more and more aware of his love for you.

The Signs on the outside: Homily for December 1, 2017

Readings for Today

The Second Vatican Council in the 1960s challenged the Church to be attentive to the “signs of the times.” The idea was that just as colored leaves signaled the change of seasons from fall to winter, so too the events of our lives could signal something to us as well. But this is only true with faith. If we do not see the world through the eyes of faith, then we cannot make sense of where God may be active in the world.

As we approach the end of the Church year, and the beginning of a new year, it is important for us to be attentive to where Jesus is active in our world. What signs of progress should we observe? What areas do we need a push in the right direction to fix? What is our role in recognizing how God is active in the world?