The Star that Leads to Jesus: Homily for Ephiphany Sunday, January 7, 2018

Readings for Today

Today we are reminded of the importance of following Jesus.  As we encounter the example of the Magi who followed the star, without knowing exactly where it led, we are reminded that our lives of faith are about following someone.  The challenge is that we can choose to follow stars that do not lead to Jesus.  We can be tempted by the allure of the popularity of social media, or the tug of consumerism, or the need to be constantly distracted so that we do not ever confront ourselves about areas where we need to convert.

And Herod in today’s gospel reminds us that we can also follow the false star of power.  It is not just absolute power like that of Herod, but the power of people who believe they can do it all themselves.  The belief that they do not need others.  They can go it alone.  People can believe they do not need God, and so they do not surrender to God. Then there are the Magi, who follow the star that leads to Jesus.  What star will you follow?

Rejoice Always. Pray without ceasing. Know who you are. Homily for Sunday, December 17, 2017

Readings for Today

Do you really know who you are? Or do you try to pretend you are someone other than you are? Do you try to convince others, and worse yet, yourself, that you are someone you are not? Probably all of us fall prey to this at some time in our life.  Maybe too many times. Worse yet is when we try to convince God we are someone other than the person God has created us to be.  At these times, we are really lost.

But today’s readings provide us an important antidote to such temptations.  As dark as the world can see sometimes, God’s light is strong.  We can see if we look.  Hope is a virtue.  And we receive this virtue of hope by being hopeful.  We have great reasons to hope.  God is faithful.  God keeps promises. So, be people of hope.  Rejoice always.  Be faithful to your relationship with God.  Pray without ceasing.  And don’t pretend.  Know who you are.

The New Road: Homily for Sunday, December 10, 2017

Readings for Today

I grew up in rural America, and it did not take much for something to get me excited. Life is kind of average and ordinary.  But when I was little, visiting relatives, there was the day I rode on “The New Road.” I had heard relatives talking about it, and there was a great deal of build up to the day it would actually be open for people to use. It was a four lane divided road that was an upgrade from the small, cracked road that served as the US route before. The level of excitement as we awaited its opening was amazing.

And when it did open, it was amazing.  It was smooth.  And big.  Because of the road’s width, there was a better view of the landscape. Because of the road, a driver could go faster. It did not matter that what the “New Road” was for a while was really a divided highway that only went a few miles. In fact, the original length of the road is only one exit to the next today, as the road has been expanded. But the smoothness of the road, the beauty of the view, and the speed of the vehicle made it all worthwhile. So when the image of rough ways becoming smooth comes up in the Advent readings, I think of the “New Road” because it is a suitable image of the excitement of saying yes to God.

God or balloons – what do you see?: Homily for Sunday, December 3, 2017

Readings for Today

I recently saw a video online from one of my former students.  She has two little girls.  She and her husband were filming the girls as they ran out of the house to see what was different about a small house built in the back yard. Obviously, the parents were hoping the girls would get excited for the arrival of their elves on the shelf, which they had from last year. Now the girls were excited.  About the balloons on the top of the house.  Not about the elves, or the presents on the ledge of the small backyard house. Now I am sure they did eventually, and will continue to get excited about their elves.  But they started so distracted.  They loved the balloons, but missed the elves.

In a way, we can be like that too, especially with the season of Advent.  We can get distracted by tinsel, and glitter, and sales and gifts and presents.  We can focus too much on what we have to do, so that the season of Advent becomes simply one big long list of stressful things on a to-do list. But these things are the balloons on the house.  They are not the center piece.  They are not the priority. If we are not careful this Advent, we could miss the “reason for the season.” We could find our hearts and souls are not ready to receive Jesus this Christmas.

The first reading served as inspiration for the song, “Redeemer, Lord” written by John Foley, SJ.  I find it quite reflective and a great way to pray on this first Sunday of Advent, so I have added a YouTube clip below..

Have you seen Christ?: Homily for Sunday, November 26, 2017

Truth be told, today’s gospel makes me nervous. Have I seen Christ without knowing him? And if I have, did I treat him like the Christ? Did I treat him or her well? Was my attitude toward another person one that would have been the attitude I would have if I knew it was Christ? Did I see Christ and act with malice, or greed or selfishness? Or, did I meet Christ with kindness, generosity and sincerity?

See, the things I admire seem to be precisely those things that Christ does not reward.  Christ in prison? The Son of God hungry? Jesus sick and in the hospital? And when the first reading gets added, the sleek and strong will be destroyed. The shepherds who get rewarded are the ones who treat the lowly well. They are not concerned about their own well-being, but that of others. Do you wonder if you saw Christ today?

Treating all with respect: Homily for Sunday, November 19, 2017

Readings for today

It appears that every day there are new revelations about some sexual harassment that has occurred.  While some of it may be news to men, at least to the women I have spoken with, the prevalence of this sexual harassment is not a surprise.  Why is it we cannot treat each other respectfully? Why is it that we cannot see in everyone the image and likeness of God?

Each reading from today’s Mass, in its own way, focuses on how it is we can be people with greater respect.  The first reading focuses on the tremendous gift of women.  While the duties listed may not apply today in the same way they did when this book was written, the message remains the same.  Women have a dignity and a unique way of witnessing to the Lord that is a great gift. The second reading reminds us about the light of God which leads the way.  The gospel reminds us to trust in the Lord and to use what he gave us for the building of the Kingdom of God.

Getting More than you bargained for: Homily for Sunday, October 29, 2017

Readings for Today

There are moments when we think we are asking about one thing, and we get an answer to the question that we did not expect.  Today’s gospel is just one such occasion. The question asked of Jesus concerns the greatest commandment.  Namely, we should love the Lord our God with everything we have.  But what the person asking the question did not expect was to be given the second commandment.  We are also to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Sometimes then we get more than we have bargained for.  We cannot say we love God if in fact, we do not love our neighbor.  We must see the connection.  And we learn this connection is both the type of love that is action, and the type of love that is forgiveness.  Be careful what you ask Jesus.  You might just get an answer you were not expecting.

Getting more than you bargained for: Homily for Sunday, October 29, 2017

Readings for Today

There are moments when we think we are asking about one thing, and we get an answer to the question that we did not expect.  Today’s gospel is just one such occasion. The question asked of Jesus concerns the greatest commandment.  Namely, we should love the Lord our God with everything we have.  But what the person asking the question did not expect was to be given the second commandment.  We are also to love our neighbors as ourselves.

When Jesus identifies the second commandment, he makes the first commandment clearer.  If we are to love God with all we have, we must love our neighbors as ourselves. Loving God means loving neighbor. We cannot say we love God if we do not love our neighbor.  So when you ask Jesus a question, be careful.  You too might get more in the answer than you bargained for.

 

Loyal to Whom: Homily for Sunday, October 22, 2017

Readings for Today

It would be interesting to see what example Jesus might give to the question about what the state deserves and what God deserves. What exactly is the appropriate relationship between being a good citizen of a country, and a good Catholic? How do we balance the obligations of both? To whom are we called to be most loyal? What do we do when it appears the laws of our country clash with the laws of our faith? How do we sort it all out?

Jesus is asked, in an attempt to trick him, what the relationship is between what is due Caesar, and what is due God. Jesus gives a clear answer that on the surface may be viewed one way, but with the eyes of faith, a completely different. Can you repay God for anything? Is not being a good citizen required?

Come as you are; Sort of: Homily for Sunday, October 15, 2017

Readings for Today

Do you love celebrations? Do you get excited when an invitation arrives in the mail? Today’s readings are all about invitations and celebrations.  The first reading uses rich imagery to describe the invitation to the ultimate feast.  Rich food and choice wines are on the menu.  Yum! God has everything prepared. Get ready, because the feast is going to be something really special.

The gospel too is about an invitation. The king invites guests to an amazing feast. Only they do not want to come. Despite his best efforts, the king cannot convince those invited to come to the feast. So he turns to invite others, who do come. God invites us all of the time to deeper life. But do we arrive ready to say yes to God? Or, do we come ill-prepared by thinking we do not need to change? The invitation to faith by God is an invitation to change.  When we really say yes to God, we allow God to change us. That means being open to repenting from our sins. And when we do that, we come properly dressed for the feast.