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.

Becoming Beautiful Grapes: Homily for Sunday, October 8, 2017

Readings for Today

My aunt and uncle had a vineyard behind their house.  It was not very big, but it produced tasty grapes.  I really liked them.  And while my childhood memory may not be great, I do not remember sour grapes. To be clear, there was care for the grapes that I did not see.  They required care.  They needed to be tended to in order to be tasty.

I cannot imagine what would have happened if in spite of the hard work there were no grapes to be had.  Or, worse, if despite hard work the grapes were sour. And yet that is what we hear in the readings.  Despite the loving self-gift of Jesus to save us, we do not always bear good fruit. We turn away.  We disrupt. And sometimes even, we kill.  The call today is to be the disciple that does not disrupt, but bears fruit.

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.