Sow Bountifully: Homily for Feast of Saint Lawrence, August 10, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Be all in.  Don’t hold back.  Give your all to God.  Following God cannot be half-hearted.  It is no accident that the readings provide a picture of faith that requires everything from us.  If we are to reap the spiritual benefits of a relationship with Jesus, we cannot hedge our bets.  We cannot have one foot in the world and one foot in faith.  It does not work that way.

If we are to have a relationship with Jesus that can lead to eternal life, we cannot hold anything back.  We must trust Jesus completely.  The cost of not holding back is high.  Saint Lawrence died for his faith. All over the world people are dying for their Christian faith. But when we are all in, when we are completely giving ourselves to Jesus, we bear much fruit.

Homily For Monday, April 20, 2015

Readings for Today

One of the sports catch phrases is “All in.” It is supposed to suggest that the sports team, like the Cleveland Cavaliers who are in the NBA playoffs, are holding nothing back in achieving their goals. They are going to give 100%, they are going to give their all. They are all in. But this concept is not simply limited to sports.

Any type of serious commitment requires the participants to be “all in.” A married couple cannot simply sort of commit to one another. A lifelong commitment to God in vocation, such as being a priest or a sister, cannot be half-hearted. And for all of us, the relationship we have in prayer with God cannot be so-so either. When it comes to prayer, everyone needs to be all in.

We know, however, that we might not be “all in” all the time. But there are those special moments when we might get a special glimpse at what it means to be all in with God. When Saint Thomas Aquinas labeled what he had written as “mere straw” it was such a moment, because when he had that “all in” moment with God, a profound experience with God, his words rightly seemed pretty inadequate. In my life as a priest there have been moments, such as at the moment of people’s death or shortly before that I have been moved because they seem to have an “all in” moment.

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Homily for Sunday, July 27, 2014

Readings for Today

In the world poker, there is a gambling phrase that signifies that nothing is being held back. When one is completely convinced they’re going to one hand the that all of their money, they are in fact, “all in”. Today, when we hear this phrase we hear it for more than just its references to poker. Baseball teams, sports players, just about anybody today, can be all in.

Today’s gospel suggests that it is not just about poker for sports, but we Christians to can be all in. In fact, a careful reading of the analogies of the kingdom of God indicate that it cannot be any other way. When it comes to following the Lord Jesus, and living the life of the kingdom of God that he teaches us, we must hold nothing back.

What this means for us, is that we can’t sort of help the poor, or we can sometimes open our hearts and prayer, or we can once in a while think about the purpose and place of God in our lives. To do so is not really to be a Christian at all. For those who are true citizens of the kingdom of God it means buying that field with everything we have, or seeking that treasure with all that we are. We need to be all in.

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Homily for Friday, August 10, 2012

Readings for Today

Go big or go home.  Go all in.  Leave it all out on the field.  There are any number of phrases that are used to describe that for things that are perceived to be really big, it simply is not possible to hold back.  For things that really matter, we have to make our commitment total.  No where is this more true than when we discuss our vocation.

Think about it.  We do not praise married couples if they only are sort of committed to each other.  It is not true parenthood if one is a sometimes parent.  We have experienced on many levels the deep pain betrayal of religious vows has been for the community in the Church.  When we see leaders more concerned for themselves than for others, we know it is not an “all in” statement of faith.

The first reading is very blunt.  The way to be all in is to be attentive to the poor.  God has a special place for the poor, and time and again we hear that it is our treatment of the poor that is essential as Christians.  More than once I saw on Facebook the saying that Christians certainly were not to be seen at a soup kitchen or a food bank.  And while we do not do things for show, we must consider carefully the words of Jesus that we will become known for our love.

Many Christians that I know are all in.  They volunteer in soup kitchens, donate to food banks, provide free medical and dental care to the poor, they literally try to live Jesus admonition that how we treat one another is the way we treat Jesus.  But this is not simply a club of community service.  It is important to find that time, that quiet reflective time where we allow God to shape us, to form us, into an even deeper reflection of himself.

“Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies”, unless we allow God to mold the worst parts of ourselves away in love, so that we can reflect the images of the divine in what we do, we remain less than we could be.  Many major religions have this dynamic as an important consideration of faith.  For Buddhists, for example, it is eliminating the things to which we are attached, that is the important task of a life of meaning.

Today’s readings, on this feast of St. Lawrence, who gave his life for the faith, reminds me that I too need to give all for the faith.  But that is not far away.  It is as close as the poor person in need, the person who reminds me to seek out always the face of Jesus in the poor.