Conversion: Homily for Saturday, September 30, 2017

Readings for Today

I read a post from Sherry Weddell about Saint Jerome that underscored how conversion is a process.  Saint Jerome was quite a complex person.  He lived a wild life as a youth, became a Catholic, but did not really convert, according to Weddell’s post, until later. In fact, it was the bible that played an important part.  “Ignorance of scriptures is ignorance of Christ.”

It causes me to think about how well I know Jesus.  And it causes me to ask if I have really allowed Jesus to change my heart.  Or, is it the case that all too often I simply go through the motions.  Perhaps I need to pay more attention to the story of Saint Jerome.  Becuase it is clearly the case I can know Jesus better each day.

Let the Poor Change You: Homily for Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Readings for Today

There are many stories of dramatic conversions.  There is no shortage of stories of how an encounter can change someone. And the saint we celebrate today is one such person with a conversion story.  By encountering the poor, Saint Vincent de Paul reluctantly became a leader of a congregation that not only met the needs of the poor, in rural areas, but also educated priests to do the same.

The conversion was not simply one of a new faith.  History accounts indicated that Saint Vincent went from an irascible man to a gentle man.  He changed.  And this change was also in what he found himself able to do and being called to do.  He became a great leader.  He made a difference.  And all because he saw the face of Christ in the poor.

 

Conversion: Homily for Wednesday, February 8, 2017

To listen to today’s homily, click the links above.

Readings for Today

God wants me to change.  God wants me to repent.  God wants me to change my ways.  I need conversion.  I need to change.  When I come to the realization that there is something that needs to change in my life, I face a choice.  I can change the superficial, or I can really work deep within myself to change the evil that is in my heart.

That is the focus in today’s readings.  We can focus, as the Pharisees did, on the external actions of little consequence.  Or, we can seek to really change ourselves into really better people.  This is the change that really is difficult.  It is not easy to change our hearts.  It is not easy to change our attitudes, those attitudes that keep us away from Christ.

But today we are challenged to seek the change that comes deep in our hearts.  We are called to cast away very difficult things. The gospel list covers just about every way in which we can be away from God.  It covers just about every way we can abuse others, treating them in a way like objects.  We can see people only as a means to get what I want, as objects, slaves, that exist for my pleasure, or we can see them as people made in the image and likeness of God.

The purpose of a life of faith is to live in a real way this relationship with Jesus in an authentic way.  We are called to imitate Jesus and his attitude toward people because he is the Son of God.  We are called to get to know him better so that we are able to grow in faith. Today, remember the first word of the gospel.  Repent.

Conversion: Homily for Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Readings for Today

Is there any conversion story that is more dramatic than that of Paul?  First, he is the least likely candidate.  He has persecuted Jesus.  He has rounded up his followers.  He concurs in killing.  He is a zealous Jew who feels the threat from those who believe in Jesus.  He is the candidate for conversion?  Really?

Today serves as a very powerful reminder that God and God’s grace are indeed all-powerful.  God’s grace can soften the hardest of hearts.  God can accomplish the unbelievable.  God can work miracles.  This is true even with me.  And you.  God can work marvellous deeds if we open our hearts.

We need to be ready.  We need to embrace the challenge.  We need to seek out the conversion.  Because God comes anytime.  Anywhere.  Anyplace.  When we have even a little bit of faith, we recognize what God can do.  God is ready to help each of us to turn away from our sins, just as he helped Saint Paul.  God is ready to lead us in the direction of fulfillment, just as he did with Saint Paul.  God is ready to change our hearts, turning them away from sin and toward love.  Today is the day of salvation.  Now is the time of salvation.  Go forth and open your heart to God.

Homily for Thursday, April 23, 2015

Readings for Today

When I think back over the changes that have occurred in my life, it is kind of amazing. I find it interesting when I remember certain things that would seem quite strange to kids today. (I am kind of sounding like an old fogey, aren’t I?) There was the rotary phone, then the ever modern “touch tone” phone, to today where we have to distinguish what type of phone we are discussing since there are those who do not have the old-fashioned “landline”, but only have a cell phone.

I remember being so excited that I was able to take computer programming in high school. I sat at a terminal, with the large mainframe in a completely different room which I never saw. Programs were saved on paper that resembled a roll of tickets. I have vivid memory of seeing the TRS-80 which enabled us to see what we typed on a screen, though graduation ended the brief experience.

The thought that we can control homes with smartphones, stream entertainment into our homes, and are on the verge of cars that can drive themselves seems quite unimaginable to me. We are in a society that is moving very, very fast. Everything seems to have a need to be instant. Having to wait, even for a short time, has become harder and harder. If shipping something takes more than a couple of days, it becomes frustrating, at least for me.

Continue reading

Homily for Friday, May 9, 2014

Readings for Today

Do people really ever change? I have made the observation more than once when I worked in parishes where there was a Catholic elementary school, that you could learn a lot about people by seeing how they acted in Kindergarten. Essentially, looking at the children in Kindergarten it was not too difficult to spot the leaders, the “hams”, the introverts, and any number of other types of personalities.

Continue reading

Homily for Friday, March 14, 2014

Readings for Today

“That’s not fair!”  How many times has a child said this to mom or dad?  “That’s not fair!”  Equality seems to be a fundamental value in the United States.  The word is thrown around a lot in politics, it is an early concept learned by children, and it is something we all desire, to be treated fairly.  But what does equality really mean?

The word equal can be translated the same as.  So when we speak of a right, such as the right to free speech as being a sign of equality, it means the right given is the same for everyone.  It does not treat one person differently than the next.  No, in the name of equality, every person has the same right to free speech.

There are other moments, however, when we do not treat someone exactly the same, and doing so, creating some inequality, is ok.  Parents do not treat their children equally, because each child has unique needs and a unique personality.  An effective teacher does not treat all children equally, because each child has a different way to effectively learn.  And each child has unique needs.  We do not punish children who wear glasses by telling them to take them off, because we want to treat all children the same, and since some children do not have glasses, then no one can wear them.  That would be silly.  We recognize that treating children fairly does not mean treating them equally.

I worked in a school where a teacher had this taped to her desk:  “Fair is not always equal.”  And so it is with God.  God loves every person he has created.  But God also knows that every person is not the same, precisely because God is the creator.  Differences require that God deal in a unique way with each one of us.  And these differences, if celebrated, make for a more complete picture of the image of God.

Where do we see this in the Church?  There are different religious orders, stressing different gifts, there are different styles of preaching, different cultures, different ways of expressing the call of God in our lives.  How is it that God invites you to a deeper prayer life?  What is it that God does that helps you to grow closer to him?  How is it that you need to change your life to be more attentive to the presence of God?

Homily for Saturday, August 4, 2012

Readings for Today

Yesterday we were left with a real cliff hanger.  Jeremiah was surrounded by the priests, prophets, and all the people, and we were left with the harsh words, “He must be put to death!”  And today’s first reading begins with the same harsh words.  But when Jeremiah reminds the people his words come from the Lord, it is the start of a new way of seeing.  However, it is not the words of Jeremiah alone that seems to sway the people.  Rather, it is the reminder that previous prophets who suggested bad things would occur if changes were not made that caused people to take pause.

Being told what we do not wish to hear is difficult indeed, especially if it means having to admit that we were wrong.  It can be difficult to hear, much less recognize, that we need to change our lives.  It can be harsh indeed to be called out for living an immoral life.  In fact, we are often like the people when we hear such things.  We wish to shoot the messenger, call into question the truthfulness, the integrity or the reliability of the messenger.  We go to great lengths sometimes to protect our beliefs and our way of life.

But we need to consider no more than the first words of Jesus’ message.  Change!  Repent!  We do not have everything together and it is not simply a case of finding people who only affirm us.  In the rule of the Benedictines, the monks are warned when someone enters their community and is critical of some aspect of life or another, that it may have been God himself who sent this very person to the monastery for the purpose of correction.

So today’s first reading puts a challenge squarely in front of each one of us.  What are we being called to change in our own life?  What unpretty things must we face in ourselves?  Where is it that we have not accepted fully enough the grace of God in our hearts?  What areas of sin need to be pruned from our lives so that we can become more like Christ?

While our initial reaction may be to kill the messenger, let us remember the words of the first reading, that we may have the grace to hear God’s call to conversion from wherever it comes.