It ain’t all candy and roses: Homily for Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Readings for Today

Sometimes the Christian life is presented in such a way as to make it seem easy. Jesus is the kind teddy bear, and not only does he never demand anything of us, he makes all things feel good. While this type of feel good religion is tempting, Jesus never embraced such a religion. Persecution. Division. Not Peace. Conflict. Even Death. The life of one who follows the gospel is not automatically good. In fact, some would call the age we live in today the age of the martyrs, as Christians are being persecuted and killed all over the world.

The good news is that for people who have total trust in Jesus, like the widow a couple of days ago, the grace and love of God can see them through anything. Jesus mentions the difficulties so that we do not go into intentional discipleship blindly. Rather, he wants us to know that while it will not always be easy, we will also face whatever comes in the power of this relationship with Jesus.

Sick and Tired of Violence: Homily for November 2, 2017

Readings for Today

Violence just seems to be endless.  Again and again there are stories on the news about this mass shooting, or that violent attack.  Hardly a few days go by when it happens again.  I wonder how to make sense of it all.  Sometimes it can be hard to find the presence of God in our world.  Sometimes it feels as if sin is winning.  It feels like death has the upper hand.

And violence is only one type of challenge.  We have loved ones who die, we have diseases and illness, we have hardships of all kinds.  And if there is one thing about the Solemnity of the Commemoration of all the faithful departed, it is that God continues to give to us time and again mercy and forgiveness.  Praying for the dead is the concrete sign of that mercy.  While God hates sin, God loves us.  God gives us every single opportunity to be saved.

Sufferings are as nothing: Homily for October 31, 2017

Readings for Today

My faith is not strong enough.  Unlike Saint Paul, I cannot consider my sufferings as nothing.  I believe it to  be so in my mind, that compared to heaven these sufferings are tiny.  But in my life, I cannot simply see them that way.  There is so much suffering in the world.  There is so much hardship.  It can be easy to give into despair.

God brings hope.  All we need to do is ask. For when we remain focused on the prize of Heaven, we rise. When we proclaim Jesus has triumphed over death, we win.  When we remember all that Jesus does, we can overcome any suffering.

Despair to Hope: Homily for Tuesday, September 19, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for today

Today we encounter a woman who is understandably in the depths of despair.  Her son is dead, and to make matters worse, she is a widow.  This parent must face the death of her son alone. Can there be any greater heartache to a parent than to lose their child? I cannot think of one. I bet most parents cannot think of one, either.

And yet, in the height of her sadness and loss, she encounters Jesus.  And as Jesus always does, Jesus brings life.  Sometimes in moments like today’s gospel, he does so in an easily observable way.  At other times, it is in the challenge that might mean initial sadness before receiving life.  Regardless, today we are all reminded that Jesus is the author and source of life.  Let Jesus raise life in you.

Wages: Homily for Wednesday, August 23, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

This gospel goes against our sense of fairness. The same wages are given to all regardless of work.  Whether for one hour of work, or the whole day, everyone receives the same pay.  How is that fair? Yet the first hired agreed to this at the start. Take the job, get paid the usual daily wage.  The rest were told they would be paid whatever is just.  Or, they were not told at all exactly what they would be paid.  But they all agreed, and they all worked.

Yet I can understand the anger of the workers who had worked all day long.  They could have sat around and waited.  But they needed the job, and they answered the call of the owner of the vineyard for workers.  They were not cheated.  What they resent is the generosity of the landowner.  This is a story about God.  The God we follow is more generous to us than we deserve.  But when we see that generosity of God in the lives of others, we too can be resentful.  We can decide to grumble.  Yet when we truly appreciate the generosity of God, it is then we can rejoice every time God is generous, be it to us or others.

Journey: Homily for Sunday, July 2, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

It has been said that life is a journey.  It is used as an analogy because we often know little of what lies ahead.  We can be surprised by wonderful happy moments or sudden tragic sadness.  Sometimes, in fact most of the time, life is ordinary.  Just like any trip.

The first reading focuses on seeing and recognizing the presence of God.  and because of our baptism, we can see the world in a way, because of God’s grace, where we never journey alone, since we are led by God. Through good and bad, thick and thin, happiness and sadness, and even the ordinary, God is always there.

Holy Suffering: Homily for Wednesday, June 7, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

There are moments in life where we find ourselves at a desperate place.  At these times, it seems that there is simply nothing more we can do.  They can be moments of such suffering that we are not even sure if we can bear it.  At other times, it is the result of such hardships that it seems too much.  It can be illness, tragedy, death, ruin, whatever.  What is it that can make suffering something that does not destroy but rather gives life?  Is there such a thing as holy suffering?

Fortunately for us, there is.  Because of the life-giving act of Jesus, suffering has become redemptive when the suffering humans endure is united with his suffering on the cross.  Today in the readings, there is real, deep, powerful outpouring of prayer, seeking the healing of God.  Perhaps today’s readings serve as a reminder to us that we have to turn to God always, but perhaps most of all when it appears that all is lost.

Choice: Life or Death, Blessing or Curse. Homily for Thursday, March 2, 2107

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Choice.  I am a fan of Servais Pinckaers, a Belgian Dominican priest who was a significant moral theologian of the last century.  Pinckaers helped to identify the ways in which humans can understand choice.  On the one hand, there is that choice which can be limited to this or that, a choice between two things.  This is what we might call today license, and what Pinckaers called a freedom from.  When freedom is understood as license, then anything that in any way restricts our choices is bad.  Often when a teen complains to parents, “Don’t tell me what to do” they say this because they do not like having their license to do whatever they please taken away.

The other type of freedom is what Pinckaers described as a freedom for.  In other words, choices are made not because it is something I want to do and you cannot stop me, but rather because I want to become someone.  In this understanding, I choose to tell the truth even when it is hard to do so because I want to be honest.  I choose to stop eating chocolate covered cherries by the boxful because I want to be healthy.  I exercise even when I feel like sitting on the couch because I want to be fit.

It is in this sense that we can understand the choice of the first reading.  “Today I have set before you
life and prosperity, death and doom.”  When we first hear that question, we might ask ourselves who would possibly choose doom?  Who would possibly choose death?  And we would be right to wonder those things.  And yet, anyone who has seen a person suffer from an addiction knows that death and doom can be chosen.  Anyone who has watched someone seek to acquire an endless amount of money or material possessions, and to then be worried about it being taken away, so much so they never give it to anyone, knows how the death and doom that is greed can be chosen.

Death and doom are chosen when people only focus on doing whatever they want, not on what they can become.  Death and doom are chosen because “no one can tell me what to do.”  Life is chosen when we decide to become that person God has created us to be.

Unbelief: Homily for Monday, February 20, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click the link above.

Readings for Today

Unbelief.  In the midst of everything that happens in today’s world, it can be difficult to believe. First, there are the things that have always been difficult for people of faith. Such things as an innocent child who gets sick and dies. Or an inexplicable car accident or other type of accident which takes someone’s life to early. Perhaps there are those instances where a relationship fails, and we seek answers. Maybe the difficulty is simply that we cannot seem to believe in what we cannot see, or experience, or touch. There can be many challenges to belief.

That is true even for people who do believe. Such is what we witnessed in today’s gospel. A man brings his son in faith for a cure. But the disciples are incapable. The disciples simply cannot bring about a cure for this man’s son. And the scene seems more than a little chaotic. Not only is there the inability of the disciples for a cure, we hear that there are scribes arguing with a large crowd and the disciples. One can only imagine the depth of this argument in confronting something that is evil.

For anyone who has been involved in pastoral ministry, in trying to console those who grieve, it becomes clear that there is nothing more difficult, or at least few things more difficult, the parent who has a sick child, or a child who dies. It is in this vein that Jesus reminds us in the gospel that faith makes anything possible. But here’s the interesting line: I do believe, help my unbelief! In the midst of a difficult life even for people of faith, there is the recognition of the need for a closer relationship to God. Let us pray that God strengthens our faith as well.

Cross: Homily for Friday, February 17, 2017

To hear the entire homily, click the links above.

Readings for Today

Cross.  I don’t like the cross. In my heart of hearts, I’m a coward. I’m afraid. I find it hard sometimes to separate gaining the whole world, from gaining eternal life. I find it much too easy to be shortsighted. Seeing the immediate, the now, the things that seem so close and right in front of me, the things that bring immediate reward. I’m expecting a package from Amazon today. I’m really excited. But it’s not really something amazing, or tremendous. I doubt it will change my life. But I’m really excited.

But about the cross? I’m not so excited. I’m afraid. I don’t trust. I don’t trust Jesus, and I don’t trust God. Far too often, my focus is on myself, over what I can control, and over what I can do. And yet, during those breakthrough moments when I have been able to trust God the benefit has been far greater than anything I could’ve imagined. In those moments where I think back in my life and ask myself when has God never been there for me, I can say never. I can say that God has always been there for me. Despite my selfishness, God has always been generous.

So why do I have such a hard time embracing the cross? The cross of Jesus, change the entire world. When Jesus embraced the cross, and suffered death for you and me, salvation was open for all of us. Despite our sinfulness, holiness was possible. New life was given to us. Dear God, with whatever cross you give me today, help me to embrace it like your son. Give me the grace to say yes, to take up my cross, and follow you.