The Reluctant Prophet: Homily for Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Readings for Today

The book of Jonah is a wonderful book.  In parts it is satire, in other parts is speaks a powerful message against close-mindedness.  Jonah is commissioned by God to preach to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, Israel’s arch-enemy.  Yesterday the reading was the story of how Jonah simply did not want to go to preach to Nineveh.  In escaping from God, Jonah winds up in quite a predicament.  Running from God is not the answer.

Today he is going to go to Nineveh, but he is none too happy about it.  He does not like Nineveh or its people.  He is even more frustrated when the message he proclaims is heard and the people of Nineveh repent.  In a time with so much animosity and anger, the message of the book of Jonah serves as a reminder to us to recognize that God will save whomever he wishes.  Our role is not to second-guess God, but to say yes to him and to witness to his message.

This year, the Church will celebrate Catechetical Sunday on September 17, 2017. The 2017 theme will be “Living as Missionary Disciples.” Those who the Community has designated to serve as catechists will be called forth to be commissioned for their ministry. Catechetical Sunday is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the role that each person plays, by virtue of Baptism, in handing on the faith and being a witness to the Gospel. Catechetical Sunday is an opportunity for all to rededicate themselves to this mission as a community of faith.

The Archbishop’s Welcome Message

My term as chairman of the USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis comes to an end this year, so this is my final opportunity to welcome you to the resources that have been created for Catechetical Sunday. Each year the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis invites experts and skilled practitioners to write or speak about important topics in evangelization and catechesis.  I hope that in past years you have found these resources encouraging, challenging, formational and evangelizing.This year we are collaborating with several other USCCB Committees to provide formation resources to Catholic laity across the U.S. in response to Pope Francis’ call to all the baptized to grow closer to the Lord and to take up their proper role as “missionary disciples.” Our theme for 2017 is Living as Missionary Disciples / | Viviendo como discípulos misioneros. On these web pages you will find 9 different topics presented in both English and Spanish, in the form of articles and webinar presentations, as well as short and engaging videos.

For several years now, these materials have been made available digitally and free of charge in Spanish and English, to insure maximum access for a growing number of users. By popular demand, we also continue to provide posters, prayer cards, and catechist certificates for sale to those who prefer to have them professionally printed. For the past two years, we have moved up the release date so that diocesan and parish catechetical leaders can have access to the year’s theme and artwork well before catechists and teachers break for the summer. These initiatives have led to increased user rates for Catechetical Sunday resources. It is encouraging to know that in one quarter alone the resources received 145,461 views.

I invite everyone to make use of the materials that are offered for 2017–evangelists, catechists and teachers, parents and families, parish leadership and faith growth groups, and anyone striving to live as a missionary disciple. Our website also includes archived materials from past years. On the right side of this page, you will find links to Catechetical Sunday materials from recent years. You can access previous Leadership Institute items from the drop-down menu on the center of this page. These resources can be used alone or shared in small groups for even greater enrichment. They may be especially helpful for those invited by their bishops to participate in the national convocation of Catholic leaders to be held in July, or those involved in the Fifth NationalEncuentro process of Hispanic/Latino Ministry at the parish, diocesan, regional and national levels.

On behalf of the Bishops Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, I thank you for your interest, and I pray that through the sacraments, personal prayer, deeper knowledge of the Faith, and our witness to the Gospel, we may grow in love for the Lord and further the evangelizing mission of his Church. God bless you.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Archbishop Leonard P. Blair,
Chairman of Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis.

Queenship: Homily for Tuesday, August 22, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Last week on Tuesday we celebrated the Assumption of Mary.  Mary did not sin, and so Mary did not receive the consequences of sin.  She did not die. More than that, today we celebrate her high place in heaven.  Mary is our Queen.  She is the queen of all saints.  Her “yes” to God was total.  She did not hold back any part of her will to following God.

What this means for us is a powerful intercessor.  We know Mary can only lead us to Jesus.  It is not possible she leads us astray.  The Eastern Church, in her icons, demonstrates this.  Mary is always pictured with a hand pointing to Jesus.  He is always the center.  Today, may we ask Mary to pray for us, that we too might follow her generous response to God.

Choice: Homily for Saturday, August 19, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

There comes a time in our lives, perhaps many times, where we must choose God or reject God.  It is the case that God profoundly respects our freedom.  And so God does not force us to follow him.  Rather, God seeks to give us the grace and persuasion to choose to follow him.  Today Joshua puts this choice before the people.

This is the choice: follow God or reject God.  Serve God or serve ourselves. Be open to grace or harden your heart. What will you do? What will you choose? Today, choose God, serve God, love God.  You will not be sorry.

 

Salt and Light: Homily for Tuesday, June 13, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Remember salt pork?  It was not the most wonderful thing to eat, but it made quite a difference.  There are those people when eating a meal, even before they taste the meal it must be covered with salt.  There are foods that must be eaten with salt, at least in the opinion of some people.  French fries. Potato chips.  Eggs. Salt adds flavor.  But salt also protects.  Salt helps to preserve foods from going bad.  In an age without refrigeration, salt was an important ingredient in any kitchen.

By using this image, Jesus helps to create the analogy to faith, which has similar qualities.  Faith, too, adds flavor to life.  Faith too, preserves and protects important things.  A disciple is a witness.  A disciple has discovered how it is that faith protects.  And a disciple is one who makes sure to preserve the openness to God, to his grace, so that the flavor that changes life is not lost.

Motivation: Homily for Monday, June 12, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Two people face the same situation, with the same challenges, the same risks, the same potential reward.  Why is it that one person chooses to embrace the challenge, whereas the other person does not?  What makes for the difference?  Even the same person can be drawn to take on a challenge in one instance, and pass on a similar challenge at another time.  While the question of free will and why humans choose what they do may seem easy, it should be understood that there are a lot of factors that go into even making a simple choice.

Today’s readings focus attention on the question of motivation.  Why do we do what we do?  In the first reading, Saint Paul describes a series of reasons for his actions.  The gospel recounts the Beatitudes, a section of Matthew’s gospel many are familiar with, having heard and read it often.  What motivation will you have for what you do?

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.

Proclaim: Tell your family: Homily for Monday, January 30, 2017

(Listen to today’s homily, by clicking the links above.)

Today’s Readings

What a powerful line in today’s gospel.  “Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.”  When we consider this man’s situation, how long he had been separated by this possession from his family, how kind Jesus is.  He has freed this man.  He has made him whole again.  Understandably, this man now wants to follow Jesus wherever he leads.  Who wouldn’t?  But as always, Jesus sees the bigger picture.  This man who has been made whole is now a disciple of Jesus.  Proclaim to your family what God has done! Help them to be made whole!

How often do we make clear to our families all that God has done for us?  How often do we ourselves even know what God has done for us? Proclaim! Tell the Good News that Jesus is in our midst.  There is nothing more wonderful than that!  Proclaim that Jesus is alive and the kingdom is in our midst!

Who are you with? Homily for Sunday, January 22, 2017

Readings for Today

Who is it that you cast your lot in with? Is it God? Or is it some person, or group or cause, that relies on your own efforts?  That is the question that is before us today.  Over the past few weeks, we have seen a lot of division.  We have seen people really get mean to each other with terrible words and phrases.  We have just finished a brutal election season, which, even though it seems impossible, seems to get worse and worse.  So, who are you with?

The temptation can be to rely more on our own efforts than to trust in God.  Paul encounters this in the second reading for today.  Some side with him, some side with Apollos, some side with Cephas, or Saint Peter.   But when this happens, there is too much trust in the messenger and not in the message.  We forget that the disciple of Christ is not more important than Christ.  So, who are you with?

The first reading is similar.  In the sections that come before what we heard today, it is King Ahaz who forsakes God and trusts in human political alliances to save his country.  It fails miserably.  The country is taken over, the people are exiled, and it feels like darkness covers the earth.  Rather than listening to God’s message that came through the prophet, Ahaz got scared.  He simply could not trust God.  While he was in a precarious position, he could not place his trust in God.  But God delivered anyway.  Even though Ahaz did not see the great power of God, the people eventually did.  This is what we read about today.

The gospel reminds us that it is in our call by Jesus that we ultimately experience fulfilment.  A very important reminder is needed.  Jesus was Lord before the election, Jesus is Lord now, and Jesus will be Lord.  it is not about what we can do by ourselves.  It is what God does for us.  Open your hearts to be ready for God.  Pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament, find silence in your home, read the Word of God.  In so doing, you become the vehicle of God’s grace and action in the world.

Christianity Ain’t for Wimps: The Choice is not always easy

I recently saw a cartoon on the internet that placed a challenge right at the heart of my understanding of my faith. Usually I expect to see funny cartoons, plays on words, or jokes. But this one actually present a challenge to me. It was simply a quote: “If your god never disagrees with you, you might just be worshiping an idealized version of yourself.”

It got me to thinking: when was the last time I was challenged by God. To be sure, I can see and admit my sinfulness. But, have I really had a sense that God was calling me to something difficult, something that I did not want to do? Moses and Jesus set the choice before us: life or death, the cross or the comfort.