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.

The Divisive Jesus: Homily for Monday, July 17, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Divisive.  It is not common these days to think of Jesus as a divisive person.  It seems the popular notion is that Jesus is a warm fuzzy teddy bear.  He loves us.  He does not challenge us.  He never scolds us or thinks we do anything wrong or sinful.  Jesus reaffirms what we already believe.  But today is different.  Today we read in the gospel about a Jesus that comes to bring division, not peace.

It is important to remember that being a Christian is not always easy.  That is why we need grace.  We need the help that God gives us to be faithful to our relationship with Jesus.  Being a Christian means standing up for what is good and right.  And there is a cost to us when we do so.  Sometimes the cost is standing up for what is right and losing friends.  Sometimes the cost is not giving in to fear and welcoming the stranger.  Sometimes the cost is not accepting the priorities of the workplace and to make other aspects of life more important.  And always the cost is recognizing that as important as family relationships and friendships are, there is no relationship more important than the one we have with Jesus.

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.

Homily for Saturday, September 5, 2015

Readings for Today

The Lord of the Flies, the famous novel by William Golding, shows the tragic consequences when there exists deep divisions between people. His view of human nature suggests a pessimistic view that suggests that without societal controls humanity will become very destructive. And yet, in that same novel, there are those who seem to rise above the negativity of humanity even if it is the case they pay a great price for holding fast to their conscience and their dedication to the common good.

What causes the great rift between Jack and Ralph, and how is it that each attracts people to subscribe to this way of looking at the world? Why is it that some are attracted to Jack and the type of concern for self-preservation and power that does not appeal to Ralph and those who hold fast to him?

We could ask this same question when we consider the world, both today and historically. In the height of the riots in Los Angeles, it was Rodney King who posed the question, “Can’t we all just get along?” We could clearly still ask that question today? Why is it the world is such a chaotic place? Why is it that the world is filled with such gruesome and gross violence? How is it that things have come to this?

For Catholics, we recognize that there is a consequence that occurs when everyone sins. The harm is not just to ourselves, or to those impacted by our actions, but by our sin we harm everyone. Every since the first sin, all of us have had this predisposition to sin. While it is not that “we cannot help it”, it is the case that we all stand in need of the grace of God to do what is right.

This is a counter narrative to the “American spirit.” As Americans, we embrace the type of rugged individualism that causes us to believe that we do not need anyone else’s help. We can go it alone.

Today’s readings remind us that we not only belong to God, but we also are dependent upon God and God’s mercy if we are ever to move beyond the hostility and division we all experience. Too often, we seek to move beyond this by force, or by withholding from others what we have. Rather than share, we seek to hoard; rather than welcoming the stranger, we want to build walls. On the one hand we can embrace the values of our faith, while at the same time acting in a way that is contrary to the will of God and the example of Jesus.

Remember all that God has done for you. The suffering and death of Jesus has enabled us to experience new life. If we are open to the grace of God, we become reconciled with one another. By surrendering to the will of God and his grace, divisions are melted away, and if not, at least our example of life can become the seed of a new and vibrant faith.

God wants to reconcile you to him today. Seek that grace. Go to confession. Find the deep mercy of God that longs, again and again, to embrace us with the deep and powerful love we cannot even begin to fully understand.