Imagine what God could do with our trust: Homily for Friday, December 15, 2017

Readings for Today

There are times when I cannot believe I do not trust in God more.  I cannot point to a single instance where God was not there for me. When I hear today’s readings, it makes me wonder what might happen if I fully trusted God. Think about it.  What would happen if all your trust was placed in God. Imagine how much the world could change if we actually saw Christ fully and totally in every person we met.

This is really the promise of Advent. God promises us happiness and fulfilment if we trust in him.  If we let God show us the way. If we want what God wants. Turn over your life to God today.  Let Jesus into your heart.  Great things await.

Rules: Homily for Friday, July 28, 2017

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Readings for Today

I do not like rules unless I make them.  I like to do what I want to do.  I think I know best.  I think I know what I should do with my life and how I should act.  But I am not always right.  Sometimes I make errors.  In fact, often that is the case.  The first judgement about a person is not always right.  Engaging in a certain behavior does not always lead to happiness.

Why? Because my perspective is limited.  I do not see God clearly, and what I do see, unless I am open to God is clouded.  I sin.  I judge others unfairly.  I choose behaviors that seem good at the time, but lead me astray.  If I could only trust God enough to see the world as he does, I would be happier and more fulfilled.  And for that, I need to follow the rules of God which lead to life.

Call: Homily for Wednesday, July 12, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Do you know you have a call from God? God knows what means fulfillment.  God knows what leads to eternal happiness.  But God’s call is not an order.  It is an invitation.  God invites us to be completely ourselves.  When we do so, we are God’s image. We are just what we were created to be.

What do you do to hear God’s call? What do you do to place yourself in the presence of God? Jesus spends the night in prayer before calling the disciples.  So too must we.

Challenge: Homily for Wednesday, June 14, 2017

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Readings for Today

As a teacher, I have been known to say “Christianity is not for wimps.” My point was that Jesus was not a teddy bear whose only purpose was to make us feel better about ourselves.  Following Jesus would require something from the disciple.  Following Jesus means discipline.  Following Jesus means sacrifice.  Following Jesus means standing up for what is right and true, even in the face of opposition.  Why engage in a way of life that can be so hard?  Why not simply strive for enjoyment?

Truth is, anything worthwhile requires discipline and sacrifice.  Ask those who are married about the challenge of being faithful to the demands of marriage.  Without sacrifice and discipline, marriage becomes a selfish endeavor.  Parents who make no sacrifices and have no discipline will not raise healthy children.  Good employees, good practitioners, good students, good laborers, good anything means discipline and sacrifice.  Those who do not sacrifice or have discipline will not receive the fulfillment hard work brings.  What are you willing to sacrifice for Jesus?

Tuesday of the 2nd Week of Advent: You are the Lost Sheep (December 6, 2016)

I have always thought it a little strange that Jesus tells a story commending the shepherd who leaves 99% of his investment. Why is it the one sheep is so important?  Would it not be more prudent to “cut your losses”? The point is not about business.  Rather, it is about faith.  It is about relationship.  It is about love.  Love is not always practical, reasonable or logical.  But most important in this passage is that the 99 do not need to be found, because they are in a good relationship.  They are already “found” by the shepherd.  It is the one lost sheep that needs to be found.  And so the shepherd searches.

Of course, the point is that we are the lost sheep.  We are the one that is lost.  Jesus leaves those who are in relationship to find us.  We need to be saved.  We are the sinners.  We are the ones who have gone astray.  When Jesus finds us, we hear the comfort that only a relationship with Jesus can provide.  It is the comfort that Isaiah speaks in the first reading.  The great promise will be fulfilled.  And we will be found.

Readings for today

Homily for Friday, August 28, 2015

Readings for Today

Some of the most important advice I was giving about public speaking was trying to remember that when was speaking in public, I was to remember that the people to whom I was speaking were rooting for me to succeed. It may seem obvious once we are encouraged to remember this simple fact (after all, who wants a boring speech), but it is so easy to forget when we see all of these eyes staring back at us.

The power of remembering that power of being supported is easy to lose sight of when we are so busy with all kinds of activity. Many people, though, have the powerful experience of knowing what they could become when someone really believed in them. Children become good at taking appropriate risks when they know that their parents are loving and supporting them. Students have courage to learn difficult concepts when they know their teacher believes they can accomplish these new tasks.

In the life of faith, it can become easier if we remember what is the will of God for each of us. In one way, the reading reminds us the will of God for each of us in the same. “This is the will of God, your holiness.” For each one of us what God wants is simple: God wants us to be holy.

Of course, since each of us is the unique creation by God, then what it means for me to be holy is unique to the beauty that God has placed in my by creating me. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta said that the definition of sin is simply wanting something for ourselves that God does not want for us. This can be easy to understand when we think of actions that are sinful.

But in the spiritual life, what is good for one person spiritually is not good for everyone in the same way. For example, I have a part of my hope that I could be a contemplative. I have a certain romantic idea that I would like to be one who spends their life contemplating God. Yet, when I find myself in such a situation, while it fulfills for a while, it does not satisfy for ever. I believe this is because God is calling me to be something other than one who is only a contemplative. For me, being a Dominican provides the perfect mix of active ministry and quiet contemplative prayer.

Yet, for those called to be a contemplative, the Dominican life is too busy, and in fact, might lead someone away from God. The person called by God to be married, and to raise a family, is less fulfilled if they seek to be a priest or religious. Seeking only what we want, without considering God, means simply that we are trying to find fulfillment by ourselves.

But, if we remember that the will of God is found in the quest to be holy, fulfillment is possible. We find that the benefit of our own efforts are amplified by the desires of God in a way we could not find on our own. Blessed be God in his gift to us of holiness, and thanks be to God when we find ourselves seeking for ourselves what God wants for us.

Homily for Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Readings for Today

It is possible that you may have seen that there is a little controversy surrounding the Synod on the Family, the second session which will be this fall. Since in recent years such open discussions and disagreements have not always been publicly observable, we could think we are in a particularly challenging time in the Church. But controversy is nothing new for the Church. Over the course of its nearly 2,000 year history there have been moments when it was not clear what the course of action should be, or how to express the belief in a way that is authentic and consistent to the truth.

In fact, when we consider the most significant aspects of our lives, we might see that controversy can often be the pathway to clarity. Such a controversy is occurring in the first reading. Jesus and the disciples he chose were Jewish. When Paul is sent to non-Jewish areas of the world, and people believe, the question arises about the necessity of following the Jewish law, and more specifically, do Gentile followers of Jesus first need to be circumcised.

This was a critical question for the early Church. We saw the importance of the question when Paul confronted Peter, and when Peter explains his vision about all foods being clean. And just as the pope called a synod, Paul and Barnabas realize the question is bigger than just the two of them. And so they go to Jerusalem, where the Apostles can discuss the matter. The end result is greater clarity, even if the discussions, at times, might have been painful.

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Homily for Monday, April 6, 2015

Readings for Today

Do you take the resurrection for granted? Has it become so familiar that it has little or no impact in your life? Put simply do you find yourself “fearful, yet overjoyed” by the resurrection as the two Marys felt after the encounter with the Risen Christ? Because truth be told, even a short consideration of the way in which the resurrection of Jesus changes our lives should also make us “fearful, yet overjoyed” because of what the new life given to us, not only without cost to us, but removing the debt we owed, has reversed completely the course of our lives and our destinies.

The two Marys needed time to take it all in, to begin to absorb all that the resurrection of Jesus meant for them. For without the risen Christ, the Church is not possible. Without the supreme act of mercy, the innocent Jesus going to the Cross to die for our sins, and to rise for our future, we are condemned. Without the resurrection of Christ, our faith is worthless, leading to nothing.

But because of the all this, the resurrection of Jesus means the new life of baptism is not only possible but real. Because of the resurrection of Jesus, we receive him every Mass in the Eucharist. Because of the resurrection of Jesus, our sins are forgiven. Because of the resurrection of Jesus, we too are sent forth, just as the two Marys were sent forth to proclaim the Good News. Because of the resurrection of Jesus, marriage is a domestic Church and priests act in the person of Christ.

The resurrection of Jesus changes everything. Nothing can be the same, because we are now a people filled with hope. We are now a people filled with the new life of the resurrection that only Jesus can give, and a fulfillment becomes possible that can only have as its source God himself.

Easter makes all this possible. Easter changes everything. So, go, tell, teach, proclaim: Jesus is risen! Alleluia!

Homily for Sunday, December 28, 2014

Readings for Today

The recent Synod on the Family gathered a lot of attention for only a couple of issues, that of the reception of communion for those who are divorced and remarried, and the question about ministry to gays. But in many ways, the challenges facing the family all over the world are much more numerous than these two significant issues.

When we consider the family not only in the United States but around the world, these are challenging days. In the 2013 US Census, we learned that more adults were not married than were married. More than a third of children in the United States are being raised in single parent households. When we consider particular circumstances, two thirds of all African American children are in single parent households, more than half of Native American children are in single parent households, and almost half of Hispanic households are single parent households.

Consider this quote from the Population Research Bureau. “Researchers have identified the rise in single-parent families (especially mother-child families) as a major factor driving the long-term increase in child poverty in the United States. The effects of growing up in single-parent households have been shown to go beyond economics, increasing the risk of children dropping out of school, disconnecting from the labor force, and becoming teen parents.”

When we then think about the results of the breakdown of the family, and the documented effect of the increase of poverty, the concerns are tremendous. The United States bishops working through Catholic Charities USA, write the following. “Poverty does not strike all demographics equally. For example, in 2012, 13.6% of men lived in Poverty USA, but 16.3% of women. Along the same lines, the poverty rate for married couples in 2012 was only 6.3%–but the poverty rate for single-parent families with no wife present was up to 16.4%, and for single-parent families with no husband present over 30%.” When we consider the effect of poverty around the world, the disparity in income levels is even greater.

How did this happen? To be sure, we have always had the effects of sin in our world. We have been selfish, we have been greedy, we have been evil. And while not all structures are healthy, it seems as it has become fashionable to attack some of the structures that provided greater stability. Not only that, it is fashionable to repeat narratives that suggest these structures in fact never provided anything good.

But  holiness provides something wonderful and good, because true holiness means we reflect the love and power of God. It seems to me that we need to renew our energies to families that reflect this holiness. Holy families share. Holy families promote commitment. Holy families support the quest for the truth. Holy families promote more than anything the quest for love, the quest for the profound relationship that God calls us to live forever.

It is important to say that the invitation to holiness is available to all families. We never say that single parent families, and other non-traditional families cannot be holy. Quite the contrary. But when we consider the example of the Holy Family, it is a story that reminds us that even in the most difficult circumstances can lead to a loving, eternal relationship with God. This relentless attention to God made the family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, even with difficulties, holy. As we consider the events of Christmas, we know that much of the journey of the family was a struggle. There was the journey to Bethlehem for the census. There was the lack of suitable housing. There was the exile into Egypt due to the threat on the life of Jesus. But there was never a lack of attention to their relationship with God.

What does a family need to do to be holy? First and foremost, the holy family of today is focused on the call of God. Family life is a vocation. This means that family life is first and foremost a response to the initiative of God. When families remember this, the foundation of family life is solid. When families imitate the life of the Church, being the home of love, sacraments, forgiveness and grace, they fulfill the vision of the Second Vatican Council which referred to the holy family of today a “domestic Church.”

This means that families today are called to witness to the Church at its best. And it means that each of us, since we all have the personal call to holiness, must witness to this love both in our families and outside our families. The world today is in desperate need to the witness of family love that allows all humans to thrive. Too many witness violence, lack of opportunity, addiction, greed and selfishness. Since these get a disproportionate coverage in the media, it can be easy to forget that peace, opportunity, tolerance, generosity and living for others is in fact prevalent in many families.

Are you centered on the quest for holiness? Do you see being part of a family as a vocation that leads to holiness? Do you make time in the life of your family to foster prayer, learning about God, serving others, helping reduce poverty and working for structural change that leads others to God?

All of this has as its core the Incarnation of Jesus who by coming into our world modeled the quest and life of holiness for us. Once humanity and divinity was joined, it became even more clear to humanity that a life of grace could foster an eternal relationship of love. When we do so, holiness becomes as visible as clothing, since Saint Paul calls us to wear holiness.

So this Christmas season is an invitation to incarnate holiness in our own lives and that of our family. You and your family can by holy. And that is something to celebrate.


Homily for Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Readings for Today

The season of Advent makes a significant shift on December 17. We now focus upon the historical birth of Jesus as our Messiah and the marvelous Incarnation of the Lord as one of us, a human being. Historically, to make the connection between the promise and the fulfillment of the promise in Jesus, the “O Antiphons” were created by monks, probably in the seventh or eighth century as the antiphon to introduce the words of Mary known as the Magnificat. Each word after the “O” describes a title for the Messiah that was common in the Old Testament.

And so today we focus upon wisdom. There is much of the Old Testament we refer to as “wisdom literature.” While wisdom is personified, often as a female, its primary focus is upon human behavior, attempting to outline a way of living that leads to a fulfilling life. In many ways the concept of wisdom is a belief that we have within ourselves the ability to arrive at ancient ways of living that still hold true for us today. Many cultures concluded it was wrong to steal, or to lie, or to kill. Perhaps most importantly is the awareness that human existence only becomes fulfilling when it is lived in the quest for meaning.

But perhaps too we are reminded that because of God’s willingness to reveal himself, that we have a God who makes the choice to be close to us. Such is what we recall in the genealogy of Jesus which we encounter in today’s gospel. God is close to us, because God has planned, even in spite of our sin, to send his Son Jesus to us. This is not a random act, or one of chance, but a deliberate decision by our loving God to come into our midst.

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