The Signs on the outside: Homily for December 1, 2017

Readings for Today

The Second Vatican Council in the 1960s challenged the Church to be attentive to the “signs of the times.” The idea was that just as colored leaves signaled the change of seasons from fall to winter, so too the events of our lives could signal something to us as well. But this is only true with faith. If we do not see the world through the eyes of faith, then we cannot make sense of where God may be active in the world.

As we approach the end of the Church year, and the beginning of a new year, it is important for us to be attentive to where Jesus is active in our world. What signs of progress should we observe? What areas do we need a push in the right direction to fix? What is our role in recognizing how God is active in the world?

The beauty of Wisdom: Homily for Thursday, November 16, 2017

Readings for Today

There are moments when we see something so beautiful it stirs our deepest emotions. The birth of a child stirs parents deepest emotions. A marriage proposal can stir the deepest emotions. Weddings, baptisms, ordinations can touch us deeply. Today we learn that God’s wisdom touches us more deeply than all those things.

That is why there are so many words used to describe it in the first reading.  God’s wisdom is well beyond our understanding. Still, God allows us to get tastes of wisdom, to the degree we can understand. And those are precious moments.  Those moments stir the very depths of our soul

Homily for Thursday, January 1, 2015

Readings for Today

Peace. What is it that brings peace? This is a day that focuses on many things. In fact, it has been a day where we celebrate many things. But today I think of peace. And the thought of peace today means thinking about the Blessed Mother. Why? Because she shows us in how she lived her life how in the way that lead her to constantly experience true and lasting peace. “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.

Think of the months Mary has experienced. There was the message of the angel, the trip to Elizabeth, and the challenge being pregnant without Joseph, and explaining what had happened would be difficulty enough. Then there is the travel while pregnant and the miraculous events of the shepherds. No wonder Mary feels the need to reflect and pray. She has experienced so many things, that it is only by taking the time to treasure them in her heart that she can remain focused on the meaning that God has brought forth in her life.

When we reflect on the blessings in our life as did Mary in hers, our eyes become more attuned to the blessings that await us in our life. We can even see in the difficulties and challenges how they can become blessings. In fact, this constant reflection lets us know that indeed we are never alone.

We spoke about this when we discussed the Incarnation. Today we learned that it is not just the awareness of the Incarnation, but that this beauty of God’s presence can come to us in so many ways. Think of how Mary will experience God’s presence. An angel. Joseph. Shepherds. Wise men. Miraculous signs. Jesus. And most importantly, Mary recognizes the presence of God that never leaves her heart. It is when she can treasure the events of her life in the perspective of God’s constant presence that Mary finds the true peace that lasts.

Our world certainly needs this peace, the peace that surpasses understanding and only God can bring. If we are to have this peace, we must change our hearts. We must see how the events of our life could be seen in the way God wants us to see the world. We need to be less selfish, and learn to share. We need to make sure the witness we provide by how we live our lives is indeed the way in which the gospel calls us to live.

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Homily for Saturday, September 20, 2014

Readings for Today

I remember being told once the difference between Eastern thought, such as those in Asia, and Western thought, such as Europe and North America, could be seen in the understandings each had of mysteries. In the East, a mystery is something that is experienced for the sake of mystery. In the West, a mystery is something to be solved.

While this may be a little simplistic, I was reminded of this statement this morning as I heard the words of today’s first reading. While certainly our faith is reasonable, there are moments when we need to enter into our faith simply with the view that we are going to enjoy the mysteries of our faith, that there are some mysteries that become clouded when we think too much about them.

This is evident when someone suggests that any homily about the Trinity usually borders, or even is, heresy. Are not there times when we think of God that it is simply necessary to acknowledge God is in our midst, or to sit in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament knowing that God loves us more than we can know?

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First Sunday of Advent December 2, 2012

Today’s Readings

It is not unusual that every age believes it is facing the worst of times. When we think back to the days of Socrates, he complained about the youth of his day, how they didn’t show respect, and seem to be directionless. Picking up the newspaper, or watching television, we too seek challenging events that cause us to question our faith, and whether or not God is truly present in our world. In fact, in the face of such difficulties and horrible events, if me difficult for a believer to remain optimistic in God’s life-giving power.

It should not surprise us then, that Jesus himself refers to difficult events when speaking to his disciples. In describing his ultimate second coming, Jesus refers to a world with numerous signs causing such fear among the people that they will die of fright. It is not difficult to imagine such situations. We can consider a person the recent diagnosis of cancer perhaps experiencing such fear. Or when we consider areas of violence like serious, or Iraq, or Afghanistan, we could certainly understand if people experienced fear in such a measure that they could die of fright. Each of us has probably had an experience where we have found ourselves so afraid that we run the risk of getting into despair.

It might seem odd then, that we begin the liturgical year with such an ominous reflection. But we begin by being reminded of two significant purposes of the celebration of Advent. First, in these days, we prepare ourselves for the ultimate coming of Christ at the end of the world. Jesus reminds us, that while such a day may be a source of fear for the unbeliever, for those of us who believe the second coming of Jesus is our entry into glory. Perhaps more specifically, the second coming is an invitation for us to be open to the coming of Christ in our daily life. Just as people without hope or without faith might get into the ultimate despair that becomes present in a world filled with suffering, so too can we. part of this reflecting on the end of the world, should cause us to seek The recognition that Jesus continues to commit to our lives each and every day. The second purpose of Advent, which we begin to focus on in a significant way after December 17, is the commemoration of the incarnation of Christ.

The Incarnation reminds us of the source of our hope, in the first reading spelled out this promise. Hopefully each one of us in the midst of our faith and in the midst of our lives has had the experience of the support provided by loving and caring community of faith. While it is never easy to mourn the loss of a loved one in death, hopefully we experience in the care and concern of others a tangible experience of God’s love for each one of us. As people made in the image and likeness of God, we are challenged to be the signs of God’s presence in the world. While we don’t make God present, after all God is infinite, we do provide a witness that we believe that in the power of God’s love to transform the world.

Jesus reminds us the season of Advent is a time for us to be awake and vigilant, so that we do not miss the presence of God all around us. St. Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians challenges us to make the love of God about allowing people to be more disposed to seeing God’s love in their own lives, by our witness. Perhaps most importantly, first reading reminds us that we have a God who is faithful in keeping promises. This promise of God’s love, however, is so important that we call it to mind each year less difficult events of our lives cause us to forget.

When we gather here each Sunday, it is a concrete reminder to one another about the power of God’s love. Over the course of this is liturgical year of grace, there will be times when we will, as powerful witnesses, be people convinced the eternal life God promises to each one of us. On other days, we might wonder whether or not God is present, and so we come to this church community seeking to be strengthened by the actions of God and the witness of one another, who witness to us the power of God’s faith.  and so we begin this year recognizing that we are called both to give the witness of faith and to receive the witness of faith.

More than anything else, this first Sunday of Advent reminds us of two different types of time. God makes both holy. In fact the Greeks had two words for our English word of time. But most of us think about when we hear the word time is signified by the Greek word chronos.  It is the type of time that is marked by watches and calendars.the Greeks understood that not all time to me signified in this way. But there are other moments in our lives that call for different accounting of time. We get a small glimpse of this when we say I cannot believe how fast time went by, as when a parent reflects on how quickly 18 years went by on the occasion of a high school graduation. God too, has a concept of time like this. It is best described as those times when God is ready, signified by the Greek word kairos.

The invitation of this first Sunday of Advent is for each one of us to seek the vigilance and awareness that enables us to experience most fully the presence of God in these moments of readiness. We pray this Sunday but our love may increase just as our awareness of God’s presence become stronger.