It all has to do with love: Homily for Friday, January 5, 2018

Readings for Today

Love.  This word is at the center of the gospel.  Without love, little in the gospel makes sense.  However, today it is difficult to understand exactly what love is. It has been weakened so much.  Love, in popular language, can apply to just about anything.  In fact, the way it is used, love can be applied to people or things.  But someone once said, we love people, and use things, not the other way around.

At the heart of any ministry there is the call to love.  But not a sugary sweet love, but one that really challenges.  The gospel sees love as the way we are fulfilled, because God is love.

On the spot: Homily for Friday, November 3, 2017

Readings for Today

Today the Pharisees have to defend their way of living the faith.  They have to stand before Jesus to tell him whether or not he can heal on the Sabbath.  Does the law of God prevent the miraculous, if it happens to fall on a Sabbath? What will their answer be? Is God allowed to answer prayers on the Sabbath?

They do not fare very well.  The Pharisees simply choose not to answer.  How can they? They have no response.  What they are claiming does not pass a common sense test. Despite the miracles they have seen, the words they have heard, they cannot let go of their interpretation of living a life of faith.  And this is what happens when we stop focusing on Jesus.

Trusting the Promises – Homily for Sunday, June 4, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

I remember a special hospital room visit that changed my life.  There are moments when the presence of holiness becomes clear.  I lived with a priest who had not been feeling well for some time.  Eventually, he went to the hospital for tests and learned that he had a very serious and aggressive type of cancer.  After the doctor gave the explanation, I asked him how he was doing.  It was not about his physical health.  I will never forget what he said to me. “I’m glad it’s inoperable.”

That was really hard for me to believe.  How could he be glad?  And yet, he was.  His sister had a similar diagnosis and had recently died, and her cancer was operable.  But the operation really provided little.  “Besides,” he said to me, “I trust the promises.”

Today’s celebration of Pentecost is really about trusting the promises because of the Holy Spirit.

Homily for Thursday, April 30, 2015

Readings for Today

If one of you has a word of exhortation for the people, please speak.” Do you ever see yourself as one being called to give a word of exhortation? Do you take seriously the obligation of baptism that we share, explain and at times defend the faith? Or, in the midst of conflict, do you see that as something left to others, like bishops or priests? Catholics do not have a deep and long history of seeing themselves as proclaimers of the Word. We have more of a tradition of remaining quiet, perhaps because of a long memory that we really did not need to worry about it. People came to the Church.

Today that is not as true. Those who claim “no religion” (so-called “nones”) are the fastest growing group in the United States. The data for millennials is not encouraging. There is a net decline of some significance in the number of priests in the United States. While the number of those students studying theology has remained relatively constant since 1990, the number of priests who retire each year is greater. (For a full statistical report, go to the Center for Applied Research for the Apostolate’s research blog.) There is a need for all of us to see the need to proclaim the faith.

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Homily for Saturday, December 27, 2014

Readings for Today

I do not remember the exact moment I first thought my faith was beautiful. It is the result of being born into a very Catholic family. For most of my life, being Catholic was simply something that was. It was like being from Vermont, or a member of the family, or any of a number of things that simply were always a part of my life. But make no mistake – I think the faith is beautiful.

When I hear the words of the first reading, I think of the many people I have had the privilege of walking with during the process of the RCIA. It is truly inspiring to hear them talk about a faith that was freely chosen as an adult. This is not to say that I regret my upbringing. I loved it. The flourishing of faith is always beautiful.

But I often take the faith for granted. I forget the beauty of experiencing God for the first time, or many times, I forget the excitement of new understandings of Scripture, or of the many fine examples of faith that have been a part of my life. I suppose it is not much different than a husband and wife who reflect back upon those moments they first fell in love. They can think of the beginnings, the experiences, the love they have experienced.

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Homily for Saturday, October 4, 2014

Readings for Today

Most people do not realize that in the Dominican calendar of saints, today is a big deal. It is the day we commemorate Saint Francis. So high do we hold the example and life of Saint Francis, that we call him, as we do Saint Dominic, our Holy Father.

The reason is quite clear, and today’s gospel tells it well. Both Saint Francis and Saint Dominic understood in their day the importance of a very profound witness to a new way of life, a witness that would be compelling to people because of the choice to live their poverty. For Francis, this was done to avoid the trap of riches. For Dominic, this was done to make the preaching central.

For both of them, it was a call to be sent. This powerful example is present to us in this day by Pope Francis, who chose the name of Francis. His choice of this name did not surprise me as much as the awareness that no one else had chosen this name before him. The example of Saint Francis was so clear that his canonization was by acclamation shortly after his death, so profound was life of holiness.

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Homily for Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Readings for Today

It is interesting how God chooses his apostles.  Today we celebrate St. Barnabas, who is the one who mentors St. Paul, brings him to the Christians, and searches him out in Tarsus.  God’s choices are interesting, because at the beginning of Paul’s ministry, it is Barnabas whose name is mentioned first and it is Barnabas who appears to be the more prominent apostle.  Indeed, the preaching of Barnabas brings many believers to the Church.

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Homily for Monday, June 9, 2014

Readings for Today

What do you do when something becomes too familiar?  Today’s gospel from Matthew about the Beatitudes is one that can be missed because we might have heard it quite often.  As a result, we may not pay attention as closely as we should.  Or, even if we hear the words, we might not allow them to sink in as deeply as they should.  We might comfort ourselves that since we have heard these words often, we know what they mean and we think we live them.

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Homily for Friday, May 9, 2014

Readings for Today

Do people really ever change? I have made the observation more than once when I worked in parishes where there was a Catholic elementary school, that you could learn a lot about people by seeing how they acted in Kindergarten. Essentially, looking at the children in Kindergarten it was not too difficult to spot the leaders, the “hams”, the introverts, and any number of other types of personalities.

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Homily for Second Sunday of Advent, December 9, 2012

Today’s Readings

John the Baptizer is a rather odd duck. Rather than living in town, he lived in the desert. He wore strange clothes and ate weird food. He was hardly a warm fuzzy preacher. His words were harsh, and his call conversion to God, displayed an immediate urgency. He did not simply tell people what they wanted to hear, but spoke the truth so sharply, he made enemies. And yet perhaps because of this honesty, people found in his message a call to conversion they eagerly embraced. As Jesus says in another part of the gospel, tax collectors, prostitutes and sinners embraced the message.  And in getting ready for the coming of Jesus, John tilled the soil of people’s hearts in a way that required brutal honesty.

It should not surprise us then,we too are called on the second Sunday of Advent to an honest assessment of our need for conversion. Even a cursory look at our world, indicates that we, as Christians convicted by the words of Christ, have too often not reached out to serve the poor, have not healed hearts riddled by too much violence, or have not lived simply, seeking money or material possessions,  we forget the real important priorities of our lives, even the priority of those whom we love.

There are times in our lives we need such a harsh preacher. And while such words may not always seem pleasant when first spoken, in retrospect they can be the type of words that bring us joy and lasting peace. Perhaps it is because of experiences like the one described in the first reading. There are moments in our own lives where we too are called to shake off those events of misery and sadness, to recognize a new joy of living. And often times it takes a preacher such as John to get our attention.

The Philippian community, to whom Paul writes in the second reading Elicits a different type of response. When I first began teaching, it was not unusual to be told that teachers should feel the same way about every student. Some teachers, this admonition caused great conflict, because as human beings, teachers do have their favorites. What should’ve been said, is that every teacher should treat fairly every student. Like any teacher, Paul too had his favorites. This community at Philippi was certainly one of them. They bring him great joy, that Paul experiences simply in recallalling them, remembering experiences he’s had in their midst. Unlike other communities, such as the Galatians, whom he describes as stupid, Paul has nothing but high praise for the community at Philippi. Throughout this letter of the Bible, Paul’s affection for the Philippians shine through again and again.

These two contrasting preachers remind us that the word joy can be used in a variety of contexts. There are those moments of inexpressible joy such as the birth of a child that we find it difficult to express in words. There is another type of joy that we experience when hard work manifests itself in a project well done. And there is yet another type of joy, such as when someone addicted to alcohol or drugs is able to turn their life in healthier directions. While we use the same word to describe each experience, these experiences varying degrees of intensity. But the readings remind us about today, is the just is the same word joy can describe many different realities of human emotion, so too can we experience God in a variety of ways.

There are times in our lives where we need to hear the sharp challenging words of the John the Baptizer.there are other moments, where we need to experience the fondness of our God as evidenced in the kind words of St. Paul to the community at Philippi. The beauty of our God is his deep knowledge of each one of us. As a result, God’s invitation the said event is as unique as each one of us, each of us is called to accept this invitation in a personal way, one that leads to our salvation.