Rejoice Always. Pray without ceasing. Know who you are. Homily for Sunday, December 17, 2017

Readings for Today

Do you really know who you are? Or do you try to pretend you are someone other than you are? Do you try to convince others, and worse yet, yourself, that you are someone you are not? Probably all of us fall prey to this at some time in our life.  Maybe too many times. Worse yet is when we try to convince God we are someone other than the person God has created us to be.  At these times, we are really lost.

But today’s readings provide us an important antidote to such temptations.  As dark as the world can see sometimes, God’s light is strong.  We can see if we look.  Hope is a virtue.  And we receive this virtue of hope by being hopeful.  We have great reasons to hope.  God is faithful.  God keeps promises. So, be people of hope.  Rejoice always.  Be faithful to your relationship with God.  Pray without ceasing.  And don’t pretend.  Know who you are.

Homily for Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Readings for Today

To live an authentic life, it is important to seek to understand ourselves. Sometimes we act in ways where our actions are not always what they seem, even to us. Sometimes we do one thing, but the reason for doing the one thing is for something other motive or reason. For example, we might act nicely toward someone, but we may only do so to get something we want. Motivations arise from deep in the heart. And we always need to be asking God to help us to be honest, especially with ourselves.

Why is it we do what we do? Developing self-awareness so that we can understand our motives is not always an easy thing. In fact, sometimes it is necessary to have the help of others. Such is the case for Tobit in the first reading. He does not trust his wife, and he gets angry at her. She doubts not only her story, but far worse, he doubts her character as well. She is not only lying, but he also accuses her of stealing. But what is really going on?

I would suggest that one challenge is that Tobit is angry, but the object of his anger is not what he thinks it is. He is not angry at his wife, but really is angry at something else. Maybe he is really angry at being blind, or at God, or even at himself. Maybe he is angry that he is dependent upon his wife. Whatever the reason, his lack of self-awareness is taken out at his wife.

The gospel is similar. The question is couched in compliments for Jesus, but the end, or purpose of the question is a trick. They are hoping to catch Jesus in a statement that makes it appear he is either disloyal to Caesar, or to Judaism. It is a tricky answer. Stating a desire to pay the tax could be seen as an admission of his acceptance of the Romans. Giving his loyalty to God may be seen as a desire to be a traitor. Both were high crimes for which he could pay a high price.

In order to help us know what to do, we seek out wise persons. We may see a therapist to help us to face honestly the difficulties in life. We may ask a friend for advice. Most importantly, we may seek out spiritual guidance by making regular use of the sacrament of confession. We may need to find a spiritual director to help us in our attempt to grow in our relationship with God.

Perhaps it is the gospel that helps us with an important goal, namely, to avoid hypocrisy. Not becoming a hypocrite demands the type of honesty that confession or spiritual direction (or usually both) gives us to live honestly. Sin is an attempt to be dishonest with God, which is foolish, as God knows all about us. Honesty is a gift that leads us to a virtuous life, especially when we can be honest about our lives with God.

Be honest with God. Be honest with yourself. Because when this is done, when we are honest, we indeed find it possible to grow into a life of fulfillment as we become better selves.

Homily for Monday, May 19, 2014

Readings for Today

Do you know who you are? Are you really comfortable in your own skin? For some, it is tempting to try to be more than they are. They seek power, or prestige, or money, or riches, or material goods, or to control persons. They come to think that somehow they are more important than others, and have greater abilities.

So, when there are moments when people want to make us something we are not, to make us more than we are, it can be quite tempting to let it go by without challenge. Such has been demonstrated in simple experiments in school classrooms.

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