Hungry? God has food: Homily for Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Readings for Today

Today’s readings made me hungry.  Isaiah discusses rich foods and choice wines.  Jesus discusses feeding the great multitudes that followed him. But all this talk about food is not accidental.  We can easily see food is a comfortable thing.  When we are hungry, food fills. But what do you want to fill up with? For it is not just an empty stomach that can make us hungry, but also an empty soul.

And when our soul is empty, it is not as easy to fill it ourselves. We can try.  We can look to eating too much, drinking too much, working too hard, or seeking unhealthy physical comforts in something like pornography.  But the soul can only really be filled by Jesus. It is only when we acknowledge our hunger for something more, and invite Jesus into our lives that we get full.  What are you spiritually hungry for? Ask Jesus for spiritual food.  It fills.

Seeking the presence of God: Homily for Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Readings for Today

Yesterday we discussed a world that seems filled with darkness.  We thought about despair, and how easy it is to lose hope. But ultimately we tried to remember that God keeps his promises. Today’s readings remind us of the need to be attentive.  God is active and alive. This activity is not only in the world,  but also in our soul. God is active in our hearts, in our souls, in our lives. And the images from Isaiah remind us that God’s presence is miraculous indeed.

Do you seek to find how God has been present in your life? Do you search your heart and soul to discover the spirit-filled presence of God? The list of wonderful, unbelievable things that God does in Isaiah, the promise of God’s greatness is impressive.  But so too is the list of things God longs to do in your life. Advent is a time of seeking to find the God that longs to do this for you. And when you discover that, and when God keeps his promise, be sure to give God thanks and praise.

The Season of Hope: Homily for Monday, December 4, 2017

Readings for Today

Looking around the world can cause a loss of hope.  We can despair.  There seems to be new threats of war daily. There is crime.  There are people who are in desperate situations. There are people who do not want to help those in need. We seem so angry at each other. The state of things in Washington with politicians seems worse than ever. How is it we can keep faith in such dark times?

Today’s readings remind us that Christians must live with hope. Regardless of how dark things may seem to be, God’s promise is greater. The Light of the World is stronger than any darkness.  The first reading describes a great promise of hope.  And God keeps his promises.  The gospel demonstrates the faith of an “outsider”. But his faith brings healing.  How can our witness to hope Jesus gives bring light to a dark world?

God’s Call: Homily for Sunday, January 15, 2017

Readings for Today

Do you really know that God is calling you specifically?  That you are bound for something great?  Do you really understand that God wants you to fulfill your part in witnessing to God that only is for you, the beloved creation of God?  Often we fail to see that we can be called to great things, and we certainly do not always realize that it is God’s grace that gets us there.  What is it that God is calling you to do?  How is it that God is calling you to be great?  In reading the stories of Isaiah, Saint Paul, and Saint John the Baptist, we can find ourselves inspired by the same God and the same grace that lead them to holiness.

Wednesday of the 2nd Week of Advent: Have you heard? (December 7, 2016)

“Have you heard?” This question can be quite popular. It may signal some wonderful piece of big news.  Sometimes, the news is gossip.  Sometimes, the news is major, something tragic or happy. Whatever, this question get attention.  People want to know the latest news.  No one wants to be left out.

In many respects, today’s first reading is about this question.  Have you heard? What big news follows this question? The LORD is the eternal God, creator of the ends of the earth.  Wow.  That’s big.  Have you heard?  When was the last time you asked someone this question  as a faith question? Have you heard? God is the eternal God. Have you heard? God has created the world.  Share your faith.  Ask the question.

Most of us have friends, acquaintances, and others who may not believe.  They may not know God id the Lord, the eternal God, the creator of the ends of the earth.  They may not be aware that God longs to comfort, to heal, to provide rest.  God longs to remove from us our burdens, and those things that make us weary.  So, have you heard?  God is looking for you.  God wants to enter into an eternal relationship, because God is the Lord.

Readings for Today

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 Sunday, February 7, 2016

It is easy to forget that so much of our relationship with God is not dependent upon us. All we need to do is to place ourselves in the presence of God. By doing so, we both lose those sins and shortcomings that keep us from being the person God has created us to be, and we are able to be sent forth for the mission that God gives to only us. As we move into the season of Lent this Wednesday, let us place ourselves in God’s presence to receive the powerful and life-changing love of God.

Homily for Sunday, January 24, 2016

Readings for Today

Audio Readings for Today

How is it we avoid giving into despair when we see so much death and destruction around us. We fear terrorism, we see destruction in the Middle East, the tremendous death and martyrdom of Christians in the Middle East, those who go without basic necessities and other things we so often take for granted. Just as Nehemiah and Ezra reminded the people that despite the destruction and death of their day the Lord is still with them, so too, by acknowledging that Jesus is the Messiah we can avail ourselves of the same hope, mercy and grace of God Ezra proclaimed to the people.

Homily for Sunday, September 13, 2015

Readings for Today

The word identity is one that gets tossed around a lot. We hear all kinds of people reference it in terms of needing to find or discover it. While at one time, it may have only answered the question, “Who am I?”, today it seems to have taken on a much wider and more often applied meaning. Today it seems to be applied to a whole host of descriptions that includes, but is not limited to our job, our sexual preference, our gender, our faith preference, labels others give us, heck, even our credit needs to be guarded for the sake of our identity, so that it does not become stolen.

Jesus might have started today’s conversation with the disciples rather innocently, “Who do people say that I am?”, but before long the question becomes much more direct. When he firsts asks the question in reference to others, it is easy to hide behind pretty non-personal revelations. It is what others think. They do not need to lay any cards on the table. But before long, it becomes this personal question: “But who do you say that I am?”  There is now no hiding. They must speak boldly about how they have come to experience Jesus.

As is often the case, it is Peter who first speaks boldly. He always seems to want to be noticed. Impulsive, but obviously a big heart. Did the other apostles agree with Peter? Did Peter say what he did  because he fully believed it, or because he thought it was what Jesus wanted to hear? And if these answers were indicative of all of them, or some of them, how was it the apostles understood themselves, and what the answer to Jesus question implied for each of them?

Because while it may seem the question is answered, in reality, given what happens next, it is not. Peter does not really understand what it means to be “the Christ”, and his answer demonstrates that the impulsive fisherman might also have a practical side as well. Whoa, whoa, whoa, there Jesus, let’s talk about this. You do not need to suffer.

In some ways, Jesus in today’s gospel is like that master teacher who introduces a lesson in a way that it cannot be forgotten. Peter may appear to have the right answer. In fact one of the gospels indicates that Jesus looks at Peter with love. But when he shows to the others a complete misunderstanding, Jesus creates that memorable moment that drives home his very important point. Everything in faith is about following where God leads.

And this begins clearly in the first reading with listening and hearing. God opens our ears. But he does so when we seek. When we ask. We have to create some type of opening in our ears to hear. Because the temptation to close our ears is great. In a time when we have more information than ever available to us, we tend to limit what information we take in to those sources that we know will agree and share our point of view. Because as the first reading continues, when God opens our ears, Isaiah continues by showing that it did not lead to immediate glory, but rather to plucked beards and beaten backs.

Both the first reading and the gospel tell us that faith cannot and must not be mere words. James tells us that too. We must be careful as Westerners and Americans from thinking that what James is advocating is something where works are primary over and against faith. This is not the case. I think a more accurate read is that what James is advocating is that if our faith does not cause us to act, to see the dignity of each human being, and to commit to share what we have with the poor, to shelter the homeless, to do those good deeds not for show but because our faith compels us to, it is then that we see the proper order.

Faith is still primary for James, but it is not enough to say we believe if we do not engage in a life that witnesses to our belief. Without being judgmental, since I find myself struggling with the proper balance of good works and faith, it can be the case that we are more concerned with protecting our own interests, living our Christian faith only when it suits us. Build a wall to keep the strangers out. Yet, Christ reminds us in Matthew’s gospel we are acting in faith when we welcome the stranger. We become concerned when it appears that “those people” from far distant lands may come here to kill us, take our jobs, and ruin our way of life.

Are we first and foremost followers of Jesus, seeking to serve the common good, or are we more concerned with protecting the stuff we have and not having our lives too upset. It is perhaps the irony of today’s readings that it is not just the identity of Jesus that is asked about here. Our identity, who we are, what we believe and how we act is all on the line today. For if we want to answer the question of Jesus, “But who do you say that I am?” then we must also be starkly honest about what that answer means for our personal identity.

Homily for Sunday, January 11, 2015

Readings for Today

Christmas. Epiphany. Baptism of the Lord.  There can be a temptation to focus only on our own baptisms on this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. While not trying to minimize the great day that was our own baptism, today is really another day that is about knowing who Jesus is. It is a Christological day today, as we learn again about the identity of Jesus.

Perhaps it is for this reason that the Baptism of the Lord is considered part of the Christmas season. We hear today, just as the angels announced at Christmas, and the magi proclaimed for the Epiphany, that Jesus is Lord. Today we do not know if anyone other than Jesus heard this, but we do know that the evangelist recorded it for us. And as such, we are privy to the words of the Spirit.

“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” The Son of God. Jesus is identified clearly for who He is. Not only is Jesus human, once again we are reminded that God has become human, that the Incarnation is true and real. But perhaps most important to us is exactly what we learn about Jesus that is not mentioned here.

But let us begin by what we do get today. The first reading from Isaiah certainly reinforces the Messianic overtones. This passage from Isaiah, together with those in chapters 49, 50 and 52 are known as “servant” passages, which the early Church equated with the Christ. These passages help us to understand what it will mean to be the Messiah. It will help us to see what we should expect from the Messiah. It is hear the identity of Jesus is foreshadowed. And in the gospel it is made clear.

When we think of the reading choices today, what we see is the type of relationships the Messiah desires. We do not hear of a vengeful God, but rather one who is that gentle one who works for justice, who invites the thirsty to quench their thirst, who asks all to recognize that what he offers is far more than can be found anywhere else. It is a servant who teaches us about a loving God whose love is far more than we can imagine.

But it is also about what we do not hear about today, namely that immediately after today’s gospel, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the desert. Think about this for a moment. Jesus is led, not of his own accord, but by the Spirit into the desert. I am reminded here that it was Mary who pondered these things in her heart. In other words, to comprehend the actions of the Spirit, it is necessary to reflect in the desert. Jesus is driven by the Spirit, and in the action of the Spirit we too learn what it is we must do.

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Whenever God acts in his life in miraculous ways, it is Jesus who retreats to that quiet place. He did not forget today’s lesson given by the Spirit. And neither should we. Just as Jesus is led, driven, into this deep relationship with the Spirit, so too are we. We must allow ourselves to be led, to be driven, to that silent place where we not only encounter God, but we are able to affirm what we experience.

What is it that we are called to affirm? First, we are called to be thankful. We are called to develop that eucharistic spirit that is indeed the call to thanksgiving for all that God has done. Second, we are reminded that silence is indeed where our faith is strengthened, for it is in silence that the distractions are removed so that we can focus more clearly on God in our lives. Thirdly, when we are open to the silent reflection where the Spirit leads us, we are able to see not only those times when we cooperated with the grace of God, but also those times when we too must repent for the sins we have committed, so that our relationship with God leads us to become more fully the person we have been created to be.

In a way, we are called, by the baptism we have received, to recognize our own relationship with the Christ. We are called to join ourselves to a community of people who seek Jesus, and believe in him so that they can follow him. It is the grace of God that is made real through others that our Church, our parishes, our local church, calls us to experience. Every time someone is baptized, we hear again the affirmation of the Spirit given to Jesus, that we too are in a profound relationship with God that leads us more fully to the person we were created to be because of the love of God.