Who is the liar? Homily for Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Readings for Today

There are some people who really, really hate religion.  It is not just that they disagree with this or that thing, but the very existence of religion makes their blood boil. And it is not just that they do not want any religion mentioned, they do not want anyone else to mention it either.  It is about destroying any public reference to religion. Religion is simply something that is meant to be private. Period.

In today’s first reading, Saint John refers to such people as liars.  Those who deny the existence of God are the ones who speak untruth. Often, if a simple statement is made to an atheist, namely, “Tell me about the God you do not believe in”, it often becomes clear that Christians do not believe in such a God either.

Despair to Hope: Homily for Tuesday, September 19, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for today

Today we encounter a woman who is understandably in the depths of despair.  Her son is dead, and to make matters worse, she is a widow.  This parent must face the death of her son alone. Can there be any greater heartache to a parent than to lose their child? I cannot think of one. I bet most parents cannot think of one, either.

And yet, in the height of her sadness and loss, she encounters Jesus.  And as Jesus always does, Jesus brings life.  Sometimes in moments like today’s gospel, he does so in an easily observable way.  At other times, it is in the challenge that might mean initial sadness before receiving life.  Regardless, today we are all reminded that Jesus is the author and source of life.  Let Jesus raise life in you.

Rules: Homily for Friday, July 28, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

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.

Hard: Homily for Friday, July 14, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Buddhism starts with a statement.  “Life is hard.” Seems so obvious.  But it is not just Buddhism that recognizes that life is hard.  So too does Jesus.  Consider the call in today’s gospel.  “Cure the sick, raise the dead,
cleanse the lepers, drive out demons.”  Not too hard, right? And yet, in human life is not illness, death, and evil among the things that keep us from God?

And so the message that God is with us means removing these things.  God removes what separates us from his love.  God gives life. So when God calls you to do something hard, God also gives grace.

Bishops’ Call To Prayer For Life, Marriage And Religious Liberty

The U.S. bishops invite the faithful to join a movement of prayer and sacrifice for the protection of life, marriage, and religious liberty in our country. Serious threats to each of these have raised unprecedented challenges to the Church and the nation. When confronted with challenges, our Lord calls us to sacrifice and pray. Follow the links below to learn more about how you can answer the Call.

For resources to use in your parish, click here.

Homily for Thursday, January 15, 2015

Readings for Today

There seems to be more than a bit of urgency on the part of the Holy Spirit today. “Oh, that today you would hear his voice.” This is the phrase. Today. Now. This minute. There is a pleading in the sentence. Almost as if the Holy Spirit is saying to us, “Please, hear his voice.” How anxious is the God who loves us to have a relationship with us. Not a minute can be lost. The love of God longs to do everything to let us know how powerful is this love, and how much it can completely fulfill us if we except it.

But our hearts need to hear. They cannot be hard. And it is easy for our hearts to become hardened. We are surrounded by so much bad news. Attacks in Paris, in Nigeria, war in Syria, and Iraq, and Afghanistan, and Ukraine. Violence in our own county that kills far too many. Greed that appears to take over too many lives, too many people who have a lot, but find it is still not enough. There are broken relationships such as divorce, between parents and their children, between co-workers, neighbors and even absolute strangers. We face illness, sickness, even death. There are people that live with far too much chronic pain. It is easy to see how a heart could become hardened.

This decision is made because sometimes we find it easier to harden our hearts than to be vulnerable before a loving God. It certainly can be challenging to trust others in our world of brokenness. Today, yes, right now, this minute, God is inviting us to soften our hearts to hear his voice and become more and more aware of his love. Because as much as we might see violence, brokenness, sickness, and greed, for example, the love of God is far more powerful.

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Homily for Friday, October 24, 2014

Readings for Today

Have you ever thought about what type of life is worthy of the Christian calling? For St. Paul challenges us today to do so. “Brothers and sisters: I, a prisoner for the Lord,urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received.”” Each of us has been called by God. As Vatican II reminded us, each of us, all of us, has a personal call to holiness. It is not a call given only to the lucky ones, or to those who choose to be a sister, brother or priest. No each of us is called to holiness.

So what are we to do, then? What is the manner of life worthy to the call we have received from God? Fortunately Paul does not force us to guess. Worthy living is living “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.

Look at the words Paul uses. Humility. Patience. Love. Unity. Peace. It seems from his word that any time we find ourselves removed from these words, we are not living in a worthy manner.

Humility means to accept ourselves for what we are. We are human beings made in the image and likeness of God. But we are not God. A humble person knows this.

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Homily for Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Readings for Today

How do you know you are following the Spirit? We have mentioned a reason for following religious rules can be to avoid the real conversion that is necessary to follow Jesus. But how do we know when we are actually following the Spirit?

Fortunately Paul gives us the answer in today’s first reading. When we follow the Spirit, the qualities of the Spirit begin to “rub off.” Paul lists them. Following the Spirit should produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

We have discussed how being overly concerned about the rules alone can be a way of avoiding the call of God to change our hearts. Notice the fruits of the Spirit are internal. They are deep.

When we notice these fruits of the Spirit in our own lives, we have the type of joy that lasts. It is not simply a quick and passing satisfaction, but is rather something that lasts. Following the rules only produces the momentary satisfaction which quickly fades.

So we are really discussing whether we have the ability to do the hard work or whether you need the easy path. The spiritual life is not the only place where we need to make such a choice. We make these choices in relatioships. We can look for the friend we use, or the person that is only engaged fin a “one night stand”. We can “settle” in our lives, not seeking out ways to accept challenges that lead to growth.

In a way this is another version of the Book of Deuteronomy where Moses asks about choosing death or life. So, choose life.

Homily for Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Readings for Today

Whenever we read or hear about water in the Bible, our minds should immediately turn to baptism.  Water is the profound symbol for baptism because it can both give life and deal death.  In baptism, by dying to sin we become open to the new and real life of God.  The gospel stresses this.  The man at Bethesda has no one to get him into the pool when it is stirred by the spirit.

But for Jesus, it is not necessary to wait for even a second for such action.  By word, Jesus heals the man.  But much like Sunday’s story with the blind man, the Pharisees cannot see a man healed by Christ, but only a man carrying a mat on the Sabbath, something not permitted on the Sabbath. Because when we think of our own baptism, it is always first and foremost about hearing the words of Jesus that lead us, because Jesus is the Way.

Do we consider the impact of our baptism?  Do we associate with people and engage in activities that are likely to help us become closer to Christ?  Do we see any responsibility to helping others learn about Jesus and to experience the profound new life God longs to give everyone?  Have we used this season of Lent to fast from those things that keep us from God?

Ultimately that is what our season of Lent is all about.  We do not do penance because there is something innately good in suffering, but because through this suffering we are able to focus on those things that are really important.  It is not about willpower, but rather doing those things so that we can come to profound new life.

Homily for Saturday, March 15, 2014

Readings for Today

So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Easy, right?  After challenging us to be as attentive to the interior of our lives as well as the exterior, Jesus ends with what seems to be spoken as if it were easy.  And, the truth is, were we to follow Jesus with our whole heart, it would be.

Just what is the way to perfection?  To be sure, we look to Jesus as the Way, Truth and Life.  But how is it that we get on that “Way”? What do we need to do?  Who do we need to be?  As with everything, it all starts with God.  It can run counter to our western understanding of life to say this.  Wait, it does not all start with me?  I just need to be more active. do more things, work on more projects, and I will be perfect, right?

Quite honestly, the way to perfection is to recognize the God who made us, and to be that person.  We are made in the image and likeness of God.  If we are really to be what and who we were created to be, then we would be perfect.  But of course, we sin.  We do not always strive to act like God acts.

Such is the fundamental choice Moses lays out before the people.  Observe the decrees of God (be perfect), or life will ultimately turn out badly (choosing death).  We should not get confused here.  Being perfect is not, however, a choice of checking off a set of rules on a piece of paper.  No, being perfect, as Jesus tells us in the gospel, is to have that heart that is inclined to God’s will.  It is making sure the grace of God makes its way into the very depths of our heart and soul.

To do that means very much to be hearers and doers of the Word.  To turn our lives over to the God of majesty who has more in store for his followers than can possible be imagined.  So, choose life and be perfect.