Sin is ugly, God is forgiving: Homily for Thursday, December 14, 2017

Readings for Today

The words in the readings today are not pretty.  O worm Jacob.  O maggot Israel.  We are reminded in very stark terms that sin is pretty ugly.  There can be a tendency today to minimize sin. We can think that we are really not all that bad.  We can dismiss how even a little sin in our life can lead to more.  But today’s readings are not about the ugliness of sin alone.  They are also about the beauty of God’s forgiveness.

When we turn our lives over to God, it is then that we learn just how powerful and beautiful his love is. As ugly as is sin, God’s love is beautiful.  As powerful as sin can seem, God is more powerful. The saint we celebrate today, Saint John of the Cross, understood both the ugliness of sin and the power of God.  Even when he did not feel God’s presence, he was attentive to what God could do for him.  He believed Saint Paul, where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.

Total Trust in God: Homily for Monday, November 27, 2017

Readings for Today

Trust is the basis for any relationship.  We can have no friendship without trust.  There can be no true marriage without trust. But the examples of trusting God in today’s readings seem unbelievable.  Daniel trusts in God to care for him because Daniel keeps the covenant. The widow gives all she has to live on because she trusts God. But is such trust even possible?

There was an amazing story a few days ago about a homeless veteran who helped a woman buy gas with his last $20.  Little could he have known at that time what would happen to him. She raised $315,000 for him after she learned who he was. He did not help for the money. In fact, had she not gone back to find him, he might never have gotten anything. And if there is such a thing as human goodness like this, just imagine how much more God will draw us into a deep relationship when we trust him.

Deep Regret – With or Without Hope: Homily for November 25, 2017

Readings for Today

There is nothing worse than coming to the awareness of deep sin.  It can be quite challenging when we realize we have turned our backs on God.  It is sad when we discover the heartache of evil.  When that happens, we have a choice.  We can choose to give in to despair, or we can choose to have hope.  If we do not recognize the power of God’s forgiveness, or we are too proud to acknowledge his greatness, we despair. When we turn our hearts back to God, trusting in the mercy and forgiveness we do not deserve, we have hope.

What will you do in answer to God’s goodness? Will you humbly confess your sin, or will you stubbornly persist in evil? Will you be greedy generous? Prideful or humble? Seek out God’s mercy and you will live.

Authentic Faith: Homily for Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Readings for Today

Will you be true? Will you be genuine and sincere? Even if you fail, will you seek the conversion that has no guile? Will you be who you say you are? There are two examples of authenticity in today’s readings.  The first is a long life of authenticity, that of Eleazar.  Even when given a shortcut, Eleazar remains true.  He makes this authentic choice not merely for his own relationship with God, but also with concern for others. What will people make of an old faithful man who appears to turn away from God?

Zaccheus, the man of conversion in the gospel, shows us how authentic a search for God can  be even from a sinful life. Zaccheus, in his own conversion, shows us how to convert. We must acknowledge honestly our sinfulness.  When we do so, we have this powerful relationship with Jesus.  Jesus comes into our hearts because we invite him to forgive our sins and to change our lives.

What do you want: Homily for Monday, November 20, 2017

Readings for Today

Jesus asks a direct question.  What do you want me to do for you? The blind man, not surprisingly, wants to see.  He knows what to ask Jesus for to get attention.  He wants pity and mercy from Jesus.  He knows he needs that.  And it is this knowledge that leads to the faith that saves him.  Jesus is clear.  The blind man’s faith has saved him.

How would you answer this question from Jesus? What do you want Jesus to do for you?

Divine Accounting: Homily for Friday, October 20, 2017

Readings for Today

Remember those wonderful moments when you take out a jacket you have not worn for a while and you find a $20 bill? It makes for a nice surprise because it is a free gift.  We did not expect it, but we have it nonetheless. From an accounting perspective, we did not earn the $20 a second time when we found it. It was a gift.  While it is not exactly the same, Saint Paul writes about the gift of salvation in a similar way.  Let’s be clear.  We do not earn our salvation.  It is a free gift, given to us by God, even though we do not deserve it.

Does that mean it does not matter what we do? Of course not.  Our actions remain important.  But our actions never get us to the point where we deserve to be saved.  Rather, our actions serve as proof that we are striving to witness to what God, in his mercy, has done for us.

No Hypocritical Memorials: Homily for Thursday, October 19, 2017

Readings for Today

There has been a lot of controversy around Confederate War Memorials.  Whenever a memorial is put up, the reason for the memorial is important. Hence, the controversy.  The gospel today mentions those who put up memorials during Jesus’ day.  Memorials to the prophets, whose message was not heard or believed.  Prophets were killed. To erect memorials to them now is seen as hypocritical.

When we rely only on human effort, we run the risk of hypocritical memorials.  All have sinned Saint Paul writes. All have fallen short of the glory of God. How can we ever put our trust in human effort alone? Truth is, we do not.  We put our trust in the way, the truth and the life, the Lord Jesus Christ himself.

Come as you are; Sort of: Homily for Sunday, October 15, 2017

Readings for Today

Do you love celebrations? Do you get excited when an invitation arrives in the mail? Today’s readings are all about invitations and celebrations.  The first reading uses rich imagery to describe the invitation to the ultimate feast.  Rich food and choice wines are on the menu.  Yum! God has everything prepared. Get ready, because the feast is going to be something really special.

The gospel too is about an invitation. The king invites guests to an amazing feast. Only they do not want to come. Despite his best efforts, the king cannot convince those invited to come to the feast. So he turns to invite others, who do come. God invites us all of the time to deeper life. But do we arrive ready to say yes to God? Or, do we come ill-prepared by thinking we do not need to change? The invitation to faith by God is an invitation to change.  When we really say yes to God, we allow God to change us. That means being open to repenting from our sins. And when we do that, we come properly dressed for the feast.

Confronting the Regret: Homily for Friday, October 13, 2017

Readings for Today

It is common that someone who is dying will review their life.  They will consider things for which they are proud, and they will seek forgiveness for what they regret.  Sometimes that will mean a conversation with someone they have harmed during their life. That is what might be happening in the first reading today. There may be that regret for the sins committed.  The current situation is the result of past actions.

But God is stronger than past sin. God wants what is best for us. And despite our sinfulness, God forgives whenever we seek mercy from God. These past few weeks have seemed like the end time.  Hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes, violence, wildfires. Not a bad time to consider a life review.  Not a bad time to think about confession. While sin can be strong, God is stronger.  Always.

Jason Alexander as Jonah: Homily for Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Readings for Today

I must confess I find this book of Jonah quite humorous, and when I read it I got to thinking about which actor would play Jonah if it were made into a movie.  And I settled on Jason Alexander, the actor who played George on Seinfeld.  This is so because I kind of think of Jonah as a person like George. I can imagine him overreacting, much like we encounter today.

From the beginning of the book we see just how much Jonah does not like the Ninevites.  And today we see just how much Jonah is capable of focusing on himself. Yet, much like Seinfeld helped us to see the humor in the ordinary, about nothing, so too does the book of Jonah show how much we do not think like God.