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.

Saving Sinners: Homily for Saturday, September 16, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

The first line from today’s first reading says it all.  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. So simple, and yet it is the foundational belief of our discipleship. We need a savior because we sin.  And Jesus is that savior.  Every other belief comes from this fact.  Jesus is our savior.

Also, this line gives us hope.  Our sin does not lead to our damnation if we confess it to Jesus.  We know this is true because Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.  And that means I can be saved, and so can you.

The Cross: Homily for Thursday, September 14, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

A while ago, Cardinal George made a statement about his successors winding up in jail.  I thought it was a bit of hyperbole.  Then I heard the line of questioning from Senators Feinstein and Durbin.  Suddenly what Cardinal George said did not seem so far-fetched.  Apparently, a federal judgeship must not be a serious Catholic.

None of us like the cross.  We do not like to suffer.  But we must recognize the truth.  The suffering of Jesus leads to our salvation. Too often we want the resurrection without the cross.  At other times we may overemphasize the cross at the expense of the resurrection.  The truth is clear: we need both.

Wages: Homily for Wednesday, August 23, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

This gospel goes against our sense of fairness. The same wages are given to all regardless of work.  Whether for one hour of work, or the whole day, everyone receives the same pay.  How is that fair? Yet the first hired agreed to this at the start. Take the job, get paid the usual daily wage.  The rest were told they would be paid whatever is just.  Or, they were not told at all exactly what they would be paid.  But they all agreed, and they all worked.

Yet I can understand the anger of the workers who had worked all day long.  They could have sat around and waited.  But they needed the job, and they answered the call of the owner of the vineyard for workers.  They were not cheated.  What they resent is the generosity of the landowner.  This is a story about God.  The God we follow is more generous to us than we deserve.  But when we see that generosity of God in the lives of others, we too can be resentful.  We can decide to grumble.  Yet when we truly appreciate the generosity of God, it is then we can rejoice every time God is generous, be it to us or others.

Mercy: Homily for Friday, August 18, 2017

To listen to the entire homily click here.

Readings for Today

Once again I am focused on the response to the psalm.  His mercy endures for ever.  This response is so comforting to me.  But packed into this response, especially when considered against the backdrop of the gospel readings of the past few days, is also a challenge.  It will always be true that God’s mercy will last. But it may not be true that I am able to receive it, because of my closed heart.

The readings of the past few days remind us that we must forgive.  It is not that God withholds forgiveness.  Rather, it is the case that our hearts, when we choose not to forgive, are closed to God’s mercy.  To open our hearts, we must seek to be like God.  Even though God’s hatred of sin is just, God’s mercy is given to those who repent.  It can be the case that we do not forgive the actions of others because we find those actions in our own lives.  We commit these sins.  By forgiving, and prayer for the grace to forgive, we open our hearts wider to receive God.

 

Fire: Homily for the 19th Week, August 16, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

I had a little bit of a challenge when I took a psychological test called the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, or the MMPI for short.  The test is a long (very long) series of statements that are either marked true of false by the person taking the test. The test is constructed in such a way that it can be determined whether or not someone is trying to lie on the test.  I found one of the questions a challenge.  The sentence read, “I am fascinated by fire.” Well, the truth is, well, yes.  Yes, I am fascinated by fire.  But would the test scorer read too much into this? While I am fascinated by a campfire or a fire in a fireplace, I am not fascinated by a building fire.  I have no interest in arson.

The response to the psalm today mentions being filled with fire.  Fire is a powerful image of faith.  There is the fire at the Easter Vigil.  Saint Catherine of Siena said that if we became what we were created to be we would set the world on fire.  When looking at a campfire, we realize its complexity.  There is an interesting chemical process in a fire.  There are many different temperatures.  There are many different chemicals.  There is a power in fire.  And today we realize the same is true for us when we experience the fire of faith in our soul.