Grace: Homily for Thursday, January 26, 2017

Readings for Today

Grace. I remember the old definition of a sacrament.  Especially that every sacrament gives grace.  And so I was reminded today of my ordination.  Saint Paul tells Timothy that he should be attentive to the flame that is burning in him because Paul has imposed hands upon him.  And as a result of this, Timothy is filled with courage.  Timothy can proclaim the gospel.  The grace given is powerful and has changed his life.

I thought of my own ordination because like Timothy, I too have received grace from the imposition of hands.  And so have you.  At our baptism, and again at Confirmation, we received grace from these sacraments.  At ordination, again, I received grace.  If you were married, you received grace.  And this grace is given, and hopefully received.

It can bring us the amazing courage to witness to the gospel.  It can help us to be those deeds God does through us that we are all called to receive. This grace is given to us so that we can be the light to the world.  This grace allows us to show others in our words and deeds the power of Jesus.

Who are you with? Homily for Sunday, January 22, 2017

Readings for Today

Who is it that you cast your lot in with? Is it God? Or is it some person, or group or cause, that relies on your own efforts?  That is the question that is before us today.  Over the past few weeks, we have seen a lot of division.  We have seen people really get mean to each other with terrible words and phrases.  We have just finished a brutal election season, which, even though it seems impossible, seems to get worse and worse.  So, who are you with?

The temptation can be to rely more on our own efforts than to trust in God.  Paul encounters this in the second reading for today.  Some side with him, some side with Apollos, some side with Cephas, or Saint Peter.   But when this happens, there is too much trust in the messenger and not in the message.  We forget that the disciple of Christ is not more important than Christ.  So, who are you with?

The first reading is similar.  In the sections that come before what we heard today, it is King Ahaz who forsakes God and trusts in human political alliances to save his country.  It fails miserably.  The country is taken over, the people are exiled, and it feels like darkness covers the earth.  Rather than listening to God’s message that came through the prophet, Ahaz got scared.  He simply could not trust God.  While he was in a precarious position, he could not place his trust in God.  But God delivered anyway.  Even though Ahaz did not see the great power of God, the people eventually did.  This is what we read about today.

The gospel reminds us that it is in our call by Jesus that we ultimately experience fulfilment.  A very important reminder is needed.  Jesus was Lord before the election, Jesus is Lord now, and Jesus will be Lord.  it is not about what we can do by ourselves.  It is what God does for us.  Open your hearts to be ready for God.  Pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament, find silence in your home, read the Word of God.  In so doing, you become the vehicle of God’s grace and action in the 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.

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 31, 2016

In the Broadway musical Oliver! based on the novel Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens, a musical question is posed that is important to all of us: “Where is love?” The prophet Jeremiah reminds us of the deep eternal love God has for each one of us, and the apostle Paul writes about the qualities of love. In a world filled with such evil and sin, such moments of uncertainty, it is the love of God for us that can provide the firm foundation to see us through.

Homily for Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Readings for Today

I think it was Martin Luther King, Jr., in his reflections that had a lot to say about the type of freedom that comes from deep within the soul. “Psychological freedom, a firm sense of self-esteem, is the most powerful weapon against the long night of physical slavery.” In the recent past, we spent a little time discussing freedom. Today we get a picture of what it means to be really free as we hear the first reading. Ironically, we encounter a concrete example of true freedom.

Despite the physical mistreatment, and the imprisonment, Paul and Silas are able to sing hymns of faith and offer encouragement to themselves and to the other prisoners. Even in their hardships, they are able to witness to the joy their faith brings. Perhaps even more remarkable, when the doors are forced open by an earthquake, the prisoners do not escape. Why? Because they are already free. They know that in what they are doing, they are becoming more and more their true selves, and in that sense are more and more free.

This powerful witness has the profound impact of having the prison guards question their own existence and the purpose of their own lives. “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” This is the powerful moment when they wonder about the ultimate purpose. They want to be saved. And it is this ultimate mission that leads Paul and Silas to the house of the guards so that their entire households can be catechized and made believers in Jesus. It becomes suddenly clear that their job is not the most important thing in their lives. No, it is their ultimate destiny as accepting Jesus as Savior. If they do this, then all will be well.

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Homily for Monday, May 4, 2015

Readings for Today

Do you believe? So often in the gospels, a miracle or other divine action by Jesus is done because of the faith of the person to be healed. In fact, when he goes back home, he is not able to work miracles because the people do not have faith. We are reminded that our God is not invasive. The way in which God chooses to act in our lives is by respecting our freedom. It is not simply a case of barging into our soul, but rather being allowed in when we allow God to do so. The respect of our freedom is one of the most powerful signs of God’s love for us, for in being free agents we share an important quality of God, who is perfectly free.

But it is also the most problematic in some ways as well. How often have you heard people say, or maybe even you yourself, “Why doesn’t God prevent this disease, or evil?” And when we hear today’s encounter from the Acts we see that Paul and Barnabas are imitating the example of Jesus. Paul sees the man has the faith that he can be healed. This is not small thing. Perhaps this imitation of Jesus is what caused the crowds today to want to make them into something with which they were already familiar. They do not know Jesus, but they do know Paul, and they know the system of Greek gods and so they attempt to make Paul and Barnabas fit into that world.

The readings today got me to thinking about whether or not I would ever be confused for Jesus. In other words, would my actions, my attitudes, my example and witness, would these be so much like Jesus that people might mistake me for something with which they are already familiar. Have you ever wondered this? Have you ever thought about whether the way in which you interact with people is really in imitation of Jesus? Do you seek to have the beliefs, attitudes and actions of Jesus ever before you as the goal worthy of emulation?

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Homily for Saturday, October 18, 2014

Readings for Today

Today we celebrate Saint Luke. A traveling companion of Saint Paul, and the evangelist who wrote a gospel, and its “sequel”, the Acts of the Apostles. While Saint Paul wrote more books, it is Luke who wrote the most words. And what powerful words they are.

Saint Luke writes the words that change lives. Over and over he recounts how God surprises. It is in Luke’s gospel we here about the unlikely hero that is the Good Samaritan. It is in the Acts of the Apostles that we see there is simply no resisting the Spirit of God.

In his gospel, Luke writes to the poor. They have need of hope and an awareness that somehow, despite their poverty, there is a higher purpose in life. Enter Jesus. Luke sees in Jesus the one who gives hope to the hopeless, and challenges the blessed to remember that blessings are meant to be shared.

It is Luke who writes in such a beautiful way of the powerful work of the Spirit at Pentecost, and it is Luke who writes of the beautiful yet challenging conversion of the apostle Paul and its effect on the Christian community. In all that Luke does and writes, he reminds us of the ways in which God is omnipresent, perhaps most of all in those events that are most challenging.

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Homily for Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Readings for Today

In so many aspects of human existence, we know we need to develop and grow. When we are exposed to a new skill, we understand it will take us time to become proficient at it, often after lots of practice. If we take a new job, we know we will not feel comfortable right away. And today Saint Paul reminds us that the same is true in the spiritual life as well. It is not all at once that we are completely put together in the spiritual life, but there too is a need for growth and development.

While we may be familiar with the term to grow in holiness, sometimes we can forget what it means for us. We can lose sight that each day we are called to grow in holiness. Why is something that seems to have such obvious benefit for us so difficult for us to accept?

Sometimes in my life it is because I want things right away. I am not always, and maybe never, patient. Why wait when I can have it now. Like many, I can fall trap to an instant society, one that seeks instant gratification. And the spiritual life is just that – a life that does not always conform to a timetable that expects everything to be available instantly.

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Homily for Sunday, June 29, 2014 (Saints Peter and Paul)

Readings for Today

Actions speak louder than words.  Talk is cheap.  Do as I say, not as I do. Regardless of the phrase, we know how difficult it can be for our words to be backed up by action. We see this all the time.  We see it among politicians, in advertising, and even in our own lives.

It can be quite difficult for our words to have authority. And as any teacher can tell you, getting the right answer a question does not always mean the answer is correct. Consider Peter in today’s gospel. He knows the answer to the question. “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  “But who do you say that I am?” “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Peter seems to have the right answer.  But his actions demonstrate he is not correct.  Shortly after this Gospel verse Peter will chastise the Lord Jesus for saying that he must suffer and die. At the moment of Jesus greatest need Peter will deny that even knows him. And yet we celebrate the great holiness of St. Peter, the first pope.

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