Vengeance: Homily for Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Readings for Today

Isn’t it ironic that today’s reading features vengeance? The day after the Las Vegas shootings and we are face to face with the understandable human emotion. Vengeance. “Do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” Today is a day where it might just be a little easier to understand such an emotion.

But the response of Jesus tells us everything we need to know about vengeance. No.  Jesus rebuked the disciples for their desire for vengeance.  Despite how good vengeance might seem to feel at the time, it fails to satisfy.  Why? Because it does not bring peace.  Quite the opposite.  We fall prey to the very thing we abhor. Lord, please send your peace into our hearts.

U.S. Bishops Conference Chairman Statement In Response To Barcelona Terror Attack

August 17, 2017

WASHINGTON—Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on International Justice and Peace, has issued the following statement in response to today’s terror attack in Barcelona:

“Once again, an act of terror has taken more than a dozen lives and injured scores of others. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops unequivocally condemns this morally heinous act and places itself in solidarity with the people of the Archdiocese of Barcelona and Spain at this terrible time of loss and grief.

Terrorist attacks on innocent civilians can never be justified. To directly attack innocent men, women and children is utterly reprehensible.

Our prayers are with the families of those slain and injured in a particular way as we also pray for an end to terrorism. May God comfort the afflicted and convert the hearts of those who would perpetrate such acts. May our Lord bless both our world and those suffering today from this attack with the gift of peace.”

USCCB President And Domestic Justice Chairman Call For Prayer And Unity In Response To Deadly Charlottesville Attack

August 13, 2017

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, are calling on all people of goodwill to join in prayer and unity today in response to yesterday’s violent protest and deadly attack in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Full statement follows:

“As we learn more about the horrible events of yesterday, our prayer turns today, on the Lord’s Day, to the people of Charlottesville who offered a counter example to the hate marching in the streets. Let us unite ourselves in the spirit of hope offered by the clergy, people of faith, and all people of good will who peacefully defended their city and country.

We stand against the evil of racism, white supremacy and neo-nazism. We stand with our sisters and brothers united in the sacrifice of Jesus, by which love’s victory over every form of evil is assured.  At Mass, let us offer a special prayer of gratitude for the brave souls who sought to protect us from the violent ideology displayed yesterday. Let us especially remember those who lost their lives.  Let us join their witness and stand against every form of oppression.”

President Of U.S. Conference Of Catholic Bishops And Bishop Chairmen Condemn Attack In The Old City Of Jerusalem

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), along with Bishop Oscar Cantú, of Las Cruces, Chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Bishop Mitchell Rozanski, of Springfield, Chair of the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, have issued the following statement on today’s attack in the Old City of Jerusalem. The deadly attack took place early this morning by the Lions’ Gate in the Old City walls, next to what Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary and Jews call the Temple Mount.

Full statement follows:

On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, we condemn in the strongest possible terms today’s attack in the Old City of Jerusalem. It is a particular desecration to carry out armed attacks in and around sites holy to Muslims and Jews in a city that is sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims. We mourn for the lives lost and deplore the heightened tensions that such an attack can spawn.  It was encouraging that both President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the attack.  The path to peace, for which both Israelis and Palestinians yearn, cannot be paved with violence.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo
Archbishop of Galveston-Houston
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Most Rev. Oscar Cantú
Bishop of Las Cruces
Chairman, Committee on International Justice and Peace

Most Rev. Mitchell T. Rozanski
Bishop of Springfield
Chairman, Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs

Pope creates history: An ad for the Super Bowl

Pope Francis today released a Super Bowl video message that will be played during Super Bowl 51.  In it, Pope Francis used the occasion to remind people of the potential for athletic competition to bring about peace.  This is the first time a pope has created a video for the Super Bowl.  This ad was an opportunity for the pontiff to indicate that sport can be a way for the world to be brought together.

The pope is an avid sports fan, having delivered messages during the World Cup.  He has also invited high level teams to Rome for matches in the Olympic Stadium.  You can watch the video by clicking on it below.

Homily for Thursday, January 1, 2015

Readings for Today

Peace. What is it that brings peace? This is a day that focuses on many things. In fact, it has been a day where we celebrate many things. But today I think of peace. And the thought of peace today means thinking about the Blessed Mother. Why? Because she shows us in how she lived her life how in the way that lead her to constantly experience true and lasting peace. “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.

Think of the months Mary has experienced. There was the message of the angel, the trip to Elizabeth, and the challenge being pregnant without Joseph, and explaining what had happened would be difficulty enough. Then there is the travel while pregnant and the miraculous events of the shepherds. No wonder Mary feels the need to reflect and pray. She has experienced so many things, that it is only by taking the time to treasure them in her heart that she can remain focused on the meaning that God has brought forth in her life.

When we reflect on the blessings in our life as did Mary in hers, our eyes become more attuned to the blessings that await us in our life. We can even see in the difficulties and challenges how they can become blessings. In fact, this constant reflection lets us know that indeed we are never alone.

We spoke about this when we discussed the Incarnation. Today we learned that it is not just the awareness of the Incarnation, but that this beauty of God’s presence can come to us in so many ways. Think of how Mary will experience God’s presence. An angel. Joseph. Shepherds. Wise men. Miraculous signs. Jesus. And most importantly, Mary recognizes the presence of God that never leaves her heart. It is when she can treasure the events of her life in the perspective of God’s constant presence that Mary finds the true peace that lasts.

Our world certainly needs this peace, the peace that surpasses understanding and only God can bring. If we are to have this peace, we must change our hearts. We must see how the events of our life could be seen in the way God wants us to see the world. We need to be less selfish, and learn to share. We need to make sure the witness we provide by how we live our lives is indeed the way in which the gospel calls us to live.

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Homily for Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Readings for Today

I cannot imagine life without Christ. I cannot remember a time when I was not Catholic, since both of my parents are Catholic. Both of their families are overwhelming Catholic too. When visiting my relatives, there was never a choice about whether or not I would go to Mass on Sunday. And it did not matter whether my parents were there or not, since there were plenty of aunts and uncles, and even cousins, who made sure that Mass was a regular part of any weekend.

Even today, I cannot really understand someone who lives life without faith. I simply cannot imagine trying to face life without this ongoing relationship with Jesus. My life is fulfilled every day in some way or another. I know I do not need to walk alone, becuase God is always with me. I also can see that I am led in directions that always seem to turn out for the best, oftentimes in spite of myself.

So it is a little hard for me to imagine a time without Christ. Paul reminds the new Christians of the most important elements of this new relationship with Jesus. Our sin creates a barrier between God and us, and with each other. We are at odds. By rejecting God we make the choice to be alone.

And that I know I do. I know I should not, but there are too many times where I am not attentive to God’s will, and I did not care. Sin is not something we do by accident, or that we fall into simply because of bad luck. When I sin, it is because I choose to sin. As I used to tell second graders in preparation for confession for the first time, “You can only sin on purpose. You cannot sin by accident.”

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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, May 20, 2014

Readings for Today

The two readings for today seem to being in a completely contradictory way.  The first reading describes the conflict between those who come from Iconium and Antioch, and speak against Paul and Barnabas.  In fact, not only do they speak against them, they convince the people to turn on Paul and Barnabas and stone them, leaving them for dead.  The gospel finds Jesus reminding us about the power of his peace.  How is it that both readings can describe the same thing, even though they appear to be so different?

Saint Thomas Aquinas, the great Dominican saint, had this to say about peace:  “Peace is the work of justice indirectly, in so far as justice removes the obstacles to peace; but it is the work of charity (love) directly, since charity, according to its very notion, causes peace.” (II-II, 29, 3, ad.3)  So contrary to the way we might consider peace, namely as the absence of a conflict, peace as Jesus presents peace exists for an end or a purpose.

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Homily for Monday, August 6, 2012 (Transfiguration)

Readings for Today

Yesterday I spoke of the fears and doubts that can sometimes beset us when we come upon difficult times.  Today, we are reminded not only that we are never alone, but we are reminded that God is glorious and can give us great signs to help us to know God is with us.  Such is the case with the scene we have in the gospel.

While it is true that Jesus is the Son of God, Jesus is also fully human, experience everything we do except sin.  To that end, Jesus had to spend time discerning the Father’s will, and it is only natural that he might have struggled with the question of whether or not he was on the right path.  We certainly know that his disciples struggled with this question.

How often do they fail to recognize what type of Messiah the Christ is?  How often do they fail to recognize in the life of Jesus and in his actions the true meaning of them?  Over and over again.  So, the Transfiguration stands as a dramatic confirmation that Jesus is following the right path.  God the Father is not quoted as saying much in the gospels, but ironically, most often he is telling us that he finds his son pleasing.  He finds the work of Jesus, his will, to result in pleasing endeavors.

If God the Father is pleased with his Son, then we would be well served to seek to imitate him.  Not in a robotic kind of way, but rather in a way that brings our best selves forward.  If we were truly the persons God created to be, St. Catherine of Siena tells us, we would set the world ablaze.  In everything Jesus did he was who he was supposed to be.  As a result, more than two thousand years later, we are still seeking Jesus, we are still remembering and proclaiming what he said and what he did, we are still gathering around the table of the Lord to receive his body and blood.

We must allow ourselves, though, to be led by Jesus to the mountaintop, recognizing that the path may seem unclear, and the destination uncertain.  But if we imitate the faithful trust of Jesus in the will of the Father, the Father will be well pleased with us too.