Seeking the presence of God: Homily for Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Readings for Today

Yesterday we discussed a world that seems filled with darkness.  We thought about despair, and how easy it is to lose hope. But ultimately we tried to remember that God keeps his promises. Today’s readings remind us of the need to be attentive.  God is active and alive. This activity is not only in the world,  but also in our soul. God is active in our hearts, in our souls, in our lives. And the images from Isaiah remind us that God’s presence is miraculous indeed.

Do you seek to find how God has been present in your life? Do you search your heart and soul to discover the spirit-filled presence of God? The list of wonderful, unbelievable things that God does in Isaiah, the promise of God’s greatness is impressive.  But so too is the list of things God longs to do in your life. Advent is a time of seeking to find the God that longs to do this for you. And when you discover that, and when God keeps his promise, be sure to give God thanks and praise.

Has God Rejected Us?: Homily for Saturday, November 4, 2017

Readings for Today

It can feel at times like God has rejected us.  Such is the question in today’s first reading.  The recent events of our lives, those violent acts that have made the news can cause the feeling of rejection.  But how often are the evils in our world the result of human sin?

To be sure, in some way, all evil is the result of the fall from grace.  All evil arises from sin, for God is only goodness. What humans need always to recall is the constant need for forgiveness and conversion.  Every sin we commit contributes to the proliferation of evil in our world.  So ask God for the grace of conversion.

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.

 

Seeing: Homily for the Transfiguration, August 6, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

There is a need to see the presence of God today.  Even a quick glance shows the face of evil around us.  Life is hard.  It is not only about evil actions of others.  There are illnesses, natural disasters, and other events that often are not connected to others.  Children get terminal illnesses and die.  People we love and care about suffer.  Sometimes we just want to scream, “Where are you God?”

Today we celebrate God’s answer.  I am right here.  My presence is everywhere.  My promise is sure.  Yet how is it we see this presence?  How is it that we know that God is near? Today’s reading tells about one of those experiences that are reserved for Peter, James and John.  Does Jesus call you away for a special experience of his presence? Do you put yourselves in places where the opportunity to see God is near?  Open your heart to God in your life, so you may see his glorious presence.

Laugh: Homily for Friday, June 30, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Abraham must have thought it strange indeed.  That after all of these years, God was going to give a son to him and Sarah.  He was old.  She was old.  Long past the time for thinking of parenthood.  And yet, their long hoped for dream comes true.  But it seems so incredible to Abraham, he laughs.  It is so unbelievable.

God asks us to believe the unbelievable.  God asks us to imagine eternal life with Him.  God invites us into a relationship that can be far more than we could ever imagine.  If we trust, as Abraham trusted, God will do incredible and marvelous things.  So go ahead, laugh.  For God’s love, power and care is too much indeed.

Tuesday of the 2nd Week of Advent: You are the Lost Sheep (December 6, 2016)

I have always thought it a little strange that Jesus tells a story commending the shepherd who leaves 99% of his investment. Why is it the one sheep is so important?  Would it not be more prudent to “cut your losses”? The point is not about business.  Rather, it is about faith.  It is about relationship.  It is about love.  Love is not always practical, reasonable or logical.  But most important in this passage is that the 99 do not need to be found, because they are in a good relationship.  They are already “found” by the shepherd.  It is the one lost sheep that needs to be found.  And so the shepherd searches.

Of course, the point is that we are the lost sheep.  We are the one that is lost.  Jesus leaves those who are in relationship to find us.  We need to be saved.  We are the sinners.  We are the ones who have gone astray.  When Jesus finds us, we hear the comfort that only a relationship with Jesus can provide.  It is the comfort that Isaiah speaks in the first reading.  The great promise will be fulfilled.  And we will be found.

Readings for today

Homily for Monday, December 29, 2014

Readings for Today

Whenever families get together, invariably there is the telling of stories. One of the most precious faculties given to human beings is memory. Using our memory, we can make real, at least in some way, events in the past. In a way, our memory is a time of time machine. Memories often come alive with the telling of stories. The gospel today presents us with a powerful example of a person who remained true to the experience of God, both in the present, and in the memory of the promise made some time ago.

It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.” Over and over again Simeon wondered, I suspect, if today was the day. But it also seems clear that day after day Simeon remained faithful to God and the promise. We learn that Simeon was righteous and devout. And his constant search for God comes to fruition when he encounters not only Mary and Joseph, but recognizes in their son Jesus, the Christ. God has kept his promise.

Simeon could believe the promise because his memory made this promise real. He was able to experience again the encounter and voice of the Holy Spirit because he remembered the day, the moment, the encounter. His memory of God, and his present experience of God made clear the meaning and purpose of his life. In fact, we really know very little about Simeon. What gets remembered is his faithfulness to God and the encounter with the Holy Family.

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Homily for Sunday, December 21, 2014

Readings for Today

Even a prophet gets it wrong at least some of the time. “Go, do whatever you have in mind, for the LORD is with you.” Despite the goodness of Nathan, he learns he needs to listen carefully to the voice of God. It is Nathan who was able to challenge David when he sinned. It was also Nathan who was able to reassure Bathsheba she would not be killed. It was Nathan who kept the focus of King David on God.

It reminds me of a little kid I knew. He was a bit of a challenge as his behavior was sometimes a problem. There were many times when I confronted him about his behavior, he would say, “I didn’t hear you!” Since often I was speaking directly to him, I thought it was simply a line he used to deflect responsibility for his bad behavior. Imagine my regret when I learned that he could not hear out of one ear. He did not know, and neither did I.

It got me to thinking how many times he really did not hear what was expected of him? How often did he miss something in school or at home simply because the hearing in one ear was gone? He may have been listening, but he could not hear. Is not that a problem we can find in our spiritual lives too? Is it not that we may try to listen to God, but we do not do those things necessary so that we really hear God?

What is the difference between listening to God and actually hearing God? I think it has a lot to do with the degree to which we can be patient with God. Are we able to wait on God? Isn’t that what we try to do over the course of this advent season? Isn’t it that we really try to clear out the clutter in our lives and hearts so that there is more room for God? As I reflect on my life, I have little difficulty believing that we can listen but not hear?

Consider the stereotypical example of the husband sitting on the couch watching football, or the conversation a parent might try to have with a teenager playing a video game. There might be the awareness of a conversation, and even the awareness that words are being spoken. But is the conversation really heard?

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Homily for Saturday, December 20, 2014

Readings for Today

There is a power if one holds the key. There is of course, the obvious entry we can gain to a house, or a car, or a post office box. There is the ultimate symbolic gift a city gives — the key to the city. A key takes us places.

There is also the understanding that when something is key, it is critical, important, essential. In fact, that thing that is key is the very thing that is necessary, essential, the most important element to success. So what is the key of David? In short, if one has the key, there is the most important thing necessary. As a result, a key becomes a symbol of authority.

It is what we see when we encounter keys. There is the reference in Isaiah. There, in Isaiah 22:22, we see the promise of God will include a key when referring to the Messiah. In Revelation, the promise is repeated. And it is the keys to the kingdom of heaven that are given to Peter after his confession that Jesus is the Christ.

And so when we think of the key of David, we should think of the ultimate authority that belongs to God. Jesus has authority, and whenever we cooperate with the grace of God, we can share in that authority. This phrase also serves to remind us of something really important. We cannot act apart from the Church. It is not about just “Jesus and me”, but rather requires us to be attentive to the structures that Jesus gave us.

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Homily for Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Readings for Today

Is there any other significant person in the Bible that has no spoken lines recorded?  It is hard to imagine.  But when we consider St. Joseph, he is a man who is not quoted as saying one thing.  All we know about him comes through somebody else.  People know him as Jesus’ father, we are told, not by Joseph, but by the writer of the gospel, that Joseph was having serious doubts and had decided not to take Mary as his wife, and by Mary herself we learn that Joseph was anxious at the disappearance of Jesus.  Further, Joseph does not “stay on the stage long” in any gospel. Shortly after Jesus turns twelve, Joseph exits.  There is not even any account of his death.  Joseph is the silent man.

But what we do know of Joseph in the gospels is that Joseph was a just man.  We see time and time again that Joseph displays his faith in God.  In these stories we come to see that while he may not be recorded as speaking much, he clearly spoke much by the way he lived his life of faith.  And in so many ways, that is the best speech that can be made.

All of the readings, through David, Abraham, and Joseph stress the promise. And in all instances, the message is clear: When God makes a promise, God keeps it.  Plain and simple.  David, Abraham, and Joseph all had difficulties, but in the end, all kept their faith in God that the promises made would be promises kept.  And so as we celebrate St. Joseph, let us remember his faithfulness, and seek to imitate that in our own lives.