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.

The Reluctant Prophet: Homily for Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Readings for Today

The book of Jonah is a wonderful book.  In parts it is satire, in other parts is speaks a powerful message against close-mindedness.  Jonah is commissioned by God to preach to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, Israel’s arch-enemy.  Yesterday the reading was the story of how Jonah simply did not want to go to preach to Nineveh.  In escaping from God, Jonah winds up in quite a predicament.  Running from God is not the answer.

Today he is going to go to Nineveh, but he is none too happy about it.  He does not like Nineveh or its people.  He is even more frustrated when the message he proclaims is heard and the people of Nineveh repent.  In a time with so much animosity and anger, the message of the book of Jonah serves as a reminder to us to recognize that God will save whomever he wishes.  Our role is not to second-guess God, but to say yes to him and to witness to his message.

Contrition: Daily Prayer for Tuesday, July 18, 2017

My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy.

The Power of Repentance: Homily for Tuesday, July 18, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Tyre and Sidon did not really have a good reputation.  In the book of the prophet Joel, they not only rejected the religion of Joel, but placed the silver and gold from the temple into their own temple.  And when mentioned by Jesus, the big problem is the lack of repentance.  There is no acknowledgement of sin.  There is no desire to change ways.  And for this failure, Jesus chastises them.

What about us?  Do we recognize our sin?  Do we bring this sin to Jesus to be forgiven? Do we seek reconciliation? In the modern day it is easy to excuse sin.  It seems that in modern culture there is simply no longer a sense that there are bad or immoral actions.  There can be a tendency to allow anything as long as it does not seem to bother anyone.  Perhaps the challenge is that we no longer believe in miracles.  We no longer can see the action and presence of God.  Make the first words of the gospel your own.  Repent.

Homily for Saturday, December 13, 2014

Readings for Today

Elijah had a rather interesting prophetic career. He had successes  and failures, he felt strongly the presence of God and found him to be distant, and had a life filled with ups and downs. His life was filled with the miraculous, whether it was defeating the numerous prophets of Baal or being taken up into heaven. He wanted to die, and he kept a widow and her son from dying from famine. Over time, his return was associated with the coming of the Messiah. Just as it was a magnificent whirlwind of fire that took up Elijah, so too  his return would be a sign of the whirlwind of God’s Messiah, His Son, would arrive soon.

In many ways, that John the Baptist is identified as Elijah should not come as a surprise. He is steeped in signs from the Old Testament. He goes to the desert (sign of reform and the quest for God), eats locusts (sign of plague) and wild honey (sign of the promised land), has success and is ultimately killed. His preaching not only tills the soil for finding God’s presence in their daily lives, but also prepares their hearts for the coming of Jesus. He knows who he is, and has no delusions of grandeur.

Just as Elijah and John the Baptist were faithful to the call to prepare the way of the Lord, so to0 to we find ourselves with the same message. We are  also charged with pointing out the presence of God wherever we see it. Like John the Baptist, we too are called to be such a witness that others can more clearly see the presence of God in their lives. But if our words are to have meaning, they need to be backed by the power of our actions.

Continue reading

Homily for Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Readings for Today

The story of Jonah is one of my favorite stories in the Old Testament.  Jonah is the reluctant prophet.  He does not want to go to the people of Nineveh, he does not care about their salvation, he does not care that it is God who is asking him to go.  The introduction to the book of Jonah in the New American Bible  says this: “It concerns a disobedient prophet who rejected his divine commission, was cast overboard in a storm and swallowed by a great fish, rescued in a marvelous manner, and returned to his starting point. Now he obeys and goes to Nineveh, the capital of Israel’s ancient enemy.”

Why is it that Jonah does not want to go?  Because he does not care for the Ninevites.  They are the enemy, the “them” in an us and them world.  And so, he is angry that he is asked to warn them.  But there is more.  It becomes more pronounced when it becomes clear to Jonah he must preach, and goes.  But, alas, he preaching has effect, and Jonah gets mad again.  Rather than rejoicing in the acceptance of God’s grace, Jonah becomes angry that Nineveh is not destroyed.

There are so many levels to this story.  First, there is the primacy of God’s love.  Were I God, I would have had a hard time putting up with Jonah.  He hardly seems to be the type of person that would be a good messenger.  I picture him as a surly, angry, cynical person, the type that says “that will never work” or “no” to any new or different idea. But I am not God, and God stays with Jonah because unlike me, God can see into Jonah’s heart and beyond the rough exterior.

The Introduction to the New American Bible chapter of the book of Jonah also points out this irony.  “The book is replete with irony, wherein much of its humor lies. The name “Jonah” means “dove” in Hebrew, but Jonah’s character is anything but dove-like.”   Not the pleasant prophet, but the one who runs far away from God, only to wind up again where he began, and one who is hardly enthusiastic in his message.  In fact, his message is devoid of any mention of God, or any concern that these people will convert and turn to God.

In this story though is hope for us.  God does not abandon us, turn his back, or give up.  No, God is always seeking to find new ways that we might recognize and respond to God’s grace.  Such is the message of Jonah, and of Lent.  Let us pray for open hearts, that instead of turning away from God, we might turn toward God and new life.