Water and blood. Baptism and Eucharist. Homily for Saturday, January 6, 2018

Readings for Today

Water and Blood.  Baptism and Eucharist. Words in the bible often refer to something other than the obvious.  Today is such an example.  Water is part of both readings.  Whenever we see or read about water, the first thought should be baptism. This is true whether we read about New Testament letters, like today, or stories from the Old Testament.  The flood in the book of Genesis points to baptism.  The faithful, those who trust in God, are saved.

Today is just such an example.  The readings remind us of the very important difference between John’s baptism and the baptism of Jesus. John’s baptism points to human effort. Jesus’ baptism points to divine salvation. The Incarnation of Jesus is not simply a nice Christmas set.  Rather, it is the miracle of God’s becoming human.  And, because Jesus is both human and divine, the sacraments lead to salvation.

Be prepared: Homily for Friday, September 1, 2017

To listen to the homily, click here.

Readings for Today

I was only a boy scout for one day.  The meeting time conflicted with religious education classes, and so I was not able to be a boy scout.  I did learn enough that first day, however, to know that being prepared is an important motto.  Boy scouts always make sure they have what they need.  In rain or snow, sun or cold, boy scouts had what they needed.

Being prepared is a good motto for the spiritual life too.  We must always be ready to have whatever it is that Jesus wants to give us. We must be ready for whatever moments he is present.  How do we do this? We do this by being ready in prayer, in the sacraments, at Mass, and in all other ways our prayer life can be strengthened.  And when we do this, it is at those times that we find ourselves prepared.

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.


Touch: Homily for Monday, July 10, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Touch. Contact. Relationship. Trust. There are so many ways to think about what we encounter in the gospel. If only we can touch the cloak of Jesus.  If only Jesus would touch the girl and pray for her, she will be healed. If we only come in contact with Jesus, then we are made whole.

If there is a common thread in all of the sacraments, it is the encounter with God.  And just as the gospels describe concrete encounters with Jesus, the means of grace in the sacraments come in very concrete ways.  Water cleanses. Oil heals.  Promises unite. Bread means life.  How will God come to you today?

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.

Novena of Saint Jude, Wednesday, May 27, 2015

I am preaching the Novena of Saint Jude, days 4-9. This is an audio recording of my day nine preaching, which focused on the healing. We discuss the healing of soul in Confession, of body in the Anointing of the Sick, and the power of prayers for healing. For more information about the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus in Chicago, visit their website here.

Homily for Monday, April 6, 2015

Readings for Today

Do you take the resurrection for granted? Has it become so familiar that it has little or no impact in your life? Put simply do you find yourself “fearful, yet overjoyed” by the resurrection as the two Marys felt after the encounter with the Risen Christ? Because truth be told, even a short consideration of the way in which the resurrection of Jesus changes our lives should also make us “fearful, yet overjoyed” because of what the new life given to us, not only without cost to us, but removing the debt we owed, has reversed completely the course of our lives and our destinies.

The two Marys needed time to take it all in, to begin to absorb all that the resurrection of Jesus meant for them. For without the risen Christ, the Church is not possible. Without the supreme act of mercy, the innocent Jesus going to the Cross to die for our sins, and to rise for our future, we are condemned. Without the resurrection of Christ, our faith is worthless, leading to nothing.

But because of the all this, the resurrection of Jesus means the new life of baptism is not only possible but real. Because of the resurrection of Jesus, we receive him every Mass in the Eucharist. Because of the resurrection of Jesus, our sins are forgiven. Because of the resurrection of Jesus, we too are sent forth, just as the two Marys were sent forth to proclaim the Good News. Because of the resurrection of Jesus, marriage is a domestic Church and priests act in the person of Christ.

The resurrection of Jesus changes everything. Nothing can be the same, because we are now a people filled with hope. We are now a people filled with the new life of the resurrection that only Jesus can give, and a fulfillment becomes possible that can only have as its source God himself.

Easter makes all this possible. Easter changes everything. So, go, tell, teach, proclaim: Jesus is risen! Alleluia!

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 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.

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Homily for Friday, November 21, 2014

Readings for Today

Those of you who are parents may have had this experience with your children. It is Halloween, and they got a ton of candy, which either known or unknown to you, they have eaten in great quantities. It was certainly sweet to the taste, but perhaps sour in the stomach. Things that are sweet at first may not always remain that way. We can think initially that something is good, in fact even very good, only to realize that we did not fully appreciate all of the things that may result from it.

It can be this way with the call we received from God, too. The parable of the weeds describes those situations where someone receives the word with joy but the early fervor fades. There are those who are very good at starting something, but cannot always follow that something through to completion. And there can be a temptation in western culture to think that when we are religious, it means a life free from any hardship or suffering.

The experience of John in the first reading serves as a reminder that answering the call has dimensions of both sweetness and suffering. It is not always easy to follow Jesus, and following Jesus does not always free us from pain or suffering. In fact, one consequence of following Jesus can be pain and suffering. Sometimes standing up for what is right produces consequences that are not always pleasant. Conversely, those who may seem to be quite religious may in fact be arising righteous anger in the person of Jesus.

We see this in the gospel reading. Jesus finds that way in which religion is being used to cheat people and place additional burdens upon them is simply unacceptable. The emphasis of something that may very well have started out as something good has shifted. It no longer leads to worship that pleases God, but sinfulness that takes advantage of people.

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