No doubt about it: Jesus is Lord

Readings for Today

If I were in the shoes of Saint Thomas, I would have reacted just as he did. I would have doubted. I mean, rising from the dead. How many people can say that have witnessed a death, and seen new life. It is too bad we remember Thomas too often for his doubt. Thomas believed. He shed his life. How did he move from doubt to faith? By a personal encounter with Jesus. Spend some time with Jesus to get to know him better today.

Homily given at Saint Dominic Priory, Saint Louis, Missouri, July 3, 2018.
Image courtesy Pixabay.

Unsatisfied: Homily for Wednesday, September 20, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Have you noticed the excitement any time Apple announces something new? I face the challenge of being tempted by something new.  I am not satisfied.  It seems that regardless of the circumstance, I want something more, something better, something new.  There simply never seems to be a moment where I can be satisfied.

But this is not something new.  Saint Augustine said as much centuries ago. “You move us to delight in praising You; for You have formed us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in You.” Because all of the moments of dissatisfaction have one thing in common:  they do not have anything to do with God.  And only in God can our hearts be truly at rest.

Despair to Hope: Homily for Tuesday, September 19, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for today

Today we encounter a woman who is understandably in the depths of despair.  Her son is dead, and to make matters worse, she is a widow.  This parent must face the death of her son alone. Can there be any greater heartache to a parent than to lose their child? I cannot think of one. I bet most parents cannot think of one, either.

And yet, in the height of her sadness and loss, she encounters Jesus.  And as Jesus always does, Jesus brings life.  Sometimes in moments like today’s gospel, he does so in an easily observable way.  At other times, it is in the challenge that might mean initial sadness before receiving life.  Regardless, today we are all reminded that Jesus is the author and source of life.  Let Jesus raise life in you.

Holy Suffering: Homily for Wednesday, June 7, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

There are moments in life where we find ourselves at a desperate place.  At these times, it seems that there is simply nothing more we can do.  They can be moments of such suffering that we are not even sure if we can bear it.  At other times, it is the result of such hardships that it seems too much.  It can be illness, tragedy, death, ruin, whatever.  What is it that can make suffering something that does not destroy but rather gives life?  Is there such a thing as holy suffering?

Fortunately for us, there is.  Because of the life-giving act of Jesus, suffering has become redemptive when the suffering humans endure is united with his suffering on the cross.  Today in the readings, there is real, deep, powerful outpouring of prayer, seeking the healing of God.  Perhaps today’s readings serve as a reminder to us that we have to turn to God always, but perhaps most of all when it appears that all is lost.

Homily for Saturday, May 23, 2015

Readings for Today

Gossip. It is a very dangerous thing. It can be a hard thing to resist, because most of us enjoy the thought of getting the scoop on the big story. Gossip can be tempting because we can think of it as a way to get ahead in friendships and in social circles. Gossip can serve as a reminder that there are those people who have it worse than we do. Rather than evoking sympathy, however, it fills us with joy, because the tough situation has avoided us.

Gossip can also be a challenge because it can be used to get ahead as well. Gossip can drop innuendos, subtle and not so subtle hints that might cause someone else to draw a wrong conclusion. And it can be that the person does not even fully realize the motivation behind gossip. They can engage in harmful behavior because they do not know themselves well enough to avoid it.

Is this the case with Peter in today’s gospel? Is this why he gets what appears to be a rebuke from Jesus. “What concern is it of yours?” I know that I can be tempted to get more wrapped up into the things of others and not paying anywhere near enough attention to my own spiritual growth. The gospel shows a bad effect of gossip. The conclusion from the conversation between Jesus and Peter is that John will not die. Of course, this is wrong.

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Homily for Sunday, December 28, 2014

Readings for Today

The recent Synod on the Family gathered a lot of attention for only a couple of issues, that of the reception of communion for those who are divorced and remarried, and the question about ministry to gays. But in many ways, the challenges facing the family all over the world are much more numerous than these two significant issues.

When we consider the family not only in the United States but around the world, these are challenging days. In the 2013 US Census, we learned that more adults were not married than were married. More than a third of children in the United States are being raised in single parent households. When we consider particular circumstances, two thirds of all African American children are in single parent households, more than half of Native American children are in single parent households, and almost half of Hispanic households are single parent households.

Consider this quote from the Population Research Bureau. “Researchers have identified the rise in single-parent families (especially mother-child families) as a major factor driving the long-term increase in child poverty in the United States. The effects of growing up in single-parent households have been shown to go beyond economics, increasing the risk of children dropping out of school, disconnecting from the labor force, and becoming teen parents.”

When we then think about the results of the breakdown of the family, and the documented effect of the increase of poverty, the concerns are tremendous. The United States bishops working through Catholic Charities USA, write the following. “Poverty does not strike all demographics equally. For example, in 2012, 13.6% of men lived in Poverty USA, but 16.3% of women. Along the same lines, the poverty rate for married couples in 2012 was only 6.3%–but the poverty rate for single-parent families with no wife present was up to 16.4%, and for single-parent families with no husband present over 30%.” When we consider the effect of poverty around the world, the disparity in income levels is even greater.

How did this happen? To be sure, we have always had the effects of sin in our world. We have been selfish, we have been greedy, we have been evil. And while not all structures are healthy, it seems as it has become fashionable to attack some of the structures that provided greater stability. Not only that, it is fashionable to repeat narratives that suggest these structures in fact never provided anything good.

But  holiness provides something wonderful and good, because true holiness means we reflect the love and power of God. It seems to me that we need to renew our energies to families that reflect this holiness. Holy families share. Holy families promote commitment. Holy families support the quest for the truth. Holy families promote more than anything the quest for love, the quest for the profound relationship that God calls us to live forever.

It is important to say that the invitation to holiness is available to all families. We never say that single parent families, and other non-traditional families cannot be holy. Quite the contrary. But when we consider the example of the Holy Family, it is a story that reminds us that even in the most difficult circumstances can lead to a loving, eternal relationship with God. This relentless attention to God made the family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, even with difficulties, holy. As we consider the events of Christmas, we know that much of the journey of the family was a struggle. There was the journey to Bethlehem for the census. There was the lack of suitable housing. There was the exile into Egypt due to the threat on the life of Jesus. But there was never a lack of attention to their relationship with God.

What does a family need to do to be holy? First and foremost, the holy family of today is focused on the call of God. Family life is a vocation. This means that family life is first and foremost a response to the initiative of God. When families remember this, the foundation of family life is solid. When families imitate the life of the Church, being the home of love, sacraments, forgiveness and grace, they fulfill the vision of the Second Vatican Council which referred to the holy family of today a “domestic Church.”

This means that families today are called to witness to the Church at its best. And it means that each of us, since we all have the personal call to holiness, must witness to this love both in our families and outside our families. The world today is in desperate need to the witness of family love that allows all humans to thrive. Too many witness violence, lack of opportunity, addiction, greed and selfishness. Since these get a disproportionate coverage in the media, it can be easy to forget that peace, opportunity, tolerance, generosity and living for others is in fact prevalent in many families.

Are you centered on the quest for holiness? Do you see being part of a family as a vocation that leads to holiness? Do you make time in the life of your family to foster prayer, learning about God, serving others, helping reduce poverty and working for structural change that leads others to God?

All of this has as its core the Incarnation of Jesus who by coming into our world modeled the quest and life of holiness for us. Once humanity and divinity was joined, it became even more clear to humanity that a life of grace could foster an eternal relationship of love. When we do so, holiness becomes as visible as clothing, since Saint Paul calls us to wear holiness.

So this Christmas season is an invitation to incarnate holiness in our own lives and that of our family. You and your family can by holy. And that is something to celebrate.


Homily for Thursday, November 20, 2014

Readings for Today

I  have been teaching long enough, that my former students are now grown adults, raising families of their own. There’s a certain sense of satisfaction and pride, as I witness on the one hand, people that I remember as young adolescents seeking to find out how to live their life, and now watching them raise their own children. Many of you have seen the same cycle in your own lives. For those of you who are parents,  when your children are grown and have children of their own, I would suspect that there is a certain sense of pride as you see your own children rise to the occasion, becoming great parents, in raising your grandchildren. And  as you watch your grandchildren challenge your children in the very same ways that your children challenged you, you might even take a little bit of satisfaction.

Unfortunately, there are also moments, when grandparents witnessed their grandchildren, or their own children, or in my case a teacher who witnesses a former student, who winds up in a great deal of trouble. Sad to say, I have also had former students who threw very bad choices, have found themselves in a very difficult place. Just as there is a certain type of pride that exists when students succeed, there is a deep sadness that occurs when students do not. I know that this sadness exists also for parents when their children don’t live up to their expectations. I know for many parents, who have grown adult children, there can be a deep sadness when they’re grown adult children do not embrace the faith in the way that they do.

At this stage in the Gospels, Jesus finds himself looking over  Jerusalem. And as he considers what appears to be inevitably his fate, he is filled with sadness, as he realizes what could have been. Because God has made us free, and the people of Jerusalem were also free, they are able to reject Jesus. And so, is not unusual for Jesus to be sad. It is a natural human instinct to want to protect those we love. As Jesus becomes more conscious of the fate that awaits him, namely his passion and death on the cross, he is filled with sadness of those who might experience similar suffering.

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