Who is the liar? Homily for Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Readings for Today

There are some people who really, really hate religion.  It is not just that they disagree with this or that thing, but the very existence of religion makes their blood boil. And it is not just that they do not want any religion mentioned, they do not want anyone else to mention it either.  It is about destroying any public reference to religion. Religion is simply something that is meant to be private. Period.

In today’s first reading, Saint John refers to such people as liars.  Those who deny the existence of God are the ones who speak untruth. Often, if a simple statement is made to an atheist, namely, “Tell me about the God you do not believe in”, it often becomes clear that Christians do not believe in such a God either.

Bias: Homily for Tuesday, July 11, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

There is a lot of conversation these days about “fake news”. Yet rather than increase attention on the truth, it seems more likely it only exposes our own bias.  News we agree with is real.  News we disagree with is fake.  In doing a research study, there is a caution about confirmation bias.  This means being careful we do not see what we expected to see.

There is a bias present in the gospel.  The Pharisees cannot experience the power of God because their bias gets in the way.  They are threatened by Jesus, and so they must discredit everything he does.  But imagine how their lives might have been different had they gotten over their bias to see the experience of God.  Pray for the clarity to see God in your life.

Mediator: Homily for Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, June 28, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Sometimes it is a good thing to focus on the saints.  Today we celebrate Saint Irenaeus, who in some ways might be a stranger.  He was born in the early second century, and was really the first major saint after the apostles.  He wrote eloquently in refuting Gnosticism, a belief in the value of the spirit over and against the body.  It was a dualistic philosophy that refuted the true integration of the humanity and divinity of Christ among other things.

Perhaps most of all, the gifts and talents given to Saint Irenaeus were well suited for the time.  He had the gift of being a mediator, which enabled him to write against Gnosticism in a way that for the time ended its appeal.  His most well-known quote is “The glory of God is man fully alive”, something that speaks to the goodness of creation.  We are made in God’s image and likeness.  And so if you have trouble accepting yourself as good, you might ask Saint Iranaeus to pray for you.

Petty: Homily for Tuesday, February 7, 2017

To listen to today’s homily, click the links above.

Readings for Today

When our lives are filled with challenges, it can be the case that we focus on the tiny, petty things in our lives. We see sometimes in homes for senior citizens the focus on what appears to be small when people lose control over aspects of their lives.  We see when world views are challenged there can be a tendency to focus on absolute ideas.  We see politically that when the world is chaotic, people seek leaders with strong and bold statements.

In today’s gospel, there is something similar going on.  Jesus and the Pharisees are in different places.  Jesus is challenging the world view of the Pharisees.  Some think that Jesus may have been a Pharisee. Nonetheless, he is seeking to remind Pharisees that the purpose of the law, rules, rituals, and traditions is to help people to become closer to God.  They are not the most important goal, but rather the means to the most important goal.

We can do the same ourselves.  It can be hard to love people we do not like.  It can be easier to find all of the petty reasons why we do not need to do so than to address our need to grow in charity.  In your day today, remember that the purpose of all religious practices is ultimately to lead us to a deeper relationship with God.

Homily for Sunday, January 31, 2016

In the Broadway musical Oliver! based on the novel Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens, a musical question is posed that is important to all of us: “Where is love?” The prophet Jeremiah reminds us of the deep eternal love God has for each one of us, and the apostle Paul writes about the qualities of love. In a world filled with such evil and sin, such moments of uncertainty, it is the love of God for us that can provide the firm foundation to see us through.

Homily for Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Readings for Today

Have you ever heard the expression, with friends like that who needs enemies?  Maybe you’ve even had a time where someone who was a friend of yours, challenged you with something that was very difficult to hear. Today’s gospel is a little bit like that. There is no greater gift received from the Lord Jesus than the gift of his Word and his presence. But sometimes believing the Word and acknowledging his presence, trying to be attentive to his will and the work that he calls us to do, can lead to very negative consequences at least in this world.

I gave them your word, and the world hated them.” It can be hard to imagine sometimes in our lives, with the God who loves us more than we can believe, being faithful to this God could have such tremendous consequences that someone could be hated for believing and knowing the Word. And yet today we see this all around us. Think of the Christians today in the Middle East, who are being persecuted simply for being Christian. It seems this is exactly what Jesus means when he says the world will hate us if we believe and proclaim the word of God.

And yet such is what happens, isn’t it? The Middle East is the most dramatic example. Not only are Christians being killed an unprecedented numbers, perhaps higher than in all of Christian history, but much of the world seems silent about their plight. We do not hear much about from the leaders of the world, even our own president, saying much about the tremendous suffering and death of those being killed for their faith. And so, it is not simply that they are being hated for the word that they believe in, but their martyrdom is being committed and the response is silence.

And even in less dramatic circumstances, even in our own lives, we can be afraid to share what we really believe, because of the consequences of those who might hear what it is we have to say. It is not an easy time to be a person of faith. In some ways, this is a good thing. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I am not suggesting that we should go seeking martyrdom, but what I am suggesting is that when our faith leads to our being persecuted, often it is in those instances, and especially those instances, where our faith become strong.

Your word is truth.” We are sent into the world, to imitate the person of Jesus, who made the ultimate sacrifice which led to our salvation. By giving up his life on the cross, he who was completely innocent, we, though sinful, have the hope of salvation, when we can open our hearts our lives our souls to this loving presence of God.

And so today, if you experience difficulty, or sadness, or hateful remarks, remember this: Jesus sends us into this world. And we imitate Jesus, by being consecrated to the truth just as he was. We too will have a share in the life-giving outpouring of his love, which we can share with those who most desperately need to hear it.

Homily for Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Readings for Today

Have you ever hand an instance where you asked someone to speak plainly, to tell you the truth, but when they did you really were not sure you wanted to hear it? Kind of like the movie line, “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!” I suppose sometimes parents run into this with their children, and I know that there are times when bosses and employees, students and teachers, and even Dominicans can find themselves in the same situation.

Why is it the truth is hard to hear sometimes? And why is it that sometimes we would rather believe a lie than to acknowledge the truth? Sometimes we prefer to be “in denial”, so to speak. Usually, I think, it is because acknowledging the truth is too painful. It can involve hurtful things, or may require a real change in us that we would rather not make. Usually it means that something we believed has to be let go. And that is not always easy.

Consider parents who first hear some real disappointment about their children. They have made a bad decision, precisely because they are children. Or maybe it is being confronted about something concerning our actions that we do not want to admit is true. It can seem easier to hide in the cocoon of lies than to enter into the freedom of the truth.

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Homily for Monday, December 15, 2014

Readings for Today

If you are a teacher, or a parent, you know there are different types of questions. They may all end with a question mark, but they do not ask have the same purpose. Some questions are because there is a desire to gain some information. Sometimes there are questions that appear to be looking for some information, but are in reality stating an opinion or even a judgement. There are questions that are designed to take a teacher of target, taking a discussion on to a tangent and not the subject at hand.

Then there are those questions that are a trap. They are not designed for any purpose but to cause someone to reexamine their basic assumptions, or to admit something they would rather not. They are the type of questions where to.  the person trapped, there is no good way out.

Such is the case with the question Jesus as in today’s gospel. It seems like an easy enough question about authority. But in reality, it is not am easy question to honestly answer if you are a Pharisee. That is because regardless of how they answer they are forced to admit something that is unpleasant.

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Homily for Friday, October 31, 2014

Readings for Today

In hearing the gospel today I got to thinking about the recent Synod on the family. I always seek to avoid the extremes that such events in the Church might bring. Much was made of cardinals and bishops arguing with one another. It can be easy to get caught up on a context that these arguments are really no different than the political arguments we are subjected to, especially during these days just before the election.

The biggest reason I avoid the coverage, or at least take it with a large grain of salt is that the media often does not have the understanding to present an event such as a Synod. The only way they know to present such an issue is in the political model they so often discuss.

What that means is that in practice is that events like the Synod are covered like political conventions, with “conservatives” and “liberals”. A political convention has “winners” and “losers”.

But in the Church, such discussions are really about seeking what is right, good and true. It means seeking that expression to today’s modern day problems that is about applying what Jesus tells us to say, to present the gospel in a way it can be heard today.

I might be too simplistic, but it seems to me that what we saw during the Synod was not a lot of fundamental division (though others might argue differently) but rather the challenge of understanding the relationship between justice and mercy.

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Homily for Thursday, October 30, 2014

Readings for Today

How is it that we are supposed to understand the mysteries of God? How are we to make sense of our lives? Things seem to be so awful around us. The challenges we face seem to be too complex for an easy for us to arrive at a solution. What is our life about and how are we to protect ourselves from going astray by evil choices?

Great teachers are those who are able to make complex ideas understandable. Jeuss did this in telling parables, stories that made complex ideas easier to understand. For Paul, the example used for how to avoid that evil that can take us away from all that is good, away from Jesus. For Paul, the solution is presented in an activity as normal as getting dressed in the morning.

What does the Christian wear to be protected? First, and most important, the Christian wears the armor of God. While it may be counter to the tendency in the Western world to do for yourself, in the Christian faith, everything begins with an understanding that for all that is good we are completely dependent upon God.

The clothing that we wear is truth, righteousness and the gospel of peace. We also bring forth the shield of faith, the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.

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