Open Your Heart. Hear God Speak. Do What God Wants. Homily for Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Readings for Today

There is such a contrast to the first reading and the gospel.  Ahaz seems to be taking the high road by not wanting to tempt God, but he is not.  He does not want a sign from God, because he wants to do something different.  Mary does not seek a sign from God, but when God asks, she says yes.  Ahaz does not cultivate a relationship with God. Mary orders her entire life around her faith in God. Do you want a sign from God, or not?

Advent is about seeking.  Do we want to find God, to get a sign, or do we wish to turn away from God? Do we use the guise of faith, of goodness, to turn away from God? Is your heart open to God? Are you ready to hear God’s voice? Will you do what God wants? Make this a holy Advent.  Say yes to God.

Remember: Homily for Monday, August 21, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

It can be easy to forget all that God has done for us.  We do not remember all of the times God has shown love or mercy.  We quickly forget those times where grace filled our hearts.  This is the state of affairs in the first reading.  People have quickly forgotten the promise made to serve the Lord and to reject evil. In fact, even the judges appointed to lead them forget too.  The people worship other Gods.  They choose not to follow the commandments.

In our own lives too, we can find ourselves rejecting God despite all God does for us.  Each day the stark choice to follow or reject God is before us. Every day we can follow God, receive grace and grow in faith.  Or, every day we can choose to reject God and go our own way.  But our faith tells us rejecting God is not without consequences.  God wants to pour out to us his love, mercy, and grace.  When we reject God, we receive those consequences of our choices where we receive death and destruction.  Ask God for an open heart.  Choose God.

Family: Homily for Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Readings for Today

Family.  In some ways there is nothing so comforting and at the same time nothing so challenging as family.  Our families love us.  Our families care for us.  But families can also bring conflict.  Families can hurt.  Families can be the source of misunderstanding.  Certainly it is not difficult to see the challenges Jesus had in his family.

And there is an important message to us too.  The primacy of his family is their faith in God.  It is not simply because of a biological relationship.  It is about faith.  It is about trust.  It is about what God does for us.  We pray that we too might have such faith and trust.

Being Chosen and Making Choices: Homily for Friday, January 20, 2017

Readings for Today

Being Chosen and Making Choices.  It is interesting how the civil events of Today, the Inauguration of a new President, Donald Trump, and the reading from the gospel seem to interconnect.  Today’s gospel is about being chosen, as Jesus chooses those who will work with him in proclaiming the Good News, and preaching the Kingdom of God.  Just as the disciples were chosen by Jesus for a very important mission, and Donald Trump was chosen by the process of our Consitution, we too have been chosen by the Lord Jesus for something pretty important as well.  As people who have been chosen, we also make choices.  And if we are chosen, it is quite important to recognize that our choices are made from the choice God made in us.  We are chosen.  We are chosen by God who know us much better than anyone.  God knows us better than we know ourselves.  We pray today that in being chosen by God, God may guide our choices, so that they are consistent with the will of God.

Homily for Friday, August 28, 2015

Readings for Today

Some of the most important advice I was giving about public speaking was trying to remember that when was speaking in public, I was to remember that the people to whom I was speaking were rooting for me to succeed. It may seem obvious once we are encouraged to remember this simple fact (after all, who wants a boring speech), but it is so easy to forget when we see all of these eyes staring back at us.

The power of remembering that power of being supported is easy to lose sight of when we are so busy with all kinds of activity. Many people, though, have the powerful experience of knowing what they could become when someone really believed in them. Children become good at taking appropriate risks when they know that their parents are loving and supporting them. Students have courage to learn difficult concepts when they know their teacher believes they can accomplish these new tasks.

In the life of faith, it can become easier if we remember what is the will of God for each of us. In one way, the reading reminds us the will of God for each of us in the same. “This is the will of God, your holiness.” For each one of us what God wants is simple: God wants us to be holy.

Of course, since each of us is the unique creation by God, then what it means for me to be holy is unique to the beauty that God has placed in my by creating me. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta said that the definition of sin is simply wanting something for ourselves that God does not want for us. This can be easy to understand when we think of actions that are sinful.

But in the spiritual life, what is good for one person spiritually is not good for everyone in the same way. For example, I have a part of my hope that I could be a contemplative. I have a certain romantic idea that I would like to be one who spends their life contemplating God. Yet, when I find myself in such a situation, while it fulfills for a while, it does not satisfy for ever. I believe this is because God is calling me to be something other than one who is only a contemplative. For me, being a Dominican provides the perfect mix of active ministry and quiet contemplative prayer.

Yet, for those called to be a contemplative, the Dominican life is too busy, and in fact, might lead someone away from God. The person called by God to be married, and to raise a family, is less fulfilled if they seek to be a priest or religious. Seeking only what we want, without considering God, means simply that we are trying to find fulfillment by ourselves.

But, if we remember that the will of God is found in the quest to be holy, fulfillment is possible. We find that the benefit of our own efforts are amplified by the desires of God in a way we could not find on our own. Blessed be God in his gift to us of holiness, and thanks be to God when we find ourselves seeking for ourselves what God wants for us.

Homily for Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Readings for Today

When we think of Mary, the Mother of God, we can think that her greatness is that she gave birth to Jesus. But such is not really the case. Today’s gospel tells us that it is not the biological relationship that is primary in a follower of Jesus, even if that follower is a biological parent. Jesus tells us in today’s gospel what makes for greatness in the faith. While it may appear at first that Jesus is somewhat rude to his mother (I certainly would not dare try speaking to my mother in that way) he is really making a point about what really matters.

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Homily for Thursday, December 4, 2014

Readings for Today

I am sure we have all seen that credit card commercial which ends with the question, “What’s in your wallet?”And from the circumstances of the various commercials we see that all situations can be handled as long as the right credit card is in the wallet.  The implication is that there will be tremendous peace of mind if the finances are safe.

Well today’s readings pose a question, too. They ask, “What’s your foundation?” And both of the readings also quickly give the same answer. The true foundation, the one that is strong, and will last, is the foundation of the Lord himself. It is not enough to desire the kingdom of God. We must also live the kingdom of God. It is not enough to want to get the attention of God, but rather it is important that we desire to change our hearts and our lives.

To have God as our foundation implies that we need to do some things. First, and foremost, we need to recognize that at our very core we have been created by God for great blessings. Indeed, we are a blessing. We are a great blessing because in a way unique to us, because of the unique creation God has made us, we reflect the glory of God when we choose to recognize those blessings of God that we have been uniquely given. We shine forth those blessings to the degree we cooperate with the grace of God.

This is the second point. God expects something from us. It is not onerous, nor is it something that is only attainable be a few people. No, it is attainable by anyone who desires to receive the grace of God. As we are reminded in the book of Deuteronomy, the way of God is not distant, far away or impossible to know. Rather, the way of God is deep within us, written on our hearts. It is not just calling out to God, but is rather looking inward, inside ourselves, our souls and hearts, to discover there the love of God, and what the love of God requires of us.

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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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Homily for Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Readings for Today

My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.” What are we to make of Jesus’ words today? I am not so sure my mother would be terribly pleased if this were my response if she were visiting me outside my door. I am pretty sure I would hear about it if this were my response. It seems almost as if Jesus is saying that his “work” is more important than time for his mother.

And yet this cannot be the case. Jesus is certainly not making a disparaging comment about his mother and relatives. So what are we to make of this statement?

Think for a moment of powerful relationship between a mother and her child. In fact it is powerful for the good and for evil. When a mother-child relationship is founded upon love, it provides the foundation for a mature man or woman. Conversely, when we see the antithesis of this, a destructive or dysfunctional relationship between mother and child, then there is often a lifetime of healing that is needed.

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Homily for Thursday, June 26, 2014

Readings for Today

Not too long ago, former student of mine told me that he had recently become a Christian.  I asked him why he had become a Christian. He said to me that he had gotten to know Jesus. Up until this point in his life, he knew about Jesus, but did not know Jesus. He immediately came to mind when I was thinking about today’s gospel. And it got me to thinking. Do I know about Jesus, or do I know Jesus?

There is a certain danger that can emerge for those whose livelihood depends upon their ministry. Since often much of their job is about talking to others about Jesus, or ministering to the needs of others, that it can be easy to confuse doing ministry in the name of Christ, with doing ministry which flows from our relationship with Christ.

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