Urgency of the Kingdom: Homily for Thursday, October 5, 2017

Readings for Today

There is no time to waste.  Such is the tone of what happens in today’s gospel.  There is a disciple who will follow Jesus wherever he leads, but not yet.  He needs to take care of a few things first. But Jesus makes the urgency of the Kingdom of God clear. So many blessings await those who accept the kingdom.  There is so much suffering, not a moment can be lost.

Do you put off answering the call of God? Is there some excuse that keeps you from saying “yes” right now? It is easy to procrastinate.  It is easy to put off the miraculous message of the Kingdom of God. But the time is now. The place is here. Say “yes” to God.

Homily for Monday, December 8, 2014

Readings for Today

The season of Advent presents us with a variety of characters. There is John the Baptist who presents us with the importance of being the messenger preparing the way. He reminds us of the importance of knowing who we are and not pretending we are something we are not. His message about repentance serves as an important reminder of the starting p0int of the gospel and of faith. Those who are concerned about growth as a person, are those persons who recognize their need for a Savior.

There are the words of the prophet Isaiah. Centuries before Christ, Isaiah describes in understandable terms the actions of God. So many of the themes we have come to associate with the season of Advent come from the prophet Isaiah. It is Isaiah that documents so powerfully and poetically the work of God. Isaiah reminds us that Advent is not really about us, bur is rather about God. It is God whose arrival we await in our lives.

But in many respects, the season of Advent is a season about Mary, the Mother of God. It is for many reasons that Mary occupies a great place during the season of Advent. Why? It is because Mary provides us an example of what it means to be a disciple. Even when she does not understand what God has in store for her, she is able to say yes. She is willing to put up with all kinds of hardships that would make even the strongest woman or man question whether or not they could stand it. By seeking out Elizabeth, she reminds us that faith is a community thing. Even in the midst of terrible suffering, Mary relied on the power of her relationship with God. And when there are moments when she clearly does not understand her son (like the gospel story where the family comes to get Jesus because they are convinced he is out of his mind) she knows enough of God to know her son will accomplish the will of God. And when all others run away, Mary remains by the side of her son as he dies on the cross.

And so, during this season of Advent when we focus on the coming of God into our lives, we are given the example of Mary. She is the one who has said yes so completely she helps us to know how to do the same. Even though she did not sin, when she and Joseph are looking for their son Jesus, they share an experience that is very much like us when we sin, because when we sin we too have lost Jesus. But perhaps most of all, Mary teaches us to have a heart and soul open to God.

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Homily for Monday, September 8, 2014

Readings for Today

Even though today we celebrate the birthday of Mary, the Blessed Virgin, it should come as no surprise that all the readings have to do with the arrival and birth of Jesus, her son. This is because Mary was always focused on the doing the will of God. Always.

All of today’s readings remind us that Mary’s “yes” to God was her participation in the long plan for God. God used the openness and generosity of the Blessed Mother to bring about our salvation. God becomes flesh thanks to the affirmation by Mary that. She will do the will of God.

Anyone who is concerned with doing the will of God becomes delighted when others do the will of God. It brings joy since doing the will of God makes the whole world more beautiful. And so Mary is very delighted when anyone grows closer to Jesus and follows him more completely.

And so just like Mary, we too have a place in salvation history. And just as people might ask us to pray for one need or another, Mary, Our Lady, stands ready to pray for us. She takes great joy when we ask her to bring us to her son. For Mary is not the object of worship. Mary is not God. No, Mary is the first disciple of her son and his mother.

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Homily for Thursday, December 20, 2012

Today’s Readings

Another day, another tremendous sign from God. What if one doesn’t want a sign? What if I avoid the openness that leads to experiencing a sign, because I do not like the implications for my own life? Such was the case with Ahaz in the first reading. At first , it may seem that Ahaz is being especially devotional. He will not test God by demanding a sign. But understanding the situation more completely, we realize Ahaz does not want the sign, because it will represent the need for Ahaz to make different choices in his own life.

Have you had the experience of being afraid to pray that you might know and do God’s will? Are there times when you consider that the will of the Father of Jesus was to let his Son die on the Cross? Every time we pray the Our Father, we pray that God’s will be done. But if you’re like me there are too many times when the only criteria in discerning the will of God is really about discerning my own will.

Mary could have given into such a temptation in today’s gospel. She is asked to bear God’s son, even though she will not have intercourse. She is asked to say yes to God, without fully understanding the implications of her answer. She is asked to become the earthly tabernacle that holds Jesus, without realizing the cost of this in her life.

But not surprisingly, she does not understand how this could even be possible. She certainly cannot know all of the hardship that will come into her life because of her ultimate yes to God. There is a reason that one of the titles of Mary is Our Lady of Sorrows. Her life was hard, and she spent much of her life trying to understand the son of hers. But in the end Mary gives a complete and total answer to God: yes.

One way of looking at Advent is to examine the characters of Advent.  We see those individuals who are outstanding role models, and another set remind us that life is not always as clean as it appears. We do not have a God that does not respect our freedom. This ultimate respect for human freedom is what makes Mary’s answer to the question of the Angel all that more remarkable. She could have said no. But she did not.

The commemoration of the birth of Jesus is not simply about characters on stage. It is a powerful reminder to you and to me that Jesus came for a specific purpose. Jesus came to save us. The great incarnation of Jesus, that great act where God comes one with us, the incarnation we begin to realize in a way beyond even our wildest imaginings just how much God loves us.