Friday, July 31, 2009

Homily – July 31, 2009 - St. Ignatius of Loyola

+ Our saint for today is one of the greatest in Church history because of the transformation that he gradually allowed to take place in himself, until at last the original person was nowhere to be seen. St. Ignatius of Loyola experienced the Gospel passage today to the maximum: he gave up family to become a disciple of Christ; he carried his own cross of physical injury to continue to qualify as a disciple of Christ; and he renounced all he possessions to become a disciple of Christ. The proof of the depth of his discipleship can be heard in his own prayer: Give me only your love and your grace, O Lord, they are enough for me! Take, Lord, receive everything about me; my mind, my memory, my understanding, my will, my body – and do with me only what is your will! Give me only your love and your grace! Ignatius meant that – and he was loved and graced by God – and the religious community that he founded in the 16th century – The Society of Jesus - was an enormous instrument in the spiritual renewal of the Church of the time. For Ignatius obedience was the surest sign of self-denial: the death that is required in order to obtain the life of resurrection: the model, for him, was always Jesus, who was "obedient to death, even death on a cross."

As St. Paul exhorted the Corinthians to do everything, absolutely everything, for the glory of God – eating, drinking, whatever – for the greater honor and glory of God – so too did Ignatius exhort and encourage members of his own community!

Of course, the "Jesuits" are well known for their Spiritual Exercises and also their great learning. In our day and age we pray that all Jesuit Universities and educational facilities at any level: stay true to the true teachings of the Catholic Church, true to the spirit of St. Ignatius.

What led Ignatius himself to Jesus was a thirst for the root of knowledge, a thirst for truth, a search for the Person of Jesus Christ who is Truth in the Flesh! We pray today that we either increase or begin a deep spiritual hungering that will lead us to not only the great spiritual classics, such as The Imitation of Christ, and the Spiritual Exercises, and even other contemporary writings which are excellent and good and true, but also to the PERSON OF JESUS CHRIST WHO IS THE SOURCE AND FOUNTAIN OF ALL THAT IS GOOD, HOLY, AND TRUE! He will satisfy our longing here and hereafter where we will sit at his feet and feel that waters of the fountain of his truth, and goodness and peace flowing over us forever – from his heart to ours!

Let us bless the Lord at all time – when we seek him – he answers us and delivers us from all our fears!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Homily – July 30, 2009 – St. Peter Chrysologus

+ This gospel passage could cause a lot of people to stop in their tracks. "From the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks." When we listen to what comes out of people's mouths these days, when we listen to what comes out of our own mouths, does it evidence "a store of goodness in the heart" that produces good in the world around us – or not! I hope that it does! The words we choose, the words that just come out, the words we speak, actually ought to not be our own at all! If they are the Lord's words which should be coming out, since the day of our baptism, we will recognize them as such; if they are tainted, misguided, antagonistic, argumentative, hostile, unfriendly, unruly or just plain irreverent: then they come from the evil one who has a hold on our heart! If this is the case for ourselves or any we know: we need to pray that the Spirit of God deliver the heart that is captured by evil and make it radiate with the glory of God.

St. Peter Chrysologus was a 5th century bishop of Ravenna who was named "Chrysologus" (golden-worded) from his exceptional oratorical eloquence: Peter let the Holy Spirit choose and execute his words always! All Peter had to do was to open his mouth and start speaking! Peter also practiced many corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and ruled his flock with utmost diligence and care. He rooted out the last vestiges of paganism and other abuses: and even cautioned his people against indecent dancing. "Anyone who wishes to frolic with the devil," he remarked, "cannot rejoice with Christ." (In so very many ways 21st century mankind still "dances with the devil"). Peter died at Imola, Italy in 450 and in 1729 was made a doctor of the Church, largely as a result of his simple, practical and clear sermons which have come down to us, nearly all dealing with Gospel subjects.

It is a humbling thing to be a true preacher and teacher of the Gospel – as St. Paul tells the Ephesians in the first reading: this St. Peter Chrysologus knew, this I know – but we were chosen to do it so that the manifold wisdom of God might be made know through the Church: to those who need to hear it very badly: for their eternal salvation!

With all my heart I seek you, O Lord; let me not stray from your commands.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Homily – July 29, 2009 – St. Martha

+ Martha, and her sister Mary, and their brother Lazarus were among Jesus' most devoted disciples and closest friends. Jesus needed a place to visit, unwind, relax and enjoy some peace and quiet after a hectic day doing his salvific work among the flock! We know that on one occasion, Martha was concerned about the details of hospitality: the cooking, the table setting, and the candle-lighting; while Mary simply sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to what he had to say, very lovingly and attentively!

When Martha complained to Jesus that Mary was not helping her with the duties of hospitality, Jesus looked at her with love and probably gave her a heartfelt grin and told her that in this case, Mary had chosen the better part – because "listening to the Lord when he first comes into your house is the better thing to do." He did not withdraw his love from Martha, but Mary was given credit for her sense of priority. Lazarus was not mentioned here at all; perhaps he had not yet returned home, chances are he would have gravitated close to Jesus as well.

And so: the lesson for us is that during the day when for any reason at all the Lord enters the recesses of the home of our hearts and sits with us for a while: we need to as quickly as we can, stop what we are doing, if only momentarily and converse with him and enjoy his company! He will most likely leave again and then return again: and so we must be alert always for his next arrival, and o so grateful for the one that has just occurred! He will always have something very special for us to hear just at the very moment he chooses to come to us in a more intense way!

Martha more than made up for her faux pas later on when Lazarus had apparently died and Jesus came to be with them. This is when she made her great "resurrection acclamation!" Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he wanted to make sure that she understood that resurrected life will ultimately come to all of us directly from him: so he tells her: I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE: whoever believe in me, even if he dies, will live! Do you believe this? Martha said to him: YES LORD I HAVE COME TO BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE THE CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD, THE ONE WHO IS COMING INTO THE WORLD! I BELIEVE IN THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD, AND THE LIFE EVERLASTING! Each of us must make that statement as well: sometime in our lifetimes: or else we will not inherit the Kingdom prepared for us! BELIEF IN CHRIST & HIS MESSAGE IS OUR PRIMARY WORK IN LIFE!

I am the light of the world, says the Lord; whoever follows me will have the light of life – and it will lead right into the glory of the world to come!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Homily – July 28, 2009 – Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time - Tuesday

+ Jesus, today, in this gospel passage gives his own homily! I cannot presume to trump that; except for encouraging you to hear Jesus' parable and explanation and decide in your heart that you want to put it into practice; that you want your right-relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to shine like the sun not only in the Kingdom to come, but also right here on earth: so that not only you, but all others can find your way there! You can get there, from here – with the help of the amazing Light of Christ: the Light of his Spirit, the Love of his Divine Friendship!

In the first reading today, Moses has his hands full with the unruly, stubborn people of God. God promises to be merciful to them as they keep sinning against him; but he also tells them that he must be just, and he must punish those who willfully disobey him and set out on their own course in life! And he has done it in the past, he does it now, and will do it in the future: he will be merciful to the ones who show mercy, he will forgive the ones who forgive others, he will give purity of heart to those who seek it; and to those who don't want it, who refuse it, who arrogantly reject it, they will suffer the pain, and the illness and the disease and eventually the death of the loss of Him and his Friendship – out of justice: they were warned – and they didn't believe he meant what he said – but He had no other choice in dealing with them!

The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower; all who come to him will live for ever!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Homily – July 27, 2009 – Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time - Monday

+ What an amazing statement we have just heard: God has chosen to reveal to us the secret mysteries of life and his reign that go all the way back to before the creation of anything at all. But he knew our limited mental capacity could not handle the astounding information point blank, in its raw form – and so he said: I will open my mouth in parables; [in this way] I will announce that has lain hidden from the foundation of the world. And this is what he did, by sending Jesus, to speak of such awesome mysteries, in parables.

The parables today, describing the Kingdom of God are two: the Kingdom is like a tiny, little mustard seed, that grows into the largest of plants: when it is properly cared for and nurtured. This relates how the Church, beginning with a tiny band of brothers in an upper room, who were later sent out to the whole world to offer the Light and Life of God himself, became and continues to become a living organism open enough and willing enough to warmly and lovingly embrace all who come to her sheltering and protective branches. The timing and details of the coming are left entirely up to the will of the Father: our duty is to keep the Church properly cared for and nurtured in its own life and purity so that it will be a worthy gathering place for all who desire to come to her.

The other parable proposed to the crowds today is this: the Kingdom is like yeast mixed into dough. Soon it permeates the whole dough and gives it its full, rich, robust composition in the baking process. God the Father is the baker, all he expects of us is to be like the yeast of the leaven so that the world can reach its full, rich, robust potential as it waits for the final baking process which will occur when Jesus comes again – and the Bread of his Life, us, loved, sweet smelling and now baked to perfection – will become his very glorified body to exist in him forever in heaven!

Those who choose other gods – as is demonstrated in the first reading today – will never experience what was just described above: a golden calf of any making can never offer us a gentle, warm, rhythmically beating, compassionate, merciful Divine Heart to nuzzle up against and into as it exists right near and surrounding our own restless and beating hearts!

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Homily – July 26, 2009 – Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

+ "A great prophet has risen in our midst. God has visited his people!" As I proclaim these words here in St. Ambrose Church building, most all of you have pretty much of a grasp of what I am saying: you search quickly into your mental memory banks and retrieve the Folder that has the name "Jesus" written on it! Yes, Jesus is the great prophet who has risen in our midst. Yes, in Jesus, God has visited his people! And each of us, though at a different points of fully grasping the meaning of this concept, we each know at least that the subject and topic and person involved is JESUS!

Now, if you heard the same proclamation made ("A great prophet has risen in our midst. God has visited his people!"), in the exact same way by Katie Couric, Brian Williams or Charles Gibson, it would come across in an entirely different sort of way – and if it was proclaimed by local news anchors it would produce an even different level of reception! Why is that? To put it briefly: the "spirit of 'the world'," in general, is not a "spirit of God" – it is not God-friendly, God-welcoming, God-accepting! In fact, it is God-suspicious, God-dubious, God-disbelieving! Therefore, the exact same proclamation that we hear and receive quite readily in Church becomes something even a bit suspect in our own minds as we sit in front of our televisions at home! And just think of those who choose not to go to any Church at all: who choose to live a "God-Free Life" - these words must sound quite bizarre and even laughable!

This is the heart of the matter! What we embrace is Jesus, as the One True and Great Prophet: the One who not only speaks Words from God the Father to us for our guidance and growth, leading us to everlasting life – but who actually is that very Word Made Flesh and Blood – in a human person – so that we can befriend him and receive all that he came to offer us! And what he has to offer us is an abundance of life: an overflowing measure of spiritual and temporal gifts for our journey into our heavenly homeland: this superabundance is prophesied in the first reading today from the Book of Kings: "they shall eat, and there shall be some left over;" and manifested by Jesus own miraculous feeding of the five thousand: "they had their fill, and twelve baskets of fragments was left over!"

This miraculous feeding of course was also a prophecy of Jesus' Great Feeding of his Flock that would continue throughout the ages until the end of time in the Most Blessed Eucharist (the Holy Communion of his very real Body and Blood that we receive at this and every Mass) that he gave to the Catholic Church to treasure, eat, adore and preserve on earth until he comes again! Our beloved Friend did not want to leave us alone; without his presence and spiritual energy!

Yes, the Great Prophet, Jesus, has visited us and he has provided a way to remain with us – THIS WE BELIEVE! THIS WE CELEBRATE! THIS WE TREASURE! And this message with its invitation to "come and experience it for yourself" is entrusted to us to carry to all people everywhere, most especially to all those hungry and thirsting souls who are daily watching the CBS, ABC, NBC Nightly News!

A great prophet has risen in our midst. God has visited his people! Come to him – and let him feed you with what only He can give you – his very Self!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Homily – July 25, 2009 – St. James the Greater

+ Today we celebrate the feast of St. James the Greater! He is brother to St. John, and with John a son of Zebedee the fishermen. They were both intent on following the footsteps of their father in the family fishing business until they saw another set of footprints in the sand: those belonging to Jesus of Nazareth. There was something simply irresistible about those impressions in the sand, and something quite irresistible about the person who made them. When Jesus said to them: Come, follow me! They dropped everything that moment and went and became his follower his disciples. They never looked back – but I am sure that their father, Zebedee understood perfectly well what was going on and was very proud of this sons.

Out of all those Jesus would choose as Apostles: his chosen band of intimate companions, James, John and later Peter would be his closest and dearest friends: Jesus had every right to call some of their number for a special relationship with him – because he was preparing each of them all for very different apostolic ministries – some need extra special care and treatment at the beginning: and even among the three: St. John was the closest of them all; and this was probably because John, though a well-rounded young man, was also most likely the most child-like of them all, the most trusting, the most open-and-good-hearted, the most willing to receive anything at all that his beloved best friend would offer him!

James said that he would drink the cup of the Lord's Passion, at a time when he hardly knew what that meant – and he did drink it, when he was the very first of the Twelve to give his life for the faith – for the cause of making sure that the Light of Christ his beloved Friend would take root in the world and that the Power of the Holy Spirit would be seen as a force to be reckoned with by all the worldly spirits and powers. His death gave great encouragement to his brother Apostles to give their lives: Peter and Paul were the next in line to do so: and that did it with the ease that comes from life in the Spirit of God: the Spirit of Courage and Strength and Consolation!

When we drink the chalice of the Lord at Mass – we too are fortifying ourselves for the challenges of the day as well as readying ourselves for the joys and successes of the day! With the Risen Christ deep within our hearts we can eagerly and trustingly go into the day and be an instrument of Light and Life to a world that needs this kind of Light and Life so badly!

I chose you from the world, (the Lord tells St. James, as well as us) to go and bear fruit that will last! May we do that today, with the Spirit's soothing aid!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Homily – July 24, 2009 – Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time - Friday

+ What a wonderfully constructed set of readings for this ordinary day in the Church calendar! It all comes down to what was read in the "alleluia verse" – Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance. This sentence in a very quiet and almost unassuming way delivers one of the most powerful messages in all of scripture: live the commandments (the 10 commandments of the first reading today from the Book of Exodus) with a generous heart (not begrudgingly, or fearfully, or with any motive other than pure love and gratitude to God for all of his many blessings), perseveringly: through good times and bad, whether you agree totally with these commandments or not, whether you feel you are making any progress in the spiritual life or not – and you will be richly blessed by God with everything you need in this life, and with an eye on the future life of glory to which you are called. [The converse is true as well – despising the commandments (any or all of them), with a stubborn heart, not giving them any time or attention at all will certainly incur the just wrath of God: why would he not punish a willful, disobedient child?

The gospel passage today puts it another way: in keeping the word, generously and perseveringly you will be like rich soil on which the seed of the word fell, and you will not only hear the word, but you will also understand it – and it will bear fruit in your life with works of mercy and healing and peacemaking: a hundred, or sixty or thirtyfold.

Lord, you have the words of everlasting life! More precious than gold are they, sweeter than syrup or honey from the comb! May we always hunger for these life-giving words!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Homily – July 23, 2009 – St. Bridget of Sweden

+ Today we celebrate the feast of Brigitta, a model Christian woman of fourteenth century Sweden. Brigitta was born in Sweden in 1303. She married and gave birth to eight children, for whom she was a devoted mother. After her husband's death she continued to live in the world but devoted herself to the ascetic life as a member of the Third order of Saint Francis. She then founded a religious order and journeying to Rome for the sake of penance, became a model of great virtue to all. She also wrote many works in which she related her mystical experiences. Saint Bridget died at Rome in 1373.

St. Bridget lived deeply the message of the first reading today: the fact that the baptized Christian has been crucified and left dead, as was Jesus on the cross: and now a whole new life of resurrection is experienced through the power of Christ's resurrection rushing through their (our) minds, our hearts and our limbs. And all of this now works and operates on the level of faith in the Son of God. Therefore, each day we must all, after Bridget's example: pray for quantitatvely more, interiorly deeper and spiritually more penetrating: FAITH IN THE SON OF GOD: JESUS: LORD, GOD, SAVIOR, BROTHER, FRIEND! This will help us identify ourselves not only with Christ crucified, but also with the branches on the vine that is Jesus of the Gospel passage. With his life running deeply through us – we will remain in him and he in us – if our faith is strong and our works are visible and effective in spreading his peace and his healing and his friendship wherever we go!

In St. Bridget's own words: "Rejoicing and eternal praise be to you, my Lord Jesus Christ, who sent the Holy Spirit into the hearts of your disciples and increased the boundless love of God in their spirits."

Remain in my love, says the Lord; whoever remains in me and I in his will bear much fruit.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Homily – July 22, 209 – Saint Mary Magdalene

+ Today we have magnificent feast of St. Mary Magdalene, "The Penitent." She was given the name "Magdalene" because though a Jewish girl, she lived in a Gentile town called Magdale in northern Galilee, and her culture and manners were those of a Gentile. St. Luke records that she was a notorious sinner and had seven devils removed from her. She was present at Our Lord's Crucifixion, and with other women, was present at Jesus' empty tomb three days later. She was the first to whom Jesus revealed himself after his resurrection from the dead. The reason this was so is because Jesus' death and resurrection was all about the forgiveness of sin! It was only fitting that one of the most notorious sinners of all times was the first to receive the grace of his presence after his spiritually life-saving death and resurrection. What qualified her for this however was not just that she was a classic sinner, but rather because Jesus read her heart beforehand, he knew her, especially from the event just preceding his death, when she washed his feet with her tears, and dried them with her hair. Jesus must have planned right at that very moment for her to be the first to experience his glory after he rose from the dead – and she would be the one to carry the news of his resurrection to Peter and the other Apostles. The truly penitent heart stands in right and merciful relationship with God who lavishes his forgiveness, healing and blessings upon it abundantly!

Our readings today are all about Mary's deep and persistent search for Jesus as her One, True, Lover. The passage from the Song of Songs is about the deep longing that she, and any soul has (wittingly or unwittingly) to be in the presence of the One who is love itself – and God sent his love in the form of a human person (Jesus) so that the object of our longing could be found. The gospel passage is about Mary's desire and ours as well, to cling to Jesus once we recognize him as Risen Lord, Beloved Savior and True Teacher of the Way to Eternal Life. The way he desires, however, rather than clinging to him, is to by means of the power of the Holy Spirit, whom he would and has sent to us his Church, is for us to proclaim his life, his words, his deeds and demonstrate the effectiveness of them by a life dedicated to serving the needs of brothers and sisters everywhere. The more we do this, the more Jesus and the Spirit cling to us, fill us and empower us to do the Father's Holy Will, to proclaim the Gospel and give it credibility by the way we "love one another, from the heart."

In doing all of this it will feel as though our souls are clinging fast to God, we will feel his right hand upholding us; under the shadow of his wings he will be our constant help and we will have reason to shout for joy day in and day out!

Amen.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Homily – July 21, 2009 – St. Lawrence of Brindisi

+ St. Lawrence of Brindisi, priest and Doctor of the Church was born in 1559 in Italy. He entered the Capuchin (Franciscan) Friars and became an excellent student and soon taught theology to his fellow religious and was often chosen to fill positions of leadership in his order. He became famous throughout Europe as an effective and forceful preacher. He wrote many works explaining the faith and died at Lisbon in 1619 – he was canonized in 1881 and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope John XXIII in 1959. Today, July 21, is his feast day.

There is need in every age for strong and forceful preaching of the Gospel of Jesus. The secular times call for it, the spiritual climate demands it, and the eternal salvation of souls requires it!

Men are called to be such preachers – instruments in the hands of the Holy Spirit – who "remind us of all that Jesus said and did, and teaches us even newer things, with a greater depth of understanding!" Our first reading today spells out the role of the preacher: he is not one who preaches himself (his own thoughts, opinions, perspectives) but rather one who preaches Christ-still-preaching-and-teaching! The Word of God is alive and active and meant to pierce to the heart of the listener! A true human preacher is an empty earthen vessel for the Holy Spirit to fill and use as he will – providing words that need to be heard for each gathering of the faithful in each and every circumstance and location!

The gospel passage today talks of the word of God as seed – seed that can be received in many different ways (from less than enthusiastic producing minimal results to very enthusiastically and willingly producing abundant flowering of the fruit of the seed). It is up to the preacher to plant the seed on behalf of God; it is up to the soul hearing the gospel and its message in the homily to be the more or less receptive soil for the growth of the seed!

May we all be good, fertile and eagerly receptive soil to receive the richness of God's Holy Word today, so that we will be able to produce the fruit of good works, kind words, and merciful acts to all those who will cross our path today!

I should like to close my homily now with a short paragraph that St. Lawrence of Brindisi himself wrote in one of his sermons:

Preaching, therefore, is a duty that is apostolic, angelic, Christian, divine. The word of God is replete with manifold blessings, since it is, so to speak, a treasure of all goods. It is the source of faith, hope, charity, all virtues, all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, all the beatitudes of the Gospel, all good works, all the rewards of life, all the glory of paradise: Welcome the word that has taken root in you, with its power to save you!

The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower; all who come to him will live forever.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Homily – July 20, 2009 – Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time - Monday

+ Signs abound of God's loving presence and providential activity in the lives of his faithful people: people who simply acknowledge right relationship with him as humble creatures who are exalted to the skies the more they seek the very last place. Signs will never be given to those who demand them from God, as would God's equal, or even God's superior! God's loving providence, however, will not be withdrawn from them, at the minimal level: for "the sun rises and sets on the bad as well as on the good."

All of us are called today to reflect on the fact that we have someone in our midst who is even greater than all of the Prophets of old – prophets who were held in high regard – and who were the cause of at least some turning the courses of their lives around and heading them now joyfully in the direction of God and his saving ways; but a great many were so absorbed in themselves that they never did get the message of these prophets: and in the gospel passage today Jesus says that you foolish people have something even greater than Jonah, and Solomon and other great spokesmen of my Father, you have ME, God's very Word in the form of human flesh, walking among you, speaking his very words and message to you: these are the greatest "signs" of all: and you are totally obstinate, totally hard of heart, totally deaf of spirit – and thus you will never be able to enjoy life in brilliant (digital) sound of God's spirit – the music of God's own Heart – life in God's communion, life in God's family – UNLESS YOU REPENT AND BELIEVE WHAT IS BEING TOLD YOU AT THIS VERY MOMENT! That's all it takes! Repent, believe and live from now on like you mean it!

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts! And an amazingly rich, wonderful and beautiful day will simply unfold right before your very eyes – wondrous signs will abound and you will be certain of God's love for you!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Homily – July 19, 2009 – SIXTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

+ Our gospel passage today once again speaks of the tender love that Jesus has for those following him, those seeking something better than what they now possess. They know that something is lacking in their lives and they have a great instinct telling them in their hearts that Jesus is the answer to their problems! And Jesus does look at them with compassion; his heart is moved to the point of empathetic pity and he gives them what he feels they need first: knowledge of the way things truly are, and how things can really be different if what he presents is adopted and put into practice! This knowledge is very important: for from knowledge can come love, and from love can come communion with God and with one another!

But it is also to be noted in this passage that Jesus is not only concerned with the sheep of his flock, but also the shepherds. The Apostles, after going out and announcing the arrival of the Reign of God in the person of Jesus, come back to him exhausted and they gather at his feet and tell him all the marvelous things that they had accomplished that day in his name! Jesus looks directly at each of them and sees their weary, worn faces; they are tired and hungry, and so Jesus invites them to come away by themselves to a deserted place and rest a while. But people kept coming and coming! So Jesus had them get into a boat to get away for while – but the people found out where they were going and arrived there before them. The attraction of Real Truth and Real Peace is a driving force

It appears that the Apostles and Jesus never got their rest that day! This sometimes happens in meeting the needs of God's people! They helped Jesus preach and teach these spiritually thirsting and hungry souls. But sooner or later these primary ministers would need some time to refresh and regroup and be renewed by the Spirit of Love, for more work in the vineyard.

My dear sheep, I am asking you to remember the good shepherds that have just recently been appointed to serve your needs: Fr. Murray, Fr. Norm and myself; each of us are in the state that many of you are as we face the prospects of building a brand new parish (some of you whether you even realize it or not), we are ourselves are mourning the loss of what was, in the old parish set up and all that went along with it; all of us, including you all, are involved in a real grieving process that might take some time to get through; and so be very kind and gentle and loving to one another and to these new priests: Jesus was concerned about his helpers and their spiritual and physical welfare – so must you be on behalf of Jesus! There is nothing more moving that to see a sheep taking care of its shepherd! It does work both ways!

The Lord is both your shepherd and my shepherd; there is nothing that any of us will ever lack if we trust him and follow him all the days of our life!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Homily – July 18, 2009 – St. Camillus de Lellis

+ St. Camillus de Lellis was born at Bocchia-nico, Italy in the mid 16th century. He was not a good steward of his own money and by 1574 he was penniless in Naples. He became a Capuchin novice, but was unable to be professed because of a diseased leg he contracted while fighting the Turks. He devoted himself to caring for the sick, and became director of St. Giacomo Hospital in Rome. He received permission from his confessor (St. Philip Neri) to be ordained and decided, with two companions, to found his own congregation, the Ministers of the Sick (the Camellians), dedicated to the care of the sick. They ministered to the sick of Holy Ghost Hospital in Rome. In 1591, the Congregation was made into an order to serve the sick by Pope Gregory XIV, and in 1605, Camillus sent members of his order to minister to wounded troops in Hungary and Croatia, the first field medical unity. Gravely ill for many years, he resigned as superior of the Order in 1607, and died in Rome on July 14. He was canonized in 1746, and was declared patron saint of the sick, and patron of nurses and nursing groups. Today, July 18th is his feast day!

What a wonderful celebration of priestly ministry today; St. Camillus was called by God himself to minister to the sick with a priestly heart, which is the exact representation of the Divine and Sacred Heart of Jesus, himself – the heart that knew no bounds in providing everything spiritual, and as much as possible temporal that the sick patient needed.

The first reading certainly reflects Camillus's perspective of looking at the poor, the afflicted and the needy with the compassion of Jesus. And Camillus demonstrates the punch line of the first reading by his own willingness to lay down his concerns and comforts and life, for the well-being of others: the punch line is this: in the activity of being merciful and compassionate and actively loving - by tending wounds, wounds of body and soul – we experience the very love that is God, deep within us – which not only soothes our clients, but also soothes us, and spurs us on to even greater self-sacrifice for the good of others.

In the gospel passage Jesus tells us the same thing: you are my good and faithful friends, my helpers, my hands, my feet when you tend to others' needs! Even when you are tired and weary yourselves; even when you feel you have nothing left to give; it is exactly at this point that I can shine through you and minister to my sheep personally – with you willingly just standing in place so that I can use you. Your joy will abound by this experience; the sick will be refreshed; and there will be a deep hope and peace present that was just not there before your visit, and your ministrations!

I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Homily – July 17, 2009 – Fifteenth Week in ordinary Time - Friday

+ "I say to you something greater than the temple is here!" "If you truly allowed yourself to understand what is going on here you would know what this saying of scripture means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice." And if we, here, today, plumb the depths of God's mercy – if we completely immerse ourselves in his Merciful Heart then we would not condemn anyone for anything – least of all the apparent breaking of man-made rules of the Sabbath. Yes, God instructed us to keep holy the Sabbath, and gave specific instructions on how to do that: but doing the merciful thing on the Sabbath always takes precedence over anything else.

It is the "cup of mercy" that we take up during this and every Mass; the cup of consecrated wine – which is his blood poured out for the forgiveness of our sins – which was prefigured by the saving blood spread over the doorposts of the Israelites on the great night of remembrance: the Passover!

Immersing ourselves and our loved ones; immersing ourselves and those we don't even know; immersing ourselves and those we don't even like; immersing ourselves and those might even hate or consider enemies: can do an enormous amount to bring about the true reconciliation and peace which is what the Precious Blood of Jesus flowing from His Pierced Heart is all about!

On this Friday – as we recall the events of the Lord's Passion and Death: let us take up the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Homily – July 16, 2009 – Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

Mount Carmel – the site of a miraculous manifestation of God's almighty power and dominion in Old Testament times – three miles south of Haifa in present-day Israel, is the place traditionally associated with the beginning of the Carmelite order around the year 1200. This is where a group of hermits formed a community on its western slope. Soon they received a "formula of life" (a Rule) from the patriarch of Jerusalem, commending daily Eucharist, continual prayer (especially the psalms) and silence otherwise, manual labor, and other forms of ascetical practices. It was a balanced life of both solitude and community, with a structure of individual cells surrounding an oratory. The order received formal papal approval in 1298. From the very beginning the Carmelites identified themselves with the Blessed Virgin Mary. The oratory was dedicated to her, and Carmelites became known as the Brothers of Our lady of Mount Carmel, who they saw as their patroness.

Today may we remember how Mary carried the Lord in her womb before his birth, as we carry him in our hearts each time we receive him in the Blessed Eucharist after his birth! And just as her heart rejoiced to overflowing when she pondered this awesome mystery and reality wondering what it all could mean; so to we must ponder the mystery of the Risen Christ living within us: what does it mean? what do I do with the Precious Gift? how can I make him known, adored and loved as he deserves and as I ought?

With the help of the Virgin Mary's prayers we will know what to do: as she speaks to us in those wondrous moments following communion when we sit in silence and contemplate so Great a Guest really present now in our souls. And then may we go out and be his mother and brothers and sisters and friends by doing what both Jesus and Mary always did: the will of the Father in spreading love and friendship far and wide!

Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Homily – July 15, 2009 – St. Bonaventure

Our saint for today, St. Bonaventure (whose birth name was John) – who is also known as "the seraphic doctor" (of the Church) was born in Tuscany, Italy in 1221. As a child John suffered from a dangerous illness and it was at his mother's pleading that St. Francis himself prayed for his recovery: and John himself then cried out "O Buona ventura" – O good fortune! – thus foreseeing his own entry into the Franciscan community and being given the name Bonaventure!

In this studies for the priesthood in Paris, St. Bonaventure became great friends with, among other great theologians, St. Thomas Aquinas. He received the degree of Doctor, together with his friend St. Thomas. Both of them enjoyed the friendship of the holy King, St. Louis of France.

At age thirty-five he was chosen General of his order and restored a perfect calm where peace had been disturbed by internal dissensions. Successfully declining one offer to be made Archbishop, pope Gregory X obliged him to take upon himself an even great role as Cardinal and Bishop of Albano, one of the six suffragan Sees of Rome.He died while he was assisting at the Second Council of Lyons, on July 15, 1274.

Our readings today are about being rooted and grounded in love, which can only be grasped, by faith, as we invite the Lord Jesus to come and dwell in our hearts.

St. Bonaventure puts it this way: the purpose of human knowledge is to love (not simply just to collect facts and figures): and this is how we get to the root of love: 1) we allow ourselves to experience a purification from sin – and this brings the "calm of peace;" 2) we allow ourselves to experience illumination, based on the imitation of Christ, leading to the "splendor of truth!" 3) we experience finally, union with God, which leads directly to the "sweetness of love!"

Just listening to these words right now and honestly evaluating our relationship with them – each of us ought to be able to determine where we stand in the process of unification with God that we are all called to: and each of us ought to be able to determine where more work needs to be done, if only to maintain the progress that has been made!

Be not afraid! Sometimes this is a lifelong process! But the end result is worth all the struggle that we go through to get there!

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted! Lord, teach me your statutes!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Homily – July 14, 2009 – Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha

Our saint for today, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha was born near the town of Auriesville, New York, in the year 1656, the daughter of a Mohawk Indian warrior. Auriesville is not too far from where I was also born in New York State, but in the middle of the 20th century. Kateri was not a particularly attractive woman – her face was disfigured from an attack of smallpox. When her parents died she was adopted by her two aunts and uncle. She converted to Catholicism when she was a teenager, and was baptized at the age of 20, incurring the great hostility of her tribe. Although she suffered greatly for her Faith, she remained firm in it. Leaving Auriesville she went to the new Christian colony of Indians in Canada. Here she lived a life dedicated to prayer, penitential practices, and care for the sick and aged. Her mainstay was the Holy Mass and she was deeply devoted to Eucharistic Adoration and to Jesus Crucified. She died April 17, 1680 at the age of twenty-four. She is known as the “Lily of the Mohawks.” Devotion to Kateri is responsible for establishment of Native American ministries in Catholic Churches all over the United States and Canada. Kateri was declared venerable by the Church in 1943 and was Beatified in 1980. Work is currently underway for her canonization. Hundreds of thousands have visited shrines to Kateri both in Canada and in Auriesville, her birthplace. I am one such visitor – having visited there when I was about 12 years old, and again just two summers ago. What an amazing experience it is to be at Auriesville which is not only her shrine, but also that of the North American Jesuit Martyrs: Isaac Jogues and companions.

The gospel passage reminds us today that “repentance” is what it is all about: turning away from what is not of God, and deliberately, resolutely and happily turning, with a great sense of relief and joy, to all things that are of God. God has always given us significant figures in Church history (such as Moses, the Prophets, Jesus himself, and all the saints who came after him, and just ordinary people like you and me) to point out the way for those who need this conversion process. Blessed are they who are attentive to the signs and allow their hearts to be melted into his – which is really the bottom line of conversion: it is a heart to heart thing; from Jesus heart to ours and then back to his!

Turn to me (says the Lord) in your need, and you will live!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Homily – July 13, 2009 – St. Henry

+ St. Henry, son of Henry, Duke of Bavaria was a model not only for the Christian way of life, but also for the life of those holding civil authority over others. Henry's secret of staying centered on the great eternal truths was the simple art of meditation which kept these truths alive in his heart. He was not ever elated by this dignity and in all things sought the greater glory of God. He was most watchful over the welfare of the Church and did what he could to effect church discipline by means of working with bishops.

He gained several victories over his temporal enemies and was given an imperial crown at the hands of Pope Benedict VIII. The saint made numerous foundations, gave liberally to pious institutions and built the Cathedral of Bamberg. His holy death occurred at the castle of Grone, near Halberstaad, in 1024. Today, July 13, is his feast day. He is the patron saint of the childless, of Dukes, of the handicapped and those rejected by Religious Order.

Our readings today only confirm the heart of Henry of Bavaria. The Prophet Micah tells of those who would "do what they have been told by the Lord to do: to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with their God."

The gospel passage reminds us all that it is not those who simply cry out the Lord's name who will be saved in the end: but only those who do what he told them to do:
to do the right and to love goodness and to walk humbly with your God through all the hours of the day and night! We will know exactly what to do in any situation if we do this – and trust in him – and love him!

Whoever loves me will keep my word and my Father will love him and we will come to him.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Homily – July 12, 2009 – Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

+ The "alleluia verse" today is magnificent! May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts, that we may know what is the hope that belongs to our call. It is the heart of the message that I want to give you today!

This week, at the weekday Masses, on several days, there was mention of Jesus power over demons – and his curing of illness and disease. These were very easy things for Jesus to do; after all he is Son of God. Not only did he go about doing these things, but he also, the readings tell us on these day, and again today appointed others to do these things as well. This was mentioned in the first reading: "Go prophesy to my people!" We immediately think of the priests, and they have been sent to do these things – but many others have been given the charism of healing by the Holy Spirit as well – religious and lay persons too. You may be sitting right next to one – or might even be one yourself and not really acknowledge it! If you are a peacemaker – then you are a healer; if you take care of the sick, then you are a healer; if you talk with others about their problem you help them drive the demons out of their lives; if you pray with others and for others – your influence is very powerful in bringing the very healing of Jesus to them!

We are God's adopted children, the second reading tells us today – and he wants us to bathe ourselves in the forgiveness, compassion and mercy and healing that he can offer us through his Son Jesus, and his Church. He loves us so very much and is looking forward so much to calling us all home to him one day in heaven, and summing all things up in Christ – all things in heaven and on earth – this has been the plan all along and would have happened even if Adam and Eve had not sinned. Everything always has been about Jesus, Jesus alone, He truly is Lord, God, Savior, Priest and Friend.

This gives us every reason to have hope! We have been called to God's house, and even while we are sojourning to be there on those difficult days that we all face in this hectic oft-times weary world, we can still rest in his heart, in his peace, in his joy, in his love – most especially when we receive him in the Most Blessed Eucharist. It is in the moments after receiving communion when we are seated in silence that we can ask him to enlighten the eyes of our hearts, so that we can be confident of our call and willing to work all we can to cooperate with his command of love, so that we can get there – and bring as many other with us as we possibly can!

You are kind and merciful O Lord; let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Homily – July 11, 2009 – St. Benedict of Nursia

+ Today we celebrate the feast of our great Holy Father Abbot Benedict of Nursia. Benedict was originally a caveman. He was repelled by the vices of the city of Rome and in the year 500 he sought refuge in a cave thirty miles away in order to "get his spiritual focus and reorganize his life." He lived there for three years, fed by a monk named Romanus. Despite Benedict's desire for solitude, his holiness and way of life became known and he was asked to be the abbot of a small community of monks at Vicovaro. He accepted, but when the monks resisted his strict rule and tried to poison him he returned to Subiaco and it became a center of spirituality and learning. He was soon led y the Spirit in 525 to settle at Monte Cassino where he built a monastery that was to be the birthplace of Western monasticism. Soon disciples flocked to him as his reputation for holiness, wisdom, and miracles spread far and wide. He wrote his famous Rule prescribing common sense, a life of moderate asceticism, prayer, study, and work and community life under one superior. It stressed obedience, stability, zeal and had the Divine Office as the center of monastic life; it has affected spiritual and monastic life in the West to this day – even to this place, here and now. He died at Monte Cassino on March 21 and was named patron protector of Europe by Pope Paul VI in 1964.

The first reading today from the Book of Proverbs sounds like it comes from the mouth of a very gentle and loving abbot: my son, if you receive my words and treasure my commands, turning your ear to wisdom, inclining your heart to understanding, then you will understand the fear of the Lord, the knowledge of God you will find; he has counsel in store for the upright, he is the shield of those who walk honestly, guarding the path of justice, protecting the way of the pious one. Then you will understand rectitude and justice, honesty, every good path.

Are not these the very gift of the Holy Spirit poured out upon baptized Christans the day of their Confirmation? We have these powerful gifts of Divine Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Knowledge, Piety, Fortitude and Fear of the Lord residing deep in our hearts, by means of the amazing presence of the Holy Spirit! They are there for our use in keeping us faithful, true and strong Christians, and for us to help others become so.

In the gospel passage Peter asks Jesus a question that only Peter could ask: Lord, if we follow you, what is in it for us? Jesus probably gently smiled at Peter and thought – you are slow learner but once you are lit by the fire of the Holy Spirit – you will have no more questions, and you will simply know what everything is all about: and so he answered him: Peter, much later on, if you are faithful to me and the mission I give you, you shall follow me into the Kingdom where you will sit upon one of the Twelve thrones set up and waiting right now; but furthermore everyone who has given up everything for me to put me first in their lives, will receive all those left behind and so many more in the future! I MUST COME FIRST IN YOUR LIFE – all else follows from that!

Monastic life is just that: a kind of spiritual laboratory of seeking perfection, where we learn precisely how to put JESUS and HIS FATHER FIRST – while living in a oft-times hostile world, demonstrating what we have learned!

Blessed are the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Homily – July 10, 2009 – Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time - Friday

In our first reading today we have the continuation of the heart-wrenching story of Joseph, his brothers and their father, Israel. As you recall, Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery to the Egyptians when he was very young, and then a circumstance arose where these brothers had to come to ask for food from him as he had gained respect in Egypt and held in high post in Pharaoh's court. After concealing his identity and testing his brothers, Joseph finally revealed his identity and there was a very tearful and purifying conclave where the healing grace of reconciliation was running freely. And now today we have their father, who had been deceived about Joseph's disappearance, coming to meet his beloved lost son after many years of anguish, thinking about him and praying for him: and Israel flung himself on Joseph's neck and wept in his arms and said: At last I can die, now that I have seen for myself that Joseph is still alive! The prayers of parents for their children are indeed very powerful.


 

What is key in this whole story is that God very often times uses a bad situation to bring about a good one later on!
This is why we are asked not to judge any situation in progress. What appears evil now, may be permitted by God, so a much greater good can happen down the road. It is much better to pray for a happy conclusion than to try to help orchestrate the way out. Let God take care of that! He can do it in a way that will boggle our minds – so much does he love us and truly provides for all of our needs.


 

In the gospel passage Jesus tells his Apostles to go out into a hostile world and bring the message of reconciliation and peace come what may – for not only God's people, but the whole world needs to know that HOPE is truly present and available! We know it resides in Christ Jesus our Divine Lord and Savior and Friend – and we want as many else as is possible to know it!

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you to all truth!


 


 

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Homily – July 8, 2009 – Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time - Wednesday

What an amazing gospel passage this is! The divine heart of Jesus is always intent upon gathering in the lost, and the wounded; the suffering, and the weary. He tells the Twelve to go after them first and to proclaim as you go: The Kingdom of heaven is at hand for you! This is a Kingdom of mercy, and forgiveness and healing, and peace and joy!

He also gave them the authority to cast out unclean spirits. There were so many of them then, and they are still around today. They gnaw and disturb and try to make hopeless those who have good reason to want their suffering relieved. Among those sent in our own midst now to give remedy we add Fr. Murray, Fr. Norm and Fr. Fred. They are here among us in our new parish to proclaim the Kingdom of heaven for us; to proclaim it as a Kingdom of mercy, and forgiveness and healing, and peace and joy! Rely on them! Go to them! Have faith in the powers they have been given – and the Lord will reward you: and all the good people of All Saints Parish.

In the first reading today, Joseph wept when he heard his brothers talk of remorse for what they had done to him. Joseph pleaded with them not to harm him, but they paid no mind. We leave the story at that for today! But Joseph was a true and compassionate instrument of God's healing, mercy and forgiveness as well as we will see in the days ahead.

The Kingdom of God is at hand; let us repent and believe in the Gospel – for it truly has the power to save us!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Homily – July 6, 2009 – St. Maria Goretti

Today we celebrate the feast of a remarkable saint and martyr: Maria Goretti. She was born in Italy in 1890. In 1902 an eighteen year old neighbor, Alexander, grabbed attempted to rape her. When Maria said that she would rather die than submit, Alexander began to stab her with a knife. As she lay in the hospital, she forgave Alexander before she died. But even her death did not end her forgiveness. In jail, Alexander was still unrepentant until one night Maria appeared to him in a dream and gave her some flowers. When he woke, he was a changed man, repenting of his crime and living a reformed life. When he was released after 27 years he went to Maria's mother to ask forgiveness, to which she said: "If my daughter can forgive him, who am I to withhold forgiveness?" Maria was declared a saint in 1950.

Even though she was a young person Maria knew what St. Paul meant when he wrote to the Corinthians that the only reason we have a body is to glorify God. It is itself a temple of his Spirit. And therefore, it ought to be treated with extreme respect and dignity – taken care of by only giving it food and drink that will be truly helpful to its well-being; and not using it for vain purposes, or for any kind of inappropriate activities that are outside of God's plan for it!

And as for Maria's death: Jesus prophesied the death of his beloved martyrs by saying that the grain of wheat must fall to the earth and die to produce much fruit: the death of Maria Goretti is still bearing fruit today – because on this day the church preaches forgiveness for one's attacker – that extends even beyond death! This is amazing proof of the power of God's grace working through us very poor and weak human beings! Blessed are they who persevere in temptation for when he has been proved he will receive the crown of life!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Homily – July 5, 2009 – Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Well, we made it! We are a brand- new church, part of a brand new parish! It is an excellent opportunity to begin again, taking with us the very best of the past, and leaving the worst behind. And so we take up our posture again to "receive the glad tidings that are brought to us, in the Word of God, and in preaching;" and also to take up the mandate to spread that Word and to be that Word, that is transformed into the Bread of Eucharist to spiritually empower us to do just that: be evangelists and helpers, to be friends and peacemakers amongst ourselves in the Christian community and in the world at large.

St. Paul gives us a clue as to who will be successful in doing this: the one who declares himself/herself weak! For God tells us that "my grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." And so we are to "boast of our weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with us!" In that way we can accept and even be content with whatever life sends our way: weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints FOR THE SAKE OF CHRIST: for WHEN I AM WEAK, then I am strong!

And so God chooses and empowers the weak to do his work, but all he can do is invite the general public to receive the work, to receive the word, to accept a helping hand, a kind word, an embrace of peace - to act like they have received it – all it takes is FAITH THAT IT INDEED DOES WORK THIS WAY! Jesus tells us that in his own hometown he could not spread the word like he would have wanted, nor performed miracles as proof of his identity because they lacked faith!

This is, of course, was prophesied in the first reading from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel. The Lord indeed will send one as a true prophet: that the rebellious house – all those who are stiff-necked and obstinate - shall only know that a prophet has risen among them – but not many will hear or heed what he has to say!

As we begin a new life as a "church-in-a-parish" let us keep our eyes fixed "on the prophet" the Great One – the True One – Jesus Christ – and let us never stop pleading for his mercy as we cry out in our weakness: Lord, hear us! Lord, save us! Lord, heal us! Thus we shall be strong and faithful members of the new and improved St. Ambrose! God bless us all!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Homily – July 4, 2009 – St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Our saint for today, Elizabeth of Hungary is truly an amazing character in church history. She was born of the Aragonese royal family in 1271. As a young maiden she was given in marriage to the king of Portugal and bore him two children. She bravely endured afflictions and troubles through prayer and works of charity. When her husband died she distributed her property to the poor and received the habit of the Third Order of Saint Francis. After ending a serious dispute between her son and son-in-law she died in 1336.

The true mark of one called to be a Franciscan is the charism of "maker of peace." The peace that Elizabeth affected was in her own immediate family among other places. Since Jesus became our reconciliation and our peace – and he was horrendously treated, being utterly innocent, with a child-like sprit – what actually happens is that when we enter into reconciliations that are truly called for and necessary – when forgiveness is asked for and received – even with those who have already died – then we participate in Jesus' reconciliation, and we experience the peace that radiates from it! It is an amazing peace – that pervades our whole being!

In the gospel passage Jesus puts it another way: when the Son of Man comes: blessed will the peacemakers be, but this time he is referring as well to the peace that we bring to one another when we actively reach out and help one another, and care for one another: when we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothes to those who need them, and a welcome to the stranger – then we will be welcome into the Kingdom of Peace and Love! Our lives each day ought to have some outreach for the sake of Jesus – for the benefit of the ones receiving the help and for the good of our own hearts and souls! "I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you!"

Homily – July 4, 2009 – St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Our saint for today, Elizabeth of Hungary, is truly an amazing character in church history. She was born of the Aragonese royal family in 1271. As a young maiden she was given in marriage to the king of Portugal and bore him two children. She bravely endured afflictions and troubles through prayer and words of charity. When her husband died she distributed her property to the poor and received the habit of the Third Order of Saint Francis. After ending a serious dispute between her son and son-in-law she died in 1336.

The true mark of one called to be a Franciscan is the charism of "maker of peace." The peace that Elizabeth affected was in her own immediate family among other places. Since Jesus became our reconciliation and our peace – and he was horrendously treated, being utterly innocent, with a child-like sprit – what actually happens is that when we enter into reconciliations that are truly called for and necessary – when forgiveness is asked for and received – even with those who have already died – then we participate in Jesus' reconciliation, and we experience the peace that radiates from it! It is an amazing peace – that pervades our whole being!

In the gospel passage Jesus puts it another way: when the Son of Man comes: blessed will the peacemakers be, but this time he is referring as well to the peace that we bring to one another when we actively reach out and help one another, and care for one another: when we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirst, clothes to those who need them, and a welcome to the stranger – then we will be welcome into the Kingdom of Peace and Love! Our lives each day ought to have some outreach for the sake of Jesus – for the benefit of the ones receiving the help and for the good of our own hearts and souls! "I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you!"

Friday, July 3, 2009

Homily – July 3, 2009 – St. Thomas the Apostle

Today we celebrate the feast of a remarkable saint: Thomas the Apostle. Most people think of him as the infamous one who doubted the fact that the risen Jesus was alive. Those who criticized him however had short term memory loss, as they were the ones who on many occasions before his death and resurrection were not always behind him a hundred percent; and who doubted and questioned a lot of the things he said and did: especially among them Peter, the soon to be head of the band of brother evangelists!

St. Thomas was not only normal in his reactions to Jesus' life, death and resurrection, but he was able to ask just the right questions at the right time and make the right statements at the right time which lead us memorable events and sayings that "everyone knows about" and remembers even today – no matter how little else they might know or remember about scripture. Thomas is the first of the Apostles who declared that he would give his life for Jesus. Actually that lot fell to James, but the spunk and bravery of Thomas is what is to be remembered here. Thomas is the one to ask Jesus where he is going, when Jesus announced that he would be "going away – telling them that they know the way" to which Jesus replied: "Thomas, I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me!" And finally, when his doubts about the resurrection led him face to face with the Risen Lord and he got to touch the wounds of Christ, he made that very memorable acclamation and prayer: MY LORD, AND MY GOD – being one of the only times in scripture where Jesus is actually referred to as God.

After Pentecost – and the Apostles were sent into the whole world to unify it and bring it all home to God the Father – Thomas went to India – and after laboring there for many years he died a martyr's death – for the honor of his very best friend, Jesus; and the glory of his Father, and ours!

You believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen me, says the Lord; blessed are those who have not seen, but still believe! Believing in the power of the Lord in our lives and the love pouring forth from his Sacred Heart can make all the difference in the world for us and for others!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Homily – July 2, 2009 – Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time - Thursday

The type of "authority" that Jesus spoke from – came not from a college degree, or a high-salaried job or anything other than what was given him by God his Father. His confidence and surety came from the fact that he was the truth! He was the authority on anything that he spoke about! He was there when everything was made! All human authority comes from his Father, and if rightly used goes back to him in the form of credit and glory; if human beings steal the credit and the glory and apply it to themselves or others, then they have seriously misused the authority.

Jesus demonstrated his authority in two ways that others cannot: he could cure illness and disease, and he could forgive sin – each with the same ease and alacrity; this because they are both related to some degree.

And so in the gospel passage Jesus chooses to cure the paralytic – to have him walk - as the demonstration of having his sins forgiven. "And the crowds were amazed at what they saw and glorified God" – whom they thought had simply give such amazing authority to a mere man. They still did not understand the full import of what happened, but they were on the right track.

In the first reading today we have another very evident demonstration of authority: this time involving God, Abraham and Isaac. Abraham was willing to do what God told him to do and sacrifice his own son as an offering to God, but God stopped him just in the nick of time because Abraham's obedience in faith was so unswerving and true. The authority demonstrated here is the authority derived from faith. If we trust God absolutely, and believe that he loves us and wants the very best for us and those we love – then even when things seem to be heading in an uncomfortable direction – actually something quite good can come from it. In this case God entered into a covenant with Abraham, a covenant of mercy that would last through generations as Abraham became the spiritual father in faith of a host of nations!

This obedience of faith, of course, was the precursor of the great obedience of Jesus that would reconcile mankind to God – and he has entrusted to us this message of reconciliation: so that we can tell others of it and possibly effect a reconciliation, a healing and a growth where it is most needed – with the people we see every day!

The house of Israel trusted in the Lord; he was and is their help and their shield – he can be ours as well! – if we trust in him and his great promise of mercy towards us!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Homily – July 1, 2009 – Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time - Wednesday

The gospel passage today provides an inadvertent comical interlude. Jesus' power over the demons was not the joke, but sending the demons into the swine who went rushing off a cliff into the sea was a play on sentiment. You see, Jews have nothing to do with pigs – they are unclean animals – so this whole dismissal of the demons was like a double-driving home of the point: Jesus came to fulfill the law, but not to abolish it, although he would change some antiquated dietary restrictions.

Jesus can deal with our demons as well: the ones that seems to flit and fly around us from time to time and the more prominent ones that make their presence felt in the "affairs of the world." But what we need as individuals, and as a society is faith that he can do it! And like in the gospel passage, the demons themselves will ask to be dismissed in the present of our light and our true and our faith, as they did in Jesus' presence!

When the poor one called out, the Lord heard, and from all his distress he saved him.

May 22 - 5th Week of Easter - Wednesday

+ Our readings today are about unity and community, or a more contemporary way of saying it would be: participation . Jesus makes it ...