Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Homily – September 30, 2009 – St. Jerome

+ The gospel passage today, on this feast of St. Jerome, is an interesting one. Jesus tells us that saints and sinners will be found both in the world, and even in the Church, until the time of sorting at the end of the world. He is also telling us that it will be helpful for us if we could tell the difference between saints and sinners; and of course, we ought not be among the latter group (the sinners) if we can possibly avoid it. We have been given what we need to stay on a straight and narrow path and we must cling to him, we must cling to Jesus.

St. Jerome was born about the year 342 in a small town near the head of the Adriatic Sea. His father, a Christian, took care that his son was well instructed at home, and then he sent him to Rome, where he received an excellent education, including Latin and Greek. He read the literatures of those languages with great pleasure. His aptitude for oratory was such that he may have considered law as a career. He acquired many worldly ideas, made little effort to check his pleasure-loving instincts, and lost much of the piety that had been instilled in him at home. Yet, he got in with a Christian crowd of friends and eventually ended up being baptized by Pope Liberius in 360. His intellectual curiosity led him to explore other parts of the world. While in Aquileia, he made friends among the monks of the monastery there. Then it was off to Treves, in Gaul, where he decided to renounce all secular pursuits to dedicate himself wholeheartedly to God. It is interesting how a vocation to one's life work comes about!

The rest as they say is history: Jerome spent a lot of time delving into the study of scripture, both in itself and its commentaries by other writers. Then Jerome himself began to write about his findings. Later, it was found to be beneficial for Jerome to become a priest to serve the needs of the young church. He reluctantly submitted to ordination but wanted to remain a monk and a recluse, which is pretty much what happened. His great work was his translation of the Scriptures from Greek into Latin. But he also wrote endlessly defending the Word of God and for this is considered the greatest of all of the doctors and fathers of the Church. His most often used advices are these: that "ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ;" and that "it was of no use just to read about or study the Word of God (in scripture), one has to act on it!

In the first reading today St. Paul says the same thing to Timothy: all scripture is inspired by God, and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work!

May we become more familiar today with Christ and his word, (and not remain blissfully or purposefully ignorant on certain topics), and then may we act on that familiarity: and be doers of the word and not just hearers! The difference between the saint and the sinner is that the saint listens and tries to act…while the sinner doesn't even really hear at all, and therefore acts aimlessly!

This day, are you more a saint, or a sinner?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Homily – September 29, 2009 – Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael

+ Angels are spiritual, bodiless persons who constantly behold the face of God. The word angel denotes what they do: they are helpers and messengers. Today we celebrate three of the top ranking angels or archangels: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. These spirits were key in salvation history. Devotion to Archangel Michael is the oldest tradition. He is God's Protector. Ever since the beginning, when his counterpart Lucifer caused such havoc to be done to God's people, Michael was sent, and continues to be sent by God to protect and defend God's people of both the Old and New Testament times. Prayer to Michael in times of temptation and trouble is always answered by calm and peace.

Gabriel is God's Spokesperson. He announced the birth of John the Baptist to Zechariah, his father. He greeted Mary with the memorable words: "Hail, full of grace. The Lord is with you!" It was he who delivered God's proposition to Mary to become the mother of his Son. Gabriel is one to pray to before speaking anything important to anyone.

Raphael is the Patron of Healing. He healed Tobit's blindness and provided Sarah with a husband. He hears the prayers of God's people and delivers them to God. He is identified as the angel who healed the earth when it was defiled with the sins of the fallen angels. Prayers for healing and restoration need always be prayed to and through Archangel Raphael.

It is comforting to know that there are others who are also God's dear friends besides us humans. All of creation is a friend of God, all of the animals, and the fish and the birds of the air – and all of the good spirits whom God provides for our companionship and our well-being. Thanks be to God for his generosity and his love and his desire to protect and preserve us!

Bless the Lord, all you angels, you ministers, who do his will!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Homily – September 28, 2009 – Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time - Monday

+ It seems as though the theme of the Jewish people always wanting to rank the greatest and the most famous, has always been part of their heritage. They were always taking the law – even the law of God into their own hands – when they got impatient, to maintain their importance. And even when they were punished for their sins and sent into exile they still dreamed of being restored to greatness one day, and in the gospel passage today the disciples of Jesus are arguing among themselves about who is the greatest among them.

Jesus sighs, and tells them that the great ones are the small ones. Receiving a child with respect, dignity and deference is even more important that receiving a reigning potentate! The least among you is the greatest, he tells them. And stop worrying about those who are doing good things using my name. Leave them alone – for their part they are on our side – if there are sides to be on. A good deed done for God is a good deed done for God no matter who does it! But a good deed done for God is always better than a good deed done in general, or simply for profit.

The Lord did rescue his captive people in Babylon, the great ones who had become the least in Babylon – but unfortunately, in time they would resume their superior attitude and by the time Jesus comes along would have developed a great hardness of heart regarding the things that really mattered.

We pray today for all who base leadership on power, prestige and the amount of dollars in a banking account, rather than on simplicity, humility and smallness. May they, ourselves included, like Jesus, seek the last place of service, among all, and find a treasure trove of blessings and reward and eternal life!

The Son of Man came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Homily – September 26, 2009 – Sts. Cosmas and Damian

+ Saints Cosmas and Damian (who died around the year 287), are the patron saints of physicians along with St. Luke. They are also patron saints of nurses, surgeons, pharmacists, dentists, and barbers. Their legend says that they were twin brothers born in Arabia and doctors who practiced medicine without taking fees for service. Many cures are attributed to them. They made no secret of their Christian faith and were arrested during the Diocletian persecution. They were brought before the governor of Cilicia and were martyred in Cyrrhus, north of Antioch. A great basilica was built there in their honor. A famous painting of them was done by Fra Angelico.

The spirit of the early Christian martyrs, including Cosmas and Damian is found in the first reading today: the souls of the just are (always) in the hands of God and no torment shall touch them; they seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us utter destruction. But they are in peace….for as gold in the furnace, God has proved them worthy of themselves, and they shall reign with God forever!

Jesus tells those who suffer for him not to be afraid, for God, his Father and theirs, knows exactly what is going on, and will always give the exact measure of help and strength needed to do his will in acknowledging him before mankind!

Sts. Cosmas and Damian pray for us today that we may persevere in doing God's holy will – especially when it would be easier or safer not to!

Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Homily – September 25, 2009 – Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time - Friday

+ We have been reading these past several days about the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem after the Babylonian Captivity. It takes place in the time of the reign of King Darius. Even in this newly rebuilt version of the temple, something still seems to be lacking: God himself reveals that what is lacking is his presence, his glory, his peace. He tells the people through Haggai the prophet that he will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land; he will shake the nations and their treasures and then fill this house with his glory! He tells them that the gold and silver in it are already his, and that the future glory of this house will be far greater than the former. This means that the temple of Christ's body will far surpass any earthly temple that human hands can possibly make – and from that body, from that life, will come forth light and peace!

However, in order for this to happen the Son of Man has first to suffer greatly and be rejected by the enders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised, as Jesus tells his disciples in the gospel passage today Yes, he is most certainly the Christ – the glorified one of God – but the glory for Jesus comes only after the Cross. And so too will come our glory, after our experience of our portion of the Cross.

On this Friday let us embrace the Cross of Christ and our own cross, so that we may experience the glory and peace that flow directly from them because of the glory of the Resurrection of Jesus that always comes on the following Sunday morning!

Let the faithful exult in glory!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Homily – September 24, 2009 – Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time - Thursday

+ When the great Roman leader Herod heard of all that Jesus was doing he was perplexed – he thought John the Baptist (whom he had put to death) had risen from the dead, or that Elijah had appeared or one of the ancient prophets. He kept trying to see Jesus. When the Light appears, when Truth manifests itself – it is irresistible – even to those who are wandering around in the deepest levels of darkness.

In the first reading today we see an excellent analogy for our own day: the Lord tells his people that it is time for them to rebuild his house that he may take pleasure in it and receive glory. This is the same idea that comes across with the rebuilding of the church of San Damiano that St. Francis undertook centuries ago – St. Francis, whose feast is in just a couple of weeks. It is what God is asking us to do today with the new evangelization and especially here and now in our state – with the defense of God and his will for marriage as he made it, while at the same time being willing to help in every way possible any opponents to God's will and way, with their basic and civil needs and desires.

I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord; no one comes to the Father except through me. My way and my truth and my life are based on justice and mercy – and justice is giving to all what is their rightful due – including first always, God!

The Lord takes delight in his people. Let him take delight in us this day because we think and act like his people!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Homily – September 23, 2009 – St. Pio Pietrelcina

+ Francesco Forgione was born to peasant farmers Guiseppa and Grazio Forgione in the small Italian village of Pietrelcina on May 25, 1887. From his childhood, it was evident that he was a special child of God. He was very devout and at an early age felt drawn to the priesthood. He became a Capuchin (Franciscan) novice at the age of sixteen and received the habit in 1902. Francesco was ordained to the priesthood in 1910 after seven years of study and became known as Padre Pio.

On September 20, 1918, Padre Pio was kneeling in front of a large crucifix when he received the visible marks of the crucifixion, making him the first priest in church history to receive the stigmata. The doctor who examined Padre Pio could not find any natural cause for the wounds. Upon his death in 1968, the wounds were no longer visible. In fact, there was no scaring, and the skin was completely renewed. He had predicted 50 years prior that upon his death the wounds would heal.

In addition to the stigmata other graces were granted to Padre Pio. From his wounds came an odor similar to perfume or flowers; he had the gift of bilocation, and he had the ability to read the hearts of the penitents who flocked to him for confession, which he heard for twelve hours a day. Padre Pio always had just the right word of counsel or encouragement that was needed. Even before his death, people spoke to Padre Pio about his possible canonization. He died on September 23, 1968 at the age of eight-one. His funeral was attended by about 100,000 people.

On June 16, 2002, over 500,000 Padre Pio devotees gathered in Rome to witness Pope John Paul II proclaim Padre Pio, Saint Pio of Pietrelcina.

The first reading today speaks precisely of the reason why St. Pio received the stigmata of the Lord – the cross of the Lord Jesus, the mystery of his Passion and Death were the sole object of this great saint's meditation and love. He understood so perfectly that it was in the woundedness of Christ, and the self-sacrificial gift of his life that healing and transformation comes: the life of resurrection and hope and peace. St. Pio could distribute the healing and hope and peace of Christ so effectively, because he experienced very intensely what Jesus himself experienced. Peace and mercy flow from the wounds of Christ onto the whole world for any who want to be bathed in its splendor.

In the gospel passage, Jesus assures those who follow him very closely, those who are part of his little flock, that God his Father is pleased to give them his very Kingdom – so long as they either remain, or become poor – preferring nothing to Christ –and his words and his actions – and his Cross. An inexhaustible treasure awaits all of them in heaven if their heart is already there. Let our treasure and our hearts be in our heavenly homeland today – and with the example and prayers of St. Pio of Pietrelcina let us advance ever more swiftly and assuredly to our place there – a place reserved to those who repent and believe in the gospel and who prove their change of heart by willingness to help all others, in their most basic needs!


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Homily – September 22, 2009 – Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time - Tuesday

+ The gospel passage today reminds us that the true "relatives" – mothers and brothers of Jesus – are the ones who hear the word of God and act on it – because this is exactly how he lived his life. Jesus was entirely tuned in to the word and will of God his Father, and therefore was not recommending something that was untried and untested. He trusted God completely and he had everything he needed to carry out the Father's will. If we also trust God completely we will have the same resources.

King Darius carried out the will of God, as well, in seeing to it that the temple of God was rebuilt after the Babylonian captivity – as we heard in the first reading today. And then the returning exiles celebrated their first Passover back in their native land, in their sacred space. They went rejoicing to the house of the Lord! Their cries of mercy were heard by God and he released them from the captivity that they had only brought on themselves by their own sinfulness. May we avoid such captivity and spiritual imprisonment by staying as far away as we can from sinning –and spend an enormous amount of time on PRAISING AND TRUSTING IN GOD who will revive us, and restore our spiritual fortunes when the coffers run dry!

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

Monday, September 21, 2009

Homily – September 21, 2009 – St. Matthew

+ In the gospel passage Jesus makes it very clear that sinners are his top priority, rather than codling those who think they are self righteous. Unless every person counts him or herself into fellowship with Jesus as a sinner, they will not be allowed to count themselves in with him as redeemer and savior! The scene we have in the gospel passage today underscores this idea excellently. Jesus first of all calls one who is known as a suspicious public personage – a tax collector – as an Apostle (of all things); and then he goes and has supper in his house with well known sinners of all degrees and types.

The ones who murmured of course were the Pharisees – who no doubt were just returning from the temple and their evening sacrifices. Jesus tells them point blank – it is mercy that I want, it is mercy that I came to distribute, it is mercy that I offer everyone – even you. I do not want your sacrifices, I want you to be merciful! Of course, they persisted in their ignorance!

And so St. Matthew, a tax collector – who was despised by his own people because he was working for the Roman occupation and no doubt gouging a large commission from his collections for himself – was called to be an Apostle and an evangelist of the Lord. On Matthew's part he con-verted, he allowed his life to be turned around by Jesus, and he followed him wherever he went from that point on! Jesus and the Holy Spirit used him to write down the first gospel in terms that the Jews and unbelievers could understand: in the first case to prevent the Jewish people who had come to Jesus from backsliding; and to help unbelievers know that Jesus was indeed the long awaited Messiah!

Matthew's missionary work took place most likely in Ethiopia and Persia, where he most likely died a martyr's death! He used well the grace given him by Christ to do his specifically designated work! He was a good and faithful servant! May we be the same today!

We must proclaim the unity of faith, and hope in the bond of charity and peace so that the world may affirm the reality of the Son of God matured to full stature in Christ Jesus the Lord! Amen!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Homily – September 20, 2009 – Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

+ There are a whole lot of things going on in the gospel passage today. It is written by St. Mark who is the simplest of all the gospel writers, and it was his intention to mainly introduce themes and ideas without much fleshing out. Matthew, Luke and John did that part quite well! Mark is the "secretive" one, and kind of leaves you wondering…

Today Jesus and his disciples leave where they were and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples along the way that the Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him and three days after his death, the Son of Man will rise. They did not understand the saying, were probably not even sure if he was referring to himself, and they were afraid to ask him any questions.

When they arrived at Capernaum he asked them what they had been arguing about along the way, but they remained silent. (They had been discussing among themselves who was the greatest among them). Then he sat down and had the Twelve gather around him and (knowing all along what they had been discussing) he said to them: the first shall be the last of all and the servant of all. This is plain enough – but very difficult indeed to do – has anyone here today really, truly tried to do this consistently, regularly and well?

But then Jesus joins in the same instruction period the ideas of his identification with children – all children; and he connects this with the unity that exists between himself and his Father in heaven. All of these really have to do with being last and a servant of all. Children and the child-like like to be helpful and comforting. This indeed makes them truly great, not only in the eyes of their parents, but also in the eyes of another one who really counts even more: God their Father in heaven.

By the way: the reason St. Mark is so "secretive" is that, at this early point in Church history when his gospel was written – to be the seed for the other gospels – the Holy Spirit who was actually doing the writing, through Mark, knew that the minds of the Jewish people had to be opened very slowly to the truths of the new dispensation, the new testament, the new way of Jesus. It wouldn't be a bad idea to recommend the gospel of St. Mark to those who have never met Jesus, or who want a refresher course and want to start with something bite-sized!

Of course, in the course of time, what Jesus predicted about himself, the Son of Man, did come to pass; and as prophesied in the first reading he was reviled and tortured and condemned to a shameful death – and he went to it WILLINGLY, LOVINGLY, and even JOYFULLY – he loved us so!

For us, this means we are redeemed; we can have the fruit of righteousness deep within our hearts that is sown in peace IF WE CULTIVATE PEACE!


The secret is now out! Jesus is Lord, Jesus is Savior, Jesus is Prince of Peace! Go and tell everyone you come across! God bless you!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Homily – September 19, 2009 – St. Januarius

+ Today, as we celebrate the feast of St. Januarius, who lived in the late third century, I also celebrate the sixty-first anniversary of my baptism! This is a great day of rejoicing for Church because of the martyrdom of St. Januarius, and it is a great day of rejoicing for me as I reflect on the moment when Original Sin was washed away for me, I became an adopted son of God, and a member of the Mystical Body of Christ! It was truly the completion of my "birth-day" – without baptism, I would only have been half-alive!

Januarius was born in or near Naples, Italy. (My great-grandparents were born there). He became bishop of Benevento, but then came the persecution of the emperor Diocletian. During this persecution he went to visit four imprisoned Christians in Nola, where he himself was arrested. He was tortured and thrown to the wild beasts. When the beasts would not touch him, he was beheaded and buried near the town. His relics ended up in the fifth century at the cathedral in Naples, where his blood is said to liquefy each year on this his feast day – proof of his sanctity, proof of his pastoral care, and proof of his willingness to die for Christ!

The first reading today certainly speaks of Januarius – suffering for Christ, by ill-treatment and imprisonment, but not throwing away confidence in Christ who will give great recompense. And of course, the classic gospel image of the grain of wheat falling to the earth and dying in order to produce fruit. This referred to Jesus' own redemptive passion and death and resurrection; it referred to Januarius' act of martyrdom; and it refers to the invitation that I have, I who celebrates the beginning of the life of faith today, and that we all have – to live that faith, and practice it fearlessly, come what may – for the fruits of the grain of wheat will be well worth it: eternal life on high with God!

Those who sow in tear shall reap rejoicing!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Homily – September 18, 2009 – Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Friday

+ As you know from last Sunday's homily – whose theme was preached in all the parishes of the Diocese of Portland – the Church of Portland is now in the forefront, in the state of Maine, of an initiative to preserve marriage and family life as God authored it and intended it. But at the same time, and this most likely did not come across clearly at all, for the most part, the Church is also acutely aware of the plight of those proposing the referendum question on the ballot. And the reason that it is so acutely aware is that there are a great many of our own Catholic members who find themselves in the minority grouping of those who happen to have a different variety of sexual attraction than most others. The Church, that means you and me, must always come across as truly understanding, and caring and more than just sympathetic to the plight – we must be willing to actively help such persons find their rightful, true and welcomed place within the Church – within our gatherings – within our hearts.

The first reading today talks about those who do not agree with sound words of the Lord Jesus Christ on religious teaching – that they are conceited, understanding nothing, and have a morbid disposition for arguments and verbal disputes. Do not, my brothers and sisters, automatically conclude that these words are directed against those supporting the Church's stance against proposition one on the ballot. Perhaps they apply more to those well-intentioned but narrow-minded individuals who think they are the side of the Church who apparently even moreso do not agree with Jesus own words about compassion, and mercy, and understanding and willingness to help those in need.

There are sound words of Jesus to be found on both sides of this issue. Therefore, the best way to deal with it – is to let God deal with it, through us! He will help us figure it all out! And we can do this as St. Paul tells Timothy today, by pursuing (true) righteousness (the non-judgmental kind), pursuing devotion to God, pursuing faith, love, patience and gentleness. Standing for God's definition of marriage; and defending the true rights of our gay brothers and sisters in Christ is an outstanding way to demonstrate and to compete for the faith! And in this way we will be laying hold of eternal life – and we will be given credit for having made a noble confession in the presence of many witnesses.

The gospel passage is about the many that followed and supported Jesus – many of whom were women. Maybe some of them had gay children. While Jesus would not condone all of their actions, he would embrace the children as he embraced all children – and simply loved them – and would suggest to them ways to live out their own special vocation as chaste single persons.

There is a way for all of this to work out – the Holy Spirit will show us that way!

Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Homily – September 17, 2009 – Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time - Thursday

+ The gospel passage is the moving story of the penitent woman who ministers to Jesus at the house of a Pharisee, when he was invited to dine there. It has been said that this person was Mary Magdalene. Scripture scholarship has suggested to us on the one hand that it was Mary Magdalene, but also some say that it was not Mary at all. Mary, in any event, did have seven demons driven from her (which means in essence all vice and negative-spirit-like influences). The woman here today, is simply a sinner who had experienced the mercy and love of Jesus who treated her with kindness, compassion and forgiveness.

In washing his feet with her tears and drying them with her hair and then anointing them with precious ointment this woman was prophesying that, within a very in a short time, the body of the crucified Lord would be anointed with a similar precious ointment and his body sealed into the earth.

The Pharisees objection to Jesus' courtesy and generosity to the woman is typical. Whitened sepulchers they were! But Jesus assured the woman that it was her great faith that has saved her and was the cause of the forgiveness of her sins and would keep her unto the day of his resurrection!

Jesus simply wants our attention, our devotion and our promise to go out and encourage others to get to know him who is Savior, Lord and most of all Friend

May we do this, this day!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Homily – September 16, 2009 – Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian

+ Our saints for today, Cornelius and Cyprian, were very important early third century bishops and martyrs. The Church at the time was still suffering persecution by the Roman Emperors. Doctrinal formulations were still being made as to what the Church was all about. It was still a time of living on the edge for the developing Catholic faith!

Cornelius was the pope who insisted that those baptized by heretics or schismatics need not be rebaptized upon entering or returning to the Catholic Church. Little is known about him, personally, other than the fact that he was a Roman simple priest and perhaps belonged to a patrician family. When his predecessor the papacy, Fabian, died, another priest named Novatian was the frontrunner to be elected Pope. He had governed the Church in the fourteen months that lapsed from the death of Fabian to the election of a new pope (which was postponed because of the persecution of Decius).

When Cornelius was elected, Novatian had himself ordained bishop and installed as an anti-pope. Needless to say the ensuing skirmish between the two churchmen was intense. Letters written by Cornelius at the time, considered very harsh and authoritarian, however, provided information about the Church at the time: it included forty-six priests, seven deacons, seven subdeacons, forty-two acolytes, fifty-two exorcists, readers, and porters, and more than fifteen hundred widows (who were also considered officers of the church). On the basis of these figures, it has been estimated that the membership of the Roman church in the mid-third century may have reached fifty thousand members.

In the mid third century, the persecutions resumed by the emperor Gallus, and Cornelius was imprisoned and deported from Rome. Before dying due to harsh treatment Cornelius received a warm letter of support from Cyprian.

Cyprian's greatest legacy was his writings, which were translated into Greek – a rarity for a Latin writer. His concerns were focused on the unity of the Church, the office of bishop, the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, and the Sacraments: especially, Baptism, Penance, and Eucharist. He is cited several times by the Second Vatican Council in its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (1964).

The first reading today tells us that the treasure of God's wisdom, and knowledge and grace is held by us in the earthly vessel of our human minds and bodies – that – due to Original Sin – still struggle to get the whole picture as given, and to get it right! It also tells us that all we must do to endure the sufferings that go into living and spreading our faith is worthwhile.

In the gospel passage we overhear Jesus praying his Priestly Prayer – which he prayed after the Last Supper, shortly before he went into the Garden of Gethsemane – that these men – these chosen apostles would be protected from the world, and guided into all truth. "It would not be easy, even for them to always agree with one another – so flood them with our Spirit, Father, so that they may always come out on top in any debates or conflicts regarding the truth!"

Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Homily – September 15, 2009 – Our Lady of Sorrows

+ Today we celebrate the sorrow that Mary carried with her throughout the entire life of her son, Jesus. From the time that Simeon prophesied that Jesus would be a sign of contradiction his whole life long, and that a sword would pierce her own heart, the suffering of Jesus and her own suffering would be intermingled. How could they not be? Never had or will there ever be again a mother – son relationship like this one!

Jesus accepted his cross from the first moment of his life, and it overshadowed everything he ever said and did; Mary always gathered and pondered the meaning of everything her son said and did, and saw it all leading somewhere – to some specific, preordained, magnificent event. And it did occur – when Jesus was raised up on the cross for us and for our salvation, and she stood right there by him with a heart torn with grief and joy! She was sad that his "hour" was so dreadful; but she was joyful because his "hour" was so brief, and now her hope reigned supreme as she awaited his resurrection in three days' time.

Jesus learned obedience from what he suffered; and the perfection of obedience in Jesus was the price of our salvation and the recipe for our own participation in the redemption: we too must obey the commandments of God, we too must obey the dictates of the Church, we too must obey the dictates of our own rightly formed consciences! We have the Spirit of God himself to help us do these things: they must be done or else we have disqualified ourselves from the fruits of the death and resurrection of Jesus; and who would want to do that? (And yet, there are some who choose this!)

At the cross her station keeping, stood the mournful Mother weeping, close to Jesus to the last!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Homily – September 14, 2009 – The Triumph of the Holy Cross

+ Our feast today is about the very instrument of wood that was our Savior's triumph and glory. He longed for the moment when he would be sacrificed on it voluntarily: this would be his "hour" of triumph over death, darkness and hatred. And so, precious is that tree of death that became the tree of life for us all: without the cross we would never escape sin, we would live in sin always, and die in sin surely – with no chance of reward even for our good deeds.

The first reading from the book of numbers foretells how looking up at Christ Crucified would bring salvation to the one who does it with faith, and hope and charity in the heart; and with the willingness to be likewise transformed into an instrument of healing, love and mercy towards other people!

If Jesus so humbled himself by leaving his divinity behind and taking on the form of a slave, coming in human likeness, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross – and because he was highly exalted by God for doing this: when we humble ourselves and obediently accept the mission in life that God has given us, which might include all kinds of "deaths" great and small in our lifetimes – then we too shall triumph with him; and we too shall receive the same glory!

This is a truly amazing reality!

And so today we proclaim: Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim, til all the world adore his Sacred Name!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Homily – September 13, 2009 – Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

+ The next time you come to an intersection that has a traffic light in it – especially a multi-laned intersection such as the one at Cook's Corners – I want you to think of this thought: if a small minority of the population of the State of Maine decide that – as far as Maine Traffic Lights are concerned: "red is now to be equal in every way to green" – "red is now green" – this statement, even if it is written on a piece of paper and signed by the governor of Maine does not make red green; but practically speaking now it is green and therefore it is not a far leap to predict that there will be chaos of major proportions at all major intersections, especially the multi-laned ones.

Red - can – never- be - equal – to - green! Marriage, defined in any other way than what God has defined it, will never be marriage. "Marriage-set-up red," can never equal "marriage-set-up green." It is theologically impossible, it is anthropologically impossible, it is biologically impossible, it is psychologically impossible, it is sociologically impossible for them to be equal. Therefore to superimpose the name and change the content of the definition of one, into and onto the other will give a distorted looking black color! Red on green basically looks black!

I heard it said that "God created man (as male and female) and marriage in the same breath!"(This means that marriage and family life goes back that far – to "the beginning" - before any other institutions existed at all – and for some non-coincidental reason it seems to have been preserved, even by civil society, as is, for thousands of years). God intended for the male and the female, the husband and the wife to enjoy the deep companionship of divine friendship with him and one another, in a monogamous life-long relationship; and to populate his own family, by co-operating with him in co-creating offspring, children, new family members. The human family was intended to mirror first of all the family of God that he is in his own Trinitarian life, and also the family life to which we all belong whether we even know it or not, and to which we are called to live in forever in the new heaven and the new earth! How faithfully we live out marriage and family life as given by him will determine our place of honor in that new existence! It simply does not make any sense at all to redefine the amazing and precious reality of marriage.

The Church, therefore, cannot do anything other than to stand for marriage as is: as it is given by God! But at the same time, the Church also understands absolutely the varieties of "sexual appetites and orientations" that exist in men and women– that may not be totally consistent with the ideal and perfect man and woman! The very fact that there is variety has to do with Original Sin, in general, which basically weakened and watered down everything about our human life, blurring many lines of self-identification and inclinations – and introduced death to boot! But God left us with our free-will, a weakened, but quite functional intelligence and even his own "light of grace in our minds and hearts" to recognize truth when we see it! And so while, standing firmly with its insistence of the definition of marriage, the Church is also very understanding of the need to protect the basic and civil rights of persons who find themselves having a same-sex sexual attraction. The church is against all forms of discrimination against gay persons. However, the matter at hand is not one of discrimination, at all. Marriage, as authored and defined by God requires a man, and a woman. Two persons of the same sex simply are not physically qualified for marriage. The subsequent requirement for God's idea of family life as husband, wife, and children – can also not be met.

Neither of these dis-qualifications makes gay persons bad, or undesirable, or unsuitable in any way to be a welcome part of the fabric of society – but it does mean that these persons must find other creative, loving, Gospel-oriented, legally protected ways in which to live a happy, chaste lifestyle.

The readings today call us to stand up for the faith! The first reading told how Isaiah prophesied about Jesus setting his face like flint, not turning his back on those who wanted to beat it, not turning away from those who wanted to pluck his beard. He knew, as Jesus would know in his "hour" of triumph, that God (his Father, and the Holy Spirit) would be his help! In standing up with the Church in the weeks ahead before Election Day, we, as committed Catholics, can set our faces like flint too, dig in our heels and speak the truth calmly, in love: God's amazing gift of marriage must remain as he gave it!

Of course, the second reading says it point blank: St. James says: what good is it to have faith, if you don't put it into practice! It is not going to save you! Don't be fooled! It is our faith – it is God speaking in the depths of our beings - that tells us that doing things his way is the best – and that rewriting and reworking his express wishes and commands cannot be a good thing; it is our faith that will make us strong when the TV and radio ads, and the public debates get nastier and nastier, which indeed they will, as time goes by, you can count on it! But faith will tell us that: freedom is not simply "doing anything at all that you want to do" – freedom is acting responsibly after combining mind and heart and soul and inviting God into the final analysis!

In the gospel passage Jesus says it another way: this is not going to be easy for you, my beloved brothers and sisters, but in this case think as much as possible the way God does, rather than as humans, don't be like Peter, who tried to talk me out of Calvary! If I listened to him you would not have salvation, and the end of your life would be oblivion. So, deny yourself, deny especially those reactions that are based on "guts and feelings alone" – the cross you carry is easy and light because I did die for you and rise again – you will be able to stand for your faith, stand for marriage as my Father gave it – with his help, mine and our Holy Spirit's.

The next time you are at an intersection with a traffic light, think that things will truly go very wrong - in a great number of areas across the board– there will chaos and collisions and a slow, corrosive erosion of the fabric of our American society – if we, as Catholics, allow red to be redefined as green 'legally' in the context of marriage! We must vote YES on Propositions One: affirming that marriage is between one man and one woman – because it is God who said so "in the beginning" – and the Church of Portland is only reiterating and underlining what he said, at this critical time in our state and nation's history! The bishop has told the priests of the diocese at a recent meeting that a full catechesis and education program of what true marriage is all about; and the welcomed and respected place of gay persons in the Body of Christ, the Church - would be forthcoming. But from the reliable and true information we already have, looking deeply into our minds and hearts for confirmation, since Election Day is fast coming upon us, we can speak truth in love now by supporting* (collection) and promoting (rally) a Yes vote on Proposition One – for the good of us all!

If today you hear the voice of God-speaking, harden not your hearts!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Homily – September 12, 2009 – Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time - Saturday

+ Our gospel passage is the conclusion of St. Luke's version of the "Sermon on the Mount" – called: the "Sermon on the Plain." Jesus, in this version very directly and plainly tells his disciples that those who call out" Lord, Lord, I am your disciple," but do not produce good works (fruit) from a store of goodness in their hearts are not really good people at all, and they are not really disciples at all.

Then comes the punch-line for both the Sermon on Mount, the Sermon on the Plain – and many rules of religious life, including the Rule of St. Benedict: if you listen to the words of God, as they come in many forms, and act on them then you will be like a man building a house on rock, when a flood comes and a river burst against the house, it will stand because it has been well built. BUT IF ONE LISTENS BUT DOES NOT ACT, it will be like a man building a house with no foundation and when the river bursts against it it will be completely destroyed. The house is our spiritual lives – no one can afford to have them built on anything other than rock – but the decision to do so is always up to us!

Listen, act and build on rock; listen, do not act, build on nothing, and perish: it's not much of a decision to make – but it is amazing the vast number of people who foolishly choose the second. Let us be among those who choose and dedicate their whole lives to the first – and we shall be safe forever!

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

Friday, September 11, 2009

Homily – September 11, 2009 – Mass for the Promotion of Charity

+ Who cannot remember the events of this day in history: 9 – 11 – 2001? It was a "Pearl Harbor kind of day" when everyone remembers exactly where they were and what they were doing when our country was once more attacked by outside forces – this time on the mainland. Thousands of innocent lives were lost that day; buildings representing our American spirit of achievement were destroyed, and family lives were altered forever. But if we remember that God, while not willing to happen what happened, nevertheless allowed it to happen – did so for a greater good that is still unfolding someway, somehow! What happened immediately was that the spirit of giving and sharing of what you have with those who now have so little was reawakened. This applied to helping the families of the survivors – and carried into other catastrophic events such as the Tsunami in Asia, and Hurricane Katrina in our own country in subsequent years. This spirit of pitching-in and helping our neighbor (sometimes called "volunteerism") is still at a heightened level; and this is wonderful to behold.

And of course, all kinds of safety and precaution measures (although sometimes now carried to an extreme) are now in place to guard and protect the citizens of our country in their travels – and this too is a good. It all comes down to the "good" of making us a more loving, caring, self-sacrificial people – and this would always be God's intention!

In the gospel passage today, Jesus reminds us that those who lay down their lives for their friends demonstrate the greatest amount of love that one can have for anyone. They are friends of God who have made such a sacrifice. God welcomed many friends to Paradise on that crisp, cool September morning, eight years ago!

In the same passage Jesus tells us to go and bear the fruit of being loved by him (by his own death and resurrection for us) by continuing to love others, to help them in their immediate needs, and to pray for them always to sustain their hope and their courage. Ask my Father to help the needy, and he will do it – through you!

I chose these readings today from the Mass of the Promotion of Charity because, in addition to praying for the victims of 9/11 and their families – we need also pray for those who perpetrated the events: those specific terrorists, and any terrorists in general. Earlier this week in the gospel Jesus said: PRAY FOR YOUR ENEMIES, DO GOOD TO THOSE WHO PERSECUTE YOU! He means it! As Catholics, our primary method of dealing with terrorism across the board needs to be PRAYER FOR CONVERSION; PRAYER INVITING THE POWERFUL WORKING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT OF PEACE, PRAYER INVOKING THE POWERFUL WORKING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT OF CHARITY; PRAYER FOR THE POWERFUL PROCESS OF RECONCILIATION, FORGIVENESS, AND PEACE!

In the first reading today St. John tells us IF YOU HATE YOUR BROTHER (even your terrorist brothers) YOU ARE A LIAR! Let us not be liars; let us be the Christ-centered, Spirit-filled people that we are; let us be charity-seekers and peace-makers – AND THE FACE OF THE EARTH WILL BE RENEWED! It cannot not be, if we do this in faith; faith in the living God; faith in Jesus Christ!

This is my commandment: love one another as I love you!


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Homily – September 10, 2009 – Twenty third Week in Ordinary Time - Thursday

+ Our readings today are basically a continuation from yesterday's when both St. Paul and Jesus tell us that if we really are disciples, then we will think like it, talk like it and act like it a greater portion of the time – otherwise we are not really disciples at all.

St. Paul goes on today and reminds us that it is possible for the peace of Christ to control our hearts – if we put on virtuous living, and by letting our experience of having Christ, his word and his hope dwelling within us burst forth into singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in our hearts. Whatever we do, in word or deed we must do in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God the Father through him.

The gospel passage has Jesus telling us to love enemies, and to do good to those who hate and curse us, to pray for those who mistreat us – do this in an overabundant way – and God will overabundantly bless us and fill us with lasting peace and joy! For what you give out, will be given back to you in return!

If we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Homily – September 9, 2009 – Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time - Wednesday

+ In our first reading today St. Paul tells the Colossians that if they truly are Christian people; if they truly are baptized into Christ's life; if they truly are raised with Christ then they ought to be acting like it: seeking what is above, and being far less concerned with what is of earth: for you have died (by means of your baptism) and your life is hidden now with Christ in God. And when Christ appears, you too will appear with him in glory! (This is an amazing thought!) So put to death in you the parts that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passions, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry. (Because of these the wrath of God is coming on the disobedient.) Put away anger, fury, malice, slander, lying and obscene language! These are not at all becoming a Christ-centered person; these do not in any way contribute to building up the Body of Christ, the Church.

The gospel passage is about Jesus telling his disciples what their lives in him ought to be about in the positive sense: blessed because they are poor in spirit, blessed because they are hungry for the truths of God, blessed because they now weep for their sins and the sins of others, blessed when they are hated and persecuted because they are disciples: REJOICE AND LEAP FOR JOY in the face of all opposition: for your reward will be great in heaven. The woes are self-explanatory: having everything now, is not part of the Father's plan – and those who insist on it will find only misery and rejection at the end when it counts!

In any event, the Lord is compassionate toward all his works: and loves it when his people freely accept his grace and see things clearly, and act rightly for the right reason: his glory!

God bless you!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Homily – September 8, 2009 – The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

+ As we celebrate today the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary we are reminded that each of us comes into this world loved by God, and destined for greatness – destined to share in the merits of the death and resurrection of Jesus – if we come to know about them, and believe in him, and then act like we believe in him! It takes most human beings their whole lives long to achieve the openness to God's grace and love necessary for them to burst forth into eternal life and happiness! For one person, though, it was always that way: Mary, the beloved child of Nazareth, herself, was always fully open, by God's special grace, to be full of the fruits of the redemption of Jesus, her own Son, even from the moment of her, conception, and today we celebrate, the day of her birth into this world.

May we honor Mary on her day by doing as she would have us do: keep our eyes focused on her Son: he is the focal point of all history, and rightly so ought to be the focal point of the histories of our own lives. To honor the mother is to honor the Son! Hail Mary, blessed are you among women! Pray for us now and at the hour of our deaths. Amen.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Homily – September 7, 2009 – Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time - Monday

+ In the first reading today St. Paul in a very brief and concise way summarizes his entire ministry: it is to help make up for the imperfections and sins in the Church (even in that very early stage of development) by his own sufferings – which do count towards redemption. New sins require members of the Body-sinned-against to make up for the sins with some amount of distress, penance – its only just; Paul's other part of ministry is to reveal the Christ as the hope of glory – there is a hidden story of tremendous love, compassion, mercy, forgiveness and restoration which is the cause of such hope: and it is based in the life, death and resurrection of Christ – and it is a story to be told to every creature, everywhere! And all of this has as its goal the perfection of everything and everyone as we all progress to fulfillment and completion in Christ one day when we truly will see his glory and participate in it in an amazing way!

In the gospel passage, Jesus, hope of glory, hope of everyone is persecuted because he demonstrated his power as healer, as a compassionate person, as God-Friend on a Sabbath. The scribes and Pharisees just could not get past the strict legal prescriptions that come second, ignoring the tender mercy of God which always comes first – on any day of the week, especially the Sabbath! Jesus says to them in their own language: is it lawful do to a good deed on the Sabbath rather than an evil one, to save life rather than destroy it? In being unable to answer him they both affirmed his authority and condemned themselves.

May the scribes and Pharisees of our own day be given the light of grace to see things as they are, and rejoice!

In God is my safety and my glory!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Homily – September 6, 2009 – Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

+ Part of the Catholic baptism ceremony is to touch the ears of the baptized, and to touch the mouth, with an accompanying "Ephphatha! Be opened!"command. What occurred in the gospel passage is the direct scriptural reference for this ritual. A miraculous healing of the ears and then corresponding ability to speak clearly – if they are not done in order to pave the way to giving glory to God always – have been erroneously, and have been sought with a duplicitous motive. The reason that God cures anyone from anything is for his own glory; not the glory of the one cured, nor the one or ones instrumental in the curing! Maybe this is why so many miraculous cures do not take places these days: they are sought after for the wrong reason! The glory of God and his will must be the sole reason for seeking healing and miraculous intercession: and then God will proceed according to that will, his, to bring about the very best possible solution to the prayer request for healing! It's all up to him! And this may, or may not correspond with what we think and feel the answers might be!

But just the fact that God definitely can effect a miracle ought to be reason enough to seek out the proper way in which to ask for one, and then to use it!

There are two kinds of miracles that Jesus was fully equipped to perform: the interior and the exterior. Opening the eyes of the blind, clearing the ears of the deaf, allowing the cripple to leap like a stag, and the tongue of the mute to sing are the exterior ones: they are easy to recognize when obtained! The interior ones though, usually have exterior manifestations: any type of opening and clearing and renewing of the mind and heart leading to a more virtuous life is an example of this kind; but the greatest of all interior miracles is the miracle of conversion: the miracle of turning around and facing the Lord Jesus and accepting all of the grace and love and gifts that he has to offer. This is an enormous miracle! Hopefully, then, once one has allowed oneself to be thus loved by God, he in turn will externally find himself unable not to love others more genuinely in return: to treat others more fairly and justly, to work tirelessly for all of the needy but especially the poor, and to shed his own need for gold rings and fine clothes and the lifestyle of the rich and famous!

Jesus truly is found in the poor – and so identifying with them and helping them is about the most redemptive thing that one can do!

As we begin our busy fall schedules, and we continue to benefit from the fruits of our labors*(LDW) – let us not forget those who simply profit less than we do – and who need and have a right to our friendship, care and aid.

Miracles can abound – externally and internally – for those who respond to the baptismal miracle that they have already received: opened ears to listen to God's word; and then a cleared tongue to speak out and sing out his praise and glory by defending the rights of the poor – both now and forever!

God bless you!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Homily – September 5, 2009 – Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time - Saturday

+ In the final analysis it is the Lord who defines what is what – as it is the same Lord who created all things, sustains them in being and knows how everything ought to work together for good purposes. Some "laws" are eternal, immutable and simply reflect God's created will; other "laws" are either directly or indirectly God given prescriptions regarding rules of carrying out God's immutable laws and will: these can "change" or can be adapted as time goes by and cultures progress.

The example in the gospel passage is of this second kind of law: a liturgical "law" that could certainly be modified by the One whom liturgy is all about: The Lord God, Jesus, Himself! This passage just reminds us to look to him for clarification of any legal issue!

The first reading today reminds us that once we have received the faith and allowed our minds to be transformed by the God who wants our comfort and our peace as much as possible as we live in an unstable and hostile world – we need to remain firmly grounded and stable in that faith, and its accompanying hope gotten through the Gospel we hear, which is to be preached to every creature under heaven. All creatures great and small need to be assured of love and care and safety: for ultimately these are the dictates of God's eternal law and will for all of us – and there ought to be no sensible challenge to this!

I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord; no one comes to the Father except through me.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Homily – September 4, 2009 – Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time - Friday

+ We have a brief lesson in the spiritual life in the gospel passage today: when Jesus seems very proximate and near to us, then it is important for us to pause and celebrate that fact – even if it means setting aside some fixed personal prayer times and exercises. If the object of our prayer makes himself undeniably known and present: enjoy him – for he is the bridegroom who is spending quality time with us. But there will come times when it will seem like he is not so near – then it is important to resume our constant and effective "prayer and action exercises." The "new understanding that must be poured into new mindsets" is that Jesus is found in both the prayer and the subsequent loving action that follows the prayer: new wine, new wineskins!

The Jesus we meet in "prayer and action" is the one St. Paul tells the Colossians today is the firstborn of all creation. In him all things were created in heaven and on earth – everything. He existed before everything, and he holds everything in existence. And it is he who is head of the Body, the Church. He is preeminent. Unity is to be derived and peace is to flow from the Blood of his cross. It is so amazingly wonderful that this Lord, this Savior, this Bridegroom would want to be in a personal relationship with us – but he does want this, so very much. And all it takes is our willingness to be a part of that relationship!

Lord Jesus, whose kindness endures forever, and whose faithfulness is to all generations, fill us this day with your light and you love and your peace!


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Homily – September 3, 2009 – St. Gregory the Great

+ St. Gregory was born at Rome about the year 540, the son of a wealthy Roman senator, who later renounced the world and became one of the seven deacons of Rome. After Gregory received his thorough education, Emperor Justin appointed him, in 574, Chief Magistrate of Rome, though he was only thirty-four years of age. After the death of his father, he built six monasteries in Sicily and founded a seventh in his own house in Rome, which became the Benedictine Monastery of St. Andrew. Here, he himself assumed the monastic habit in 575 at the age of thirty-five. After the death of Pelagius, St. Gregory was chosen Pope by the unanimous consent of priests and people. Now began those labors which merited for him the title of "Great." His zeal extended over the entire known world, he was in contact with all the Churches of Christendom and, in spite of his bodily sufferings and innumerable labors he found time to compose a great number of works. He is known above all for his magnificent contributions to the Liturgy of the Mass and the Divine Office – especially in the area of plain chant and music. He is one of the four great Doctors of the Latin Church (along with St. Ambrose, St. Augustine and St. Jerome). He died March 12, 604 and is the patron of teachers!

The gospel passage today speaks of the humility with which this "great" pope lived his life. Let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant, says Jesus the Lord. Gregory of Rome thought of himself as nothing other than a lowly servant of God's beloved people. He must have been very humble in order to be considered now so great!

As St. Paul preached to the Corinthians, so we preach Christ the Light shining in darkness; as St. Gregory preached that same Light, so we preach it today: Let light shine out of darkness, let it shine into the hearts of all so as to bring the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ!

And then, the problems that we face in our world will have a much better chance at being dealt with and solved in a convincing and permanent sort of way! When there are no shadows to distort a problem, then it can be more easily settled!

Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations!


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Homily – September 2, 2009 – Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time - Wednesday

+ We really have quite an amazing first reading today! The Colossians were apparently known far and wide for their faith in Christ Jesus and the love they have for everyone based on the hope they have in store for them in heaven! Can it be said of us that we are known for our faith in Christ Jesus and the love we have for everyone based on our hope of resurrection? If this is so, then we are getting the most out of our Catholic faith. If not, then we are invited today to pray for more faith, and a desire to love more self-sacrificially and to have heaven-based hope that leads us from day to day!

In the gospel passage Jesus provides adequate proof that he is the one in which it is safe to put all trust, and hope, and to model our lives of loving service on – as he goes about easily doing what only he can do: curing diseases of all kinds, and preaching the arrival of God's Kingdom on earth!

Jesus still does the same thing today by means of his church: he proclaims the arrival of the kingdom, and even occasionally cures diseases and illnesses when it will help awaken more faith and stir more hope in the prospect of eternal life; when it will be for the long-run good of producing a more loving service by all involved in the healing process.

If we trust in the mercy of God absolutely and forever – then whatever the results of our prayer for anything is, is the very best that could happen! How could God want anything less for his beloved children than the very best!


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Homily – September 1, 2009 – Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time - Tuesday

+ The words of Jesus were powerful over nature as we see in the curing of the one possessed by a demon, but beyond that Jesus himself was his word, Jesus was the power, Jesus was the Lord and God who has now visited his people. And we are so blessed to be able to enter into a personal relationship with this power, with this word, with this person who is the beloved Son of the heavenly Father; and because of that we can have every confidence that we will always have what we need to strengthen and protect us against that day or reckoning that is surely coming "like a thief in the night." If we live as though it were the full daylight of God's presence – in virtue, in grace, in peace with one another – then we will have nothing to fear when that day comes. God did not make us in order to be angry with us; he wants to be our gentle, tender, loving Father; but this does require us to be docile, childlike, teachable children! He does expect us to keep his commandments – as given!

God has visited his people! and he is still here among us in his word, in his sacrament, in the love we share with one another after we receive the sacrament. Let us bring the light and love of God to our world this day – and every day – and we will be very pleasing in his sight!

I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.

Sep 13 - St John Chrysostom

+ St John Chrysostom was born in 347 in Antioch, Asia Minor. His father died when he was young and he was raised by a very pious mother. ...