Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Homily – March 31, 2010 – Holy Week - Wednesday

+ We come now to the last day of Lent. Our preparation for the highest holy days of the year is complete. To the extent that we have turned away from sin and turned to the Lord – we shall have spiritually meaningful and profitable holy days. To the extent that we have not, we will not. It is distressing to see the beginning of the final prophecies being fulfilled with Judas Iscariot ready to betray Jesus, his friend. How could he do that? we might say – from our vantage point of history. But we must ask ourselves how can we betray him as well – at times – in both deliberate and unconscious sorts of ways, from the same vantage point of history. We may not be talking about big betrayals here – but the small ones are not less offensive. And just as Jesus was rightly upset with Judas for doing what he did, Jesus also gets upset with us for what we do. But, Judas thought of himself unworthy of his Lord's forgiveness; Judas was thinking only as Judas thinks and not as God does – and so he missed his chance at reconciliation and peace. That need not happen to us: Jesus is always ready to offer grace and peace to those who even betray and sin against him; all we need to is turn to him fully and ask him humbly; that, after all, goes hand in hand with being the redeemer and savior that he is!

And so let us enter into these holiest days of the year with great humility – knowing that Jesus went through his Passion for us – each, individually – and for us as a group; and also with a great sense of gratitude for his offering us forgiveness and new life.

May the joy of Easter be yours after these days of contemplating the price of it: the brutal death of our beloved Friend and Brother, Jesus Christ.

Hail to you, our King, obedient to the Father; you were led to your crucifixion like a gentle lamb to the slaughter.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Homily – March 29, 2010 – Holy Week - Monday

+ In our first reading today we have the first of four Oracles of the Servant of the Lord. It was to be the Servant of the Father that Jesus came into this world. The first description of this servanthood is found in the reading from Isaiah – which is reminiscent of an Advent / Christmas theme. The one whose birth was foretold for generations is the one who would bring justice to all people, who would be meek and mild, who would be the wisest of teachers, who would be the light of the world. He would open the eyes of the blind and bring out prisoners from confinement and from the dungeon those who live in darkness. He would not do any of these things on his own – but as he is directed by God, his Father and ours.

The gospel passage speaks about an event in Jesus' last week in his pre-resurrection condition. He went to a dinner party at the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus whom he had raised from the dead. Mary (some say the Magdalene) anointed his feet with costly perfume (unwittingly against the days of his death and burial) – which Judas complained about such waste. Jesus took the opportunity to tell them all that the inspiration of the Spirit in performing specific works of love are of greater import than a standardized ruling or general categorical concept, even of ministering to the poor. There will always be the poor, but Jesus, in the flesh, would not always be there.

Many found out about Jesus presence there and came to see him and Lazarus. And this made both Jesus and Lazarus targets for the chief priests who were plotting to kill them both.

May we be devoted to Jesus this day as we recall the events of the last week of his life, as it was before the resurrection – and may we trust that all will be well, as Lazarus did, and Martha and Mary and the Magdalene. Their hope was rewarded, and so will ours be! Hail, to you, our King; Blessed are you who come in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Homily – March 28, 2010 – Palm Sunday

+ We have just celebrated the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, and have listened to an accounting of some of the events of his Passion and Death. We will take up this theme again on Good Friday in five days time. In the meanwhile, perhaps we can approach the coming days in a different sort of way than ever before. Usually this is recommended to be a time to "gear up" for the contemplation of the events that brought about our redemption: but this year I propose that we take our cue from the Parish Read Book, "Sabbath" and Rest, Relax and Remember the amazing fact of our salvation. It has already occurred; it is something that has been freely and generously done by our God for us; and so all we need do is to: Rest (in the presence and love of God), Relax (knowing that we are always safe in the "now" of God's presence), and Remember (everything we possibly can about just how much we are truly loved by God: how we each were created and born into this world because he first thought about us and loved us, how our salvation was important to God – he wants us to spend eternity with him, how he has incorporated us into his Body the Church, and his family forever, how he is always there to guide and direct our lives if we want it, how he is sacramentally present to us to strengthen our Christian pilgrimage through life, and how he would have done this whole saving activity if there were only one of us here on earth to do it for).

Yes, during the days of the coming week, especially on Thursday, Friday and Holy Saturday Night – let us Rest, Relax and Remember God's Tremendous Love for us – all of us – and all the people in the whole world!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Homily – March 26, 2010 – Fifth Week of Lent - Friday

+ Our first reading today from the Prophet Jeremiah anticipates the feelings that Jesus will experience during his last week on earth: he will hear the whisperings of many: "Terror on every side! Denounce! let us denounce him!" "All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine. Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail and take our vengeance on him." But for Jeremiah as well as for Jesus: the reading goes on: the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph. In their failure they will be put to utter shame, to lasting, unforgettable confusion. Sing praise to the Lord, for he has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked!

Yes, in their distress, both Jeremiah and Jesus called upon the name of the Lord and he heard their voice!

In the gospel passage the Jews put into practice the above mentioned prophecy: they pick up rocks to stone Jesus because they perceived him as a blasphemer – a man making himself God. Jesus calls upon the witness of his works and tries to explain to them again that his works were given him by his Father (their God) in heaven – and that he was Son of God. He and the Father are one and he did nothing of his own accord. They did not believe him and they tried again to arrest him but he escaped from their power – for the time being.

When we feel plotted against and even put down for doing good works out of love for God – know that we are in good company. And just as God vindicated Jesus, he will also vindicate us – so long as we keep trying the best we can to love God first, and to love others as we love ourselves.

On this last Friday of Lent, let us commit ourselves to the task of staying by Jesus as he undergoes the betrayals and the plotting of his own people – and realize that some of the offenses against him truly belong to us – though we are distant from the event in years – since it is a spiritual event, we still can be present to it. But let us rely on his never failing love for us, mercy and forgiveness that he will make available by dying on the cross on that Friday afternoon in April (which we will recall next Friday and call it Good) – and let us be truly grateful!

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life; you have the words of everlasting life.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Homily – March 25, 2010 – The Annunciation of the Lord

+ Today we celebrate the great solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. We, suspend the observance of Lent for this one day to remember an event that far surpasses even Christmas. Today is the day we recall that the Blessed Virgin Mary consented with love to be the mother of God's only-begotten Son – we recall the very instant that the Holy Spirit overshadowed her, and the holy one of God began to exist in her womb on this earth – fully God and fully man, in an instant. This feast lays aside any doubts whatsoever that human life begins at the moment of conception. This feast demands that all life from the moment of conception is to be held sacred and honored and respected – as we would honor and respect the Christ child himself.

The full import of what occurred here is completely astounding.
God is breaking into human history to become a resident member of his own creation. And the reason he did so is because human beings: the highest form of creation, the most intelligent, the most sophisticated, used their intelligence in the wrong way and alienated themselves from God in a way that could never be repaired without divine help. And so, the fact that the God of gods chose to become part of the human scene in order to fix us is nothing short of astounding! He did not have to do this! God's goodness and love and light and mercy and reconciliation and forgiveness know no limits.

But, equally astounding is the reaction of human beings to this intervening of God in their history: they contrived and plotted to kill him! Yes, the children of Abraham proved themselves to be much less than such children when they set out to destroy the goodness and the love and the light and the mercy and the reconciliation and the forgiveness – because those who live in the darkness prefer the darkness to the light that would expose their evil deeds.

And so, the Good One submitted to a shameful death on the Cross for us and for our salvation – even though, we as a whole were not interested in such rescuing. But then came the reconciliation, and the forgiveness and the mercy and the peace; then came the next astounding part of this story: the resurrection. God raised his Son from the dead and offered us hope and a share in his life – undeserving as we were. Later when Jesus returned to heaven, he sent the Holy Spirit to be with us to ensure believers in him and his magnificent love that he would be with them always until the end of time – he would guide their actions and be their strength – he would always be their reconciliation and their peace.

And before he would come again as judge of the living and the dead as he promised, he would make himself known as King of Mercy. It would be the last chance for a disoriented, faithless, thoroughly unraveling world to turn to Jesus in order to be saved by him. Many believe that we are in such a period right now. That is why it is so important that we renew daily our devotion to Jesus who broke into our history to save us, to redeem us, to empower us to live forever in heaven with him and all the elect. We need to choose Jesus constantly!

And so, that is why today is a feast of a Mystery of the Rosary, and a feast of the Angelus Prayer. These are daily reminders that THE WORD OF GOD BECAME FLESH AND DWELLS AMONG US – FOR US AND FOR OUR SALVATION. This is an astounding reality and ought to commit us to doing exactly what he tells us to do, as Mary always did, as she played out her role in the redemption of the world. May we do our part willingly and lovingly this day!

Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Homily – March 24, 2010 – Fifth Week of Lent - Wednesday

+ During the past couple of days, the gospel passage has Jesus associating himself more and more with his Father. It is important to connect the two persons so that Jesus himself can give credit where it is due. It was apparent even to Jesus that what he said and did were amazing – but he was only saying and doing what was given him by the Father, he was only obeying his Father (and ours). When we say and do good things, the kind of things that Jesus taught us – then, by rights, we ought not take credit ourselves for the good done – but give the credit and the glory to God because it is where it belongs: even any thought of doing good let alone the actual doing of it comes from God and not us!

And so, because the Jewish people have mistakenly identified Jesus as one who is acting on his own for his own glory – they miss the whole point of his reality among them and mission. Jesus is the expression of the Father's love and willingness to enter into a process of reconciliation. Jesus is here because he was sent, and he agreed to come – for us and for our salvation!

When Jesus tells these people who he is and how in faith they ought to realize that they are related to him, and that if they were sons of Abraham they would recognize both him and his Father connected to him: they would stop trying to kill him: but they refuse to see – and it remains to their shame.

In the first reading, we see what happens to those who faithfully obey what God has put forth, who are tested by many trials, and who remain steadfast no matter what happens: even the prospect of being thrown into a white hot furnace. The three youth in the reading testify to us that God really is who he says he is; that fidelity to him matters; and that he truly helps those who trust in him and obey him come what may – even white hot furnaces.

Glory and praise to God forever – shout the three youth; shout us this holy day of Lent! Blessed are they who persevere, come what may!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Homily – March 23, 2010 – Fifth Week of Lent - Tuesday

+ This is a wonderful gospel passage today. Jesus tells the Pharisees that the day is soon coming when all their questions about him will have the strongest possibility to be answered. But the old saying is true, as well: "you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink." When Jesus is raised up on the cross then everything that God has to say about everything will be complete. When Jesus breathes his last, then the first rays of true belief can take root – for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. When the Son of Man is raised up then you will realize that I AM – you will realize that I AM SON OF GOD, that I AM GOD MYSELF – and you will realize that the Father and I are one! And you will realize that the Father is always with me – even when I was raised on that cross, the Father was with me – he cannot not be with me, ever!

This is the first message of the readings today: looking up at Christ crucified is proof positive of God's never failing, all inclusive, self-sacrificial love – for those who have eyes to see, for the horse that chooses to drink from the stream. That is why it is very important in all Churches of Christendom for a Cross of the Crucified Christ be situated high, large and visible so that all can recognize the very God of gods, and Lord of lords – the generous God who accomplished our salvation. The second message is taken from the first reading: just as the people of Israel were healed by looking up at an embronzed representation of the very snake that bit them and was killing them, at God's instruction to do so – so too would healing come when we look at the object of our own crosses that we are asked to carry – and when we look up at them and see both our crosses and Christ's cross united together. This is why his cross was raised, for our hope, for our healing!

The Lord looked down from his holy height, from heaven he beheld the earth. To hear the groaning of the prisoners, to release those doomed to die.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Homily – March 22, 2010 – Fifth Week of Lent - Monday

+ Today we have reference in both readings as to the validity of "the testimony of two." It seems that in every legal system – two witnesses are sufficient to prove the truth or falsehood of something brought into question.

In the first reading the witnesses to Susanna's supposed transgression were two – who when questioned separately gave conflicting reports as to a detail involved in the story. Their inaccurate reporting cost them their lives. In the gospel passage Jesus makes the statement that he is the light of the world and those that follow him shall not walk in darkness – to which the Pharisees suggest that he has no one to testify to the truth of this: to which Jesus replies: he has himself and his father – and since they disregard his testimony anyway, they would not believe even with the additional testimony of the Father.

For those who believe in Jesus, there is knowledge also and sight of the Father – and there is the ability to walk in the light of life which God provides.

In these last weeks of Lent it is good for us to reflect on the fact that Light is available – even in the darkness of the events that will soon be recalled: the Light of God is always available – because God is always present, even and especially when it appears he is not!

I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, says the Lord, but rather in his conversion, that he may live: that he may walks always in the light and love of God!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Homily – March 21, 2010 – Fifth Sunday of Lent

+ The joy of last Sunday's celebration continues this week as we soon approach the finish line of Lent. The theme remains the same: even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart; for I am gracious and merciful. It is just amazing how hopeful and excited God is about any of us who might take this opportunity, during this Lent, to turn or re-turn to him with our whole heart, like never before; to experience his ever available and powerful grace and tender mercy. Just as the adulterous woman in the gospel passage experienced the unprecedented compassion and healing of Jesus by an act of loving acceptance and forgiveness – rather than condemnation - she is now a role model for us as far as one who was sincerely repentant, willing to change her life – and in fact did so - at the invitation and encouragement of Jesus. Jesus invites us to the same process of conversion and better living!

In the second reading today we have another example of one who was "going the wrong way" until he had a powerful encounter with Jesus: St. Paul. Great evidence of Paul's conversion is found in this passage from his letter to the Phillippians: I consider everything [now] as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. He is even quite willing to share in the sufferings of Christ, being conformed to his death, so as to share in his resurrection from the dead. He says that he still has a long way to go as far as possessing Jesus completely, but compared with Jesus and eternal life – everything else in this life just does not measure up. He says that he strains rather toward the goal; the prize of God's upward calling, in Christ Jesus.

All of this is not just for Paul: it is for us too. When we get our priorities straight and keep our eyes focused on the true finish line at the gates of Paradise: then we know who we are; we know we are undeservedly gifted people of God: members of his family, no less – and heirs of a life of which we can only barely imagine.

Just as God put water into the desert in the first reading today, so too he wants to bring life and nourishment to our parched and oft-times tattered lives. It makes him very happy to do it, and it makes us happy to have it done for us. But we must always give credit where credit is due: give God glory and praise, honor and worship because the source of the water of life is at his throne in heaven: in fact, it is his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ – who will give every drop of water within him very soon to prove his love for us.

Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart; for I am gracious and merciful – and then "go and do not sin any more."

Friday, March 19, 2010

Homily – March 19, 2010 – Solemnity of St. Joseph

+ Everything we know about Joseph, the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus comes from Scripture. We know he was a carpenter, a working man (St. Matthew tells us). He wasn't rich, for when he took Jesus to the Temple to be circumcised and Mary to be purified, he offered the sacrifice of two turtledove or a pair of pigeons, allowed only for those who could not afford a lamb (St. Luke tells us).

But despite his humble work and means, Joseph came from a royal lineage. While Luke and Matthew disagree some about the details of Joseph's genealogy, they both mark is descent from David, the greatest king of Israel. The angel who first tells Joseph about Jesus greets him as "son of David," a royal title used also for Jesus.

We know Joseph was a compassionate, caring man. When he discovered Mary was with child after they had been betrothed – he knew the child was not his – and in order to protect Mary from being stoned to death (for committing adultery) he decided to divorce her quietly. But Joseph was above all a man of faith and obedient to whatever God asked of him without wanting to know the outcome. When the angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him the truth about the child Mary was carrying, Joseph immediately and without question or concern for gossip, took Mary as his wife. When the angel came again to tell him that his family was in danger, he immediately left everything he owned, all his family and friends, and fled to a strange country with his young wife and the baby. He waited in Egypt without question until the angel told him it was safe to go back to Nazareth.

We know Joseph loved Jesus. When Jesus stayed in the Temple we are told Joseph, along with Mary, searched with great anxiety for him for three days. Joseph was a good father to Jesus, spending time with him and teaching him the family carpentry business.

Since Joseph does not appear in Jesus' public life, at his death, or resurrection, many historians believe he probably died before Jesus entered public ministry. Joseph is the patron of the dying because, assuming he died before Jesus' public life, he died with Jesus and Mary close to him, the way we all would like to leave this earth.

Joseph is patron of the universal Church, fathers, carpenters and social justice; he is also patron saint of many countries including Canada. The most impressive monument to Joseph is the basilica dedicated to him in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, inspired by Brother Andre Bessette (who will be named a saint in October of this year). Many religious congregations, hospitals and churches are dedicated to him, and his name has been popular for baptisms and confirmations alike.

In short, next to the Blessed Mother herself, there has never been a human being as pure and as holy as St. Joseph. It is only fitting – as he was chosen by God to be her husband and the foster father of his only-begotten Son. We honor him today and ask his intercession throughout our lives and especially at the moment of our deaths, Amen!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Homily – March 18, 2010 – Fourth Week of Lent - Thursday

+ It is kind of difficult to win an argument when your opponent uses information about you and your own arguments against you: in other words when he "throws up before you" your own reasoning. The Jewish people were always claiming to be children of Abraham and of Moses – faithful, law-abiding chosen possessions of God. But, so many times they seem to have forgotten the full implications involved in being such valued and gifted people: they lived as disobedient, often-times willful, stubborn children.

And so, Jesus says that the testimony of his works is his works themselves. No one could do what he is doing unless they were from God; and the very reality of God himself shines through the works for all to see. And if this were not enough, then relying on the testimony and insight of Moses ought to be have been enough to convince the inquisitors of his divine origins, for Moses actually hoped in Jesus who he knew would come one day in the distant future to finally – once and for all times – liberate God's children from all that enslaves them. If the Jewish people were true children of Moses then they would embrace all the implications of such belief.

We have it so much better than the people of God before the arrival of Jesus, or even those who lived at the time of Jesus: for this is still very much the "time of Jesus." Jesus is still very much alive, very much here, very much active in his works of drawing us out of ourselves and into a posture of repentance and belief in him and in his Father. Standing on the testimony of Moses – we can hope and believe in Jesus, confirmed by the action of his Spirit within us who convinces us beyond the shadow of a doubt that Jesus is Lord, and that Life is now transformed because of his amazing death and resurrection – and our lives can be radically different today and forever.

On this day of Lent let us ponder the meaning of the words: God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Homily – March 17, 2010 – St. Patrick

+ St. Patrick of Ireland is one of the world's most popular saints. Known as the Apostle of Ireland, Patrick was born at Dumbarton, Kilpatrick, in Scotland in 387; and died at Saul, Downpatrick Ireland in 461. Along with St. Nicholas and St. Valentine, the secular world shares our love of these saints. Today, St. Patrick's Day is a day when "everyone is Irish." There are many legends and stories about St. Patrick – but these are some facts: he was born in Scotland; his parents, Calpurnius and Conchessa were Romans living in Britain in charge of the colonies. As a boy of fourteen, he was captured during a raiding party and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd and tend sheep. Ireland at this time was a land of Druids and pagans. He learned the language and practices of the people who held him.

During his captivity, he turned to God in prayer. He wrote: "The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was roused, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same." "I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain."

Patrick's captivity lasted until he was twenty, when he escaped after having a dream from God in which he was told to leave Ireland by going to the coast. There he found some sailors who took him back to Britain where he reunited with his family. Then he had another dream in which the people of Ireland were calling out to him: "We beg you, holy youth, to come and walk among us once more." This moved him to begin his studies for the priesthood and he was ordained by St. Germanus, the Bishop of Auxerre, with whom he had studied for years. Later, Patrick was ordained a bishop and was sent to take the Gospel to Ireland. One legend says that he soon met a chieftain from one of the resident tribes who tried to kill him. But Patrick converted Dichu (the chieftain) after he was unable to move his arm until he became friendly to Patrick.

St. Patrick began preaching the Gospel throughout Ireland, converting many. He and his disciples preached and converted thousands and began building churches all over the country. Kings, their families, and entire kingdoms converted to Christianity when hearing Patrick's message. This is the truth behind the legend that St. Patrick drove out all of the snakes from Ireland. The "snake" was paganism. Patrick preached and converted all of Ireland for forty years. He worked many miracles and wrote of his love for God in Confessions. He taught the people using ordinary objects like the shamrock to explain the mysteries and love of God. The three-part-leafed shamrock was used to explain the Trinity and has been associated with him and the Irish since that time. Patrick, after years of living in poverty, traveling and enduring much suffering died on March 17, 461. May he be a shining example to each of us: so complete was his trust in God, so humble, pious, gentle, loving and devoted was his manner –that he could be held up not only as the Patron Saint of Ireland, but also a friend and intercessor for any and all who are in need of more faith, more hope and more love!

God bless you.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Homily – March 16, 2010 – Fourth Week of Lent - Tuesday

+ In our readings on this day of Lent we have the theme of water, life and healing. We know that water is found in all of life, and that lack of water can do great harm to any living thing. Our readings today remind us that there is also spiritual life and spiritual water that is necessary to maintain it. It also tells us in the gospel passage that water can have healing properties when used by God for such a purpose.

The man in the gospel passage had no one to put him into the pool when the water was stirred up; for thirty-eight years he had tried to get such a healing; he certainly did not lack faith. But this day would be different – the one who was living water himself – the one prophesied in the first reading by the strong river of water flowing through and from
heaven - who was Jesus himself - would offer healing to the man and he would be well again.

Right now, at this Mass, you have the opportunity to enter the pool of living water – to have Jesus himself wash you, cleanse you and heal you according to the Father's will for you – by means of the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. For those who desire it, Oil of the Sick will be smeared on your forehead and the tops of your hands – and it will be like a plunging into the living water at the throne of God and what can be expected afterwards is that your life would blossom with all kinds of good works done out of love for God who has restored you, and for your brothers and sisters who need your help and companionship.

The Lord of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob. If you desire to be anointed place your hands in front of you as a sign of your willingness…

Monday, March 15, 2010

Homily – March 15, 2010 – Fourth Week of Lent - Monday

+ On this day of Lent we turn to the verse before the gospel passage for our thought for the day: seek good and not evil so that you may live, and the Lord will be with you. It is when we spend our energies seeking the good, the right and the true that our efforts are abundantly rewarded for God is ever waiting to provide for us newness in our life here, and one day a grand a glorious newness in a kingdom quite unimaginable right now. It will be a joy! There will be no sound of weeping or crying; a full and long life will be the rule; and the harvest of justice and goodness shall be extensive.

All it takes to access that kingdom is faith in the one who was sent to show us the way to get there: Jesus who came from there. But even with him in the very midst of people on earth, most still wanted a sign from him that his credentials were trustworthy and true. Sighing, Jesus often overlooks their weakness of faith and sometimes grants their requests for healings if there is even the smallest bit of real and pure faith, such as in the gospel passage today. Jesus easily cures the son of the man in the passage and the man and his whole family later came to full belief in him.

If we seek good, if we seek Jesus, if we come to him with faith already born and alive then we many expect good things in our lives from him: even healing and helps of all kind that we need simply to get through the day!

I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Homily – March 14, 2010 – Fourth Sunday of Lent

+ We have a magnificent second reading today from the letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians. It is one of the most simple and yet profound passages in scripture. It is the cause for much hope and rejoicing. It is also very short, instructive and quickly gets to the heart of the matter; and the heart of the matter is this: you now have a choice: live in darkness or live in light: LIVE IN LIGHT: live in the light of Day, the light of Christ – who is Light!

The passage begins in a very ominous sort of way, (St. Paul is talking to the Ephesians and us) whose meaning can easily be glossed over: you were once darkness it shouts out! YOU WERE ONCE DARKNESS – not, you possessed darkness, or darkness overshadowed you, or you were stumbling around in the dark – but rather: YOU WERE DARKNESS because the sin of the origin of the human race was your inheritance at birth; and you yourself compounded that darkness by living oftentimes as a selfish, self-centered, self-absorbed human being.

But now you are commanded to live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth. You are also – all of you – commanded to take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; it is shameful even to mention the things done in secret by those who wallow in darkness – but they will be exposed by the light – everything will become visible when the light of Christ shines on it – either now, or one day to come – when a judgment will be made on all our deeds – and the secrets of our hearts – our true, unmasked, undefended motivations will be seen for what they really are.

The verse before the gospel exhorts us to follow Jesus so that we may have the light of life – so that we may not be darkness any longer, so that we may choose Jesus in faith and let him be our shepherd every step of the way of the rest of our lives. The shepherd boy, David, who became king, prefigured Jesus who will one day be king of everyone – he is and can be our king today if we choose him. This Shepherd King has the power to heal, the power to restore sight to those born spiritually blind because of the Original Spiritual Sin – he has the power to draw people to the light which is himself. We rejoice that he has called us thusly (especially this year's class of catechumens); we rejoice that he will light our path with his own light; we rejoice that he is calling all members of our parish to the brightness of his glory.

Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light!

May Christ give us light, and be our light – today!

God bless you!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Homily – March 12, 2010 – Third Week of Lent - Friday

+ Our readings on this day of Lent are actually about the power of words and deeds. In the first reading from the Prophet Hosea we hear in beautiful language how the Prophet encourages the wayward people of God to return to their God and to take with them words. They are to return and simply say: Forgive all iniquity and receive what is good, that we may render fitting sacrifice to you, O God; we will no longer say 'Our god' to the works of our hands; for you are God, you are supreme upon the earth. And God for his part will say: I will heal their defection; I will love them freely, for my wrath is turned away from them. I will be like the dew for Israel; he shall blossom like the lily. What beautiful imagery we have here that centers itself on words: the words of the people, and the words of their God.

In the Gospel passage we also consider words, but they are also linked very closely not so much with sacrifice this time, but with action, loving action. The one commandment is described as having two parts, three sections: to love God with all ones being, and to love others, as one loves oneself. Those who contemplate about, ruminate on and put this commandment into practice is not far from the Kingdom of God. Lent is the quiet time of the year when we can do just that: realize how much love we owe God, one another and ourselves; realize how much, if we love God, he has given us a way to prove it: by loving others as we love ourselves.

All is gift! Of ourselves we are nothing! All comes from God! All comes from love! Therefore to enter into the dynamic of loving is a way to enter deeply into God himself! May we enter in today and have a godly, holy day of Lent!

I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Homily – March 11, 2010 – Third Week of Lent - Thursday

+ Our readings on this day of Lent are actually about power and discipleship: the power of Jesus over demons, and discipleship that must be kept by those following Jesus and witnessing his spiritual powers. Jesus is carrying on the opposition against evil that God manifests throughout the entire Old Testament. God is ever with his people defending them against the wiles and snares of the evil that lurks at every corner against them. It is Jesus who would be the last and greatest defender; the most powerful foe of evil and the true liberator of God's people from all that could harm them. When being accused by the crowds of using the power of the devil to cast out the devil, Jesus quickly shows the illogic of that; but then also uses the moment to make a plea for discipleship to him: whoever is not with me is against me and whoever does not gather with me scatters: be with me, do not scatter: be my disciple based on what you hear me saying and see me doing.

The first reading from the Prophet Jeremiah tells of the woes of the nation that refuses discipleship to God and his emissaries. Faithfulness disappears; there is no listening to the word of God, there is no willingness to take correction: there is no possible help available from God to such misguided people.

May we today be among the true disciples of God, disciples of Jesus, filled with their Spirit as we ask Jesus to cleanse us from any evil spirits that would hinder us from being true, genuine and authentic disciples. If today we hear God's voice like never before, then let us react and respond like never before: with our whole hearts, with our whole souls: let us return to God for he is gracious and merciful

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Homily – March 10, 2010 – Third Week of Lent - Wednesday

+ On this day of Lent we reflect: to those who remember the commandments of the Lord and observe them, will come great blessings and a preferred place in the kingdom of heaven. Moses exhorted the people of Israel thusly before they crossed into the Promised Land: if you want to be great among the nations, then be faithful to the commandments the Lord your God has given you.
Obedience will cause others to identify you with a wisdom and intelligence that could only come from a superior god, in fact the God of gods, the Lord of lords. And so you must remember always where you came from, where you are right now, and what the future holds in store for those who keep faith, who keep the covenant, who show by their actions that they understand these things.

In the gospel passage Jesus tells the disciples that he has not come to abolish the law or the prophets, but rather to fulfill them – therefore they too must remember all of the precepts of the Lord and obey them because they have to do with love, they have to do with him, they have to do with their own salvation.

May we remember the words of the Lord today; let us remember that they are Spirit and life; let us remember that they hold the key to everlasting life! Let us use that key, and enter in!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Homily – March 9, 2010 – Third Week of Lent - Tuesday

+ We are almost half way through Lent now – and our verse before the gospel nicely summarizes the Lenten challenge: even now, says that Lord, return to me with your whole heart; for I am gracious and merciful.

The overall Lenten theme is REPENT, THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND. This repentance, this turning away from sin, this turning toward God, his Son and their Spirit is however, not meant to be just a Lenten project, but rather a daily project that is ongoing. We have never completely turned away from sin, we have never turned completely toward Jesus, we are not safely home in the kingdom yet. There is always work to be done.

Our readings today speak of two kinds of work: offering spiritual sacrifice to the Lord, and forgiving as we are forgiven. These are very closely related to one another. Our spiritual sacrifices will not mean anything to God unless we are right with our brothers and sisters – unless we forgive from the heart, just as we hope to be forgiven by God for our transgressions. And we all transgress! And just as we need to forgive others seventy times seven, so too do we need to offer God an even purer and more perfect sacrifice from hearts contrite and humbled. He will look favorably upon us if our contrition is true, our trust in him is absolute and our resolution to live in harmony with our brothers and sisters across the board is sincere.

Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart; for I am gracious and merciful.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Homily – March 8, 2010 – Third Week of Lent - Monday

+ Our readings today tell of Jesus as the prophet rejected in his native place – who could not bring healing and wholeness to the broken members of his family of faith because of their lack of faith. But those, others, who had faith received his blessings and his healing power – as was prefigured by the fact that Elijah was sent to a widow in a foreign land of Sidon, rather than to his own people, to keep her from starving to death; and Elisha the prophet was sent to cleanse the leper Naaman the Syrian (we read the story of Naaman's cure in the first reading today from the Book of Kings). These were both signs that one day the Gentiles at large would have every right to his resurrected power and glory, along with his own family of faith.

May we rejoice in the fact that Jesus is the King of the Gentiles as well as the Jews; and he is Healer of all in us that needs healing, both internally and externally; and let us be grateful for the spiritual strength that he gives us in his gift of Eucharist: his very spiritual Body and Blood given for us and our salvation – all of us – of every religious persuasion and those holding none – all are saved by Jesus. May we who truly are his Body and Blood by means of our sacramental incorporation into him, relish that fact today – and tell others of it!

I hope in the Lord, I trust in his word; with him there is kindness and plenteous redemption.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Homily – March 7, 2010 – Third Sunday of Lent

+ From the very first day of Lent on Ash Wednesday the theme has been the same, and it will continue to be so up to a Friday in April that we call "Good." REPENT, THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND!

How many times we have heard this command? How many years? How many occasions have these words and these sentiments gone into our ears to be processed by our hearts and minds and souls? And how many times has it actually made a difference?

It is easy to think that since these words are 2000 years old that they apply mostly or even only to the people who lived back then, when Jesus lived. Not so! They apply equally, if not moreso to us – who have 2000 years of history behind us regarding the truth involved here. And the truth is this: the only way to be included in the kingdom of heaven that is now truly at hand is to REPENT: to actually and really feel sorry for one's sins and transgressions against God, others and self. What is absolutely necessary here is the "voluntariness" of the action of "repentance." It has to be done with no coercion, with no force, with no fear – but rather out a sense of humility, true remorse and heartfelt love for God – and a willingness to change for the better in the future! This makes the act of repentance perfect!

As we are now almost midway through Lent – how has this word "repent" rattled around in our souls this year? Have we taken it as seriously as we should?

God has such amazing things in store for those who do repent. The first reading shows the beginnings of the plan for freeing the people of Israel from slavery under the Egyptians – as a sign of the freeing of all mankind's slavery to sin which would be accomplished by Jesus many centuries later!

But these same saved people turned against God and rebelled against him later in the desert and God was not pleased at all with most of them, and they were struck down in the desert. The second reading tells us, as well as the Corinthians for whom it was originally written, that just because we are in the safe rock-like confines of the Church, and are baptized into Christ, and eat and drink spiritual food and drink of his own Body and Blood we ought not take things for granted and think that we are standing secure. For so long as we are alive nothing is completely guaranteed for us. St. Paul tells us that it is only after we have crossed the finish line – in the kingdom – that we can rest – and hope to receive a glorious crown that has been reserved for us.

But we cannot even hope to do that unless we continue daily, weekly, monthly, yearly to REPENTto turn away from sin, to turn toward Jesus, and his Way, and Truth and Life – and then REJOICE in the mercy, compassion and forgiveness that is shown us!

The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand – in Jesus, in his Church, in us who are the Church, in the Sacrament of Eucharist, in the Sacrament of Penance, in our prayer, in our worship, in our commemoration of the events of our salvation! May the continuation and conclusion of this Lenten Season be all that it can be for us because we have repented in a deeper way than ever before – even gone to confession if we needed to – and can proclaim God's kindness quite freely, because we have experienced it and we believe it! God bless you!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Homily – March 5, 2010 – Second Week of Lent - Friday

+ Our readings today speak of heirs and killing; deception and plotting. The brothers of Joseph plot and plan to kill him because he is their father's favorite. Although they did not stand to gain anything here, they would be satisfied in ridding the family of the dreamer who was the father's favored son. But, one of the brother's took advantage of a situation that occurred at the moment and persuaded the brothers to sell Joseph to a caravan of Ishmaelites passing by on their way to Egypt. The brothers agreed and Joseph was spared being thrown into a cistern: he was sold for twenty pieces of silver. This, of course, on this Friday of Lent, is reminiscent of Jesus who would be sold by a brother, friend, and disciple, for thirty pieces of silver. Jesus, who also appeared to be, by many, a master dreamer: speaking of a spiritual kingdom that required its members to live in a way contrary to worldly standards and principles.

The gospel passage itself speaks of Jesus, in the parable, as the son of the tenant farmer who would be plotted against and labeled for death, and no one would come to his defense: the seemingly ordinary and even substandard stone (that he was considered to be) would be rejected by the builders: but in the end it would become the cornerstone: the stone of great price and value in the building of the new kingdom of God!

On this day of Lent, let us focus on the cornerstone, focus on Jesus, focus on his victory over those who planned and plotted against him. The same victory is ours if we unite ourselves with his sufferings, his pain and his sorrow.

God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son; so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Homily – March 4, 2010 – Second Week of Lent - Thursday

+ The gospel passage today is about a rich man who did not make it to the bosom of Abraham – not that all the rich are like him. It is possible to be wealthy according to the standards of the world and still faithful and spiritual. Such a rich person would share his wealth with others – knowing that he cannot take it with him – and that it would do more good here helping others than being squandered by potentially greedy relatives later on. But the rich man in the gospel passage used his wealth to glorify himself – it was his god – and so in the end it brought him the sum total of nothingness – and a chance never to be with God. The poor man on the other hand was of the acceptable kind to be admitted to the bosom of Abraham. He was poor and trusting in God – who helped him to better himself. He did not take advantage of his poverty. He did was not lazy and slothful – he was simply poor – economically and spiritually. And God did take care of him in the end.

Jesus tells us in the passage that the entire Jewish Scripture and everything that he himself said in his public ministry was all about the blessings that the truly poor had – the ones who must trust in God for everything – the Kingdom of Heaven was theirs. He also says that the obstinately rich would never change their minds and hearts – even if one should rise from the dead to tell them to mend their ways – because it is true: there is life ahead for the trusting poor, but eternal separation and pain for the unrepentant rich.

The first reading today tells us to trust in God absolutely and completely and thus be blessed; and the opposite is true: a curse awaits those who trust simply in men and human affairs: they will never reach satisfying and satisfactory goals: they will never reach heaven.

Knowing then that God rewards everyone according to his ways, according to the merits of his deeds: let us trust him today, in our poverty, in our want, in our need – and be prepared to be helped by him – who loves us so very much!

Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Homily – March 3, 2010 – Second Week of Lent - Wednesday

+ Our readings for this day of Lent tell of the true nature of the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf. First, in the gospel passage, Jesus tells the Twelve that he must go to Jerusalem to be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes (by one of them, no less), and he will be condemned to a shameful death on a cross, then handed over to Gentiles to be mocked, scourged and crucified and be raised on the third day. The overzealous mother of two of the Twelve (James and John) wanted to know if her sons could sit at Jesus' left and right when he comes into his kingdom. His reply was to ask them if they could drink of his cup of suffering first. They, in their youthful exuberance blurted out: o yes, sure, we can do that! We will drink what you drink! At which Jesus said to them: Yes, you will drink for my cup of suffering (inferring their deaths on his behalf one day much later), but as for placement in the kingdom: that was not even up to me to decide: it is up to my Father. It is interesting to note here though that the mother of these two sons seems to be among the first to acknowledge the resurrection of Jesus and her own sons', by planning their seating arrangement in the coming kingdom!

The point Jesus made of this scene is that he came to serve and to give his life in ransom for many and that we should do the same – serve others and give ourselves for them and their welfare – thinking always of others first!

In the first reading from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah we see the forthcoming plotting against Jesus mirrored in the whisperings and plotting of those who were out to persecute Jeremiah. The citizens of Jerusalem were listening to his every word not to become edified and instructed by them, but rather to find some way to trip up the prophet so they could have a valid excuse to kill him. This was also Jesus' fate.

Just as Jeremiah was protected by God, as was Jesus, so shall we be, if we put our trust securely in him – and say: You are my God! In your hands is my destiny: rescue me from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Homily – March 2, 2010 – Second Week of Lent Tuesday

+ The verse before the gospel today from the Prophet Ezekiel tells us to "cast away from us all the crimes we have committed and to make for ourselves a new heart and a new spirit." This is what Lent is all about: casting away the bad and creating anew. God is more than willing to help us accomplish our goal if we are committed to the project and are willing to try the best we can to become a little friendlier, a little holier, and a little more helpful to one another every day. Even if we have committed grave sins in the past – God tells us in the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah – they may be completely forgiven if we are willing to obey God's law of love wholeheartedly beginning now!

God speaks to us today and says: to the upright I will show my saving power. Let us be among the upright, so that God can save us from what we need saving from! And then let us be grateful that we have been saved!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Homily – March 1, 2010 – Second Week of Lent - Monday

+ The Prophet Daniel makes a very clear statement regarding the state of affairs that exists between God and men: Great and awesome God, you keep your merciful covenant toward those who love you and observe your commandments.
But those who have been wicked, done evil and sinned are far from your law, far from your commandments and far from your covenant, far from your love. Daniel then identifies a great many Israelites living in his time, and many before them, as those who have not obeyed God's servants the prophets and are shamefaced for having sinned against God. Justice, O Lord, is on your side, proclaims Daniel. But yours, O Lord our God, are compassion and forgiveness! Have mercy on us and forgive us!

And through the actions and merits of Jesus Christ God's people shall be forgiven by a new kind of compassion and mercy and justice – the kind that is not avenging but rather tender and merciful. But, God asks us to model that same kind of mercy, in order to receive it; the same kind of judgment, the same kind of generous forgiving and giving. For the measure we measure out will be measured back to us!

May we this day measure out Spirit and life to others, the same Spirit and life we receive in Word and Sacrament, to others we will meet today – so that the Kingdom of God might be more fully present than it was yesterday – and we may be pleasing sons of God, deserving of his providential care and protection!

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life; you have the words of everlasting life.

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. ...