Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Homily – June 30, 2010 – First Holy Martyrs of the Church of Rome

+ Today we celebrate the great feast of the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. The deaths of Saints Peter and Paul, which we celebrated yesterday, were part of the relentless persecution of the Emperor Nero. Clearly a psychopath, Nero burned down two thirds of the city of Rome, in the already scorching heat of summer, reportedly laughed while it burned and then blamed the Christians for this deed. This gave him public leave to exterminate mercilessly large quantities of Christians in a sordid variety of ways.

God, however, brought great victory from such a dastardly deed: for it was from the blood of the martyrs that the roots and shoots of the early Church began to take root and spread. These great many men and women were gifted with the opportunity to follow Christ to the point of shedding blood: and their reward was very great in heaven, as promised; and a fragrant crown of the glory of God himself was bestowed on them to last forever!

The first reading today tells us that if God is for us – and he is at all times, in every circumstance of our life, most especially when we are persecuted – then it matters not who is against us. We, by the grace of God, will always be victorious. In the gospel passage Jesus relates that he who perseveres to the end will be saved – he who uses the graces that God gives and refuses to be sidetracked by difficulties of any kind, will see the fruits of his labor.

May our hope remain a reserved place in the Kingdom of heaven – with the First Martyrs of Rome – and all subsequent martyrs of both the red and white variety. We all can unite our sufferings and crosses to that of Christ and emerge unscathed, renewed and victorious!

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Homily – June 29, 2010 – The Solemnity of SSs Peter and Paul

+ The Church's praises ring out with joy this day as we recall the feast of Saints Peter and Paul. It is the keys of Peter and the words of Paul that assure the Church of its never-ending call of holiness of life and the beatific vision of God's face forever in heaven to those who are faithful to such a call, and respond generously with lives of love and service. Today we also celebrate the Fifth Anniversary of the Founding of a religious group called the Joyful Servants of the Cross. It has been from the very beginning the desire of the participants in this group to seek holiness of life and a means of channeling loving service for the good of those in the Church on the local level and the world at large.

I should like to combine these two celebrations by addressing the simple vows that will be pronounced by the members today and demonstrate how they are a true outgrowth of the spirit of Peter's profession of faith, and Paul's mission to all nations to convert all who would be converted to the Lord.

The three vows are: stability, conversatio morum and obedience. These reflect the vows taken by true Benedictines, who serve as a model of structure and way of life for the Joyful Servants. Saints Peter and Paul were both stable and committed spiritually to the task given then each personally by Christ the Lord himself to raise up a Church – for the glory of the Father – and for the salvation of all people everywhere. This stability, perseverance, commitment, stick-to-it-ive-ness, persistence and loyalty both in season and out, in good times and in bad, in all kind of assaults and persecutions both externally and internally encouraged and sustained by the working of the given Holy Spirit within them made the Church alive, effective and the hope of the world. The Joyful Servants commit themselves today to such a spirit of stability both internally and externally: binding themselves to live together for life (so long as ordinary circumstances allow), understanding that perseverance, commitment, stick-to-it-ive-ness, persistence and loyalty both in season and out, in good times and in bad, in all kind of assaults and persecutions both externally and internally will also be their lot. But with the same help of the asked for and given Holy Spirit they will endure and flourish with the help of God.

The second vow is conversatio morum – a Latin term not easily translatable – best left in Latin. It has everything to do with "conversion of ways," conversion of mores, transformation of patterns of life, a real total spiritual turn-about – it has everything to do with "dying to sin" and "becoming alive in God;" it has everything to do with becoming holy and perfect as we have been commanded by God to become. The monastery is a specially treasured incubator where such holiness and perfection are nurtured and groomed. It is the Holy Spirit's own workshop! It is the goal of conversatio morum for the monk to actually be holy – which means not being anything which is profane, crass, worldly or unholy. Its fruit is JOY – the sentiment and expression of deep abiding SPIRITUAL JOY come what may. It was this conversatio morum (that actually comes in seed form at Baptism and is strengthend by Confirmation) that gave Saints Peter and Paul the inner resource and strength to be what God called them do be and to do his will, and his will only!

Which leads to the third vow of obedience – the entire redemption of the world revolves around the love that is obedience. Jesus obediently, but o so very lovingly obeyed his Father, came to earth, became one of us, took upon himself everything that is sinful and then died in order to break the curse of sin and death forever! That is powerful love, that is powerful obedience, that is the spirit that ought to be behind every act of obedience that anyone gives anyone else. If, there is a true and God-given, chain of command – then obedience by all involved in the chain will produce not only JOY but PEACE, deep abiding peace that the world cannot give. In the monastery the Abbot – the very representative of Christ himself – obeys God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – he passes on what he hears and experiences to those under him; the monks obey the Abbot as though they were obeying Christ himself and with a love and devotion that they would show him. Both Abbot and monks – as St. Benedict tells us in the rule – then obey each other, serving each others' needs, in mutual respect and placing the others before one's self always. This type of monastic life not only then produces joy and peace, but also hope in the face of all of life's difficulties.

It was the task of Peter and Paul to be the first to pray and work for the purification and perfection of the Church on earth so that it can be made ready to meet its Lord in heaven, and also to transform the world into the glorious kingdom of God with Jesus reigning as King – this is also the primary mission of the Joyful Servants of the Cross, who pray thusly, and impact the world in whatever ways the Spirit has in mind for them to do.

As Peter and Paul gave their lives for Christ entirely both in this life, and in their deaths, so may we the Joyful Servants of the Cross do the same.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Homily – June 29, 2010 – St. Irenaeus

+ St. Irenaeus was a disciple of St. Polycarp of Smyrna. He was ordained a priest in 177 and later became Bishop of Lugundum, Gaul – which is now Lyons, France. He worked and wrote against Gnosticism, basing his arguments on the works of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist whose Gospel is often cited by the Gnostics. Irenaeus is considered the first great Western ecclesiastical write and theologian. He emphasized the unity of the Old and New Testaments, and of Christ's simultaneous human and divine natures. He is a Father of the Church and received the crown of martyrdom in Lyons in 202.

A quote from St. Irenaeus's writings reads: For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God become the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God. This corresponds exactly with the theme that I have been developing in my own homilies as of late: the most astounding fact of our lives is that by baptism we are adopted into the family of God – he becomes our Father, we become his children and brothers and sisters of Jesus and one another; and members of the one Church. This theme obviously has been promiment in the Church from the very beginning.

The gospel today speaks of Jesus' own prayer for the unity of those who would believe in him, choose him and stand by him: a unity that would provide stability for the Church as well as the promise and hope of an eternal union in heaven one day when faithfulness would be rewarded. In the first reading Paul tells Timothy to deal gently with potential converts so that they are drawn by the sweetness of the life that is in store for them – that will last unto eternity. May we today contribute to the unity of the Church by following in the footsteps of Irenaeus and celebrate our childhood in God!

Remain in my love…and bear much fruit!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Homily – June 27, 2010 – Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

+ Even though the message of the readings is short today, it is a hard message, and it shall not be softened. Following Jesus is not meant to be an easy thing – in any way, shape or form – but it is meant to be extremely rewarding for those who go all the way with him – all the way to Jerusalem – all the way to the Crosscarrying their own!

Jesus resolutely made his way to Jerusalem – knowing exactly what awaited him there. Jesus determinedly reached out for what would bring salvation to all of mankind including us. Jesus perseveringly refused to be distracted in any way from his goal and the glory that it would give to his Father. Are we still with him?

Both the first reading and the gospel talk about discipleship – about leaving behind and going forward with Jesus – but both warn us that this turning must be decisive, immediate and uncompromising: "Go back" – Elijah answered Elisha called to discipleship – "why do you want to go back when God is calling you NOW?" And in the gospel: "Bury your father? Let the dead bury their dead." "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God."

When we choose God, when we choose Jesus, when we choose to be members of his Church – we are turning away from darkness and sin – we are turning away from anything that would lead us back into that place of shadows and terror – we are turning away from all that has to do with death and destruction. And we are turning instead to life – to light – to love! Do our daily choices reflect this major choice that ought not to be withdrawn?

In the second reading, St. Paul tells us that it is for freedom that Christ has set us free, so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery, the yoke of sin, the yoke of death. LIVE BY THE SPIRIT and you will truly be alive both in your body and in your spirit. And you will have dismissed from your vocabulary and your actions that which is contrary to the Spirit of God that does indeed dwell within you by your baptism and confirmation!

How radical is your discipleship? How powerfully does the Spirit live in you? How far along the road to perfection in the spiritual life are you? Either you are heading towards the fullness of spiritual life, with your cross on your back; or you are heading towards the fullness of spiritual death, crossless but also ultimately lifeless! Jesus' death on the Cross made it so that you don't have to endure that punishment, that separation that unending pain and torture – if you don't want to! It is entirely up to you – but just remember: real discipleship is all or nothing! But the payoff is complete never-ending bliss Who would not want that?

Speak, Lord, your servant is listening;[I believe what you are telling me!] you have the words of everlasting life!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Homily – June 25, 2010 – Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time - Friday

+ In this gospel passage, Jesus simply cures someone when he is asked confidently to do so. But we must remember that it is faith in Jesus - and not just a sporadic wish that the man could have made to anyone who was pedaling cures – that was the cause of his cure!

Jesus tells the man to tell no one because, at this point, this is a private matter between him and the man alone. The testimony of a witnessing priest will be enough to fulfill what the law demands regarding healings. Later would come a time when healing would become a public matter – used by Jesus to bring many to faith in himself.

On this Friday we remember that it was in virtue of his own Passion and Death that brought about the possibility of healings in the first place. Because he bore our illnesses and diseases – he could thus heal and transform them into life.

May we approach our Lord with trust, and confidence and faith today: and ask for healing – and expect to receive it – and in his way and time, we will have it!

Christ took away our infirmities and bore our diseases!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Homily – June 24, 2010 – The Birth of St. John the Baptist (Solemnity)

+ Today is obviously a special day of celebration for those who belong to this church dedicated to St. John the Baptist, now a part of All Saints Parish. Just as John is recognized as "the herald of Christ" when at last he came – so too the members of this church for well over 100 years – mostly under the gentle guidance and spiritual leadership of the Marist Fathers – have also heralded the good news of the arrival of Christ in Midcoast Maine!

Just as John was always aware of a special calling in his life, so too must we be constantly aware of our own special calling to holiness and perfection of life. These qualities are not just for priests and monks and nuns; they are for everyone. Grace is for everyone! Divine Life is for everyone! God's personable Friendship is for everyone!

Now we must ask ourselves – how do we respond to these gifts of grace, life and friendship? John gave everything he had for the cause of receiving and utilizing them – including his life! How much of our life are we willing to such a project today?

May our response be honest, and true and generous – as was that of St. John the Baptist! The world still needs to hear today those infamous words: PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD! MAKE A HIGHWAY FOR OUR GOD! For one day he will come again. It could be any day! It could be today!

And may we hear him say to us as he said to his cousin John the Baptist at the end of his short but o so powerfully significant life: COME, BLESSED OF MY FATHER – INHERIT THE KINGDOM PREPARD FOR YOU FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD! YOU HAVE HUMBLED YOURSELF IN THE SIGHT OF MEN, NOW I EXALT YOU IN THE SIGHT OF MY FATHER! WELL DONE GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT! ENTER INTO THE JOY OF YOUR LORD!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Homily – June 22, 2010 – Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time - Tuesday

+ Jesus continues in the gospel passage with short thoughtful sayings and good solid advice: protect the holy gifts that God gives you free of charge: treat others exactly the same way that you want to be treated: expect that the passageway to eternal reward is narrow and not found by many, do all you can to be among the few who understand that and find the "door!"

Jesus is the "door," he is the way, he is the life and the light! The person of Jesus will comfort us, teach us, feed us and lead us – if we let him!

In the first reading we see what happens when God's people forget him, how death and destruction comes to them and their nations – but even in this God is faithful to his promise to David to protect his City and to raise from it a shoot – the King of Israel who would rule forever: Christ the Lord! It behooves us to remember that God is in charge of everything!

God uphold his city forever!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Homily – June 20, 2010 – Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

+ Our message for today is short and to the point: Christ Jesus is God; and as he had to suffer much, and even die to fully attain this position, so, if we want to be his followers and recipients of a share in the new life he attained – then we too must suffer much, and even one day die!

In the gospel passage today Jesus separates out two levels of understanding of himself: the one circulating among the people (John the Baptist back from the dead, or a dead prophet from the past like Elijah); the other, the one hopefully different, emanating from his own chosen band of Apostles, who by this time should have gotten to know him a little better. Peter – inspired by the Holy Spirit of Truth – blurts out: YOU ARE THE CHRIST OF GOD! Peter could never have come up with this on his own, or any of the rest of the Twelve.

The Spirit teaches us something extremely profound and important here: in fact the most central fact of the Incarnation: JESUS, THE CHRIST (the Anointed One) IS GOD! Belief in this fact
is the hinge on which the salvation of the world swings. CHRIST IS GOD – the first-fruit of the likes of all of us – who, by faith in this fact and baptism (as our second reading tells us today) – become children of God in Christ Jesus and an heir to the promise God made to Abraham of mercy, grace and salvation! The first reading today from the Prophet Zechariah foretells that it would be from the pierced heart of Christ that salvation and the sacramental life of the Church would flow beginning with the moment of his death on the Cross: and among the sacraments Baptism is the first and most important. Becoming a child of God and a member of Christ is meant to make all the difference in our lives and the lives of all in the world.

People in the world are thirsting, thirsting, thirsting after something deep, primordial and satisfying: the only thing that can possibly satisfy that thirst is to drink of the spring of life welling up from the pierced side of Christ. This is not just religious poetry and rhetoric: this is fact, plain and simple. Only God himself can fill up what he made, knows and understands - and can see is so broken and anguished by the sin of Adam, and personal sin. It is up to us to witness to the fact that incorporation into Christ and the voluntary placement of ourselves underneath the streams of grace flowing from His Most Precious and Sacred Heart – is the sure way to peace and joy that will have no end.

Part of our witness is that we demonstrate that the attainment of such peace and joy can only come, as Jesus himself told us and modeled after much cross-carrying, suffering, and eventually death! But we rejoice in this process because all of our red crosses will be turned into gold crosses of victory! Jesus promised – and he always keeps his promises!

My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Homily – June 16, 2010 – Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time - Wednesday

+ Today we hear a familiar gospel passage. It is actually the one from Ash Wednesday. In this section of his gospel, St. Matthew is laying out the conditions that must be met in order to surpass the supposed holiness and apparent hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees. He says: "Don't be showy or flashy in your almsgiving!" "Don't be ostentatious or flamboyant in your prayer-posture!" "Don't be pretentious or sensational in your fasting!" This outward show, if it does not have an inner matching spirit of humility, contrition and desire to do God's will wholly, is a farce and is to be avoided.

How often does pride taint our spiritual activities? How often does love of God take a back seat to love of self in our motivations? How often do we fail to follow the spirit behind the laws given for our spiritual growth in holiness and perfection?

Just as Elisha the prophet simply succeeded his teacher Elijah before the great prophet was taken up to heaven in a flaming chariot, and carried on his work faithfully and in a humble manner; so ought we be faithful servants of Jesus sent to carry on the work of saving souls – our own and others' – and not get a swelled head about it!

We are already amazing new creations from our baptism; that is show enough! It is the gentleness and compassion that we show that proves that we are these new creations: sons and daughters of a heavenly Father; brothers and sisters of a divine Brother and Savior. May we be such amazing new, right-intentioned, right-motivated creations today!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Homily – June 15, 2010 – Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time - Tuesday

+ Today we hear Jesus telling us to be perfect just as God is perfect. That sounds like a tall order, but actually it is quite doable – with the grace and strength that God himself gives. If we truly live the life we receive at our baptism, then we know that we are not like ordinary earthly men and women; we have always a "different" "godly" way of seeing and doing things. We are called to "holiness and perfection of life:" this is our lifelong goal and task. And with the command comes the power to achieve it.

The legal prescriptions of the Old Testament were effective to keep spiritual and moral "law and order" until Christ Jesus could arrive in person to explain them all fully and summarize and restate them in a simple command of LOVE: indeed, love, (he says) as I love you. This is a very expansive, self-sacrificial kind of love; a love that is kind, merciful, forgiving and compassionate – even to those we don't like, even to those who are our enemies.

All men and women are at least "creatures of God" – and some, like us, are "children of God" and "members of Christ!" We owe all at least "common courtesy of recognition and acknowledgment" as "fellow objects of God's care and concern." But we here rejoice and celebrate the "fullness of holiness and perfection that God calls his children to". May we today do nothing to impede our progress along the road to this fullness which will be complete one day in our heavenly homeland.

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

Monday, June 14, 2010

Homily – June 14, 2010 – Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time - Monday

+ Our gospel passage today is about being positive in every event: reacting and responding in a way that is proof that the divine life of our baptismal cleansing is truly effective in us. Those who are not connected to God's supernatural life have no way of responding in a purely positive way in every situation; but we who do possess that holiness of life can respond in such a godly way. The supernatural divine way is an ever-expanding way of love and service; it is outreaching and comprehensive; it is kind and merciful. It has Jesus as a model for us as well as source of the grace to accomplish holy things.

In the first reading today, Naboth was killed by conspiracy against him, caused by the wife of the King. This act had an evil intent and thereby could in no way be considered good. No good can come from evil intent. No divine life can grow where the ground is littered with the connivings of deeds done in selfishness and greed.

May we not be like the wife of the King today who wanted to remain in the favor of an earthly King, but rather revel in the fact that we are brothers and sisters of a heavenly king and sons and daughters of the Father of all – with his divine and supernatural life flowing through us!

You are my inheritance, O Lord.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Homily – June 13, 2010 – Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

+ Today we begin once again the green season of the year which the Church gives us "to feast on the banquet" that God provides for his people, his children, the flock he loves to shepherd. Just as it is time now to break out the picnic baskets and barbeque grills, let us not forget this veritable Banquet of the Word of Life, and the spiritual Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus that he provides here each Sunday, so that we can appreciate the Eucharist that we receive at the table, and so that we can be the living Eucharist for others whom God places in our lives so that we can encourage, nurture and help along the way.

During these next several months, I would like to once again take up my New Year's Resolution to keep my homilies a bit shorter and more to the point (I may have stayed a bit now and then) – and so: today's point is this: the Lord has provided a very specific way to forgive the wrong that we do!

King David, and the Penitent Woman were each different in their motivation to sin, but they both had one thing in common – that we can also have in common with them - they both turned to the Lord / and were forgiven / because they asked to be. One came to the intellectual and heartfelt
realization that he had sinned and announced this fact to a representative of the Lord (this being David), and Nathan told David that the Lord for his part had forgiven his sin;

the other literally turned to the Lord Jesus, approached him, and out of great love simply washed his feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair (this being the Penitent Woman). He knew who and what sort of woman she was and it was her faith and love that was the cause of the forgiveness of her sins.

If we put both of these rather beautiful and dramatic penitential stories together we come to a model for ourselves.
We can see that the story of King David confessing to Nathan prefigures the great Sacrament of Penance, Reconciliation and Peace. The Church tells us we must confess serious sin to the priest to God's specially appointed representativeand we shall be surely forgiven. This Sacrament is not optional!

But before this happens, we can also turn privately to the Lord like the Penitent Woman did and pour out our sorrow, our love and hopefully our tears on his feet. And we will hear him tells us two things: everything will be alright: your faith is working and now useful to you, so go to the priest and confess your sins. This is implied, by the later institution of the Sacrament of Penance. Should the woman sin again, she could avail herself of the Lord's forgiveness directly in that wonderful sacramental encounter.

That's it for today! A man and a woman sinned. A man and a woman were forgiven. Men, women and children like us, in fact us, are invited to partake of the "Sumptuous Banquet of Forgiveness" that is offered in all our parish churches weekly on Saturday afternoon! Penance is the great unforgotten sacrament of our day! And it is a shame, because it is absolutely essential for everlasting life, for anyone who sins - in an even remotely serious way - after baptism – to confess his sins to a priest!


Lord, forgive the wrong we have done!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Homily – June 11, 2010 – Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

+ Today we celebrate an immeasurably profound and wondrous reality: the Divine Heart of God! And we must take care to perhaps get a fuller understanding of it today than ever before. What we know as the "Sacred Heart of Jesus" is only half of the story! If Jesus is the perfect image of the Father's reality – when we see Jesus we see the Father – then, when we see the amazing and Sacred Heart of Jesus, we are seeing the amazing and Divine Heart of God the Father.

The Divine Heart of God the Father has been long underestimated and underscored. It was the Divine Heart of God the Father that was responsible for immediately planning our reconciliation and salvation after He, Himself was offended and treated in a dastardly way! It was the Divine Heart of God the Father which was the "home" of God the Word, before he became Flesh in order to obey his Father and save the likes of us. It was the Divine Heart of God the Father, as well as pierced heart of Mary the Mother of Jesus,
who received their Son, when he was taken down from the Cross. Good Friday was an incredibly painful day for both of them!

This is the "Heart of the Shepherd" that was referred to in the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel in the first reading today. This passage refers both to the Heart of the Son and the Fatherto shepherd the flock (as one) and gather the scattered sheep, rescuing them from every place that they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark, leading them from foreign lands back to their own country, finding good pasture for them, giving them rest, binding up the injured, healing the sick, shepherding them rightly! THIS IS THE WORK OF GOD THE SON AND THE FATHER – because of the presence of their very LOVING DYNAMIC ENERGY itself – a third Person – the HOLY SPIRIT. It is the Spirit of God who accomplished these things – for he IS LOVE – he is HEALTH – he is STRENGTH!

Jesus, in the gospel parable, makes the point that we need always remember: it is He, and his Father, and their Spirit who are the Good Shepherd – and it is the repentant sinner sheep that is most highly favored by them – otherwise, they did everything for nothing. If the forgiveness and reconciliation are available but no one makes use of it, then what good is it? The one repentant sinner sheep brings joy not only to those who are trying to help it here on earth, but also those who are pulling for it in heaven!

What is so amazing is that while we were all still sinners – Jesus did what he did – suffered ignominy, torture and death! He loves us so! He would do it again! In fact he does it again at this and every Mass! We are there at Calvary and we see the depth of his love poured out from a heart that gave forth blood and water so fully did he give himself for us!

Let us take the Lord's yoke upon us, and learn from him – how to give ourselves to others fully and out of great love – for he is meek and humble of heart!

God bless you!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Homily – June 10, 2010 – Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Thursday

+ Jesus came that we may have life and have it to the full. Our gospel passage today tells us that our response to his gifts must be as generous as his giving of them or they will be withheld from us. Skimpily obeying God's commandments is not good enough. There is a "spirit" behind each "letter" of law, and unless we search out that spirit and ask God for the grace to live it out – then the law is lifeless and obedience to it is hollow and fruitless.

Elijah cooperated in receiving what God had to offer him: his divine presence in the work he had Elijah do: the work of making the glory of God known to a pagan world. Because of his cooperation, a cloud as small as a man's had rose from the sea – and then heavy rains fell on a land that was drought for many years. Should Elijah have cut corners on what God requested of him: another great sign of the presence and power of God would have been withheld.

May we this day not be the cause of withheld abundance of life and blessing being poured out as a heavy rain upon us and those we think about and pray for – which in some way or another should be everyone. May we say "yes" to both the "letter" and the "spirit" of the New Law – the law of love, the law of compassion, the law of merciful acts done out of love of God! And may God's rich, abundant blessing be poured out upon us all!

Teach me your paths, my God, and guide me in your truth.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Homily – June 9, 2010 – Tenth Week in Ordinary Time - Wednesday

+ Our readings today are about "signs and wonders." The Old Testament is filled with such external manifestations of "God's power and glory" – all for the purpose of establishing him among a "pagan Who's Who?" of minor deities and gods. Faith, of some sort, was operative in most of the people in these ages. It was just a matter of truly demonstrating a god with the best credentials. Our God wins - for he is the One and Only True God – the Origin and Source of Everything; the others being but "smoke in the wind." The story of Elijah and the fire lighting at Mt. Carmel is a wonderful example of how God can do not only marvelous deeds, but in a most unusual and even contradictory sort of way: lighting a fire in the midst of a pool of water! God can do, and does whatever he wants!

Why then does he not do such "signs and wonders" today – very much? Because in our world faith in mostly lacking altogether. Science and technology have taken over. If it can't be proved under a microscope, then it is probably not true, says popular culture. And so, "signs and wonders" from God would simply be wasted and considered too flashy for our modern tastes – therefore he withholds such acts. However, this does not mean that faith cannot be responsible for marvelous and even miraculous things being accomplished – especially as the result of prayer. Jesus still is very much a God of Wonder, Power and Might! He can do what he wants – but he chooses to do it in a way that will not show up on the CBS Morning News Show tomorrow. What is still essential is our faith in him and his power! Lord Jesus, we do believe today in your care for us and your power to save and heal. We believe that you can light a fire in our souls for good this day!

The gospel passage is about Jesus not being flashy or showy about doing his work fulfillment. He says quite plainly that he has come not to abolish anything at all that came before him, but simply to fulfill it – to show how it indeed foretold and announced his arrival and upcoming work – and was a kind of blueprint for what it would be like! The One Great Sign and Wonder that he saved up to the end was his being raised up on the Cross to prove the depth of his love for us – for our salvation! There is no greater Sign and Wonder than that of the Cross of Christ Crucified! May he be praised and thanked forever for his astounding compassion on the likes of all mankind, including us!

Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Homily – June 8, 2010 – Tenth Week in Ordinary Time - Tuesday

+ Our gospel passage today serves to remind us that the flavor (salt) that we are for the good of our relationships and projects, and the light that we are to help not only ourselves but also others find their way in life come directly from God.
He wants us to make a difference in each others' lives. He wants us to be of as much use as we can be to him as he helps his family grow to full maturity. He wants us to share always what we have and not worry about running out of resources.

Just like the widow of the first reading did not run out of food and oil for a year and a half (until the rains came again) at the bidding of Elijah to trust God and serve his (Elijah's) needs as well as her own and her sons – so too we are called to trust God's promises and understand that even difficult to understand requests from him are really for the best.

In any and all events – it is the trustworthy Father who is to be thanked, praised and glorified for all of his direct, intentional and precise care, concern and the help that he so willingly gives to his children in need – whatever that need might be.

Lord, let your face shine on us!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Homily – June 7, 2010 – Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Monday

+ The first reading today relates how the Lord provided sustenance for Elijah in a hiding place that he made for him at the Wadi Cherith, east of Jordan. Ravens brought him bread and meat, and he drank from the stream. God provides especially for our spiritual needs in the secret hiding place of our hearts where the Holy Spirit comes and feeds us the very Word of God and even his Sacramental Presence from the Eucharist we receive at Mass.

The Lord helps his people when they are in need.

In the gospel passage, Jesus turns upside down the value system of the world, making the poor in spirit the truly rich ones, the meek the interiters of the land, the clean of heart those who see God, the persecuted those who are to rejoice because of ill-treatment on account of being filled with the life and love of Jesus. May we today experience the true rewards that come from belonging to such a revolutionary kingdom: a kingdom of love, justice, peace: a kingdom with Jesus reigning as King.

Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Homily – June 6, 2010 – The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

+ Last Sunday we celebrated the "summary" Sunday of the Most Blessed Trinity: One God who is Three Divine Persons: each Distinct, Separate and Real; but One, Equal, Holy and Essential Being. This is the "uncreated God" who is an eternal dynamic relationship of love – having no beginning, and no end – who exist in an eternal now of supreme joy and peace! We said last week that this amazing Being – completely sufficient and content within itself – had no reason whatsoever at all to go outside Itself EXCEPT for the fact that BEING LOVE – they wanted to share what they have with other beings, who they would create, to be like them, created in their image: meaning, PERSONS sharing their GLORY and their POWER. That is where Adam, Eve and their children - that is, you and I - came from.

It was an amazing relationship that they had – Adam and Eve – until they were tricked by the Devil into demanding something that they already possessed: life in the divinity of God himself. They were already like God, created in his image; but Satan twisted it 180 degrees and told them that he could make them gods in their own right, after their own imaginings and likes and dislikes– quite divorced from any dependent relationship on anyone, most especially GOD THE FATHER! And that was it! Like a great clap of thunder sin cut though the family relationship between God and his children. Mankind was mortally wounded – and would be for all time, unless a totally unprecedented event took place: a Man-God offering his very life for the likes of sinful men!

It was the offended, God the Father, who went so far as to devise the plan and send his only-begotten Son to be the one to die for the salvation of the human race! What a tremendous reality the Divine Heart of God is! He loved and loves his creations so very much. And then thanks to the effectiveness of the action of the Holy Spirit who has been present to the community of believers in God's love, his salvation and the whole process based around the person of Jesus, his Son – access to the Divine Life is now once again possible by means of the Sacraments of the Church which begin with BAPTISM!

When one chooses to be baptized "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" an entirely super-natural event takes place: the son or daughter of Adam, becomes instantaneously a son or daughter of God himself (once again) by means of the grace of reconciliation merited by Jesus Christ who is not only our Savior, but also our Brother and our Friend. This is amazing! We, of course also, become members of the Church, the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, Branches of the Vine, a community of believers! But first and foremost and most magnificently WE BECOME CHILDREN OF GOD! We become children of God! Everything follows from that!

And the great message of today's feast is that God provides for his family: he provides the greatest spiritual food that could ever possibly be imagined: food which is the spiritual Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of the same Savior and Lord, Brother and Friend who promised to stay with his people, his Church, his Body, his Bride throughout all of human history, until the very end of the world: CHRIST JESUS, his Son. This angelic food, this Bread of Life, this Eucharist that was instituted on the night of the Last Supper, contains also the very death of Jesus on the Cross the next day because Jesus had exactly the same intention at both events: to lay down his life completely for his only then potential and possible brothers and sisters: so that they could have life and have it to the full!

It is absolutely necessary to eat this bread and drink this cup, in order to gain everlasting life. Jesus says this quite plainly and he means it. That is why it is vital for all of us to get the message out that this is so: that fullness of life must be tasted and experienced here, before it can even be recognized, tasted and experienced later in heaven. While baptism is also a requirement for salvation – and alternative ways of being baptized are recognized by the Church – there is only the slightest way around not eating and drinking the bread and wine consecrated by a duly ordained priest of the Catholic Church - whose ordination is verifiable in the true apostolic line of succession. There is surely a legitimate means of "spiritual communion" for those who cannot in any other way avail themselves of the true Eucharist in their lifetimes directly!

Just as Baptism creates holy childhood of God in us and Confirmation strengthens it and gives it gifts to use for the good of all in the family: so Eucharist completes the initiation process with a family meal that can be partaken of daily if wanted, weekly as prescribed for our own spiritual welfare by the Church. It is of extreme importance to know that the Divine Life begun at Baptism and strengthened at Confirmation would quite literally die if it is not nurtured and nourished by participation in the Holy Eucharist, and by prayer and works of charity done for love of God. Perhaps this is why so many lukewarm and fallen away Catholics, and members of other religious persuasions who have baptism as part of their initiation rites seem so miserable, disjointed and generally unhappy: their own unattended, neglected, forgotten but spiritual lives are smothering them!

Let us prune ourselves, if necessary, let us pray, let us help others for love of Christ and let us appreciate the depth of love that went into the creation of the Most Blessed gift of Eucharist - for the Divine Life of our very souls – and let us eat and drink and proclaim the death of the Lord joyfully and happily until he comes again – so that we can go with him home and live forever in our Father's house!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Homily – June 4, 2010 – Ninth Week in Ordinary Time - Friday

+ This is a very short but strange gospel passage that needs to be interpreted very carefully to be understood well. [Stay with me on this one]: The bottom line is that Son of David
is not meant to be a completely adequate and exhaustive definition of the Messiah. Something more lofty like "Kyrios" "Lord" is need to capture the character of Jesus' messiaship! Assuming that David is the speaker of Psalm 110 (which is being referred to here), "The Lord said to my lord," (regarding the second "lord") – he must be speaking of someone other than himself. The first Lord is God, the second "my lord" must be someone different from and superior to David. Therefore the Messiah is not adequately and exhaustively described as Son of David. What delights the crowd is that Jesus turns around easily the claim of the scribes that "son of David" fully defines who this Jesus is, therefore making him less than he can be in his full majesty and power.

Jesus suffers opposition, tricks and persecutions small and great in his public life, and in the first reading today St. Paul tells Timothy that anyone who wants to follow Christ and live religiously in him will be also opposed, tricked and persecuted but if they hold on fast to what they have learned by means of the Scriptures and valid teachings about him then they will be equipped for every good work in saving themselves and others along the way!

Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him and we will come to him – and they will experience who the true Lord and Messiah is - Son of David, and o so much more – and they will have the strength needed to stand fast in the world day by day!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Homily – June 3, 2010 – St. Charles Lwanga and Companions

+ Today we celebrate the feast of Charles Lwanga who was servant of King Mwanga of Uganda in Africa. He became a convert in June 1885. He and his companions are considered as the protomartyrs (first martyrs) of black Africa. He was one of twenty-two African Catholics who were executed for their faith under a persecution by King Mwanga. Twenty-four Protestants were also martyred. In 1920 Pope Benedict XV declared Charles Lwanga patron saint of youth and Catholic Action for most of tropical Africa.

Our readings today are suited to the feast. The first reading is about – once having set course in a definite and true direction, refusing to look back – once converting to the Christian faith – never to look back, renege, or take back old practices. Keeping the dietary code was essential to faith before Jesus came and declared all food clean – and so even death by martyrdom regarding keeping the rules was hailed by men and women of the Old Testament.

But when Jesus comes, everything is different, not only dietary rules: the entire standard of life is changed: worldly values were turned asunder and a true vision of a Kingdom of God that is available to all was unveiled. In this Kingdom the poor are rich, those who mourn are comforted (even in the darkest places of Africa), those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are satisfied and those who are persecuted for their faith are rewarded with a crown of glory!

May we choose today to be poor and meek; clean of heart and persecuted: and our reward – as with Charles Lwanga and companions and the twenty-four Protestants – will be great in heaven!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Homily –June 2, 2010 – Ninth Week in Ordinary Time - Wednesday

+ Our gospel passage today shows how Jesus deals with those who try to put trick questions to him to discredit his teaching. Here he quite easily turns the tables. He reminds all that marriage has to do with this world, and not the world to come. But he also tells us about that world to come when he teaches that for those who would one day be baptized there is a true family relationship that would endure through this life into the next. All who are baptized become adopted children of God, and therefore brothers and sisters of one another both in this life and the next. And so, we marry our "brother or sister in Christ" here below, and will spend eternity in heaven with them when the marriage ends at death but the family relationship lasts forever! God is the God of a living family of loving members!

In the first reading St. Paul tells Timothy to stir into flame the gift that God gave him at his ordination. For it is never easy bring the gospel message to anyone – and the Apostle and teacher, the Bishop and the priest need the special help of the Spirit of God to do it. The teaching today is that Jesus is the resurrection and the life, and that whoever believes in him (who is our Brother) will never die but live as a brother and sister forever!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Homily – June 1, 2010 – St. Justin

+ Today we celebrate the feast of a noted saint in the early second century: Justin, who was actually born in Palestine, moving later to Rome. He was a pagan philosopher who converted to Christianity at the age of 30 by reading the Scriptures (thus really coming into contact with the living person of Jesus in his word) and witnessing the heroism and faith of the martyrs of the church – and during this time of heavy persecution, there were many martyrs. Justin used his philosophical and oratorical skills to dispute with pagans and explain the faith, becoming one of the first great Christian apologists. His writings on Baptism and Eucharist are noteworthy. He opened a school of public debate in Rome. Of course, all this naturally brought him to the attention of the authorities and under the persecution of Marcus Aurelius he died a martyr's death, himself, in 165.

Our readings today are especially chosen for the feast: it is as though Justin and St. Paul were talking to the same people – and in fact they were only about a generation or two apart: Paul talks about the really wise one, the really smart intellectual, the really philosophically learned one: this would be the one who was not just a clever debater on the human level, but rather one who clearly understood the message of the cross of contradiction – that power comes from weakness, strength comes from foolishness. But, this understanding can only be gotten by faith. Both Paul and Justin knew that the philosopher can only go so far, and then the theologian in us must take over in order to thoroughly satisfy our ardently longing soul!

In the gospel passage Jesus insists that there is no compromise in the truth of his message and that persecution and even death may come to those who – being filled with the spirit – spend their lives being salt and light for the world. Christians, especially Catholic Christians are called to make a real difference in the world in which they live – here and now. If we do not, then we are not obeying Jesus and his commandment to take care of one another and love one another. We are truly brothers and sisters to each other and we owe it to each other to lay down our lives!

Let your light (the light of an exemplary life) shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.

May 22 - 5th Week of Easter - Wednesday

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