Category: Homilies

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

In these early weeks of the calendar year and ordinary time it appears that we are being called to reflect on some of the basic elements of our faith — the elements that make up the foundation of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Last week, as we focused on the Baptism of Jesus, we learned about the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, particularly as they come through baptism. By following the example of Jesus our Baptism becomes a gateway where we are joined to and share in his life death and resurrection. That point is re-emphasized once again in the second reading from 1 Corinthian’s as we are told that we are joined — body, mind, and soul — to Jesus through this sacrament. By responding to that call our lives become a temple where he dwells. So our readings this weekend create a bridge between baptism and the varied forms of God’s call to us.

You may recall that Samuel was given to the high priest Eli out of his mother Hannah’s gratitude for God answering her prayer to be able to have a child. Eli is the high priest so Samuel has been immersed in a relationship with God and Holy ways of living since the earliest years of his life. In regard to God’s call, this story of Samuel tells us that we may not be able to discern for ourselves when God is speaking to us. It further tells us that even somebody seasoned and attuned to the voice of God may not always be able to understand when God is reaching out. While the call of God is personal and intimate it may require the assistance of the community in discerning and understanding that call. I know that for me, in regards to discerning my call to the permanent diaconate, it was the community that helped me to understand where I was being led and where God needed me to serve. This is why our connection to community and to others with a properly formed consciences is so vitally important to our growth and our call to service in Christ.

The Gospel of John tells us about the call of Andrew and Simon who later will be known as Peter. It appears for Andrew that he has been feeling the promptings of the spirit for many years and as a result has come into the company of John the Baptist. Like we discussed just a moment ago, Andrew’s call seems to come not only from a personal yearning, but from being around a community of believers. 

Simon’s call has a bit of a twist to it. Simon’s brother Andrew reaches out to him and leads him to Christ. I think in this particular instance we are being reminded about the importance of family — about the importance of our connection to those closest to us as a means of preparing our soul for hearing and responding to God’s call. It appears that through this introduction by Andrew, Simon’s life is transformed — a specific calling is understood and the focus of his life is changed.

Unlike the examples given to us in our readings this weekend, God’s call is not in most instances a single event. It is a series of events, a series of calls. For some this call may be very consistent throughout the course of their life and not change very much. For others this call may mean making radical changes in one’s life or one’s plans. Some elements of this call may be very easy while others may challenge us to grow in a direction that we had not thought about previously. Whatever that call may be, or wherever that call may lead, we have no reason to fear for God walks with us. As we have talked about on many previous occasions responding to God’s call may lead us to a joy and a fulfillment we may have never thought possible. As his people, God is communicating with us today. God is calling us today. May we possess that same grace given to Samuel so when our name is being called we can respond “speak Lord for your servant is listening”.

Readings for Sunday, January 17, 2021

The Baptism of the Lord

The third person of the Holy Trinity is a REAL PERSON! He does exist! Do you believe this?

As clear as He was to see in the flames of the Burning Bush by Moses, so He was clearly seen as a waterfall coming down from Heaven and resting upon Jesus when everyone heard the voice of the Father state:

This is my beloved Son, with You I am well Pleased!

In our second reading from Acts, it is clear that the Holy Spirit is directly linked to the life and mission of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is always with Jesus, and never leaves his side.

We as fellow Christians experience the reality of the Holy Spirit in four distinct ways: God’s Love, New Life, Justice, and Holiness.

God’s Love

When you truly love another, don’t you feel the bond between you as being more than human interaction and/or contact? The relationships that we value, honor, treasure, etc. — don’t we give ourselves over to feeling God’s unconditional and all-powerful love in our hearts?

New Life 

In the Nicene Creed that we pray each weekend, it states:

We profess the Holy Spirit to be the Lord, the giver of life.

When we welcome the Holy Spirit into our lives, we experience a profound newness of life — a vitality, an improved relationship with God, a new sense of direction, and simply being at peace.

Justice

When we are open to the Holy Spirit in our lives, we feel compelled to work for the sake of others. We gain courage to do what is right on the behalf of others.

Holiness

The Holy Spirit gives us the gifts we need to respond to the gifts that we received at our baptism. The more that we know God, the more we seem to need Him in our lives.

You are probably wondering how to get close to the Holy Spirit? The answer is pretty simple, just ask Him!

Come, Holy Spirit, Come! 

Pour out the love of God into my broken heart; I need it. 

Pour out mercy, tenderness, and forgiveness, and help me hear the words:

You are my beloved child.


Eric Wight writes the following joke, (and I won’t be surprised if no one gets it): 

One winter morning, an employee explained why he had shown up for work 45 minutes late. 

It was so slippery out that for every step I took ahead, I slipped back two.

The boss eyed him suspiciously.

Oh yeah? Then how did you ever get here?

He said,

I finally gave up, and started for home.


Sometimes our lives can feel the same way, no matter how good our intentions are, we seem to struggle to move forward. No matter what our situations may be, I encourage you to simply ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and the grace to move forward. God calls us to be renewed in his very own life. Let us together approach the Altar of the Lord.

Readings for Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Epiphany of the Lord

Richard Schuler writes this:

Sign seen outside the Lighthouse Baptist Church in St. Louis:

If you’re looking for a sign from God, this is it.

When we are poised with a difficult decision in our life, don’t we all say to God: “just give me a sign!” I know I do. Back in 1984, after my first month in college seminary in Ogdensburg NY, I was really struggling with fitting into Catholic schooling for the first time in my life, and I remember sitting in the chapel, asking God just to give me a sign. Later that afternoon, I was in a car accident that should have killed me, but I walked away without even a scratch, even without wearing a safety belt. I was perfectly healthy, and yet without a vehicle to drive back to New Hampshire, even if I wanted to. I remember being in chapel later that day, and saying to God, “That was not the sign I was looking for!”

And God does enlighten us along our journeys, doesn’t he? Many times, in some very unexpected ways or through the words of a complete stranger.

In today’s Gospel from Matthew, we hear the story of the Epiphany, in which wiseman come a very long way, bringing with them some very odd gifts. Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. We all know by now that these gifts represent kingship, divinity, and redemptive suffering.

These wisemen traveled following a sign from God, a star. Which means they traveled by night. Once that star stopped, the wisemen knew exactly where to go. Once they witnessed the baby Jesus, their lives were forever changed.

If we are ever lucky enough to witness a ‘sign’ from God, and we’re willing to take the leap of faith and follow, even in our darkness, to where God wants us to stop and witness something awesome, may our lives be ever changed for the better!

Amen!

Readings for Sunday, January 3, 2021

Solemnity of Mary

David Coverly from Creators Syndicate writes the following:

God: 

Whew! I just created a 24-hour period of alternating light and darkness on Earth.

Angel:

What are you going to do now?

God:

Call it a day.


In our Old Testament reading from Numbers, the people Israel finally set out for the promised land. They had been at the base of Mt. Sinai for approximately a year. During that one-year period, the people were being formed into a society, a nation, as children of God. Structure was being introduced by forming the military, the priestly class, the educators, etc. — all would serve a purpose, and all would benefit from God’s protection and his generosity. In this reading God prepares a special blessing upon the tribes of Israel.

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, Paul reminds us that Jesus was born into our humanity, in order for all of humanity not to be enslaved by their sins. Basically, He (Jesus), is giving us a way out of enslavement by the forgiveness of our sins, in order for us to live fully by our new inherited freedom. Free as adopted children of God.

In the Gospel of Luke, we hear of God’s message being delivered by an angel to shepherds (simple folk), not to whom you might expect. The shepherds go directly to Bethlehem and reveal the message to Mary and Joseph, that their new-born child is the Messiah and Lord. The shepherds have played an important role in making the message known.

Older Catholics would remember this holy day as the circumcision of the Lord. The circumcision of Jesus is important because it symbolizes his official incorporation into Israel. Jesus is now considered an “insider,” one who has come to save his people. His given name is important. It means, “God saves,” describing not only who he is, but also what he does. It was in 1969, that the holy day’s name was changed to the Solemnity of Mary, meaning Mary’s divine maternity.

On Thursday at 8:00 a.m. I was watching the fireworks on tv from Australia as 2021 officially entered in. I wonder, what will 2021 be like? Hopefully different than 2020!

Will Rogers once said: “Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.”

We call a birth after a pregnancy, a “delivery.” When Mary delivered Jesus, we see “delivery” as a “transfer,” or a “handing over.” She delivers to us the “deliverer!”  

Whatever 2021 ends up bringing us, may we place our trust in the one who truly delivers us. Believe that we are God’s adopted children. And live under God’s protection and generosity.

Amen!

Readings for Friday, January 1, 2021

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

Here is an oldie written by Deacon Tom Sheridan: 

A boy asks his father to use the car and the father responds

No, not until you get a haircut! 

The boy replies,

But father…… Jesus had long hair! 

The father said,

Yeah, but Jesus walked everywhere.


This weekend, we celebrate and honor The Holy Family. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. Sure, we all know the Christmas story by now, but think about the Family as being a Holy structure designed by God — not only to form and hold together a society — but also to create and re-create the reflection of God and our relationship with Him.

From the beginning, God willed that children should hold their parents in high regard and that parents should recognize their children as gifts from God. The Holy Family is our model.

Here’s a little insight: 

If you were to build a house in the 1950’s, that house would have had a front porch. If you were to build a house in the 1960’s, the porch was placed on the side of the house. If you had built a house in the 1970’s, the porch would’ve been built on the back side of the house. In the 1980’s houses were built without a porch, but rather had a “Family Room”.  In the 1990’s houses were built with the family room being in the basement. In 2000, many people moved out of the center of town and into the suburbs. In the 2010’s houses were being built in the woods, and all you can see is the mailbox at an end of a long driveway.

In our world, society can change even when we are not aware of it. We have probably asked ourselves “How did we get to this point?” Over the last 9 months, our world has changed dramatically. How we view and value our families, our communities, and ourselves. Hopefully, no matter what, how we relate to one another has taken on new meaning, for the good.

I received a lot of Christmas cards and gifts this year. The greatest gift was simply talking with my parents on the phone following Christmas morning Mass. I am so lucky to have the parents that God has given me!

As we honor the Holy Family today, let us consider our own families and the gift we are to each other, despite all our differences and disagreements.  May our hearts be filled with gratitude as we prepare to unite as one in the Body of Christ.

Amen!

Readings for Sunday, December 27, 2020

Fourth Sunday of Advent

In today’s Old Testament reading from 2nd Samuel, we hear about King David. Remember, when King David was just a young scrawny boy who used to shepherd sheep? Well, now he is a King! And, in this scripture passage, we hear that the king is doing AWESOME! The kingdom is thriving, the kingdom is at peace — the kingdom is AWESOME as well! King David is relaxing in the HUGE house that he had built for himself. You can picture this, King David goes to the edge of the open window, stretches as he overlooks his kingdom, and then looks down, and what does he notice?  That God is in the Ark, and in a tent! King in a castle, God in a tent???? So, King David decides he is going to build a house for God (not a Temple, but a House). Even Nathan (God’s prophet) approves (probably, he didn’t want to disagree with a king?). So, God tells Nathan that he disapproves. God wants to make sure that King David keeps his humility in check. God wants to make sure King David knows, that He takes great pleasure in residing in the House of David, and therefore in the lineage of David, not a building, but rather a people. King David doesn’t immediately understand this, but eventually he does.  


A little joke by Anonymous: 

A man in Phoenix calls his son in NY a couple of days before Christmas and says, “I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; forty-five years of misery is enough.” “Pop, what are you talking about?” the son screams. “We can’t stand the sight of each other any longer,” the father says, “We’re sick of each other, and I’m sick of talking about this, so call your sister in Chicago and tell her.” Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone. “Like heck they’re getting divorced,” she shouts, “I’ll take care of this.” She calls Phoenix immediately, and screams at her father, “You are NOT getting divorced. Don’t do a single thing until I get there. I’m calling my brother back, and we’ll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don’t do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?” And hangs up.  The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife. “Okay”, he says “they are coming for Christmas and paying their own way.”


The 4 candles of Advent bring forth the Light of Christ into the darkness of our world. We lit the 1st candle for us to be Watchful, our 2nd candle was lit and we became Hopeful, our 3rd candle was lit and we welled up with Joy, and now that all 4 candles are lit, we are called to be filled with Love for each other.

To truly love God, and each other, we all need to be humbled from time to time. Like King David, like the children in the joke, like me and you. To be humbled keeps us focused on what we are preparing to really celebrate.  God taking the initiative to share in our nature Humanity, in order for us to share in his nature Divinity forever!

Let us all be filled with the Light of Christ and truly be watchful, hopeful, joyful, and loving.

Amen!

Readings for Sunday, December 20, 2020

Third Sunday of Advent

The readings over the last two weekends have told us the to watch and to be hopeful. This weekend as we light the rose candle of the third week of advent our readings tell us to be joyful.

The first reading from Isaiah is written as God’s people come back to their land after a long period of exile. We can probably identify with how they are feeling as we too are experiencing a period of exile as we deal with conditions with the pandemic. While they are back home there is still political unrest, there is separation from immediate and extended members of their family and their religious practices have disrupted Given these conditions the people of that time like the people freed from the slavery in Egypt wonder if God brought them back here only to abandon them. The words from Isaiah seek to reassure God’s people they have once again found favor with God, as coming back to the land is a sign that God’s covenant has been renewed. Isaiah tells them although things seem dark now God is aware of their suffering and in God’s time the beauty of their nation and its order will be restored. 

In our second reading this week Saint Paul seeks to help the people in Thessalonica to understand how to live as followers of Christ. It appears that the community there has been too busy managing other people’s affairs and offering correction rather than living out their calling. Saint Paul teaches that we are most like Jesus and attract others to his ways when we live out our faith rather than scrutinizing other people. He reminds them and us we are called to be people of prayer, people who are thankful, and people who are joyful. That being joyful is proof that we believe our true happiness is not anchored in the passing things of this world but in the lasting gifts that come from God.

The Gospel of John focuses on the ministry of John the Baptist. John the Baptist seems to take great joy in preparing people for the coming of the Messiah. He joy is anchored doing his part well. He uses the words of Isaiah to remind them that this has been predicted and what they have been waiting for is in their company yet unrecognized. He encourages people not to focus on him or his role, but to prepare themselves for the one who has the real authority and power — the one who is the answer to their prayers.

As the candles from this and other advent wreaths throughout world permeate the darkness and struggles of our time may they also remind us of our call to be watchful, hopeful and most importantly joyful. Come Lord Jesus come!

Readings for Sunday, December 13, 2020

Second Sunday of Advent

An anonymous little Johnnie joke:

One night his mother told little Johnnie to go out to the back porch and bring in the broom. He said, “Mama, I’m afraid to go out there. It’s dark.”  His mother smiled reassuringly. “You don’t have to be afraid of the dark, Johnnie,” she said. “Jesus is always there. He’ll protect you”.

Little Johnnie looked at his mother and asked, “Are you sure Jesus is out there?”

“Yes, I’m sure,” she said. “He’s everywhere, and he’s always ready to help you when you need him.”

Little Johnnie thought about it for a minute, went back to the door, and cracked it open just a little. Peering out into the darkness, he called, “Jesus?  Would you please hand me the broom?”


Last weekend, the key word that we heard from scripture was watch.

Do you realize that most of us pray when it is dark outside? There’s a greater sense that not only that is something greater than us out there, but we are more in tuned with who we are when we are alone.

Our scripture reading for this weekend of Advent presents us with a pretty simple focus as well… it screams for us to be hopeful!!!!!

In our stillness, our darkness, in our prayers we know that our God hears us — that Jesus is present. Always. He is with us. He will hand us that broom and whatever we truly need!

Our first reading from Isaiah gives us reassurance that the message from God is that of comfort — that He will make the mountains lower and the valleys level; He will do whatever it takes for His people to return to Him.

We must agree that if we are with Him, then that means we are in the promised land. We must not loose focus on who He is! He’s not the promised land; He is God. We must not only be thankful, but we must also worship Him. 

So many people get confused on this one point: we are blessed by God, but we don’t take the place of God! We need Him — always, now, forever! Those who have no dependency on God, fall down the slippery slope of self-destruction.

So, what are we hoping for?

Hope is more than optimism. Hope endures even in impossible situations.

Can you see Jesus everywhere?

Can you see him in the consecrated bread and wine?  

You are about to receive Him in the Eucharist, whether here in our church, or in your hearts at home… receive Him

Be a hope-filled people! Yes, He is here with us now, and yes, He will be with us until the end of time.

Be HOPEFUL!

Readings for Sunday, December 6, 2020

First Sunday of Advent

A little humor from the Los Angeles Times: 

Bob Bayer of Westchester, California, observed that his three-year-old daughter, McCayleigh, was repeatedly watching a Barney Christmas special videotape that she had received as a present for Christmas. Finally, he told her,

Honey, you shouldn’t watch that tape anymore. Christmas is over.

She replied. 

No Daddy, Christmas isn’t over. Christmas is coming.


Kind of feels that way, doesn’t it? As we get older, time just seems to fly! It feels like we just celebrated Christmas a few months ago. Of course, it doesn’t help that we have been hearing Christmas music on the radio since Halloween!

So, here we find ourselves beginning the season of Advent once again, our church decorations have changed from the fall like scenario into a stark contrast of evergreens and purple cloths and vestments. Advent is meant to be a time of penance and preparation. (That is what the purple color reminds us of!) However, we all know when our churches are purple, then the next color is ________.  Yes, white which stands for Celebration & New Life (just like with Lent and Easter).

Advent and Adventure come from the same root word meaning: to take a journey, or look to the horizon. So look not only where we are, but where we are traveling on this spiritual experience.

Our readings this weekend are sort-of a bridge between the old and the new — not centering on the end, but on our new beginnings. Each week, we will see our churches look a little more like Christmas simply because we have already experienced the celebration of Christmas within our lives, we know the story! However, this year we will get to our destination, but the journey will take us on a new path, simply due to the world we are now living in. I encourage you, see this season of Advent, as not only a journey with a climax, but also as a gift from our loving God that will produce many great memories. So, what do you say? Are you willing to take this adventure with me? Come, Lord Jesus, Come!

Readings for Sunday, November 29, 2020

Thanksgiving Day

And now, bless the God of all,
who has done wondrous things on earth;
Who fosters people’s growth from their mother’s womb,
and fashions them according to his will!
May he grant you joy of heart
and may peace abide among you;
May his goodness toward us endure in Israel
to deliver us in our days.


The peace of the Lord be with you. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Today our readings reflect the variety of ways and reasons why we should be thankful to God. As such, it is truly right that we take a day to stop, count our blessings, and thank God who has given those to us. May the peace that this reading speaks of flow through our world, our country, our communities, and our lives.

Let us pray.

Most loving and glorious God we thank you for the life that you have given to us. We thank you for your many blessings. We thank you for walking with us. In these times when there is so much uncertainty we thank you for the promise of your love and the assurance that you’ll ever walk with us, that we are never alone. We ask your blessing upon our world, our communities, our families and our individual lives. We thank you in advance knowing that these prayers will be answered according to your will and in your most perfect time. We thank you for the provision of your grace that allows us to move from moment to moment. We thank you for inviting us into the mystery of creation. As we attempt to reflect your goodness in our lives and through our actions may peace and healing flow through our world helping us to recognize we are one family with you as our Father.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Readings for Thanksgiving Day