Audio Available!

Audio Available!
Be sure to check out in each blog post the links to the audio recordings of my homilies. They are at the beginning of each post! Also, look to the right for links to Audio from other good resources!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

5/20/2012 Heaven Opened to a Humanity Fallen and Restored

Today in the feast of the Ascension of Our Lord, which our diocese has moved from last Thursday to today, Jesus Christ has taken our human nature into heaven, even into the Blessed Trinity itself, the ultimate destiny God has created us for. In Jesus, God has come down from heaven to earth, even to the realm of the dead, with one specific mission, to reunite man to God in a definitive and irrefutable way. That goal is now accomplished for us, since Christ, in His very humanity, has gone up through the clouds to His Father. Sitting at the Father's right hand, His kingdom has begun throughout the entire world within His Church. As God-united-with-man, He never ceases to intercede for the human nature He has redeemed by His Resurrection and continues to bear into eternity.

We, like the disciples, perhaps watch in astonishment. But the angels, whom those disciples had hardly noticed right in front of them, remind us to get our heads out of the clouds and get down to business! While our hearts and minds remain in heaven, our hands and feet are still on earth. As Christ has fulfilled His mission in His Ascension, the Church's mission is just beginning, and so the Apostles must make that transition from prayerful learning and training under Christ into pro-active service to the Gospel: both its proclamation and spreading, and also the ministry of love to others. As a parish, we reflect on our own commitment to this service the Gospel demands of us. Do we serve the poor, the outcast, and each other within the one Body of Christ? To help us open our hearts anew to this call from God, I invite Aaron Wall to come forward and share his journey of growth in stewardship of service.

Homily 5-13-2012 What is Love?

Today, the readings focus on love, and so I want you to try to imagine little Fr. Terry kneeling down at age 15 at his wits end with his seven siblings and asking God: “God, why did you put these people in my life?!?” Unfortunately, the frustrated boy only hears God answer back with a kind sense of humor: “Because that is the only way you would love them.” That may not be historically how it happened, but I do learning that lesson of Love along the way of growing up.
First let's get this straight: God defines what love is, not us – and so The Cross is the definition of love. Secondly, love gives life. Any love in our world is diffusive, expansive, contagious. If we love in one part of our life, we will find it easier to love in other parts of our life. If we are generous with our love, we will also help others to be generous with their love.
BXVI Began his pontificate teaching about the central mystery of our faith: who God Himself is. His answer, taken from our reading today, is also the title of the encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, God is Love.
Two Parts: First on God's Love for us, then on our love for others.
p1 Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. Saint John's Gospel describes that event in these words: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should ... have eternal life” (3:16)... Since God has first loved us (cf. 1 Jn 4:10), love is now no longer a mere “command”; it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us.
Here we see that God's love must come first, otherwise we are unable to love.
p18 If I have no contact whatsoever with God in my life, then I cannot see in the other anything more than the other, and I am incapable of seeing in him the image of God...Only if I serve my neighbour can my eyes be opened to what God does for me and how much he loves me. The saints—consider the example of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta—constantly renewed their capacity for love of neighbour from their encounter with the Eucharistic Lord, and conversely this encounter acquired its real- ism and depth in their service to others. Love of God and love of neighbour are thus inseparable, they form a single commandment.
Here Pope Benedict has reechoed Jesus' new commandment from today, which is a sort of requirement for staying in God's grace: “if you love one another as I have loved you, you will remain in me.” God, who loved us into existence and sustains us every single moment by His love, wants us to stay with Him, but we have to freely choose to love, to sacrifice ourselves completely or in part for another, like the Cross.
Families are meant to be schools of love, houses of love, where we courageously, day after day, step out onto the precipice of loving like this so that we can find God ever more deeply in our life. This is not easy! On Mothers day, we remember so many courageous women who have loved in this way, and we take time to thank them, and to pray for their perseverance in that love. We pray for other who are struggling to love that way in the midst of difficulty.
The Church, in many ways, is also a mother to us. She teaches us how to love and to respond to those in need. From her we receive the grace of the sacraments, are taught to hear the word of God, and receive teaching to guide our steps in the truth and freedom of the children of God. Today, in a special way, let us be grateful for: Our mothers, by birth or adoption, who nurtured us and supported us through life. Our Church who takes on the maternal role of guiding us through life. And our Blessed Mother, who protects both the Church and all its members, her sons and daughters. And Let us pray that Our Lord, to whom we come every single Sunday, will continue to strengthen us with the courage to love deeply those around us.

Homily 5-6-2012 Bearing Fruit from the Vine

Apart from me, you can do nothing.
If we try to build our foundation on sand, on ourselves or the things of this world, we will eventually, even if it takes years and years, be tragically devastated.
However, if we remain in Jesus, the vine, we have nothing to fear. If our life is founded upon the Paschal Mystery, on the Golden Rule of loving and giving that God poured into every corner of this universe, then we will have much life.
The image of the Vine reveals to us the three main aspects of this “rule” of life that we see most perfectly in Christ: we draw life from God, we give it away, and through us he bears fruit and gives new life.
But this has to be something real, something concrete. As our second reading from 1st John reminds us, love us more than mere words falling off our lips; love is shown in deed and in truth. Saint Paul, in today's first reading, had not yet proven this to the Church – all they knew is that he was a crazy persecutor of Christians. This is why they are at first skeptical of him and needed the testimony of Barnabas to the manifest actions of Paul, to how he “spoke out boldly” for Christ to the Church. Since fruit cannot be faked (Our Lord says, “a tree is known by its fruit), Paul showed by his actions that he was not just “talking the talk,” but that he indeed was attached to Christ, the Vine.
The sap, the life of the branch, comes from the vine, from the Lord through our prayer and the sacraments of the Church. The sap's life-giving power is meant to be shared, not absorbed selfishly. If no fruits are found, the sap will be cut-off and the branch dried up. We have to bear fruit! This is described in the CCC par. 2074: The fruit referred to in this saying is the holiness of a life made fruitful by union with Christ. When we believe in Jesus Christ, partake of his mysteries, and keep his commandments, the Savior himself comes to love, in us, his Father and his brethren, our Father and our brethren. His person becomes, through the Spirit, the living and interior rule of our activity.
So okay. Fruit of holiness: what does it look like? Well, let's first look at the saints. Their lives are filled with the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. They bore abundant fruit, but not as some would presume, by radical things done once and for all. No, it was by a bunch of small bits of fruit borne over a long period of time, and all those little droplets of love and good works eventually became a tidal wave of great power. So we ourselves should work on little things consistently, perfecting them, never becoming complacent.
Lastly, and here's today's answer: holiness is seen in the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. As I run down this list, I invite you to pick one that sticks out to you and focus on developing it, improving it, perfecting it. Remember, bearing fruit proves you are attached to the vine.
These twelve fruits can be found in CCC 1832: “charity, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity.”
May Christ, the Vine, strengthen us in this Eucharist to bear abundant fruit in our life.