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, November 25, 2012

Homily 11-25-2012 Christ's Kingdom and Our Lives

 Before he was martyred in 1927 in Mexico because he was a priest who administered the sacraments to the people of God against the will of the anti-religious government, the last words of Blessed Miguel Pro were, “Viva Cristo Rey! Long Live Christ the King!” This phrase was made more popular by the establishment of today's solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Pope Pius XI established it to remind the faithful that, despite the growing nationalism that demanded supreme authority and faithfulness to the state, it was indeed God alone who deserved our full service. It is a reminder that we obey God, and not man, even if, like Blessed Miguel Pro, we must suffer for it. (Miguel, by the way, held out his arms in the sign of the cross before the firing squad to remind us that his suffering was one with Christ's crucifixion).
We give total obedience to God alone because He alone is the one that will save us. It won't be educational systems, it won't be government programs, it won't be Woodstock, and it won't be saving the environment. The person on the cross alone saves us, so don't put your trust in anyone or anything else. Not only can He save us, He will. He already does, if we are open to the life of the Spirit.
No, in the end, Christ the King will reign over the entire universe. The power struggle that we all know so well will be no more. My Kingdom is not of this world means that it is not governed as this world governs. Herod, the tetrarch during Christ's birth had three of his own children put to death, whereas Pontius Pilate would not bat an eye to administer mass crucifixions in order to stop potential uprisings in the territory. This constant fight for domination will no longer be the state of affairs. God alone will rule, and his reign is of service and peace. This is why He distances himself from Pilate's questions.
When we say Thy Kingdom come, the fact is it will come, no matter what. We pray to conform our hearts to it now so that, when it comes, it is a joy for us and not a suffering. For that kingdom means freedom from selfishness, freedom from sin, freedom from the pain that sin brings upon us all; it means fullness of peace in our hearts and in our communities, fullness of joy, fulness of communion with God and with others. If we don't let go of our sins, our selfishness, the passing things of this world that never satisfy our deepest longings, then we will not be glad when the Lord returns and establishes his reign.
Thy Kingdom Come!” means more than “please return and fix all this,” but also is a promise that we will do our part (and a plea for help in doing it). Baptism in the threefold office of Christ. Under the office of king, we order our world under the kingship of Christ. Bringing this about requires religious freedom: which means not freedom from religion in the public sphere, but freedom for its genuine and full expression. The saints show us clearly, time and again, that religion is not against society, but indeed promotes it. What caused the creation of the hospital system, the various outreaches begun by St. Vincent de Paul, St. Marianne Cope, St. Katherine Drexel, St. Elizabeth Anne Seton, and so many others? It was clearly their deep conviction in their religious beliefs that God demands justice and love for every human being, no matter how small, weak, or different. Indeed, the saints show us that when Christ is King in our hearts and in our world, then we truly begin to experience the love and peace that He promises us.
Let us pray “Thy Kingdom Come!” every day in everything we do. With every breath may our lives exclaim “Viva Cristo Rey! Long Live Christ the King!” And as we prepare for his future kingdom, we make a throne in our souls for the Lord Jesus to reign this day, when we receive Him in Holy Communion.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Homily 11-18-2012 Prophecy of the End Times

Today we begin that part of every year when we as a Church recall the end. This is a statement of faith that the end (which is the end of the world, not of us) is not foreign to us, not unimportant for our lives right now. We have to live in a way that conforms to the end that, one way or another, we will all participate in. We don't know when, but we know for sure it is our common fate.

I just spent four days this week beginning a 1½ year process of continuing formation in the priesthood, and we spent these days mostly growing in self-understanding and self-growth so that I can be a better priest. No promises yet on that! But I can say that I saw somethings more clearly about myself. I don't like change, I don't like interruptions, I don't like taking huge risks. I can handle these things, but they are a little harder for me to do. Well, imagine that I was receiving phone calls and e-mails or text messages from my parents asking if they can visit a couple days up here before Thanksgiving. What would happen if I never responded to those calls or messages? How would I feel when I have to go see them on Thursday? I'd feel bad, embarrassed, ashamed for not giving them the time of day. They may even pull out the old wooden spoon again!

Well that is what God is calling us to now as we look forward to the end of our days. If we prepare for it, there is nothing to fear. If we ignore it, we will be embarrassed and ashamed.

The prophets we so often hear from are individuals whose main goal is to save us from that kind of shame in our relationship with God. Others may suffer from the terror of cosmic aloneness, but the prophet is overwhelmed by the grandeur of divine presence. He is incapable of isolating the world. There is an interaction between man and God which to disregard is an act of insolence. Isolation is a fairy tale. ...God came first, and the task is how to live in a way compatible with His presence. Man's coexistence with God determines the course of history. The prophet disdains those for whom God's presence is comfort and security; to him it is a challenge, an incessant demand. God is compassion, not compromise; justice, though not without clemency. The prophet's predictions can always be proved wrong by a change in man's conduct, but never the certainty that God is full of compassion. The prophet's word is a scream in the night. While the world is at ease and asleep, the prophet feels the blast from heaven. (The Prophets, vol I. A. J. Heschel, Hendrickson, 17)

That scream in the night at the world's injustice is supposed to be a wake-up call, a spark that ignites a blaze of transformation. If it doesn't, we can be sure our hearts are hard, our ears are deaf.

We hear today the various uses of apocalyptic language – which speaks of cosmic warfare and the intervention of God to set things right, even the acts of decreation like the stars falling from the sky in the Gospel. Although these extreme images are meant to be shocking, they need not be all that frightening for us. As we said, if (like the scenario with my parents) we respond to the wake-up call, and are in right relationship with God, there is nothing to fear. Because the great battle of heaven and earth has indeed already been fought on Calvary Hill; God has intervened in the world and conquered sin through the Resurrection; and we are baptized into that mystery, we are the body of Christ. Moreover, the archangel Michael is still with us to defend us in this battle for our salvation.
Furthermore, as scary as the end might seem, let us not forget that the end is not foreign to us, because the End is already here. Every Mass we see the last battle and the great victory of God's love. And in the Confessional we experience the judge whose mercy is great for those with sorrowful hearts and the resolve to change. May the Eucharistic Lord prepare our hearts anew to live in the present with the heaven always in our minds and hearts.

Homily 11-11-2012 Giving All for God - Zarephath and Lisieux

 How much does God ask of you to give? The answer is simple: everything; your entire self.
Today's story of the widow of Zarephath shows us the beauty of Jewish spirituality, which is so fully human: it is tragic and honest, it is comical, it is deeply spiritual at the same time. First, it's a human tragedy – a woman without anyone to provide for her and apparently without any help from her wider community is starving to death with her son. Yet, there is also a sort of comedy here, if the story itself wasn't such a terrible thing. Because into this scene comes the prophet who has caused the drought in the first place, and he asks for water and some piece of bread. Yet after he hears she is awaiting death, he only ups the ante: “Before you do that, please go make me a small cake!”
But this is more than just that, because the story is not about entertainment, it is a lesson about the ways of God. And this third level of the story is the most important: on a deeply spiritual level, God is teaching us something here. The Lord God meets these characters in a seemingly ordinary exchange. He tests this woman's faithfulness and her trust, and he rewards her for her generous response to His invitation. She doesn't starve; rather, she survives on the same oil and flour for a year.
So here we see the theme that I started with. How much does God ask you to give? Everything; your entire self.
The same thing is present in the Gospel today. God invites us to give and give until we feel like we cannot give any more, and then, to give whatever is still left. The widow today places her two small coins, her entire livelihood, all that she had, in the temple treasury. This is a symbolic act of giving everything over to God. And only when we give everything over to God does our faith truly manifest itself. When, in the end, we have nothing left to trust in, not our government or our job or our individual gifts and talents, but only God alone, then we can show our faith. Then, even the smallest actions like making a cake or giving 50 cents away, really are transformed into something beautiful and become a powerful act of faith in God. Therese of Lisieux affirms the important of these small acts of giving in her Little Way to Heaven, which simply says, by doing small things with great love, we are giving everything to God because we are placing ourselves in the gift, just like the two widows put themselves in their gifts today.
Why does God ask us to give, and give, and give? We give everything because God gives everything. (CCC) In the Cross, in this Eucharist which makes that Cross present to us, we see God give. Let us ask our Lord to help us give Him all, to put ourselves in our giving by the love we place in it, especially when it is difficult!
CCC 2011 – The charity of Christ is the source in us of all our merits before God. Grace, by uniting us to Christ in active love, ensure the supernatural quality of our acts and consequently their merits before God and before men.