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, June 30, 2013

Homily 6-30-2012 God and Mission before Country and Freedom (and guitar)

Homily 6-30-2012 God and Mission before Country and Freedom (and guitar)
 Today we are presented with the dilemma of freedom and mission. We, like Christ, are invited to freely accept the mission that God has for us. Last week, Jesus told us that although he was the Christ, he was going to be rejected, suffer, and die – and we were commanded to take up our cross and follow Him.
Now today, He turns to Jerusalem. Perhaps Our Lord has seen enough suffering and pain in this world and now knows that He must once and for all see evil conquered definitively by the Cross. Although Jesus is free, he does not use this freedom, in the words of St. Paul “as an opportunity for the flesh,” that is, for worldly comforts and avoidance of pain. No, He has a sense of mission that places demands on His freedom.
Freedom. This one word summarizes the “great experiment” that is the United States of America. Freedom is worth fighting for, but freedom is not our God, and freedom cannot be separated from truth and from Goodness, especially from the common good. Freedom is not absolute for the Christian, because we always, at every moment and in every part of our life, have a prior relationship that makes demands on us: our life is a gift, our freedom is a gift, our talents are gifts, and they must be used well.
So what is freedom for? Well, Paul tells us and Christ shows us. Saint Paul says to us: “Do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love.” Jesus shows us: he looks to Jerusalem, “setting his face like flint” meaning “never turning back or getting distracted,” embracing His Passion because He knows it is His Mission.
What is our mission? As Christians in this time and this place, what are we called to? How are we asked to use our freedom?
In college, I was taking a guitar class, where I was individually instructed by a very good teacher who especially played Jazz music. Since I never took classes at this college before, he was a bit unsure of my skill level, but when he saw I had a good foundation, I could tell he was excited about the prospect of having an ambitious student. However, there were definitely times when I didn't practice as diligently as I should because I was getting distracted by other responsibilities, and it was clear that he was in some ways deflated by the fact that we wouldn't get as far as he hoped during that semester.
My teacher wanted a committed student who would practice every day, not some days, for 15-30 minutes. The United states wants full-hearted citizens who buy in to the “american dream” and care for their country. Jesus wants committed disciples, not half-hearted “fans” who might every once in a while “like” his Facebook status (if He had one) or follow Him on Twitter (if He had one). (By the way, the Pope has a Twitter acount: https://twitter.com/Pontifex)

So what happens when the world demands the same thing God demands of me? It goes to God. I read my theology and do my prayers when my teacher says “practice guitar.” I promote Church teaching on human life and the family when the media says “hooray, supreme court,” and separates freedom from truth. I make the sign of the Cross and genuflect to the tabernacle before I salute the flag and sing the national anthem, or even better, “God Bless America.” For indeed we have and cherish our freedom. But even more, we have and cherish our mission to follow Christ, even to the Cross.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Homily 6-23-2013 Daily Crosses and Deep Hurts Healed

 God sent His Son, the Messiah, to heal us where we really need it – from our sins and their consequences.
People have a tendency, perhaps it is because of our weakness and concupiscence, to ignore where we are really hurting, or pretend it's not that bad. I remember at times as a kid (and still perhaps today) when I would pretend everything was alright although I had just fallen flat on my face and scraped up my hands pretty bad or something. We don't like to be embarrassed – and nothing is more embarrassing than getting hurt, by our own fault, in public. We do this with our sins: we hurt ourselves (while at the same time hurting others). So maybe that is why we don't admit that we have been hurt and are continuing to hurt ourselves by our sins: it's kind of embarrassing since it's our fault.
Another thing we do, to distract us from those things that are really hurting us the most: we focus on other little pains of everyday life: strains in our relationships, the harsh word or deed from a stranger at the store or on the road, the unfortunate turn of events that put our plans in disarray. I'm not saying these are not real pains we experience, but that there are much deeper ones we live with.  In this world of noise – of billboards, of 3-second quotes on the radio, of loud advertisements grasping for our attention – it is so easy to lose focus on the important but seemingly not urgent because so many other things are seemingly important and urgently demanding of our time and attention (though they really don't deserve it).
This makes the woman in last week's reading, who had that healthy kind of sorrow for her sins that was healed by the knowledge that she was still loved by God in Jesus. She didn't pretend she was alright or ignore here deepest pains. She took them right to him. And only when we show the doctor where we hurt can we be healed.
Jesus Christ, the Messiah, came to save us from what really hurts us – our sins and their consequences, the greatest consequence being death.  And he did this by the Cross. The Cross is what saves us, what heals us.
The Cross is a paradox: “whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” This doesn't make sense to us on a literal level. We have to look at a spiritual sense that goes beyond our common sense in order to understand this. And really, we will never “get it” unless we do it.
Carrying the Cross means being in touch with our life at its deepest.  It means not ignoring the pains we have.  It means holding on to them, praying through them, lifting up and offering the pain on this altar every Sunday, so that we can experience the Resurrection.
 Carrying the Cross is hard for me, it is hard for all of us. Some days we might have apparently less challenges, but we all know the struggles are there, the pains run deep and are sometimes ignored, the vocation is meant to seep into all that we are. One thing that helps me in difficult times is the witness of others. Here in the parish Fr. Bill and I witness you and those sitting around you at the highest and lowest parts of life. The witness of your faith, carrying your Crosses (which so often we can't predict) has helped me to carry mine. As I witness the new life the Lord gives you, I am inspired to do the same. Thank you for your faithful witness.

Here at Mass we are able to reset our focus. Today we are invited to put our attention on where we are really hurting – on our true crosses – to not distract ourselves with the surface of our lives, but to look into the center of ourselves and find The Lord present there, wishing to heal us through them.  And in this Eucharist, we place our crosses and our pains on the altar with faith in His rising.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Homily 6-16-2013 Love and Sorrow - Two Signs of Growth in Holiness

Today's Gospel and first reading are cases of a “wake-up call.” Both King David and the unnamed Pharisee needed a huge reality check to remember who they truly were and that they had sinned before God. The temptation is there for us all to think that we have our life all in order, all of our ducks in a row, and are sort of the spiritual elite above the “low-class” sinners around us.
Pride, my friends, is the root of all sin, from the first sin of Adam (to be come like gods) through the angel of light, Lucifer, whose non serviam!, “I will not serve!” is a temptation for us all, all they way to the sins of our own lives, of our world. King David forgets who he was, where he came from. The Pharisee forgets that any virtue he has is not something he created from nothing, but that God had fostered in his heart, probably to a great extent through the help of his parents and friends (and also his religious practices of reading and meditating upon God's law).
Let us turn our pride into the humility of our Lord Jesus, who said Ego serviam!, “I will serve!,” even to the point of the Cross and Death. Let us remember Our Lady, Notre Dame, the only one free from sin, who never held it over others and puffed herself up, but humbly served her cousin Elizabeth in her need. Let us remember that we are dust, that our holiness is not our own, and that we are just as fragile as David – capable of slipping into the worst of sins if we are not faithful to God's will with constancy and perseverance. The spiritual life leaves no room for standing still, we are either moving forward or falling backward. We can't fall into David's trap of complacency.
One trick for growth in holiness is shown in today's Gospel: we need to be like the woman who comes to Jesus with sorrow. Now there are two types of sorrow: a destructive sorrow that leads to discouragement, self-pity, and despair, so that we abandon our regimen of holiness; and a healthy, life-giving sorrow that leads to honest self-awareness, a deep-seated gratitude for God's mercy, and a hopeful vision for the future that inspires us to continue in the struggle.
As we acknowledge our sins, we are called to show this second type, this hopeful sorrow, which can only come from not focusing on ourselves and our pride, but focusing on Our Lord. The woman didn't care about what others were thinking, she knew she was loved, and that relationship with Jesus was the most important thing to her. A healthy sorrow is centered on a relationship of love. Love is the source of true sorrow and of holiness.

This is what Christianity is all about. We won't get far in our spiritual lives without following David's model of humble confession, without taking this woman's example of sorrow and love. We need to keep that sense of sorrow about our past sins, a sort of hatred for what sin is (a slap in the face of God) and what it does. We must allow that healthy sorrow to spur us on to love Christ ever more deeply. The more we love, the more we are forgiven. Let us ask Jesus today to give us sorrow, a healthy sorrow, a hopeful sorrow. Let us show him we love Him.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Homily 6-9-2013 Tragedy and Salvation: God is Stronger

"For we are like olives, only when we are crushed do we yield what is best in us."
- excerpt from The Talmud

 Before we reach heaven, we are never free from hard times. All kinds of tragedy can befall us, and the greatest tragedies are physical death and mortal sin, spiritual death.  Yet in both of these, we see God is stronger than death.
The widow of Zarephath and the widow in today's Gospel present us today with the tragedy of physical death. Death is never easy. Death is an evil we must suffer, just as we suffer pain. Evil is an absence of a good that should be present. (All sin is a lack of love and of truth). We can't understand death, nor any evil, because it is inherently against reason.
However, God can create something from nothing – from the shapeless void he made the entire universe. While science can explain the universe, for example the Big Bang, it cannot explain beyond the universe, like where the Big Bang, so to speak, got it's dynamite and fuse. God can create from absolutely nothing. Where there is any evil, any absence of good, such as death, God can bring good through it by his creative power. Thus euthenasia – falsely described as “mercy killing” - is never acceptable because is deprives us of the most foundational gift that God has given us: Life. It is also despair: giving up, rejecting the cross' power to save us.
Saint Paul today presents us with the horror of spiritual death. I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it.” The shame that Paul carries for being so tragically wrong about Jesus is only healed by his trust in God's merciful forgiveness. His sins hurt both him and many others, but the Lord God has healed him (and many others) through his creative power. This is why Paul works so tirelessly for the Gospel: to make up for his failings and to share his joy with all.
When Jesus looked upon the funeral procession in today's Gospel and was moved with a gut-wrenching compassion, I can't help but think that he must have thought of his own mother. Mary also would be a widow losing her only Son, seemingly without anyone left in the world to provide for and protect her. No one knows the evil of death and the horror of sin more perfectly than she, just as no one knows the darkness of a cave except those who live under the full radiance of daylight.
Our Lord's miracle and the miracle of the prophet Elijah both reflect the glory of the resurrection and foretell it. It shows us that in God, the Cross transcends time, even in reverse, but also into the future, into our own time and place.
“God has visited His People.” This is the same thing we proclaim when remembering the gift of the Eucharist.

Here our Lord Jesus come to us in our tragedies, bringing the pain of the cross but also the victory of the Resurrection. If we are faithful and seek the Lord's healing, than God who created something from nothing can bring the good of His Love into the darkness of our pain and tragedy. May we have the faith to let our Lord touch us, and may the Blessed Mother encourage us in that faith.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Homily 6-2-1013 The Body of the Lord - Give & Take

Ordination
Stewardship
Give & Take
Mother Teresa of Calcutta
adoration with Pope

Blessing: God blesses us, we bless God.

Tues: Think of Mother Teresa: what does the spirit of the world say of Mother Teresa? 'Ah, Blessed Teresa is a beautiful woman, she did a lot of good things for others ...'. The spirit of the world never says that the Blessed Teresa spent, every day, many hours, in adoration ... Never! It reduces Christian activity to doing social good. As if Christian life was a gloss, a veneer of Christianity. The proclamation of Jesus is not a veneer: the proclamation of Jesus goes straight to the bones, heart, goes deep within and change us.

[http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/05/28/pope_at_mass:_following_christ_is_not_a_career,_it_is_the_way_of_th/en1-696136]

Thurs:
...
Jesus this evening gives Himself to us in the Eucharist, shares our same journey – indeed, He becomes food, real food that sustains our life even at times when the going is rough, when obstacles slow down our steps. The Lord in the Eucharist makes us follow His path, that of service, of sharing, of giving – and what little we have, what little we are, if shared, becomes wealth, because the power of God, which is that of love, descends into our poverty to transform it.

Let us ask ourselves this evening, adoring the Christ truly present in the Eucharist: do I let myself be transformed by Him? Do I let the Lord who gives Himself to me, guide me to come out more and more from my little fence to get out and be not afraid to give, to share, to love Him and others?

Discipleship, communion and sharing. Let us pray that participation in the Eucharist move us always to follow the Lord every day, to be instruments of communion, to share with Him and with our neighbor who we are. Then our lives will be truly fruitful. Amen. [
http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/05/30/pope:_homily_for_corpus_christi_[full_text]/en1-696991]