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!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Homily Sunday May 25 - A Promise Keeper - Our Heavenly Father andearthly fathers.

Homily Sunday May 25 - A Promise Keeper -  Our Heavenly Father and earthly fathers.

Our God keeps His promises.

I've been very lucky to have a great family growing up.  You've heard about my grandma and grandpa, how after almost 68 years she was called home holding his hand in the house they raised their nine children in.  Well, this Gospel made me think about my own parents when Jesus speaks to the disciples like they are his children.

I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept,because it neither sees nor knows him.  But you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

Our God keeps His promises.  We are all His children, and his Son died for us all, not just an elite religious group.  And His Spirit is given for us all if we are open to it, just like the unrefined Samaritans.

We need to be promise keepers, too.

I read a book my first year of college by a popular protestant author John Eldredge called Wild at Heart. One of the chapters said that every one of us has a "father wound", because our earthly fathers could never perfectly love us.  We are all fighting against sin and evil both in the world and in our own hearts, and we all fall short.
Statistics of children growing up without a father in the home are pretty harsh.  71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average.   (National Principals Association Report)  
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes – 32 times the average.
  • 85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average. (Fulton Co. Georgia, Texas Dept. of Correction)
This wound won't be healed by money, therapy, better grades, athletic success, material objects, or trips to Europe.  What they need to heal is the Gospel, the Good News of God's love.  And that love has to be lived right in front of their eyes in mom and dad.  And if life has caused some scars of brokenness that are too deep for that to happen, then mom and dad should do everything they can given the circumstances.  The parents, moms and dads, are the ones who show their kids that they are loved and valued.  If they don't show it, what could anyone do to make the children believe it?
My dad (and mom), however, prevented a lot of that "father wound" from us kids.  And here's three simple ways he did it.  
First, He just didn't quit.  Dad never stopped loving, forgiving, and being with me.  That's it.  Refuse to lose.  No gimmicks, no "one-liners" that wash away all of our mistakes, no tricks.  He persevered in being a father.
Secondly, Dad loved mom.  He showed it.  They didn't scream or fight or call names.  They hugged, and kissed, and shared household chores.  That is in fact good parenting, because it is that love, consecrated in the marriage covenant, that is the source of the family.
Thirdly, Dad kept his promises.  He got me to practices and games on time, bought me birthday gifts, supported my choice to be a priest, and even grounded me when he said he would.  That's promise keeping, and that helped me to know that God's promises can be trusted.  Our God keeps His promises, and He does not leave us orphan.
Let us pray that our earthly fathers can model this love of the Heavenly Father.



Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope,... For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Happiness

Today Our Lord tells us in an unmistakably clear way that He is alone the answer to the deepest questions of our life.
All the important work of philosophy are summed up in these fundamental questions: What is life all about?  What should I do? What can I know? What can I hope for?  These are all questions oriented toward our fulfillment and our happiness.
However, you all know that happiness and success depend on how you define them and how you answer those deep fundamental questions about why we are here on this earth.
Remember that the real answer for the deepest questions of our life is Christ Jesus Himself.  The problems of our world stem from the fact that people fall for other definitions of happiness or success that do not fully reach to Christ.

I recently heard a talk from a very very bright priest who defined four levels of happiness based on the collective genius of over 150 of the greatest philosophers of our world.  In Fr. Spitzer's Article, he outlines those four types of happiness in this way.
First and lowest are physical things and experiences: a cool swim on a hot day, a deliciously prepared meal, and the excitement from driving a sports car.  This is instant gratification, but when they're gone, so too goes the delight of them.  Now, these are good as long as they aren't sinful, but they can't make you happy forever, and soon you get past their allure and seek for something higher.
Level 2 happiness is all about me: the ego-driven, self-aggrandizing, praise-hungry, power-seeking, self-made man who glories in being on top.  It's not surprise that about 2/3 of Americans are stuck in this category of comparing ourselves to others and defining our value based off of others, instead of how God loves us.  Success is not bad, but the problem is when it alone becomes the definition of our happiness and, since there's never any stopping this race for the top, it will eventually leave us jaded and bitter.  Focusing solely on personal achievement can take up a big chunk of our lives, unless we move to the next level of happiness.
Level 3 Happiness derived from doing good for others and making the world a better place.  Level 3 happiness is more enduring because it is directed toward the human desire for love, truth, goodness, beauty, and unity.  This is focused on contributing to the common good, whether in a team, an organization, a local community, a parish, or in the world.  This turns our heart more directly toward what we are called to.  As Mother Teresa says, we were created to love and to be loved.  This begins to get us there and satisfy our hearts more deeply.
Level 4 Ultimate, perfect happiness. When others fall short of our ideals, or we fall short ourselves, we’re disappointed. This disappointment points to a universal human longing for transcendence and perfection. We don’t merely desire love, truth, goodness, beauty, and unity; we want all of these things in their ultimate, perfect, never-ending form. All people have this desire for ultimacy, which psychologists call a desire for transcendence – a sense of connection to the larger universe. Some express this desire through spirituality and religious faith. Others express the same longing through philosophy, through art, or through scientific efforts to solve the mysteries of life and the universe. 

This is where today's Gospel comes in: Jesus is the way the truth and the Life.  We begin to discover that He is the one we were seeking all along.  Here we can finally say with St. Augustine, "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you."




Saturday, May 10, 2014

Homily 5-11-2014 The Shepherd's Voice Today? 4 Ways God speaks to us and leads us to life.

 Most homilies require a sort of image or illustration to bring home the point. Today, the Lord Jesus provides that image with the simple description of a shepherd and his sheep. King David (Ps. 23) was a shepherd. He saw how similar is the behavior of sheep to the spiritual lives of God's people, first and foremost in his own fickle heart. We wander away, out of safety, and expose ourselves to life-threatening dangers. Yet David realizes that God is like a good shepherd. 1. God provides for us. 2. God searches for us. 3. God leads us. (2nd reading: Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.) 4. God redirects us, corrects us, when we are heading for danger. For you had gone astray like sheep, but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.
Jesus calls Himself the gate as well, so He is the one through whom we must pass to reach the eternal pastures of heaven that the Father wants to bring us towards. The sheep, Christ says, hear the voice of the shepherd and know Him, and Him alone do they follow. This is true, but somehow we also get distracted in this life and follow other voices, or perhaps we just drown out the voice of God with all the noise of this world.

Where do we hear God today? Where is the shepherd calling to us?
1. All people have God's voice speak to them in their conscience.
CCC 1776 and Vatican II (GS 16) "Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment. . . . For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. . . . His conscience is man's most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths."
2. Certainly God speaks to us at times when we pray, but often it is not as clear as we would want it! If we always got straight and immediate answers in our prayer, the lottery and practically all of Las Vegas would go bankrupt! “God what are the winning numbers? Oh, thank you, thank you!” No, God doesn't speak to us in that way when we pray. However, there are other ways God clearly talks to us.
3. Christians have the voice of God in Sacred Scripture: CCC 104 and Vatican II (DV 21;24): In Sacred Scripture, the Church constantly finds her nourishment and her strength, for she welcomes it not as a human word, "but as what it really is, the word of God". "In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet his children, and talks with them.
4. But even more, as Catholics, we have the living voice of God reach us through the Church hierarchy. CCC 890: The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium's task to preserve God's people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church's shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals.
On account of their office, Bishops are shepherds, the successors of the apostles who were spiritual shepherds. We profess them to be guided by the Holy Spirit. Now, this doesn't make them perfect like the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are capable of all kinds of mistakes when it comes to economics, astrophysics, and Mathematics; but the voice of God reaches us when they speak definitely and universally about matters of faith and morals. This is how the One Shepherd, God, keeps his sheep from the brambles, cliffs, and wolves of this world of sin and evil. It's like a mother's voice (or father's voice, but hey, it's Mother's Day!) telling us when we are putting ourselves or others in danger. Parents call their children back to safety; that's shepherding!
We Catholics should be very thankful to have good shepherds, both now and in our recent past. Saints John XXIII and JPII, now Pope Francis. Bishop D'Arcy, now Bishop Rhoades.
We must pray for our shepherds, that they live their vocation well, that they model for us the path to holiness, that they lead us through the one and only gate of Christ Jesus so we can find our eternal pastures of peace.
In this Eucharist, let us ask the Good Sheopherd to help us hear his voice in our conscience, in our prayer, in Sacred Scripture, and in the teaching office of our One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.


First communicants, the Good Shepherd is calling you today to the reception of Holy Communion. This great gift is the banquet we heard about in Psalm 23, and indeed we have nothing more we can want, because in this gift God gives us everything. I call you to follow me now to the Baptism font as you renew your faith in that Shepherd of your souls who leads you to heaven in this banquet of the Eucharist.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Homily Sunday 5-4-2014 Emmaus and Us

This story is the basis for the title of my blog where I post my homilies: Two Disciples on the Road. This story, often title “the road to Emmaus” or just “Emmaus,” is a masterpiece of literary and theological work thanks to Luke's ability to see the events of history in their wider context. While we could explore so much about “Emmaus,” I want to focus myself to three points which could really be three homilies.

The first two points are quick ones.
1- God is there whether we recognize Him or not. More often than not, we don't realize where God is in our lives, but we have to remember in faith that He never abandons us. How many of us remember our guardian angel? He's always with us to watch over us, this Church is full of them, but we often to fail to recognize it. Yet, they are still there. Have confidence that God never abandons you.

2- To have communion in the Church, we need to be going the right way. The reason the two disciples were going to Emmaus is not given, and the destination is today a kind of mystery, so we don't know if the town itself might have implied something to the Christians. But this is certain, they were heading away from the Christian community. Their faith was kind of shattered because Jesus wasn't the Messiah they had hoped for. By the end of the story, after Jesus sets them straight about the role of the Messiah, they turn around and head back. They stop, have a change of heart, and are re-incorporated in the body of the Church. This required a conversion because they were headed in the wrong direction, and it might mean the same for us in parts of our lives. What do we have to change in order to be in full communion with the Church?

3- Lastly, Emmaus is the Mass. Luke notices the connection between this story and the life of prayer of the early church, which we know well thanks to Justin Martyr's account. The Catechism, paragraph 1345 summarizes his outline of the Mass: On the day we call the day of the sun, all who dwell in the city or country gather in the same place. The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much as time permits. When the reader has finished, he who presides over those gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things. Then we all rise together and offer prayers* for ourselves . . .and for all others, wherever they may be, so that we may be found righteous by our life and actions, and faithful to the commandments, so as to obtain eternal salvation. When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss. Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides over the brethren. He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks (in Greek: eucharistian) that we have been judged worthy of these gifts. When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying: 'Amen.' When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those whom we call deacons give to those present the "eucharisted" bread, wine and water and take them to those who are absent.

The same outline that we do today is alluded in the Emmaus story, where the Christians are met by Christ, discuss the scriptures, and then gather for a meal where Christ is revealed to be present among them, and they are sent as witnesses.
Perhaps most improtantly is the final part about the Eucharist. The “breaking of the bread” is the Eucharist; and the Eucharist is the meaning of life: Cross, Love. This is the same 'key' that Jesus shows the disciples on the road to help them unlock the meaning of the Old Testament. It is the key for us, too, at every Mass, when Calvary is presented to us, and the Risen Jesus feeds us.