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!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Palm Sunday

Saint Thomas in last week's reading when our Lord returns to Judah "Let us go to to die with Him"

Shroud of Turin
Jesus' shroud is bloody, sign of love to the end

Follower of Jesus' "garment"
Passion play: as Simon, as a soldier, I know the terror of being pulled out of the crowd in order to participate in something so horrible. We recoil, we cringe!
When we are baptized we are grabbed like this man in order to share in the Lord's passion
We run away after baptism to save ourselves 

Brian Walch
"this time, if I'm asked to leave, I will stay because I feel called to mix my blood with the blood of Christ for the salvation of these people souls."

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Homily 5th Lent (B Readings)

Audio from 10:30 Mass (click here) Life without Jesus, brothers and sisters, isn't life at all.  I want us to try to appreciate the gift of our faith in Christ Jesus and how He has changed our lives.
The blind man today represents all of us.  Jesus looks upon us with compassion, for we are broken.  This man's is broken by being blind from birth.  All of us, in our souls, are broken by Original Sin.  Original Sin is not a sin by which we are ourselves responsible, but is still a reality we have to live with.  We are blind and broken in lots of ways, as the Catechism describes in pars. 399 & 400:
399      Scripture portrays the tragic consequences of this first disobedience. Adam and Eve immediately lose the grace of original holiness. They become afraid of the God of whom they have conceived a distorted image—that of a God jealous of his prerogatives.
400      The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination. Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man. Because of man, creation is now subject “to its bondage to decay.” Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will “return to the ground,” for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.(1607, 2514, 602, 1008)
If you have any doubts of this brokenness from birth, put a few 2- or 3-year olds down by some toys and sit back and watch.  Eventually there will be stealing, hitting, and wailing and tears.  That's the fallen humanity that Jesus looks upon today and reaches out to heal.  And he doesn't do it just for some "generic" humanity.  Jesus looks at you, comes to you, and heals you in the specific ways that you need it.  We all have specific wounds, unique pains, and particular defects that need healing, comforting, and strengthening by Christ.
Try to imagine your life without Christ Jesus.  What parts of your life has He changed for the better?  I don't know where I would be without God, without a loving Father in Heaven who has promised me a future; without a Savior who would have died on the Cross if I was the only sinner in the world; without the Holy Spirit who is poured into my heart and has shared with me His own divine life so I can become like Jesus, too.  Where would I be if I didn't know that love was at the center of the universe, was the very thing holding it all in existence?  What would my relationships look like?  Would I have ever learned to forgive those who hurt me the most?  Would I be living only for possessions or popularity or power?  Would my sins have gotten the best of me and perhaps even taken my life early?  
Life without Jesus, brothers and sisters, isn't life at all.  This is what Saint Paul is talking about when he says: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
This began for each of us at our Baptism, when we were "enlightened" by Christ, who opens our eyes and starts that journey of healing and restoration that continues throughout our life and will only be complete when we are in heaven and truly see Him face to face.  The more we confess our blindness and our need for healing, the more we live life as it was meant to be.  Today, we come before the Lord Jesus once again, when from this altar the Lord looks upon our brokenness with compassion and wishes to meet every one of us to heal us.  Will we let Him heal us?  Thankful for all Christ has done and all he will do, we once again beg the Light of the World to continue to heal us more and more from our blindness, so we may live fully in His Truth and His Love.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Homily - Jacob's well and us in the eyes of Saint Paul

Today the symbols are numerous. Wells and fountains or springs and a desert and a woman's encounter with Jesus that changed both her life and the lives of many in her town because of her.
All these things are connected by the image of water and how essential it is for life. If you spend some time reflecting on it, water is amazing in its purity, its power, its versatility, and its presence almost anywhere on this earth. That is why water is such a great biblical symbol of the Holy Spirit. As essential as water is to our physical life, so too is the Holy Spirit to our spiritual life.
I think there are two ways to take this image of Jacob's well that we see today. First, that well is an image of us. We have in our hearts - which for the Bible means the core and center of our being, a combination of our soul and our mind – right in our hearts is a thirsting for God. Deep down within us, if we take the time to stop and look and listen, we will find an ache that is not satisfied with all the things we tend to feed it: money, power, food, popularity, lust, possessions, empty entertainment, constant noise, exercise, or any other false gods that we think we've outgrown but so often quietly creep their way back into our lives. Lent reveals to us that we aren't as strong as we think we are, and that nothing satisfies our deepest thirst except the Lord himself.
Second is the Lord's thirst for us.  He seeks to quench His thirst at the well also, going to encounter the woman and to draw from her heart the love He desires.
Today's second reading is often overlooked because of these powerful images. I want to focus on it, because I want you to really let it sink in.  The beginning of Romans ch. 5 is amazingly powerful, something I encourage every one of you to spend time in prayer with reflecting on the deep meaning of these words.   Did you notice the water imagery there too? Paul said: hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us. This takes us to a reflection on the Cross, the Cross that we move so we can look at it in a new way. I invite you to come up to the cross and pray. No, not right now; don't jump out of your seats quite yet. But after Mass or before Mass or in the middle of the week, come kneel before this Cross and pray.  I have printed off a few prayers to pray before the Crucifix.  You could also simply just gave upon the Lord Jesus, the one that we thirst for, and the one who said from the Cross, "I thirst" because of His great thirst for your love, for your heart, for your response to His open-arm invitation to a deep relationship with your God.
Don't let the noise of the world distract you any more from this thirst.  That is exactly why in Lent the Church keeps the musical instruments toned down: we are drawn inward to our ache, to our thirst, and find the Holy Spirit there desiring to quench it by making us know our Beloved.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

St. Josemaría Escrivá Talk

Fr. Matthew "I'm here to speak on 'Perfection' because Tink can't!"
He must have meant I couldn't make it last week to speak on that topic because I was busy at my parish. And he was right.
But whatever he may have meant, I'm here to speak on Humility, because Fr. Matthew can't." ...and what I mean is just that he is busy up at his parish and everything. He tells me again and again, "one day, when you grow up and become a pastor yourself with your own parish, you will understand what I mean."
Okay that's enough fun, we could do this all day but I might need to go to Confession after my talk if I don't stop now. Plus, it wouldn't really do us much good - that's not why we are here.
We are here to hear about a man, a priest, named Josemaría Escrivá who founded a nice little catholic club that we know of now as Opus Dei. In fact, this group was so unique in its time that it required its own sort of legal status within the Church's structures. What Josemaría envisioned was that all work (as long as it wasn't morally objectionable) could become an Opus Dei, a work of God: our work can be made into God's work.
So the title tonight, “Footprints in the Snow” may have seemed confusing to you, and I apologize if it was a point of angst that you had no idea what it meant. But if that curiosity was good enough to bring you here tonight, then I don't apologize. I'm glad it worked. You see, I simply robbed it from this little pictorial biography I read last fall about this Saint.
Near the beginning of the biography is the story from the title, which is also portrayed in the movie version about the first 35 years of this saint's life and the beginnings of Opus Dei during the Spanish Civil War (the movie is called There Be Dragons, and it's one of those rare saint movies that doesn't make you want to gag because it gets too cheesy – so you can try to share it with some people who aren't too into their faith but are open to it). Okay so, back to the snowprints ….(Chapter 2).
This vocation grew slowly within him... a lot like me. It took a long time for me to make sense of my future, but I, like Josemaría, was happy along the way – trying to stay close to the Lord and asking for guidance. But eventually going to seminary, Josemaría finds his vocation to be a diocesan priest so that he could be more flexible for wherever God was leading him in his future. One thing that surprised me about this saint, and about the lives of so many other saints that is so often different from our own: something hits them hard and wakes them up to live life on a different level. I am stunned that so many saints have severe trial or tragedy in their lives, even if something as simple as the death of loved ones. For Saint Josemaría, he lost three younger sisters in under 4 years: an infant, a 5-yr-old and of 8-yr-old. Then his dad died just months before his ordination to priesthood. Why do these things so often play a part in making saints? I think because it impresses upon them, deep into their hearts, some simple truths that we all should remember: (1) human life is precious and every day counts. (2) our decisions make a difference, a huge difference. And because even the small choices we make have impact, then our passions, the deeper reasons for what motivates all we do, have the force of a tidal wave.
I love music, and listened to a lot of Christian music ever since childhood. There's a band I've been listening to lately called Switchfoot, and they have a song that gets exactly at these points. Some of the lyrics are: “You change the world, you change my world, every day you're alive.” And “what you say is your religion, how you say it's your religion. Who you love is your religion; how you love is your religion. All your science, your religion. All your hatred, your religion. All your wars are your religion. Every breath is your religion.”

We are called to greatness, and it comes from

I didn't run into this saint until just before I entered into seminary. My friends in college were all given this collection of quotes from this Saint which he organized from snippets of letters he wrote, etc. It was called “The Way” and that was really about all I knew at the time. I was in fact, pretty jealous that I didn't receive a copy myself at the time. I couldn't pinpoint why but I wanted one. Perhaps I felt left out or something – you know, missing all those Catholic “inside jokes” and stuff. Anyways, a year or two goes by and I decide to buy for myself the book, and actually the whole trilogy in one book, which includes two more sets of sayings, about 1000 each, most of them just two or three sentences. Talk about bite-sized and really useful for busy people.
St. Josemaría gives his own advice on the three books as a Prologue. For The Way he writes: Read these counsels slowly. Pause to meditate on these thoughts. They are things that I whisper in your ear – confiding them – as a friend, as a brother, as a father. And they are being heard by God. I won't tell you anything new. I will only stir your memory, so that some thought will arise and strike you; and so you will better your life and set out along ways of prayer and of love. And in the end you will be a more worthy soul.
I want to use tonight to look at some of the lessons that Josemaría gave me through this little book.
For Furrow, he says: My reader and friend, let me help your soul contemplate the virtues of man, for grace works upon nature. But do not forget that these considerations of mine though they may seem very human to you must be priestly as well. Since I have written them for you and for myself – an I have put them into practice too- before God. I ask Our Lord that these pages may be of use for us. May we profit by them and e moved by them so that in our lives our deeds may leave behind a deep and fertile furrow.

Oct 6, 2002 Canonization 500,000


Sunday, March 1, 2015

2-1-15 Mountains and Trials

Audio Here (12:15pm Mass)
 Today we hear about a couple different journeys up mountains. Perhaps some of you have had a "mountain top experience," whether actually or figuratively. When some of my relatives climbed a mountain in Colorado a few summers ago, it snowed and hailed on them as they got near the top. Besides almost freezing, they were very afraid of lightning as well. Luckily everything passed by and they finished the ascent, and they tell me it was totally worth the effort. The view and the whole experience were an amazing reward that they shared together. This really proves the old phrase: "no pain, no gain."
There's no easy way up a mountain! It takes a lot out of us, even the strongest! This is true physically and spiritually. In order to get close to God in this life, it can be really tough at times. Sometimes life throws curve balls at us and we can really feel the sting. We finite human beings can't understand why all the time because we have trouble seeing the big picture. Often we are stuck down in the details and don't get high enough to see the view from God's angle.
That is exactly what Abraham is going through today. For us, we can see the symbolic connection to Christ's Passion that is foreshadowed in the story. For example,
[:: = foreshadows]
Beloved Son, Isaac :: Son of God
Wood for sacrifice :: Cross
Mt. Moriah :: Temple mount and mount Calvary
Ram among thorns :: Lamb of God crowned with thorns

That's not too difficult for us to see. But for Abraham, that is impossible to see. He is centuries before Christ's birth, and so has no idea what God is doing. In Abraham's experience, God promised to give him his own promised land and make his descendants numerous as the stars or the sand on the seashore. His only son, who God miraculously gave him and his wife despite their old age, is now demanded back in sacrifice. Perhaps Abraham was tempted to think that the Lord is like all those other false-gods of the ancient world who demanded human sacrifice and didn't care about us or our futures, nor His promises. But we know that he, as Saint Paul says, reasoned that God could even bring someone back from the dead (as he did figuratively already in the gift of this child). Whatever he "felt" or "thought," Abraham later realized that God was showing two things: (1) He is not like other false-gods and despises human sacrifice; and (2) He was asking Abraham to choose God Himself over and above the "good things" Abraham receives from Him. God, like all of us, wants to be loved for Himself, and not for what He does. And we see today a third use: God foreshadows His own sacrifice, fulfilling Abraham's words to Isaac's question: "God Himself will provide the sacrifice."
The questions in our life about why things happen are answered, but in a mysterious way. God chooses, just like with Abraham, to explain one story with another story, The Cross.
Mountains :: transfiguration. Jesus shows his disciples the future so they can get through the Cross. Well, that's the same for us. God reveals Himself to us on mountains, through the pain of our trials in life, when we can't make sense of it and need to see things from a different perspective. Sometimes he does it ahead of time. Sometimes he only reveals what it was all about afterwards.

Abraham went through all that effort and pain to obey the Lord and stay close to Him. The Lord repaid him by revealing Himself in a deeper way. Sometimes in our lives we will have to follow the Lord where we don't understand but have to rely on faith alone to guide us. But through these times, we will eventually be blessed with the ability to see things differently, from a higher vision. God will share a glimpse of Himself to us and we will know Him more deeply as our loving God, who will do anything to save us, even giving up His Only-Begotten Son.