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, September 19, 2015

Child-likeness and Humility

Children at the time of Christ were considered to have the dignity that our secular culture gives the unborn. We know that those in the womb deserve absolute respect as human beings (which is why our city always takes part in the national campaign, 40 Days for Life, twice a year, officially starting Wednesday). But if you looked at the billboards in NYC or Chicago, you would see a very different sense of in child in the womb: a sort of take it or leave it. That small living person is important if you choose it to be, but you can choose otherwise and that's fine. As crazy as that sounds, this is exactly what is happening in our culture today, and it was similar for young children in Jesus' day. They literally had no rights: parents had free reign to do what they pleased. So it is quite amazing that Jesus calls us to be like children, but he meant something different. He was referring to some of the best qualities of children. First, they have a brutal honesty because we do not have any “adult sins” like careerism and public persona. Second, children live from a knowledge that they are loved, and that is all that matters. Being like a child means remembering precisely that: our identity, our self-worth, comes from the fact that we are loved into existence by God. It isn't from what we do, but from who we are: God says “you matter to me” every single moment you are breathing, and so you do.

However, every single one of us fails at this from time to time; in fact, more often than not we are living from our fallen human nature rather than our redeemed identity in Christ Jesus. This is because of original sin. G.K. Chesterton described this in a simple way: look at two babies playing together with a few toys. Eventually it will end up with at least one stealing & hitting, and at least one crying, sometimes it goes both ways. This is what the apostles are doing today. We are selfish and have to break that cycle to be true to who we are. Power, prestige, authority, and popularity are all things we want. Sometimes we want them so bad we will wish evil on others, like the first two readings suggest today: “let us beset the just one...he is obnoxious to us.” James reminds us: the wars and conflicts come from our selfish and envious hearts. Who says the spiritual life is a waste of time? If it has the power to stop 100 or even ten household fights every year, it certainly is worth it. Let us ask Christ to become like children.

One way that we can do this is a nice prayer to grow in humility called Litany of Humility. You can find the full prayer on my blog, but we will finish the holy by offering this prayer today.

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,

Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved...
From the desire of being extolled ...
From the desire of being honored ...
From the desire of being praised ...
From the desire of being preferred to others...
From the desire of being consulted ...
From the desire of being approved ...
From the fear of being humiliated ...
From the fear of being despised...
From the fear of suffering rebukes ...
From the fear of being calumniated ...
From the fear of being forgotten ...
From the fear of being ridiculed ...
From the fear of being wronged ...
From the fear of being suspected ...
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I ...
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease ...
That others may be chosen and I set aside ...
That others may be praised and I unnoticed ...
That others may be preferred to me in everything...
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

Amen.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Cost of Discipleship

What do the following have in common?
Friendship. Marriage. A Job. College. Parenting. Sports team or any type of club. A diet. Christian Discipleship.

Maybe more then one thing, but what I was thinking is they all require commitment and sacrifice.

Commitment and sacrifice is common.  We only need to think about the choices we make - almost all of them mean sacrifice.

If we are committing to following Christ, then we will be sacrificing as well.  It means no to worldly power, no to glory, no to a comfortable, easy life.  But it also means a bigger yes: yes to a life of deep meaning, a life of impact for the good, a life of love, of laughter even when we can't avoid pain, of joy, of community, of acceptance, and of giving and receiving.

That is what the Cross now means.  Jesus transformed the definition of the Cross, no longer an instrument of torture and of fearful oppression, it is now a sign of victory.  As Saint Paul says:

Galatians 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world.

Parish Missionary Appeal - Holy Cross Missions

Father Thomas Smith, CSC gave the homily this week.  I recorded it at the 11a.m. Mass.  The audio is available: click here.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

How Christ heals today

Audio: click here

If you had to summarize the point of the Christian life, it would be in a relationship with Jesus.  We are disciples of Jesus because we have encountered Him, he has somehow come into our lives and said to us "follow me," and those words rang with something deeper and more beautiful than we have ever known.  We hear it in our ears and yet it at the same time hits us hard in the gut and in a subtle way moves our heart gently to a huge change.

The Gospel of Mark that we are hearing speaks of Jesus' encounters with individuals in a special way.  The language would have made clear sense to the Christian communities it was written from and read in.  It is said with some certainty that Mark was written in or near Rome around 60-65ad. This would be the time that Peter was arrested and crucified, so Mark, who had worked alongside Saint Paul as well, was probably transcribing and organizing Peter's eyewitness account.  However, Peter and Mark naturally would have focused on things that connected to their faith community. So today's Gospel is st th same time an eyewitness account, an interpretation on that account, and a sort of specific story tailored to the persecuted Christians of Rome and beyond.

So why all this information? Because I've been in a teacher-mode way more often than I am used to! No, just kidding. It's because Jesus' encounter had some details in it that still make sense to us today if we think about it properly.

First, Jesus takes the man outside away from everyone and everything. He separated him so it is practically just the two of them.  For Mark's era, when Christisnity was illegal and thought a type of revolution against the pagan culture, the church could only gather in private. People had to meet Jesus away from the crowd. Think even today of the monastery and th convent, where men & women flee from the world to encounter Jesus in a radical way, forever.  Certainly today in our post-Christian culture, we do not meet Jesus openly and easily on the city streets of Chicago or Indianapolis, but if we do, he sort of draws us away to encounter us more deeply.  How often do we spend time in silence, away from the crowds, on purpose, with the goal of meeting Jesus there? Do we sacrifice time to pray every day?

Th second detail about this one-on-one encounter is that Jesus heals this man in a very gritty way.  This is the God who simply said "let there be light" and there was. But here he takes the man's arm, walks out, cries out to God, puts his fingers in his ears and spits & touches his tongue.  For Mark's community, they would have known and seen how Gos was transforming the lives of Christian after Christian: in the grittiness of the sacraments. God uses still these very real tangible ways to heal us. In every single Mass, in every single Confession, we are encountering Jesus. He desires to take us into the silence and heal us. Do we follow Him? Do we meet Him regularly?

Thirdly, where we meet Jesus is in the Church. When Christ takes the man from th me crowd, this is a symbol of the Church community.  The word for "church" in Greek literally means "the group called out," meaning the people called out of the ordinary ways of the world to be different and separate, to be holy. Jesus in a sense takes this man to church, he calls him away to be separate and to encounter Him there. It is still the same today as it was in 65ad.
As we come before Jesus today, let us beg Him to heal us in the grittiness of the Sacraments of His Church and stay a community called out, separate, and holy that continues to welcome new members to find Christ here.