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, January 29, 2017

Saturday, January 21, 2017

God of surprises

Audio: click here!

Just like we celebrated this past Christmas, God is indeed a God of surprises.  He writes His story of salvation in ways that we don’t expect.  Indeed God has a way of keeping us on our toes, and He shows up where we would least expect Him.  Sometimes God gets our attention in big ways, and perhaps many of us can think of times when we were saved from danger or had a brush with death.  One family story about this comes from a summer vacation when I was 10 years old. 
So yah, sometimes there are big ways that God sends us a message that no matter how bad things may seem, he is there with us in the midst of it (even if that still means a broken leg or 18 stitches).
But more often that not, God shows Himself in small, simple ways, that are still just as surprising or unexpected.
That is the point of the “land of Zebulon and Naphtali” in today’s readings.  These lands are the region around the Sea of  Galilee, and are thus the far northern part of the promised land, but had long before the time of Christ been completely wiped off the map.  About a century later other Jewish tribes settled there, but by the time of Christ it was considered backwater territory, and hence the reason for the scathing question of Nathaniel: “can anything good come out of Nazareth?”  And this is once again how God surprises us, for indeed the greatest gift of all comes from the unexpected territory of the north: Jesus of Nazareth.
And he doesn’t come with radiant light and power, but he hides it underneath human flesh, for 30 years, and then finally starts with the humble phrase that puts no attention on Himself: “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.  Repent and believe the Gospel.”
The point of all this is simple for us: What is my Zebulon and Naphtali?  Where do I think God could never be found?  What part of my past do I think dead and lifeless, incapable of being redeemed?  Where in my life (and in my world) do I say “what good can come from that?”  Very often we may find ourselves surprised to find Jesus there, calling us to believe in the Gospel because His Kingdom is at hand.

Saint Paul today speaks how we are all united by one thing: baptism into the Cross of Christ Jesus.  Let us never forget how unexpected this God of ours is, especially in this most shocking and wondrous sign of our faith here at the center of our Church, and never drain the Cross of its power.  It is there at the Cross, in dying to ourselves, that we find our true Zebulon and Naphtali, and the Lord of History meets us to bring us His Kingdom.  Amen. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Baptismal Call - Saints

Audio: Click here (Sat. 5:30pm)
As we celebrated the Baptism of the Lord last Monday (not on Sunday this year), so now today we are presented with the Gospel of John’s version of the Baptism of Jesus, which only appears as something John the Baptist describes after the fact, explaining to the disciples his own testimony, “bearing witness to the Light” of the World, that Jesus is indeed the Lamb of God, but most important of all, as we heard in the last line: “He is the Son of God.”  You see, of all the titles of Jesus, this one is different, and indeed the greatest, because it gets most perfectly at the essence of who Jesus is.  He is the only-begotten Son of the eternal Father, and thus God Himself and co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
It is in the Baptism of Jesus that his mission is first made known.  It was before now a secret kept by a select few to whom God had privately revealed it.  In their deep personal prayer, Mary, Joseph, (and perhaps his parents) Simeon, Anna, and John the Baptist (and probably his parents Zechariah and Elizabeth) had a sense of what Jesus was sent on earth to do, but now John whispers this well­-kept secret in a few symbolic phrases to his closest disciples, who now will become Jesus’ followers.  He is the Lamb that takes away the sins of the world, who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and thus be made known to Israel.
Baptism gives a mission to Jesus.  And thus it does to us.
I was fortunate to do my first baptism here last Sunday.  And this Sunday I am to be a Godfather for a local family’s child.  And even more, my sister Katie had her first child, a girl named Therese Rose after our patroness, the Little Flower, and after Mother Teresa.  What a gift.  God is so good, and new life is a blessing.  But baptism, my friends, is a calling, a calling Saint Paul makes very clear in the beginning of his 1st letter to the Corinthians.  Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, to the church of God that is in Corinth, to you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy, with all those everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We are called to be Holy (saints).
We are called Christians, little Christs, little anointed ones (“baptized with the holy spirit”)
1.      Priest – Adam (Moses/Aaron/Levi)
2.      Prophet – John the Baptist
3.      King -  David

The saints help us to flesh this out.  They bring the Bible to life in our world today.  They are like adding sound and color an old silent film, it makes everything burst out at you in a new way.
Read their lives, even in the book we might have chosen for Christmas (watch films about them – n.b. some are better than others!)
My saint = Rose of Lima.
We all have Mary, Joseph, and Therese, and our baptismal & confirmation names.
Let them show you how to live out your baptismal call, to be what you were made to be.  It’s not a secret anymore, you are a little Christ, baptized in the Holy Spirit, and meant to be a Saint who brings the Gospel to life in our world today.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Epiphany - The Gift of the Saints!!

Audio: Click here!

There is an ancient tradition that is kept in our Roman Missal of chanting today the dates for this year’s moveable feast days.   I will sing this now before the homily.

Today in Epiphany we recall three moments in Christ’s life, events that show forth his divine nature in a special way as He embarks upon His public ministry.  1 – The Wise Men come to adore the Christ Child, as you see below in the nativity scene. 2 – Christ’s Baptism where the heavens are open and the Father’s voice is heard as the Spirit descends.  And 3 – The First Miracle at the Wedding at Cana.
Although today ends this joyful season of the beginning of our salvation in the Savior’s birth (Monday begins Ordinary Time), the joy of this season lasts all year.  Like the wine at Cana, it brims over, because as far as Christmas goes, Jesus is the real gift that keeps on giving.
The mysterious wise men (the Bible doesn’t say how many) represent all of us, seeking out the true king of our hearts, and finding Him in unexpected surroundings.  God indeed is a God of good surprises, surprises of love.
Like the gold, frankincense, and myrrh, this infant child deserves a great gift from us, so let us offer what alone He truly deserves: our hearts, our lives, our dreams, our futures, our passion, our thoughts, prayers, works, joys, sufferings, even our littleness and weakness and imperfections.  Let us in short, brothers and sisters, offer our entire selves this year to Him.
And the Lord, as I said, keeps on giving to us, and this is exactly what the rest of the Church year is about.  We now transition to the Lord’s public ministry before we prepare with Lent for His great victory over death in the holiest days of our calendar.  Today God manifests Himself as the infant king, and throughout the year we see what that means in so many varied ways.
But the gift of today is more specific, for today I wish to share with you one of my deep joys, and one of Jesus’ greatest gifts: the Communion of the Saints.  Saint Faustina Kowalska recounts a tradition of her convent in Poland that I wish to make new here at our parish: “There is a custom among us of drawing by lot, on New Year’s Day, special Patrons for ourselves for the whole year.”  Well, it’s not New Year’s but it is the last chance to squeeze this in as a Christmas gift.  So here you go: at the end of Mass, there will be baskets at the three doors of the church with names of all our big brothers and sisters in heaven, part of our family in Christ Jesus, who want to choose you as their own close friend this year.  It gives you another person to ask for help, another special day to party, and another great way to grow in your faith as you learn about them.  Also it includes a special intention to pray for this year, in connection to the saint’s own mission.  May they guide you to know and love Jesus in a new way throughout this year.