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 27, 2017

Homily - Our (heavenly) mansion is secured by our (earthly) mission.

Audio: (9:30am Mass) CLICK HERE

Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?”  This question is for all of us.  For we also can at times get caught with little motion in our spiritual lives.  And this is dangerous, as dangerous as putting your car into neutral and revving the engine.  What’s going to happen when you do that?  Bad things, really bad car-things are going to happen!
So, too, for us today, we must have a double-focus, never forgetting heaven while also not resting on our laurels, but putting things into gear.
What Jesus reminds us of today is that our focus must be where His focus is, and that is on the work of bringing the Good News to others.  While the disciples are focused on the end-result, Jesus is focused on the process that gets us there.  So also we must keep our eyes on the goal of heaven, but at the same time we cannot let ourselves be duped into thinking that we don’t have anything to do.  The reality is that, although the Kingdom of God can only be brought about through the Lord, for some great mysterious reason He chooses to bring it about through you and me and what we do throughout our daily lives.
So when the disciples say “are you establishing the kingdom now?” Jesus says, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." He turns their eyes to the mission.  Although heaven is where our heart should reside, the only way to get there is how we live here on earth.  If we want the mansion, we must live the mission.
And the great mystery is that the two are not in opposition with each other.  This mystery is described by C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity: If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next... It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth "thrown in": aim at earth and you will get neither.  The more we put our faith into practice, getting our hands dirty washing the feet of those around us and witnessing to the Lord Jesus in the way we love each other and with our proclamation of the Gospel, then we find the more we are truly happy, truly experiencing a foretaste of heaven.  Because the road to heaven already is heaven.  This is ultimately what we heard last week in the Gospel: “If you love me (heavenly mansion), keep my commandments (earthly mission).”  The road to the mansion is the mission.

May this Eucharist help us to keep our heart in heaven while we do God’s work on earth.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Mothers Day! (5-14)

Audio only: click here!

Baptism and Confirmation - United in the HOLY SPIRIT

audio: click here

 Today we see clearly the connection between Baptism and Confirmation.  In our first reading, it is clear that Baptism has a second sacrament that goes right along with it: Confirmation.
Why? Christ wants to give us the Spirit: “And I will ask the Father,  and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth.”
Christians bear hidden within them a great power, not of their own making or earning or deserving, but a free gift of God.  A spirit by which we can do amazing things, both in our lives and the lives of others, if we are faithful to it.  If we want the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, Jesus says today, we must be obedient to His commandments:
Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him. (This revelation is only made possible by the Holy Spirit)
Sometimes following the Commandments is difficult, even extremely difficult.  We may have our personality get in the way, or our family, or our job, or our culture with all its attempts at intimidating us otherwise.  Because of any or all of these things influencing us, at times we  would prefer to underline certain parts of the Bible, or certain parts of the Catechism, and cross out (or ignore) other parts.  But Jesus didn’t ask us to keep some of His commandments, or to simply treasure them in our private or personal lives.  No, he wants us to live them, to go and be missionary witnesses of the Resurrection to our world.  So we embrace the Lord’s commands even when they mean discomfort to us.  For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.  And luckily, we don’t have to do this alone.  I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.  The Holy Spirit is not a replacement for Jesus.  The Holy Spirit brings Jesus to us (or us to Jesus).  It is through Him alone that we are able to connect with Jesus and any of the saints that are in Jesus.  Remember, John the Baptist said “I baptize with water; the One who is coming will baptize with the Holy Spirit and Fire.”  That is the baptism we have received, and that is why it is powerful and effective.

Through this great gift of Baptism, we are now united with the same Spirit that empowered the Apostles, the prophets of Old Testament times, the saints and martyrs, and even overshadowed Our Lady that she might conceive of the Holy Spirit.  Let us pray that just as the one Spirit of God comes down upon these gifts of bread and wine and transforms them into Christ, he too may do the same in our lives.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Homily - Shepherd Gospel

Audio: click here

Good Shepherd Sunday – World Day ofPrayer for Vocations – Ordained ministry (priests & deacons),Religious Life in all its forms, Missionary life, societies ofapostolic life, secular institutes.

I am sure that many of us in thischurch have grown to appreciate dark or semi-sweet chocolate. Iremember as a kid, when mom would make chocolate chip cookies, shealways used toll house semi-sweet chocolate chips, and I whenever Ifound an open package in the cabinet, I would sneak a few into myhand and enjoy them. I guess that's how I became a fan of thebittersweet type of treat. Well, maybe it's a loose connection, butit seems to me that the Gospel always carries a tinge of bitternessthat ultimately is swallowed up in sweetness. Today brothers andsisters, we have a summary of the Gospel message in Saint Peter'sspeech in the first reading. The bitterness of the Gospel is that wehave sinned. Peter, speaking to the Jews of Jerusalem on the day ofPentecost, says “you crucified the Lord of Life!” The sweetnessthat overpowers it is the Jesus, the Lord of Life, has conquered sinand death and we can be freed from our slavery by repentance. Likethe flotation device on the rope that is thrown out to one caught inthe river above a cliff, salvation is offered to us, and we mustchoose it if we are going to escape our terrible plight.

The image given us today from our Psalmand Gospel (and alluded to Peter's letter) is a powerful summary ofthe Gospel. God is a shepherd. King David, who wrote Psalm 23, washimself a shepherd., and Jesus, most likely a carpenter by tradebefore he turned 30 and was baptized by John to begin his preaching,calls Himself the Good Shepherd – a shepherd of souls not of fluffyanimals.

Jesus Himself says that the shepherdlays down his life for the sheep, and this is more than just ametaphor. In ancient times in Israel, and probably often stilltoday, shepherd guide their sheep through the countrysides, leavingtheir family and friends behind, and devoting themselves completelyto their sheep. Often they would bunker down for safety in caves,and this is (by the way) exactly how the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. If needed, the cave protected from the rain (and lightning) as wellas the blistering heat of the day. But most importantly, it was away of guarding and protecting the flanks of the sheepfold. You see,in a field, a shepherd cannot protect the sheep from every directionat the same time. Wolves, who often attack in multiple directions atonce, are difficult to keep away no matter how long your shepherdstaff is. But in a cave, all a shepherd needs to do is protect thegate, the cave entrance. And at night, or when it is time for thatever-savory afternoon siesta during a hot day, what does the shepherddo? He lays down in front of the cave entrance. He says, with thissimple gesture, “if you want to get to the sheep, you gotta gothrough me.” And didn't Jesus do exactly that? He placed Himselfbetween us and the evil that came for us. The Cross is not ametaphor – it is the Good Shepherd dying for His Sheep. The Lambof God (to turn flip our image around) takes away our sins by freelyoffering His life for us. And then, in the Resurrection, he returnsalive to claim us for Life eternally. Thus the bitterness isswallowed up in sweetness and joy.

However, we must not forget the wordsof Saint Peter: Repentance is essential. Baptism is a testament to alife of repentance, and as Christians we are never finished growingin our role as disciples of Jesus – learning from Him what our lifeis to look like.

“I came so that they might have lifeand have it more abundantly.” This is life abundant: to know Jesusintimately – most especially in a pure heart and in the Eucharist.