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, August 26, 2017

Romans #8

SORRY that I didn't get last week's homily to you, but here we continue with our series...

AUDIO: CLICK HERE! (9:30am Mass)

Saint Paul’s section on Judaism and the Church concludes today with this great praise of God’s wisdom, a wisdom that is greater than our own and in a real sense quite beyond us.  Saint Paul’s attempts to explain the way that God’s providence has worked only reveals the great surprises of God.  There is always some new twist that we didn’t see coming, and this is true more than ever with the great “Gospel” of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Who would have guessed God would save the world by dying as a criminal?  How could powerlessness and humility overcome humanity’s vain flaunt of strength and pride?  How would death be destroyed by death?  That is the mystery that Paul praises today.
Perhaps no one knows each other better that an old married couple.  The book I’ve been reading in August, until school got into full-speed and has made it difficult to finish, has revolved around a simple marriage and family.  The husband and wife (Stephen and came from pretty different backgrounds, and the reality is that they are often mysteries to each other.  Perhaps another way to say it is “they are inscrutable” and “unsearchable.”  This is only compounded by the fact that Stephen is very quiet, wrestling with a dark past, and Anne seems to spend years trying to force him to open up, to no avail.  However, this is not the norm.  I heard story from a priest recently about a married couple he knew.  The wife prepared dinner and said “when my husband comes home the first thing he’s going to say is ‘brussel sprouts: barf!’”  And what do you know, he fit the bill and did exactly as expected soon after I arrived. But even when people do open up, the reality is we are still mysteries to each other.  We are even mysteries to ourselves at times.  We might catch ourselves saying: “why did I do that?” or “What was I thinking?” We may have changed so much from an earlier age that we consider ourselves a totally different person.  Perhaps the teenage son is right after all when he gives that shrugging, mumbled response: “I dunno.”
The point of all this simple: if I’m a mystery to myself sometimes, and other persons are mysteries to me a lot of the time, how much more will God be a mystery to me – all the time!  But the fact is, mystery is not a bad thing.  It’s a good thing.  It keeps us engaged, diving deeper, seeking more and more.
Stephen tells his wife Anne that this is exactly how life should be, how marriage should be.  It may be scary for us at times to know that we don’t have a full grasp on things, but that is how persons work: they are free, they have an infinite depth to them, and we can only ponder them through a relationship.  Jesus invites us like Peter into a relationship today, to discover more and more about him.  Peter confesses something he knows about Jesus, but doesn’t have it all figured out.  Paul, after years of prayer, knows Jesus even more intimately, and yet he is still “inscrutable and unsearchable”.

Don’t let the fear and confusion and messiness of God’s mystery cloud you from a relationship with him.  Get out of your boat and go to him.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Romans #6 - God, the Jews, and surprises

Audio (Sat. Eve): Click Here!

IN ROMANS 9 PAUL SWITCHES THE FOCUS from God’s universal desire for everyone’s salvation to how that salvation is played out in his day: namely, how God plans to save both the Jews who awaited (and mostly rejected) the Messiah, and the Gentiles, who did not know God and now have the Gospel presented to them.  In chapters 9-11, Paul refers more to the Old Testament than anywhere else in his writings.  In fact, on commentary says that these three chapters (out of the 100 Paul has written) contain a third of all Paul’s OT references.
He starts today by making it clear that he loves the Jewish people, and that it grieves his heart most deeply that they are (for the most part) not accepting of the Gospel, since Jesus doesn’t seem to fit into their sense of how God worked in the past.
Paul even goes to the point of wishing to be “accursed and cut off” from God.  That Greek word anathema – literally means “placed above”:  Aquinas “for when they found among the spoils of war something they did not wish men to use, they hung it in the temple.  From this, the custom arose that things cut off from the common use of men were said to be anathema; hence, it says in Joshua: let this city be anathema, and all things that are in it, to the Lord. (6:17)” But what Paul is probably referring to is not his own condemnation and eternal separation from God, but rather that he would give up any material or spiritual benefits if it meant the conversion of the Jewish race.
This desire actually echoes what Moses himself declared in Exodus 32: Moses returned to the LORD and said, “Ah, this people has committed a grave sin in making a god of gold for themselves! Now if you would only forgive their sin! But if you will not, then blot me out of the book that you have written.” In this self-denial for the sake of others, Paul and Jesus model the self-gift of Christ Jesus, who in a sense “became sin” although righteous in himself so as to save the condemned and sinful.  It shows how profound and pure is their love for the Hebrew people, and how closely united their hearts are to God, since God Himself ultimately carries out the same desire to save the guilty.  We must pray that we can grow in the same love for our family and friends who are not truly living their lives for God.  Indeed, it is our vocation to pray for others and work to spread the good news.
But as Paul is writing Romans, unfortunately the Gospel is really only making significant ground among the Gentiles (non-Jews).  Thus Paul describes Jesus as a “scandal,” a “stumbling block” to the Jews, because 1. God is not human (as Jesus seems to be, and indeed is – fully human and fully divine), and also 2. God cannot “win” by dying on the cross. Or can he? The collective wisdom among the Jews (and Muslims by the way) says that God would never allow that to happen to one of His own, a prophet, etc.
Well brothers and sisters, as far as this is concerned, it is quite clear in the other readings today that God is a God of surprises, and we need to learn to not put Him in a box.  Indeed God will do things in His own way, and He will manifest Himself in smallness and weakness just as often as in the power of a storm.  He comes to Elijah in silence, not in fury, and Jesus calms the sea and the winds.
Do not expect God to be boring, and don’t put Him in a box.  Let Him save you, but according to HIS plan and not your own.

The main thing is to keep your eyes on Him, and not on anything else.  Recall that Peter walks on the water, something he is naturally not capable of doing, because of his faith in Jesus.  It is only when he takes his eyes off him that he starts to sink and needs to cry for help.  May this Eucharist help us to keep our eyes on Jesus, to allow God to surprise us, and to expand our love for our family and friends who are far from the faith.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Transfiguration - God's Dreams are Bigger than our own

Audio: Click Here!

A beautiful novel called Strangers and Sojourners, following a young British lady who chases a romantic dream to the middle of nowhere Canada and eventually makes a family with an Irish man who sort of ran away from his past to the same place.  “WHAT IS A MAN?” her husband once asked an imposing visitor to their home, and that question is a mystery that Stephen’s wife Anne is still haunted by even after twenty some years of marriage.
Gaudium et Spes  paragraph 22 (VATICAN II’s document on the Church and the world)
The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of Him Who was to come,(20) namely Christ the Lord. Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear. It is not surprising, then, that in Him all the aforementioned truths find their root and attain their crown.
            This is not too different from Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans.  (I know, you’re thinking: “No break from Romans even on this feast day?”)  Jesus transforms everything.
            ASK OURSELVES: Who / What do I let teach me about life?  How has my vision for happiness been shaped by things other than God’s vision?
            But the most important point of today’s feast is that God’s dreams for us are bigger than our own.
Most of you have probably seen the ocean, or if not that, hopefully Lake Michigan.  It is hard to describe to someone how amazing it is, until they see it.  As a kid, I never went to either.  My first trip to the ocean was probably in high school or just before, when my friend brought me with his family on Spring Break.  I couldn’t believe it.  It’s just so vast.
That is like what God wants to do with us humans.
He’s got bigger dreams than our own.  (Theosis – Deification) BECOME LIKE GOD!

Don’t sell yourselves short.    Let this Eucharist draw you into His eternal love, His bigger dreams for your happiness.