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, October 29, 2017

Three Steps to Love - Three Loves to happiness


Love of God – Love of Neighbor -  Love of Self
Nowadays we would like to make Christianity exclusively a matter of head knowledge.  But a Christianity that is merely discussion, organization, and a bit of morality does not support us; we cannot grow fond of it; it does not provide joy and strength for our life.  IN order for the faith to support us and not to be a burden, it has to touch the heart, we must be able to grow fond of God.  And so [today] we want to call the Lord Jesus by his name, ask him to make us grow fond of this name again, so that by our fondness for this name we might again sense his own closeness and so that this might bring joy to our heart, the joy of not being alone, which remains and guides us even in the hours of darkness.  – A Homily from Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) in year 1998.

Sr.Eop  Elizabeth McDonough – Dominican nun. 80lbs. scared us all.
1.    Know who you are.  Strengths.  Weaknesses.  Gifts.  Wounds.  (HUMILITY)
2.    Mortification.  Interior battle of will.  Ideals.  “Brother ‘donkey’” (Francis)
3.    Choose love.
Then you find who you truly are, since “man does not discover himself except in a sincere gift of self.” (GS 24)

Love of self leads us to love of God.  And thus we have come full-circle, and Christianity is freed from being simply head-knowledge – it is what it was always meant to be: a path by God leading us back to God, through the journey of love.  May the Eucharist take us one step further along that journey.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

"Whose Image and Whose Inscription?" In a society of BRANDing


The main message of today, brothers and sisters, is very simply put: our entire life is God's, and everything else needs to fit into that truth.


450 From the beginning of Christian history, the assertion of Christ's lordship over the world and over history has implicitly recognized that man should not submit his personal freedom in an absolute manner to any earthly power, but only to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Caesar is not "the Lord".67 "The Church. . . believes that the key, the center and the purpose of the whole of man's history is to be found in its Lord and Master."68

2113 Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, "You cannot serve God and mammon."44 Many martyrs died for not adoring "the Beast"45 refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God.

We in our society have our own strange gods, our false idols, but I do not think we are temped to worship our government.  But that wasn’t really the point of today’s public showdown anyway, for indeed the Pharisees and Herodians were interested in something that is much closer to our hearts: control, power, popularity, reputation.  What is interesting is the malice of these two groups.  The Pharisees were deeply religious, whereas the Herodians were indeed lovers of Rome and of Herod.  Almost the only thing they could agree on was their dislike for Jesus and the need to bring him down.  Evil always make a mockery of true goodness, just as their collaboration for evil is a perversion of true friendship which is rooted in the good.
But Jesus deftly walks right through their snares with his pithy response to the challenge.
Jesus says: who the image and the inscription? ... what belongs to Caesar... The implicit message is that the image and inscription makes it Caesar's - he made it, or his authority did so.
And you: who made you? You may remember the Baltimore Catechism began with this question. Who made me? God made me.
And that is the main point, clear and simple: God made you. You should give him your entire self, your whole life. And the coin is really quite trivial. It doesn't have the importance we often think. Rather, when we see that our entire life is God's, it is put in the proper perspective.

In our hyper consumerist culture, there is something pretty ironic that we all take for granted: BRAND names are all over us and around us. That word itself, brand, is a good indication of the problem. Branding is what was / is done to animals to claim them as one's property. It was done to slaves when we used to treat human beings as property (and sadly still do). Now we run around with brand names all over us and don't seem to think too much about it. Or perhaps we do when we realize what type of watch or shoes or dress or car this or that person has.
Now this isn't a problem if we remember that it is only the thing that is branded and not ourselves. That we take all that off and strip it away and we still are the same persons with the same dignity, created by a loving God.
The problem is that we often blur those lines: we are tempted to let the brand become an idol.  We are tempted to let Caesar's coin, and all the stuff it can buy, become the defining image of our lives and the source of our dignity.

In our consumerist society, we often give more to Caesar and to the coin than we do to God.  We give lots of time to that coin.  We give lots of worry to that coin.  We pursue that coin in so many ways.  Some of this is necessary: we have an obligation to make good use of our talents, to provide for ourselves and those entrusted to our case, especially the needy.  Thus, the coin is not evil, just as Jesus himself doesn’t shy away from touching it.  We just need to never forget, God has given us everything, as we see in the Eucharist which is His Son, and so we owe Him the same.  Our entire life is God's, and everything else needs to fit into that truth.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Invitation Accepted!

Audio: click here! (9:30am Mass)

Before we get into today’s readings, I think it will be helpful if we recall last week’s parable, which leads right into today’s section from Matthew’s Gospel.  Last we heard Jesus speak of a vineyard prepared for tenants who were not very obedient.  When the master sent servants to collect produce, they were beaten and even killed!  Finally, the Son was sent, and he too was murdered so they could “acquire his inheritance.”  Through this parable, Jesus is interpreting the history of Israel: God has done everything to provide for them; they reject the prophets; they reject the Son; the Gospel goes to the Gentiles.  Remember the closing phrase: “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that will produce its fruit."

Very similar to this parable is today’s passage.  It is another reinterpretation of the Bible.  Everything is an invitation to the wedding feast of the King’s Son.  This is easily seen as an image of the offer of the gospel: God wants a relationship with you and invites you into this celebration.  How do they respond?  Many don’t care.  Others get hostile and even kill the messengers! So the King takes vengeance and then invites everyone else (this would be the Gentiles), and the house is filled.  Then, the parable ends with another encounter of the upset king with a man who does not have a wedding garment, which would have been like a ticket or invitation, but symbolically means much more.  The man is thrown out.

So “many are invited, but few are chosen.”  Many are invited, but few cherish the value of the invitation.

The wedding garment has two symbolic meanings.  First, it is a clear symbol for baptism, where the new Christians bear on their bodies a sign of their entrance into the life of Christ – an outward sign of their acceptance of the invitation to the King’s feast.  But secondly, like in last week’s parable, it represents the “good fruit” we are to produce.  When our lives as disciples are not showing any fruits of the Holy Spirit, when we are not living the moral life in a manner worthy of God’s children, when we do not put on love over all things, then we are not wearing our wedding garment as we should.  If we need to, we should get to Confession and get our souls clean before we return to Communion.

But most importantly, friends, all of today’s readings are a reminder to us of the beauty and the privilege we have of attending Mass.  Just as it is nothing but a direct insult to reject the invitation of the king to his son’s wedding, so too it is an affront to God for us to tell Him by our actions that other things are more important than Sunday Mass.  Here God provides us with the best food possible in the best place possible for the best reason possible – not by worldly standards but from the perspective of eternity.  Nothing can replace this offer, so let us not allow the world to steal the gift of Sunday from us.  Let us help and encourage each other to this gift.

OTHER NOTES: (I decided to go a different direction with the above homily)
Deitrich Bonhoffer - The Cost of Discipleship

"Many are called, few are chosen" So many people think God's grace costs us nothing.  As if the Gospel only brings us prosperity.

Run around and tell people you don't agree with abortion, that you don't agree with human trafficking nor the horrible slaveries to sensuality that create the demand for it, that you don't agree with same sex marriage or the exploitation of the environment at the cost of future generations.  If you do that, then I'm sure you will learn that discipleship costs you something.  When you have an enemy truly harm you or your reputation and you try to follow Christ's command to "pray for those who persecute you," then it is obvious that grace is not cheap.  When we begin to realize that "you cannot serve God and mammon" is directed at us in a world that's full of mammon being thrown to us, we then start to notice the price of following Jesus.  That is the Cross.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Bearing Fruit

Audio: click here!

This may be a hard truth, but I think it could be safely said that you and I are at times ungrateful. Here in the USA in the now 21st century, we have so much already given to us that we tend to take it for granted. We assume that what we have as gifts from God and from those who have gone before us are actually things that are our own and that we earned them. Like the tenants in the vineyard, we can get trapped into a way of thinking that ends up placing ourselves as the center of things, as the ones in charge, and even trample upon others as we seek for power and for stuff.  Whereas we recently heard of the parable of the vineyard workers who wanted more pay, now we have ones who want it all - the whole vineyard.

The church is the new vineyard. And you could say each on of us is a branch in a vine in that vineyard.
Each of us are expected to bear good fruit.

12 fruits of the Holy Spirit, expanded from Saint Paul's letter to the Galatians, ch. 5:
Love joy peace patience kindness gentleness goodness generosity faithfulness modesty chastity self-control

Poisoning the ground, disease of the vine so we cannot bear fruit: 7 deadly sins: Pride, Envy, Lust, Greed/Avarice, Sloth/laziness, Wrath/Anger, Gluttony.  If we let any of these grow in our hearts, we will not bear fruit.  These need to be rooted out – that is what Cnofession is for.

Rain and sunshine is ultimately God’s grace, but we can open our hearts to it through the 3 eminent (always at-hand) good works: prayer, fasting, charity.

Choose a fruit of the Spirit you want to grow in this week, and pray for it during this Mass.