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, April 26, 2020

3rd Sunday of Easter - Witness is simple


Peter proclaims the Gospel. No special words. Just the basic message. He also shows how Old Testament is fulfilled in Jesus quoting Psalm 16. That’s the fruit of reflection on facts.
Learn for yourself the basics of the Good News. I’d recommend the book: Case for Jesus - Brant Pitre. Or listen to the 1hr lecture that is in Formed.org http://watch.formed.org/the-case-for-jesus
This spiritual reading would be a great use of your free time, or even as part of your prayer and meditation time, but not replacing it. Remember, God wants not just your mind, but your heart and soul as well. Getting excited and inspired by some part of the Good News, which this book or lecture could do, is an important part of being a strong witness to Jesus.
Slowly Peter’s understanding deepens through more praying and reflecting on Scripture and sharing with the other Apostles and other followers of Jesus. Our faith is deepened only when we use it. We can’t expect it to grow on its own.
This is what happens to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Their faith is only deepened by encountering Jesus. They were open to letting God speak to them as indeed Jesus generously does even in disguise along the way. Their understanding grows through this sharing. Then when they finally realize the Lord is with them and not just a random traveler, they must run back and return to Jerusalem to bring the Good News to their brothers. They become evangelists these two disciples, Cleopas and the unnamed one. They simply tell their story. This is what God has done in my life.
All of us are called to do the same. Perhaps an easy thing is sharing how our prayer life helps us grow in love and peace each day. Or How God answers our prayers sometimes in big obvious ways. Or just sharing something that built up our faith.
It also means deepening our faith by being with each other as Christians or by sharing virtually with each other as these times require.
Finally, about this deep truth that Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. It is not a coincidence that Jesus disappeared from Cleopas and the other disciple when their “eyes were opened.” This isn’t a sign that Jesus abandoned them but rather a fulfillment of the word at the end of Matthew’s Gospel: “Behold I am with you until the end of the ages.” His presence was still there, but it is transferred into the Eucharist. nowadays when we are stripped from gathering for Mass and receiving the Eucharist, We are called to realize the same truth but in some ways in reverse: instead of realizing Jesus is among us and then having his presence vanish, we must see our hunger and longing for the Eucharist as a testament to the truth that Jesus is really here.
It was not until they recognized Jesus in the Eucharist did they realize that He had been present in all of their lives. I believe that deepening our faith and understanding of the Eucharist would be a profoundly fruitful use of our time away from the Mass. But above all, to know Jesus, alive and present in your lives, in your mess, redeeming it, restoring it. This is the primary role of the witness. And the world today needs witnesses. Let us learn from Peter and from Cleopas and the other disciple how to witness to Jesus present among us.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Divine Mercy Sunday - Tunnel Vision


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Take a paper towel tube or a toilet paper one (if you can find it) and place it over your eye like a telescope. This simple toy really changes your perspective. In some ways it’s the definition of tunnel vision.
The apostles had Tunnel-vision. They were staring at one thing way too long, and that’s what got them locked up in the upper room as they were locked in their own minds. Just like the conclave that elected Pope Francis and every pope before him, the key was safely kept in the room that was locked to keep everything else (and everyone else) on the outside.
Their tunnel-vision was very understandable in many ways. They were following a rabbi who was publicly executed. And if it’s true today, it was true even more back then: who you hang out with can do a lot of good or can do a lot of harm. Thus, they saw themselves as next on the list for the cross, or perhaps some other minor punishments. Fear of public shame is a powerful thing. Fear of death even more powerful. Hence the tunnel vision.
Perhaps we could also say they had stone-vision or tomb-vision. All they could think of was that Jesus was dead. It was over. Like all of us today, any of their plans for the future were thrown out. They had to re –evaluate everything and say goodbye to so many things they enjoyed either for a month or two, or perhaps for the rest of their lives. Their vision was focused on the finality of death, on the immovability of that stone over the tomb, on the coldness and darkness of the tomb.
That’s the problem with a problem as big as a crisis. The shock gives you tunnel-vision, gives you stone-vision, tomb-vision. That new and debilitating thing becomes the only part of reality that you can see. Your mind gets locked-up on it. You get stuck inside your head as much as the Apostles were stuck inside that upper room.
But the truth is that life is bigger than the apparent finality of death. The truth is that reality is much broader than a stone or a tomb or a locked door. Tunnel-vision is a sort of lie. It looks at something as if its everything. The stone and the tomb were important parts of reality, but not the most important parts. When faced with a crisis, we end up narrowing our vision to the point that we forget the most important things.
The Apostles had forgotten that God was God. They had forgotten that Jesus had said this was going to happen. They had stopped thinking about the miracles. Their minds were blocked from considering that Jesus said “this is my body given up for you” just the past week in the same upper room. They forgot how God turned tragedy into glory for their ancestors at the Red Sea or with Abraham or with Joshua or Isaiah and Jeremiah.
If they could only take off their blinders and see the whole of reality, especially the reality of God’s providential care and his irrevocable claim on His chosen people, then perhaps they wouldn’t have been so locked-up in their own heads, their own fears, their stone-and-tomb-vision.
Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t wait for them, or for any of us, to get it all straightened out first. He breaks into the room. He reveals Himself, alive. He rips the paper towel tube right away from their faces so their vision is immediately broadened. As much as His death blinded them from so much of reality, so now His risen body, His presence re-open their minds and unlock the doors.  The stone is now rolled away from their hearts. They are coming out of their own self-made tombs. They have once again found hope, hope that God can bring good even out of the horrible tragedy that is their lives, or that their tunnel-vision said was their lives.
In our current crisis, we need the same transformation. If our eyes are too focused on the problem, then we forget that reality is much broader than just the problem. We don’t see the importance of human freedom, and the fact that if we use our freedom to love, to choose the good again and again (which is to choose God again and again) then we are changing so much around the problem, this crisis, that we may in fact even end up changing the crisis from the “disaster” that it can at times seem to be, downgrading it perhaps to what we might call a “hot mess” or even down to just a “situation.” Love can do such things, because God is love. And He is real. And He is here.
And that, my friends, is the most important truth we need to learn from the Apostles and from Thomas today. When He sees that Jesus is real, that He is here, he’s done. He’s not afraid. He’s at peace. All he has to do is worship, say “My Lord and my God,” and place Himself in the Lord’s hands. When the most important part of reality is that God is still God and still involved in all of my life, then why am I afraid? When Jesus’ wounds show the merciful love of God that is greater than my sin, that is greater than death itself, why would I be afraid? I may die, but I’ve already died in baptism. I already have one foot in heaven and one foot in this world. Now I can really live because I am not afraid. Now I can really love. Now God can change the world through me, and save others from their own tunnel-vision.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Good Friday homily


The Lord saves us according to the manner of our fall.
The fall of Adam and Eve is reprised in every human heart. We echo, we harmonize on that dreadful song with every fall of our own.
That tree of which Adam and Eve ate is called “The tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Perhaps we can say the tree of the knowledge of good mixed with evil. This tree was beside the tree of life in the middle of the garden. Adam and Eve were then temped to eat from this tree, as we know, and they saw that it was pleasing to the eye, and good for food, and then Eve took and ate it and gave it to her husband who was with her, and he did the same.
Knowing evil is not just a matter of information. For the Jews, knowledge means a type of union. This is why Mary can say “I have not known man” when she speaks of her virginity. On this tree, evil and good are intermingled, and when we know good mixed with evil, we thus unite ourselves with that evil.
This is the horror of sin. And if you want to look at it more clearly, in its fullness, look at a crucifix. It is there on the wood of calvary, on a new tree in a new garden, that we see what sin really looks like. “Surely you will not die” the snake told Eve.  Indeed they do not die immediately, but death comes later as a punishment for us and a limit for the evil of this world. But for sin someone does indeed die, but it is God Himself who takes that punishment.
But this horror of the reality of sin, this image that stings our eyes and our consciences to look upon, is also a tree of good mixed with evil. And here, the good absorbs the evil, the infinite God absorbs human misery. For in the Cross we not only see how disgusting our sin is. Here we also are made to see the depth of God’s love. Here we see the lamb without blemish that truly can save us from our sins.
Thus we can hear, as we did a few nights ago in our parish mission, the words of the ancient homily where Jesus speaks to Adam in these powerfully dramatic words of salvation:
For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.
See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.
I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.
This is why we can call today “Good” Friday. Good because of who God is, not because of anything we have done. And now, as we thank the Lord’s merciful love that is poured out in blood upon the earth, we beg Him the grace to respond in love as we should, to show his mercy to our neighbor, especially those closest to us in these days, so that the light of His love will scatter the darkness of sin.