Monday, January 18, 2016

Sunday's Homily

These first weeks after Christmas are a season of epiphanies.  The first epiphany took place at the incarnation, where Jesus is revealed as the newborn king of the Jews who makes us co-heirs of Israel’s promise that we are beloved children of God.  Last week in liturgy was the Baptism of Jesus that reveals that he truly is Gods one and only son and today we are at a wedding. 
 Today’s weddings are one day events filled with grandiose plans, high expenses, and of course the main attraction the dress.  “Say Yes to the Dress!  And of course a Wedding Planner.     An ancient wedding during Jesus’ time would be festivities that lasted five to seven days.  The bride’s father was in charge and it was not an easy task.  There was typically a large crowd of working class people ready to take some time off to celebrate and enjoy themselves.
Jesus, the Disciples and Mary were invited as guests to this wedding at Cana and our Blessed Mother noticed something terribly wrong.  Mary was not the wedding planner but still kept her attention on the needs of others.  She recognized and impending disaster and took the initiative to do something about it.  This awareness and creative service modeled by the Virgin Mary is a key to being a true follower of Christ.
Mary noticed the problem and wanted to do something about it.   She didn’t have the resources to solve the problem by herself and so she goes to Jesus, and simply says to him, “They have no wine”.  She doesn’t portray anxiousness or stress.   She does not try to micro manage Jesus with a to do list or a command.  But, she knows that her son is the Messiah, the Son of God.  She approaches him with total confidence knowing that his infinite love and unlimited omnipotence will be the combination to solve the problem. 
Mary shows us how to approach Jesus.  He is our savior and he comes for our sake.  In our times of confusion, trouble and suffering we can make Mary’s prayer our own:  They-we-I –have  not wine.   A confidence in Jesus is a key to spiritual maturity in Christ.
Next Mary puts her confidence in Jesus into practice.  She turns to the waiters and gives the best piece of advice that any human being has ever given anyone.  “Do whatever he tells you.”
The waiters in turn, follow her directions.  Mary’s confidence in Jesus gives them the faith they need to obey and they become part of the miracle that saves the day.  Obedience to God’s will is a key to a Christian life.
Our Blessed Mother always points us to Jesus.  Her last spoken words in the Bible help to initiate his ministry.  Mary knew that Jesus was the Messiah and Jesus knew his mission.  That is why his response is:  “Woman, how does your concern affect me?  My hour has not yet come.”  By addressing Mary as Women is not a exchange of rudeness or ridicule.  He is acknowledging her as the Mother of God and saying that his time to be glorified has not yet happened.  Her response of “Do Whatever He Tells You.” Is not a message of disgust but one of trust. 

Jesus as the loving God responds by transforming the water into the most excellent wine.  It is a gift to us through the Holy Spirit of his saving grace.  The headwaiter responds to the actual bridegroom that usually the excellent wine is served first.  But, he does not know that this wine was made from the Divine Bridegroom.  Jesus is the Bridegroom who is married to his bride who is us, the body of Christ, his church.  As displayed in the first reading this marriage is a covenant relationship with his chosen people.  He is the groom of humanity, his beloved and sought after bride. 
This first sign is the introduction of the New Covenant where he will become “one flesh” with all of humanity in the Church.  By our Baptism, each of us has been betrothed to Christ as a bride to a Husband.  The Excellent wine is the saving grace of our salvation.  It comes to us if we truly hold Christ in the center of our lives. 
But, do we place Christ in the center of our lives?  That is truly a choice of free will.  This past week many people put their Powerball ticket at the center .  In some of today’s marriages, instead of a covenant between a man and a woman before God, a pre-nuptial agreement is at the center.   Many of us put our job, our money, our possessions at the center of our hearts.  And we pray for those who place their mood modifiers whether it be food, alcohol, drugs, or pornography through addiction at the center of their hearts.  These things have only a short lived finite joy.
A person who chooses Christ at the center of their life has a radiant joy.  Just like the water transformed into an excellent wine, he or she is transformed as well.  People of Christ are often asked the question, why are you so happy?  I hope if you are asked that question, the response will be Jesus Christ.  I pray the second response will be “I do whatever he tells me.”   This is evangelization.   The realization of his grace leads us to discovering our God given gifts as displayed by St. Paul in the second reading.  Christ at the center of our life brings a life of clarity and a true path toward his light. 

As we continue on with Mass and throughout the week let us remember to follow Christ with an attitude of creative service by sharing a confidence in Jesus and by being obedient to God’s will.  Let us ask our blessed Mother to intercede on our behalf, just as she did for the newlyweds at Cana that God’s grace will flow freely in us and through us. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Two Shall Become One


"So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate."

In today's Gospel of Matthew, (Matthew 19:3-12), the question of divorce comes up by the Pharisees concerning the law of Moses.  Jesus makes it quite clear in the statement above what God proclaims on the subject of marriage.  If you study this passage further some clarity comes out on why priests don't marry in the Catholic Church.  "Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it."
This statement clarifies the celibate life.  Does it open the door for homosexuality?  Here is what the Catholic Church says: 

The Homosexual inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most [homosexuals] a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. (CCC 2358-2359).

So God clearly states that men and women should be married.  The church does not denounce homosexuality but recognizes it and says that they need to be devoted to a life of chastity to reach the kingdom of heaven. 

In terms of divorce, God is saying that if a person divorces and has relations with another they are committing adultery.  God is also clearly saying the men have a responsibility to take charge in the area of marriage and families.  "Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female'
and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?  This is critical in today's eroding society where men are degraded.  Have you watched a sitcom lately?  It is time to man up, love your wife, be the head of the household, and be a God fearing father to your children.  If more of that happens then the Pharisee does not ask the question ever again. 

prayer:  Father in heaven, please send the Holy Spirit down upon our married couples to put you first and to keep marriages strong on behalf of today's children.  They need good parents to help our next generation go from good to great.  Amen

promise:  I promise to to keep God first in my marriage so I can be a better husband and dad.

praise:  Glory and praise to our God for his infinite wisdom.

For more information go to

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Dry Spell

Have you ever had a dry spell in your faith?  I am there.  Maybe it is just the dog days of August.  Maybe it is back to work time and I don't feel like doing the job.  But, it is time to buck up and pray, write blogs, and do God's work.  Starting tomorrow? 

Nah, as St. Augustine has said, Give me chastity but not yet!  I am in that mode now, but with God's help hopefully I can kick things in gear. 

Dear Lord, help me out of my funk and into brighter pastures of faith.

I promise to try to get things back on track.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Bring Out Your Dead!

In my demented mind, on of my favorite movies is Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  I love the scene of "Bring Out Your Dead" where a man pulls a cart through a village and dead are placed upon it.  During the scene a person who is alive is placed on the cart and his lines are:

"I'm not dead yet."  "I'm feeling much better"  "I think I'll go for a walk" 

Unfortunately, this poor soul is whacked on the head and dies.

As you may tell the spirit is moving me to write not much of Catholic substance today but, I ran across an interesting article about the catacombs of Paris.

The remains of over 6 million people are found in the catacombs and peopled labeled as "cataphiles" go into these tunnels and find relaxation.  Some party.  They find a freedom in this different surrounding to "reinvent" themselves.  Perhaps it invigorates as we are reminded of our finite time on Earth.  I sent out an email to my co-workers with a story about a teacher who lost her husband and what she told her students:

'So I would like you all to make me a promise. From now on, on your way to school, or on your way home, find something beautiful to notice. *

*It doesn't have to be something you see, it could be a scent, perhaps of freshly baked bread wafting out of someone's house, or it could be the sound of the breeze slightly rustling the leaves in the trees, or the way the morning light catches one autumn leaf as it falls gently to the ground. Please look for these things, and cherish them. For, although it may sound trite
to some, these things are the "stuff" of life. The little things we are put here on earth to enjoy. The things we often take for granted.*

Perhaps a trip to the catacombs, cemetery, or mausoleum is a good reminder to find something beautiful to notice everyday.  Or maybe these skulls are beautiful?

Prayer:  Dear Lord, in your design you make our days on Earth numbered.  Let us appreciate the beauty of your creation each day in matter, people and living things. 

Promise:  I promise to take some time to notice your creations and praise you.

Praise:  Glory and Praise to you Lord for our dead and their peaceful resting places. 

Turn Me Over, This Side is Well Done

"Whoever loves his life loses it,
and whoever hates his life in this world
will preserve it for eternal life.
Whoever serves me must follow me,
and where I am, there also will my servant be.
The Father will honor whoever serves me."
John 12:25

St. Lawrence, who was a deacon during the Roman Empire, knew that he was going to get martyred like Pope St. Sixtus II under the emperor Valerian.  Lawrence was in charge of the church's material goods and he knew that Valerian was sending his guard to confiscate them.  So he rounded up all of the goods of the church and gave them to the poor.  When the Roman guard came asking for all of the riches of the church, Lawrence said that he would have to inventory and gather them together and that would take some time.  Lawrence gathered together all of the poor, sick, lepers and when the guard came back he declared them the "riches of the church".  The guard said that Lawrence would die because of this inch by inch.  He was placed on a bed of coals as the picture shows above.  He blessed the coals and his persecutors.  Then after a while he said his famous line, "Turn Me Over, This Side is Well Done."  St. Lawrence's feast day is August 10th. 

We are in a spiritual battle now in our time in areas of social justice, health care practices, abortion and other areas in which the governing powers are in a different philosophy with the church. 

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago during his homily for the feast of St. John the Baptist said that he is turning 75 and will be retiring.  His predecessors all died in office.  He said the next archbishop of Chicago will probably be imprisoned and the his follower will be martyred.  We may be facing the same question that St. Lawrence faced at the time of his service.  Will we have the strength to accept death for our faith?

Prayer:  Let us pray for the fortitude to stand firm and steadfast in witness to the faith, and in witness to the truth like St. Lawrence did. May the Lord rouse His mighty power and come swiftly to our aid.       

Promise:  I promise to put my faith first, in all situations.

Praise:  We offer great praise to God for servants such as St. Lawrence and Cardinal Francis George who give their lives in service.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Our Spin On the Potter's Wheel

The readings from Jeremiah and Matthew today have an interesting connection.  The Potter's Wheel story displays that God will take and form us throughout our lifetime.  But, the key is will we let him?  Will we be patient; like a potter; and give ourselves to him to be formed.  Or, do we put our free will and our power before him(which we know is false power) and our bowl remains imperfect. 

Like the potter if there is an imperfection he collapses the clay and starts over again.  I think this is the same thing with God.  There are ebbs and tides in our formation and times where if we drift off course enough we get stuck in the tide and get beached.  But, then the water rushes back in so we can get formed again. 

However, if we refuse to get formed then the result is what Jesus explained in Matthew 13:47-53 where the good fish are accepted and the bad fish thrown away.  It is hard to believe that God who is loving and good would throw us away since we are his creation.  I thing God gives us unlimited chances to be formed.  It is a matter of whether we decide to be a good fish in the net or one that is casted away. 

Here is a good website that supports the Potter's Wheel.

Pray:  Dear Lord, help us to realize that you are in control of our lives and you are the one who forms us to be ready for our entrance into your kingdom.  Please form us and let us accept you as the director of our path in life.

Promise:  I promise to pray daily for my formation.

Praise:  Thank you Lord for making us like clay, so you can form our souls toward eternal glory.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The Treacherous Brook

"You have indeed become for me a treacherous brook,

whose waters do not abide!  Jeremiah 15:18"

Jeremiah is lamenting here for God has given him his earthly task and all is terrible in his world.  Sometimes God gives us tasks we do not like or situations in life we do not understand.  But, as Jeremiah is lamenting in this passage it is okay for us to lament as well.  However, Jeremiah followed through on his task for it was God's will.  We need to do that as well. 

Things don't always go as planned.  I think that is whey the Olympics are such a popular sporting event. Everyone knows that hard work that is put in by these athletes(especially the swimmers, gymnasts, track and field participants, etc.)  In sport their is often injuries, miscalculations or the misjudging of the competition that results in losing in an event.  For instance, Michael Phelps, now perhaps the greatest Olympian ever, lost in the 200 Butterfly because he glided to the finish while his opponent took a stroke into the wall.  That brief period of time was the difference between Gold and Silver.  Jordyn Wieber, the reigning World Champion gymnast did not qualify for the all around as she was outscored by her teammate. 

However, God is good and both of these athletes won Gold in thier team related events last night.  Just as Jeremiah won Gold in the kingdom of heaven for all of his dread that he had to experience while being persecuted for prophesizing the fall and exile of Jeruselem. 

Prayer:  Dear Lord, we thank you for our trials and tribulations in this life.  What doesn't kill us does make us stronger and closer to you.  The struggle is part of the journey and things often do not go our way.  That is not your intention for you love us.  But, in the world we need your help to help us through these times.  Thank you for being that guiding light of peace.  Amen.

Promise:  I promise to follow God's will and plan for he created me and it is my job to serve on his behalf on this Earth.

Praise:  Thanks to Jeremiah who models to us that it is okay to complain a little to God when we are down and in need of his love.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ignatius and Growth in God

"When you turn back to him with all your heart, to do what is right before him, Then he will turn back to you, and no longer hide his face from you. So now consider what he has done for you, and praise him with full voice. Bless the Lord of righteousness, and exalt the King of the ages. In the land of my exile I praise him, and show his power and majesty to a sinful nation. "Turn back, you sinners! do the right before him: perhaps he may look with favor upon you and show you mercy."  Tobit 13:6

This was in the Lauds for today in the the second antiphon.  It has the preface of "God afflicts but only to heal."

We all put up barriers to God at one point or another and that makes it difficult for him to work through us.  Each of us has conversions.  Many in our lifetime.  Today's Saint is St. Ignatius.  His conversions were many and found through intense prayer.  His spiritual exercises help us turn back to God with all of our hearts and to do what is right before him.  

Prayer:  Dear Lord help us all to tear down our walls and barriers and open them up to you so you can do your will upon us and show us the way to your mercy and plan for us in our life.

Promise:  I promise to let God form me to do his will. 

Praise:  I praise all of those involved in ministry for their donation of their time, efforts, and their caring attitude for the betterment of all people.