Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Homily for the Wednesday of Holy Week

In today’s Gospel Jesus makes reference to the one who will betray Him. Jesus said to His disciples, “The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.” Like Judas, there are many times we betray our Lord by our thoughts, words, and needs. Unlike Judas however, we know and have experienced God’s love and mercy.

As we prepare to enter into the Sacred Tridiuum, may we pray for the grace to follow the call of the Lenten Season to turn away from our own sinfulness and to follow the path in which Christ has set for us!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Homily for Tuesday of Holy Week

“Will you lay down your life for me?” Our Lord’s question to Peter is the same one He asks us to ponder this morning. In the exchange between our Lord and Peter, Jesus says to “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later.”

As we meditate on the Lord’s passion we also mediate on the crosses that we have in our lives. The Lord asks us to take up our crosses and follow Him daily. As the Lord said to Peter, “you will follow later, his prediction in regards to Peter’s future is the same for all of us.  This week as we reflect on the Lord’s passion may we ask Him for the grace to help us with our crosses!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Homily for Monday of Holy Week

“The Lord is my light and my salvation.” Today you and turn our attention to the Lord and prepare to walk with Him as He begins His journey towards Calvary. Speaking to Judas the one who would betray Him, he said referring to the oil, “Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” Thus, He is preparing them and us today for His upcoming Passion.

Jesus shows us the way to Salvation. It’s not an easy road, but it is one that is very rewarding. As we continue with Holy Week may we pray to always keep our hearts focused on Christ who is our light!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Brief Palm Sunday Homily

My dear brothers and sisters we have just heard together the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This is how much our Lord loved us.  No more words are necessary.  As we prepare to enter into Holy Week let us reflect on the Lord’s love for us.

Homily for Saturday the Fifth Week of Lent given to the young people attending the Fire of Love Confirmation Rally

We gather on the Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent to assist in preparing you for the Sacrament of Confirmation where you will be sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. While these readings are geared towards Lent the readings for this particular Saturday are helpful to you as you continue on this your exciting journey of faith.

There is one word that stands out in both readings today, “unity.” As we heard this morning from the first reading from the prophet Ezekiel, “Thus says the Lord God: I will take the children of Israel from among the nations to which they have come. I will make them one nation upon the land, in the mountains of Israel, and there shall be one prince for them all.” What we hear contained in the first reading is God speaking to us saying that He desires to make us one. Our Heavenly Father did that through Jesus. In the Gospel account the high priest for that year Caiaphas said, “You know nothing, nor do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish.” It was necessary for Jesus to die on the cross in order to fulfill the Heavenly Father’s plan for salvation. At the moment of Jesus’ death the gates of the Heavenly Kingdom were opened allowing us the opportunity to be one with the Lord.

Now Jesus died over two thousand years ago, it the Holy Spirit, who helps to guide us to that unity. The words “unity” and “one” are words we often hear referred to in our faith. When we come forward to receive Holy Communion not only do we have that personal encounter with Christ but we also become one with each other. In the word “Communion” we see two words “community” and “union.” We together make up the one Body of Christ.

As you prepare to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit the Lord has a challenge for us and they are the same words He issued to His disciples, “take up you cross and follow me.” Not only are we are called to follow Him he calls us to listen to Him. Jesus has the words of everlasting life. It’s so unfortunate today that many see confirmation as graduation from the Church and Religious Education. That is absolutely not true! You are called to a greater responsibility.

Confirmation is not the end of your religious journey rather it should be seen as another beginning. You are responsible to follow the precepts of the Church. Holy Mother Church requires us to follow the precepts of the Church not because she wants to control us but because she knows what we need. Get involved in youth groups, strive to learn and share your faith. Make sure you make it a point to attend Mass each Sunday and on Holy Days of Obligation. More and more people today think that they can worship God in their homes and in other places. While there is some truth to this in many respects we are required to go to Church not only to give thanks and worship God for all that He has done for us but also to be there to support one another. Remember we make up the Body of Christ and when we gather together we are united as one family. Besides one hour a week or in some cases two shouldn’t be too much to ask to honor a God who would love us to the point of carrying the heavy wooden cross and suffering and dying on it for our sake.

Please take your faith seriously. Allow the Lord into your hearts and allow the spirit to work in your lives. Remember that the Lord will guard us, as a shepherd guards his flock. The key is, if we allow Him!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Homily for the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.” With these words from the Angel Gabriel, God’s plan for our salvation was set in motion. Today my brothers and sisters in Christ, we celebrate with great joy the Solemnity of the Annunciation, the day in which our Heavenly Father announced to Mary and in a sense to the world His plan for salvation.

As we honor the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary to announce God’s plan we also honor and thank the Blessed Mother for her yes. Soon as she said “yes” Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit. On the Solemnity of Annunciation may we model Mary’s “yes” in our lives! For when we say “yes” to God’s will more doors are opened to us.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Homily for Sunday of the Fifth Week of Lent

In the Gospel account today the word “judgment” refers to condemnation. The point Jesus was trying to get across to the Scribes and Pharisees is that no one has the authority to condemn another.

The Scribes and Pharisees presented a woman who was caught in the very act of committing adultery with the purpose of stoning her to death. At the same time the scribes and Pharisees were trying to trick Jesus when they said, “Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such a woman.” Our Lord knew their intentions and He said something He knew would pierce them to the heart, “Let the one among you without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” We are all sinners! Jesus by saying those words got them to think and reflect.

While you and I don’t have the authority to condemn another person only God Himself can do that, there are times in which you and I do have to make judgments in regards to the actions of others. Notice I didn’t say a judgment on the individual themselves but on the actions they make. A parent may witnesses something that their children are doing that they don’t approve of and call their attention to it. Perhaps we know someone who might be struggling with a particular addiction and we decide to confront them about it. Often times the response we will get back from the individuals we try to reach out is “who are you to call my attention to this. Who are you to pass judgment on the things I do.” In these cases yes we are making a judgment but it’s not on the individuals themselves it’s about the actions they make. That doesn’t make us better than the individuals we reach to because we are just as human. However, if we love someone truly then we want what is best for them. We want to protect them from hurting themselves and others.

Is it easy for us to confront someone we love? Of course not! Jesus in a sense was passing a judgment on the actions of the Scribes and Pharisees; He didn’t do it out of spite and probably didn’t really what to do it that manner but our Lord did it because He loved them. Some scripture scholars suggest that Jesus might have been listing the sins of those scribes and Pharisees who were preparing to stone the woman. Do we know for sure? No not really, but it is plausible. In any case, I’m sure the Scribes and the Pharisees were probably insulted anyway by what our Lord had to say to them, however, sometimes that’s what helps people to understand the truth of the matter before them.

The Lenten Season is about love and mercy and today we see our Lord demonstrate love and mercy in two ways. First He reaches out to the woman who has committed adultery by saving her from a death sentence and forgiving her sins. Secondly, Jesus demonstrates His love and mercy by calling out the Scribes and Pharisees. Love and mercy works in two ways. Sometimes we show others the love and mercy of Christ by pointing out what they are doing that is not healthy. Then the other way love and mercy is demonstrated is by showing others the love and mercy of Christ by forgiving their faults.

As we go about our week let’s reflect on the Lord’s message to us today. May we strive to bring others to Christ by showing them the true love and mercy of Jesus Christ!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Homily for the Solemnity of Saint Joseph

More than ever today do we need to look to someone who models for us a willingness to accept the will of God! This morning we are blessed to honor such an individual in the person of Saint Joseph the Husband of Mary.

When the angel appeared to him in a dream and asked him to care for Mary and her unborn child he said yes in faith. The Lord called Saint Joseph to an awesome responsibility for he was asked to provide protection and support for Mary and Jesus.

Saint Joseph was a carpenter by trade. He was a builder. As we honor him today we ask him to help us to accept the will of God in our lives and also to assist us in building up the Kingdom of God here and now.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Homily for Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent

In the first reading from the Book of Exodus we see the Lord our God become upset at the people of Israel for worshipping false gods. However, Moses pleaded on their behalf and said, “Let your blazing wrath die down; relent in punishing your people.” At Moses request, “the Lord relented in the punishment he had threatened to inflict on His people.

What we see in this passage is a merciful God! Yes at times our Lord becomes upset at us from time to time, but He is really a merciful God. He wants us to turn back to Him. At times we need an advocate as Moses was an advocate for the people of Israel. We need to be advocates to the Lord for one another. Today we strive to bring one another to Christ by praying for each other.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Homily for Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent…the Feast of St. Patrick for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg.

“I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people, to restore the land.” The Lord speaking through the prophet Isaiah reminds us of our obligation as followers of God. It is the Lord who has given us everything and in doing so asks us to use those gifts to maintain His kingdom on earth.

This morning we remember the Lord’s graciousness and mercy towards us. Today we remember Saint Patrick the patron Saint of our Diocese! He was led by the Spirit to go a Christianize the country of Ireland. Let us pray for the grace to model Saint Patrick as we continue building and maintaining God’s kingdom here on earth by reaching out to others.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Homily for Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Another day…another healing! Today the Lord heals a man who has been crippled and sick for thirty-eight years. Once again the readings demonstrate the healing power of God. Seeing the man laying there the Lord was moved with pity and asked him, “Do you want to be well?”

That’s the question the Lord poses to all of us today. If we place our faith and trust completely in Him He will heal us in ways we least expect it. May we pray for the grace to allow the Lord to cleanse our hearts and minds!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Homily for Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent

This morning our readings focus turns to one of hope! All throughout Lent we focus on penance and reconciliation, however today we focus on the result of our penance. The Lord said through the prophet Isaiah, “Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the things of the past shall not be remembered or come to mind. Instead, there shall always be rejoicing and happiness in what I create.”

When you and I turn to the Lord and seek His forgives the Lord forgives us so we can move forward in our lives. The Lord rescues us from the death of sin and restores us to live. As we continue with the Sacred Liturgy may we continue to praise the Lord, for He has rescued us!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Lent

Today’s Gospel has the themes of betrayal, jealously and forgiveness, the making of a soap opera. Jesus tells the Scribes and Pharisees after they complain of Him hanging around those tax collectors and sinners a parable. It’s a parable you and I are probably very familiar with, the parable of the lost son.

We all know the story, the son asks the father for his share of the estate and goes off and blows it all away. He later returns to the Father after losing everything and gets down on his hands and knees and begs his father to forgive him and the father does. However, the older son witnesses everything and is filled with jealously, saying wait a minute pop I have always been faithful to you and this is the thanks I get. He leaves and blows away all his inheritance and you slaughter slaughtered the fatten calf and give him the finest robes. Now I don’t know about you but because we are all human if we had this experience most of us would probably find ourselves in the position of the older brother. However, today my brothers and sisters we need to strive to emulate the father and be forgiving towards one another.

You and I at times are like the younger son, we turn away from God. We go off and waste all the many gifts that have been given to us. Yet today we must model the example of the younger son. If we are honest we already know we fail from time to time. It’s all part of being human! However, we must emulate the younger son’s humility and approach our merciful father. As the father told the older son, “my son, you are with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.” The Heavenly Father rejoices every time we come back to Him.  So today' let’s strive to follow God so  we can taste and see the goodness of the Lord and experience His mercy.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Homily for Friday of the Third Week of Lent

Continuing with yesterday’s theme of following the Lord’s voice in our lives responding to the scribes question in regards to the First Commandment, he says, “Hear O’ Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God will all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Summarizing this passage we are to love God with our entire being. So often it’s easy to say God I love you, but our actions at times say otherwise.

Jesus also made reference to another commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Adding this second great commandment is important because we cannot say I love God and then turn around and say I don’t love my brother, because we are all created in the image and likeness of God. Our challenge today is to listen once again to the voice and the Lord in our lives but to strive to recognize His presence in one another!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Homily for Thursday of the Third Week of Lent

“If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” This morning our challenge set before us to always be open to the voice of the Lord in our lives. Many times you and I hear the Lord’s voice but we turn and run in the opposite direction. Perhaps we don’t recognize the Lord’s voice or maybe the opposite occurs we hear the Lord’s voice but we don’t respond because we feel what the Lord is asking of us is too difficult.

This morning the Lord calls us to listen to His voice and to be open to what He has to say. Jesus said, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” May we strive to always follow the Lord!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Homily for Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent

Moses speaking to the people said this morning, “Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe, that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you.” This Promised Land for us is a place in the Heavenly Kingdom.

What must we do to get there? As Moses said to the people of Israel and Jesus told His disciples in the Gospel this morning we must follow and obey the commandments of God. Jesus gives us all a clear warning this morning, “Whoever breaks one of the least commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven.” There are some in a world today bent on publically defying the Lord’s commandments and bring others into those lies. We who are gathered here are sinners and because of our human nature we will fall, but we must always remember to turn back to the Lord. As we prepare to receive Jesus into our hearts let’s together ask Him for the grace to model our lives in accordance to His holy will.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Homily for Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent

One of the hardest things we can do is forgive one another when they hurt us. Peter approaching the Lord asked the Lord in regards to forgiving one another. He said, “Lord if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? Our Lord responded, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”

Of course our Lord wasn’t speaking about an actual number; in essence he was basically saying to Peter you should always be open to forgiving your brother when he sins against you. The same is applied to us we should always be open to forgiving one another when they hurt us. When we start holding grudges against one another the result is it begins to tear us apart. You and I become miserable and unhappy. Today the Lord challenges us to model Him and show one another His unconditional love and mercy.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Homily for Monday of the Third Week of Lent

Our Lord reminds the people in the synagogue that “no prophet is accepted in his own native place.” Questions we must ponder this morning are we really open to God’s word. Do we recognize God at work in our lives? So many times we miss the wonderful things the Lord does for us.

The Lord does many wonderful things for us on a daily basis. Many times we miss them because we are so busy looking for the big things we miss the little things that have been given to us which are right under our nose. Our Lord speaks to us on a daily basis through the ordinary events of everyday life. Today let us take stock in all the blessings the Lord has bestowed upon us and us those gifts to benefit others.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Homily for the Third Sunday of Lent

“The Lord is kind and merciful.” All throughout the season of Lent you and I mediate on the Lord’s kindness. Last week in my homily I focused on the importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and how important that sacrament is for each one of us. For in the Sacrament of Reconciliation we experience firsthand the Lord’s kindness as He demonstrates His mercy by forgiving us our sins.

This weekend I would like to reflect on another important Lenten Devotional, the Stations of the Cross. We pray the Stations of the Cross every Friday in Lent at 2 and 7PM. I would like to encourage and invite everyone to participate in this very special devotion. For us as we meditate on the each of the fourteen stations we remember those steps the Lord took for our sake. Often times we need to be reminded of the extent of God’s love for us. It’s easy for us to say God loves us, but do we remember how much. All too often we take God’s love for granted. That is not to say we don’t recognize God’s love for us in our lives but we forget the fact that He loved us to the point of suffering on the cross.

While we contemplate the Paschal Mystery every time we celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, when we pray the Stations we focus particularly on the individual steps. Keeping with the theme of reconciliation I would like to focus on the three stations in which make reference to the Lord’s falling. Twice in the Gospel today Jesus said in reply to the people gathered, “If you do not repent, you will all perish as they did.” The season of Lent is a season of repentance. It’s a time for us to turn away from our sinful ways and back our loving Father. Yet these three stations give us something important to think about. Let’s stop to think about it, you and I are human. We are going to keep making the same mistakes over and over again. Its one thing you and I never fail in. However, Jesus did not stay down; He got right back up and continued on His very difficult journey.

You and I fall each and every day. It’s nothing to be ashamed of; it’s all part of being human. Jesus challenges us to repentance. Every time we fall we must get right back up and move forward. This week as we continue on our Lenten Pilgrimage of faith, let’s take some time to evaluate our lives and turn to the Lord not only to repent for the wrong things we have done, but to ask Him for the grace and the strength to embrace our cross and to get right back up again every time we fall.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Homily for Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

The prophet Jeremiah opens this morning by saying in the first reading, “Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh who heart turns away from the Lord.” Often times when things get hard you and I place our trust in others and ourselves rather than the one whom we should be ultimately placing our trust in.

When we experience pain and suffering it’s easy for us to complain and become depressed, however the Lord challenges us today never to give up hope. As we heard in the Gospel of the account of the rich man and Lazarus the rich man while he lived had many worldly things while Lazarus was poor and covered with sores. It was even quoted in the Gospel that “dogs even used to come and lick his sores.” Than both men died and the roles were reversed the rich man lived in torment and the poor man was comforted. Indeed, “blessed are they who hope in the Lord.”

While you and I experience many challenges, pain, and suffering in this life the Lord begs us to place our faith and trust in Him. We must also remember when we do experience some of these difficult trials of life that the Lord Himself is giving us a share in His own passion. During the season of Lent is good for us to be reminded of that. As we approach Jesus today we ask Him to help us to always place our faith and hope in His merciful love.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

In Honor of Saint Katherine Drexel…

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(Saint Katherine Drexel 1858-1955)

As we continue with our Lenten journey it is fitting that today March 3rd we commemorate the life of Saint Katherine Drexel. She came from a very prominent Philadelphia family but felt others could use it more. Her ministry was to care for the needs of African Americans and Native Americans. She opened schools to minister to them.

Saint Katherine Drexel founded the order the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. She did more than just donating her fortune; she gave up her life to the service of Christ and His Church. By reaching out to others especially to the members of the African American and Native American communities her ministry touched many lives.

May we emulate the example of Saint Katherine Drexel in our lives!  As we continue on our Lenten pilgrimage of faith may we rid ourselves of those things we truly don’t need and offer them up for those who might need them the most!

Homily for Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent

“Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” This morning we ponder these words of the Lord as he responds to the mother of Zebedee. You and I are often tempted to seek out honor. That’s what the mother of the sons of Zebedee was seeking out for sons. However, Jesus reminds her that following Him comes with a cost and it’s a cost that is hard for us accept.

Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink? Are we able to accept the ridicule of others when they find out we are a follower of Christ? Can we stand up and accept the teachings of Christ and His Church? Are we ready to accept the crosses life has in store for us? These dear brothers and sisters are questions you and I must ask ourselves His morning. As we turn to the Lord this morning in prayer let us ask Him for the grace of following Him spiritually along the road of Calvary.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

In the Diocese of Harrisburg…Termination of the Flu Season Directives for the Celebration of the Sacred Liturgy

 

Effective Sunday March 14th, the directives regarding the flu season and the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy issued October 2, 2009 that suspended the sign of peace and distribution of the Precious Blood has been lifted. Beginning on the 14th of March the sign of peace and distribution of the Precious Blood maybe reintroduced in the manner indicated by the liturgical norms.

Monday, March 1, 2010

RCIA…Holy Sacrifice of the Mass Series

 

Homily for the Second Sunday of Lent

“This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.” Today’s Gospel is of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Why is it important for us to hear this Gospel account today in the Second Sunday of Lent? The account of the Transfiguration reminds us that we need to listen to the voice of the Lord in our lives. In this passage of the Heavenly Father spoke through a voice in the clouds and revealed Jesus as His Son which means He has the power to bring peace and healing in our lives.

All throughout Lent you and I have plenty of opportunities to experience the Lord healing power. One of those ways is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is one of the most important Sacraments I as a priest can provide for the people of God. Speaking as penitent I have experienced the Lord’s healing power first hand and as a priest I have witnessed the Lord’s healing power at work through my priestly ministry. It is unfortunate that many people don’t take advantage of this beautiful Sacrament. Often times I hear from people, I really don’t need to go to confession because I believe God forgives me whenever I ask Him. However, Holy Mother Church is clear in the second precept of the Church, “you shall confess your sins at least once a year.” The Church asks us minimally to confess our sins to a priest once out of the entire year. Some may wonder why the Church requires this of us. Holy Mother Church sees the importance and value of this beautiful Sacrament.

One thing you and I must remember is that the Sacraments are an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace. In the definition of a Sacrament we hear the word outward sign. This means it is something physical, able to be seen and experienced. We need to hear our Lord’s words of comfort, “I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Another key phrase, “instituted by Christ” which means it was given to us by Christ Himself. In John’s Gospel the Lord tells his disciples “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven.” From this short passage we hear Jesus giving His disciples authority to forgive sins. Finally the last phrase of the definition of a sacrament is “to give grace.” Every time we receive the Sacraments the Lord gives us a very special gift, His grace. That grace is experienced in the peace we find knowing that our sins are forgiven. The more we hear those important words and the more we take advantage of that gift of grace the more we will be able to overcome our own sinfulness.

Now there are a lot of people not comfortable with confessing their sins to a priest. Confessing our sins is a humbling experience. Many people are afraid of what the priest is going to say. At times people are afraid of going to confession to a particular priest because of how they may come across. A priest is morally obligated to preach the truth from the pulpit and in the classroom. As Saint Alphonsus Liguori was quoted as saying, “be a lion at the pulpit but be as gentle as a lamb in the confessional.” Like parents being tough with their kids, sometimes a priest needs to be just as tough with His flock challenging them to a greater holiness. However in the confessional a priest needs to be gentile as a lamb so that his parishioners can experience the love and mercy of Christ. To those who might be afraid of confessing ones sins to a priest, speaking for myself while as a priest I sit in the person of Christ, I can assure (and I hope this doesn’t come as a shock) to you that I am not Him. I am just as human and have experienced and continue to experience some of the things you struggle with on a daily basis. Like everyone else I am a sinner, but for you I am a priest. The Lord raises sinners to the glory of the altar to minister to sinners. It’s a miracle, how our Lord works!

God has given us a gift in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Our Lord Himself invites us this Lent to take advantage of this special opportunity to experience firsthand His peace and love. Don’t pass up this opportunity!