Friday, February 25, 2011

Homily for the Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time

How can anyone ever say God has abandoned them? Our Lord has never abandoned His people in fact He is present with us at this very moment. Yes things might not be going the way we planned. Perhaps someone is facing a tough time getting a job. Maybe a family member is sick having a difficult time struggling with their illness. Times are indeed tough but that doesn’t mean we are left here all alone carrying a heavy cross on our shoulders.

As we heard in the very short reading from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child in her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you!” God has never ever forgotten us in fact it is quite the opposite, many times we are the ones who have abandoned God. When things don’t go right we have this tendency to turn away from Him. Yes we get angry, and we should its only natural, but what is unnatural is to turn our backs completely on our creator. I always find it funny when people ask the question where is God when things are not going well. The reason I find it funny is because don’t we take the time to read the Sacred Scripture. Doesn’t our Lord say in the Scriptures “take up your cross and follow me.” Our Lord has never promised us a life free from pain but rather He showed us even personally the road to everlasting happiness is the cross.

Why the difficulty? Why do we think that God has abandoned us in our darkest hour? It doesn’t make sense for us to say that God abandons us when we are hurting when He Himself embraced our pain and our suffering. There is a reason for that and the reason is that some have removed the image of Christ crucified not just physically from their churches, homes, and schools but also from their hearts and minds. We have taken away the very image that reminds us of God’s unconditional love. He loved us so much that He took on suffering for our sake. Right there is that very important image front and center directly above the tabernacle. It’s time we bury that wishy washy theology telling everyone “Jesus loves them” and “you are special” by telling them directly how much God loved them and showing them the very image which reminds us all of how special we really are.

Now what do we do if we struggle coping with the trials of life. Listen once again to the words of the responsorial psalm, “rest in God alone, my soul.” Place everything into God’s hands. Do not carry the burden of life alone. That’s what we try to do! Our Lord has given us all that we need right here to plug along through life’s journeys. Holy Mother Church is our Simon of Cyrene, for the Sacraments while they do not take away the crosses of life completely they make the crosses we do have more bearable. What the Lord promises us through His Church cannot be reached through the world. That is what Jesus says in today’s Gospel, “no one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” If one looks for God on the computer, in material possessions, on the television screen, one will find themselves extremely disappointed. God is in His Church and He is in each one of us.

Today the Lord encourages us put our total trust in Him. If one needs to be reminded of God’s sacrificial love place the image of Christ crucified in every room of one’s house. The image of Christ crucified is central to our Catholic faith and should be prominent in every Church, in every Catholic School, and in every home. Remove that image then when faced with difficulties one will not be able to stand up to the test. Come to Church, listen to His words, go to confession when needed, and receive Jesus Christ. He not only can help us carry the weight of the cross but He can also transform us. All we have to do is be open to it!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Introduction to Prayer Course

The Introduction of Prayer Course which was scheduled for this evening has been CANCELLED…the make up class will be Tuesday March 15th.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Homily for the Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

Our readings for this Sunday have a familiar theme: love. It’s a word we hear often in the Catholic Church but yet I don’t many of us grasp what it truly means. I think we touch upon it at its surface but we really don’t get down to the core of its meaning. With that said, what is love?

Today our first reading was taken from the Book of Leviticus which is often referred to as the Book of Laws. In this particular passage which was proclaimed we heard, “you shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart. Through you may have reprove your fellow citizen, do not incur sin because of him. Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people.” The law of the Lord is love. At this time I want to ask a rhetorical question, how many of us at this very moment have a grudge against someone else in our hearts. Take a moment to think about that. A bit of advice as we pray here today and listen to God’s word; let it go, place it into the Father’s hands. If you feel that it is weighing you down take it confession and experience the Lord’s love and mercy first hand. That will condition your heart to be able to forgive.

Together we sang in our responsorial psalm that, “The Lord is kind and merciful.” Indeed He is and that is what we experience every single time we go to confession. We experience the Lord’s kindness and mercy through forgiveness. There is no greater act of love than that. Yet there are other ways we can show the Lord’s love and mercy which is often never talked about. The other way we can show the Lord’s love is by helping one of our misguided brothers and sisters get back on the right track. Correcting others is a way in which we show the Lord’s love. Parents should be correcting their children’s sinful behavior. They should be giving them structure. If you don’t correct it early it will end up becoming a greater problem later in life. Perhaps children in school have witnessed a student bully another student. Do we teach our children to go to someone in authority or if they are old enough to stand up directly for the student being bullied. We should be constantly correcting one another.  Our Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles often corrected others. We have the account of our Lord turning over the tables of the money changers and of those who sold doves in the temple area. Our Lord often spoke directly to the Scribes and Pharisees referring to them as hypocrites. Why did our Lord do this? The answer is quite simple…because hell is real. Jesus Christ loved the scribes and the Pharisees so much that He didn’t want them to end up there. So our Lord and His apostles did all they could in action and word to drive home their point.

Our Lord has that same passionate love for each one of us! In turn we are called to demonstrate that same passionate love back to God by loving one another. Correction is discipline and discipline is what is lacking today. It’s time to take off the blinders because discipline is a form of love and without it we are in serious trouble. The last several weeks in my homilies I have been stressing this importance of sharing the faith because there are so many people who have bought into this lie that faith is a private matter. Faith isn’t a private matter, faith is a gift and it’s meant to be shared like every other gift that has been given to us. What does God teach us? Let’s think about that, love, mercy and forgiveness. What’s wrong with sharing those important teachings of God with others? Today more people are being heading in the wrong direction because people of faith are refusing to share it. What is even sadder is that people of faith do not recognize that not only are they letting others fall into the trap of evil one but don’t realize that they set themselves up to fall down right along with them.

As we go through our week let’s take some time to reflect whether or not we are constantly showing the Lord’s true love and mercy to all we meet. Today if you don’t remember anything else remember this that God’s love conquers all evil! May we strive to model that form of love which He has demonstrated to each one of us!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Homily for the Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Most of us when we hear the word “freedom” the first thing that pops in our minds are this ability to do what one wants. Children as they leave for college or get a place of their own go through this phase. Yes, I am out of my parent’s house and I no longer need to abide by their rules. I am free to do whatever I want. This is a mistaken notion of freedom. The Lord addresses this concern in today’s Gospel. God has given us commandments and He asks us to follow them. When we follow them we experience the true freedom of the children of God. Yes, you and I are given a free will which allows us to choose whether or not we follow the Lord. Thank God He gives us this option because if He didn’t we would be considered slaves or robots who do whatever is programmed into them. God out of His love gave us the ability to choose to love Him. That is how great our God is to us! Following God is right because when we do there is an unexplainable sense of peace that fills us.

What happens when we choose not to follow our Lord? The answer is that we become slaves to sin. Because we are all sinners we all know that feeling when there is a particular sin that weighs us down. It feels like our arms and legs are shacked and chained. Many people spend a life time with a particular cross. That is why we go to confession. We go to confession with the purpose of ripping apart those chains that bind us. In our minds we already know when we sin that we are slaves. While in our human nature we continue to fall into sin something happens every single time we go to the sacrament and that is why the evil one doesn’t want us to go. He will do all in his power to scare us away from the sacrament of confession leaving us slaves to sin. Every single time we go to confession we rip off those chains and we throw them on the ground and we tell Satin to his face that will not be mastered by sin. We tell him to his face that we no longer wish to be slaves but be children of the light.

Do you want to experience true freedom? Hopefully the answer for all of us is yes! That’s what the Lord is asking each one of us today. Don’t look for true freedom in the world. True freedom doesn’t consist of going to the store and buying the products one wants. Freedom doesn’t consist of being able to do something when one wants to do it. If you want to experience true everlasting freedom, listen again to the words of our responsorial psalm, “Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord.” Follow the Lord that is where true freedom lies.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Homily for the Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes

Boys and girls today we celebrate the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes. It was in Lourdes France where our Lady appeared to Bernadette Soubirous a young poor girl. Many people questioned the young girl’s vision. Bernadette was a very sickly child and because of her illness she struggled with understanding the faith. When asked about the lady she was seeing she said that the lady said “I am the Immaculate Conception. You might remember the term Immaculate Conception refers to Mary our Blessed Mother being born without sin. Here is another sign in one of the apparitions our Lady asked Bernadette to dig a whole and drink the water that she found. The water which first appeared to be full of mud became increasingly clean. It is that stream where many cures, people being healed from their sickness seamed to happen and even still happen today.

In the city of Lourdes our Lady asked for a Church to be built. Today Lourdes France is a place where many people go to pray and give thanks to God. As we commemorate Our Lady of Lourdes we ask her to pray to her Son on our behalf for all those who are sick. Some of you might have a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle who is experiencing a particular illness. We pray that the Lord may heal them physically or spiritually.

One of the lines you might remember hearing Mary say, “the Almighty has done great things for me, and Holy is His name.” Our Lord through the Blessed Mother did an awesome thing for young Bernadette; however we cannot forget that He continues to do many wonderful things for all of us. He gives you the opportunity to form great friends here at school; he gives you the ability to learn which gives you the tools for the future that lies ahead. My dear young friends the Lord appears to you today, our Lord Himself has spoken to you, and the Lord Himself will greet you at the foot of the steps of the sanctuary in a few short minutes. Miracles happen each and every day! God is here and He is working those miracles in your presence. Our Blessed Mother wants you to take this message with you today and that message is this, “with God all things are possible.” With that being said as we offer our prayers for all those who are sick we ask the Lord to help us to trust and grow closer to Him.

Homily for Thursday of the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time…the Memorial of Saint Scholastica

Our Lord Jesus Christ had a knack for fishing. I am not referring to the type of fishing we are accustomed to with a rod but rather His ability to fish out faith from individuals. That is what He was doing for the woman in today’s Gospel.

Blessed are they who fear the Lord. Our challenge for the day is to allow the Lord fish out the faith from us. The faith was instilled in all of us and the key is drawing it out. One of the ways we out the faith are through dialogue with one another. Saint Scholastica and her brother Saint Benedict had yearly discourses in which they talked about the faith. Following their example we should make every effort to discuss the faith with others.

Every time we listen to God’s words and receive Him in the Eucharist our wells of faith are replenished. However it does no good to let it sit there. Placing our total trust in our Lord and Savior we ask His divine to help draw the faith out of us.

Homily for Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time

Where does sin come from? As we heard in the Gospel account from Mark the Lord summoned the crowd and said, “Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.” Sin ultimately comes from within us. It boils down to the sin of pride.

One could attempt to make the argument that sin comes from outside because of the first reading from Genesis where God gives the order to Adam and Eve, “you are free to eat from any trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die.” However paging ahead the devil tricks them into eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil by telling them they will be like God. Thus, illustrating that sin comes from within and that is attached to our human pride.

My brothers and sisters our challenge today is to recognize that our sins and failings come from within. Once we are able to clearly recognize that then we will be able to ask the Lord for His forgives and His strength to overcome those weaknesses within us!

Homily for Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time

“You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.” Our Lord issued a warning to the Scribes and Pharisee’s and he wasn’t being politically correct. It says He responded, “Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites as it is written: This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.” This Gospel can be hard for us to digest because it is very direct and to the point. In fact it leaves us with this question for ourselves, are we putting God first?

The Scribes and Pharisee’s were hung up on the traditional washing of the hands before eating a meal. Nowhere in this passage does Jesus negate the importance of traditions but rather He was trying to get to the real meat of the matter. What we find our Lord doing is throwing the Scribes and Pharisee’s words back at them. Our Lord points out yet you say, “If someone says to father or mother, any support you might have had from me is qorban (meaning dedicated to God), you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother. You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on.” At times there are other things that should concern us more. There are some laws that are manmade for the sole purpose of conveying something, yet are not always one hundred percent necessary. What is more important for us is that we do what the Lord wants.

For example on one Sunday I happened to forget the creed.  Yes we should say the creed on Sunday because it is called for in the rubrics; however what is more important that we say the Creed or we receive our risen Lord into our hearts. When it comes to the Liturgy we should follow the letter of the law because everything we say and do has a meaning and purpose, but honest mistakes do happen. There is something much greater happening and that is what our Lord was trying to point out to the Scribes and Pharisee’s and that is what He is trying to point out to all of us today.

This morning we are challenged to incline our hearts to the Lord’s law and degrees and to look past our human precepts and look for the real message our Lord wishes to convey.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Homily for Monday of the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time

“God spoke, and it was done.” Our Lord’s words are very powerful. When they are spoken something powerful happens. There are times that often come up in our lives where we doubt the healing power of God. Sometimes we become bogged down with the weight of our own frailty which causes us to slowly lose hope. Yet despite that there is plenty of truth to the words, “God spoke, and it was done.”

God’s words have tremendous power. Every time we go to confession we should be filled with a sense of peace hearing the Lord forgive us our sins. As a priest when I go out to anoint an individual many times it calms a person knowing that the Lord is present with them. Indeed there is a tremendous power in the Lord’s words. It is very important us to take the words of the Lord with us into the world because many times saying them can bring peace to someone’s life. The very last line of the Gospel was, “as many as touched it were healed.” Our challenge today my brothers and sisters is to take the Lord’s words into the world so everyone has the opportunity to experience the Lord’s healing power.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Homily for Sunday of the Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

“You are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world.”  Once  again we are reminded of that light which is implanted in each one of us and that awesome responsibility that comes with it.  My brothers and sisters we are in danger of allowing our salt to lose its taste and our light dimmed.  When it comes to our faith we cannot allow ourselves to become couch potatoes.

How many of us when it comes to any sort of religious discussion find ourselves heading in the opposite direction?  There are many people who are afraid to bring up the topic of religion even in the midst of their own families.  We cannot brush our faith underneath the carpet.  This would be a grave mistake, and that is what is unfortunately happening in many places.  Guess what happens when we bury the light of Christ?  Well the answer is simple…darkness prevails!  We are allowing our world to fall into pieces because we ourselves are afraid to take a stand.  When we fail to take a stand for Jesus Christ, that’s when our salt begins to lose its taste and the light begins to dim. 

The just man is a light in darkness to the upright.  My dear friends we need to stop trying to avoid living our faith and start living it.  Don’t wait till tomorrow…start right now at this very moment.  Tomorrow could be too late!  As Saint Paul wrote to the people of Corinth, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and He crucified.”  You and I know we are living our faith well, when we are being crucified for it.  Do not fear the cross that comes with living the Gospel, because our reward will be great in the Heavenly Kingdom.  Let me warn you that there is even a greater price to pay for intentionally neglecting our responsibility and that is the eternal punishment.  We are don’t talking about missed opportunities, we are speaking about intentionally neglecting our responsibility to proclaim the good news to others.  Our goal on earth is to help one another get to heaven, and that is not happening if we stand back idle.  By standing idle not only are we letting others to fall into the trap of the evil one but we are allowing ourselves go down with them.  That is why it is very essential to let the light of Christ which is implanted within us shine.  By standing idle we are simply letting everything go downhill and that is not what our Heavenly Father wants.

Today the Lord asks us to put our light on the lamp stand because He wants us to light up the path that leads to Him.  Jesus gave us a command, “Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”  May we pray that we can live up to our Lord’s expectations.  

Homily for Thursday of the Fourth Week of Ordinary Time…the Memorial of Saint Blaise

As you and I gathered here this morning we should find meaning in these words from the first reading to the Hebrews, “you have approached Mount Zion the city of the living God.” Every time we gather here together as a family of faith we approach the living God. First we come together, and then we listen. Once we listen, we speak and then we receive. What is it that we receive? We receive the living God nourished by His words and received into our hearts through the Holy Eucharist.

Once we spend time pondering what the Lord is speaking to us in our hearts the Lord gives us a commission. He summons us together much like He summoned the twelve. Then like He did for the twelve He sends us out. We experience that at every celebration of the Sacred Liturgy for we gather together to listen to God speak to us. Then as the priest prays aloud the Eucharistic Prayer the faithful offer their lives and prayers to the Lord. Once we lift our lives and prayers to the Lord we have an opportunity to receive Him. Finally at the very end of Mass after the final blessing the Lord gives us His commission to “go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” Every time we gather here, every time we are sent back out. As we contemplate the gifts that we receive may we renew our commitment to serving the Lord!

Homily for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord…2PM Nursing Home Mass

“For my eyes have seen your salvation.” These are the words of Simeon who recognized the importance of the child within His midst. If those words weren’t powerful enough listen once again to the words Simeon directed to the Blessed Mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted – and you yourself a sword will pierce- so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

Simeon recognized the presence of God. Do we recognize the presence of God in our lives and in this very temple? Today we have an opportunity to receive our Lord in our hearts in a powerful way in the Eucharist. Through our baptisms we became children of God. Our Lord is within each one of us. Do we recognize Him? It is easy for us when we feel pain or become sick to become very irritable and impatient not only with ourselves but also with one another. That is a human reality. However our challenge today is to recognize the Lord within one another like Simeon recognized the Christ child that day in the temple. We have an opportunity to make Christ present to each other through our kind words, our smiles, and our prayerful support.

Today we celebrate the presentation of the Lord in the temple, but we also celebrate the presentation of the Lord within our lives. The Lord walks amongst us now, not in human form but in spirit and that spirit is within each of us. “Who is the King of God? It is the Lord!” It is the Lord who is present among us in sacrament and word. May we today give glory to God for all the gifts and blessing He has bestowed upon us!