Saturday, March 26, 2011

Homily for the Third Sunday of Lent

Continuing on our theme of the corporal works of mercy we would like to focus on theme this week of visiting the sick. Visits to the sick is an essential ministry of the Church and it something we are all called to do. It is unfortunate that many people upon entrance into a nursing facility are often forgotten about by their family and friends. Many of these people often become discouraged to the point of despair.

How can we tie this particular corporal work of mercy with today’s readings? Our readings for this particular Sunday speak of water, water that nourishes. Many of these individuals who are home bound or in a nursing facility are longing for water that nourishes. The faith is in them…and we see in the Gospel the faith was in the woman at the well but it needed to be drawn out. It’s easy when someone is a lone in this particular setting to become depressed. That is why our ministry to them is very vital so that the faith which is in them is kept flowing rather than drying up.

Maybe someone here has a relative an aunt, uncle, parent or grandparent in this very situation. Our ministry to our sick brothers and sisters is very important. The Lord asks each one of us today are we taking care of the needs of our sick brothers and sisters. Are we doing everything possible to help them in their hour of need? Today is Sunday and it is often referred to as a day of rest and indeed it is but it is also a day of service, a day in which we can reach out to those who are sick and homebound. In the event that you don’t live close by to someone you know who is this particular situation take a moment pick up the phone and give them a call. Phone calls are important too!

This Sunday as we meditate and reflect on this important Corporal Work of Mercy we look at it in light of today’s readings which call us to draw out the living water of faith from one another. As you go home and spend time with family or spend some time by yourself today the Lord Himself asks you to take time and reflect I think for a moment is there someone in my life that falls into this situation. Is there someone in your life that you haven’t been in contact for a while? Think about getting in contact with them because not only will you be drawing the living water of faith out of them but you will also be drawling the living water of faith from yourself has well!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Homily for the Second Sunday of Lent

“While He was praying His face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white.” Taking this line from Luke’s Gospel we would like to focus on the next two corporal works of mercy of “clothe the naked” and “shelter the homeless.” These two corporal works of mercy are really self explanatory. However, they do need to be discussed.

What does it mean to “clothe the naked” and “shelter the homeless?” Let us first together look at clothing the naked. Certainly this would include providing clothes for someone in need who have nothing or have lost everything. Last week we stressed the importance of being generous because many of these people find themselves in the situation they are in through no fault of their own. There have been some who have lost everything because of a fire or other devastating tragedy. Others have lost time at work because of a sudden illness. Today there are many people out there with a genuine need. In speaking about the importance of clothing the naked, we live in a culture that often times likes to waste. What happens when something no longer fits…do we donate it to a clothing drive? Unfortunately today many people choose to toss their perfectly good clothes that no longer fit rather than seeing if someone else could make us of them.

The next corporal work of mercy is shelter the homeless. This corporal work of mercy is very challenging, not because the concept is difficult, but who here would be willing to open their homes to a total stranger. In the society we live in today we would be considered crazy or a living saint for doing something like that. It is not uncommon however for individuals to reach into their pocket for a day or two to put someone up in a hotel, but how long could someone keep doing that before they are stretched thin. While the Lord asks us to be generous, He doesn’t ask the impossible. We can however look at it in a different way. There are many homeless people wondering around in our communities and we are not talking about those without a physical roof over their heads. Today there are many people looking for a spiritual home.

Everyone deep down is looking for a spiritual home. There are many individuals out there wondering aimlessly and because they have no solid foundation it is easy for them to slip through the cracks and into things they shouldn’t be in. Several times in the last several weeks we mentioned the importance of taking the Gospel with us into the world. In today’s society this is essential. The word of God cannot remain silent and we must constantly be inviting those who do not have a spiritual home into our home. We are called to be a welcoming community of faith. Our fear is that there are many people wondering aimlessly without any clear direction and without any direction these individuals can fall into any trap that is set before them.

God is constantly inviting people to join this family, however sometimes He needs a clear voice. You and I my brothers and sisters are called to be God’s voice in a society that tries to drown it out. Do not back down! Do not give up! We must strive to invite those who do not have a spiritual home into our own so that they can have the opportunity to be clothed by the light of faith. Clothe the naked, shelter the homeless that is our call from the Lord today!!!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Homily for the First Sunday of Lent

Traditionally during the holy season of lent we focus on the themes of conversion, forgiveness, love and mercy. In keeping with the tradition of addressing these key themes during this season of Lent we would like to focus our reflection the next several weeks on the corporal works of mercy. The Holy Season of Lent is not only a time of mediation on our own weaknesses but it is also an opportunity for us to act.

This week on the First Sunday of Lent we want to reflect on the first two corporal works of mercy which are “feed the hungry” and “give drink to the thirsty.” There are many examples of hunger and thirst prevalent in our society. Let’s begin with the obvious there are many people who are experiencing physical hunger. There are people who are struggling to put food on the table because they are forced to pay bills so they can keep a roof over their heads. More and more people are finding themselves in this situation and it shows. We are finding the number of individuals utilizing our food pantry is growing each week. Last year alone we gave out over four thousand bags of food and we are projecting going well over that this year. My brothers and sisters there are many individuals in desperate need and we have a moral responsibility to care for them.

Having worked in the world prior to my ordination I have often heard people say, “Why don’t they get a job?” Well for starters there aren’t enough high paying jobs out there. Many people are forced today to take jobs at minimal wage and with rising costs can barely support their families. This brothers and sisters is a fact of life. Many of the individuals who are coming to organizations like our own Saint Vincent De Paul Society cannot help the situation that they are in. As Christians if possible we have a moral obligation to assist all our brother and sisters who are in need. If it can’t be done monetarily than we must follow through and support one another by our prayers. We must be generous. The sins of abortion and contraception stem also from a lack of generosity, a lack of openness to life. It’s time that all Christians get their heads out of the sand and wake up and smell the coffee. Why are we losing so many jobs? It is because we have lost so many generations of workers. The current economic situation we face today is only going to get worse before it ever gets better. Until we recognize that a lack of generosity, a lack of openness to life is the direct cause for the situation we face today it’s only going to get worse.

That last part of what was just said ties into what we want to address right now and that is the presence of a spiritual hunger and thirst that is prevalent right now. There are people out there who are longing to hear the word of God and are not getting their fill. All Christians have a responsibility to live the Gospel by putting our Lord Jesus Christ’s teachings into action. There are many people out there who are heading in the wrong direction and in need of our help. Faith is a gift that and as a gift it is meant to be shared. Our faith in God cannot be silenced. There have been people who have tried to argue that belief in God is a private matter and some even say they find hearing about Him offensive. Well let me see God teaches us about conversion, forgiveness, hope, love and mercy. Is there anyone here find any of these themes offensive? Speaking for myself I certainly don’t. There are plenty of other things out there which are more offensive, just listen to some of the lyrics of songs on the radio. Satin is at work in the world and he is using forms of media in an attempt to accomplish his goals.

All people long for the word of God! We have a moral obligation to take God’s words with us in the world. It appears today that Satin is winning because many Christians have remained silent. Perhaps we have been silent for far too long! However appearances are only that just appearances! God is at work and He is working to bring about a conversion of souls. Feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty, that isn’t a request from our Lord but rather a clear direct instruction. The theme of Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans today is “where sin increased, there grace increased all the more.” Indeed, we could also rephrase that to say, “Where pain and suffering increased, there grace increased all the more.” There brothers and sisters is our hope! We are living in a period of grace! Today is the day to act and speak up! As we leave here today and reflect on God’s message may we seriously reflect on our obligation as Christians! This is indeed a period of grace may we not waste it!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Homily for Ash Wednesday 2011

“Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.” Today my brothers and sisters we begin our Lenten journey. In a few short moments you will come forward and ashes will be placed on your foreheads which serve as a reminder of our fallen human nature.

Lent is a time of preparation. It’s a perfect time for you and me to get rid of that spiritual garbage that we allow to pile up within ourselves. What is spiritual garbage? It can be sins that one has never confessed out of fear or shame. Maybe it’s a feeling of ill will against another. Whatever it maybe all of us at one time or another have let spiritual garbage pile up in our lives. Let it go, get rid of it. During this holy season make it a point to spend some time with the Lord and do some serious soul searching. Look for those things that weigh you down and get rid of them. Go to confession and experience God’s love and mercy first hand. Once you get rid of those pesky sins ask the Lord for the grace to model His love and mercy which He has extended to us.

This Lent seek to be reconciled to God and to one another. We are all sinners, and the ashes that will be placed on our foreheads are a reminder of that. However, we have a powerful example in the person of Jesus Christ. Look to Him and Him alone and He will show us the way to eternal life.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Homily for the Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Throughout the last nine weeks of ordinary time we have focused on themes ranging from following the will of God to reaching out to our brothers and sisters making them aware of the Lord’s love and mercy. This week in speaking to his disciples our Lord said to them, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of God, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” In other words, actions speak louder than words.

Our enemy the evil one has done a number in making people doubt the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Yet there is one thing the devil couldn’t do and that is this although people may struggle with the truth of the real presence that doesn’t mean Jesus isn’t really there. Jesus Christ is indeed present, body, blood, soul and divinity in the Holy Eucharist and that is no lie. The devil knows this and so he is making an assault on the very vehicle which makes it all possible, the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Take out the priest, and then there is no Eucharist. The devil is slowly chiseling at the very foundation of our faith and many of us have yet to realize it.

Now this attack is not coming from the outside but rather is coming directly from within. It isn’t just the scandal of the priesthood that is hurting us right now but it is also the fact that we have many people who are crying out the Lord’s name but not truly living the faith. Yes the Catholic Church is growing but here are the facts. Today we are faced with a number of Catholics who doubt the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. If people truly believed that this is the Christ no one would simply receive Him and walk out the side door, unless of course they are deathly sick. We have many who claim to be faithful Catholics who deny that there is anything wrong with abortion and contraception. Many of these people come to church week after week. There are terms we use to label one another even with the Church; we judge others to be either conservative or liberal. Now here is the problem, conservative and liberals within the Church have only one agenda…their own. In the Church one is either one of two things…one is either faithful or one is unfaithful. To be faithful one must follow the will of God by following the commandments of the Lord which He gave us. The commandments of God are nonnegotiable.

Today our Lord Jesus Christ wants to issue a challenge to each one of us. He wants to know who our rock is! Is it Him or do we have another? Do not pay Him lip service by crying out His name during this hour and leave here with intent of doing the opposite of what He asks of us. Now we are human, we will make mistakes but that’s why we have confession. Use the gift of the sacrament of reconciliation often! Be reconciled to God and His church. Do not presume upon God’s mercy. When you come forward today in a few moments you will be receiving the living God our Lord Jesus Christ. You are not receiving a piece of bread but rather you are receiving the Lord Himself. My brothers and sisters let your amen mean amen, meaning yes Lord I truly believe you are present in the most Holy Eucharist. I believe in the teachings you have expressed in the commandments and through your Church. If you can’t come forward today and say “Amen” to all those things then please for the sake of your soul don’t come forward. Don’t look Him in the eye and lie to His face. To receive our Lord in this manner would be sinful because not only are you lying to yourself but you’re also lying to Him.

With that said that doesn’t mean anyone here is unwelcome. People will make the argument if one can’t receive Holy Communion that their not welcome in the Catholic Church, and that is just nonsense. We as Catholics believe that what we receive is truly our Lord Jesus Christ; it wouldn’t make sense for someone to receive Him if they are not a believer in the real presence. Secondly, it would be wrong for someone to receive Him in a state of mortal sin or when they hold positions contrary to the Church’s teachings because the word “Amen” means “I believe” or “so be it.” If anyone here knows anyone who has been away from the Catholic Church invite them back. Maybe they won’t be able to receive Him in the Holy Eucharist right away but they certainly need to hear the word of God and how much He loves us all! The word of God can change us; the key is if we allow it!

On this day we must all make it our resolve to follow the will of God by following the commandments He has established. It’s time we look beyond our own desires and wants which often gets us into trouble and look towards Him who is our rock. When the new translation of the Roman Missal is introduced on the First Sunday of Advent the words of consecration for the chalice will change. It will read, “Take this all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the New and Eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me.” The translation “For you and for many” highlights that not everyone who cries out Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven and that includes all of us including myself. As scary as it may sound, heaven is not a guarantee. This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday which is of course the beginning of our Lenten Season. It’s a time of purification! Place everything into His hands and don’t be afraid to ask Him to be your rock of safety. Put your hands into God’s and one thing is for sure…He will never ever…ever let you go!