Monday, December 26, 2011

Homily for Christmas Day

The Word became flesh, and that is what we celebrate today. Each year on December 25th we celebrate the day in which our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ entered the world. Jesus Christ is our light and the day in which we celebrate His birth is no accident. While there is no way to determine the exact calendar day for the Lord’s birth there’s significance to celebrating it on the 25th of December year after year. Beginning each December 25th the days begin to get longer and longer, thus there is no better day to celebrate Christmas when we celebrate the birth of the true light.

Last evening at the Vigil Mass I preached on the significance of Christmas. We all know the basic answer that Christmas is about the birth of our Savior, but we can say more. Christmas is about celebrating life. Each Christmas, new life is breathed into the Church. It is unfortunate that holidays such as these are becoming more stressful. They are becoming more and more stressful because we are losing focus on the real meaning of the season. All too often in preparing for this day we are rushing to the stores to purchase that perfect gift or we are trying to find an equal numbers of gifts for each individual to balance things out and make it fair. As I said last evening I repeat again this morning Christmas isn’t about materialism but rather about gathering as a family and celebrating what truly matters the birth of our Savior.

Christmas is indeed a time for giving; one of the gifts that more is becoming underappreciated in today’s society is the gift of life. Today people looking at the economy are delaying the start of families, which is the wrong answer to our current predicament. This morning we celebrate God’s plan as it begins to be set into motion. Accepting God’s plan is the answer! The greatest gift mankind has ever known came to us in the form of a child. Each time we hear an infant child cry out we are reminded of the innocent voice of God. Every single time a child is born whether it be a boy or a girl, for we are created in the image and likeness of God, we welcome God into the world.

Is life easy, the answer is of course not, but we weren’t promised an easy road! In fact, the road is going to get tougher before it gets better. However, in order for things to get better we need to accept God’s plan for all life in all its stages. Light indeed entered the world; the light still pierces the world today with His word and presence. May we open ourselves up to it! Do not try to comprehend God’s logic, because no one here can comprehend it! As you leave here today and the next time you here a child cry out, be reminded of the innocent voice of God. Hope indeed entered the world on Christmas Day! May we let that child in the manger melt our hearts so we can celebrate and experience the true joy of Christmas.

Homily for Christmas Eve

This evening, all throughout the world Christians everywhere are coming together to celebrate the birth of our Savior. Each year we come together “forever singing the goodness of the Lord.” Indeed the Lord is good and it is evident in this great mystery we gather to celebrate and honor.

What is it that we celebrate each Christmas? Well we already answered it, the birth of our Savior, but my brothers and sisters there is much more to that answer. Each Christmas we celebrate the gift of new life. On Christmas day, we celebrate the day in which God became man to save us from sin and death. Every time we gather to celebrate Christmas new life is breathed into the Church. It is such a joyful season! Yet for some sadly Christmas is becoming an added burden. People get stressed around this time of year. Why? The answer is simple because we as a society are losing focus of the true meaning of the season.

Each year in preparation for this time of year, people rush out to the stores in search for that perfect gift. So often we put too much stress on how much we spend on individuals, how many gifts we need to buy. Christmas is not a time for materialism, but rather a time to celebrate what truly matters. One of the greatest gifts God has given us is often the one that is the most underappreciated and that is the awesome gift of life. Mankind is becoming less accepting of this gift especially now in these difficult times and this is the wrong attitude to have. The answer to all our modern problems can be solved by accepting God’s plan for life in its entirety, and this is our message of hope this Christmas; however each one of us must be open to it. If we choose not to accept God’s gift, than the stress some find themselves in not just on days such as these but on others will become more stressful and feel unbearable. My brothers and sisters things will in fact get worse before things get better, but it is only in the acceptance of God’s gift of life will things get better in time.

God’s logic is very different from our own. Truthfully no one can comprehend it for at times it is simple and at other times complex. In today’s world also everyone has to have an opinion which often gets in the way. You see there is only one opinion that matters and that is God’s. Today we must be open to God’s plan, not our own. What is God’s plan well the answer is simple life. We must (not should) be open to it. Is life easy, no of course not! Every journey has its ups and downs! Just ask the Holy Family. That is why we come here each Sunday and every Sunday. Oh how the Lord wishes the Church would be this packed each weekend. There is no reason it shouldn’t because each Sunday is Christmas, each Sunday is Easter, and each time we gather here in this beautiful Church God wants to give us the grace we need to carry life’s burdens.

Christmas is about new life! Let the words of the prophet Isaiah echo once more in this Church, “For Zion's sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem's sake I will not be quiet!” Only God can bring hope in a difficult time and inspire the necessary change needed to keep us afloat for many more years to come. Hope entered the world on Christmas Day in the form of the infant baby boy lying in the manger.

In closing be reminded that our Lord entered the world the in the very way we all entered the world. Christmas is indeed about life and the Lord wishes to issue a challenge to us. The next time we hear an infant child cry out be reminded of the innocent voice of God. Every child that is born to us, whether a boy or a girl (because we are created in His image), is as if He entered the world once more. Today we give thanks and praise this Christmas to Almighty God for the greatest ever bestowed upon the world, that little baby in the manger our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May we let that little child melt our hearts so that we can celebrate and experience the true joy of Christmas.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

“The mystery kept secret for long ages has now been manifested.” What mystery manifested? This secret of course is related to the birth of a savior. Today on the fourth Sunday of Advent we are making our immediate preparations for the birth of our Savior. The readings which up to a few weeks ago focused on the Second Coming of Christ are now focused on the events leading up to His birth.

God so loved the world that He sent His only Son into the world to save it. As the angel Gabriel said these words to the Blessed Virgin Mary, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” These words should echo and resound in our ears as well. We should not be afraid for we have found favor with God that He would come into the world to all these wonderful things for us. Also we shouldn’t forget that God is still in the world doing awesome things for us all the time. Do not be afraid my brothers and sisters the Lord is with us now, open your hearts to Him!

May we go forth this Sunday and into the week this week singing the goodness of the Lord so that we can gather back here next weekend filled with joy celebrating His presence among us!

Homily for the Third Sunday of Advent

For the past two weeks of Advent I have focused in one the Sacrament of Reconciliation and how we can utilize that gift for preparing our hearts and minds for the celebration of the birth of our Savior. Often times when we even think about the idea of confessing our sins we become filled with anxiety, Today I do not what to focus on that anxiety but rather focus on what that great sacrament allows us to do and that is…REJOICE!!! “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

That is the theme for the week, REJOICE! Brothers and sisters the day is coming closer. I don’t need to tell parents that Christmas is around the corner they can tell that by the excitement in their children. We can tell the mood in the liturgy has changed by the change of color for we have temporarily moved from purple to rose. Also as the listened to the readings they sound more upbeat! The Lord is coming and we should all be rejoicing! Well let’s get more specific we should all be rejoicing now because the Lord is already here in our midst.

This weekend as we leave here we should be rejoicing, as we should be rejoicing every single second of our lives. St. Paul in writing to the people of Thessalonica says something very profound “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterance. Test everything; retain what is good. Reframe from every kind of evil.” My brothers and sister do not let the spirit of this age dampen your spirit. Do not quench the Spirit that is within you! Stay focused on Him who is love. It’s so easy because of sin to overlook the presence of God in our midst. As John the Baptist said, “There is one among you whom you do not recognize.” Open your eyes! God the Father is here, God the Son is here, God the Spirit is right here in our midst! We don’t have to look far. The Spirit of the Lord is upon us, may we bring this good news to the world that is hungering and thirsting to hear it!

Homily for the Second Sunday of Advent

“But according to His promise we await a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace.” These words remind us that as we gather here each week we are awaiting for the Lord’s triumphant return in glory. It’s a day in which our Lord calls us to be prepared for because as we also heard from the Second Letter of Saint Peter, “the day of the Lord will come like a thief,” in other words we do not know when it will be.

Last week in my homily I mentioned the importance of utilizing the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Advent to prepare our hearts to celebrate the birth of our Savior. Each advent we have the opportunity to experience a rebirth, a turning away from our sinful behavior putting us back on the right track. As we heard in today’s Gospel from Mark we heard a quotation from the prophet Isaiah, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” We prepare a way for the Lord every single time we remove those road blocks known as sins. By removing sin from our hearts the Lord has a clear path to work awesome wonders in and through us.

Today each of us must come to a greater understanding of the sacrament of reconciliation and the great gift that it offers. Like we take this opportunity advent provides for us to prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, we must also prepare our hearts and minds for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We must take some time to really examine our consciousness. Mankind today is really in danger of recognizing the presence of sin not only in our lives but also in the world. Do we really recognize the presence of sin? For example I do not believe we can go one day without committing a sin. Now it is certainly possible but because we are human it is not necessarily probable. How many of us get agitated while driving? Maybe we get angry or annoyed with a comment someone made or something that they did. How many of us stepped on or walked into something and let out a few choice words? Maybe for those who are dependent on others get frustrated when those they rely on cannot fulfill their obligation. Finally, perhaps the Lord put an opportunity into our lives to really proclaim the Gospel and we in the end failed to act. These are just a few things to think about.

When we approach confession we have to be completely honest and hold nothing back. If we are tempted to hold something back from God because we are ashamed and embarrassed for what we have done, here’s a hint, that’s not God talking! That’s someone else. Today we are called to prepare a clear path for the Lord and one of the ways we do that is by utilizing the gift God has given us in the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that we can remove those barriers. May we always pray as we heard in the opening collect, “almighty and merciful God, may no earthly undertaking hinder those who set out in haste to meet your Son.” It is in that sacrament that we encounter the Savior and experience His love and mercy.

This advent may we model the humility of John the Baptist who often proclaimed as we heard in Mark’s Gospel, “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.” Yes, the day of the Lord will come like a thief, which is why we should be living every single day of our lives as the day of the Lord. Be humble! Trust in God! Trust in His love and His mercy! This is how we prepare the way for the Lord!!!