Sunday, June 24, 2012
Today we honor the nativity of John the Baptist the one who was sent to prepare the way of the Lord. As we honor his birth we also recall his life’s purpose because we participate and share in that very mission. Like John we are called by God to prepare the way of Lord.
When we think of preparing a way of the Lord the immediate thought that comes to mind is getting out there and evangelizing, spreading the Gospel in action and word. However, before we get to that point we need to stop and follow the example of John the Baptist. Listen to the Baptist’s words that were inscribed in today’s Second Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, “behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals from his feet.” His words are a reminder to all of us that preparing the way of the Lord isn’t about us. Yes we may have gifts and talents we can bring to the table and utilize for this essential mission, but these gifts and talents were ultimately given to us by God. In order for us to be effective ministers of the Gospel we need to let go of our pride and follow the example of John the Baptist and humbly present ourselves before the Lord.
It is very easy for us to get wrapped up with the motion of everyday life. Perhaps we could do great things, but let me let you in on a little secret, without the Lord those good needs can’t reach its fullest potential. For example, I could function as a priest, anointing and visiting the sick, celebrating Mass, hearing confession, teaching, etc, but if I don’t take time to be with the Lord, humbling myself before him those good things would not accomplish what they were meant to do. We know its easy to get wrapped up in the motion of every day life, we know very well how it easy it is for us to get wrapped up in our very selves, that is why it is necessary for us to look to the example of the one we honor today. In everything we do we should be leading ourselves and others in the direction of the Lord.
At this time I also want to mention something that is going on in the Church right now across the United States and that is the Fortnight of Freedom. We are facing a serious threat to our religious liberty as a result of the Heath and Human Services mandate. If the mandate were to stand and take effect the result will be we as a Church will be forced to drop many of our charitable programs because we will be forced to buy medical insurance or perform those procedures that violate the teachings of the Catholic Church. As it stands if the law goes into effect this law is not just a threat to the freedom of religion but it is a graver threat to our individual conscience.
Imagine being presented with something with that you are personally opposed to and told you had to provide it because it’s the law. Is that individual free? The answer is no. Now imagine me as your priest giving a homily on why the Church teaches the items in this mandate are sinful. Does that take away your free will to choose right from wrong? The answer is again no. God has given us His law; He has given us a free will to be able to discern whether or not we want to follow it! Our Lord tells us He is the way, the truth, and the life, the choice is ours whether or not we accept the invitation to follow Him. If this law mandate goes into effect that freedom will be lost!
My brothers and sisters, as John the Baptist pointed in the direction of Jesus Christ, may we look to our Lord and Savior for the strength to prayerfully stand up for our fundamental God given right to follow our consciences and practice our religion freely.
Friday, June 8, 2012
Effective June 18th…my bishop the Most Reverend Joseph McFadden has appointed me as Parochial Vicar of Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Harrisburg. While I am looking forward to serving the people at Holy Name I am sad to leave Corpus Christi in Chambersburg.
It has been a great three years! I am grateful to all the parishioners of Corpus Christi who welcomed me with open arms three years ago. Thank you for welcoming me and assisting me in my formation as a priest. Corpus Christi will always hold a special place in my heart.
While I am sad to be leaving Chambersburg, I am looking forward to the move to Harrisburg. Yesterday I had the privilege of making a trip to Harrisburg to get acquainted with the parish. I am looking forward to serving the people of Holy Name and helping them on their journey of faith. In helping them grow I know they will help me grow in my priesthood. May God be praised now and forever!!!
Saturday, June 2, 2012
“Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.” Today as we gather together we celebrate Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, the day in which the Spirit came to the Apostles in the upper room. In our responsorial psalm we sang, “Lord, send out your Spirit.” The truth is brothers and sisters, not only has the Spirit been sent out but is continuously working in our world, and thus, is constantly renewing the face of the earth.
The Spirit of God dwells in all of us gathered here. That Spirit entered our hearts at the moment of our baptism for we heard in Saint Paul’s letter to the people of Corinth, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” In last night’s celebration of the vigil of Pentecost we used for the first reading a reading from the book of the Prophet of Ezekiel. That passage used the phrase “dry bones.” Over time there is a danger in which we might become kind of dry or stale in the faith. What causes that dryness? Perhaps it’s because we don’t take the time to pray, however a major factor to a spiritual dryness is sin. When we sin the Spirit of the Lord is unable to work freely through us because what happens when we sin is that we close the flood gate that prevents the water from following freely.
What happens when we plug a sink or the tub? The answer is simple, it fills up. However, the Lord’s live giving Spirit isn’t intended to be harbored or built up. Rather the life giving water is meant to flow freely. All throughout Easter we were being schooled in the ways of the Lord being taught how we can remain in the Spirit. Those ways aren’t overly complicated for we stay close to the Lord every time we pray, turn away from sin and follow the commandments, and last but not least our participation in the sacraments. These are all ways we remain in the Lord. The key for us, my brothers and sisters is for us to keep the flood gate open allowing the Spirit to flow freely from us and not hinder it in any way.
Today take these words seriously from the Gospel of John, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Our Lord is sending us out in the world, and He has given us all the necessary tools to succeed. “Receive the Holy Spirit! Go in peace!”
This evening we celebrate the Vigil of Pentecost. In the first reading was taken from the prophet Ezekiel in which we heard the phrase “dry bones.” Pentecost is about the movement of the Spirit, and it is good that we have this celebration year after year in order to overcome the possibility of becoming dry in the faith.
Yet there are times in which we allow ourselves to become dry in the faith by not allowing the Spirit to do His work. Today the Lord said to the prophet Ezekiel, “prophesy over these bones, and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!” The Lord gives us life! His sacraments, His word gives us life…long as we allow them and that is the key.
Saint Paul in writing to the Romans writes, “For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees?” That’s a very good question, for if we see something, then there is really no need to hope for it especially when in right in front of our face. Saint Paul continues, “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.” We do not see the Spirit with our own eyes, brothers and sisters, but we know He is there willing to guide our every move. I say “willing” because we have to allow Him to guide us.
Finally in today’s Gospel from John we heard our Lord quote from sacred scripture, “Rivers of living water will flow from within him who believes in me.” Pentecost is about making a leap of faith, opening our hearts to the Spirit. In allowing ourselves to be open to the Spirit, we open the flood gates, allowing that life giving water to flow from us. Allowing ourselves to be open to the Spirit and allowing Him to flow freely might be the very key for someone else to encounter the Spirit in their lives.
Today as we honor the Spirit may we pray these words, “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.” The spirit is here, may we let Him work through us!
“Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one.” Our Lord Jesus Christ continues to pray this very prayer looking down from His rightful place at the right hand of the Father. Today He is praying that we may be one uniting ourselves to the Most Holy Trinity.
Preaching on a similar theme this week from last week’s homily the focus was on remaining in the Lord. Last week Jesus said in order for us to remain in His love we must follow His commandments giving us direction. Today’s Second Reading from the first letter of Saint John gives us an addition. For we heard proclaimed, “Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God.” In other words, we need to be ready and willing to make an act of faith. Then it continues, “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.” Throughout the two liturgical seasons of Lent and Easter, we have been reminding ourselves of that love the Lord has for us. During these two seasons we accompanied Jesus on His journey, which ultimately lead to the cross. Then we recalled the joyous celebration of the Lord’s resurrection. My brothers and sisters this period of time is about witnessing the love of the Lord.
God shows us how to love for He laid down His life; we are to lay down our lives for one another. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.” This is what we must do; first we must make an act of faith, professing our faith in the Church something we have the opportunity to do each Easter Sunday. The second thing we must do is follow the commandments of God. Finally, the last thing we must do is love one another. If we do all these things, God promises that He will remain in us.
Now the alleluia verse for today’s liturgy is, “I will not leave you orphans, says the Lord. I will come back to you, and your hearts will rejoice.” In order for us to make an act of faith, encourage us to follow the commandments, and help us love another, our Lord continues to show us His love my reminding us that we are not orphans. While we wait for the Lord’s return in glory at the Second Coming we must recognize that He is continuously coming back to us day after day in this very Church in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Now the question we must ask ourselves are we really allowing our hearts to rejoice! In order for us to rejoice we need to believe. Do we believe that Jesus is really truly present in the Most Holy Eucharist? Do we really see God in each person we meet? In other words, do we really have faith?
Once again, God is continuously showing Himself to us, are we allowing ourselves to see Him! Have faith, stay close to the Lord, may we allow ourselves to be schooled in His ways which allows us to remain in Him!