Sunday, July 29, 2012

Homily for the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time

“The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.” This week I want to focus in particular on the two key phrases in our responsorial psalm for the seventieth Sunday of Ordinary Time.

Our readings for this week once again demonstrate the Lord’s ability to provide for our needs. In both the first reading and the Gospel there is a focus on feeding a multitude of people. From these passages we should see that the Lord desires that no one leave His presence hungry. There is a hunger prevalent in our society. This hunger is much deeper than our stomach. Today there are more people who are hungry and what they are hungering for is not food, but rather an encounter with the living God. You and I are so blessed because we have an opportunity for an encounter with the living God each and every day. Our Lord comes to us in word and in the most Holy Eucharist. How awesome is that brothers and sisters? Yet often times we don’t recognize that awesome gift before us.

One of the ways the hand of the Lord feeds us is when we encounter Him in the reception of the Most Holy Eucharist. In recent years polls have shown an increase in the number of Catholics who doubt the real presence. Why then has this crises of belief arisen in the Church? Perhaps it is because we have allowed ourselves to lose that sense of wonder and awe.

There is something to be said about the normative way of receiving Holy Communion in the Roman Rite which is receiving the Lord on the tongue. Some areas of the world have even maintained the norm of kneeling for the reception of Holy Communion. Both are beautiful postures. Kneeling is an act of humility and receiving communion on the tongue is an act of trust. How many of you have ever had the honor of feeding a baby a bottle? Children especially infants rely on us to feed them as they grow. We were all there once. Some of us may have the humbling experience when one day we may have to trust someone to feed us again. You and I must learn how to trust. We are God’s children and as children of God we need to allow ourselves to trust Him so that He can spiritually nourish us.

I just mentioned and touched upon the normative way of receiving Communion in the Roman Rite I want to be clear that I am not speaking out against communion in the hand nor am I discouraging it. Communion in the hand is an option granted by the Holy See here in the United States and in some select parts of the world. However, for those who utilize the option which Church provides I do urge you to be cautious! Do not allow yourselves to forget that what you are receiving is God and not a mere piece of bread. Please be careful! Some food for thought, every time we buy something at the store, take it home with us that item will loose its value soon as it leaves the door. The price is lowered because they have been used. We can never allow the Eucharist to lose its value. What we receive is God and He must always be treated with dignity and great reverence.

For the proper reception of communion in the hand one is to make a throne for the Lord with both hands with one over the other at chest level, and once the Eucharist is placed in the hand one should reverently pick our Lord up with the other and place Him reverently in the mouth in the presence of the minister. While many have been taught to step to the side after having the host placed in the hand it is preferable that the communicant consume the Body of Our Lord directly in front of the minister so there can be no doubt He has been received. Receiving the Eucharist directly in front of the minister allows the minister to give their undivided attention to each individual communicant. For example if I gave communion to someone who received in the hand and they step to the side, my attention is divided because while I am distributing communion to the next communicant at the same time I am watching out of the corner of my eye to make sure the individual received our Lord. The reception of Holy Communion is such a profound intimate encounter with the living God, there should be no distractions present either for the communicant or the minister.

Today I invite you to deepen your appreciation for the mysteries in which we celebrate. One way we can do that is by evaluating how we receive our Eucharistic Lord. A mistake we tend to make today is that we go through life looking through the wrong lenses. We tend to use our physical eyes and not our eyes of faith. All too often we don’t see the Lord and all that He does for us because we are so wrapped up with ourselves and our opinions that we don’t see the bigger picture. We must learn to humble ourselves before the Lord and allow ourselves to trust Him. I will be honest there are times in my life in which I need to do that more! While in today’s world more and more people are finding it more difficult to trust, keep this in mind; God has never led anyone astray. Trust Him!

Today we must ask ourselves was there ever a time in our lives in which we failed to recognize the hand of the Lord feeding us. Have we ever lost sight of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist? Was there ever a time in which we found ourselves struggling to trust. If we find ourselves saying yes to any of these questions than I invite to think back to that experience of feeding an infant a bottle or think back to a time in which we can remember when we trusted our parents to put food on the table for us before we even do how to cook. It’s that childlike trust we must recapture before our Heavenly Father. Once we recapture that childlike trust only then will we see clearly through our eyes of faith how the hand of the Lord feeds us and provides for all our needs.


Additional information on the Most Holy Eucharist

The link above leads to the document  MEMORIALE DOMINI
Instruction on the Manner of Distributing Holy Communion from the
Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship issued in May of 1969

Link to Sacrament of Charity by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI

Link to Pope John Paul II Apostolic Letter on the Mystery of Worship

Pope John Paul’s encyclical on the Eucharist and its relationship to the Church issued in 2003

The document Redemptionis Sacramentum on certain matters to be observed or avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Homily for the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time


Last week I focused my homily on St. Paul’s letter to the people of Corinth. In that letter Saint Paul mentioned that he was given a thorn in the flesh. Each one of us has been given a cross and I mentioned how our crosses provide an opportunity not only for us to focus and orient ourselves to Christ, but also an opportunity for others to be Christ for us in our time of need, well as for us to be Christ for others in their time of need.

Our Lord Jesus Christ in today’s Gospel summoned His disciples together in order to send them out two by two. As Christ summoned the twelve today He summons you and me. Our Lord has called us together and continuously calls us together to be refreshed and renewed in His awesome presence. Then once having our spiritual batteries recharged He sends us forth. Listen to the following dismissals for the end of Mass. “Go forth, the Mass is ended. Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord. Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life. Go in peace.” In all four options there is one word that stands out and that is the word “go.” Week after week our Lord is commissioning us to go out into the world and bring the Good News.

Coming to Church is important and necessary, living out the Gospel is absolutely essential. We cannot allow ourselves to think coming here weekly is all we need to do. Our Lord calls us to do more than just coming to Church, He calls us to action. He calls us to go out into the world. That very last line in the Gospel where it says, “the twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them,” applies also to you as well as it applies to me as a priest. You too can drive out demons; you too can bring healing to those who need it! Demons take many forms for we live in a world that is saturated with so many lies and misconceptions and the reason why they take root is because we fail to teach the truth, because we fail to act. When we feed the hungry, when we visit the imprisoned, and when we visit the sick we have the ability to bring healing and peace to so many peoples lives. Think about it. Help others encounter the healing presence of Christ, by living out the Gospel.

As we hear so very often in infomercials, act now and receive two for the price of one, well the Lord invites us to act now and receive the gift of His grace. May we lift and open up our hearts. We heard in St. Paul’s letter to the people of Ephesus, “In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One.” God not only calls us but He has chosen us for a specific purpose in this life. Of course the choice is ours whether or not we wish to cooperate with Him. However, let the truth be known that the only way we can experience true everlasting happiness is by opening ourselves up to His plan.

We sang a few moments ago we sang, “Lord, let me see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.” The fact is the Lord shows us His kindness every single day. He provides us with the food and nourishment for the journey. Following God isn’t always easy for many times we encounter bumps and difficulties along the road. That is why He calls us here. In a few moments many of you will receive Christ in a special way in the most Holy Eucharist. When we receive that commission at the end of Mass may we take the One whom we received and were strengthened by with us out into the community to those who are longing for that great encounter with Him. Go and act today wasting not a single moment because we might save a life, maybe even our own.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Homily for the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time


Brothers and sisters for the fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time I
want to focus on the words of Saint Paul to the people of Corinth.  In
his letter Saint Paul recounts how a “thorn in the flesh was given” to
him.  Saint Paul then said “three times I begged the Lord about this,
that it might leave me.” I want to focus specifically on the Second
Reading today because all of us have a “thorn in the flesh” for there
is something in which we all struggle to cope with in our lives.
        What is often our natural human tendency when facing our thorns in the flesh?  In today’s world we often complain and in some cases fall into despair.  When Saint Paul begged three times for that cross to be lifted from him the Lord said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” Our Lord’s words to Saint Paul should encourage us when we face our own crosses in life.  For often times it is in the midst of those trials in which we see the Lord’s power ever more clearly.
        One of the biggest mistakes we make is that we often to tend to complain or allow ourselves to fall into despair.  We should be concerned.  However, I think we should follow the example
of Saint Paul who said after the Lord spoke to him, “I will rather
boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.  Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”  It’s amazing how changing the way we approach our crosses how that has an overall effect on us.
        All of us have crosses, some here are struggling with emotional
issues, others are struggling financially, some with a medical issue,
and if we are honest all of us struggle with a particular sin.  How
should we approach all these things?  For the answer we turn to the
Responsorial Psalm, “Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for His
mercy.”  That is what we must do, keep our eyes focused and fixed on the Lord.  We should bring before Him all our cares and concerns.  If we keep things in perspective even if we find ourselves at a low point in our lives we can see clearly the Lord’s presence among us.  All we have to do is open our hearts.
        Our crosses provide us an opportunity not only for us to orient
ourselves to the Lord for guidance and strength, but our crosses also
provide an opportunity for others to help us in our time of need.
When others struggle we too have an opportunity to help them.
Although this is a difficult time not only for many here in the United
States, but throughout the whole world, it would help us to see it as
a period of grace. The Lord has given us this opportunity to be
generous witnesses of the Gospel.  We should rejoice in the fact that
our Lord entrusts to each one of us a mere splinter of His cross, a
cross that if we allow Him, He would help us carry each day.
          Whatever thorn in the flesh we have been given place it in the
Lord’s hands for He will give us the grace sufficient enough to bear
it.  Brothers and sisters trust the Lord.  Entrust your cares and
concerns to Him.    It is entrusting everything into the Lord’s hands
we find comfort, joy, and peace of mind.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Homily for Wednesday of the 13th Week of Ordinary Time…Independence Day


“Seek good and not evil; that you may live.” This opening line from today’s first reading serves as a perfect phrase for our reflection this morning as we celebrate our nation’s independence.

In my first weekend homily here at Holy Name after we began the fortnight of freedom, I mentioned the importance of free will. God has given us a free will which allows us to choose Him. Our Lord doesn’t force Himself upon us. Today I want to focus briefly on the notion of freedom. When we think of freedom the first thing mistakenly comes to mind is this idea of being able to do what one wants. That’s not true a true definition of freedom.

Now there is only one way we can truly exercise freedom and that is to know both sides of an argument. In today’s society there is often only one side of the argument being presented. Unfortunately soon as we try to present our case dialoguing with society we are accused of forcing our beliefs onto others. This nation was founded on the principal of religious liberty meaning that this nation will not establish a national religion or hold one faith over another nor will it infringe upon the practice of it. That doesn’t mean that the Church and state shouldn’t engage each other for the common good of all. The last couple days the Church throughout the United States has been commemorating the fortnight of freedom in which we have been praying for the protection of this religious liberty in our nation. This stemmed from the passage of the Health and Human Services Mandate which would require religious institutions to buy into and provide certain procedures that are contrary to the faith. For the purpose of a law is meant to keep order and to protect, if this law goes into effect our religious liberty will no longer be protected and will be lost for years to come.

Catholics and other denominations as it stands now are free to believe and practice the faith. We are free to minister to all those in need. Yet we must be aware of the real threat that threatens that very freedom today. If this law takes effect the good work that we have done for years will be lost. We must speak up not allowing ourselves to cower at the face of opposition. There are sins of commission but there are also sins of omission a failure to act on an opportunity which God has given. God has given us this test. To allow ourselves and others to go down the wrong path is not love for if we truly love one another than we should desire life for one another.

Today the Lord invites us to seek good and not evil, the decision is ours to make whether or not we as individuals accept His invitation. Our Church however cannot be forced to violate her teachings by being forced to provide those things contrary to the faith. As we celebrate our independence as a nation we must recognize that there is only one way which will allow us to experience true freedom and true happiness and that is to seek the true good which is found only in God.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Homily for the 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time

“For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him. But the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who belong to his company experience it.” This line taken from the first reading from the book of Wisdom reminds us of God’s intention for us to live with Him for eternity.

As we well know sin entered the world with the fall of Adam and Eve. Yet despite this fall we are still created in the Lord’s image and likeness, and He strongly desires us to be with Him, but the choice is ours. In today’s Gospel we see clearly the effects of sin. In the first instance we have the daughter of Jairus the synagogue official who is sick and dying. Then we have the case of the women afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. Both of these individuals are suffering from the effects of sin, but their case is different for there was a resolution. What did these two individuals do?

In the first case of the synagogue official and his sick daughter, Jairus came before the Lord and knelt down. As we heard in the Gospel it says, “Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him saying, ‘My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she might get well and live.’” What did the woman suffering from the hemorrhages do? Seeing the Lord she had faith that if she only touched a tassel of His cloak she would be healed.

My brothers and sisters we can learn something from these two cases found in today’s Gospel from Mark. That despite death, despite illness, and despite sin God has the power to restore all things. However, there is something we must all do and that is to have a little faith. It would benefit us to pick this Gospel passage up throughout this week and reflect on the main characters and their story. These individuals had faith, and we saw first hand what the Lord had in store for them.

Now today we are faced with many challenges where it may seem that He isn’t bringing us the healing given to the two individuals from the Gospel. We must remember all of us are expected to pick up our crosses and follow Him. Even with our crosses, the Lord can bring us peace and joy! The reason why we find ourselves struggling so much is that we aren’t doing what Jarius and the woman suffering from the hemorrhages did. They placed their faith and trust kneeling down before the Lord. When we struggle with the weight of the world many times we turn in many different directions rather than the one direction in which we should.

What we find sadly in so many cases today is that God is taken a back burner which is why so many people struggle to find peace and comfort in their lives. We are no longer making God a priority at least once a week on the Lord’s Day, for more and more people are finding no problem replacing the Lord’s days with recreation and sport activities. Now I have no problem with having lots of fun on Sunday and recreation and sports are meant to be that, fun. The problem is when we shut God out and don’t make time for Him. A couple weeks ago I made a decision. I had tickets for an Orioles game down at Camden Yards going down with several friends and I paid for the ticket a couple months back. Well I forgot to take a real good look at the schedule for a few months out and when the time got closer I realized that I wouldn’t be able to go because I had a conflict with the closing of Forty Hours at my previous parish. Baseball or Jesus, baseball or Jesus, well I think I made the right choice…Jesus! The Orioles did win the game that night, perhaps it might have been different if I made the other choice…who knows. How many of you if in my shoes might have made the other choice…especially after forking out the money for the ticket.

I have nothing against recreation and sports, but what I do what to address is our tendency to place God on the back burner. By making God the center of your life you will see a tremendous difference in how you feel about life. Even if you are burdened with many crosses trust me you will be able to handle them with better ease if you place all your concerns and cares into the hands of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Once again brothers and sisters, things of the world will not make happy. Having tons of money and lots of property will not make you whole. There is no thing that will make you whole but there is one person out there who can and that is our God.