Sunday, October 28, 2012

Homily for the 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B 2012

 

On this final Sunday of our mouth dedicated to the protection of the dignity of human life, the overall theme these past couple weeks the theme of my homilies can be summed up by one word…generosity. Brothers and sisters generosity can be expressed by us in so many different ways and not just by simply getting out our checkbooks and our wallets.

Although we ourselves may abandon the Lord for a time, it is good for all of us to know that the Lord doesn’t abandon us. We hear from the prophet Jeremiah, “The LORD has delivered His people, the remnant of Israel.” In the Gospel from Mark we have the healing of the blind man, illustrating for us the generosity of our Lord Jesus Christ by bringing this man healing by giving him the gift of sight. The blind man in the Gospel account in many ways represents us. Truth is there is a lot we need to learn about what it means to be generous. Jesus Himself was generous to offer the blind man healing but the blind man Himself was also generous. You might be thinking…how…and the answer is simple…the blind man was generous in putting his faith and trust in the Lord. A few weeks ago I talked about the subject of greed in my homily. Greed is a selfish desire of wanting more of something than is truly necessary. Another way to think about it is as wanting to keep everything to ourselves. We try to do that with our pains and sufferings trying to handle everything on our own. Isn’t that in a way an example of greed? The blind man is an example for us as a concrete witness of what it means to be generous in our trust. He was persistent in faith and the Lord recognized and rewarded him for it.

In light of our responsorial psalm for today which says, “the Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy” I want us to go home and think about all that the Lord has done for us and is continuing to do for us on a daily basis. This leads us to the next theme in which I will be basing and focusing my homilies in the next couple weeks…the theme of thanksgiving. October was the month of generosity…November is the month of thanksgiving. Giving thanks to God for all that He has done and continues to do for us. All too often we don’t give God the credit and thanks that He rightly deserves. Throughout the last couple weeks I have addressed the topics in relations to the pro-life movement, the vocation to the sacraments of marriage, priesthood and religious life, the missions, and this week not only the generosity of the Lord to heal the blind man but also the blind man’s example of generosity shown by His willingness to trust the Lord. While we have many gifts many of us in one way shape or form are struggling. Each one of us can bring the healing presence of Jesus Christ to each other. However, we need to be open to receiving it. Today look to the generosity of the blind man, may we ourselves generously open our hearts to the Lord placing our faith and trust in Him.

 

Our Lady of Refuge Rededication

This morning I had the opportunity to travel from Harrisburg to concelebrate Mass with Bishop McFadden at the rededication Mass of Our Lady of Refuge “Saint Mary’s” in Doylesburg.  Our Lady of Refuge is a mission to Corpus Christi where I was previously assigned. 

The Church burned down on Sunday September 11, 2011 in the early morning hours only a few hours after I celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of Mass that Saturday evening on the 10th.  While the fire was officially listed as “undetermined” because of the extent of the damage it was believed to have started in the Church’s electrical system.

While the fire was devastating as Bishop reminded the congregation this morning the Church is not the building but that the Church is the people.  Thirteen months after the devastating fire the building rose up from the ashes as a result of the faith of the parishioners of the mission.  It was a tremendous honor for me to be with the people today as they begin a new chapter in their history.

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The exterior of the Church rebuilt after the devastating fire that destroyed the Church on 9/11/2011

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The interior of the Church before the dedication Mass

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Stations of the Cross inside the Church…note there is supposed to be eventually stained glass for the windows.

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After the dedication Mass.  The crucifix on the back wall is only temporary.  Another one will be put up at a latter date.  Also there are statues that have yet to arrive, but as one of the parishioners commented they are happy to have their Church back into service. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Homily for the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time…World Mission Sunday

 

“For the Son of Man didn’t come to be served, but to serve and to give his life for the ransom of many.” Brothers and sister several times these past few weeks in my homilies I have been speaking about the topic of generosity and it is fitting we bring this topic once again not only because of the readings for this weekend but also because this Sunday is dedicated to World Missions.

Brothers and sisters we care called by God to be missionaries. Our Lord calls us to go out in the world into our neighborhoods and some of us into other countries to boldly proclaim and spread the message of the Gospel of love. In our Second Reading taken once again from the letter to the Hebrews we hear, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.” Our Lord doesn’t just ask us to follow Him…He leads by example. We don’t need to look far for an exemplary model of generosity for we have one right in front of us in the person of Jesus. Always keep in mind Jesus while free from sin, embraced our humanity, He experienced and understands what we go through each and every single day. Our Lord humbled Himself on the cross…showing us selfless sacrifice a model in which we should be living our lives.

There are people in our neighborhoods and in other countries that are experiencing great difficulties. Some of the difficulties we face here at home doesn’t even compare with things going on in other parts of the world. Here we have access to medical treatments and shelter where many people in other parts of the globe do not. Many of us have roof over our heads and running water where in some parts of the world having these things is only a dream. We have a moral obligation to take care of the poor. Sometimes we can begin to wonder why we have poor people if we have such a loving God. Interesting enough Jesus Himself said the poor you will always have with you so then why are some of us blessed and others struggling to make ends meet. The answer is simple there are poor in the world so that those who have more can be Christ for them in their need. As they experience the love and mercy of God through the kindness of others they too can learn from us and be a beacon of light to others. It is that simple.

One thing to keep in mind brothers and sisters in so many ways we ourselves are poor. While we have homes over our heads, cars to drive, and other things to keep us preoccupied we can find ourselves poor in the faith. Some of these individuals, those who are struggling, while they may not have health care, running water, television, video games and internet there is one thing they are often rich in and that is in the faith. Many of them take each passing day in stride placing their total trust in the Lord. We can learn a lot from them.

On this World Mission Sunday I invite you to be generous missionaries. Be the beacons of light that these people need and know the more we are that beacon of light for them the more our hearts are transformed. Model Jesus and be the servant not the one who is served. We are asked on this World Mission Sunday to be generous. Of course, soon as we hear the word generous we instinctively we think get out our checkbooks and wallets. That is only a part of it. Yes our monetary contributions to the missions and even to our own poor box to our Saint Vincent DePaul society goes a long way, but there is another piece of our responsibility and that is more importantly our prayers. If we cannot afford to monetarily help someone in need consider taking the time and be generous with your prayers.

Serving one another isn’t always easy. Following the Gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t always easy as well. Our Lord asks us “Can you drink the cup that I drink?” May we challenge ourselves with that question today! For our personal reflection this week take some time to think about how we can be generous missionaries in our homes, our local communities, and to our brothers and sisters throughout the world. May we pray to be beacons of light keeping the light of Jesus Christ shining brightly for all to see!

 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Homily for the 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time…Vocation Awareness Sunday

 

“Ask and you shall receive.” This familiar line, in which all of us have heard at some point in our lives, is what we hear in the first reading. In the very first line of the first reading taken from the Book of Wisdom we hear, “I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.”

It is important that we pray and our prayer should include this, “fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy.” Prayer is essential and it is important for us to ask the Lord for what we need. Yet with prayer we need to prepare ourselves for what the Lord might say to us. We see that in today’s Gospel the rich man who comes before the Lord and asks, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Our Lord responds by simply listing the commandments. Then the rich man answers the Lord by saying, “all of these things I have observed from my youth.” We can almost get a sense that the Lord knew how this young man was going to respond as it describes the Lord “looking at him, loved him and said to him.” From this we get a sense of the Lord’s love for the rich man and we get a clear sense of the Lord’s love for us. Jesus responds by saying, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."

Brothers and sisters for today’s readings we get a clear picture that following the commandments of God is essential and good, but there needs to be more. We need to put the Lord’s words into action. Yet many times there is something present that is holding us back. What was holding the rich young man was that he had a lot of attachments including wealth that was holding him down. Many of us walk in the shoes of that rich man we speak of in today’s Gospel. There are things prevalent in our lives that keep us from following the Lord’s invitation and its not just possessions, but there is also our anger, our hurts, and our pride that often hold us back. All of this we must eradicate from our lives…we must let it go. Each day the Lord renews that invitation for us to come follow Him, but there are those things that keep us from accepting and acting on it.

Two weeks ago I preached a homily on the topic of greed which is the desire to have more than what is needed and how it has corrupted our society. Greed isn’t just found in those associated with business but that greed has penetrated the very core of our society the family which is expressed in married couples who choose to use contraception in their relationships which has led to a low birthrate thus resulting in one of the greatest economic collapses this nation has ever seen. Desiring and having more doesn’t lead to happiness and that is what Jesus is trying to instill in the rich man in the Gospel.

If possession and wealth doesn’t lead to happiness than what does? Jesus tells us in His response to the young man and that is by renouncing everything that gets in the way and following the Lord. In other words think of it this way, opposite of greed is the word generous. We are called to be generous. The only way we can turn things around is simply by being generous with the gifts we have been given. Men and women who are called to enter into marriage must be open to embracing true unity (which can only be accomplished by the marital act expressed without barriers) and procreation (which as I mentioned last week in my homily is not just physical procreation but also spiritual procreation). We need more young men and women to be generous in accepting a call from the Lord to enter the priesthood and religious life. I mention the vocation of marriage and the vocation to the priesthood and religious life intentionally because today is vocation awareness Sunday. Embracing ones vocation is a great example of generosity. We aren’t called to live self-centered lives…we are called to live self-giving lives. God calls us to be generous and one way we can show generosity is in our willingness to accept his invitation.

There is one more thing I want to say about generosity and that is I want us to ponder when we are generous are you giving of ourselves completely or are we simply giving out of our surplus. What I mean by that is when giving something are we doing it because we have simply outgrown it, no longer need it, or using it to write something off or are we doing it for the right reasons wanting to do the right thing for the right purpose and without condition modeling the Lord’s example. In other words I want each of us to specifically evaluate our intentions. Are we giving completely of ourselves or are we just simply giving out of our surplus. Don’t get me wrong all giving is good, but is it the true sense of giving the Lord expects from us. The generosity our Lord Jesus Christ asks us to express is a complete total giving of oneself.

Brothers and sisters as I mentioned last week we are faced with a difficult task, but it is certainly not impossible for we have a powerful tool at our disposal and that is the word of God. As we heard in the Second Reading from the letter of the Hebrews “indeed the word of God is living and effective sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.” Today take the word of God with you! The word of God although written a very long time ago applies today as it did back then. Look to and follow the example of our Lord Jesus Christ who shows us perfectly how to be generous towards others. Take the Lord’s message calling us to be a generous people out into that world that so desperately needs to hear it right now! Show them the generosity of the Lord through lives of faith and by generously showing the love and mercy of Jesus Christ to those who need to experience it.

The second reading also reminds us that we will have to render an account before God. That is why it is important for us to evaluate our lives and how we are living the Gospel because one day we will all stand before the Lord and account for our failures. It’s only a matter of time that Day of Judgment will come for we do not know the day or the hour. Going back to what I began my homily with I ask all of us to pray today and throughout this week for the ability to model the Lord’s generous heart. The Lord has been so generous to us giving us all that we have and when we seek it His love and mercy. He never turns anyone away, but as we see in the example of the rich young man we are the ones who turn away from Him. Indeed God’s words are living an effective…pray to the Lord to always stay close to His word which is Spirit and Life!

 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Humanae Vitae…

Yesterday morning in my homily for Pro-Life Sunday I quoted the document Humanae Vitae in my homily.  Below is a link to the English translation of the document taken directly from the Vatican website.  As I said in my homily yesterday I would encourage everyone to take some time and read it.

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_25071968_humanae-vitae_en.html

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Homily for the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B…PRO-LIFE SUNDAY 2012

 

In light of our readings for this Sunday and since it is pro-life Sunday it is a good opportunity for us to mediate on the ends or the purpose of marriage which is twofold. One of the ends of marriage is the unity between husband and wife. From the very beginning as we heard from the Book of Genesis, God did not want the man to be alone, so he created a suitable partner for him. Men and women are created distinct in order to facilitate communion with one another.

The expression of unity of husbands and wives in the marital act brings worth the other end of marriage which is the procreation of children. From the expression of the marital act which unites a husband and wife flows physical and spiritual life. In order for a husband and wife to enter into the Sacrament of Marriage they must be open to life no matter what age they are because life is twofold both physical and spiritual. There are some couples for certain reasons who are unable to have children. While physical procreation might not be a possibility, spiritual procreation can still take place.

Last week I mentioned the topic of contraceptives. Brothers and sisters contraception is just as dangerous within marriage as it is outside of marriage. Contraception promotes promiscuity outside of marriage and can certainly lead to marital infidelity within marriage. Not only does it prevent procreation but it destroys unity. Putting it into clear understandable English, contraceptives make it easier for an individual to sin! The marital act expressed between husband and wife is an act of unity that brings forth life. When a married couple introduces contraceptives within their relationship it puts up a barrier or a wall that prevents true unity. It’s like telling someone only what you want them to know and the rest you hold back out of fear of losing that individual. You’re not giving that individual your total self. Also introducing contraceptives in preventing physical procreation opens the door to marital infidelity because it removes a consequence. Contraception promotes irresponsibility. A problem we face no one today wants to take responsibility for their actions. It’s time we take the bull by the horns, it is time we take responsibility and turn away from the lies our society promulgates and promote the dignity and sanctity of marriage. The marital act is to be reserved only for marriage. It’s time we take a stand…for life!

Most of the time when people focus on contraception the focus is always on the short term. If we read Humanie Vitae we know Pope Paul VI’s concerns many of which I have addressed today have come true. Read it! Read Humanie Vitae! Women are seen more today as objects rather than equal suitable partners. Promiscuity is on the rise and so to instances of marital infidelity. One thing we haven’t tackled is another possible long term affect. Couples choose to use contraception to prevent pregnancies on the short term not realizing the potential effect that can happen years down the road when they wish to have children. Contraceptives can mess up the body to the point where physical procreation becomes impossible. It’s a real danger. Now in these cases can their relationships ever become life giving once again and the answer is yes. While physical procreation might be impossible, if they truly repent and open their hearts completely to life removing all obstacles that prevent unity their relationships can become spiritually procreative. What must take place for that to happen is simply a conversion of heart.

There is also a movement out there to redefine marriage as something other than between a man and woman. Redefining marriage is impossible for it cannot be redefined by man or be redefined by simply changing a law because marriage was defined once and for all by God Himself. The male and female body we created by God distinctly for communion that when united brings forth life. As mentioned, even if for some reason a man and woman who are joined in marriage are unable to physically have children that original design is still there and when they engage in the marital act without barriers, expressing that beautiful unity between spouses, it does indeed produce spiritual life. Many married couples today find their relationships on rocky ground because there is no true unity between them because of the barriers they put up and because they themselves are not open to experiencing the gift of life and that’s a fact!

Any engagement of the marital act outside of marriage violates the sixth commandment and is sinful. On this pro-life Sunday I want to make it perfectly clear on this pro-life Sunday…abortion is a sin, contraception is a sin, and euthanasia is a sin, but with that I have good news for all of us the love and mercy of God is abundant. Each one of us gathered here is called to promote the dignity of human life from the moment of conception to natural death. To those who disagree with the Church’s teaching I wish to express the Lord’s love and concern. I invite you to consider the Lord’s invitation and know the Lord never wishes to abandon you. To parents, relatives, and friends of those who are struggling to accept the teachings of Christ and His Church I implore you to love them with all your heart and do not reject them. Anyone who treats someone different because of their lifestyle or position and outright rejects them is not pro-life and in fact is acting unchristian. It is important that we look at one another through the eyes and lenses of Jesus Christ. We should embrace and treat one another as He himself would treat us. That doesn’t mean we don’t teach the truth…to do that (not teach the truth) would be in itself uncharitable, but that when we do it we do it out of love with love.

Today I want to say one more thing to those who are actively engaging in the pro-life movement especially those presenting our argument against abortion. In recent years, I have developed a concern about how we are presenting the argument. I want to be very clear the most effective witness we can give is by our prayers and our presence. Having gone to the pro-life march in recent years I have seen images on posters that risk turning people away rather than towards us. I am not talking about the beautiful pictures of children in the womb, but what I am speaking about is images showing the atrocities of abortion. Now I am not saying that these images shouldn’t be seen, but they belong in a book or a presentation shown only after someone has been warned and thoroughly prepared to see it. There is no way we can win an argument on the emotional level for we can only engage and win our arguments by addressing and informing the intellect. While emotions can play a part the main concern for those of us in the pro-life movement is to strive to inform the intellects of others and not the other way around playing on their emotion.

Brothers and sisters I know I have addressed a lot to day but I want to reassert that everything hinges on the issue of life. There is a lot of things that need fixing, indeed, we have our work cut out for us but that shouldn’t deter us from our responsibilities as Catholic Christians to promote the dignity and sanctity of marriage and promoting a culture of life. We must be open to life in all its stages. We must promote the dignity and sanctity of marriage according to God’s definition and not what we think it should be. I invite and challenge all of us to put our emotions aside for just a moment and allow ourselves to be schooled in the ways of God. May we as we leave here strive each and every day to build up the culture of life our Lord so desires.

 

Audio of today’s homily

Below is a link for FOR YOUR MARRIAGE website which is supported by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

http://foryourmarriage.org/

 

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Groups of individuals gather every year in January in Washington D.C. for the Pro-Life March showing their support for life.

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Pictures like this remind us clearly of the beauty of the gift of life.  We must protect these little ones for they too have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.