Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Homily for the 5th Sunday of Easter 2013

 

“My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” A simple message for each of us to ponder this fifth Sunday of Easter, but is it really that simple? Do we really understand the responsibilities that come with loving one another?

Think about what Jesus said to His disciples, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” Last week, was Good Shepherd Sunday and we reflected on the meaning of what it takes to be a good shepherd. For one to be a good shepherd there must be a willingness to lay ones life down for ones sheep. Jesus did that for us, laid down His very life for each of us on the cross. The cross is the means and the way but it is not the end. Today’s invitation to us from God is to model that example of love and demonstrate it back to Him by our willingness to lay down our lives for each other.

One way we demonstrate our love is by our willingness to share the truth. In today’s world we have become too timid. When it comes to our faith, we cannot allow ourselves to be cold or lukewarm, but on fire. The Church is not a cafeteria where one picks and chooses what want one wants to accept and believe. We must accept the entire package. There is a distinction between those who accept the teachings of Christ but struggle to live it, and those who outright reject it. For those of us who accept the teachings of Christ and His Church but struggle daily to live it, this is where we belong. The Church was never meant to be a safe haven for Saints but rather a hospital and refuge for sinners. We demonstrate our faith each time we step up to the plate and utilize the gifts He has given us such as the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Utilizing the sacrament of reconciliation frequently demonstrates our openness not only to receiving God’s mercy but also our receptiveness and our recognition of the truth.

Jesus never rejects anyone…the Church never rejects anyone. It is the individuals themselves who often reject Christ and the Church, but it’s never Christ or the Church who rejects them. Our Lord presents us with the truth and it is up to us whether or not we wish to accept. Jesus today gives us a command: “love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” Are we ready to experience rejection and ridicule for our faith? Are we willing to lay down our lives for those we love, showing them the way to heaven as Christ did for us?

As we leave here today may we never forget that to love means a willingness on our part to sacrifice ourselves! The only way we can experience the true resurrection when our journey on this earth is complete is if we openly accept our portion of the cross which has been given us. No cross…no resurrection! May we keep this in mind from today’s first reading, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God!” In other words…no pain, no gain! Therefore, let us love one another following our Lord’s example!

 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Reflection given at the Divine Mercy Service on 4/7/2013

 

Brothers and sisters, it is good that we are here in the presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament taking this time to meditate upon the mercy of God.

Just because its Easter, doesn’t mean we stop focusing on sin because sin still isn’t prevalent in our lives. Most of us are faced and struggle with our sins each single day. Truth is sin weighs us down. Sin discourages us. For many of us our sins are the crosses we carry through life that despite our openness to God’s mercy and that desire not to fall into that sin again, we because of our human nature fall back into them. Don’t let sin discourage you! God never tires of offering us His mercy which is something Pope Francis has been stressing since His election.

Perhaps there is something you are constantly struggling with it, place it before His feet today. In a few moments I will walk back into the confessional allowing you my brothers and sisters to experience first hand the abundant mercy of God. However, before you walk back I want you to look for a moment at our Eucharistic Lord. Brothers and sisters, this is Jesus Christ, who humbly presents Himself to us on this very altar. All yourselves to model that humility, bring those bottled up sins to light and when your ready walk back to that open door that awaits you (of course it might be closed because someone is in the confessional but wait for them to open the door). Take advantage of this opportunity, for God wants us to experience His mercy.

It is important for us to focus on our weaknesses because when we openly confess and face our sins, it is then we experience a resurrection. There is that feeling of relief that a burden has been lifted from our shoulders. Now if we are not experiencing that feeling then we must ask ourselves honestly if we are approaching the sacrament in the right way. When I myself approach the sacrament of reconciliation I do so like most people with a hint of nervousness. That nervousness isn’t a bad thing; in fact it’s a sign of humility and strength for it signifies our awareness of our flaws. Release those things that are bottling you up inside and I promise each of you when you do as you leave the confessional you will experience a feeling of peace and relief that perhaps you haven’t felt in years.

Now as I invited each of you to experience God’s mercy this afternoon in this year of faith I ask and challenge each of you to extend His mercy. Be merciful to those who are in most need of God’s mercy. Perhaps there is someone you are struggling to forgive then ask God to help you forgive. Maybe you know someone who is burdened and weighed down with different things, see if there is anything you can do to help. Be instruments brothers and sisters of God’s mercy. Yes it might be challenging and difficult for us to do some of these things right now in our lives, but with the help of God all things are possible. Open your hearts to the abundant love and mercy of God and share this gift the Lord desires to give you this afternoon with all those you meet. God bless!!!

 

Homily for the Second Sunday of Easter…Divine Mercy Sunday 2013

 

“Many signs and wonders were done among the people at the hands of the apostles.” Our opening line from the Acts of the Apostles reminds each of us to think carefully about the signs and wonders that are taking place in our midst each single day. It is really important for each of us on this Divine Mercy Sunday to open our eyes of faith to the Lord’s goodness. The more we strive to make ourselves aware of the Lord’s goodness and when we take an opportunity to help others to see His mighty hand at work the more we can bring ourselves and others closer to the Lord.

Can you work miracles? Think about that for a moment…can you and I work miracles? The answer is yes…you can work miracles. I work miracles each day when I am faithful to my vocation as a priest, to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, anointing the sick, and forgiving sins. You too can perform miracles when you are faithful to the vocation God has called you and when you live a life committed to the mission of Christ. Caring for your children, caring for a sick relative or friend, reaching out to someone in need, and praying for someone in need of prayers are all ways in which we can perform little miracles in our lives and perhaps be a miracle for someone else.

This Second Sunday of Easter is known as Divine Mercy Sunday. I challenge all of us to take a moment today and spend some time reflecting on how we can be instruments of God’s mercy.

 

Homily for the 2nd Sunday of Easter…Divine Mercy Sunday 2013 at Boy Scout Camp

 

One of the things you learn as you go through the ranks of scouting you will learn the Boy Scout Slogan “to do a good turn daily.” This Sunday I invite each of you to make that a goal for each day…each day I want us to ask God to help us do something that is good. Cleaning your rooms, helping to do the dishes, take out the trash are some things we can do each day to do a good turn.

Perhaps there are other opportunities you might be given throughout the day such as inviting someone who is standing along the side by themselves to play at recess at school or to help someone maybe by giving them a pencil or piece of paper, or even helping them to answer a question on their own when they don’t know the answer. The reason I am mentioning these things today is because today is the Second Sunday of Easter also known as Divine Mercy Sunday. When we make every effort to do a good thing each day we are given an opportunity to demonstrate God’s mercy. When we think of mercy it doesn’t just mean to forgive sins, which is a major part of it but not the whole picture. Demonstrating God’s mercy means making God’s healing presence felt and when we do kind deeds and say kind things we make God’s mercy felt.

The scouting program is a wonderful opportunity not to just simply learn new skills but to learn new skills that can help people and when we help others we help ourselves become better people. May we strive each day to do a good turn so that we can make God’s love and mercy felt!!!

 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Homily for Easter Sunday 2013

 

For the last several weeks we have been working intently to clear out the old yeast so that we could become a fresh batch of dough. As Saint Paul told the people of Corinth today we celebrate “not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

Brothers and sisters today as we gather we celebrate the Day of the Lord’s Resurrection, the day in which our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ rose from the dead. His resurrection from the dead demonstrates that the cross is not the end but rather the means to the end. We must embrace our crosses as Christ embraced His and one day like Jesus we will experience a true resurrection.

As we leave here today I challenge all of us to share this good news with all we meet today. “This is truly the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.” May we keep the joy of Easter alive in our hearts!

 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Homily for Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion 2013

 

What is “good” about Good Friday? Let there be no mistake that what happened on this day was anything but good. An innocent man, our Lord Jesus Christ was put to the test and was forced to endure an agonizing death. Nothing that happened on this day was good.

If we were living back in that period of time and witnessed the events as they unfolded we ourselves would be saying the very same thing. Nothing good happened on Good Friday. Thus, we are left with the question why is it two thousand years later called Good Friday? We call it Good Friday not because of the events that took place but because of what they signify and from what came out of it. Year after year we commemorate the Lord’s Passion and death. This single event reminds us clearly of the extent of the Lord’s love for us. Not only are we reminded of the Lord’s love but we also recognize that the events of that day were necessary in preparation for something much greater that would take place on the third day. As we look back that is why today we call this Friday “Good” for it is on this day we are reminded of the extent of the Lord’s love.

Just a moment ago we read from the account of the Lord’s Passion from the Gospel of John. The word passion refers to an intense love. Our Lord’s love for us was so intense He laid down His life. Together as we gather here today we gather as witnesses. A witness is not only someone who sees something but a witness is someone who stands up for something. We gather this afternoon because we have witnessed the Lord’s love for us and we continue to witness the Lord’s love for us day after day after day! Our presence here today signifies the intensity of our faith and our affection for the Lord who sacrificed so much for us.

Momentarily we will have an opportunity to come forward and to venerate the cross which represents for us the very cross in which our Lord died for our sins. As we approach this cross I ask each of us to take a moment as we are walking up the isle to venerate this cross to take a moment to unite your burdens, your challenges, your struggles with His cross. The movement you and me will make momentarily is important. Often times when we are in line at a grocery store or waiting to order our meal we sometimes let our minds wonder. When we come forward today to venerate the cross I want each of us to stay focused. First I want us to focus on His cross. Then secondly I want us to focus on our crosses and as we gently touch or kiss the cross before us I want us to unite our crosses with His. Finally as we head back to our seats as others venerate the cross I want us to take a moment to say thank you to Jesus. Say thank you to the Lord for all that He has done for us through His sacrifice on the cross.

Brothers and sisters, today is Good Friday because the cross of Christ is a sign of hope and a testament of strength. Look to the Cross of Christ today. The Cross is not the end, but as Christ reminds us over and over again when He invites us to take up our crosses, the cross is the means to end. Today we lift high and we venerate the Cross of Christ, the symbol of victory for all Christians!

 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Homily for Palm Sunday 2013

 

“He humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Brothers and sisters the liturgy of Palm Sunday is a journey in which we also get a preview of what lies ahead. It begins with the Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem and then moves along to the account of the Lord’s passion in which we recall during the Sacred Triduum.

The Palm Sunday liturgy recalls the humility and the glory of God. On this day we get a preview of why the Lord is truly our king. Brothers and sisters…the account of the Lord’s passion reminds each of us of how much Jesus loved us! May we never forget it!

 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Soup & Scripture Reflection on Matthew 18 for 3/20/2013

 

Tonight we meditate on Matthew 18 in its entirety. The disciples approached Jesus with a question, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” What does Jesus do? Jesus calls over a little child and he says to the disciples, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of God.” Please note our Lord’s invitation isn’t to act like children but rather to become like children. Our Lord goes on to say, “Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” For us to truly embrace the Lenten journey we must learn how to be humble.

Using the example of a child is significant because children rely on their parents or guardians to provide their basic needs. Think of your children, your grandchildren, your friend’s children and listen how they interact with the world. Their interaction with the world demonstrates simplicity. Our Lord in asking us to become like children is inviting us back to that simplicity and development of that childlike trust we all once had. Humility means letting go…letting go specifically of our desires and wants. Once we embrace humility letting go of our desires and wants then we need to learn how to trust much like a child trusts his or her parents. Specifically we all need to learn how to trust God who is willing to bring healing to our lives.

Understanding that true greatness is achieved through humility and that “whoever receives one such child in my name receives me” because we are created in the image and likeness of God, our Lord begins to tackle something bigger. He says, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Brothers and sisters Lent provides us a great opportunity to examine our consciences. In our examination of conscience we need to honestly ask ourselves have we ever done or said something that may have led someone else down a wrong path. Maybe the sin wasn’t in our actions or words but in our lack of action and words. Allowing someone to fall into sin whether it is by our example or inaction is dangerous for our own spiritual well-being. That is what Jesus is trying to stress. It is important for each of us to lead by example. Yes we are sinners; therefore we ourselves should be taking advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation regularly facing our own sinfulness seeking the mercy of God.

That leads us into the next section the parable of the lost sheep. Jesus asks “what do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go in search of the one that went astray?” A shepherd will go out in search for the lost sheep. The Lord is our shepherd and He goes out in search for us. We too since we are created in the image and likeness have a responsibility to search for our lost brothers and sisters and bring them back to Christ. This task is impossible if we fail to take into account our own failing and weaknesses. The more we let go of ourselves, leading by example and allowing the Lord to work through us is the only way in which we can be the beacon of light which leads the lost sheep home.

Mark 18:15-20 addresses a difficult part of our Christian responsibility that was precluded to in the parable of the lost sheep and that is we are called to lead are brothers and sisters to Christ, even if that means we have to exercise what is called fraternal correction. Is their any one here in this room that likes to be corrected? That is why fraternal correction is difficult. In approaching fraternal correction we must be cautious because we do not want to come across as self-righteous. Our Lord says, “If your brother sins against you go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.” Publicly calling someone out, while perhaps depending on the circumstances sometimes necessary, should be avoided at all cost. It is only when someone doesn’t listen, should you take one or two people along with you for verification of the facts.

Too often, we avoid fraternal correction, out of fear of rejection, or this idea who am I to correct someone of their faults when I myself am a sinner. Brothers and sisters we are all sinners. Keep in mind what Jesus said in verse 5, “whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Key word here is cause! Perhaps we didn’t actually cause that individual to sin because they have a free will to do as they wish, but if we had the opportunity to give them a chance to consider the other option and we failed to do it then yes we are a cause. Yes fraternal correction isn’t easy and when we do exercise it, we must do it with love while being humbly aware of our own frailties.

Moving to the next two verses 21 and 22, Saint Peter asks Jesus the question, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him.” How many of us right now are harboring ill feeling toward someone who has offended us? If we are, then this is a question we should be paying close attention to. Jesus responded to Peter’s question with this answer, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” In other words, we are to forgive indefinitely or all the time.

Chapter 18 of Matthew’s Gospel wraps up with verse 23 through 35, the account of the Parable of the Unforgiving servant. Truth is when we choose not to forgive someone for their sins; we are like the unforgiving servant. I want to give a clarification there is a difference between choosing not to forgive someone and struggling to forgive someone. When we outright choose not to forgive someone their sins then we are not following the call of Christ. Struggling to forgive someone demonstrates a tension between doing the will of God and our own human desires. It’s a struggle all of us have and it’s a battle we wage each single day. There is a clear difference but we should be aware of the danger as the lord of the servant in the parable said to him after the servant failed to show mercy, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me, and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?”

Here we are given something to think about…God always forgives us when we sin, no matter what we do. Shouldn’t we try our very best to do the same. As His Holiness Pope Francis pointed out, God never tires from offering us His forgiveness; we are the ones who get tired of seeking it. Now if this is a question that pops up what’s the purpose of confessing this sin, if I am going to do it over again? If that is the voice you hear, let me forcefully tell you that’s not God, that brothers and sisters is the voice of the father of lies…Satin Himself! Go to confession…receive the grace He promises us. Perhaps over time He will give us the grace we need to conquer that sin. Catholics should make the Sacrament of Reconciliation a part of their spiritual life because as I have said numerous times the more our hearts receive His forgiveness the more our hearts are conformed to His and we are given the ability to forgive as He did. God desires mercy and it is mercy we as Christians are called by the Heavenly Father to demonstrate.

As always I invite you to come over the Mass at 7PM over in the Church. In closing out our reflection on Matthew 18 I wish to reiterate something, and that is this, for you I am a priest, but like you, I’m too a sinner. It is important we pray for each other, but I challenge us not to look at each other, you shouldn’t be looking at me, nor should I be looking at you, but rather together we should be looking towards our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God Bless!!!

 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Homily for the 5th Sunday of Lent 2013

 

Listen once again to the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not.” During the season of Lent as we journey towards Christ we take an opportunity to examine our consciences and we are encouraged to utilize the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The quote taken the today’s first reading is something we ask the Lord when we humbly approach Him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. As we confess our sins, we are humbly seeking His forgiveness and asking Him to remember not the events of the past. Yes…once the absolution is given the sins are no more! They are gone and our slate is wiped clean. Yet sometimes we are the ones who find it difficult to let go. There are times we are tempted to hold onto our sins or to keep picking at the scares and opening up old wounds. When God forgives…we are forgiven. Do not doubt the mercy of God. If there is a sin that we have confessed in the past…do not re-confess it (unless we’ve fallen into the same sin again). Now if there is a doubt that the sin has been confessed then certainly one can confess it, but afterwards let it go.

Today’s Gospel we find another account of the love and mercy of God in the woman caught in adultery. The Scribes and Pharisee’s brought before the Lord this woman caught up in this sin and recited to Him the law of Mosses which required her to be stoned. Then they asked Him His opinion. His reaction was not initially with words but with an action. Our Lord began to write in the dirt. What was he writing? The Scribes and Pharisee’s kept pressing Him and is when He said that famous line “Let the one among you who is without sin, be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then He continued writing, and then it says one by one they turned dropping their stones and walked away. A moment ago I asked the rhetorical question “What was He writing?” The real answer is we do not know but scripture scholars suggest that perhaps Jesus was writing in the dirt those sins in which these men who were about to stone the woman had on their souls.

Brothers and sisters, the Lord knows our sins and He desires that we bring them to the light so that we can experience His love and mercy. Do not try to hide your sins for one day they will be brought to the light. Both the woman caught in adultery and the Scribes and Pharisee’s were forced to face their sins. Yet there is a difference the Scribes and Pharisee’s had to be called out by the Son of God for their hypocrisy while the woman caught in the act of adultery received the mercy of God. After the men left and Jesus had the initial exchange with the woman He said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

As we leave here we are reminded that we are not to judge one another. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be helping each other see the light. However, we mustn’t forget that each one of us is sinners and we must be constantly aware of our own sinfulness. The mistake the men these Scribes and Pharisee’s of law were about to make is that they were ready to condemn the woman for her sin without taking into account their own failures. Brothers and sisters… …I’m a sinner…you’re all sinners…it’s time we all get to confession.

 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Soup and Scripture Reflection for Wednesday March 13th 2013

 

Last week we took a look at the end of the first chapter and the beginning of the second chapter of Mark where we heard the accounts of the healing of the man with leprosy and the healing of the paralytic. Some of the themes we talked about were faith, humility, trust, and zeal. Each of these things can really enhance our Lenten journey. This week we are focusing our reflection of the fourteenth chapter of Mark’s Gospel that deals with the Institution of the Lord’s Super, the foretelling of Peter’s denial, and the account of our Lord Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane. Even though it wasn’t proclaimed this evening I will also be putting some of this into context with the accounts Lord’s Passion.

I began our reflection on the word of God with the Institution of the Lord’s Supper intentionally since we are all gathered this evening for a meal. On the evening of the Last Supper the disciples along with the Lord Jesus gathered for a special meal the Passover meal in accordance with the Jewish tradition. They were gathered in that upper room filling their stomachs and their souls much like what we are doing this evening.

My first task tonight with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit is to help each of us see the connection between the account of the Institution of the Lord’s Supper and the Passion Narrative of our Lord Jesus Christ in light of the Sacred Mysteries in which we celebrate regularly. One of the key things His Holiness Benedict XVI did when it came to the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and we saw this in St. Peter’s Basilica and in the other places He celebrated Mass, and that was he had the crucifix placed center on the altar. Some criticized that move saying that it blocks the view…since when does the image of our crucified Lord block our view from the Eucharist. Brothers and sisters, it doesn’t block our view but rather helps us to deepen our understanding of its meaning.

During the Liturgy of the Eucharist both the faithful and the priest should not be looking at each other, but rather be united together looking at the image of the crucified Lord. As the priest says the words of consecration you are asked to listen intently to those words. Once the priest completes the words of consecration over the host and chalice which changes them into the Body and Blood of Christ, he raises them up and should be staring at the image of our crucified Lord. Using the words of Christ from Mark’s Gospel “Take; this is my Body.” When we hear the word “take” we immediately think of something we can grab. However, using the quote from the Gospel I think when we hear the word “take” we should look at it as “see this.” “See” this is my body and adding the words I say at the consecration “which will be given up for you.” Take a look at some traditional pictures of the priest celebrating Mass; often times you see the image of the priest raising the Body of Christ along towards the crucifix. This image shows us a clear correlation between the sacrifice of the past with the sacrifice which is offered continuously to this day.

Our Lord in presenting the cup said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” Once again when the chalice is raised up looking at the image of the crucified Lord we see the connection but in the passage we hear a phrase which we now hear regularly with the new translation and that is “for many.” When the new translation of the Roman Missal was introduced one of the things that was a sticking point for some was the old translation “for all” being accurately translation from the Latin “Pro Multis” which means “for many.” Didn’t Jesus die for all? The answer is yes, but the truth is not everyone will accept him. Keep in mind the word “many” is not restrictive. What do I mean by that? Here is what I mean many could be an infinite number which has do bounds. It would not be accurate to say He died for some for that would seem to suggest a relatively small number, nor would it be accurate it say He died for all because not all will accept Him as I mentioned. Using the phrase “for many” highlights accurately what we believe as Catholics that the door is open to all who accept the Lord’s invitation.

Let us back track for a moment having shown the connection using this passage from Mark’s Gospel showing the connection between the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with the Institution of the Lord’s Supper and the passion account I want us to look at the beginning of the passage for the evenings reflection. It says, “And as they were eating; he took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them.” There are four words I want to look at briefly and they are, took, blessed, broke, and gave putting them into context with the passion account of Christ. Reflecting on the word took, in this passage He took bread, but later on He took Himself and handed Himself over. Next it says He blessed the bread. Where does the blessing take place in the account of His passion? His blessing came with each lash of the whip, the presentation of the crown of thorns, and with each spat. Yes I know it sounds odd, but at the sermon of the mount he did say, “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad.” It goes on to say He broke the bread. His body is broken when they broke through His flesh. Finally we look at the phrase He gave it to them. In Mark 15:37 it says, “And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. As he gave the bread, our Lord gave up His life on the cross.

We have spent a lot of time of our reflection this evening on verses 22 through 25 however there is a whole two sections I haven’t covered yet but can be summed up easily which is why I wanted to include them. Mark verses 26-31 of chapter 14 focused on the foretelling of Peter’s denial of Jesus. The reason this was included in our reflection because each one of us from time to time denies Christ. That doesn’t mean we don’t love Him but it means we are human and we fail. And as Jesus said in reference to His disciples, “you will all fall away; for it is written, I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” Peter would go on to deny Jesus, but unlike the one who would betray the Lord, Peter returned and begged the Lord’s forgiveness. So although we may fall we do have recourse. We have the sacrament of mercy in which we have the opportunity to return to Him with all our hearts.

Finally we have the account where Jesus prays in the garden of Gethsemane in verses 32 -42. This is where Jesus goes up and prays “Father, all things are possible to thee; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what thou wilt.” Then when He returned He found Peter, James, and John all asleep. I think sometimes we have all fallen asleep. Sometimes I think we need to awaken to the presence of Christ in our midst. As Catholics we need to have a greater understanding between the connections between the sacrifice of the past with the sacrifice of the present which is why I focused in great detail this connection in this evening’s reflection. Catholics throughout the world have unfortunately fallen asleep to the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist which why recently the Church and we have the clear example in Benedict XVI’s pontificate promoting proper reception of the Blessed Sacrament. There needs to be an awakening in our time of the awesome gift we have before us.

Finally coming to an end of our reflection, finding His disciples asleep He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour?” Brothers and sisters we live in a fast paced world…and in many ways it shows. How hard is it for us to give one hour of each week to the Lord? I am of the school the Sunday liturgy for most part should be structured in a way that it is an hour and I firmly believe we should pen an hour into our calendars. It should be the highlight of our week. God deserves an hour of our time especially if we think about all He has done for us and even endured from us. It is important for us to take some time to ask ourselves if we are awake to His presence and giving Him our fullest attention and time He rightfully deserves.

Once again I extend the invitation for you to join us for the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the Church at 7PM. I thank you for you attention this evening as we deepen our understanding of the Sacred Mysteries we celebrate and the text of Sacred Scriptures as we break open the word of God. Have a good evening and God bless!

 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Homily for the 4th Sunday of Lent 2013

 

Brothers and sisters you might have noticed something different in the way I celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass during the Advent, Christmas, now into the Lenten Season and will continue to do so through the Easter Season and that is I am opting to use chant in the celebration of the Mass.

Chant has always been a part of the Roman Rite, although it in many places has fallen into like many other things into disuse. Some have been wondering why I have been utilizing chant and some of even commented that it slows things down and makes the Mass a little longer. I don’t know if I buy that it makes the celebration of the Mass longer because I am of the school Sunday Mass is an hour and if it finishes earlier that’s a gift but it does slow things down. The use of chant is important to our worship not because it slows things down but more importantly because it gives each of us a chance to hear things a little differently. It elevates the words. There is a quote which has been attributed to Saint Augustine although we have no record of him saying it, but it is still a good quote, “one who sings, prays twice.” In a spirit of humor I will admit when I chant some probably pray a third time, especially the cantor or the choir that I stay on the right key. Putting laughs aside Saint Augustine has commented on the subject and summarizing what he said was this…we sing to the ones we love. Boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands and wives, parents to their children we have all used song to convey our love, and I will use this as an example for instance when we sing “Happy Birthday” to another that is done out of love.

Now yes we do simplify things during Lent. We omit the flowers (except for Laetare Sunday, flowers are permitted) and the Gloria, some places have even maintained the venerable tradition towards the end of Lent of the covering of statues, but I challenge all of us to consider that just because we simplify things a little doesn’t mean we put less effort into our worship…on the contrary we should be putting in more effort. Lent gives us a perfect opportunity to put more effort into our faith. My responsibility, as a priest is to help you find ways to do that and I believe using chant is another way to help each of us to accomplish that goal.

With that we move to our reflection on today’s word of God…

Homily for the 4th Sunday of Lent

Today as we reach what is known as “Laetare” Sunday which is like the midway point through Lent, we pause from our focus on penance to the theme of rejoicing. The word “Laetare” is another Latin word for rejoice. What is it we rejoice in…well we rejoice in the goodness of the Lord.

We just heard the Gospel from Luke of the account of the prodigal son. It’s a parable from the Gospel’s most of us are familiar with. The Scribes and Pharisee’s didn’t get it. “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” In the parable the older brother didn’t get it either. “Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.” Sounds like us sometimes, don’t it! But that’s our God…a loving Father who always has an open door prepared to welcome each of us back when we fall. Brothers and sisters, this is why today…we rejoice.

While this weekend we turn to the theme of rejoicing may we never forget that gift the Lord has given us in which the Church is the guardian of and that gift is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is there we taste and see the goodness of the Lord. Think about our reconciliation rooms for a moment. There is only one light and that is to signify the priest is in the confessional, and the rule is if the door is open the priest is available. Think about it, the open door. Our heavenly Father has an open door policy for each of us, so when the door is open that tells us He is waiting ready to take us back. As we leave here today let us rejoice in the fact our Lord welcomes us sinners and desires to dine with each of us. Let’s rejoice in our faith by continuing to take advantage of the gift our Lord has given us.

 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Soup & Scripture Reflection on March 6, 2013

 

There is a lot contained in the reading from the Gospel of Mark in which I just proclaimed to you that gives us a lot to think about on our Lenten adventure. The season of Lent is an opportunity for us to humble ourselves before the merciful Lord.

It says, “And a leper came to him beseeching him, and kneeling.” The act of kneeling is very important for us as Catholics because it represents a profound act of humility and respect for someone who can in a single instant change our lives. Listen once again to what the leper says, “if you will, you can make me clean.” I began our reflection in Mark’s Gospel intentionally with the account of Jesus cleansing the leper because in a way we all suffer from a form of spiritual leprosy as a result of our sins. During the Holy Season we are called to address and face our sins and we should approach the Lord as the leper did in the Gospel. Before we can confess our sins we need to address and face them, so if you haven’t gone to confession yet this Lent I ask that before you do to profoundly place yourself before Christ on your knees (or if not on your knees at least bowed down) in prayer and say “Lord if it is your will, I know you can make me clean.” Then as He said to the leper He will say it to each of us, “I will; be clean.”

Now Jesus warned the cured man, “not to tell anyone” but to go “show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to the people.” This is significant because what Jesus wanted was for the healed leper was to respect the law. See Jesus had a profound respect for the rules of Jewish faith which is why He asked the healed individual to show himself to the priest. Of course the healed leper didn’t do that but rather went out spreading the news of the goodness of the Lord. We could look at the healed man’s disobedience but I think rather we should look at his zeal. If something of this magnitude happened to you and me wouldn’t we want to share it! I know I would! Brothers and sisters if only we had the same enthusiasm the cured leper did. If only we had the same excitement to share the good things the Lord has done for us!

The second part of our reflection focuses on the account of the healing of the paralytic. It begins with the crowds hearing the Jesus was home hearing this wonderful news they rushed to gather with Him so they could spend time with Him and hear Him speak. They were hungry for the word of God. Now the crowds were so massive that there wasn’t even any room to breathe. Members of the crowd brought a paralytic man and seeing the massive crowd…they went up, opened a hole in the roof and lowered the man on his mat before the feet of Jesus. What dedication…what perseverance! Lent brothers and sisters, is about dedicating ones life to God. When we dedicate our lives to God we will find deterrence’s along the way that tries to knock us down and off the right path. This is where perseverance comes in…are we ready not to let these deterrence’s get in the way of our relationship with God.

It says in the account, “And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” How many of us would be scratching our heads saying “is that it?” We’ve come all this way put all this effort to get this man before Jesus and only thing the Lord could say to the man laying on the mat is that his sins are forgiven. How many of us would be questioning the Lord at this very moment? Here we have a man lying on a mat unable to move and He has the ability and the power to do all things and the only thing He did was forgive the man’s sin. Perhaps for the paralytic what the Lord offered Him was enough.

Perhaps Jesus knew what the crowd was going to think after He pardoned the man’s sin. For it says, “immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, ‘why do you question thus in your hearts?” I want to pause for a moment on this specific quote. Jesus knew what was in their hearts; Jesus knows very well what’s in our hearts. We can hide nothing from Him, we can try, but it won’t remain hidden for long. Which is why during the season of Lent we should be honest…honest with ourselves…honest with the Lord. Do not try to hide anything be open. We have a simple gift in which we are encouraged to use regularly in the sacrament of reconciliation. Some often think to themselves, what’s the purpose of the Sacrament, if God already knows my heart. Why go?

About two weeks ago I had a Lenten Holy Hour with our Youth Group in which speaking on the sacrament of reconciliation I told them my specific role as a priest is to make His voice heard. Let me ask the question, when was the last time you heard the voice of God, speaking as clearly as I am speaking to you right now. It’s probably been awhile because we live in a noisy world, a world that has been saturated with lies. Sometimes its hard for us to find God in the midst of all that is going on in the world around us, but let me remind you where we can find Him, and He can be found in that building right over there. He can also be found in each of us gathered here as we feed our souls and our stomachs. God is present…God is present…God is present right here right now this very moment. The voice of God manifests itself not only through Sacred Scripture but also through all of us when we open ourselves up to the Holy Spirit since we are all created in His image and likeness.

Miracles take place each and every day…something spectacular takes place each day in the ordinary moments of everyday life. Sometimes things of a greater magnitude happen for a reason and the healing of the paralytic is one of those cases. Once again turning to our passage our Lord states, “but that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” – He said to the paralytic – “I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.” Jesus’ reasoning for performing this miracle was clear to plant the seed so the faith of the crowds would grow. He planted a seed, but in doing so He also challenged each of us to look for and see the power of God in the ordinary moments of our lives which is why is said, “Which is easier to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say ‘rise, take up your pallet and walk?’”

Tonight as you leave here I invite us to consider this passage in its entirety. As you continue to journey through the season of Lent I invite us to humble ourselves before the Lord and cry out to Him. I ask all of us to continue persevering working each day to dedicate our lives to God. Finally, I ask all of us as we leave here to take a moment tonight to close our eyes, yes to actually close these eyes so that we would not be tempted by anything else and to focus our eyes of faith on discovering how God reveals Himself each single day to us through the ordinary events of our every day lives. God Bless!!!!

 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Homily for the Third Sunday of Lent 2013

 

“But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did.” The past couple weeks we have been speaking about going into the desert to address and face our sins. The season of Lent is about repentance! Our Lord’s warning which he repeated twice in today’s Gospel explains what will happen to us if we do not repent…we will ultimately perish.

Repent means “to turn away from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life. It also means “to feel regret or contrition.” Finally it means “to change ones mind.” The season of Lent is about change. Throughout the Lenten season together we are challenged to make changes in our lives that will help keep us on the road to heaven.

Let me repeat…no one is perfect. We all have road blocks also known as sins in our lives. Living the Christian life is a lifelong process and conversion of heart must take place each single day. In response to our Lord’s warning as we embrace this Lenten journey we must make it a part of our daily lives to recognize those failings in which we all have. Evil is around us, but evil can be overcome. There are two prayers we should all re-familiarize ourselves with and I would challenge that we say them each single day and they are the prayer of Saint Michael the Archangel which is good to begin the day with asking for protection against evil and the Act of Contrition which is perfect to say before we retire for the night seeking forgiveness for our failures.

In closing let us never forget that the Lenten season is a journey and it is a season of change. May we strive to make every effort to repent from our sins and make a firm effort to avoid sin at all cost! The choice is ours but don’t forget the Lord’s words from the Gospel, “but I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did.”

 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Homily for the Second Sunday of Lent 2013

 

We were invited last week into the desert as we heard proclaimed the Gospel account of Jesus being tempted. Today’s Gospel account is the one of the transfiguration and there is a similarity between last weeks Gospel with the one from today. Last week Jesus “went” off into the desert and this week it says “Jesus took Peter, John, and James and “went” up the mountain to pray. The key word is “went.”

When I hear the word “went” I also hear the word journey. Brothers and sisters the season of Lent is a journey. Many journeys have adventures and bumps in the road. Life itself is a journey and as a part of our Lenten adventure we focus on those particular bumps in the road known as sin. There is a clear reason why during Lent we focus on sin and that is because sin gets in the way. Get in the way of what we may ask ourselves. It gets in the way of the big picture. What is the big picture…well we find the answer in the Gospel…the big picture is Jesus. See sin blurs our vision and the more we tackle sin and strive to remove it from our lives the clearer the picture of Jesus is for us. The event of the transfiguration opened the eyes of Jesus’ disciples who were with Him at the time. When we remove sin we experience and see Jesus as He really is as God’s beloved Son the one who can lead us out of darkness.

In the account of the transfiguration we hear the voice say, “This is my chosen Son; listen to Him.” During the season of Lent it is important that we listen to the voice of Christ who desires and wishes to heal us from our infirmities. The more we listen to the voice of the Lord in our lives the more our vision becomes clearer and what becomes clear is that we come to an understanding of what Saint Paul told the Philippians, “Our citizenship is in heaven and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” He then goes onto say, “He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.” The Gospel speaks of the Lord’s glorification and in this season of Lent we consider the possibility of our own glorification in Christ. That is why we are asked to enter into the desert or get away on top of a mountain so that we can face our own sinfulness and turn away from it and back to God. Our citizenship is not of this earth but rather our true citizenship is awaiting each of us if we accept it back in heaven.

Today we journey! Go out journeying towards the light of Christ. May we work tirelessly this Lent to remove those sins from our lives that blur our vision that keeps us from seeing Jesus who He truly is…God’s beloved Son who has come into the world to take away our sins to lead us on the path which leads towards everlasting life!

 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Homily for the 1st Sunday of Lent 2013

 

Last week Jesus asked Simon to put into the deep, this week we follow Jesus into the desert. As I mentioned in my homily last week it is often scary for us to go into the deep and focusing on the Gospel for this week it is just as scary going into a deserted place.

What is the significance of going into a deserted place? In Luke’s Gospel Jesus finds the evil one waiting to tempt Him. Often times when we travel to a deserted place we are often faced with temptations. Sometimes we are also forced to see things about ourselves that perhaps we wanted to avoid. It is important for our spiritual growth to face these things which is why I challenge all of us this Lent to travel with Jesus into the desert. There is a tendency in all of us to want to avoid the desert out of fear of what we may find. Perhaps it might not be fear holding us back but something far more worse…pride! A pride on our part, thinking to ourselves, that we can do no wrong.

Brothers and sisters it is time we all face the difficult hard truth, each one of us gathered here today is a sinner and this Lent we are asked to face our sins. One of the biggest mistakes we can make is to avoid our problems. Avoiding our problems will only lead to greater problems down the road. Starting right now our Lord is challenging you and me to face our sins and to face them head on. We should never allow ourselves to become afraid of tackling a problem.

Now here something we must all understand and that is temptation is not a sin. See from the Gospel even Jesus was tempted by Satin. Succumbing to temptation is sinful but being tempted is not. There is probably not a single person in this Church that is not being tempted by something at this very moment. I am sure there is someone right now tempted to look at their watch and thinking; how much longer is Father Carroll going to make all of us endure his homily. When at a restaurant how many of us are enticed by the deserts in the picture on the menu. See falling into temptation is sinful but temptation itself is not and in fact avoiding temptation is really a moment of grace.

This week Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world by announcing his renunciation of the papacy effective on February 28th citing advanced age and infirmities. It was literally the announcement that rippled throughout the world. His announcement was historic for it was the first time since the year 1415 a pope has resigned from office. The last pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII to bring healing to the Church following the Western Schism. Pope Benedict’s announcement came on Monday February 11th the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes. This date is significant for it is in Lourdes France where many physical and spiritual healings have taken place. The Church is in so many ways is in the process of healing for many reasons throughout the different parts of the world. Pope Benedict worked tirelessly to promote healing and unity within the Church. Perhaps with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit he felt it was time for someone else to carry on this important task. In addressing the cardinals he asked, “And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff.” Pope Benedict entrusted the Church to her Supreme pastor Jesus Christ and the Blessed Mother as we await an appointment for a new Holy Father.

In closing His holiness stated, “With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.” Pope Benedict in so many ways is leading all of us by His example into the desert. As we leave here today we should leave with admiration for the work he has done and his humility in recognizing his limitations and seeing the need for someone else to carry the torch the light of Christ into the world. Yes we are heading into unchartered territory, but as I said in the beginning and I reecho now do not fear the desert…for with the help of the Holy Spirit something great will come from it!

 

 

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The above picture was taken my me at the end of the Papal Mass in Washington.

Let us continue to keep His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in our prayers!  May the Lord continue to bless him!  Also let us pray for the Cardinal electors as they prepare to gather in Rome to elect his successor.