Saturday, January 26, 2013

Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time 2013

 

Today…is holy to the LORD your God. Today…this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing. These lines taken respectively from the First Reading and the Gospel have one key word “today.” Last week we heard from the Gospel account of the wedding feast of Cana that famous line “do whatever He tells you,” and I said what Jesus was telling us to do was imbedded in last weeks responsorial psalm, “proclaim His marvelous deeds to all the nations.”

Linking together the readings from last week with these readings for today we are challenged to act right now. In the first reading Ezra the priest brought before the assembly the law of the Lord. As he read it he spoke plainly and said, “today is holy to the LORD your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep.” While each day is filled with exciting new adventures often times we come across new challenges and trials. It is when we are faced with new challenges and trials there is a tendency in each of us to complain rather than seeing those challenges or crosses as a share in the Jesus’ cross. When we face those uphill battles in our lives we shouldn’t allow ourselves to complain or be sad but rather rise up and see it as a sign that we are alive and have found favor with God.

Our Lord Jesus picking up the scroll in today’s Gospel read from the prophet Isaiah. There is something to be said about the law which Ezra quoted and what Jesus said in the Gospel from Isaiah and that is the purpose of the law and the acceptance of Christ and His mission bring about true freedom and peace. Laws especially God’s law shouldn’t be seen as restrictive but rather as something that leads us to true freedom and happiness.

What does it mean for us to accept Christ and His mission? The word “accept” by its definition means to take “something that is offered, say yes to an invitation, or to believe in something.” All three of these definitions can be applied when we talk about accepting Christ. First, Jesus offers each of us something, and what he is offering us is His very self. Second, Jesus extends to us an invitation which He does all throughout the Gospels to come follow Him. Finally we are called to believe in something, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” What is He inviting us to believe in and for the answer I quote what Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” Our Lord is asking us to believe that He is the one, the one sent by God to do all these things the prophet Isaiah foretold.

On Tuesday of this past week we commemorated a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States which opened the floodgates to one of the greatest travesties in modern times the death of innocent human lives through the sin of abortion. As Jesus hung on the cross, he cried out to the Father, “Forgive them, for they no not what they do.” Many do not comprehend or understand the gravity of this sin. A few weeks back we celebrated the feast of the baptism of the Lord where Jesus was revealed as His beloved Son and in Baptism we too are revealed as His children. Each time the sin of abortion is carried out we abort not just a gift God has given us; we abort one of God’s children. To reject life in any stage is a rejection of God.

On Friday many people across the United States gathered in Washington D.C. to peacefully march against this decision and to make a firm stand for the gift of human life. All Christians are to affirm and hold sacred the gift of life from the moment of conception to natural death. All men, all women, and all children are equal in dignity no matter of their ability, creed, ethnicity, gender, mobility, race, or social class, for we are all seen equally in the eyes of Almighty God. Saint Paul’s first letter to the people of Corinth highlights this truth while a body may have many parts all the parts make up one body. When a part of the body is hurt not only does it have an effect on that part of the body but as an effect on the body as a whole.

Today not only must we stand firm in our resolve to protect the dignity and sanctity of all human life, we as Christians must be ready to support those whose lives have been affected by this sin and any other sin. When we sin we hurt the entire body. It was no coincidence that yesterday as many marched for life, they did so on the Feast of the conversion of Saint Paul. May we pray for those who do not understand the gravity of the sin of abortion and also pray for those whose lives have been affected by this sin and as I mentioned any sin, that they too like Saint Paul may experience comfort, forgiveness, and peace!

Brothers and sisters I also want to mention that this upcoming week we honor Catholic School’s week. It is fitting as we talk about openness to life we mention also one of the major responsibilities we have and that is to education. When we accept the mission of Christ, we accept a responsibility. The primary educator of children is parents. Parents have the primary responsibility to provide their children with an education in the faith. As a Church we have a rich tradition through our Catholic Schools and Religious Education Programs to assist parents in their responsibilities. As we begin Catholic School’s week I would publicly like to thank all those who help us keep that rich tradition available. May we continue to pray for our parents and our teachers in the school and in religious education program that the Lord may sustain us in our mission to provide a Catholic education!

Taking all this into consideration we must strive to accept and live God’s law and never forget that the mission of Christ is not for the future, it is meant for today.

 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Homily for the 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time 2013…"Do whatever He tells you.”

 

The Blessed Mother says to the servants in today’s Gospel, “do whatever He tells you.” She says this in the context of today’s Gospel of the Wedding Feast at Cana which details our Lord’s first public miracle. Two things can be concluded; first the Blessed Mother is once again directing each of us in the direction of her Son. The second is this in Mary telling us “do whatever He tells you” and with the Lord’s miracle of changing the water into wine we see what great things can happen for those who follow God.

What is it that the Lord is telling us to do? What is it that Jesus telling us to do today Sunday January 20th 2013 and each day of our lives? We find the answer imbedded in the responsorial psalm, “Proclaim His marvelous deeds to all the nations!” As you leave here today I want each of us to think of all the many gifts the Lord has bestowed upon us. Honestly think about it because there are plenty of things in which we should be thankful for such as our family, the gift of our life, the basic necessities we have to live. One of the traps many of us fall into is when things don’t seem to go the way we want it we allow ourselves to complain and mope around which causes us to become wrapped up in ourselves and in our own world. Soon as that happens we are unable to look outside of ourselves to see what is going on around us…specifically what God is doing for us.

Today we are told to proclaim His marvelous deeds. There are many people out there who need to hear about His marvelous deeds and also be reminded of the many gifts and blessing God has bestowed upon them. One of the errors we face today is that there is a movement to reject religion. More and more people who claim to have faith see no need for Church. Do not be fooled by their arguments. People will try to make their case by trying to label religion as corrupt as a result of the sins of its members. It’s good to develop a personal prayer life but to pull oneself away from the practice of the faith is a grave mistake. Look around…look around this Church. When we gather we are reminded that we are not alone in this journey of life. Right here…this is our support group. This is one of the things God has given us! Removing oneself from the practice of faith or coming to Church, is another step closer to someone losing their faith.

“For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet.” More than ever today we need to follow the Lord and as Mary pointed out to do whatever He tells us. Today we are challenged to proclaim His marvelous needs to all the nations and it is important we take up that invitation because when we do more will experience the saving power of God.

 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Homily for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord 2013

 

“Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God.” These lines take from the prophet Isaiah in today’s first reading highlight the call of all baptized.

The Sacrament of baptism reveals two things. First, when we are baptized it reveals that we too are children of God. As we heard in the Gospel a voice spoke from heaven saying, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” The rite of baptism conveys the truth that we are children of God. Secondly, the sacrament reveals our mission which is the same as John the Baptist’s and that is to prepare the way of the Lord. On this the feast of the baptism of the Lord in which we commemorate the Lord’s baptism in the Jordon we are reminded of those two key points that we are God’s children and as children of God He has given us a mission.

Each one of us has been given a mission and when we set out on a mission we need to be equipped and ready. It’s so easy for us to be filled with passion and zeal for the proclamation of the Gospel, yet often we fall short because we weren’t really prepared. Throughout this year of faith we are encouraged to delve deeper into our Catholic faith, through action, prayer, and study. It is that last one studying the Catholic faith I encourage all of us to engage in. If there is one area in which we are weak in it could be said that it is in the area of the knowledge of the faith. Not only is it important to have knowledge of the faith but it is also important for us to know how to articulate it especially in today’s society. Are we able to defend our faith from those who attack it?

John the Baptist prepared a way for the Lord and not only did he simply prepare the way, he led the way. Together we are called not only to prepare the way but also lead the way to the Lord. There are many people out in our world who are restless and not at peace. They long to hear and feel the presence of God in their lives. Our baptismal call is to bring peace and the only way we can bring peace is by accepting and living our vocation the very mission the Lord has called us faithfully in the world. The Lord will bless His people with peace, and the way He does that is when we say “yes” to the mission in which He has entrusted to us.

 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Homily for the Epiphany of Our Lord Jesus Christ 2013

 

The word Epiphany is defined as a manifestation or appearance. This Sunday we celebrate the manifestation of Christ to the magi. Following the star they stopped where they found the light shining down upon the place where they found the Holy Family. Upon finding the child they paid him homage offering gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Brothers and sisters we celebrate the manifestation of Christ all throughout the year, each time we gather together to celebrate these Sacred Mysteries. That is why after the proclamation of the Gospel I chanted what is called the “Epiphany Proclamation” or the announcement of Easter and the moveable feasts. The Epiphany Proclamation was really handy especially before we all had print calendars and smart phones because people would come to Church on the Feast of the Epiphany to find out the date for Easter and the beginning of the next new liturgical year. While in many places the announcement of the Epiphany Proclamation has fallen out of practice, it still serves a purpose because when it is proclaimed we are reminded of the manifestation of Christ in the other celebrations within the liturgical calendar.

As we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany of our Lord we continue with our Christmas celebration. Do we recognize and see the manifestation of the Lord in our lives? The Lord reveals Himself day after day. As we heard in the Gospel the magi offered the Christ child the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Our Lord offered Himself for us…what gifts are we ourselves offering to the Lord. Here is what we should be offering back to the Lord and that is the very gifts He has given us. In a few moments each of us will hear in the Roman Canon, “we, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty, from the gifts you have given us.” All of us have been givens special gifts…gifts that are unique only to us. Saint Paul writes to the people of Ephesus, “You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for your benefit, namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation.” In your prayers today I ask that we seek the Lord’s guidance and help in order to help us utilize the gifts He has given us to their fullest potential. For there is no better gift to offer to the Lord and no better way to help manifest to the world the saving power of God than my using the gifts that God has given us. May we never forget that we too like Saint Paul our stewards of God’s grace and that when we use the gifts He has given us we make known the presence of God to the world.