Thursday, April 26, 2018

Homily for 26 April 2018

26 April 2018

(School Mass)

They say that “time heals everything.”  And that just means that when we’re right in the middle of something (especially something difficult), we can’t always see what’s going on.  We have to wait in order to understand; maybe months, maybe years.  But we have to wait before we can see clearly.

It’s like of like the birds.  You know, the birds get to fly high above the ground.  And the higher up they fly, the bigger picture they get of what’s all happening on earth.  Of course, we can’t fly (except in an airplane), but we can get a bigger picture by letting time go by.  And a lot of the time, that’s how it is with God.

God tends to move very slowly.  Either that or we’re moving too fast.  And so, it can take a while to see clearly what God is doing.  And that’s what our readings remind us of today.  St. Paul stood up in the synagogue and he reminded the people of their history.  He made the people look backwards in order to see how God had been working.  And then Jesus spoke with his disciples, but he made them look forward.  And then when those things happened in the future, the disciples would remember to look backward to what Jesus said, so they would understand what God was doing.

When we’re right in the middle of something, we can’t always see what’s going on.  And so we have to wait.  We have to wait, and then someday we can say, “Oh, that’s what God was doing!  Now I see.  Now it makes sense to me.”  But that takes time.

And so we ask God for patience, for hope, and especially for trust that he is God, and in the end, everything will turn out just the way it was supposed to.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Homily for 25 April 2018

25 April 2018

Feast of St. Mark, Evangelist

“Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature,” says Jesus.  In the Church there’s a lot of talk of the New Evangelization, going out as missionary disciples to do just that: to go into the world and proclaim the Gospel.  But, you know, Jesus didn’t tell everyone to do that.  St. Mark tells us that he came to the Apostles and commissioned them, specifically, to be missionary disciples.

But, at the same time, we know that the Lord empowers other people, too, besides the Apostles.  After all, our feast day today is centered on St. Mark—an evangelist, but not one of the twelve Apostles.  So we know that others besides the original Twelve were called by the Lord.  But, still, not everyone is called to “go out into the world and proclaim the Gospel.”

In the Gospel of Mark, there’s what we call the “Messianic secret.”  Various people (and some demons) recognize Jesus as the Messiah, and even as the Son of God.  But he says to those people, “Quiet!  Don’t tell anyone.”  Jesus says that again and again in Mark’s Gospel: “Don’t tell anyone that I’m the Messiah.”  That’s the “Messianic secret.”

And maybe Jesus did that because he doesn’t want just anybody going out and telling others about him.  He only wants people to do that whom he specifically called and commissioned to do it.  Not everybody is called to be an evangelist.  This is something St. Paul talks about in his letter to the Ephesians.  He writes that Jesus, “gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers....”

Not everybody is called to be an evangelist.  And if we’re not called, then it’s best that we try not to be one—for the good of Christ’s mission.  But, at the same time, we are each called to “proclaim the Gospel” in the way that our Blessed Mother proclaimed the good news: by the manner of our life, through “preaching by example.”  St. Peter gives us some guidance in that we he talks about a life of humility and simplicity, steadfast faith, sobriety and vigilance in looking to see how the Lord is at work in our lives.

We may not each be called to be evangelists, like St. Mark, but we are called by God to “preach the gospel” by the manner of our life, each in our own way, according to the gifts God has given us.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Homily for 24 April 2018

24 April 2018

“Jesus answered them, saying, ‘I told you and you do not believe.’”  The exercise of belief is what draws the line between Christians and non-Christians.  Obviously we can’t call ourselves Christians if we don’t really believe that Jesus is the Son of God the Father; if we don’t believe in all the things he tried to teach, things like: the resurrection, the importance of looking out for those in need, how to worship God rightly, and so on.

We call ourselves “Christians” not because of our ethnicity or the language we speak, but because of our simple belief that Jesus is who he says he is.  But that simple belief opens us up to a whole new way of living.  If Jesus is who he says he is, then God has come to us.  And so, we Christians are an astounded people, an awe struck people who wonder at God like we wonder at the sunrise or sunset. 

If Jesus is who he says he is, then that makes us Christians a people of hope, too.  Pope Francis wrote that “the joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.”  But it’s not a superficial joy, one that goes up and down depending on the day.  Instead, it’s a deep joy that comes from a “sure and certain hope” that only God can give us.  Hope leads to joy, and joy is built on hope.

So, wonder, hope, and joy all characterize the lives of Christians.  But none of that happens without first believing that Jesus is who he says he is.  May God increase our faith in the Lord, and thereby increase our wonder, our hope, and our joy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Homily for 11 April 2018

11 April 2018

We celebrate the Eucharist in order to give thanks to God.  We thank him because, as we hear in the Gospel, “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son so that everyone…might have eternal life.”  We thank God for his love for us.

We also thank God for those who went through great danger to bring us the good news of God’s love.  There are the Apostles, in our first reading, who were put in prison and then set free by an angel.  But instead of using the opportunity to run away and be safe, they went right back into the lion’s den and kept preaching. 

Then there is Saint Stanislaus, whose memorial we celebrate today.  He had wealth and security, but gave it all to the poor and became a parish priest.  He was known for his skills in spiritual direction and became a reluctant bishop.  And he preached against sinful living, which the king at the time didn’t like.  So Stanislaus was murdered while celebrating the Mass, in 1079.

We give thanks to God for his love.  And we give thanks for those in our past and in our present who reassure of God’s love for us, who bring us the good news of God’s very great love.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Homily for 10 April 2018

10 April 2018

“The wind blows where it wills,” Jesus says.  The interesting thing, though, is that the wind is not the air.  The air is already there; it’s a physical thing; we know “where it comes from and where it goes.”  But the wind, well that’s the force that moves the air.  And, spiritually speaking, we don’t know “where it comes from or where it goes.” 

And the point is that we’re like the air, and the Holy Spirit is like the wind that makes the air move.  Our basic calling in life is to be carried along by the Holy Spirit.  That’s part of the meaning in what Jesus says about being “born from above;” being “brought forth” on the winds of Heaven.  Of course, being carried along by that wind could be enjoyable, or scary even.

When we say, “Lord, into your hands I commend my spirit…Lord, help me to be your presence in the world today…Lord, show me the right thing to do,” whenever we try to let God take the lead, we never quite know where we’re going to end up.  We don’t know where the Holy Spirit is going to carry us off to.  It might be into a greater experience of life.  It might be down a path that really challenges us.  It might be toward an experience of the Cross.  Who knows.  Who knows where the wind will carry us off to.  We certainly don’t know.

But we do have some idea; after all, Jesus has gone before us.  We know where he’s at.  And where he’s at is where the Holy Spirit comes from and goes back to.  And so, sooner or later, if we let ourselves be carried along by the winds of the Holy Spirit, we’ll end up in a really good place: in heaven, with all the angels and the saints, with all our loved ones who’ve gone before us, all together in one place, loving God and being loved by him; happily, eternally.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Homily for 5 April 2018

5 April 2018
(School Mass)

Jesus doesn’t lie.  When he says something is going to happen, it does; like his resurrection.  Before he died on the Cross, Jesus told everybody he was going to rise from the dead.  And he did.  So why were the Apostles all scared and amazed when he came to them?  Well, because they didn’t believe him.  They didn’t believe him.  And that’s okay, because eventually they did believe. 

And that’s the important thing...they eventually believed him.  And that’s how it is with us, too.  We hear Jesus say things all the time, right?  For example, we go to confession and we hear the priest say, “Your sins are forgiven.”  But do we believe him?  Or we hear Jesus say, “Be not afraid, I am with you always.”  But do we believe him?  Or what about at the Mass when Jesus says, “This is my Body, given up for you.”  Do we believe him?

And I would bet the answer is: “Well, sometimes I believe him.  Sometimes I do.  But, sometimes I’m not sure.”  So we’re not all that different from those Apostles, right?, who were sitting there and then, oh my gosh, there’s Jesus standing there risen from the dead!

But then Jesus said, “Touch my hands and my feet.  Give me some food to eat, so you can I really am here.”  Jesus had to prove it to his Apostles that he wasn’t a liar, that he was trustworthy.  And did that so the Apostles could then go out and prove to others that Jesus told the truth.  And that’s why we have the Church and her bishops, and the priests and deacons, and the pope.  It’s why we have all the saints and all the angels.  The whole Church exists to show the world that Jesus is trustworthy; that what he says is true—even resurrection from the dead.

So if we find ourselves maybe a little doubtful in our faith, that’s okay.  But then we want to be sure to listen even closer to what the Church says about Jesus.  And if we’re really strong in our faith, well, that’s good.  But then we have to be sure to share our faith, and to teach others—very gently—that what Jesus says is true, and that he can be trusted.

When Jesus says something is going to happen, it does—even rising from the dead.  Do you believe him?  Jesus, help us when we doubt you.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Homily for 25 Mar 2018

25 Mar 2018
Palm Sunday

A week from now we’ll be celebrating Easter, and we’re getting for that: deciding what to make for Easter dinner, who’s coming over.  Just yesterday I was at the store and bought some jelly beans.  Easter is coming and we’re looking forward to it.

But, of course, Easter does not stand alone.  The holiday exists in relation to the Passion and the Cross of our Lord.  At Easter, we celebrate that Christ died for our sins, of course.  But we also celebrate the revelation of the Tree of Life.

Remember back in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve were expelled.  Well, they (and all of humanity) were cut off from the Tree of Life in the center of the garden.  They couldn’t get to it; they didn’t have any way to access Paradise.  But...with the Resurrection, the wooden Cross is revealed as the Tree of Life.  The Cross is our access to Paradise!

At Easter celebrate Christ’s death and resurrection, but with that we also rejoice that the door to Paradise has been shown to us!  In his resurrection, Jesus points back to the Cross and says, “That’s the Way!  If you want to be with me in Paradise, go that Way!”    

And that’s why each year we hear the Passion.  It’s why we carry the Cross in our processions.  It’s why on Good Friday we venerate the Cross; we kiss it and bow to it; we touch it; we reverence it—the Cross, the doorway to Paradise.  It’s why in Catholic churches we surround ourselves with the Stations of the Cross.

The Cross is everything to us.  Next Sunday as we’re celebrating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, let’s be sure to also celebrate what the resurrection reveals to us—it reveals the Cross, it validates selfless love as the door to Paradise. 

Paradise is opened again to humanity.  And the Cross is the doorway.  Thanks be to God for the Cross.