Saturday, May 30, 2015

Homily for 31 May 2015 Most Holy Trinity

31 May 2015
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Jesus says: Go and baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  Baptize “in the name of” the Trinity, “in the name of” God.  And we can take that to mean: “Go baptize on behalf of me.”  But there’s something more to it than that, I think.  Scripture gives us at least five different ways to understand that phrase: “in the name of.” 

But the way that’s significant for today’s solemnity is how Scripture uses the idea of a “name” as “immersion into something.”  To be baptized “in the name of” the Trinity is to be immersed into the life of the Trinity itself—not symbolically, but really.

Go and baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” . . . not merely on behalf of Jesus, but really and truly.  During the Easter Vigil when adults are baptized, often times they’re plunged into the water.  And that water surrounding them symbolizes the life of God.  Jesus commissions us to dive head-first into the living water that is the life of God.  And, while we’re at, bring the rest of the world along with us.      

Today’s solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity is perhaps the most beautiful, and certainly the most difficult, to celebrate.  The life of the Trinity, the divine life that’s shared between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is so far beyond our human experiences, so far beyond even our imagination that it’s hard to grasp what it means to baptize “in the name of” the Trinity, to immerse ourselves “into the name of” God.

But the Trinity is the womb, our birthplace, our homeland.  And the Trinity is our ultimate and final home, the place where the light is always on, where there’s always a feast of gladness and the thrill of contentment.  As hard as the Trinity may be to grasp, it is nonetheless familiar to us in so many ways.  The name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is right in our DNA, it’s all around us, it’s within us.

The divine life of the Trinity is, I suppose, like the constantly flowing, swirling currents of the ocean.  And we’re like little fish in that ocean.  The life of the Trinity surrounds us, and flows through us.  Our bodies, our minds and souls are flooded with the life of the Trinity.  God isn’t “out there.”  Instead, we’re “in God.”  God isn’t “out there,” and distant.  Instead, we live inside of God; we live and move and have our being right here in the name of the Holy Trinity.  We’re like the little fish, swimming and diving, living and dying in the ocean, in the living reality of the ocean of God’s divine life.

The mystery is, however, the ocean itself.  That’s what we celebrate today: the name of God; the deep, unfathomable ocean; the living reality of the Trinity itself—the love, the perfect love between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  This isn’t just a doctrine and a belief that’s developed over the past 3,000 years, or so.  It’s our life—now—not only as Catholics, but as human beings, as creatures of the divine Creator.   

The Trinity is the mystery of love and perfect friendship.  Most people, I imagine, have been in love or have had close friendships.  The two of you share yourselves with each other.  You share life together: the good times and the bad, the joys, the sorrows.  The wife is there for her husband; the husband is there for his wife.  Or maybe a friend is a soulmate, one you can share anything with.  And your friend knows that you’re there and present for him or her. 

The relationship itself, that intangible, but very real experience of companionship and belonging, that knowledge that you are loved . . . that’s the “name” of God; that’s the reality of the Holy Trinity . . . right there between you and your spouse, you and your friend—in that intangible and mysterious thing we call a “relationship.”

For a long time, that’s a way the Church has seen and imagined the Holy Trinity to be.  There is the Father, and there is the Son.  And the total openness, the total self-gift of one to the other, the act of loving is the Holy Spirit.  But, of course, the Trinity is not like us; rather, we are like the Trinity.  And so, the Holy Trinity is like the most perfect relationship and friendship of love that we can imagine . . . and yet, it’s greater than that.

Jesus says, Go and baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  In the name of.  Immerse yourselves and others into this intangible reality we call divine love, divine friendship.  Is it any wonder why the Lord tells us again and again and again, “Love one another.”  Love God.  Love yourself.  Whatever we do, do it with love.  Immerse ourselves, surround ourselves, saturate ourselves, mind, body, and soul with the mystery of the Holy Trinity . . . the mystery of divine and perfect love.

In the early Church, the Greek word “perichoresis” was used to describe the inner life of the Trinity.  The prefix “peri” means “around” (like a peri-meter), and “choresis” is the same root for the word “choreography,” or “dancing.”  In our Catholic Tradition, we envision the inner life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to be like a dance; they’re “dancing around and with” one another. 

But this isn’t any dance; it’s a dance of intimacy . . . between a Lover and the Beloved in the Spirit of Love.  In the 12th Century, St. Bernard of Clairvaux saw the Holy Spirit as the kiss of God.  He writes this: “If, as is properly understood, the Father is he who kisses, the Son he who is kissed, then it cannot be wrong to see in the kiss the Holy Spirit, for he is the imperturbable peace of the Father and the Son, their unshakeable bond, their undivided love, their indivisible unity” [Sermon 8, Sermons on the Song of Songs].

This divine dance of Love that is the Holy Trinity is not outside of us.  This dance is the movement of that ocean of life and love into which we are immersed.  God is not “out there,” this dance of Love between Father and Son in the Spirit is not outside of us.  It is within us because we are in God himself.  Perichoresis happens all around us, within us, and between us . . . in friendship and in love.  The life of the Trinity is the foundation and the ultimate goal of all that we desire: beauty, truth, goodness, and unity.  Those ideals are not outside us, the life of heaven is not outside us.  In every breath we take, every word and every act of love that we do, the life of the Trinity is there.

But a great mystery within this mystery we call the Holy Trinity is that our God is revealed as “one in three” and “three in one.”  The Father and Son share so completely with each other in the bond of love called the Holy Spirit that they are one.  Their divine dance is to so ecstatic and overflowing with self-gift to the other that they are one.  That’s a great mystery.  But not beyond, at least, our imagination.

When a husband and wife are married for decades, and they’ve been faithful to one another, they become one.  After my grandpa died in 2007, I don’t think my grandma ever referred to him in the past tense.  Then again, they had been married since 1950.  They shared life together for fifty-seven years.  Their souls had become one.  And I imagine you know similar stories in your own families.

That bond of marriage is powerful.  And the longer you’re married, the more ups and downs you go through, the stronger the bond becomes (sometimes).  Well, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have been bound in love since before time began!  They are one.  They are one . . . and yet, they are distinct.  They have to be. Unity and love depend on there being distinct persons in the relationship.

The Father doesn’t swallow up the Son.  The Son doesn’t swallow up the Father.  And the Holy Spirit does not overshadow, or be overshadowed by, either of them.  They each remain distinct persons because without the uniqueness of each person, there’s nothing to share, there’s nothing to give or receive in love. 

It’s becoming very common nowadays to see at weddings a Unity Candle.  There’s two smaller candles symbolizing the bride and groom’s baptism and their individuality, and then there’s the big candle between them.  And they take the two smaller candles and, together, they light the big one as a symbol of their unity.  But, the two smaller candles remain lit.  They do not blow out those candles.  Just because they are now one in the sacrament of marriage does not mean they cease to be unique individuals.  In fact, their love depends on each of them remaining their own unique person.

That uniqueness is what’s shared between them.  And that sharing and discovery of who each other is is where the Holy Trinity is present in their marriage.  God is one, God is a unity in that bond of perfect sharing and love.  But God is a Trinity: distinct, divine candles of life that feed into the one candle of eternal life.

Jesus says: Go and baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  By marriage, by friendship, and by any truly vulnerable intimacy between people we are baptized, we are immersed right into the name of the Trinity, right into the living reality of love, into that moving ocean of the divine dance of eternal and heavenly life.

And that life isn’t “out there.”  The Holy Trinity is not “out there.”  Rather, we are in the Holy Trinity.  We are baptized, immersed, surrounded by and held up by the love that exists between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The Holy Trinity is an infinite ocean of living water in which we swim; an infinite sky with breezes that fill us with the beauty of love and life; the Holy Trinity is love itself, that intangible but powerful reality we know anytime we say to another, “I am yours,” and in return we hear the same, “And I am yours.”

Go and baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  Baptize them, immerse them, surround them with love . . . the love which is the Holy Trinity; a mysterious love, a perfect love, a beautiful love . . . love beyond imagination and description—the Trinitarian love we call “heaven.”

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Homily for 29 May 2015

29 May 2015

The fig tree made a statement.  It said, “I’m not going to give any fruit; no firstfruits before the harvest, and no fruits at the main harvest.”  And so, Jesus said, “Fine.”  And the tree withered and died.  It’s not hard to see the fig tree and its demise as a symbol of what would happen to the people of Israel.  They chose, ultimately, not to follow God.  Their lives made a statement.  And to that Jesus said, “Fine.”  And, as we know, they withered.

In his gospel account, St. Mark puts this episode of the barren fig tree right alongside a teaching about forgiveness.  If we want to be forgiven by God, we have to forgive others first.  God places that choice squarely in our lap.  Just like that fig tree (the people of Israel), we have a choice:  We can either bear the good fruit of forgiveness toward others, or we can choose not to forgive others.  And God will simply respond to whatever choices we make.

That being said, our Lord knows that sometimes it’s hard to forgive others.  Sometimes people hurt us very deeply.  Friends can betray us and reject us.  Maybe our mentors and leaders turn out to be anything but trustworthy and admirable.  And Jesus knows very well what it’s like to be betrayed and rejected.  He knows.

He also knows that each of us is a sinner; that sometimes forgiveness is hard for us.  But the fruit he’s looking for in us isn’t necessarily a full-blown, ripe and ready harvest of figs; a harvest of fully mature forgiveness.

Instead, he’s looking for even the littlest beginnings of a blossom.  Even the smallest fruit in our soul that says to him, “Lord, sometimes it’s hard to forgive, but I’m trying, I’m really trying” . . . even the smallest fruit of forgiveness is a sign that we’re following him.  It’s a sign to him (and us) that we’re choosing to live by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

And part and parcel of the Holy Spirit is God’s own Spirit of forgiveness and mercy.  If the Holy Spirit is moving us to bear the good fruit of forgiveness toward others, then we know that God’s forgiveness is already at work in us.  But it’s our choice whether or not to forgive others in the first place.

However we choose to live, our lives make a statement, just like that fig tree.  When Jesus sees us—not in the future, but even right here today—what does our life say to him?  Do we have even the smallest fruits of forgiveness to show him, or are we just another barren fig tree?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Homily for 28 May 2015

28 May 2015

You’d think Jesus would’ve seen Bartimaeus sitting there, or something.  But he didn’t or, at least, he didn’t appear to be interested in Bartimaeus.  Jesus was leaving Jericho and there were still people there who needed to be healed!  I imagine Bartemaeus was maybe filled with hope when he realized it was Jesus passing by, and yet, maybe he was anxious, too, when he knew that Jesus was heading out of the city; he was going away.

And so he cried out, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me!”  That’s all he had to do.  He just had to call on Jesus by name and say he needed help.  And Jesus was right there.  Jesus is always right there.  That’s one of the greatest gifts of the Ascension and Pentecost: Jesus is always right here.  But the initiative to make the connection with him is up to us.

It takes faith to sit in our darkness, and yet, still believe that Jesus will hear and answer us.  When there are senseless killings in the world, it takes faith to say: “Jesus, I still believe in you.”  When others get us down, or when we get ourselves down, it takes faith to say, “Jesus, I believe in you.  Help me.”  When we doubt our faith, when we doubt our leaders, when we doubt our calling in life and the choices we’ve made, it takes great faith to sit there in our darkness, in our blindness, and say, “Jesus, I trust in you.”

Jesus opens our eyes and ears to see and hear his presence.  He opens us to see what’s beyond the surface of everyday life.  There’s the old saying: “In every cloud there’s a silver lining.”  Well, Jesus helps us to see the silver lining . . . if we have faith enough to call on him . . . if we take the initiative.

Every now and again we may feel that Jesus is far away; that he’s left the city; that he’s making somebody else’s life brighter, but not mine.  And it’s right then that we call out, “Jesus, son of the living God, have mercy on me!  Jesus, come to me.”  And he will.  He will.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Homily for 27 May 2015

27 May 2015

The man lay in his hospital bed.  The beeps of the machines broke the tension.  The quiet murmur of nurses and doctors going about their business in the hallway was both comforting and not.  The man’s family was there, his wife and three grown children.  There, on his deathbed, he tried to pass along the clarity of vision he’d had.

There, at the end of his life, he finally discovered what was important—and it’d been important all along.  He just hadn’t really seen it until then.  But knowing where he was going, and accepting it, his priorities got straightened out.  It wasn’t too late.  But he wished he’d see it earlier in life.

Perhaps the disciples thought that after Pentecost, after they finally understood what Jesus was talking about.  Their life wasn’t about who was in charge.  It wasn’t about who offended who.  It wasn’t about trying to upstage anybody or even about be the best at what they did.  It was about sacrifice and service.  It was about a way of life which has God as its center, and everything else as a reflection of God.

At some point, the disciples had their moment of clarity.  Then they knew what their life as Christians was all about.  And that’s what we pray for, if we’re oriented enough toward God and the Cross to think about it.  We pray for clarity: “Lead us not into temptation,” the temptation to hold onto grudges—even justified grudges—rather than to extend the mercy of God.  Lead us not into the temptation to be too busy doing the Lord’s work to actually sit and be with the Lord.

Lead us not into the temptation to measure success in worldly terms rather than by the measure of our love for God and one another.  It’s so easy for us to hear Jesus speak to us, to come and worship, and yet, to be on an entirely different page than Jesus.

Jesus tells us again and again about the reality of the Cross, the reality of divine mercy, the love of God, and so many other truly important things.  He’ll keep telling us to serve and to love.  And he’ll keep telling us and showing us until, someday, it’ll stick.  Someday the reality of the Cross and the demands of our discipleship will become clear.  And it won’t come too late.

But when it comes, all we need to do is give ourselves over to it.  The Cross brings us clarity about what’s really important.  And that’s what we give ourselves to: the Cross and the Way of Christ.

Homily for 26 May 2015

26 May 2015

It seems like the Church is always trying to squeeze something out of us.  More money, more hours of volunteer time, more time in prayer, more money, more commitment to the faith, more money.  Of course, that’s not just our imagination; it’s real.  We Catholics place a high value on the idea of “giving,” the idea of “sacrifice.”

And that’s because we know that “it’s in giving that we receive;” “a hundred times more” than what we give.  As we heard yesterday, sacrifice opens the door to freedom and life.  It’s a lesson we learn from Jesus’ Passion, death, and Resurrection.  It’s a lesson we learn every time we do something nice for somebody just for the joy of giving.

It’s a lesson we learn every time we come to Mass.  The bread and wine are brought forward from the people.  They’re offered, given, sacrificed.  And then they come back to the same people—not as bread and wine—but as something infinitely greater: the Body and Blood of Christ.

God doesn’t ask to give what we don’t have; he asks us to give out of what we do have.  Some people in the parish are economically poor—and so, God doesn’t ask them to give so much money.  Some people in the parish have no musical ability—and so, God doesn’t ask them to join the choir or lead the people in singing.

God doesn’t ask the impossible; he asks us to consider what is possible.  From whatever blessings God has given us, we give some of them back . . . here at the altar, and out there in the day-to-day world.  And we don’t give them back, we don’t sacrifice them, we don’t give of our gifts and talents so we can be poor.  We give and sacrifice so that, just like the bread and wine, those same gifts can come back to us a hundredfold.  We give so that we can share in the riches of Christ, the riches of real life and happiness.

The Church is always trying to squeeze something out of us.  But with the right attitude toward giving and sacrifice, that “squeeze” might begin to feel more like . . . joy; the joy of letting go, the joy of trusting God, the joy of giving and receiving.               

Monday, May 25, 2015

Homily for 25 May 2015

25 May 2015

On this Memorial Day, we Americans remember those who gave their lives in service to our country.  We remember those who gave their lives in service to an idea—the idea of real freedom; freedom from tyranny and injustice, freedom from oppression and death of the human spirit.  Through death and sacrifice, we can live in relative freedom.

But, while we are a free country, it’s fair to say that many of us and our friends are captives.  We can so easily be captive to: addictions, food, social media, fear, pride, and many other things that can enslave us and make us less than free.  The rich man who comes to Jesus is on the verge of freedom, but he’s too enslaved by his possessions to be really free. 

But Sirach reminds us that “God provides a way back;” that he is hope for the hopeless and truth for those in doubt.  Jesus tells the rich man to sell his things, give to the poor, and follow him.  In other words, Jesus asks the rich man to die a certain death.  He asks him to sacrifice what he sees as valuable for something he knows is even more precious.

Sacrifice is the “way back.”  And that’s what the Lord asks of us.  He asks us to sacrifice for the greater good—for the real freedom that comes with being a disciple of Jesus.  The rich man asked, “What must I do to inherit the kingdom?”  And we each ask, “What must I do to live in honest-to-goodness freedom?”   To that, Jesus says: Give yourself, body, mind, and soul over to that idea—that idea of heavenly freedom.  Let nothing stand in your way, not even your possessions. 

We remember today those who gave their lives for the idea of freedom and life, embodied by the ideals of our country.  And we, too, can give our lives for the idea of heavenly freedom and life, embodied by the ideals of the Catholic nation around the world: believers who sacrifice for and are dedicated to a greater good: the kingdom of heaven.

Real freedom comes through sacrifice.  History and our Lord show us that.  They go hand-in-hand: sacrifice and freedom, freedom and sacrifice.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Homily for 24 May 2015 Pentecost

24 May 2015
Solemnity of Pentecost (Vigil and Day)

As we progress through the liturgical year, the mysteries that we celebrate become increasingly hard to grasp.  In Advent and Christmas, we have pregnancy and birth, new life.  We can relate to that.  And then in Lent, we can relate to what Jesus did, being in a time of personal trial and self-reflection.  We can relate to that.

But then we come to Holy Week, and our imagination has to kick in a little bit.  We know what the Last Supper was about, and yet, there’s something deeper there that can escape.  The same goes for Good Friday.  We might know what physical and spiritual suffering is like, but none of us has been crucified.  None of us has been in a grave—except, maybe metaphorically speaking.  It’s harder to relate to that dark and good Friday.

And then there’s the Resurrection.  We get it.  We understand it: Jesus rose from the dead.  And yet, who of us has seen a person literally rise from the dead?  We know Jesus did.  But that reality is out of our field of experience.  We celebrate the Resurrection, and then just last weekend the Ascension of Christ into heaven; we celebrate them, but it’s so very hard to relate to them.

And then we come to today: the idea of the Holy Spirit of God coming down upon us.  We celebrate it . . . but what in the world does it mean?  And maybe that’s the problem: there’s not much in the world to relate it to.  Scripture gives us the images of a dove, of tongues of fire, of a “power” (for lack of a better word) that inspires us to seek God, that brings life to dead and dry things; a power that makes us alive and whole again, that brings new things into being.

The only “thing” in the world that does those things and which is symbolized by a dove and fire and power is the Holy Spirit.  There’s nothing else like it.  We’ve arrived at a time in our liturgical year when the mystery we celebrate is very, very hard to grasp.  And perhaps that’s right.  The Holy Spirit should be hard to grasp.  And that’s because the Holy Spirit isn’t meant to be grasped; he is meant to be received . . . with openness.

As we hear in Scripture, the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and she was found to be with child, she was found to be pregnant—but only because she said “yes.”  She was open to the Holy Spirit, and that Spirit did great things through her—but only because she said “yes.”  The Holy Spirit came upon Jesus at his baptism; in his baptism Jesus said “yes” to the will of his Father.  When the disciples were all gathered in one place, together in a spirit of prayerful openness to God, the Holy Spirit came upon them and filled them with new life.

The Holy Spirit is meant to be received and never grasped at.  The Holy Spirit should be hard for us to get a handle on.  This Spirit of God who comes upon us is great mystery, for sure.  Who is he?  What is he like?  Does he look like anything other than a dove or a flame?  It’s hard to relate to a mystery.  But this “mystery” isn’t something that remains hidden.  The Holy Spirit isn’t someone to fear.  Instead, the mystery of the Holy Spirit is the fact that we’ll never reach the bottom of all he has to share.

We’ll never be able to enjoy the Holy Spirit enough!  That’s the great mystery that washes over us with Pentecost: the mystery of . . . life, the mystery of rebirth; the mystery of God’s peace and joy, his love and patience, kindness and generosity; the mystery of God’s faithfulness to a community of faithful sinners, his gentleness and self-control in the face of criticism and false accusation.

All that’s good comes from the Holy Spirit.  And there’s a lot of goodness in the world.  The very fact that we exist is from God.  The fact that we can wake up in the morning and appreciate the sunrise and the birds chirping; the fact that we can smell the rainfall and look into another’s eyes are gifts from God.  Our ability to make music, to go to the ballgame and enjoy family and friends, our ability to fall in love and to be in love is a gift from God, a gift from the heart of God, the Holy Spirit.

The most basic gift of the Holy Spirit to us is the ability to share in God’s power to create and recreate life.  All those things: seeing, touching, tasting, loving, crying, enjoying . . . all those things are part of life.  But the most important part of life—that is, in the act of creating and recreating life—is when we reach out.  When we step outside of ourselves and live and act for the good of others, we create and recreate life . . . both in ourselves and in others.

At Pentecost, we celebrate all the wonders that God has given us and continues to give us.  But above all, we celebrate our God-given—Holy Spirit-given—power to love intentionally.  That’s at the heart of who we are as a Church, as families, as individuals.  It’s at the heart of the New Evangelization.  Reaching out to others and saying, “Here I am,” is where life happens.

Today we remember our most basic act of reaching out.  We remember that prayer which is at the root of all our hope and all our life: “Come, Holy Spirit.” 

“Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.”

Friday, May 22, 2015

Homily for 23 May 2015

23 May 2015

I suppose St. Paul could’ve been easily distracted; I mean, being imprisoned, having people all around him trying to accuse him or even have him put to death.  There’s a lot that could’ve distracted Paul from his mission.  But, amazingly, he stayed right on course.  He didn’t waver from the task, the mission, the life Christ had called him to.

St. Paul sets a pretty high standard of faithful discipleship.  But I imagine most of us are more like Peter.  We just heard yesterday how Peter declared his love for Jesus and how he heard the Lord’s call to “follow me.”  But today, right off the bat, Peter is distracted by another disciple.  He’s wondering more about the disciple-whom-Jesus-loved rather than Jesus.

We strive to be like St. Paul is following the Lord, but we’re more often like St. Peter—at least, St. Peter in his early years as an Apostle.  We get distracted.  Life around us pulls us away from the Lord.  You know, things like: paying the bills, getting the work done around the house, going from one meeting to the next.  Even good things like raising a family and doing charitable work can distract us from the Lord.

And it’s not that we should put up blinders to all those things.  We certainly shouldn’t put up blinders to the needs of our neighbors and the troubles of the world.  That would go against the commandment to love our neighbors.  Instead, Jesus is saying: Put me first.  Follow me, and be anchored in me.

And that’s very wise, of course.  If we remain close to Christ, then we begin to see life around us through the eyes of Christ.  When we see tragedies and injustice in the world, we can remember to actually pray for our enemies.  When the kids are getting on your nerves, you can remember to be patient as Christ is patient with us. 

When Jesus says, “Follow me,” he means to say, “See the world as I see it.  Love others as I love them.  Weep for wrongdoing as I do, and be happy with those who are happy.”  In other words, live life, but not without Christ, who helps us to interpret and make sense of life.

There are lots of things in life to distract us from the Lord.  The challenge is to go through life with Christ always at our side.  Then we can live life and understand it, not with our human wisdom, but with the wisdom of God.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Homily for 22 May 2015

22 May 2015

It’s easy for us to hear the word “love” just thrown around.  You know, things like: “I love the Packers;” or “I love the way so-and-so talks;” or “Love is love, it doesn’t matter who loves who.”  In the gospel, we hear the word “love” quite a bit, too.

“Yes, Lord, you know I love you,” says Peter.  Again and again, “Yes, Lord, I love you.”  But this isn’t any ordinary love Jesus and Peter are talking about.  This is the kind of love that means you’ll “stretch out your hands, and someone else will . . . lead you where you do not want to go.”  It’s not a “feel-good” love.  It’s not caught up in politics and political correctness.  It’s not thrown about casually.

It’s a love that means I’m yours—body, mind, soul.  It’s a love that means everything I have is yours, and everything that’s yours you share with me.  It means I’ll go anywhere you go, even—as happened with St. Paul—into the trials and hardships of persecuted for the faith.  The love of God Peter and all of us commit ourselves to is certainly something to enjoy.  It should bring us into a profound sense of . . . God’s enduring presence.  But, above all, this love is something to embrace, regardless of what happens because of it. 

In just a couple days now, we’ll be celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of divine Love.  And, while it certainly is a day to celebrate, it’s also a day to recall what this gift of the Holy Spirit means.  Yes, it’s the “birthday of the Church.”  But it’s the birth of something new within each of us.  And that something new is a deeper and more serious commitment to the implications of what it means to have God’s Holy Spirit of Love within us. 

The coming celebration of Pentecost is a chance to celebrate again the lavish gift of his love that God pours out on us.  But it’s also a time to remember our response to that Holy Spirit—a response which is our own lavish gift of ourselves to the Will of God.  Jesus asked Peter and he asks us: “Do you love me?”  “Well, yes, Lord, you know I love you.”

If that be the case—that we accept God’s love, that we ask the Holy Spirit to “come,” enter our minds and bodies and souls—if that be the case, then we should be prepared to follow the Will of God wherever he leads us; not as a mindless slave, but as an intentional and true friend of our Lord.

It’s easy for the word “love” to be thrown around today.   But for us Christians, love defines who we are: self-giving, joyful, committed, faithful in both good times and in bad.  And so, we take “love” seriously.  And in the depth of real love, we find true love and joy.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Homily for 21 May 2015

21 May 2015

In just three days we’ll be celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit, the “Advocate,” as Jesus calls him.  But the Holy Spirit isn’t the only Advocate.  Jesus himself is our Advocate, our Comforter, the One who comes close to us and stays with us.

His prayer to the Father—that we all might be one with each other, and one with him and the Father—sounds so much like a parent who’s just hoping and praying that their little child will be able to make it through the first day of school.  He’s like a parent who stoops down to hold his arms out, encouraging a little toddler to walk.

Jesus is there for us, but he knows we have to do the walking.  We have to learn to stand up for what’s right and just.  He’s right there to support St. Paul during his trials in Jerusalem.  And he’s right here with us now, and wherever we are, to strengthen us, to guide and protect us.  He’s always there, praying for us.

In another three days, with the celebration of Pentecost, we’ll remember just how much he’s “there for us.”  He’s there in all his ascended glory, encouraging on us through the good times and the bad.  “Come on, you can do it.  With me by your side, you can do anything.”   

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Homily for 20 May 2015

20 May 2015

When Saint Pope John XXIII went to bed every night, he’s known to have said in prayer: “Well, I did the best I could. . . . It’s your Church, Lord!  I’m going to bed.  Good night.”  That doesn’t mean he didn’t care about the Church.  On the contrary, he cared enough to realize that God is God, not him.  What a better place to lay all the troubles, concerns, and happenings of the Church than into the hands of God.

That’s what St. Paul did when he left the Church in Ephesus.  And what a beautiful line from him we hear today: “And now I commend you to God and to that gracious word of his that can build you up.”  Those are words of faith and hope.  And what a way to love someone: to pray for them, to entrust them to the good will of God.

Even Jesus—the Son of God—didn’t try to be the eternal Father to his followers.  Instead, he prayed that the Father might “keep them in his name,” and be a Father to them as he is to the Son.  And so, every time we pray the Our Father, we can really pray “our Father.”  And we can call him that because Jesus loved us enough to leave us in the Father’s care.

And so, when we try to evangelize, when we try to invite others into God’s ways, the most loving thing we can do is to leave them in the hands of God.  We do the best we can to share the Gospel of peace, forgiveness, and mercy.  We do the best we can to help build the Church.  But, at the end of the day, the most loving thing we can do is let God take it.

It’s a sign of faith, hope, and charity to be able to say to others: “And now I commend you to God.”  “I did the best I could. . . . It’s your Church, Lord!  I’m going to bed.”

Monday, May 18, 2015

Homily for 19 May 2015

19 May 2015

St. Paul did his part.  He preached the word Christ gave him to preach, and he followed the Spirit with faith and courage, no matter the trouble that lay in store for him.  He loved those he met along the way.  And he encouraged and empowered them to do the same. But when it came down to it, St. Paul could really only save one person: himself.

He says to those who hear his preaching: “I am not responsible for the blood of any of you, for I did not shrink from proclaiming to you the entire plan of God.”  In other words, he did his part in the Kingdom of God; but what we do with what he gave us is up to us.  As much as we are a church, a community of faith, the response we make to Christ’s invitation is up to each one of us.

Each of us is responsible for opening ourselves to Christ present: in Scripture, in our Catholic Tradition, in the vocational calling we have from our Creator.  No one can say “yes” to God for us but us.  No one can say to God, “Here I am,” except the individual “I,” the individual person.

When St. Paul preaches to us, it’s up to each person to hear and respond.  When Jesus says, “Come, follow me,” it’s up to each person to hear and respond.  When we ourselves try to preach the Good News of God’s mercy through loving and guiding others, it’s up to them how they will respond.  As much as we want our children, our neighbors and friends to know the Christian joy we feel in our hearts, their response to our evangelization is their response.  It’s up to them.

Just like St. Paul, all we can do is do our part in the Kingdom.  We extend the invitation to follow Christ—and that’s all.  When others don’t take us up on the offer, or if they need more time to hear the Lord’s calling in their own hearts, we pray for them.  In the meantime, we pray.  Just like Jesus who ascends to the Father, but keeps on praying for the good of all.

All we can do in the Kingdom is to do our part; to love God and our neighbor, and to invite others into a life of faith, hope, and charity.  How others respond to us—and the Lord—is up to them.  

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Homily for 17 May 2015

17 May 2015
Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

The obituary in the newspaper read something like this:  “He was born into a humble family and lived a simple life.  He was spoken of highly by those who knew him, and his lifestyle attracted many friends as well as enemies in the community.  He enjoyed spending time with his family, and he was a model of hospitality; welcoming anyone and everyone who wanted to stop and stay with him.  He was convicted in his values, and placed a high priority on prayer. 

“Even at the young age of 33, he did more in his life on earth than anyone else.  But above all, he loved God his Father, and longed to be with him.  And so, his passing into the cloud of the mysterious life of God is a cause of joy for those who know and love him.  He finished the race, he kept the faith, he fulfilled his purpose—he has returned to the Father.

“A Mass in remembrance of this man, this Son of God, will be celebrated always and everywhere by his faithful people until he comes again.”

Imagine reading that obituary in the newspaper!  And yet, of course, it’s not imaginary; it’s true.  Every Sunday we stand up and profess that: “He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.  He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.”  The Ascension of the Lord is very real—even if we have to use our imagination to picture what we’re talking about.

But we don’t usually associate joyfulness with an obituary.  We don’t always see someone’s passing from this world to the life of heaven as a reason to celebrate.  After all, being separated from others is usually bittersweet or sad.  But in the case of the Ascension of the Lord, it really is a reason for us to celebrate.  Jesus’ life, death, and Resurrection are incomplete without the Ascension.  Jesus didn’t come here simply to overcome death and rise from the dead—not that that was “simple.”  Jesus came among us to return to the Father.    

For that matter, neither are we here on earth simply to live and die.  We’re here so that we, too, can return to the Father.  We each come from God, and we’re made to go back to God.  In a way, each of us is meant to enter into that same mysterious cloud we hear of in the Acts of the Apostles (and throughout Scripture).  We’re not here to spend our lives frantically looking for things that satisfy us.  We’re here to live and love; we’re here to grow and mature—always with an eye to where we’re going . . . not to the grave, but beyond that and into the heart of God himself.

That’s why the Ascension is such a day to celebrate.  We celebrate what’s happened to Jesus.  We celebrate the fact that his life was finally and definitively completed.  And he reached completion at the very place he started his journey—in the bosom of God the Father.  And it all seems so simple, so clear, and beautiful.  And it is beautiful and clear; this ascension and reunion with the Father.  But the effect of the Ascension is not so simple. 

The effect of the Ascension is unbelievably rich.  It’s like a dessert that’s so sweet you just can’t eat it all in one sitting.  It’s like a good book where every sentence, every phrase is full of meaning and depth, and you just want to sit and enjoy every moment of it.  It’s like a perfectly beautiful day where you want to soak it all in, but you can’t possibly soak it all in.  The effects of the Ascension are many, and they are very rich.

And the first and most obvious effect of the Ascension is that Jesus gains everything.  That’s why we celebrate today.  Jesus is reunited with the Father and the cycle of divine love is complete.  Jesus never lost the Father, of course, but he’s brought into the cloud of God’s love and sits now at the Father’s right hand.  Jesus ascends to the bosom of the Father, and becomes the definitive Lord of all.

Jesus is not only reunited with the Father; he also gains the whole of creation.  Every tree, every insect in the ground, every super nova in the universe, every planet and particle of dust or spirit belongs to him.  What a blessing it is for the entire cosmos to have as its Lord and Ruler, the God of love, the God of life—the Lord Jesus Christ, who cares for it and loves it as a parent for its child, as an older Brother for his younger siblings.

And besides the Father and all of creation, Jesus gains us.  We are his inheritance; we are his prize.  To be honest, if I were Jesus, I’m not sure I’d be happy about getting a box of broken toys as a gift.  But that’s us: broken, sinful, sometimes petty.  Of course, Jesus also sees our goodness; he sees the love we do have for others, the excitement and desire we have for life and happiness.  Yes, we’re broken.  But he loves us just the same.

The most basic effect of the Ascension is that Jesus gains everything, including us.  He won the imperishable prize of everything that’s good in the universe.  He is the Lord, the Lord of love and life, the Lord of heaven and earth.  That’s another basic effect of the Ascension: Jesus stands revealed as the definitive Lord: the Lord of lords, King of kings, Prophet of prophets, and Priest of priests.      

That phrase we hear, that “he is seated at the right hand of the Father,” is not in reference to dimension or space.  It doesn’t mean: “Here is the Father, and here is the Son sitting to his right.”  Instead, it’s an ancient phrase and image which means: “to share in divine authority.”  In his Ascension, Jesus shares in the divine authority of the Father, and is truly and definitively recognized as “the Lord” of all.

But because of that, for some people, the Ascension is a problem.  We don’t have Lords.  We don’t know what to do with them.  And, besides, the word “Lord” brings all these connotations of domination, inequality of power, the idea of rank and hierarchy.  And most of us don’t like to have others over us. 

Sometimes we have bosses at work who “lord it over us.”  In abusive relationships, one person is over another.  Teenagers don’t like to have parents over them, telling them what to do.  Some people don’t like to have the Church over them, trying to tell them how to live their lives.  We don’t like to have people over us, because our experience of it has usually been a negative one.  Instead, we like to be independent and free from all that.

So, maybe it can be a negative thing to see Jesus as “the Lord;” because of all the baggage that comes with the idea of “lordship.”  But he is a Lord like nothing we can imagine—good or bad.

Jesus constantly chose the way of humility, the way of lowliness and simply.  He always warned his disciples not to lord themselves over others.  He wasn’t interested in being over anybody; he was interested in being with others.  The authority of God is nothing other than the perfect love of God; a love that’s pure and completely selfless; a love that’s free and never forced; a love that wonders with curiosity, ‘Who are you?,’ and that says, ‘I give myself to you.’

The authority of God the Father is the authority of unimaginably perfect love.  That’s at the heart of the Lordship of Jesus.  He is Lord (alongside the Father) because he loves perfectly.  He is the Lord, he is the Ruler, he is the standard of love against which we compare ourselves.  You know, like a ruler in your desk drawer that tells you how long an inch is, or a centimeter, or whatever.  The ruler isn’t right or wrong.  The ruler defines what an inch is, what a centimeter is. 

Jesus is Lord and Ruler of all because he defines what real love is.  With his Ascension, he is seated at the right hand of the Father; he shares in the authority of divine and true love.  And let’s face it: people in our lives who radiate real love, who practice what they preach . . . , we give them authority.  We say, “That’s a person I want to be like.”  We don’t give them authority over us (and they wouldn’t take it anyway).  Instead, we give them the authority to be an example for us.  That’s what a mentor is.  That’s what a hero is.  That’s what a real Lord is.

In his Ascension, Jesus gains the Father, he gains all creation—including us, and he stands revealed as the definitive Lord.  And what better to show that he’s the Lord than for him to remain close to us and to share with us all that it is.  As we’ve heard so often in the past few weeks in Scripture, Jesus says: You are my friends, and what I have I share with you. 

And the most precious “thing” he possesses is the Holy Spirit, that perfect love and peace which binds the Father and the Son together.  We hear at every Mass: “Peace I leave you, my peace I give you.”  That’s the Lord of lord, the King of kings speaking to us.  “Everything I have is yours.”  That’s an effect of the Ascension which we’ll spend our whole lives trying to open up and discover.

And by entering into that cloud of the mystery of God’s life ourselves, hopefully we’ll discover at the heart of it, God himself, Love itself.  Every morning our prayer can be something like: “Lord, open my mind, my spirit, and my body to receive everything you wish to give me today.  Lord, be for me today the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

And then, someday, when we pass from this life to the next, people might say of us: “The life of Christ was in him.  She loved others and walked with others like the Lord does.  He loved his life on earth and thanked God for it.  But, above all, she sought God himself.  Today, he entered into the mysterious cloud of the divine life of God.  And there was God, the Lord himself, who had always been with him.”  And it will be a day of homecoming, a day to give thanks, a day to celebrate.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Homily for 14 May 2015

14 May 2015
Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle

Even before Matthias was chosen, he was chosen.  He'd been a faithful follower of Jesus from the beginning. So, even though it looked like he’d been chosen by the Apostles as a replacement for Judas, really, Matthias had already been chosen and prepared by Christ since his baptism.

And for that matter, the other guy--Joseph Barsabbas--was also chosen.  He wasn't chosen as Judas' replacement; but he was nonetheless a chosen one of Christ.  And so, between Joseph Barsabbas and Matthias, neither of them was a loser or winner when the lots were cast.  Long before that, Jesus had chosen and called each of them to be his companions.  And that's what was important.

As we hear Jesus say, "It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you."  No matter what our lot is in life, no matter what our role and vocation is in the church, no matter what side of the altar we’re on, what's important is that Jesus has personally chosen and called each of us to be his companions on the way.  He has called each of us to come to his altar.

It doesn’t so much matter what others think of us; it matters what God thinks of us.  And in God’s eyes we are worthy to be in presence.  And that's the source of our joy: knowing that we are chosen and loved by the Lord.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Homily for 13 May 2015

13 May 2015

St. Paul was a good choice to be the Apostle to the Gentiles.  He was raised in Tarsus: a crossroads of cultures from Greece, Persia, and the lands of the Jews.  He had a keen eye—once his eyes were opened—to see God at work all over the place.  And so, he could go up to Greece and see the Wisdom of God at work in the Athenians; he could see the desire for God in their construction of the temple dedicated to the “Unnamed God.”

This is even taken by some to think of the ancient Greeks as unknowing followers of God; they were attuned to divine Wisdom, yet the name of God hadn’t been revealed to them the way it had been to the ancient Hebrews.  But that didn’t mean God wasn’t at work in them.  Now, that view might be a stretch, and it might not be.  But St. Paul’s encounter with the Athenians and his praise of their religious sensibilities is enough for us to consider how God might be at work in other cultures, other practices which may not strike us as Catholic, or even Christian.

In the Second Century, a Christian writer, Tertullian, asked the question: “What does Athens have to do with Jerusalem?”  That is, what does the apparently worldly wisdom of the Greeks have to do with the divine Revelation of Christianity?  And we might be tempted to ask something similar, like: “What does secular culture have to do with the Church?”  “What does the internet and social media have to do with Christian values?”

And the answer is actually pretty simple: They’re all places where faith can exist and be encountered.  And that’s because faith—in itself—doesn’t exist except in the mind of God.  Faith only exists in the context of something—some culture, some value system, some set of rituals and practices, and so on.  Faith needs something else to bring it to life.  And that “something else” is what we call “culture.”

Aristotle would understand this illustration: try holding in your hand the color blue.  It can’t be done.  In itself, blue doesn’t exist except in the mind of God.  Instead, things are blue.  Fabric is blue, paint is blue, light waves highlight blueness.  Things are blue.  But blue in itself . . . no, that doesn’t exist.  And that’s like faith.  Faith exists, it only happens in the context of human culture. 

And so, wherever there is human culture, there is the possibility of faith at work.  St. Paul knew this.  And so, he could look at the Athenians and see: God is at work here.  But it wasn’t just a private understanding; he told the Greeks about it; he told them how God was working in them and through their Athenian culture.  In this way, Paul was acting like the Holy Spirit, who Jesus describes as simply relaying what he sees and hears.

There is a lot of faith happening out there, even in people we might consider non-Christian or agnostic, or whatever.  Our work is not to judge and condemn others.  Our work is to look for God with open eyes and open minds.  And then to point him out to others when we see it.  St. Paul didn’t tell the Athenians they were going to hell.  He said to them: Hey! God is at work here—and let me show you how he’s working.

Wherever there is human culture, faith is probably present in some form or another.  Let’s look for it with open eyes and open minds, and praise God for what we find.  

Monday, May 11, 2015

Homily for 12 May 2015

12 May 2015 (for the Parish)

Sometimes the Word of God doesn’t bring comfort.  When there’s a death in the family, or something as tragic as the shootings in Menasha last week, about the last people want to hear is: “They’re in a better place.”  Of course, we believe that heaven is certainly a better place.  But sometimes the bigger picture, or the truth of God’s word isn’t helpful.  In fact, it might make the situation worse.

Now, we hear that Jesus was preparing his disciples for his eventual crucifixion and death.  And he had somewhat of a hard time convincing them that it was a good thing.  When he said: “Trust me, it’s better for you that I go,” the disciples were “filled with grief” and near to being heart-broken.  Jesus’ words were meant to comfort them.  But it would take a while for that comfort to come.  In fact, they would have to embrace that grief in order to be comforted.

There’s a reason one of the beatitudes is: “Blessed are they who weep and mourn, for they will be comforted.”  No doubt, Paul and Silas wept as they were beaten and imprisoned for trying to do good.  They shared in the darkness of the Cross.  But they were different.  They were men of deep faith.

For Paul and Silas, the Word of God did bring comfort in the midst of a trying time.  The Word of God wasn’t trite; it didn’t sound impersonal and meaningless to them.  On the contrary, it was the most deeply personal support they needed when they were in prison.  Their faith was their solace; God himself was their light in dark and trying times.  And, for that, they gave thanks.

Sometimes bringing the Word of God into a bad situation only makes the situation worse—for people who lack faith.  But for those who of deep faith, the Word of God is always a reason to be hopeful.  Jesus gives us our reason to hope: he gives himself.  He gives us his Body and Blood as food for the journey through the ups and downs of life.  He gives us his living Word to bring guidance, wisdom, and consolation.  And he gives us the promise of his abiding Spirit. 

With our faith in Christ, we have real reason to hope—no matter what comes our way.   

12 May 2015 (for the Middle School)

Some of the saddest people we’ll ever meet are people who don’t have faith.  It seems like almost anything gets them upset or worried.  Either that, or they’re always trying to be on a spiritual ‘high.’  And that kind of life is just hard, in a lot of ways: you know, emotionally, and socially, and spiritually.  Life is hard when you don’t have real faith in God.

Now, today we hear that Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown in prison because of the good things they were doing.  Just imagine that . . . a bunch of Roman soldiers slamming rods against your head, making your body all bruised and sore; there’s probably blood everywhere.  Maybe their eyes were swollen and their lips were split open.  It wasn’t pretty.

But Paul and Silas were men of great faith.  And so, even they’d been beaten and thrown into a prison—no sunlight, no fresh air—they kept singing how good God is.  They weren’t sad at all!  In fact, they were just as kind and loving as they had been before they were arrested.  Their bad situation in life didn’t make them sour or bitter.  Nope.  They just kept on praising God.  They were men of faith, and nothing could shake that faith.

If you look at a tire on a bike, there’s the hub and then the rim.  And when the tire’s going around, the rim is constantly going up and down, up and down, forward and backward.  But the hub is pretty steady.  And that’s what our faith in Jesus is like—it’s like a hub on a bike tire.  Our faith in Jesus keeps us from being totally devastated when bad things happen, and it keeps us from being completely ecstatic and out of control when good things happen. 

Some of the saddest people we’ll ever meet are people who don’t have faith.  And that’s because they’re not connected to that central hub of the bike tire—they’re not connected to Jesus.  They let the good and the bad things in life tell them whether or not they should be happy or sad or whatever. 

But some of the most happy and fulfilled people we’ll ever meet are people who have real faith in God.  And that’s because Jesus himself is brighter than the sunniest day, and he’s stronger than anything bad that life can throw at us.  And so, Jesus says to us today: For your own good, for your own happiness, have faith in me.  Have faith in me.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Homily for 11 May 2015

11 May 2015

There’s still some tension left over from Easter morning which needs to be resolved.  Jesus had told Mary Magdalene not to touch him; to let go of the Teacher she’d come to know.  Jesus was beginning to prepare her and all his disciples for something new.  And with our celebration of Pentecost in just thirteen days, we’re approaching the resolution of that Easter tension.

Of course, even before Jesus’ Passion and Death, he was trying to warn his disciples.  He was trying to give them a “heads-up” on what to expect.  He taught them to have an expectant faith.  He taught them to be active, and not merely passive in their relationship with the Father and the Spirit of truth to come.

There are few things worse than an unresolved tension; you know, an argument in the family, or hurtful things said between friends which are never healed.  No doubt, it caused Mary Magdalene some pain to be told by Jesus to keep her distance.  And, no doubt, it caused the Apostles and disciples at least some confusion to hear Jesus talk about the inevitability of his suffering—and their suffering as well.

But with the coming of the Advocate, the Paraclete, the One who is called by Jesus to stay close to his people . . . with the coming of that most Holy Spirit, the tension of Easter time will find its resolution.  All that Jesus said will make sense (or, at least, his words will be clear enough).  And the mission that Peter and Paul, Barnabas and the rest of them go on will make sense . . . after Easter, after the Ascension, and only with the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Even though Jesus says things that challenge and even confuse us, he promises us a resolution.  He promises us peace and victory—with the coming of the Advocate, the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit who empowers and leads us.

It would be a shame, and a great loss, if Pentecost came and went for us like any other Sunday.  And it doesn’t have to.  The Lord’s voice is as clear to us today as it was for those who heard it from his own lips.  All we need do is listen to what he says today: Prepare for the coming of the Spirit. 

Prepare for, and expect, good things when the Spirit comes close to us. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Homily for 9 May 2015

9 May 2015

Jesus said and taught many things.  But there were a lot of things he didn’t say.  There were a lot of things he didn’t talk about, explicitly.  And yet, it’s not true to say Jesus doesn’t speak to his people anymore.  That would be false.  We believe very firmly that the Lord does continue to speak and teach and guide his people right up to this very day.

He’s been present to his people, the Church, since from before the beginning.  And he’s never left her.  And so, when we hear in the Acts of the Apostles that “they handed on . . . the decisions reached by the Apostles and presbyters,” we hear that Christ is still very much alive.  Those decisions in the early Church weren’t reached outside of the Holy Spirit.  Rather, they were inspired and guided by the Spirit of the risen Jesus.

The Lord has a lot more to say, or more accurately, he has a lot more detail and nuance to show us.  And he does that through the living Tradition of the Church.  Jesus himself makes a distinction in the gospel between “my words” and “your words,” and how the two are practically one and the same. 

It’s the true that the Church makes mistakes.  That’s to be expected.  But a Church that’s lasted 2,000 years and gone through as much war, schism, dissension, and scandal as it has can’t be anything other than the enduring presence of the living Son of God in the world.  Sacred Scripture is the precious Word of God.  And the holy Tradition of the Church is the precious work of God

God reveals himself and speaks to his people in both Scripture and Tradition.  And God reveals himself here in the sacred mysteries of the liturgy; the liturgy, which has gone through transformation after transformation over the millennia, and yet, is still the one, unchanging font of God’s grace.  And God reveals his power, intelligence, and breadth in the created order. 

When Jesus spoke to his disciples all those thousands of years ago, it was only the beginning trickles of an eternal river of divine wisdom.  Christ still speaks to his people—in the Church.  And he still speaks to the world—through the Church.  Thanks be to God we can still sit at the feet of the Master.  Even today we can listen with awe and wonder at all he still has to show us.