Friday, September 16, 2016

Sunday 25C: We run a race in faith for a crown of unfading glory

Perhaps more now than ever we see politics is a dirty business.

Lying, betrayal, name-calling, underhanded tactics, vote buying and making false promises to the poor and downtrodden of this world:

“We will buy the lowly for silver,
and the poor for a pair of sandals;”

These and so much more are at play in the race to win the most powerful job in the world: president of the USA.

What are we to do? Do we stay away and refuse to vote in order to avoid dirtying our hands? Do we hold our nose and vote for the one least offensive to Catholic Faith and morals?

Archbishop Chaput says one is impulsive and the other a liar. My response is that impulses can be checked by surrounding oneself with the right people but that fundamental dishonesty is dangerous for us all.

Human beings are always flawed. It’s a fact of life for all of us. Sometimes those who ask to be our leaders seem to be deeply flawed. 

I will be making a choice in November because I believe that Catholics should always remain deeply and passionately involved in the social sphere and should fully exercise their say in our democratic self-governance.

But perspective is needed in this as in every other aspect of life. We are called to pray for and work to assist those who serve us in public office:

“I ask that supplications, prayers,
petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone,
for kings and for all in authority”

While never forgetting or forsaking the priorities that faith teaches us:

“that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life
in all devotion and dignity”

What is the reason for the hope  that is in us and our focus?

“This is good and pleasing to God our savior,
who wills everyone to be saved
and to come to knowledge of the truth.
For there is one God.
There is also one mediator between God and men,
the man Christ Jesus”

This is the perspective of the Kingdom, made possible by faith. We know the glory that awaits us but which we already now experience through life in Christ. It is much greater than anything we can imagine because it cannot be lost, stolen or taken away from us as can an Olympic record, worldly power, popularity or riches.

So we see that some who are in love with worldly glory and acclaim run a race for a crown that perishes: power, riches or acclaim which mean nothing and which may betray us without virtue and holiness of life to guide us along the way of life's path.

We instead run so as to win a crown of imperishable glory prepared for us by Christ Jesus, already victorious in the battle against sin and death and who has prepared a place for us
We run so as to win, not against one another, but together in charity, reaching out to help each other in prayer and active charity.
We know there is judgment but we leave that to the Lord, just judge that He is.
“The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
Never will I forget a thing they have done!”
We live in love so as to receive His love. This is the victory of our Faith. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Homily Sunday 24C: "Everything I have is yours."

Have you ever noticed how precious even a very simple thing can seem once we believe we no longer possess it?

Something in our possession may go unnoticed, unused, unneeded for a long time but, once we become aware it is lost, we suddenly value it more than anything else because we believe it's suddenly beyond our reach.

All of us know this experience very well. We might say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. When you have ten coins, one does not seem in comparison to count for much among the rest until you become aware it’s lost.

“Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it?"

God uses this insight from our human experience to help us understand His thirst to embrace everyone in His love, the only thing which saves lost souls.
Leaving the 99 in search of the one only makes sense from this perspective: that when it comes to souls God does not wait until we are lost to love us but, when we are, knows the truly desperate situation we are in.

The prodigal son treated his father as if he was dead when he demanded his inheritance but in fact, as the father makes clear, it was the son who was dead.

Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.”

All of us at some time are the prodigal son, and we return to the Father who clothes us in grace again for the feast of the Eucharist through the sacrament of Confession. But any of us at any time can also experience the life of the Church family as did the elder son and, we must always remember, to us the Father says,

‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours. “

He invites us also to feast and celebrate because at many Masses and on many Sundays the prodigal sons and daughters return to Him, present among us here, and we cannot but always share in the joy of the Father rich in mercy for each of us.

The sign of true conversion is living every day with the "everything" of the Father rather than wandering off into the false freedom of the prodigal which, in truth, is death.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Sunday 22C: "take the lowest place ."

A woman departs alone from a convent in Calcutta with only her religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience intact and  5 rupees in her pocket.

What is she doing?  Why is she, an Albanian who knows next to nothing about surviving in the grinding poverty of India, leaving the only life she has known as an adult religious woman after already abandoning her native country to first learn English and Hindi as well as Bengali?

She is following her vocation, or call from God, to take the lowest place among the poor, within what had been a very happy vocation as a beloved religious woman in community teaching young women.

In some countries like India the lowest place does not mean defaulting on a mortgage as devastating as that can be; it can mean living in a cardboard box or washing in and drinking dirty water.

This woman, later to become world famous as Mother Teresa, heard a call from God to live among the poorest of the poor as the poorest of the poor live.
She started literally with nothing, begging for her every need as do the poorest of the poor. Ttoday her inspiration and holy charism have moved so many women to join her that the Missionaries of Charity, founded in 1950, now “boast”:

4,000 members
697 foundations
131 countries

The Missionaries of Charity is a religious family that now also includes fathers and brothers.

Mother Teresa's sisters became well known for their presence in some of the most dangerous and hostile places in the world. I remember as a young man in Berlin in 1990, shortly after the wall fell, seeing two of her religious daughters crossing over the border from the West to return to their house on the East side of the city which had been in place witnessing to Christ and His Church long before the wall fell.

In one famous story, Mother Teresa was confronted by a general in war-torn Lebanon as she sought to enter and begin her mission there to the poorest of the poor. He forbid her to go forward, telling her it was too dangerous while the city was being bombed. She dismissed his warnings and fearlessly pushed on, without the protection required for the soldiers aournd her, into the city that had become a deadly battle zone.

Mother Teresa took the lowest place, knowing she had been invited by the Lord personally to His eternal wedding banquet of heaven and she responded with a generous “yes”.

And how has the Lord rewarded Mother for her radical yes to His invitation to take the lowest place? I hope, God willing, to be among  those present next Sunday in Rome as the pope canonizes her "Saint Teresa of Calcutta".

You and I must do the same if we are to be lifted up by God to where we cannot go on our own: to the highest place of the wedding banquet of the Lamb in heaven.

Where in your home, your work, the circumstances of your daily life wherever you find yourself, do you take the lowest place, putting confidence at each moment in the Lord’s promise to invite you up higher as you imitate the Lord Himself as He died on the Cross to save each of us?

This is the key to joy: configuring oneself to the Lord by serving and loving others for His sake as Mother Teresa so faithfully did and whose example a gift from the Lord to help each of us to do the same.

“The last shall be first and the first shall be last.”



Saturday, July 30, 2016

18th Sunday: "Tonight your life will be required of you."

“You fool: tonight your life will be required of you.”

Somewhere tonight, someone's eyes will close upon this world for the last time. 

You may have heard about the retired Father Hamel, a French priest who, much like our Father Kleinstuber and other elderly priests do, was offering Mass for a pastor away on vacation when radical Islamists raided his church and slit his throat as he was in the act of offering Mass at the altar. We can be pretty certain he had no idea that would be his final day, and that he would die as a martyr for the hatred of the Faith, as he prepared to offer his final Mass that morning.

It is much the same with all of us.

In all likelihood it will not be anyone of us here that will die tonight. Thank the Lord, as I do, that all of you are in such a state of health that you are able to be here; to come to our parish church for the holy Mass, to anticipate the Lord’s Day tomorrow and to begin your efforts to keep it holy. Some of our parishioners, as you know, do not share such good health and I must visit them at home to bring them Christ in the Holy Eucharist and in my person represent the presence of His Body the Church.

So this Gospel perhaps does not speak so powerfully to us. Why do we need to hear such dire words of impending doom? The context will help us: someone in the crowd has asked Jesus to take his part in a fight with his brother over their worldly inheritance.

 He then turns to the group, and to us, and says,

“Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

The ugliness of family feuds over inheritance afflicts people throughout time. It arises from greed which is sinful because it violates the tenth commandment:

 The tenth commandment forbids greed and the desire to amass earthly goods without limit. It forbids avarice arising from a passion for riches and their attendant power. It also forbids the desire to commit injustice by harming our neighbor in his temporal goods:

“When the Law says, ‘You shall not covet,’ these words mean that we should banish our desires for whatever does not belong to us. Our thirst for another's goods is immense, infinite, never quenched. Thus it is written: "He who loves money never has money enough.”

 (CCC 2536)

But greed also amounts to false worship: giving undue importance to something that will not last.

We will last: we have a destiny that persists beyond this world and all that it has to offer. Because we are made in God’s image and likeness we have a soul that like God will last forever.


This is why Jesus points out to us that there is another kind of treasure, one which will last. He urges us to “lay up this treasure in heaven for yourselves” which thieves cannot break in and steal, nor rust nor moths destroy.


One of the ways we lay up treasure in God’s sight is by sharing this world’s goods with others. Many of you faithfully support this community of faith with your time, talent and treasure. You know that your blessing for this generous charity comes from God, who only can reward us as we need.


 Yes, wisdom means using this world's goods to build ourselves and others up, in charity to support our families, the poor and the Church but, more than anything else, to practice detachment in their regard to help us to finally say goodbye to all these things that will come to an end and  that we cannot take with us.


But more than this, we have an eternal destiny for which we must strive every day of our lives. Only Jesus Christ can help us in this, both with his teaching as in our Gospel this evening and in the grace of the Eucharist we will receive so that He Himself is our foretaste by grace of heaven on earth.



You fool: tonight your life will be required of you.”
Somewhere tonight, someone eyes will close upon this world for the last time. You may have heard about the retired Father Hamel, a French priest who, much like Father Kleinstuber and others, was offering Mass for a pastor away on vacation when radical Islamists raided his church and slit his throat as he was in the act of offering Mass at the altar. We can be pretty certain he had no idea that would be his final day and that he would die as a martyr for the hatred of the Faith, as he prepared to offer his final Mass that morning.
It is much the same with all of us.
In all likelihood it will not be anyone of us here. Thank the lord, as I do, that all of you are in such a state of health hat you are able to be here; to come to our parish church for the holy Mass, to anticipate the Lord’s Day tomorrow and to begin your efforts to keep it holy. Some of our parishioners, as you know, do not share such good health and I must visit them at home to bring them Christ in the Holy Eucharist and in my person as a representative the presence of His Body the Church.
So this Gospel perhaps does not speak so powerfully to us. Why do we need to hear such dire words of impending doom? The context will help us: someone in the crowd has asked Jesus to take his part in a fight with his brother over their worldly inheritance.
He then turns to the group, and to us, and says,
“Take care to guard against all greed,
for though one may be rich,
one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

The ugliness of family feuds over inheritance afflicts people throughout time. It arises from greed which is sinful because it violates the tenth commandment:

2536 The tenth commandment forbids greed and the desire to amass earthly goods without limit. It forbids avarice arising from a passion for riches and their attendant power. It also forbids the desire to commit injustice by harming our neighbor in his temporal goods:

When the Law says, "You shall not covet," these words mean that we should banish our desires for whatever does not belong to us. Our thirst for another's goods is immense, infinite, never quenched. Thus it is written: "He who loves money never has money enough.



But greed also amounts to false worship: giving undue importance to something that will not last.

We will last: we have a destiny that persists behind this world and all that it has to offer. Because we are made in God’s image and likeness we have a soul that life God will last forever.

This is why Jesus points out ti us that there is another kind of treasure: that which will last. He urges us to “lay up this treasure in heaven for ourselves” which thieves cannot break in and steal, nor rust nor moths destroy.

One of the ways we lay up treasure in God’s sight is by sharing this world’s goods with others. Many of you faithfully support this community of faith with your time, talent and treasure. You know that your blessing for this generous charity comes from God, who only can reward us as we need.

 Yes, wisdom means using this world's goods to build ourselves and others up, in charity to support our families, the poor and the Church but, more than anything else, to practice detachment in their regard to help us to finally say goodbye to all these things that will come to an end and  that we cannot take with us.

But more than this, we have an eternal destiny for which we must strive every day of our lives. Only Jesus Christ can help us in this, both with his teaching as in our Gospel this evening and in the grace of the Eucharist we will receive so that He Himself is our foretaste by grace of heaven on earth.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Sunday 12C: Who do you say Christ is? Your life will be the answer to that question.

"Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Lk 9

As I get to know the people better I learn more about their lives, their sorrows as well as joys: suffering both physical and spiritual.

Daily Crosses: disease, worry, poverty, handicaps, career disappointments or setbacks, the medical suffering or even death of a grandchild, unthinkable as it is.

I have seen people stop attending Sunday Mass because they have fallen under the weight of the cross of the death of a son or daughter.
We can lose our faith when we stop carrying our crosses.

This is precisely where Christ seeks to meet us: the darkest most repulsive aspects of our lives. The things we don’t want to talk about, experience, remember. This includes the sinful things we've done and want to forget: these are crosses also.

But where we don’t want to be is precisely where He meets us and leads us to the Father.

Disciple: identity?

Cross: suffer?

Daily: commit?

Follow: goal?

Jesus Christ is the goal: “the way, the truth and the life”. Through with and in Christ we do the Father’s will and seek to join the Father one day in Christ; heaven.

Who do you say that Christ is? It is not our verbal answer to this question but our lives of carrying our cross and following Him that will show the truth to the Lord and to others as to what our answer is.

Your lives will be the answer to that question:
Confession in the case of mortal sin
Receiving the Eucharist always in a state of grace (Confession when in doubt as to whether a sin is venial or mortal)

How else will Christ help you to carry your crosses if you are not in a state of grace? Impossible!



(Luke 9:18-34)

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Solemnity of Ascension Homily Hints

Helping our people who practice their faith to defend it in the family and at work strengthens them. They are often in contact with others who are under the tyranny of relativism. These people tell them, "I can pray to God anywhere" and so don't need the Mass or the Church.

Obviously there is a lack of belief in the Real Presence behind such a position, among other errors.

So explaining our faith and its scriptural basis to those already attending holy Mass regularly on Sundays is in fact not "preaching to the choir" but rather giving our people exactly what they need to live their faith every day.

In a Bible-only world, where many have refashioned the faith to fit their own designs, we must explain the practice of the Church to worship on the Lord's Day. The faith started in the Church, preached and proclaimed among the people of God before it was fully set down in writing as the bible we know today.

In the Scriptures for Ascension we see how the people reacted after Christ ascended to the right hand of the Father: they went to church together, although they used different words from their Jewsih experience to describe it.

Christians, as we see from Luke chapter 24, began to worship together from the beginning: "and they were continually in the temple praising God."

Now, we know from the Commandments that it is not required that we be in the temples of our churches "continually"; only Sunday worship through Mass is absolutely required to maintain living contact with the resurrected and ascended Jesus Christ and to "keep the Lord's Day holy" as commanded by God. To be scriptural, to follow the teaching found in the Bible, we must attend Sunday Mass with the same body of believers connected through the Church today to those very first Christians.

We take part in the mission of the universal Church today, also explained in Luke chapter 24, every time we celebrate holy Mass with the Lord, interceding for us at the right hand of the Father, and his one people united in the Holy Spirit:

"repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations."

Monday, March 14, 2016

Monday, Lent V: The woman caught in adultery goes to Confession

Has no one condemned you?”
She replied, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.
Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

Confession is the mercy of Jesus Christ in person:

 "Individual, integral confession and absolution remain the only ordinary way for the faithful to reconcile themselves with God and the Church, unless physical or moral impossibility excuses from this kind of confession." There are profound reasons for this. Christ is at work in each of the sacraments. He personally addresses every sinner: "My son, your sins are forgiven." He is the physician tending each one of the sick who need him to cure them. He raises them up and reintegrates them into fraternal communion. Personal confession is thus the form most expressive of reconciliation with God and with the Church. CCC 1484