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

Monday, January 25, 2016

In Conversione S. Pauli Apostoli: "To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain: God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."

And Saul, as yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest,
2 And asked of him letters to Damascus, to the synagogues: that if he found any men and women of this way, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
3 And as he went on his journey, it came to pass that he drew nigh to Damascus; and suddenly a light from heaven shined round about him.
4 And falling on the ground, he heard a voice saying to him: Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
5 Who said: Who art thou, Lord? And he: I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. It is hard for thee to kick against the goad.
And he trembling and astonished, said: Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?
7 And the Lord said to him: Arise, and go into the city, and there it shall be told thee what thou must do. Now the men who went in company with him, stood amazed, hearing indeed a voice, but seeing no man.
8 And Saul arose from the ground; and when his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. But they leading him by the hands, brought him to Damascus.
9 And he was there three days, without sight, and he did neither eat nor drink.
 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias. And the Lord said to him in a vision: Ananias. And he said: Behold I am here, Lord.
11 And the Lord said to him: Arise, and go into the street that is called Straight, and seek in the house of Judas, one named Saul of Tarsus. For behold he prayeth.
12 And he saw a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hands upon him, that he might receive his sight.
13 But Ananias answered: Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints in Jerusalem.
14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that invoke thy name.
15 And the Lord said to him: Go thy way; for this man is to me a vessel of election, to carry my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.
16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Second Sunday: "Do whatever He tells you"


Isaiah 62: 1-5; Psalm 96, 1-3, 7-10; 1 Corinthians 12: 4-11; St. John 2: 1-11
Our Lady has interceded for those who approach her divine Son from the very beginning of his public life and ministry.
Mary was invited to a wedding at Cana, and "Jesus also was invited to the marriage with his disciples". Our Lady informs Jesus "they have no more wine". Though he hesitates, saying "My hour has not yet come", he yet accedes to her wishes and the needs of the wedding guests and changes water into wine upon our Lady's instruction to the servants: "Do whatever he tells you." We also are invited by our Lady to render obedience to her Son: "in that all Christian holiness consists: for perfect holiness is obeying Christ in all things". (St. Thomas Aquinas, Comm. on St. John, in loc.).
In the public life of Jesus Mary appears prominently; at the very beginning when at the marriage feast of Cana, moved with pity, she brought about by her intercession the beginning of the miracles of Jesus the Messiah (cf. John 2: 1-11). In the course of her Son's preaching she received the words whereby, in extolling a kingdom beyond the concerns and ties of flesh and blood, he declared blessed those who heard and kept the word of God (cf. Mk 3:35; Lk 11:27-28) as she was faithfully doing (cf. Lk 2:19; 51). Thus the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood (cf. Jn 19:25), in line with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his passion, with his sacrifice, associating herself in her mother's heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim which was born of her. Finally, she was given by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross as a mother to his disciple, with these words: 'Woman, behold thy son' (Jn 19: 26-27)" (Second Vatican Council, Lumen gentium, 58).
"At Cana, Mary appears once more as the Virgin in prayer: when she tactfully told her Son of a temporal need, she also obtained an effect of grace, namely, that Jesus, in working the first of his 'signs', confirmed his disciples' faith in him." (Paul VI, Marialis cultus, 18).
Why are Mary's prayers so effective with God? The prayers of the saints are prayers of servants, whereas Mary's are a Mother's prayer, whence flows their efficacy and their authority; and since Jesus has immense love for his Mother, she cannot pray without being listened to...To understand Mary's great goodness, let us remember what the Gospel says...There was a shortage of wine, which naturally worried the married couple. No one asks the Blessed Virgin to intervene and request her Son to come to the rescue of the couple...; it stirs her to act as intercessor and ask her Son for the miracle, even though no one asks her to...If our Lady acted like this without being asked, what would she not have done if they actually asked her to intervene?" (St. Alphonsus Mary Ligouri, Sunday Sermons, 48).
By God's design Mary is uniquely a Mediatrix for us, our Mother in the order of grace (CCC 967-970) just as she was for the wedding guests at Cana. No other creature shares in the privileges she enjoys as cooperator in the work of her Son.
"This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation...Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix." (Second Vatican Council, Lumen gentium, 62) (CCC 969)
Blessed Lady, intercede for us that we may do whatever the Lord tells us and so may, like the wedding guests at Cana, see his glory and believe in Him.
Let's pray for each other until, together next week, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick
(See also nos. 486, 495, 1335, 1613, and 2618 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)
(Publish with permission.)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Saint Hilary of Poitiers: “adopted by the Father's voice, we become sons of God"


Take care, brothers and sisters,
that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart,
so as to forsake the living God.
-- Heb 3:7-14

Through Baptism the Christian is sacramentally assimilated to Jesus, who in his own baptism anticipates his death and resurrection. The Christian must enter into this mystery of humble self-abasement and repentance, go down into the water with Jesus in order to rise with him, be reborn of water and the Spirit so as to become the Father's beloved son in the Son and "walk in newness of life":

Let us be buried with Christ by Baptism to rise with him; let us go down with him to be raised with him; and let us rise with him to be glorified with him. (St Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio. 40, 9: PG 36, 369.)
Everything that happened to Christ lets us know that, after the bath of water, the Holy Spirit swoops down upon us from high heaven and that, adopted by the Father's voice, we become sons of God. (St Hilary of Poitiers, In Matth. 2,5: PL 9, 927.)
-- CCC 537