Observe It

May 13, 2021

Each day, I reflect upon a word or phrase from the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

“…blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” (Luke 11:27-28)

OBSERVE IT: We hear a direct message message – marching orders – in our gospel readings for today. Simply put, we are being told, “The time to act is now.”

If ripe fruit is left unharvested, it will die on the vine. If the Word of God is left unheard or unspoken, or is not acted upon or lived out, it too will die.

We must act when the time is right, and that time is now – let’s get busy!

The Spirit Will Guide You

May 12, 2021

Each day, I reflect upon a word or phrase from the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.” (John 16:12-13)

THE SPIRIT WILL GUIDE YOU: Jesus told his disciples that there is much more he wants to tell them. However, he realized that they had taken in about all they could handle; they did not have the capacity to absorb anything more.

However, Jesus reminded them that the Spirit would come and would guide them to “all truth”. He foretold of his departure, while promising not to leave them to fend for themselves.

Just as Jesus reassured his disciples, he reassures us as well – not that the Holy Spirit WILL come, but that he already is among us!

We have access to the Holy Spirit. He seeks to enter our heart and desires to calm us and guide us.

Do we recognize the Holy Spirit working in our lives? If not, perhaps we need to invite him in.

Advocate

May 11, 2021

Each day, I reflect upon a word or phrase from the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

“…grief has filled your hearts. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you.” (John 16:5-11)

ADVOCATE: As we get closer to Pentecost, we hear more about “the Advocate.”

Jesus told His disciples that He must leave them and return to the Father. Sensing their grief, he assured them that there was a purpose. Something great would come out of His death and resurrection, as well as out of their grief.

Jesus had to go, so that the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, would come. Easter occurred, opening the door to Pentecost.

God the Father gave them life. Jesus gave them a living example of a true, loving servant. The Holy Spirit would give them a voice.

Jesus announced the cutting of the apron strings. His work on earth was done. It was time for the disciples to step up, armed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. They were given a voice that they must use to spread the Word, to “make disciples of all men.”

That work continues today. How are you using your voice?

Open Hearts

May 10, 2021

Each day, I reflect upon a word or phrase from the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying. (Acts 16:11-15)

OPEN HEARTS: The Lord wants to open our hearts, too. It requires a willingness on our part. The Lord does not want to pry open our hearts. He wants free access, which requires us to have a willing spirit.

A heart opened by the Lord makes us attentive to Him. It gives us insights to the Word; it gives us an appreciation for the gifts of others; it inspires gratitude for our many blessings; and it welcomes opportunities to grow our relationship with Him.

The Lord wants to open our hearts. Let’s give Him access.

Homily: Unlock the Joy in the Hearts of Others

May 9, 2021 – Sixth Sunday of Easter

Reading of the day: Acts 10:25-48 / 1 John 4:7-10 / John 15:9-17

The following is the homily I will be delivering today at St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis:

Today’s readings direct us to this reality: Joy resides in our hearts and is accessible to all.

So, why isn’t everyone joyful? The short answer is that joy is intimately connected to our relationship with God.

Unfortunately, some people may not have experienced God in their lives or have failed to see God’s hand in things. There are others that have been hurt by the Church or whose faith has been shaken by any number of struggles they’ve encountered. Simply put, we need to invite others to an encounter with God. 

After discussing in detail who should receive the gospel message, the disciples came to the realization that it was meant to be shared. They made the decision to go beyond their own people, taking the message to the Gentiles, to those that did not know God.

In today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter said, “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.” God is for all.

In the First Letter of John, we hear the same message, but it is a bit more subtle: “Let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves knows God.” God is love.

In today’s gospel from John, Jesus told his disciples he loved them. Then he said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete.” With God’s love comes joy.

What comforting messages for us to hear. God shows no partiality. God is made known to us by the love we receive and the love we share. Finally, God’s love brings us joy. That joy resides in our hearts and can be freely accessed at any time.    

Comforting, yet challenging as well. If love and joy are meant to be available to all, they must be offered to all. Are we doing that?

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You Do Not Belong to the World

May 8, 2021

Each day, I reflect upon a word or phrase from the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. (John 15:18-21)

YOU DO NOT BELONG TO THE WORLD: Today’s world stands in opposition to all who try to live a good Christian life. It is a constant battle to stay on the straight and narrow and do what is right. The devil is in our ear, tempting us just as he did Jesus in the desert. This world of secularism, relativism, materialism, and “do what feels good-ism” sets up an ongoing battle for us.

We need to show strength, courage, and perseverance in this battle. We may not be able to control how the world calls out to us, but we can certainly control how we respond.

Homily: Sharing Our Experience

May 7, 2021

The following is a homily I delivered last year on the same gospel we have today:

“It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain…” (John 15:12-17)

What does it mean to “bear fruit”? We bear fruit when we build up the Church.

The readings of the entire Easter season are focused on the apostles’ effort to share the good news, the joy of the Resurrection. Their actions allowed for the building up of the Church, with the number of Christians growing from those eleven men to the 2.3 billion believers in the world today.

The apostles were sent out to bear fruit, to grow the Church. They did this by sharing their personal experience of the Risen Christ.

All Christians have that same responsibility.

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Homily: Joy is Happiness on Steroids

May 6, 2021

I delivered the following homily at an all-school Mass at Bishop Chatard High School, Indianapolis back in 2015, based on the same gospel we have today: 

Jesus told His disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you…I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.” (John 15:9-11)

I want you to take a moment to think about what makes you happy. If I were to ask 100 people what makes them happy, I would probably get 100 different responses.

Maybe your answer would be money, or your favorite meal, or when the Colts win. I was at a pet store one time and heard a little girl laugh and tell her mom, “Petting this puppy makes me happy.”

We all want to be happy and there are any number of things that can make us happy. The downside of happiness is that it has an expiration date. It can be fleeting.

It can also cause there to be an ever-increasing threshold for happiness. What does that mean? It means that it may take more of the same thing to make us happy the next time. If money makes me happy this time, it may take more money to make me happy the next time. Your favorite meal may not be enough to make you happy next time. You may have to add a great dessert. The Colts winning a game or petting a puppy may make you happy one time. But later it may take a playoff win to make you happy. Or the puppy may need to lick your face while you pet him. Happiness may lead us to hunger for more or to seek higher levels of happiness.

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Bear Fruit

May 5, 2021

Each day, I reflect upon a word or phrase from the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit. (John 15:5)

BEAR FRUIT: The beginning of this Gospel passage presents a beautiful image. We are the branches, given life by and growing out from Jesus, the vine. We owe our lives to Him. We are nourished through Him.

Then the reality sets in: It sounds like it is not just a one way street. We are expected to pay forward the life we’ve been given. We must bear fruit. If we insist on being “takers” only, and bear no fruit, we will eventually be thrown out like a branch and wither.

We are so blessed. The best way to show our gratitude to God for our many blessings is to bear fruit – to produce something beautiful from what we have been given. The fruit we bear has many forms: an active prayer life, a joyful presence, a giving spirit, a servant’s heart, and many more.

As we are nourished, so must we nourish.

Enter the Kingdom

May 4, 2021

Each day, I reflect upon a word or phrase from the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22)

ENTER THE KINGDOM: The message of Easter is one of joy. The primary Gospel of Easter is that of John, which reiterates the unconditional love God has for us and the need for us to love God and one another.

We certainly do not want to lose sight of this joyful message, but today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles reminds us that we will face hardships along the way.

The challenges we face come in many forms: The actions of others that cause us emotional pain, physical suffering, our own lapses in faith, or countless other hardships.

The key to surviving these hardships is not allowing the door to close on Jesus Christ.

Our door is wide open when things are going well, but tends to close slightly with each challenge we face. We must not allow it to completely close. This may mean forcing ourselves to be more deliberate in our faith lives – praying when we don’t feel prayerful, showing gratitude when we aren’t feeling all that grateful, and counting our blessings when they seem few and far between.

This deliberateness may buy some time, allowing Jesus to push open the door a bit further.

It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God,  but it is worth it!