Eat and Share

…eat this scroll, then go, speak to the house of Israel.
So I opened my mouth and he gave me the scroll to eat.
I ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth.
He said: Son of man, go now to the house of Israel,
and speak my words to them. (Ezekiel 2:8-3:4)

Three days a week, my wife, Carol, and I offer a livestream show on our parish Facebook* page called, God Needs Storytellers. In today’s first reading from Ezekiel, we hear the rationale for such a show.

As believers, we are called to read or hear Scripture – eat this scroll – and then share the good news with others – speak my words to them.

The depiction of taking in Scripture as eating a scroll is a bit graphic, but it speaks to what is really being asked of us. We are not to be passive when reading Scripture or be inattentive when hearing the Word proclaimed at Mass. On the contrary, we should take it in or consume the Word of God.

What is the difference? When we simply read something, it may or may or may not be put to use. It could possibly be dismissed or “skimmed” without regard to its beauty or meaning.

However, if we consume God’s Word – if we eat this scroll –  it becomes a part of us. It feeds us and nourishes us. It provides us with the needed energy to go out into the world and preach the gospel — sharing the good news in both word and deed.

In this way, the Word of God becomes a Eucharistic meal – “Take and eat, this is my Body…take and eat, this is my Word.”

(*) God Needs Storytellers can be viewed on the St. Pius X Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/spxparishindy

Feast of St. Lawrence

August 10, 2020

Today is the feast of St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr. Please offer prayers for me and my fellow deacons on the feast of this prominent deacon in the Church!

The following is the prayer I began my day with today, asking for the intercession of St. Lawrence:

St. Lawrence, who in your youth suffered and died for the faith, hear my prayers. Obtain for me deep faith, strong hope, a sincere love of God and neighbor, and humble obedience. 

Inspire me to come to the aid of the poor, the needy, the sick, and the afflicted. Lead me in the path of conversion. May God’s Kingdom spread far and wide on earth.

Intercede for my prayers for today: For the repose of the souls of those that lost their lives in the explosion in Beirut, for all of the schools trying their best to provide for the needs of their students during the challenging times, for the homeless, for those impacted financially by the coronavirus, and for a personal intention I hold in the silence of my heart.

Finally, grant that I live as a worthy person of God.  

Amen

 

Homily: YOUR Defining Moment

August 9, 2020 – Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: 1 Kings 19:9-13 / Romans 9:1-5 / Matthew 14:22-33

I will be delivering the following homily at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Indianapolis today. You can listen to the audio version as delivered last night, or read the written text below:

 

I would like you to listen again to these five sentences from our gospel, broken into three segments.

One: “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 
Jesus said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. 

Two: But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and began to sink.

Three: He cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Within these five sentences, Peter undergoes three separate faith experiences: Strong faith, wavering faith, and a renewal of faith.

When we hear this gospel story, we tend to focus on Peter’s uncertainty, his lack of faith. Jesus even asked him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 

This is not the only time Peter seemingly gives us an example of what NOT to do.

Continue reading

Memorial of St. Dominic

August 8, 2020 – Memorial of St. Dominic

st-dominic-icon-409

Dominic began itinerant preaching according to the gospel ideal. He did this work for 10 years and was successful with the ordinary people but not with the leaders.

He and his fellow preachers gradually became a community, and in 1215 Dominic founded a religious house at Toulouse, the beginning of the Order of Preachers or Dominicans.

Dominic’s ideal, and that of his Order, was to organically link a life with God, study, and prayer in all forms, with a ministry of salvation to people by the word of God. His ideal: contemplata tradere: “to pass on the fruits of contemplation” or “to speak only of God or with God.”

Prayer of St. Dominic

May God the Father who made us bless us.

May God the Son send His healing among us.

May God the Holy Spirit move within us and give us eyes with which to see, ears with which to hear, and hands by which His work might be done.

May we walk and preach the word of God to all.

May the angel of peace watch over us and lead us at last, with God’s grace, to the Kingdom.

Amen

Source: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-dominic/

We Are ALL Called to Evangelize

August 7, 2020

Carol and I have been offering an online, livestream “show” three days per week on our parish’s Facebook page. We call it God Needs Storytellers.

Oftentimes during the show I have emphasized that ALL of us have the obligation to preach the gospel; we are ALL called to evangelize.

The following is a message from the USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis that I think shares that same message beautifully:

Evangelization is the Church’s deepest identity.  Evangelization brings the good news of the Gospel to all who seek the life-giving message of faith in Jesus Christ.  

Catechesis nourishes, forms and deepens the faith one receives through the ministry of the Church. 

Stewardship is an expression of discipleship rooted in personal relationship with Christ. Good stewards generously share their gifts and blessings with others for the sake of the Kingdom.

The Church is missionary by her very nature. Her mission is to proclaim the salvation of Christ to the ends of the earth. As teachers and pastors, we bishops are responsible for promoting Catholic world missions in the United States. 

We invite you to consider your vocation to share in the Church’s mission. Each one of us, by virtue of our baptism, is called to live our faith and to bear witness to the Gospel in our families, friends, parish communities and society. To share in the Church’s mission of Evangelization and Catechesis is to grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ. 

It is our prayer that our common witness to faith, hope and love will continue to transform the world in the love of Jesus Christ.

Source: https://www.usccb.org/committees/evangelization-catechesis

“It is good that we are here”

August 6, 2020 – Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

And he was transfigured before them;
his face shone like the sun
and his clothes became white as light. (Matthew 17:1-9)

There are several Scripture passages on my Fly-on-the-Wall list — those passages that lead me to say, “Wow, I would love to have been a fly on the wall for that!”

Today’s account of the Feast of the Transfiguration is such a passage. Peter, James, and John went up the mountain with Jesus. While there, they saw His face turn dazzling white, and suddenly Moses and Elijah were there, too. As if that wasn’t already sensory overload, God spoke from the clouds, affirming that Jesus was His Son.

The passage ends with Jesus telling them, “Do not tell the vision to anyone” Well of course they weren’t going to tell anyone! Who would have believed them?

But wouldn’t you love to have been a fly on the wall when the three of them talked about it amongst themselves?

“Now, this is what I saw. Is that what you saw?”

“Someone talked…it sounded like it came from the clouds. That was God, right?”

“The voice said, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” I don’t know about you, but I’m going to listen!”

What a gift these disciples were given, to be there on the day of the Transfiguration and with Jesus throughout His ministry on earth – to see the story unfold firsthand, to hear the Word of God as it was spoken.

The gift the disciples received was a gift that keeps on giving. When we go to Mass, we come together as disciples of Christ. We hear His divinely inspired Word in the reading of Scripture. We experience His real presence in the Eucharist.

Every Sunday, we are given the same gift the disciples were given on the mountain that day. The only difference seems to be our response to the experience. The disciples were awestruck, left speechless by what they saw. I fear we often take for granted what we experience in the Mass.

I want to be a fly on the wall on the day a congregation leaves the church fully embracing all that the Mass has to offer.

They will look a bit dazed, awestruck even, but incredibly joyful. And they will likely be mumbling to one another, “Did you see what I saw?”

The Prayers of a Faith-Filled Heart

August 5, 2020

She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! (Matthew 15:21-28)

I have never been much of a fan of the “squeaky wheel” mentality. Being a squeaky wheel does seem to be effective, but I have been on the receiving end of some of that squeaking and it can be very annoying! There were a number of times I caved in to the squeaking just to make it to stop.

In today’s Gospel, the Canaanite woman tries to approach Jesus to request His help and is turned away by the disciples, but she persists. Even Jesus seems to be dismissing her, but that does not deter her. She believed her daughter could be cured, and she believed Jesus was the one to do it.

Jesus was able to filter out the squeaking. He knew that no one would continue to fight through that much rejection unless she truly believed he could grant her request. Ultimately, this belief, this faith, was rewarded and her daughter was cured.

Jesus hears the prayers of a faith-filled heart.

Audio Homily: The One Who Can Help You the Most

August 3, 2020

Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him… (Matthew 14:22-36)

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to offer a brief homily based on the above gospel passage. Here is the audio of that homily:

He Will Immediately Reach Out to Help Us

August 3, 2020

Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter… (Matthew 14:22-33)

Peter ran into problems despite his initial confidence and courage. He had only taken a few steps when his fear caused him to sink into the water. Fear kept Peter from successfully responding to God’s call.

How will we respond to God’s call? Will we start out courageously like Peter, only to let fear and uncertainty cause us to sink?

It is likely that we already have some fears, and that we already doubt our ability to do God’s work. We may start off with confidence, but fear creeps in. There are few of us, if any, who feel 100% confident that we can do all that is asked of us.

The good news in all of this is that Peter did not drown. Despite his weaknesses, Peter went on to become the rock of Jesus’ Church.

This was possible because Jesus was with him every step of the way. He never gave up on him. When Peter faltered, Jesus immediately stretched out his hand and caught him.

We must respond to God’s call with confidence. If fear creeps in and we begin to sink, God will immediately reach out to help us. The courage needed to stay the course should come from knowing that.

Homily: Why is God Eating Lunch at McDonald’s?

August 2, 2020 – Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

I delivered the following homily, based on the same readings we have today, was at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Indianapolis in 2014

Today’s readings include: Isaiah 55:1-3, Romans 8:35-39, and Matthew 14:13-21

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A little background before I share a story: When our children were young, Carol and I would prepare them before we went to church for Sunday Mass. We would remind them that we were entering the God’s house, and that they needed to be on their best behavior. We added that if they were quiet and really listened, God would talk to them.

Over their formative years, our two daughters paid close attention to what we said, and were generally well-behaved and attentive. Not so much with the boys. They didn’t really care whose house it was – they were going to do whatever they wanted.

And now the story: We were having lunch in McDonald’s one afternoon. Our daughter, Mary, was about 4 years old. The pastor of St. Pius at that time was Fr. Jim Sweeney. Long-time parishioners will remember Fr. Jim as a big man with a big personality. He knew no strangers and you always knew when Jim Sweeney was around.

He walked into the same McDonald’s that afternoon. After ordering, he walked around the restaurant, waving to parishioners and stopping to chat at most of the tables, including ours.

Mary could not take her eyes off of him. She was mesmerized. When Fr. Jim moved on to the next table, Mary leaned over to Carol and I and asked, “Why is God eating lunch at McDonald’s?”

Today I will be talking about God and food, or more precisely, God and being fed. Continue reading