Homily: Surrender in Faith

September 24, 2021

The following homily was originally delivered in 2017 on the same gospel reading we have today:

Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” (Luke 9:18-22)

The gospel for today caused me to reflect on the age-old question, “How well do you really know someone?”

We all have friends we would say we know very well. We claim to understand them; we get where they’re coming from. However, they surprise us at times, don’t they? We find ourselves in a competitive or stressful or uncomfortable situation with that friend, and they respond differently than we had expected. We walk away from the situation thinking, “Wow, I thought I knew him better than that.”

I have been married to Carol for 37 years. In theory, I should know and understand her. On a regular basis, just when I think I truly and finally understand her, something happens that leaves me scratching my head. Are those happy tears or sad tears? Is she upset with something I did or something I didn’t do? Something I said or didn’t say? That look she is giving me – does it mean I am getting close to crossing the line or that I already crossed it? My failure to truly understand her is further complicated by the fact that the tears or the look might mean one thing on one day, and something completely different the next day.

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Memorial of Padre Pio

September 23, 2021 – Memorial of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina

On the feast day of St. Pius of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), a prayer for trust and confidence in God’s mercy:

O Lord, we ask for a boundless confidence and trust in Your divine mercy, and the courage to accept the crosses and sufferings which bring immense goodness to our souls and that of Your Church. Help us to love You with a pure and contrite heart, and to humble ourselves beneath Your cross, as we climb the mountain of holiness, carrying our cross that leads to heavenly glory. May we receive You with great faith and love in Holy Communion, and allow You to act in us as You desire for your greater glory. O Jesus, most adorable Heart and eternal fountain of Divine Love, may our prayer find favor before the Divine Majesty of Your heavenly Father. Amen.

Source: http://padrepiodevotions.org/prayers-of-padre-pio/

Ashamed

September 22, 2021

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

“My God, I am too ashamed and confounded to raise my face to you, O my God, for our wicked deeds are heaped up above our heads and our guilt reaches up to heaven.” (Ezra 9:5-9)

ASHAMED: Ezra’s point is well taken. While we may not say it quite the same way, we too are burdened with sin and feel the shame to which he referred.

It is the shame that keeps us from seeking Reconciliation. So the sin sits there, taking on a life of its own, layers of guilt being added on. We begin to think we are unsalvageable and unlovable. How could God possibly continue to love such a sinner?

At these times, we are the lost sheep. We have strayed from the flock. The good news is that God is The Good Shepherd. He will leave His other sheep and come looking for us. When He finds us, He will rejoice! He will hold us tight in His loving arms and assure us, “There is nothing you could ever do to make Me love you less.”

These are encouraging words to keep in mind when we feel the weight of sin begin to pull us under.

Worthy of the Call

September 21, 2021

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

“I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love…” (Ephesians 4:1-7)

WORTHY OF THE CALL: Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is full of advice. He recognized that the people of Ephesus were hesitant. They were, in effect, doing what the apostles at the ascension had done – standing there looking at the sky. Jesus was no longer there to teach them and walk with them on their journey of faith.

So, Paul offered his advice on how they should conduct themselves – be humble and gentle, be patient, love one another.

Many pieces of advice, none delivered as a directive. It was not presented as “do this or else.” Rather, something to think about and reflect upon, something to inspire, advice to be held in their hearts and used as needed.

Scripture whispers reminders in our ear. Its words of advice urge us to reach for holiness. The advice is not threatening, but rather encouraging, and meant to be held in our hearts.

Light

September 20, 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.

“No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light.” (Luke 8:16-18)

LIGHT: When we read this scripture passage, we generally assume it to mean that we need to share our God-given gifts with the world. In other words, we are the source of the light. While it is true we are called to share our gifts, there is more to it.

I think the light Luke refers to is the light of Christ shining through us. That means even if I wasn’t given the gift of a beautiful voice, I should sing anyway, and allow the light of Christ to shine through me. If I wasn’t given the gift of artistic ability, I should create anyway, and allow the light of Christ to shine through me. If I wasn’t given great academic gifts, I should work hard and study right alongside my more gifted classmates, and allow the light of Christ to shine through me.

The light of Christ is not intended to simply bounce off our God-given gifts and radiate out to the world. Rather, it is intended to shine through us and reflect both who we are and who Christ is to others.

Homily: Corner Office

September 19, 2021 – Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The following is a homily I delivered at St. Pius X in 2018 on the same readings we have today (James 3:16-4:3 and Mark 9:30-37)

I want to begin by talking about the corner office. In the many lavish office buildings that dot the skyline, the corner offices are the most desirable offices on each floor. The corner office is usually larger and has windows on two sides. There is an assumed prestige that comes with occupying a corner office. If you have met Fr. Jim in his office, you may have noticed it is a corner office, well-suited to his status as our pastor. If you looked for my office, you would discover I don’t have one – well-suited to my status as deacon.

In addition, the higher the floor, the more prestige the occupant enjoys. The goal for many that work hard each day is to eventually make it to the corner office of the top floor. Those that do have “made it” in the business world.

We want to be the best, or be perceived as the best, and that top floor corner office is evidence.

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The Seed

September 18, 2021

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

Jesus answered, ‘Knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you; but to the rest, they are made known through parables’…The seed is the word of God. (Luke 8:4-15)

THE SEED: If you have followed me at all the last couple of years, you know I have been writing and talking incessantly about the need for Christians to be effective storytellers – that it is critically important that we share our experience of God. In so doing, we plant seeds of hope for those who may not recognize God’s presence in their lives.

This weekend, I am leading a retreat for the deacons (and their wives) of the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana. The theme is “God Needs Storytellers.”

The gospel for today could not be more perfect!

First, Jesus explains to his disciples that the knowledge of the Kingdom of God is made known through parables – by telling stories. Stories are relatable. Sure, I can read scripture to you and I can talk Theology. However, the chances of me connecting with you and getting you to recognize God’s loving presence in your life are much better if I share stories of my personal experience of God.

Second, the parable Jesus told was about sowing seeds. Again, that’s what storytelling does! Each time we share our personal experience of God’s presence in our lives, we plant seeds of hope. The more stories we tell, the more seeds we sow. The more seeds we sow, the greater the growth potential. It’s a numbers game; no seeds are planted if we ignore our obligation to spread the gospel message – to share our stories.

Tell your stories; plant seeds of hope!

Compete Well

September 17, 2021

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

“…pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Compete well for for the faith. Lay hold of eternal life…” (1 Timothy 6:2-12)

COMPETE WELL: In today’s letter from Paul to Timothy, we are handed the script for the end of our lives here on earth. We don’t need be able to recount hundreds of accomplishments. We won’t be asked to list the souls we’ve saved, or detail the world’s problems we have solved.

We will need to be able to lock eyes with Jesus and say, “I lived my life the best way I knew how, always trying to keep You as my focus.”

This simple, humble statement, like that heard in today’s reading, acknowledges our humanity. We are not perfect. We stumble along the way, seeking forgiveness at those times. Then we brush ourselves off and get back to work.

If we can look in the mirror and know we have done this, we will be exalted when our time comes.

What Sort of Person

September 16, 2021

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

A certain Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.”

WHAT SORT OF PERSON: Many do not feel a part of the Church; they feel unworthy of being included. They feel that the Church is only for holy people, and they don’t belong.

In today’s gospel, Jesus responds to that concern.

The gospel shares the story of the woman washing the feet of Jesus with her tears. This woman accomplished three things by this action:

  • She humbled herself, kneeling at Jesus’ feet. The act of washing another’s feet is incredibly humbling.
  • She took a risk. For a woman, and a well-known sinner, to approach a man like Jesus and touch him would certainly have raised some eyebrows.
  • She showed great faith. She believed she could turn to Jesus in her time of need and He would respond.

So it is with the Church. The Church is for all, but especially for those who need it the most.

So, is the Church for holy people? Sure. 

However, the Church gives special welcome to broken people like us. It welcomes broken people who come forward to be nurtured; those who humble themselves and acknowledge that they can’t do it alone.

After all — who needs the Church more?

Behold This Child

September 15, 2021

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

Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:33-35)

BEHOLD THIS CHILD: Simeon was able to identify the child Jesus as the Christ as soon as he saw Him. For the remainder of Jesus’ time on earth, very few others were able to do the same, despite hearing Jesus teach and seeing Him perform miracles. The Christ was right in front of them, and they missed Him.

Some things never change. So many of us spend our lives with tunnel vision, focused only on what we want or what we need. We miss what is most important. We miss Christ among us.

I suggest that if we want to see Christ, we look at life through the eyes of our hearts.