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.

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

September 14, 2021 – Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Early in the fourth century, Saint Helena, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, went to Jerusalem in search of the holy places of Christ’s life. She razed the second-century Temple of Aphrodite, which tradition held was built over the Savior’s tomb, and her son built the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher on that spot. During the excavation, workers found three crosses. Legend has it that the one on which Jesus died was identified when its touch healed a dying woman.

The cross immediately became an object of veneration. At a Good Friday celebration in Jerusalem toward the end of the fourth century, according to an eyewitness, the wood was taken out of its silver container and placed on a table together with the inscription Pilate ordered placed above Jesus’ head: Then “all the people pass through one by one; all of them bow down, touching the cross and the inscription, first with their foreheads, then with their eyes; and, after kissing the cross, they move on.”

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Homily: Mass = Celebration

September 13, 2021

The following homily was delivered at an all-school Mass in 2017. Readings: 1 Timothy 2:1-8 and Luke 7:1-10

Today’s readings point us to the Mass, what it is and how we should both approach and respond to the Mass.

In 1 Timothy we heard: I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone… That is what the Mass is – prayers, petitions, and thanksgiving. The word Eucharist means thanksgiving.

And in the gospel, we heard the words of the centurion, words the Church adapted and uses as part of our prayerful preparation to receive the Eucharist at Mass: Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof, but only say the word and my servant (my soul) shall be healed.

So let’s spend some time talking about the Mass.

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Homily: Odds on Being a Saint

September 12, 2021 – Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings of the day: Isaiah 50:5-9 / James 2:14-18 / Mark 8:27-35

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

We are all called to holiness. We can all be saints.

I had a very brief career as a basketball player. I played three years of CYO basketball in grade school and two years of intramurals in high school. My basketball talents were, at best, sub-par. I averaged more fouls per game than points. The coach referred to me as a football player running around with a basketball.

Despite my obvious lack of ability, I remember an adult leaning close to me, patting me on the back and saying, “Keep at it. You could be another Dr. J if you work hard and want it bad enough.”

Now, for those of you not as old as me, Julius Erving – known as Dr. J – was arguably one of the top professional basketball players of the 1970’s. I had just fouled out of the game and this well-meaning adult was encouraging me, offering me hope. I was a polite young man, so I smiled and thanked him.

However, this is what was going through my mind: “I am the worst player on my sixth grade CYO basketball team. If I wanted it more than anything else in the world, and if I put my entire mind and heart into it, and if I worked hard on it 24 hours a day every day, I am certain I will never play basketball like Dr. J.”

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Foundation on Rock

September 11, 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.

That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when the flood came, the river burst against that house but could not shake it because it had been well built. (Luke 6:43-49)

FOUNDATION ON ROCK: We need a strong, solid foundation if we expect to weather the storms of life.

No matter what our age, we have more wisdom than we think. We have wisdom that has been passed on to us from others or that we have gained through our own experiences. We already know, to a great extent, what is right and true. We know Christ.

But wisdom is just a bunch of words if we don’t act accordingly.

Sometimes acting on what is right and true is difficult. It may mean going against what society accepts as the norm. It may mean being the lone voice at times. It may mean sharing the joy that comes from knowing Christ even when no one wants to listen. It may mean enduring storms.

We need to use what we know to be right and true as the solid ground upon which to build our house. The decisions we make and actions we take will serve as proof that we have built our house on solid ground.

Our house will still be standing after the storms have come and gone.

Read this passage as needed

September 10, 2021

Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 1:14)

Each day, I suggest a word or phrase from the daily readings for you to reflect upon and include in your daily prayer.

However, this passage from 1 Timothy speaks so beautifully to our faith, I recommend you write it on a notecard and stick it in your pocket. Pull it out whenever you need your spirits lifted.

We are so blessed and this passage reminds us of that.

Put On

September 9, 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.

Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. (Colossians 3:12-17)

PUT ON: In his letter to the Colossians, notice the words Paul uses – “put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience…Put on love.”

These virtuous qualities do not just happens to us. We choose them. We put them on. They serve as our armor. We put on our armor to go into battle for another day. It is a deliberate action on our part.

We need to be fully equipped: We put on our armor, arm ourselves with the peace of Christ, and go into battle with the Holy Spirit at our side.