A Price to Pay

November 25, 2020

They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. (Luke 21:12-19)

Jesus wanted to be clear about what it meant to follow Him. It was not going to be easy. There would be challenges along the way and many who would persecute the disciples of Jesus.

The salvation Jesus promised was not of this world. He was attempting to tell this eager new disciples, “It’s great that you are drawn to the hope of eternal salvation, but know that there is a price to pay. If you understand that and can withstand the challenges, follow Me.”

Do we endure hardships because of His name? Or do we avoid them?

What Message are We Sending to God?

November 24, 2020

Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” (Luke 21:5-11)

We don’t like to be caught off-guard, do we? We like to be prepared. At the same time, we don’t like the idea of always being prepared just in case. We would prefer that you just tell us when something’s going to happen and we’ll get ready, even if it means rushing around at the last minute.

That approach to preparedness sends the wrong message to God. We are telling Him, “We are quite busy with other things. Just give me a sign when I need to be ready to meet You. Then I will turn my attention to You.”

Nothing is more important than our relationship with God:

Our focus should always be on Him. 

He should always be our motivation.

Living for Him should always be our goal.

If we do these things, there is no need to rush around “getting ready”…we will always be prepared.

Saint Cecilia

November 23, 2020

Yesterday was the feast day of Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians.

Saint Cecilia’s Story

Although Cecilia is one of the most famous of the Roman martyrs, the familiar stories about her are apparently not founded on authentic material. There is no trace of honor being paid her in early times. A fragmentary inscription of the late fourth century refers to a church named after her, and her feast was celebrated at least in 545.

According to legend, Cecilia was a young Christian of high rank betrothed to a Roman named Valerian. Through her influence, Valerian was converted, and was martyred along with his brother. The legend about Cecilia’s death says that after being struck three times on the neck with a sword, she lived for three days, and asked the pope to convert her home into a church.

Since the time of the Renaissance she has usually been portrayed with a viola or a small organ.


Reflection

Like any good Christian, Cecilia sang in her heart, and sometimes with her voice. She has become a symbol of the Church’s conviction that good music is an integral part of the liturgy, of greater value to the Church than any other art.

Source: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-cecilia

Homily: “Throne Jesus”

November 22, 2020 – Solemnity of Christ the KIng

Today’s readings: Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17 / 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28 / Matthew 25:31-46

I will be delivering this homily morning at St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis:

Here are some thoughts on my interactions with those in authority while growing up:

As a child, I appreciated my dad when he played football with me in the backyard – not so much when he disciplined me.

As a student, I appreciated my teacher when she told jokes before class or complimented me on my school work – not so much when she corrected me or pointed out my academic shortcomings.

You likely see a pattern developing. I appreciated coaches that praised my athletic ability, bosses that gave me glowing job reviews, and pastors that know the value of a quality parish deacon.

And so it is in my relationship with Jesus. I appreciate the Jesus that tells stories, heals the sick, and loves unconditionally – not so much the Jesus that flips over tables in the temple, tells me to turn the other cheek, and sees me as a potential candidate for wailing and grinding of teeth.

I want my Jesus sitting in my fishing boat, telling me how much he loves me. He is my companion and friend. I don’t want my Jesus on a throne judging me, deciding if I am a sheep or a goat.

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Presentation of Mary

November 21, 2020 – Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Church tradition holds that at a young age, Mary was presented to the Lord in the temple by her parents Joachim and Anna. It was there, in the temple, that Mary was dedicated to the Lord and made her vow of chastity. She lived and grew up in the temple until she was betrothed to Joseph.

What does the Feast of the Presentation mean for the Church? What does it mean to us?

We all are presented to the Lord in Baptism. Mary entered the temple with her parents and was offered to the Lord. We are not only offered to the Lord at Baptism, we become the temple of the living God through Baptism.

Mary shows us what it means to be a temple of the Lord through her pregnancy. Just as, literally, Jesus was within her, so, literally, the Holy Trinity is in us through Baptism. Do you respect yourself and others as temples of the living God?

As Mary was conceived without any stain of sin, and she remained so all of her life, we, ourselves, are cleansed of all sin at Baptism, but we fall and sin. Do not be discouraged, though. Mary bears the title “the Refuge of Sinners.” In your weakness, in your failings, go to your Mother.

Source: https://www.marian.org/news/The-Feast-of-the-Presentation-of-the-Blessed-Virgin-Mary-6981

More of Our Attention

November 20, 2020

Every day He was teaching in the temple area…all the people were hanging on His words. (Luke 19:45-48)

When I read scripture, I often think about how underwhelmed Jesus must be by our response to Him. When He was here on earth, passionate people followed Him from town to town. Many of his disciples dropped whatever they were doing to be with Him, leaving their homes and livelihoods behind. Sinners climbed trees to see him. The sick were lowered through roofs by friends, and some reached out in the hope of simply touching His tunic. Today we read that “the people were hanging on His words.” They listened to what He had to say. They loved Jesus and were attentive to Him.

For us, Jesus is often an afterthought. We listen to Him when we get the chance. We pay attention to Him when we need Him.

What would it be like to hang on Jesus’ every word? To drop everything else we are doing and really take to heart the Gospel message, giving Him our full attention?

Maybe it is unrealistic to think that could happen today, but I encourage us all, as we head toward the Advent season, to take steps in that direction by giving Jesus more of our attention or at least some of our attention.

We Know What Makes for Peace

November 19, 2020

“If this day you only knew what makes for peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:42)

Is your heart at peace? With all that is going on in our world – the pandemic, the divisiveness, the relentless anxiety and chaos of life – is it even possible to know peace?

The short answer is “Yes, it is possible.”

However, we should not beat ourselves up when we are not at peace. There are legitimate reasons, at times, for it to be “hidden from our eyes.” It is at those times we lose focus – we allow the stresses of the world to divert our attention from what is important. That’s OK; we are human.

The important thing to keep in mind is that peace doesn’t need to remain hidden. We know what makes for peace – a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Invite Him back into your heart. Ask for His help in navigating difficult times. Allow Him to walk with you. Peace will return to your heart.

God Awaits Dividends

November 18, 2020

He replied, ‘I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.  (Luke 19:11-28)

The concept of “the rich getting richer” has a negative connotation, as it seems to imply that the gap between the haves and the have-nots grows wider. That is usually a financial or economic viewpoint. The Gospel is not talking about money and investing, is it?

Well, it is not talking about money, but it is talking about investments, and dividends to a certain extent. God has invested in us. He has given us not only gifts and talents, but also a limitless capacity to love. He expects his investments to pay off. In fact, He has big plans for us. He fully expects us to change the world.

Although we are each but a single individual, if we all buy into this concept of changing the world, it is possible. There are few things more powerful than a positive ripple effect. If each one of us uses our God-given gifts to glorify Him and serve others, it is possible. If each one of us max out our capacity to love by bringing love and joy to all we do, it is possible. If we come together as individuals to form the one Body of Christ, as we are called to do, it is possible.

When I do all of this, I am rich. When we do all of this, the rich get richer.

Recognize God at Work

November 17, 2020

Behold, I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,
then I will enter his house and dine with him… (Revelation 3:14-22)

I tend to have “after-the-fact” recognition of God’s presence in my life. There are times when I am experiencing beauty, joy, sorrow, or pain and I feel something wash over me. I am able to appreciate the moment, good or bad, and see clearly how to move forward. I tend to credit this clarity to circumstances, or more often, to my own abilities. I pat myself on the back and go about my life.

It is not until later, in reflective prayer, that I am able to see God’s hand in those experiences.

We are presented with these sacramental moments every day. They are free-flowing gifts from God, with no expectation that He will receive anything in return; they are examples of His unconditional love.

I pray that I am able to live in the moment, and be truly attentive to God’s presence in my life. He regularly knocks at my door; I simply need to open it.

Believe and You Will See

November 16, 2020

“Have sight; your faith has saved you.” (Luke 18:35-43)

Today we meet Bartimaeus, a persistent blind man. He heard Jesus was near, so he began to call out to Him. People tried to tell him to stop. Jesus was an important man. He couldn’t be bothered by blind beggars on the side of the road. Bartimaeus responded by calling out to Jesus even louder. He would not be denied; he would be heard.

And so he was. Jesus rewarded Bartimaeus’ perseverance by giving him his sight.

What others heard as annoying, Jesus heard as perseverance. What others viewed as embarrassing, Jesus saw as courageous. What others thought was impossible, Jesus made possible.

Bartimaeus was persistent because he believed Jesus could give him sight. Jesus saw a man of faith and rewarded him accordingly.