My Words Will Not Pass Away

November 26, 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.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Luke 21:29-33)

MY WORDS WILL NOT PASS AWAY: Jesus reminds us today that our lives, and everything that is a part of our lives, are fleeting and limited. Only He and the message He shares are permanent and life-giving.

Interesting that this reading comes to us on Black Friday, as we enter the Christmas shopping season. We will load up on gifts and “stuff” again this year. We’ll wrap presents and pass them out. Those receiving the gifts will be excited and grateful.

Two months from now the memory of opening that gift will have faded, and the gift itself may very well be tucked away in a drawer, in the back of a closet, or sitting unused on a shelf.

I am certainly not trying to be bah-humbug when it comes to the fun of Christmas shopping. I don’t think Jesus is either.

The Gospel reminds us to acknowledge that the things of this earth and the joy they might bring are temporal. We should keep them in proper perspective, and not place undue significance on them.

If you want the presents you give this year to have real value, offer God’s presence as well. Give the joy that comes from offering your gift with genuine love.

If you care enough to give someone a gift, offer up a prayer for them as well. That gift will stay with them long after the gift you’ve purchased and wrapped for them has been used up or forgotten.

Happy Thanksgiving!

On Thanksgiving Day, I reflect on all the prayers of gratitude I have shared with God over the past year. While I occasionally thank God for small victories – we paid our bills this month, a conflict was resolved, etc. – more often than not I find myself thanking God for the people He has put in my life.

When I count my blessings, I count people. I am blessed to have Carol, my best friend who said “I do” at the altar over 38 years ago. I am blessed to have the four best kids in the world as my children. (You may think your own children are the best in the world, but please note they could not possibly rank any higher than 5th)

I am blessed to have had parents that taught me right from wrong, brought me up in the faith, and taught me what it means to serve others.

I am blessed to belong to some wonderful faith communities. These communities are gifts not because of the buildings or the “stuff,” but because of the people that fill those pews, hallways, classrooms and offices.

Good and Gracious God,

Thank you for the gift of family. Thank you for the people, both those living and those with You, who have impacted my life. Thank you for the opportunity to worship and work in places where there are people who make me better by simply being around them. Thank you for putting people in my life who challenge me.

I know that I am blessed and pray to stay mindful of paying it forward.

In gratitude, I pray. Amen.

May you and your family enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday and take time to reflect on the blessings – the people – God has put in your lives.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Homily: Importance of Gratitude

November 24, 2021

Yesterday, Guerin Catholic High School celebrated Mass as a community, followed by the annual Because We Are Grateful (BWAG) program. The students and staff collected items needed by various charitable organizations, and the program served as the culmination of those efforts. Some reflections on gratitude were shared by students and teachers, and the items collected were loaded onto trucks for delivery to the organizations served.

I was honored to offer the homily at our BWAG Mass. Here is a summary of that homily:

I once watched parents send their two children off on a mission trip. Mom gave each child a hug and told them how much she loved them. Dad waved as they ran off to get on the bus.

“You didn’t even tell them you loved them!” Mom said with a surprised look on her face.

“They know I love them,” her husband replied.

Then the mom said something that really stuck with me: “Saying, ‘I love you’ to them is not only for them. It reminds you what it means to love them, the responsibility that comes along with it.”

In other words, they aren’t simply words of affection. They serve as a call to action. There are things we need to do to reflect the love we have for our children. That’s a beautiful way to think about those words.

The same is true when we say, “Thank you!” to God. God doesn’t need our thanks, but it is important that we voice our gratitude for a number of reasons:

*It reminds us how blessed we are.

*It humbles us. By saying, “Thank you!” we acknowledge that God is the source of all of our gifts and blessings.

*It calls us to action: What should my gratitude look like?

It should look like this (gesturing to all of the donations collected for the charitable organizations). We pay it forward. As I am blessed so shall I bless others. It is the ultimate expression of gratitude.

That said, Thanksgiving is not just one day or one program at school. Gratitude should be a constant in our lives and call us to action daily.

May you always be grateful and express that gratitude by both your words and your actions.

What Sign Will There Be?

November 23, 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.

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)

WHAT SIGN WILL THERE BE?: 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 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.

Memorial of Saint Cecilia

November 22, 2021 – Memorial of Saint Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr

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.

Saint Cecilia is the patron saint of musicians.

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

Homily: Giving Jesus the Keys

November 21, 2021 – Solemnity of Christ the King

The following is a homily I delivered on this same feast day last year (2020) 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.

Continue reading

Homily: Are We Smelly?

November 20, 2021

Tomorrow we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. The following is a homily I delivered at St. Pius X Parish back in 2014:

When the kids were little, Carol used to make their Halloween costumes. When our oldest daughter, Mary, was 4 years old, she wanted to be a sheep. And so, Carol made a costume and turned her into an adorable little sheep.

The next year, we attempted to pass the costume on to 4-year-old Rick. He refused. The reason he gave: “Sheep are stinky.” I don’t know exactly how he came to that conclusion – we did not live on a farm, and he had not traveled extensively in his four years. Regardless, sheep do indeed stink, so we could not argue with him.

Carol made some horns that she attached to the headpiece of the costume, and he seemed quite content to go trick-or-treating as a ram. I know — rams are sheep. But Rick didn’t know that.

A tie-in to smelly sheep will come later in the homily.

************************************************************

Growing up, two of my siblings, Sharon and Mark, used to work at an Arby’s Restaurant. When they came home from work they smelled like Arby’s. Their clothes, their hair, and their car smelled like roast beef, with just a hint of sesame seeds. I’m not complaining; I liked Arby’s. I’m just saying that they smelled like their work.

A tie-in to smelling like your work will come later in the homily.

*************************************************************

Today we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. What is our image of Christ the King?

Continue reading

Hanging on His Words

November 19, 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.

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

HANGING ON HIS WORDS: 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 many of us, Jesus is 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 truly 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 the very least some of our attention.

Harden Not Your Hearts

November 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.

The Alleluia verse for today includes this familiar line from Psalm 95: If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

HARDEN NOT YOUR HEART: Elsewhere is scripture, we read that God wants us to have firm hearts, but apparently not hardened hearts. What is the distinction?

A hardened heart is closed off to the needs of others. It beats only to sustain itself.

A firm heart has resolve. It fights through indifference and beats for the community as a whole. It beats to God’s rhythm.

A hardened heart is indifferent.

A firm heart is merciful, attentive, and charitable.

Pope Francis described a firm heart as “a heart that allows itself to be pierced by the Spirit so as to bring hope to our brothers and sisters.”

Hear his voice; harden not your hearts.

More Will Be Given

November 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.

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)

MORE WILL BE GIVEN: 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.