Sunday, May 15, 2022

I Give You a New Commandment - Homily for the 5th Sunday of Easter

 

Jesus says in our Gospel today: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”

 

The first half of Jesus’ teaching is already found in the third book of the Old Testament.  Leviticus 19:18 already says “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This is the Golden Rule, found in lots of different religious traditions.

 So what makes Jesus’ command new?  It is new because Jesus has come and illustrated exactly what love is.  So Jesus adds to the end of the Golden Rule this 2nd piece of His teaching: “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”

In the Old Testament, God asked us to love our neighbor as ourself.  But Jesus, by becoming a human being and laying down His life for us, shows us that love actually involves a willingness to in some ways love our neighbor more than ourself…no longer putting our neighbors needs on the same level as our needs as Leviticus asks, but Jesus now calls us to actually put our neighbors needs ABOVE our needs.  To put our own desires last!  And that is why Jesus says “I give you a new commandment.”

 

Let us put our needs last, let us cooperate with the Grace God is pouring out on us to Love our neighbors, and to actually put our neighbors needs over our own needs, wants and desires.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Abortion and Sorcery - homily for the 5th Sunday of Easter

In the Criterion, the newspaper for the Archdiocese, there is an awesome story this week about our new St. Vincent De Paul food pantry.  There was also a great write up about it in the Brazil Times.  There was also a story this week in the Brazil Times about a new store in downtown Brazil opening up that traffics in the demonic, crystals, raiki, tarot cards etc…all that Saint Paul and Moses and the Catholic Church describe as gateways to the demonic.

 

And this weekend as well national abortion groups are calling for protests in Catholic Churches around the USA.

 

All of this goes to show, academically, that there are really only 2 sides and no middle ground for people who just want to sit on the sidelines.  It, at the end of the day, comes down to the Catholic Church doing battle with literal demons who have possessed human persons.

 

There is no sideline from which you can watch this battle unfold.  You have to make a choice about which side you will fight on.

 

God, all the way back in the book of Exodus, tells Moses there are two reasons that God is going to allow the Israelites to take over the Promised Land

1) Because the current inhabitants literally sacrificed their children to false gods

2) and they practiced witchcraft and sorcery

 

Abortion and sorcery comprise the priesthood and the sacrifice of the anti-church. 

Let me also be clear, no matter how far away from the Church you have fallen, and no matter what you have done in your past, whether it is abortions, murder, witchcraft, apostasy, and on and on…no matter what sins are in your past, Christ welcomes you back with one confession.  Peter betrayed our Lord 3 times, after swearing an oath just a couple of hours prior that he would never do that , but Saint Peter had the sense to repent. 

 

One of the ways you can tell the Catholic Church from the anti-church, the anti Church will always talk about care for the poor ONLY in big terms, while the Catholic Church talks about working with the poor individually – treating and reminding the poor of their dignity, which is what the St. Vincent DePaul Society is all about.  The Catholic Church also supports programs that care for the poor on a larger scale in some instances, but always also encourages, and frankly demands, that all Catholics encounter the poor individually as well.

 

The villain in one of the greatest novels of all time says “I love humanity…it is individual people I can’t stand.”  Some of our global planners talk that way.  They love humanity…and I would encourage every Catholic and every person of Good Will to run as far and as fast as possible from anyone who offers a plan to save humanity which does not involve Jesus Christ and His Bride the Catholic Church.

 

Christ, the Good Shepherd, chose to live in poverty and is calling us to follow Him back to the poor.  Let us heed the calling of the Good Shepherd.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

What Heaven is Like - Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Easter, 2022

 

We hear in our second reading from the book of Revelation today “I heard every creature in heaven and everything in the universe, cry out:  “To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever.”  and the elders fell down and worshiped.”

 

This excerpt from the book of Revelation describes what is in store for us in Heaven.  Heaven is infinite bliss every moment for all eternity.  

 

When I was young, I used to think that there was down time in Heaven, maybe go for a jog or relax around the pool.

 

But I now know, through the teachings of the Catholic Church, including through the Sacred Scriptures, that Heaven is infinite bliss, every moment for all eternity.

Infinite bliss

Every moment

For all eternity

 

At this and every Mass, Heaven and Earth literally overlap

Saint Paul says that we see now as through a dark piece of glass, but one day, when we get to Heaven,  we will see fully.  Saint Paul means that we can only see shadows most of the time, if that, but rest assured that this Mass today is the opening up of Heaven to all of us, we have an actual Lamb of God on an actual altar and all of us are here singing praise to the Lamb of God, and the angels are really here with us singing praise to the lamb of God.  It is what is happening, even if we do not see all of it happening with our physical eyes, we believe and see it through the eyes of Faith.

 

I want to be in Heaven someday, and I hope you do too.  Infinite bliss, every moment for all eternity.  Lord help me and all here present today to live our lives in such a way that, when we die or when you return, we may pass straight in to the eternal bliss of Heaven.  Amen!

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Divine Mercy 2022

 

Jesus says in our Gospel blessed are those who have not seen, and believed. 

One of the things that this line from Christ implies is that even though He promises to be present in every Sacrament of the Church, we should not expect to ever SEE Him, rather He says that we are blessed if we still believe in Him without actually seeing Him.

 

Saint Paul puts it this way to the Romans in chapter 8 verses 24 and 25: “hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance”

 

It is also Divine Mercy today and at the bottom of the Divine Mercy image is 5 words, “Jesus I trust in you.”  Trust and hope go hand in hand.  One can only trust if they have not been let down by the other person.  The moment the person asking for trust lets us down, it is hard to reestablish that Trust.  But Jesus always and everywhere keeps his promises, so when Jesus asks us to trust Him, it makes sense for us to trust Him.

 

There are over 100 Eucharistic Miracles that have been approved by the Catholic Church, usually because of a doubt in the priest’s mind, where the bread at the consecration did actually turn into physical flesh or the wine, at the consecration, became physical blood.  But I have always thought that God, in His Mercy, does not reveal Himself that way 99.9999% of the time SO THAT WE CAN STILL EAT and receive him into our body and souls.  Sometimes we think it might be nice to see a Eucharistic Miracle like that, but would anyone want to actually eat Jesus’ skin?

 

So let us put our trust in Christ when He says to us “Blessed are those who have not seen and still believe”

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Easter 2022

 

If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God…not of what is on earth.

 

This encouragement from Saint Paul to the Colossians is an encouragement that is still applicable to us today, to seek what is above, not of what is on earth.

 

Seeking implies a striving for…saint Paul elsewhere uses the image of athletes denying themselves all sorts of things so that they can win…the same analogy applies to scholarly study…scholars deny themselves sleep because they are striving to master a subject…and good students sacrifice the prize of basking in the now to strive forward on their pursuit of a degree

 

Let us STRIVE for what is above…Jesus’ Resurrection opens for us the possible of living with Him forever in Eternal bliss.  This world is not corrupt, God made it, but this world is not our HOME.  Let us strive with one another to get to our Heavenly home.

 

A friend said a good way to find holy and good friends is to run toward Heaven and then look and see who is running in the same direction.  May we do that… may we run for Heaven and also look and see who is running in that same direction and encourage each other with the unbelievable if it were not true, the message that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead and opened up for us a way if we follow his teaching, his example, let us be nourished by the Sacraments, by the food for the journey, and let us win Heaven through Christ’s victory.  Amen!

Thursday, April 14, 2022

A Video from a Few Years Ago that I Love

 

Holy Thursday 2022

 

When I first moved out to the Terre Haute Deanery for my first ever stint as a pastor, I was tasked with having to finish off the closing of Holy Rosary parish in Seelyville.  


The North Star is located almost directly on the line the Earth spins around and so it always is in the same place in the sky and was used by sailors and others as a reliable way to orient themselves.

 

In my final homily at Holy Rosary in Seelyville before the parish was merged into Annunciation, I encouraged the parishioners of Holy Rosary in Seelyville to keep their eyes fixed on the only True North Star, Jesus in the Eucharist, and if they did that, they would be able to weather whatever storms came their way, including the closing of their parish.

 

I have tried to follow my own advice as much as possible.  Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist has been a North Star, a fixed point that I know is true, and I have kept my eyes fixed on Jesus throughout my time in seminary and the priesthood.  There has been a lot that has happened in my priesthood, a lot of the things from my priesthood have been good beyond my wildest dreams, and some of it has been difficult, but all of the things that have happened have been a blessing to me.

 

Tonight, the Church asks that the homily reflect on 3 related topics, the priesthood, the Eucharist and service to the poor and our friends. 

 

Right after the homily, I will wash the feet of 12 parishioners as a reminder of what Jesus did before the First Mass.  At that First Mass he also instituted the priesthood and also, for the first time turned bread and wine into Himself.

 

It is pretty easy to see how these three themes of the priesthood, the Eucharist and service are related.  In the priesthood, we are called to die to ourselves.  This “death to self” is actually sometimes easier in big ways than it is in small ways that no one will ever see.  In both arenas, the public and the private, the priest is called to die to self, and so is every person who is baptized.

 

Dying to our own desires and wants; dying to how we want to spend our free time; all those ways of dying, like Jesus’ death, bears fruit in other people’s lives because when we lay our wants to the side, we more easily recognize the ways we can serve others.  And Jesus says when we serve others, we also serve Him.

 

May Jesus in the Eucharist be a North Star for all of us, a point that we fix our eyes and hearts on, and, in walking toward Jesus, also imitate His laying down His life, so we may share in His Resurrection

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

If God Made Judas Betray Jesus...

 

There is an idea that has been around for a while and that idea could be summarized by the question “Didn’t Judas HAVE to hand Jesus over?” 

But the Gospels of course discredit this

Jesus: “woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.  It would be better for that man if he had never been born.”

If we believe, wrongly, that God made Judas betray Jesus, there are TWO huge implications of this error

It is first of all important to know that God never has someone do evil.  Here’s the problem with thinking God DOES make someone do evil – if God can have people do evil acts for good outcomes, then we can start doing evil things because of the good outcomes that we think will happen

It becomes okay to destroy embryos for the good perceived outcome of curing diabetes

It becomes okay to use contraception in my marriage for the good perceived outcome of making my marriage happier

It becomes okay to experiment on human beings for the perceived good outcome of medical science

It becomes okay to torture people for the perceived good outcome of saving soldiers lives

It becomes okay to make money illegally for the perceived good outcome of feeding my family

LITERALLY ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE THE MOMENT A PERCEIVED FUTURE CONSEQUENCE CAN BE USED TO JUSITFY AN ACTION

Even worse…it starts to be the case that if God wills evil or causes evil, then I can do evil too.

Unfortunately in some Catholic circles it has become fashionable to say that obviously sinful acts might not actually BE evil, as the circumstances or intentions of an act might make an evil act actually good.  But paragraph 1759 of the Catechism quotes St. Thomas Aquinas as saying "An evil action cannot be justified by reference to a good intention"

Also, to anyone who would appeal to their conscience, paragraph 1761 says “ There are concrete acts that it is always wrong to choose, because their choice entails a disorder of the will”

Jesus’ words about Judas need to be with us always – Woe to that man by whom the son of man is betrayed.  It would be better for that man if he had never been born

Monday, April 4, 2022

The Joy of Being Forgiven

 

Homily for April 2nd and 3rd – Go and sin no more

Father Vince Lampert, the exorcist for our Archdiocese, came to Saint Paul’s on Thursday night and gave an AWESOME talk about exorcisms.  I encourage anyone who missed it to go to Saint Paul’s Facebook page and watch all of it.  (click here or watch below)

Fr. Vince talked a lot about confession and noted “When we recommit ourselves to God, God does not care about the past, God cares about where we are.  When people live in the past, they live in a world of guilt, and when you live in a world of guilt, your best friend is going to be the Devil…the Devil is described in the book of Revelation as an accuser.”

 

We see this encouragement to go to confession and then move forward knowing that we start anew in all three readings from today. 

Our first reading from the Prophet Isaiah says, speaking on behalf of God “Remember not the events of the past, see, I am doing something new!”

Saint Paul tells the Philippians in our 2nd reading today: “forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal”

And in our Gospel we hear Jesus say to the woman caught in adultery “Neither do I condemn you…go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

 

In the Mass and in the Confessional, most of the prayers and words of the priest are offered on behalf of himself and the people.  But when the crucial words of consecration at Mass and absolution in the confessional are said, it switches to the first person…”I absolve you” “This is my Body”

The Church says that in that moment, Christ is literally saying those words through the priest

 

And so the sacrament of reconciliation is just that, an opportunity to reconcile with God himself, to not just start over, not just to have our sins forgiven, but also to receive new grace from God moving forward.

 

The average confession lasts three minutes.  The confessional and the Mass are the last place the Devil wants you to be.  But when we leave the confessional, I promise you will sing with the Psalmist “The Lord has done great things for us, we are filled with joy”

Sunday, March 27, 2022

The Older Son is Blind to All His Blessings

 

Homily for the 4th Sunday of Lent, 2022

 

There is a line in our Gospel today that I would like to preach on, and it is this: “He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.”

 

The main problem with the older son is his blindness to all the blessings that have come to him precisely because of his Father.  The oldest son has food at every meal thanks to his father, he has wealth built up by his father, he has servants because of his father, and on and on…and yet he sees none of these blessings but only what he lacks.

 

And we also tend to be blind to the gifts given us by our Heavenly Father.  Our food, our shelter, our heat and air conditioning, medicine, water, electricity, our clothing, our schooling…we have so many blessings from our Heavenly Father…and yet do we thank Him… or do we complain about what our Heavenly Father is NOT doing for us?

 

Paragraph 1360 of the Catechism instructs us that every Mass is “a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father, a blessing by which the Church expresses her gratitude to God for all his benefits”.  Indeed the very word “Eucharist” means “Thanksgiving”…so all of us who are here are participating in the best way possible to thank our Heavenly Father for all that He has done for us.

 

Let us ask God that we might have our eyes opened to all the blessings He is freely pouring out on us, including our sufferings.  Let us not be blind to all the good things our Heavenly Father is doing in our life, but instead let us recommit to thanking God unceasingly!

 

Lord Jesus Christ, help us to be freed from the blindness of the older son in your parable of the prodigal son.  May we see all of the blessings you are pouring out on us, and be grateful for all of them.  Amen.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

The Gift of Smallness...a homily on the Annunciation, 2022

 

Annunciation 2022

 

Several years ago, if anyone had asked me a question about the state of our country or ways to improve the Catholic Church, I would have had answers to those questions.

 

But today, I do not have any answers.  I have realized that I am very limited, indeed very very limited in what I can do to change our country or improve the Church. 

 

In stepping away from social media, I have made a commitment to be as present as possible to the people of my parishes, and trust in God that God will take care of the bigger picture, and I am at peace now that I do NOT think I need to understand it all.

 

Mary is the same way in the Annunciation story from today’s Gospel.  It is clear she struggles to fathom God’s plan when She asks the angel, “How can this be?”  But Mary immediately understands that she can put all her trust in God’s plan…she does not need to know anything about God’s plan beyond an obscure reference by Simeon, when Mary brings the baby Jesus to the Temple, that a sword will pierce Her heart.  She trusts in God even when she watches Her Son Jesus tortured to death.

 

Let us focus on our local community, and make that our priority.  Let us take care of one another as Catholics, and let us be a light that attracts others in our community to come here.  Let us leave the big things for God, and let us be content to be small, as Mary was.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

"Their god is their stomach"

 

“For many conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their God is their stomach”

Saint Paul warns the Philippians that many among them treat their stomach as their god.  This is a hard teaching, but I think all of us Americans need to look at ourselves very closely on this one.  And it is a particularly timely topic for us this Lent.  Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins.

Before diving into the sin of gluttony, I want to acknowledge here in the beginning that some people also struggle with eating disorders…mostly young women…and so it is important for anyone tempted to binge and then force yourself to vomit, or to starve yourself because of athletics or to try and make yourself look like any other person, please see me or any other person you trust, and that person or I can help connect you with a counselor to treat that condition.  My sister Laura, when she was in high school, suffered from multiple eating disorders, and she was not aware it for multiple years.  She shared her story on my blog (click here to visit her post), and she recommended a website with lots of resources called madeinhisimage.org

Most of us, however, struggle with eating too much.  Gluttony can be defined as eating or drinking in excess, or eating in such a way as to damage one’s health or mental capacity.

Food is pleasurable, and God created pleasure as a way to incline us to take care of ourselves, but provided that we do not make pleasure our aim.  Some pleasurable things are nonetheless sinful, and some pleasurable things require moderation.  Food is a pleasurable thing that requires moderation.

Alcoholic beverages, in moderation, are also okay because, as St. Thomas says, they can make conversation easier, but it is a deadly sin to fall into drunkenness.

Recreational Marijuana and all other illicit drugs are mortal sins because, unlike alcohol which can be enjoyed in moderation, all illicit drugs can rewire and alter a personality after using it just once.  Even medical marijuana has a sketchy foundation, at best.  The Mayo clinic found: “One of the most common reasons cited for medical marijuana is glaucoma. Data for this, though, is extremely weak; any positive effect is short term.”  The Mayo Clinic also found more broadly that there is “substantial evidence for an association between Marijuana smoking and respiratory disease, motor vehicle collisions (MVCs), lower birth weight offspring, schizophrenia and other psychoses”

Another reason that people cite for gluttony is stress, and at the beginning of 2022, a survey found that 80% of Americans report being stressed.  3 or 4 years ago, before my brain tumor, when I was watching TV, had a smartphone and a social media presence, I would stress eat.  If we find ourselves stress eating, let us examine what we are doing to avoid stress.  Are there things we can cut from our life to still work in the world but avoid stress?

Also, during this Season of Lent, as we think about potentially fasting from some foods, let us approach that fasting in a healthy way, seeing that most of us typically have more than enough to eat, and, when we cut back, we have more time and a clearer head so that we can enter more deeply into our prayer life as well.  Gluttony, as with all sins, can only ultimately be defeated in each of us cooperating with Jesus Christ each moment.  Do you have a relationship with Jesus?  Let us make Jesus the Lord of our hearts, as opposed to making a god out of our stomachs.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

The War in Ukraine and Our Lady of Fatima

 

“The war in Ukraine, and Fatima” - Homily for March 5th and 6th

 

At the beginning of our Eucharistic Prayer, we will once again say blessing the bread and wine “which we offer you firstly for your holy catholic Church.  Be pleased to grant her peace, to guard, unite and govern her throughout the whole world”

 

As we have watched the events in Ukraine unfold these past 2 weeks, I can’t help but think of Our Lady of Fatima.  Fatima is a Marian Apparition that has been recognized by the Church, and it was a series of 6 visits by Mary to 3 shepherd children in Portugal.  The final apparition on October 13th, 1917 was accompanied by a miracle of the sun dancing in the sky, which was witnessed by approximately 70,000 people.

There were also three visions given to the children, and in the second vision, our Blessed Mother asked that the Holy Father, in union with all the bishops of the world, consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Our Lady cautioned that if Her requests were not granted, “Russia will spread its errors throughout the world, raising up wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer and various nations will be annihilated.”

 

Russia was never consecrated the way Our Lady of Fatima had requested, and so the error of Russia, which is Communism, has spread literally from 1917 onward, now being present in China, North Korea, Laos, Vietnam and Cuba, but also a stunning number of Americans and Europeans also have a favorable view of Communism – 30% of young adult Americans report being supportive of Communism…clearly Russia’s error has spread not just to countries to where Communism is the official government of the land.

 

In a stunning move on Ash Wednesday, the Bishops of Ukraine asked Pope Francis to consecrate Russia as Our Lady of Fatima requested. I cannot see anything that the Pope has to lose in consecrating Russia and asking all the bishops of the world to join him.  Let us unite our prayer, fasting and almsgiving to this effort as well.

 

Let us pray for the Holy Father, and for the ongoing war in Ukraine, and the Catholic Church around the world, that God “be pleased to grant her peace, to guard, unite and govern her throughout the whole world!”

For the Victims

 Please share this with any victims of Catholic clergy sexual assault/abuse/harassment.  Thank you!



Friday, March 4, 2022

Do not let your fast be another person's penance?

 

“Your Fast ends in quarreling”

 

I had heard the phrase a lot these past couple of years – “Do not let your fast be another person’s penance”.

 

What I think this phrase gets correct is that we should not allow our fasting to end in quarrelling as the first reading from Isaiah puts it.  We should have enough discipline not just to abstain and fast from something, but also the discipline and spiritual strength to not let that fast deteriorate us to the point where we are irritable.

 

But if by the phrase “Do not let your fast be another person’s penance” one means there are certain things that a person should not fast from, that is problematic.  An example might be “If I give up caffeine, because I know that it will make me irritable, I should not give up caffeine.”  But I think that is wrong.  What we should do is give up caffeine AND have the strength to not allow that fast to become another person’s burden.

I am not saying that we should set ourselves up to fail...if we are new to giving things up for Lent certainly we need to be patient with ourselves.

The Catholic Church does not even require us to fast during Lent other than Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, but if we fast from something, perhaps it should be the thing we are most afraid to go without.


Isaiah chastises those whose fasting ends in quarrelling…may that not be said of us, no matter what we are fasting from.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

The importance of our speech

 

The importance of speech – Homily for February 26th and 27th, 2022

Sirach says in our first reading that one’s speech disclose the bent of one’s mind.  Jesus also references the importance of our speech in our Gospel.  And the importance of our speech is mentioned in the letters of Saint Paul, Saint James, Saint John and others.

 

One of the things that the Bible and the Catholic Church make absolutely clear – one of the quickest ways to Hell is our tongue, usually words that we say, but also we can sin by not speaking when we should.  Some examples of ways to sin through our speech:

It is a serious sin to spread gossip, something that we don’t know to be true

It is a serious sin to say something we know to be true about another person but sheds a bad light on that person

It is a serious sin with our words to in anyway approve of another’s sin

boasting and bragging are also sins we commit through our speech

Swearing and taking the Lord’s name in vain is a serious sin against the second commandment.

And of course lying is something we should never do either.

 

We can also sin by NOT speaking when we should, particularly when we see another committing a sin, but do not say anything to point that out.

 

On the positive side, we can use our speech to praise another person directly.  We can all recall someone who spoke something to us, a positive word of encouragement that turned our day around for the better.  Why don’t we do that more often? 

 

Looking back on my life when I was younger, I can’t remember any time where I use my speech to affirm another person, but I can remember lots of times where I committed all of the above sins of speech or lack of speech.

With Lent starting this coming Wednesday, as we think about what we can give up, let us add to that list a resolve to not commit any sins with our speech, not spread gossip, not say anything negative about anyone, let us not boast nor brag, let us commit to never swearing and never taking the Lord’s name in vain...

 

Let us instead commit to using our speech to affirm at least person per day in person.  Not electronically, not on snapchat, not via text but in person as Jesus always did.

Monday, February 21, 2022

"Love Our Enemies" - Homily for the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

 In today’s Gospel, Jesus twice says we are to “love our enemies” 

 

We have all heard this phrase so often, it likely flows over us without much notice.  While watching a video this week on loving our enemies with our teens, some unique insights to this phrase were mentioned.

 

First of all, this loving our enemies is a unique teaching of Catholicism.  It is not found in Islam nor Hinduism nor Budhism nor atheism.  Indeed, Love as an action, as working for the good of the other, even our enemies, is not present in any other religious tradition other than Christianity, although there are certain people already in the Old Testament who loved their enemies, including the story from our first reading today where David has the opportunity to kill king Saul (Identified by David's companion as David's enemy) but David instead chooses to take Saul’s spear to a hill and call out to Saul’s camp letting Saul know he had the opportunity to kill him, but that chose not to.  This action of David sparing his enemy leads to his enemy, King Saul’s repentance.

Along those same lines, If the early Catholics, when suffering persecution in Rome under Nero and other emperors, had resorted to terrorism or fighting against the Roman Empire, it is likely that Rome would have never been converted.

An adviser to Emperor Nero, the Emperor who had Rome burned and blamed it on the Christians, that adviser related the following “Tyranny has at its disposal steel and fire, chains and wild animals to set upon prisoners.  I can recall those prisons, the tortures of the cross, the iron hooks, and that pale driven into a man’s midriff and forced out his mouth.  I can still see how limbs were torn from bodies attached to wagons driven in opposite directions, and all the rest of the inventions of diabolical fury…in the midst of all these tortures, there was one who did not moan, no he did not beg for his life, no, rather he smiled as though there was happiness in his heart.”

 

A willingness to suffer persecution even unto death has always led to a rapid flourishing of the Church.  As the saying goes, the blood of the martyrs is the seedbed for the flourishing of the Church.

 

Let us love not just those who love us back but also love even those who hate us, even up to the point of laying down our lives if that what is asked of us.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Homily on wrapping up year 2 of our pandemic

 

“In the Year of drought, it shows no distress” – homily for Feb 12th and 13th, 2022

 

We have in our first reading today: “Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, He is like a tree planted beside the waters…in the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit.”  And we have a very similar passage in our Psalm today: “Blessed is he who delights in the law of the LORD and meditates on his law day and night.  He is like a tree planted near running water, that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade.”

 

We are living in absolutely unprecedented times…in a lot of ways spiritually and physically not just a 1-year drought but the metaphorical drought is wrapping up its second year.

 

We are exhausted, our patience with each other has worn thin or broken, some of us are battling suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety…the whole range of things that are being reported throughout this pandemic…Psalm 32 describes it this way: “Indeed my strength was dried up, as by the summer’s heat”

 

That is a great description of most of us: “Dried up as by the summer’s heat”… But psalm 32 goes on “But now I have acknowledged my sins; my guilt I did not hide.  I said “I will confess my offense to the Lord.” And you, Lord, have forgiven the guilt of my sin.”

 

In the Old Testament, there was a year of Jubilee every 50 years, which was essentially a great big reset button.  Our culture needs just such a jubilee year, and I think it starts with each of us individually acknowledging our sins in confession and starting over fresh.  We cannot impact the culture around us if we have nothing to give.

 

Confession is the last place the Devil wants you to go, because he knows as long as you feel buried under your sins, you will despair.  But if you have not been to confession in a while, I promise that you will feel immediately better, and you will literally feel that a physical weight has been lifted off of you.

 

If you find your strength “dried up as by the summer’s heat” I invite you to confess your sins, and then, as we hear in our first reading, be “like a tree planted beside the waters…in the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit.”

Sunday, February 6, 2022

When were you saved?

 

Homily for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, February 5th and 6th

“Through the gospel I preached you are also being saved

 

A lot of non-Catholics ask “when were you saved?”  The correct answer is “I am in the process of being saved.”  That is why Saint Paul uses that phrase here, and why Matthew 25 shows that God’s judgment rests on the works that we do that flow from our Faith, and not simply because at some date I decided to accept Jesus into my heart and make Jesus my personal Lord and Savior.

 

Jesus even warns “not all who call me Lord will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who DOES the Will of My Father.”

 

This “potentially being saved” is not God holding a sword over us ready to pounce – it simply is the Truth….because of free will, I am always able to walk away from God at any point up to the moment of death. 

 

To believe at any point in my life my salvation is guaranteed, is simply wrong.

 

There are two opposite temptations, depending on our personality and temperament.  One temptation is to think our salvation is guaranteed.  The opposite temptation for others, given their personality and temperament is to fall into despair that they are not saveable.

 

Neither of those is correct for a Catholic.  Hope is the belief that God can and wants to save me through the Catholic Church and Her Sacraments…that if I commit some huge sin, God’s mercy is always waiting in the confessional, that the Body and Blood Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist changes me more and more into God’s likeness each time I receive him.

 

Saint Paul tells the Philippians to “work out their salvation”…this is a regular them of Saint Paul, and again we have it in our 2nd reading today…”through the Gospel I preached to you, you are being saved  Let us get to work on cooperating with God’s Grace and God’s Will, so that we may one day enter the eternal bliss of Heaven.