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.