Monday, August 29, 2022

The Path of Humility - Homily for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, year C, 2022


A theme that we hear about in both our first reading and in our Gospel today is humility.  There are at least a thousand different true directions that a homily on humility could take, so I would just like to focus on one aspect of humility.  Humility can be understood as not being afraid of being humiliated.


I was listening to Catholic Radio this week, and a person brought up that particular aspect of humility as not being afraid of being humiliated.


And that struck me as so true.  So often, I am afraid of being humiliated, and while, since becoming a priest, I have not lied to avoid being humiliated, I certainly have in some instances not been as forthcoming as I could have been in order to avoid being humiliated.


And so I think one question for all of us, including myself, for an examination of conscience is “do I avoid being humiliated?”


And lest this homily sound like some random reflection on humility, I think it is important to call to mind that Jesus EMBRACED being humiliated.  He is 100 percent human like us in every way, and yet

He allowed himself to be humiliated by the spitting and the punches of the soldiers whom He created,

He allowed himself to be humiliated by getting whipped with cords and crowned with thorns

He also allowed himself to be humiliated by being stripped of all of his clothing in front of his Mom and everyone else who saw His Crucifixion.

And Jesus’s death on a cross was considered the ultimate humiliation for a faithful Jew (which Jesus was) because Deuteronomy chapter 21 says a person who is put to death on a tree is cursed


Humility is the antidote to pride, and so often our fear of being humiliated is rooted in our pride.  May we never run from an opportunity to embrace humiliation.   May we never lie or tell only part of the truth in order to avoid humiliation.

Saint Augustine, who we always remember every August 28th in the Catholic Church said “Let us follow Christ’s paths which He established, above all the path of humility

Avoiding humiliation, whether in our marriage, our family, our parish, or in our larger community, is a great temptation.  But let us not avoid humiliation but rather embrace those moments head on, because Jesus first embraced all of His humiliation.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Queenship of Mary, August 22nd 2022


Today the Church celebrates the Queenship of Mary


This memorial was set up with an encyclical written by Pope Pius XII in 1954


The encyclical has lots of awesome references, mostly from early Saints in the Church, and so I would just like to mention some of them In case anyone is under the impression that Mary’s queenship was just discovered in 1954

St. Andrew of Crete frequently attributes the dignity of a Queen to the Virgin Mary. For example, he writes, "Today Christ transports from her earthly dwelling, as Queen of the human race, And in another place he speaks of "the Queen of the entire human race.”

St. Germanus speaks to the humble Virgin in these words: "Be enthroned, Lady, for it is fitting that you should sit in an exalted place since you are a Queen and glorious above all kings."

She is called by St. John Damascene "Queen, ruler, and lady," and also "the Queen of every creature."

In the eighth century Gregory II called the Mother of God: "The Queen of all Christians."

Pope Sixtus IV described Mary as the Queen Who is always vigilant to intercede with the king whom she bore.

Pope Benedict XIV wrote an encyclical called Mary the Queen of heaven and earth

St. Alphonsus Ligouri, wrote "Because the virgin Mary was raised to such a lofty dignity as to be the mother of the King of kings, it is deservedly and by every right that the Church has honored her with the title of 'Queen'.

Furthermore, the Church sings hymns such as "Hail, Holy Queen"


We can rest assured that since her Assumption, Mary was crowned the queen of Heaven and Earth, and desire nothing more than to intercede for us.


Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth, pray for us!

Homily for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


Someone asked him, "Lord, will only a few people be saved?" He answered them, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate.”


1)    First of all, that same question is asked by lots of people today to Jesus, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?”  But see what Jesus does; He doesn’t answer the question.  And really, what good would it have done if Jesus had answered that question? 


If Jesus had said “Yes only a few will be saved”, everyone would still wonder “But will I be saved?” 


And likewise if Jesus had answered, “No, lots of people will be saved” that answer leaves the individual person still wondering about their salvation.  Instead of answering the question, Jesus responds with this line “Strive to enter through the narrow gate”.  It seems to me that one of the things Jesus is doing here is He is again restating the importance of following His teachings in this moment, right now, today.  And then we are to do the same thing the next day, and if we string enough days together where we cooperate with God’s plan, then Heaven will be there for us at the end.


2)    Secondly, that is what I love about being Catholic…the Church echoes the teachings of Jesus Christ and gets us to focus on the here and now as the only arena of spiritual battle of importance.  So many of us are worried and even haunted by the sins in our past, but one confession restores us back to full spiritual strength. 


At the same time, so many of are worried and fearful for what the future will hold, but Christ encourages us to trust in Him.  And Christ and His Bride the Catholic Church tell us a thousand different ways that the present moment is where Christ is to be found, and He is most clearly found in the Sacraments of the Catholic Church, and the central Sacrament of the Catholic Church is what we are celebrate here in this particular Mass.


Thank you, Lord Jesus, for shepherding us through our past, and also shepherding us through our fears of what will come, and for encouraging us to continue to strive to enter through the narrow gate! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Tuesday of the 20th week in Ordinary time, year C, 2022


The prophet Ezekiel in our first reading today says to a prince of a nation named Tyre “Because you are haughty of heart, you say, “A god am I!”


Archbishop Thompson, when he was dedicating Saint Paul’s in Greencastle last weekend, said we live in a culture where the temptation is for everyone to think of themselves as a god.


Our wealth and our technology tend to give us the impression that we ARE all powerful. 


But working with the poor, both the materially poor and also the spiritually poor and lonely are a great reminder that we serve a God who is especially mindful of the poor.  When we work with the poor, we are doing what God has asked us to do, and working with the poor has so many benefits for US. 

1) By cooperating with God, we are reminded that we are not God

2) By cooperating with God, we can glimpse His wisdom in setting up the world this way

3) By cooperating with God, we are changed by Him and become, over time, more and more like Him


We are not a god, as the Prince of Tyre thought, but by cooperating with the God, we become something better than a god which we can never be anyway, no, rather we have been adopted into the very Trinity of God, and as we grow in that relationship we see foreshadowings and glimpses of the eternal bliss that awaits us if we stay the course

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven Body and Soul, 2022


At the First Vatican Council which started in 1869 defined papal infallibility.  It has since been invoked explicitly in 2 instances.  One of the instances was in 1950 when Pope Pius the 12th wrote the encyclical Munificentimus deus which infallibly declared that the Blessed Mother was assumed body and soul into heaven.


Why just in 1950, almost 1900 years after the event took place?  I would like to read just an excerpt from his encyclical


"The holy Fathers and the great Doctors, in the homilies and sermons they gave the people on this feast day, did not draw their teaching from the feast itself as from a primary source, but rather they spoke of this doctrine as something already known and accepted by Christ's faithful. They presented it more clearly. They offered more profound explanations of its meaning and nature, bringing out into sharper light the fact that this feast shows, not only that the dead body of the Blessed Virgin Mary remained incorrupt, but that she gained a triumph out of death, her heavenly glorification after the example of her only begotten Son, Jesus Christ-truths that the liturgical books had frequently touched upon concisely and briefly.

Thus St. John Damascene, an outstanding herald of this traditional truth, spoke out with powerful eloquence when he compared the bodily Assumption of the loving Mother of God with her other prerogatives and privileges. "It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped in the act of giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father. It was fitting that God's Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God."(17)

These words of St. John Damascene agree perfectly with what others have taught on this same subject.


We give thanks that we have a person who was only a human being already in Heaven, body and soul to intercede for us.  Mary please pray for us and for your whole Church!

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Homily for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2022


Homily for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2022


Jesus promises in our Gospel today: “From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three”


And I think in our own day, we see that happening at an accelerating pace.  The Name of Jesus Christ divides families.  Many of you here have had children not just leave the Church, but now have a disgust for the name of Jesus Christ.  And some of that, of course, is due to the behavior of priests, and also the behavior of those professing to be Catholic.


But also technology has exploded exponentially, and has provided the Devil access to our children in countless ways, ways that would have been unimaginable just a few short years ago.


Jesus mentions in our Gospel today that He has come to set the Earth on fire.  When the fire hits, may we and our children be like gold that has been tested in fire, may we become even more pure, and avoid becoming like the chaff in another of Jesus’ parables, where Jesus says the chaff will be burned up by the fire.



Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Homily for Saint Lawrence 2022


Saint Lawrence 2022


Jesus says in our Gospel today “whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.”


Jesus does not JUST say we should not give in to the sinful pleasures of this life, he says we should HATE the sinful pleasures of this life.


Saint John Chrysostom put it this way “When the soul invites us to things contrary to God we should turn our soul away with all our might”.  Saint John Chrysostom here is saying we should rip ourselves away any time we feel temptation to sin.


And today the Church celebrates the martyr Saint Lawrence who was told by the Roman Emperor to gather the treasures of the Church.  Saint Lawrence asked for three days, and went around gathering all the lame and blind and poor persons of the Church and presented them to the Emperor as the treasure of the Church.


He was martyred for this act.


Saint Lawrence illustrates what Saint Augustine says in regards to our line from the Gospel we have already been reflecting on about hating our life in this world.  He says “when no other option is given and when the persecutor threatens death and you must either disobey God’s law or depart from this life, then choose death.”


Most of us likely fall into the need to pull ourselves away with all our might from sinful temptations.  But some of us, at some point in our lives, might be given the ultimatum that Saint Lawrence faced: disobey God or die.  If that is ever the situation for any of us, may we choose to die rather than disobey God.


Saint Lawrence, pray for us!

Monday, August 8, 2022

Saint Dominic 2022


Saint Dominic 2022


Today, as I shared at the beginning of Mass, the Church celebrates today the witness of Saint Dominic.  He was the founder of what became known as the Order of Preachers, or the Dominicans for short.  Perhaps the most famous Dominican other than Saint Dominic is Saint Thomas Aquinas.  And St. Thomas Aquinas has an awesome take on our Gospel today where we see Jesus provide the tax for both Himself and Saint Peter in a miraculous way.


In the Catholic Church, there is the sin of scandal, such as when a Catholic politician advocates openly for greater access to abortion or a priest publicly defies his bishop.  That is not the scandal that St. Thomas references in his commentary on today’s Gospel.  Scandal in what is to follow is scandal in its worldly sense.


So St. Thomas Aquinas says that Jesus does not care about worldly scandal in some instances, and in other instances Jesus does care about worldly scandal.  Worldly Scandal sometimes arises from the Truth, and in that situation, one should not care about who is scandalized by the Truth.  But other times worldly scandal arises from weakness or ignorance, and one should care about not causing this kind of worldly scandal.  But if Jesus had not paid the tax, the temple tax collectors scandal would have been from ignorance because they did not know that Jesus was God.


I think that, of course, is a great point. 


And it is a point that St. Thomas Aquinas and others make in their commentary on other Gospel passages as well, such as why Jesus asked the young man “Why do you call me good?  No one is good but God alone.”  Jesus is God, but he knew that the young man was not ready to hear it, so he dodges the question without denying that He is God.


Where am I going with all of this?  I think it is important for us to pray for the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit when we encounter people who are not ready to hear the entirety of the Truth.  Is there something else we can say that is not false, but also respects where this person is?  And again, I think friendship, particularly in our own day and age, is a great place to start with those who are not yet ready to accept the divinity of Jesus.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

11 Places in Romans Where Saint Paul Says We Get into Heaven or Hell Based on Works We Do or Don't Do

Romans 3:28 says "For we consider that a person is justified by faith apart from works of the law."  This verse was twisted by Martin Luther, and he also added a word "alone", rendering the passage "For we consider that a person is justified by faith alone, apart from works of the law."  Most Protestant denominations have now taken that passage, and made it one of the foundational passages for their break from the Roman Catholic Church.

So I throught it would be helpful to look at the most clear cut passages from Romans where Saint Paul says our entrance to Heaven or Hell IS based on the works we perform.

1:21 “for although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks.”


2:6  “who will repay everyone according to his works"


2:7 “eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works”


2:10 “There will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good”


2:13 “For it is not those who hear the law who are just in the sight of God; rather, those who observe the law will be justified”


2:16 “God will judge people’s hidden works through Christ Jesus.”


10:9 “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”


10:10 “one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.”


10:13 “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”


13:2 “whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed, and those who oppose it will bring judgment upon themselves.”


13:8 “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

Homily for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2022

 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2022

Jesus says in today's Gospel: “be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.  Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.  Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.”


The first part of Jesus story would be familiar to those who were listening.  Jesus says that we need to be vigilant, awaiting his return, and so indeed we should be.


But the second part of this parable, that the master will come and have his servants recline at table, and the master will proceed to wait on them would have struck all those listening as completely backwards.  The servants are supposed to tend the needs of the master at a table, but instead Jesus says that he, the master, will serve those who He finds vigilant.


And indeed at the Last Supper, that shock and surprise is still present in His Apostles when Jesus does proceed to wait on them and wash their feet.  Peter is so scandalized that he tells Jesus “you will never wash my feet!”


Of course we are probably familiar with the rest of the Gospel where Jesus says if I do not wash you, you can have no inheritance with me.


Perhaps some of us find it scandalous that the Lord would wait on us and wash our feet and make us His top priority, but that indeed is the inexhaustible Love that Christ has for all of us while we are still drawing breath on Earth. 


But if we reject Christ’s love (his offer to stoop down and wash our feet and love us) then Jesus says we can not enter into Heaven. 

Let us acknowledge God’s greatness in comparison to our lowliness, but also still allow him to stoop down to our level and wash us and care for us and mend our wounds, particularly through the Sacraments of the Church.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Homily for St. Jean Vianney 2022


Today is the Feast Day of Saint John Vianney, originally the patron saint of parish priests, and whom Pope Francis several years ago made the patron saint for ALL priests.


The liturgy of the hours are prayers that every priest and religious brother and religious sister promise to pray every day.  Each day consists of at least 5 different times of prayer.  And so part of Saint John Vianney’s liturgy of the hours is taken from the back where we find what is known as the Common of Pastors, and here as why I say all that.  I was praying that this morning and there was a line from Scripture in the common of pastors that struck me, and it is this.  “On your walls, Jerusalem, I have set my watchmen to guard you.”  Which is Isaiah chapter 62 verse 6.


Every pastor is literally appointed a watchman over everyone living in his parish boundaries, and the Catholic Church takes that very seriously.  Every pastor is mandated to offer one Sunday Mass for his people.  I literally pray every morning for all those living in my parish boundaries. 


That ministry of being a watchman flows from the Archbishop of Indianapolis, who is also a watchman for the entire Archdiocese, and in some ways the Pope is also a watchman for the whole world.


Saint John Vianney is the patron saint for all priests because he was a watchman par excellence.  He heard confessions between 10 and 16 hours each day, and preached the truth with zeal and love.


Please pray for me, your pastor today, that I may be a better watchman on the wall of my parish boundaries, and that I may be more closely conformed to the heart of Saint John Vianney and the Heart of Jesus through prayer.  Amen.

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2022


18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2022

A quick story

when I was in Lourdes at the beginning of June, I saw people who looked like they were practicing for the Tour De France.  When I got back to the United States, I looked up the route for the Tour De France, and one of the last stages did actually start from Lourdes, and that stage was on TV just last Thursday

So at my parents house, I watched that stage, and it was awesome.  The stage actually started at the shrine!


Anyways, watching the Tour de France, I was amazed how the riders orient their entire life around cycling. 

1)    First of all, each rider has an entire nutrition plan put together by nutritionists and doctors.  Every single thing they eat and drink is geared towards making them the best bicyclist they can be.


2)    Secondly, they train relentlessly riding their bikes 5 hours a day most days, and when they are not training on their bikes, they are lifting weights or doing some other type of cardio exercise.  Or sleeping in oxygen tents


3)    Thirdly, hundreds of thousands of dollars go into their equipment, their bikes, the team personnel, the cars following the riders on the road with spare bikes and spare wheels if one goes flat for a rider


And so, yet again, watching that race and this Gospel today have me asking myself “Am I pursuing Heaven with everything I have?”

Does what I eat put me closer or further from Heaven?

Am I looking to orient my entire life, trimming, so to speak, everything out of my life that would slow me down in my pursuit of becoming a saint?

The guy who builds bigger barns for his food instead of sharing it with the poor is spiritually out of shape and spiritually flabby.  And it cost him everything.

The guy in today’s parable is trying to win the tour de France pulling his barn behind him


Let us not build bigger barns to store our possessions in, let us, as Saint Paul says, run the race of this life so as to win Heaven.