Monday, October 30, 2023

Homily for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2023


Homily for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2023


Our 1st reading talks about how we are to care for the poor.  And in our Gospel Jesus tells us to love God with all our heart and to love our neighbor.


In Matthew 25, Jesus says that we will be judged by what we do or do not do for the poor and vulnerable.


And so in the Gospel today, when Jesus said we need to love God with our whole heart, our whole mind and our whole soul, it means that sometimes God wants us to be with our family to experience God’s great love for us.


Other times He asks us to come to Mass to encounter Him here.


Other times He asks us to seek Him in the confessional, where God destroys all that stands in our way to His Love.


And sometimes He asks us to help those who are in need in our community, and around the world because when we help other people, we also find a great sense of peace.


And one of the thousands of things I love about the Catholic Church is what it teaches about virtues…the idea of virtues is that you have to do the virtuous action over and over and over again, but eventually you get better at it and you also start to realize “wait a second…I am actually happier and better at this act than I was 2 years ago”  It is why I love athletics…you lift and work out and run and over time you realize that if you stick with it, you see yourself get stronger and faster…no one is born an organist nor a concert violinist…but as you start to practice an instrument over and over and over again you discover that you become better and better at that instrument. 

So it is the same thing with coming to Mass….after I have made it a habit by even removing the possibility of missing Mass I start to realize “I am happier when I come to Mass”

Or with the poor…Mother Teresa never heard a voice from Heaven say “pick up the leper with worms on him and care for him” she just did it…over and over and over again, and as she inched a long through the years she fell more deeply in love with the poor and thus, because they are actually the same person, she fell more deeply in love with Jesus.


And so, it is good to be here with all you today as we welcome Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Universe, on our altar today at this Mass.  He promises to show up here and he promises to be present in the poor...may we seek Him where He is most intensely present!

Saturday, October 21, 2023

A Most Unlikely Hero


At the darkest moment in Israel’s history, a most unlikely hero set everything right

Homily for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2023

The most traumatic event in the Old Testament for the Jewish people was the Babylonian captivity.  It began about 600 years before Jesus’ birth, and lasted about 60 years.  The Babylonians took most of the Jews away from their land.

About 60 years after the Jewish people are taken away into exile, King Cyrus of Persia conquers the Babylonians, then sets the Jewish people free,

Not only does King Cyrus set them free, he then writes letters to all the surrounding governors of Jerusalem to help the Jewish people REBUILD their Temple. 

The prophet Ezra tells this story of Cyrus where we read in the Bible “the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia to issue a proclamation throughout his entire kingdom, “Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: ‘All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD, the God of heaven, has given to me, and he has charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem.  Let the Jewish people go up to Jerusalem to build the house of the LORD.  Let all the Jewish people be assisted by the people of that place with silver, gold, goods, and livestock, together with voluntary offerings for the house of God in Jerusalem.”


This same King Cyrus is who we hear about in our first reading today.  God tells Cyrus “Thus says the LORD to his anointed, Cyrus, whose right hand I grasp, subduing nations before him, For the sake of my servant Israel, my chosen one, I have called you by your name, giving you a title, though you knew me not.”

It is difficult to imagine a more improbable turn of events in the Old Testament than what King Cyrus did for the Jewish people.  Setting them free, telling them to go home and rebuild their Temple and then he also wrote letters to all the corners of his vast country that people from all over the country are to donate gold, silver and livestock for the new Temple!


What is the takeaway from this…God always wins…and usually the victory comes from the most unlikely source imaginable…in the case of Cyrus, God works His victory through a pagan king…

And here is the point: We look around our world today, torn apart by wars all around the world, and we see the turmoil even within the Catholic Church today and we wonder if God has abandoned us.

Let us trust that God is working all things to his purpose even when it appears that we have been abandoned in an earthly way.  Let us cling to God, let us put all our hope in His plan, let us stay close to the Sacraments of the Catholic Church even now when the world seems so dark and lost, 

As St. Paul assures the Romans: “We know that all things work for the good for those who love God”.