Archive for the ‘Homily’ Category

Homily – March 17, 2019

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

According to John’s gospel Andrew, a disciple of John the Baptist, was the first to be curious about Jesus and accepted Jesus invitation to spend some time with him. Andrew was so taken with Jesus he went to his brother Simon claiming ‘we have found the Messiah.’ He brought Simon to Jesus who named Simon, Peter. Later on Jesus called James and John to follow him.

We can imagine that one day Jesus said to Peter, James and John,’ walk with me’ Simple enough invitation. But that walk up the mountain side changed their friendship with Jesus. They saw him no longer as a man calling people to a closer friendship with God but as a man transformed, his face changed, his cloths dazzling white. Moses the lawgiver and Elijah the prophet talking with him about his future destiny in Jerusalem. Wonder of wonders God claiming Jesus to be God’s son, God’s chosen one. No wonder Peter blurted out, ‘Lord it is good for us to be here.’

Sometime after that event on the mountain Jesus again invited Peter, James and John. ’Walk with me.’ This time the walk was not up a mountain but into a garden, actually and olive grove called Gethsemane. There was no glory, there was fear, there was pleading as Jesus sweat blood and begged,’ Father if it is possible let this chalice pass. This time there was no voice from heaven, only silence.

There will be times in our lives when we are invited to ‘walk with me.’

And be given an insight into how we are blessed with good health, a happy marriage, sons and daughters who make you proud. We have a job or career that challenges us and we are blessed with good friends. We know we are blessed and a sense of thanksgiving wells up within us. We have a sense we are close to God and God is close to us. On walks like these we can say from our hearts, ‘Lord it is good to be here.’

And there can be other times when we are invited ‘walk with me’ and it is not a sunny day. Our walk is into a dark place, a worrisome place, an unknown place. Gethsemane. We may be anxiously awaiting test results, the future looks grim. We may be concerned about our jobs or how we can pay those credit cards. Maybe our Gethsemane that day is deciding to hand over the keys to the car or deciding on whether or not to go to a place of assisted living. We have to decide on whether or not to give up our mobility, our independence. Hard choices. Maybe our walk with the Lord in the time we decide on the health of a relationship we are in, or how we can seek help to deal with an addiction with which we struggle. This is not a walk in the park; it is a walk in the dark.

On the mountain Peter blurted out, ‘It is good for us to be here.’ He didn’t say that in Gethsemane. Peter was frightened and confused seeing Jesus in such a state of struggle. He really didn’t want to be there.

Every day, in one way or another or whether we hear it or not, we are invited, ‘walk with me’. Our walk might be up a mountainside on a sunny day or it might be on a gloomy day into a gloomy place. Each walk offers its own possibilities. We walk with one who knew the splendor of the mountain and the dread and struggle of the garden. But as the song reminds us, ’we never walk alone.’

Homily – March 3, 2019

Sunday, March 3rd, 2019

Today’s scriptures contain many short sayings that are rich in meaning and a challenge to all of us. The blind can’t lead the blind. We should face our own failings before we give advice to others about their failings. Good trees bear good fruit and bad trees will bear bad fruit.

In our first reading from the book of Sirach we hear these words of wisdom, ‘The test of a person is in tribulation.’

Most evenings the NBC news ends with a ‘feel good’ feature’, a story about a person, usually a young person who bravely copes with a tragedy that has changed his or her life forever. With determination and hard work they move beyond their limitations and are an inspiration to others. The test of a person is in tribulation.

You’ve heard of the book, ‘When bad things happen to good people.’ That’s the way it seems to go, bad things always happen to good people.’ Usually these good people ask why, why me, why now? There is no adequate answer to ‘why’. The question we might ask ourselves is, ‘what am I going to do with this setback, this crisis? Will I let this sour me on life, give up on hope, give up on friends maybe even give up on God or the church. Will we choose to be bitter and resentful? Or will we face this set-back, this deep disappointment this hurt and with the help of friends and God’s grace work our way through whatever our new circumstances are?

Think of the tribulations that can come into our lives; a sudden illness that limits our mobility, our ability to communicate. What about the loss of our independence, our ability to live on our own; our ability to drive our car? How do we get over, though we never do, the death of a spouse, the death of a child or a dear friend? How do cope with loss of a job, or the frustration of looking for work? How do we cope with an addiction? How handle a family break-up? These and many more sudden possibilities are life changing events. They are our tribulations that put us to the test, show us what we are made of.

In his missionary work and travels St. Paul tells of being stoned, imprisoned, shipwrecked, run out of towns, publicly whipped. Any and all of these things would tempt most of us to give up, certainly make us bitter, resentful. The test of a person is in tribulation. Paul faced these tribulations by joining all his sufferings and humiliations to the sufferings of Jesus crucified for the wellbeing of the church thus transforming them into blessings.

The test of a person is in tribulation. Christ’s pray in his tribulation in the Garden of Gethsemane was a difficult prayer, ‘not my will but you will be done.’ May each of us be given the grace to say such a prayer whenever a tribulation comes into our lives.

Homily – February 24, 2019

Sunday, February 24th, 2019

In John’s gospel Jesus refers to himself as the bread of life and tells the people that unless they eat his flesh and drink his blood they have no life in them. We’re told that some of his followers told him, ‘this is a hard saying and who can take it and many of them walked with him no more.’ Jesus challenged Peter, ‘are you leaving too?’ Peter answered, ’Lord to whom shall we go, you have the words of everlasting life.’

Today’s gospel is filled with ‘hard sayings’. Love your enemies, pray for those who abuse you, lie about you, steal from you, and take advantage of you. These are hard sayings, they ask too much of us. We tend to hold on to grudges and resentments for past hurts. Don’t get angry, get even.

Do to others as you would have them do to you. We liken that to be a one way street, heading our way. Love your enemies, do well and lend expecting nothing in return. Don’t judge, don’t gossip and don’t condemn other people’s actions. Hard sayings all.

There is a meeting going on in Rome with bishops meeting with Pope Francis. They are trying to cope with the scandal of child abuse by priests and bishops and even a cardinal that has been going on for years. Today’s gospel asks the victims of sexual abuse, victims who have been robbed of their innocence and their lives robbed of peace to forgive those who harmed them. This is a hard saying. We can sympathize with a spouse struggling to cope with a deep sense of betrayal at the infidelity of a partner but challenged to forgive. There can be many circumstances in our lives where we are challenged by these hard sayings of Jesus.

In our first reading we have the powerful example of David who would not harm the Lord’s anointed even though he had every reason to kill the sleeping Saul who, if given the chance would gladly killed David.

The gospel saying are hard sayings and who can take them, following them, live them? Many of them walked with him no more. Are we willing to take to heart these hard sayings of Jesus? They go against the grain. But they are the way to peace in our own hearts and peace with others. If we are among those who walk with Jesus we are realistic enough to know that there are times when we do our best to follow these hard sayings and there are times when we will fail, but the point is that we always try to do unto others as we as we would have them do unto us.

This point of these hard saying of Jesus is that our behavior toward others is to be the reflection of the treatment we’ve received from God who offers us love and forgiveness and healing and we try in our own limited ways to do unto other what God has done unto us. After all to whom shall we go, Jesus has the words of everlasting life.

Homily – February 17, 2019

Sunday, February 17th, 2019

There is nothing blessed about having to worry about where your next meal will come from. There is nothing blessed about trying to survive on a minimum wage. There is nothing blessed about living on the street or in a shelter. There is nothing blessed about grieving over the death of a spouse or the death of a child. There’s nothing blessed about grieving over a failed marriage or a broken relationship. There is nothing blessed about being excluded from the company of others because of the color of your skin, or the church, synagogue or mosque you attend. There is nothing blessed about being ridiculed and excluded because of your sexual orientation or a physical or mental disability.

These realities of being excluded, rejected or belittled can make a person bitter, harden a person’s heart, sour their outlook on life and limit their ability to have any relationships.

The reality of poverty, exclusion and loneliness are not things we look for or want in our lives. Can we remember that we believe in and follow Jesus Christ? He was born in poverty, earned his bread by the sweat of his brow, was rejected by his own town folk, rejected by people of power, betrayed and abandoned by close friends, tried and convicted as a common criminal and condemned to the shameful death of crucifixion but he was vindicated in his resurrection.

In our second reading Paul maintains that ‘if Christ be not risen then we are still in our sins, Good Friday was a waste. But Christ is raised.

For our faith in Christ to be fruitful, we need to believe that there is a life after this one where there is no more hunger, weeping, or hatred. If we can trust the truth that after the crucifixions of this life, there is the life of the resurrection when God himself will wipe all tears away, then and only then will you be fruitful in love, joy, peace, and patience.

This is not pie in the sky. As followers of Christ we are called to do whatever we can and support in any way we can all those good people who are burdened with poverty and homelessness. Good people who suffer discrimination because of their racial background or sexual orientation.

May we always remember these words of Jesus; ‘whatever you do to one of these least of my brothers and sisters, you do to me, you do for me.’

Homily – February 10, 2019

Sunday, February 10th, 2019

Just a few words on our second reading; Paul is explaining his faith in Jesus to the infant Christian community in the seaport city of Corinth. He wants to get right to the heart of the matter and so he tells them of what he knows in his heart after his meeting with the Risen Christ on the road to Damascus. This is of first importance, that Christ died for our sins; he was buried and was raised from the dead. Paul writes in this letter, ‘if Christ be not raised then we are still in our sins, nothing has changed in our relationship with God. Paul insisted Christ has been raised, the Father has accepted his sacrifice on the cross and we are invited into a life giving relationship with God. For Paul and for each one of us this must be of ‘first importance’ that Christ died for our sins.’

We celebrate this awesome truth at this Mass, this sacrament of the Eucharist. A sacrament is a sign of something that speaks beyond itself. The simple water of baptism speaks of the living waters of God’s grace poured into our hearts as our Baptism. The oils used in Baptism, Confirmation, the Sacrament of the Sick and Ordination are signs of the healing, strengthening and consecration that come to us in these sacraments. The power of the keys tells of the ability of the Church to bind or let loose the sins of our lives.

At every Mass we place the sign of death – separated body and blood and we renew the sacrifice of Christ’s life giving death on Calvary. After the words of consecration we say; when we eat this bread and drink this cup we proclaim your death O Lord until you come again.’ Calvary is made present, right here, right now.This is of first importance. This is a constant reminder of how loved we are by God, no matter what our faults and failings. This a constant reminder of the wonder that God so love us God sent his Son into our world, into our lives, not to condemn us but to embrace us, to heal us. This is of first importance.

The gospel Paul preached rests upon the recognition that we mere humans stand in need of salvation and that we are powerless to do this for ourselves. What is more, we are sinners who need to be healed of our moral wounds. This, we believe in faith, has been done in Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and promises us a world beyond our earth and our earthly plans.

There was a prayer we used to say that began with the words, ’for how many ages have you hung upon your cross and still we pass you by and regard you not.’ Have we reduced the crucifix to a trinket? Do we look at a crucifix and are numb to the suffering, the humiliation and the degradation Christ endured on that cross? Do we presume on the love the crucified Christ has for each one of us? Do we forget that the love of Christ crucified for you, for me, demands a love for him in return?

Are these personal questions of first importance to us as we reflect on our own personal relationship with Christ?

The reason our Passionist community exists in the church is to keep reminding ourselves and the people to whom we minister in our parishes, retreat houses and mission of what is or most importance; that Christ died for our sins and brought us back into life with God. The motto of the Passionist community is, ‘may the Passion of Christ be always in our hearts.’

As we continue to celebrate our Eucharist may we pray for ourselves and for each other that we never forget what is of first importance; Christ died for our sins. A question we might ask of ourselves is what is my response to Christ’s great act of love? Is this truth of first importance to me? Do I stop to thank him? Do I trust in Christ’s love for me? Do I try to love others as Christ as loved me?

Something to think about.