Get into the ring! How this works...
Friday, December 31, 2010
The readings for this Sunday are at USCCB.org->
I am presiding and preaching at the Sat. 4pm Mass and Sun. 12:30pm Mass
My Junior High School back in the 70's was an old building and down in the basement level there were a bunch of these yellow warning signs. They had a nuclear symbol on them and they were designating the area as a bomb shelter in the event of a nuclear attack. I notice in our parish school building that we don't have any such warning signs.
Maybe though we ought to have them on the church building...or better yet over our hearts. We are radiant at what we see. In beholding the message of the manger our hearts are transformed but not just for us. A radiant heart is a light or beacon for all the world to see.
With what does your heart radiate? Like the star of Bethlehem, to whom or what would your heart lead others? Would others notice your Christian heart and seek the source of it's light?
That's our call and our mission: to be radiated by the message of the manger so much so that our hearts might glow. Thus in following that light others might find Jesus the Christ, the Light of the world.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
The message of the manger is not some historical religious INFORMATION that has changed the destination of our individual lives. Rather the manger's message is TRANSFORMATION of our humanIty. It is revelation that God has made human life the place of divine encounter, the fullness of the plan. Live the Truth and truly love and there in your human life be transformed ...Emmanuel!
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
- The homily from Advent 3 is in the library ->
- The scriptures for this Sunday are at usccb.org ->
- I will be preaching at the 4:00pm Saturday 12/18 Mass and 8:00am and 9:30am Masses 12/19
The Grinch who stole Christmas
Remember...? The Grinch's heart was too small. The message and invitation of this fourth Sunday of Advent is whether or not our hearts, our faith is big enough. Can we dream God's dream of ourselves and our world?
Ahaz in the first reading and Joseph in the Gospel are both good men, but too small of heart. They are righteous, having done everything according to the law of the Lord - but they are short on the love of the Lord, God's love that can imagine the whole truth of our lives with Him. God's heart. That's us, too. Righteous but small of heart.
This seems to be a natural conclusion to our Advent reflection on "heart".
1. God wants our hearts,
2. We have the power and skill to "set our hearts" o something (or Someone),
3. We are paralyzed or by grief of the past and fear of the future thus being hardened of heart to the presence of God, Emmanuel.
And now..... we see the task is to expand our hearts by the Good News, the Word of Truth announced to us and born among us. Emmanuel!
Have a heart, get some "heart" dream the dream that God has for you which is bigger than your limited imagination and your pusilanimous heart....tiny heart. Grow your heart by being loved by God. Grow your heart by loving according to God's Word.
Have a heart - the size of God's dream for you!
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
- A summary of last week's homily is in the library ->
- The scriptures for this coming Sunday are at usccb.org ->
- I will be preaching at the Sunday, Dec.12th 9:30am Mass
Be strong, fear not! Here is your God!
Hardening of hearts is a definite danger throughout the history of God's people in the Old Testament. It is exile....to be carried off apart from God. In fact, Jesus has come precisely to soften hearts and his tactic is to "be here". Emmanuel is the Advent word that is translated to "God-with-us". The predicament of the human condition is that we have hardened our hearts so much so that we are not "here" where God dwells. Our hearts are hardened in another place and time - where God is not.
The heart, as I have been preaching this Advent, is the center of our faith life, it is the object of God's desire. God wants "all" of us - he wants our heart where He is. Last week I spoke about the possibility of our "setting our hearts", onto the Kingdom of God. But we have to do it here where God is.
This week I am reflecting upon our hardness of heart, our teflon hearts, our hearts hardened and separated from "here". In that condition they cannot grasp the presence of God which is "here". When the heart is hardened the eyes are turned backward and forward, the mind is resistent to what's real. Hardened hearts cannot "feel" or "perceive" what is, they are stuck in what was or what isn't yet. And God is not in either of those places. That hardness feels....sad.
Gaudete Sunday calls us to rejoice, give up this sadness, the gloom of a prison that hardness of heart is. Come alive to what is ....and what is is the Lord is near, the Lord is now, the Lord is here. This living in here and now is not something we should think about doing, it is now!
Jesus said and says, "no, God dwells here and now and we have got to come alive to what is. God is real and God is reaching out to us. Make "firm" (not hard) your hearts by grasping God present here, now.
Monday, December 6, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
-The Scriptures for this coming Sunday are at usccb->
-I have the 5:30 PM Mass on Saturday, December 4 and the 11 AM Mass on Sunday, December 5.
I had my heart set on something!
Did you ever have your heart set on something.... like your mother's apple pie or an item on the menu at your favorite restaurant or an annual celebration or performance of a show? Every once in a while that expectation, that hope, or that longing is disappointed. They aren't making that dish this evening, that artist is not coming to town this Christmas, that dessert is not here this year because neither is grandma who made it.
Last Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent, I was wondering, inquiring or suggesting that the purpose or the spiritual task of Advent is the surrendering of our hearts, giving our hearts over to God. The place or location of God, God's kingdom may very well be called "the heart". This Sunday I am wondering with John the Baptist as to what our hearts are set upon. I don't think I have noticed before that in that expression "my heart is set upon" raises the question of what substance is my heart resting on, relying upon, set?
The Scriptures this Sunday and the season of advent and particularly the character of St. John the Baptist offer us two options. The first option is that our hearts are set upon the kingdom of God. The second option is that our hearts are set up the personal ego, the self.
This is an important question and the answer to the question is in the fruit that is our lives. The heart is very truly seen as the root, the source or today the stump out of which the branches and the fruit of our lives grow. Therefore the quality and character of our hearts, the place in which our hearts are rooted, set, will be revealed orcevidenced by the fruit that is our living.
So, upon what is your heart set? Look at your living. The Kingdom of God? Or the center of the universe- you?
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
The readings for this Sunday, Nov. 28th are at usccb.org ->
I will be preaching at the 5:30pm Mass on Saturday and the 11:00am on Sunday
I am struck by the violent nature of the advent of our God as described by Jesus in this week's gospel. Jesus suggests that the comning of the Son of Man will be like a thief into our house against whom we must protect ourselves....so that we would not let our house be broken into.
I think I have always thought that we were suppose to be welcoming of the coming of the Son of Man. "Come, Lord Jesus" we say. So that when He comes it won't be so violent, so intrusive, so painful.
But maybe that's the problem. When we are living our life, our truth or our way we are of necessity "unprepared" to welcome Him. Thus, we are like one whose house is under assault from an "unexpected" or "unwelcome" thief.
If we are living our way, our truth, and our life the coming of the Son of Man will indeed be a violation, a breaking in, a taking by storm.
So, I guess I need to wonder "how I am" in relationship to the Lord's way, His truth, and His life? Am I welcoming Him daily by dying to myself, laying down my life, learning His truth, and walking his way? If so, I would be like an athlete who is in shape who suddenly has to climb a big hill or walk a long distance....it does not shock his system, he does not ache the next day.
However, to the extent that I am clinging to my life in this world, obstinent about my truth and being rather undisciplined in the way of my Christian journey - my system is going to be significantly taxed by the big jolt and it's is going to be painful.
So, it's all about us and our attitude and posture in the Christian life. Our way or the Lord's way. One leaves us welcoming His intervention in our lives, the other leaves us defensive, under attack in the bunker of fear, selfishness, and darkness. Ouch!
What do you think?
Monday, November 22, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
- The homily from last Sunday is in the library ->
- The Scriptures for this coming Sunday are at usccb.org ->
- I will be presiding and preaching at the 11:00 and 12:30 Masses on Sunday, Nov. 21
That Christ might be pre-eminent..
I like that word "pre-eminent" and I looked it up. It means to "rise above". That Christ might rise above all things in the priority of our lives! I got it. This week we celebrate Christ the King. There is something odd about putting those two concepts together in one phrase...Christ and Kingship.
I'm sure you saw that Prince William is engaged to Katherine. The press asked her how she felt about become "royalty" by this marriage, how was she going to handle it. She smiled and looked adoringly at the Prince and said, "he's a good teacher and will help me learn the ways of reigning."
Would that we would have such humble and open relationship to Christ our King. Jesus will teach us, his bride the Church, to reign as he reigns - but it's from the cross.
This crucified King reign and is pre-eminent in as much as we can allow his self-sacrificing love totake over our lves. Can we learn from him? Can we be worthy subjects of his? Do we desire to she in his kingship like dear Kathleen is longing to share in William's?
I don't know. Christ the King is not a king of power, wealth and prestige. Christ the King reign by self-sacrifice and love - even unto death. Wow, don't know if we're up to that!
Jesus is the good teacher who will teach those who are willing how to reign in this world by the power of the next.
Christ is unexpected "reign" not power to rule over others but freedom to give self away in love of others.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
The Scriptures for this Sunday are at usccb.org ->
I am preaching at the 4:00pm on Saturday 11/13 and 8:00 and 9:30am on Sunday 11/14
Deconstruction is Life
It appears to me that the Kingdom of God is being born in our midst, being built through our faith, and being raised up out of our human loving - but it will appear as destruction, deconstruction, demolition. So, don't be afraid or surprised.
I realize that in this day of the "prosperity gospel" people of faith are encouraged to expect the best, believe to win, allow God's prosperity to shower upon us. Thus, this insight about calamity and destruction isn't too attractive. I think I like that prosperity thing a little bit better myself.
But, the "birthing" of the Kingdom demands the deconstruction of all that is NOT of the Kingdom. That is the core message of the Christian God, Jesus, and his cross. Our human condition demands deconstruction of all the "structures" of believing, self-assurance, competition, etc if the freedom of the Kingdom of God is to be unleashed. Deconstruction can be seen as tiny as the letting go of the smallest attachment (deconstruction) in favor of taking the hand of God in the moment(building the Kingdom).
The eyes of faith can read the deconstruction as birthing. The eyes of faith can read the losses of life as the deconstruction phase of erecting the Kingdom. The eyes of faith can read the dying and rising. The eyes of faith can see the losing as winning for the sake of the kingdom.
Can you see it? Or has the beauty of the temple still "caught your eye"?
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
- There was no homily last Sunday
- The readings for this coming Sunday are at usccb.org->
- I will be presiding and preaching at 5:30 Saturday Mass and 12:30pm Sunday Mass
What are you hoping for?
The cause of our joy or the motivation behind our hope is what is lying at the heart of my reflection this week. St. Paul promotes 'encouragement' to the Thessalonians and he bases it upon a "good hope". "Good hope" was a mystery religion term for "afterlife". Paul is coopting the word and he means here "the coming of the Lord".
Resurrected Life is what Paul is pointing to - and it is not something for only those who have died. Rather, this Resurrected Life is a reality in which we now live - if we have died with Him.
As we come to the end of the liturgical year, it is typical that we would speak about the last things: heaven, hell, death, judgment. Heaven or Resurrected Life is something we ought to consider and see how it figures into our hope, our joy in daily life, our lack of anxiety, our peace.
Do you know the Resurrection from the dead? Does it impact your daily life?
In what are you hoping?
Thursday, October 28, 2010
-The homily for October 24 is in the library ->
-The Scriptures for this Sunday are at usccb.org ->
-Deacon Franz will be preaching for me at 8am Mass.
Jesus says to you, Zaccheus, come down quickly from your perch in your head and join me now in the house of your heart. I stand at the door and knock.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
- Homily from last Sunday is in the library ->
- The Scriptures for this Sunday are at usccb.org ->
- I am preaching at the 5:30pm on Saturday and 9:30am on Sunday
Just when I thought I didn't have anything more to say about faith, it appears God does. While last week's discussion about the nature of being faithful (remember the battle), this week's insight has to do with how one ought to think about the practice of the faith.
St. Paul's letter to Timothy is a beautiful reflection upon the state of his faith and the role or purpose that faith. He says, "I have kept the faith". He realizes that being faithful, running the race, fighting the fight of faith has resulted in himself being given away for the sake of God. "I am being poured out like a libation. What do you think your faith is suppose to be accomplishing in you?That question is answered in the Gospel text.
The pharisee in the gospel is a good religious man, he has done the good and honorable religious thing, but he has not allowed faith to accomplish its purpose - keeping him in communion with God. In contrast, the publican/tax collector is a bad guy, he does bad and terrible, sinful things. However Jesus endorses the tax collector because he is allowing faith to accomplish its purpose in his life - moving him into deeper communion with God. The purpose of believing is to be in communion with God.
I use the expression "cling to the hand of God" as my understanding of faith. It is the flip side of Jesus' promise to "be with you always." Faith, believing for me, is my being with God always...like that little kid walking down the street with his mom or dad...almost unconsciously clinging to that safe hand.
On the weekend of my ordination as a priest the church was celebrating the Baptism of the Lord. The reading from the prophet Isaiah said, "I the Lord have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand." I took that as the "motto" of my first Mass celebration (holy cards, etc). It is an image or a concept that has become much more important for me as I have grown into my faith and my priestly life....to be grasped by the hand of God. I love that. I live that (some of the time) and I preach that to others.
The danger with religion and religious people is that we become forgetful rather than faithful. We begin to see the practice of the faith as something we have done....as if it is about us. That's the pharisee. Sadly, in these cases our practice of the faith becomes the obstacle to "being full of faith". It's hard to see but it is deadly indeed. Self-satisfied feelings (Good thing I am not like other people) rather than God-appreciating thoughts (Lord, have mercy on me a sinner) is the danger of religion. The first separates us from God's loving embrace - the second draws us in.
Is faith accomplishing its purpose in you, namely, to keep your hand safely in the palm of God's hand? Or is your religious life and practice pulling your hand away from God's and pating you on the back? Dangerous Religion!
Monday, October 18, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
- Last Sunday's "summary" of the homily is in the Library ->
- The Scriptures for this coming Sunday are at USCCB.org ->
- I am preaching at the 5:30pm Saturday Mass and 12:30pm Sunday Mass
I titled this "whew" because of my conclusion about these scriptures ...that is, that faith,believing is hard work! Please don't misunderstand - I know that faith is a gift but the living by faith takes a lot of work, effort, zeal, perseverance. The scriptures this week will not leave this topic of "faith" alone.
In the last two weeks I have been preaching on faith (because the scriptures demanded it). You may recall the first week it was "deficient, inefficient, sufficient and ultimately efficient faith". Then last week it was the "how" of growing in our faith with "humility, opportunity, obedience, and re-orientation of life." Well, this week it seems that the whole enterprise of "living in faith" is revealed as a lot of work. We are fighting an up hill battle in the world - which rejects faith (and God Himself)
The first reading clearly shows us that the effort of a community of faith is a battle and it'scomplicated. If we, like the people of God are to live our faith "efficiently" (meaning that it accomplishes through us what God desires in the world) then it is going to take the effort of all of us to win the battle. Some actually fight (soldiers) using the weapons of hope, love, justice, charity, kindness, mercy, compassion, generosity, etc. Some of us pray(Moses), supporting those in the daily battle. And then there are those who support those who pray (Aaron and Hur) by our social, material, enthusiastic support.
Prayer and the work of faith cannot be separated, but living faith in the world is a battle and it takes a lot of intention, a lot of effort, and a lot of cooperation among the members of the household of God. It is not about us individually - believing that we are lost. It is about us communally, organic interdependence, relying upon each person's role and gift (waon) to get the job done, win the battle, keep the faith. Whew!
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Thursday, October 7, 2010
- The Homily for October 3 is in the Library->
- The readings for this coming Sunday are at usccb.org ->
- I am presiding at 4:00pm (10/9) and 8:00am(10/10)
How do we get there from here?
Last week's homily concerned the quality or level of our faith (deficient, inefficient, sufficient) and the call to NOT be satisfied with our faith as it was but to grow our faith from an ember to a raging fire that it might be efficient for the mission - leading all people to the Kingdom.
After Mass someone asked me, "yes, but how?" I believe that the journey of the Samaritan and the Syrian lepers in our first and gospel readings shows us the steps necessary to "grow our faith".
The first step on the road to deeper faith is humility....one must know and acknowledge that something is wrong, broken, sick, incomplete, flawed. Like the leper we cannot deny and we cannot hide that we are afflicted.
The second step is that we must be teachable - we must desire the healing of our lack of faith. The slave girl in the first reading was the unsuspecting vehicle for leading her master to faith. Can we hear the Lord's Word or His invitation in the unlikely places (our children, our spouse, our enemy?)?
The third step is obedience to the instruction of those who can heal us, teach us, direct us, guide us....even when we don't understand or appreciate the instruction.
The fourth step is the re-orientation of our lives to the truth of our new-found faith - that is - the "true worship of God". Like the Syrian and the Samaritan, we have to go back to God "anew". This turn about demands a new level of commitment. This demand is probably what kept us away in the first place. So this fourth step is part of the next "first step" that we will eventually take. We are never done growing in faith!
If we want to increase our faith - we need to acknowledge our weakness, recognize the call from God, be obedient to those who can lead us, and be open to new levels of commitment to God in our lives. This will fan the flames of faith in our hearts into a raging fire to light up the world.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Thursday, September 30, 2010
-Scriptures for Oct. 3 are at USCCB.org ->
-I will celebrate Sunday Mass at 9:30 & 11:00
Rigor of the heart!
I can't think of anything more encouraging than St. Paul's words "stir into flame the gift ...". It is a common gesture to take a stick or piece of paper and turn the smoldering embers in a fireplace Into a living flame. Don't we need to do that with our faith?
Rusted gates, stroke victims' legs and hands, even our minds and hearts can be habituated into deadly posture. Simply over use in one direction with insufficient resources for healthy renewal causes us to static appearances. It is atrophy...hardens in position.
When this happens in our spiritual or religious life it can be so gradual that we neither know that we are dead or when it died. Suddenly we have dry, empty habits where we once had living gestures of faith. This can he the case for us as a Catholic community, as religious orders or ministries or as a parish. There's movement but no meaningful life.
Let us stir the embers of faith in our hearts, marriages, ministries, and church into a raging fire of life and love in the world!
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
- The September 19th homily is in the library ->
- The readings for this coming Sunday are at usccb.org ->
- I am presiding at the Sat 9/25 4:00pm and the Sun 9/26 9:30am Mass. I will also be celebrating in Spanish at Our Lady of Lourdes parish on e. 55th Street at 12:30pm
"Pleased to meet you"
Just as with last week's "how are you doing?" this Sunday the Scriptures challenge one of our social conventions or courtesies; "Pleased to meet you" as we say so often. "Pleased to meet you" is one of those things that we say when we meet someone and we can't think of anything else to say. It is too often an expression empty of meaning. Too often we are not pleased at all and in fact we are not really meeting "anyone".
What I mean is that the person being presented to us is not really "anyone" to us. Often we know we will never meet that person again so meeting them really doesn't even register with us. Even in the case of people we will have to spend a great deal of time with we often do not consider them to be very significant at this "meeting".
This "disregard" for the importance of another person is at the heart of the Gospel teaching today. The rich man's sin is not that he was rich or that he failed to give his wealth away - but rather that he did not regard Lazarus as a brother, a person with meaning, importance, as one for whom he was somehow responsible.
This disregard for the fundamental communion that we share with other human beings is what Jesus and the prophet Amos are teaching against. There is a warning here for all who disregard the bond of human dignity, the fellowship of the family of humanity, the responsibility that we have for the "human race" as manifest in each person.
The social teaching of the Catholic church encourages the virtue or principle of solidarity. Solidarity was made famous by Lech Walesa and Pope John Paul II and it is a call to act toward others as if you belong to one another. The other is NOT a burden, it is NOT a nuisance, he is NOT a possession, he is NOT disposable, she is not a servant. The other is a sharer in my human existence, my human life. The condition of the other ought to affect my sense of well being. We share a common life - we are called to a communion of life (in the image and likeness of divine life of God).
To what extent do I belong to all those I meet, especially those with whom I share church membership, neighborhood, workspace, citizenship? Should I not be sincerely "pleased" to make the acquaintance of my brother or sister, especially in the Lord? Solidarity calls me to take some responsibility for the quality of their living, their eternal salvation, their share in the bounty of the earth.
How about solidarity in our Catholic worship? Are you truly pleased to be met by all those people at Mass? Do you appreciate that you are entering into a communion of worshippers in order to receive Communion with the Lord? Without joining in the first communion, it is doubtful that we receive the second. Do we get this feature of our lives as God's children and brothers of the Lord?
Or do we just go through the required motions of "acting" like we're "pleased to meet you"?
Monday, September 20, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
- the homily for September 12th is in the library ->
- the readings for this Sunday, September 19th, in at usccb.org ->
- I will be presiding at the 4pm on 9/18 and the 11am on 9/19
How are you doing?
This quick greeting that most of us offer and respond to several times a day is at the heart of this week's Scriptures. In fact, more than a social convention, for those on the spiritual journey called to conversion of life this question is a perennial one; how are you doing? Really doing!
Our instinct is to answer the question by expressing our "feelings - "I am feeling fine, thank you." But the scriptures this weekend are not about our feelings or our state of mind but rather they inquire about our relationship to "what we are doing". The fuller expression of the scriptural question maybe "how are you doing what it is that you are doing?". It is a qualitative inquiry, meaning that it is aimed at discerning the quality of your presence in the activities of your daily life.
The Wily Manager (as we used to call him) is a tough parable to interpret because he seems to be commended for some pretty devious or self-centered behavior. Apparently, what the Lord is commending is not the activity that he was performing but his industriousness - his cleverness in using his daily activity for deeper purpose. Oh that we would be like him!
So the question comes to each of us as to "how" we are doing what we are doing? Are we using our daily activities, responsibilities, even burdens for a wider, deeper, Kingdom-oriented purpose? If not, even the ostensibly religious activities (see the first reading) are mis-directed.
For the children of the Kingdom of God, all things must work together for the sake of the Kingdom. Why? Because by God's grace and plan "they can". St. Paul says that for "those who love God all things work together for the good." He doesn't say "only good things will happen to those who love God," rather he says that every situation has the potential for being used to further the Kingdom of God. Wow, that's different.
So, how are you doing....the laundry, the yardwork, the marriage, the soccer team driving, or coaching, the daily mass, the serving the poor, your daily prayers....all of it? Are you alive to what you are doing? Are you consciously "using" your efforts in the world to build up the Kingdom within you and among you?
How are you doing?
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
- the homily from September 5th is in the library ->
- the scriptures for this coming Sunday are at usccb.org ->
- I will be presiding at the 8am and 9:30am Mass on Sunday Sept. 12th
Not What We're Used To....
The parables of Jesus in this week's gospel reveal to us the "mind" of God. And it's not what we're used to. In fact, the mind of God is a mind of Grace and our mind (corporately and personally) is so much the mind of the law - the law of the land!
The shepherd and the sheep, the woman and the coin, and the father and his sons are examples of "irrational" behavior based upon the "law of the land". God's way of grace and mercy, compassion and healing, doesn't make sense to the mind of man. Our minds are rooted in what's fair, what's the entitlement, what's my "just desserts". God's mind is "crazy" and irrational in love.
The gospel has to portray God as "over the top" in pursuit of his beloved. In the marriage preparation questionnaire we give identifies a "rose-colored glasses" effect in the engaged couples. No kidding...they are almost all guilty idealistic distortion. They're in love.
God's love and desire for us is this crazy, this irrational, this other-worldly, this "unlike" us. We really would like to create God in our own image, make God the "just and angry God" who is out to get vengence. Not so, says Jesus. He is so different than we are...He is Holy.
Does this impact your religious thinking?
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
-The scriptures for this Sunday are at USCCB.org>>>
-I am presiding Sat 9/4 at 5:30pm and on Sunday 9/5 at 12:30pm
If only....then I'd be happy!
The scriptures this week really challenge us with harsh words about the call and the path to happiness. If you are serious about being happy - then get real about holiness.
Most of us have been programmed by life in the world and broken by original sin to believe that possessing is the only way to happiness. Even possessing yourself, your relationships, your ministry - all commodities intended to make you happy. Wrong. The painful truth for us today is that loving (do not read being loved) is the only source of true happiness.
Being free to love in the present moment/ reality is the only path to happiness. We also call it holiness. This is what it means to love,says Jesus, to lay down your life for the sake of love.
Wadayathink about your plan for happiness?
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
- The Homily from Sunday August 22 is in the Library>>>
- This Sunday's readings are available at usccb.org>>>
- I am presiding at 4pm Mass on August 28th and 9:30 Masson August 29th
Let's Get to the Bottom of This!
What I am hearing in the scriptures for this weekend is an invitation to humility. As a virtue humility can sound like a contradication. What I mean is that the word "virtue" comes from the root word "strength" or "power" and of course the common interpretation of humility is pretty much "weakness" or "timidity"
Actually humility as a virtue is closely connect to honest truth. The truly honest peron knows himself with his gifts and his limitations. The work "humus" or dirt is related to humility and the connection is that we are aware of the "clay" or the simple essence of ourselves. The humble man is strong in his clarity of what he is and who God is.
The old one-liner..."there is one God, and you're not Him" should be a beginning spot for all of our reflections. We human beings get caught in the trap of comparing ourselves to one another instead of seeing ourselves in the light of God. It isn't long until we are "my dog is bigger than your dog" type of childish competition and self-aggrandizement.
Truly knowing yourself and loving yourself as God loves you is the beginning of all true human intercourse. In the face of our brothers and sisters we can forget who we aren't and start acting like someone we shouldn't and couldn't be.
This hitting anyone where it hurts?
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
- The readings for Sunday are found at usccb.org>>
- I am presiding and preaching at 9:30am and 11:00am Masses on August 22
Nice figure you cut!
I have mentioned before the silhouette cutter at Higbees in the old days. Friends in my old childhood neighborhood had five kids. Going up the stairs in the house they had the kids' silhouettes hanging - just a black shape of each child's profile. Although all grown up now, you can still identify each person's silhouette.
What is the silouhette that would be "cut" of our lives, what is the figure we cut in the world? Is it conformed to that of Christ, the narrow gate? That is the answer Jesus gives to the question "Who will be saved?" The Lord doesn't bother - he simply says, "forget about how many and strive to conform your life to salvation's key - Jesus Christ, the narrow gate"
I am wondering if we ever think that the answer to whether or not we are saved is really a question - what figure is your life conformed to? Being saved looks like something, or better someone.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
- The Homily from Augut 8th is in the Library>>>
- The Sunday Scriptures for this week are at usccb.org
- I am presiding and preaching at the 11:00am Mass on August 15th
As Mary Goes....
The feast of the Assumption of Mary is always a time for us to reflect upon our Christian destiny. Mary is not only mother of Jesus, she is our mother and our Pre-decessor in the faith. We are invited to imitate Mary's faith - especially her "fiat" of surrender to the will of God. We are also encouraged to hope in her Assumption because "As Mary goes so shall the Christian Church."
I am thinking of the good things that our parents try to get us to do as little children (eat our vegetables, say our prayers, sled ride down a steep hill). They will often say, "watch me, I'll do it first and then you won't be afraid." They indoctrinate us into certainly ways of living by being a pattern and precursor for us. "Do not only what I say, but as I do."
Mary might be seen, from this perspective, as a trail blazer - one who is not only making a way with Christ to heaven, but creating a path that all of us might travel toward salvation. This feast is historically associated with the "first harvest" of the year, the great gathering of the fruits of the fields. As Mary is gathered to heaven so we can die to self and rise with Christ to the fullness of life here and unto eternity.
Does this connect with your faith?
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Thursday, August 5, 2010
- Homily from August 1st is in the library>>>
- Sunday Scriptures are at usccb.org>>>
- Preaching this Sunday August 8th at 8:00 and 9:30am
Make an act of faith! Believing is Seeing!
Abraham stands out as the role model for believing. He could see Isaac in a new way now... "as a symbol". If faith can be said to be a new way of seeing, then the danger held out for us in the scriptures this weekend is to "mis-read" the value of life.
X-rays are probably the best image of this call to see or "mis-read" the reality of things. A doctor "reads" an x-ray and we hope he sees what's really there. The gift of x-ray or CAT scans is that they can pierce the shell of our flesh and really read the situation. They can reveal what is truly the value within. Without such tools we are often left with limited "insight" into what is really real.
What Jesus reminds his listeners is that there are two ways to read the reality and the mystery of life - by faith or by the world. When we mis-read the realities of our lives we can sadly "mis-feel" and mis-behave. When we fail to see where the true treasure in life is we can invest our hearts in the wrong stuff. When we mis-read the purpose of life we can begin to act as if it is "ours" for "our" benefit for "our" satisfaction. So we cling, and fight, and abuse life, self and others.
Faith is the gift of insight - to see inside - to the real meaning of life, the real purpose of things. By faith we are set free to know and celebrate the Truth of our existence. When we see by faith we can be free of the compulsive emotions of fear, anger and sadness. Faith can set us free to be loving in the presence of Love.
Can you see?
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Monday, August 2, 2010
Thursday, July 29, 2010
This Sunday's readings are available at usccb.org >>>
I am presiding on Saturday July 31st at 4:00pm, and on Sunday August 1st at 11:00am and 12:30pm
Let's be real.
The very strong message of the scriptures this weekend has to do with "being real" as people like to say these days. What I am intending by using that phrase is "let's get down to the reality of things." As I have said before "it takes real eyes to realize where the real lies." (I stole that, actually)
What is real is that "this life is short and it is humanly and materially to a great extent, emptiness and pain." Wow! That's pretty real. Most human beings, however, don't want to believe that. Most want to believe that life is meant to provide us with pleasure, power, success, wealth, and self-fulfillment. But that's NOT real.
We are invited to hear the gospel and to turn away from the "unreal" pursuits of this world's values and to cling to the Truth, which is Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead....the things of heaven. In this "turn" we will find the fullness of life, the freedom to love, and the joy of living.
The Franciscan Richard Rohr has done a bunch of work with primative people's and their initiation rituals. He claims that these rituals are meant to communicate five messages to the initiate (usually a young man). He also claims that these five truths of initiation are at the crux of the Christian message as well. Here they are
-Life is difficult (Christian message - suffering/the cross is part of life)
-You are going to die (and eternal life is the goal)
-You are not important ( God is the center of the universe)
-You are not in control (You must die to self and live God's plan)
-Your life is not about you (Your life is about your salvation)
How happy are you about this real message. Maybe you prefer a little "unreality". Don't we all.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
- Last week's homily is in the library>>>
- This week's Sunday readings are available at usccb.org>>>
- I will be presiding and preaching at the 5:30 Mass on 7/24 and the 12:30 Mass on 7/25
This week's readings are all about prayer or better...praying. One theologian has listened to the Lord's Prayer and to the wider scriptures and suggested what I think are four great "laws" about prayer.
The four laws are :
1. Faith - you must have a relationship with God in faith before you can pray
2. Forgiveness - you cannot enter into communion with God (a good definition of prayer) Who is Love if you are not loving and reconciled with others
3. Persistence - part of prayerfulness is the ability to practice it without "it" being satisfied. Praying is part of the answer to prayers
4. In the Name of Jesus - It is through Jesus that we make every prayer. In the Name of Jesus guarantees that our prayer is rightly ordered.
My preaching will begin with the last "law" first. I am thinking that the role of "asking in the name of Jesus" might hold the answer to our most troubling questions about praying. What is your most troubling question about praying?
Let me know.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
The readings for this Sunday are found at www.usccb.org>>>
I am presiding at the 11:00am and 12:30pm Masses on Sunday 7/18
Y'all come,now! Y'hear?
The story of Martha and Mary is so famous that most adult Catholics will use their names on occasion to indicate two "different but complementary" personalities or people.
There are traditional and ancient interpretations of this Sunday's scene but the one that captured my attention was that which reflects upon the astounding position that Mary has assumed in this picture and that Jesus has permitted her.
In Jesus' time we know that he was not a man of convention,especially as it relates to foreigners, sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, the unclean, the leper, the dead, and women. Jesus broke convention for the sake of the kingddom of God. All are called to and have access to the Kingdom as disciples of Jesus the master.
This universal discipleship is no better portrayed than Mary, a woman whose place is in the kitchen, taking the disciple's place at the feet of the Master, Jesus. Not only does Mary dare to do it and Jesus "permits" it - Jesus refutes Martha's criticism and says, "she has chosen it and it shall not be denied her" - he defends it.
Mary's premier place at Jesus' feet was reserved for the scholars, siciples (read men)that would customarily gather with Jesus in the "parlor" while dinner was being prepared(by the women). Not just any men but only those who had been accepted into his tutelage, his circle of learning.
I am suspecting that most adult Catholics (that would include young adults) do not see themselves as called, welcomed, or entitled to the role of disciple. Members, maybe. Servants, possibly. Spectators or casual observers, probably. But disciples in the inner circle of the Master Jesus - that is for someone else.
This Gospel text and the scene from the book of Genesis in the first reading are repeating the message to all of us that God is accessible and that we are called to intimacy "at his feet." We cannot excuse ourseles from or criticize others for assuming that intimate posture within the circle of God's love and life.
This time of renewal of our parish ministries is a perfect time for us to re-evaluate where we are in the picture? Are we comfortable with the role of disciple, sitting close to the heart of God? Are we a reluctant observer of religion - it's just not for me? Are we jealous of others thinking that somehow we are not welcomed?
The truth is that we are all not only welcomed but called - universal discipleship and we need to get into the picture.
The topic was "The End of Your Life" and the teaching of the Church on euthanasia. Some Catholics are overly concerned with the burden of their final illness. Finding meaning and value in the suffering death of loved ones is not easy. The Church comes to our "rescue".
Thursday, July 8, 2010
I am presiding at the 4:00pm (7/10) and the 8:00 & 9:30am (7/11).
The Good Samaritan has been read for ages in two ways. The first is to read it literally as Jesus' answer to what mercy, compassion or "neighborliness" looks like. The second way is in an allegorical sense as a description of what God has done for the human race in and through Jesus Christ.
I am leaning toward the second way this week. Humanity has "fallen in with robbers" through sin and is existing "half dead" or better only half alive off on the side of the path to life.
Sin-affected religion(which is half dead itself) can't save humanity, it can't get close enough(cfr the priest and the levite). Only Jesus in the person of the church can, through the remedy/means of the sacraments(wine and oil) get close enough to heal us and carry us to life.
Are we living life as the half alive human being dead in our attachment to sin and life in this world? Is our spiritual/religious life the half dead religious life that just keeps walking through life not in contact with Jesus who can fully save us? Are we not called to a new and fuller life as the Body of Christ that can connect with the totality of our humanity and bring that humanity, that life in the world to the fullness of life in Christ? I think so. What do you think?
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
This Sunday's readings are at the USCCB.org>>>
I am preaching and presiding at 4:00pm Mass on June 26 and 11:00am Mass on June 27th. See you there!
Free for what?
I had an old friend who, when asked, "are you free" would always say, "I'm cheap, but not free." Rather risque for this blog on preaching, but it always comes to my mind when I think or preach about freedom.
Fr. Robert Barron has a great reflection on today's readings and he reminds us that freedom is about vocation - doing God's will. And freedom, in the biblical sense, is the freedom from attachments and a freedom for doing God's will - vocation!
I think people in today's world cannot hear this call realistically. They hear "leave everything and follow me" and they think they have to either become a hermit or a monk or they're doomed to deny Jesus. As if "having stuff" is the opposite to following Jesus.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. The truth is that having stuff, having relationships, having responsibilities in the world is not a lack of freedom. When your stuff, your relationships or your responsibilities HAVE you - that's a lack of freedom to follow Jesus.
How can we be in the world but not of it. How can you raise your family, love your spouse, do your job, take your vacation, and enjoy your life in a way that it doesn't keep you from loving your neighbor as yourself - Jesus' will for you?
Good question. No easy answer. What do you think?
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
This Sunday's readings are at USCCB.org>>>
I will be praching at all of the Sunday Masses this weekend in recognition of my first anniversary as pastor of the "great" parish of St. Albert.
I am presiding at the 8:00 and 9:30am Masses on Sunday 6/20.
How? I have been on this question theme for a few weeks now. It started with where, then who, and thirdly what. In today's gospel Jesus asks his disciples such a question. And while it sounds like he's interested in "who" I am hearing him go on to answer the "how"!
That of course fits perfectly into my plans to share with the parish some ideas about what I have seen and heard in my first year of growing as pastor.
What I basically have found is that this is a great parish(who do people say that "we" are?). What I believe we are called to is to be Holy. But how? How can St. Albert be great in holiness for the future? I think they are six aspects of church life that we could build upon to become great in all the ways that God is calling us to be.
Ultimately I will invite folks to a town hall meeting in August to begin the conversation and the work in earnest. Pray for us.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Thursday, June 3, 2010
I will be presiding at Mass at 5:30pm on Saturday, June 5, 11:00 and 12:30 on Sunday June 6.
The homily from Trinity Sunday is in the library>>>
The last two weeks have begun with a question in my mind: Where are you (in the flesh or in the spirit)? and Who are you (in the Image of God)? This week's homily and thoughts are also a question (let's keep this theme going), What are you?
The answer to the "What are You?" question comes to my mind from the first reading. There we hear that Abram offered the priest one tenth of what he had for a sacrifice to God. We know that behavior as "tithing" or giving one tenth.
The practice of giving one tenth came as a standard offering which indicated that all that we have is the Lord's. So, the symbolic offering of one tenth was the first tenth and the best tenth as a sign that 100% of everything we have comes from God and is marked by his possessing it.
The answer to the question "What are you?" is "A Portion". Each of us is called to recognize ourselves as a part, a piece, a portion. What that says about us is that we belong to a larger whole. In our case, we are a part of the Body of Christ - Corpus Christi.
This is important because too often religious people seek an intimate relationship with God or 'salvation' on their own - "Me and Jesus". Often these folks have rejected the Church and any role that the Body of Christ would have in their salvation.
It cannot be that way for us. In fact, we are only saved in as much as we are united with Jesus Christ, in His Body, the Church(love God and your neighbor as yourself). Communion, that spiritual and real relationship we have with God and others, is essential to our salvation. May we always remember that we are only a portion, a tenth if you will, a part of something much bigger and much more important than ourselves: the Body of Christ.
On a feast dedicated to the Body and Blood of Christ it would be helpful for us to see that our "piece" of Communion is just a portion of the "one loaf" which is Christ's Body. Individually we have great dignity - but alone we are nothing.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Thursday, May 27, 2010
My mass schedule for this coming Sunday is Saturday 5/29/10 at 4:00pm and Sunday 5/30/10 at 9:30am
Last week I asked the question "where are you?" and for those who heard that(see Library May 23, 2010) know that I meant, "in the flesh" or "in the spirit". This feast of the Trinity might prompt me to ask a similarly phrased question, "who are you?"
While the feast of the Blessed Trinity is about "Who" God is, I believe that ultimately it comes down to 'who' we are. You see, from the beginning we were created in the divine image. So, a feast that talks about the identity of God (Trinity) is going to have an answer in who we are as God's images (Imago Dei)
There is a new book out called "God is Not One". It is a comparative religion book by a theology professor from Boston College. He identifies the eight major religions of the world and says that these are NOT simply eight different "ways" to the same and single God. Rather, he says, these are eight different "solutions" to eight different "problems"...eight different gods, if you will.
Understanding who YOUR God is (and what the problem in life that you are solving), will determine what your religious life is all about. Since religion is the central mystery of our human lives, knowing the identity of our "god" will unravel the mystery of our lives.
Who is your God? Why do you pursue that God? Ours is Trinity - pure love.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
The scriptures for this Sunday are available at USCCB >>>
I am presiding at the 8:00 and 9:30am Masses on Sunday.
I titled this blog "the Spirit OF Life" and I did so for the reason that I am always vigilant to keep the purpose of our faith in the spotlight. What I am always concerned about is that our faith is "brought to life". Too much of the religious conversation that I hear removes our daily life from contact with God.
The purpose of the coming of the Spirit upon the Apostles is to weave divinity into our human experience. That is the purpose of our entire economy of salvation...that God might be united with our humanity that was lost through sin. Jesus is the accomplishment of this divine work. And the Holy Spirit is the agent of that work into our day.
The work of the Holy Spirit is to conform our hearts and lives to this divine work. Isn't it true that too often our prayer and desire is that God change our circumstance to fit our personal goals? Ha! God's purpose and work in the Holy Spirit is to fit us into the current circumstances the way God would fit in - changing us. It is only is this way that God's will can be accomplished. Divinity in communion with humanity.
Friday, May 14, 2010
The Scriptures for this Sunday, the Ascension are available at the USCCB>>>
I have presiding at the Saturday 4:00pm and the Sunday 12:30pm Masses
This Solemnity of the Ascension confronts the Christian and the community with the in between time and the patient virtue of "putting it down gently". I believe in our personal lives we might have the most vivid experience of this Christian virtue is what we call "anticipatory grief".
Although this feast shows Jesus rising up into the clouds, I am thinking of his agony in the garden...the long, slow, painful, process of getting used to the idea, a frightening idea.
Letting go of life as we have known it. That is the message of the Ascension, I think. It is something that the Church proposes but never gets used to. Letting go of this thing to make room for the next thing that life and reality have to present to you.
What do you think
Thursday, May 6, 2010
This Sunday's Scriptures are available>>>>
I am preaching at 9:30 and 11:00am Masses.
This Sunday of Easter presents to us this famous formula of God's friendship with us - indwelling. If God is to be believed we need to get used to God relating to us in new and intimate ways.
I am the descendant of two coal miners. Their heritage has helped me to understand not only THAT God dwells within but HOW I am called and able to live with God where He chooses to live: down, dark, dangerous and daily.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Friday, April 30, 2010
Check out readings for this Sunday>>>
Check out last week's homily>>>>>
They tell me it's a keeper!
This Sunday is a reflection upon the love of God and it's standard bearer - matrimony. St. Paul tells us that husband and wife are the icon of the love that God, the bridegroom, has for us His Bride, the Church. Spousal love is a tough sell these days...fewer and fewer people are getting married and only about half of them stay that way. Christian marriage (like it's counterpart the priesthood) are poorly understood and thus under-appreciated and finally difficult to live in this world.
Jesus wants us to love our neighbor as ourselves but to do that loving "as he did it". How did Jesus love himself, God, and neighbor? To death - "this is what it means to love, lay down your life for your friends." His witness as to "how" we love makes all the difference. The golden rule (do unto others....) is insufficient. We need to do unto others as Jesus did unto us.
Wow. That would make for a great marriage, priesthood and community life. That would impress the world. It might even bring them to salvation. "See HOW they love one another" not just THAT they do!
Thursday, April 22, 2010
This Sunday's scriptures can be found as the usscb website>
This coming Sunday I will be presiding at 4pm on Saturday, 11am on Sunday and at the first of our two First Communion Masses. It's my "First" First Communion, too.
I am thinking mostly about "being taken in hand". The Gospel refers to the Good Shepherd who says "No one can take them out of my hand....no one can take them out of the Father’s hand." I believe that my Holy Thursday homily (which referred to "getting into Jesus" and "Jesus getting into us") is something I will not be able to avoid repeating.
Being taken "in hand" is a Eucharistic gesture, but it is also a gesture or expression of intimacy. The parish, a job, a spouse, or any other worthy "effort" is now in "good hands" - like All State. Husband and wife "now join your right hands" and I have asked for "your hand" in marriage. Something is entrusted into your "able hands".
While some might hear "control" (as if to handle), those who live in love hear "tender embrace" and "conscientious care". As we take "Jesus in hand" we are also taken "into his hands". It is this reciprocal relationship that the Good Shepherd desires with us and we seek in the Holy Eucharist.
So, are you in Good Hands? Have you gotten a "handle" on this Jesus? Let's see.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
I am preaching on Saturday April 17 at the 4:00pm and on Sunday April 18 at 11:00 & 12:30.
This Sunday's readings are available at the link posted "USCCB">>>
Notice we are collecting a few comments that are very helpful and some followers of the blog.
This third Sunday of Easter pushes our faith in the Resurrection of Jesus and the remission of sins a bit further....quite a bit.
It is one thing to forgive (see Homily of April 11 2010). It is a second thing to be reconciled (a very different thing). It is a third and colossal thing to be restored to ones original place of trust. Jesus forgives Peter's betrayal, the two are reconciled, and then Jesus says "I am going to make myself vulnerable to you again." Wow.
Jesus puts Peter back in his place as leader of the flock (remember .... You are Peter) even after Peter let him down. Jesus checks the sincerity of Peter's conversion, his repentance, and his sincere purpose of amendment and then he says "now go and do what I need you to do"....knowing full well that Peter is still imperfectly Peter.
Jesus trusts frail Peter because of new power from on high. It is no longer reliant upon Peter's weak commitment but it is all about the risen and invincible power of Jesus Christ. Can we do the same in our lives?
Can the husband entrust his heart to the wife who has betrayed him? Can the adult child of the recovering alcoholic parent let there be family love after all these years and injuries?
Only by the power of resurrection. What do you think?
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Friday, April 9, 2010
The readings for this Sunday can be found by following the link on your right>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Last Sunday's homily is available at the Estok Homily Library link >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Why not join this blog page as a follower - you can do so annonymously. Just like commenting>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
I am thinking that the apostolic community was an impressive bunch! They not only had a transformation in their lives personally, but they were working some impressive deeds in the sight of the world publicly. These deeds were changing people's lives. Thousands were being added, crowds would press in upon them, people just wanted to get close to them because of their "power" to heal, to calm, to forgive in the name of Jesus.
Not so much with us today, the succesors to the Apostles. We perform the miracle of the Eucharist everyday and our churches are empty. No one is lining up to hear us preach, feel our power, experience our faith. But I am thinking this could change.
I think we have a gift from God that we are not employing...a gift,if employed, would startle the world. It is mercy. We can forgive. Jesus has entrusted this gift and power to us. And we are not and don't know how to use it. The world is afflicted with unforgiveness. People are holding grudges, nursing wounds, practicing combative politics, terrorizing those who have offended us. Wow.
I think our forgiving others would be an astonishing witness. But we don't know how. I think I have a secret that is the formula for forgiving. It may save our lives and change the world.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
the readings for all of the celebrations are at www.usccb.org
I will be presiding at the Holy Thursday Mass at 7:30, the Good Friday service at 7:30pm and on Easter Sunday 9:30am downstairs in the parish hall and 11:00am in the church.
Friday, March 26, 2010
The scriptures for this Sunday can be found at www.usccb.org under "daily readings".
Since the passion is so lengthy my preaching at the 4:00pm & 8:00am masses will be brief. The most difficult but important thing for Catholics in Holy Week is to show up. I mean physically and consciously or spiritually. In Catholicism we can't separate the two. We are a sacramental people. It is insufficient to just "spiritually commune with Jesus" (try to be a nicer person for example) if you are not going to actually commune with Jesus in Word, Sacrament and Community. So be there!
It is also insufficient for us as Catholics to simply go through the motions again this year while remaining spiritually and personally unavailable. So.....show up!
Make a re-turn to the Lord! Show up this Holy Week. Let the passion begin for you, with you, in you. Show up!
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
This Sunday's readings are available at usccb.org "daily reading" >>>>>>
I will be presiding and preaching at the 11:00am Mass on Sunday 3/21.
The warning of the prophet that "God is doing something new" is less of a warning and more of a hopeful promise. This promise feeds into my Lenten theme of conversion. Recall we are invited to make a re-turn to the Lord but our destination (deeper reconciliation in communion with God and neighbor) is not some place where we have been before. It sounds a bit like Alice in Wonderland but we are called back to a place we've never been before!
St Paul speaks eloquently of the state of those called to a converted life in Christ....not that he is living it perfectly but he is fixed on the new destination. He is turning away from what was and he is moving toward the new thing before him.
Have we accepted the liberation from what was, what never was and committed to what can be with God?
Thursday, March 11, 2010
The readings for this Sunday can be found at http://www.usccb.org/nab/031410c.shtml
The homily from Lent 3 is available at the Estok Homily Library to the right of the page.
The elder brother in the story of the prodigal (younger) son is an "icon" if you will of precisely where we do not want to be and, sadly, where all of us, to some extent, are . The tragedy of the older brother is two fold:
1. He refuses to enter the celebration of life and love that the Father has invited him to share and
2. He thinks he has been and is faithful enough to his Father.
Both failures on the elder brother's part are failures to live in the Communion of the Father. They are especially tragic because in both cases the elder brother stands arrogantly upright in his misunderstanding. He doesn't know what he doesn't know. Ouch!
How much he looks like me. I so often refuse to enter the Communion of life and love that God offers to me in the present moment. I am hurt, sad, or frightened that what God is offering is somehow going to mean a "loss" for me (and a win for someone else). Even more tragically, what contributes to my stubborn failure to embrace Communion with God is the mis-understanding that I am sufficiently "righteous" - I don't need anymore because I have responsibly lived my faith up to now.
Ouch. Isn't it funny that our perceived "success" at being faithful religious people can become the obstacle to our becoming truly religious people "reconciled with God and others".
To be truly religious, truly converted, truly turned toward the Lord we must be reconciled in the blood of Christ - made more deeply one with Him. The only believable proclamation of such a converted life is the deeper and deeper reconciliation with our neighbor.
This is a tall order this week. Let's pray for one another.
Monday, March 8, 2010
This one hour conversation may be of interest to you. The theme is faith, church and conversion. Give a listen at "www.archive.com". Search "Estok" and the title is....Coffee and Crumbs!
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Thursday, March 4, 2010
I am celebrating mass on Saturday 3/6 at 4:00pm and on Sunday 3/7 at 8:00am.
The readings for this Sunday can be found http://www.usccb.org/nab/030710.shtml
I am thinking again about encounter with the God who loves us. Moses meets up with God in the holy place of the burning bush. God is revealed in this meeting to be the God "Who Is". Holy Ground. Moses' encounter with the living God reveals who God is and it changes or 'exposes' who Moses really is - the one called to lead Israel to freedom - Holy Ground.
I am thinking that during this Lenten season 2010 we are being invited again to meet the God "Who Is" on Holy Ground - encounter. In doing so it is revealed to us who we really are. Encounter with God who is Truth reveals who we are and we are Love.
The teaching of Jesus in the gospel says that if we know WHO we really are then the fruit of that reality ought to reveal it. If we meet God Who Is Love and we discover again that WE are in His loving image - then the fruit of our lives will be the love we bear.
What do you think?
Friday, February 26, 2010
Last week's homily is available at: www.archive.com[search: Estok].
This week is the Second Sunday of Lent and the week we traditionally hear the story of Jesus' Transfiguration. If we take the word apart (as the title of this post indicates) we can readily see that it means "changed image". Customarily and understandably we think of it as the "change in Jesus' look" - the showing of him in a new image. What I am thinking is that the change that takes place is not in Jesus at all - but in his disciples.
While Jesus was "changed in his image" or transfigured, it is his disciples that were trans-formed or "changed in shape". It is the shape of their faith and understand that was changed by what they beheld in Jesus. Lent is a time for such transformation in us. Transformation is a more helpful word then our typical lenten word of "repent". Repenting can be understood as confessing error and "returning" to our former state of relationship with God.
I prefer transform or convert to express the call of our lenten journey. We are not called "back to" where we were but rather to "turn into" something that we have never fully been. Our journey to Communion with God is not a so much a staircase to heaven (one step forward and closer after another) but a spiral path that circles around familiar places while increasingly growing closer to the love of God.
What do you think?
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Here is he link to the Sunday Readings: http://www.usccb.org/nab/022110.shtml
In addition to considering each of the weekly Scriptures,the entire season of Lent can be considered as a whole. I am sometimes given to such "series" of homilies in a season. I am not considering doing so this year.
My first reaction to Sunday's readings is "prove it!". The first reading instructs the Jews to remember who they are and to prove it by tithing. Tithing is that practice of dedicating the first born, the first fruits, and the best portion (ten percent usually) to the Lord. This act of devotion is to indicate recognition of the source of all blessings. Everything is God's (including me) and He deserves the symbolic "first/best" of the harvest. I demonstrate "whose" I am by how I handle my stuff.
In a similar but almost opposite way, Jesus refuses to prove "who" he is to the devil with external works. In doing so he proves his true identity. This is a very human temptation, that is, to try to win the respect or approval of "the world" by proving that you are "one of them". We try to prove ourselves to be "players" with those the "really" matter.
I think the hungry world is looking toward religious people and asking us to prove what we teach by who we are. The pope calls them "witnesses" rather than teachers. The deeds of love, justice, and charity are the authenticating "proof" of who we claim to be. What proof is there that we are the children of God, family of Jesus, members of the Church in the best sense of the Word?
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Mass Schedule for January 23-24
Sunday 1/24 - 9:30am
Sunday 1/24 - 12:30pm
This Sunday's texts pose a real dilemma for me and maybe for you too - what's your mission? Experts have said that everyone ought to have a clear statement of their mission, twelve words or less, that you can recite "at the point of gun." This mission or vision statement would serve us well in our religious lives. Jesus clearly is presented in Luke's gospel as someone with a clear mission. He reads his from Isaiah..."the spirit of the Lord is upon me...".
I think the danger in not having a clear mission is best stated by the spiritual song that goes, "If you don't stand for something, you're liable to fall for anything." Without a rational, spirit-filled, and positive understanding of what we are doing in our lives, especially religiously, we can start wandering.
I also believe that as Catholic Christians, by our incorporation into Christ, we have received a mission. As Jesus was a priest, prophet and shepherd king - so too we are baptised into his mission. Our communion with Jesus is the mission and purpose of our lives. Can we recite that under pressure, when life gets complicated, when we are frightened or angered?
Well - what's your mission? Listen to Jesus.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Thursday, January 14, 2010
This week's wedding feast at Cana is a great opportunity for us to think about God's wedding feast. Yes, God is married and guess who's the lucky bride - US! Another manifestation of the love of God is our status as the bride of Christ and the invitation to the wedding feast of the Lamb.
Last week's homily is available at the "Estok Homily Library" or by following this link.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
[Mother of God and Epiphany Homilies available >>>> at Estok Homily Library!]
We wrap up the Christmas season with the feast of Jesus' Baptism in the Jordon at the hands of John the Baptist and the Word of God the Father. All the religious people in Jesus' experience were getting baptized. What is striking me most this year is that Jesus was the human revelation of God and He was a religious human being. God affirms Jesus' religious choice to be baptized within the religious community.
So God became a human being, Jesus assumed our human condition, and he showed us what godly humanity looks like. And it is religious. I have believed this sincerely. I have always wanted to be religious and have revered religion. It is a calling within the Christian calling. God wants us to be relgious too. Are you?
This weekend is my anniversary of ordination as a priest. It is a life dedicated to religion. I still believe it is of the essence of our human lives. Human lives like Jesus'. Revealing the love of God requires that we be religious. I can only hope and pray that my priesthood has furthered this project in the lives of the people of Cleveland. When we are gone will they be able to say "yes, he was religious!"