O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Savior's birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
4th Sunday of Advent
In our 3rd and final installment of this homily series "Invested" (I know it was supposed to be 4, but I wasn't able to preach last weekend - I apologize), I encourage you to consider this question: do you come to Mass as a spectator or as a player? The Second Vatican Council encourages us to "full, conscious and active participation" in the Mass. The interaction in Mass that we have as Catholics is a great gift meant to keep us fully engaged as we worship God together. So what do you consider your role to be in Mass - spectator or player?
2nd Sunday of Advent
Investing means we're putting something down in hopes that the return will be worth the investment. So what's the return of investing your time, attention and energy in Mass? That God wants to speak a word to you that will empower you to engage all of next week with strength, confidence and faith (instead of being tired out and worn down come Tuesday evening). The Mass is heaven come down to earth and God has something special to say just to you. The more you invest, the louder His voice will sound.
1st Week of Advent
This is the first of a 4-part Advent homily series on the Mass. The title of this series is "Invested". Nothing in our lives can grow unless we are invested in it. Investing in what is important to us takes many different forms: time, energy, effort, attention, money, care, thoughtfulness (to name a few). The more we invest, the more we see results. Our participation in and experience of the Mass is no different: the more we invest, the more we see results. As we begin this Advent journey, I invite you to take an honest look at how invested you are in the Mass on a typical weekend. Mark it down as a starting point, so that come Christmas you will be able to look back and count some ways you've grown in your investment in the Mass.
32nd Sunday in ordinary time
The martyrs in our first reading were living for the life to come. And in our Gospel Jesus gives us a glimpse into this life: a life of such deep and fulfilling relationship with God that earthly marriages are only a shadow of what's coming. This week we are challenged: Are you intentionally living for the life to come? Are you intentionally encouraging others to live for the life to come? Priesthood and celibacy only make sense if we're looking toward the next life. If young men are going to become priests, it's our job to inspire them by living our lives for the life to come.
What does the Church believe about life beyond death? How might that existence interact with life before death? Join me for this 1 hour presentation on death, judgment, heaven, hell, saints, souls, purgatory, ghosts, angels and demons. We have an amazingly beautiful and powerful faith that answers questions both in this life and beyond.
31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
In this Sunday's Gospel Jesus invites Himself into the home of a sinner - Zacchaeus the tax collector...and THEN Zacchaeus has a change of heart. Change doesn't come first; first comes God, then comes change. Jesus invites Himself into our "house" at every Mass each time we come forward for Communion. Jesus wants to be received into your heart and into your house in a new and deeper way than ever before. Don't say, "But I'm not ready! I still need to change!" We make it a lot easier on ourselves if we just let Him in - then God will do the hard work for us. First comes God, then comes change.
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Like last weekend, this weekend's readings center on prayer. They show us that God loves real, honest, raw prayer! God wants you to tell Him what's going on inside of you, even if you don't think it's "holy" or "godly" or whatever - God wants your prayer to be REAL. Like the tax collector in the Temple, we go home justified (and fulfilled...and fed...and blessed) when we are utterly honest with the Lord. So try it this week: 10 minutes of prayer each morning, walk through your day with Him before it happens, asking Him for strength, and then tell God what's really on your mind, what's really preoccupying you these days. God loves that kind of prayer!
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus humorously encourages us today to be like a nagging, old woman when we come to prayer - that means to pray always, again and again, bother the Father! God wants us to come to Him time and again not because He forgets or is unaware of our needs, but because the more face time we have with Him, the deeper our relationship grows. 3 practices that will make "pray always" a reality: spend the first 10 minutes of each day with the Lord, offer different hours during the day for others (like Moses, your prayers will help someone win battles in their life), and find a good friend to share how your resolutions are affecting your life, and vice-versa.
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
This weekend my parish is celebrating Stewardship Weekend. Thank you, fellow Christian, for all that you have done with the gifts God has entrusted to you. Thank you for those ways that you have been a good steward. Gratitude for what God has given us leads to generosity. And generosity leads to a joyful heart. In our Gospel Jesus heals 10 lepers...only 1 comes back to thank Him. Be the one to come back and thank Jesus; count your blessings - then you'll find yourself wanting to give more. And as you give, your heart will grow, and you will be filled with a joy that no one can take from you!
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today we receive a wake-up call. In the first reading God condemns the ruling elite of Israel for their complacence and indifference. In our Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, in which the rich man finds himself in hell, not because he was evil or wicked or immoral, but simply because he was indifferent - he didn't use the blessings God had given him to help bless others. We are fed with the Body and Blood of Jesus each week so that our hearts can move from indifference to generosity, so that our hearts can become like Jesus' heart. We're called Christians for a reason; let's become who we are!
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today Jesus tells us one of His most confusing parables: "Look at this shady, crooked, underhanded businessman... You should be like him!" Many people are clever in the ways of this world - they are smart and resourceful in using the people and situations around them to further their own gain (even if it is selfish and underhanded, as the steward is today). Jesus challenges the "children of light" to be as smart and resourceful in obtaining benefits for heavenly life, as clever in living out our faith in the midst of this busy world and culture, as this shady businessman was in obtaining benefits for his earthly life.
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The most encouraging, effective and result producing words kids can hear from their parents are: "I love you; I'm proud of you." In our Gospel today Jesus shares three parables, all portraying the illogical, unreasonable, outlandish love that the Father has for each one of us. No matter what we've done, no matter how far we've wandered away, the Father never stops seeking us out. And when we finally let ourselves be found, He says to us, "I love you; I'm proud of you!" Jesus heard His Father say those words to Him; can we hear our Father the time say those words to us?
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
"My child, conduct your affairs with humility." Humility is one of the most important and misunderstood virtues. Humility is NOT walking around with your head bowed down, or being quiet/submissive/weak, or downplaying things you're good at. Humility is acknowledging the truth; it's living in reality. It's an interior attitude recognizing that everything we have comes from outside of us - ultimately from God. Living out of this reality means that certain things need to be strongly fought for and proclaimed without worry of what others think (Side 1), while other times we just need to take one on the chin (Side 2). So if you're feeling daring, ask for humility this week!
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
We respect and expect hard work and dedication in so many areas of life; why should the spiritual life be any different? Jesus says to us today, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate." Are we striving? Are we even trying? Our relationship with Jesus Christ and our spiritual life require time, effort, hard work and dedication - just like anything else we value in life. The gate is narrow because it's in the shape of Jesus. If you look in the mirror each morning and ask, "Do I look like Jesus? How can I look more like Him today?" If you look in the mirror each night and ask, "How was I like Jesus today? Where can I do better tomorrow?" Then you will find yourself becoming more and more Jesus-shaped every day, and when you get to that gate you'll be just the right size!
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Athletes in the Olympic games put in endless hours of practice, pushing their bodies to the furthest limits - mentally and physically beyond what most people could handle - so that they can be the best in the world. Paul says today that all of us Christians are also in a contest and we are to "persevere in running the race that lies before us, while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus." As we run Jesus warns that we will experience push-back, adversity, that His message and our way of life will bring division because people won't like what we are doing or what we have to say - the Prophet Jeremiah was left for dead, Jesus was crucified, Paul was beheaded. But are we willing to fix our eyes on Jesus and keep running the race, no matter what kind of resistance we meet? Because that is what separates the mediocre from the great.
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Faith is not simply believing in God. If it were, then even the devil would have faith. Faith, rather, is trusting in God, trusting that He will take care of us, trusting that He will do what He says...even if it's not exactly when we'd want or expect it. Today Abraham is held up as a model of faith. Through his example, we are invited to a new way of seeing our life and the world - through the lens of radical trust in our Father. What's one area in your life where you have a lot of worry or anxiety, an area where you could use more trust? Say a prayer to God each day this week, asking for more faith, more trust, asking to see His hand at work through it all!
18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
So many things in this world and in our life are simply passing by: when we spend too much of our precious time, energy, and thoughts on them, when we give them more weight than they deserve, it's like chasing bubbles - some day they will pop and disappear forever, leaving us empty. But Paul challenges us to seek what is above, and Jesus urges us to become rich in what matters to God. We all know what's really important in life, we know those things that truly last...but those take real work. It's a lot easier to get distracted by the bubbles. What's one way this week that you can stop chasing empty things and start investing in those actions that will make you rich in what matters to God?
15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Our conscience is God's voice speaking deep in our hearts, guiding us along the path, urging us to do the right, dissuading us from the wrong. The only problem is that over time we learn how to rationalize that voice away to get to the conclusions that we want. We are reminded today in our readings that we were created through Christ, made with God's law and voice inside of us, and that Jesus challenges us, in the story of the Good Samaritan, not to outthink ourselves, but to return to the simplicity of following the voice of God deep within us - our conscience.
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today in our Gospel Jesus sends 72 out ahead of him to prepare the way; today you have been sent out ahead of Jesus to prepare the way. In the midst of the joyful celebrations of the 4th of July this weekend, we are challenged to keep an eye open for anyone around us who is hurting, who has a heavy heart, and to help lighten their load, if only just a little. In this way we can bring the light of Christ to hurting hearts, preparing the way for explosions of God's grace! Even the biggest fireworks are started by a tiny, little flame.
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The learning process never ends - we continue learning our whole life long. Our life of faith is meant to grow our whole life long as well: "disciple" means "learner". In our readings today God calls certain people to follow Him - the big call. But we also see God asking daily favors of those who already follow him - the small calls. As disciples of Jesus, God is calling us, in big ways and small, to deeper faith, to lives of service, to lives of prayer, to following these spontaneous and often inconvenient calls that bring about His Kingdom in our lives and on this earth. What small calls does He have in store for you this week?
12th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Have you ever been accused of being like your parents? Usually, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. On this Father's Day weekend, Jesus asks his disciples, and us, "Who do you say that I am?" If we take Jesus at His word, then we believe that He is the Son of God the Father, and that in Jesus we are also sons and daughters of a heavenly Father. Jesus was like His Dad: "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father." As followers of Jesus, as sons and daughters of God, do we live and act and talk in such a way that others can accuse us of being like our heavenly Father?!
11th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Our readings today show that we have a God with an attitude of forgiveness. As God's people, we are called to take on this same attitude. Whether it's something as small as bad driving or as large as lifelong divisions and family rifts, we are called to begin living our lives with an attitude of forgiveness. Unforgiveness is exhausting; we carry around the weight of resentment and bitterness. These people and situations don't deserve to have that kind of hold on us. Forgiveness lightens us, frees us to live life the way we were made to live it!
10th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The readings today announce God as the giver of life - physical and spiritual. God wants us to live rich, fulfilled, happy lives. In the Gospel Jesus raises a dead man to life by the touch of His hand. Is there a part of my life that seems lifeless? Is there an area in my life that is not as rich, deep, and fulfilling as I'd like it to be? Today, ask Jesus to lay His hand on you, and to bring that part of you back to life.
At the Mass we celebrate each weekend, when the priest says those words in the name of Jesus - "This is my body...this is my blood...." - bread and wine are transformed entirely into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. How might your daily life be different if you experienced Jesus Christ with you, in you, next to you every hour of every day of your week? When we receive Communion, Jesus is physically with us, in us, next to us...and He stays with us every hour of every day, even if we don't realize it. How will this change your week?