Feast of Christ the King
We as Americans don't always like the idea of authority, a king, a ruler. We pride ourselves on democracy, equality, independence and standing on our own two feet. But as Christians we claim that God is God and we are not, as Christians we claim to submit ourselves to Jesus Christ, as Christians we claim to bring about the reign of God's kingdom on earth - beginning with our own lives: minds, hearts, words and actions. So what am I? Am I more of a modern American with a mind of independence? Or am I more of a Christian with the mind of being entirely dependent on my God? This feast is a challenge for us as a Church and as individuals to ask ourselves, "Where in my life do I still try to be independent? What in my life have I not offered to God? Do I allow Christ to be the King of my life? Is He King of all of it, or just some of it?" We will always feel like something is missing in life, like there must be something more, like something in us is just not quite filled, until we give our God every aspect of our life, total control: until Jesus Christ is truly our King!
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
What do you see when you look in the mirror? The problem is that we can only see the external; a mirror can't show us what we look like internally: how our souls look, how our thoughts, words and actions are changing us, for better or for worse. Our first reading and Gospel are apocalyptic readings that refer, in part, to the end of time. "Apocalypse" doesn't mean "destruction," it means "pulling back the veil, uncovering." The day will come when the veil will be pulled back and we will see not just the external, but the whole truth of every person and situation: we will see everything as it truly is, and everything will see us as we truly are - all things will be unveiled. Will we be attractive? Will we be the beautiful, genuine person God created us to be? If you invite Jesus in now, He can heal those deeper, darker, blemished parts of your heart and soul...but only if you invite Him in. What do you see when you look in the mirror? Can you look deeper?
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
This weekend I joined almost 60 high schoolers from around our diocese for the winter High School Discipleship Weekend. These are young men and women serious about living out their Catholic faith: they want to continue growing in a deep and genuine relationship with Jesus Christ, they are learning to be active leaders in the faith, they are growing in intentional service to God and others, and they freely chose to give up their entire weekend in order to make these things a priority in their busy lives. Although I had basically lost my voice by Sunday morning, here is my homily from this amazing weekend!
Themes: trust in God, giving what little we have, God compares us to our former selves (not to other people), knowing when spiritual growth really begins to happen (which is opposite of what we usually think) - all of which, by the way, lead to a freedom in life, a freedom of heart, a deeper peace that we all want but that can only be given by God!
31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
In our Gospel this weekend Jesus sums up the entirety of the Scriptures with the simple teaching to "love God and love neighbor." Christianity IS that simple...but it's not that easy! Growing in love of God and others is painful: like the pain and frustration you see go across a child's face when they have to learn how to share with someone else, we experience that same pain of transformation as we say goodbye to our selfish inclinations and learn to open ourselves up to love of God and others - which makes us become more of the person God created us to be! Our belief in Purgatory (which separates us as Catholics from all other Christians) is rooted in this idea of transformation from the inside out. Heaven is a place where every individual completely loves God and completely loves others...that transformation, those growing pains, have to take place at some point, whether during this life or after.