Feast of the Holy Family
Jesus not only came as a baby at Christmas, He also entered into a human family - with all the joys and frustrations that go with it. We are challenged in all relationships, but especially in the family, to put the wants and needs of others before our own, to stretch our hearts, to learn how to love more, to sacrifice for each other. Our readings today all challenge us to put others first, "Children, obey your parents in everything...Wives, be subordinate to your husbands...Husbands, love your wives." Jesus loved us, and so He subordinated Himself to our needs, even to the point of death. We can practice this kind of love every day, especially in the family!
What child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
3rd Sunday of Advent
This weekend we encounter a powerful New Testament figure, John the Baptist, in a difficult and dark time - literally and figuratively. John has been imprisoned, he probably knows he is not getting out anytime soon, and he (who proclaimed Jesus as the Lamb of God and prepared for Jesus' coming by his preaching and teaching) is now questioning whether or not Jesus is the promised one of God. We can all take two important lessons away from John's experience, lessons useful for our everyday life of prayer, but especially in our own times of darkness: 1) John is honest with his doubts 2) John lays his doubts at the feet of Jesus. When we are raw with our thoughts and emotions, when we lay them at the feet of our Lord without any filter, then we finally give God permission to enter into the most important areas of our life. Try it (I dare you) and God will bring great things out of it!
2nd Sunday of Advent
I had the privilege of spending this weekend with 50 inspiring high-school-aged young men and women from throughout our diocese! This fulfilled no Confirmation requirements for them, neither were any of them forced to come to this retreat - they generously set aside this time to step away from their busy lives and focus on growing closer to Jesus Christ through prayer, learning, sacraments, and community. They are making God a priority in their lives, and they inspire me to want to make God more of a priority in mine as well. Please continue to pray for the incredible youth of our diocese and the good work that God is doing in their lives!
1st Sunday of Advent
We invest in the things that are important to us - we invest time, energy, emotions, intellect, mental space, money, resources. The more we invest in something, the more important it is to us, and the more returns it will yield; the less we invest in something, the less important it is to us and the less returns it will yield. As we begin this Advent season, we are preparing ourselves for the coming of Christ at Christmas, and the more we invest in that preparation the more of a return this experience will yield for us. While we prepare in a general sense for Christ's coming, I'd like us to focus this Advent specifically on the Mass: how invested are we in the Mass? How much more could we bring to the table? What are the ways that others invest themselves in the experience of the Mass? What can I learn from them and how can I come back next week ready to invest a little more in the weekend Mass experience? God comes to us at every Mass, He has a word to speak to each one of us that pertains to this exact moment in our life, and the the more I'm investing, the more I'll experience God at work in my life at every weekend Mass!
Solemnity of Christ the King
As Americans we are naturally weary of anything having to do with a "king", we also don't like the word "authority" all that much - it was the abuse of power by some oppressive authority, even some kings, that brought many of our ancestors to America in the first place. Scripture, however, has no problem with the idea of a king or authority; in fact, Scripture makes it very clear that all authority has been given to Jesus Christ, that Jesus came to this earth to bring a kingdom, and that He is the King of that kingdom! As Christians we proclaim that we are followers first and foremost of Christ, our true King, and that we are committed to bringing His kingdom more fully onto this earth. His kingdom started in us at our baptism and is meant to grow in us throughout our lives. Can you invite Jesus to reign in your heart for a little bit longer each day this week? Think, if we each did that for a few more minutes every day, how much more of a reality the words we pray in the Our Father would become - thy kingdom come!
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Hellfire, brimstone, damnation - words we don't hear very often anymore, but words that our first reading calls to mind (and themes that arise out of our Scriptures). And lest we think that Jesus ushered in an age full of only mercy, pardon and mushy-gushy "love", Jesus Himself, multiple times in the Gospels, speaks strongly about judgment, hellfire, the separation of the righteous and the wicked, warning us of the wide and easy road that leads to destruction and encouraging us to follow the narrow and difficult road that leads to life. This week I challenge you: have conversations about some of these difficult topics with friends and other believers, Catholic or otherwise. These ideas aren't culturally acceptable, many discount them these days, but if we call ourselves Christian, if we believe what Jesus (the Son of God, the Author of all truth) says, then we have to start taking these ideas seriously!
31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Why is it that we as Catholics are the only Christians that pray for our beloved dead? Why is it that we are the only Christians who believe in Purgatory? In this homily I will explore how other Christians believe Jesus saves us versus how we as Catholics believe Jesus saves us, and what that difference means in praying for the dead, purgatory, and how we live our lives here and now!
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sometimes God works incredible miracles that are visually and experientially miraculous. In our first reading and Gospel today we have 11 lepers who are all miraculously cured by God...but they're healed in very non-incredible ways: taking a bath and out for a walk. More often than not, God's ways are subtle, quiet and seemingly indirect. God's hand is moving and blessing and answering prayers, but often in unexpected ways, which means that it's easy to miss God's blessings in our lives and the lives of others. Of the 11 lepers cleansed, only 2 come back to thank God for answered prayers. As we approach God in prayer, as we attend Mass, let's join with the 2 lepers who came back, and let's give thanks to God for His many blessings and answered prayers in our lives!
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today Jesus tells us one of His most confusing parables: "Look at this shady, crooked, underhanded businessman... You should learn a lesson from 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/manager/businessman 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, over-the-top 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 say those words to us?
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
It's proven that generosity makes for a happier person; generosity springs from gratitude - to the degree that we're thankful for the gifts we've been given in life, we have a desire to share these gifts with others. Thankfulness and generosity, though, are two virtues that you will not be challenged to grow in by popular culture, but they are two virtues at the heart of what it means to be Christian - the more thankful and generous we are, the more we become like our Maker!
This weekend is the kickoff for our annual diocesan Catholic Services Appeal (CSA). The CSA provides so many incredible opportunities to spread the faith of Jesus Christ in northwestern Wisconsin - for our seminarians, for our youth, for our schools, for our parishes - opportunities that I witness and see the fruits of firsthand! I'm challenging you this year to stretch yourself in thankfulness and generosity (in all senses of those words) and I challenge you particularly this week to think what you might be able to sacrifice monetarily to support the CSA for your parish this coming year.
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
In order to live in this world, we have to trust all kinds of things we see, hear and experience. On a daily basis we extend trust thousands of times - to people, situations, information...everything. A generic definition of "faith" is: "confidence or trust in a person, thing or concept." By this definition, every single person lives their lives by faith each and every day. Faith in God, then, means having confidence and trust in God - that He will do what He says, that what He promises to us humans He will do. In our readings today we see how God comes through on His promises, that God IS trustworthy, that we CAN trust God! The faith held up for us today is that whatever life may bring, no matter how bumpy the road, we know that God has us in the palm of His hand!
17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
In our Gospel this weekend the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray. After giving a short version of the Our Father, Jesus tells a semi-humorous story (in my opinion) highlighting the importance of persistence - in the context of this passage of persistent prayer. In our first reading we see a model of this kind of persistence in the conversation Abraham has with God (also a rather humorous exchange, in my opinion). But both readings make the point that God seriously encourages persistent prayer. The question remains, though, "What or who does prayer actually change? Does it change me or God?" Listen to find out!
15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
After Moses gave the 10 Commandments to God's chosen people, he said something very interesting: that these commands were already written in their hearts. If, as Paul says in our second reading, all things are created in Christ, then it makes sense that the Maker would leave His mark deep within each of us, guiding us to what is best. God has given each of us a conscience, His voice deep within our gut, leading us on the right way. But then why do we need commandments or rules at all? Why can't we just each follow our own conscience?
Our conscience can sometimes be a burden and we don't always want to listen to that voice. So as we grow "smarter" and "wiser" we learn to rationalize away that voice of God deep within, until we hear only what we want to hear. This week we're challenged by Jesus to go back to the basics, to be reminded of what we already know deep within our hearts, and to listen for that simple and clear (but often difficult and inconvenient) voice of God which speaks to us from deep within - and to follow it!
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
In our readings today, we hear a number of call stories: God calling others to follow Him in a particular way. Whenever one of these calls happens in Scripture...that person is almost always busy! They have other plans; something else is on the agenda for the day; other big things are already going on in life. Sound familiar?! When God calls it's never convenient - it wasn't before and it isn't now. But as disciples of Jesus Christ we are meant to listen for and answer God's calls to us, no matter how big or small...or inconvenient. The challenge this week: grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ by listening for and answering a few more of those calls!
We believe that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. But what do we mean by that? Is it really possible that bread and wine literally become Jesus' flesh and blood? Do we chew on Jesus' flesh and touch our lips to His blood at every Mass? Let me share a couple stories with you...
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
In the new parishes I am serving - St. Joseph in Hayward and St. Ann in Cable - we have three gifted deacons. It is the custom in this cluster that the deacons preach every 1st and 3rd weekend of the month. As a result, I will be preaching less often. Lucky for you, I have homilies from previous years that I will continue to share ; ). This is last year's homily from Trinity Sunday: (Enjoy!)
The coming of the Holy Spirit CHANGED the first followers of Jesus. We received the Holy Spirit in baptism, we were sealed by the Holy Spirit in Confirmation, we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus at every Mass...but how much are we CHANGED by these experiences? Do you ever long for more in your faith but just don't know why you aren't getting it? If that's ever been you, listen to this homily, and most importantly - remember to breathe (spiritually)!
In the new parishes I am serving - St. Joseph in Hayward and St. Ann in Cable - we have three gifted deacons. It is the custom in this cluster that the deacons preach every 1st and 3rd weekend of the month. As a result, I will be preaching less often. Lucky for you, I have homilies from previous years that I will continue to share ; ). This is last year's homily from Ascension Sunday: (Enjoy!)
6th Sunday of Easter
Have you ever heard one Christian teach one thing about Jesus, and then heard shortly thereafter another Christian teaching the opposite? Who's right? How do we find out the truth? In our first reading we see where the first followers of Jesus turned to find the truth in the midst of disagreements and controversies over what they should believe...and where they turned then is still where we as Catholics turn now!
5th Sunday of Easter
The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead turned everything we thought we knew completely upside down! God showed that He has the power to bring good out of anything...even evil, and even the difficult and painful moments of our lives. This weekend I celebrated my final weekend of Masses in the Superior area. I have been asked to assist in covering the Masses in the Hayward and Cable Catholic Churches effective immediately. Thank you for welcoming me so warmly into your hearts and lives. Though this time of change and transition will be difficult, I know that God has the power to bring good out of all things. Please welcome whatever priest comes to this area next with the same warmth and love as you did me, and he will be one lucky priest!
4th Sunday of Easter
Jesus says today in our Gospel, "My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me." What does God's voice sound like in your life? What happens when you follow it? What do we and others miss out on when we don't? Often God's voice/invitation doesn't give us the whole story or plan He has, just the next step in the process...so we can easily dismiss those thoughts, that voice, because it might not seem, from our perspective, to make sense in that moment. But I challenge you this week: listen for that voice, and the next time you hear it (even if it doesn't seem to make sense or takes you out of your comfort zone), follow it! God has something special in store!
3rd Sunday of Easter
Our Gospel story today is one of the passages we as Catholics point to in the Scriptures where Jesus sets Peter apart from the other Apostles, in which we read the beginnings of the papacy and the pope! God gave us a great gift in our pope, a leader and figurehead meant to keep Jesus' Church united as ONE body. Jesus' great prayer was that all of his followers might be one, as He is in the Father and the Father is in Him, that we would all be ONE...at present there are over 40,000 different Christian denominations. Thanks be to God for our ONE Catholic Church, united throughout the whole world, for the gift of the pope to keep us united (even in the midst of struggles and difficulties and disagreements - kind of like the head of a family), and for the gift of the Eucharist where we become what we are: ONE in the Body of Christ!
2nd Sunday of Easter
Is it wrong to question God? Is wanting to know how or why something happened considered a weakness or lack of faith, or even a sin? In the Gospel today Jesus appears to His apostles, but Thomas isn't there. When Thomas comes back and all of the others are claiming that Jesus is risen, he refuses to believe unless he sees it himself. Is that wrong of him? I think not!