Happy Easter to all of you and your families!
One question this Easter: What does God want to do for you?
This week we are invited to walk with Jesus through the last days of His life on this earth - through his celebration of the Last Supper, his suffering and death, and finally his Resurrection! "Holy" means "different" and "set apart". How will you make this week "different" and "set apart" from every other week of your life? How will you make this, for you, a truly "Holy" Week?
5th Sunday of Lent
This weekend I helped with a High School Discipleship Retreat - we have some incredible young men and women in northern Wisconsin who love Jesus Christ and want to know our Lord more and more! It's truly inspiring to be a part of these retreats! Both our first reading and Gospel speak of situations where some people are trapping and others are being trapped: in both readings God sets His people free. God has the power to free us from whatever situations are weighing us down, even if they seem impossible to get out of or be gotten rid of. Our God is a God Who saves and sets free! How has God set you free in life? How does God want to free you more right now?
4th Sunday of Lent
"Pain's there for a reason. It lets your body know something's wrong and it needs to be fixed." These words are true of our body, but they are also true of our emotions, heart, soul, and spirituality. Pain is there for a reason - it lets us know that something is wrong and needs to be fixed - as both of the brothers in our Gospel this weekend experience, and as we have and continue to experience in our own lives. Pain is often coupled with an invitation from God to come home, to come to the fullness and wholeness that our Father wants to give us!
3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
"But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!" Strong words from Jesus in our Gospel today - very strong words. Repentance is turning toward God and admitting our sins...and it's not easy for us as humans. We're sinners. That's not meant to be depressing, but freeing. We are sinners, we've messed up, and Jesus came to free us from our sins, to take that weight off of our shoulders so that we can get on living. Jesus tells us today that this path to freedom, however, starts with repentance - turning toward God, admitting our mistakes, and allowing His forgiveness to enter our lives and lift us up.
This weekend I will be taking 10 high school men from our diocese on a seminary visit to Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona, Minnesota. Please keep us in your prayers, both for safe travels and that these young men might be open to discovering God's will for their lives.
Because of this seminary visit, I will not be preaching this weekend. Lucky for you, however, I have a Throwback Homily on our readings this weekend for the 2nd Sunday of Lent!
2nd Sunday of Lent
In the midst of our Lenten journey, we catch a glimpse today of Jesus transfigured in glory on top of a mountain. This Jesus who was seen by Peter, James and John 2,000 years ago is the same Jesus who has appeared to us, who has tangibly broken into our lives at particular moments, who has woken us up (if only for an instant) to the reality of His presence in and around us! What are some of your mountaintop moments? These experiences are meant to strengthen us for the journey. When the road seems too long, remember the view from mountaintop, and keep your eyes open...who knows when you'll suddenly find yourself on top of a mountain again?
1st Sunday of Lent
Lent is a great opportunity for us - an excuse to slow down a bit, a time to shake us out of our daily routine (through fasting and no-meat Fridays, with our personal resolutions: giving something up or adding healthy spiritual practices). Lent provides us more chances to LOOK UP to our God and ask for His help in our lives. The Israelites were led by Moses out of Egypt, they were tempted in the desert and failed three times by not turning to God and trying to fix the issue themselves. In our Gospel today, Jesus is led into the desert for forty days and forty nights, tempted by the devil, and Jesus wins three times! How? He LOOKS UP to the Father for help and doesn't try to do it alone. This Lent you will be led into the desert (some things in your life will be hard and difficult), and you will be tempted (like the Israelites, like Jesus). Will you try to do it alone, or will you LOOK UP?
The day you're a little more self-conscious (if you went to Church in the morning). The day people look at you funny, wondering why your forehead is dirty but probably not willing to say anything to you about it. The day you find out which of your co-workers are Catholic. The ashes placed on the foreheads of millions of Christians throughout the world this day proclaim three things: we belong to God, we are totally dependent on God, and we have decided today to take concrete steps during these next 40 days to turn back to the Lord!
8th Sunday in Ordinary Time
In our Gospel today Jesus challenges us, before pointing the finger at someone else, to point it first right into the mirror. "How do I look (spiritually)? How could I look better (spiritually)?" This week, this Lent, take a long, hard look in the mirror...give some serious thought to what you'd like to do to make this your best Lent ever!
Once again I encourage everyone (all listeners, wherever you're from - if you're listening consider yourself part of our parish community) to register for FORMED by going to superiorcatholic.formed.org. Should it ask you for an Access Code ours is: 6RC4CN. This week's homily was 3 minutes short so that you would use those 3 minutes to register for FORMED, login, and see the resources they have to offer. Take advantage of this great opportunity for your own study and spiritual growth, available at your fingertips wherever wi-fi or data is present ; )
7th Sunday in Ordinary Time
This weekend Jesus tells us, "Stop judging and you will not be judged." Seems straightforward...but it also seems to put us as followers of Jesus in a crossfire. On the one hand, God shows us the path to a fulfilled life in this world and the next, asks us to follow it, and invites us to challenge others to do the same. On the other hand, when we challenge others to follow this path, when we stand up and say that certain actions are right and wrong, that certain decisions are good and bad, we're told, "Stop judging!" So can I judge, or can't I? (Hint: the answer to that questions is, "Correct!"). Listen to find out why!
6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lent is just around the corner (2 1/2 weeks away) and I am excited to announce an incredible opportunity for all of my parishioners, as well as anyone from afar who stays connected with us through my website, podcast or recorded homilies. FORMED is a top-quality online resource that gives you access to all the best Catholic content, all in one place, and it has been provided FREE for our parishes (and listeners) thanks to a generous donation this year! As you look forward to Lent, as you consider the ways you want to grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ this year, I would encourage you to see what FORMED has to offer - for you, for your family, for your friends - and work some of it's many possibilities into your Lenten resolutions. Register through us online, for free, at superiorcatholic.formed.org
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
God's calls to us often come as thoughts, just simple thoughts. It's easy to miss them if we're not paying attention, or (if you're like me) you reason yourself out of them. But God calls us every day, in little moments, to reach out to others, to pray for others, to share our experiences of the Lord. Like Isaiah and Peter in our readings today, we might not feel like we're the best fit for the job, we won't know what following a call will actually entail. But like Isaiah and Peter, when we hear these calls of God during our day, these simple thoughts and tugs of the heart, let's go for it and unleash more of God's life into this world bit by bit!
3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Walls are necessary for security, to protect the life that is fostered within those walls. Just before our first reading begins, the Jewish people have finally been allowed to go home to Jerusalem after being conquered and sent away years ago. The first thing they do is rebuild the walls to ensure their security. Then our reading picks up with the great stories of their history being retold to this people who had in many ways forgotten their heritage and identity as God's Chosen People - they are being formed again so that they can become the light to the world that God intended. It is much the same in our Catholic Church today. To be strong and secure in our Catholic faith we do need to be set apart, we do need to build walls to protect our life inside from the attacks of the outer world. But we are also invited – like the Israelites – to reclaim our identity and then throw open the windows to let this life transform those around us: it’s both/and. Where do you need to strengthen a wall this week? And where are you being asked to open a window?
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
In this week's Gospel Jesus performs his first known miracle: turning water into wine at a wedding reception. Jewish wedding receptions lasted 5-7 days; it was the third day of this wedding reception and they're already running out of wine - it would have been a complete humiliation for the newlyweds. For this miracle, however, Jesus didn't magically become aware of the wine shortage, snap his fingers and fix it all in an instant. Rather, this miracle involved a number of people: noticing a problem, bringing it to Jesus, persevering through seeming rejection, carrying out laborious and seemingly useless orders, all backed by a trust that it would turn out OK in the end. What would have happened if one link in that chain had been broken by someone stopping from discouragement or doing something other than what Jesus asked because it would have been the more logical or sensible thing to do? The miracle probably wouldn't have happened. This week: how will you fit into that chain of events as God tries to use you to work a blessing, even a miracle, in the life of someone else?
The Baptism of the Lord
Today Jesus is baptized, not to be washed by the water but to wash the water; not to be cleansed by the waters but to cleanse the waters. Today Jesus isn't baptized by water - water is baptized by Jesus. So when we go down into the water in baptism, we no longer just get wet, we get Jesus Christ! At our baptism we were set free from the hold of sin, worry and anxiety in our life, brought into God's family, and given the power of the Holy Spirit to live this new life in God. The challenge this week: how are we doing? How are we living out the gift of our baptism? Have we in some ways forgotten the power and strength God gave us on our baptism day and settled for a less than full and vibrant life of faith? This week, let's ask for a renewal of that strength of our baptism!
Today three wise men/three kings/three magi arrive at the place where Jesus was born after following the sign of a star. The presence of these three non-Jewish kings shows that God is calling not only the Jewish people but ALL people of the world to believe in and follow His Son Jesus. God’s sign was a star; everyone can see the stars. So why is it only these three wise men who followed that star? Was everyone else just too busy? Were they so caught up in life that they didn’t even notice the sign? We encounter three different kinds of people in the Gospel today: those who don’t notice the sign, those who notice the sign but don’t follow it, and those who notice the sign AND follow it. This week: What are the signs God is placing in your life (what are the stars)? And when you see a sign, do you follow it?