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Anchored In The Lord

Weekly homilies of Father David Neuschwander
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Anchored In The Lord
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Now displaying: Category: Lent
Mar 14, 2021

4th Sunday of Lent

The words 'Passover' and 'Paschal' are often heard in the prayers of Mass...but what on earth do they mean?  As we approach Holy Week, and Holy Thursday - when Jesus celebrated the Last Supper, which was His celebration of the Jewish Passover meal with his Jewish disciples and became the outline for the Eucharist that we celebrate each weekend as Catholics - I think it very appropriate to revisit the meaning of those words 'Passover' and 'Paschal' and the rich tradition that they draw us into, even unknowingly, at every single Mass!  

Feb 28, 2021

2nd Sunday of Lent

Jesus reveals himself in our Gospel as the fulfillment of the Old Testament, signified by his speaking with Moses and Elijah who represent the Scriptural writings of the Law and the Prophets.  Jesus also fulfills what was begun in our first reading with the story of Abraham's near-sacrifice of his only son, Isaac.  Jesus is the long awaited Lamb of God, who is sacrificed on our behalf for the forgiveness of our sins when we had broken our covenant with God, Jesus who cuts a New and Eternal Covenant in his own Body and Blood to open up for us eternal life!

Feb 18, 2021

Ash Wednesday

What is Lent about?  Is it about giving something up?  Well...not exactly. Is it about sacrifice?  Well...not exactly.  Lent is about Jesus Christ.  Lent is about us intentionally following Jesus and growing closer to Jesus.  If we forget that, then anything and everything we do during Lent - all the practices, all the sacrifices, all the resolutions - in the end, mean nothing.  The deeper presence of Jesus Christ in our lives is the meaning of Lent.  In our Gospel Jesus gives us three rich Biblical practices for that presence to become a reality in our lives: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  Done with Jesus and for Jesus, these have incredible power.  Done purely by our own strength of will or just because "that's the rule"...then we're just spinning our wheels.  

Apr 4, 2020

Palm Sunday

“Holy” literally means “different.”  As we enter into this year’s Holy Week we are certainly experiencing a very “different” time in our country and world.  I would propose, however, that this time of COVID-19 can actually assist us in entering more deeply into this Holy Week, more deeply into the life, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, than we ever have before!

Note: I will be live streaming Easter morning Mass from St. Joseph at 9:00am on Sunday, April 12!  Please visit the parish website www.stjoseph-hayward.org to view live or watch the recording.

 

Mar 28, 2020

5th Sunday of Lent

This weekend one of my deacons, Deacon Brian McCaffrey, preaches the homily.  During this unique time of COVID-19, I have decided to record and upload my deacons' homilies onto my website and podcast as well.  While nobody is able to see us preach in person, I pray that being able to at least hear the homily will help us feel connected in these very unique times of "Safer at Home" which Wisconsin has instituted.

This weekend Deacon Brian considers the sin of anger, how it often goes unnoticed as sinful, how it takes root in our lives, how we give into and feed it, and how it prevents us from being the person God is calling us to be.  Like Lazarus in the Gospel who, after coming out of the tomb, Jesus orders to be unbound from his burial cloths, God desires to untie us from the sin of anger in the ways that it still binds us.  When we give unrepented anger over to the Lord, the power of the Son can transform us into something spiritually new and incredible!

Mar 21, 2020

4th Sunday of Lent

We are certainly in a unique and unprecedented time in our country (and world) with this response to COVID-19.  In the Gospel today Jesus opens the eyes of a man born blind.  He smears a muddy mixture of saliva and dirt on the man's eyes - not a clean or comfortable experience - then asks the man to go wash in the Pool of Siloam.  The man does...and is healed!  This time of COVID-19 and our nation's response is an experience of a muddy mixture being smeared in our eyes and into our lives - it's neither pleasant nor comfortable.  But Jesus invites us in this time, like He did the blind man, to go wash in the Pool of Siloam - trying new and different ways of prayer and service and learning to unite to God in this unique time.  If we don't, this will all just be a muddy experience.  But if we do, this mud might also become an opportunity for incredible spiritual power in our lives!

 

Mar 8, 2020

2nd Sunday of Lent

Temptations come from 3 main sources: the world, the flesh, and the devil.  Movements of God within us start with a thought, and temptations also start with a thought.  As these various thoughts and reasonings fill our mind, we eventually come to a fork in the road - we have to decide which thoughts to hold onto, and which thoughts to set aside...it's not as easy as it sounds.  Those thoughts of temptation are so subtle, and so mischievous, they'll do whatever they can to draw us away from the one thing God is calling us to in that moment.  They'll even tempt us with good things, actions and thoughts that are noble and virtuous, so long as those actions and thoughts are NOT what God is asking of us in that moment.  God calls us, His children, to an incredible glory, prefigured in Jesus' transfiguration that we hear of in today's Gospel.  This week: how will we resist the temptations that come our way, and resolutely follow the impulses of  God within our hearts?  One path leads to glory, the other to fleeting pleasure followed by lasting emptiness. Which thoughts will we decide to hold onto this week, and which ones will we decide to throw away? 

Mar 1, 2020

1st Sunday of Lent

Our readings today present us the with tale of 2 men:  The 1st man - Adam - and the New Adam - Jesus Christ.  Both are tempted by the serpent.  The Old Adam falls and turns away from the Father; the New Adam stands strong in faithfulness to His Father.  This Lent is a journey into the desert with Jesus.  It will be a time of testing and temptation for us just as it was for Him.  In the face of the temptations to come, will we be like the Old Adam, or the New Adam? 

Apr 10, 2019

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?

Mar 31, 2019

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!

Mar 24, 2019

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.

Mar 15, 2019

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?

Mar 11, 2019

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?

Mar 7, 2019

Ash Wednesday

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!

Mar 25, 2018

Palm Sunday

We are entering the holiest week of the year: we celebrate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ!  Easter can be a beautiful time filled with family and travels and preparations and celebrations (and I hope it is for you), but I encourage you, in the midst of all the preparations, to set aside some special time for the Lord.  This Holy Week, for you, will only be as "holy" as you make it - so let's make it a good one!

(The Triduum is the Church's liturgical celebration beginning on Holy Thursday with the Mass of the Lord's Supper, continuing on Good Friday with the special veneration of the cross, and concluding with the Saturday night Easter Vigil - one of the most ancient and beautiful liturgies the Church has to offer.  If you have never tried to attend the special Triduum liturgies of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil, I would highly recommend you put that near the top of your bucket list.  Have a blessed Holy Week!)

Mar 11, 2018

4th Sunday of Lent

I can name plenty of ways that I would be able to grow and improve; I know plenty of  areas in my life that could use some more attention and strengthening; I am a work in progress.  And Lent is about opening myself to be changed and transformed by God, because God wants to work on me as well!  God wants to make me a better me, to make me into the person He has created me to be - both for myself and others.  Paul says in our second reading that we are God's "handiwork".  May our Lenten practices and resolutions open us up to the ways that God wants to work on our lives and transform them for the better!

Mar 4, 2018

3rd Sunday of Lent

Every time we say "yes" to something, we're at the same time saying "no" to lots of other things.  When we say "yes" to someone in marriage, we're saying "no" to all of the other people we could possibly spend our life with.  When we say "yes" to having kids, we're saying "no" to lots of our freedom and comfort...and sleep.  When we say "yes" to God, when we decide to enter into a relationship with God, that means we are also saying "no" to lots of other things.  But for the sake of that relationship, those "no's'" are entirely worth it!  I'd invite you today to rethink how you see the rules, regulations and practices God asks of us in the Bible and through the Catholic Church.  Maybe all these little  "no's" are actually beautiful (sometimes inconvenient and difficult, but beautiful) ways that we can live out our big "yes" to God.

Feb 26, 2018

2nd Sunday of Lent

In our first reading this weekend we hear the seemingly troubling story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his only son.  Certain situations in our lives, too, can make it seem like God is distant, cruel or mean.  Yet, in the end, this story proves God's trustworthiness and faithfulness.  Jesus believed in the Father's trustworthiness and faithfulness, even it led him to crucifixion and death...but that crucifixion and death led to the resurrection and eternal life for all of us!  Today let us thank God for his faithfulness to us, and ask that we might, through this journey of Lent, become more faithful to Him and more trusting of His ways.

Apr 10, 2017

Palm Sunday

We are entering into the holiest week of the year as we join Jesus for his final days of earthly life: partaking with his disciples at the Last Supper, grieving with his followers as he is led to the cross and crucified, waiting in silence as he lies in the grave, and then rejoicing with the whole world as he rises from the dead!  I know this is a busy time - lots of preparation for Easter and family and travels...but in the midst of this week, take some time to join the Father in "paying a visit", if you will, to the grave of Jesus, so that come Easter Sunday you can experience in a new and deeper way the unbelievable power of the resurrection!  

Mar 26, 2017

4th Sunday of Lent

A Catholic university professor once asked a group of his students how they would respond if they were to die that very night, appear before God, and be asked the question, "Why should I let you into heaven?"  All the answers had one thing in common: they were all wrong.  The answers revolved around the things we do for God.  But the Good News of the Gospel is that it's all about what God has done for us!  Jesus Christ came to this earth to carry the weight of our sins, to suffer and die for us, so that we could enjoy eternal life with Him!  Any good that we do...it's because of what God first did for us!

Mar 19, 2017

3rd Sunday of Lent

In the Gospel today, as Jesus encounters the Samaritan woman at the well, He proves how God is not slowed down in the slightest by our unworthiness or mistakes or sinfulness: God still thirsts for this woman's faith and trust. Even though she is in what we'd call today an "irregular marital situation" (married 5 times and currently living with a man who's not her husband) Jesus still offers to her the Holy Spirit.  Jesus thirsts for each and every one of us, too - God thirsts for souls!  Will you give Him a drink of yours?

Mar 12, 2017

2nd Sunday of Lent

In the Transfiguration, Peter, James and John glimpse for a moment Jesus as He truly is, in His radiant glory as God.  The voice of the Father proclaims "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased," and Jesus takes the compliment, allowing it to strengthen Him for his coming suffering and death in Jerusalem.  By our baptism, we are made radiant as God's children as well, and the Father says to us, "You are my beloved child, with you I am well pleased!"  Those words are meant to strengthen us for the struggles in life, not to be pushed out by all the excuses we come up with.  Do you know how to take the compliment?

Mar 5, 2017

1st Sunday of Lent

Our readings today present us the with tale of 2 men:  The 1st man - Adam - and the New Adam - Jesus Christ.  Both are tempted by the serpent.  The Old Adam falls and turns away from the Father; the New Adam stands strong in faithfulness to His Father.  This Lent is a journey into the desert with Jesus.  It will be a time of testing and temptation for us just as it was for Him.  In the face of the temptations to come, will we be like the Old Adam, or the New Adam? 

Mar 21, 2016

We enter now into the holiest week of the year as we walk with Jesus through His final days, culminating with His death and resurrection.  We heard today the reading of the passion narrative and we are invited to personally enter into this Holy Week so that we might die with Jesus and rise with Him on Easter.  For us, this week will be as holy as we make it - so let's make it a good one!

Mar 13, 2016

5th Sunday of Lent

What if you were alive when Jesus was preaching and teaching?  What if you were a part of the stories in Scripture?  What if you heard Jesus speak to you?  God's Word is living and active, and the same God who was at work then is still at work now.  Lectio Divina ('Divine Reading') is a way of reading the Scriptures by inserting yourself into the story - the sights, the smells, the sounds, the feelings - you read through a passage slowly, place yourself in the story and experience what God has to say to you through His living Word.  Try it!  It'll change your life.

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