15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
In the Gospel today, Jesus' apostles "anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them." This is one of the roots of our practice of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. When should someone get anointed? When do you call in the priest? Is it supposed to be during one's final hours on this earth? Or could it be sooner? Listen to find out more.
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
This week I moved from Medford to Superior, Wisconsin to begin my new assignment at the 5 parish cluster in and around Superior. This homily is "some" of my story of re-conversion to our amazing Catholic faith and how I began hearing God's call to the priesthood (I say "some" because there is so much more to the story, just not enough time in one homily to cover it all!).
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Our God is a God of life: He creates life and He upholds life. "God did not make death," our first reading says...and yet death is all around us. The reading continues, "but by the envy of the devil, death entered the world." We believe in the supernatural - we believe in angels. Angels are amazing immaterial creations of God! They are smarter, stronger and more powerful than humans, and they aren't limited by bodies like we are. Yet, God chose to make us in His image and likeness, not them. Out of pride and jealousy, some angels chose to turn away from God, becoming envious of the destiny that God has laid out for humanity. Through their envy and temptation of our first parents, death entered the world. Yet, God still calls us to an amazing destiny: made in His image and likeness, becoming a member of His family in baptism, God's plan is to raise humanity above all the choirs of angels and all other creation, to be seated at the right hand of the Father! We have an amazing destiny, and not even death can stop God from fulfilling it!
11th Sunday in Ordinary Time
God has a way of taking something small and making it big. We see it in the parable of the shoot from a great cedar in our first reading, in the parable of the mustard seed from our Gospel, in the Church that Jesus established which has grown across the world over 2,000 years, and even in our own growth: from a one-celled organism in your Mama's belly to the 49 trillion-celled person you are today. God has a way of taking something small and making it big. He wants to do this with your faith as well! No matter how small you think your faith might be, give it to the Lord this day/this summer, place it on that altar at Mass, and He will make it bigger - it's just what He does!
10th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The first book in our Bible, the book of Genesis, begins with two different creation stories...two DIFFERENT creation stories! What does it mean? What do they mean? Could they have something to say about who we are, what our relationship to God is, and why there is evil, pain and suffering in the world as we know it? Listen to hear more!
6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
We are about to enter into the Lenten season. Lent is an opportunity to encounter God in a new way, to pause the distractions in life and focus on those things that matter most. As you consider what your Lenten resolutions will be, I have a few suggestions: ADD something to your days for the Lord, do something POSITIVE that will provide you with opportunities to encounter Jesus, give God the space, time and attentiveness He needs in your life to speak to you. Don't just give up chocolate this Lent. DO something that will bring you closer to Jesus; GIVE God the time to transform you!
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Paul felt an obligation to preach the Gospel...but he can't be the only one. Every Christian, as a follower of Jesus, is called to be a light in the world, to share with others what God has done for them. So how? How do we share our faith in a way that is attractive but not pushy, engaging but not offensive? I have a few ideas, and I'll share them in this homily. Today's young adults and students are a different generation who require a different way of hearing and experiencing the Gospel - let's be willing to speak a language they will understand!
4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Paul says in our 2nd reading: "I should like you to be free of anxieties." That would be pretty nice...but how on earth are we supposed to do that?! Paul's life gives us an answer.
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
God speaks to us every day. Yet, if we're not careful, we can miss the Lord's voice or mistake it for someone or something else. The Mass is a particular hour each week when God speaks directly to us - do we know what His voice sounds like? Or are our minds sometimes distracted by all the other things going on in our lives? Samuel is being called by God in our first reading...but he mistakes the voice of God for the voice of another person. It's not until the fourth time God calls his name that Samuel finally says, "Speak, Lord, you servant is listening." It might take us a few tries, too, but let's start making Mass a time when we spend our energies not on daydreams, but focusing on what God has to say to us that week: "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening."
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Master in this weekend's gospel puts a serious amount of cash into the hands of his servants, gives them absolute freedom, and then leaves on a trip. When he comes back, we realize that his end game is NOT about the money: it's about having his servants share in his work so that they can also share in his JOY. Do you lack joy in your life? God has given us everything we have - our faith, education, personality, interests, money, business skills, life experiences, talents - along with absolute freedom, and then "stepped back"...so that we can decide (like the first two servants) to use what He's given us to build up His kingdom - then we'll experience His JOY! Or not...like the third servant. How will you use what you've been given this week?
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
The image most often used in the Bible to describe God's relationship with us is that of a marriage. In the Gospel parable today, 10 virgins are waiting for the groom to arrive and lead them all (with the bride) to the wedding celebration. The groom was running late. Five of the virgins brought extra oil for their lamps while five of them did not. When the five who did not had to leave to get more oil, they missed the groom leading everyone to the wedding. Arriving to the door late, they found themselves locked out. The oil is our relationship with God. We are called to stock up on it throughout a lifetime of shared experiences as we come to know the Lord more and more deeply. Jesus wants to lead all to eternal life, to the wedding party, but He warns us to be ready. If our relationship with God is not a top priority for us and we think we can wait to stock up on this oil, or that we can just borrow from others in a pinch, we may find ourselves missing the party, too.
31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Every person in this world is called to have a deep, rich, personal relationship with God - that is the first and primary vocation (call) from God to each and every one of us. After that universal vocation comes our particular vocations - how we can best share our love for God with others - whether that's through marriage, priesthood, religious life or single life. As we focus on vocations to the priesthood and religious life during this National Vocations Awareness Week, what are some practical steps that can be taken to support our young people in these particular vocations? You'd be surprised, but the answer starts with YOU!
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Michelangelo, one of the greatest artists of all time, loved sculpting most of all. He could look at a block of marble, see the potential, a vision for what that block of marble was hiding, and then carve away everything that was not that potential. Each one of us is standing in front of a block of marble called, "The rest of your life." Do you have a vision for what you want that block of marble to look like at the end of your life? God has a vision for each one of us, He sees so much potential, He tells us in the Gospel today that within each of us is a heart that can love God with everything we've got and love our neighbor as ourself. What do you want to look like at the end of your life: a roughly carved block of untapped potential tromping around heaven, or a true masterpiece of God's creation? It's already inside of you! So what are you carving?
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
In the Gospel today, Jesus' opponents want Him SILENCED! They set a trap for Him in the form of both a political and religious kenundrum of the time: the census tax of Caesar. Jesus skillfully beats them at their own game, refusing to be silenced. Present day opponents of Christ and His Good News are seeking to silence the voice of Christ in this world by silencing us. Whether it's the pressure to keep Jesus and religion out of politics, a false understanding of "separation of church and state", the temptation to understand faith as simply a personal matter, or the lie that it's harmful to impose our beliefs on others, opponents of Jesus are trying to silence the voice of Christ. Jesus wouldn't be silenced by His opponents and we as His Body won't be silenced either! Proclaim your faith, O Christian, because the world needs your voice!
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The parable which Jesus gives about a king inviting guests to the wedding reception of his son is ultimately a parable about eternal life and heaven (which our 1st reading from Isaiah speaks of as "God's holy mountain"). The king in the parable is God, his son is Jesus, and the wedding banquet is eternal salvation. Some have ignored the invitation (God's original Chosen People, the Israelites), so the king has sent out his servants (the Apostles) to invite anyone and everyone, the bad and the good alike (the Church), to this wedding reception. One man, however, is thrown out for not wearing his wedding garment. While it may seem harsh, the wedding garment symbolizes the garment we were given at baptism when we were asked to put on Christ. We may say "yes" to God's original invitation, but Jesus makes it clear that one "yes" is not enough. After that, we also have to say "yes" to putting on Christ each and every day, to wearing the wedding garment we've been given. And as we learn at the end of the parable, busy-ness, laziness, forgetfulness, whatever made that man not wear his garment, is not a good enough excuse when the final day comes. What are you wearing today?
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
A vineyard is meant to produce grapes, which turn into wine, which lightens and cheers the hearts of all those willing to drink of it. Isaiah says that God's Chosen People, the Jews, were the vine, hand-selected by God, to produce amazing wine for this world - but they didn't produce good fruit. So God took the vineyard from them and gave it to other tenants: now we, as the Church of Christ, have been given this vineyard to tend, so that we can produce good fruit for the world. It means first being intoxicated by our own relationship with God, and then intentionally sharing these "spirits" with others so that they can find deep meaning, purpose and happiness of heart in relationship with God. Then they will also begin producing good fruit for others. Our potential is amazing! So how are you bearing fruit?
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
In this Sunday's Gospel we have a story of change: one son says "no" to his dad's request, then changes his mind and does it; the other says "yes" to his dad's request, then changes his mind and doesn't do it. We all have the possibility to change, for better or for worse, every single day. Every day is an opportunity to follow God's voice again...or to choose to let that voice fade into the background. A disciple is one who follows the voice of God each and every day; one who has an obedient and faithful heart - not just in word, but also in action; not just on Sunday, but on Monday through Friday as well. Which son are you now? Which son will you decide to be tomorrow? Change is always possible!
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
This weekend's readings center on unity. God desires complete unity for us: in our families, in our communities, and in our Church. Today's readings show how God uses confrontation and correction (always in love) to bring about true unity...as opposed to cheap unity, which avoids differences and assumes that since there's no arguing, everyone must be united. God's dream is for one Church, truly united, walking together on the road to heaven, picking each other up when we fall and encouraging (and even correcting each other) on the way. Are we willing to speak up and try to win someone over for Christ this week?
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Life gives us many crosses and we have 2 choices: avoid them or embrace them. Jesus embraced His cross and He asks us, His followers, to do the same. When we try to avoid our crosses they begin to slow us down and sap the life out of us. But when we invite Jesus in and embrace our crosses, He gives us the strength to live a strong and rich life even in the midst of our struggles and difficulties. "Jesus, I give you my crosses today, come and give me Your strength to carry them with my head held high and to live a rich life. Amen."
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus brings his disciples to a great pagan temple today with hundreds of niches housing the statues of all kinds of different gods. With all these other gods in the background, Jesus asks his disciples, point-blank, "Who do you say that I am?" Most of us have been taught since we were young to answer,"Jesus is God, the Christ." While we might know the right words, our daily actions and decisions also speak on our behalf about who Jesus is to us. In the busy-ness of our lives, does Jesus ever become for us just another concern among all the many others? Does Jesus fade into the background and fill another niche? (I know that's a tendency for me). Or do our thoughts, decisions, and actions invite Jesus to stand front and center in our lives by proclaiming, "You are the Christ, the Son of God!"?
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
In the Gospel today, a pagan woman approaches Jesus asking Him to heal her daughter. Jesus' actions should bother us: First, Jesus doesn't respond. Second, He rejects her. Third, He insults her. Then finally, when she refuses to stop, He works a miracle for her. What is Jesus doing? He's coaxing out of her an extreme act of faith and perseverance. Have you ever asked for a deeper faith? Does it ever seem like some of your prayers haven't been answered by God? Maybe He's trying to do the same thing with you that He was doing with this woman in the Gospel - maybe He's trying to call out of you an extreme act of faith; maybe He's trying to grow in you a heroic faith!
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus comes to the disciples today walking on the water - that's a Big Moment, a miraculous moment, one that's hard to miss, and it strengthens their faith. Elijah is told in our 1st reading that the Lord will be passing by: there is a great wind, a tremendous earthquake, a blazing fire, and yet, Scripture says, God was in none of those seemingly big moments. Rather, God was in a tiny, whispering voice - a Small Moment, so small it could be easily missed, but just as real as a Big Moment...and I would say even more important! God's ordinary language is in Small Moments, countless little whispers to us throughout the day. He gives us a few privileged Big Moments precisely so that we will continue looking and listening for Him in the hundreds of Small Moments every day.
8th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus tells us in our Gospel this week not to be anxious about food, clothing, or tomorrow. There are so many things in life that we worry about...is it really that easy to just stop worrying? We worry when we feel alone, but Jesus challenges us this Sunday to "seek first the kingdom of God." We are made, as humans, for deep, rich relationships. When we seek a deep and rich relationship with God first (and then seek to honor the other relationships in our lives next), then all these things that used to cause us worry just won't worry us anymore.
This Lent, don't just give up chocolate or sweets, add something to your life in these amazing 40 days to bring you closer in your relationship with Jesus.
A resource you may find helpful: BestLentEver.com
7th Sunday in Ordinary Time
What does Jesus mean when He says, "Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect"? The Greek word for perfect comes from the root word telos, meaning 'end'. The Greeks called something 'perfect', not because it was flawless, but if it fulfilled its end, if it did what it was made to do. God, from all eternity, is a deep, rich, loving, giving relationship. We humans are made in the image and likeness of God: we are made to have deep, rich, loving, giving relationships. When other things get in the way of our relationships - our job, our hobbies, our selfish interests - we are imperfect. When we put our relationships first - with God, our spouse, our kids, our families, our friends - even though we aren't flawless, we can still be perfect.
4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
In the Old Testament God promised to Abraham a kingdom and a people. Last week Jesus began to fulfill that promise of a kingdom by beginning the calling of his 12 Apostles. These 12 would eventually form the Church - the new kingdom of God that will last into eternity. This week, Jesus describes the attributes of those who belong to this kingdom, what kingdom citizens look like: they look like the 8 beatitudes. How can I become more a kingdom citizen this week? And how can I help others to become more of a kingdom citizen this week?