34th Sunday in Ordinary Time
At the end of this liturgical year our readings focus on the end of time, the final judgment, and the coming of God's kingdom in its fullness, the completion of God's great plan for all of creation. Jesus speaks of all people being assembled before the Son of Man, and that "he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left." And those on his left "will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." Is God fair? Is this treatment fair? Listen and find out why this is actually incredibly GOOD news for us!
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
No matter how many talents we believe the Master has given us, no matter if we have used them wisely up until this point or not, we all still have at least one talent (and an important one) - faith! And our Master expects us to use whatever we have right now, engage with it, "trade" with it, and intentionally multiply that talent. Our Master hasn't yet come back to settle accounts with us, so we still have time to engage others and the world with that talent and make a good return on what He has given to us!
31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
This weekend I am thankful to preach back at my home parish of St. Patrick in Hudson. Thank you to all of you who inspired me in the faith and grew me into who I am today. I am a priest because of you. As Paul said in our second reading, "We were determined to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our very selves as well." Thank you for sharing with me and others not only the Gospel of God but your very selves as well...and keep doing that!
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
I’ve been hearing a lot of discouragement at the state of our world, our country: the divisions, the politics, the games, the manipulation from all sides. I hear people sad that many of their own kids have fallen away from the active practice of the Catholic faith, that their own grandkids or great-grandkids aren’t baptized. I hear people lamenting that our younger generations are spending so much time on their phones and on social media.
All legitimate feelings. But there is a very evil temptation/conclusion that can come about as a result of these feelings. It's a temptation that must be rejected, with a positive call to action from God that must be accepted and lived out by His followers here on earth if we wish to see souls saved and lives changed for the glory of God!
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Last Advent we preached about the 4 Marks of a Disciple: Quick to Pray, Joyfully Sacramental, Intentional in Relationships, and Committed to Growth. Since then, I hope that you’re finding yourself on certain weeks striving to grow in one or another of those Marks as we have continued to bring them up in preaching. This weekend we return to the first -- Quick to Pray -- and after some examples of how we as a staff here at our Central Office have been changing our habits and actions to grow in being Quick to Pray, I'd invite you to consider for yourself: How have you been more Quick to Pray in your daily life? What are some ways you’ve thought of being more Quick to Pray but maybe just haven’t acted on yet? (That’s likely the Holy Spirit inviting you to take the next step.) The call in these days ahead: start challenging yourself, as we the staff are challenging ourselves, to grow in being more Quick to Pray!
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
“Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven… Remember your last days, set enmity aside;”
“So will my heavenly Father do yo you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Last week we heard about how the gates of the netherworld would not prevail against the Church, how Jesus actually sees His Church as being on the offensive, and how the gates of darkness will not be able to hold back His kingdom. This week's readings continue and clarify that them, showing us what it will actually cost to overcome gates of darkness in our world and bring the light of Christ. It won't be easy, but it will absolutely be worth it!
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
In our Gospel today Jesus says an often misinterpreted and misunderstood line: "upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it."
In the face of such seemingly steep opposition, pushback and darkness in our modern world, I believe this line of Jesus, correctly understood, provides us the key to understanding how and with what attitude we as Christians are called to engage the world today!
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
This weekend is the kickoff for our annual diocesan Catholic Services Appeal (CSA). The CSA provides 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 prayerful generosity to all of your favorite organizations and non-profits. 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. Jesus Christ is our model of prayer and generosity; let's act more like Christ in this life, so as to become more of who we are called to be in the next!
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
In our first reading, there’s a strong heavy wind crushing rocks, there’s an earthquake, there’s a raging fire. In our Gospel there’s a stormy sea.
But where is God in the midst of it all? In the noise of our lives (which will always be there), I want you to look for God in the small moments, the daily moments, the unnoticed moments, in the small whispers. When we notice Jesus in small ways, even in the midst of our storms, and invite him into our boat, we find a true peace and calm that only He can bring. And those storms just aren’t as stormy any more.
Look for God in the small moments this week.
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
This week, no matter where you're at, I am challenging you to take one real step in prayer. I don't care where you think you're at now - whether you only come to church when you're visiting Grandma and Grandpa, or whether you have a daily hours long prayer regimen that you have followed for years - no matter where you are I want all of us to intentionally take one step in prayer this week. Disciples are Quick to Pray. Disciples are Committed to Growth. Let's get a two for one this week and take one step toward growth in prayer!
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
"Rabbi" means "teacher". "Disciple" means "student". In Israel, 2,000 years ago, there were a couple formulaic statements that a rabbi would use to call a disciple and then invite that disciple to take on the rabbi's worldview and become like him (one statement we find in today's Gospel!). Then at the end of this period of formation, the disciple is sent out to teach others what he learned from his rabbi. We are disciples of the Great Rabbi, and Jesus has sent us to witness to what we have seen, heard, learned and experienced!
6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
I recently went on an 8-day silent retreat. Many have been asking, “Father, how was the retreat?!” So I’d like to share with you a bit about silent retreats in general as well as some of what happened and what God was up to on my retreat!
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Listen to a real, down-to-earth story of barstool evangelization! When we are sharing with others, what we're meant to share is not primarily information, but our own experience of God, faith, prayer, and why it's important to us. People don't primarily want to hear theological reasons or arguments (even though they might say they do, or start the conversation that way), what people really need is to be inspired by the real example and experiences that others have of God - and that's something that any person of faith can share, no matter how much or little they think they know about the faith!
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
In the midst of very important, but ultimately short-sighted, concerns of this world and concerns of politics, I believe that we are losing our way. And when we don’t keep our eyes on the world to come, our outlook on this world, on our country and on others begins to degrade - it loses the light of Christ, and it festers into hatred and unnecessary division. To put priorities in order, I think it's worth stating:The worst thing that can happen in this world, is that a person ends up living a life apart from God for all eternity; the best thing that can happen in this world, is that a person ends up living life with God for all eternity! Everything else, no matter how important, is secondary to that long distance vision.
Want to know what would actually change the world more than the solving of any moral issue, political issue or cultural practice? If every Catholic for the last 2,000 years had reached out and brought 3-5 people to Christ during their lifetime, if that's what each Catholic expected of their role in God's plan of salvation (for WE are the Body of Christ on this earth here and now)...our whole world would be transformed by now! So let's get going!
31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
In our familiar Gospel story of Zacchaeus, Jesus does something that might entirely change how you see Jesus' life, and what that means about how you are called here and now to live as disciples of Jesus! In our Gospel today, we hear that Jesus came to Jericho and "intended to pass through the town"...Jesus intended to pass through the town, but when he sees Zacchaeus he changes his mind and decides to stay. For Jesus, following his Father's will didn't look like having a checklist in his head of every single pre-planned-from-all-eternity thing that had to happen on that particular day to achieve our salvation...Jesus changed his mind and his plans during his days with the nudges of the Holy Spirit (and in this case the Holy Spirit moved him to change his plans and have dinner with Zacchaeus - and this interaction changed Zacchaeus' life).
God's plan to change the world is not primarily through heady knowledge of theology, nor is it primarily through large-scale events that normal folk like us are unable to bring about. God's plan to change the world is to change it primarily through normal, personal interactions, when we as individuals (as the hands and feet of Christ here and now), inspired by the Spirit, reach out and touch the lives of particular people that God has us come in contact with. Personal interaction, personal invitation - that's how Jesus lived and that's how we are called to live, too!
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Why is it that so many people (including many of your children whom you raised in the Church and brought to the sacraments and taught to be generous and to care for others) have fallen and continue to fall away from our incredible Catholic Faith and belief in Jesus Christ? The Church has three jobs: to evangelize, to celebrate the sacraments, and to care for the poor. These are three legs of a stool; if any one of them is missing or lacking, the stool will tip and fall. I would propose that we as a Church, in the midst of a total culture change from a Christendom time/culture to an Apostolic time/culture, have unintentionally lost the "evangelization" footing of our identity as a Church. What we see now is people naturally falling away from the faith because they (even unconsciously) sense that something is lacking in the current lived practice of the Catholic faith in America...and something would be lacking: our essential call as followers of Jesus Christ to personally witness to Him - to evangelize, to speak about the good news. How did that happen and what are we called to do about it now? Listen to hear my thoughts and to be invited on board for where our parishes will be focusing our efforts into the future!
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
In today's Gospel we hear of the rich man and Lazarus both before then after their deaths; after death, Lazarus find himself in the bosom of Abraham (i.e. heaven) while the rich man is in the netherworld (i.e. hell). What sin did the rich man commit? There are two kinds of sin in Scripture, and in our culture we tend to consider one kind of sin much more than the other: sins of commission and sins of omission. Sins are choices that we make - in our thoughts, words and/or actions - where we put distance between us and God. Those can be choices of commission (where we actively do something that puts distance between us and God), or choices of omission (where we choose NOT to do things that will maintain our relationship with God and draw us closer to Him). God is alive and at work in this world! God is on the move! If we put our relationship with God on hold, standing statically in one place, we don't pick up right where we left off; since God is on the move, when we pick up again it means that we've allowed distance to grow between us and the God who is always moving and yet always beckoning to us, "Come, follow me!" The rich man is not cited for sins of commission, today, but sins of omission - complacency - all those choices that he made NOT to make God the priority in his life. As disciples of Jesus Christ, where are areas that we have become complacent? How can we recommit to continual growth in a life lived with the Lord?
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
This weekend I officially took over the sacramental and administrative duties for three more parishes in our area after the retirement of Fr. Greg Hopefl, a long-time and honored priest of our diocese. This was my first weekend preaching at St. Philip in Stone Lake, St. Francis Solanus on the Lac Courte Oreilles Reserve, and St. Ignatius in New Post. These three parishes, along with St. Joseph in Hayward and St. Ann in Cable make up the new five parish Hayward cluster, of which I am the pastor and Fr. Karun from India is my associate. Please pray for us - priests, people and communities - during this time of transition. I am excited to see what God has in store for us in the future!
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
This weekend is the kickoff for our annual diocesan Catholic Services Appeal (CSA). The CSA provides 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 prayerful generosity to all of your favorite organizations and non-profits. 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. Jesus Christ practiced prayer and generosity to the point of death; let's act more like Christ in this life, so as to become more of who we are called to be in the next!
17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
As disciples, we are called to be salt of the earth people. Not too salty (we've all had bad experiences of that), but also not non-salty...because that's just not being true to who we are as Christians. We're called to be healthily salty, normally salty. Disciples of Jesus Christ ought to be ordinary, fun, prayerful, genuine, striving, faithful, real people - normal human people. That is what I envision when I imagine a disciple of Jesus Christ: someone that others are slightly intrigued by, for whatever the reasons, someone that others want to spend a little time with!
15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Our response during this Apostolic Time starts with something we already know very well: relationships. We have been rescued by Jesus and sent to bring others to relationship with Him so that He can rescue them, too! The whole reason the Catholic Church exists is to bring people to Jesus. "Bringing people to Jesus" doesn't mean shouting on the street corner or annoyingly and oppressively forcing the topic of faith into every conversation you have. "Bringing people to Jesus" means that there are 3-5 people in your life right now, people that you already know and have some sort of relationship with, whom Jesus is sending you to to simply start a conversation with. Witnessing to Jesus isn’t rocket science or deep theology, it’s simply relationship and natural conversation (and if you think it’s more complicated than that, then you’ve got the wrong idea).
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Part II: a taste of where we're headed in the upcoming weeks and months!
6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
As Christians we are proclaiming ourselves to be in a relationship with Jesus Christ, followers of Christ. Our Christian life is built on this relationship with the Lord out of which everything else flows. Daily talking with God is not an achievement in the Christian life, it's the foundation and the minimum, the beginning of the Christian life! Christians pray every day.
This Lent, our focus as parishioners of the cluster of St. Joseph and St. Ann parishes will be on prayer - on personally taking one step deeper in our relationship with Jesus Christ, no matter where we are currently at in our life and habits of prayer, taking one step deeper, together.
3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
We will be starting a journey as the parishes of St. Joseph and St. Ann beginning this Lent, starting a journey in the direction God is truly calling us as His disciples! Some things, like the Israelites in our first reading, we will discover to be different than we were originally told or taught, even by those in the Church. We are going to be hitting the "reset" button on what Jesus truly calls us to as Christians in this beautiful Catholic faith, which will involve detoxing from misunderstanding and false notions. Step One (and our focus during Lent this year) will be focusing on growing in prayer and our relationship with God. Step Two, which grows out of our relationship with God in prayer, is uncovering and living out our specific roles in the Body of Christ, which Paul describes in our second reading this weekend. I'm excited to lead us on down this path which may seem new to us, but is in fact old, very old - it's the way Jesus Christ Himself called us to live!