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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: Ordinary Time
Nov 7, 2022

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!

Oct 30, 2022

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! 

Oct 10, 2022

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!

Sep 27, 2022

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?

Aug 29, 2022

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!

Aug 15, 2022

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!  

Jul 24, 2022

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!

Jul 10, 2022

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).  

Jun 27, 2022

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Part II: a taste of where we're headed in the upcoming weeks and months!

Feb 13, 2022

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.

Jan 24, 2022

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!

Oct 24, 2021

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Rules are for children who don't yet fully understand; as we mature we begin to grasp the deeper reasons behind the rules, along with their nuances and qualifications.  In the Gospel today Jesus heals Bartimaeus the blind man, who then follows Jesus on 'the way'; Bartimaeus isn't leaving to follow a set of rules and regulations, He's leaving to follow a person - Jesus Christ.  An immature understanding of our faith sees Catholicism as a bunch of rules, while an adult understanding acknowledges that all of these rules are for the sake of living out a healthy, strong, mature relationship with a person - Jesus Christ! 

Like Bartimaeus, God has done great things for each of us as well!  Can we respond maturely and set out on 'the way' with Jesus, next to Bartimaeus, not simply following rules but actually growing in a relationship with a person - Jesus Christ?  

Oct 10, 2021

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Freedom is a word very often used in society today...but what does it actually mean?  Are there different kinds of freedom?  What kind of freedom leads to happiness and fulfillment?  What kind of freedom does Jesus offer to us if we follow Him?

Sep 27, 2021

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

First, I will share a story with you of an inheritance.  Then, moving to our Gospel, Jesus speaks very forthrightly about a place of unquenchable fire called Gehenna and that sin is what leads us there.  Do we believe Jesus' words?  Do we believe in hell and that sin leads people to it?  Or have we learned now, as opposed to that antiquated time that the Son of God walked this earth, that God loves everyone so much that nobody would ever go to hell?  Have we learned that Jesus was wrong?  And what does that have to do with an inheritance?

Sep 14, 2021

24th Sunday In  Ordinary Time

Peter is often the first of the Apostles to step up and, while he is also very quick to fall, in today’s Gospel he confidently proclaims that Jesus is the Christ.  I have been proud in these past months when, after a homily, you have responded by acting and living out the challenges — going out of your comfort zone to come to confession, meet new people at Church, or thank others for coming to Church (especially those that might be near the age of your own kids and grandkids that you wish would come back to Church).  I want that to be a common experience: that you’re regularly talking about and celebrating how you’ve gone out of your comfort zone, stepped up by putting into practice what’s been said here, and what happened when you did!  Then step up again...and repeat!

Aug 29, 2021

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

This week we celebrated the Feast of St. Monica, patron of praying wives and mothers desiring the conversion of their husbands and children.  The day after we celebrated the Feast of St. Augustine, Patron Saint of our Diocese of Superior...Monica's once wayward son become an incredibly influential figure in the history of the Church.  So many Catholics these days have kids, grandkids, siblings that we wish would come to Church...but sadly they don't; and often it seems like they never will.  So what do we do with that?  What do we do with our deep desire to see them encounter God and experience true conversion, along with the heaviness and discouragement of seeing so many of our words and invites fall on deaf ears, closed minds and hard hearts?  Well I have an answer, I have a dream - simple, practical, powerful and real - that would change hearts and lives...and it involves YOU!

Jul 25, 2021

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

We as Catholics have a set of beliefs that stem from a particular, fundamental platform out of which all of our beliefs make sense.  Other Christian denominations and their beliefs stem from a particular, fundamental platform out of which their beliefs make sense.  The problem is, we often use the same words or do the same actions and rituals, but we actually understand them quite differently...which leads to confusion because it looks and sounds like we're talking about the same things, but we're actually understanding them quite differently (examples being Communion, confession, and the intercession of the saints just to name a few).

In this homily I lay out the fundamental Catholic platform as well as a best attempt at a fundamental non-Catholic Christian platform (I say "best attempt" because there are so many denominations with various platforms that no one platform unites them all...otherwise it would be one denomination...but I believe the distinctions I make are a fair representative of the whole).  These distinctions help explain a number of differences between Catholic and non-Catholic Christians, with a very important one being a much more complete understanding of the Sacrament of Reconciliation!  Enjoy!

(If you would like to read the text of Deacon Brian's excellent and challenging homily from last week, it will be available shortly on this page of our website: https://stjoseph-hayward.org/recent-homilies)

Jul 11, 2021

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Part 1: The current practice of the Anointing of the Sick.

Part 2: In today's Gospel Jesus sends out his Apostles two by two to preach repentance and drive out demons.  He doesn't send them out alone, not one by one, but two by two...together...because we're always stronger together, and we're made to walk this path of faith together with other believers, especially Catholic believers.  Being an individual believer...alone...the demons love that!  They have a heyday with our minds and fill us with every seemingly reasonable excuse to  NOT take that next step in faith that we know God is calling us to.  But together, we as fellow Catholics call out each other's mediocrity, we encourage each other in the faith, we support someone when they're falling and we are supported when our faith seems to fail, we rejoice with each other in spiritual growth and victories.  Two by two is always better than one by one!

Jun 28, 2021

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The parting words of Jesus to his followers before He ascended into heaven (His 'final words', if you will) were: "Go and make disciples of all nations." Jesus called all of his followers to go on mission and bring others back to the Father.  Too often, however, we have forgotten that mission, as a Church and as individuals, and we find ourselves simply going through the motions, stuck in a maintenance mode that is not the energetic, grace-filled, difficult yet joyous life that Jesus lived and called His followers to.   We at St. Joseph and St. Ann will be embarking on a journey over the next number of years to reclaim the vibrant life that Jesus calls us to live in our parishes.  Step #1: Christ-Centered Relationships.  The first followers of Jesus lived in close relationship with each other centered on Christ; there was a true community grounded in deep faith and they encouraged and challenged each other on.  If we want our parishes to have a vibrant life and faith, we need to reclaim first the importance of Christ-Centered relationships!  Because if we can't confidently talk about and learn about our faith with each other, how on earth are we ever going to share it with someone who doesn't yet believe?!

Jun 13, 2021

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

When we look at everything around us, we see that God has a way of taking something small and making it BIG!  Whether the shoot from the tree in our first reading, or the mustard seed in our Gospel, God often takes small things and slowly grows them until they are BIG!  He does that in our lives in so many ways, but I believe that the Lord is calling our parishes of St. Ann and St. Joseph here and now to start small in developing relationships with others who believe in and follow Jesus Christ, especially other Catholics, and especially our fellow parishioners.  So the challenge for this summer - get to know 6 more people from Church by the end of summer!  Invite them out for breakfast, lunch, dinner after Mass; invite them over for a beer on the deck or a pontoon ride; get to know them personally.  And when we start with these small but powerful and meaningful efforts, God will grow us over time here at St. Ann and St. Joseph into something BIG! 

Feb 15, 2021

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

When we think of Lent we often think of some sort of sacrifice that we make, something that we "give up" for Lent.  But a great question to ask the Lord as you consider your Lenten resolution(s) is, "How will this help me grow closer to You, Jesus?"  The whole point of a sacrifice in Lent is to be a sacrifice of love to the Lord, an intentional turning to God.  When our Lenten resolutions simply become a test of our own will power, however, then we've missed the whole point.  The whole point of this Lenten season is to draw closer to Jesus Christ.  If we are not intentionally growing closer to the Lord, then our Lent will be in vain.  So as you consider your resolution(s) for this Lent, I want you to ask the Lord, "How will this help me grow closer to You, Jesus?"

Jan 25, 2021

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Our readings today give us an outline of the Christian life, the three necessary steps of what it means to live as a Christian.  Our destiny is to be in a total, life-giving, rich relationship with Jesus Christ, the Father and the Holy Spirit for all eternity...and to begin living in that reality now through these three steps.  Christianity is quite simple...it's not easy, but it's quite simple.  G.K. Chesterton wrote, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting.  It has been found difficult and left untried.”  So this week, will you give it a try?  Today, which step is God calling you to focus on?

Nov 9, 2020

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

This last week we celebrated both All Saints Day and All Souls Day.  On All Saints we rejoice and thank God for those whose souls are fully united to God in heaven; on All Souls day we pray for those people who have died and whose bodies are decomposing yet whose souls live on into eternity.  Why do we pray for them? What need would they have that we can help with?  Why not just celebrate All Saints Day and forget about All Souls Day?  When the word "purgatory" gets brought up in conversation I'm usually met with incredulity, people thinking of it as an outdated or unnecessary idea - if God is love why would there be a purgatory?  But maybe the way we're thinking about it is all wrong; maybe there's something incredibly relevant and timely about purgatory, both for us and for all souls, whether living in the body or out of it. 

Oct 11, 2020

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?

Sep 28, 2020

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 but then changes his mind and does it; the other says "yes" to his dad's request but 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 especially 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!  

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