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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
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When the word "purgatory" gets brought up in conversation I'm usually met with incredulity, people thinking of it as an outdated or unnecessary idea - if God is love why would there be a purgatory?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!  

Sep 13, 2020

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend our readings center on forgiveness, especially on how we will NOT be forgiven unless we first forgive others.  While Jesus in the Gospel responds to a question by Peter saying he must forgive seventy-seven times (which seems very magnanimous), Jesus also goes on to give a parable in which a man is punished and condemned because that man does not forgive others and treat them with mercy (which seems quite harsh to our ears).  Jesus ends the parable by saying our Heavenly Father will do the same to us if we don't forgive others.  The Scriptures make it clear that in order for us to be forgiven, we must forgive others...ALL others.  So what does that have to do with politics?!  Listen to find out, and no matter where you stand on whatever issue, be prepared to feel the Lord challenging you to more!  

Aug 23, 2020

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Authority is a theme in our readings today - in both our first reading and Gospel "keys" are spoken of, symbolic of a position of authority. This time of Coronavirus has led to a lot of discussion about who has authority: who's in charge of what, to what extent can a governor proclaim a state of emergency, what rulings and content are under the authority of state Supreme Courts , what authority does the CDC have, how much authority does a governor have to mandate action, who has the authority to enforce those mandates?  For as much as we like to talk about all these things and weigh in with our opinion, the truth is that we individually have almost no authority in changing overall societal response to Covid.  I think that we as humans (me included) really enjoy talking about how others should use their authority and what decisions they should be making, but we really don't enjoy confronting how we are neglecting to use OUR God-given authority!  So what exactly is the authority that God has given to each of us?  Listen to find out!

Aug 16, 2020

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

It's proven that certain practices make for a happier and healthier person - prayer and generosity being two of those practices.  Why is that?  God made us to live in relationship with Him, Jesus lived a life of intense moments of prayer and generosity, and the more we live that prayer and generosity the more we become like Jesus Christ and enter into the only relationship that can truly make us happier and healthier in all senses of those words! 

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.

Aug 10, 2020

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.

Jul 30, 2020

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

There are two movements in the Christian life - one is a turning away from sin, the other is a stepping towards God.  The readings this weekend are more focused on the latter - stepping towards God.  The individuals in our parables find something of great value to them!  To get it, however, they have to sell everything else.  It's a question of priorities and re-prioritizing things in their lives.  There are so many good things we can focus on in life, so many good actions and decisions we can pursue...but only one can be our top priority, and only one our second priority, and only one our third.  All of these good things can't be our top priority, which means that much of the Christian life is deciding which priorities God is calling us to put first, and which ones (however good they may be) the Lord is asking us to put further down the list.  Following God isn't just doing good things; following God is doing the good things God has planned for us to do!

As a second installment I invited Dan Tracy, a seminarian for our Diocese, to say a few words at the end of Mass.  He spent part of the summer here with us at St. Joseph and St. Ann parishes and will be heading back to seminary in the weeks ahead - he is a good man and will be greatly missed!

Jul 12, 2020

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

With all of the polarization in the media and the emotionally driven statements part of me wonders what happened to true, honest, good ol' arguments.  In this sermon, building off of my last sermon on judgment, I explore why I think our country has lost the art of argument (which we used to possess) and what steps we as individuals can take to bring that art back.  It won't be easy, but bringing God back into the public sphere (which then brings respect for every life back into the public sphere) is part of the answer!

Jun 29, 2020

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Life requires decisions, decisions require judgments.  Tt follows, then, that we make judgments all day long.  Every decision we make involves judging and judgment of various factors (even indecision is making the choice not to decide, which is guided by our judgments).  So why does "judging" get such a bad wrap?  Why does God speak so directly against judging others in Scripture?  Can we judge or can't we?  The answer is, "Yes, we can and should judge"...but there is a distinction to be made between two very different kinds of judgment - one that we must make, and one that we ought never to make.  The problem is, we often jump right from the first into the second!  

Feb 10, 2020

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

God our Father is the Divine Physician, the greatest doctor of both body and spirit in this entire universe.  In Jesus Christ the Divine Surgeon has expertly removed the cancer of our sin, through the Scriptures the Divine Physical Therapist gives us our necessary exercises, and in the Holy Spirit, prayer and the Eucharist the Divine Nutritionist gives us the sustenance necessary to be strengthened for the task.  God's love and mercy is that He provides all of this to us for free (who by no means deserve it and have no means of paying Him back).  But God's love and mercy can't do it for us - we have to work with these gifts to reap the healing benefits that are freely offered.  And in this treatment plan, we all, when we're totally honest with ourselves, know what our next step is.  This week, let' start with our own personal next step of that treatment plan. 

Jan 27, 2020

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Do you remember as a kid walking around outside in the dark, seeing something move in the shadows and then freezing in horror - you tried hard to focus on it, sometimes you were convinced it was moving, sometimes you were convinced it couldn't be - your imagination running wild...then other shadows and objects seem to start moving...only to come back the next morning, in the full light of day, to find that it was something as harmless as a pine tree or as simple as a fencepost?   

In the darkness many things become confusing and uncertain - we think we see or understand something, we draw conclusions that seem to make sense in the darkness, only to realize in the light of day that the truth is quite different.  In the readings today Jesus fulfills an age-old prophecy from Isaiah and enters the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali, historically dark and gloomy (from the perspective of faith in God), in order to bring the light.  As Christians, we are called to follow Christ and bring the light to places of darkness and confusion in our culture.  Those in the darkness become pretty convinced that they are correct in their deductions, but it is our call as Christians to bring the bright the light of day, the truth, to seemingly difficult and controversial contemporary issues.  Christ came to bring the light, and we are Christ-ians - let's live up to our name at least one more time than usual this week!

Nov 18, 2019

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Hellfire, brimstone, damnation - words we don't hear very often anymore, but words that our first reading calls to mind (and themes that arise out of our Scriptures).  And lest we think that Jesus ushered in an age full of only mercy, pardon and mushy-gushy "love", Jesus Himself, multiple times in the Gospels, speaks strongly about judgment, hellfire, the separation of the righteous and the wicked, warning us of the wide and easy road that leads to destruction and encouraging us to follow the narrow and difficult road that leads to life.  This week I challenge you: have conversations about some of these difficult topics with friends and other believers, Catholic or otherwise.  These ideas aren't culturally acceptable, many discount them these days, but if we call ourselves Christian, if we believe what Jesus (the Son of God, the Author of all truth) says, then we have to start taking these ideas seriously!

Nov 4, 2019

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Why is it that we as Catholics are the only Christians that pray for our beloved dead?  Why is it that we are the only Christians who believe in Purgatory?  In this homily I will explore how other Christians believe Jesus saves us versus how we as Catholics believe Jesus saves us, and what that difference means in praying for the dead, purgatory, and how we live our lives here and now!

Oct 13, 2019

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sometimes God works incredible miracles that are visually and experientially miraculous.   In our first reading and Gospel today we have 11 lepers who are all miraculously cured by God...but they're healed in very non-incredible ways: taking a bath and out for a walk.  More often than not, God's ways are subtle, quiet and seemingly indirect. God's hand is moving and blessing and answering prayers, but often in unexpected ways, which means that it's easy to miss God's blessings in our lives and the lives of others.  Of the 11 lepers cleansed, only 2 come back to thank God for answered prayers.  As we approach God in prayer, as we attend Mass, let's join with the 2 lepers who came back, and let's give thanks to God for His many blessings and answered prayers in our lives!

Sep 22, 2019

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today Jesus tells us one of His most confusing parables: "Look at this shady, crooked, underhanded businessman... You should learn a lesson from him!"  Many people are clever in the ways of this world - they are smart and resourceful in using the people and situations around them to further their own gain (even if it is selfish and underhanded, as the steward/manager/businessman is today).  Jesus challenges the "children of light" to be as smart and resourceful in obtaining benefits for heavenly life, as clever in living out our faith in the midst of this busy world and culture, as this shady businessman was in obtaining benefits for his earthly life.

Sep 16, 2019

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The most encouraging, effective and result producing words kids can hear from their parents are: "I love you; I'm proud of you."  In our Gospel today Jesus shares three parables, all portraying the illogical, unreasonable, over-the-top love that the Father has for each one of us.  No matter what we've done, no matter how far we've wandered away, the Father never stops seeking us out.  And when we finally let ourselves be found, He says to us, "I love you; I'm proud of you!"  Jesus heard His Father say those words to Him; can we hear our Father say those words to us?

Aug 18, 2019

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

It's proven that generosity makes for a happier person; generosity springs from gratitude - to the degree that we're thankful for the gifts we've been given in life, we have a desire to share these gifts with others.  Thankfulness and generosity, though, are two virtues that you will not be challenged to grow in by popular culture, but they are two virtues at the heart of what it means to be Christian - the more thankful and generous we are, the more we become like our Maker! 

This weekend is the kickoff for our annual diocesan Catholic Services Appeal (CSA).  The CSA provides so many 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 thankfulness and generosity (in all senses of those words) and 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.

Aug 11, 2019

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In order to live in this world, we have to trust all kinds of things we see, hear and experience.  On a daily basis we extend trust thousands of times - to people, situations, information...everything.  A generic definition of "faith" is: "confidence or trust in a person, thing or concept."  By this definition, every single person lives their lives by faith each and every day.  Faith in God, then, means having confidence and trust in God - that He will do what He says, that what He promises to us humans He will do.  In our readings today we see how God comes through on His promises, that God IS trustworthy, that we CAN trust God!  The faith held up for us today is that whatever life may bring, no matter how bumpy the road, we know that God has us in the palm of His hand!

Jul 30, 2019

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In our Gospel this weekend the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray.  After giving a short version of the Our Father, Jesus tells a semi-humorous story (in my opinion) highlighting the importance of persistence - in the context of this passage of persistent prayer.  In our first reading  we see a model of this kind of persistence in the conversation Abraham has with God (also a rather humorous exchange, in my opinion). But both readings make the point that God seriously encourages persistent prayer. The question remains, though, "What or who does prayer actually change?  Does it change me or God?" Listen to find out!

Jul 14, 2019

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

After Moses gave the 10 Commandments to God's chosen people, he said something very interesting: that these commands were already written in their hearts.  If, as Paul says in our second reading, all things are created in Christ, then it makes sense that the Maker would leave His mark deep within each of us, guiding us to what is best.  God has given each of us a conscience, His voice deep within our gut, leading us on the right way.  But then why do we need commandments or rules at all?  Why can't we just each follow our own conscience? 

Our conscience can sometimes be a burden and we don't always want to listen to that voice.  So as we grow "smarter" and "wiser" we learn to rationalize away that voice of God deep within, until we hear only what we want to hear.  This week we're challenged by Jesus to go back to the basics, to be reminded of what we already know deep within our hearts, and to listen for that simple and clear (but often difficult and inconvenient) voice of God which speaks to us from deep within - and to follow it! 

Jun 30, 2019

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In our readings today, we hear a number of call stories: God calling others to follow Him in a particular way.  Whenever one of these calls happens in Scripture...that person is almost always busy!  They have other plans; something else is on the agenda for the day; other big things are already going on in life.  Sound familiar?!  When God calls it's never convenient - it wasn't before and it isn't now.  But as disciples of Jesus Christ we are meant to listen for and answer God's calls to us, no matter how big or small...or inconvenient.  The challenge this week: grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ by listening for and answering a few more of those calls!

Mar 4, 2019

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 ; )

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