Archive for the ‘sundays in ordinary time homilies’ Category

Homily — 28th Sunday OT B 10-11-09

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Homily — 28th Sunday OT B 10-11-09

“We have given up everything and followed you” Peter said to the Lord Jesus.

To which Jesus replied “Peter, all that you have given up by following me – houses, relatives, children, land – you will receive a hundred times that in this life.”

When Peter decided to follow Jesus, as Jesus reminded him, he gave up houses – that dream of one day having a big expensive house to call his own.

In return, Jesus gave Peter a house a 100 times better, he gave Peter the Keys to the House of God, the Church.

When Peter decided to follow Jesus, he gave up relatives, gave up living the easy life with his brothers and sisters. He could have chose not to follow Jesus, and instead spent all his life lounging about with Andrew and the rest of his clan at the beach resort on the shores of Galilee. Instead, Peter gave up the easy life, and instead sacrificed much of his leisure time praying and learning about Jesus and working for the spread of the faith.

And because Peter gave up an easy life with his brothers and sisters, Jesus gave him 100 times as many brothers and sisters in Christ. And Jesus also made his relationship with his biological brothers and sisters such as his brother Andrew a 100 times better than it would have been had he not given up everything and followed after Jesus.

Peter gave up everything – even as Jesus mentions, his own children. Not that St. Peter disowned his children or gave them up for adoption, but rather Peter gave his children to Jesus, instead of pampering and spoiling them as he and his wife would have been inclined to do, Peter instead taught discipline to his children and raised them to know love and serve the Lord.

In doing so, Peter as a Dad received a hundredfold of blessings when he saw his children fully grown and fervently following Jesus according to he and his wife’s good example.

And finally, as Jesus mentions, Peter gave up lands or Kingdoms for the sake of Jesus. In Peter’s case, the lands he gave up were really seas. Peter in his fisherman days probably dreamed of one day having a fleet of fishing boats under him, he probably aspired to be the most successful fisherman on the Sea of Galilee, maybe of even doing deep sea fishing in the Mediterranean.

But Jesus had other plans, as the hymn goes, Jesus gazed into Peter’s eyes, and called his name, and all Peter had he left on the sand to follow Jesus, walking by faith he knew not where to.

And in return for the lands or seas Peter sacrificed, Jesus gave Peter the Ocean of Mankind to Sail in, Jesus made Peter the Chief Fisher of all Men.

And in exchange for his tiny boat, Jesus made Peter Captain of His Enormous New Ark which is the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, the bark of Peter, which rides the stormy seas; and unlike the Titanic, God won’t ever allow this ship to sink, no matter how stormy it gets out there.

Lord, “We have given up everything and followed you.”

May you Lord Jesus be our one and only possession in this life. May we cling to nothing – no person, no place, no thing, no title, no position, no reputation – may we cling to nothing but you, that we may truly possess a hundredfold of all these things in this life, with blessed persecutions for being your disciples, and eternal life with our loved ones in the age to come.

Homily — 28th Sunday OT B 10/4/09 (Respect Life Sunday)

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Homily — 28th Sunday OT B 10/4/09

st-francis

Photo of St. Francis and Wolf of Gubbio Picture

You are probably wondering what this enormous (60 inch X 40 inch) picture (shown above) is doing here in the sanctuary.

I recently acquired the picture from St. Francis House, the assisted living facility on Blackstone Street that had to be closed down by the Diocese this past week because of the stricter Rhode Island Fire Code in the aftermath of the Station Night Club Fire.

The picture was hanging up in one of the halls of St. Francis House, I have no idea how old it is, nuns moved into the building in the 1930s and perhaps it goes back that far.

In case you haven’t guessed, the man in the picture is St. Francis of Assisi, who’s Feast Day is today (October 4).

Tomorrow (Monday) at 1:15 p.m. I’ll be celebrating a special Mass with the school where I’ll bless the picture, and after that we’ll be hanging the picture on one of the walls in the school.

The picture depicts the very famous story of St. Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio. The account can be read in a Book called “The Little Flowers of St. Francis” written 100 years after Francis’ death on October 3, 1224.

Story about how there was a “fearfully large and fierce” wolf living outside of the town of Gubbio Italy that was so hungry it began to eat humans who were walking out in the country. The story says that people were so afraid that they would carry weapons with them “as if they were going to war” – which is why the men in the background of the picture look like confederate soldiers.

St. Francis hearing of this went out to where the wolf lived. The wolf saw Francis coming and lunged towards him with his sharp teeth and claws ready to tear him to pieces and make lunch out of him.

But Francis stood there and made the Sign of the Cross over the Savage Wolf, and immediately the big wolf stopped running, lowered his head, and meekly walked over to Francis and laid down by his feet like a little lamb would do.

And Francis said to the Wolf “Brother Wolf, . . . . you have committed horrible crimes. . . .in killing and devouring human beings made in the image of God. You deserve to be put to death . . . . this whole town is your enemy. . . .but I want to make peace with you and the town”

And Francis told Brother Wolf that if he promised not to hurt any animals or humans any more, he would promise to make the people of the town feed Brother Wolf every day for as long as he lived, “for I know that whatever evil you have been doing was done because of . . . . hunger. Will you promise (and pledge) me that, Brother Wolf?”

Let’s shake on it! And as you see in the picture, the wolf put out his paw and shook on that promise. And the people of the town of Gubbio forgave the wolf of his former sins of killing their fellow townspeople, and for the rest of it’s life they fed and took care of the wolf, and when it grew old and died they built a shrine over its burial place which you can visit today. (In the late 1800s, excavations under the shrine unearthed a very large skull of a wolf with teeth intact.)

This story could not be more relevant to us today as we observe Respect Life Sunday.

For again, a “fearfully large and fierce” wolf prowls not around the village of Gubbio Italy, but around the city of Woonsocket, around the state of Rhode Island, around the country, around our Western World.

For decades now, this savage wolf has terrorized and devastated our Christian Culture.

This wolf has for the past 30 years torn millions of unborn children from their mother’s wombs, and has hindered and prevented millions more born children from growing up knowing loving and serving Jesus so that now our Church pews are empty of children and our Catholic schools are closing.

This wolf has also torn apart countless marriages through divorce, infidelity, and the sexual revolution.

And like the townspeople of Gubbio, our efforts to stop this wolf from harming our society have all been in vain, the wolf only gets bigger and fiercer with each passing year.

And that is a pity, because we like St. Francis have been given by Jesus the power to not only stop this wolf but tame it as well, by courageously standing up to the Wolf as Francis did, and by arming ourselves with the Sign of the Cross.

The Holy Cross of Christ has the power to transform the wolf into the lamb, the culture of death into a culture of life.

But while many of us Catholics know how to make the Sign of the Cross, few us of Catholics really pray the Sign of the Cross.

St. Francis prayed the Sign of the Cross as we can see in the picture with crucified hands, standing on two crucified feet, with a pierced and crucified heart – that kind of prayer and only that will tame the wolf.

And while St. Francis was given the visible stigmata by Jesus, all of us Catholics are called to bear the invisible stigmata – to have the Hands and Feet and Heart of Christ – totally dead to sin and evil, totally alive to Love and Good Works.

On this Respect Life Sunday, and during this Respect Life Month of October, may we ask Jesus to give us the grace to Crucify ourselves to the world, that the Sign we are sending to the Wolves who prowl about our culture and hold sway over it will be the Saving and Tranforming Sign of the Cross, which will tame that wolf and turn it into a Lamb who will lead the little children and their parents to Jesus the Good Shepherd.

Homily — 24th Sunday OT 9/13/09

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Homily — 24th Sunday OT 9/13/09

The parish secretary at one of my previous assignments had a mother who was from an Eastern European country.

And any time a wedding came up in the parish, my former secretary would say “I remember when I got married 45 years ago. You got married in the morning in those days, and after I came home from the Church, I walking through the doorway with my wedding gown still on, when my mother said “stop right there!” ”

Then she said that her mother stuck out a teaspoon of honey and said to her “Eat this!” Then, after she ate it, her mom sprinked a bunch of salt on the same teaspoon and told her “Now eat this!” She ate the salt.

Then her mother got a little shot of whiskey, and said to her “Now drink this!” She said “Mom, I haven’t even had breakfast yet!” But her mom insisted, so she drank it.

Her mom afterwards told her what she did was a wedding custom from the old country:

The standing under the doorway represented the entering into married life.

The honey she ate represented the sweetness of married life she could now look forward to.

The salt she ate represented the bitterness, the trials of married life she had to also accept along with the sweet.

And the whiskey represented God’s presence and blessing, which would always be there for her throughout her married life.

Marriage has in it honey, salt and whiskey; or to use a different analogy, it is like the Rosary: it has Joyful, Sorrow, and Glorious Mysteries, and if you want one of them, you must accept the other two.

And as it is in the relationship of a Husband and a Wife, so it also is in the relationship between a Jesus and His Disciple.

In today’s Gospel, we see the Apostles start to learn that following Jesus isn’t all honey and sweetness. The honeymoon ended for them that day at Caesarea Philippi.

Up to that point, it had been all sweetness for Peter and the Gang. They had spent two whole bliss-filled years in the presence of Jesus, living with him, traveling with him, each day seeing him work greater miracles than the day before.

Up to this point they had witnessed Jesus heal countless sick persons, cast demons out of many possessed persons; they even saw with their own eyes dead men and women raised to life by Jesus, as well as hardened sinners, even prostitutes and tax collectors, transformed into saints and fellow disciples.

Better still, the Apostles saw themselves being transformed by Jesus’ words and actions, they saw themselves turning away from their past sinful ways and turning toward the light and truth of the Gospel Jesus preached, to the point where Jesus was sending them out in pairs to heal and teach and cast out demons.

Yes, those first two years of following Jesus were quite an extended honeymoon for Peter and the Twelve.

And as we see, because of this honeymoon time, it was finally beginning to dawn on all of them just who this man, that they had left everything to follow, really was.

After two years of following him, they knew he wasn’t some John the Baptist wannabe some were saying he was.

He wasn’t just another one of God’s prophets, as good as that would have been. He wasn’t even The Prophet, Elijah, who scripture said was to come and prepare the way of the Lord.

He wasn’t the One to prepare for the Lord, He was the Lord – not only the Christ, but the Son of God, God Himself become Flesh, as incredible as that sounded, but they could not deny it after all they had heard and seen those first couple years.

And Jesus, hearing this profession of faith on Peter’s lips, and seeing that same faith on the faces of the other Apostles, says to them “You have tasted the Sweet, now you must taste the Bitter.”

For the first time in the Gospel, Jesus announces to them Behold, the Son of man must suffer greatly and be rejected. . . .and be killed.

Suffering. Rejection. Killing. Where did the honey go? Peter takes Jesus aside and says “Lord, your disturbing us with this kind of talk. Please stop!”

And Jesus replies “Peter, you are talking like Satan, and thinking like humans do, when instead you and the others should be talking and thinking like God does.”

And from this point on in the Gospel, Jesus will more and more teach his disciples that following him will entail both for Him and for them suffering, and sacrifice and persecution. In doing so, Jesus is being loving, he is showing them the deeper and fuller meaning of love.

As Christians, we like the Apostles must learn to take the salt with the honey, the bitter with the sweet.

Jesus knows that the Cross is difficult for us to accept, which is why he always covers it with a lot of honey, which is why He usually gives us an extended honeymoon, and sometimes a 2nd and 3rd and 4th one as well.

And which is also why he gives us the shot of whiskey, the gift of His Holy Spirit, a foretaste of Heaven, in this life, to help us take the bitter with the sweet.

As we celebrate this Eucharist, which Christ gave us as “The Memorial of His suffering and death”, may Jesus and His Sorrowful Mother give us the grace to take up our Cross and follow Him to Calvary, that we may truly be counted among his disciples and friends.

Homily — 23rd Sunday OT B 9/6/9

Monday, September 7th, 2009

Homily — 23rd Sunday OT B 9/6/9

About a month ago I was visiting an old high school friend of mine, who is now married with two young children and living in the woods of Western Coventry.

He told me about how one day his kids were swimming in a pond at a day camp near his house; about 30 kids or so were in the water, when all of a sudden the life guard got out of his life guard chair, walked up to shore of the beach, and said in a calm, loud voice “All right boys and girls, everyone please swim over to this side of the pond right now, let’s go!”

All the kids on the right side of the pond swam over to the left side of the pond and kept on playing and swimming.

What the kids didn’t know was that the lifeguard had seen a big snapping turtle way out beyond the buoys, heading towards the right side of the shore. The turtle after a few minutes eventually swam off in another direction, and the kids went back to swimming on the right side of the pond, totally clueless as to what just happened.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus heals a deaf man with a speech impediment.

Through the gift of speech, the lifeguard was able to lead those children away from danger.

And through the gift of hearing, the children were able to hear the lifeguard and swim to safety.

But the Church also sees in this miraculous healing a symbol of how Jesus heals the spiritual deafness and spiritual speech impediment every human being is born into this fallen world with.

From ancient times up unto our present day, whenever children or adults are baptized, what’s called the Ephphatha Rite is performed as part of the Baptism Ritual: the Priest touches the ears and the mouth of the baby or adult, just like Jesus touched the ears and mouth of the deaf man, and prays “The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the mute speak, may he open your ears to receive His word and your mouth to proclaim His faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father”.

The grace of Baptism enables us to hear the voice of Jesus speaking to us, it enables us to speak without any impediments the saving Word of God to others.

But even after Baptism, we can grow deaf to the voice of God, and forget how to speak the heavenly language of love and truth, if we are not careful.

Lukewarmness in our prayer life and even small venial sins can create a kind of spiritual wax build up that will make it harder for us to hear Jesus speaking to us.

We need to get out the Q-Tip so to speak, clean out that dirty wax by a daily regimen of prayer. Notice how before Jesus heals the deaf man, the Gospel says Jesus first took (the man) off by himself away from the crowd. If we want to hear Jesus speak to us, we need to spend time each day alone with Him in prayer and spiritual reading.

And then, if we’ve done major damage to our eardrums by listening and giving into the lies of the devil, we’ll need to get spiritual ear surgery by making a good confession.

He who has ears, let him hear says the Lord.

And once we hear God speaking loud and clear, o r tongue will be loosened and we will be then able to speak clearly as well.

One spiritual author says this about how a follower of Christ is to speak. He says “We Christians cannot remain dumb when we must speak of God and transmit his message openly: Parents (must speak) to their children, teaching them their prayers and the basics of their faith from their infancy; a friend (must speak) to his friend (about Christ), when the opportune moment presents itself . . . .a . . . .worker (should speak) to his colleagues, offering them, by word and example, a cheerful model to imitate . . . . “

“ . . . . there are even moments in which it would be unnatural for a good Christian not to (speak) something supernatural: (as on the occasion of ) the death of a loved one (or) a visit to a sick person.”

And this author concludes by reminding us of our obligation to speak out in defense of the moral and doctrinal teachings of our faith when these teachings are belittled, misunderstood, or denied.

As we come before Jesus in the Eucharist today, may He touch us and say to us “Ephphatha! Be opened!”

Be opened and hear me saying to you how much I love you;

Be opened and hear me saying to you how much I have forgiven you;

Be opened and hear my voice, gently leading you away from harmful and sinful things, and towards good and virtuous things.

Be opened, and speak with your mouth my words of truth and love to others;

Be opened, my beloved, and then see how your words and actions will open the ears and mouths of the deaf and dumb in your midst.

Homily – 18th Sunday OT B 8/2/9

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

Homily – 18th Sunday OT B 8/2/9

In the First Reading, we read the account of how God provided for His People as they journeyed through the desert to the Promised Land.

The Israelites had no sooner miraculously escaped death on the shores of the Red Sea, when they are suddenly confronted with another major crisis: they have no food, and they are in the middle of a barren desert.

But just as the Lord God delivered them from cruel slavery in Egypt, and just as He delivered them from Pharaoh’s armies at the Red Sea, so did God have a plan to deliver them from hunger in the desert.

For all Forty Years of their journey, God gave the Israelites a miraculous Bread to satisfy their hunger and give them the strength the journey on.

As the first reading says: In the morning a dew lay all about the camp, and when the dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert were fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground.

On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another “Man hu?” (Man hu being Hebrew for “What is this?”). (They) asked one another “Man hu?” for they did not know what it was. But Moses told them “This is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat.”

The Bible says that the Manna first appeared on a Sunday morning, and the Israelites first ate it on that day.

Every day of their journey, every able bodied Israelite was required to go out in the morning and collect only enough Manna for that day’s meals.

Whatever Manna was left on the ground would melt and disappear when the heat of the noon day sun hit it. The Manna left on the ground miraculously melted, but the Manna that was collected didn’t melt even when it was baked into bread in a hot oven, which was how the Israelites normally prepared it.

If the Israelites tried to collect extra Manna and stockpile it for future use, the next morning the Manna they stored would be miraculously rotten and worthless, because the LORD God strictly ordered the Israelites only to take enough for that day.

But while the Israelites were strictly forbidden to gather extra manna, their were two exceptions to this rule.

First, God did allow them to collect more than a day’s worth every Friday. On Fridays they were to collect two day’s worth, because on Saturdays, the manna would not appear as it was the day God commanded the Israelites to rest and do no work. On Saturday, the sabbath day, the day old Manna would not be rotten but was able to be eaten until the Manna reappeared every Sunday.

And the other exception was that God ordered Moses to take an omerful of Manna (which is about 8 cups worth) and place it in a golden urn for future generations to see it.

According to the Book of Exodus, Manna looked like tiny little white seeds about a half a centimeter in diameter.

Seeds that the Israelites baked into Bread. The Book of Wisdom Chapter 16 famously says “You Lord have given them Bread from Heaven, having all sweetness within it/Serving the desire of him who received it, and blended to whatever flavor each one wished”

In other words, the Manna miraculously tasted like whatever flavor you wanted it to taste like. If the Israelite eating the Manna wanted it to taste like chocolate, it tasted like chocolate. If they wanted it to taste like Lobster, it tasted like Lobster. Like Dynamites, it tasted like Dynamites!

Such miraculous food did the People of God eat every day for Forty Years as they journeyed to the Promised Land. And three days after they finally entered the Promised Land it was the feast of Passover, and Book of Joshua says On the. . . .day after the Passover on which they ate of the produce of the land, the manna ceased. No longer was there manna for the Israelites, who that year ate of the bounty of the Promised Land.

Such was the Miraculous Manna which the People of the Old Covenant were Fed as they journeyed through the wilderness.

But in today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that the Old Manna given was just seeds compared to Him.

I am the Living Bread come down from Heaven.

Like the Israelites of old, Jesus miraculously appears each day on our altars to be the Spiritual Food that will keep us from Spiritual Starvation in this dry and barren world as we journey to the Promised Land of Heaven.

Each day each one of us must go and gather up some of this New Manna for our day’s journey. We pray in the Our Father “Give us this day our daily bread”

Maybe we can’t get to communion each day, but we still need to each day make a spiritual communion, asking Jesus to come to us in our prayer time, being fed by His Holy Word, the Bible.

Like the Manna of old, we can’t stockpile holiness, we need to pick up our Cross each day and follow Jesus.

And on the Lord’s Day, now Sunday, we rest before the Lord as He does the work for us and comes to us in Holy Communion.

And just as Moses reserved the Manna of Old in a Golden Urn, so the Church Reserves the Blessed Sacrament in a golden Tabernacle for the veneration of the faithful.

And the Eucharist, like the Manna of old, “serves the desire of him who received it, and (is) blended to whatever flavor each one wishes Whatever “flavor” of grace we are in need of – some virtue, a healing, graces for a loved one – Jesus will supply that when we eat of the New Manna, the Bread of Life.

And finally, when we reach Heaven, the promised land, at the end of our journey through the wilderness of this life, we will no longer eat the Bread of Life, we will instead see Jesus face to face.

So may we say to Jesus what the people in today’s Gospel said to him: Sir, give us this bread always!

May Jesus always give us this bread, and may we who eat of it live forever with him one day in Heaven.