Archive for the ‘sundays in ordinary time homilies’ Category

Homily — 17th Sunday OT B 7/26/09

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Homily — 17th Sunday OT B 7/26/09

Today’s Gospel begins with Jesus posing a question to one of his Apostles.

“Philip, where can we buy enough food for all these people to eat?”

Now, notice how Philip doesn’t say “You know Lord, I was just thinking the exact same thing!”

Philip probably wasn’t thinking at all about the needs of those around him before Jesus put the thought into his head.

More likely, Philip was thinking of his own needs and concerns, maybe thinking about what he was going to have for lunch, or how he was going to get any rest and relaxation and quality time with his friends with these thousands of people making all this racket around him.

But Jesus breaks through all these selfish thoughts and forces Philip to think beyond his own needs.

And my brothers and sisters, it’s not long after we start to follow Jesus that He begins to put thoughts into our heads and hearts that force us to look beyond our selfish needs and wants.

It’s not long after we start to follow Jesus that He begins to ask us things like “How are we going to feed all these hungry people in our city, and in other parts of the world? Or, How are we going to end this or that particular injustice against innocent human life?”

Or, Jesus starts to put other questions into our hearts like “How are we going to forgive that person who really hurt us?”

Or “How are we going to overcome that sin we keep falling into?”

Questions that only Jesus could have put in our hearts, that we would never have thought of if he didn’t put it there.

And like Philip, our initial response to Jesus’ questions is “It is humanly impossible what you ask us to do, Jesus. We don’t have enough resources to the thousands of hungry men and their wives and children.”

“We don’t have the political power to overturn human rights abuses.”

“We don’t have the strength to forgive that person, or the willpower to overcome that sin.”

To which Jesus answers “I didn’t ask you ‘How are you going to do it?’ I asked ‘How are we, you and I, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, going to do it?’!”

A little later in John’s Gospel, at the Last Supper Jesus will tell us “Apart from me, you can do nothing.”

We as individuals and as a society can do nothing apart from Jesus, but with Jesus we can do everything – nothing is impossible for he who has faith says the Lord.

In some ways this is the main point of Our Holy Father Pope Benedict’s new Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, which came out earlier this month.

The Pope is reminding people that all the many challenges the world faces, whether it’s third world poverty or the financial crises in America and Europe, these challenges cannot be solved apart from the Truth which is Jesus Christ and His Gospel.

With Jesus, we can feed the hungry, make peace with our enemies, overcome sin and injustice, even solve difficult economic problems.

So the next time we are going about our business, and Jesus puts on our hearts something that seems impossible, may we say to him “Jesus, how can we, you and I and the rest of your people, do what you are asking us to do?”

We will be as surprised as the Apostles were when we see what Jesus will do next.

Homily — 16th Sunday OT B 7/19/09

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Homily — 16th Sunday OT B 7/19/09

In today’s Gospel we read about the return of the Twelve Apostles from the first mission Jesus sent them on.

In last Sunday’s Gospel, we read St. Mark’s account of Jesus sending forth the Apostles into the nearby villages to heal the sick and to preach repentance.

And just as Jesus sent the Apostles, so He also sends us forth from this Church to our homes and neighborhoods and places of work, to do what the Apostles did: to bring Christ’s healing love to all we meet, and to convert our neighbor or co-worker by our good example in words and deeds.

As I’ve mentioned in another homily a while back, we commonly call what we are now doing “The Mass.” And the word Mass literally means “The Sending Forth.” We come before Jesus present to us in the Blessed Sacrament, He feeds us with His Body and Blood, and then “Ite, Missa Est” “Go, you are dismissed” — Jesus sends us away from Him into the world just as He sent His Apostles in last Sunday’s Gospel.

And after several days of being away from Jesus’ bodily presence, the Apostles come back to Jesus, just like we have come back to Him after being sent forth from Him last Sunday.

And judging from the account St. Luke and St. Mark give about the return of the Apostles, it seems as if it had been a pretty rough week for them.

Based on the scriptures, the Apostles seem to come back feeling like they by and large failed to convert the people Jesus sent them to.

It seems this way, because in no Gospel does it say the Apostles returned to Jesus rejoicing over their success. Instead, Mark says they returned to Jesus and reported all they had done and taught.

Jesus said to them “How did your week go?” and the Apostles reported to Jesus about it – they each told him how some people were converted by their witness, and how some hardened their hearts despite their good example.

They each also reported to Jesus how well they followed Jesus’ instructions, but also they confessed to Jesus that at times they didn’t follow them, that at times were really a very bad witness to him and that was probably why some people didn’t convert.

It appears that the Apostles must have come back to Jesus feeling discouraged, feeling like they’ve made little to no impact on the villages they visited, feeling like they’ve failed in the Mission Jesus gave them a week ago when He sent them forth.

But Jesus doesn’t scold them for their failures. He doesn’t say “You go back out there and don’t come back until you’ve converted those villages”. Jesus rather says to them Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.

As if to say “I know you feel like you’ve failed. But you haven’t. Rather, you’ve been faithful this past week in doing my will. And those times this past week where you’ve been unfaithful, you own up to those sins and are sorry for them.

“Far from being failures, you’ve succeeded in the Mission I’ve sent you on. But now, you all need to come away with me and spend some quality time with me.”

“And once you’re all rested up by spending time with me, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to go back into the world to continue the Mission I have for you.”

And so my brothers and sisters in Christ, may we not get discouraged when it seems like we are failing Jesus, when it seems as if our good efforts at spreading the Good News don’t amount to much, when it seems that the world is winning the battle and we Christians are losing it.

May we instead go to Jesus, and like the Apostles in today’s Gospel, may we pour out our hearts to him, reporting to him all our successes and failures, all our sins and good works over the past week.

And may we also take up Jesus’ offer to get some spiritual rest with Him, by setting aside quality time for prayer and meditation on the mysteries of our Holy Faith.

You know, after Jesus sent out the 12 Apostles into the nearby towns and villages, and they came back to him feeling like they failed, some time later in his ministry Jesus sent forth 72 other disciples into those same towns and villages the Apostles had originally gone to.

And St. Luke tells us that those 72 disciples came back rejoicing. Their mission was a great success – and it was all because the 12 Apostles had did all the hard work beforehand, laying the foundation.

In the world we find ourselves in today, each one of us is called to rebuild those foundations of the faith, brick by brick certain that if we do, those who come after us will see Christ’s Kingdom again established on earth.

Homily — 6th Sunday OT B February 15, 2009

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

Homily — 6th Sunday OT B                February 15, 2009

In today’s First Reading we read from the Third Book of the Bible, the Old Testament Book of Leviticus, and I thought I’d give a little mini Bible study of this little read Book of Scripture to start off.

The Book of Leviticus, as the name, Levite-icus, implies, is written for the Levites.

The Levites were one of the twelve tribes of Israel.  They were descendants of Levi, one of the twelve sons of Jacob.

Moses and Aaron belonged to the tribe of Levi, as did John the Baptist’s parents.

The Levites were the priestly tribe of Israel;  God appointed all the men of the tribe of Levi to be the priests for the other 11 tribes of Israel.

And when God divided up the Promised Land prior to the Israelites entrance into it, God divided the land up into not 12 portions, but 11.

God gave one of these 11 portions to each of the other 11 tribes of Israel, but the Tribe of Levi received no portion of the promised land from God, for God said to them “I am your portion in this life.”

Instead of having their own little country like the other 11 tribes, the Levite families were to live in little cities scattered throughout the land of Israel, so that they could minister as priests to the tribes whose land they lived in.

And the Book of Leviticus is basically a handbook for these priests of the tribe of Levi:  27 Chapters of Rules God gave to Moses for the priests to follow.

To give you an idea of the contents of Leviticus, here are the Chapter headings for the first several chapters:

Chapter 1:  Animal sacrificial offerings

Chapter 2:  Cereal or grain sacrificial offerings

Next, theres:  Peace offerings to the Lord

Then:  Sin offerings of atonement — for Priests, for the whole community, for Princes, and for Lay people

Daily sacrifices (over and above the ones just mentioned)

The ritual for the Ordination of the High Priest

A  chapter on “How the priest should behave”  (Not naughty that’s for sure!)

Another chapter on “What parts of the animal sacrifices the priest can keep for himself and his family to eat.”

And of course one on “What foods are kosher and what foods are non-kosher.”

And so on.

Now, the longest chapter found in Leviticus is this Chapter 13 which we’ve read four verses from, in all there’s 57 verses in Chapter 13 all dealing with various types of Leprosy: things like pink and white blotches, boils, scabs, pustles, and other yucky skin diseases, and how the Levite priest needs to be able to identify one from the other.

Some Leprosy was to be judged by the priests as harmless, and the leper would be declared clean and readmitted to the community right away.

But the priests had to declare unclean and then quarantine people who had certain other forms of leprosy, some for only a week, others for a lifetime if the leprosy didn’t go away.

And when a leper was cleansed and healed of his unclean leprosy, before being readmitted to the community he or she needed to go to the priest and undergo a purification ritual and have the priest offer a purification sacrifice, the rules for which are written in Chapter 14, which is the second longest chapter of Leviticus.

The Fathers of the Church have commented that the many kinds and degrees of leprosy described in Leviticus are symbolic of the many kinds and degrees of sins that can afflict our souls.

Sin is a kind of spiritual leprosy, which eats away at our soul and makes us unclean.

Some kinds of sin, called venial sin, don’t merit our being banished from God’s people.  But more serious kinds of sin does destroy our relationship with God, as more serious kinds of leprosy banished the leper from the community of God’s people.

Which finally brings us to today’s Gospel.  Today, a man who St. Luke says was full of leprosy goes up to Jesus, and says “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.

And Jesus, the High Priest of the New and Everlasting Covenant, doesn’t despise this poor leper, but moved with pity, he reaches out and touches the man saying I do will it, be made clean.

And just as Jesus cleansed the man full of leprosy, so He wishes to cleanse us of our spiritual leprosy.

But Jesus can’t cleanse us if we are trying to hide that leprosy from him and from our selves.  Just as this leper admitted his need for healing, and then wasn’t afraid to show Jesus the ugliness of his leprosy, may we also face up to our sinfulness, and then not be afraid to show Jesus the ugliness of our souls disfigured by sin.

For if we come to Jesus in the Sacrament of Penance, Our Lord will not fail to reach out and touch us, and say to us I do will it, be made clean.

Homily — 5th Sunday OT B February 8, 2009

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Homily — 5th Sunday OT B                 February 8, 2009

 Everyone is looking for you, Jesus.

Not just Simon’s mother in law;

not just those in the village of Capernaum whom you had taught, and healed, and delivered from many demons;

not just the friends and relatives of these townspeople who  heard from them what you’ve done;

No, Lord Jesus, everyone is looking for you.

Every human soul your Father has created is ultimately looking for you, Jesus, in their life.

Job is looking for you, in today’s first reading.

This man Job, who just a short time ago was rich and prosperous and healthy, all of a sudden loses everything: he loses his livelihood, his savings, his family, and his health.

Job, in his lament, is looking for understanding as to why he suffers.

And the Jobs of our own day — those who like Job have recently lost their means of employment, or their financial security, or those who like Job have recently lost loved ones or whose health has taken a sudden turn for the worse —

— every Job of today currently asking him or herself “Why me?” is looking for you, Jesus.  And they can find you, stripped of everything, nailed to the Cross, truly suffering along with them, closer than ever to them in their afflictions.

Everyone is looking for you, Jesus.  Yes, even those who are right now plunging into sin, living a life centered around sin.

For every sinner thinks he or she will find happiness in their sin.  But the greed, or vanity, or lust, they indulge in only leaves them not happy, but empty and unsatisfied.

Which is why, in the Gospel, Jesus, we see you rising very early before dawn to pray to the Father for these poor lost sinners,

which is why we see you moving on from village to village to call these sinners also to repentance, to help them see that You are what they are really looking for in life, that You and You alone will truly satisfy their souls.

Everyone is looking for you Jesus, and we thank you Lord that we have found you, still alive and active in Your Holy Church, which you yourself have called us into, through the waters of Baptism.

We thank you, Jesus, that we never need have to look for you again, for you can be found always in your Church, especially in the Holy Eucharist, this memorial of your suffering and death.

Jesus, may we always be close to you as your disciples, may we follow You where ever you will lead us and be obedient to everything you teach us.  May we never lose you, that you have to come looking for us.

Continue, Lord, to deliver your people, and all peoples, from fevers, from all ills, and from demons, and be with all who like Job are bearing heavy crosses at this time in their lives.

And bring us all, one day Jesus, to eternal life with you, in your glorious kingdom for ever.

Homily — Baptism of the Lord MMIX 1/11/09

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

Homily — Baptism of the Lord MMIX            1/11/09

We read in the Book of Genesis, that after the 40 day deluge was ended, Noah opened the hatch he had made in the Ark, and three times Noah sent out a dove, to see if the waters had lessened on the earth.

The first time Noah sent the dove, the dove flew here and there over the flood waters, but finding no earth to land on, the dove returned back to the Ark.

Seven days later, Noah opened the hatch and released the dove a second time.  This time, Genesis says, the Dove came back during the night, carrying a tiny olive branch in it’s beak.

Seven days after that second attempt, Noah opened the hatch in the Ark and sent out the Dove a third time.  This time, the Dove didn’t return; it had found a home on the new earth that had risen up from the waters.

This Scripture passage of Noah sending forth the Dove from the Ark out into the world can be read as symbolic of God’s sending forth the Holy Spirit from Heaven to our World.

The age of the Old Testament was the First Time God opened the Hatch to Heaven, and tried to send forth the Dove which is His Holy Spirit down to us.

But like that first try of Noah, the Spirit flew all over the world, and could find place no to land.  Humankind was still drowning in a sea of sin and unbelief.  And so the Spirit flew back to God, who brought the Spirit back into Heaven, and then closed back up the Hatch.

And so things remained, until about 2009 years ago, shortly after Mary had said “Yes” to the Archangel Gabriel, when God said “Let me try again to send out my Holy Spirit.”

So God opened up again the hatch which He, like Noah, had made for things to get in and out of Heaven, and He sent forth the Dove of the Holy Spirit a second time down to our World.

This time, like it did with Noah, the Holy Spirit flew back to God the Father at Night:  Christmas Night to be precise.  The Spirit had been unable still to land on the earth, but in His Beak, the Spirit had an olive branch, handed to Him by the New Born Baby Jesus, the Prince of Peace, a sign of hope that the waters of sin and unbelief were beginning to subside.

And Today, the Day of Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist,  God the Father, as we read in St. Mark’s Gospel, tears open that hatch so that He’ll never be able to get it shut again, and for the third and final time God the Father sends forth the Spirit from the Heights of Heaven down to our world.

And just as the Dove didn’t return to Noah the third time, the Spirit doesn’t return to the Father.  It descends upon Jesus in the Jordan, and remains both upon Him and upon the Holy Waters of Baptism.

And we celebrate the Baptism of Christ as the end of the Christmas Season, because Baptism is our Christmas, it was the Day Christ was Born again in us, and the Day we were Born again as other Christs.

On the day of our Baptism, Heaven and Eternal Life was torn open and made available to us, and the Holy Spirit descended upon us, and the voice of God the Father was heard saying to us “You are now my beloved Son, my beloved Daughter, in you I am well pleased.

On this Christmas Feast of the Baptism of Jesus, let us thank God the Father for the tremendous gift of our Baptism.

Through Baptism, all the graces of Heaven flow out to us.  Through Baptism, we are cleansed of original sin, that sinful condition we are all naturally born into that deprives us of eternal life and happiness.

Through Baptism original sin, and all our personal sins committed before baptism are washed clean, and we are given the grace to resist any temptation the Devil may throw at us.  As St. John says in the second reading, for the Baptised believer God’s commandments are not burndensome to obey, for whoever is begotten by God in Baptism conquers the world and is able to joyful keep God’s Commandments.

Baptism also gives us the Gift of Supernatural Faith, Hope and Charity:  Faith which enables us to believe that Jesus isn’t just a human being, but the Son of God, Faith which enables us  to believe that Jesus died for our sins and is now truly Risen from the dead.

The Gift of Hope given at Baptism enables us to Hope for God’s graces to be with us in all circumstances, to Hope that the sins we’ve committed through weakness after our baptism have been forgiven if we have confessed them to a priest, and to Hope for Heaven and the Resurrection of our earthly bodies after this life is over.

And finally, Baptism gives us the Gift of Charity, enabling us to really love God with all our heart soul mind and strength and to love our neighbor, even our enemies, as we love ourselves with the very same Love Jesus had in His Sacred Heart.

Through the Gift of Baptism, God becomes our Father, Mary and the Church becomes our Mother, and Jesus becomes our Brother, and Teacher and Friend.

Thank you Father, for tearing open the hatch of Heaven, and for sending forth Your Spirit in the form of a Dove upon Jesus and upon all of us who have come to the waters of Baptism, and have experienced Christ Born again in us, by water and the Holy Spirit.