Archive for the ‘WHAT’S NEW (Homilies added to site in past 7 days)’ Category

Homily – Christmas MMIX 12/25/09

Friday, December 25th, 2009

Homily – Christmas MMIX 12/25/09

Pieter Bruegel, The Census at Bethlehem, 1566

Pieter Bruegel, The Census at Bethlehem, 1566

Late in the afternoon that first Christmas eve, a man could be seen walking in front of a donkey, coming from the north on the road leading into the city. Passing by a field of shepherds with their sheep, this man, whose name was Joseph, led his donkey through the gates of the city of Bethlehem, to look for a place to stay the night.

Riding atop the donkey was Joseph’s young wife, whom he had married a little less than a year ago, whose name was Miryam, a name meaning “the perfect and beautiful one”.

Also riding on that donkey behind Joseph, in the virgin womb of His mother, was Joseph’s unborn Son by adoption, who He was to name Jesus.

Jesus came riding into Bethlehem on a donkey, just as he was to go riding into Jerusalem on a donkey 33 years later.

But what was Joseph, and his nine month’s pregnant wife and child, and his donkey, doing there? Why did Joseph saddle up his donkey and journey 75 miles from his home in Nazareth in the cold of winter?

St. Luke tells us why in the Gospel we read at Midnight Mass: In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment.

A census was to be taken; the Roman Emperor wanted every man, woman and child in his Empire to be counted and enrolled in his census book, according to their ancestral home, (which in Joseph’s case was Bethlehem).

To ensure full participation, an army of census takers were employed in every town and village, and there were severe penalties if you were caught not getting enrolled.

But that stiff fine or threat of imprisonment wasn’t what gave Joseph the motivation to walk those 75 miles.

As he walked, and as Mary rode, along those long rough roads leading down to Bethlehem, they were thinking not about the enrollment newly decreed by the earthly Ceasar Augustus, ruler of the Roman Empire;

No, they were thinking only about the enrollment newly decreed by the Heavenly Ceasar Augustus, Almighty God, the ruler of all Empires, and Peoples, and Ages Past, Present and Future.

For in those days, a decree went out from this Caesar Augustus, from God Almighty, that the whole world should be enrolled.

God in those days wished to enroll not just everyone currently living in the Roman Empire, but every man, woman and child who had ever lived in any Empire, and even those who would one day live after those days, beginning His enrollment with Adam and Eve, and continuing down through the centuries, our 21st century included, and ending the enrollment with the last generation of men to be born at the end of time.

This was the First Enrollment Luke rightly says. All Nations, not just the Israelites, were now to be enrolled for the First Time in History, and their names written in an Enrollment Book which God the Father was to give to His Son that first Christmas.

On the first page of that book was written: “To my dear and only-begotten Son, from your beloved Eternal Father, given to you on the Night you came forth from your Mother’s womb. In this book are the names of all the people I sent you into the world for.

Go to them, call each one of them by name to follow after you, lay down your life, my Son, for each one of these people I have enrolled in this Book I am giving you Today.”

And just as Caesar Augustus had his army of census workers to do his enrollment for him, Almighty God had His Army of Angels to do His enrollment.

And as counting every human being ever created is a massive undertaking, God therefore must have employed every Angel He had in His service to do the job – including your Angel, the one God has assigned to guard you throughout your life.

Your Guardian Angel and mine were most probably among that multitude of Heavenly Hosts singing to those Shepherds that first Christmas night:

Gloria in Excelsis Deo – Glory to God in the Highest

and on earth Peace to men of Good Will!”

Let us then, whose names are written in that First Enrollment, go with the Shepherds and with our Guardian Angel this night to Bethlehem, and kneel before that Manger.

The Babe who lies there even now has that Enrollment Book memorized, even now from the Manger He calls us by name, and knows us, and loves us with His Most Sacred Heart.

And See! as you kneel there, how His Mother Mary takes Him in her arms out of the Manger, and turns to you and says “He wants you to hold Him. Don’t be afraid.”

His Mother, and St. Joseph, and God His Heavenly Father all want you to, and He most of all wants so much you and me, to take Him in our arms, and hold Him close to our Hearts, and believe with all our heart and soul and mind and strength that He alone is fully God and fully Man, born to us in Bethlehem this Night.

So may you and I be then found worthy, to have our names enrolled and written in the Book of Life,

which will be the Second Enrollment, very soon to be decreed in those Last Days, by God the Father, the Most August Emperor of Heaven and Earth.

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 — 4th Sunday Easter B MMIX May 3, 2009

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

Homily — 4th Sunday Easter B MMIX            May 3, 2009

I am the Good Shepherd,  I will lay down my life for my sheep, says the Lord Jesus.

Every year on this Fourth Sunday of Easter the Church gives us this wonderful image of Christ to reflect on.

And at first glance, the image of Christ the Good Shepherd is a very consoling one.  Jesus is the gentle Shepherd, who cares for every sheep in his flock and calls each one by name.   The Good Shepherd leads us throughout our life to Green Pastures,  He is there guiding us through the dark valleys.

Only when absolutely necessary does the Good Shepherd have to get out his rod to discipline us when we stay onto dangerous paths.    But very very frequently is he needing to use his staff to gently nudge us from straying out of the pasture and onto dangerous paths.

All of the above is certainly true of Jesus the Good Shepherd.    But this year, given the circumstances the Church in our country finds herself in, lets take a deeper look at this image of the Good Shepherd as Jesus presents it.

Our Lord says I am the Good Shepherd, I will lay down my life for the sheep.    Jesus doesn’t say “the Good Shepherd will risk laying down His life for the Sheep” he instead says “the Good Shepherd will lay down his life for the sheep.”    Here we have a not very consoling image of a flock of sheep seriously threatened by a pack of wolves.

When these wolves attack the pasture, the Good Shepherd, as Jesus says, does not run away, but rather the Good Shepherd stands between the wolves and the sheep.

At times, the wolves will back down out of fear of the Good Shepherd.  At other times, no matter how fiercely the wolves attack, they are unable to overcome Him.

But the mysterious reality is that at other times, The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.    At these times when God the Father permits it, the sheep look with horror as the Good Shepherd is torn to pieces by the wolves, and dies.

This is of course what happened that first Holy Week, when the Apostles in the Garden of Gethsemane watched with horror as they saw Jesus the Good Shepherd be arrested by the wolves, then be scourged and then be crucified and buried in the tomb.   And throughout the history of our Holy Catholic  Church,  this scene has been repeated in times of persecution.

A similar image is presented in the first reading, and in the Psalm.  Jesus is the Stone rejected by the builders, says Peter in the First Reading.    The Stone is rejected, another stone is used as the foundation, and the building is built not on Jesus Christ but on a shaky foundation that really won’t withstand the storms and earthquakes and floods in the long run.

And once the building is up, it is next to impossible to change foundations on that building.  The Stone remains rejected, cast aside by the builders;  the Good Shepherd is killed by the wolves.

It is an image I present to you my brothers and sisters, because in a lot of ways this is what we are seeing in our culture today.   Jesus, the Cornerstone of civilization and true human progress, is being more and more rejected by the builders of our society today.

For example, Jesus’ teaching on the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, a teaching John the Baptist lost his head defending, is being rejected by the builders of our society today.

And Jesus’ teaching on the sanctity of human life, his teaching that whatsoever you do to the most insignificant of innocent human beings, we do unto him, this foundational teaching has also been rejected by the builders of our society today.    And sadly, Christ’s 2000 year old teaching on the sanctity of human life is being even rejected by some of our nations biggest Catholic Universities, as seen in the recent scandalous decision of one Catholic University to give an honorary degree later this month to one of the most pro-abortion politicians currently in office.

Jesus Christ, the cornerstone apart from whom there is no salvation, is no longer the cornerstone of our society; and even worse, He is no longer the cornerstone of many who claim to be Catholic in our country.

But let us end this meditation by returning to the image of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, standing up to the wolves who seek to devour the sheep of his pasture.

The sheep look on as the Good Shepherd with great courage stands up to the wolves.    They see how he doesn’t run, they see his great love for them, and even as the wolves tear him apart they see how he does not hold any hatred for them.

And as the wolves finish dealing with the Good Shepherd and turn their eyes on the sheep, one or two of the sheep are so inspired by the witness of the Good Shepherd that they rush to the front of the flock.

And in imitation of Jesus the Good Shepherd, these once frightened, timid sheep themselves stand between the wolves and the flock, defending them from harm, laying down their lives for their brother sheep.

See what love the Father has bestowed on us, in making us the Children of God.  And so we are!

My brothers and sister, we are children of the Good Shepherd.  We need not fear the wolves of our day, who reject Jesus and build on another foundation.  May we remain close to the Good Shepherd; may we make Him the cornerstone of our lives, and pray that one day He will again be the cornerstone of our society.

Homily — 3rd Sunday Easter B 4/26/09

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Homily — 3rd Sunday Easter B                4/26/09

One Friday afternoon 2000 years ago, in a far flung part of the Roman empire, the lifeless bodies of 3 condemned criminals hung upon 3 Crosses, set up on a hill, just outside the city of Jerusalem.

Before taking the bodies down, the Roman Soldiers in charge of carrying out the execution checked to make sure all three men were dead.

This was a common enough procedure; and if the severe penalties for botching an execution and the ruthlessness of Pilate when one got him upset weren’t incentive enough for the soldiers, on this particular day there was all these religious officials pestering them.  “Make sure the man on the middle Cross is dead!  Before you take him down, we want to double check!”

But there was no doubts to be had.  You could maybe survive a Roman Scourging if you were lucky, but no one lives through a Roman Crucifixion.

Yes, they were all three of them dead all right – the two low-life thieves who no one even showed up to mourn for.  The soldiers found it hard to believe how peaceful one of those dead thieves looked, given these circumstances.

And the third criminal crucified that day, the one in the middle, was the first of to die of the bunch.  Quite the celebrity, he had been.

The big guy himself, Pontius Pilate, personally wrote out a sign and had it put on the Cross over his head written in three different languages, giving the man’s name and who he claimed to be.  The soldiers didn’t see that too often.

The governor even refused to take it down when people complained about it – one of the few times in his life the man ever show some real backbone.    He wanted that sign to remain there until the body had been taken off, so that all those religious fanatics who either worshiped the man or hated him would know for certain that the cold and dead corpse hanging on that Cross before there eyes was Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.

After taking Jesus off from the Cross, Jesus’ followers came forward to take His body and bury It.

The soldiers were surprised at how few came our for the burial:  His Mother, His Apostles minus Judas, and only several dozen others, mostly women.

The large crowds that flocked around him just a week ago were now running after a man named Barábbas, who promised a more earthly and easy salvation.

But three days later, it was not to the large crowds who went for Barábbas, but rather to that faithful remnant of disciples, that Jesus came to in the Upper Room.  He stood in their midst and said to them: “Peace be with you. . . .Why are you troubled?  Why do questions arise in your hearts?  Look at my hands and feet . . . . touch me with your own hands and see with your own eyes, I have really risen from the Dead!”

I didn’t re-incarnate in another body, my soul wasn’t annihilated, or made one with the universe.  Nor did I become an Angel or a Ghost.  I have Risen from the Dead, body and soul, never to die again!  And I will raise up all who believe in me in the same way

Let us, my brothers and sisters, as Peter in the first Reading exhorts us, Repent, therefore of all our doubts and anxieties and sins, and be converted to believing the witness of the Apostles, that our sins may be wiped away, and we may live in Hope for the Resurrection.

Homily – Easter Sunday MMIX 4/12/09

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

Homily – Easter Sunday MMIX                    4/12/09

The Lord is Risen, Alleluia!  This is the Church’s message to our troubled world tonight (this Day) and for the next 50 days:  He is truly Risen!

He is Risen, despite the treacherous greed of Judas which stripped Him of all He had,

He is Risen, despite the cowardice of His Apostles who in the hour of darkness found themselves powerless to aid Him,

He is Risen, despite the blindness of His own people who preferred the sham Barabbas to the true Messiah,

He is truly Risen, in spite of the excessive beating the Romans gave Him,

He is truly Risen, in spite of the four sharp nails that were driven into His Sacred Flesh,

He is truly Risen, in spite of the death He truly underwent as a man, in spite of the three days His cold and lifeless Body spent in the tomb.

No, not greed, nor cowardice, nor rejection, nor beating, nor crucifixion, nor death itself could overcome Jesus Christ.  He has overcome them all, He has trampled them under
His pierced Feet.

The Third Day has dawned.  His Body rises from this fallen world, glorified, incorruptible, no more to die.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, may this Easter celebration impress deeply upon our hearts and minds and bodies and souls that Jesus our Lord is truly Risen from the Dead.

And as St. Paul reminds us, if then, we have died with Christ in Baptism, we believe that we shall also live with our Glorified and Risen Jesus.

The greedy of this world may rob of all we have,

We may be abandoned in our time of need,

We may find the world to be against us as Christians,

We may be beaten down by our past sins and by the world and the devil,

But no earthly trials, not even crucifixion or any other earthly death is able to crush our Hope for Resurrection in Christ Jesus our Lord.

May Christ fill you with Resurrection Faith this Easter Day, and all the 50 days of this Easter Season, and may the Joy of the Resurrection renew your family, our parish, and the whole world, for the tomb is really Empty, and Our Lord has truly Risen!