Archive for May, 2005

Corpus Christi Sunday, May 29, 2005. On Albert Einstein and the Eucharist.

Sunday, May 29th, 2005

Homily — Corpus Christi MMV

It is said that the great scientist Albert Einstein died a frustrated man. After discovering early on in life the theory of relativity, and the famous formula e=mc2, Einstein spent the last 30 years of his life trying to discover something he never found.

It was called the unified theory — a universal equation which would unite the very different forces in the universe into one. Einstein hoped to find one formula that could be applied both on earth, out in deep space and inside the atom. But he died a failure in this 30 year quest for the universal formula for physics.

About this time Einstein discovered another universal formula. But unlike e=mc2, he wasn’t the first to discover it; rather, millions of people had discovered this universal formula before he did.

For at this same time in his life, Einstein became fascinated with the the formula for consecrating the Eucharist — those words of Jesus at the Last Supper “This is my Body . . . this is my Blood.” He became intrigued by the Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation — how the substance of bread could change into the living, risen Body of Christ, while still having the “accidents” or appearance of ordinary bread, and how liquid wine could change in the same manner into the substance of the Blood of the risen Christ while retaining all the qualities of ordinary wine.

Unfortunately, a friend of his gave him some German theology books to read that weren’t very orthodox. Had he been given St. Thomas Aquinas’ writings on the Eucharist, perhaps Einstein would have converted to Catholicism.

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. And those words of Christ “this is my Body . . . this is my Blood” truly are a universal formula, for every person of every age, of every time and place, until the end of time.

Newton taught us F=MA. And with that formula we put a man on the moon. Einstein said E=mc2, and using that formula, scientists made an atom bomb.

But Jesus said “This is my Body . . . this is my Blood” and when a Catholic priest uses that formula over bread and wine at Mass, man is brought not to the moon but to the heights of Heaven.

And the Eucharist is more powerful than an atom bomb. For the Eucharist powerfully unites, it never divides. The Eucharist powerfully builds up, it never destroys.

On this Most Solemn Feast of Corpus Christi, in this the Year of the Eucharist which our late great Holy Father John Paul II has decreed, may we Catholics rediscover the power behind that universal formula. And may even non-Catholics, non-Christians, agnostics, and atheists discover for themselves the power that lies behind those words of Christ: “This is my Body, given for you . . . This is my Blood, shed for you.”

Pentecost Sunday, May 15, 2005 The “Earth Wind Fire and Water” Homily

Sunday, May 15th, 2005

Homily — Pentecost Sunday MMV

earth air fire water photo by john lienhard

Lord send forth Your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

In the days before Modern Chemistry and the periodic table, we used to speak of everything our world being made up of the Four Elements: Earth, Wind, Fire and Water.

It is interesting that in Sacred Scripture, God the Holy Spirit reveals Himself using three of those four basic elements — namely Water, Wind, and Fire.

1) In the Gospel for the Vigil Mass of Pentecost, Jesus says “Rivers of Living Water shall flow from within him” who believes in me. He said this in reference to the Spirit.

Jesus calls the Holy Spirit “Living Water.” But as any biologist can tell you, water is not alive, it’s H20, a chemical compound. At least the water God created isn’t living. But the uncreated Water which is the Holy Spirit is alive, and conscious. This is the living water that Jesus offered the woman at the well, the living water that flowed from the pierced side of Jesus on the Cross.

And as created, inanimate water comes down and is necessary for earthly life on this green earth of ours, so the uncreated, living water of the Spirit is necessary for eternal life on this earth of ours.

May Christ bathe us in the Living Waters of the Spirit this Pentecost Sunday.

2) God the Holy Spirit is also revealed to us as Wind. The Greek word for Spirit is pneuma, which is also the Greek word for wind. The Hebrew word for Spirit is ruah, which is also the Hebrew word for wind. Coincidence?

On Pentecost their was the sound of a strong driving wind which filled the Upper Room where the disciples were.

And on Easter Sunday Evening, Jesus enters through the locked doors and breathed on them, saying “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

So we see how the Spirit blows, He is the Breath of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ.

When you or I breath on someone, we give them a blast of Carbon Dioxide, a gas which if inhaled at high concentrations can cause asphyxiation and ultimately death. But when the Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus breathes on someone, they get a blast of the Holy Spirit, which if inhaled at any concentration causes conviction of personal sin, conversion of life, peace of mind and heart, and ultimately eternally happiness.

May the Wind of the Spirit blow strong upon us this Pentecost Sunday.

3) Finally, God the Holy Spirit is revealed as Heavenly Fire.

Jesus said I have come to cast Fire upon the earth. How I wish it were already blazing! Today we learn that the Wind of the Spirit, the Breath of Jesus, is combustible. For from His Throne in Heaven, Jesus on Pentecost Sunday strikes the Match, Breathes out the Spirit on Mary and the Disciples in the Upper Room, and watches the beautiful bonfire He has started.

The Fire of the Holy Spirit is unique, in that if you throw water on it, it spreads even more. By the end of that first Pentecost Sunday, 3000 from around the world are Baptized in Jerusalem, and they bring the Fire home with them to spread it in their country. Satan tries every fire extinguisher he owns, but he can’t snuff this Fire out. Meanwhile, its reducing Satan’s earthly kingdom to ashes, to clear the way for the Kingdom of God.

2000 years later, and we see how the Fire continues to burn throughout the world.

But as powerful as Fire is, you can’t have a flame without fuel. The Fire of the Holy Spirit within us needs to be constantly fed with the fuel of prayer, reception of the Sacraments, and good works. The more fuel we pour on the Fire, the higher the flames will go, and the happier Jesus will be with us.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, this most solemn Feast of Pentecost may we offer ourselves, soul and body, to the Eternal Spirit of God: the Living Water, the Heavenly Wind and Breath of God, the Eternal Fire of His Divine Love.

Lord, send forth Your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth!

Ascension Thursday, May 5, 2005 The “Neil Armstong” homily.

Thursday, May 5th, 2005

Note: It was also National Holocaust Remembrance Day that same day.

Homily — Ascension Thursday MMV

First Footprint on the Moon

On July 20, 1969, American Astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon.

His famous words (usually misquoted) which crackled back across the radio waves to us were “that’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

As great as that achievement was, today we gather to celebrate an achievement infinitely greater in magnitude and significance for the human race.

Because today, Christ becomes the first man to walk not in outer space, but to walk outside of space, outside of time.

Somewhere on the moon there can still be seen that first lunar footprint Neil Armstrong made, right beside the American Flag. And somewhere in Heaven there can be still seen that first footprint our Risen Lord made, a footprint with a hole in the middle of it where the nail had been.

And as Jesus penetrated the veil between this universe and eternity and made that first footprint on the eternal soil of Heaven, Jesus could have very well said “that’s one small step for the Son of Man, one giant leap for mankind.”

For Jesus by His Ascension has enabled the human race to ascend there with Him.

And this is the real giant leap for mankind — the leap from a fallen world to a redeemed world, the leap from chaos to order, from hatred to love, from war to true peace.

And when mankind doesn’t recognize how great the steps were Christ took by His death, resurrection and ascension, then every other step humanity takes will ultimately be a step backwards.

Let’s look again at Neil Armstrong’s step. It was a giant technological leap for mankind — mankind’s entrance into the space age.

But we no matter what “age” we live in — the space age, the stone age, the middle ages — unless we realize that Jesus is with us until the end of the ages our technological advances will not benefit us.

It is very easy to fall into the illusion that science and technology alone will make us more civilized and peaceable people.

We have the witness of the past 20th Century to prove that theory wrong: the century that saw the advent of electric power, of automobiles, of airplanes and of computers also happened to be the most barbaric of centuries which produced the concentration camp, the gulag, the genocides of Bosnia and Rwanda, abortion and various weapons of mass destruction.

Our nation in a special way today (May 5, 2005) remembers and prays for the 6 million Jews and 5 million non-Jews who perished in the Holocaust 60 years ago, who were exterminated by the Nazis, who rose to power in a democratic, Christian country.

Perhaps in the last century our western culture got so preoccupied with all the new inventions and advances in knowledge that we took our eyes off of the most important thing to know — God.

My brothers and sisters, this century we live in doesn’t have to be a repeat of the past century. May we never again de-scend into the hell of war and racial genocide, the hell of rich and powerful exploiting poor and vulnerable human beings, the hell of good people standing back and doing nothing.

May we rather a-scend with Christ to build a world of peace, brotherly love among races, asking for and accepting forgiveness of past wrongs, respecting the dignity of all human life from conception to natural death, being conscientious of the injustices around us.

Our new Pope Benedict XVI wrote a few years back that the kingdom of God is only built one soul at a time. Landing on the moon or even Mars won’t put an end to future Holocausts, but you and I each picking up our Crosses and taking that first small step onto the straight and narrow road will.

May the hope of Christ’s Ascension give us all the grace to take that small step of faith, that peace may spread in giant leaps and bounds for all mankind.