Archive for July, 2006

15th Sunday Ordinary Time B July 16, 2006

Sunday, July 16th, 2006
Homily — 15th Sun. OT B July 16, 2006

The sending of the Twelve, Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1282-1339

Jesus . . . . began to send them out two by two.

Today’s Gospel passage seems to have taken place at about the mid-point of Jesus’ public ministry, based on where the incident occurs in the three Gospels its found in. If that’s the case, then most of the Twelve Apostles would have been following Jesus — living right beside Him — for almost a year and a half up to this point. The kingdom of Heaven is (now) in your midst Jesus told them, and boy was it.

The Apostles were taught by the Master himself. Their hearts were opened wide by the words which fell from His lips. They saw for 18 straight months demons flee from the possessed, the blind have their sight restored, the deaf hear, lepers cleansed. They saw prostitutes and tax collectors convert and live lives of virtue and holiness. They even saw Jesus command the winds and the waves, and raise a young girl from the dead.

Surely being in the constant presence of Jesus was comforting to them, surely they soaked in joyfully every minute spent in Jesus’ presence. But today, Jesus summons the Twelve and begins to send them out, away from His physical presence — out of the kingdom of God and into the kingdom of the world they had lived in before they met Jesus.

Jesus sends them out there to gather more people into His Kingdom. And as St. Mark says in the Gospel, it was the beginning of a “sending out” that continues to this day for each and every disciple of Christ.

For you and I are like those Apostles. Our “home base,” so to speak, is close to Jesus. We all hopefully live and move and breath the Catholic faith we profess: we go to Mass each week, we have religious images hanging up in our homes, we have a daily prayer life and a devotion to Mary and the saints. And as it was to the Apostles, this relationship to Jesus and His Church is to us is a very comforting thing, especially in tough times but also in the good memories we have of Weddings and Christmases and Easters past and present.

But while its comforting to feel Jesus’ presence in the living out of our faith, Jesus at the same time summons us and sends us out, out into the world that has yet to know Christ. And we like the apostles need to respond by going out of that comfort zone and engage the world with the Catholic faith.

You know, every now and then one hears a Catholic say “my religion is between me and God, it has no bearing on my job or my public life in the world.” But Jesus never intended to found a religion that was to be kept private. He calls us to bring His message out of the confines of the Church and into alien, even enemy territory.

So Jesus’ instructions to the Apostles as He sent them out are also important for our own sending out.
First of all, as the Apostles weren’t sent out alone into the world, but with a partner, so we also shouldn’t be going it alone, but should try to get good Catholic friends we can share our faith life with. But let’s remember also that since Jesus paired them up, one Apostle was given Judas for a partner. So we can’t let it shake our faith when people we leaned on go astray.

And when Jesus sends us out into the world, He tells us to leave any earthly riches we have back at home. No food, no sack, no money — we the Church offer the world not earthly riches but heavenly riches first and foremost. As St. Paul says in the second reading, God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the Heavens. The blessing of knowing Jesus, of knowing the Commandments that will bring joy and happiness, of knowing He paid the debt for our sins and that Heaven awaits those who follow Christ. By the way we live our faith out there in the world, at work or at school or in our neighborhood, many people around us will come closer to really knowing Christ.

However, Jesus tells us not to be surprised when after witnessing to our Catholic faith at work or at school or where we live, we are at times not welcomed or listened to. If people reject us or ridicule us, we need to not let this get to us, we need to shake that dust from our feet and continue on preaching and living Christ’s message of repentance.

All this is just what the Apostles did that first time they left the comfort of Christ’s presence and brought the message into the world beyond. And in doing so, the Gospel concludes they drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick, and cured them.

If we heed Christ’s summons, we also will drive many evils out of our society, and anoint with the oil of the Holy Spirit many who are spiritually sick and cure them. And these people will come to know Christ, and find comfort as we do in the Faith; and they in turn we also be summoned and called by Jesus, to go out and together preach repentance to all who are in need of salvation.

14th Sunday Ordinary Time B July 9, 2006

Sunday, July 9th, 2006

A missionary priest preached at all the Masses this weekend, so I gave no homily this week!

13th Sun. OT B 7-2-06 “Recipe for True Christianity”

Sunday, July 2nd, 2006

Homily — 13th Sunday OT B July 2, 2006If I but touch His clothes, I shall be healed.

One of the most popular channels on Cable TV, as is evident in the many books and other products sold at stores from it, is the Cooking Channel.

We probably all know people who watch this channel for hours, learning tips and recipes from the celebrity chefs. (And given the junk and immorality that’s on other cable and non-cable channels, I guess that’s not a bad thing.)

The great appeal of the Cooking Channel is that it tells you how to make food that is appetizing, and the ingredients one needs to keep a meal from tasting bland and uninspiring.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, we are presented with an old woman, who touches Jesus’ cloak and is healed, through her faith; and a young woman who is touched by Jesus and is raised to life, through her father’s faith.

And in both miracles, we are given the Recipe, the 2000 year old, time tested Recipe, for cooking up True Christianity.

The two main ingredients, found in both miracles, found in all batches of True Christianity ever served up and eaten, are the Human Touch of Christ and Divine Faith in Him.

Without both those two ingredients of Human Touch and Divine Faith present, Christianity is bland and uninspiring.

But put both those two ingredients together, and you have the best religion the world has ever been served.

So let’s look closely at the two ingredients of this great recipe.

Both miracles involve Human Touch, physical contact with the humanity of Jesus. The old woman touched Jesus’ cloak, Jesus touched the girl’s hand and spoke to her.

Almost all of Christ’s healings were done with Him physically present before the person. The person heard his voice and/or felt His touch upon him and were healed, or delivered or brought to life.

And we as Catholics believe that in the Seven Sacraments, Jesus still touches us in a human, tangible way.

It is Christ’s hand that pours water over us in Baptism and says the words “I baptize you”. It is Jesus who anoints us with oil, sealing us with the Gift of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation; Jesus who takes Bread and Wine in His Hands and transforms them into His Body and Blood and His Hands that give us this Holy Communion. It is Jesus that we confess our sins to and are absolved by in Confession.

It is Jesus’ hands that anoint the sick and dying; It is also Jesus who lays His hands on the head of a man and turns Him into an ordained priest. Finally, it is the spousal love of Christ for His Bride, the Church, that makes married couples not two but one flesh until death in the sacrament of marriage.

And we believe that these physical touches of Christ in all the seven sacraments aren’t just optional or accidental, rather, they are essential parts of the sacraments, required for validity.

This is why one can’t go to confession and receive absolution over the telephone, or by mail, snail or e.

It’s also why the obligation to attend Mass every Sunday can’t be fulfilled by watching it on Television (although if you are sick or homebound, it is certainly a good thing to do); and why we can’t baptize without water, confirm without oil, marry without one single man and one single woman.

And not only is the ingredient, of physical contact necessary for valid Sacraments, but Christ’s Human Touch in the Sacraments is necessary for our salvation and sanctification!

Jesus says in the Scriptures Unless you are born again of water and the Holy Spirit, you cannot enter the kingdom of God. . . . Unless you eat my Flesh and Drink my Blood you shall not have life within you.

Scripture and Tradition is clear that all saving graces, what are technically called sanctifying graces, are given to us through the sacraments, where Christ reaches out and really touches us and we really touch Him, just as Jesus imparted grace through His touch in the Gospels.

But in the Gospels, not all who touch or are touched by Jesus were changed. And as we see today, not all who touch or are touched by Jesus in the reception of the sacraments are changed either.

For the sacraments to truly be effective, we need the second essential ingredient of True Christianity: the Gift of Divine Faith.

If we look through the Gospels, we will find that as many people as were healed by contact with Jesus, there are as many that weren’t healed, even though He touched them.

Jesus looked with love upon the Rich Young Man, but as he had no faith and had great possessions, he went away sad.

Jesus spent 30 years with the lucky residents of Nazareth, but He could work no great miracles there, due to their lack of faith in Him.

Simon, the judgmental Pharisee, had Jesus over his home for dinner, but it was the prostitute who came in and wept at Jesus’feet who was the only one forgiven that day.

And finally, one person kissed Jesus on the cheek, in the Garden of Gethsemene, but it would have been better for that man if he had never been born because Judas touched Jesus from a motive far removed from true faith in Christ.

All these people had very close contact with Jesus, but weren’t converted or healed because of their lack of faith.

The old woman touched only the cloak of Jesus and was converted and healed, because of her faith in Christ.

That’s because the old woman had found the right recipe of Human Touch and Divine Faith, and cooked it up every day of her life from that day on.

In a few moments in the Eucharist, Jesus will really come to us, as real as He was the day He passed by that woman, the day He entered Jairus’ home with Peter James and John.

Jesus will be here on our altar, with a cloak covering Him, just as He had a cloak covering Him in today’s Gospel. Only back then, His divinity and humanity were cloaked under wool and linen; today He comes to us cloaked under the form of Bread and Wine.

May we, like that woman, come up to Jesus in this crowd and touch His cloak with Faith.

And may Jesus turn around and touch us; may He heal us of all our afflictions, and say to us, Talitha koum: Arise!