Sorry I haven’t posted homilies the past two weekends. Easter Sunday I wrote out my homily longhand, and haven’t got around to typing it into the computer. Last Sunday, Mercy Sunday, I had a brief homily due to the Catholic Charity Fund Appeal. See you next week!
Archive for March, 2008
Homily — Good Friday MMVIII
I don’t know how ancient of a custom it is, but for at least the last four or five hundred years, a veil is placed over the Cross on Good Friday for the better part of the Day.
The Cross is of course unveiled after the homily and Solemn Intercessions, and then it stays unveiled for the rest of the Day until next Holy Week.
This may seem like a strange custom; One person said to me “the one day I’d really like to pray before the Cross, and they cover it!”
But the reason why we cover Cross today is because Good Friday is kind of like the Season of Advent.
In Advent, we try to reflect on what life was like before Jesus was born. We sing “O Come O Come Emmanuel,” “O Come Divine Messiah”. Up to Dec. 24th we don’t sing any Christmas Carols in Church, or the Gloria.
And on Good Friday, we veil the Cross because we try to image what life would have been like not before Christ’s Birth, but before Christ’s Death.
What would my life, your life be like, had the Passion not happened?
What would my pain and suffering, your pain and suffering, have felt like, if we had to bear it without Jesus our God suffering along with us?
What would betrayal and injustice have felt like to us, had Jesus our God not been betrayed, not been unjustly treated?
How shallow would our forgiveness have been, had Jesus not said from the Cross “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do”?
And as we gaze upon the veiled Cross, on Good Friday we shudder to think, what would this life be like had Jesus not said from the Cross “Behold, your Mother”? What would life be like without Mary’s maternal care and intercession?
We see how “Good” Good Friday really is when we reflect on how “Bad” this world would be to live in without the Cross of Christ.
May our celebration of the Passion and Death of Jesus help us to fully lift the veil from our hearts that our sins have caused, that we may see clearly the great Love and Compassion Jesus shows to us on the Wood of the Cross.
Homily — Holy Thursday MMVIII
In the first reading from Exodus, we hear God telling His People how to celebrate the Passover; how they were to slaughter a lamb on the evening of the first full moon of spring, how they were to eat it with bitter herbs and unleavened bread, how they were to have their robes tucked into their belts and their shoes on when they ate it.
And then God concludes by saying: This day shall be a memorial feast for you, a yearly feast, which all your generations shall celebrate as a perpetual institution.
But as Christians, we don’t celebrate the old Passover with bitter herbs and roasted lamb (although I every year have Lamb for supper on Holy Thursday!); we rather believe that the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus, the Lamb of God, is the New Passover that the Old one foreshadowed and now is fulfilled by and taken up in.
Easter Sunday has now become the memorial feast which all generations of believers, Gentile or Jew, shall celebrate each year as a perpetual institution.
But before Jesus ushered in His New Passover, on the evening of the Old Passover, and during the celebration of the Old Passover Seder Meal, Jesus gave His Church Three other things which He also intended to be Perpetual Institutions for all generations of believers.
On this Night, Jesus institutes the Holy Eucharist, the Ministerial Priesthood, and the Mandatum, the Great Commandment to Love one another as He has loved us.
These three great gifts given to us this Night are like a three-legged chair; we really won’t have one if we don’t have the other two.
We can’t Love to the degree Jesus calls us to love without the strength that flows from the Eucharist; and we can’t have the Eucharist w/o the Ministerial Priesthood to consecrate it for us.
And if a Priest does not strive to Love others to the degree Jesus calls Him to in the Great Commandment, His priesthood is not truly pleasing to Christ.
And so tonight, Jesus entrusts to us, His Church on earth, these Three Perpetual Institutions, and He calls us to Perpetuate each of them.
Jesus calls us to perpetuate the priesthood by praying for vocations to come from the families of our parish, and by supporting and praying for our priests and bishops.
I don’t know who said it, maybe Pope John Paul II or Bishop Sheen or some Saint, but it is said that on Holy Thursday Night at the Last Supper, Jesus consciously thought of and prayed for me and Fr. Marcin and Fr. Blain and every priest who would ever be ordained. A nice thought.
He calls us to perpetuate the Holy Eucharist by attending Mass each Sunday, by frequent and worthy reception of Holy Communion, and by spending time Adoring the Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass whenever possible.
And most especially, Jesus calls us to perpetuate the Great Commandment by serving others selflessly, especially the most poor and vulnerable in our society; and by forgiving those who have offended us.
May the grace of this Last Supper we celebrate with Jesus and the 12 Apostles tonight help us to Cherish and to Perpetuate these three great gifts.
Homily — Fifth Sunday of Lent A March 9, 2008
Today the Church begins the second part of the Holy Season of Lent, which lasts all the till Easter, called Passiontide. And in the Scripture Readings for the first day of Passiontide, we see, appropriately enough, a lot of Passion going on. There’s not a dry eye in the Gospel or the Psalm today; everyone is weeping, even Our Lord Jesus Himself. As we begin the Season of Passiontide, let’s take a closer look at what everyone is being so Passionate about in these readings and see what we can learn from all these tears being shed.
The first person we see weeping today is the author of today’s Responsorial Psalm, which is Psalm 130. Out of the depths I cry to you O Lord, the Psalmist prays. Out of the depths of my very being do I weep and cry. But the Psalmist weeps a very different kind of tears than those in the Gospel are weeping. The Psalm writer is weeping Tears of Repentance.
After taking an good honest look into the depths of his soul (like many of us have done this Lenten Season), the Psalmist sees how many sins he has committed, and the thought of these offenses against his loving God drives him literally to tears. And these next two weeks of Passiontide, as we reflect on the sufferings of Jesus, should also be for us a time when we allow ourselves to cry . . . . out of the depths to God — to weep over our sins, as Peter did Holy Thursday night after he denied Jesus three times. Because, just as Jesus forgave Peter because he acknowledged his sins and wept bitterly over them, so will he also forgive us for the many times we have denied Him by our transgressions.
Turning to the Gospel, we next see another type of weeping going on: Martha and Mary and the Jews weeping not Tears of Repentance but Tears of Grief over the death of their brother Lazarus. And as their tears fall to the ground, they are mixed with the tears of Jesus who is weeping with them.
Jesus certainly weeps along with all the grieving in this world; but, Jesus in this particular Gospel passage is also weeping for another reason as well: The death of Lazarus seems to have taken place just a few week’s before Jesus’ own death. And Our Lord, seeing how grief stricken Martha and Mary and the Jews were over Lazarus’ death, realized that these friends of His were, in a few more weeks, going to be even more grief stricken and devastated over His own suffering and death. And perhaps seeing how they would weep caused Him to pray in the Garden: Father, if it is possible, let this Cup pass from me; But not my will, but your will be done.
And so, this Passiontide, we above all join with Martha, and Mary, and John the Beloved disciple, and our Blessed Mother, in weeping over how our Good Lord is betrayed, rejected, abandoned, scourged, crucified and buried by those He came to save.
But, like Martha and Mary in the Gospel, and like the disciples at the Cross, we will find out that all the tears we weep in this life will be dried away, only to be replaced by Tears of Joy when Christ rises from the Dead; and, with Him, all our loved ones who have died believing in Him.
May this Holy Season of Passiontide now upon us help us come to believe more firmly that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life, and that He Passionately loves each and every one of us, more than we will ever know.
Homily — 4th Sunday Lent A 3/2/8
Last Tuesday afternoon, I was driving from the Rectory over to St. Antoine’s Nursing Home to visit a resident there. And as I turned off of Main Street to High Street, I noticed a few stores up from the Domino’s Pizza that there was a used and antique Bookstore there that I’d never noticed before.
Bookworm that I am, I said to myself of if I had a free moment later in the week I should check that bookstore out. But then Friday evening I’m heading over to Ye Olde English for Fish and Chips, and when I passed by the Bookstore again, there was now a Music Store right next to it that I didn’t notice there earlier in the week.
And then I realized: this wasn’t a bookstore at all, and that wasn’t a music store either: they were both Movie Props!
And pulling in to Ye Olde English’s back parking lot, I noticed across the lot on Arnold Street, all lit up for business, an outdoor fruit stand. The first outdoor fruit stand I’ve ever seen set up in 20 degree weather! I wish I could tell you I next saw Richard Gere and Hachiko the dog pass by, but I didn’t.
Jesus says in today’s Gospel I have come so that those who do not see might see. And very often, in this fallen world we live in, we fail to see things as they really are. Very often, what we see as valuable and important for us, what we see as good for us, God sees as worthless and even harmful for us.
Very often the world is like that movie set in downtown Woonsocket — everything looks nice and clean and inviting, but behind the facade there’s unfortunately just cold and empty and dilapidated buildings we thought were real.
Yes, how often do we fail to see what is really true and valuable and lasting in this world. How often do we, like the parents of that man born blind fear getting too close to the Truth? How ofter do we, in our blind chasing after what is vain and false, reject the truth and even throw the Truth out of our homes and lives as the Pharisees in the Gospel threw the man born blind out of the synagogue?
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Jesus has come so that we who do not see might see. Jesus has given everyone in this dark world a light to see the truth by: the light of our Catholic Faith.
After the man born blind washed in the pool Jesus told him to wash in, he began for the very first time in his life to see the light. And after we have been washed in the waters of Baptism Jesus tells us we must wash in, we begin for the very first time to see by the Light of Faith. We begin to see that Jesus is the Prophet we must follow, even if the world around us laughs at us and persecutes us and rejects us for following Him.
May Jesus throughout our lives give us the grace to always see clearly and embrace whole heartedly the things in this life that are really true and valuable for us, and also to see clearly and reject whole heartedly the things that are useless or even harmful for us.
And for the next few weeks at least, watch out for those bogus Book Stores in downtown Woonsocket!