Archive for June, 2012

Homily — 11th Sunday OT B 6/17/12

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

 

Homily — 11th Sunday OT B 6/17/12

The kids got out of school this past week, we had our school’s 8th Grade Graduation last Monday, and the rest of the school got out yesterday.

This year I went to 5 graduation parties and 2 commencements. Normally I only make one commencement, Good Shepherd, but this year my one and only nephew graduated with high honors from his High School up near Boston, and so two weeks ago my parents and I went up to see him graduate. Our Catholic school had 23 graduate, while my nephew’s had three hundred twenty three. Needless to say, I am all graduationed out!

Today’s Gospel however, reminds us that even when we leave the school classroom, whether for just the summer break, or for good at graduation, God still teaches us, and expects us to learn things, through the most everyday events.

The growth of plants, the tiny seeds, the large trees, the birds, the farmers – even these common things we see each day are parabolic, they have a deeper lesson to teach us.

The Gospel today says With many such parables, Jesus spoke the Word to them. . . Without parables, Jesus did not speak to them.

Each day, Jesus is speaking loudly and frequently to every one of us, even if we never pick up a Bible. Jesus very often speaks to us through nature, through current events, through other people’s words and actions, through the circumstances we find ourselves in.

Some situation or passing comment at work or play may be one of those parables with deeper meaning, that Jesus is using to help us grow in our relationship to God and others.

With many such parables, Jesus speaks, and without parables, Jesus doesn’t speak. In some ways, life is one big parable, one big story with a deeper, hidden meaning. As St. Paul says “We walk by faith, not by sight.” When see things with the eyes of faith, we see beyond their superficial meaning.

Life is full of many cryptic parables, yes; But, to his own disciples, Jesus explained everything to them in private.

To understand what Jesus is saying to us, we must go in private to see Jesus and ask him to explain things to us.

What this means is, we must take time to pray each day, or we will miss what Jesus is trying to teach us.

Prayer is where Jesus explains the deeper meaning of things to us. If we get in the habit of taking even just 10 minutes every day for quiet prayer and reflection, Jesus will start connecting the dots of our lives for us, he’ll say “remember when this happened to you a while back? That was me trying to teach you something in this other area of your life.”

One of the parables Jesus gives us today in Scripture is the Mustard Seed. Of all the plants in a garden, the mustard plant starts out as the tiniest of seeds, so tiny that you might wonder what would be the use in planting it.

Yet it ends up being the biggest plant in the garden, growing nine to twelve feet in height.

The lesson here is that the seeds of faith Jesus gives us might look tiny and insignificant compared to other things in the world. The Catholic faith may appear to be not as flashy, not as influential, not as relevant as the latest fad or political movement.

Yet just plant that seed of faith in a person’s heart, or in a family, or in a community, and watch what kind of beautiful, giant plant will grow up. But unless we plant that mustard seed of faith in our hearts, it will remain a tiny, unimpressive seed.

Lastly, as we honor our Father’s this weekend, it should be obvious that God the Father many times speaks through the words and actions of our earthly fathers. The life, love, support, encouragement, and fatherly guidance earthly fathers and father figures have given us are parables of the deeper and even greater life, love, support, encouragement, and fatherly guidance God the Father gives us.

May this Eucharist make us more aware of the many parables Jesus each day sends us in the school of our daily lives, and may this Eucharist also help us to resolve to each day spend time in silent prayer alone with Jesus, so that He may in private explain to us everything our loving, Heavenly Father wants us to know and learn.

Homily – Corpus Christi MMXII 6/10/12

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

 

Homily – Corpus Christi MMXII 6/10/12

A couple week’s ago, I called up this long time friend of mine, a woman about my age, who’s married with several children, to talk to her about something.

At the beginning of the phone conversation, she mentioned in passing that one of her daughters was going to be graduating from high school the next day.

We went on to talk about the thing I had called up about, and were talking for a minute or two, when all of a sudden she starts screaming and shouting for joy, saying “Oh, I can’t believe it!”

What was going on at the other end of the phone was that her oldest daughter, who was away at college in the Midwest, and who everybody thought wasn’t going to be able to make the graduation, had just walked through the door and said “Surprise! It’s me!”

My friend’s husband, without anyone knowing it, had secretly purchased her an airline flight, and then he had snuck down to the airport to pick her up and take her home.

The younger sister who was graduating the next day was so happy to see her older sister that she started crying tears of joy when she walked into the house.

Had this older sister not made it to the graduation, everyone would have totally understood, given the long distance, and upcoming final exams, and the cost for flying back.

It would have been enough had that older sister just sent a card and gift, with a nice letter wishing her younger sister well; or called her up on the phone, or better yet, skyped her on graduation day; then her younger sister would have been happy and grateful that she was there in spirit on her special day.

But that her older sister was able to be physically present for the graduation was the greatest gift she could ask for, a thousand times better than all those other ways she could have been present, as good as those other ways were.

And this is what the Eucharist is. Jesus is as present to us in the Blessed Sacrament as that older sister was present to her sister at her graduation.

Its wonderful enough that Jesus keeps in contact with us and is present to us through the love letters he sends to us from Heaven, the Holy Scriptures; that by daily reading the Scriptures we can hear the Living, Risen Jesus lovingly speaking to us.

Its wonderful that when two or three of us gather in Jesus’ name to pray, we experience Jesus’ presence in our midst.

It’s wonderful that when we reach out to help the poor and sick and helpless, that we encounter the crucified Jesus’ mysterious presence in them.

Finally it’s even more wonderful that Jesus is always with us in Spirit, that His Holy Spirit has been poured into our hearts by virtue of our baptism and confirmation.

But as wonderful as all those things are, they pale in comparison to Jesus’ Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist.

When the priest takes the bread and wine and says “This is my Body . . . . This is my Blood,” it is as if the Risen Lord Jesus has walked into this room from His home in Heaven and says to us “Surprise! It’s me!”

“I’ve come because I wanted to be with you today, to share all the joys and sorrows your going through at this time with you in Person. I am with you, Really Present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in this Most Blessed Sacrament.”

“You can find me here 24/7 abiding in this tabernacle at St. Joseph’s and in all tabernacles in Catholic Churches throughout the world, until the end of time.”

My brothers and sisters in Christ, my good friend screamed for joy when she saw her beloved daughter walk into the room that day. Her daughter’s younger sister wept tears of joy that she had come all that way to be physically present to her.

May those be our sentiments every time we go to Mass and the consecration bell rings, every time we enter a church and kneel before the tabernacle, every time we pass by a catholic church when driving somewhere, and especially every time we receive Jesus in Holy Communion, – may we be filled with joy that He is here with us, truly present, as we journey through this life to eternal life.

Homily – Trinity Sunday MMXII 6/3/12

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

 

Homily – Trinity Sunday MMXII 6/3/12

 

In the name of the Father, + and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

That is my homily today, in a nutshell.

That is also our whole Catholic Faith, in a nutshell.

Most of us probably make and say the sign of the cross without really thinking about it much when we do it. But that most basic of Christian prayers and gestures is really a whole catechism class on what we believe about the Most Blessed and Holy Trinity, whose Solemnity the Church celebrates today.

So let’s break open this little nutshell and meditate on just a little of what’s packed inside it.

We begin that prayer “In the name of the Father” and we put our two fingers and thumb to our forehead as we say the Father’s Name.

We touch our forehead, because you and I have been created in the image and likeness of God the Father. God has blessed us with the gifts of intellect and free will, the ability to reason and to freely choose the good and reject the bad.

Touching our forehead reminds us of our human dignity of being made in the image of God, but it also reminds us that God the Father is the First Person of the Holy Trinity, and that the Son and the Holy Spirit both eternally proceed from Him.

Lastly, touching the highest part of our body reminds us that one day we will rise up to the heights of Heaven, which Jesus calls The Father’s House, and that Our Heavenly Father is always looking down lovingly on us His children, raining many heavenly graces and blessings down upon our heads each day.

The prayer continues “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son” as we make a straight line with our two fingers from our foreheads straight down to our waist area.

This vertical, downward action reminds us that God the Father sent His only Son into our world, that God the Son came down from Heaven to Earth to show us the way which leads back up to Heaven.

This action also reminds us of how God’s Son Jesus lowered Himself even further, to the point of suffering the agony of the Cross, and that the Son even went down among the dead, even into the deepest depths of hell, to lead every human person who chooses to follow him from those depths of sin and death up to the heights of righteousness and eternal life.

At the name of the Son, we touch the lower extremities of our body, near those parts of our body that human life is begotten from. This reminds us that God’s eternally begotten Son took human flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary and became man.

We also touch near our belly button, which used to have an umbilical cord attached to it. Just as the umbilical cord is a lifeline between a child and its mother, so Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the lifeline between us and God. No one comes to the Father except through me, says Jesus. Jesus is our umbilical cord, we enter into the mystery and eternal life of the Holy Trinity only through Him.

The Prayer concludes “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” and we raise our hand up, to symbolize our rising up from sin and death with Christ the Son.

But we don’t end by going back to our head, because Jesus doesn’t immediately bring us back to the Father’s House, rather Jesus puts us right back in the middle of the world, to be His witnesses, filled with His Holy Spirit. And so we end with the Horizontal line across our shoulders, to symbolize our mission in this world as disciples of Christ.

When we say the words “Holy Spirit” we first touch our heart, for the Holy Spirit is the Flaming Love of God poured forth into our Hearts.

We also touch in between our head and our waist because The Holy Spirit is the eternal Love between the Father and the Son, a Love so strong that it comes forth as a Third Person equal in power and divinity to the Father and the Son that it proceeds from.

And so, my brothers and sisters in Christ, every time we pray this most simple but most profound of prayers,we ask that this Most Holy Trinity, the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit, would bless and protect us,we ask that all our thoughts and deeds would be done in their thrice holy names, and finally, when we make the Sign of the Cross, we pray that all the Crosses we bear in our bodies and our souls will be lightened by our firm faith that in the Crosses of life, there and especially there can be found the powerful love of God the Father, the saving grace of Jesus the Son, and the sweet communion of the Holy Spirit.