Archive for February, 2010

Homily — 2nd Sunday Lent C 2/28/10

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Homily — 2nd Sunday Lent C 2/28/10

The glorious Transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor was witnessed only by three of Jesus’ disciples.

The Gospels do not say why only Peter James and John went with Jesus up the mountain. It might have been that they were the only disciples Jesus invited, but it also might have been that Jesus invited all his disciples and only these three took Our Lord up on the offer.

In any event, Jesus invites all of us to leave our sinful ways and our creature comforts behind, a to take a mountain climb with Him these forty days of Lent.

Each day of Lent Jesus wants us to climb higher with Him in Holiness through the three Lenten disciplines of Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving.

Lent is to be a real spiritual workout, as spiritually strenuous a journey as mountain climbing is physically strenuous. Each day of Lent, Monday through Saturday (no climbing on Sundays), we want to set aside time for prayer, do some little sacrifice such as giving up some food or entertainment we like, and do works of mercy, all of which will stretch us and help us turn away from sin more fully.

And if we persevere and keep pace with Jesus up this mountain of Lent, we too will be privileged to see what Peter James and John saw on that mountain:

Jesus Transfigured, Jesus shining bright before us, clearly the Lord of our Hearts and the Lord of All.

We will see on that mountain the Lawgiver greater than Moses, Jesus who not only teaches us the Law of Righteousness and Love, but also enables us by grace to be Righteous and Loving.

We will see Jesus the fulfillment of every promise God spoke through the mouth of Elijah and every other prophet, Jesus the fulfillment of every desire of the human heart.

Our Lenten Journey with Christ up the Mountain of Prayer Fasting and Almsgiving allows us to hear more clearly the voice of God the Father saying This is my chosen Son, listen to Him.

Yes, my brothers and sisters, It is good that we are here one week or so into this Holy Season of Lent.

If we haven’t yet taken up Jesus’ offer to go mountain climbing with Him, it’s not too late to catch up with Him if you start out now. There’s still four more week’s to go before we reach the summit, but when you climb with Jesus, it seems like no time at all!

Homily — 1st Sunday Lent MMX C 2/21/10

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Homily — 1st Sunday Lent MMX C 2/21/10

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus . . . . was led . . . . into the desert (and) for forty days . . . . he ate nothing, St. Luke’s Gospel tells us today.

St. Mark in his Gospel tells us Jesus lived fearlessly among the wild beasts as he fasted in the desert, and that He conversed with Angels.

But so far at least, Satan, the reigning Prince of this world since the Fall of Adam, is not impressed with this latest so-called Holy Man to come down the pike.

In the thousands of years he had been prowling around the earth, the devil had met men and women who could like Jesus fast for incredible amounts of time in the wilderness. Some of Satan’s own disciples could do such.

And on occasion, even Angels would appear to the good ones; but as Holy as they were, the Devil knew how to trip even these ones up, he knew how to tempt them so that they would freely choose to sin.

Ninety Nine times out of a Hundred, Satan would snag them with the First Temptation he threw at them.  He would come to them towards the end of their marathon fasting, and say to them “Boy, am I impressed with your great holiness, forty days without bread and water, staring down wild beasts so that they run away from you, talking with angels – you are probably the holiest person on earth!”

“As a matter of fact, I bet you could even turn those stones over there into loaves of bread to feed the hungry of the world.”

And 99 times out of 100, these men and women in their pride and in their lust to play God would say to Satan “Yes, I do want these stones to become Bread, and I command God to do this.”

And when God fails to answer such a prideful, faithless prayer, when God fails to make this world a utopia where there is no more poverty or injustice, these men and women refuse to believe in God any more.

But Jesus doesn’t fall for the temptation, he knows it is in no way God’s fault that men don’t share their bread with the hungry, and that the poor who die of starvation will eat at the eternal banquet, while the rich who failed to feed them will starve for eternity.

But Satan still isn’t worried about losing this battle. One out of 100 resist temptation number one, but no man or woman ever resisted the second temptation Satan throws at Jesus.

“I see what tremendous faith you have in God, combined with great virtue and discipline.” Satan would tell them. “But if you ask me, you’re wasting all that talent by serving God with it.”

“I could use a man like you; I would make you my second in command. Why serve in Heaven when you could reign in Hell? Allow me to give you a foretaste of the Power and Glory that would await you.”

And then in a Vision, Satan would show the tempted person all the Kingdoms of the World in an instant, he would let them feel the tremendous earthly power he possessed.

It would always be too much for a human being to resist, after tasting power they would say, “Yes, I want that power, I will fall down and worship you, give it to me!”

How many tyrants and mass murderers had Satan made this way for thousands of years.

But now, for the first time since the Fall, Satan experiences fear. Jesus resists the irresistible temptation, He is given a vision of absolute worldly power, and refuses it. And the Devil begins to ask himself “Could this really be the Son of God, the One who will crush my head and topple my Kingdom?”

But Satan dismisses that notion as a temptation against faith in himself. This Jesus, standing before him, is clearly flesh and blood. No wretched human will get the better of Satan.

So the Devil confidently throws one final temptation at Jesus – he quotes the holy scriptures to him, and then twists it’s meaning.

The Devil has the whole Bible memorized, and he is an expert at taking verses out of context and wrongly interpreting God’s word so as to make people doubt God’s goodness and/or existence.

So he takes Jesus up to the top of the highest temple wall and says “Scripture says if you are Holy, you could jump off this wall and God’s angels would catch you before you hit the bottom.”

Give me a break” the devil says. “You mean you believe in Angels, and Heaven and Hell, and that someone called God wrote this Book? You believe there’s a God that loves us and tells us what’s right and wrong? What are you, in the Middle Ages still? Modern science and scripture scholarship has debunked all that nonsense!”

“There is no loving God”, Satan continued, “there’s just a senseless universe made up of atoms smashing into each other, and we are a colossal freak of blind evolution.”

“And when we die, game over. So you might as well end it all now by jumping off this wall.”

To which Jesus, and all who follow Him faithfully through the desert of temptation, says “Get behind me Satan, you are standing in My Way, a Way of Faith in God the Creator of this great mysterious universe that manifest His Power and Existence, a mysterious universe you think you can put in a box and totally figure out,”

“You are standing in My Way, a Way which leads to Calvary, where on Good Friday I will show the depths of God’s love for mankind.”

“I and my disciples are finished with your temptations now Satan, so get behind me and my disciples before I knock you out of the Way, for we must be on our Way to the Cross and the Empty tomb.”

Homily – Ash Wednesday MMX 2/17/10

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Homily – Ash Wednesday MMX 2/17/10

Today’s observance of Ash Wednesday has a two-fold meaning, both of which are equally important.

The first meaning is that Ash Wednesday is kind of the Christian “Day of Atonement”.

It is the day when not only as individuals, but more importantly when we as a People, as a Church, beg God to pardon us for the many sins we have committed and for our failure to do what was good and just over the past year.

Throughout the world, in the countries of Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, North and South America, Christians today put aside all festivity and merry making, and together we fast and abstain from meat as we cover our foreheads with ashes and say with one voice “Parce Domine” — Spare O Lord your people, Do not let us die in our sins for we are crying out to you.

Together, in union with our Holy Father, the Church on earth begs God forgiveness for our sins of pride and lukewarmness which have hindered us from doing God’s will.

We beg God forgiveness for our sins of greed and materialism which have contributed to the global economic crisis our world is in.

We ask God to forgive all those in authority especially our Church and Civil leaders, for their neglect of duty in so many ways, and we ask God to forgive us for our failure to pray and fast enough for those who lead us.

And finally we ask God to pardon us for our many personal and collective sins of commission and omission which have contributed to the evils our world today faces: especially the exploitation of the poor, the abuse and corruption of the young, the killing of innocent human life, the breakdown of Marriage and the Family, and the abuse of the goods of the earth God has entrusted to us.

We do all this on Ash Wednesday as a Church, so that the words of the prophet Joel will be fulfilled for us: Then the LORD was stirred to concern for His land and took pity on His people.

We begin Lent by crying out “Forgive us Lord!” so that at the end of Lent, on Good Friday, we might hear Jesus from the Cross say “I do forgive you, see how much I love and forgive you!”

But there is also a second meaning to Ash Wednesday. Not only is Ash Wednesday a Day of Atonement for past sin, it is also a Day of Grace for future virtue.

Behold, now is a very acceptable time, now is the day of salvation. St. Paul reminds us in the second reading.

For Ash Wednesday is the First Day of the 40 Day Season of Lent, a very acceptable time to really grow in our Faith, to really grow in love for God and one another.

Ash Wednesday is kind of like the Opening Ceremonies for the Olympic Games.  For the next Forty Days we will compete against our three-fold adversary, the world the flesh and the devil, for the Gold Medal in holiness as we give Jesus the best we can offer Him, praying, fasting and giving alms to the best of our ability.

May we make concrete, practical resolutions to give up eating or doing something we really like, so show Jesus we love Him more.

May we be more generous in giving alms to the poor, giving not only from our surplus but also from our need.

And lastly may we take advantage of the many opportunities for growing in our prayer life during Lent.

Getting to daily Mass or at least meditating daily on the ancient Mass readings is highly recommended, as is doing the Stations of the Cross on Fridays in Lent, which we’ll have every Friday at Noon.

Making a good confession is also a good Lenten practice, especially if you haven’t been in a while. We will again this Lent have All Day Confessions Saturday March 13, for seven and a half hours, from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 2 to 4 priests will be in the confessionals ready to give you Jesus’ peace and forgiveness.

So we thank God for the grace of Repentance. May He pardon our wickedness on this day we cry out to Him for Mercy, and give us the grace to spend these next forty days growing in our faith as we journey to the Cross and to Easter Sunday with our Blessed Lord Jesus.