Archive for August, 2010

Homily – 22nd Sunday OT C 8/29/10

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

Homily – 22nd Sunday OT C 8/29/10

Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God.

Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.

The readings this Sunday focus on the important virtue of humility.

The teaching of the scriptures, the teaching of the Church and the writings and lives of the saints are unanimous in saying how very important it is for us as followers of Jesus to possess this virtue of humility.

St. Thomas Aquinas, for example, teaches us that while humility isn’t the greatest of virtues, one must first possess humility before one can begin to grow in the greater virtues of faith, hope and charity.

And as students begin a new academic year, St. Thomas also said unless a person has this virtue of humility, it will be impossible for that person to really learn anything.

Without humility, all the virtues and all the knowledge we acquire are spoiled by the vice of pride.

We see how much God extolls the virtue of humility in the Virgin Mary’s Magnificat, her song of praise at the Visitation.

Mary sings:

My soul magnifies the Lord,

my spirit rejoices in God my savior;

Because God has seen the humility I possess as his handmaid,

For this reason all generations will call me blessed.

St. Josemaria Escriva comments that it’s not because of Mary’s faith, great as it was, it’s not because of Mary’s love, tremendous as it was, it’s not even because of Mary’s purity and sinlessness, immaculate as it was, it was because of Mary’s humility that caused God to exalt her above all creatures, it was because of her humility that all generations these past 2000 years have praised and loved Mary above all women.

So what exactly is humility? Humility can be defined as the ability to know who you are and to know who God is clearly and objectively.

The humble person knows first and foremost that he is a child of the all powerful, all loving God. The humble person knows and accepts the talents God has given him, and develops and uses those talents to the fullest so that God alone may be glorified and His Kingdom may be built up on this earth.

The humble person also however knows his shortcomings and sins, and knows how much even the smallest sins offend Jesus. The humble person doesn’t try to excuse or rationalize his sins and failures, but recognizes his need for God’s grace and mercy in his life.

In contrast, the proud person always thinks he is more talented or virtuous that he really is, or at least he’d like others to think so.

The proud person is in denial about his weaknesses and sins, he rarely examines his conscience in the light of God’s law, rarely thinks of how offensive they are to God and how damaging they are to those around him.

And while the humble person uses his talents for the glory of God and the building up of God’s Kingdom, the proud person uses his talents only to further glorify himself and build up his ego.

A great example of humility in this respect is St. Joan of Arc. At the age of 17, Joan had already led the French Army in victory after victory, drove the occupying British forces out of France, and put the rightful ruler, King Charles the VII, on the throne, all because God told her this was what he was calling her to do.

King Charles in gratitude on his coronation day told Joan he would give her anything she wanted for all she did for him and for her country.

Joan of Arc could have asked to become the Queen, she could have probably taken power from the King and all France would have obeyed her.

Instead, Joan said “I only want you never to tax the village I grew up in.”

So great was her humility, this talented, brave, faith filled young woman only cared about her faith, her country, and her loved ones’ well being at home.

Incidentally, the Catholic King Charles and every French King after him were humble enough to honor her request, and for the next 360 years the little village Joan of Arc grew up in was tax free, until the French Revolution came and took away the towns tax exemption.

Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.

What our world needs today is more humble Joan of Arcs, and less proud French Revolutions.

Let us pray in this Eucharist that Jesus, who is meek and humble of heart, may give us the virtue of humility in all aspects of our life, that He may exalt us with blessings in this life and reward us with a high seat of honor in heavenly banquet.

Homily — 21st Sunday OT C 8/22/10

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Homily — 21st Sunday OT C 8/22/10

Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.

That refrain from today’s Psalm are some of the final words Jesus said to us right before He Ascended to Heaven.

He said that day: Go out to all the world and proclaim the Gospel, the Good News, to all creatures. He who believes in this Gospel and immerses himself in it will be saved.

Each of us therefore is called by Jesus to bring His Gospel to all peoples without exception.

That’s because the Gospel and the Gospel alone brings us what Jesus calls Salvation: Salvation isn’t just heaven at the end of our lives, it’s heaven even here and now, even in the midst of the trials of this world.

The Gospel brings us true and lasting peace, true and lasting freedom, true and lasting unity with God and our neighbor, the Gospel gives us purpose and direction in life, it helps us to see what God’s perfect will is for us, why God created us, the Gospel if we immerse ourselves in it will enable us to live life to the fullest.

But before a person can receive all these precious treasures I’ve just mentioned, a person first needs to do what Jesus says in today’s Gospel:

Strive to enter through the narrow gate.

The broad, spacious, beautiful land which is the Kingdom of God can only be entered through a long, steep, narrow gateway.

And in John Chapter 10, Jesus says Amen, amen I say to you, I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved and will find Green Pastures.

But we must strive with all our being to enter this narrow gate. For Jesus says many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.

Jesus is saying that even among those trying to follow Him, many won’t have the strength needed to be saved.

Many won’t be strong enough in faith, won’t be strong enough in moral virtue, won’t be strong enough in humility, in awareness of their need for God to help them.

Jesus is telling us this today because He loves us, and doesn’t want us to be among those “many” lukewarm believers who will find themselves locked out of Heaven on judgment day.

In the second reading, the author of the letter to the Hebrews says “My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord”.

If we are truly disciples, we need to have discipline in our life. We need to have the discipline of a daily prayer life, we need to have the discipline of daily examining our consciences to see if we are loving God with our whole heart soul mind and strength and our neighbor as our selves,we need to have the discipline of living a life of simplicity and self denial.  We need to have the discipline to when needed enter that narrow door of the confessional and make a good confession of our sins to a priest.

If we don’t disdain the discipline of the Lord, and if we endure the trials and crosses of life as God’s way of forming us into the image of his Son, we will soon be strong enough to pass all the way through the narrow gate and into the broad pastures of Christ’s Kingdom.

Homily – Assumption MMX 8/15/10

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Homily – Assumption MMX 8/15/10

Assumption of the Virgin  Michel Sittow (1469–1525)

Assumption of the Virgin Michel Sittow (1469–1525)

Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come!

For see, the winter is past, and the song of the turtledove

is heard in our land.

We celebrate Mary’s Assumption into Heaven in the middle of summer, because on this day, the long winter of separation from her beloved Jesus is forever past and gone.

Today Mary is reunited, Body and Soul, with Jesus Her Beloved, as she enters the gates of Heaven.

It had been (according to one tradition), 15 years since she had last seen Him that Day He Ascended into Heaven.

She had wanted so much that day to have gone to Heaven with Him, she could not bear to be on this earth without Him.

But Jesus wanted Her to stay on earth a few years longer, to comfort and teach the Apostles, to tell them all about Jesus’ birth and early years, memories and mysteries which she had kept and pondered over constantly in her Immaculate Heart all these years.

And so after Jesus went away to Heaven, Mary embraced this separation from Her beloved. She certainly was consoled by His Holy Spirit that filled her heart and soul every day, and even more consoled by receiving Jesus in Holy Communion each day from the hands of Jesus’ beloved disciple and priest, St. John the Apostle who took care of her after Good Friday.

But despite this consolation and spiritual presence of Jesus, it was still a long winter, Mary yearned more than ever to go home to Him, Her body so desired to share in Her Son’s Resurrection, Her whole being wished to be with the Risen Jesus in Heaven.

And today we rejoice with Our Blessed Mother as Jesus answers Her prayer and says those words from the Old Testament Song of Songs:

Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come!

For see, the winter is past, and the song of the turtledove

is heard in our land.

And as the Gospel says, Mary was Blessed because she heard the Word of God and kept it, Mary more than any other disciple of Jesus observed God’s word with every fiber of her being. Which is why at the end of her life, ever fiber of Mary’s being, Her Body and Soul, were taken up to Heaven to be with Jesus forever.

And you know, it was in some ways just as challenging for Mary to say “yes” whole-heartedly to God as it is for us to.

Yes, she was given special gifts like being immaculately conceived, but Mary also was given far and away the toughest vocation a human person ever had – to be the Mother of Jesus, and to hold all the sorrows He felt in her heart.

But the Key to Mary’s obedience, and the Key to our obedience, can be found in Mary’s Magnificat which we will read in tomorrow’s Gospel.

Mary says “My soul magnifies the Lord.”

Of all the things that were in her soul, Mary magnified the Lord and Him alone.

You and I have in our souls good things, bad things and indifferent things. And we also have in our soul if we are Baptized, the Lord Jesus who dwells in us through Faith.

We must choose what in our soul we are going to Magnify, what in our soul we’re going to put above all else.

We can magnify our sins, we can magnify our troubles, we can magnify frivolous things, we can even magnify good things, we can take things good in themselves and cherish them more than we cherish what God wants us to do.

May we say like Mary did “My soul magnifies the Lord and nothing else

Jesus says the Kingdom of God is like a mustard plant that starts out the tiniest of seeds, but has the potential to grow into the largest of trees.

We like Mary need to magnify that tiny seed within us, we need to see that that tiny seed is growing bigger each day through daily prayer and meditation on God Word, through daily renouncing our own will and taking up our Cross and following Jesus, and through daily acts of charity.

If we magnify the Lord in our Souls, we will soon find those souls of ours already on earth with Mary and Jesus, even now enjoying a foretaste of what they are experiencing.

And if you and I magnify the Lord in our Souls each day, then one day you and I will hear the Lord Jesus say to us:

Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come!

For see, the winter is past, and the song of the turtledove

is heard in our land.

Homily — 19th Sunday OT C 8/8/10

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

Homily — 19th Sunday OT C 8/8/10

Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

Today’s Gospel asks us “Where is my treasure?” Do I treasure the things of this world more than I treasure the things of God?

Is my Faith the greatest treasure I possess? Have I with all my heart said “Yes” to God, have I like Abraham stepped out in Faith and not looked back, have I allowed my Faith to change the way I think and act so much that I am no longer the person I once was?

Jesus in the Gospel says Light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return . . . .ready to open immediately when He comes and knocks.

Is the light of Faith which Jesus gave me at my Baptism burning brightly at this point of my life? Do I feed that flame of faith each day with the lamp oil of prayer, reading of Scriptures, and works of mercy? Or have I let anxieties or worldly riches smother or snuff out this precious flame of faith?

Lord Jesus, as we journey through this life, not knowing when that journey will come to an end, give us the grace to walk each and every day by the Light of the Holy Catholic Faith, and to spread that faith you have entrusted to us by our words and actions.

May our faith be truly the greatest treasure we possess, so that our hearts may be burning with love for you, until the Day of your return.

Homily 18th Sunday OT C 8-1-10

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Homily 18th Sunday OT C             8/1/10

Vanity of vanities, says Quoheleth,

Vanity of vanities, all things are vanity!”

The Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes is one long, extended meditation on how vain – in other words, how empty, how unsatisfying and how superficial – this world we live in is.

Quoheleth searches high and low in the world, and comes to the conclusion that “all things are vanity” and “vexation of spirit” or wearisome to the spirit of man.

Quoheleth first tries to escape from this emptiness in pleasures of the flesh, but after doing so, he found this even more empty, vain and unsatisfying. Then he tries to drink his emptiness away with wine and alcohol; neither does this satisfy him.

Then he tries to laugh away his emptiness with jokes and entertainment, but even this he finds unsatisfying and shallow, his spirit now more restless than ever.

So next, Quoheleth tries to find meaning in his work. He says “I undertook great works; I built myself houses and planted vineyards . . . . gardens and parks, I constructed reservoirs, and acquired servants to work under me, and became the richest and wisest person in all the land”

“But when I turned to all the works that my hands had wrought . . . . behold! All was vanity,” and “wearying to my spirit.”

Lastly, he tries to find satisfaction in science and learning, becoming the wisest man in all the land. But even the pursuit of knowledge left him just as empty and unsatisfied as an uneducated person.

And so Quoheleth sadly concludes that “There is nothing new under the Sun,” that everything under the Sun is old, and weary and unsatisfying. “Even the thing which people say ‘Wow, this is new and exciting’ has been done before, it’s the same old same old.”

And really, this inspired message of this Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes could not be more relevant in our time.

How many Quoheleth’s there are in our world today, how the Quoheleth mentality tempts the best of us, how many young, old, and middle aged men and women today are chasing after things of the world, even things good and virtuous in themselves, trying to find ultimate happiness, contentment, and satisfaction, and coming too late to the conclusion: “Vanity of Vanities, all is vanity!”

The Bible does not lie, the hard truth is, that all things in this fallen world, even legitimate pleasures, are vain and empty. The harsh reality is, that “there is nothing new under the sun,” nor will there ever be, but all remains old and tired and dull, for our world apart from God is fallen.

But while the Bad News of the is that there is nothing new under the Sun, the Good News of is that now, there is and forever will be something new above the Sun.

For high above the Sun, high above this vain and empty world of fleeting pleasures and lasting affliction, there now sits Our Lord Jesus on His Glorious Throne, still as young, and as strong, and as manly as ever for these past 2000 years.

And Jesus says to us here on earth, “behold, I make all things New for those who turn from the vanity of this world, embrace the Cross, and follow after me.”

And that’s not all that is “new” above the Sun. For standing at the Right Hand of Jesus, radiant in beauty, eternally youthful in Her glorified body and soul, is Mary, the ever Virgin, Queen of Peace, and full of graces which she showers down in abundance upon those who strive to follow Her Son.

St. Paul tells us therefore to “seek what is above . . . .not what is on earth. For in Baptism you have died to this world and it’s vain pleasures, and your life is now hidden with Christ.”

It is the great paradox of Christianity, which is as relevant today as it ever was, that the key to joy and fulfillment and happiness is to embrace a life of self-denial, of simplicity in our lifestyles, of a radical, counter-cultural chastity in body and mind, of an even more radical forgiveness towards one’s enemies, and of generosity to the poor.

And so, you and I must choose each day whether we will chase after Vanity, or follow the Way of Jesus.   If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

At every Mass, at the Preface before the Holy Holy, the priest says “Lift up your hearts” and the people respond “We lift them up to the Lord”

May the grace of the Holy Eucharist enable us to not harden, but truly lift up our hearts and minds and bodies high above this vain and unsatisfying world; may it enable us to die to this world, and live each day of our life in the Kingdom, by the power of the New, Eternally Youthful Holy Spirit of Jesus our Risen and Ascended Lord.