The readings all speak about repentance and forgiveness. But isn't that one of the things on which we focus during the season of Lent? Yes, but it is also a main part of our celebration of Easter, for forgiveness is bestowed upon us by God through the death and Resurrection of Jesus. As we hear in the words of Consecration at Mass (over the chalice): "This is the cup of my Blood, which will be shed for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins." Let us seek forgiveness from God through our contrition, and let us share the Good News of repentance with all people.
Did Thomas really doubt what his fellow Apostles told him about Jesus' Resurrection? Should he be known only by that one question that he had? We should be grateful to Thomas, because we are actually a lot like him (with our questions and doubts today). We should remember Thomas as one of the greatest disciples and apostles, having defended and preached the Faith fearlessly, and having giving his life for the Gospel as a martyr.
Jesus Christ is Risen! He is truly risen from the dead!
In this brief homily, I talk about the lessons learned from St. John's account of the Passion of Jesus, as well as from the 1st reading, from the Prophet Isaiah. Again, this is more than just "looking back" at what happened to someone 2000 years ago; the Passion and death of Jesus Christ is our salvation from sin and death. As we honor and remember the events which led to Jesus' death on the cross, may we also do what he did -- serve our brothers and sisters in this world, even to the point of laying down our lives for others.
Today we commemorate three things: The institution of the Eucharist, the institution of the priesthood, and the commandment to serve one another. This beautiful liturgy is the beginning of the great Paschal Triduum.
Even though we are considering events that occurred thousands of years ago (the Passover and the Last Supper), we believe that even now -- through the sacred liturgy -- God is liberating us from sin, feeding us with the Body and Blood of His Son, and renewing the promise of eternal life for us. This is the power of the Eucharist: as we commemorate that which God gave us so long ago, we make it present in every age as we heed Christ's commandment: "Do this in memory of me."
In this great celebration of the Eucharist today, we ask God to bless and consecrate the holy oils that are used in our diocese throughout the year. As well we honor and pray for our priests, who will renew their priestly promises. More than anything, we recall that we like Christ are 'anointed' by God to proclaim the Good News. "Christ" means "anointed", and as Christians we follow the anointed one and do what he did. The name for this Mass (Chrism) comes from the word "Christ". May God bless the oil that we will use, and the people who use them and are anointed with them. All of us: bishops, priests, deacons, religious, and laypeople are anointed to be like Christ in the world today.
(This homily is a shorter one than normal, because of the reading of the Passion that preceded it.)
Palm Sunday is our entrance into Holy Week, and as such the readings, prayers, and songs serve as a "prelude" or a summary to what we will celebrate in detail this week. As we celebrate the Institution of the Eucharist, the passion and death of Jesus, and the Resurrection, we do so not as spectators or historians; we are faithful followers of Jesus Christ. As we read in the 2nd Letter to Timothy, "If we die with him, we will live with him" (2 Tim 2:11).
Five words to carry us through Holy Week -- and the rest of our lives: We know how this ends.
(Three young women received the Sacrament of Confirmation at this Mass.)
The words of God through His prophet Jeremiah are striking: "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord...". God has promised a new covenant with His people; one that is eternal and will be for all people of all time. Jesus made this covenant with us in his blood, shed on the cross for our salvation. We remember this covenant at every celebration of the Eucharist, and thus God renews that covenant with us constantly. At this point in Lent we can also say, "Behold, the days are coming..." as we prepare to celebrate our holiest days.
(I think I have the audio figured out now, so this sounds much better!)
This homily was given right before celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation for several folks at St. Thomas More Parish (Pensacola). Thus, I was speaking in a more colloquial way as I wanted to reach the young people directly. The Holy Spirit is God's gift to the Church, and it gives us the means and the ability to preach the Good News just as the Apostles did after Pentecost. What is the Good News? We find it in today's Gospel, especially John 3:16. "God so loved the world that He sent His only Son, that whoever believes in Him may not die but may have eternal life."
Today's readings give us the great story of the Sacrifice of Abraham and the mystery of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Both point to the sacrifice (or, in the case of Abraham, the intention to sacrifice) an only son. Whereas God stopped Abraham from offering up his son, God did not halt the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ, and that brought about the salvation of the world. How are we to respond? What can we sacrifice to the Lord in order to demonstrate our faith? May we live in such a way that God will say to us (as He said to Abraham): "Now I know that you are devoted to me, ... you will be blessed forever."
(The audio on this one is poorer than the others -- sorry!)
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent, and as such it serves as a way for us to "get back on track" with God and our faith. Lent offers us all the opportunity to pull back a little from our attention to ourselves and our passions, and to focus more on God and our neighbor. The three practices of Lent -- Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving -- can serve to prepare us well to celebrate the Paschal Mystery of Christ.
As we celebrate the wedding anniversaries (especially the 5th, 10th, 25th, 50th, 60th and beyond) of our brothers and sisters, we have an opportunity to reflect on the vocation of marriage. Marriage in the Catholic Church is a sacrament; a sign of Christ's presence in the world. Just as Jesus laid down his life for us so that we may have eternal life, so a husband lays down his life for his wife, and a wife for her husband. Dying to oneself is not depressing or something to be avoided at all costs. Rather, it is the 'greatest love'; the way to eternal life with God.
Today's readings speak to the trials and difficulties that we experience every day. Often it seems that we can say with Job that our life doesn't appear to have any meaning. Jesus came to be like us in all things, however, and even though he took on our trials and infirmities, he never gave up hope. In fact, he came to bring hope to the world which "groans and struggles through time". The hope that we have in Christ Jesus is stored up for us in heaven. Knowing that God the Father is pleased to give us this gift makes us want to dedicate our lives to building up the Kingdom of God here on earth.
As we celebrate the Mass of the Holy Spirit with and for our brothers and sisters in the various branches of our state government, we pray for God's guidance in all things. Particularly, we ask for the gift of "Fear of the Lord", so that we may revere and adore God while remembering that we are called to do His will. Only when we 'get out of the way' and let God work through us with God be glorified in us and in our world as well.
The Gospel story of the healing of the paralytic teaches us the importance of interceding for others. Just as the friends of the paralytic brought him to Jesus so that he might be healed, so we bring our petitions and the needs of others to the Lord. This weekend we pray especially for the respect of all life -- from natural conception to a natural death. We will march, we will pray, and we will speak out. Today's Gospel reminds us, however, that before we do any of that we must ask God to hear our prayers. May God's will be done, and may Life, in all of its beautiful stages, be protected, defended, and celebrated.
We all know the story of the visit of the Magi, and it has many levels of meaning for us as Christians today. Isaiah's prophecy (which we hear in the first reading) reminds us to raise our eyes, for our redemption is at hand. The prophet speaks of the restoration of Jerusalem, and the promise that all nations shall stream toward it with their wealth and faith. This prophecy, perhaps directed at the time to the return from the Babylonian Exile, is yet to be fulfilled completely. We still await the day when all nations will seek and find the light of faith; when peace will truly reign in our hearts and in our world.
The last verse of today's Gospel gives us practically all the information we need on the early life of Jesus:
"[T]hey returned to Galilee,
to their own town of Nazareth.
The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom;
and the favor of God was upon him" (Lk 2:39-40).
It is fitting that the Feast of the Holy Family be situated in the season of Christmas, for it underscores and reinforces our belief in the mystery of the Incarnation. As well it teaches us about the dignity of every family, including ours.
Jesus Christ is born for us this day! He shall be Emmanuel, a name which means, "God is with us". On this holy night all of creation celebrates the closeness of our God. There is no greater gift to give or receive than the very presence of Jesus Christ. Let us receive him with joy and then share the Good News with all we meet. God is with us. God is always with us.
Today we celebrate the Third Sunday of Advent, also called, "Gaudete Sunday". Gaudete is a Latin word that is translated, "rejoice". Why do we rejoice on this day, specifically, and what kind of rejoicing is in order? Today's homily takes on that question and reminds us to rejoice in light of our salvation that is to come.
Clearly, the message from Scriptures for all of us today comes from the words of Isaiah and St. John the Baptist: "Prepare the way of the Lord!" We all need to do this - literally - by making space in our hearts, homes, families, and our world for the Lord Jesus Christ. This begins with our repentance. We must first clear out sin and anything contrary to the Gospel in our own hearts, and they we must help others around us do the same. Come, Lord Jesus!
Today we celebrate the First Sunday of Advent, and we join with the prophet Isaiah and people of all time who look to the heavens and cry, "Come, Lord Jesus!" We must prepare our hearts and our world for his coming, and we do that by doing the work he gave us: to teach all nations and to share the Good News.
(Video from a phone from a person in the congregation).
What is the Assumption, and why is it important for us? Why don't we go directly to Jesus Christ? Why do we talk about Mary and the saints so much? The saints are our friends in heaven, and just as we would ask friends and family members here on earth to pray for us, it makes sense that we would ask our friends in heaven to take our prayers to Jesus. Besides, as Mary herself said, "My soul magnifies the Lord!" So everything we give to Mary is magnified on it's way to her son.
Today's Gospel gives us the account of Jesus' Transfiguration. This mystery is important to us for so many reasons - most especially because it reminds us that Jesus is more than just a good (or even perfect) human being; he is the Son of God. As such, he has the authority and power to redeem us and open for us the way to Heaven. In addition, the vision of Jesus' divinity serves to remind us of our future glory: where he has gone, we hope to follow!
In the Gospel for today Jesus speaks about the Kingdom of Heaven, and that we should desire it more than anything (or anyone) on earth. It is the 'pearl of great price', the 'treasure buried in the field', in the words of Jesus. What is the Kingdom of Heaven and how can we obtain it? It is the realm of Jesus Christ, and we obtain it by accepting God's invitation to be faithful members of that realm. It is the Lord Jesus who calls us: "Come. Follow me."
Today's Gospel gives us the parable of the Sower and the Seed. Clearly, Jesus intends to teach us that we must be like the rich soil that welcomes and receives the seeds of God's Word, so that it may grow in us and produce an abundant harvest. Jesus also has a few other 'hidden seeds' in this parable, teaching us about how successful God's harvest will be, as well as how we can imitate God who loves and forgives without measure.