Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Not so much as a slap on the cheek.

November 23, 2008
The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King
Mass Readings:
Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28
Matthew 25:31-46

Kingdom. Empire. These are two words that for me at least, conjure images of mighty, wealthy, armed to the teeth countries. Empire and kingdom always trigger for me images of the Roman Empire or Alexander the Great who conquered and claimed the known world as their own.

The New Testament is loaded with tension between the people of God and the powers that be of the Roman Empire. There were zealots of the day who believed that the Jews should physically strike against the Romans and overthrow the empire and reclaim the land. Jesus even had a zealot or two in his rag-tag band of disciples.

In the century and a half before the "Word was made flesh", there was the Maccabean revolt that saw the overthrow of the Greeks. Judas Maccabee was heralded as a "messiah" and that their empire would stand indefinitely. Judas Maccabe also known as Judas the Hasmonean, Judas the Hammer was the model for a messiah. His strength in battle was the ideal and he established a dynasty of security and prosperity. That worked until the Romans decided otherwise. Thing is, the idea of a military messiah was already ingrained in the psyche of the people. The hope was that the messiah would usher in a new empire, a kingdom that would overthrow the Roman Empire and restore control to the people.

So here comes Jesus, the Word made flesh and he doesn't come into the world with a roar and a military brilliance to crush the Roman Empire. Jesus was exactly the opposite of what was hoped for. Jesus enters the world defenseless and dependant. A baby that needs love and support. How could this be the glorious entry of the Messiah sent from God? How can a baby possibly mirror the great Hasmonean Dynasty?

I think in some ways we still look for a "Christian Empire". I am currently reading a book that describes how there are radical, so called "Christian" groups who actually believe that if the Middle East would just devolve into WW III, then Jesus would be forced to return and "rapture" the faithful away and just let the sinners burn! Peace in the Middle East for them is a bad thing. Holy cow! These people even believe that military force is just fine and dandy in order to force Jesus' hand and get him to come back! How can anyone believe such things? Why do some still want to make Jesus a figure of violence? Are some Christians so desperate to escape the world that they believe any means necessary to try and force Jesus' return is okay? As if we mere mortals can force Jesus to do anything! Silly and arrogant stuff yet horrible, terrifying and worst of all, dangerous.

Today we celebrate the last Sunday in Ordinary Time. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. Today we celebrate the Kingdom of Christ. This kingdom is eternal and complete. Jesus' Kingdom is one of absolute good, absolute peace, absolute love and absolute joy and it is built without so much as a slap on the cheek. There can be no violence, hatred, malice, or deceit in Jesus' kingdom.

Jesus' kingdom is the promise of God's love! In Jesus there is life eternal for all who call on his holy name and believe. There are no hidden initiation rites that only a few are privy to. There are no physical battles that must be fought in order to enter Jesus' kingdom. There is only the call from Jesus to surrender to his love and accept his salvation. A kingdom that never fires a shot, a kingdom that is for any and all who merely believe and call upon Jesus. That's a kingdom we human beings can never build on our own because it all rests upon Jesus, the true Messiah who conquered sin and death with love and self sacrifice.

Christ Jesus is the one true and eternal King of all creation and no human being can force or hinder his act of love and redemption. Jesus is not a king of violence and hate and he does not wish for anyone to suffer and die. It is our choice to accept or deny his salvation. If there is to be suffering it is of our own choosing, not his.

So what is our part? Any and all of us who have received the Lord's great gift of salvation are the disciples of today and we are called to go forth and invite all people to the great table of the kingdom so that all may dine with the Lord. We are to build the Lord's kingdom by being the very face of Jesus to all our brothers and sisters. Jesus' idea of kingdom is one that sees to the needs of all who suffer and not the quest for geographical boundaries or riches. Jesus' kingdom is one of justice, love, and peace. Jesus' kingdom is one in which prejudice and bigotry cannot and do not exist. Jesus' kingdom is for all and not a select group that knows the secret handshake.

We gather here today and we celebrate the kingdom over which Christ is the eternal King. This kingdom is of spirit and truth. We receive the Body and Blood of our Salvation and we have a foretaste of eternity in the Lord's presence. Earthly kingdoms rise and fall. Nothing on earth stands forever so we should really be careful where we put our trust. We are to rest in the confidence that we are welcome in God's Heavenly Kingdom where Christ is the king that saves and loves.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Power of Yes.

November 21, 2008
Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Mass Readings:
Revelation 10:8-11
Luke 19:45-48

This morning we take a moment to reflect on the powerful ministry of our Blessed Mother. This celebration looks to an important even that happened in the year 543, the dedication of the New Basilica of Saint Mary that was built in the Old City of Jerusalem. That basilica is no longer in existence but it brings today to pause and reflect on the Virgin Mary. This weekend Ordinary Time comes to a close and we prepare to enter the Advent Season but first we celebrate the great feast of Christ the King. It is fitting that we pause today to remember Mary's great part in the plan of salvation for she bore the great King of our salvation.

There is no greater passage about our Blessed Mother than the Magnificat found in Luke's Gospel, chapter 1;46-55. Here we have Mary's beautiful response to the angel Gabriel after he reveals to Mary that she will be the mother of God's son. Mary is faced with an unbelievable blessing but also burden. The mind boggles at the immense task God entrusted to this young woman. What courage and faithfulness Mary shows by saying yes to God!

That brings me to my point this morning, the power of saying yes to God. I am often reminded by staff here at the parish that I need to say no a bit more often. I admit to trying to squeeze as many things into a 24 hour period as possible. Not healthy I admit. However, saying yes to yet another meeting is not what we see today. Today we look at the joy of saying yes to God! Nothing can give greater joy than to accept God's call to serve Him and His Church and Mary is THE example of saying yes to God.

Saying yes to God requires our willingness to set aside our own agendas and desires. Being open to God's call requires us to abandon self and strive to be pleasing to God. This does not mean that we walk away from our life and the people in it. It means we have to be willing to follow God wherever the call may lead. That may sound scary and uncertain and in a way I guess it is. However, God always promises that when we say yes, he is always faithful and will not in any way shape or form abandon us. To say yes to God is to accept a share in the ministry of Jesus himself. That acceptance of God's call may not include fortune or fame but it does promise the joy of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus, the great gift of salvation and the promise of eternity with God. Mary understood that and her saying yes to God transformed the world.

The Maginificat is second only to the great prayer that Jesus gave to us, the Our Father. Let us pray together that glorious yes of Mary;

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Praise be to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit! Amen!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sacred Space

November 9, 2008
Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome
Mass Readings:
Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9, 12
1 Corinthians 3:9c-11, 16-17
John 2:13-22

Today is one of those feasts that often make us scratch our heads and wonder. The Lateran Basilica? What does that have to do with us siting here in this church this morning? I think this feast day is a great opportunity for a bit of a Greek lesson. There are two important words when we talk about time, kairos and chronos. Chronos refers to our chronological time. It is the chronological that runs our lives. My wrist watch keeps in tune with the 24 hours a day of chronological time. Kairos time is time that exists outside of chronological time, its God's time. This kairos time is where we encounter the Sacraments. Kairos is the moment when we touch eternity.

There is another Greek word that is important to what we do here today and that is anamnesis. Anamnesis is about remembering, remembering the death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord. Yet is goes further. As we celebrate Mass, we enter into that kairos time and we are present in the past, the present and the future. We are present as Jesus celebrates the Last Supper. We are present here with one another as we receive the Body and Blood of Christ. Yet there is more! We are touching that beautiful eternal banquet in the presence of the Lord! Do you feel tired yet? A lot is happening as we celebrate Mass each day.

Now we come to the feast day of the Lateran Basilica in Rome. I had the privilege of attending Mass there in 2000. It is an amazing structure. The Lateran Basilica is the mother of every Catholic church throughout the world. This church we sit in this morning is linked to that amazing basilica in Rome. Today we celebrate sacred space. We are so accustomed to buildings being built, torn down, and built again that we don't really think about space as holy and sacred. This church has been consecrated to the service of God and his people. This church we worship in today has been consecrated by a bishop, a shepherd of the Church, the altar and walls anointed with Sacred Chrism and dedicated to God's glory. This is holy ground! Here we leave behind the demands of our watches and we enter that sacred time that God uses to give us strength on our spiritual journey. Here at this altar we encounter the risen Lord as bread and wine is transformed by the Holy Spirit into the Body and Blood of Jesus himself. We receive Christ and then go forth to be the very Body of Christ in the world. We are to become that which we have received. Our stepping outside of the chronological into the sacred time of God is so that we can rest our souls and be fed by God's great love.

So here we are, celebrating a building in a far away country. But no ordinary building do we give thanks for. It is from that sacred place that this place is made sacred. We are united throughout the world with every Catholic church from the small to large, the simple to the complex, the plain to the ornate. We are joined as one body proclaiming the message of salvation through word and sacrament proclaimed in our deeds. It is here that we encounter the mystery of the Uncaused First Cause. It is here in this church that our lives are transformed by the glorious mysteries of our faith and we actually touch the Risen Lord as we enter into his time!

So yeah, we celebrate a church building this morning. We celebrate that by God's mysterious love, we have a sacred space that propels us to encounter the Divine. We honor a space that has been made holy by God, where we strive to be holy as our Heavenly Father is holy. Let us give thanks this day that God gives us such sacred and holy places to encounter him and to receive salvation from his Son Jesus and be filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

How 'bout a bit of anxiety?

October 19, 2008
Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mass Readings:
Isaiah 45:1,4-6
I Thessalonians 1:1-5b
Matthew 22:15-21

To say that society is anxious right now would be a gross understatement. The economy, politics, division amongst Christians, you can fill in the blank. I find that so many Christians are entirely too wrapped up in the world. Well, I can only speak for myself and I have come to see that I am too invested in the processes of the world and I am filled with anxiety. I hate it when I do that!

I noticed the other day that every time a political ad or a news report on the economy comes on that I have a tightness in my chest and I get unsettled, greatly unsettled. As I was sitting in my quarters and watching the news I began to realize that I am so overly invested in the world that I have become more concerned with what goes on in the world and less concerned with the "spirit of the world." As a priest, I should be more involved with proclaiming the Good News than worrying about this or that politician or whether my 401K is tanking.

Now don't hear me wrong. The economy and politics are important. The truth is that God is more important than anything! Jesus in our gospel text this morning is faced with a test. The Pharisees and the Scribes were afraid of Jesus. Afraid not because they believed he was the Son of God but that he was a rebel who would bring the wrath of the Roman Empire down on their heads. They lived in fear and anxiety of the world.

So in their attempt to get Jesus arrested, they concocted a trap. They believed that Jesus would take the bait and say something against the Roman government and be arrested and removed from their midst. So, give Jesus a coin and get him to say that paying tax to Caesar was wrong and let the Romans take care of this trouble maker. Well, Jesus did what he always did and turned the trap back on the accusers. Given a coin, Jesus declares that since Caesar's image was on the coin, give it back to him. You can almost imagine the blank stares on the faces of his accusers. Money doesn't come from God so don't try and use money against God. I see this as Jesus' way of saying that we should not be so concerned with the world that we start confusing the actions of governments or systems with God. Stop trying to use the world as a means of justifying or denying what people of faith should do.

That may sound a bit convoluted so let me explain. Recently I sat with a Palestinian pastor in Israel who said something that still lingers with me. He said: "If you put your trust in the state, you will always be disappointed." We have become so dependent on governments that we now expect politicians to do God's work for us! Huh!? This pastor was working for peace and justice and had given up on politicians and was doing what Jesus calls us to do which is to get busy, do the Father's will and proclaim the Good News of salvation through Jesus! The systems of the world will not do the work because that isn't the way it is suppose to work. Now I am not saying that politics and other worldly responsibilities are not important because they most certainly are. What I am trying to say is that we are the Body of Christ. We are the one's who are to be busy about our Heavenly Father's work and not look to some elected official to do it for us. We as believers of the Risen Lord are to practice what we preach and be the agents of change in the world. To put our trust in people or systems in which God is not the sole focus is wrong. Washington D.C. and Wall Street are not the god we are called to worship.

As we become so focused on the world we are battered by fear and anxiety because we have placed our trust in that which is temporary and will always fail or disappoint. Only God is eternal and only God can give life and certainty. That doesn't mean we are not to be concerned with the world. We are to be involved but not dependant on the world. Our dependence is upon God' love and mercy.

If we want a world that is in the image of the Risen Lord then we are to be the agents of change. Legislation will not bring about God's Kingdom on earth. It is only through the faithfulness of the Body of Christ, working and proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ without ceasing and with compassion, civility and courage that we will see the change this broken and anxious world needs.

The Roman Empire would not last forever. No government or country is eternal. Only the Kingdom of God is eternal and only God can give life and hope. Only through our obedience to Christ and living a life that is authentic and faithful to the Good News will we see true change. The state will not bring that change. The Good News cannot be legislated. No politician or investment bank can bring security of spirit. Only faithfulness and authentic living in the name of Jesus will bring what we need.

Now, all that said, we should not be isolated from the world. We, as the Body of Christ must be willing to proclaim the Lord with compassion, civility and courage. We are to protest when needed, get involved with just legislation and proclaim a culture of life and love in Christ. We Catholic Christians are called to be a faithful witness to God's goodness and be the very image of Christ to the world. It is our responsibility to build a world founded on God's love and justice. It is our faith that propels us to work in the name of the Good News and be authentic and strive to do the Lord's will and not our own. The problem comes when we forget the Lord and start seeing politics or investments as the way to fulfillment. If we do that, then we are sentenced to a life of anxiety and violence, division and failure.

I may still be anxious and worried at times but I cannot lose sight of why I exist in the first place. All of us are created in God's image. Every single person on this planet is a child of God. Yes, even those we call our enemies. God is the only source of life. All people should hear the Good News and be given the chance to share in the abundant life of Christ and this will not be done through politics or money. It will only be realized when we take our baptismal call seriously and get busy and do the work of Christ wholly and solely in His holy and sacred name. Then, and only then, will healing, glorious, trans formative change come to be.

We will be anxious, we will be afraid but the Lord promises that if we are faithful to him, then and only then will we never be disappointed.

God bless you and keep you. May you always find peace, hope and above all fullness of life that comes only from knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Check this out.

For all who are interested in the current dialogue on Scripture, check out the web site for the 2008 Synod of Bishops.

There are a great number of resources available.

Fr. Jeff

Friday, October 10, 2008

Hope is what we need.

Three posts in one day!? I am home working at my desk in the rectory due to having messed my back up. As a result I am getting a lot of catch-up work done. I am also using the chance to get back to blogging.

I marvel at Rocco Palmo over at Whispers in the Loggia. If you haven't yet, do yourself a great favor and read his blog at: His blog is the first thing I check when I fire up the iMac each morning. He put a post up today and set a quote from Blessed John XXIII. I was intrigued given that I had posted an earlier bit from our late Holy Father today. Blessed John XXIII is one of my heroes. The quote Rocco posted comes from Bl John XXIII's opening address of the Second Vatican Council. His words from October 11, 1962 are words I believe we all need to hear every day. I know I do! It is easy to succumb to the voices of gloom and doom if we lose our perspective. Holy Mother Church is alive and well because she rests in the arms of our Lord!

"...greatly to our sorrow we sometimes have to listen to those who, although consumed with zeal, do not have very much judgment or balance. To them the modern world is nothing but betrayal and ruination. They claim that this age is far worse than previous ages and they go on as though they had learned nothing from history -- and yet history is the great teacher of life.

"They behave as though the first five centuries saw a complete vindication of the Christian idea and the Christian cause, and as though religious liberty was never put in jeopardy in the past. We feel bound to disagree with these prophets of misfortune who are forever forecasting calamity -- as though the end of the world is imminent. Our task is not merely to hoard this precious treasure of doctrine, as though obsessed with the past, but to give ourselves eagerly and without fear to the task that this present age demands of us -- and in doing so we will be faithful to what the Church has done in the past 20 centuries."
Blessed John XXIII

We can never give up hope! As Pope Benedict XVI's second encyclical declares, we are saved in hope. Jesus Christ is our hope and promise! It is through our relationship with Jesus that all is well even when the world is in turmoil. This is not the worst the world has ever been and this is not the worst era the Church has ever experienced. I would dare say that the Christians who got fed to the lions at Rome would say we have it pretty good in comparison. We cannot let ourselves wallow. We are God's children! What could be greater than that!? Our goal is to be faithful to Jesus' Good News and be agents of peace and charity in the world.

Let us never give up hope and let us strive to always be faithful disciples.

P.S. Thanks Rocco.

the tumble continues...

I'm sitting at my desk and I have a browser window tuned to Wall Street. After my heart skipped a few beats I was reminded of a brief writing that always brings me joy and peace. I take this selection from a book I use a great deal; Bread of Life: Prayers for Eucharistic Adoration.

Blessed Pope John XXIII

Every believer must be a spark of light, a center of love, a vivifying leaven amidst his or her fellow human beings; and every believer will be this all the more perfectly the more closely he or she lives in communion with God.

Pray without ceasing my friends. Pray for a solid faith and a strong spirit. And always pray that we stay faithful to the Lord's call to discipleship.

Angels divided.

October 10, 2008
Friday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Mass Readings:
Galatians 3:7-14
Luke 11:15-26(27-28)

As a kid I was always a bit terrified of passages where Jesus would talk about demons. The thought of such things scurrying about the place was very unsettling. Today's Gospel text was one of those texts that troubled me. My childhood understanding saw dark ominous beings but today I view this text in a much more encouraging way.
We can read this text as one where Jesus is merely giving a lesson on demonology or we can see how we might just fit the place of those in the crowd who condemned Jesus' actions. How is it we might do that today?

Jesus responds to someone referring to him as an agent of Beelzebul, a Philistine god whose name later became used for Lucifer, aka. Satan. They weren't real sure that they could trust Jesus so they labeled him a demonic force. Jesus' response is brilliant. He launches into the deep discourse on how a house divided cannot stand. For a house divided, engaged in internal warfare can only meet with destruction. So
how could a demon be fighting against a demon? It just couldn't be because it would be assured destruction.

Jesus then uses a phrase that traces back to the Book of Exodus. The "finger of God" refers to Pharaohs magicians recognizing that God's true power was at work in Moses. Jesus is explaining that his actions are from his Father and that there is no division. All that Jesus does is in God's name and is the true expression of God's power and love at work.

I was reflecting on this passage in light of an event I witnessed a couple of weeks ago. Tempers are rising with the economic meltdown and upcoming elections. People are becoming further divided and mean. I was in a store recently where an individual began yelling at another shopper who had a button that was for the candidate she did not like. Apparently this person felt it was his right to verbally harass the other shopper. Many of us were stunned at the venom that came out. After things settled down and we had all checked out, I noticed this individual and the car he was driving. Right on the bumper was a "WWJD" bumper sticker. I was rooted to the spot. I asked myself, what would Jesus do? The answer I received back was that Jesus does anything but what we do. We know what Jesus would do but we seem unwilling at times to do it.

A house divided? If the Church is divided then it will not stand! How can a self professing Christian spew words of hatred and violence and then claim to be a messenger of God's love and peace? I then reflected on my own actions and began to ponder how I can at times be divided. If I let venom and anger seep into me and I express that then I become a member of a divided spiritual household. If we as Christians proclaim God's love in one breath and then turn and breathe words of hatred, violence and sin then we have already divided, separated ourselves from God's Kingdom and our house, our Church will not stand.

Jesus' words in today's Gospel have been lingering with me for the past couple of days. As things become more tense in our world, country, neighborhoods and houses we run the risk of becoming a source of division when what is needed is Jesus' message of love, peace and salvation to be proclaimed with joy. There is enough hatred in this world to destroy it many times over. As the Body of Christ we have the responsibility and privilege to be a source of unity. We have the honor to create peace instead of war. We have the joy of reaching out to those we may not agree with and be the voice of Jesus to them. We are the Body of Christ. Anything we do that promotes despair, anger, violence or hatred is a sign that we have separated ourselves from Jesus and we have divided our house, the Church.

When we have successfully divided God's House of Prayer, we allow the infestation to begin. We create demons out of self. I'm not talking about the type of demons we see on TV shows or in movies. I am talking about turning our lives into something that is displeasing to Jesus and assures that God will seek out someone else to share in His ministry. When that happens all we have left is our own desire and self seeking egos and we have then fully stripped Jesus out of our lives. Jesus weeps.

I have included the final verses of 27 and 28. Why? Well Jesus ends this scene with a very powerful word. Jesus says, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!" What good news! It is so simple but we insist on making it hard. If we profess to be a disciple then we better be one. If we have received God's great gift of salvation, then we better live as one who is saved. If we profess that God is love, then we better be loving. You get the picture.

God is love. God is our Lord. God sent his only Son so that we may live. God has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us. So many gifts! We have the best possible life in Jesus Christ so why do we seek out the darkness instead of the light? Life is far too short to waste it with fighting and division. What a waste to be given the fullness of life only to seek the despair of division which leads to spiritual death. Politics and the economy are not our god. Our honor is to worship the True God and transform the world by being faithful to His Law of Love.

God bless you all and be careful out there. Always remember that Jesus loves you and wants us to live as God's blessed children.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Still here gang.

A big thanks to all of you who have sent emails asking if I am still alive. No worries, I am alive and well. Problem has been that I have two assignments, my assignment here at the parish merger as well as two mission parishes that are a bit of a distance away. As a result, blogging has suffered from a lack of time. I hope to be back on a regular schedule starting next week.

In the mean time, have a blessed celebration of the Assumption of our Holy and Blessed Mother. I am heading out for a 7:00 pm Mass. We celebrated with the school kids this morning and we gave thanks for the great gift of our Mother Mary.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

All Jesus, all the time.

June 24, 2008
Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist Mass during the Day

Mass Readings:
Isaiah 49:1-6
Acts 13:22-26
Luke 1:57-66, 80

I want to start this post with the main part of the preface to today's Eucharistic Prayer:

Father all powerful and ever-living God, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks through Jesus Christ our Lord.

We praise your greatness as we honor the prophet who prepared the way before your Son. You set John the Baptist apart from other men, marking him out with special favor. His birth brought great rejoicing: even in the womb he leapt for joy, so near was man's salvation.

You chose John the baptist from all the prophets to show the world its redeemer, the lamb of sacrifice. He baptized Christ, the giver of baptism, in waters made holy by the one who was baptized. You found John worthy of a martyr's death, his last and greatest act of witness to your Son.

Today we celebrate the birth of the greatest of Jesus disciples. John the Baptist got it right straight out of the gate. John's whole life centered on one thing, preparing the way of Jesus. John would set aside all agenda and self gain so that he could proclaim the Messiah and his kingdom of love, grace, reconciliation and peace.

I always find that John the Baptist makes me feel unworthy. I mean, John is the epitome of what it means to be a faithful disciple at all times. He did everything for the glory of God. John was not perfect by any means. John shows that it isn't about being perfect because we humans will fail time and again. John's witness is that it is about faithfulness. I am sure that John made many mistakes but what he did not fail in was being faithful to the Savior. John is the proof that we can be faithful if we truly place Jesus at the center of life and practice. In all we do, may Jesus be glorified and his Good News be proclaimed so that all may know his love! That is what it is all about!

I am embarrassed at times by my failings. Most of us have experience with someone always being there to point out our failures to us. It seems to be a favorite past time for some. Good thing is that Jesus never, ever does that to us. Jesus waits for us to respond to his invitation to be a faithful disciple. Our imperfections and mistakes cannot separate us from the love of Jesus.

John the Baptist did one thing and he did it well. He proclaimed the goodness of Jesus and his salvation extended to all who will believe and follow him. "All Jesus, all the time" could have been John's tag line. May we all have the courage to follow his great example.

Monday, June 23, 2008

We just don't get it.

June 23, 2008
Monday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Mass Readings:
2 Kings 17:5-8, 13-15a, 18
Matthew 7:1-5

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Stop judging, that you may not be judged.
For as you judge, so will you be judged,
and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye,
but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?
How can you say to your brother,
‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’
while the wooden beam is in your eye?
You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first;
then you will see clearly
to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.”

How can I add any commentary to this text? Jesus tells us to stop judging or else he will judge us in same fashion as we have judged others. If Jesus is so clear on this matter, why do we ignore him? If Jesus judges us harshly, then we have only ourselves to blame.

Friday, June 20, 2008

And we wonder.

June 17, 2008
Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Mass Readings:
1 Kings 21:17-29
Matthew 5:43-48

I am a fan of Baz Lurhmann's movie version of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet". There is a great scene where John Leguizamo playing Tibult, sneers into the camera and says, "Peace. I hate the word, as I hate hell and all Montagues". It is a chilling line that defines his character who loves the tension and violence of his world. Every time I watch the movie I am struck by how it reveals the reality that some people just won't let go of the conflict and fighting.

We are continuing with Jesus' Sermon on the Mount and like yesterday, Jesus' words turn popular thought on it's head. Yesterday I talked about the fact that it is far too easy today to label anyone we disagree with as the enemy and that Jesus is talking about a revolution of the heart. This revolution requires that we see beyond the labels and recognize that we are all God's children.

Today's text moves us along to an even more blunt teaching from Jesus. If the teaching that an "eye for an eye" must end and that revenge is wrong, then it is also sin for us to hate our enemy. In fact, God's love demands that we love our enemies. What!? How can Jesus ask such a thing!? Surely he asks too much! Simply put, no he doesn't. Jesus asks only that which he himself is willing to do.

Jesus' radical teachings are often dismissed as being only possible by Jesus because he is the Son of God. That dismissal denies the human Jesus and negates the immense sacrifice Jesus made. Jesus, fully God but fully human, had to face the same trials you and I face. Jesus was subject to the same emotions and pains. We have no problem with the human Jesus suffering on the cross because we can all experience pain. But if the fully human Jesus could love those who wanted to kill him, the enemy, then shouldn't we human beings, us Christians be willing to do the same?

If we keep invoking an "eye for an eye" and keep believing it is okay to hate "the enemy" then no wonder peace is always outside our grasp. If we refuse to follow Jesus' teachings then how do we expect anything to change? If we insist on holding on to our hatred and fear instead of forgiving and loving then we need to stop being so surprised that things keep getting worse. Jesus has given us the solution and we must practice what he preached.

So simple but we insist on making it hard.

A geek note.

If you have upgraded to Firefox 3, you will not be able to view my photo blog. I experienced this problem and was told by a tech at Mozilla that this is a code problem and that the next update should fix the problem. So far, all other browsers work with .mac web pages.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

If you hadn't noticed.

Yes, I actually posted finally. I have a number of homilies that are waiting to find their way into cyberspace and they will show up a bit later this week. For now, head on over to my photo blog. I have posted a few pictures of my trip to Israel. I returned this past Thursday, June 12. You will find the link in the links section of this page.

I am now doing the work of unpacking the things I experienced while there. I have a lot of emotions and thoughts that I am trying to put to some order and I will be putting some of that here on these pages. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the 15 photos I published. I took 1200 digital photos but I would not dare put you through that torture!

I hope you enjoy them.

Fr. Jeff

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

You say you want a revolution.

June 16, 2008
Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Mass Readings:
1 Kings 21:1-16
Matthew 5:38-42

We are in the midst of some troubling words from Jesus. We are a people who are concerned with the individual and that is namely self. Our society is geared to defending the rights of the individual and anything that infringes on individual liberty is an affront. Jesus' words are quite often a necessary affront to our sense of right and wrong.

We are painfully use to the word enemy in our world today. I was watching one of the 24 hour news networks and I was struck by something I had never really noticed before. There was a series of sound bites from the political big shots and it seemed that these men and women were constantly pointing out enemies. Really? If I were to believe these people then I should be afraid to step outside of the rectory because there are enemies lurking around every shrub! Let's face it, fear grabs our collective attention.

That set me to thinking. I am very well aware that there are people in the world who seek to create chaos and pain and do not value life in any way shape or form. But is it necessary to label everyone who does not agree with me an enemy? As I have been reflecting on that news broadcast it looks as if we as a people are quick to call anyone we do not like, the enemy. I believe that is very dangerous.

In our Gospel text today, Jesus is talking about revolution and it is a revolution that makes all others seem like child's play. Jesus proclaims revolution that is devoid of violence, hatred, or fear. Jesus turns the idea of revenge upside down. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is sin and Jesus reveals that it has no place in his kingdom. In fact, Jesus declares that we are to actually love those who we deem our enemy! Surely Jesus was joking! Thankfully, NO!

Jesus' words of revolution are declarations of love and sacrifice instead of hatred and selfishness. Violence begets violence and is an abomination to Jesus. We are use to revolutions that result in death and destruction. Jesus says that cannot be the way. Jesus' revolution is the radical and limitless, eternal and unconditional love of the Father.

We can walk around blind and toothless, holding on to our fear and hatred or we can use our eyes to see God in each other and use our teeth to partake in the feast that God prepares for us.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Yup, I'm behind.

As you can see I have not been posting lately. Not because I have nothing to say but because I have been swamped with the parish merger. It will be a couple more weeks before I post regularly again. I leave tomorrow morning for a two week study trip to Israel. I plan on having posts about the trip as well as pictures when I get back. Our group is composed of 22 clergy of mixed Christian traditions, both make and female. It will be a very interesting trip. Say a prayer for us if you could please. Take care my friends and may God bless you.

Fr. Jeff

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

And now for something different.

I have received a few e-mails wondering about photos. I am not big on photos of myself and I generally avoid cameras. But I figured it would be okay to start a phot blog and share some pictures of my life. I am starting it off with a few photos from a trip I took in 2003 to visit my friends Katherine and her husband Oliver. They live in Scotland and it was perhaps the most beautiful place I have ever visited. If you are interested, just head over to,

I have also added a link in the links part of Scripture Journey.


Monday, April 28, 2008

A miracle not to be missed.

April 27, 2008
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Mass Readings:
Acts 8:5-8, 14-17
1 Peter 3:15-18
John 14:15-21

Last night I celebrated a First Communion Mass. It was beautiful. The kids were all excited and more than a bit nervous. They had all worked very hard and were prepared yet they were a bit scared. One could say that they were scared because of being in front of a church packed full of adults snapping pictures and gushing over how nice they looked. However, I think their nervousness might be because they truly were in awe of what was about to happen, a miracle not to be missed!

As Christians we look for miracles. We pray daily for the miraculous and we often times pray for big miracles. We pray for an end to illness, poverty, war and the like. Unfortunately we can become disillusioned when we believe that our miracle hasn't been granted. So busy can we become looking for the "big miracle" that we completely miss the miracles that God showers upon us every day. The Eucharist is such a miracle and I think the kids last night understood that. The Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ for us from simple bread and wine, is the source and summit of our faith. This great gift is our hope and strength.

This miracle, this gift which we receive today is about transformation. I always marvel at how blase we can become when it comes to receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. For some, receiving Communion is like going through a drive-up window. Come in late, receive, leave early so we can get to our other activities on time. Or we come forward to receive while our heart is filled with so many other things and we don't even pay attention to what we are doing. Worse, we may receive while we are angry and obsessing on thoughts of payback. Regardless, when we receive while obsessing on other things we miss the miracle.

To receive the Body and Blood of Christ is to be transformed into the One we receive. When we come forward, we are declaring that we believe, we believe that Jesus is present and that this is holy ground. We are to become like the One we receive. To receive the Body and Blood of Christ is to be committed to being transformed into the very likeness of Christ. The Eucharist is a gift. All gifts must be received, opened, and used, otherwise they are nothing. Jesus gives us this gift so that we can accept it, draw strength from it and then go forth in his name to be his disciples.

I pondered last night how do I change because of the Eucharist? Do I choose to be different because of it? Do I receive and then go back to my old ways? How do we as a people become different because of this miracle? Do we get in our cars after receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord and then proceed to curse at the other driver who just cut us off in traffic? Do we plot paybacks after we have said amen to the Body and Blood of our Salvation? How can we be the same old people after we have encountered this miracle?!

We gather together today to witness and receive a miracle. We gather today to become a people renewed by the gift of the Body and Blood of Christ. We come forward to receive the One who is our life! We leave this church building to be like the very One we have received. The gift given given, the gift received, the gift used.

I remember one of the monks at the monastery who use to pray this during the Mass; "This is the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Broken but never divided. Eaten, yet never Consumed. Happy are those called to this Supper." That is a part of my prayer every time I celebrate Mass. Let us receive this great miracle with the gratitude and reverence deserved and let us become like the One we receive. Amen.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I am running achingly behind and I apologize. Updates to follow.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

All God all the time.

March 21, 2008
Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion
Mass Readings:
Isaiah 52:13—53:12
Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
John 18:1—19:42

I AM. Two simple words that are the most powerful ever spoken. Jesus is using the very words that God the Father spoke to Moses. I AM. Those two simple words wrap up the most mind boggling reality. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit are all that is, was, and ever will be. God, the uncaused first cause. This is next to impossible to wrap our brain around. Jesus declares to the apostles that in him, all that is possible exists and is brought to fulfillment.

There is no way that we can ever be outside of God. God is everything. All that is good, life giving, is of God. When we experience the bad things that come in life, God is there to give us all that is good. When we are afraid, God is there to comfort us. God is present in all the good times and bad sustaining us and guiding us.

We cannot ever be separated from God. Even if we consciously choose to ignore God, God does not ignore us. When we choose to defy God, God does not defy us. God cannot turn his back on us. God is from the beginning, all that is, was, and ever will be. To live is to be surrounded by and filled with God's presence.

Today we reflect upon the horror of the crucifixion. We are horrified by the image of Jesus' sacrifice upon the cross. How can it be that the God who is everything can be nailed to a cross!? It just doesn't make sense to our modern sensibilities. Yet the crucifixion is again, proof that God is all that can be. God the Son becomes our weakness and takes upon himself the sin that is ours so that we may be saved. So complete is God's power that God becomes the sacrifice so that we might live! God becomes the weakness of sin so that we might be strong. God becomes the horror so that we might not be afraid. God takes on death in order to conquer it so that we might live!

God is life. God is all. God simply is everything.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A tragic love story.

March 20, 2008
Holy Thursday
Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-15

I am a man of many flaws and faults. One of those faults has become painfully clear to me because of our Gospel text tonight. I am terribly cynical and I mask that cynicism with an unhealthy dose of sarcasm from time to time. I do not like this aspect of myself. My cynicism causes me a great deal of problems. One of them is a tendency to give up on people who have let me down. I am also aware of how my cynicism can cause me to not take chances because I fear being disappointed.

So here we are at the Mass of the Lord's Supper where we celebrate the great gift of the Eucharist and Jesus' great example of service. This is a Gospel text that I am very familiar with. I pretty much now John's account by heart. So last night I was just perusing it again and I had an experience that shook me to my core. I have spent so much time viewing Judas as the "Benedict Arnold" of the scene that I have completely missed the tragic love story that is so transparent.

Jesus is painfully aware of Judas' imminent betrayal and all of the horror that will come to pass. I can imagine that most of us would have called Judas on the carpet and revealed him for the traitor he is. That, however, is not what Jesus does. Jesus does not give up on Judas even though he knows what is in Judas' heart. Jesus lovingly washes Judas' feet and shows him that he is loved. That image has produced more than a few tears from me over the past 24 hours. I never saw it before. John's account is brand new to me tonight.

It is a tale of a tragic love but also a glorious and victorious love! At the Last Supper, Jesus declares in word and deed that he never gives up on us. Jesus gives us his body and blood as salvation for the world, a life of hope and joy! Jesus' washing of Judas' feet is the assurance that he never gives up on us! We may choose to walk away from Jesus but he continues to follow along side of us. We may ignore him but he pays close attention to us regardless. We may pretend that we do not know him but he will never deny us. This to me is the message of the Last Supper.

We live in fearful times and it is easy to surrender to cynicism and anger. It is easy to give up on people and institutions and especially the Church. All of us are imperfect and flawed but also gloriously made in the image of God. We are God's children and he sent his only begotten son so that we may know what it truly means to live.

Because we are God's children, we are connected by a bond that cannot be broken. We are one people. I believe that Jesus' washing of Judas' feet is a call to each of us not to give up. To not give up on God and not to give up on one another. As we approach the altar tonight, we stand in the presence of Jesus. As we receive his body and blood we are transformed into his likeness. As we leave this church filled with God's Holy Spirit, we are called to be God's love and unfailing devotion to one another. I firmly believe that in these fearful times, it is our love for one another that will be our life boat. I believe that if we do not give up on one another, we will stand strong and have no need to be afraid. If we truly live as God's children, if we truly live as Jesus' disciples and if we truly live as a people sustained by the Holy Spirit, then we will not be afraid. I also believe that if we live as a people redeemed by the unfailing love of Jesus, then we will never feel alone because we will not abandon one another just as Jesus never abandons us.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The walking dead.

March 9, 2008
Fifth Sunday of Lent
Mass Readings:
Ezekiel 37:12-14
Rom 8:8-11
John 11:1-45

Some of my fondest memories of my childhood are the times I spent with my cousin Brian. At least once a month we would have a sleep over. I always looked forward to these because it meant I got to stay up way too late, eat too much junk food, and best of all, watch TV as much as I wanted! Brilliant.

Every Friday and Saturday night, two TV stations always showed those great, cheesy horror movies from the 50's and early 60's. It was perfect! We would watch them and then the next night after we were home in our own beds, the nightmares hit much to my mom's displeasure. My favorite genre was the zombie movies and the cheesier the better. Although it wasn't a zombie, I was fascinated by Frankenstein. I remember pulling the covers over my head while watching that chilling version from the 1930's.
Here were movies where these "people" were completely devoid of everything that made them alive but they kept on going. They had no love, joy, or hope.

Today's readings brought those movies to mind. I found myself wondering how in many ways I am times a member of the "walking dead".

What I want us to look at is how do we as Christians live like Christians. To be a disciple of Jesus is to possess the joy of salvation. To be redeemed is to be one who lives a life of love, joy, hope and peace. To quote a famous comedian, "Only Christians with enough money to make Solomon blush can sing an Alleluia and make it sound like a funeral dirge"! Do we live lives that show the joy of being saved? Or do we walk around like one who is dead inside and cannot express the joy that comes from knowing the Lord? I find myself asking this question today of how do I express a life that is filled with the Lord's love and life?

The story of Lazarus always fascinated me as a kid. The idea of Jesus bringing him back to life was just the seed my fertile 10 year old imagination needed to spur a hundred questions for my Sunday School teachers. I am sure they were glad to see me eventually go to the junior high group. It has been in the past few years that I have begun to see that the miracle wasn't limited to Lazarus. The other side of this miracle is what Jesus does for the people who had come to grieve with Mary and Martha. John says that they came to believe in Jesus as Lord! I think I tend to get so caught up in the dead Lazarus being brought back physically to life that I miss the fact that Jesus brought to life the spirit of those who had gathered. Two very different resurrections in this Gospel text. One miracle brings both body and spirit to life.

The spiritual resurrection is where I want to focus today. Paul says in Romans;
But if Christ is in you,
although the body is dead because of sin,
the spirit is alive because of righteousness.

Our spirit is what Jesus reaches out to revive today. To know Jesus is to have life. To know Jesus is to have joy, hope and peace. To know Jesus is to not fear the death of the body because we know that Jesus will resurrect us and bring us to eternal life. To know Jesus is to be free of the bondage of self and live in a way that shows that we are truly alive because of Easter! Jesus' work on the cross is what truly gives us life! We do not have to be afraid in this world. We have the Lord who intervenes for us with the Father and sends the Spirit to console and give us courage and peace.

So why do so many of us walk around like we are dead inside? I believe that Paul is correct. We are susceptible to the burdens of the world and when we give into them, we lose the joy and life that God so desperately wants us to cherish.

Ezekiel addressed a people who had lost all hope and were desperate for life. I find his words to be powerful and life changing.
Then you shall know that I am the LORD,
when I open your graves and have you rise from them,
O my people!
I will put my spirit in you that you may live,
and I will settle you upon your land;
thus you shall know that I am the LORD.
I have promised, and I will do it, says the LORD.

Ezekiel isn't talking about the body but rather the spirit. I fear that so much of the time, many focus on life after death and miss the fact that God wants us to live now too! The Lord is opening the graves of our heart and spirit so that we can live and know joy, hope and peace NOW! The Lord wants us to be happy and alive today!

A dual resurrection of spirit and body is what Jesus offers to us today. We don't have to live a life of fear and sadness. We are the body of Christ and are one in spirit. Jesus gives us life and calls us to be his hands and feet and to be life to one another. God's goodness is so great that it can never be extinguished. God's love is never ending. There is so much to be happy about!

Life on earth is too short and precious to be lost to hopelessness or fear. Jesus gives us life and gives it abundantly. To walk around dead inside is a terrible thing when Jesus is calling to us to live. This Easter let us sing an Alleluia the way it was meant to be sung with life and joy!

My goal for today? To not be mistaken for a "spiritual zombie". I want to reflect the love of Jesus and help others to know the joy of life!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Can't see the forest for the trees.

March 2, 2008
Fourth Sunday of Lent
Mass Readings:
1 Sm 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a
Ephesians 5:8-14
John 9:1-41

I remember being told by a teacher once that I couldn't see the forest for the trees. I was trying to figure a math problem and I was failing miserably. My teacher was trying to tell me that I was making it too hard. I was so caught up in trying to force the equation to do what I wanted it to do that I wasn't letting the equation do its job. I wasn't letting the equation show me what it needed for me to do. That has stuck with me. The answer was staring me right in the face but I was working so hard at trying to see it that I missed it completely. There stood the forest but I missed it because I was staring at a clump of trees!

I find the phrase my teacher gave me in today's readings. Samuel is sent by God to find the future king of Israel. King Saul was a pretty vicious man and God was going to raise up a new king. So Samuel follows God's direction and goes to select God's anointed one. However, Samuel is letting his eyes be the deciding factor. In many ways we are like Samuel in that we think that if it looks good it must be so. God corrects Samuel with these words:

But the LORD said to Samuel:
“Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature,
because I have rejected him.
Not as man sees does God see,
because man sees the appearance
but the LORD looks into the heart.”

Samuel went out looking for a forest but couldn't get past all of the trees. God needed Samuel to be open to His Spirit and set aside his personal agenda and likes and dislikes. Samuel couldn't let his eyes make the decision. Just because Samuel thought one of Jesse's sons looked the part didn't mean he was the right man for the job. Samuel had to follow his heart as it was influenced by God. Samuel had to open his ears to hear God's voice. In other words, Samuel had to let God be in control. Samuel had to let God reveal to him what it was that God could see. What Samuel got was what he least expected. Samuel was presented with what we might call "the runt of the litter". David was a kid and not as impressive looking as his brothers. Samuel would have looked right past him if it weren't for his being open to see what God can see.

Our gospel text has Jesus doing what he always did, healing some poor person and then being railed at by the religious leaders of the day. Jesus heals a man who has been blind from birth. It is a very intimate scene with Jesus actually using his spit to make clay to rub on the man's eyes. It is an earthy and raw scene. Today we cringe at the unsanitary nature of the healing but Jesus actually gave of himself to heal this man.

The man is healed and of course it ticks off the religious leaders! Go figure. A blind person receives sight and all they can do is gripe and complain! On top of that they try to negate this miracle by declaring Jesus is a sinner. Talk about the pot calling the kettle. The pharisees are all in a tizzy because Jesus did all of this on the Sabbath. Jesus performed "work" and this was of course forbidden on the Sabbath. Amazing how they couldn't see the good because they were so caught up in legalism. There's that whole forest for the trees business again.

What I love is the former blind man's response to the Pharisees:

“This is what is so amazing,
that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes.
We know that God does not listen to sinners,
but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him.
It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind.
If this man were not from God,
he would not be able to do anything.”
They answered and said to him,
“You were born totally in sin,
and are you trying to teach us?”
Then they threw him out.

This guy had guts! He stands up the Pharisees and actually gives them the crowbar they needed to pry open their eyes! The problem? They chose to remain blind. The Pharisees chose to miss the forest for the trees.

I think Paul sums everything up nicely in our reading from Ephesians:

"Brothers and sisters:
You were once darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light,
for light produces every kind of goodness
and righteousness and truth."

To know Jesus is to live. Once the light has been turned on we can see what God wants us to see. To switch off the light and wander aimlessly in the dark is a horrible loss. Once we have been given sight, it is sad to chose to be blind. Now is the time for us to open our eyes, leave the dark behind us and see all the goodness of God!

A tree is beautiful and a forest even more so. Lets try to see it all.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

A personal note...


I have received a few questions ever since I first started this blog and I want to try and answer a few of them. Louisville is being pounded by a winter storm so I figured, coffee in hand, no where to go, answer a few questions.

I am currently serving in two parishes that are part of a larger five parish merger. Lots of work to be done to say the least. Like most parts of the country, demographics are constantly in a state of flux. People move about frequently and so the make-up of parishes are always shifting. Here in the Archdiocese of Louisville we have areas where we can't build parishes big enough to handle the growth and areas where we have parishes almost sitting on top of each other yet the Catholic population has moved out to other parts of the city and as a result a number of parishes are struggling. As a result, mergers are happening more frequently than in the past. A common answer I give when people ask me why there are mergers is that parishes need three things to keep going:

1) Every parish needs to raise up vocations to the priesthood in their parish! And I don't mean one vocation to the priesthood every fifty to sixty years! It needs to be more like every six to ten years. No longer do we have the luxury of thinking "someone else's son" will go into the priesthood. 2) Every member who is able needs to be active in his or her parish. The old days of 10% of the people doing 90% of the work is at an end. Lets face it, many, many parishioners are just flat tired from volunteering themselves half to death. 3) Tithing is crucial. The days of expecting "someone else" to foot the bill is over.

Priests and their parishioners need to work together on raising up vocations. There is more than enough work to be done and we must work together. Every priest along with his parishioners has to have a vision for their parish. Communities don't just happen. It takes work.

Without these three things, there is no other option but to have mergers.

The question that I fear? How old am I! Alas, I am 40 years old. And, I haven't posted a picture because I don't want to scare anyone away. I think I am kidding.

Why are my posts so late at times or non existent? I get so busy that I get behind and end up either posting late or not at all. A goal for 2008 is to really get serious with this site and use it as a tool to help with the parish merger I am a part of.

Thanks for taking the time to write in. I really appreciate your interest and I hope that my homily posts are helpful in some small way.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Hope is a necessity.

February 24, 2008
Third Sunday of Lent
Mass Readings:
Exodus 17:3-7
Rom 5:1-2, 5-8
John 4:5-42

"And hope does not disappoint..."

A while back I had lunch with a former colleague from my days when I worked as a hospice chaplain. Jim is a Baptist minister and I think one of the most spiritual people I know. Jim possesses both a great brain and huge heart and is one person who can put me at peace as soon as he opens his mouth. I miss working with him. Anyhow, Jim and I were talking about our daily lives and we were, of course, talking about the challenges and frustrations we each face regularly.

As we continued to talk, we began discussing how many people who call themselves Christian seem to be the angriest and most judgmental people around. We especially talked about some of the preachers who make their way to TV and radio. So many sermons are aimed at demoralizing and shaming people. Jim looked at me and asked a question that still haunts me; "Have you seen anything lately that would make someone want to become a Christian?" Jim always has a way of asking a question that makes you stop and think about your relationship with God. I am very grateful that he asked that question.

What do we as Christians say and do everyday that will inspire and give hope to Christians and non-Christians alike? Do we say and do things that would make non-Christians want to know more about Jesus?

In Paul's letter to the Romans, he shows that to be a Christian is to be filled with hope. To know the Lord is to be filled with the hope that flows from the Holy Spirit. We are connected to the Father through the salvation given to us through Jesus and we in turn are empowered by the Holy Spirit to be the messengers of God's love and peace. So why are so many Christians just down right mean and nasty to other people who, like them, are God's children? Where is the peace, joy, hope, and love that comes from being saved?

Today's reading from John's Gospel is powerful. Jesus is tired and thirsty from traveling and he sits at the well. A Samaritan woman comes to the well. Now the Samaritans were outcasts and the victims of extreme prejudice and bigotry. Being female and a Samaritan would have meant for her being not only persecuted for being a Samaritan but also the burden of chauvinism that was extreme in the 1st Century. What Jesus does is earth shaking.

The Samaritan woman was probably afraid to approach Jesus but she does so anyway. Jesus strikes up a conversation with her. Now that may not seem like a big deal but it was revolutionary! Jesus treats this woman who has been treated as an outcast and an inferior as an equal! Jesus uses this opportunity to show the disciples that the old way of thinking and behaving is over! Thank God!

The interesting thing is that the disciples ignored what Jesus was doing. Why? Were they offended by what Jesus was doing? Did they just not want to have anything to do with what Jesus was doing? Or, did the disciples just not care about this woman? No matter what the reason, they missed a great opportunity. As the text continues, we see that Jesus seems to be doing all of the work. The disciples seem to only be interested in getting Jesus to eat instead of learning from Jesus' example. I wonder why.

I believe the point today is that when we become a disciple of the Lord we are obligated to set aside our own prejudices, dislikes, personal agendas, and most of all, stop trying to force others to conform to our image of what we think they should be and let them conform to what God wants them to be. Our responsibility is to proclaim the Good News, to live lives that are formed by God and not our own agendas, and to be a beacon of hope for all we meet. If we are so full of anger, prejudice, judgment, and cynicism then how can we expect anyone to want to become a Christian? Or for that matter remain a Christian!

Today's readings call us to embrace the joy, peace, hope, and love of Jesus! It is available to everyone and all we have to do is ask and receive! All Jesus wants to do is make us one with Him and journey with us as we go forth and share His good news. If we ask, we can receive. Receiving requires us to let go of all the things that get in the way of our relationship with God and one another. We cannot know the joy and hope that comes from salvation if we hold on to the burdens of negativity, cynicism, judgmentalism, etc. All those things do is weigh us down and make us miserable.

Lent is a season that calls us to let go of those terrible burdens. Today we have the opportunity to accept Jesus' invitation to be filled with joy and hope and be His disciples! A great gift indeed! Let us embrace Jesus' call to happiness so that we never have to ask the question again of whether or not we have seen or heard anything that would make us want to or remain a Christian. Instead, let our answer be a resounding YES! Let our lives be a shining example of why it is GOOD to be a disciple of the Lord so that others may know the peace, love, joy and hope that we have been so grateful to receive.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Doesn't get much clearer.

February 18, 2008
Monday of the Second Week in Lent
Mass Readings:
Daniel 9:4b-10
Luke 6:36-38

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”

Why do we make it so cloudy sometimes when Jesus has made it so clear always?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

But I don't want to change!

February 17, 2008
Second Sunday of Lent
The Transfiguration

Mass Readings:
Genesis 12:1-4a
2 Timothy 1:8b-10
Matthew 17:1-9

The Transfiguration is something that always make me take a long look at myself. The Transfiguration is all about one very small word, CHANGE. Six letters that are sometimes frustrating and maddening. I don't like change yet here I am in an vocation that is all about change. Here we all are facing the merger of our five parishes into one. There's change for you! We all are facing something that is scary but exciting, draining yet life giving. Change can be both fun and torturous at the same time.

The Transfiguration is all about change. Jesus has been preparing the disciples for a life shattering change, his crucifixion. Yet the disciples are not really grasping what is about to happen. Jesus takes the three disciples up to the mountain to witness change. Jesus is ministered to by Moses and Elijah, the Law and the Prophets. Everything is about to change because of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus' ministry would make complete the Law and the cry of the Prophets. Jesus was preparing to change the world and bring God's saving work to completion.

So what happens? Well, Jesus is strengthened by the Father and Moses (The Law) and Elijah (The Prophets) come so that Jesus is ready for the torturous task at hand. The three disciples were understandably shaken. Peter is so enraptured with the events that he purposes a solution so that nothing has to change. Peter will have them build three dwellings so that Jesus, Moses and Elijah can stay on the mountain top forever and then the disciples and Jesus' other followers can come and bask in this glory forever! Sounds great except for the fact that all mountain top experiences are temporary. Jesus wants the disciples to take this experience, learn from it, grow from it so that they can go forth and be agents of change and proclaim the good news of salvation.

Every day we are faced with having to either accept or resist change. The one thing we know is inevitable is change. Whether that change is pleasing or painful, expected or unannounced, it will happen regardless. As we grow in our relationship with Jesus, we discover that we change. As we learn more from God's Word, we find that we are being called to do things differently and new. As we plunge deeper into a life of prayer we see that Jesus is calling us to be more involved with proclaiming his Good News! To be a disciple is to be willing to accept whatever Jesus asks us to do and be. That means we must be open to change.

The disciples on the mountain top with Jesus would come to understand what the Transfiguration was all about. Jesus was prepared for the horrifying change of stepping up to the cross. The Law and the Prophets, all that had been proclaimed through the centuries had arrived and the world was about to change. A wave was about to sweep over humanity and it's wake would change every human being. Nothing would ever be the same again and thank God for that! The world has been transformed and God invites us daily to draw closer to His Son and receive the goodness of salvation. Then, God asks us to listen to His Son and be willing to say yes to the call. Saying yes will lead us into new and ever changing things and we will be given the strength to accept and flourish in those changes.

We have all been to the mountain top when we were saved and now Jesus asks us to go forth and change the world.

Monday, February 11, 2008

New Year's Resolution part 2?

February 10, 2008
First Sunday of Lent
Mass Readings:
Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7
Romans 5:12-19
Matthew 4:1-11

A few days leading up to Ash Wednesday I am always asked the same question; "So. Father what are you giving up for Lent?" I always say the same thing; "Marriage. That's what I am giving up." And I always get the same puzzled look and the open mouth wanting to ask me if I am serious. I know, I know. I shouldn't make light of such a question but I use it to try and open a conversation about what we do when we give up something for Lent.

We usually hear the same things when we talk about Lent. We often hear how many folk give up candy, soda, chips, etc. This got me to thinking. Why do we always give up a luxury item for Lent? A luxury item is something we don't need in the first place and we will just pick it up again as soon as Easter Sunday arrives. Where is the sacrifice? It isn't hard to give up something we don't really need in the first place. In fact I wonder if many times we give up things for Lent that were actually part of our New Year's Resolution. If we pledged to lose weight in the New Year we have probably fudged on that resolution and had the forbidden fruit we swore to give up. Enter Lent! Why not give up those fattening delicacies for Lent? Surely if we do it for God we won't fudge and sneak a bite of that forbidden delicacy! So again, where is the sacrifice?

Now I am not judging anyone for giving up a luxury item for Lent. I have the luxury items that I have given up for Lent too so please don't say that I am judging you. Okay? Now, while driving to an event the other day I was reminded of why I hate driving. While trying to merge onto 265 I was run off the road by someone who was, of course, talking on the mobile phone and not paying any attention. And as the mean words were coming out of my mouth, yes I must confess to experiencing road rage, the thought hit me of how good it would be to give up road rage for Lent. In fact, why don't I give up a bad habit for Lent and in return take up a good habit? That is what sacrifice is about. It is about doing something so important that our life becomes different.

Lent is about change. It is about our striving to simplify our life and rid ourself of the things that get in the way of our relationship with God and one another. Lent is about honoring the sacrifice Christ made for us. Christ's sacrifice transformed the world and made us one with God. Shouldn't our sacrifice during Lent be something that will make each of us different and a better Christian? I believe that is what we should be going for.

Why not give up the habit of road rage and in turn take up the habit of praying for the person who just cut us off and ask God to get that person home safely? Why not give up the habit of gossiping and in turn take up the habit of saying something nice when we are tempted to say something harmful? Why not give up the habit of being selfish and in turn take up the habit of doing something good for the people we may not be too keen on? Wouldn't these sacrifices make more of a difference than giving up chocolate? Wouldn't these types of sacrifices help us to be better Christians and just down right better people? I believe they can and will if we are willing to do the hard work of sacrifice. Keep in mind that these are just a few examples that came off the top of my head. I am sure that each of us can look inward and find several bad habits to give up and replace them with good habits.

If we give up the bad habits in exchange for good, I believe that come Easter Sunday we will discover that we not only celebrate Christ's resurrection but also our own resurrection to a life that is filled with more peace, hope, and joy. I believe that we will definitely be a nicer lot if we sacrifice our bad habits and take on good habits. Maybe, just maybe, we will not pick those bad habits up again like we will pick up the chocolate again on Easter Sunday.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Rend your hearts.

Ash Wednesday
Mass Readings:
Joel 2:12-18
2 Corinthians 5:20—6:2
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Lent has arrived and it seems like we just put away the Christmas trees and sparkling lights. Actually, we just did! Today we shift gears hard. We see that the church has gone from ornate to simple, from bright to subdued colors focusing on dark purple. All of this is done on purpose so that we slow down, hopefully stop, and take time to look inward and examine our relationship with God and one another.

I am struck today by the simple words from our first reading, "rend your hearts, not your garments..." In the days of the Old Testament it was a common practice to place ashes on your head and rip a part of your clothing as a sign of grief and penance. It was meant to be an outward sign of the inner cry, a cry for reconciliation with God. The prophet Joel is calling for the people listening to him to be sure that they are truly seeking reconciliation with God and not merely putting on a show.

The prophet continues by begging the people to return to God and be one with Him. That is what we do today, we stop and call to mind that we are fully dependent upon God's mercy and His unwavering love for each and every person. Lent is often referred to as a journey in the desert. The desert is a dry and barren place. However, in that stark and dry landscape, the beauty that exists is piercing and easily seen. Today we begin a time where we are to simplify and throw away the attitudes and desires that separate us from God and one another.

Today we celebrate in a more somber way but we acknowledge the joy of God's forgiveness and we give thanks and praise to the Lord our God for the immense and unwavering love that is poured out upon us.

Each of us will receive ashes as a sign of our understanding that we have sinned and have fallen short of God's glory. These ashes are not a symbol to be flaunted so that we might feel superior to others. That is exactly what the prophet was crying against. What good does it do to put on a facade when the structure is crumbling? It benefits no one to look holy rather than be holy. Ash Wednesday is a time for us to make every effort to say to God, "I'm sorry. Please help me." Lent is a time of renewal as we clear out the clutter that is weighing us down spiritually and fill ourselves up with God's forgiveness and love. Confession, receiving the Eucharist, doing good deeds and possessing a willingness to admit where we are wrong is all very, very good for the soul. As we seek reconciliation with God, let us not overlook the necessity of seeking reconciliation with one another.

May you have a joy filled and peaceful Ash Wednesday. God bless you all.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Three simple words.

What are those words? They would be BACK-IT-UP! I didn't follow the simple rule of backing up my homilies and now they are no where to be found. I have nothing since the last post I made in December. Lesson learned. So starting today I have the auto-archive settings up and running plus a flash drive always at the ready for good measure. I plan on posting regularly starting this weekend. Peace!

Monday, January 14, 2008


Now that the Christmas business has finished, I will be posting some of my homilies starting with Christmas Mass. Peace!