Daily homily thoughts, 5/27

La belleza de Dios es que siempre hay más. The beauty of God is that there’s always more. In our first reading, we hear about a fellow named Apollos, a native of Alexandria. He was a great speaker, a wise man, an authority on the scriptures.  Very religious guy. He was talking beautifully about Jesus in the synagogue, with great spirit. But then Priscilla and Aquila hear him speaking, and they take him aside to explain some things a little better.  Even this expert had something to learn. It’s the same with us. The beauty of God is there’s always more, he always goes deeper.

Daily homily thoughts, 5/26

Today is the feast of St. Philip Neri, my confirmation patron. Love this guy! He is patron of joy.  Thinking about his life, I’ve been thinking today about some sacred uses of humor and joy….

  • Humor helps us be humble.  St. Philip Neris’ jovial side hid his brilliance and his holiness. He kept busy with people all day, but at night he would patrol the city and especially the catacombs in humble prayer. He loved to pray quietly. He was brilliant, too.  But, looking at the active and rather goofy fellow he was during the day, many might never have noticed his holiness and brilliance. Such was his humility.
  • Humor helps us lighten up.  It was a serious time in the Church, but Philip’s humor helped him stay happy and holy in the midst of it all, not to be overwhelmed by anxieties. Philip lived some 500 years ago and was the “apostle of Rome.”  You see, he had wanted to be a missionary but God’s plan was that he be a missionary in Rome.  So he did. Rome needed him, too, because the sixteenth century was a serious time for the Church. Tensions were high, what with the reformation and counter reformation and schismatics and so on.  It was St. Philip Neri whose smiles, jokes, laughter and humanity that kept the church sane and holy during the mess that was going on.  We all could stand to lighten up a bit!
  • Humor helps us evangelize.  The Church does not need any more dreary saints, said Teresa of Avila.  What attracts people to God is a happy spirit. No one has ever been converted by a syllogism. But a smile? You bet.  Philip never intended to found a religious order, but the Oratorian “order” just happened to kind of form around him.
  • Humor helps us love.  Here’s this: “He lived the life of a holy layman for the next ten years when on the eve of Pentecost in 1544, while praying for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, he had a mystical experience in which a ball of fire seemed to enter his mouth and travel down to his heart, filling him with so much joy and pain that he was thrown to the ground. When he awoke, two of his ribs were broken, and it was later discovered at the time of his autopsy that they were broken by the sudden expansion of his heart.”  Few saints loved more deeply and widely than Philip Neri….

O holy St. Philip Neri, patron saint of joy, you who trusted Scripture’s promise that the Lord is always at hand and that we need not have anxiety about anything, in your compassion heal our worries and sorrows and lift the burdens from our hearts. We come to you as one whose heart swells with abundant love for God and all creation. Hear us, we pray, especially in this need (make your request here). Keep us safe through your loving intercession, and may the joy of the Holy Spirit which filled your heart, St. Philip, transform our lives and bring us peace. Amen.

Daily homily thoughts, 5/23

What imprisons us from living and sharing the faith??

  • We see Paul and Silas in our first reading, who were literally within prison bars that prevented them from bringing the good news to people.  Until there was an earthquake and God opened up the gates.
  • Today is the feast day of Pope Gregory VII, the 157th holy father. He was imprisoned from his evangelical efforts by the Roman emperor Henry IV, who did all he could to minimize the power of the papacy and Gregory in particular. He even named an antipope (Clement III).  God took care of that situation, though, and Gregory became a very important figure in the 11th century church and in the development of the doctrine of the papacy and our papal practices that survive to this day.
  • I think a lot of people are in some kind of prison that prevents them from sharing the faith….be it fear, or busy calendars, or sins and addictions, or simply apathy.

But God wants to bring those prison walls down.

Daily homily thoughts, 5/20

Today Acts 16 tells us: “[Paul and Timothy] traveled through the Phrygian and Galatian territory because they had been prevented by the Holy Spirit from preaching the message in the province of Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go on into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them, so they crossed through Mysia and came down to Troas.”  I remember Bishop Doherty preaching on this text at my seminary graduation. He said that we tend to think of life as a kind of slingshot, where we are set in a single direction all the way till our reward.  But the reality is there is lots of “pinging around” when we follow the Spirit.  It’s not always comfortable!  Sometimes God shuts us down, or sets us in some unexpected direction. Or he prevents something we anticipate from happening.  But thanks be to God for the pinging around. Life would be rather borning without it.

Daily homily thoughts, 5/19

The Scriptures are filled with stories of God taking people from one place and sending them out on assignment, on mission someplace else.  Our first reading tells us how Judas and Silas got a new assignment and were sent out to Antioch from Jerusalem, some 300 miles away.  I was thinking about this because today we will send forth our 8th grade. Many of them have been at our beautiful school since preschool. They will be sent out, moved from this place to another. Whenever God sends us out of one place and to another, he ultimately gives us the same mission, which Jesus mentions in our gospel today:  Love and bear fruit that will last.  When we love as Jesus calls us to love, no matter where we are or what mission we’re on, we will leave behind a kind of legacy…..we’ll leave behind a kind of fruit that will not rot–some good work we’ve done, some prayer we’ve said, some love we’ve shown…those fruits will remain and live on.  Let us pray for our 8th graders today, and our preschoolers, who will also graduate today. May God bless them all!

Daily homily thoughts, 5/16

From the second Responsory in Matins today:

Live in me as I live in you.
— Just as a branch cannot bear fruit of itself apart from the vine, so you cannot bear fruit unless you live on in me, alleluia.

I chose you to go out and bear fruit, a fruit that will last.
— Just as a branch cannot bear fruit of itself apart from the vine, so you cannot bear fruit unless you live on in me, alleluia.