Move on: A homily for the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Tshaking_off_the_dusthere’s a great joke about the new pastor of a parish who is chatting with the outgoing pastor. The outgoing priest tells him, “I wrote three notes for you. Don’t open them until things get bad.”  Months go by.  The first problem and it’s with the finance committee.  He opens the letter and it reads, “Just blame me. I can handle it. And I’m long gone.”  So the priest reports that all the financial problems, it’s because of hte last priest.  Second time is with the parish council. He opens the second letter: “Just blame the bishop. He’s got broad shoulders and can take it.”  The parish council accepted this.  Last time is with a big uprising in the church.  Father opens the third letter: “Write three letters.”

Thought of that joke b/c so many of my priest friends have been getting new assignments lately.  We have new priest neighbors in Rushville and Greensburg.  Fortunately I’m staying here, but talking with them has given me pause to reflect on the many movings on in our lives.  We are all called to move on….if not a physcial moving on, a spiritual one.

This is the theme of our readings.

In the first reading we see Amos.  He was a simple man, a prophet called to call a big town to repentance.  He goes to Bethel.  But they don’t like what he has to say.  They chew him up and spit him out.  Get lost, says Azariah, the priest of Bethel.  “Off with you,” he says.  Get lost and take your message someplace else.

And Amos moves on.

In our Gospel Jesus, having given out the apostles’ first assignments, commissions them to go out.  He tells them that not everyone will accept you, and he advises them to simply move on when they come to a place that doesn’t welcome them, when they find themselves in fire and tension and depression.

Is it not so with Jesus too? Jesus finds himself in his hometown, as we heard last Sunday, and the people elected not to listen to him. What does he do?  He shakes the dust and moves on.

And that is our summons, too.   When the difficult stuff happens, Jesus says, move on.

In our lives very often we find ourselves saddled with difficulties and problems that we never asked for, certainly never expected. Sometimes these have to do with our finances or our families, or our past relationships.

And yet the voice of the Lord encourages us to be moving on.

We all know what pain and heartache are, we know what loss is—loss of health, or money, or a job, maybe a reputation….we know what loss is, especially the greatest loss: we know what it is to experience someone we love, leaving.  Sometimes even passing away.

And with that loss, there is the admonishment from Jesus to be moving on.  Mourning is of course a part, but we move forward, we carry on.

In our lives we know what it is to have been wronged, we know the power and pain of resentments and disagreements and frustrations with decisions we don’t like.

And yet the Lord says: MOVE ON.

In our lives we can easily get wrapped up by our sins, our fears, our failings….But Move on the Lord says, Move on

How can it not be so? How can it not be necessary?

We have to move on.  Why? Because that is what Jesus did. That is what our Lord did. Faced with trials and enemies he moved on. Plagued and embarrassed by having fallen on his way of the cross not just one time but three times, He moved on. When people ridiculed or renounced his message….Shake the dust from your feet. He moved on.

We know what it is to receive the same summons from the Lord. Keep on moving.

Keep moving. Why?

First of all, because if we don’t, we get stuck and we simply stew in whatever “it” is.

Second of all, St Paul tells us i our second reading today, because we have a purpose….a mission….chosen as St Paul says in our second reading….we were picked like the apostles and like Amos to fulfill a mission that God knew from before the foundation of the world.

Jesus could have made anybody.  But he made YOU.  He made ME.

And it wasn’t for naught. He knew what he was doing.  We all have a purpose.

And fulfilling that purpose has to be what motivates us….not money or some joy or whatever….but fulfilling God’s purpose for our life.  That must be our motivation.

And that’s a daily thing.  A good practice is to ask dayil:  Jesus, what is your purpose for me today? Maybe God has lots of purposes for us every day.

May we look at life that way. Amos came to do so, and so did the apostles. They kept on moving on towards the fulfillment of their purpose.

It’s a hard thing to do, to move on–whether physcially or emotionally or spiritually.  It’s a hard thing to move, a hard thing to fulfill our purpose.  But we can do it.  Because we have the power of Christ alive in us.  It’s the month of Precious Blood.  We receive HIS blood into our veins at this Mass.

And with him we can move on.  WE can fulfill our purpose.

“As the LORD spoke to me…”: A homily for the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Is-the-Bible-the-Word-of-GodThe first few lines from our first reading today (Ezekiel) go like this: “As the LORD spoke to me, the spirit entered into me and set me on my feet….”

This is what happens when we listen to the word of God….when we take the time to listen to him speak — especially in scripture:  the Spirit enters us and sets us on our feet!

Three steps then:

  1. Listen to God speak, daily scripture reading
  2. Holy Spirit fills us
  3. God sets us on our feet….ACTION

First, we have to take the time.  We can’t make excuses….daily scripture reading is critical!  Maybe just a verse of the day, or a miracle of the day, or work your way through Proverbs, or Psalms, or Gospels, whatever….we must listen to God speak!

Second:  Because when we do that, when we listen to God, we are filled with the Spirit!  He enters us….fills us!  St Paul knew this well.  He says: “That I, Paul, might not become too elated, because of the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me….”  He was filled with the Spirit, after experiencing an “abundance of revelations”  The saints, too – they were filled with the spirit….that’s how they did what they did, not because they were stronger than the rest, but because in their weakness they turned to HIS POWER

Third:  Then, after we’ve heard God speak and been filled with his spirit, God puts us to action.  That’s why we stand for the Gospel at Mass: because through it God calls us to act.


Coming to Jesus: A homily for the 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

T_4204527here was a fish in my aquarium that was a pretty sickly looking thing.  It’s not easy as a fish owner to watch a fish be sick.  Their faces sag, their fins collapse, they just look….afflicted and deadly.

I wonder if God doesn’t get sad in looking at us that way, too.  Which is why he offers us salvation.  Salvation isn’t just about one day getting to heaven if we’ve been faithful (though it is that, too), but the word comes from the Latin salus, meaning health, well-being.

God wants that we be healthy …. in mind, body, spirit.

And Jesus is alive and giving us this salvation daily!  As 2 Corinthians says, Now is the day of salvation!  God is saving us all the time….

But we gotta do our part!

We need only go into his presence and ask for this salus, this salvation (we all need it folks)!!!  Especially His Eucharistc presence (ADORATION).  JESUS LIVES people!  In our gospel today, 2 very afflicted people went to Jesus.  They got on their knees, wept and wailed, and they prayed with every fiber of their spirits.  They prayed with all they had in the presence of Jesus.

And he delivered.

Our prayer in front of Jesus–who is TRULY PRESENT in the Blessed Sacrament–has to be that sincere, that powerful, that meaningful.  Sometimes we are just too comfortable in our prayer….we pray, not really believing Jesus will or CAN do anything about it.

And far too many people don’t have the time to go to adoration in the first place.  Pathetic!  Jesus is truly and beautifully and powerfully present in Adoration…..Jesus is alive in that monstrance, happy to work the same miracles he works in our Gospel with Jairus’ daughter and the woman with the hemorrhages…..but too many people don’t have the time of day for Him.

I’ll never get it.

We go to Jesus!  Just like these two folks in our Gospel!  And we go with GREAT faith, GREAT love, GREAT joy…………………………………….and we wait for Jesus to give us whatever miracles he has up his sleeves

I hope that the adoration sheet for this First Friday in the back of church is completely filled after this Mass  [update after Masses: it was not completely filled. Several empty slots. Sigh.]

May God strengthen our faith and prayer today. Amen.

Realizing the potential: A homily for the Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

IMG_2531Today’s Gospel tells us about the mustard seed, a tiny seed that grows–quite rapidly–into something quite impressive.  God looks at a seed and sees what it can become.  It’s the same with planet earth….verse 2 of the bible says that in the start, earth was simply a vast wasteland.  It was chaos, a mess.  God looked at that and saw what it could become. I just got back from Colorado, where I was amazed at the beauty and awesomeness of creation. It really is something.

So I think my first thought is: we should be consoled by this.  God looks at the messes of things, and the messes that we sometimes are, and he sees potential. He sees what can be.  That’s consoling.  When God looks at me, he doesn’t see the wretch that I am but the saint I am to become.

The second piece is, we need to have the eyes of Jesus. We need to be able to see the potential in things, too.  Say you lose a job, or something doesn’t quite work out as you want, or there’s a struggle in some relationship that just isn’t working right….all of these things, they’re messes…..and we, with Jesus, are called to see potential of what they can become.

I think about this in the life of this parish. There are messes here, as there are in every parish.  When we look at these things, these problems, what God is inviting us to do is to see the potential, to see what can be done, and do it. This principle, of course, applies to the problems in our city, country, personal life, etc. in the same way.

Thing is, it takes courage–which is what our second reading is all about–to realize the potential of this or that mess or situation.  That’s what made the saints into saints!  They had the courage to respond to the messes of their day.  A few days ago I was in Golden CO, and there is this beautiful shrine dedicated to Mother Cabrini.  Mother Cabrini came to the US in the early 1900s.  She saw a mess.  There were hundreds of children with nothing to eat, who had been dumped there by their parents. They were orphans.  Mother Cabrini saw this disaster and she had the courage to go through all the hoops to build a complex to take care of them.  And she did!  She loved them, fed them, taught them, lived with them.  It wasn’t easy.  But she was confronted with a MESS, and she saw the POTENTIAL, and had the COURAGE to do something about it.

What are the messes in our lives?  What are the little seeds that are waiting to become huge, fruitful trees?  May we have the wisdom to see what can be changed and have the courage to do something about it.

150 years ago: A homily for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi (B)

Timage1 (1)his weekend we celebrate Corpus Christi.  We also here at St Joe celebrate our 150th.  It was 150 years ago in 1868, almost to the day, that Mass was offered here on this property on Broadway by a Fr. John Gillig.  Fr Gillig was the pastor of St Vincent, but he was the one who had come over and found this plot of land when there was no more room at SV.

The people of the parish built this place–first a smaller church, which is now the rectory, and then this beautiful mother of a church.

They broke their backs building this place, they spent every penny, they bled and sweat for this place.

And why??

For the Eucharist.

They wanted Corpus Christi, they wanted the Body and Blood of Jesus more than anything….for themselves and their descendants

Not so different a story than we hear a slice of in our first reading, about how Moses “erected at the foot of the mountain an altar and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel….”

We follow those ancestors of ours.  Their dedication…it was something wild. It spurred them on to do amazing things, build amazing buildings, plant deep roots

May our dedication, our love of the Eucharist mirror theirs…..and may that secure our next 150 years

“Ut unum sint”: A homily for Trinity Sunday

Thes154725977667022511_p22_i19_w611 21st verse of the 17th chapter of the Gospel of John has a beautiful line in it:  “Ut unum sint.”  It translates to, “That they may be one.”  It is a prayer of Jesus for humankind. He says to the Father, “Just as we are one, I pray that they–everyone on earth–may also be one.”  It is Jesus’ hope and prayer for us that we be one.  Ut unum sint.

Now God gives us a model of this in his very nature, his triune nature.  You have three EQUAL persons, and there is a closeness between them, and they’re constantly loving one another. It’s Jesus’ prayer for mankind that we be the same–that we be equal, close, and constantly loving.

We see this in our scriptures today.  Our first reading from Deuteronomy says that we are “a people.”  Not people, but a people.  A collective group, one unit.  The second reading says we’re all sons and daughters of God, all of us humans.  And if I am a son of God and you’re a daughter of God, by George that makes us brother and sister.  And all of us are God’s–which means we’re all family.  We all belong to each other.  The Gospel recounts how Jesus sent his apostles to every nation.  Every nation counts to God. No one is more important than another.

God wants that we be one, just as the Triune God is one.  I want to consider three things that stand in the way of our achieving this desire of God that we be one, three things that make us not one.

  1. The first is racism.  I would hazard to say that most people believe–even if they’d never say it–that some lives matter more than other lives.  To believe oneself to be superior than another because of race or sex or religion or job or money or legal status or the type of house they live in–it is arrogance, and it is wrong.  We’re all more or less the same, we are “a people”, brothers and sisters in Christ.  We’re not that different at all.Now this became clear to me years ago when I learned an important science lesson in 2007.  Did you know that we humans have a genome, which our complete set of DNA. DNA molecules are made of two twisting, paired strands.  Each strand is made of four chemical units, called nucleotide bases. We humans have over 3 billion of these base pairs.  Did you know, that 99.9% of our genome–one person to the next–is the same?  Now every difference you can see in each person is thanks to that less than one-tenth of one percent of our genetic makeup.  So many wars, so much violence….all because of less than one tenth of one percent of genetic makeup.  We are all essentially the same.

    If you think and hope that only suburban white people will be in heaven, you probably won’t be admitted yourself.  We think of racism and we think, that was long ago. But I think it’s still alive, even here in Shelby Co. It is unthinkable to me the way some people talk about other human beings and treat–or ignore–other human beings. We are all equal in the eyes of God. Lots of saints have died to preserve the the teaching that not one of the persons in the trinity is any more important, or any less divine, than the others.  The Father is no greater than the Son, and the Son no greater than the Holy Spirit.  They are equal. So are we.

    We are to imagine a circle of compassion and no one standing outside of it.  We are to love, regardless of anything.  If we do that, we will be an answer to Jesus’ prayer that all might be one.

  2. The second thing that gets in the way of Jesus’ prayer — ut unum sint — gettting answered is the “hero complex.”  This is what I mean.  I remember when I went to Guatemala and worked in the orphanages, or when I went to Haiti a year ago or so and served there. I have to admit that, as I went to help in the orphanages and hospitals and schools, I remember rather arrogantly thinking about how great I was to go help “those people.”  In my wretched heart, my thinking was, “How wonderful I am to come down to this level of humanity.”  That was a horrible way to think about what I was doing!  It preserved an us/them way of seeing things, when it is really just us.  Compassion is measured not by “what we’re doing for the poor,” but instead by our ability to see ourselves in kinship with our fellow man.  What I quickly found in these cases was that “those people” had names, they had stories, they had hearts.  In short, I discovered my kinship with them. In some cases, I felt like family by the time I had to leave.A lot of people think they are being compassionate when they join St Vincent de Paul Society or go on a mission trip or build a Habitat for Humanity house.  Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad we’re doing these things, and we must be doing these things.  But if I’m only doing it so that I can feel good about myself for helping the “lesser” or “less than” people, and not because of my kinship with everyone in this bloody world, then I better double check my motives….and ask Jesus to make sure that it is love for my fellow man, and ultimately for the Good Lord, that is inspiring what I’m doing.

    Fr. Boyle says: ““The true measure of our compassion lies not in our service to the poor, but in our willingness to see ourselves in kinship with our fellow man.”  Beautiful.

  3. The third thing is simply keeping an unspoken distance with those we don’t like.  I’m talking about with groups of people.  It’s someone saying, “I won’t be nasty to ‘those pepole’ but I’ll just ignore them; I’ll live my life and they can live theirs.”  But now!  We must be one happy, holy family.  That distance is not there in the Trinity!  The other day I was so happy: we had a May crowning and a Cinco de Mayo party and a big dinner…..  We had everyone there—folks from the 5pm Mass, the 10:30 Mass, the 1pm mass, school, faith formation, etc.  I thought, this is what we need!  We are one.Jesus is in everyone.  You keep a distance from this or that person, you keep Jesus at bay.  Now here’s the trick that all the saints came to understand:  Look for Christ in everyone and reverence Christ in everyone.  Do that, and the world will be a much more human place.  A much more divine place.

It just so happens that God’s dream for us — ut unum sint — is also our deepest desire as well.

The Holy Spirit guides us, awakens us, and strengthens us

Today wedownload celebrate the Holy Spirit, the giver of life. We owe our lives to the Holy Spirit. You remember that in the beginning, there was noting but a pile of dirt. God breathed into it and gave birth to life. We are products of the spirit and we run on the spirit.  An engine runs on gasoline; we run on the Holy Spirit.  G-A-S

G – The Holy Spirit guides us. He puts us where we need to be when we need to be there. In the olden days in Ireland, the image for the Holy Spirit was the goose, because following the Spirit is like a wild goose chase. Today we have our graduates with us. They are being launched into their futures. The Holy Spirit will probably put you all in unexpected places. Even the best-planned life never goes according to plan. There are twists and turns, some so great we can’t wipe the smile off our faces, and some that hurt. But the Spirit puts us where we need to be. I went to the gas station a whlie back. I normally pay at the pump; this time I went inside. The lady laughed, and said, “I can’t believe a priest just walked in. I haven’t been to church in ten years and just today thought about going back.”  That’s the Spirit.  The Spirit sends folks all over; in our Gospel, Jesus sends the apostles out and about. We must be like them and go where we’re sent.

A – Awakens us.  The Holy Spirit wakes us up. Last night he reading at Mass was that beautiful reading from Ezekiel, the valley of the bones. God sends Ezekiel to pray life into this pile of dead bones. And boom!  Bone to bone, the bones become a vast army. God does this. Sometimes folks go to Mass for 20 years and never open a book to sing. Ridiculous! Sing. Wake up. Sometimes folks never get beyond just going to church; they don’t let Jesus animate their lives, put them to service, serve the church, serve the poor, etc.  God says today: WAKE UP.  Don’t be part of the frozen chosen. As Msgr pope says, “Pentecost puts to the lie a sleepy, tepid Christian life.” There is not such thing as that. Either you are alive and happy and zealous for Jesus or you don’t love him at all. Wake up.  I think about all our parish is doing–Habitat, St Vincent de Paul, festival, school, etc….and I think: God is waking us up, more and more, every day.  Thanks to God!  But it gotta start with each one of us being awakened….then he awakens the church, the city, the world

S – Strengthens us.  Here’s something cool: We say at ever yMass in the Creed that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son.  Well we take into our bodies and souls at every Mass the Son.  We take in Jesus.  And proceeding from Jesus, proceeding from that host inside of us is the HOLY SPIRIT.  We have a fountain of strength and pwoer and grace flowing unstoppably in our bodies thanks to the Eucharist. We have strength from that.

God bless you.