Kecharitomene: A homily for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Today we celebrate that, in point of fact, Mary was conceived without sin, and so she is perfectly filled with grace, that she is filled with godliness, power, stainless beauty–that she is holy and without blemish as our second reading says, that she is without spot or wrinkle as today’s preface says.

Mary is full of grace and today we celebrate she always has been, from the moment of her conception she has been.  It’s worth thinking about, that phrase “full of grace” which the angel Gabriel speaks to Mary and which we echo at our every Hail Mary. That phrase is our translation of the Greek word Kecharitomene. The word, in Greek, is a perfect passive participle (e.g., abandoned house, spoken word, parked car, etc). Like any participle, the perfect passive participle is basically an adjective. Further, because the participle is perfect, this action happened in the past, and since it is also passive, the action happened to whatever noun it is modifying.  What does this mean?  Msgr.: “Thus Gabriel, in using this word, was confessing that Mary had already been graced.”

Our Blessed Virgin has been filled with grace, filled with spotlessness since the start, and she is thus the perfect path God has prepared for the Lord to enter the world. The same blood that filled her veins would fill the Lord’s in her womb. No wonder she had to be filled with grace from the start.  Today we thank our good God for Mary’s presence in our lives and as that with her help, we too might be filled with grace and become channels through which our God comes to this earth.

Why we love Mary: A homily for the 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Tmary.jpgoday our Gospel tells us something interesting: we can’t take our salvation for granted. Jesus assures us that it takes work to be faithful, to get to heaven. Jesus opened up the doors to heaven – he made it possible that we might get there – but it still takes our cooperation to walk through those doors, to live a life that goes there.

Today we see this rich young man in the gospel – he wants to go to heaven, a good desire. His problem is he wants to know the bare minimum. What do I HAVE to do to get there? What are the requirements?  And Jesus spells out the commandments as a starting point, to which the guy says, I already do that pretty much. Then Jesus says, Ah yes, but you haven’t given me everything. That’s what I want.  I don’t want the minimum, the leftovers. I want it all.  Jesus wants it all.  The rich young man leaves Jesus, thinking his possessions matter more.

The rich young man gives us an example of what NOT to do.  But in this month of October, we honor a woman who shows us very much what TO DO.  October is the month of Mary.  We Catholics love Mary — and so did the first Protestants by the way (read Luther and Calvin and Henry VIII).  We have statues in and outside our churches and schools, in and outside our homes, we have images of her everywhere, votive candles in front of her, we have rosaries and pictures. We love Mary.  That’s why I’ve put a big statue out front on Broadway, why we’re getting votive candles here, and all kinds of things.

The Angel told Joseph, don’t be afraid to take Mary into your home.  Jesus from his cross told John and by extension all the disciples to follow:  BEHOLD YOUR MOTHER.  He says YOUR mother, not MY mother, though she was his mother too.  Jesus is telling us: Mary is your mom!  Look at her! Cherish her! Keep her ever in your mind!

And why these messages from God??   Why all the “Mary stuff” in our homes and churches???  Because Mary is someone who GAVE GOD EVERYTHING.  And maybe – just maybe – the more we look at a woman who gave Jesus everything, the more we might do the same.  When we look at Blessed Mother, we see someone who, unlike the rich young man, gave Jesus everything.

The more we look at Mary, the more generous we are with our lives.  Sometimes people say, how late can I come to mass and it still count?  how early can i leave? how many times do i have to go to confession? how much do I have to give?  How many volunteer hours do I have to do?  etc etc etc

But all these questions fade when we give Jesus everything.

This consecration bracelet that I wear – it is a reminder that I am consecrated to Jesus through Mary.  We’re going to start a consecration group soon, details after Mass. But the point is that we are consecrated to Jesus – set aside for the holy – through Mary, the model of perfect discipleship.   I can’t wait for this!

We go through Mary for a host of reasons.  The biggest one – just look at Jesus’ first miracle in the gospel.  The wine runs out at Cana, and Mary intercedes.  Jesus works the miracle, but only after Mary intervenes.  If you ever need a miracle, to Mary and she’ll take it to Jesus.

We can go to Jesus directly of course, but why avoid Blessed Mother?  When God wanted to come to earth, he didn’t avoid her; he came through her!  It’s the same in reverse folks!  When we want to go to heaven, we shouldn’t avoid Mary; we go through her!

Let us model our discipleship after the example of Our dear, dear mother Mary.

Mary raises us up: A homily for the Solemnity of the Assumption

Today is the Assumption.  I have a little trick for school Mass to show the difference between the ascension and the assumption.  Two balloons.  The Ascension of Jesus is represented by a Superman balloon with helium.  By his own power, Jesus (the ultimate superman) goes up.  That’s the ascension.  Now Mary is a blue balloon, no helium, attached to the string of the Jesus balloon.  Mary goes up by the power of Christ. She is assumed into heaven, body and soul. Now Mary is closer to us than Jesus. Many find her a bit more accessible, easier to reach.  The beauty is, we can reach Jesus through her.  We attach ourselves to her, and she brings us up to Jesus.  She directs us.  She raises us up.

Daily homily thoughts, 12/12 – Our Lady of Guadalupe

The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a story about conversions. Our Lady wants nothing more than to bring souls to Jesus and therefore to his body the Catholic church!

Our Lady appeared in 1531 to a humble Juan Diego.

Remember, around that same time, many things were happening in the history of the whole world.  Martin Luther, a Catholic monk, decided to leave the church and started his own church.  Another Catholic named King Henry VIII also left the Catholic Church. He wanted a divorce but the pope said no. So he made his own church. In Mexico, Spain had conquered the Aztec peoples, and many people were lost and worried.

But what the native population found with Our Lady of Guadalupe was the image of their mother, who said, “Do not be afraid. Am I not your mother?” And they knew it was their mother.

The story of Mary’s presence spread fast, and it produced the biggest, unprecedented conversions in the history of the catholic church. In seven years, more than nine million people were converted. Can you imagine how many souls have been saved because of Our Lady of Guadalupe?

Everybody in this church right now–everyone here owes his faith, and most likely will owe his salvation to Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Without her, most of our ancestors would most likely not have come into Jesus and his body the Church.

All these conversions, all because Mary came to one man and he built a church.

Today, in this holy church, she comes to you and to me, and she says: Build me a church.
– build me a church in your house. make your house a place of love and faith.
– build me a church in your workplaces, your schools….invite Jesus into those places.
– build me a church in your heart….

Our Lady of Guadalupe is the story of conversions. She has converted billions of people. Now she wants to convert YOU and ME.

We all need conversion.
– if you are not praying every day, Mary tells you today: pray, invite jesus into your heart
– if you are not serving this parish, Mary tells you today: build up my church
– if you have sins that you have not confessed, Mary tells you today: go to confession!
– if you are not going to Mass every Sunday, Mary tells you today: come to Mass, come receive the Eucharist in a state of grace
– if you never come to adoration of the blessed sacrament and spend time with Jesus, Mary says: come to my son.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is a bridge between cultures….it is her love that unites us…Aztecs, Indians, Spanish, Anglo, everyone…..but she is also a bridge between heaven and earth. Her mission is the same now as it was five hundred years ago: conversion!! Conversion! She wants our conversions!

She wants nothing more than to bring us closer to Jesus and his body the Catholic church.

Long live the Virgin of Guadalupe!!

Daily homily thoughts, 9/15

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.  Here are Mary’s 7 sorrows:

1. The Prophecy of Simeon. (Luke 2:34-35) or the Circumcision of Christ
2. The Flight into Egypt. (Matthew 2:13)
3. The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple. (Luke 2:43-45)
4. Mary Meets Jesus on the Way to Calvary. (Luke 23:26)
5. Jesus Dies on the Cross. (John 19:25)
6. Mary Receives the Body of Jesus in Her Arms. (Matthew 27:57-59)
7. The Body of Jesus is Placed in the Tomb. (John 19:40-42)

Daily homily thoughts, 8/22

Today we celebrate the Queenship of our dearest Mama Mary.  She is powerful, our queen.  She protects us as the queen bee protects her baby bees.  We do well to invoke her power often, a power she has because God gave it to her.  Even in every day moments….like

  • Hail Mary, full of grace, help me find a parking place
  • Hail Mary, full of grace, this test help me ace
  • Hail Mary, full of grace, hit the devil in the face