Daily homily thoughts, 7/17

“Yet the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread.”  How beautiful. God transforms our oppression into fruitfulness!

“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” I love going to the cemetery at St. Mary of the Woods. Hundreds and hundreds of nuns buried there. They gave up everything, and in so doing, they found even more: God himself.  The more we give up of ourselves and so on, the more we find Jesus.

The power of the Word: A homily for the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time (A)

bibleI want to focus on two things today.  1) God’s word for us and 2) God’s purpose for us.

God’s word for us.  We know the power of a word.  When someone says a good word about me, if it’s really good, I think about it for days!  And conversely, when someone says something less than kind, sometimes such a thing might keep me awake a night. I suppose it is the same for all of us.  We know the power of a human word.

And yet God’s word is a thousand times more powerful. Our first reading tells us that God sends his words down for a purpose.  He speaks them for a purpose.  And his word is meant to change our lives!  Change the world!  I think about Millard Fuller, a man who founded Habitat for Humanity.  Do you know that over half a million houses have been built with Habitat?  I heard how he felt a calling to create Habitat because he was reading Matthew 25.  That’s about 2 million people whose lives have been bettered because one man read one chapter–maybe one verse–of Scripture and acted on it.  That’s pretty wild!

I know this.  I know that men are better husbands and fathers when the read God’s word.  And women better mothers and wives.  Kids are better kids.  We must make God’s word a DAILY part of our lives.  As Fr Larry Richards says, NO BIBLE NO BREAKFAST, NO BIBLE NO BED.  His word has real power.  He has a lot to say to us every day.

Sometimes it’s kind of small, but yet important.  You know I came here from Greenwood. I have to tell you that although I was so happy to be coming here, I was quite sad to leave and a bit…nervous….about the assignment here.  My last day thereat OLG, July 4, I discovered that I had an overdue library book from the school library.  It had been under my bed for a year and a half!  So I went over to the school to return it.  Walking those school hallways, a thousand memories flashed into my heart and sadness overtook me at the thought of leaving all those kids and memories behind.  I put the book down on the librarian’s desk and turned around.  There is a bulletin board there, and each of those recent 8th grade graduates had posted a scripture verse there.  I’d seen them before.  But my eyes immediately went to one of them….it was a God thing.  It was the scripture that Connor had chosen.  It was Josh 1:9: “Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Peace came over me and I said, thank you God and crossed myself.

God always has something to say.  We better be listening.

2.  God’s purpose for us.  We hear in our Gospel, the purpose of the ear is to hear. The purpose of the eye is to see.  The purpose of a seed is to grow.  The purpose of God’s word is to do his will.  Everything has a purpose.  It is a good exercise, I think, every now and again to ask: What is my purpose today?  This week?  In my life??  God made us all for a reason, for a thousand reasons.  Ours is to discover why.  It also strikes me as a good idea to ask: what is the purpose of this parish?  Why do we exist?  What is it that we do?  What for?  More on all that later!

Daily homily thoughts, 7/14

08-770x468Today’s first reading is so beautiful.  Here’s how it starts:

Israel set out with all that was his. When he arrived at Beer-sheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. There God, speaking to Israel in a vision by night, called, “Jacob! Jacob!” He answered, “Here I am.” Then he said: “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you a great nation. Not only will I go down to Egypt with you; I will also bring you back here, after Joseph has closed your eyes.”

Jacob (Israel) must have been rather nervous to leave the Promised Land and go to Egypt in the midst of the famine there. Jacob was old at this time. He probably feared he would never make it, let alone make it back home to the land promised to his grandfather Abraham. Would the land be lost forever?  But then God says not to worry, that God will join him on the journey. Jacob finds his son Joseph and they embrace. And then he dies, but God is true to his word. His body returns to the Promised Land.  When will we ever learn: calm down and just trust.

Daily homily thoughts, 7/12

Go to Joseph. Those words we find in the first reading today. Pharaoh directs all who are hungry to “go to Joseph” for food, as he had appointed Jospeh the one in charge of the food rations. We traditionally have repurposed those words, “Go to Joseph,” to relate to the second Jospeh–that is, St. Joseph. He is a ready intercessor. He works quickly and they say it is best to be direct and specific with him. I took a page from Pope Francis, who every day puts his prayer intentions under a statue of St. Joe. A good and pious practice! Go to Joseph. Amen.

Fr Vincent Bacquelin

19905257_10109528766951509_581729438058426098_nThe other day I went to visit the grave of one of my Shelbyville predecessors, Fr Vincent Bacquelin. No doubt he will be a key intercessor for me here. Here is some good info on him from Indiana Catholic History:

This Wednesday, September 2nd, marks the 169th anniversary of the death of Father Vincent Bacquelin, a priest of the Diocese of Vincennes. A true “Pioneer” priest in Indiana, he was born on December 1, 1811 at Clermont-Ferrand, France. He was part of the group that came with Bishop Brute from France to Indiana in 1836.

Bacquelin was a seminarian at the time and he was sent to Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg. He was ordained there on April 25, 1837 by Bishop Brute. In August of 1837, Brute sent him to minister to what basically consisted of central and south central Indiana. Based at St. Vincent’s in Shelby County, Bacquelin visited Rush, Shelby, Bartholomew and Marion County. He formed the first community at Indianapolis. He also worked as far as Cambridge City and Richmond.

In addition to all his other duties, Fr. Bacquelin also gave the annual retreat to the Sisters at Saint Mary of the Woods, including (Saint) Mother Theodore. Sister Mary Borromeo Brown describes it in her history1

“The annual retreat was approaching, this year as all during the early years to be preached by one of the good French priests of the diocese, Father Vincent Bacquelin. This pious, devoted and zealous young priest had come to America with Bishop Bruté’s colony in 1836.

It seemed, however, that many of the early missionaries, especially those who seemed to be so zealous, died before their time. While on a sick call on September 2, 1846 in Rush County, Fr. Bacquelin was thrown from his horse against a tree and was killed instantly. He was buried at St. Vincent’s Shelby County.

History of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary of the Woods, New York: Benziger Brothers, 1949 [↩]

Daily homily thoughts, 7/11

Today we hear about Jacob’s wrestling with the Lord’s angel. Prayer should sometimes be a wrestle. I remember my silent retreats, 7 days each. They should not be entirely peaceful. Sometimes they should be violent. The Lord likes to confront us, and he tells us things in prayer we initially don’t much want to hear. It can be a wrestle. But he wins and that is good for us all. Jesus tells us to pray in our gospel today. And then we celebrate today the feast of St. Benedict, sixth century monk and founder of the Benedictine order. Millions of men and women have given up their lives for prayer, to follow his rule and live in his prayerful ways. Praise God. Prayer is everything.

Daily homily thoughts, 7/10

Today’s gospel profiles a miracle within a miracle. That is how God works. He isn’t content just to work one miracle at a time. It’s like the time I went to the hospital. While I was there with someone, another person came over asking me to visit their loved one. God works that way. The second thing that strikes me about our readings today is that Jesus takes the girl by the hand. That is how personal our God is. He isn’t just working miracles from the sky. They are as real, as personal as a hand outstretched to us. Jacob’s ladder we hear about in our first reading, it’s an image of our ascent to heaven. We’d fall a thousand times without God’s hand reaching down for us. One step at a time, hand in hand, we make our climb.