A Wedding Homily – 2017

Welcome, we are all here to witness something awesome!  We have come to witness two unique individuals come forward, and with God’s grace,  become one.  We are about to witness the power of their love for each other, and the power of God’s love, made present here before us; and that should fill us all with awe!
For that is one of the objectives that a celebration of a sacrament is suppose to accomplish.  It is an opportunity to encounter the Divine; through the ordinary objects that our God has created: water, olive oil, bread and wine,..a ring.  A sacrament is also a means by which God transforms the individual or individuals who are receiving the sacrament.  Through the waters of Baptism, we are cleansed of sin, and become born again as a child of God.  Through the anointing with holy oil, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit.  When we receive consecrated bread and wine, we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, and become one with Christ.  And in the exchange of rings, which symbolizes the pledge, in love, of a man and a woman to each other, to their union.  And it also symbolizes God’s pledge to you both; that He will be with you always.

For God is the source of all life, and of all love.  And through His Spirit, that love can fill your hearts, your souls, all the way down into the very depths of your being.  The power of God’s Presence within you, the power of His love; will help you experience the joyful times more intensely; will help you through the trying times with more hope.  Remember always the description of love we have just heard from the writings of St. Paul:

“It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails.”                  (1 Corinthians)

Love will never fail, if we continually open our hearts, and be present to God, the Father.  A Dutch priest and author, had a personal revelation; reflecting on when God addressed Jesus, as He was coming up out of the waters of the Jordan River, as His “Beloved.”  And He also calls you, me,  all of us here, “Beloved.”  Whether we have been good or bad; whether we have ignored Him or not; whether we believe in Him or not; He still calls each one of us”Beloved.”

It is by the power of that love; by the gift of His Spirit, that you both have been drawn to this place, to this sacred moment of time.  And we have all been drawn here to witness something awesome.

Fifth Week of Lent Reflection – 2017

Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise.’  Martha said to him, ‘I I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day’  Jesus told her,

‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and in me will never die.’

I think that in many ways, the above statement by Jesus is among the most powerful in Saint John’s Gospel.  It is indeed, the “Good News” that a suffering, weary world is waiting for, yearning for.

I feel, however, that these words give more than hope for eternal life, after death.  For those of us weighed down by the life’s heavy burdens; we will rise!  For those of us threatened by persecution and discrimination; we will rise!  For those of us who are in depression and despair; we will rise!  By the love and power of Christ; we will rise!


First Sunday of Lent – 2017


Since last Wednesday, “Ash Wednesday,” the Catholic Church, along with other Christian churches, began a 40 day period of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving.  This leads up to Holy Week, and the commemoration of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Today, the First Sunday of Lent, the sanctuary of our church is decorated in somber, purple; with no flowers.  We process in, not with hymns, but chanting prayers, begging for God’s mercy; and for the intercession of the saints.

The scripture readings for today, first tell of how our first parents, gave into temptation, and brought sin and death into the world.  Then  we hear the Gospel, the “Good News,” of how Jesus resisted temptation, and began the journey that would lead to our liberation.  

So how will we spend these days of Lent; will we intensify our spiritual lives? Will we “repent and believe the Good News?”  Will we be lights to a world so threatened by darkness, by hate, and violence.  Let us “prepare the way of the Lord, and be witnesses of the power of His Love!

Burn And Beat Back the Darkness

Burn

 

The tragic events of the past few weeks, give the impression of a creeping darkness enveloping our world, our country, our communities, our very lives.  And we appear to be powerless to beat it back.

The darkness of terrorism is creeping into our world; whether individual acts of terror, like in Orlando, Florida; or the organized terrorist attack at the airport of Istanbul and the restaurant in Bangladesh.  Violence is casting a pall over the world.  And it is causing another type of darkness to grow and spread; the darkness of fear and intolerance.  We have politicians painting one ethnic group, one religious group, as the breeding ground for terrorists, and calling for denying them the human rights that belong to every human being.  We see citizens attacking both immigrants and native born, all because of the faith they subscribe to.  We see fear mongering, name calling, and personal attacks becoming standard practice among our politicians; and causing a darkness to creep into our political process.  And the darkness is creeping into the hearts of all us; as we see a world plunging into chaos.  The stress of daily life, in uncertain economic times, is putting out the light of hope; leaving depression, sadness, darkness.

In times such as these I find my hope in words that, though written thousands of ago, still have the power to move my heart, to set my heart aflame:

“In the beginning, the Word already existed; the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  From the very beginning the Word was with God.  Through him God made all things; not one thing in all creation was made without him.  The Word was the source of life, and this life brought light to people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.”  (John 1: 1-5)

In Christ, when I; when any of us, encounter Him in Word and Sacrament, hope can rekindled in our hearts.  And if Christ can enflame our hearts, we in turn must share that flame of hope with others, and dispel the darkness.

There is story about a Desert Father, one who spent most his life as hermit, who was approached by a disciple for guidance.  The disciple had been fervent in prayer, diligent in fasting and meditating on the Scriptures.  He wanted to know what more he needed to do?  The Desert Father raised his hands over his head, and spread his fingers.  Each finger became a tongue of fire.  He said: “You can become flame.”  When we have an encounter with Christ, we are called to share that experience with all those we come in contact with.  We are to share the light of Christ; we are to become flame and light to the darkness around us.  Let us burn with the fire of Christ.

 

Burn

“Give Thanks to the Lord..”

Thanksgiving2015a“On that day, you will say: I give you thanks, O Lord, though you have been angry with me, your anger has abated, and you have consoled me.  God indeed is my savior.  I am confident and unafraid.  My strength and my courage is the Lord, and he has been my savior.

With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation, and say on that day: Give thanks to the Lord, acclaim his name; among the nations make known his deeds, proclaim how exalted is his name.  Sing praise to the Lord for his glorious achievement; let this be known throughout all the earth.” (Isaiah 12: 1-5)

 

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

Feast of All Saints

“After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue.  They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.  They cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.”  (Revelation 7: 9-10)

All SaintsToday, the Christian world, especially the Catholic Church, celebrates the Feast of All Saints.  The Church remembers all those who are saints; those officially recognized by the Church and those who are unknown but to God.  The Church believes that when we die, our souls are in need of purification before we can enter into heaven.  This purification takes place in purgatory.  There are those, however, because of how well they lived the Gospel life, are admitted into heaven; come face to face with God, and experience perfect happiness.  These individuals are considered saints.

How does one become a saint; the Gospel reading for today’s Mass, the Beatitudes shows a starting point for one to begin the process.  So is living the two greatest commandments, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and the first commandment.  The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Matt 22: 37-39).  To become a saint is no easy task; it requires a radical interior change, a conversion.  Trying to do it on our own is impossible.  But we are not alone, God is with us.  If we open our hearts to him, he will give us the strength, the grace, to achieve the goal of sainthood.  Jesus Christ, coming to us in the Eucharist, gives us the food for this journey; the Holy Spirit gives us the guidance, the inspiration to continue the journey.

There is no measure that will tell us how successful we are.  We can only continue to strive to live the teachings of Jesus, to strive, through prayer, to be in a close relationship with God.  And we must accept the fact, that there will be times when we will fail.  There will days of dryness, disappointments, feelings of failure.  It is at moments like these, that the lives of saints can be a source of inspiration for us.  In particular, those biographies that reveals both the successes and failures of a saint trying to live the Gospel; because we can identify with them.  We can learn how they overcome their obstacles, and begin thinking about starting again.

I like to think of the communion of saints, something like those crowds of people gathered at the end of a race.  They have run their race; and now they are calling out to us, urging us on to the finish line.

“Who can ascend the mountain of the Lord?

or who may stand in his holy place?

One whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,

who desires not what is vain.

He shall receive a blessing from the Lord,

a reward from the God his savior.

Such is the race that seeks him

that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.  “(Psalm 24)

Finish Line