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.

From a Franciscan Perspective: “Preach it man!”

Lawrence of Brindisi“Preaching, therefore, is a duty that is apostolic, angelic, Christian, divine.  The word of God, is replete with manifold blessings, since it is, so to speak, a treasure of all goods.  It is the source of faith, hope, charity, all virtues, all gifts of the Holy Spirit, all beatitudes of the Gospel, all good works, all the rewards of life, all the praise: Welcome the word that has taken root in you, with its power to save you.

(From a sermon by Saint Lawrence of Brindisi, OFM CAP)

July 21st is the Feast day of Saint Lawrence of Brindisi, a Franciscan Capuchin priest, born in Italy in the year 1559.  A scholar, he was famous for his mastery of many languages.  Because of this, he was sent into various European countries, on preaching missions.  He became known as an effective and forceful preacher.

As an ordained deacon in the Catholic Church, one of my ministries is to proclaim the Gospel during the celebration of the Eucharist; and occasionally to preach on that reading from the Gospel.  The above quote from Saint Lawrence strikes a chord within me; because the act of preaching can have an effect not only on the congregation hearing the homily, but also on the preacher himself.  I prepare a week before I am scheduled to preach, prayerfully going over the Scripture readings for that Sunday.  I try to open my mind and my heart to what the Word, Jesus Christ, wishes to reveal to me.  I reflect on how the Gospel speaks not only to myself, but how it will speak to those sitting in front of me.  What is that they need to hear; what words of comfort they need to experience.  There have been times that I will delete a whole written page, because I have been inspired to take a different tack.

To preach is far different than any other type of public speaking.  I stand behind the pulpit, with my written text; as I look over the people before me, I whisper a little prayer.  Then, more often than not, the Holy Spirit takes over, guiding me, inspiring me; the words on the paper, takes on a life of their own.  When I am done, I know that for me, it was a holy, sacred moment.

I have come to realize that there are many ways one can preach the Good News.  It is why I am attracted to blogging; it is another way to share my experience of God’s love.  And it is becoming a means of hearing about others experiences.  And finally, the other means we all have to preach the Gospel, by the way each one of us strive to live in our daily lives; with our families, in our workplaces, in the stores, and on the streets.

Homily for the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, Joseph – 2014

The Holy Family      Genesis 15: 1-6; 21: 1-3

       Hebrews 11:8, 11-12, 17-19

       Luke 2: 22-40

Today we celebrate the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, which comes on the Sunday after Christmas. This year, this Feast and Christmas are only a few days apart. How many of us are still recovering from the Christmas celebrations; the preparations, the clean up; the stresses and the joys of that day. And how many of us are just hoping for a quiet weekend. Can we suppose that Mary and Joseph may have felt the same way, after what had happened on the evening of the birth of their son? First there was the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, then finding shelter in a manger, a barn! Then that appearance of a group of scruffy shepherds, who have this story of angels flying in the night sky, proclaiming that this child, their child, is the long for Messiah. I am sure that what Mary and Joseph longed for was some normalcy, to just perform the rituals required by Law of Moses and then get back to Nazareth and their lives as quickly as possible.

So they go up to Jerusalem, to the Temple to make the required sacrifices. Now keep in mind that they were not the only ones going to the Temple that day. There would have been hundreds, if not thousands of worshipers going to the there. If you have ever seen a picture of the crowds assembled in front of St. Peter’s in Rome, you would have some idea of the crowds going in and out of the Temple courtyards. And yet, and yet; out of that massive crowd of humanity, Simeon, is able to find Jesus, Mary and Joseph. How? He was guided by the Holy Spirit, for God was fulfilling His promise, that Simeon would not see death, before seeing the Messiah. Simeon had such faith in that promise, that for so many years he kept going to the Temple. And despite so many disappointing encounters, he still had faith. Then comes the day his path crosses with Mary, Joseph and their infant son. He praises God that his faith has been rewarded, he has seen the Messiah. Then he tells Mary and Joseph what the destiny of their child would be, and what it would cost them. Now, after hearing this, who could blame Mary and Joseph, if they were to flee south to Egypt; or north to Syria, or east to Babylon? This was not what they signed up for. But they do not flee, they returned to Nazareth, Despite their fears of what the future may hold, they raised the child Jesus up into a strong young man, who was “filled with wisdom” and with the favor of God. They were able to do so because they had faith, faith that whatever trials and tribulations may come their way, God would not abandon them, that God would be there for them. It is that same faith that their ancestor Abraham had when he first listened to God, to a Presence he did not know, yet he believed, and left the safety of the Ur, for an unknown land. He had faith that, despite his old age, he believed that God would keep His promise of making from him a mighty nation.

And it is faith in God’s promise that through His Son, Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, “God is with us.,” we believe that we will never be alone, that indeed, God will be with us always, He will be with us in times of trial, and times of challenge:. He will be with us in the joyful times, and the sad times. It is faith in Him, that draws us here today, as a community of believers, that through Word and Sacrament, that faith will be continually renewed and strengthened. It is by faith in God’s love, which causes us to reach out to others, to share that love. And it is by faith that we look forward to the fulfillment of the promise that Jesus Christ will come again, and a new heaven and a new earth will be born.