Deacon Bob’s Homily for 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle A

Here is my homily for this weekend. May God bless each of you.

15th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle A

July 15/16, 2017

Isaiah 55: 10-11; Rom 8: 18-23; Matt 13: 1-23

 

What seed do you sow in your field? I’m not just asking the farmers here today, but all of us. What seed will you sow? God has given each of us a field of some sort in which to sow the seed, e.g., our families, neighborhoods, towns, and parishes.

The seed must be sown regardless of the soil on which it is sown, so I would like each of us to focus today on the sower of the seed rather than the type of soil on which it lands. It must be sown on every type of field. If someone rejects or crowds it out because of worldly concerns, someone else will benefit from our sowing, as we heard in the first reading today. The seed shall not return void, but achieve its end.

No matter how difficult our lives may become, no matter how difficult sowing the seed may be for us, no matter how fruitless it may seem, not matter how many failures we may experience, nothing can compare to the glory to be revealed in us and in our lives. The good we do always bears good fruit even though we may not see it, so we must never become discouraged.

Do you sow? Will you sow seed in your field? Do not say, “It is not my job” or “I cannot talk about faith and God openly where I work or live.” Every man, woman, child can and must sow the seed of love and mercy in the world.

Many give up and ask, “Why do so many bad things happen to me and the world? Why doesn’t God stop all these miseries, sicknesses, wars, divisions, and hatreds if the world, if he is all powerful?” These things happen and remind us over and over again of the power of evil that remains, and Satan’s efforts to keep us from hearing andunderstanding, from looking and seeing, and to discourage us from sowing the seed of love and forgiveness. They are Satan’s attempts to place doubts in our minds, to confuse us and lead us into choices that only give rise to more divisions, distress, and confusion, in other words, to get us to sow bad seed. God knows this. God has known from all eternity that He would enter the world by sending his Son to confront directly, to take on personally, each and every sickness, tragedy, war, misery, sin, and hatred the world has ever known, or will ever know. Why? To completely defeat them through his death and resurrection. Do we think of this, believe this, when we in our failures and distress begin to ask, “Why would God let this happen?”

God does not create sickness or sin. God takes sickness and sin and puts them on himself. He takes them on personally and carries them with you. When we suffer such things, God is present.

Do we look for him there? Do we see him then? Do we hear him at those moments and understand?

There is only one remedy for sin, sickness, failure and defeat. That remedy is love and forgiveness. Love more deeply and forgive more completely. Only love and forgiveness can destroy evil. Only love and forgiveness, not hatred, not revenge; only love and forgiveness. This is what God did in his Son on the Cross.

This is the seed we must sow in today’s world. It will not be accepted by all. Some will not understand. Some will look at it, but not see or recognize it. Some will outright reject it. Yet, we must sow the seed of love and forgiveness constantly.

Why do bad things happen to us and the world? Why does a mother lose her child or a father his son? Why does a young person die of cancer? Because evil and disorder continues to exist in the world and is very real. The question, though, is not, “Why does God not stop it?” but rather, “Do I really believe in what Jesus accomplished on the Cross, that he literally experienced every division, sin, hatred, and sickness the world will ever experience, and conquered them all by dying and rising from the dead, by loving us that much, forgiving us that completely, and by promising that we too will rise to everlasting life.

This is the seed we must sow in our fields, whatever field has been given to us, even if the world rejects it, even though our efforts seem fruitless at times. We must tell everyone that love and forgiveness conquers all evil, every mishap, each misdeed, and every sin.

Love requires sacrifice and forgiveness requires honestly calling sin sin, not excusing or denying it, but rather forgiving it. No excuses, no denials, just love and forgiveness.

May God help us in our efforts.

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for Corpus Christi

Here is my homily for the Solemnity of  Corpus Christi. Blessings on all!

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ – Cycle A

Dt 8: 2-3, 14b-16a; 1 Cor. 10 16-17; Jn 6: 51-58

June 17/18, 2017

 

Two weeks ago, at Pentecost, we sang, “Come Lord Jesus! Send us your Spirit! Renew the face of the earth!”

Yes, we asked Jesus to come into our hearts, into our minds, into our lives and transform us into his heart, his mind, his life, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to renew the earth and lead others to him.

Catholics throughout the world could renew the earth if every day they fervently prayed that prayer and took Jesus into themselves in Holy Communion and become who they receive. We could change the world for we would be united to Christ and to each other, and Jesus would work through us unhindered. We would become one body in Christ, united to each other and with God the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit.

We celebrate today the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, or Corpus Christi. There are two important aspects of today’s solemnity.

The first aspect is our unity with one another as Church by coming and receiving the Eucharist here at Mass as a parish community united in one faith and belief.

The second aspect is our unity with Jesus in his Real Presence in the consecrated bread and wine, and our unity with God himself.

Unity with each other; unity with God!

We have in common with all Christian denominations the recognition that the Eucharist is a sign of unity for all who partake of it. We believe that in receiving the Eucharist we are publically stating that we are one in mutual concern and love for one another, and embrace the faith that has been given to us. As Catholics, we also know that the Eucharist we share is not only a sign of unity as a community, but it is the true flesh and blood of the risen Savior who sits at God’s right hand in heaven who unites us to God. The Eucharist we share at Mass is the Real Presence of Jesus because Jesus shared his priesthood with his apostles and their successors.

Yes, the Eucharist is the real Body and Blood of Christ, not only a symbol, not just a sign, but Jesus himself, real and true, his body and his blood, his soul and his divinity under the appearance of bread and wine. We do not eat and drink of the physical flesh of the earthly Jesus, but we eat and drink of the real spiritual flesh and blood of the heavenly Son of God. It is a wonderful, miraculous mystery.

His Body and his Blood, his soul and his divinity are completely present in both the consecrated bread and wine. He is truly present in every fragment of the Host, in every drop of wine. This is what Jesus himself said, “This is my Body and my Blood.”All the Scriptures attest to this belief; all the early Fathers of the Church taught it; all the martyrs died believing it; Christians everywhere believed it until the Protestant Reformation. So must we. Many found it too hard to believe when Jesus taught it, as we heard in the Gospel today. There are many today who do not believe it. Our unity as a Church depends on the Real Presence; our eternal happiness and eternal life Jesus says depends on it; the renewal of the world depends on it.

When we worthily receive the Body and Blood of Christ we become more and more like Jesus. We become his body and blood in today’s world because when we receive Holy Communion Jesus takes us into himself as we take him into ourselves. Jesus wants us to be like him. He is already like us in all things but sin, and now he wants us to be like him by giving us his Body and Blood. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” (John 6: 56)

We become what we receive, and what we receive is Jesus himself. We receive eternal life. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” (John 6: 54)

We cannot really live with Jesus in our lives, without worthily receiving his Body and Blood. We cannot renew the world without taking him into ourselves and thus become united to each other and without Jesus taking us into himself uniting us to God by giving us eternal life, God’s life.

Receiving the Eucharist worthily makes us more and more like Jesus, more and more like God, which is another ways of saying holy. Receiving the Eucharist also unites us to each other so that as one people, one Church, united in one faith and one baptism, we can go out and change the world. Receiving the Eucharist gives us divine life, eternal life, the life of heaven and a common life here on earth with each other.

Come Lord Jesus! Send us your Spirit! Renew the face of the earth!

 

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for 6th Sunday of Easter, Cycle A, 2017

Here is my homily for this weekend. God bless all!

6th Sunday of Easter – Cycle A
Acts 8: 5-8, 14-17; 1 Pt 3: 15-18; John 14: 15-21
May 20-21, 2017

Lest we forget, we are still celebrating Easter. The fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost are Easter days, days that are meant to be days of great joy for all Christians. Joy, because we know Jesus lives, that he is among us, that he is risen, that we are now one with him as the Gospel todays says.

Great hope and much joy for all of us. This joy cannot be contained. Like any joy of life, it must be shared with others. It is only natural. St. Philip in our first reading proclaimed his belief in the risen Lord and we are told, “There was great joy in that city.”

Perhaps a good question for all of us today is, “Am I a joyful, hopeful Christian? Am I convinced that Jesus is alive, present, and risen? Do I share this belief with others?”

Many people are asking why so many are leaving the Church. Might it be that we aren’t sharing our joy and hope with them? Why is it that Pope Francis is so attractive and convincing to people who have left the Church or have been critical of her? Because he expresses joy and hope, and does three things that St. Peter teaches us to do in the second reading.

St. Peter teaches us how to share our joy and the reason for our hope by the way we live our lives. It is more about living life well than about preaching words. What does he say? Three things:

Give reason for our hope, but do so gently and reverently! Isn’t this what Pope Francis is always telling us? We must approach others, go to them and not avoid them, and do so with reverence and gentleness because Jesus loves them. They are the face of Jesus. If we act harshly or irreverently, we betray Jesus because we in effect deny that Jesus loves this person. Do we approach each other with reverence, hope, gentleness, and joy?

Keep a clear conscience! Pope Francis over and over again says the same thing. A clear conscience is a joyful conscience in a state of grace. How do we remain in a state of grace? By changing our lives and going to Confession regularly. This is what Pope Francis has been saying for several years, ie, experience the mercy of God in the Sacrament of Penance. Go to Mass every Sunday. If we live with a clear conscience by confidently and regularly confessing our sins and receiving the sacrament of Penance, we will be capable of showing Jesus to others. Pope Francis reminds us that if we as individuals and as a Church acknowledge our sins and change how we treat each other, we will be joyful witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection. The pope tells us that if our consciences are clouded, dark, anxious and heavy, we put a mask on Jesus’ face. We become like people leaving a funeral, downcast and dour. We disfigure the face of Jesus. We put a veil on him. A clear conscience removes that mask, lifts that veil, and renews our hope and our joy. People are attracted to a clear conscience.

Be willing to suffer a little along the way! St. Peter tells us to be willing to suffer with others. Jesus himself said we have to pick up our crosses and follow. Pope Francis reminds us also. Ironically, we cannot share our joy and our hope in the resurrection of Jesus if we are not willing to share in the pain and difficulties of others. Our Holy Father says we must not avoid each other. Jesus wants to be where people hurt the worst. The big question for a lot of us is, “Will I be willing to share other people’s suffering, or will I avoid it?” To share in the suffering of others does not diminish our joy or our hope. It only increases them. This is a great mystery in Christianity.
So, give reason for your hope and joy by approaching others with reverence and gentleness; keep a clear conscience by seeking forgiveness and reconciliation; and be willing to suffer with others.

We who follow Jesus in his Church must be convinced of his life, death, and resurrection. We must be filled with joy and hope. By this conviction and with this joy we will attract others to the Church, even those who have left her. The Scriptures attest to it and our Holy Father demonstrates it.

Jesus lives! He is risen! Embrace it. Live it. Proclaim it!

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for Divine Mercy Sunday, Cycle A

Here is my homily for the weekend. God bless all!

Second Sunday of Easter – Cycle A

April 22-23, 2017,

Acts 2: 42-47; 1 Peter 1: 3-9, John 20: 19-31

 

Today, we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. This feast was established by Pope St. John Paul II seventeen years ago when he proclaimed that the Second Sunday of Easter would be Divine Mercy Sunday. So today, we reflect on God’s infinite mercy, a divine mercy that flows from the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A heart that heals, forgives, strengthens, and brings us peace.

Our world today stands in need of God’s Divine Mercy. It stands in need of healing, forgiveness, faith and peace. Yet what does the world have to say about mercy? What would the world have us believe about forgiveness? Here are some examples of what we hear.

“The sick are numerous and growing in number. We no longer are able to heal them all, or provide necessary medical care to them. There isn’t the political will or the necessary resources to do so. There are too many of them and we cannot afford to heal them all.”

And, “To forgive your enemy will be seen as a weakness, and vulnerability. If you have been wronged, fight back to protect yourself and your rights!”

And, “The joy and peace that Christianity promises to the merciful is naïve. The only rational response to the reality of this world is anxiety, seriousness, and a dour mood.”

Yes, these are the messages of the world. None of them convey mercy to us or those we are called to serve. These are not new messages. They are the very same messages that the first Christians heard from the Roman world. These are the messages that the Apostles heard after Jesus’ death. Their world and ours are not all that different.

So, what does Jesus say to us? The heart of Jesus, the divine mercy of God, gives us a message that is very different from the message of the world.

Jesus says: “The sick are numerous and they are my body. You will find peace and freedom in serving them. I will give you everything you need to serve them well.”

Jesus says: “There is great power and authority in forgiveness. Forgive those who harm you and pray for them.”

Jesus says: “Your faith in me and in the Church is ancient, yet forever new. Behold! I am sending forth my Spirit to renew the face of the earth.  Have no other god but the one true God.”

Jesus says: “To those who are mature in faith, filled with hope, and fervent in love, I will give a peace and joy that is beyond understanding.”

In what will we put our faith – in the messages of the world, or those of Jesus? What can we do? Our Gospel reading today gives us some clues as to how to begin showing God’s mercy, and receiving it ourselves. What did the Gospel say?

We must approach the merciful heart of Jesus. We must approach that heart very closely. We must approach the Sacred Heart as closely as the Apostles approached it, as Thomas approached it. Thomas gets a bad rap often in our thinking. We call him the “doubting Thomas.” I think there is another way of thinking about him, and the Gospel reading we heard today. Thomas needed, wanted, to get very close to Jesus because he knew he needed mercy. He knew he had to approach Jesus closely enough to:

Be breathed upon by him; Touch his hands and his side; Touch his wounds; Hear his voice.

God’s mercy is not something experienced in the abstract. It is not something that is just a nice thought or an ideal. It is something very real, very tangible, very human as well as divine. We are called to show that mercy and to experience that mercy in our world as we find it. The Apostles went forth and preached the Gospel with fervor. They announced the mercy of God found in Jesus Christ who gave himself for our salvation and rose from the dead. They went forth with trust and confidence, and hundreds were healed; thousands were converted.

We too can go forth and do what they did. God’s love is stronger than death and his mercy is greater than sin. But we must go forth, as Pope Francis tells us, we must go to the peripheries of our world and approach the needy, approach them in a very close way. Close enough to feel their breath upon us, close enough for us to touch their hands and feet, to touch their wounds, to hear their voices. Our mercy must be tangible and real.

The Scriptures tell us, “It is mercy I desire, not sacrifice.” (Hosea 6:6; Mt 9: 13, 12:7)

Yes, our God’s love is revealed in his mercy and it is our duty to put this mercy and love into practice. We must approach Jesus very closely, not only in prayer, but also in serving the needy among us who are the body of Christ, who carry the wounds of Christ.

Let us fix our gaze on our Risen Lord and pray, “Jesus, I trust in you!” Let us draw near to the Sacred Heart of Jesus overflowing with divine mercy, for us, and for the entire world.

 

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for the 8th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Here is my homily for this weekend.  God bless all!

8th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle A

February 25/26, 2017

Isaiah 49: 14-15; 1Cor 4: 1-5; Mt 6: 24-34

 

Jesus tells us today not to worry about money, food, or clothing. These are very basic needs we all have, so he is asking us to not worry about the necessities of life. God knows how hard it is to not worry about these things. He knows how hard it is not to be anxious about life. He knows we live in a world that wants us to be anxious, indeed fearful, a world that wants us to believe that God doesn’t really exist and bad things are happening all the time, and we must, at all costs, be in control of our lives. We must be in control, the world says. These ideas produce anxiety and worry for us because we find out over and over again that we cannot control everything. So, Jesus puts before us choices. Will we trust God, or the world?  Will we believe God exists and will provide for us what we really need, or will we not?

Our faith teaches us that God is in control and that he will provide us all necessary things out of his goodness, and that he never forgets us, never! As our first reading told us, his love for us is stronger than the natural love a mother has for her child.

When Jesus tells us to not worry, what he is saying, I believe, is we must rest in God. Rest in God! What does this mean?

God knows the antidote to chronic worry and anxiety is resting in the presence of someone who is stable, available, accepting, and reassuring. God knows the antidote to worry and anxiety is not numbing our anxiety with frantic activity, drugs, alcohol or pornography, or in building up our bank accounts. God knows the antidote is resting in him, in his presence.

Will we take the chance and start to do this in Lent? We will need to be convinced that it is impossible for God to do us harm It is impossible for God to harm us because God is love. God will not abandon us because he cannot forget us. God can only give what is good because he is perfect goodness. God is always holding us, but we cannot rest in life until we turn around and look at God and let him touch us.

Our task is to turn to him to find the rest we need. In Lenten language, that means we must be converted, give us our sins, turn back to him and away from things that only cause us worry.

God is patient with us in all this. He knows how hard it is to not worry. He knows it takes faith to rest in him, but he expects us to try. He won’t force us, but he expects us to do it.

Many of us don’t know how to rest. We don’t know how to fast from things that keep us from God. We are good at distracting ourselves. We are experts at numbing our worries with material pursuits and momentary pleasures. Lent can be a time for us to learn to rest again in God and fast from those things that only give us momentary pleasure or only numb our pain for awhile.

Here are some ways to rest in God this upcoming Lent:
Come to Mass every Sunday, and during the week if possible.

Come to Adoration and the Stations of the Cross every week.

Take about 10 minutes each day and be quiet and do nothing but be in God’s presence

Look at a crucifix for 5 minutes and say this, “Jesus, I trust in you.”

Say a short prayer throughout the day. My favorite is, “God, help me!”

Jesus said that we cannot add a single moment to our lives by worrying, but we can rest eternally in his arms. He said we must first seek the kingdom of God and then all good things will be given to us.

Finally, having said all this, I want to address all of you who are facing very real and difficult life situations that understandably cause you great worry and anxiety, whether it is money problems, job loss, marital problems, health issues or whatever. Know this: God is with you in your pain and worry. He knows your struggle. He knows you cannot ignore what is going on. He knows your fears are real. He asks you though to trust in him, to turn to him over and over again. Your pain is real, but he shares that pain with you. He does not forget you.

 

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Here is my homily for this weekend. God bless all!

2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A

January 14\15, 2017

Isaiah 49: 5-6; 1 Cor 1: 1-3; John 1: 29-34

I was in Green Bay a few years ago, on a Sunday when the Packers were playing a home game. I was with a bunch of faithful Catholic friends, watching the game on television. When the Packers made a great play, all my faithful friends jumped up and down and raised their hands high in praise. When the Packers made a mistake, they literally fell to the floor, prostrate, lamenting. I watched this happen several times, and then commented, “There is only one God, and the Packers ain’t him!”

Who is God? Who are we? What will bring us true joy and happiness? These are questions every one of us tries to answer in our live, whether we realize it or not. Although they may seem like three different questions, they are actually very much related to each other. In fact, you cannot answer one of them unless you are able to answer all three.

Yes, there is only one God, and we ain’t him! This is the first and greatest commandment. “I am the Lord, your God. You shall have no other gods before me!” Who is God, then? God is our creator, and we are his creatures. He made us, we didn’t make him, he made us. God is not our servant to do what we wish; rather, we are his servants to do as he wishes. It is so easy to break that first commandment. Probably the most frequently broken of all the commandments, yet probably not the most frequently confessed. We all like to make idols for ourselves to worship. We try to make God into our image just as much as the ancient pagans did thousands of years ago. We want God to look like us, think like us, feel like us, and act like us. Each time we condemn someone, we have just tried to make God into our image. Each time we think God should be just as angry and vengeful as we are toward our enemies, we have created an idol for ourselves. Each time we think, “If God knew my circumstances, he would be okay with me committing this sin,” we are worshipping a false god.

God is God and we ain’t him. God is right and we all too often are not. Our whole lives are to be lived in such a way as to move away from our idols and toward God. Our whole lives are meant to be a journey away from our preoccupation with ourselves and toward being possessed by God’s love. Our whole lives are meant to be a conversion from worshipping false gods toward becoming servants of the one true God who makes us in his image.

God creates us in his image. God is the one who fashions and shapes us. God is the one who forms each of us into a unique image of himself. He outfits each of us in a unique way with certain talents, gifts, abilities and experiences so we may accomplish something truly good, noble, and beautiful in the world. “You are my servant through whom I show my glory!” we heard in the first reading today. (Isaiah 49: 3) This is why every human life is to be protected. God creates us for a purpose and when we understand that purpose and accept it, we are happy. Accomplishing God’s will for us brings us happiness and joy, not following only our desires and passions, our idols.

John the Baptist understood this pretty well. He said, “Look! There is the Lamb of God (I’m not him!) I am just a voice crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight your lives before the Lord!’ The reason I came was that he might be make known.” (John 1: 31-34)

If this is who God is, then who are we? As John the Baptist reminds us, we are mere voices. We are messengers and God is the message. We are servants and he is Lord and Master. We have no reason to fear who we are or who God is, because he made us into his likeness. We have no need to fear his Kingship over us because he gives us our freedom and loves us as no false god can do. We have no need of idols or false gods. We must let go of them, and let God be God in whose arms we rest, in whose love we live, in whose mercy we heal, in whose plan we find happiness. We all have false gods, our idols in life. We all must let them go and let God be God and become who we were created to be.

This brings us to the third question: What, then, brings us happiness and joy? The answer: Resting in God’s love, his mercy, his care and his plan for our lives and then doing the best we can to remain in his love and come back to him each and every time we stray. Indeed, as St. Augustine said, “We are restless, unhappy, until we rest in God.” This is where the Sacrament of Penance becomes so important. This is where Mass every Sunday is vitally important.

God is creator, redeemer, and sanctifier. Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We are servants, creatures, messengers – mere voices speaking God’s word, speaking his praises, and blessing his name.

Our acceptance of his will, his plan for us, and resting in his love is our happiness.

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Holy Father’s Urbi et Orbi Message for 2016

(Official English translation from www.vatican.va)

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Happy Christmas!
Today the Church once more experiences the wonder of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph and the shepherds of Bethlehem, as they contemplate the newborn Child laid in a manger: Jesus, the Saviour.

On this day full of light, the prophetic proclamation resounds:

“For to us a child is born,
To us a son is given.
And the government will be upon his shoulder;
and his name will be called
“Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Is 9:6)

The power of this Child, Son of God and Son of Mary, is not the power of this world, based on might and wealth; it is the power of love. It is the power that created the heavens and the earth, and gives life to all creation: to minerals, plants and animals. It is the force that attracts man and woman, and makes them one flesh, one single existence. It is the power that gives new birth, forgives sin, reconciles enemies, and transforms evil into good. It is the power of God. This power of love led Jesus Christ to strip himself of his glory and become man; it led him to give his life on the cross and to rise from the dead. It is the power of service, which inaugurates in our world the Kingdom of God, a kingdom of justice and peace.

For this reason, the birth of Jesus was accompanied by the angels’ song as they proclaimed:

“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” (Lk 2:14).

Today this message goes out to the ends of the earth to reach all peoples, especially those scarred by war and harsh conflicts that seem stronger than the yearning for peace.

Peace to men and women in the war-torn land of Syria, where far too much blood has been spilled. Particularly in Aleppo, the site of horrendous fighting in recent weeks, it is most urgent that, in respect for humanitarian law, assistance and support be guaranteed to the sorely-tried civilian population, who continue to live in desperate straits and immense suffering and need. It is time for weapons to be still forever, and the international community to seek actively a negotiated solution, so that civil coexistence can be restored in the country.

Peace to the women and men of the beloved Holy Land, the land chosen and favoured by God. May Israelis and Palestinians have the courage and determination to write a new page of history, where hate and revenge give way to the will to build together a future of mutual understanding and harmony. May Iraq, Libya and Yemen – whose peoples suffer war and the brutality of terrorism – be able once again to find unity and concord.

Peace to the men and women in various parts of Africa, especially in Nigeria, where fundamentalist terrorism exploits even children in order to perpetrate horror and death. Peace in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, so that divisions may be healed and all people of good will may strive to undertake the path of development and sharing, preferring the culture of dialogue to the mindset of conflict.

Peace to women and men who to this day suffer the consequences of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, where there is urgent need for a common desire to bring relief to the civil population and to put into practice the commitments which have been assumed.

We implore harmony for the dear people of Colombia, which seeks to embark on a new and courageous path of dialogue and reconciliation. May such courage also motivate the beloved country of Venezuela to undertake the necessary steps to put an end to current tensions, and build together a future of hope for the whole population.

Peace to all who, in different areas, are enduring sufferings due to constant dangers and persistent injustice. May Myanmar consolidate its efforts to promote peaceful coexistence and, with the assistance of the international community, provide necessary protection and humanitarian assistance to all those so gravely and urgently in need of it. May the Korean peninsula see the tensions it is experiencing overcome in a renewed spirit of collaboration.

Peace to all who have been injured or have suffered the loss of a loved one due to the brutal acts of terrorism that have sown fear and death in the heart of many countries and cities. Peace – not merely the word, but real and concrete peace – to our abandoned and excluded brothers and sisters, to those who suffer hunger and to all the victims of violence. Peace to exiles, migrants and refugees, to all those who in our day are subject to human trafficking. Peace to the peoples who suffer because of the economic ambitions of a few, because of sheer greed and the idolatry of money, which leads to slavery. Peace to those affected by social and economic unrest, and to those who endure the consequences of earthquakes or other natural catastrophes.

And peace to the children, on this special day on which God became a child, above all those deprived of the joys of childhood because of hunger, wars or the selfishness of adults.

Peace on earth to men and women of goodwill, who work quietly and patiently each day, in their families and in society, to build a more humane and just world, sustained by the conviction that only with peace is there the possibility of a more prosperous future for all.

Dear brothers and sisters,
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given”: he is the “Prince of peace”. Let us welcome him!

 

To you, dear brothers and sisters, who have gathered in this Square from every part of the world, and to those in various countries who are linked to us by radio, television and other means of communication, I offer my greeting.
On this day of joy, we are all called to contemplate the Child Jesus, who gives hope once again to every person on the face of the earth. By his grace, let us with our voices and our actions give witness to solidarity and peace. Merry Christmas to all!

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for the 4th Sunday of Advent, Cycle A, 2016

Here is my homily for this weekend. God bless everyone!

4th Sunday of Advent

4th Sunday of Advent, Cycle A

December 17/18, 2016

Isaiah 7: 10-14; Romans 1: 1-7; Matthew 1: 18-24

 

God’s message to St. Joseph was given to him in a dream. “Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors of your heart and your home to Jesus, and to his mother, Mary!”

Open wide your heart and your home!

The angel Gabriel gave Mary a similar message at the Annunciation when he said, “Do not be afraid Mary, you who are full of grace. Open wide the doors of your life to receive your savior, Jesus.”

God gives us a very similar message. “Do not be afraid to take Jesus into your life and then take him into the world.”

Do not be afraid to take Jesus into your life, and once you have taken him into your life, and then bear him into the world. Open wide the doors to receive him! Open wide your heart and your home to Jesus this Christmas. Bring him into the world. This is our Catholic, our Christian vocation!

The question is do we have the faith necessary to do this? Do we have enough love in our hearts to welcome him this Christmas?

Let’s take a step back in fill in the story we heard in the Gospel today. Can you imagine the scene? Mary coming to her betrothed husband, Joseph, and saying, “I’m pregnant, but I am still a virgin.” Joseph must have thought, “Mary, you can’t have it both ways. It doesn’t happen that way.” Then Mary, sensing his anxiety, saying, “It’s not what you think, Joseph. God did this to me. I simply said, “Yes”. It is a real baby. I can feel him moving inside me. He is God’s Son, and no man’s. He is my son too. I can’t explain it except to say it is real. It really happened. Believe me!”

This was a real test of Joseph’s faith.  This was a real test of his love for God and Mary. Mary had taken Jesus into her and was now bearing him into the world, first to Joseph. Joseph must have been the first to hear it. What Mary told him demanded faith. He had to either believe or not believe her. “How can this be?” he must have thought. Joseph replaced his fear and uncertainty with faith. He chose to believe and to love Mary, both in his desire to not shame her and by his taking her into his home and marrying her. He cared for and protected Mary and her child.

Jesus comes into our world today through the sacraments. He comes today through the Church. Jesus also comes today through us. Indeed, he comes today just as certainly as he came back then. Will we have the faith and love of Joseph and Mary to accept him into our lives and bear him into the world?

He continues to come as innocent children needing love and acceptance and nurturing. He still comes wanting our acceptance, wanting to be taken into our homes, wanting us to believe.

He comes every day in the Mass, asking us to take him into our hearts, into our souls, even into our bodies by receiving him in Holy Communion.

He comes wanting our acceptance, wanting to be taken into our lives, to be possesed by us. The question is do we have the faith? His coming always demands a faith response, like it required of Joseph and Mary.

At this very moment he is asking you to accept him, believe in him, to change your lives, to be converted, to be purified from all sin, to ask for forgiveness, to be courageous and put aside any fear you may have. He is asking you to stop condemning yourself and others, to rid yourself of any hatred in your heart. He is asking you to embrace the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Confession, to embrace the Church, to embrace his mother, Mary.

Why does he ask this of us? As the Gospel said, “She will bear a son… because he will save his people from their sins.” He asks us this to save us from own sins and so that others may come to know of the forgiveness of their sins by us bringing him into their lives.

Jesus is coming soon. He comes to evoke in us a faith response, a “yes” response like Mary’s¸and a great love like St. Joseph. He wants us to care for him, possess him, treasure him, protect and nurture him like Mary. Like Mary, we are to bear him into the world, prepare a pure heart for him, a clean home for him by receiving the Sacrament of Penance and then receiving him worthily in Holy Communion.

We bear Jesus in our bodies when we receive him in Holy Communion. We must receive him worthily! He must bear him. We must be able to tell other what he has done for us. We must tell them he is real.  We must ask to believe that he has come into our live and will come into theirs’ also.

Do we have the faith needed to do this? Do we have the love?

Do not be afraid to accept Jesus into your hearts, your bodies, and your homes this Christmas!

 

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for the Solemnity of Christ the King

Here is my homily for this weekend. God bless all of you!

Solemnity of Christ the King

November 19/20, 2016

2 Sam 5: 1-3; Col 1: 12-20; Lk 23: 35-43

Who or what is your most valuable possession? Who or what do you treasure most in your life?  Is it your home? Or your job and career? Or maybe your health? Perhaps it is your retirement plan? Is it an old family photograph?

Another question: Who or what possesses you? Who or what rules your life? Are you truly free? Do you have lasting freedom?

Jesus wants to be possessed by us as your most valuable possession. He, who is God, wants to be possessed by you and acknowledged by you as your King. Jesus wants to be your most valuable possession because you are his most valued possession.

God is our most valuable possession because he is our king, and we are his most valuable possession. He wants to possess us and to be possessed by us in every way possible and we don’t need to fear that he will take away our freedom if we let him be our King. Yes, the things of this world, e.g., money, fame, property, prestige, and people tend to possess us and take our freedom away. Ask anyone who is addicted to substances or other things, and they will tell you this. Ask anyone who has lived under a dictatorship, and they will tell you the same. But Jesus our King is different.

Our King wants to completely possess our every though, word, and deed and in return he promises true freedom, not slavery, because he is a kin who wants not only to possess us but to become one with us so much so that we become his image. He became one with us so we could become one with him.

Kings of  this world possess all in their kingdoms, every acre of land, every building, the army, and even the people who live in their kingdom. They own it all, but no one dare possess the king. Indeed, in the Old Testament, we read how people were put to death just for appearing unannounced before the king. Their lives were his, but the king’s life was his own.

Jesus, our King, like the kings of  old, has a claim on everything and everyone in his kingdom, but unlike earthly kings he gives himself to all who ask, all who approach him, from the greatest to the least of us.  Jesus gives himself to all and beseeches us to let him penetrate  every moment of our lives, occupy our every thought, control all our actions, and all our decisions so that we may be truly free.

We are told in our second reading today that Jesus is King because all things and people came to be through him. “All things were created through him and for him,” St. Paul writes. Jesus our King has brought us into being, into life. Through him we were created and it is because of him that we are alive now. He possesses us because we are marked as his when we were baptized. At baptism, the deacon or priest says, “I claim you for Christ by the sign of the cross, which I trace on your forehead.” The Holy Spirit then enters that child when the water is poured and he is baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is poured into the child’s life and forms him into Jesus and leads him to the Father. We, too, have been given the Holy Spirit, and we are then possessed by Jesus who wants to rule our every thought, word, and deed. In other words, he wants to be your king in every way possible. God is a jealous king. He wants nothing      else, no one else, to possess us. We are his. He will never reject what he has taken to himself. He wants no one to take us away from him. He guards and protects us like all good kings do. He will move mountains for us if we believe and ask.

Will we let him be our King? Will we let ourselves be possessed by him? Do we really want to possess our King and to become like him?

Yes, Jesus is King of the universe, of all creation, and this includes you and me. He wants us for himself, but gives us true freedom if we become his. He wants to possess all of us, every moment, every thought,  every desire, and every deed. He knows our every thought, he knows our every decision; he guards us in all our ways. He not only wants to possess us, but to be possessed by us. Jesus our King is not a distant king, an unapproachable king. No! He wants to one with us,  loved by us.

That is what his kingdom is all about: freedom and love. Just as lovers in this world want to possess and be possessed by the one they love, so it is with Jesus our King. Genuine unselfish love always frees. Jesus loves genuinely and unselfishly.

May Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, rule our lives forever!

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C, 2016

Here is my homily for this weekend. God bless all!

29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C
Ex 17: 8-13; 2 Tim 3: 14-4: 2; Lk 18: 1-8
October 15/16, 2016
“Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night?” Luke 18: 7

Have you ever been afflicted with a nagging problem, maybe a physical disease that won’t go away, or perhaps an emotional problem, or an addiction that gets the best of you over and over again, or maybe a spiritual problem that only leaves you in a spiritual darkness and God seems so far away, absent?

Have you ever prayed, “Why don’t you take this away from me, God! Why have you not answered my prayers and healed me, if you love me and are all-powerful?”

Have you ever wondered why people seem to pray more in times of distress, sickness, set-backs, loneliness and disappointments than they do when things are going well?

Over and over again, people have asked me, “If God is good and powerful, why does he let this bad thing continue?”, and so often their faith begins to waiver.

Our readings today give us a clue as to the answer to these questions. The answer lies in prayer and being open to God’s touch.

We are told in our first reading today that Moses prayed without ceasing, and as long as he held his hands aloft in prayer, supported by others, good overcame evil. When he stopped praying, the battle was lost.

In the Gospel, we hear of the unceasing prayer of an afflicted woman, and the eventual response.

We too must pray without wearying in our lives. In other words, we must be open to God’s touch! God touches us in prayer. All our suffering are invitations to be touched by God, to feel the touch of Jesus!

We know now that St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta lived most of her adult life in a profound spiritual darkness. God seemed absent. We have always known that she was surrounded every day with sickness, injustice, pain, and death. Surely, she of all people had reason to doubt God’s love and power and existence, but she didn’t. Instead when asked how she did it all, she said, “I have a secret. I pray.” Mother Teresa prayed, and she prayed without ceasing or wearying.

When we were baptized, God put a mark on our souls, the indelible mark we learned about in our catechism. It is a mark that will never go away, but a mark that we can desensitize and make numb. That mark is the place where God touches us. We must keep that mark sensitive. We cannot let it scab over or be covered by scar tissue. We cannot put a coat of armor over it. Scabs and scar tissue and armor are sins. Sin desensitizes the mark, and results in us turning away from God. We have to let the mark remain open, sensitive, pure, tender so when God touches it, we will feel it and turn to him.

God allows bad things to happen, but he doesn’t will them. He is not the cause. He allows them to happen so we might keep open that mark, so we will remain sensitive to his touch, and turn to him in our need. These illnesses, set-backs, disappointments, and addictions are not willed by God, but used by him to say to us: “Come closer to me.” God invites us into a deeper relationship. “Come to me!” he says. “Let me touch you! Do not be afraid! Have faith!”

That is why St. Mother Teresa had to touch the sick and the dying. She wanted to be touched by God whom she recognized in their faces. Every time she touched a sick person, she realized it was her God-given opportunity to return to God once again, to be touched by him. That is why everyday she went to God in a holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament and why she went to confession so frequently, i.e., all the sickness and injustices she saw every day that refused to go away was her opportunity to grow closer to God and feel his touch at that mark on her soul.

When we suffer and God seems far away, he is saying something to us. He is saying, “Have faith in my response to your prayers. Come closer to me. Be faithful. I will never abandon you. Let me touch you where you hurt. I have poured out my Spirit into your life. Have faith in me. I am here.”

The suffering we endure are our opportunities to say “Yes” to God’s presence and goodness, our opportunities for conversion, to be cleansed once again.

Finally, everything I have said today requires faith. It is not accepted by anyone who lacks faith. That is why at the end of today’s Gospel, Jesus ends by asking, “When the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on the earth?”

Be faithful! Never stop praying! Remain open to his touch! God will secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night. He calls you to come closer. He will not leave you alone in times of suffering and distress.

 

 

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for the 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C, 2016

Here is my homily for this weekend. God bless all!

 

25th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C
September 17/18, 2016
Amos 8: 4-7; 1Tim 2: 1-8; Lk 16: 1-13

“Make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth so that when it fails you, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” Lk 16: 9

What does Jesus want to tell us by saying this? Is he encouraging us to accumulate wealth in a dishonest way and making friends with it as a way to get to heaven? Of course not. But what does he mean?

Jesus is reminding us of something that has proven itself over and over again in human history: Material wealth tends to corrupt whoever holds onto it for themselves, and will eventually disappoint and fail its owner, because such wealth is to be shared with others.

Jesus is telling us to use rightly what we have been given in life, for indeed all has been given to us and thus nothing is ours alone. God gives in abundance so we can give in abundance. God gives us all that we have and all that we are so we can give all we have and all we are back to Him and to each other.

If all is gift, then in whom should we place our trust? In the one who gives the gift, not in the gift itself. We must not trust what we possess, but trust in God who has gives it to us. We must have our faith squarely centered on God, not any material or spiritual gift we may have been given.

Why do we cling to the gift as if it were God who has given it? We must cling to God who gives eternal life to us, who has never and will never fail us.
All that we have is to be used to love God and each other. God talks to us when he gives things to us and makes us who we are. He talks to us, telling us something we are to do and this always involves using his gifts for the benefit of others. This is true both with our material possessions and our spiritual gifts. Our money, our property, our education, our talents and skills, our health (or lack thereof), even graces he give us, all are given to us so we may set things right in the world, so that we may experience eternal life in heaven.

What does it take for us to live this way? We must come to understand that possessions are to be used, and people are to be loved. Let me repeat that: possessions are to be used and people are to be loved! All too often, we get it backward; we love our possessions and use people. This is a good definition of sin! We must be convinced that what we have been given really isn’t ours to keep, that we are mere stewards. It requires that we trust God and his providence, that he will take care of us. It requires we trust his will when he gives us the gifts in the first place. If we hang on to the belief that our wealth is only for our own benefit, or fail to believe that God is good, or if we only use people, then we will be corrupted by our wealth, our gifts, and we will dishonest stewards!

The prophet Amos railed against mistreatment of the poor by those who were rich, by those who put their trust in “mammon” as the Scriptures say, and cheated others. We cannot serve two masters we are told. The word “mammon” in Hebrew means something other than God in which one puts his faith. We cannot serve God is we are selfish. We cannot serve God if our trust is in mammon.

I knew a man once who had known what it was like to be homeless. He had lived on the streets of Denver for a period of time in his life, but with the help of others got on Social Security, obtained a small apartment and had the beginnings of normalcy in his life. He told me of walking through a park in a nearby town and seeing another man on a park bench in the winter, shivering in the cold without a coat. He told the man to stay put and he would return. He went to his apartment and retrieved a winter coat he had just bought for $40 and gave it to the homeless man. I have never forgotten this incident in which someone used his “wealth” in a just manner, just as Jesus is telling us we must do. I have no doubt God will credit him with an act of righteousness on judgment day.

We are mere stewards. Will we be good stewards? God wants us to use his gifts to build up his Kingdom, not ours. We always are tempted to build our own kingdoms according to our plans, monuments to ourselves, but these efforts alway eventually fail us.

Trust God. Trust his plan. Trust not your gifts and possessions but trust God who never fails us or corrupts us. Never. Be good stewards, wise stewards, prudent stewards of what he has given to you in this life. The reward is eternal happiness with him in heaven!

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C, 2016

Here is my homily for this weekend. God bless all!

21st Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C
August 20/21, 2016
Isaiah 66: 18-21; Heb 12: 5-7, 11-13; Lk 13: 22-30

Where is the passion of your life? How closely do you follow Jesus, go where he goes? Do you fear tight places, the “narrow gates” of life through which you must pass? Are you willing to become like children and learn through the discipline of faith, or do we only want our own way?

Passion for life…. love for Jesus and the Church….. passionate love…. this is what will hold us tightly to God and keep us in relationship with him. Passion for Jesus, passion with Jesus. This passion, this love for him and the Church wraps us into a union with God and gets us through the narrow gate. It is what keeps us on the less travelled road of our Catholic faith and off the freeways of the world that tempt us with their speed and ease of passage. Indeed, living out our Catholic faith today is difficult and often seems like a long trip on the back roads, the less travelled and more hazardous routes. Not many travel these roads anymore, preferring the ease and speed of the interstates highways of the world.

Last weekend, I ran in the Paavo Nurmi marathon up in Hurley, Wisconsin. Marathons are 26 miles, 385 yards long. Living our Catholic faith is like running a marathon. Marathons demand a lot from the runner. The training and discipline are long and difficult. The gates are narrower just like in our faith. If you don’t have a passion for running, you are not going to finish a marathon. If we don’t have a passion for Jesus and with the Church we won’t make the difficult journey with him and go to Jerusalem. To go to Jerusalem is a way of saying that we must die with Jesus so as to live with Jesus; we must give our lives to God and accept his will, his plan, his kingdom, and stay off the wide open freeways and stay on the road less travelled.

The readings today challenge us to ask ourselves whether we truly and passionately love God and our neighbor, whether we truly obey those first two great Commandments. Loving God and our neighbor is the narrow gate. To enter it, we must love God with all our minds, hearts, soul, and strength. We must love our neighbor as we love ourselves. This is the narrow gate! This is the way of Jesus! It is easy to refuse to love, to dampen our passion, to go quickly on freeways that keep us from noticing God and those around us, that keep us distracted from God and those who need us and want to enter our lives. It is so easy to choose the wide gate, not the narrow one.

What does the narrow gate look like in your life? Do you love God? Who is your neighbor? What does it mean for you to love God and the Church? How narrow is the gate for you?

Jesus seems to be saying that not everyone makes it through the narrow gate, that some will be left outside, especially those who may have eaten and drunk with him but did little else to follow him. He also seems to be saying that many who now are far from him will eventually pass through and be saved. His words are hopeful — for we never need despair or become discouraged when we fail to follow Jesus close enough, when we sin no matter how great or small, because forgiveness is always possible if we but ask for it by approaching the Sacrament of Penance and confessing our sins. His words are also a warning that we who eat and drink of his Body and Blood at this altar every Sunday must not rest or become complacent, lukewarm or presumptuous.
We must never stop loving God and neighbor with a passion. Whatever we do in life, we must do with a passionate love for God and others. Whatever the narrow gate may look like we will pass through it if we love from the heart, love to the point of suffering as Jesus loved. Passionately loving God and neighbor is the narrow gate! Cling to Jesus and follow him! He will get you through.

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C, 2016

Here is my homily for this Sunday. God bless all!

16th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C 2016

16th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C
July 16/17, 2016
Gen 18: 1-10a; Col 1: 24-28; Lk 10: 38-42

How do we discern “the better part”? We want what is good in life. We always want what we perceive to be good, yet how do we know what is truly good, the “better part”, when so many good things are possible?

Which job should I take? Which woman should I marry? Which religion should I practice? Which house should I buy? Which school should I attend? Which doctor should I consult? Which movies should I watch? What food should I eat? How do we discern “the better part” in all of this?

There are many good things, good people, good activities, good jobs, good careers from which to choose. There are many good ideas and opinions, good tastes, sounds, sights and smells. If we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that if they present themselves to us, we want them all, every last one of them! But we find we cannot have all of them, some of them are kept from us. This distracts us, upsets us, frustrates and worries us, and leaves us anxious.
Martha in the Gospel was choosing to do a lot of very good things and was anxious and worried about them all. What were those good things? She welcomed Jesus into her home. She made him comfortable. She provided for his physical needs. She fed him. These are indeed very good things, as any of us would agree. Yet we are told she was anxious and worried, and she became critical of Mary who chose something, someone else. She was distracted from the “better part” which Mary chose.

Jesus said in the Gospel, “There is need for only one thing.” How can this be when there seems to be a need for so many things in life? What did Jesus mean? Why are we so distracted and worried by small matters that seem to demand our attention yet leave us anxious and dissatisfied? Why do we tend to choose the good of today and not the good of eternity?

St. Augustine wrote in his famous Confessions, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” Our hearts are restless until, in other words, they rest in God, who alone is truly good. God is the good, the “better part”. God is a greater good than life itself, we are told in the Scriptures. He ultimately, is the only Good in life. Remember in the Gospel story which we read at Mass sometimes when Jesus said to a man, “Why do you call me “good”? Only God, my Father, is good.” There is need only for God in our lives, in the last analysis. Everyone who has faith, at the moment of death, understands this.

I am convinced most of our disappointments and anxieties in life result from not having discerned well “the better part”. To make that discernment in life, we have to begin with the discipline of faith.

We need faith’s discipline in our lives, don’t we, if we are to discern “the better part”. We have to discipline ourselves to pay attention to, to focus on, the better part of things of daily life. It is in our very nature as humans to choose the better part if we but learn to recognize it. God is our teacher. He is our better part. We always will choose what we think to be the good, but so often what we choose are smaller, lesser goods because we have not disciplined ourselves, trained ourselves, to recognize the greater good and choose it over smaller, passing goods that only temporarily satisfy. What teaches us such needed discipline? God is our teacher. He will show us the better part in all things if we listen to him. We must put aside our worries and anxieties and stay focused on God,to be in a relationship with God, to gaze upon him in prayer every day, like Mary did. God knows this, so he gives us a tremendous gift, the gift of faith. When we accept this gift, a gift we do not deserve but is pure grace, we become able to see God’s presence in our lives and in our world. We no longer remain blind to “the better part”, to the greater good. The gift of faith, if we accept it and nurture it, enables our souls to gaze upon the presence of God, like Mary was able to do in the Gospel today. God is always present, teaching us “the better part” of life. The gift of faith sharpens our focus, disciplines our choices, clarifies our knowledge so we come to know that which is truly good in life and to choose it. It enables us to know God and the better course of action to take in life. Choices made from the eyes of faith are always choices for the “better part” because they are choices made for God and as God would have us choose, as God sees things and as he would want.

Our hearts are indeed restless until they rest in God, until what we choose in life is in accord with God’s design, with his vision for us, until we choose as that which will make us as God would have us be.

Without the eyes of faith, without gazing upon God presence all around us, we will be left to the ups and downs of things that seem good at the moment, but pass away quickly and leave us anxious and worried, restless for something or someone better, something only God can provide us, someone only God can be for us.

Look and see with the eyes of faith! God is all around you, always! He wants the best for you. He wants you to choose the better part. He wants you to choose him and his plan for your life. You have only to look and listen with the eyes and ears of faith, like Mary did. Once you have come to know God, you cannot help but love him and choose him, for he is the better part of life, the greatest of all goods, the true desire of your souls.

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C, 2016

Here is my homily for this weekend. God bless you all!

12th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C
June 18/19, 2016
Zech 12: 10-11; 13:1; Gal 3: 26-29; Lk 9: 18-24

To whom do you turn when you are thirsting for peace and unity?

The world is a troubled world. There is so little peace in the world, much violence, war, death. We all recall with sadness the ISIS shootings in Orlando this week. The world promises peace but seems to deliver the opposite. It says it desires peace and unity, but seems to bring division and war. Indeed, many have lost their faith in a merciful God because of this.

To whom can we turn in our thirst for peace and unity? To whom can we turn when those we have trusted have failed to deliver and seem unable to provide us the peace we need? Or should we just give up our faith and live without hope of things getting better?

What is it that will ultimately unite us all? Only love, God’s love! The love of God the Father. Not simply human affection or fondness, for these are

very fragile and do not long unite; no, it is the Father’s love that over and over again offers us mercy and forgiveness, and asks us to have faith in his mercy. Jesus tells us that we have a common Father who loves us. Indeed, the Father’s love keeps us alive, our hearts beating. We are told by Jesus himself that the Father’s heart is so sensitive and loving that He knows our every moment, our every experience, our every setback and defeat, success and challenge. The Father’s heart is revealed in the heart of his Son Jesus, whose Sacred Heart was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins. The Sacred Heart of Jesus reveals to us the heart of our common Father who alone will unite us and give us peace. The heart of Jesus is the heart of the Father who pours out on us his infinite love and mercy.

The heart of Jesus reveals to us the heart of the Father and it was pierced. Blood and water flowed from the heart of Christ on the Cross, signs of mercy, signs of unity, signs of the Church.
We are told in the Scriptures today that the Spirit of God is released into the world, the love of God is poured out through the piercing of the Heart of the Son. Mercy is given to all, a love that ultimately will unite us and bring us peace.

But we must have faith! We must believe in the Father’s love if we are to recognize God’s merciful heart beating in this world. Without faith, we won’t see it. We must hold fast to our faith.

We all thirst for the same mercy. We all look for the same love. We all have the same Father. We all are offered the same gift of eternal life, the very gift we all so desperately need and for which we thirst.

Do not let your thirst go unsatisfied! Drink from the fountain of mercy. Don’t look for things in this world that may promise satisfaction but only bring more thirst! It is in loving as the Father loves that we will find what we are looking for. It is in being merciful to others that we will find what we are looking for, the mercy and peace we want. Jesus taught us this.

Today is Father’s Day. On Father’s Day, we fathers can ask ourselves whether we have led our families with the Heart of the Merciful Father or not.We who are fathers know both the joys and the sufferings in being the father of children. Do we show our families the Heart of the Father? A heart of mercy and forgiveness, a heart that suffers for our children? Not a heart that offers false hope by excusing the wrong, but rather a heart that forgives the wrong, a heart that brings not division but unity and peace within our families?

The vocation of fatherhood is indeed a noble one, for we are to be men who know mercy and then give it to our wives and children, men who have come to know the love of the Father and can show it in the way we love our families.

Every father is also a son. We can only show a father’s love if we ourselves have seen it in our own fathers. For those of us who had an absent father, or a father whose heart was cold and hard, we have to all the more turn to our heavenly Father and see there what we have always needed and sought so we can imitate it and share it with our children.

What will ultimately unite us? What will bring about peace in our troubled violent world? In the end, only one thing: the loving merciful Heart of the Father revealed to us in the Sacred Heart of Jesus his Son. God’s love will unite us and bring us peace. The sooner we learn this, the faster we will be at peace and in unity with each other. But to see such love in our world, to recognize the mercy of the Father, we must believe, for faith opens our eyes to see the very Heart of God.

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for Trinity Sunday, 2016

Here is my homily for the weekend. God bless all!

Trinity Sunday – Cycle C
May 21/22, 2016
Prov 8: 22-31; Rm 5: 1-5; Jn 16: 12-15

I was up early this morning, drinking my coffee and saying my morning prayers, and it occurred to me that we are a very curious people, we human beings. One of the first, if not the first question, children ask is, “Why?” Why this, why that. We humans really want to understand, to know things, how they are and how they work. The older we get, the more we usually end up appreciating something, though, i.e., that life is not a problem that needs to be solved; rather, it is a mystery to be lived and embraced.

Today, we celebrate the ultimate mystery in many ways. For two thousand years, we have been trying to put words to the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, but we will never be able to adequately describe Him: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, three persons, one divine being yet three distinct persons who act in our world and in our lives — that is what “person” means, really, i.e, one who can act and live — all three persons in unity, never in disagreement or conflict, distinct in action yet perfectly one in being, no defect, no imbalance, no diminishment, complete love, not three gods but one God who is all powerful, always present everywhere, all knowing, one God. This is the great revelation of Christianity.

The Gospel today describes the Trinity, three persons acting in unity as one God. It may be difficult to recognize at first but Jesus does describe it. He said, “The Spirit hears what the Son speaks, who only speaks what he has heard from the Father, and the Spirit gives witness to this relationship between Father and Son as God himself.”

Jesus describes this relationship of Father, Son, and Spirit, a relationship in which they speak and listen and are heard as one. A relationship in which they speak to each other the truth in love. Jesus said, “The Spirit of truth will guide you to all truth.” The Trinity is a relationship of love between Father, Son, and Spirit, a relationship that is completely holy and pure, begotten of the truth and from pure love.

Remember the scene in our Lord’s passion when Jesus tells Pilate that he has come to testify to the truth? Like Pilate, we are tempted to ask, “What is truth?” Pilate rejected and condemned the Truth because he condemned and rejected God who was standing right in front of him in the person of Jesus. God alone is truth and the source of all that is true. So the question isn’t so much “What is truth?” but rather, “Who is Truth?”

We know, don’t we, as God’s people and sheep of the flock of Christ that God is Truth. The Father is the source of all truth, and Jesus is the expression and revelation of the truth, and the Holy Spirit gives witness to this and teaches us the truth who he has witnessed in the Father and the Son. The Holy Trinity is the Truth the world needs to know! The Holy Spirit guides us to this Truth, and God asks us to become one with him in his life and his truth!

St. Paul says in the second Reading, “The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” God has been given to us! God has brought us into his life and love. We are caught up in a certain sense in the mystery of the Holy Trinity.

When we are baptized, God gives us his life. The grace of God is poured into us in immeasurable ways. We become new creatures, we are told, radically changed into God’s image and likeness. We become like God in our baptisms, pure and holy, and we lose that purity only when we sin and refuse to ask for forgiveness and mercy.

Every human being was given a chance to share in God’s life and love because Mary said “Yes” to the angel, and Jesus was conceived in the womb of Mary, and God assumed our human nature. Jesus did not leave his human nature behind when he ascended into heaven, but rather brought it with him and he now sits at the right hand of the Father. Where Jesus is, we hope to be. Because Jesus took our human nature, all of humanity has a chance to share in the life of the Trinity.

This is the reason for our responsorial psalm today: “You have crowned him with glory and honor even above all of creation, the moon and the stars, the earth and the sea.”

This is why we must go out and teach others about God’s love for them, teach them about Jesus and his Church, teach them about baptism and God’s offer of divine life in that sacrament. All of us must teach others the faith and the mystery of the Trinity. We must love each other because we share in the life of the Trinity. Just as the Father love the Son, and the Son loves the Father, and their love is so perfectly pure that the Spirit is present, so too we are called to love each other with a love that comes from God given to us and to be shared with each other. That is why we must respect the elderly, the disabled, the foreigner, the immigrant, and the unborn, because God’s life is to be shared and honored in each other. That is why St. John would say, “You cannot say you love God if you hate your neighbor.” When we love others, we worship God.

The Holy Trinity is not only “out there” wrapped in mystery in the heavens (although indeed he is all of that and more), but he is right here. The Trinity touches our lives right here and now each and every time we listen, love and respect each other. The great mystery of Father, Son, and Spirit breaks into our world when we worship God, in the sacraments, in prayer, and serve our families and communities, in other words, when we love from the heart.

We indeed share in the mysterious life of the Trinity. We share in God’s life. The great mystery of the Trinity lives in you!

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