Deacon Bob’s Homily for 4th Sunday in Lent, 2020

Although public Masses are now cancelled in our diocese, and I will not be delivering this homily in person to the congregations, I do want to offer it to all who may wish to read it via this weblog.

May God bless each of you during this time of uncertainty.

4th Sunday of Lent, Cycle A

March 21/22, 2020

1 Sam 16: 1b, 6-7, 10-13a; Eph 5: 8-14; John 9: 1-41

 

Today’s question is: With Jesus’ help, what might I want to change in my life? How can I begin to see more clearly?

A man was born blind, we are told in the Gospel this morning. If you read the long version of the Gospel passage, you would hear how this man was unexpectedly healed of his blindness by Jesus, and how he gradually regained his spiritual sight also. Gradually….. At first only knowing Jesus’ name, then with the passage of time, he recognized him as a prophet, and then with the passage of more time he saw Jesus as the Messiah and Lord. It is a wonderful story of going from blindness to sight, from darkness to light, from confusion to spiritual clarity.

I would like us to reflect on three other people who have undergone, or are undergoing the same journey from darkness to light, from blindness to sight.

The first is Helen Keller. She was born in the late 19th century. She was born both blind and deaf and because of that, she was angry, confuse, isolated, and rebellious. Uncontrollable in many ways. But Helen, with the help of a tutor, began to see clearly. No, she was never able to see with her physical eyes, but she began to see with her heart. She began to see the world, know the world in which she lived, its beauty and wonder. She began to see even though she never gained physical sight. Helen went from confusion, anger, rebellion and isolation to inner calm, peace, clarity, and relationship with others. The process for her was gradual. It took time.

The second person is Oskar Schindler. Perhaps many of you have heard of him. Oskar was a German entrepreneur during the Second World War. He was a businessman, and a shrewd operator. He loved money, drink, women, and fancy things. He was rich, and he was a Nazi party member. He bought Jews during the war to work in his armament factories as slave laborers. He was very much blind in so many ways, blinded by the evil of Nazism and all it represented. But something began to happen inside him as the war continued. From the darkness of Nazism and anti- Semitism, he began to recognize the dignity of humanity in a sea of inhumanity. He began to recognize the value of every human life in a society in which human life was cheapened and devalued. Oskar Schindler began to regain his sight through the eyes of faith. In the end, he began rescuing Jews from extermination by getting them into his factories and encouraging them to practice their Jewish faith. In the end, he felt great remorse for his life of selfishness and what he perceived to be his failure to rescue more Jewish men and women.

The third person is you. You too are to move from darkness into light; from blindness to sight. I am reminded of what Pope Francis once wrote:

How many times have we felt the need to effect a change which would involve our entire person? How often do we say to ourselves: “I need to change, I can’t continue this way. My life on this path will not bear fruit. I will not be happy.” How often these thoughts come, and Jesus, who is near us, extends his hand and says, “Come, come to me. I’ll do the work; I’ll change your heart. I’ll change your life, I will make you happy.” All we have to do is open the door wide, and he will do the rest. He does everything, but we must open our heart wide so that he can heal us and make us go forward. I assure you that you will be much happier.

For most of us, change comes slowly, especially if we are creatures of habit, which we all are. It takes time and effort to be transformed, to better ourselves. To go from being a couch potato to an ultra marathon runner will take at least 2 years of concentrated daily effort. To play the piano well takes years of practice. To lose 30 pounds and keep it off happens over time and a change of lifestyle. The same is true for us in the spiritual life.

Yet, change we must – Each of us, no exceptions! We all must become who God created us to be, and none of us has yet fully matured. We still are blind in some ways. However much time we have on earth is time God has given us to change, mature, and grow.

We must “take no part in the fruitless works of darkness” and “live as children of light” as St. Paul writes.

We must move from seeing and understanding things from a merely natural, human point of view, to seeing as God sees by “looking into the heart” as God told Samuel. From seeing with our eyes to seeing with our hearts.

We must be washed, anointed in the waters of baptism and recipients of the other sacraments of the Church so we may begin to see with the eyes of faith and no longer be blinded by our sins, like the man born blind in the Gospel account today.

All this, for most of us, takes a lot of time, a lifetime actually. What is important is our desire to change, and our fidelity to God. Desire and fidelity bring about the change. Desire to resist sin and Satan, and to cling to Jesus, will bring us out of darkness, blindness, and into the light of grace.

As Pope Francis said, open wide your hearts to Jesus. Jesus will work great things through you if you are truly open to him. Jesus worked great things in the lives of Helen Keller, Oskar Schindler, and the man born blind in the Gospel; he will work great things in your life also. Open your hearts. Know Jesus. He will heal you and you will experience peace and happiness.

 

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for First Sunday of Lent, Cycle A

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

First Sunday of Lent, Cycle A

February 29- March 1, 2020

Gn 2: 7-9; 3: 1-7; Rom 5: 12-19; Mt 4: 1-11

 

I have often said that Lent is my favorite season of the Church year. It is a time of change, new ways of living, a time of great hope, because we know the end of the story, so to speak, we know how it all comes to a conclusion, how the more somber days of Lent are transformed into the stunningly brilliant days of Easter.

Darkness into Light

Old into New

Slavery into Freedom

Temptations into Victories

Sin into Holiness

Death into Life

The Crucifixion into the Resurrection

Yes, we must embrace Lent fully, not shy away from it, not ignore it, not neglect it, because the only way to Easter joy is through Lent. The only way to maturity in Christ is through Lenten adolescence, Lenten youth. Yes, we mature in Lent if we embrace and practice Lent. Without it, we remain mere children, adolescents at best.

There is a sure way to maturity in our spiritual lives. The Church has always taught this. The saints have always lived this. Jesus himself commanded this. The way to spiritual maturity is the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

What is prayer, if not loving God and spending time with him? Prayer is loving God. If you love God, you are praying. If you do not love God, the way to start loving him is to choose to pray. Pray like you believe even if you struggle to believe. If you aren’t sure about God, then say to him, “If you are real, move my heart a little. Let me love a little more.” If you do believe, then enjoy spending more time with God this Lent and rest in his presence. Say anything to him. Go deep somedays; keep it superficial on other days, but love him regardless and be with the one you love.

What is fasting if not becoming aware of how much we need God, how much we depend on him, how weak we are without him or away from him. One of the great heresies in the world today is a heresy that has been around for over 1500 years. It is the heresy that I don’t need God’s grace, I can make in on my own efforts if I only do the right things and work hard enough at it. We all fall into this error at times. We live as is we are God. We think like we are God. “If only I was more disciplined. If only I prayed more prayers. If only I did more severe penances, I would get to heaven.” All these things – prayers, discipline, penance and the like – are good and necessary in this life, but they alone don’t get us to heaven. Only God’s mercy and grace, and our cooperation with his grace and mercy, will get us home. So when we fast, when we eat simple meals, abstain from meat, refrain from habits we have developed, we come face to face with our weaknesses, our frailties, and we are filled with the awareness that we need God and that he is always with us.

What is almsgiving if not treating others like we ought treat God? In almsgiving, whether it is giving money to the poor, or repaying a just debt, or giving food to the food shelf, or visiting the sick, or sharing our time and talent with our parish family, we are only dong what simple justice would dictate, i.e., to give others what is their due out of love and need, to see in the face of a particular preson the presence of God whom we have first loved in prayer, and to whom we have attached ourselves in fasting.

Do you want the darkness in your life to become light?

Do you want to be renewed?

Do you want to be really and truly free?

Do you want to be fulfilled and have new life?

When you die, do you want to live in eternal happiness?

Then, embrace Lent this year. Grow into spiritual maturity. Pray and love God. Fast from whatever keeps you proud or self-sufficient in the spiritual life. Give to others what is their due out of love for God himself.

Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are the ways to spiritual maturity. They are the traditional practices of Lent.

May God bless each of you abundantly this Lent.

 

 

 

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

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

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

February 1/2, 2020

Malachi 3:1-4; Heb 2:14-18; Luke 2:22-40

 

Two weeks ago, John the Baptist cried out, “Look, there he is! I see him now!” Last week, the prophet called Jesus the Light that has come into the world.This week, Simeon proclaims, “My eyes have seen our salvation… a light of revelation and glory!”

What did the Baptist, and Isaiah, and Simeon have in common?

It was faith.

Imagine the scene. A very nondescript family enters a busy temple filled with a lot of people. Lots of parents bringing their first born sons into the temple that day to perform the required ritual. To almost everyone, they are just a poor family like hundreds of others, but all of a sudden, Simeon, an old man whose physical eyes were no doubt growing dim due to age, bursts out and exclaims, “There he is! The light to the nations. The holy one of God!”

In what was a very ordinary day, Simeon saw something others did not see, except the prophetess Anna, we are told. He saw the presence of God in the face of a child; he saw a light revealed to all peoples, given to all men and women.

On a physical level, we don’t know light, recognize light, unless we have eyes to see. A completely blind man from birth only knows light by way of description, i.e., by attempts others make to describe it to him. He cannot see it himself. He has to use his powers of estimation, imagination, and speculation to try to know light. He can only have a very rudimentary understanding.

A man with eyes that can see, eyes that are healthy, sees light directly.

We don’t really know or recognize Jesus — who is the light come into the world — unless we have faith-eyes. Faith is our spiritual eyes. Faith-eyes apprehend God, see Him, and recognize Him, even in the small and insignificant events of life. A person with faith-eyes is never bored. How could he be if he sees God’s presence wherever he turns? God is too beautiful and interesting to bore someone.

Faith-eyes are illuminated by the presence of God. Faith is like a beam of light which allows us to recognize God. “Look! There he is!”

Do you see Him? Do you have eyes of faith?

Do you see God in the face of a child? Do you see God in the face of a poor man? Do you see God’s presence when you look at yourself in the mirror?

If only we would see him with our faith-eyes. How differently we would treat each other and ourselves.

For me, few things frighten me more than the thought of going blind. It frankly terrifies me to think of not being able to see. I have no real reason to fear this because my eyes are pretty healthy, I am told. Yet, if I let myself think about blindness, I almost panic.

Without the light of the sun, or my house lamps, I’d be lost in a world of darkness and anxiety.

So, I ask myself, “If I fear so much losing my physical sight, losing the light of this world, why do I seem less frightened of losing my spiritual sight? Why do I seem less frightened about losing my ability to see God, who comes into my life and the world as a brilliant Light?

It takes God to know God. Faith is God’s gift; only he can give it. God reveals himself and we don’t reveal him to ourselves. It’s all about God in the end. It’s all God’s gift, and he is not stingy with his gifts. He lavishes his gifts on us, especially the gift of faith. He is a light to all the nations, not just for a few special ones.

The gift of faith-eyes is ours, if we accept it. It’s already been given. Will we accept the gift of faith so we will recognize him, be enlightened by him, know him?

This gift, the ability to see and know light, to recognize the difference between light and darkness, is given to all, the large and the small, the young and the old, the rich and the poor, men and women, the healthy and the ill. God gives faith so we may never be alone, so we can always be with him, always able to see him in whatever circumstance of our lives, to see him in the kitchen, the garage, the farm, the office, the job site, and in the classroom.

Many people today cannot see any difference anymore between spiritual light and darkness. They cannot distinguish between God, who is Light, and the world which they see to be dark. “Where is he?” they protest. This is one reason why it is so important that we take care of our faith, that we nurture it, and attend to it. For we need never to be alone. We never need to be in the dark. With our faith, we can see the presence of God, the light of the world, in all our lives. May God be praised!

 

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for 4th Sunday of Advent

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

4th Sunday of Advent, Cycle A

December 21/22, 20219

Micah 5: 1-4a; Heb 10: 5-190; Luke 1: 39-45

 

I hope we all listened carefully to these Scripture readings today, especially the first reading from the prophet Micah in which we hear described our Lord and God who is coming, and the Gospel from Luke where we hear of how Mary responded to God. If we did, then I think we need to ask ourselves some questions.

“Is this the God we want to come into our lives? Is this the God who we will take into our lives and then into the world? Is this the God we will bring to people who ache for him, but do not recognize him in their lives?”

God is beautiful, is he not? He promises so many beautiful things, does he not? It is so easy for us to say, “Yes! Come Lord Jesus into my life and into the world! Maranatha!” But, are we really prepared to say these things? We need to be careful and hones lest we speak these words without preparation and without prayer. As all the saints will attest, to welcome the coming of the Lord into our lives and into the world requires we be purified and ready.

So, the question is, are we willing to be sufficiently purified and emptied of all that would place an obstacle in his path? Are we willing to empty ourselves of sin and things of this world that keep us from God? Or will we fall back into lives of distraction, isolation, and loneliness which are breeding grounds of sin and keep us from God and each other. Too many of us are lonely, isolated, and distracted from God!

We must remain alert, attentive, and receptive to God’s coming among us. We must be purified of our distractions, our sin, and especially our loneliness.  We cannot be who we are meant to be if we remain isolated from God and each other. We must be purified! We must be willing to let go, to shed all that hinders us and keeps us isolated and lonely. We must be purified, emptied, forgiven, and vulnerable to the coming of God.

Advent, then, is not only a time of anticipation of the coming of the Lord as the Child of Bethlehem, but it is also a time to suffer the emptiness that must be ours if we are to be filled with the Lord at his coming. We must prepare a place for him in our hearts and in our world.

Let us strip ourselves of all that would distract us from his coming. Most of all let us get rid of the loneliness which we have allowed to take root in our lives. We need to be with him. We must allow for a relationship with the Lord who comes. We must pray. We must seek forgiveness. We must also allow for relationship with each other and we must take the risk of relationship with those in need of God’s presence.

We cannot lapse into a lonely self-concern that separates us from God and each other. There are too many lonely hurting people out there. What did Mary do after the Lord came to her? She went out to her cousin Elizabeth to announce the coming of the Lord, to enter more deeply into relationship with Elizabeth, to bring God’s Son, in her very womb, to someone else, to, as we are told later in Luke, magnify and praise God.

We are sons and daughters of God! And so we must remain attentive to God who fills us with his presence, who comes to be one with us, who sends us out to so many others who are lonely and isolated, to bring them the joy of the Gospel, as our Holy Father says.

Yes, we must be attentive, alert and in relationship with the Lord, who has come, is coming and will come again into our lives and into our world. We must be filled with the coming of Christ into our lives, filled after first emptying ourselves of sin and loneliness. Filled with the Word of God, and then going out to people to share what we have been given.

I repeat. We are sons and daughters of God! Let us always be attentive and filled with God’s love and grace.

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

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

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time- Cycle C

Nov. 16/17, 2019

Malachi 3: 19-20a; 2Thes 3: 7-12; Luke 21: 5-19

 

About 9 years ago, a young woman ran into her local church to tell the priest who had married her and her husband that she was going to have a baby. She asked the priest to bless her and her unborn child. He did. This perhaps was the last act of his life and hers, for moments later, a gunman stormed into the Cathedral of Our Lady of Salvation in Iraq and murdered the priest, the woman and her unborn child, and in the end, over 50 Iraqis simply because they were Catholics.

Life can be fragile. Its unfolding uncertain. Jesus says no less than two times in the Gospel today that his followers will be persecuted for believing in him, and some will be put to death.

He tells us to persevere. He tells us that all sorts of attention-getting things are going to happen to us: there will be plagues and wars; there will be famines; we will be hauled into courts and made fun of because of our faith. But none of these things, as difficult as they may be, are of any lasting importance, for he will provide us with whatever words and resources we need to deal with them and he will never abandon us.

Jesus says that the uncertainties, the tragedies, the persecutions we may experience in our lives are not to be feared; rather, they are opportunities for us to “give witness” to what?  To testify to our love for God and his love for us. We are not to live in fear, but simply and patiently go about each day with all it uncertainties living God’s law of love and trusting his love for us; that is what is important.

Yes, life’s unfolding is uncertain, but death’s reality is not. The uncertainties of life often overwhelm us with fear and anxiety, but the certainty of death can bring us peace when faced with faith. In both, i.e., the uncertainty of life events and the certainty of death, we have the opportunity to proclaim our faith.

Jesus does not tell us how our lives will play out, nor does he tell us what hour we will die. It is not for us to know, or to decide. It is a mystery God will reveal in his own time, a time he has known for all eternity. Jesus does not tell us when the world as we know it will end. Only the Father knows.

We must live with uncertainty of life and the certainty of death, and we must die in faith, adhering to Jesus Christ, baptized into his death and resurrection, and in a graced relationship with him at the moment of our deaths, so we can rise to the certainty of heaven.

Our faith teaches us that there are “Four Last Things”: death, judgment, heaven and hell.

We all will die a physical death. This is our common experience.

We all will experience a “particular judgment” at the moment of our death when it will be abundantly obvious to us what we have chosen for our ultimate destination based on how we have chosen to live our lives.

We all will experience a “general judgment” at the end of time when Jesus returns in glory and our bodies will be reunited with our souls.

But the real question is where are we headed? What will be our ultimate destination? Are we moving in the right direction? Will we be with God for all eternity in heaven, or will we be separated from him in hell? The choice is ours. We have the freedom to choose.

I must admit I can get rather anxious about when, where, and how death will come to me. Will it be by disease, accident, old age, or will I die as a martyr for the faith?

But the certainty of death, or even the end of the world, does not much concern me because I believe in the presence of God, and in the resurrection to new life. I believe in life after death. I believe that Jesus Christ has conquered death; that he has made death a portal through which we must pass into eternal happiness. I believe it with all my heart and soul, and I believe it because Jesus has taught it, and I find Jesus to be credible and convincing.

May God bless all of you!

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for All Souls Day

Here is my homily for All Souls Day. May God grant them eternal rest.

Commemoration of All Souls       

November 2, 2019

We struggle with the mystery of life and death at times like today, when we remember those who are deeply loved by us who have suffered and died and now await in purgatory their entrance into eternal glory. We struggle to understand; we ask “Why? Why does a good man or woman die? Why purgatory for so many? Does not God care? Why the pain of such loss?”

Without our faith, we can easily conclude that it is all just terribly unfair, that death has had the last word after all and is the final destination for everyone. Yet, that is not the Christian message. What is?

Perhaps we can recall that:

God is Love. The apostle John tells us this.

God’s mercy is infinite. The apostle Paul teaches us this.

God wants all men and women to be perfect like him in eternal glory. Jesus himself told us this.

We cannot change who God is, or what he wills for us. He is faithful. He remains true to himself and to his promise of eternal life for all who accept him. Life is given by God, and will remain with us forever.

The gift of life, once given by God, is not taken back. God is not the author of death. He transforms death into life. Indeed, though life may seem snatched from our very midst, taken from us and taken from those we love, we believe that the mortality of human flesh is only a veil, a portal, through which we must pass. Death, with all its imperfections, is only the onset and promise of renewed life in heaven for those whose hearts remain faithful to the Lord’s call, accepting of his grace, and attentive to his presence in the world.

We all long see God face to face. We long to see his beauty, his glory and to be fully embraced by him in heaven. God made us this way. It is our destiny to be with him and perfect like him.  God’s desire to fully embrace us in love is so great that he understands that few of us are spiritually perfect at the moment of death, even if we cling to him as best we can. You see, for us to be admitted to heaven, we must depart this world in a state of grace, a state where God’s Spirit in living within us. Without that grace, we will be separated from God in hell. But God’s mercy is such that he provides us the opportunity to reach spiritual perfection after death and before we enter heaven in what we call purgatory where his love and mercy will burn away anything that would keep us from fully seeing him and from the perfect happiness which he promises. Purgatory is an expression of God’s mercy, his love, and his desire that we be with him.

God never takes back his gifts or his call. He does not take our lives for once given, God makes permanent that life which he wills and gives. God’s call and his gifts are irrevocable. Not only irrevocable, but he sustains those gifts, especially the gift of life. He always, without ceasing, holds our lives in his hands, conceiving us over and over again by his will, over and over again saying, “I give you my Spirit. Live in my love. I desire you, I will you to live. I will you into life” over and over again, without ceasing. This is God’s original plan, his ultimate desire for us, i.e., for us to live with him, be in relationship with him, see him. God wills it.

Yes, the imperfections of sin and the deception of Satan undoubtedly have brought sickness and death into our lives and into all of creation. It is a stain on God’s original plan, and this stain’s effects are experienced by each of us, all of humanity, indeed the whole of creation, but God has broken the back of Satan, shattered the chains of death, and destroyed the grip of evil. God says to Satan, “You will never have the last word, for I have given all men and women the freedom to choose, to speak, and to live. They have the last say. I offer them life and happiness and peace. I offer them joy. You, O Satan, offer only darkness, despair, loneliness, selfishness, and separation.”

We struggle with the mystery of life and death at times like today, yet

we know that we live! We know that from nothing we became living breathing human beings. We witness the death of others but we live life and experience it directly. We cannot deny our life, that it exists, that it is ours and we cannot deny others their lives. This is a great temptation in our world today, i.e., to deny someone their life, to take life from them rather than giving and sustaining life in them.

The choice is ours when faced with the mystery. God gives us life and he will not take it from us even when we experience the mortality of hour human flesh in this world.

The people we honor today, I truly hope and believe, chose well, and may God in his mercy bless them abundantly and grant them quick admittance into heaven.

Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

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Deacon Bob’s Homily to Deacons on Retreat

Here is a homily I will give to deacons on retreat. Blessings in abundance on my brothers!

Homily to Diaconate Community

October 26, 2019

Saturday of the 29th week in Ordinary Time

Remain rooted in Christ! Belong to the Father! Dwell in the Holy Spirit! Immerse yourselves in the People of God so that through your presence, in their midst, they might see Him for whom they long!

For the past 13 years, I have been reflecting on the diaconal vocation. What is its foundation? What is its heart? What are its fruits?

I have come to believe that the foundation of the diaconate is gazing on the face of the Father, a Father who utters His Word, His Son Jesus, into our lives. It is an adhering to and loving that Word; it is being purified by that Word, so that our presence might purify others and, free them from all that enslaves them. The foundation of the diaconate is essentially contemplation, i.e., an undisturbed, purified, pre-occupation with the Word of God, who is Jesus, and the words of Jesus, which are the Gospel of which we are heralds.

I have come to believe that the heart of the diaconate is the Eucharist. It is our diakonia at the altar of sacrifice. Yes, the life of a deacon is a life of suffering: suffering the effect the Word has in our lives and the way it burns away all that is unholy, and suffering with the People of God who are in need. The heart of the diaconate is our witness to and service of what Jesus did that day on Golgotha. We are always to be present at the foot of the Cross, like Mary and John, and never absent ourselves from that position. Never run from it. Never avoid it. The heart of the diaconate, therefore, is the Cross, the Mass, the Eucharistic sacrifice. No, we are not the sacrificial victim, nor are we the ones who offer that sacrifice, but we are the ones who herald it, who bear witness to the Paschal Lamb sacrificed for the salvation of the world. We are heralds who say, “Look there! There is the Lamb of God.” We are the ones who are to tell others, “Look for Him at the Eucharist!” We must not avoid the Mass, the Eucharist. We must minister there and we must do so faithfully and with humility. It is our heart, hearts that are wounded beneath the Cross, the Altar of Sacrifice, just like Mary’s heart was pierced. Our hearts are at the Mass, the Eucharist. We are Simon of Cyrenes who bear the cross with Jesus to the place of the sacrifice; Cheek to cheek, step by step to the altar. We accompany the priest to the altar, and we remain there. We too are to accompany others in their cross bearing and bring them to the Eucharist from the peripheries to the center of all that we are about, the source and summit of our lives.

I have come to believe that the fruit of the diaconate is charity. It is unity with humanity in all its needs. The fruit of a well-founded diaconal heart is solidarity with the poor, with those who experience injustice and oppression. The fruit of the diaconate is a re-ordering of human relationships; it is essentially, a healing. Yes, we are to heal as Jesus healed. Deacons are ones who heal. This is why we deacons are so needed and necessary in our diocese for we are in need of healing. Think of Mary. She held the broken body of her Son. The Pieta’. She held the wounds of Jesus; she was that close and that united to her son. Are we that close to the wounds Jesus now bears in the lives of his people in our diocese?  Mary could not have done what she did had she not first contemplated, accepted and nurtured the Word that had come to her, nor can we.

Remain rooted in Christ! Belong to the Father! Be not distracted from the Cross. Be present and be witnesses to the Paschal Lamb. Immerse yourselves in the lives of God’s people. Dwell in the Spirit.

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

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

29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C

October 19/20, 2019

Ex 17: 8-13; 2 Tim 3: 14-4: 2; Lk 18: 1-8

One thing I found out after my ordination to the diaconate was I became a very public person. I lost a lot of my privacy. It seemed to not matter whether a person was aware or not that I had been ordained; more and more people were approaching me about faith matters, and asking me to pray for one of their intentions. Ordination makes you a public servant and an advocate for others before God and men. Now, there is a certain suffering in all this; you have to give away your time and energy. A deacon is ordained to be permanently available to the needs of others, to support them, and advocate for them.

Those of us who are parents also have lost a lot of our privacy within our own homes. We are always available to our children, who so often come to us pleading their cases, needing and wanting our support. Over and over again they come, like the widow in the Gospel, wanting a response.

Every deacon and every good parent does not want to become like the “unjust judge” we hear about in the Gospel, who only grudgingly listens to the widow and her needs.

We can only imagine what life was like for that widow, who day after day made a pest of herself with the unjust judge. She just kept, you might say, praying that her cause would be heard and that a just judgment would be rendered in her favor. She must have been very frustrated at times, but she continued to plead her case. I can well imagine that each night she returned to her home and told her friends and her family about her plight, and they no doubt encouraged her to continue, to keep pleading, to not give up. They probably said they would go with her and give the judge their testimony. They supported her when she grew weary of it all until finally she was heard and an answer given her.

What, then, do we learn from our readings today? First, we must persevere in prayer and never cease praying. Jesus himself said as much in the Gospel, and in the parable of the widow says the same. Second, we are a communion of saints, who support the prayers and legitimate needs of each other. Certainly, God hears every prayer, but as Christians we are a family of believers, a family of prayer, we are, as the catechism says, a communion of saints who can intercede for each other. We can pray with and for each other. We can sustain each other so that, as Jesus says we must, we can “pray without ceasing.” Only with the support of each other can we pray constantly, pray without growing weary. We can ask both the living on earth and the saints in heaven to support our prayers and advocate for us.

Like Moses in our first reading, we need others to support our arms when weary. Like the friends of the widow who strengthened her resolve to persevere, indeed to be a pest, to the unjust judge.

Often, our praying arms can get heavy and tired. We feel alone as we pour ourselves out in prayer to God.

Some say we get tired because we are praying for what we want but not what God wants for us. Perhaps that is often true. I would suggest another reason that may be also true. We may weary praying, maybe even give up praying altogether, because we have tried to go it alone; we have not asked for support from each other; we have not prayed with others. Too often, I fear, we become “Lone Rangers” in our praying.

Just as no one can live totally alone all the time (for we are made for each other and for God and without each other and God we become weak and sick), so too no one can pray in isolation all the time. That is why those who say they have no need to come to Mass on Sunday, who say they find God alone as they walk in the woods or look at the sunset and thus do not need Church, that is why they eventually lose heart, get tired, and quit praying. That is why those who come to Church only for themselves and not to support the prayers and faith of others eventually become empty, disillusioned, and quit coming.

Yes, perhaps if our prayers seem not to be heard, or if we have wearied in our prayers, maybe even stopped praying altogether, it is because we have tried to go it alone, to muscle our prayers to God by our own effort, rather than relying on the support and prayer of others to assist us.

So, when someone asks you to pray with or for them, do it immediately. Do it with them on the spot. When you come to Mass, don’t say to yourself, “What will I get today?” but rather say, “How can I support the prayers and faith of those around me, by singing the hymns, by responding to the prayers with a loud “Amen!” and by asking God to hear the prayers of the person next to me and how can I ask someone this morning to pray for my needs?

“Help my pray! Pray with me. Pray for me. Pray that I not grow weary and stop praying.” We should be saying these to each other frequently.

Yes, lift up the arms of each other in prayer. Ask a fellow parishioner to pray with you and for you. And remember, not only can we ask the living, but we need and can ask the saints in heaven to support us and pray for us, especially our Blessed Mother Mary.

 

 

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C

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

24th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C

September 14/15, 2019

Ex 32: 77-11, 13-14; 1 Tim 1: 12-17; Lk 15: 1-32

 

These are powerful readings today, stories about conversion. Makes me step back and think about life. There are three great conversion stories upon which I would like to reflect with you today.

The first is the conversion of St. Peter. The second is the conversion of St. Paul. The third is the conversion of St. Augustine.

St. Peter was a chosen man. Chosen to lead the Church. Chosen to strengthen the followers of Jesus after Jesus would ascend to the Father. Peter was a fisherman. A big man for his day. Stocky and strong. A man of great passion, even impulsive at times. He no doubt had big thick rough hands from all the fishing he had done. You see, fishing back then was not the fly fishing of today. Instead, he had to row a boat, cast a net, and haul that net aboard with his bare hands. I bet Peter had one of those crushing grips when he shook someone’s hand. Peter was capable of hanging on to something or someone despite the weight. Once he grabbed a hold onto something, he hung on. But Peter let go of Jesus at a time of great need. Peter let go of Jesus when Jesus was being led away to be crucified. He denied the Lord. When Jesus was sinking, Peter let go. This is in contrast to the time when Peter was sinking in the sea and Jesus grabbed him and pulled him up to save him. Peter understood, by experience, the importance of grabbing on and holding on to someone in need. He understood the great sin of letting go of his relationship with Jesus. And he repented of his sin.

St. Paul was a man blinded by his self-righteousness before his conversion. Paul was self-assured. “I am on the right heritage. I follow the laws. I can kill Christians because I am right and they are wrong.” Paul was blind, angry, self-righteous, and a murderer. But Jesus blinded him in a different way. Jesus blinded him by the light of the truth on the way to Damascus. The Bible tells us Paul was literally blinded by his experience of Jesus on the road. Scales formed on his eyes that kept him from seeing. He experienced physically what was truly spiritually. With his baptism, the scales were gone, and he began to see again. Paul began to see that true faith was a gift of a graced relationship with Jesus Christ. He began to see that the laws were meant to keep us in that grace, in that relationship with Jesus. Paul had to repent from worshipping the law to worshipping Jesus. He had to go from blindness to sight. And he did.

St. Augustine was a man of great passion. He was a slave to those passions and his attempts to justify his behavior with what we now would call “New Age Philosophies” but then was called rhetoric and Greek philosophy. Augustine was a man who thought pleasing the body and the senses – things like physical health, vigor, mental learnedness – were the greatest goods of life. He rejected the truths of faith for the so-called truths of the world, and the corruption of the body, just like people do today with the rejection of Christianity and the embrace of spiritualism and philosophy. He had to repent of his slavery to his addictions and vices and embrace freedom in Christ and the pursuit of virtue. And he did.

Peter abandoned his relationship with the Lord.

Paul was blind by his lack of faith.

Augustine was a slave to the world.

In the story of the Prodigal Son which we heard today, we see all three of these sins described. The prodigal son abandoned his father; he was blind to the truth and lacking in faith; and he was a slave to his passions. Like Peter, Paul, and Augustine, he too was converted and repented.

Where is our need for conversion in our own lives? How have we abandoned relationship to which we should be faithful, relationships such as marriage, parenthood, and friendships? How have we been blind to the truths of our faith? In other words, who or what is our God? In what ways are we enslaved by things of this world; what are our vices, and where do we need to grow in virtue?

Where is our struggle?

Wherever it is, God is a forgiving Father who runs to us as soon as we turn back. He runs to embrace us.

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time

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

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time- Cycle C

August 17/18, 2019

Jer 38: 4-6, 8-10; Heb 12: 1-4; Lk 12: 49-53

How do we make sense of life? Of all that happens to us? For those of us my age and beyond – we Senior Citizens – how do we make sense of all the things that have happened over the last 60, 70, 80 or more years? For those who we might call middle age adults, how do you make sense of all that is happening in your life? For those among us who are in high school or college, how will you make sense of all that will happen to you? And finally for those who are children, how will you make sense of all that you can imagine life to be, all that you dream about?

Are we going to just sit down and try to think it through, like a philosopher when we are old?

Are we going to turn to those who attract our attention for answers, people like our favorite politician or sports hero, or maybe Oprah or Dr. Phil, when we are in adulthood?

Are we going to just try to fit in with our peer group and do what they do and think like they think when we are in school?

How will we understand all that we heard today in our readings?

Running the race; Setting the earth on fire; Enduring opposition; Struggling against sin; Enduring the cross; Shedding blood; Creating division.

All these are very descriptive phrases, action words, words that are frightening perhaps, certainly challenging. All of them are things that have been or will be our experiences if we go the distance and follow Jesus, embrace Jesus, love Jesus and do what he asks us to do. But, how do we make sense of the struggles, the uncertainties, the divisions, oppositions and crosses we face when we follow him? This brings us to the whole point today, the central part of it all: We must, as St. Paul said in the Letter to the Hebrews, we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. He is the answer.

Keep our eyes fixed on Jesus!

When we are old we must look back on our lives and see Jesus present even in the times of difficulty.

When we are adults and active in the world we must see Jesus in every event, every accomplishment, and every defeat.

When we are young, in school, and preparing for life, we must see our future through the eyes of faith with Jesus in mind.

As children we must know Jesus is our best friend, our greatest hero, someone very close to us always.

Sometimes, the totality of life, from beginning to end, only makes sense if we keep our gaze upon Jesus; all these things we heard about make sense only if we keep our eyes on him.

How do we gaze upon him? How do we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus? Look to the Eucharist.  It is the Eucharist where we can most specially see him. I have often said to people that often life does not seem to make a lot of sense until I am at Mass, the Eucharist. Sometimes only the Eucharist makes sense, as much of a mystery it may be, because the Eucharist is Jesus with his Church. Sometimes a mystery is more understandable than the facts of life, and this is true when it comes to the Eucharist, a great mystery of our faith. But it is here at Mass where we can focus on Jesus, both in the Sacred Scriptures we hear, and in his Body and Blood, his true and real presence among us. It is at Eucharist, where we must come every week, where we both seek understanding and receive it.

Gaze upon Jesus in your private prayer. We must take time every day to look at him in prayer, gaze upon him, accept him, listen to him, and ask him to help us understand.

Fix your eyes upon Jesus by developing periods of silence and quiet in our noisy world, removing the distractions that keep us from seeing him and hearing him; it is in silence that Jesus speaks most clearly.

I have learned one thing and I share it with you: Without the Eucharist, without some form of daily prayer, without looking for quiet times in my day, I get confused and lost. Only Jesus in his Church can make sense of all of life. Only Jesus in the Church clarifies the uncertainties. Jesus is the explanation. Jesus is the reason for all of life. Jesus is the answer to all our questions and concerns. We must keep our eyes fixed on him. We must look and listen.

I would like to conclude my homily by reading to you a part of a homily that Pope St. Paul VI gave in 1970.

The more difficult the assignment, the more my love of God spurs me on. I am bound to proclaim that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Because of him we come to know the God we cannot see. He is the firstborn of all creation; in him all things find their being. Man’s teacher and redeemer, he was born for us, died for us, and for us he rose from the dead.

All things, all history converges in Christ…. He will be the complete fulfillment of our lives and our great happiness for all eternity.

I can never cease to speak of Christ, for he is our truth and our light; he is the way, the truth and the life. He is our bread our source of living water who allays our hunger and satisfies our thirst. He is our shepherd, our leader, our ideal, our comforter and our brother.

He is like us….. he spoke on our behalf; he worked miracles; and he founded a new kingdom: in it the poor are happy; peace is the foundation of a life in common; where the pure in heart and those who mourn are uplifted and comforted; the hungry find justice; sinners are forgiven; and all discover that they are brothers.

….. So once again I repeat his name to you Christians and I proclaim to all men: Jesus Christ is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega, Lord of a new universe, the great hidden key to human history and the part we play in it. He is the mediator — the bridge if you will — between heaven and earth. Above all, he is the Son of man, more perfect than any man, being also the Son of God, eternal and infinite. He is the son of Mary his mother on earth, more blessed than any woman. She is also our mother in the spiritual communion of the mystical body.

Remember: it is Jesus Christ I preach day in and day out. HIs name I would see echo and reecho for all time even to the ends of the earth.

AMEN!!

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for the Assumption

Here is my homily for the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary. God bless all!

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

August 15, 2019

Rev 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab; 1Cor 15:20-27; Lk 1: 39-56

Today is a day of great hope for all of us. Yes, hope of future glory. Today is a day that demonstrates for us the road on which we too will walk one day in the future, when, like Jesus who first walked it, and our Blessed Mother who followed him, we will go.

We celebrate Mary being assumed body and soul into heaven where she now shares in God’s glory.

Indeed, where Mary has gone, we will follow, for where Mary has gone, her son Jesus went before her, and she beckons us to follow her son into his glory.

Mary went body and soul into heaven at the end of her life here on earth. This is what the Assumption means and this was the belief of all Christians from the earliest times, and taught by the Church definitively in more recent centuries. Because of her intimate bond with her son, her fidelity to the Word of God spoken to her at the Annunciation (which we heard proclaimed today in the Gospel) a Word she nurtured with a perfect faith throughout her life, and she never abandoned, a Word that became flesh in her womb, because of her faith and maternal bond with her son, she was assumed into heaven at the end of her earthly life.

This a great hope for all of us! Where Jesus went, Jesus summoned his mother to come after him, and Jesus will summon us also someday, body and soul, into his glory. We will be reunited with him on the last day when Jesus comes again in glory and raises our mortal bodies, reuniting them with our souls for all eternity.

Where Jesus has gone, and Mary has followed, we too will go, but we remain faithful to Him. Mary will show us the way, if we ask her to help us with her prayers.

This is our hope, a hope realized already in Mary’s Assumption. A hope that will be realized in us if we remain faithful as Mary was faithful; if we say “Yes!” as Mary said “Yes” to the Word the archangel Gabriel that day brought to her. Just as Mary was one with her son, so too we will become one with Jesus some day if we accept God’s Word and stay close to him always.

Mary had such great faith in the Word, such great love for the Word made flesh, her Son Jesus Christ, and such great hope that she was, one might say, perfectly united to him in his death, resurrection, and ascension. In other words, she never left her son; she never abandoned him; she stayed with him through it all. She followed him on the road to Golgotha the day he died, stood by him as he hung upon the Cross, embraced him when he died and was placed in her arms, she laid him in the tomb, shared the joy of his resurrection, and followed him into heaven by her own Assumption. Mary accompanied Jesus all the way into eternity. What she has done, where she has gone, we must follow, for it is the way of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Lord and Savior.

Today is a day of great hope for all of us; hope of future glory. A day that shows us the road on which we must walk; the reunion we will experience, a reunion of our bodies and souls someday, and our reunion with God the Father at the end of time.

Do you love Jesus enough to go where he has gone? Mary followed him with all her heart.

Do you love Jesus enough to believe in him? Mary believed in the Word spoken to her.

Do you see in Mary’s Assumption a reflection of God’s love for you and his desire that you become whole, body and soul, and perfectly united to him for all eternity?

Ultimately, it is all about following the Lord, sharing in his life, believing in him, and seeing in Mary a model for us to imitate, and an intercessor for us before God’s throne.

 

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

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

16th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C

July 20/21, 2019

Gen 18: 1-10a; Col 1: 24-28; Lk 10: 38-42

In our first reading today we hear of how three strangers approached Abraham in the desert, and how Abraham did what was expected of men in that culture; he provided for the strangers’ comfort. He fed them, gave them rest, and welcomed them into his home. For his hospitality, he was rewarded with the promise of a son. Then we jump ahead almost 2000 years and hear of another unanticipated guest arriving at the home of Martha and Mary: Jesus. It was the obligation of women in that culture me welcome guests, feed them, provide for their bathing, and other aspects of hospitality. Both Martha and Mary no doubt understood this well, and Martha set about doing just that. Mary, though, chose something unexpected. She broke custom, and listened and looked at Jesus with attention. Martha couldn’t understand why Mary would do this, and she was anxious and complained to Jesus. What did Jesus say? Mary had chosen the “better part” and it would not be taken from her.

The question is, “How do we know the ‘better part’ in our lives?

We always want what is good, yet how do we know what is truly good, the better part, when so many good things seem possible?

Every day we are faced with that question. Sometimes it is with the big decisions of life like which job should I take, which woman should I marry, which religion should I practice, or which house should I buy? Most of the time it is with little decisions of daily life: How should I spend my time today; what movie should I watch; what food should I prepare? How do we discern “the better part” in all of this?

There are many good things, good people, good activities, good jobs, and good careers from which to choose. There are many good ideas and opinions about a lot of things. If we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that we want them all good things, every last one of them, but we cannot have all of them because some of them are kept from us. This can distract and upset us, frustrate and worry us, and leave us anxious.

Martha in the Gospel chose to do a lot of very 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. She did for Jesus what we heard Abraham did for those three men who came to him. Abraham was quick to offer hospitality to the stranger, as should we to the strangers in our midst today. Martha and Abraham were very much alike. Yet we are told Martha was anxious and worried, and she became critical of Mary who chose something else. Jesus told her: “There is need for only one thing. Mary has chosen it.” What was this one thing?

It was gazing on God with faith.

St. Augustine wrote in his famous Confessions, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” Our hearts are restless until they rest in God. God is the “better part”. He ultimately, is the Good of life. Remember in the Gospel when Jesus said to a man, “Why do you call me good? Only God, my Father, is good.” In the end, God alone is what we will need and desire. Everyone who has faith understands this. Nothing else will satisfy us very long. Our hearts are indeed restless until they rest in God, until what we choose things in our lives that are in accord with God’s design, with his vision for us, until we choose that which will make us as God would have us be.

But we need faith, don’t we, to know the “better part.” Faith means we must be in relationship with God and stay focused on Him, to gaze upon him in prayer every day. The gift of faith will enable our souls to gaze upon the presence of God, like Mary gazed upon Jesus. Faith will sharpen our focus, discipline our choices, and clarify our knowledge so we will in fact come to know God and the better course of action to take in all of life’s decisions. 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 us to take.

Without the eyes of faith, without gazing upon God presence, we will be anxious and worried, restless for something or someone better, for 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! Gaze upon him. He wants the best for you. 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 greatest of all goods, the true desire of your souls.

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for Solemnity of the Holy Trinity

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

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Proverbs 8: 22-31; Romans 5: 1-5; John 16 12-15

June 15/16, 2019

 

We all experience God in some way and we desperately want to understand Him. God has given us the ability to see, hear, smell, taste, touch, remember, and imagine through which we perceive God’s presence. God has given us our minds to ponder Him, to try to understand Him, and He has given us our wills to choose and want Him who is the greatest good in life, and our passions to love Him. Throughout the many centuries of human history, God revealed Himself more and more to humankind and we have gradually grown in our understanding of who God is. Yet, God remains mysterious. Today’s feast of the Holy Trinity is a celebration of the mystery who is God.

With the coming of Jesus and the Holy Spirit into the world, God has shown us that He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; that He is a mystery too deep for us to understand, but a mystery we can know in ways words cannot express. We know God as our Father; we know Him as our brother and Lord Jesus Christ the Son of the Father, and we know Him as the Holy Spirit the fire of love. He is one God, and three Persons. We know Him even if our words are too weak to fully explain Him. God is a perfect and eternal flow of Divine Love, of Divine Charity: Father loving the Son and the Son loving the Father so perfectly that the Holy Spirit, the bond of their Love, is God. The Father loves the Son and the Son goes forth to do the Father’s will in the power of the Holy Spirit, so that we, his people, may enter into God’s love and life.

Yes, God also reveals himself to us in the Church. He shares Himself with each human being He creates, and He calls each of us into the Church. God says, “I want you to know Me. I am here. Listen and look and you will find Me. Look for me within yourselves! Look for me in my Body the Church.” I’ve met God in the depths of my heart, and in the Church. I have met him when alone, and I have met Him in this community of faith, and so have you; we all have met God whether we realize it or not, whether we recognized Him or not. He has been here for us in good times and bad. At every moment we are sustained us by His love. If He were not love, we would cease to exist.

Even though we cannot fully explain Him, we know Him, and have known Him throughout our lives and He wants us to enter more deeply into the mystery and live in love just as He lives as Love.

That is the astounding thing to me. God is a cycle of perfect love. We, mere human beings, are drawn into the love of God Himself. We are drawn up into this flow of Divine Charity which is the Holy Trinity. We are caught up in it, and must remain in it forever. God wants to pull us in to Himself. He is like a strong current in the ocean that we don’t see, but we feel. The ocean current pulls us away from the shore and into the depths of the sea, just as God pulls us from the smallness of this life into the infinite and unknown depths of His life. Yes, we can resist His pull with our sins, exhausting ourselves, but in the end we have to let go of this world and live in the next world for all eternity where we will either experience the rest and peace we all need and want in heaven, or we will painfully feel separation from God’s life. God’s pull on us is strong, stronger that the pull of evil and He made us to want Him. He made us to be vulnerable to Him. He made us to love Him and to be with Him, but He won’t force us into heaven. We must choose.

So, on this Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, may we once again rest in God’s love for us. May we rejoice in the mystery of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

May we not resist Him with our sins, but be swept away by His love.

 

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for 5th Sunday of Easter

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

 

5th Sunday of Easter, Cycle C

Acts 14: 21-27; Rev 21: 1-5a; John 13: 31-33a; 34-35

May 18/19, 2019

 

 

Behold, I make all things new… I give you a new commandment: Love one another.

It is difficult for us in the 21st Century to appreciate how different and new life was for people who became Christian in the early Church. How they thought about life, death, love, family and each other, their work, and the future, all changed after they were baptized, confirmed and received the  Eucharist. Most of them kept their same jobs although some may have changed occupations, especially those in the military, but they dressed the same, spoke the same language, and lived in the same houses, but they thought, understood, and approached each other and the world in a very new and different way. Things had changed. They were very different because they knew that God had changed them, that they were new men and women.

St. Paul wrote during those years about taking off the “old” and putting on the “new.” Even Jesus said that if you put your hand to the plow, there was no turning back. The change would be forever.

The reality is that all of us here today who have been baptized, confirmed and brought into communion with the Church have been made completely new on a spiritual level. Who we once were no longer spiritually exists. We have been made new through the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist. The old is gone forever. We are marked by God as one of his children, a member of the Body of Christ, the Church. We have been reborn to a new life, and this new life is given to us because of Divine Love. God’s love renews us and restores us, and because God’s love has done this for us, he gives us a new commandment to love one another, as he has loved us, so his love, through us, will transform the world.

When I baptize a child, I always tell the parents and godparents that if they could only see with their physical eyes what is happening spiritually to the child in baptism, they would be stunned, and blinded by the beauty of the change. They would be in awe by what God’s love does for the child. Someday, we will see the change in heaven, but now the best we can do is see by faith.

If only we would embrace how new we have become! If only we could see it! The world in which we live and especially our sinful choices in life blind us to the change. Our sinful choices and influence of the world leave us thinking we are no different now than before, that we are not beautiful, that we have little value, that we are not holy, that our membership in the Church means little. Do you ever find   yourself thinking these things: I am not beautiful; I have no value; I am not holy; It makes no difference if I am a member of the Church or not. Do you ever find yourselves thinking those things of others?

If only we could see and accept the newness of life and love that is ours because we have been baptized, confirmed, and made full members of the Body of Christ, the Church, through the love of God! If only we truly believed it! How different we would treat ourselves and each other. Indeed, we would truly love one another and live out the new commandment. The old order would pass away. Tears would be dried and fears eased, as we heard in the second reading.

There is nothing more precious in God’ eyes than you. There is nothing more precious in God’ eyes than the man or woman next to you. There is nothing more precious in God’s eyes than the unborn child in the womb. There is nothing more precious in God’s eyes than the elderly person alone in a care center, or the immigrant, or the man in prison.

Oh…. The dignity that is ours because of our baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and our communion with Christ in the Church. Oh… the dignity that could be for others if we only believe and obey the new commandment to love one another.

Behold, God has made all things new within you. Love one another now, as he has loved us.

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for Divine Mercy Sunday 2019

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

Divine Mercy Sunday 2019

Acts 5: 12-16; Rev 1: 9-11a, 12-13, 17-19; John 20: 19-31

 

I have been asking myself in recent weeks the question, “What is the heart of a parish?” I not only have asked myself, but I have asked parishioners of all ages, and have received various responses. So I ask all of you, “What is the heart of this parish?”

I believe it is the merciful heart of Jesus beating in the Eucharist. It is the Mass at which we witness all that Jesus has done for us in his life, death, and resurrection. The heart of any parish is the resurrected Jesus given to us in the Eucharist. The merciful heart of Jesus beats and gives us life. Jesus is alive! He has risen. Jesus lives!  He has a merciful heart, a living heart, a forgiving heart, and he pours out his mercy into our hearts at each Mass.

The merciful Eucharistic heart of Jesus beats in our midst, among us, within us, and especially at Mass.  We must be connected to this mercy. We must not stay away. We must come to the mercy of God. That is one reason why God has commanded us to keep holy the Sabbath and why we are obliged to come to Mass every Sunday and Holy Day. We need his mercy, and we need to praise and thank him for it.

You too are the heart of this parish if you have a merciful heart. I can say that to the extent that you soak in God’s mercy at the Eucharist and then extend it to each other, you too are the heart of this parish. Your heart must also be open to God’s mercy, and then beat with mercy for others.

Yes, we are called to be merciful. We are called to be like Jesus. We must be merciful to others. We must accept God’s mercy into our own lives in order to show it to others.

Do we accept God’s mercy? Do we allow the merciful heart of Jesus to permeate our lives? Will your heart beat like the heart of Jesus for our husbands, our wives, our children, our parents, our neighbors, our parishioners, yes even to our enemies? Will you be merciful even to those who do not deserve it? If we are to be able to do this, we must be connected to Divine Mercy. Mercy and forgiveness are at the center of what it means to follow Christ. The heart of the moral life is mercy. Mercy trumps justice, for in God’s eyes, they are the same.

Jesus had mercy on the repentant thief. Will we? Jesus told the adulteress, “I do not condemn you, but go and sin no more.”Do we have the same attitude with those who have betrayed our trust? When Peter denied Jesus three times, Jesus didn’t asked, “Why did you do that?” but he asked, “Do you love me?” How are we when someone denies our friendship?

Will we have mercy on the man on death row, or will we exact vengeance? Will we wage war or pursue peace? Will we love those who hate us, or hate in return?

To be merciful to those most difficult to forgive, those most difficult to love, we must have a deep faith and trust in Jesus’ mercy for us.  When we find it difficult to show mercy, we must say, “Jesus, I trust in you! Help me to show mercy to this person.”

Jesus, we trust in you! You are the way. Make ours heart like unto yours.

Posted in homilies | Comments Off on Deacon Bob’s Homily for Divine Mercy Sunday 2019