Deacon Bob’s Homily for 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

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

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

October 13/14, 2018

Wisdom 7:7-11; Hebrews 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30

 

“Why do you call me good? There is only one who is good, God alone.” (Mk 10:18) We all want what is good in life: a good home, good health, a good husband or wife, good children, good food to eat, a good education. God has created us this way, with a strong desire to choose good things and avoid the bad.

In our desire for goodness, we can get caught up in putting lesser goods in front of the greater good. We can fill our lives with what you might call necessary but lesser good things. Jesus reminds us that the ultimate good is God.

Have you ever considered that God loves you so much that he is calling you to live an excellent life, not a mediocre one, not merely following the commandments, but to love with all your heart and mind and soul?

We heard a wonderful story in the Gospel today of the young man who came running up to Jesus, fell to his knees and blurted out, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

It seems he was a very good man who had worked hard in his life and enjoyed the fruits of his labor. He earned what he possessed. He obeyed the commandments. He was an upright man and probably had a good reputation. His life was filled with good things. But he knew he lacked something; he wanted something more, something far more excellent. He was held back in some way that he couldn’t understand.

The man lacked, and Jesus knew it, the freedom to love deeply. He had chosen and obtained many good things. He had made plenty of good choices, but he lacked the freedom to pursue what was most excellent . He was held back by his possessions.

Despite his efforts and good intentions, he was a slave to his possessions. He was unable to pursue what was truly excellent, to freely love God and neighbor.

Notice the Jesus looked at him and “loved” him. Jesus challenged him to become free. Jesus said, “If you seek perfection, go, sell what you have and give to the poor and then follow me.”

What happened? The man couldn’t do it. He couldn’t let go. He lost his focus on Jesus, which he had for a moment, and he went away sad, “for he had many possessions.” He settled for lesser goods when he could have had the greater.

Yes, all of us are called to excellence, to union with God in the love of Jesus Christ. God is looking at you, as he looked at the young man, and he loves you. He is calling you to an excellence that is beyond your imagination. He is asking you to put aside anything that would distract you, hold you back from keeping our focus on him. He wants you to look at him and to consciously orient what you do, what you say, and what you think to the ultimate good in life.

No, we do not have to go and empty our bank accounts, or give away everything. But we do have to ask ourselves what is there that distracts us from God. What is it in our lives that we hold so dear that we would hang on to it rather than to hang on to God’s love. What is so important to us that we cling to it as if it were God himself? What ever that may be, we may need to let it go.

I would offer you a challenge: for just 5 minutes a day, every day, consciously set aside all you possessions, all your distractions, and as completely as you can focus on the greatest of all goods, the real excellence in this world – the love of God in Jesus Christ. For 5 minutes give everything you have to Jesus. See what happens. In time, you will experience a freedom unlike anything you’ve experienced before.

For just 5 minutes a day, every day, pray in that way, love in that way. It will change your life.

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

Here is my homily for the weekend.

24th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B

Isaiah 50: 5-9a; James 2: 14-18; Mark 8: 27-35

September 15/16, 2018

 

Jesus could not be clearer: If we are to be his followers, if we are to become credible witnesses to what he has done for each and all of us by dying and rising from the dead so that we might be with him forever, then we must carry each other’s crosses, just as he carried his cross for us.

No one is exempt from this obligation, especially those who shepherd flocks, and by that I mean we deacons, and priests and bishops of the Church who are to lead, strengthen and protect the flock of Christ, the Church, the Family of God, from all harm.

All of us who are fathers and mothers, shepherds of domestic churches, particular families, are also included.

We must become “cross-carriers,” bearing not only the crosses in our own personal lives, but also the crosses of those for whom we are responsible.

There is no greater love that to lay down one’s life for another. To carry the cross of someone you love so they will live, this is a noble thing, and a great obligation.

Nothing is more noble than to carry the same cross that Jesus carried on the way to Calvary, and Jesus continues to carry that cross whenever one of his people suffers and is in need.

Two thousand years ago, two people carried Christ’s cross: Simon of Cyrene, and our Blessed Mother Mary. They both carried Jesus’ cross, each in their own particular way.

Simon carried a physical, tangible cross. He saw, touched, smelled, and tasted it. Forced into carrying the cross with Jesus, he bore it side by side, cheek to cheek, with Jesus. He walked with Jesus, step by step. He felt the same whip, and labored under the same weight. He accompanied Jesus all the way to Golgotha. Simon of Cyrene bore the wood of the cross and accompanied Jesus so closely he no doubt touched his face. His sweat and blood mingled with the sweat and blood of Jesus.  Are we willing to get that close to someone in need, and carry their cross with them?

Mary’s carried a spiritual and very emotional cross. She, in a profound and intimate way, as only a mother could, experienced her Son’s cross. Mary carried in her Immaculate Heart the cross of her Son, and as we are told, seven swords pierced that heart of hers. Her heart and his were united. Are we willing to care and love someone so much as to feel their pain and know their need, as Mary felt and knew?

Will we, in our lives, bear our physical and spiritual crosses, the crosses of others, crosses that Jesus continues to carry in their lives? Will we be like Simon? Will we like as Mary?

Jesus says we must be.

We must be “cross-carriers” and become the kind of witnesses that are so desperately needed at this time in the Church, now badly wounded by those who were responsible for caring and protecting and guiding her.

We who are fathers know instinctively what cross-carrying means. We are life givers. We are protectors of life, sustainers of life, and guardians of our families. We have an inner sense that alerts us to those who would harm our wives and families. We move against any such threat to them. We safeguard our flocks, our families.

Mothers, you already know what cross-carrying means. You bear life into the world, then hold it, feed it, care for it and nurture it. You suffer when your families suffer. You would gladly substitute your life for any of your family members if you could when they are in danger. You instinctively feel the pain of your children. You know when your husbands are in trouble.

Deacons, priests, and bishops need to begin to learn from us fathers and you mothers what cross-carrying is all about, for you are their families. We must learn to protect and support you much better. We must become more like Simon, more like Mary. We must carry your crosses, not put them on you.

Fathers, continue to carry the crosses of your wives and children, and in doing so be close enough to them to see in their crosses what Simon saw in the cross of Christ.

Mothers, continue to carry the crosses of your husbands and children by keeping your hearts open and loving, even should your hearts be pierced seven times, as was Mary.

Will the clergy of our Church be willing to learn from all of you how to become better “cross-carriers,” how to accompany you, lead you by serving you, and never ever harming you?

I would like to conclude with this prayer:

God our Father, protect us from all harm.

God the Son, walk with us each step of the way.

God the Holy Spirit, inspire us to newness of life and of love.

Triune God, send forth your holy angels to surround us with their care.

Amen.

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

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

 

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

August 18/19, 2018

Proverbs 9: 1-6; Eph 5: 15-20; John 6: 51-58

“The Jews quarreled among themselves saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’”

Yes, we, like they, tend to quarrel among ourselves even as the Lord asks us all to become one with Him in his own flesh and blood, and one with each other as a family of one flesh and blood.

When we quarrel with God, or quarrel with each other, where does it lead us? Those who quarrel with God or their neighbors and bicker and create divisions end up sinning and are left with mere human ideas and perceptions. Divisions lead to narrow-mindedness, minds unable to see the deeper realities, the greater truths. Angry people have tunnel vision and are often blind and foolish.

Our first reading admonishes us to forsake the foolishness of quarrels and divisions and advance in understanding. Our responsorial psalm tells us to “taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” Jesus in the Gospel tells us that if we are to live, we must be one with him in the Eucharist by eating his Body and drinking his blood.

When Jesus told the people of his time to be united to him and each other and told them this is possible because he was the Bread of Life and they could have eternal life if they partook of his Body and Blood, many chose to walk away and quarrel among themselves and remain divided. For them, the Eucharist was a cause of division, not unity. In our world today, this unfortunately remains true too often. There are many divisions among us Christians, too many quarrels. There is too much blindness and foolishness.

Jesus said that whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood remains united to him and to all who worthily eat and drink. It is the Eucharist which will ultimately unite us. It is Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist that even now binds us to God and to each other. It must not divide us.

We must believe this. We must see with the eyes of faith. It is really Jesus himself who calls us. He is really and substantially present in the Eucharist – his Body and his Blood, his soul and his divinity under the appearance of bread and wine.

Reconcile yourselves with me, Jesus says. Reconcile yourselves with each other, he insists. As me for forgiveness and reconciliation and they will be yours. Ask for forgiveness from your brother and sister for any divisions you may have created. Then, come to the Eucharist and receive me.

All of this speaks to the reality of the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist. It speaks of the unity which must be ours if we worthily eat and drink his Body and Blood. It speaks of the need for reconciliation with him and with each other if we approach the altar for Holy Communion. No divisions, no quarrels, no serious sins should exist.

There is great peace and consolation offered to us. A person of peace sees clearly and deeply. “Be still and know that I am God,” says the Lord. “I am really and truly present in the Eucharist,” he says. “Look with the eyes of faith. See beyond what appears as bread and wine and know that it is me. Feed on me.”

Yes, a person of peace, a person reconciled with God and with neighbor, is able to see clearly and understand. He or she is not clouded by sin. A person in conflict and divided from God and others cannot.

Let no divisions exist among us. Let us not quarrel with God or with each other about the Body and Blood of the Lord. Let us not divide the Body of Christ. We must not divide Jesus. We must not separate ourselves from him by our sins.

Let each of us seek forgiveness for our sins, reconciliation with others, and then come and receive our Lord Jesus, really and truly present, in the Eucharist.

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

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

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

Amos 7: 12-15; Eph 1: 3-24; Mk 6: 7-13

July 14/15, 2018

In the Old Testament, once in a great while, God would chose some one specific person and enter into a special relationship with him or her. He would have a special task for them to accomplish. People like Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah and others. Just a few select people, not many. Amos was one of them. Did you catch that sentence in the first reading where Amos says, “The Lord took me from following the flock.”? (Amos 7: 15) Anytime in the Old Testament you read that line, “he took me from following the flock” it is a code phrase that means God took someone and turned him inside out, upside down, and completely reoriented his life, turned him around and made him a new person, changing him to the core, and giving him a new mission for life.

You see, in the Old Testament, there was no baptism. To be chosen was a special gift for the few. But when God sent his Son Jesus into the world, what did Jesus say? He told his disciples to go into the whole world and baptize everyone. Everyone was now chosen, redeemed, and destined for a special relationship with God. All were to be sealed by the Holy Spirit. Jesus told us that his Father wanted to do to everyone what he once did for a select few. What he had once done for a small nation, he now would do for the entire world, and we were to go out and tell the world about this. Everyone was to be baptized. Everyone was to to be “taken from following the flock” and to be turned upside down, inside out, and made a new person, and then tell others what God did for them. Everyone, you and me included, were to be reborn, re-made into God’s children, and all of us were to be given a special calling in life.

St. Paul gives us almost a litany today, if we listen closely to the second reading, litany describing who we have become in Jesus Christ through our baptism.

In his love, you were destined for adoption

In him, you have been redeemed by his blood

In him, you were chosen for his purpose, not our own

In him, you were sealed by the Holy Spirit

Destined, redeemed, chosen, and sealed – all of us who are baptized!

If you have been baptized, you have been taken from “following the flock” and have become a new person. What you once were no longer exists. You are no longer your own person, you belong to God. You are his now. Maybe you were your own person before baptism, but now you are a new creature, no longer merely human, but a child of God. Each of us must tell the world what God has done for us.

Do not say, “I’ve got a flock to follow.” Do not say, “I’ve got other work to do,  a career to develop, a business to tend, problems to solve first, bill that need paying, so I will just practice my faith on Sunday mornings and live the rest of my life the other days.” Say, rather, “God, I am yours. Do with me as you will.”

Yes, we all have jobs to do, problems to solve, and things to care for an about. We all have obligations we must meet, but we must never forget that we have been destined, redeemed, chosen, and sealed by God himself through our baptisms, and we must tell the world what has happened to our lives.

The Christian life is a difficult life. That cannot be denied. It is not just about trying to be a good person or just doing our best. It is about being someone recreated by God’s grace, his grace which enables us to do great things in accord with his will. We can do extraordinary things because of God’s grace. Even heroic things. It is difficult to be a Christian just as it was difficult to be a prophet in the time of Amos. We are always tempted to just “follow the flock.” Difficult as it may be, anyone who has live the Christian life well will always say, it is a life filled with joy.

You have been chosen, redeemed, and sealed. Embrace the Christian way of life. Tell others what God has done for you and wants to do for them, indeed, the whole world.

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B Father’s Day 2018

Here is my homily for the weekend. Happy Father’s Day to all you guys!

 

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

June 16/18, 2018

Ez 17: 22-24; 2 Cor 5: 6-10; Mk 4: 26-34

 

Today is Father’s Day, and I would imagine that nearly all the men present here are fathers, so I would like to speak to them all. Hopefully, what I say will also be of benefit to all the women and children.

Men, do you remember your son or daughter newly born? Of course you do. He or she was so small, helpless, and pleading, crying to be fed, to be held, to be warmed and wanted. You held your child in your arms, and at that moment you realized you had given life, the gift of life, and you anticipated fullness of life for your newborn. You prayed that day, over and over again, that your son or daughter would live happily, contentedly, and securely. As the days passed, there was never a time in which you stopped wanting what was good for your child. Deep in your heart, somewhere, you kept thinking, “I want you to live. I love you. I will give you a good life.” Over and over again you wanted that small seed to grow into a majestic tree, as we heard in our readings today. You asked God to bless your child and to help you be a good father, a good giver of gifts.

As the years passed, what happened? You kept giving and giving to your son or daughter. You gave and didn’t take your gifts back. You kept up your efforts. You kept sowing good seed, as the Gospel says, on to the field of your child’s life. You kept sowing, and pruning, and fertilizing the soil. You kept nurturing your son or daughter. You kept loving and sacrificing and giving. You kept giving the gift of your life so your family would live, and you never asked for it back. You knew that one day you would appear before the judgment seat of Christ to render an account of your fatherhood. You did your best.

When your child became a man or a woman, and began and began to reach out to bad fruit in the world, you winced. You hurt for them. You worried. When faced with ingratitude, you felt hurt, but you continued to do what you thought was right, and you held on to that original hope you had for your child the day he or she was born. You continued to hope your son or daughter would experience a full and happy life.

Is not all of this true? You can identify with it, can’t you?

Men, what I have just described is not only our experience as fathers, but it is God’s experience as Father. We are to be the kind of fathers to our children that God is to us. God is Father, and he constantly is fathering us. Never a moment passes when he is not fathering.

Just as we gave the gift of life to our children through our unity with our wives and in cooperation with God’s will, so too God gives life to all his sons and daughters in union with us, and he supports the life he gives. God’s gifts, once given, are irrevocable. He never takes them back. God’s greatest gift is the gift of life, and he will never take that gift from us. He is not the author of death, but he transforms death into eternal life. There is a great temptation in our world today, and it is an attack on fatherhood: to take someone’s life rather than give and sustain it. We fathers, like God, are to give life and sustain it.

God always, without ceasing, holds our lives in his hands, fathering us over and over again, saying “I give you life. I give you my Spirit. I desire you. I will you into life. I will you to live.” Over and over again, without ceasing. This is God’s fatherhood. This is his ultimate desire for us: fullness of life with him in eternity, to see him and know him.

God’s fatherhood is the model for us men to follow. He has written into our very DNA all the natural tools and dispositions. It is natural to be a good father. Not only that, but God has given us supernatural gifts to help our natural ones, especially the sacraments, the Church, our wives, and our friends.

Yes, we see the effects of our mistakes and failures and our sins. We are pained when our children drift away, and we ask “Why?” Without our faith in God’s fatherhood, we could easily conclude it is all just terribly unfair.

Yet, when we first saw our child that day, we experienced not failure or disappointment, but life. We had given the gift of life, a life which would extend into eternity. We knew that day that from nothing our child became a living, breathing human being. We could not deny our child’s life, or our own.

Fathers, defend the life you have given. Defend all human life, as God wills. Defend the life of your family; it is your responsibility. Continue to give life, never taking it. Sustain life, preserve it, and fight for it. Continue to be good fathers!

 

 

 

 

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for Pentecost 2018

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

Pentecost Sunday, Cycle B

Acts 2:1-11; 1Cor 12:3b-7; John 20:19-23

May 19/20, 2018

There are many languages and cultures in our world, many ways of expressing ourselves. There are many people, all unique and irreplaceable. There are many roads on which we can travel, many things we can choose to do, many vocations to which we may be called. This is all very good and pleasing to God.

But we also know that there are many wounds and divisions and sins in the world. There are even divisions in the Church. There is misunderstanding and confusion as to what is true and what is good. People are walking away from the Church and the practice of their faith. This is of great concern and displeasing to God.

On Pentecost, we are reminded that we need not remain divided. We can, rather, rejoice in the goodness of our diversity and embrace our “Catholicism” our universality and diversity as a Church. And we can overcome our sinful divisions because the Father sends us the Holy Spirit to strengthen, unite, and encourage us all.

There is only one faith, one truth for which we all long. There is one Church, the Body of Christ, and the People of God. There is only one Lord, one God. There is only one Holy Spirit who has been poured into our lives bringing forgiveness and peace to our world. In the midst of all the goodness of diversity, and all the evils of division and sin, there is one source of unity – the Holy Spirit, the bond of love who is God. He unites us. He forgives us and heals us. He conquers our fears, dispels our doubts and rejoices in our diversity as a Church.

The Holy Spirit is given to us and he brings unity and clarity and peace and courage. He teaches us the fullness of truth. He lives within us. He has been poured into our lives. We can recognize him through his goodness. He fills us with his strength. The stronger our faith, the more we see him at work. The more we believe, the more capable we are to receive him in his fullness. He ultimately conquers our fears and heals our divisions and brings joy to our lives.

The Holy Spirit is superior to any of our differences. He bridges all divisions.  He transforms us into the one Body of Christ. Just as flour alone cannot become a loaf of bread without water, so too we cannot become one Body without the Holy Spirit entering our lives. Just as a field cannot yield a harvest without rain, so too we cannot bear good fruit without the Holy Spirit raining down on us from above. Just as we cannot recover from a serious illness without the proper medicine, so too we cannot rid ourselves of sin and division without the power of the Holy Spirit within us.

Yes, we are diverse and unique in God’s eyes. There is goodness in our diversity. Yet we are one Body. We have one Spirit. We are one Church from which we must never separate ourselves. The unity and reconciliation which the Holy Spirit gives us is superior to any divisions among us. We must not deny w hat is most important, our unity, by fighting over our differences. Do we consider this when we are tempted to get into arguments among ourselves? Do we think of this when we are f aced with the choice to forgive or to condemn? To the woman caught in adultery, Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go in peace, but sin no more!” Jesus condemned the sin but not the sinner who asked for mercy. Will we do the same?

Yes we will if we accept the meaning of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured into the Church and continues to be poured into our lives through the sacraments. He is the one who unites us in our diversity, heals our divisions, and conquers our fears.

God wills us to be one. He forgives our sins and divisions and rejoices in our diversity. He has sent his Holy Spirit to accomplish this.

Jesus said in today’s Gospel, “Peace be with you.” He says over and over again, “Peace be with you! As I have given you peace, now go and give it to others.”

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for 4th Sunday of Easter, Cycle B

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

4th Sunday of Easter, Cycle B

April 21/22, 2018

Acts 4: 8-12; 1Jn 3: 1-2; John 10: 11-18

 

We are in the middle of the Easter Season; a season of joy, for Jesus is risen from the dead and lives among us. He is alive!

God continually offers us the gift of faith, a free gift from God that each of us either freely accepts or rejects. If we reject the gift, we live in darkness. If we accept the gift, then God gives us the ability to see, hear, touch and know the risen Lord. God gives us the eyes, ears, and hands necessary to recognize that Jesus is Lord and risen from the dead, and truly present in our world as our Good Shepherd.

Have we accepted this gift from God? Do we recognize the risen Lord in our midst?

For three years before his death, and then for forty days after his resurrection, the Apostles saw him with their human eyes,  heard him with their human ears, touched him with their human hands, and ate with him human food. Then, they continued to recognize his resurrected presence in the breaking of the break and telling of the story of his life, death, and resurrection. They simply felt compelled to tell others about him. They became witnesses to all they had experienced.

Do you know that you have heard him speak, seen him present, touched him, eaten and drunk with him also? “When?” you may ask.
Do we not hear Jesus speak at every Mass when the Gospel is proclaimed by the deacon? Do we not hear Jesus speak every time Father says the words, “This is my Body? This is my Blood.” Do we not eat and drink with Jesus every time we approach this altar and receive his Real Presence in Holy Communion? Do we not touch the risen Jesus each time we receive the Eucharist into our hands and into our mouths? Do we not recognize him each time we pass before the tabernacle?

Yes, we do. Now we must be witnesses to all this! We must not be silent!

“Go, and announce the Gospel of the Lord!” the deacon commands at the end of Mass. These are not empty words. Go, we are told, and be witnesses to what we see here, hear here, and touch here. Jesus is risen! He lives, and he reveals himself even today, right here in this Mass, this Eucharist. With the eyes of faith, we will recognize him.

We must tell others the story of his life. We must not be silent. We must be witnesses to what we hear, see, taste, touch, and share in the        parish, just like the Apostles did. We must tell others that the risen Jesus is among us, that he died, but rose and now lives as our Good Shepherd. We must let them know that we have heard him speak, that we have eaten and drunk with him, that we have seen him in the breaking of the bread at Mass. We must be witnesses to all this. We must tell others about him, and invite them to come and see for themselves, hear, taste, touch, and know the risen Lord.

No, it is not only priests and deacons who must do this… all of you must. All of you who have been given the gift of faith must testify that Jesus has risen and is our Good Shepherd leading us home to the Father in heaven.

Treasure the gift of faith which comes from God and enables you to recognize Jesus. Treasure your new eyes which see him, your new ears which hear him, your new hands which touch him, and your new minds which know him. Jesus is alive. Will you tell others what we do here in this place, at this Mass.?

All of us must tell the story of Jesus and let others know that he is with us. Tell them he lives, that he continues to speak to us, eat and drink with us. Tell them to come and see and hear and touch and receive him for themselves.

 

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for the 5th Sunday of Lent, Cycle B

Here is my homily from last week. God bless all!

5th Sunday of Lent, Cycle B

Jer 31: 31-34; Heb 5: 7-9; John 12: 20-33

March 17/18, 2018

 

This Gospel account comes right after Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, and triumphantly entered Jerusalem to the shout of “Hosanna!” The people were enthralled by the raising of Lazarus. They were excited about the miracle-worker Jesus entering their city, and so a couple of foreigners (who may have missed seeing the raising of Lazarus) came saying, “We would like to see Jesus.”

 
“We want to see Jesus!” What did they really want to see? The man or the miracle? They wanted to see the man who had performed the miracles. They wanted to see more of what they had heard he had done. They wanted a miracle for themselves.

Do you want to see Jesus, or the miracles? When you come to Mass, do you really want to see him, or just observe and go home excited about a performance? Do you come to hear the bells, smell the incense, listen to the music, smell the flowers, and admire the stained glass? Do you come hoping to hear something inspiring from your pastor or deacon, or do you come to see Jesus who was crucified to save us all and is present at this altar of sacrifice?

What are the two most prominent things you see in this church? They are the Crucifix and the Altar. Yes, the Cross and the Altar are paired together in a Catholic church.

Jesus says, “If you want to see me, look here. Look at the Cross, and look at this Altar. If you want to see me, look at me hanging on that Cross, sacrificed on that Altar, and then receive me in the Eucharist. On that Cross, on that Altar, and in this Eucharist, you will see me and I will draw you and many others to myself. I died on the altar of the Cross so you would live. Will you take up your cross and your altar? Will you worthily receive me in Holy Communion? I will use the cross in your life to draw you close to me. Through your cross, you will come close to me and you will see me. On your cross, on the altar of your life, you will find glory, you will find eternal life. In a worthy reception of Holy Communion you will become one with me and me with you. You will experience the cross and what I have done for you. Are you ready for this? Do you still want to see me? Will you suffer and rise like I suffered and rose?”

This is the heart of all we believe as Christians. This is the tough part of Christianity, i.e., following Jesus all the way to the Cross and beyond. Many preachers skip right over the Cross. They take away the crucifixes. They take Jesus of the Cross. They speak of power, glory, reward, riches, power, victory, but they bypass the Cross.

The problem is, if you avoid the Cross, you avoid the Resurrection. You end up in a gray zone, neither hot nor cold, neither dead nor alive (and that is not where we want to be!). If you avoid the Cross you end up with a rather meaningless life.

But one thing is important to remember. In order for the Cross to be holy, it must not be sought for its own sake, but rather accepted in obedience. Obedience to whom? To God the Father and his will for us. Suffering isn’t holy unless it comes from following God’s will. If we obey the world, or Satan, or the false idols of our lives, we suffer needlessly. That type of suffering must be avoided. God does not will suffering for its own sake. He knows though, that suffering is a part of our imperfect world, and he will accept it as a sacrifice. He knows that to do his will requires great sacrifice at times. Just as with Jesus, the Father takes our suffering and redeems it, makes it life-giving. This is a great mystery.

Yes, we must do all in obedience to God the Father, just as Jesus did. We must not obey the will of the world, or of Satan, or of any false god in our lives. We must do as God would have us do.

If we are following Jesus, we will experience both the Cross and the Resurrection. It is Jesus we must want to see, not just the miracles, or the wonders.

So, when we come to Mass, who or what do we really want to see? Do we come to see the sacrifice of Jesus offered once for all so many years ago on Calvary and now re-presented at each Mass, or do we come to see something else? Do we come to unite ourselves to Jesus on the Cross, and to receive him worthily in Holy Communion, or do we just sit back and observe the performance

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for 2nd Sunday of Lent, Cycle B

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

2nd Sunday of Lent, Cycle B

Gen. 22: 1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18; Rom 8: 31b-34/ Mk 9: 2-10

February 24/25, 2018

One of the things psychologists know is that we humans learn things by knowing contrasts and differences.  For instance, we know hot because we know cold. We know light because we know darkness. We know what being a man is because we have experienced a woman, and vice versa. Without these differences, we are left confused and frightened of new experiences. “What does this mean?” we will ask.

Peter, James, and John had a unique experience. They had nothing to which compare it at the time. They saw divinity, the glory of Jesus’ divine nature and person. It was, so to speak, “out of this world.” They were terrified, didn’t know what to say.

Jesus, the best of all psychologists, knew that the Apostles were going to have another confusing experience in a very short while at the Crucifixion. Jesus knew they were going to see something incomprehensible and he wanted to give them a contrast, a clarifying experience that they would need to make sense of Good Friday. So, he gave them the Transfiguration. Peter, James, and John were to be the pillars of the early Church. They were going to have to support the faith of the other Apostles after Jesus’ crucifixion. They were going to have to have a clear understanding of what it meant for the Son of God to die and rise. They would not be able to comprehend the Cross if they had not seen the Transfiguration.

But at the Transfiguration, they had not yet seen Jesus die. They had not yet experienced the Cross, so what happened? They were terrified, dumbfounded, and questioned what it all meant. Jesus, Know this, told them to keep quiet until they had witnessed the Cross and the Resurrection when they would understand. For the time being, all they could do was ask, “What does rising from the dead mean?”

Resurrection always follows death. Little in life makes sense to us if we do not know both the Cross and the Resurrection.

“What does this mean?”we ask ourselves when we are faced with an experience unknown to us. New experiences can be disorienting, confusing, even if they are pleasant. Watching my first-born coming into the world, I asked, “What will this mean for me, my wife Mary, and for him?” Or my wedding day, life-long vows even though an uncertain future. “Where will this love take us?”

The Apostles came down from the mountain that day with a glimpse of the glory of God and asked, “What does rising from the dead mean?” The glory of the Transfiguration and the suffering of the Cross can be only understood through the eyes of faith. Faith is the foundation upon which the life of the Christian is built. Faith gives us a vision of God. It marks the presence of God – both in life and in death. Whether it is at the foot of the Cross or at the entrance to the empty tomb, whether on Good Friday or on Easter Sunday, faith marks the presence of Go. Faith answers the question, “What does rising from the dead mean?”

Faith gives us a vision of God, a common vision of what we can hope for. A vision of what can be, of what will be, of who we are and who we can become.

We have been redeemed and we will be resurrected, just as Jesus rose from the dead. This was the preaching of Jesus; this was the preaching of the Apostles; this is the constant teaching of the Church.

Jesus knew that the faith of the Apostles had to stay strong for our sakes. He knew that generations of men throughout the centuries would not see the Crucifixion or the Resurrection with their physical eyes, but only with the eyes of faith. He knew that it would be through faith that we would understand the Cross. He knew that it would be through faith that we would understand the Resurrection. Faith marks the presence of God in our suffering and in our glory.

Our lives must be modeled after the life of Jesus. We too will experience, as he did, the Cross and the Resurrection. The Cross is made bearable because we have come to believe in what follows, new life through the Resurrection.

Do not be blind to the presence of God in your life. Do not blind yourself by abandoning your faith. Whether you are now suffering the Cross or rejoicing in a resurrection in some way, God is with you. That is his promise.  A promise we can accept in faith.

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

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

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B
January 20/21, 2018
Jonah 3: 1-5, 10; 1Cor 7: 29-31; Mark 1: 14-20

Are you willing to be changed? Are you willing to be open to the power of the Gospel to change your life?

St. Mark is emphatic in today’s Gospel reading that the Gospel has the power to radically change people. Simon, Andrew, James, and John are examples of this. They cast aside their nets and followed Jesus after he proclaimed the Gospel to them. They are also examples also of immediately responding when hearing the Word of God, not hesitating.

We hear of the same thing in our first reading from Jonah. Jonah’s preaching of God’s Word to the Ninevites unexpectedly and immediately changed an entire city, a city which had been locked in sin and idolatry, but were open to hearing and changing.

God’s Word, the Gospel, is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating deeply into our souls. Every time you hear the readings at Mass, every time you hear the homily, you are hearing the Word of God proclaimed. Are you ready to hear and change? Will you have ears that are open? Will you listen? The Gospel can, and will, shake you up, change the direction of your life. It always begins with the call to conversion, repentance, to change by turning away from sin and turning toward faith in Jesus and a life of charity to others.

St. Paul says in the second reading today that time is short. We must not delay our response. We must change now. St. Paul says that the world as we know it is changing because the Word of God is being proclaimed and that Word is changing the world.

God speaks, we must listen. God calls, we must respond. God leads, we must follow. There is no need for hesitation or fear. No need to be afraid of God’s Word. What we do need to fear is our hesitation, being slow to respond, not changing, not turning away from our sins. We must not delay our response. It is God who speaks, God who calls.

We can be tempted to become gloomy or even despondent at times when we look at our lives or at our world. We may be tempted to lose faith. We may even succumb to thinking God is powerless, absent, or maybe he doesn’t even exist. But there is no need to despair if we believe in the power of the Gospel, God’s Word, to transform lives, change even whole nations, like the Ninevites.

What are the steps we need to take? First, we must hear the Gospel with open ears. For that, we must be present. We need to be here every Sunday to hear that Word. Second, we must believe what we hear. Yes, hearing leads to belief. Third, we must make a change. If we believe, we must live differently.

Hear, believe, change!

Without hearing, there can be no belief. Without belief, there can be no real change. Without change, there can be no life of charity.

Finally, there is no need to shirk from boldly proclaiming the Gospel to others. God expects all of us to proclaim Jesus Christ to the world. Those of us in Holy Orders, i.e., deacons, priests, and bishops, are particularly responsible and privileged to preach the Gospel at Mass and elsewhere. We must do so faithfully, fervently, reverently, and boldly, for the conversion of souls and the good of the world. You the laity are also called to proclaim the Good News of Jesus to all you meet in your lives.

Let us not only hear, but believe. Let us not only believe, but change. Let us set aside anything that keeps us from following Jesus and the Gospel. Let us in faith, abandon our nets and today follow the Lord.

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for the Solemnity of the Holy Family, 2017

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

 

Solemnity of the Holy Family – 2017
December 30/31, 2017
Sir 3: 2-6, 12-14; Col 3: 12-21; Luke 2: 22-40

I have seen the effects of the world on family life, the social, economic, and political pressures that families experience in today’s world. I have also come to appreciate more and more as the years pass the wisdom of the Church’s teachings on family, i.e., the indissolubility of marriage; the union of a man and a woman; the blessings of children and openness to life; natural family planning; sacrificial love.

We all know that no family is perfect. We are an imperfect people, in an imperfect world, using imperfect means, trying to become perfect. So, we have to be very understanding of others, and ourselves, and of our shortcomings, because we do not always get the results for which we hope. We live in a culture that no longer supports God’s family plan, just like the first Christians who lived in a world hostile to them in their time.

What is threatening marriage and family today is the idea that life, and love, and marriage, and family are all about “me.” The world wants us to think that what is important is fulfilling yourselves, knowing yourself, meeting your own needs, setting your own course in life, being assertive, defining yourself and being free of commitments. The world would say that what is true is what you decide is true. The world says you should be obligated to no one, and you should be free to do what you wish. The world essentially says you are your own god.

The world says that life and love and relationships are defined by me and my passions and desires, and when life or love or relationships do not meet my needs or my desires, then that life should be terminated, that love should die, and that relationship should end. That is the reason for the acceptance of abortion, divorce, euthanasia, and so-called “same-sex marriage” in our culture today.
All of this is contrary to God’s natural law, a law that is written in our very beings, a law everyone must acknowledge and obey if they are to be happy.

God has a plan, and we must know it. God shows us how to be a family; the world shows us how to be individuals.

What is God’ family plan?

In the Holy Family of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, God has given us a model for family life. God has shown us that family consists of a man and a woman coming together as complementary persons, and committing themselves for life in a sacrificial love for one another, uniting their lives as one, and in their physical union openly accepting children to be raise, nurtured, and taught God’s law.

God has made us in his image. He made us to be in relationship with each other, as he is in relationship, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God made us dependent on each other, needing each other. God created us to be husbands and wives, children and parents. God made us this way so we would not live in isolation or loneliness. He made us male and female, and made that union holy. He made us to be deeply rooted in family.

We were created for someone else, to give ourselves to someone else. Ultimately, we are made for God, to be like him. This is why marriage is between a man and a woman who give themselves to each other. This is why a father and a mother given themselves to their children. This is why children obey and respect their parents, and love and care for them in their old age.

This is what marriage and family are all about, i.e., a man giving himself for life to a woman, and a woman to a man, in sacrificial love, so they may live abundantly, and together being open to life, new life to be welcomed, nurtured, and parented in the ways of God’s law.

Let us pray:
O Jesus, give us the grace and understanding we so desperately need to be family, to be Christians in name and in truth, to strive to be families modeled after your Holy Family. May we always remember that we are made to be gifts to others, rooted in family. Bless all families who seek your care and protection. Mary, pray for us! St. Joseph, protect us!

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for 4th Sunday of Advent, Cycle B

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

4th Sunday of Advent, Cycle B
December 23/24, 2017
2 Sam 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16; Rom 16: 25-27; Lk 1: 26-38

Where will you find God this Christmas? Where do you look for the love and presence of God?

Many people nowadays say, “I find God in nature and in creation.” It is true, all of creation reflects the beauty of the One who created it, but remains only a veiled hint of God. It is not God. To try to find God in nature is like looking for Leonardo daVinci in his painting of the Mona Lisa. The painting is beautiful and intriguing, but it is not Leonardo. And so it is with creation; it is beautiful and intriguing, but it isn’t God who created it.

In the Old Testament, there were many spectacular events in nature that revealed a little bit about God and his relationship with his people. You can recall the great flood during Noah’s time, or the Red Sea dividing in two and the pillar of fire that lead the Israelites safely through the desert, or the burning bush that spoke to Moses on Mount Horeb. People back then wanted and needed natural signs that somehow would make manifest God’s supernatural presence, who he was and what he wanted to reveal to them. Yet, all these signs in nature were but a “veil”, you might say, that offered an obscured view of God. People were afraid to see God clearly, we are told in the Old Testament.

But then, God the Father did something only he could do. He chose something unimaginable, almost incredible. He said, “I will reveal myself in a much clearer way. I will completely say to my people all that I desire to say to them until they get to heaven. I will send my divine Son who will take on their human nature. He will reveal to them the fullness of my revelation. He will tell them everything they need to know. In him, they will see clearly who I am.”

Indeed, St. Paul tells us in our second reading that the “revelation of the mystery was kept secret for long ages” but is now manifest in the birth of Jesus, the Son of God.

Yes, it is in the birth of Jesus that we find God. It is Jesus we must come to know. It is Jesus who gives meaning and purpose to our lives. It is in Jesus that we find life, happiness, and peace. It is Jesus that reveals to us the fullness of God, who God is. We no longer must depend on creation to try to find God. We have Jesus, born into the world as the divine person who embraced our human nature.

Our faith, hope and love are rooted in Jesus. Jesus is the light that makes all things clear. Without Jesus, we are in darkness. Jesus penetrates the night and illuminates our lives. We can see all things clearly if we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

Have you ever woken up before dawn and stood in your dark house? It’s dark. If you really strain your eyes you might make out a few larger pieces of furniture. The closer sunrise gets, the more light enters your house. The more light that comes, the clearer everything becomes, even the small things. When the full brightness of the sun shines into your house, you can even see the specks of dust that float in the air.

This is what happens at Christmas, if we look for the Christ child. This is how it is when Jesus comes into the world. The more we know him, recognize him, and let him shine into our live, the clearer everything becomes, even the small things, the mysterious things.

In a few short hours, we will celebrate Christmas, the birth of Jesus, the coming of the greatest light ever to shine in the world, the great revelation of God made man, the mystery that was hidden for many generations and foretold by the prophets, but now made know to us. If we search for anyone else, anything else, we will at best get only a veiled hint of God; at worst, we will become lost and confused.
Where will you find Jesus? Look for him in the Church. Jesus promised he would never abandon his Catholic Church. It is in the Church that Jesus comes into our lives over and over again at the Eucharist. The fullness of truth, the heart of Christ, the brightest of all lights in the world, the Real Presence of Jesus body and blood, is in every Catholic parish. Seek him there. Know him at the altar. Hear him in the Gospel. Recognize him in the gathering of the people.

Remember, Mary bore God in her womb. She is the Mother of God. The Church bears God in her womb and gives God to the world as Mary did. The Church gives life to the world because she bears witness to the Incarnation, the birth of Jesus Christ, and all he did for us in his life, death, and resurrection.

In a few hours we will gather again to remember the Christ child. We will come to adore the child of Bethlehem, the King of Kings and the Lord of lords

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for 3rd Sunday of Advent, Cycle B

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

3rd Sunday of Advent – Cycle B

Isaiah 61: 1-2a, 10-11; I Thes 5: 16-24; John 1: 6-8, 19-28

December 16/17, 2017

 

Do you remember that Gospel story where Jesus enters the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth, and takes the scroll and reads the reading? (Lk 4: 16-30) Our first reading was what he read, and the people didn’t accept him or what he said. Jesus announced to them, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, anointed me, to free captives, heal broken hearts, and gladden those weighed down by poverty.” (Is 61: 1ff) They thought they knew who he was, the son of a carpenter, but they really didn’t. In fact, they wanted to run him out of town. Jesus told them, “Who you think I am, I am not, and because you know me not, you are angry with me and want to do me violence.” In another place in the Scriptures, Jesus tells the people, “If only you knew who it is that is speaking to you, you would rejoice.” (Lk 19: 41ff)

In our Gospel today, we hear people asking John the Baptist, “Who are you? Elijah? A prophet?” They were confused. They didn’t have faith; they couldn’t see with eyes of faith. What did John say to them? “I am not the Christ! I am only preparing you to recognize him.” (Jn 1: 19ff)

Yes, it is important to know Jesus, to recognize him and encounter him, as Pope Francis reminds us. To know who he really is we need the eyes of faith. At Christmas, we recognize him easily as a little baby in the manger. It is somehow easy for us to imagine Jesus as the Child of Bethlehem. We recognize him as the Son of Mary and the foster son of Joseph. We recognize him as the one who died on the Cross for us and rose from the dead and ascended into heaven.

But it is equally important that we recognize him when he comes to us today. He comes now. He is present now. He comes every day into our lives. This is not just a sentimental statement. It is very real. Do we recognize him today? Do we see him? Will we know him? Will we encounter him today?

We don’t come to Mass regularly because we don’t recognize Jesus there. We don’t go to confession regularly because we don’t recognize Jesus there. We don’t look for an encounter with a real person in the sacraments and we tend to think of them as rituals or obligations or ways of getting something for ourselves. What if we were to change our attitude and look with the eyes of faith and see the sacraments as opportunities to know Jesus?

We look at the person we find most difficult to love as a problem or someone who causes us pain and distress. What if we saw that person through the eyes of faith as an opportunity to know Jesus and recognize him?

We hesitate to give our time and talent to parish life because we think if we get involved it will only demand for and more of us and we will not be appreciated. What if we looked at our parish as the Body of Christ here in this town, the place where we encounter Jesus in his Real Presence in the Eucharist and in each other?

Advent is a time for us to prepare to live out our faith serving others, not just ourselves. It is not just a time for personal piety and warm memories (although these are good in themselves). Advent is a time for purification, for turning away from our sins that are obstacles that keep us from knowing Jesus as he comes into our lives today.  It is a time for removing the sins that keep us from our mission and keep us stuck in self-centeredness. We must remove the obstacles between us and God so we might see Jesus who comes into the world.

If only we would see in the Church the coming of Jesus, the presence of Christ in the world today, we would not reduce each other to objects to be managed but people to be loved and we would eagerly go and accomplish the plan God has for us.

How well do you know Jesus? St. Paul said in our second reading that to know Jesus is to know happiness. Do you want to be happy? Recognize Jesus. Know him. Encounter him. Know him in the sacraments and rejoice. Know him in the poor and be happy. Know him in our parish and we will thrive as a local community of faith.

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A

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

33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Proverbs 31: 10-13, 19-20, 30-31; 1 Thes 5: 1-6; Mt 25: 14-30

November 18/19, 2017

When we were conceived in our mother’s womb, God gave us certain “talents” or abilities to fit a particular plan he has for our lives. He gives us a kind of natural ability to trust others, hope, and to care for others that care about us. When we were baptized, we were given three supernatural gifts, namely the virtues of faith, hope, and love, which prepare us to believe, hope, and love in extraordinary ways. These virtues have been infused into our very beings by the Holy Spirit who lives with us because of our baptismal grace. Although each of us has received these virtues, when life becomes difficult we all struggle with one or more of them.

Sometimes, when faced with difficult realities of life, we think things like, “I have no gifts. I have nothing to offer. There is no special plan for me.” Or we may think, “Yes, I am talented. I have a lot because I earned it. My riches, my talents, my abilities are a result of my effort. What I have comes from me, not God.” At times like these, we push God out of the picture, and we struggle with faith.

Sometimes, we are strong in faith, but we are fearful. We are afraid of God. We slip into thinking God is harsh and punishing, like the man in the Gospel today thought. So, when we see our talents, we don’t want to risk losing what we have been given, so we go out and bury our talents. We wonder if Go is really invested in us, interested in us, and will provide for us. We struggle with the virtue of hope.

Sometimes, we believe in God, k now we have gifts and talents, and we may even have a cheerful, hopeful outlook in life, but we don’t invest our talents with others. We invest only in ourselves. We do not give back what has been given to us. We struggle with the virtue of love.

Sometimes, we have a strong faith, know that God loves us and that he has given us all that we have, and we are filled with gratitude. What does gratitude do? It increases our love for others, so we use our talents to bring about God’s plan in our lives. We become the good and wise stewards we hear about in the Gospel today.

My friends, God has created each of you for a unique purpose, and given you certain talents that are to be used, not buried. The talents he has given you are needed by others. You have been chose by God. God has infused in you the virtues of faith, hope, and love to help you. You can accomplish great things in his eyes. Do not be surprised if you struggle with one or more of those virtues at times in your lives. We all do. God has given us so much and we must give it all back to him, with interest. In other words, we must invest in others, in our parish, in our local community, in the larger Church and world, because this is how we are to fulfill God’s commandment, “Love God and love each other.”

To conclude, a brief comment about the closing verses in today’s Gospel where we hear of being cast into the darkness with wailing and grinding of teeth. Scary words.  We will be cast into the darkness only if we deliberately and definitively choose to deny God’s love and mercy. Deliberately and definitively refusing to believe and hope in God’s love and failing to love others will lead to eternal loneliness, which is hell, and no one can make that decision for you except you. In the end, there will be love, which we will either accept or deny. Until then, there is always hope. So, no matter what you life may look like today, if we choose to believe in God’s love, hope in his mercy, and love him by offering back to him what he has given us, we will not be left in the darkness, but will be with him in light, as St. Paul says in today’s second reading. The choice to love, the greatest of the virtues, is always before us. We can choose to believe, hope, and love.

Whether you have five talents, or two, or one, rejoice, be grateful, see in them the sign of God’s love for you, his plan for your life, and invest your talents by loving others. Live with faith, hope, and love… in other words, live a full life, and then return it all to the Lord. Give him the praise. Your reward will be great in heaven.

 

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for the 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle A, 2017

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

 

28th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle A

October 14/15, 2017

Isaiah 25: 6-10a; Philippian 4: 12-14; Matthew 22: 1-14

 

“Many are invited; few are chosen.” (Mt 22: 14)

It is tempting to say “Yes” to an invitation to a party, or a gala, or a banquet, when someone says, “Come on in! You will have a great time! It’ll cost you nothing. It is on me.”

God invites us to the heavenly banquet and it is easy to respond, “Yes, God. I will go. I will sing your praises and bask in your love for all eternity” but it is more difficult to live a life that gets us ready. Jesus asks us today if we are willing to prepare ourselves for heaven, whether or not we are willing to prepare ourselves, or do we just want to show up and expect to be admitted? Are we humble enough to acknowledge our need to prepare ourselves for the rewards of heaven, or are we content to remain in our pride living lives for ourselves and not for others.

Pride or humility? Which will we choose? Which garment will you put on?

The garment that will get us into heaven is the garment of humility. Those who have taken off the garment of pride, arrogance, anger, and violence and put on the garment of humility and peace are fit for heaven.

Two weeks ago, our country witnessed again the results of pride, arrogance, and anger. I am referring to the shootings in Las Vegas. Killing, violence, terrorism, disrespect for human life – they all are the result of pride and arrogance. “How can you say that?” you may ask me. “Isn’t it the work of Satan, the effects of evil?” Yes, it is, but Satan’s methods are pride and arrogance and anger. Pride is at the root of every sin; anger at the root of every act of violence and killing.

When will it stop? When will WE stop this madness? It must end!

How can we end this disrespect for human life in our country? By creating new laws? Maybe, but Satan respects no law. We must end this disrespect for human life in our country if we expect to be admitted to the heaven banquet. We must put on the garment of humility, and come to understand that God’s love has been poured into all human life. We must come to understand that we are but the servants of this love, servants of God, and servants of each other. We are not the Masters of Death; we are Servants of Life! We must acknowledge that God loves life, and so must we.

If we are to be one of the chosen, we must put an end to killing, and to the anger and violence that reside in our hearts, an end to the madness that is a result of pride and arrogance.

We must rise in this country and demand an end to the killing around us and to the pride and arrogance within  us. With God’s help, we can do it. Satan uses us when we are proud. Do we want to be used by him? I hope not. Jesus once said, “Get behind me Satan!” and so must we.

We must do what we must do first of all in our own lives to place ourselves at the service of life, not bring about death. We must not directly take innocent human life. We cannot kill bystanders in acts of terrorism. We must not kill the unborn. We must not end the lives of the sick and the aged. We must not be complicit in killing of others by remaining silent. We must end war.

The madness of Las Vegas is Satan’s work; the result of his ability to delude us into thinking that some of us are more valuable than others, that human life is cheap and can be destroyed. Satan wants us to think that we are equal to God. What happened in Las Vegas was evil, the work of pride and arrogance.

How dare we allow the lives of others, lives God created, lives which God has invited to the heavenly banquet, to be destroyed?

God loves the person we dispose of. God cares about the person we condemn to death. God wants fullness of life for every unborn child. Will we put on the garment of humility, and think like God thinks or will we remain in our pride and be used? These are basic questions our nation needs to answer.

We must say, “Enough!” to the violence in our country and in our hearts. We must embrace life, not death; peace, not violence. We must end this madness, this disrespect for human life. We must reject Satan’s temptation to think of others as less important than us; as burdens rather than as gifts; as disposable rather than of infinite value.

We must end this madness, the madness we saw in Las Vegas. It begins with each of us looking at ourselves and asking, “Am I willing to confess the pride that is in my heart, the arrogance that exists there, and am I willing to do whatever is needed to root it out?”

Put on the garment that will get you into heaven, the garment of humility, the garment of respect for others, the garment of peace.

Stop the killing and respect life!

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