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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Deacon Bob’s Homily for the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A, 2017

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

24th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A

September 16/17, 2017

Sir 27: 30-28:9; Rom 14: 7-9; Matt 18: 21-35

 

We heard in the Old Testament reading: “Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.” (Sir 28:2) Then, in the Gospel which I just proclaimed, Jesus tells us that not only must we forgive others, but we must forgive over and over again, always showing mercy, and the penalty for not doing so is quite severe.

Challenging for all of us to say the least! Jesus is asking a lot from us, but it is the mark of a true Christian to forgive and to show mercy. In fact, it is awfully hard to call yourself a Catholic Christian if you do not forgive, if you are not merciful, if you carry anger and revenge in your heart. The world is so full of anger and revenge, so unforgiving it seems, and Jesus expects more from us. So, we must ask ourselves the question, “How can I do what Jesus is asking me to do? What are the way?”

Centuries ago, St. John Damascene said there were five ways to forgive and to be forgiven.

The first way is the way of confession. We must admit and confess our own sins, to prepare us to forgive others. Going to confession is sufficient for God to free us from our sins. It also helps us become more merciful to others. It is good for our souls and it is good for the world because it frees us to become merciful to others. Monthly confession is good for everyone.

The second way is the way of decision. What I mean is, making a conscious decision, and intentional deliberate decision to forgive others who have harmed us, even if we don’t feel very forgiving. This is difficult because we have to face our anger and our desire for raw justice. When we are filled with anger, it is nearly impossible to forgive others or to be merciful. So when we decide to forgive, the first thing we face is our anger, hurt, and fear.  Jesus said that if we want to receive mercy and forgiveness, we must be willing to forgive others.

The third way is the way of prayer. Prayer from where? From the heart. If you have no other way at any particular time in your life, no opportunity for confession, not being able to show mercy because of the depth of your hurt and anger, then drop to your knees and beg God for a forgiving heart and a merciful attitude. Beg God!  Prayer from the heart reconciles us to God and to each other.

The fourth way is the way of almsgiving. You cannot buy your way into heaven, but giving alms is an act of mercy. We are merciful when we give to the needy. We atone for our sins when we take care of the poor. When we give alms, we are giving to Jesus who lives in the poor. It is an act of reconciliation.

The fifth way is the way of humility. Be humble before God and others. Humble yourself before God and your conscience will be free from the weight of your sins and you will be more merciful to others. It is easier when we are humble. It frees you from pride, which is the root of all sin. Remember the Gospel story of the publican and the Pharisee? The publican or tax collector knelt in the back of the temple, beating his chest and praying, “Be merciful to me, a sinner.” The Pharisee was up front, praying God and recounting all he did to follow the laws of his religion. Who went home forgiven?  Who experience God’s mercy? It was the humble one, not the Pharisee.

Confession; forgiving others; praying from the heart; almsgiving; humility. Which of these ways do you need to work on in your life?

Do you need to use the Sacrament of Reconciliation more frequently?

Do you need to work on being more forgiving because of the anger in your heart?

Do you need to pray more from your heart, or do you ignore your need for prayer and a relationship with God?

Do you need to be more generous with the poor, or are you like the ungrateful debtor in today’s Gospel?

Are you humble before God and others, or are you locked in pride?

A true Christian knows mercy and forgiveness by being merciful to others, by being humble, by acknowledging his own sins, by sharing what he has with others, and by praying constantly from the heart. These are the marks of a disciple of Jesus Christ. These are the ways we are reconciled with God and others. These are the roads to heaven. They are gifts from God, and we must use them.

 

 

 

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for the 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Here is my homily for the weekend. God bless everyone.

20th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A

August 19/20, 2017

Isaiah 56:1, 6-7; Romans 11:13-15, 29-32; Matthew 15: 21-28

 

How important is it to know God, the one true God? How important is it to approach God, to search him out, to believe in him, to have faith in him, to follow him?

Many people today believe that what is most important is whether or not you are a good person, whether or not you just do your best to get along with others, don’t violate any laws, don’t offend anyone. Many today are not really looking for God and searching him out, but are looking elsewhere for meaning and answers. They look to the world, created things, the moon and the stars, to “Mother Earth” and science and technology for answers, or even to secular philosophies in which they put their faith. In other words, many worship false gods.

We all do, actually, if we look at ourselves closely.

We must put our faith in the one true God. We must search for him, reach out to him. We must come to understand that searching for God, approaching God, asking him for what we need begging him to heal us and give meaning to our lives… this is what is most important. Our gospel today seems to indicate that in the end, what matters most is that we have faith in the one true God, that we search for him and beg him to heal us. That is more important than whether we are just good people, do the right things, follow the rules, and never offend anyone.

It is not that rules and being nice to others is unimportant, because they are important. They keep us united as a community in our efforts to live peaceful lives. They demonstrate to God and others that our faith has consequences and that to know God and believe in him demand change and the building of a peaceful community.

What is Jesus telling us, then, by his seemingly harsh rebukes of the Canaanite woman in the gospel? Jesus is saying, I believe, that what comes first is faith in God, being in relationship with the true God, seeking him out, and not false gods that we have put into our lives: the world, nature, money, sports, careers, and so on. We all have our false gods. WE must let them go and approach the one true God. The woman in today’s gospel shows us the importance of persevering in our search for and reaching out to God.

We must reach out for the living God, the one God, the true God. We must reach out to Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit so he can lead us to the Father to be healed. We must put our trust in him and not in the things of this world.

Many ask why there is so much despair and hopelessness in the world. They ask why so many people seem to be afraid. I think the reason is we have closed ourselves off from God’s love.

Too many of us don’t approach God and really believe he can heal our lives. If we don’t have faith in him then we are no longer open to his love. God is love. If we exclude God from our lives by replacing him with something created, then we are closed off from his divine love, and when we are close off from him his is love, we no longer are open to his love being poured into our hearts through faith in him. When that happens, we lose hope and become afraid. Yet this is exactly what so many people are choosing every day.

Without faith, hope, and love, we are lost. We lose our way. We become anxious and distressed.

The Canaanite woman in the gospel began to believe. She searched out God whom she recognized in the person of Jesus. She approached him. She begged him. She persisted in her search for healing. She had had false gods in her life, but when she heard Jesus, she put them aside. Her rudimentary faith led her to experience unwarranted, unmerited love from Jesus. Certainly, she had broken a lot of the rules and norms of Jewish law, and could in no way say she merited the miracle she needed. She was a pagan. She didn’t live right. Jesus’ sharp rebuke of her underscored the importance of knowing the true God and following him. Jesus said essentially that it does matter which religion you practice, that not all religions are equally true, but God’s love is available to anyone who believes and searches for him in faith. Jesus is saying clearly that is was her faith in him that brought her love and hope. It was Jesus, the Son of God, who would give meaning to her life and life to her daughter.

We must not fall into the trap of thinking we can abandon our faith in God and still be at peace, still have hope, still experience love. We must not replace God with something created. We must not have false gods. We must recognize in Jesus Christ the presence of the one true God, and turn to him, have faith in him, approach him, beg him every day to heal us, put ourselves at his feet in full awareness that we do not deserve his healing but we can expect it if we put ourselves into his hands. We must come to know that through faith, we open ourselves to divine love, for God is love, and through his love we can live in hope no matter what the circumstances of our lives may be.

Faith in God, experiencing God’s love, living in hope. This is the life of a disciple of Jesus. This must be how we live. Approaching God through Jesus, finding live through him, being healed, and finding reason for enduring hope.

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for the Solemnity of the Assumption

Happy Solemnity everyone. God bless all!

Solemnity of the Assumption

August 14/15, 2017

Humble and bold. Two words we don’t often associate in our minds. Humble and bold… we find them both in the person of Mary.

The humble virgin Mary, the Mother of God, docile to God’s will, God’s word, yet the most bold of all the witnesses of the Word made Flesh, of her Son and Lord, Jesus. Today, in the Assumption, we recall how she was assumed, body and soul, into heaven. This is what we celebrate today.

No, it was not Peter. No, it was not James or John or Paul who was the boldest yet most humble of all the witnesses of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. No, it was Mary, the Mother of God, for from her heart came these words: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord! My spirit finds joy in God my savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. The Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his name.

It was Mary who bore the most humble but bold witness to her Son. It was Mary who bore the Word of God in her heart and then conceived that Word in her womb, and then lived faithfully to be assumed into heaven for all eternity.

Only because of her faith in that Word that came to her, a Word she nurtured in her Immaculate Heart, was she then able to conceive and bear the Son of God, her creator and Savior, Jesus. Yes, she is the “God-bearer”, Theotokos, in Greek, as the Church Fathers in 431 professed at the Council of Ephesus, and the one who was assumed bodily into heaven, as defined by Pope Pius XII.

Mary kept close to her heart the Word made Flesh. She said, “Yes.” She said, “Fiat.” She said, “Let it be done to me.” St. Augustine would later write that Mary was more blessed for hearing God’s word and keeping custody of it in her heart than she was blessed because of the flesh she gave to her divine Son. Since this was true, Mary was able to stand by her Son as he died on the cross, stand by Him without staining her Immaculate Heart, and later enter body and soul into heaven to be with him. She knew it was by virtue of her faith in God’s Word that she had been able to conceive that Word in her womb, and it was by faith in that Word that she was able to give bold witness to her Son when he gave up his life on the Cross.

She who surpasses all of us in her sanctity and her fidelity, Mary, the Mother of God himself remains like us, a member of the Church, and a member of the Body of Christ her Son, and a witness to her Son’s death and resurrection.

You too are members of the Body of Christ.  You also carry God’s Word in your hearts and you are to be witnesses to that Word, to Jesus Christ. Just as St. Augustine spoke of Mary, St. Ambrose spoke of us when he wrote:  Blessed are you who have heard and believed; every soul that believes conceives and begets the Word of God. May Mary’s soul be in each of us to glorify the Lord. May the spirit of Mary be within each of us to exalt in God. (Commentary on Luke, CCL 14, 39-42)

You will be more blessed and find greater dignity in the Word you nourish in your hearts and profess with your lips than in any office you may bear. You are first, and most importantly, members of the Body of Christ. Never separate yourselves from this Body, from the Church! Never separate yourselves!

You cannot become witnesses to Jesus unless you first have welcomed the Word in your hearts, treasured it, nurtured it, obeyed it, followed it, and trusted it. Mary would not have become the Mother of God had she not first accepted and kept the Word of God in her Immaculate Heart. You cannot become witnesses to Jesus if you do not first hold in purity of your heart the Word entrusted to you. Mary could not have endured the passion and death of her Son and then enter gloriously into heaven without cradling in her heart the Word that had come to her. You will not be able to endure the trials and difficulties of life without first knowing and nurturing and loving the Word entrusted to you.

Yes, our lives can be modeled after Mary. A Christian is to give humble yet bold witness to the Gospel. Ours is a vocation of humble service to God and to humanity. It is not about power, but rather bearing witness. May our lives magnify the Lord!

 

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

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

15th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle A

July 15/16, 2017

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May God help us in our efforts.

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for Corpus Christi

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

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ – Cycle A

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

June 17/18, 2017

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unity with each other; unity with God!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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