Father Kris' Korner
Father Kris’ Korner
March 19, 2017
In today’s readings we hear about “living water;” water that not only refreshes temporarily but forever quenches our thirst. I’d like to ask you two questions: 1) Can you remember a time in your life when you were incredibly thirsty? And 2) Can you remember a time in your life when you were incredibly thirsty? You must be saying there is mistake; that I repeated the same question twice, but there are two meanings of the word thirsty. Here are my two stories… I hiked the Grand Canyon with my nephew Jeremy and we had a map that showed all the places we could get drinking water. So we each just brought one bottle of water certain that we could refill them along our journey. However, each of those locations was either dry or contaminated. Our water supply was running out as we were being baked in the hot sun. Never have I been so thirsty and scared for lack of water. And now the other story… I was always a good kid and had deep moral convictions. In high school, I started hanging around with a bad crowd simply for the sake of having friends. After being semi-involved in some vandalism, I told God that I would rather have no friends than to become someone that I didn’t want to be. I thirsted for friendship and I also thirsted to please God; but I could not allow the two thirsts to be in conflict. That summer on a retreat, I was introduced to Jesus who quickly became my best friend. God, in His own way, quenched my true thirst - that inward desire for love, friendship and fulfillment. Jesus, in the story of the ‘Woman at the Well,’ used both meanings of thirst to explain what he meant by “living water.” The Samaritan woman understood what he was offering, and her life and the lives of her friends and neighbors were forever changed. So, now with this new understanding, please ask yourself the question again. When and for what have you thirsted and how has God quenched that thirst?
Jesus masterfully used the two meanings to make his point.
March 12, 2017
The following Fr. Kris’ Korner was written last year just days before my sister, brother and friend passed away within 11 days of each other. It was our hope in Christ’s resurrection that kept my family going and it is life’s happy memories that continue to help us laugh rather than cry. So in light of all that my family and I endured, I’d like to share it with you again as it still holds true.
Some moments in life feel like they should go on forever; those times of great joy, love and happiness that you never want to end. In today’s gospel, Jesus’ three best friends, Peter, James and John, witnessed something truly spectacular – “the Transfiguration” – when Jesus became dazzling white. It was made clear to them that Jesus was truly the Son of God. They wanted to stay put in that place and build a monument. They wanted to capture those feelings of wonder and excitement forever. But alas, they had to descend the mountain and go on with daily life with all its burdens and sorrows. Life is a mixture of highs and lows, of celebrations and sorrows. In times of mourning and distress, we often draw strength and hope from happy memories. Jesus showed himself as the Son of God to give them hope to endure the upcoming horror of his passion and crucifixion. Basically, he was showing them the light at the end of the dark tunnel to come; lest they fall into deep despair. This light, this hope is given to us also. When you find yourself in a dark tunnel, please remember that there is always a light beckoning you out of the darkness towards the life giving love of God – the resurrection of Jesus. So let us embrace all that Lent has to offer; we learn many life lessons from struggling through life’s dark moments. It is precisely those dark moments that help us to fully embrace the light of Christ.
March 5, 2017
In the first week of Lent we read that Jesus is tempted by the Devil yet He resisted Satan’s lies by quoting scripture. Jesus was in the desert for forty days and was starving because he had been fasting; Satan first tempted jesus by encouraging Him to turn stones into bread. How many of us get into trouble when life gets dire or we greatly desire something and we take matters into our own hands; turning to sinful solutions rather than trusting in God’s good care. Next Satan offered Jesus power and glory. Think of the many lives that have been ruined or destroyed by someone abusing power; from bullies tin the playground, threats via social media, to drug lords, terrorist and dictators. The desire for (and misuse of) power can be subtle but left unchecked can grow into an all-consuming monster. Lastly, Satan encouraged Jesus to test God by putting Himself in danger to if God would save Him. We’ve all heard the saying “Don’t play with fire or you’ll get burned.” Satan lures us to sin, but once we cross that line of temptation there is no turning back – the sin has been committed, the dame has been done, evil has caused havoc, loved ones have been hurt and lives have been ruined. Please be careful, Satan knows every trick in the book to lure you from holiness. Pray the Our Father at the first sign of temptation so that you may be able to resist by the grace of God. When we pray the Our Father we say “And lead us not into temptation…” however, it is never the Lord who leads us into temptation; we do a great job ourselves!! It is our Father who helps us to resist sin and also helps us repair its harmful consequences.
February 26, 2017
Do not let tomorrow’s worries rob you of today’s peace. A few years ago it had become apparent that my mother could no longer live on her own due to her dementia. My father was already in a nursing home with intense pain that racked his failing body. My mother needed to be placed in a nursing home immediately; however, there was no room at my father’s nursing home. As you can imagine, my brothers and sisters and I were at our breaking point. I spent nights awake worrying about everything until one night we all simply decided to pray and trust in the Lord. I’m pleased to let you know that everything worked out; that very night four rooms became available! My mother and father shared the same room at the nursing home for a month before my father’s death and those few days were such a tremendous gift to us.
We’ve all had the experience of lying awake at night worrying; our minds racing and deprived of sleep. The song “Don’t worry, be Happy” advises that we simply do not worry about anything, however, that advice isn’t sufficient because life can be complicated and overwhelming; there may be things out of our control which cause us great distress, and anxious thoughts play over and over in our heads like a broken record. Jesus doesn’t simply tell us not to worry, he tells us to trust in the Lord. “Your heavenly Father knows what you need. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Today has enough troubles of its own." Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all things will be given you.
February 12, 2017
I’ve heard confessions from people who tell me that they have no real big sins to report because they have not disobeyed any of the Ten Commandments. I try to explain that just obeying the commandments to the letter is not enough; for example, perhaps one has never committed adultery, but fantasizing about it is just as bad. Perhaps one has never murdered someone or given false testimony in a court of law, yet killing another’s reputation through gossip and slander is still a grave sin according to Jesus. Jesus said these warnings to keep us humble, lest we think of ourselves as having obtained holiness on our own merit. He did not intend to make us fear obsessively that we may have sinned with every thought, but rather to assist us with a healthy self-examination of conscience.
So, let’s say even after a healthy examination of conscience, one still has trouble identifying one’s sins of commission…”in what I have done,” then the next step would be to ponder one’s sins of omission…”in what I have failed to do.” When I stand before God, my fear is that He will point out all the things I could have done to help others, but did not because I was too distracted by my own agenda, I was too lazy or simply apathetic. Failing to be charitable and compassionate is a sin even when we are not aware of it. There is no excuse for apathy because the needs of our brothers and sisters, especially the poor and lowly are so great that we should always be mindful of them.
Continue asking yourself, “What have I done (or thought about doing) and what have I failed to do?” Perfect holiness may never be obtained in this life but that does not mean that we never stop trying!
February 5, 2017
“Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked.” – Isaiah 58:7
“Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” – Matthew 5:16
In today’s world it seems it is advantageous to “toot your own horn.” You’ve got to draw attention to your own accomplishments if you want to climb the corporate ladder or simply to keep from being laid off. In this new “Selfie” absorbed world, we post to social media everything that we do and some even do this to make others jealous. It’s all about “look at me, me, me.” Jesus advises the opposite; when our light shines before others and they see our good deeds, we must give GOD the glory and not want the attention for ourselves.
For many years now, local and state governments have been considering whether or not to tax religious organizations such as hospitals, churches, schools and community centers. There is no appreciation for the work we do in our local communities; no appreciation for the thousands and millions of people that we have helped with clothing, food, shelter, medical needs, guidance and hope. What religious organizations do, we do for the Lord – not for the glory of men and women, and certainly not for tax breaks! It is God’s abundant love that fuels St. Mary’s and St. Augustin’s to care for our community. We are merely stewards of God’s good gifts – all that we are and all that we do is for the glory of God! So, this week we ask ourselves individually, do we do good deeds for the praise and admiration of others, or do we do them to glorify our Heavenly Father?
January 28, 2017
How would you rate yourself on a holiness scale? How do you even measure it? In today’s Gospel, Jesus is preaching the Beatitudes, i.e. guidelines in holiness… "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land….” When my sister died in March of last year, my family chose the Beatitudes for her funeral reading. Lynn truly lived by them; she was a living saint, always putting others first, truly humble and merciful, always a peace maker and she reached out in love to everyone she encountered. My family was distraught over her unexpected death but we simply could not be sad for her for she was finally released from her long suffering of neurological pain from Lyme disease that ravaged every part of her body. The final words of the Beatitudes keep us going… “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.” Jesus did not simply offer these words to placate the poor and the lowly; he truly meant that those who endure any kind of suffering, that those who intentionally try to lead holy lives will be rewarded. And the paradox is that those who truly embrace the Beatitudes do not do it for the reward, they simply embrace them as a way of life. Please look closely at the Beatitudes to see if they are evident in your life and perhaps you might just learn that you are indeed on the path to holiness.
January 22, 2017
Sometimes in life we do not have the luxury of considering all options before making a major decision. I think about the gentleman who threw his own body over a woman during the Ft. Lauderdale airport shootings. As he lay over, Tony Barosiewicz, a 70-7ear-old retired electrician from Rochester, acted as a human shield during the attack, and said to her, “I will protect you.” What enables people to make these sacrificial snap decisions? Perhaps it is a lifetime of putting others before oneself and being ever-ready to answer God’s calling.
In today’s gospel from Matthew, Jesus calls the first disciples to follow him with the famous words, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” What was it about Jesus that inspired those men to immediately drop everything and follow Him? Or perhaps we should ask; What was it about those men that enabled them to follow Him? They gave up their fishing business, their livelihood, to commit themselves totally to Jesus. Each of us has made many commitments throughout our lifetimes: school, sports, music, job, spouse, friends and family, just to name a few. But have you ever thought about your commitment to your faith? Do you stand firm in your commitment to Christ even when it proves to be inconvenient or difficult? Why not start every day with a very simple prayer like this, “Lord, today I commit my life to you.” Sound scary? Go for it!
January 15, 2017
Today we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus. He was not an infant when it happened; in fact, he was 30 years old. But why did Jesus want to be baptized when baptism is for repentance? He had nothing for which to repent; he had no sin! Even John the Baptist was perplexed and told Jesus “You should be baptizing me!” Sometimes we forget that Baptism is not only for the wiping away of original sin. Jesus’ Baptism was his official endorsement by the Father at the beginning of his mission for the salvation of the human race. In the waters of Baptism, Jesus’ showed us that he identifies with sinners; so much so that He will take the Sins of the World upon his own shoulders at his crucifixion. Today, at baptisms we are welcomed into God’s family and we officially begin our own missions on earth; we also recognize the dignity of each person as PRIEST, PROPHET and KING. As “Kings” we are reminded that we are God’s children – members of his royal family with riches promised to us beyond our wildest imaginations. As “Priests” we are called to offer God our prayers, intercessions, as well as our daily sacrifices. As “Prophets” we are called to speak out against injustice with the truth of faith and to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. What do you believe your missions on this earth have been up to this point in your life? Can you predict any future mission that God has in store for you? We just never know what a new year will bring!
January 1, 2016
This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God and thus we are called to reflect on our own mothers, fathers and families. Even though my own family is somewhat unique in many ways, we are also just like everyone else; we’ve faced difficulties, trials and tribulations, celebrations and far too many sorrows recently. Yet, like a Timex watch, we keep on ticking. Laughter has always been a big part of our family dynamic; we choose to see the bright side of life rather than the dark. We grant forgiveness quickly rather than hold grudges. We never compete or compare, rather we rejoice in each other’s accomplishments, gifts and talents. We rally together to support someone in crisis. And never do we part, in person or on the phone, without exchanging an “I love you.” Our love comes from a deep abiding connection to God and this love overfills and extends to others who aren’t as fortunate to have a loving mother, father or family. Our blessed Mother continues to remind us that the grace of God is offered to all families – functional or dysfunctional – we simply have to ask for God’s help.
What life’s lessons have you learned from your own mother and father? What are/were your family dynamics? Are there long running feuds? Is forgiveness quickly granted? Do you complain rather than count your blessings? What can you do this coming year to help heal divisions? What can you do to express more love? If your family has unhealthy vicious cycles, then make the decision that they stop now with you!! Your family deserves the very best – seek god’s grace! And most sincerely, if your family simply cannot offer you the love you deserve because of dysfunction, then turn to the Blessed Mother and the Holy Family for wellness, love and healing.
December 25, 2016
In a conversation with one of our parishioners, he was proudly telling me how his 4 year old daughter plays with her Little People Nativity Set and how she narrates the entire story while playing with them. She knows all the characters, who they are, what they do and say. As he was telling me this, my heart was rejoicing at his parenting; you see this little child knew the Christmas story only because her mother and father taught it to her and reinforced it with a nativity play set. While most children know all about Santa Claus, do they also know about Jesus’ birth? Do you for that matter?
Last year at Christmas, I was very sick with a flu and I was only able to say one Mass (by the grace of God). For the homily, I gave the congregation a quiz about the Christmas Story – we had fun – we learned that some of what we thought was fact was not true. So, this year, I’m going to give a quiz again. If you are not able to attend Christmas Mass with us, I’ve included the quiz here for you and also on our website. Please share it with others. It’s a great way to focus our attention on the true meaning of Christmas… God becoming one of us. MERRY CHRISTMAS AND GOD BLESS!!
- When Joseph found out Mary was pregnant, what happened?
A. They immediately got married
B. Joseph wanted to break off the engagement
C. Mary left town for three months
D. B and C
- Joseph was originally from... (Luke 2:3)
- According to the Bible, how did Mary and Joseph get to Bethlehem?
C. Joseph walked while Mary rode a donkey
D. The Bible doesn’t say?
- What does the Bible say that the inn keeper said to Mary and Joseph? (Luke 2:7)
A. “There is no room in the inn.”
B. “I have a stable you can use.”
C. None of the above
- A manger is a...
A. Stable for domestic animals
B. Feeding trough
C. a stone cave
- Which animals does the Bible say were present at Jesus’ birth?
A. Cows and sheep,
B. Cows, donkeys, and Sheep
C. None of the above
- Who saw the star in the east?
C. Both the Shepherds and the Magi
- How many angels spoke to the shepherds? (Luke 2:10)
B. First One and then a Multitude
D. It doesn’t say
- What did the angels say/sing to the shepherds? (Luke 2:14)
A. “Glory to God in the highest, ...”
B. “Joy to the world, the Lord is come”
C. “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given”
- What is myrrh?
A. Middle Eastern currency
B. A spice used for burying people
C. A precious metal
- According to the Bible, How many wise men came to see Jesus?
A. Three (Balthasar, Melchior and Gaspar)
B. An entire Caravan
C. We don’t know.
- When the wise men found Jesus he was... (Matthew 2:11)
A. a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes
B. A young child in a house
C. Twelve years old in the Temple preaching
- The “star in the east” that the wise men followed... (Matthew 2:9)
A. Stayed in the same place their entire journey
B. Moved ahead of them and stopped over the place where Jesus was
C. was actually a Comet
- What happened to the wise men after they met Jesus? (Matthew 2:12)
A. They went to Temple and proclaimed a King had been born
B. They departed for their country by another way
C. They reported the birth of Jesus to Herod
- What did Herod do after he learned a King was born? (Matthew 2:8-16)
A. He died later on
B. He sent the Magi to Bethlehem to search for the child
C. He ordered the massacre of all boys in Bethlehem who were 2 years old or under
D. All of the above
- Where did Joseph, Mary and Jesus live after he was born?
D. A & B
E. B & C
December 18, 2016
We light the fourth candle of the Advent Wreath leaving only 6 more days until Christmas Eve. Hopefully, the Advent reflection books that we sent to you have been uplifting and inspirational. In today’s Gospel, we finally hear the news of the infant; Mary had just learned that she will bear a son. Joseph, her betrothed, had just learned that Mary was with child and the child was not his own. Can you imagine the betrayal he must have felt? But because he was a good and righteous man he was planning to divorce her quietly. Legally, he had the right to expose her shame and the penalty would have been stoning to death. Luckily for Mary, and for all humanity for that matter, he was a man of faith and a dreamer, for in a dream he learned that Mary was indeed telling the truth that she had conceived by the Holy Spirit. It was Joseph who named the child Jesus. In all of scripture, Joseph never utters a word – he is simply a man of love, action and total trust in the Lord. He and the Blessed Mother were Jesus’ first teachers of the faith. We believe that faith is best taught at home, which builds a solid foundation lasting a lifetime. So, today we ask you to reminisce about your own teachers of faith. Who are they, what did they teach you, how did they teach you? We’re never too old to learn and to push the boundaries of our faith and to dream about the awesomeness of God who was willing to become one of us – Emmanuel, God is with us.
December 11, 2016
When I was a boy, my father would take me and my brother and sister to pick out a live Christmas tree and every year my mother would complain that the tree we picked out was too big. This happened year after year until she finally put her foot down and she took us to pick out a tree. She chose a small tree against our wishes; we got it home, put it in the stand, took a step back to look at it, and one by one we all walked out of the room without saying a word. She could see our disappointment. My father came to the rescue and returned the tree and brought back a huge one! My mother never complained about the size of a tree after that.
Did you know that John the Baptist, the greatest of all the prophets, may have been disappointed by Jesus’ gentleness and humility? At Jesus’ baptism, John witnessed the Holy Spirit descend and he heard God’s voice saying “this is my beloved son…listen to him.” However, John was expecting a mighty and all-powerful savior; so right before John’s death, he asked for a definitive answer if Jesus truly was the Messiah for which humanity was waiting. John had to put aside his own expectations so that he could see with true clarity. The Messiah had indeed come; Jesus confirmed he was the Messiah by quoting the prophet Isaiah; “the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.”
Dealing with disappointment is part of growing. Even God can disappoint us when He answers our prayers against our wishes. We have to surrender with complete trust in God; only then can we come to the realization that God knows what is best and wants only the best for us. And indeed, God did send uss the very best –his only begotten Son, Jesus!
December 4, 2016
As we prepare for Christmas, the Prophet Isaiah offers us a beautiful image of a world where animals that should be enemies are living together peacefully: the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the goat; the calf and the young lion shall browse together. If only human beings could live in a world where we all live in peace; a world where we practice acceptance and tolerance, compassion and mercy, forgiveness and repentance. On this second week of Advent, John the Baptist urges all of us to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” How quick are you to admit your own shortcomings and wrongdoings? Do you make amends for your sins by producing good fruit as evidence of your repentance. What lessons have you learned from your own mistakes that you can pass along to others so they don’t make the same mistakes? And how well do you empathize with someone who is struggling in life, especially if you have endured a similar hardship? Repentance is good for the soul and a great way to “Prepare the way of the Lord.”
November 27, 2016
Ah, the wearin’ of the purple is back once again! Advent is here. Christmas decorations are springing up everwhere. It’s an exciting time; little children are counting down the days; adults are getting in the spirit of giving. But in all of this, are you remembering to prepare your hearts for the coming of the Christ Child? When I was 26 years old, I was working on a naval submarine simulator on Christmas Eve. My project was of high importance and it had consumed all my time and energy. That evening I was so sad and so disappointed in myself; how did I let this happen on Christmas Eve no less. I hadn’t prepared one and, instead of being excited, I dreaded Christmas because I just wasn’t into it. There was no christmas spirit in me…Ba Humbug!
During this advent season, I challenge you to focus on the true meaning of Christmas. Prepare your home with a manger scene. Seek out Christmas music that is actually about the Baby Jesus. Send out cards with religious themes. We’ve sent every parishioner a pray/reflection book to help us all get in the true spirit of Christmas – God becoming man! Don’t allow yourselves to be too busy and distracted; do whatever you can to Keep Christ in Christmas!
November 20, 2016
This Sunday is the last Sunday of the church year and we conclude with the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. All creation begins and ends in Christ the King who is the Alpha and Omega. And yet our Sunday readings depict not a mighty king crowned with gold and jewls; but rather…
a humble king who was crucified and crowned with thorns…
a poor king who lived among his people, not in wealth but in poverty…
a compassionate king who always practiced what he preached, and that was love…
a merciful king who forgave those who drove the very nails into his hands…
a courageous king who was willing to die so that his people might live.
Is Jesus Christ king of your life? Have you given your life and will entirely to Him? If not, what is holding you back? If so, what evidence is there that Christ is truly Lord of your life?
November 13, 2016
Over the ages, mankind has been obsessed with the Armageddon – the end time when Christ will return to finally defeat the ‘beast’. Do you ever wonder how and when our existence will end? Do you believe that humanity will ultimately survive or will we obliterate ourselves with weapons of mass destruction, or will we all be annihilated by an asteroid or natural disaster, or will we slowly extinguish ourselves along the planet with pollution and the stripping of earth’s natural resources? I feel that only by the grace of God has humanity held it together for this long. But as fear, intolerance and violence are on the rise, we seem to be on the brink of war with numerous countries and caustic ideologies. What kind of world will we be leaving to our children and our children’s children? What have we done with the good gifts God has given us from the time we came into being? Do you believe that going green, recycling and using renewable resources will ensure our future? Or might you be part of an entitled culture, which devours more than your fair share of the world’s resources and goods? How are you personally ensuring that future generations will inherit a healthy and peaceful world in which to live in? How do you promote Christ’s peace and reverence for all creation in a world full of violence and self-centeredness? What are you doing to help humanity avoid its own self-destruction?
November 6, 2016
During the month of November, we remember our loved ones by praying for them at each Mass. Our attention turns to what awaits us and all humanity in the next life. It will be a glorious existence; a belief worth fighting for - a belief worth dying for. Have you ever contemplated what this new existence will be like? The church does not dare to offer us a definitive vision of heaven; to do so would be nothing more than a lesson in futility. Jesus hinted that our human minds are simply incapable of imagining the joy and complete love we will experience in the presence of God. This year alone, my family has experienced seven deaths including my own sister and brother. Without our belief in the resurrection, we would have crumbled into fetal positions under the weight of despair. The hope of the resurrection is not just meant to give us hope at deaths door, but also to give us inspiration to live each day to the fullest as followers of Jesus Christ. How has the promised resurrection given you hope personally? And how have you shared this hope with those who have serious doubts or who don't believe at all. This is your calling and your responsibility from the moment of your baptism - don't take it lightly.
October 30, 2016
In today’s Gospel, the crowd criticized Jesus when he invited himself to eat at the home of Zacchaeus – a dishonest tax collector. They grumbled against Jesus simply because He didn’t choose to have dinner with them. We are no better when we grumble against those whom we perceive to be better off than us – luckier than us – more blessed than us. But the Gospel promptly ignores the jealous crowd and focuses on what happened spiritually to Zacchaeus. Upon meeting Jesus, the tax collector immediately admitted his sins and planned to make amends with those whom he had cheated in his past life. One might say he had foreknowledge of today’s twelve step program. However, you don’t have to be an addict to benefit from the twelve steps; they are a path to reconciliation and healing for average people who may have hurt themselves or others with their sinful actions or words. I’ve listed them here for you:
- Admit you are powerless over sin — that your life has become unmanageable.
- Believe that a Power greater than yourself can restore you to sanity.
- Make a decision to turn your will and your life over to the care of God.
- Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself.
- Admit to God, to yourself, and to another human being the exact nature of your wrongs.
- Be entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly ask Him to remove your shortcomings.
- Make a list of all persons you have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all.
- Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continue to take personal inventory and when you were wrong promptly admit it.
- Seek through prayer and meditation to improve your conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for you and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, try to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all your affairs.
October 23, 2016
Jesus had the greatest difficulty getting through to the self-righteous; the Scribes and Pharisees were quick to criticize his every word and action and called him a drunkard and a friend of prostitutes and lowlifes. Their self-righteousness was so blinding that they were convinced that Jesus, the Holy Son of God, must die. Over the course of my life and especially as a priest, I’ve met some truly holy people. They’ve enriched my life and the lives of so many others with their love, acceptance, wisdom, mercy and compassion. I’ve also met some “holier-than-thou,” self-righteous people who have left me with knots in my stomach. Their version of Christianity gives them permission to judge and condemn others in the name of God or under the guise of Catholic orthodoxy. Because of their intolerance for the sinner, they repel rather than invite others into the Kingdom of God. They do Christ a great disservice when their hypocrisy turns others off to faith and religion. If you are asking yourself, “Am I holier-than-thou?” you probably aren’t… because those who truly are self-righteous have already convinced themselves that they are not!
October 16, 2016
Today’s message can be summed up in one line from the gospel; “pray always without becoming weary.” God welcomes our prayers - our untiring prayers. Most of us have prayed from the depths of our hearts for something or someone at some point in our lives. Some difficulties in life don’t have quick and easy solutions. Imagine the persistent daily prayers of parents concerned for their disabled child or a husband praying for his wife withering from cancer. Prayer of this depth offers comfort, resilience, wisdom, knowledge, renewed outlook, growth, courage and hope. Never underestimate the power of prayer.
In the first reading, Moses discovered that while he lifted his arms in prayer the battle would go in his favor, but when he grew tired and lowered his arms the battle would turn against him. He grew so weary that others had to come to his aid and hold up his arms. There are times in our lives when we need to be lifted up and there are times when we need to lift others up. At every Mass during the Prayer of the Faithful we join Catholics all over the world as we offer our petitions. For the needs of the Church, for governments, for our families and neighbors, and for our own personal intentions, let us pray to the Lord… Lord, hear our prayer!
October 8, 2016
In today’s Gospel, Jesus healed ten lepers yet only one of them returned to give thanks. Do you remember to thank God for his many blessings or do you take many things and people for granted? Worse, do you give yourself the credit for all that is good in your life? Or worst of all, are you a ‘curse counter’ who dwells only on your misfortunes in life? My mother, even while suffering from dementia at the end of her life would recite a prayer she created: “Thank you Lord for the many blessings you have bestowed upon me and my family.” My mother could have easily dwelt upon the many difficulties she faced in life; she raised seven children in poverty while coping with my father’s debilitating mental illness. She made a conscious choice to be thankful. Meister Eckhart, a theologian and mystic, said “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”
October 1, 2016
All the violence in the world today is certainly disheartening: mass shootings, mothers and fathers killing their own children, senseless destruction by ISIS, deadly force by police and then retaliation against police. It seems every time we turn on the TV we see something more horrific than the day before and perhaps we might even pray to God for all this to stop.
Throughout the course of human existence it seems every generation has experienced various forms of violence. In our first reading, the prophet screams “How long, O LORD? I cry for help but you do not listen! I cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not intervene. Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery?” This weekend we are reminded that God does not simply snap his fingers and solves mankind’s problems; there are no quick fixes and there are no shortcuts in our faith journey. We are called, through prayer and sacrifice to mend our ways and to always strive (with God’s assistance) for a better world.
Thomas Merton said it beautifully, “There must be a new force, the power of love, the power of understanding and human compassion, the strength of selflessness and cooperation, and the creative dynamism of the will to live and to build, and the will to forgive. The will for reconciliation.” Hard work, no quick fixes - only then will we know peace!
September 24, 2016
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells a parable of a very rich man who never noticed Lazarus, a poor hungry man covered with sores who lay at his doorstep day in and day out. They both died and those who heard this story were shocked to learn that the poor man went to heaven and the rich man went to hell. Even from hell, the rich man felt no remorse for ignoring Lazarus; he continued to think only about himself and even demanded that Lazarus serve him. This parable is a reminder of the consequences of sins of omission. Scripture defines the sin of omission as knowing the right thing to do and not doing it. We all know what is asked of us as followers of Christ: to love, to forgive, to care for the poor, to serve others, to be kind, merciful and compassionate, and yet we fail – sometimes we fail miserably as we get engrossed in our own self-centered worlds. There are no excuses for failing to do something we know we should have done, so it always best to be honest with yourself and with the Lord. Every day God presents us with opportunities to be loving; may we seize every occasion so as to give God glory.
September 17, 2016
Throughout the course of humanity we have warned each generation about greed that enslaves; the desire for wealth that takes over a person (or peoples) like a deadly cancer – possessions over which we thought we had control, inevitably control us. Jesus warns us that we cannot serve both God and mammon.
Some bible translations substitute the word wealth for mammon; a better explanation would be the desire for material wealth or possessions that has a corrupting influence. Note: Jesus does not say that wealth or possessions in and of themselves are evil; he specifically warns us that they have the potential to enslave us and inflict evil. For example: my cousin Richard was approached by the infamous Bernie Madoff himself, but Richard sensed something corrupt and refused to invest, however, many of Richard’s friends who did invest lost everything.
What if you learned that one of your investments involves immoral practices such as child sweatshops, an unethical scheme or worse? Would you be inclined to drop that investment even if it is doing very, very well? What if you discovered that the company you are working for was somehow cheating or harming its customers? Would you buy something that you suspected might be stolen? Have you ever considered all the corruption and evil behind recreational drugs? We must always balance our desire for possessions with our desire to serve God and our neighbor; only by this are we able to thwart mammon’s enslavement.