In His Name

May 23, 2018

John said to Jesus,
“Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name,
and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.”
Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him.
There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name
who can at the same time speak ill of me.                                                                                        
For whoever is not against us is for us. (Mark 9:38-40)

It seems that since I have been ordained, people like to engage me in theological conversations. People from other Christian denominations will challenge me with, “Why do Catholics do this?” or “Why do Catholics believe that?” I do my best to explain the teachings of the Catholic Church.

At some point, I usually try to steer the conversation in a different direction by saying something like, “Maybe we could spend a few minutes talking about the beliefs we have in common.”

Then we can compare notes: We both believe our lives should be centered on the teachings of Jesus Christ. More significantly, we both believe in the two greatest commandments: Love God with all of your heart, and love others as yourself.

Shouldn’t these substantial areas of agreement make up for the small ways in which we are different?

Jesus doesn’t care if non-disciples are driving out demons without His permission. He focuses on the most important thing: they are doing it IN HIS NAME.

For whoever is not against us is for us.

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Do you need to re-evaluate how you’re spending your time?

May 22, 2018

If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all. (Mark 9:30-37)

Some pretty tough lessons Jesus is serving up these last two days! Yesterday He told us we need to trust in Him completely, give up control. Today He tells us being first, winning if you will, is about serving others. Another worldly concept turned on its head.

Give up control and serve others. Not sure that is the life most people envision for themselves. But it is the life to which we are all called as disciples of Jesus Christ. Jesus delivers this message of surrender and servitude quite consistently in His teachings.

Try pouring your daily activities through this filter: Is what I’m about to do serving me? Or it it serving God and others? If you are answering, “It is serving me” too often, you might want to re-evaluate how you are spending your time.

New Feast Day

May 21, 2018 – Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church

This is the first year of a new feast, the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. Below is information regarding the new feast. 

Pope Francis has decreed that Latin-rite Catholics around the world will mark the feast of “the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church” on the Monday after Pentecost each year.

 

The Gospel reading for the feast, which technically is called a “memorial,” is John 19:25-31, which recounts how from the cross Jesus entrusted Mary to his disciples as their mother and entrusted his disciples to Mary as her children.

The decree announcing the addition to the church calendar was released March 3 by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

Francis approved the decree after “having attentively considered how greatly the promotion of this devotion might encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety,” the decree said.

Honoring Mary as mother of the church on the day after Pentecost also highlights for Catholics that Mary was present with the disciples on Pentecost, praying with them as the Holy Spirit descended. Sarah said that Mary, “from the awaiting of the Spirit at Pentecost, has never ceased to take motherly care of the pilgrim church on earth.”

Source: https://www.ncronline.org/news/vatican/pope-adds-feast-mary-mother-church-universal-calendar

 

Homily: Courage to Unlock the Door

May 15, 2016 – Pentecost Sunday

Today we celebrate Pentecost Sunday. Below is a homily I delivered at St. Pius X Parish, Indianapolis, on Pentecost Sunday in 2013:

Everyone knows the story of Pentecost. The apostles had locked themselves in a room, afraid to go out and face the world without Jesus. The Holy Spirit entered the room in the form of tongues of fire flickering over their heads. They were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and suddenly found themselves with the courage to unlock their doors, step out, and begin preaching the Gospel message. The Holy Spirit gave them a voice.

The most amazing part of the gift they received was that all who heard them were able to understand. People from foreign lands, speaking many different languages and dialects, could understand what the apostles had to say. Each heard the apostles in his own language.

This concept of “speaking in tongues” –  how is that even possible? Maybe it is not as mysterious as it sounds.

My wife, Carol, has been to El Salvador seven times. We have pictures of her in a small village, looking like the Pied Piper, surrounded by smiling Salvadoran children. Carol sketched out a mural on the side of the simple structure serving as the community center, and all of the children were helping her paint it. Big smiles on their faces, paint everywhere.

Each time she goes there, she comes home with stories of what beautiful people the Salvadorans are. She comes back enriched by her relationship with them.

One year, I had the opportunity to go with her to El Salvador. When we arrived at the village, young people called out, “Caroleena!” and ran to her, and gave her big hugs. It was not until then that it dawned on me, Carol doesn’t speak Spanish!

I watched her all week, stumbling over even the most basic Spanish words and phrases. But she smiled, and she laughed, and she touched them and hugged them, she cried with them, she worked side by side with them. She let them know she cared about them. She was speaking the universal language of love. They understood her. She must have been speaking in tongues. Continue reading

Choose Joy

May 12, 2018

“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.
Until now you have not asked anything in my name;
ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.” (John 16:23-28)

Notice that Jesus did not tell His disciples, “…so that your happiness may be complete.”

Happiness has an expiration date. Joy is happiness on steroids. It is not something that we have to search for and it does not depend on anything from the outside world. We do not need to wait for it or hope for it. And no one can take it away from us unless we let them.

Joy resides in our hearts. The source of that joy is the love of Jesus Christ. We can access it at anytime.

We can choose joy. It is simply a matter of accepting the love of Jesus.

Continue His Work

May 18, 2018

Tend my sheep…(John 21:15-19)

Today we see some of the first signs of the passing of the torch from Jesus to Peter and the disciples. Jesus has been hinting that He will not be with them much longer. There was still much work to be done. His post-resurrection time on earth was nearing an end, so it was clear that others would need to continue His work.

Jesus was clear. He asked Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” When Peter replied in the affirmative, Jesus gave His command: “Tend my sheep.”

Jesus’ message: If you love me, you will continue my work.

As faith-filled people, we do many things to strengthen our relationship with Jesus. But nothing we do is as important as continuing the work He started while here on this earth.

If we love Him, we will tend His sheep.

Annual Letter to the Senior Parents

May 17, 2018

Last week I shared my annual letter to our graduating seniors. This week is my annual letter of advice offered to the parents of our graduating seniors.

Graduation is tomorrow, and even though Carol and I have been through it with all four of our children, I still get a bit nostalgic this time of year. The advantage of having experience is that it allows me to spot the newbies. The first-born children talk big and act like they can’t wait to get out on their own; but you can hear the uncertainty in their voice and see it in their eyes. Parents of the college-bound students talk confidently about how well prepared their child is to take on the world, knowing that just last week that same child thought his car was in reverse and drove it into the back end of their new SUV.

So thinking that parents of college-bound students might need some advice, here are a few pointers courtesy of my youngest son, Rob, when he was preparing to graduate from high school: Continue reading