Homily: There Are No Do-Overs

September 25, 2016 – Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Homily delivered at St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis, IN:

When we were growing up, a bunch of us used to get together to play whatever sport was in season. We played in a vacant lot next door to my friend Greg’s house.

The lot was almost perfect. It was level ground and big enough to fit a good size football field or baseball diamond. It was lined on one side with trees, so we had a place to park our bikes and get a few minutes of shade as needed.

There was only one small problem. There were power lines that ran overhead, hanging slightly lower than they should have been.

This was not often an issue. However, once in a while a long pass in a football game or a well-hit ball in a baseball game would hit one of the wires and drop to the ground.

After much debate, the decision was made that if the ball hit one of the wires, it was an automatic “do-over.” We just wiped the slate clean – that play or that pitch never happened. A second chance.

**********

In fifth grade I had Sister Scholastica for Math class. She was a good teacher, but most of us were scared of her. She was strict, and a little on the mean side. Continue reading

Trust & Confidence in God’s Mercy

September 23, 2016 – Memorial of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina

On the feast day of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, a prayer for trust and confidence in God’s mercy:

O Lord, we ask for a boundless confidence and trust in Your divine mercy, and the courage to accept the crosses and sufferings which bring immense goodness to our souls and that of Your Church. Help us to love You with a pure and contrite heart, and to humble ourselves beneath Your cross, as we climb the mountain of holiness, carrying our cross that leads to heavenly glory. May we receive You with great faith and love in Holy Communion, and allow You to act in us as You desire for your greater glory. O Jesus, most adorable Heart and eternal fountain of Divine Love, may our prayer find favor before the Divine Majesty of Your heavenly Father. Amen.

Source: http://padrepiodevotions.org/prayers-of-padre-pio/

Doing Our Best to Live It Out Each Day: “You are loved. You have value. You are not alone.”

September 22, 2016

Weekly letter to the Bishop Chatard HS parent community:

Two years ago, in the midst of multiple teen suicides in central Indiana, we called everyone at Bishop Chatard together for a family meeting. We shared a message with our young people that included repeating the words, “You are loved. You have value. You are not alone” several times.

If you would like to read what I shared with the students that day, you can go to: https://fromthedeaconsdesk.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/you-are-loved-you-have-value-you-are-not-alone/

Two years later, those same words can be found posted throughout our school building and students are doing their best to live out the meaning of those words.

The following is an article that was included in last year’s first edition of Trojan Matters, our student-produced magazine. An individual staff member of the magazine wrote it, but it did not have a byline. Why? I was told: “It was a Trojan Matters staff opinion. We are the voice of the community (in our community, we are the voice of the students) and it reflects the thoughts of all of us.”

Here is what the voice of the community had to say:

“You are loved. You have value. You are not alone.”

 To some people, these words are just another catchphrase that’s often repeated, but lacks any depth of meaning. But to other people, these words embody the kind of place that BCHS should strive to be everyday – a loving, open and accepting community. Continue reading

Jesus is Fascinating

September 21 – Feast of St. Matthew, apostle and evangelist

As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.  (Matthew 9:9-13)

When you read any of the Gospels, it becomes quite clear that people were fascinated by Jesus – both men and women, Jews and Gentiles, Pharisees and fishermen, kings and servants.

The Pharisees, the most learned class of the Jews, had an odd fascination with Him. Jesus was an upstart preacher, the son of a carpenter. He did not have the pedigree to be of any interest to the Pharisees. Why did they care with whom He ate? Why were they watching Him so closely? Was it that He made them question how they themselves were living their lives? Was it because He made them feel uncomfortable?

Other men, who had a job or a trade, seemed willing to leave it all behind and follow Jesus. Just because He said, Follow me? What really made them drop their fishing nets and push away from their customs posts? What was so fascinating to them about Jesus? Was it the realization that there must be more to their lives than what they were experiencing?

Then there were the sinners. Jesus was always surrounded by sinners, who like the others, were fascinated by Him. He didn’t sugarcoat anything. He called them out on their sins. So why hang around someone like that? Why follow a guy you know is going to challenge you on the way you live your life? Perhaps it is because of the other messages that permeated those challenges – His messages of love, forgiveness, and hope.

Jesus is still fascinating after all of these years. The reasons have changed very little: He makes us feel uncomfortable, makes it known that our lives could be so much richer, and calls us on the carpet for our sins, while offering love, forgiveness, and hope.

Fascinating stuff, don’t you think?

He is saying, “Follow me” to you. Will you follow Him eagerly like Matthew and the other sinners did, or will you point at Him and criticize Him from a distance like the Pharisees?

Mothers and Brothers of Jesus

September 20, 2016

Jesus said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.” (Luke 8:19-21)

It seems like organized Christian religions spend a good deal of time discussing what makes their denomination better than or different from other denominations. They believe that, but we believe this…so they are wrong and we are right.
As they discuss this among themselves, they are likely to walk right past the man who has been beaten, stripped, and left for dead on the side of the road.
Pope Francis tells us that we must “take responsibility for people and accompany them like the good Samaritan, who washes, cleans and raises up his neighbor. This is pure Gospel.”
When we do as Pope Francis suggests, we are the “mother and brothers” of Jesus, a family member of the One Body of Christ.

When Your Heart Allows Intent to Lead to Action

September 19, 2016

Refuse no one the good on which he has a claim
when it is in your power to do it for him.
Say not to your neighbor, “Go, and come again,
tomorrow I will give,” when you can give at once. (Proverbs 3:27-28)

Procrastinate lately? How much more “good” could we do if we did it right away, right when we thought of it? If we were judged on intent alone, we would be awesome “givers.” However, we often do not move beyond intent.

If someone needs prayers, be deliberate in praying for them.

If someone needs financial support and you are able to provide that support, do it.

If someone is in need of your time, do your best to make yourself available…even if it means putting off doing something for yourself. (Or as I tell myself, even if it is during a Colts game.)

Great things happen when your heart allows intent to lead to action.

 

 

Leave Your Door Open

September 18, 2016

Last Sunday, the gospel reading was the story of the Prodigal Son. I have heard that story hundreds of times, but Fr. Jim offered a new perspective I had not heard before, focused on the father.

He said the father came out of his house twice in the story – once to run to his “lost son” to offer him forgiveness and welcome him home. The second time he left his house was to comfort and encourage his older son.

If the father in the story represents God, we should understand that God is always open to us — whether we go to Him as sinners seeking mercy or go to Him for comfort in our distress.

If the father in the story represents me, I should understand that I cannot stayed closed up in my house if I expect to grow and nurture my relationships with others. Others must know my door is always open. I will exit my house to run to those who seek mercy; I will come out to comfort a friend in need.

Then, just as the father did in the story, I must welcome them (or welcome them back) into my house, into my life.