Just Tell Us the Answer!

April 24, 2018

So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” (John 10:22-30)

As a classroom teacher, I often heard this same type of pleading. “Just tell us the answer!”

Jesus’ role on earth was first and foremost that of a teacher. As every good teacher knows, we do a disservice to our students when we simply hand them the answers. We want to form them as learners; we want them to be seekers of knowledge.

In order for the disciples of Jesus to grow and develop as followers, they needed to be prodded and challenged to seek the truth.

The easy path would have been to declare Himself the Christ, become King, and order everyone to do His will. The more difficult route, which Jesus the Teacher chose, was to lead His students to the truth.

The knowledge we gain through self-discovery is more permanent and life-changing than the knowledge of others that is handed to us.

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No Shortcuts

April 23, 2018

Jesus tells his disciples, “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved…” (John 10:1-10)

Fenced-in areas generally only have one gate. It is possible to get in the fenced area by other means. You could climb over the fence. You could dig your way in, burrowing under the fence. With proper wire cutters, you could cut a hole in the fence and climb through.

But none of those alternatives would be the right way, the appropriate way. They would be shortcuts. There is only one correct way and that is the gate.

We recognize that Jesus is the only way to eternal life, but sometimes Jesus’ way is challenging. We just want to take the easy way, and we look for shortcuts. Ultimately, it gets us nowhere.

Jesus, the gate, is the only source of salvation.

World Day of Prayer for Vocations – Participate!

April 22, 2018

The 55th World Day of Prayer will be observed today, Sunday, April 22nd, also known as “Good Shepherd Sunday.”  The theme of the day is “Listening, discerning, and living the call of the Lord.”

The purpose of this day is to publicly fulfill the Lord’s instruction to, “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest” (Mt 9:38; Lk 10:2).  Please pray that young men and women hear and respond generously to the Lord’s call to the priesthood, diaconate, religious life, societies of apostolic life or secular institutes.

Pope Francis offered reassurance to our discernment, saying, “If God is calling us to consecrate ourselves totally to his kingdom, then we should have no fear! It is beautiful – and a grace – to be completely and forever consecrated to God and the service of our brothers and sisters.”

Let’s participate in the day of prayer. Below is one prayer for vocations, followed by a link to over 40 more such prayers. Make an effort to use these prayers today – perhaps pray a different prayer each hour, or stop 5-6 times throughout the day, or pray one before each meal – be deliberate in your participation.

I am going to do this…will you join me and encourage others to do the same? If you are reading this on my blog of Facebook, please forward it on to others. If you are reading it on Twitter, please re-tweet it. Let our prayers for vocations be deafening! More than ever, the world needs good shepherds “consecrated to God and the service of our brothers and sisters.”

Loving and Generous God,
it is You who call us by name
and ask us to follow You.
Help us to grow in the Love
and Service of our Church
as we experience it today.

Give us the energy and courage
of Your Spirit
to shape its future

Grant us faith-filled leaders
who will embrace Christ’s Mission
of love and justice.

Bless our Church
by raising up dedicated and generous leaders
from our families and friends
who will serve Your people as Sisters,
Priests, Brothers, Deacons and Lay Ministers.

Inspire us to know You better
and open our hearts
to hear Your call.

We ask this through our Lord.

Many more prayers can be found at:

http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/prayers/prayers-for-vocations.cfm

Stay on the Bandwagon

April 21, 2018

Jesus had just told his disciples that He was the bread of life, and only those who eat of the bread can gain eternal life. Their response: Many of the disciples of Jesus who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” and later, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer walked with him. (John 6:60-69)

Sound like your faith life? Are you a part-time disciple?

Being a follower of Jesus Christ when things are going well is pretty easy. Just like it is easier to cheer for the hometown team when the team is winning. When the losses start mounting, our support for the team begins to wane.

If we jump on and off our faith bandwagon, our faith will never gain the momentum needed for growth. It will be stagnant and empty, with no depth. If we want our faith life to grow and develop, we need to be all in – in good times and bad.

If Jesus’ teachings are difficult for us to understand, we need to seek greater understanding, not reject the teachings. If we are struggling with something in our lives, we need to turn toward Jesus, not away from Him. If our prayer lives are unsatisfying, we need to look for ways to bring new life to our prayer, not stop praying.

Being all in means staying committed to Jesus and to our faith. It is the more difficult path at times, but has the greater pay off in the end.

Homily: Walking Tabernacles

April 19, 2018

Readings: Thursday of the Third Week of Easter: Acts 8:26-40, John 6:44-51

The following is a summary of the homily I delivered at our all-school Mass at Bishop Chatard yesterday:

Doing some reading the other day, I came across this thoughtful reflection: God intends us to be walking tabernacles for Christ. I really liked that image. We have a tabernacle at church, in which the Real Presence of Christ is housed. Unused Eucharist is stored there until the next time we celebrate Mass, at which time it is withdrawn and distributed as needed.

So, that is the tabernacle that is used at our weekly celebration of Mass. What about in-between Masses? How is Christ “distributed” the rest of the week? By us – we are walking tabernacles, distributing Christ to those in need. Continue reading

The Opportunity to Evangelize

April 19, 2018

The angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, ‘Get up and head south on the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, the desert route’ So he got up and set out” (Acts 8:26-27)

Philip did as he was told and ended up spreading the Gospel message to an Ethiopian eunuch, and eventually baptized him. Do you ever find yourself somewhere, or in some odd situation, and you’re unsure how you got there?

I am normally a quiet, reserved person – a definite introvert. Yet I find myself dropped into situations that challenge me and seem to be calling me to evangelize. I once found myself in a deep spiritual conversation with a stranger I met on a plane. The very first time I went out with a group to feed the homeless, I spent time holding hands and praying with a cocaine addict. A parishioner sat down for a cup of coffee with me and ended up pouring out his heart about his struggling marriage and lackluster faith life.

My guess is that these types of things happen to you, too. It is not always the work of angels coming to us in our sleep, but God does put us in some unusual situations. In so doing, He hopes we will be open to the people we meet and stretch our comfort zones. He hopes we will take the opportunity to evangelize. We are an apostolic people. Apostle means one who is sent. Sometimes we go willingly like Philip; other times we may need a little push.

I pray that we might embrace the situations in which we find ourselves, are open to others, and are willing to use the gift of the Holy Spirit in building God’s kingdom on earth.

Homily: Feed Others

April 18, 2018

The following homily was originally delivered at a school Mass at Bishop Chatard High School (Indianapolis) in May of 2014:

“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger…” (John 6:35)

Think about the number of times bread is mentioned in scriptures. God dropped manna from heaven to feed the Israelites in the desert. Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes in feeding the five thousand. At the Last Supper, Jesus offered the Apostles bread, saying, “This is my body.” The disciples on the road to Emmaus recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread.

Think about how important bread is. When you hear that a huge winter storm is on its way, what ‘s the first thing to fly off the shelves? Bread is a staple food for many. My wife has traveled many times to El Salvador. She tells me that the women of the village spend a majority of their day focused on bread – grinding the corn, kneading the dough, and baking it over the fire – making sure they have enough bread to feed their family. Bread is survival.

When I was a little kid, I used to go to the Wonder Bread Bakery on the south side of Indianapolis with my mom. Continue reading