Homily: Be Open, Prepare, Welcome

June 24, 2018 – Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Yesterday was my 8th anniversary of ordination. This homily was originally delivered at St. Pius X Parish in June of 2012…it was my very first homily.

Today we celebrate the birth of John the Baptist. John is mentioned 91 times in the New Testament. He was involved in some pretty dramatic events:

  • He baptized Jesus in the Jordan and heard God speak
  • He was beheaded and his head served on a platter to King Herod

We also know that John the Baptist was not a ‘mainstream’ guy

  • He lived on the fringe of society
  • He was a desert dweller
  • He is described as wearing camel skin, having long scraggly hair and a beard, and it was written that he ate locusts and other insects

Descriptions of John may conjure up an image of someone who is not quite “all there.” But he was also described as “a voice crying out in the desert.” John had a powerful message that he was not afraid to share with whoever would listen. He preached a message of repentance.

Although he was loud and somewhat ‘in your face,’ the core of his message was one of love: Be open to Christ, prepare for Christ, and welcome Christ.

He was a voice crying out in the desert.

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I work with an organization called HOOP (Helping Our Own People). Our work is simple. We stop at our storage facility and pick up clothing and toiletries. We stop at a local church and pick up soup, sandwiches, and fruit. Then we take these items out and distribute them to the homeless near downtown Indianapolis. No questions asked, just give them what they need and spend some time in conversation. Continue reading

Homily: Our Only Fear Should Be Walking Alone

June 21, 2020 – Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: Jeremiah 20:10-13; Romans 5:12-15; and Matthew 10:26-33

You can listen to the homily here:

 

I will be offering the following homily at St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis today:

I offer this story from a young adoptive mother:

Planning. It is one job we all do best. We like to plan our days and our futures to make life go smoothly and predictably. No surprises, please! Most of our plans come and go without a second thought, but what happens when they go awry? Eight years ago our family felt the Lord leading us to do foster care. Our plan was to foster babies until God’s perfectly chosen child became available for us to adopt. We were very excited! Finally, after about two years, God delivered a beautiful baby girl with huge brown eyes to our front door. Our plans were going great! Nonetheless, one trip to the neurologist brought all our preconceived ideas of our future to a screeching halt. Our beautiful baby girl had serious brain damage from the drugs that her birth mom used while pregnant. The doctor informed us that the child we desired to adopt would forever need to live at home and have continual care. We were stunned and scared. Thankfully, the Lord was not surprised. I can rest knowing that His plan had been determined long ago, and all I need to do is walk with Him into the unknown future. Seven years later, I can say with confidence how thankful I am for God’s plan and for our daughter with those beautiful big brown eyes. 

The following is a quote from the late Reverend Billy Graham. He wrote: Historians will likely call our era ‘the age of anxiety.’ Fear and anxiety are the natural results when our hopes are centered on anything other than God and His will for us.

Interestingly enough, Billy Graham wrote those words in 1965. Fifty-five years later, those words still ring true.

Continue reading

Homily: Why Were You Looking for Me?

June 20, 2020 – Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

After three days his parents found Jesus in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. (Luke 2:41-51)

The following homily was originally delivered in June 2013 at St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis:

Young Jesus and I have something in common. In my youth, I too experienced being left behind. However, when comparing my experience to that of Jesus, the similarities end there:

  • Our family was not part of a caravan traveling home after Passover. We were heading to Wisconsin for vacation.
  • Jesus chose to stay behind. My parents forgot me.
  • Jesus spent his time in the temple. I was left at a truck stop on I-94.
  • When Jesus’ parents found him, he was sitting amongst the Rabbis, demonstrating his deep understanding of scripture. When my parents found me, I was chatting with a truck driver, wearing a cowboy hat, and eating a Popsicle.
  • When Jesus saw his parents, he said, “Why were you looking for me?” When I saw my parents, I started crying.

Continue reading

Homily: Am I a Pretender?

June 14, 2020 – Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

I delivered the following homily at St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis, IN in 2017: 

Let me begin with a heartfelt story:

A few years back, I was scheduled to give a talk at a parish and was sitting at our dining room table working on it. My son, Robby, came up behind me, put his hand on my shoulder and asked what I was working on.

When I told him a had a presentation I was preparing for, he asked, “What’s the topic?”

I told him, “It’s a talk on effective parenting.”

Any one of my other three children would have said something kind and encouraging such as, “That’s great!” or “You’d be good at that!”

Not Robby. He laughed and said, “And they want you to talk about that?” Continue reading

Homily: Unlock Your Door!

May 31, 2020 – 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

Homily: The Holy Spirit is Our “Bruiser”

May 17, 2020 – Sixth Sunday of Easter

Readings: Acts 8:5-17 / 1 Peter 3:15-18 / John 14:15-21

I will be delivering the following homily during our live-stream Mass at St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis this morning.

The current health crisis has temporarily eliminated sports from our lives, so my objective this morning is to kill two birds with one stone. I will offer a homily using a sports analogy. If you don’t care about sports, you still have the message of the homily to fall back on. If you don’t care for the message of the homily, at least you’ll get your sports fix. If you don’t like sports or my message, Fr. Jim will be preaching next week.

We love it when a plan comes to fruition. First, we set a goal for what we would like to accomplish – we start with the end in mind. Then we draw up a plan for how to accomplish it. We ask critical questions: What are the potential obstacles? Where can we get the help we need to overcome those obstacles? Finally, we execute our plan and assess the results.

In order to pull off my sports analogy, I will be pretending I know how to coach basketball. Continue reading

Homily: Conversations That Build Up the Church

May 15, 2020

It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain… (John 15:12-17)

What does it mean to “bear fruit”? We bear fruit when we build up the Church.

The readings of the entire Easter season are focused on the apostles’ effort to share the good news, the joy of the Resurrection. Their actions allowed for the building up of the Church, with the number of Christians growing from those eleven men to the 2.3 billion believers in the world today.

The apostles were sent out to bear fruit, to grow the Church. They did this by sharing their personal experience of the Risen Christ.

All Christians have that same responsibility. Continue reading

Homily: Well, Was It Worth It?

May 3, 2020 – Fourth Sunday of Easter

Readings: Acts 2:14, 36-41 / 1 Peter 2:20-25 / John 10:1-10

*Note: If you would like to hear this homily as delivered, go to: http://www.spxparish.org/resources/homilies/sermon/179-may-3-2020-homily

I would like to address two topics this morning. First, I will share the story of a disobedient child. Second, I will impress you with my knowledge of sheep enclosures.

Once upon a time, 1973 to be exact, there was a 13-year-old boy. For the purposes of this story, we’ll call him Rick. (OK, the story is about me.) My friends and I would often play football in the back yard. Occasionally, the football would end up in the neighbor’s fenced-in yard. I would quickly climb over the neighbor’s chain link fence, retrieve the ball, and return the same way.

After doing this repeatedly over the course of time, the neighbor’s fence began to show signs of wear, actually bowing a bit at my preferred place to climb. The neighbor came to our house one morning and very politely asked my mom if she could please tell me not to climb the fence. I was welcome to retrieve my football, she just asked that I go around to the other side of the fence and enter through the gate. Continue reading

Homily: Instruments of Conversion

August 30, 2020.

The following is a summary of the homily I will be delivering at Mass this morning.

*Added after Mass: Here is a link to a recording of the Mass if you would like to see and  hear the homily below in real time, click the link below (Homily starts at the 13:04 mark and runs to the 17:38 mark of the video) https://www.facebook.com/spxparishindy/videos/572189223416234/

Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” (Acts 8:26-40)

I have always admired people that openly share their faith, speaking about it with confidence and commitment.

The apostles, after being given the gift of the Holy Spirit, spoke boldly of their faith and were unwavering in their commitment to spreading the gospel message of Jesus Christ, even to the point of death. Continue reading

Homily: A Formation Story

April 26, 2020 – Third Sunday of Easter

Readings: Acts 2:14, 22-33 / 1 Peter 1:17-21 / Luke 24:13-35

This homily below (based on the same readings we have today) was originally delivered in 2017 at St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis:

When my fellow candidates and I were in formation to become deacons, we might occasionally slip up and use the word training when describing the process of becoming a deacon. We would quickly be corrected by our director, “You are in formation, not in training.”

The explanation was that when you train for something, you are preparing for a task. When you are formed, it becomes a part of who you are. We were not training to do the work of a deacon; we were being formed as deacons.

The formation process changed who I was.

I could point to several areas of transformation. However, as it pertains to today’s gospel, I will share just one: The formation process helped me to recognize the presence of God in my everyday life. Continue reading