Our Salvation, Our Life, Our Resurrection

September 14, 2017 – Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross celebrates two historical events: the discovery of the True Cross by Saint Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine, in 320 under the temple of Venus in Jerusalem, and the dedication in 335 of the basilica and shrine built on Calvary by Constantine, which mark the site of the Crucifixion.

The basilica, named the Martyrium, and the shrine, named the Calvarium, were destroyed by the Persians in 614. The Church of the Holy sepulcher which now stands on the site was built by the crusaders in 1149.

However the feast, more than anything else, is a celebration and commemoration of God’s greatest work: his salvific death on the Cross and His Resurrection, through which death was defeated and the doors to Heaven opened.

The entrance antiphon for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is: “We should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he is our salvation, our life and our resurrection: through him we are saved and made free.”

Source: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/saint.php?n=594

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Pray for the Whole World

September 13, 2017 – Memorial of St. John Chrysostom

St. John Chrysostom’s influence on church teachings is interwoven throughout the current Catechism of the Catholic Church (revised 1992). The Catechism cites him in eighteen sections, particularly his reflections on the purpose of prayer and the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer:

Consider how [Jesus Christ] teaches us to be humble, by making us see that our virtue does not depend on our work alone but on grace from on high. He commands each of the faithful who prays to do so universally, for the whole world. For he did not say “thy will be done in me or in us”, but “on earth”, the whole earth, so that error may be banished from it, truth take root in it, all vice be destroyed on it, virtue flourish on it, and earth no longer differ from heaven.

Christian clerics, such as R.S. Storr, refer to him as “one of the most eloquent preachers who ever since apostolic times have brought to men the divine tidings of truth and love”, and the 19th-century John Henry Newman described John as a “bright, cheerful, gentle soul; a sensitive heart.”

Source: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=64

The Time to Respond is Now

September 12, 2017

When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called a Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. (Luke 6:12-19)

To what is God calling us?

Let’s start that conversation by discussing the men Jesus called as Apostles. Make no mistake, the twelve Jesus called were not the best and the brightest. The Rabbis leading the religious communities were surrounded by scholarly disciples. These disciples studied for years and trained under Rabbis before being sent out as learned leaders. Only the best were called. Only the best survived.

Jesus called fisherman and farmers, even a tax collector. He taught them through parables, which they often had difficulty understanding. Even after they were called, they were misfits. Their faith surged and faded. Doubt was always looming. Yet that is who Jesus called; that is who Jesus sent.

The apostles were not special because they were called. None of them were extraordinary by birth. They were special because they responded; they were extraordinary because they answered the call to serve.

You are no different. Each of you has God-given gifts. Each of you have been called. I did not say “will be called.” You can’t sit around waiting for a bolt of lightning or to have the hand of Jesus tap you on the shoulder.

You are here now. The time to act, the time to respond is now.

God calls you everyday to use the gifts you’ve been given to serve others: to volunteer at your church, to be there for a friend who is struggling, to be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves, and to grow your faith and take that faith out into the world.

You won’t enjoy eternal life because you were called. You will enjoy it because you responded to the call.

Thoughts on Forgiveness

September 11, 2017 – Patriot Day

On September 11, 2001, there were four aerial suicide attacks coordinated to strike the areas of New York City and Washington, D.C. On that Tuesday morning, 19 terrorist from the militant group al-Qaeda hijacked four passenger jets. The hijackers intentionally flew two of those planes into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center complex in New York City; both towers collapsed within two hours. The hijackers also intentionally crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia,  and intended to pilot the fourth hijacked jet into the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

The total number of people killed in these attacks was 2,819. In addition, 403 police officers, firefighters, and paramedics, working to save the lives of others, also lost their lives. Thousands of citizens were injured while trying to help in some way.

Such events make the words of Jesus difficult to process: “…love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well…”

Which brings us to a question that most of us have struggled with at some point in our lives: Just how forgiving are we supposed to be? Are we called to forgive in every situation, even terrorism? What does the Church, what does our faith, teach us about forgiveness? These are deep theological and moral questions.

Before talking about what forgiveness means, let me begin by saying what forgiveness does not mean. Continue reading

Homily: Direct, Honest, and with Love

September 10, 2017: Twenty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time

Readings: Ezekiel 33:7-9, Romans 13:8-10, and Matthew 18:15-20

Homily delivered at St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis:

Speaking for God, the prophet Ezekiel said, “If you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way, I will hold you responsible.”

Instructing His disciples, Jesus said, “If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault.”

The readings take us in an interesting direction. Are we being called to judge our fellow man? This certainly is not in line with modern thought. The strong message coming from society is that everyone has a right to do as they please, with no moral boundaries.

Being judgmental also flies in the face of foundational Christian ideals – hospitality and welcome to all, celebration of the diversity and unique gifts of others. Didn’t Jesus say, “Stop judging, that you may not be judged”?

It is important to note that today’s readings focus not on judging others, but rather on holding others accountable…accountable for their decisions, words, or actions. The readings tell us it is our responsibility to hold others accountable. In addition, Jesus told us to be direct in our approach: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault.” You go and tell him his fault. Continue reading

Reflective Insight

September 9, 2017

Some Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?” (Luke 6:1-5)

Because the Pharisees were continually in conflict with Jesus, one might get the impression that they were not a very intelligent group. Just the opposite is true. The Pharisees were the best and the brightest of the Jewish people. They were scholars of Mosaic Law, experts in their field.

The Pharisees were very intelligent, but lacked reflective insight. They were so caught up in the letter of the law that they lost track of the spirit of the law.

Jesus preached a simple message of love – love of God and love of neighbor. It was not His intent to thumb His nose at the law, but rather to provide a framework that would enhance and bring relevance to the law.

Don’t let the clutter of life distract you from what is most important.

Mary: A Foreshadowing of God’s Love

September 8, 2017 – Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

On this Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I offer a reflection from the Franciscan Media website:

We can see every human birth as a call for new hope in the world. The love of two human beings has joined with God in his creative work. The loving parents have shown hope in a world filled with travail. The new child has the potential to be a channel of God’s love and peace to the world.

This is all true in a magnificent way in Mary. If Jesus is the perfect expression of God’s love, Mary is the foreshadowing of that love. If Jesus has brought the fullness of salvation, Mary is its dawning.

Birthday celebrations bring happiness to the celebrant as well as to family and friends. Next to the birth of Jesus, Mary’s birth offers the greatest possible happiness to the world. Each time we celebrate her birth, we can confidently hope for an increase of peace in our hearts and in the world at large.

Source: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/nativity-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary/