Jesus Loves Simply, Mercifully, and Equally

February 10, 2018

I spoke at a men’s retreat recently and one thing I had stated at that retreat was that “Jesus does not love us all the same; He loves us equally. He provides each of us with what we, as individuals, need.”

I shared the content of my talk with my wife, Carol. The next day, she shared a reflection from Word Among Us that offered a similar perspective:

It may not be easy, but it is simple. Jesus loves you. Not because you do the right things. (No one is perfect.) Not because you embrace every one of his teachings. (Everyone struggles with at least one commandment.) And not because you have shown yourself to be better than other people. (God’s rain falls on the just and unjust alike.) No, Jesus loves you because he looks into your heart and sees how “very good” it is (Genesis 1:31). He looks past the hurts, the resentments, and the unconfessed sin, and peers right into the center of who you are.
 
It’s right there, in the center, that Jesus sees the love he has placed in you. He sees your desire to please the Lord. He sees the goodness and purity that God created you with. And what he sees pierces his heart with love. With joy. With compassion. It’s this gaze that can melt our hearts and teach us to love as he does—simply, mercifully, and equally.

 

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Homily: Dial into God’s Frequency

February 9, 2018

The following homily, based on the same Gospel we hear today (Mark 7:31-37) was originally delivered at St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis, IN in 2015:

One of my prior jobs was that of high school athletic director. There were many details to the job, most of which revolved around the logistics of game night: contracting the opponent, hiring officials, overseeing ticket sales, providing for fan safety, supervising the behavior of fans, and so on.

An interesting, and somewhat sad, result of being an athletic director was that I found it very difficult to enjoy sports in my free time.

I would go to a college game, or even a Colts or Pacers game, and experience anxiety. If I saw someone slip and fall, I would worry about a potential lawsuit. If I saw long lines at the concession stand, I would have concerns about customer satisfaction. I would have the urge to correct the behavior of unruly fans. If I didn’t see enough game officials, I would think, “Oh no! What if one of them didn’t show up?” Continue reading

One Lunch, One Day

February 8, 2018

The following is my weekly letter to the Bishop Chatard HS parent community. This week I offered details of our annual Ash Wednesday ‘Soup and Bread’ lunch:

Next Wednesday, February 14, is Ash Wednesday and the start of the Lenten season. Bishop Chatard will be getting the Lenten season off to a strong start by incorporating prayer, fasting, and almsgiving into our day.

At 9:55 a.m., the entire school will celebrate Mass (prayer), which will include the distribution of ashes. During Offertory, we will be passing collection baskets. Students will be asked to donate any amount of money they are able (almsgiving). Money collected will be donated to Catholic Charities of Indianapolis, an organization that serves nearly 50,000 children, families, and adult seniors in need each year. Continue reading

Homily: Hold the Cookies

February 7, 2018 – Gospel: Mark 7:14-23

Homily originally delivered at all-school Mass at Bishop Chatard HS, Indianapolis in 2014

Today’s Gospel is about eating at Subway – at least that’s what came to mind for me.

I go to Subway whenever I am trying to convince myself I need to eat healthier. I order turkey on whole wheat, no cheese. Lots of veggies, hold the mayo. I top it off with a Diet Coke to go. Low calorie, very healthy.

Then, as the cashier is ringing up my order, I say, “And three cookies, please.” Subway cookies are the best. And you have to get three, right? They’re three for $1.00. Who would just buy one?

I follow the rules of healthy eating, right up until I order the cookies. Continue reading

They “ran to their crosses”

February 6, 2018 – Memorial of St. Paul Miki and companions

When the first missionaries, like St. Francis Xavier, came to Japan in 1549 they were welcomed. Many Japanese became Christians. When the leader Hideyoshi took command, he feared that Christians would take over the government. In 1587 he banished them and destroyed many of their churches. Some missionary priests stayed and went into hiding, dressing like Japanese in order to minister to the Christians.

Paul-Companions.jpg

More than 3,000 Christians were martyred in Japan. On December 8, 1596, Hideyoshi arrested and condemned to death the friars of Miako. Among them were three Japanese Jesuits, six Franciscans (four of them Spanish), and seventeen Japanese laymen. Charged with attempting to harm the government, they were sentenced to crucifixion.

The twenty-six men were tortured and then forced to walk more than 300 miles from Miako to Nagasaki through snow and ice and freezing streams. Along the way they preached to the people who had come out to see them. They sang psalms of praise and joy. They prayed the rosary and told the people that such a martyrdom was an occasion of rejoicing, not of sadness. Finally, on February 5, they reached Nagasaki, where twenty-six crosses awaited them on a hill now called the Holy Mountain. It is said that the Christians ran to their crosses, singing. Soldiers bound them to the crosses with iron bands at their wrists, ankles, and throats. Then they thrust them through with lances. Many people came to watch the cruel deaths. Hideyoshi and his solders had hoped the example would frighten other Christians. Instead, it gave them the courage to profess their faith as the martyrs had.

In 1858, Japan again permitted Christianity in Japan. Missionaries found thousands of Christians still in Japan. For two hundred years they had carried on the faith in secret.

Paul Miki was born in Japan and educated by the Jesuits. He would have been the very first Japanese priest if he had escaped arrest, for he had already completed his studies for the priesthood. From his cross he forgave his persecutors and told the people to ask Christ to show them how to be truly happy.

Source: https://www.loyolapress.com/our-catholic-faith/saints/saints-stories-for-all-ages/saint-paul-miki-and-companions

Will Your Faith Save You?

February 5, 2018

Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed. (Mark 6:55-56)

Believing they could be healed by simply touching the tassel on Jesus’ cloak. That is total trust in the power of Jesus.

Hearing of such faith makes me ashamed of my own tenuous faith. My inability to give up control sends the message to Jesus that I am not sure He can provide all that I need. Each time I ignore His help and instead rely on myself, my lack of trust is revealed.

I pray for the courage to place all my trust in Jesus, and perhaps someday hear His words: “Your faith has saved you.”

A Deserted Place

February 4, 2018

Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place… (Mark 1:29-39)

This is not the only time we hear of Jesus going off by himself. With the public life He was living, He was always “on.” People demanded so much from Him and He recognized how important it was that He respond to their needs. They were, after all, “like sheep without a shepherd.”
Jesus recognized His own needs as well. Sometimes He just needed to get away – to gather His thoughts, to reflect, to mourn, and to pray. He was expressing His humanity and setting an example for us. After all, if it’s good enough for Jesus…
Solitude is underrated. It offers us time away from all of the distractions of life. We can focus, calm ourselves, and clear our minds. We can reflect on things we have done or are considering doing. And, of course, we can pray. We can have open, honest, one-on-one conversations with God.
The peace and quiet that comes with solitude will also allow us to hear God’s response.