Homily: “God can’t fill us if we are full of ourselves.”

July 31, 2022 – Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: Ecclesiastes 1:2, 2:21-23 / Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11 / Luke 12:13-21

The following is the homily I will be delivering at St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis this morning:

Today’s readings appear to focus on the pitfalls of spending too much of our time and energy on accumulating “stuff” – warning us against our inherent desire to acquire, store up, or hoard earthly things or treasure.

However, it goes deeper than “stuff.” From the Book of Ecclesiastes, we heard: “Vanity of vanities!  All things are vanity!” In many religions, vanity is considered a form of self-idolatry.  

The readings call us to reflect upon our desire for earthly things, but also on our desire to impress others – to be seen as smart or wealthy or powerful. We like titles and rank, terms of superiority and status. We feel better about ourselves when others think highly of us.

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Homily: Greed

July 30, 2022

Tomorrow is the Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time and uses readings from Ecclesiastes, Colossians, and the Gospel of Luke and I will be preaching. The homily is still a work in progress, but will be focused on vanity and the gift of humility. 

Here is a homily I delivered on these same three readings BACK IN 2013 – focused on greed:

The theme of today’s readings is very clear: The message is about greed, and a misplaced focus on earthly things that have no real value.

Paul tells the Colossians to “think of what is above, not of what is on earth.”

We hear in Luke’s Gospel: “Take care to guard against all greed…one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

The movie “Wall Street” came out in the late 1980’s. Michael Douglas starred as ruthless corporate executive Gordon Gekko. In one scene, while speaking at an annual stockholders meeting, he said: “Greed works. Greed is good.”

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Memorial of Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus

July 29, 2022 – Memorial of Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus

Saints Martha, Mary and Lazarus’ story

Martha, Mary, and their brother Lazarus were evidently close friends of Jesus. He came to their home simply as a welcomed guest, rather than as one celebrating the conversion of a sinner like Zacchaeus or one unceremoniously received by a suspicious Pharisee. The sisters felt free to call on Jesus at their brother’s death, even though a return to Judea at that time seemed to spell almost certain death.

Martha’s great glory is her simple and strong statement of faith in Jesus after her brother’s death. “Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world’” (John 11:25-27).

No doubt Martha was an active sort of person. On one occasion, she prepares the meal for Jesus and possibly his fellow guests and forthrightly states the obvious: All hands should pitch in to help with the dinner. The Lord recognizes that Martha is “worried about many things,” also noting that Mary, who has spent the preparation time at Jesus’ feet listening to his words “has chosen the better part.” John 12:1-8 describes Mary’s anointing of Jesus’ feet at Bethany, an act which he praised highly.

Immediately after we are told that the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus “because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him.” Lazarus was the one of whom the Jews said, “See how much he loved him.” In their sight Jesus raised his friend Lazarus from the dead.

Legends abound about the life of Lazarus after the death and resurrection of Jesus. He is supposed to have left a written account of what he saw in the next world before he was called back to life. Some say he followed Peter into Syria. Another story is that despite being put into a leaking boat by the Jews at Jaffa, he, his sisters, and others landed safely in Cyprus. There he died peacefully after serving as bishop for 30 years.

It is certain there was early devotion to the saint. Around the year 390, the pilgrim lady Etheria talks of the procession that took place on the Saturday before Palm Sunday at the tomb where Lazarus had been raised from the dead. In the West, Passion Sunday was called Dominica de Lazaro, and Augustine tells us that in Africa the Gospel of the raising of Lazarus was read at the office of Palm Sunday.


Reflection

In its 2021 decree on combining veneration of Mary and Lazarus with Martha, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments said, “In the household of Bethany, the Lord Jesus experienced the family spirit and friendship of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, and for this reason the Gospel of John states that he loved them. Martha generously offered him hospitality, Mary listened attentively to his words and Lazarus promptly emerged from the tomb at the command of the one who humiliated death.”

Source: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saints-martha-mary-and-lazarus

Fish of Every Kind

July 28, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. (Matthew 13:47-53)

FISH OF EVERY KIND: I am a visual learner, so I generally work with Scripture by closing my eyes after reading, and visualizing what I have read.

God, the Great Fisherman, casting His huge net across the waters of the whole world and pulling in fish of every kind.

I know that day will come. I know I will end up in His net some day. What worries me is not knowing when. I would like to be ready when that time comes. I want to swim into the net fully prepared rather than get caught unexpectedly, or worse yet have the net pull me in when I am trying frantically to swim away!

What if he catches me on the day I get angry with Carol, one of the kids, or someone at work? Or on a day when I am being especially self-centered? What if the net scoops me up when my mind is drifting to the un-Godly? How about on a day when I fail to help someone in need?

I guess that is why Scripture tells us that God collects “fish of every kind.” He is pulling in fish that are prepared and willing to be caught, those caught unexpectedly, and those trying to avoid getting caught.

I am but a weak human being. I pray that I have the courage to live each day in preparation for my day in the net. May I be one of the fish swimming toward the net, confident that I have lived a life that has glorified Him.

Special note: Please pray for my sister, Sharon, today (July 28). Surgery at 8:00 a.m. to remove a brain tumor. Thank you!

Kingdom of Heaven

July 27, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

Jesus said to his disciples: “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.” (Matthew 13:44-46)

KINGDOM OF HEAVEN: The concept of heaven is unimaginable to the human mind. Knowing this, Jesus occasionally presented comparisons to His disciples – the Kingdom is heaven is like… 

Much of Chapter 13 in the Gospel of Matthew is devoted to such comparisons. By presenting these comparisons, Jesus was asking His disciples to reflect upon their priorities. The timelessness of scripture calls us to do the same.

*What would we give up to reach the kingdom of heaven?

*What sacrifices would we be willing to make?

*What value do we place on attaining heaven?

If you want to know what a man values, watch how he spends his time.

Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne

July 26, 2022

On the Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the following comes from the Franciscan Media website:

Saints Joachim and Anne’s Story

In the Scriptures, Matthew and Luke furnish a legal family history of Jesus, tracing ancestry to show that Jesus is the culmination of great promises. Not only is his mother’s family neglected, we also know nothing factual about them except that they existed. Even the names “Joachim” and “Anne” come from a legendary source written more than a century after Jesus died.

The heroism and holiness of these people however, is inferred from the whole family atmosphere around Mary in the Scriptures. Whether we rely on the legends about Mary’s childhood or make guesses from the information in the Bible, we see in her a fulfillment of many generations of prayerful persons, herself steeped in the religious traditions of her people.

The strong character of Mary in making decisions, her continuous practice of prayer, her devotion to the laws of her faith, her steadiness at moments of crisis, and her devotion to her relatives—all indicate a close-knit, loving family that looked forward to the next generation even while retaining the best of the past.

Joachim and Anne—whether these are their real names or not—represent that entire quiet series of generations who faithfully perform their duties, practice their faith, and establish an atmosphere for the coming of the Messiah, but remain obscure.


Reflection

This is the “feast of grandparents.” It reminds grandparents of their responsibility to establish a tone for generations to come: They must make the traditions live and offer them as a promise to little children. But the feast has a message for the younger generation as well. It reminds the young that older people’s greater perspective, depth of experience, and appreciation of life’s profound rhythms are all part of a wisdom not to be taken lightly or ignored.

Source: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saints-joachim-and-anne

Struck Down

July 25, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

“…we are persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:7-15)

STRUCK DOWN: Sometimes life gets the best of us. We feel beat down and depressed.

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul encouraged them to stay the course and be patient. He pointed out that they may be down (persecuted and struck down) but they are never out (not abandoned and not destroyed) as long as they keep Jesus in their heart.

We too struggle at times. Unfortunately, we tend to turn away from God when we need Him most! Rather than blame God when times are tough, we should be asking Him to share the burden with us. He will always say, “Yes.” He will never abandon us.

Homily: Creature of Habit

July 24, 2022 – Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: Genesis 18:20-32 / Colossians 2:12-14 / Luke 11:1-13)

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

I am a creature of habit. There are a number of things I’ve been doing on a daily basis for years.

My morning routine is a good example: I wake up at 5:00 a.m. There is no need for an alarm anymore; my body just knows it’s time to get up. I pray the Liturgy of the Hours morning prayer from 5:00-5:30. I do what I consider my “online evangelization” from 5:30-6:00. The reason for this social media presence is to offer simple messages of faith, hope, and love. While the goal is to share the gospel message with others, it also serves to ground me in my own faith.

A new wrinkle has been added to my routine in the past year. At 6:00 a.m. I take on the NY Times Wordle game. When completed, I leave a note for Carol to let her know how many guesses it took me to get the word, so she can try to beat me when she wakes up. 

From there, after breakfast and a shower, I am in the car by 7:00 a.m. to go to work. On the way to work, there is just one stop – at the Circle K for my fountain Diet Coke. Not to toot my own horn, but I am a proud charter member of the Circle K ‘Sip and Save’ Club.

I just returned from an extended vacation in Siesta Key. You would think my routine would go out the window while on vacation, but that’s not what creatures of habit do. My routine simply went to Florida with me.

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Start Over

July 23, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

“We are safe; we can commit all these abominations again”…I too see what is being done, says the Lord. (Jeremiah 7:11)

START OVER: I have spoken to students about Reconciliation in the past. This passage from Jeremiah reminds me of the message I gave to those students. I told them, “Reconciliation is not a do-over; it’s a start-over.”

The idea of Reconciliation is to seek forgiveness with a contrite heart, and to be genuine in our attempts to avoid sin in the future. It should be a start-over in that we do not go down the same road that led us to sin previously. We are expected to choose a better path.

When we approach Reconciliation without a contrite heart, it is just for show. We are simply hoping to wipe the slate clean so we can start writing the same story on it again. We opt for a do-over and are destined to fall into the clutches of those same sins all over again.

The Lord reminds us through the prophet Jeremiah: “I too see what is being done.”

God wants us to start over.

Mary Magdalene

July 22, 2022 – Feast of Mary Magdalene

Saint Mary Magdalene’s Story

Except for the mother of Jesus, few women are more honored in the Bible than Mary Magdalene. Yet she could well be the patron of the slandered, since there has been a persistent legend in the Church that she is the unnamed sinful woman who anointed the feet of Jesus in Luke 7:36-50.

Most Scripture scholars today point out that there is no scriptural basis for confusing the two women. Mary Magdalene, that is, “of Magdala,” was the one from whom Christ cast out “seven demons” (Luke 8:2)—an indication at the worst, of extreme demonic possession or possibly, severe illness.

Writing in the New Catholic Commentary, Father Wilfrid J. Harrington, O.P., says that “seven demons” “does not mean that Mary had lived an immoral life—a conclusion reached only by means of a mistaken identification with the anonymous woman of Luke 7:36.” In the Jerome Biblical Commentary, Father Edward Mally, S.J., agrees that she “is not…the same as the sinner of Luke 7:37, despite the later Western romantic tradition about her.”

Mary Magdalene was one of the many “who were assisting them [Jesus and the Twelve] out of their means.” She was one of those who stood by the cross of Jesus with his mother. And, of all the “official” witnesses who might have been chosen for the first awareness of the Resurrection, she was the one to whom that privilege was given. She is known as the “Apostle to the Apostles.”


Reflection

Mary Magdalene has been a victim of mistaken identity for almost 20 centuries. Yet she would no doubt insist that it makes no difference. We are all sinners in need of the saving power of God, whether our sins have been lurid or not. More importantly, we are all “unofficial” witnesses of the Resurrection.

Source: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-mary-magdalene