Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Fr. Jim's homily for December 18

The first and third readings today feature two men who give very different responses to God's messenger.  To King Ahaz God sent the prophet Isaiah but Ahaz would listen to him, he feigned humility, his whole reign was spent ignoring the law of God. Interesting to note that his wife was a very young woman, their child was named Emmanuel. To Joseph who was going to divorce is wife, God used an angel sent in his dream.  Upon waking Joseph followed what the angel saidand took Mary into his home. Both responded from their history of handling God's grace.

How is God speaking to us this week before the anniversary of His Son's birth?  How is God asking you to enter into His dream for the world? Maybe he is urging you to look seriously at the growing homelessness and work to find solutions. Maybe he is sending you a message to work hard at building family relationships over the next several weeks, rather than to stir things up.

For Ahaz his choices were all about what was good for him, and his ability to control. For Joseph his decisions were about what was good for his wife and family, and ultimately, for us.  Only you know what is going on within you.  However, you can make the decision right now at Mass how you want to respond to the grace God gives you to make the best moral choices possible.

We are free, we can respond many different ways.  What is His dream for you to follow?  Talk with him now, enter into His world, as we celebrate his entry into ours.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Homily for October 9

Leprosy is a symbol of spiritual disease, the disease of separating ourselves from divine grace and from one another.

When I sin, it moves me to the margins, isolates me from feeling one with the community; but Christ reaches out to me, heals me and restores unity.   What a tremendous gift!

This is happening within you and me more often than we may think.
Example: I was with a group of friendsone was African American.  We were having a great evening of joking and playing games.  Someone asked whose turn is it now?  I said. I don't know.  Let's see, enie mini mighty moe.  And I stopped dead in my tracks.  I could not believe I had begun to utter such a hateful, degrading, and dehumanizing rhyme, not spoken by me since my childhood some 70 years ago.
The seeds of leprous thought linger deep within. When we look inside and find hurtful, imperfect, sinful areas, which separate us from Christ and His people, we need to stop and stand in that spiritual distance, that no man’s land, acknowledge the stark reality we know all too well because we have been there before,  and call out "Jesus, Master, have mercy."

He gives us a way, a path for being cured:  He said: "Go and show yourselves to the priests."  Jesus provides a means of receiving his healing graces; its the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where the priest represents both the merciful Christ and the whole community which is hurt by our sinfulness.
The more we see Christ within others, the more we are able to acknowledge how we hurt others.  Then in asking for mercy, healing can take place.  This Gospel is asking us to be the one in ten who returns to Christ to say thank you for healing me.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

October 2 homily

Our job is not just to have faith, but to use it, to put it to use day in and day out, even when you feel it is useless to do so.
Habakkuk wrote for his people who were faithful Israelites for centuries and were loosing heart because life was getting rough and they didn't think God was hearing their plea or answering their prayers. He says be patient and focus, have faith, in the vision written on the tablets.
Isn't that one of the recurrent situations for people of faith even today? We may feel at times it is useless to trust in God, or to be just, and honest, and truthful when we see so much of the opposite all around us?
Paul tells Timothy, whom he ordained, to get in touch with his faith, or as we heard 'stir up the gift you received through the imposition of my hands.'   Like the Apostles, we need to ask Him to 'Increase our faith.'

In the Gospel Luke is addressing the rough job of Christians spreading the faith among people who didn't want to believe.  He reminded them of Apostles plea on the road to Jerusalem:  'increase our faith', and His response, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed you can do incredible things.  Then Luke immediately uses Christ's metaphor of field and tablefellowship: the field for the role of spreading the Gospel, missionary work, and the table for the role of celebrating the Eucharist and service within the church community.  These are two vital aspects for their mission as disciples who are to serve not be served.  

Christ admonishes them and us not to draw attention to ourselves, for our role is to be Christ in our world, in it is our joy to do so: we are only doing what we are obliged by faith to do, Oh Lord, Increase our faith, because it is difficult now when so many even in our own families are lax about witnessing and living out a vital faith life, for us to remain focused on our mission.

Each person listening to Luke, each person here today, has received the same commission at our baptism.  Ask the lord to help you put your faith into action.  Our neighborhood, our city our country needs for you to apply your faith.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Fr, Jim's Homily for September 25

Here at OMGC we have one of the most active SVDP societies in the Archdiocese. Let me say again, our SVDP group is one of the most active in reaching out to the poor. You are familiar with the hot lunch we provide not on paper plates, but on China, and served to hungry people on the last Saturday of every month.  But are you aware that there are at least 2 members of SVDP available every day of the year, who respond to the daily demands of the less fortunate among us, who come to our door. who visit the church, sometimes to sleep in our church or on our property. They seek our help for housing, for food, for medicine, for help with various needs.  It is SVDP which responds and their needs are met by your contributions in the 2nd collection on last Sunday of the month.

The nameless man in today's Gospel is telling us to respond to the needs of others – they are your brothers (and your sisters), not just so we don't end up in a place of eternal torment, but because they show us the face of Christ suffering.
In many ways today: you and I could be one step away from a serious set-back: a downturn of the market, being laid lay off; a California earthquake- the Big One- predicted, or suddenly an illness.  We need to reflect: do we take seriously the message of today’s Gospel? Or the words and teachings of Christ, who said what you do or don’t do to others, you do to me.
Base what you do on seeing the Christ in others, on your outreach to the suffering Christ out there. Let’s not be overly focused on what is happening in our own lives, lest that seem to create a great chasm separating us from one another, from reaching out to others from our hearts.  Jesus urges us to stand in for Him in our modern world.  

The suffering Christ is outside the doors of this church, on your home streets, in your work areas and offices. The hurting Christ is right in your midst.  He is asking you to respond, to be aware that he hurts when you hurt, or when your sisters and brothers are hurting. Look around, you will find Him in your midst.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

September 18 homily

The unjust steward is commended for being prudent, clever, creative, enterprising. Do you and I take our Catholic faith for granted? We do when we don’t live it. God often brings good out of evil. Here in the Gospel He is praising the ingenuity of a trusted man who is cheating his boss. 

Doesn't the steward represent all of us fallen human beings? Yet, were we to put the same energy into how creative we can be in helping another, in assisting the less fortunate, in educating others, in truly forgiving those who cheat us, how Christ-like that would be! We would be bringing this Gospel to life, for we would be taking what spiritual insights we have from our relationship with Christ, and sharing that with the people we meet, helping them to realize that Christ dwells within them also. 

That spirituality would be living out the Incarnational truth that Christ, whom we promised to follow, uses the likes of us to bring His salvation, his hope, his forgiveness to our world. That’s continuing the Incarnation today – making Christ present. 

The parable is urging us to apply similar attention to our spiritual life, we do it by seeing Christ and identifying him with the suffering, the poor, the others in our sphere of influence. It is The Little Flower's approach to the interior life. 

God's concern for all of us is grounded in the humanity that we all share, just as His Son shares our humanity. He sent Him here to become a human, like us that He might see and love in us what He sees and loves in Christ. 

In today's Gospel, to cheat another is to cheat the Lord, treating our neighbor badly could even turn that person away from God's love and mercy - what a terrible sin that would be! Jesus' common humanity with us requires us to treat everyone with respect, even the unjust, and you and I know how hard that is. Jesus never said it would be easy, but that he would be with us, sending the spirit to help us. 

It might be good for us to meditate on how God is using you to make Him present among the people you know. Let’s ask ourselves how he can use our treasures of faith, our unique relationship with Him, more productively for the kingdom.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Homily -- September 11, 2016

In the parable of the boy who leaves home and wastes his inheritance, Jesus gives us an account of the one son returning to his home (his father’s house), and the other son at home but refuses to go enter his father’s house. Yet the Father rejoices over his youngest son’s return and wants his first born to rejoice also.

We all have our areas of pride where we won't give in. It's that inner battle we face so often where our sinful spirit tries to thwart our good and noble spirit. It is that no man’s land wherein we get lost so easily and so often, but think back to how many times God has extended to you his mercy, and the grace of forgiveness. God has joy over our return to him. You and I make him happy.

I think of the promises I’ve made, I’ll loose weight, I won’t get angry.
We even make promises that we will be faithful and true whether it's in marriage or as is the case today for me: my religious vows. It happens to be the 58th anniversary of my religious profession of the vows of poverty chastity and obedience. It is also the feast of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine, the Augustinian parish priest, named the patron saint of the Souls in Purgatory – that place where we are purged of our weaknesses. Isn’t it fitting that this all comes together today September 10th: the long gospel today has three accounts of rejoicing over finding what was lost: a sheep, a coin, a son, and shows the purgatory we go through when we fail to live up to our many vows and promises.

Let’s ask for the grace to seek forgiveness from one another and from God? To receive the Sacrament of Confession, or Reconciliation, for God never tires of lifting us up and inviting us to share in his joy, to welcome us to His home.

Fr. Jim

Sunday, September 4, 2016

September 4, 2016

Discipleship requires total commitment. A disciple must take up 

the crosses in life, and renounce all possessions, be willing to let 
everything else yield to the commitment to Jesus. It is hard work 
and seems impossible.

Yet, we have some examples: one is seen in the letter to the 
Christian convert, Philemon, urging him to take back his slave, 
who had run away and was in prison with Paul, and to receive 
him as if he were Paul himself. Also, we have an abhorrence for 
slavery, yet in our news recently was another update on the 200 
young girls kidnapped in Nigeria by Boko Haram, as well as the 
restitution made by Georgetown Univ. to the descendants of the 
272 people sold into slavery in the mid 1800's.

Jesus gives us two parables to explain why things in this life need 
to besecondary to Jesus' call to discipleship. Both stories require 
an outlay of money, careful planning, and engaging others in 
order to be successful: building a tower, and waging a war. The 
focus of these parables is on willing discipleship. We may want to 
follow him, but do we have or are we willing to do what it takes 
to complete our mission? The main struggle in my spiritual life is 
trying to answer YES to that commitment. My spirit says yes, my 
human self struggles to keep on saying yes.

What the tower building and the battle mean for each of us is 
different, and often I think, it is something unexpected in our 
lives. At 50 years a priest, and 77 alive on earth I thought by this 
time I'd be more of a care-taker priest, say Mass visit the sick, 
get ready to meet my Lord, but certainly not still trying to build 
up a vital Catholic parish with diminished finances and fewer 
people coming each week.

​This weekend Mother Teresa is being held up as an example of 
what God can do through us individual weak human beings. Let 
us all reflect on the life of St. Teresa of Calcutta, her life spent 
on the edge of severe poverty, yet able to speak and witness to 
Pope, politicians or ordinary people about changing our outlook 
to be more Christ like. St. Paul himself is a prime example of 
someone whose life was turned around once he became a 
disciple of Jesus. His conversion occurred in Syria, on the way to 
Damascus to arrest and in-prison Christians. Ironic that Syria is 
still undergoing that battle.

Fr. Jim

Lets all of us look within. As we do so the Holy Spirit will guide us to see where and in what ways we might take up the cross of detaching ourselvesfrom things that possess us, and focus on the Joy of being His disciples.