Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, everyone! I have to admit, I've had this friendly frankie mask for way too long - almost 10 years. I enjoyed celebrating the All Hallow's Eve Mass at the St. Lawrence Center tonight and am going to catch a bad scary movie on cable before heading to bed.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Benedict Groeschel at Benedictine

Bad photo, I know, but I was glad to be at Benedictine Monday to hear Fr. Groeschel in person for the first time. Honestly, I don't watch EWTN that much, so I didn't have a lot of expectations for his speech, but he was very funny and of course very convicted in what he said. He encouraged the 'John Paul II' generation to continue to overcome the odds that detract from their Catholic faith, and called on more Catholic colleges to be like Benedictine and to do all they can to teach the faith of the Church and to strengthen their Catholic identity. Apparently, a Newman Society list is coming out this week listing the top 30 truly Catholic colleges in the country, and Benedictine made the list. Go Ravens! I always have a great time in Atchison!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Homily for the Solemnity of All Saints

For daily readings, see

I don’t know about you, but I am so glad that after hearing about the 144,000 whose foreheads were marked with the seal, John goes on to see in his vision another multitude that no one could count wearing white robes. Just in case I don’t make the top 144,000 people of all time, it is comforting to know there will be countless others as well who will inherit the kingdom of heaven. Oh how I would like to be in that number, when the Saints go marching in!
What an unbelievably great feast day this is, and not only because I have served the last three years as chaplain of St. Thomas Aquinas high school, the home of the Saints! Today is a quintessentially Catholic feast day, one that we do not share with our Protestant brothers and sisters, as we celebrate the light of Christ’s resurrection made visible by the lives of all holy men and women of history. It is true that we live in a world shrouded in darkness – a world made dark by sin – rivalry, envy, pride, violence, poverty, disease and doubt! But in all times and in all places, the light of Jesus’ resurrection remains visible as it is reflected in the lives of the saints! It is true that Jesus has his own light, a light that is powerful enough to scatter any darkness, but until the time when the ruler of this world is cast out once and for all time, he relies on holy men and women to reflect the truth that the Easter fire is still burning, and that sin and death will never have the final say.
Blessed are those men and women who have not seen, and yet have believed. Christ knew that after appearing to his initial disciples, that faith in his resurrection would not grow stronger based on his making an endless series of resurrection appearances. Instead, he ascended to the Father and sent the Holy Spirit to guide the Church into all truth, and to remind the Church of everything that Christ said and did. From the time of the Ascension onward, blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed, by letting the Holy Spirit guide them to believe in the truth of Jesus’ resurrection. It is because of the saints throughout history that you and I do not need to be afraid today – sin and death have only temporary power – they do not have the final say. The lives of the saints are living testimony to the truth of Jesus’ resurrection, a faith that has come clearly through 2000 years of human history – a faith that helps us to set our hearts on the kingdom of heaven!
The beatitudes are the commandments of those who no longer love their life in this world more than the eternal life preserved for them in heaven. Our life on this earth, lasts but a moment, but through the sacraments Christ left the Church we begin living today the life that we will live forever with God in heaven. In baptism, our robes are washed clean of original sin and we are reborn as children of God even while we remain in this world. At baptism we are sealed on our foreheads with holy Chrism and incorporated into the body of Christ – we become one of the 144,000 foretold in the book of Revelation. Through the sacrament of reconciliation our robes are washed clean of all sin, and in the Eucharist we receive from heaven food that strengthens our souls for the battle against evil. And in the sacrament of Confirmation we are sealed again on our foreheads with the gift of the Spirit, so that we will never stray from what is true, good, beautiful and eternal, and so that we might share in the mission of Christ to reconcile all things to God!
Through the sacraments Catholic people are filled with grace and goodness, and the more we cooperate with this grace, if we ask God to touch us with his grace more than we turn away from him in sin, the more we live not by the ten commandments, but by the beatitudes that are proclaimed with such joy on this holy feast! The ten commandments, as hard as they are to follow, are not the criteria of whether we become saints, of whether we gain the kingdom of heaven. For we are not saved by the law, but by the grace of Christ! Those who use the ten commandments as the final barometer of whether or not they will get to heaven will never get there! Even as we struggle to follow the ten commandments more exactly, we are to show evidence that our hearts love the things of heaven more than the things of this earth. Even before we live the ten commandments perfectly, we are to continually ask God to fill our lives with faith, hope and love, and we are to participate as fully as possible in Christ’s paschal mystery, allowing every part of our lives in this world to be broken apart so that the kingdom of heaven may be made more visible through us!
This in the end is the gift of the saints to us, not only all those men and women who have been canonized by the Church, but also all those men and women who were never canonized but who helped to strengthen faith in Christ’s resurrection. The gift of the saints is the example of those who sacrificed building a lasting kingdom for themselves on this earth and instead fearlessly trusted in the truth of Christ’s promises. In allowing their lives to be broken open, they passed down to us a treasure more precious than any kingdom Satan could offer us. The saints teach us how to love the kingdom of heaven, and how to make that kingdom more visible and more present through the gift of their lives. We should all ask them to help us by their prayers to move beyond our fears and our attachments to this life. We should learn from their example how to begin living today the life we will live forever with God in heaven. We should share in their victory by using our lives to bring many others to faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Oh when the saints, go marching in, oh when the saints go marching in! Oh how I’d like to be in that number, when the saints go marching in!!!!

Homily for Wednesday of the 30th Week in Ordinary Time

For daily readings, see

We usually assume that Calvinists believe in predestination, not Catholics. So what kind of predestination is St. Paul talking about in his letter to the Romans? Well, Catholics believe in absolute predestination, but not particular predestination. We believe that God knows each one of us by name, and he knew us even before we were born. And those whom God foreknew he predestined absolutely to become his children. God wants all those born in this world to become not only children of this world, but children of his heavenly kingdom, and He sent his only Son so that all men can be saved. Jesus himself proclaimed his mission to not lose anything of what was given him by his heavenly Father. So God predestines all to receive the invitation to become his children, but he respects the freedom that we have to reject his invitation. Thus, Catholics believe in absolute predestination, but not particular predestination. We have real, not perceived freedom, and we can choose to live as children of this world only. That is why Jesus asks us to strive to enter the narrow gate. Many are those who love this world; few indeed are those who love the kingdom of heaven!

KU 8-0 - can you believe it!

This is starting to get weird - like most KU fans, I've never been through something like this. Even in 92 and 95 when we were good, we never really had a chance to win the Big 8 or the Big 12. This is so different! I think most KU fans are wondering if we can run the table and maybe have Mizzou lose again before we play them in Arrowhead November 24th. Wouldn't that be great it MU had nothing to play for in the Big 12? I'm sure it would still be a great game, and now it is getting so hard not to look past Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Iowa State. Go Jayhawks! Here is a picture with my godson Jackson before the KSU game in Manhattan!

Homily for Tuesday of the 30th Week in Ordinary Time

For daily readings, see

In St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, he contemplates the gift that death is as a just punishment for sin. On the surface, of course, death seems like the worst punishment we could imagine, and what is more, it is a punishment that each one of us inherits before we ever commit a personal sin. But Paul’s letter gives us pause to consider what it would be like if we were able to sin an infinite number of times, doing damage to God and to ourselves and to our neighbor. This, in Paul’s estimation would we worse than death; it was be a life of slavery to corruption. Through Jesus, however, the Christian has hope of escaping this slavery to corruption, even if the Christian must first face his own death trusting in the truth of what Jesus says to us. Yes, for a time we must fight the good fight, and even face our own death, but Jesus has already given us the firstfruits of his resurrection by filling us with grace, and being our constant companion even unto our death so that we may face every human situation with faith, hope and love. Because of his faith, Paul is able to consider the sufferings of the present time as nothing compared to the glory to be revealed in us. Faith in Jesus’ promises is like that mustard seed and that yeast; a little bit of faith completely changes who we are, how we live, and what we believe our final destiny to be!

Homily for Monday of the 30th Week in Ordinary Time

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The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Pope John Paul II wrote a beautiful letter Dies Domini about five years ago reminding us to keep holy the Sabbath. In writing this letter, the Pope reiterated the importance of Sunday as a retreat day, a day for prayer and for focusing on the protection of the eternal life given by our Lord through his resurrection from the dead. Jesus himself today tells us that the Sabbath is a gift for doing good, and what is important about Sunday is not simply the religious obligations attached to the Sabbath, as important as these are, but that we pay attention to healing what is broken in our souls. Thus, Sunday is not simply a day for hitting Mass and then trying to fit in the recreational activities that we couldn’t fit into the other days, it is a day to live to the fullest as people who are destined for the kingdom of heaven. Thus, Sunday should be a day when we can focus completely on our status as children of the spirit, as St. Paul says. As a priest, I need to remember specifically that Sunday is not just my most important workday, it is also my chance to celebrate with the people I serve that eternal life is not some distant reality, but is made present here as we become together the body of Christ through our weekly reception of the Eucharist.

Bella the movie

I saw Bella Saturday with a great group of high school kids. I thought the movie was great but a lot of emotional work for me! I thought Jose embodied the beatitude - Blessed are the poor in spirit, or Blessed are the sorrowful! His sorrow gave him the heart of Jesus, who was more attracted to those in distress than those who felt they were self-sufficient. There were some great characters in the movie, all important in one way or another to its pro-life message. The movie really 'served' the pro-life movement without ever having to argue a point - just in showing the fragility and the beauty of human life. Go see the movie! It is showing on the Plaza, in Olathe and in Independence, I think. I hope it does well!

Homily for Sunday of the 30th Week in Ordinary Time

For daily readings, see

Both the Pharisee and the tax collector went to the temple to pray. Before we turn today’s Gospel story into a debate between whether it is better to be religious or not to be religious, it is important to see that both the Pharisee and the tax collector went to the same place, the temple, to pray, although they took up different positions within the temple. Today’s Gospel, I submit, is not really a discussion of whether it is better to be spiritual or religious. Many people who have fallen away from organized religion and Catholics in particular who have stopped availing themselves of the sacraments describe themselves as more spiritual than religious, and identify organized religion with hypocrisy, intolerance, and of course, as always asking for money. But it is important, I think, to see tonight’s Gospel not as a comparison between someone who is religious and prays in the temple, i.e. the Pharisee versus someone who now finds God in nature. No, today’s Gospel is not a debate between religion and spirituality; even the tax collector in today’s story is religious; he goes to the temple, respectful of his responsibility to pray to the God who has revealed Himself and done great things for his chosen people, Israel.
But now to the Pharisees of today’s time – those Catholics, shall we say, who perhaps attend daily Mass, go to confession once or twice a month, pray the rosary daily, do a daily holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament, and tithe on all their income. If there are Pharisees who exist among us today, certainly they include these kind of people who live their Catholic faith to the nth degree. What would Jesus think of such Catholics today? Let’s consider the other angle – what about those Catholics who attend Mass haphazardly, do not have a meaningful prayer life, go to confession once a year or less, and who spend more on themselves than they give to the Church – what would Jesus think of such Catholics today?
I think the question is easily answered in today’s scriptures. Just as a parent can’t be bribed into liking one child over another, nor can a parent be discouraged from loving one of his or her children because of their mistakes, so also God our loving father cannot be bribed into loving us more, nor put off by our sins into loving us less. God is love, and we cannot change who God is. By definition, God is one who constantly makes a complete gift of himself for the good of the one he loves. This constitutes God’s inner Trinitarian life, but also it explains the mysteries of creation and redemption in Jesus Christ. God is love, and is always in search of us, His beloved. He cannot be anything else.
Today the mistake of the Pharisee is highlighted, but this of course, is no reason to be any less diligent in the practice of our faith. The Pharisee is to be greatly commended for taking the moral life seriously, and for doing good and avoiding evil, so that He neither harms God nor his neighbor. The Pharisee is to be greatly commended for honoring God with a daily routine of prayer and by the sacrifice of his income. The only thing that needs to be corrected in the life of the Pharisee is that He must do his religious observances with greater humility. It is human nature for us to compare ourselves with others – we must do this if we are to surround ourselves with good people and limit our exposure to bad people who will lead us astray. But our judgments are never solid, but temporary, and we are to look forward to other people growing in goodness and virtue, and should do our part to help them. The Pharisee in his prayer in today’s Gospel of course makes the mistake of trying to convince himself that maybe He had done enough to serve God, that perhaps He did not need God’s help as much as the next guy. This of course, was a lack of gratitude on the part of the Pharisee, for He saw his own virtue as his own accomplishment, rather than the work of God within Him. And so to remain a good person, the Pharisee no longer needed God’s help, so long as the tax collector and those like him remained sinners in comparison. Today’s Gospel, then, is not about becoming less of a Pharisee in our religious practice, but is a reminder to thank God more and more for his presence in our lives, and to invite him to continue to come closer and closer and to touch our lives more and more, and especially to continue healing us at our weakest points.
The tax collector, on the other hand, because of his humility, is the hero in today’s story. What is highlighted is his humility in knowing that He is not righteous through His own willpower but needs God’s help and has the humility to ask for it. What is hidden for the tax collector in today’s story is his new responsibility to use the forgiveness given Him to go and to bear fruit. It would be a pity, wouldn’t we all agree, if the tax collector took God’s forgiveness for granted, and did nothing to turn away from sin. That is why Jesus always told those He forgave to sin no more, and why we all pledge to avoid the near temptation of sin during our act of contrition before we are absolved of our sins.
We all would like to get to a place where we avoid our sins more easily and do the good we know we should do. But it is more important, we learn in today’s story, not to rely completely on our own willpower, as strong as it may be, to become righteous. If we rely only on our own willpower, not only will we risk not becoming righteous, but we may attribute any progress that we make to ourselves, and not to God, and so reduce our dependence on Him. God is like our parent, He will love us no matter what, and so we do not need to be afraid of Him, but can rely more and more on Him and less on ourselves. Instead of continuing to be people who turn away from Him 100 times before we ever ask for His help, let’s instead be people who ask for His help 100 times more than we turn away from Him!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wednesday of the 29th Week in Ordinary Time

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How can this be? This is Mary’s response, albeit a response of great faith and readiness, to her being pulled into a mystery that was beyond her comprehension. How can this be? This question is an important sign of our vocation, of being asked to do something by God that we can never be qualified to do. In the same way that a lowly handmaid was called to be the Mother of God, so each one of us should expect to one day be chosen to move out of our lowliness to a place where we are entrusted with much more than we could ever deserve or imagine.

Finding our vocation in life, of course, is much more than just matching our gifts and our desires with the appropriate job description within the Church. It is more than figuring out our preferred way for building God’s kingdom. More important than this matchmaking process is a willingness on our part to be pulled deeply into a mission that will constantly both astound and confound us. Rather than planning for a successful life working within the Lord’s vineyard, we are let God call us to something that goes far beyond any plan we could devise, but instead charges us with doing something that we would never choose for ourselves.

Allowing God to entrust us with all his property, with a greater portion of his kingdom than we want or could ever be qualified for, forces us to be the slaves of grace that Paul envisions us to be in the reading from Romans. We either choose or are chosen; there is no middle ground, and in allowing ourselves to be chosen by Christ, we will fill up what is lacking in his suffering, and be led precisely where we do not want to go. In all this, Christ does us the tremendous favor of not allowing us to measure the worth of our lives by our own expectations. No, the Lord who puts us in charge of his property, will forever work to save us from the pride of self-reliance. We should always be echoing the question of Mary – how can this be?

Many people fear their true vocation because of the truth of today’s Gospel. Once you start, you cannot stop, and in this, of course, lies salvation, a chance to forget ourselves within a mission so big that we will never give ourselves a pat on the back, but only receive the consolations of the one who has chosen us and guides us on our way! Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Homily for Sunday of the 29th Week in Ordinary Time

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When the Lord comes, will he find any faith on the earth? As Vocation Director for the Archdiocese, this question from our Lord at the end of today’s Gospel can easily be distilled to a question about religious vocations in general, and vocations to the priesthood for our Archdiocese in particular. When the Lord comes, and He does come to us for a living encounter right now in the scriptures we have heard and in the Eucharist that we are about to share – when the Lord comes, will he find men of faith who are willing to leave everything to follow Him? When the Lord calls men to be priests, will He find anyone with enough faith to answer His call?

Winning the battle for vocations, for discernment of God’s will and for the courage to follow the Lord wherever He may lead us, is a matter of prayer. This weekend’s scriptures plead with us to be vigilant in prayer, and we see clearly that it is when we stop praying that the battle for vocations will be lost. As long as Moses was vigilant in prayer, the Israelites had the better of the fight against the Amalekites. But when his vigilance waned, the enemy advanced. As Christian people who know that holiness is a true battle, and who know that the determination of the enemy is relentless, today’s first reading is an encouragement for us to be prayer warriors if we are to have any chance to know God’s will clearly in our lives and to sustain the courage to answer His call.

As vocation director, I experience many great Catholic families and young people who are open at least in principle to God’s call in their lives. Rare, however, are those families and young people who pray fervently asking God to call them to be different, to be saints, and to set them apart to teach people how to love the kingdom of heaven. It is natural for us, I guess, and part of my own story, to want first to be normal, and to pursue some sort of kingdom on this earth, while theoretically remaining open to God’s calling us to something different. We figure that if God wants us to be a priest or a sister, He will let us know by confounding our plans for marriage or for a career. We wait until life does not meet our expectations before asking if God wants us to do something different. Rare, however, is the Catholic family or the young person, who prays unceasingly that they will be given the gift of a religious calling, the chance to work singleheartedly their entire lives bringing people to love the kingdom of heaven and the eternal life that has been given through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

There are two ways that we can pray unceasingly for an increase of vocations to religious life, and especially for vocations to the priesthood for our Archdiocese. The first is to make a petition everyday that God will give the Church more priests, the priests she needs to build up the body of Christ and to be spiritual fathers protecting God’s people from the power of the enemy. I hope we are all doing this in our personal prayer, storming heaven asking the Lord for more priests, and we should do this unceasingly at Mass as well. In this, the annoying widow in the Gospel is our model and heroine, as she asks and asks and asks for what is so important to her well being. Our motto should be this: God wills absolute things absolutely and contingent things contingently. We are not praying trying to change God’s mind into giving us more priests, but if it is his will that the current shortage of priests is allowed as a means of stretching our faith and forcing us to pray, then I hope all of us here are up to meeting the challenge and will double our efforts to pray for more priests.

Just as important as this prayer directed to heaven, however, is the way that we teach each other to pray for more vocations to the priesthood and religious life. As I said earlier, it is one thing to pray that we remain open to whatever God might ask of us – this is a good and holy prayer. But this is not how Moses and the widow prayed in today’s scriptures. They did not pray simply for the grace to accept whatever outcome was inevitable, as good of a prayer as that might have been. No, they prayed for victory, for a decision in their favor. In the same way, our prayer for vocations is not simply a prayer for openness in case God might call us to be priests and religious; no, our prayer for vocations is a prayer asking God specifically to receive the gift of a calling to the priesthood or the religious life. It is a prayer asking God to choose me and not someone else! It is a prayer that priesthood and religious life will not be a vocation of last resort, but a vocation of first preference.

St. Paul says in our second reading that reading the scriptures will equip us for the work that God has marked out for us. Reading scripture before the Blessed sacrament, and engaging in daily mental prayer, will strengthen our will and determination to allow God to call us to something extraordinary. Going to confession regularly will release us from discouragement and weariness, and assure us of the Lord’s constant help. And praying the rosary will allow our Blessed Mother to help us more and more, for she was Jesus’ first and best disciple, and she did not hesitate but responded in faith when she was asked to do something extraordinary for God. Please join me and Archbishop Naumann and all my brother priests in praying more and more for vocations to the religious life, and especially for holy priests for our Archdiocese. Jesus tells us that we must pray always without becoming weary.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Homily for Sunday of the 28th Week in Ordinary Time

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The interesting thing about the healing of Naaman the leper is that he was not an Israelite. The miracle worked through the prophet Elisha led to the conversion of Naaman. Before the miracle, Naaman was not a man of faith, at least not in the God of Israel. Afterwards, Naaman loaded up two mule-loads of earth from the land of the Israelites, as a reminder that he was now a person of faith, and would worship no god except the God of Israel for as long as he should live, as a means of giving thanks for his healing.
The presence of miracles, however, does not always elicit faith, and so today’s readings are more about thanksgiving than about conversion. Because the healing of Naaman was so unexpected, what is highlighted through the healing was the extreme gratefulness showed by Naaman. Naaman did not believe that he was entitled to a healing; in fact, even though he had the faith to plunge seven times in the Jordan, he was doing so mostly because nothing else had worked. His plunging into the Jordan was more of a desperate last resort, than it was an act of faith. But the result is this; because Naaman did not think he was entitled to a healing because of his faith in the God of Israel, he is doubly thankful once the healing is surprisingly given. Ditto for today’s Gospel. Only the foreigner, the one who supposedly had the least amount of faith in Jesus, an Israelite, returned to give thanks to God.
Now probably all of us who have come to Mass this morning will offer some prayers to God for healing, either for ourselves or for someone we know or love or have promised to pray for. We bring so many prayers to this altar today – prayers for healing in mind, body or spirit. We present our prayers in confidence because we know that Jesus hears us and does what is best for us. Hasn’t Jesus taught us that whoever asks, receives, whoever seeks finds, and whoever knocks, the door will be opened? Doesn’t he say that since we who are evil know how to give good gifts to one another, how much more will our Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to anyone who asks him? Doesn’t Jesus tell us in the context of the Eucharist that He always gives to us everything that He has received from His Heavenly Father? Do we not profess the reality of the healing we receive at the Eucharist when we say to the Lord that we are not worthy to receive Him, but only say the word and we shall be healed? In all this, we profess the healing that is present to us in this Eucharist, for whoever eats this bread and drinks this blood will never die.
We know that the prayers we offer today are heard and answered, and yet there are times when we leave the holy Eucharist feeling like we have received less than Naaman the leper. And this is where today’s theme of gratitude comes in. It is true that I can be jealous of the healing received by Naaman today, because I believe my faith to be stronger than his, because I have prayed for many cups of suffering to pass me by and they have not passed me by, because I have prayed for many people to get well while still on this earth and they have not gotten well. Even though I have been healed of all of my sins through the blood of Jesus, even though I am healed by having a chance to eat the bread of life, to be physically joined to my Lord who lives forever through the miracle of the Eucharist, I can find myself jealous of Naaman, who was healed from his leprosy for a time that he might come to faith, but who had to face death again. I who have received a miracle a thousand times greater than anything received by Naaman can find myself jealous that he seems to have won the lottery, and I have not, even though I am more deserving. This, my friends, is the epitome of the lack of gratitude that is challenged by today’s Gospel.
During my third year of seminary I remember my spiritual director telling me that the main problem in my vocational discernment was my lack of gratitude. Even though I was getting closer and closer through the power Christ gave to his Church to be able to forgive sins and to consecrate the Eucharist, I would often find myself not excited for this, but full of resentment and self-pity at what I had to leave behind in order to answer this call to be a priest. It was silly, really – to be able to forgive sins one time, or to celebrate the Eucharist one time, was worth the sacrifice of my entire life, since my faith was sure that these sacraments bring the healing that lasts unto eternity. And yet I had a hard time saying thank you to God for these gifts, until my spiritual director pointed this out to me.
The word Eucharist means thanksgiving. If nothing else this weekend, may we grow in thankfulness for the miracles that are present here through the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ. No, we may not win the lottery like Naaman and the ten lepers who were healed by Jesus, but we and those we love will indeed be healed, not in this world only, but forever through the mystery of the Eucharist present here. For whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood will never die, but will live forever.

Homily for Saturday of the 27th Week in Ordinary Time

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Normally, when I give someone a compliment, I expect them to say thank you, not to correct my compliment. For example, if I would tell someone that they look beautiful today, I would not expect them to reply; rather, shouldn’t we say that the flowers are beautiful instead. Normally, it is rude to disregard a compliment, and in today’s Gospel, it at first seems rude that Jesus would not honor his mother by receiving a compliment on her behalf. But of course, just the opposite is true.

Jesus gives greater honor to His mother by revealing Her to be not only the descendant of Eve; one who gives life on this earth only. Jesus reveals his Mother as the new Eve; the mother of all those who will inherit the kingdom of heaven. Jesus in redirecting a compliment regarding the breasts that nursed him reminds us that man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Jesus tells us how to love his mother, by reminding us that without the Annunciation, there would be no eternal significance to the womb that bore him and the breasts at which he nursed. But because Mary heard the word of God and observed it, She became the mother of us all. May Mary help us by her powerful intercession to be people humble enough to hear the word of God and to observe it, so that our lives may bear fruit that will remain.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Homily for Wednesday of the 27th Week in Ordinary Time

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God had made a false prophet out of Jonah, and so Jonah was angry. Jonah was told to go and tell the city of Ninevah that a God he knew to be merciful would be unmerciful, and that the city of 120,000 would be destroyed in 40 days. So Jonah was angry that God forced him, against his will and better judgment, to prophesy to Ninevah, and then doubly crossed Jonah by not carrying out the evil that He had threatened. Jonah believed that He had reason to be angry, angry enough to die.

It is hard enough to be a prophet and to live a counter-cultural life in faithful witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is harder, probably, to do so without concern with how God chooses to use our prophetic service. Without cost we have received, without cost we are to give. Our service to God is not based on our control of the outcome; it is a response to divine love. Jesus says to us today in the Eucharist: I have handed over to you everything that I have received from my Father. We are to say to God, however He uses our service, the same thing at the end of our service. We are unprofitable servants; we have only done what we were obliged to do.