3rd S. Easter 2022: Choose Wisely

Today’s homily is for the 3rd Sunday of Easter, May 1, 2022, and the readings can be found by clicking here.

As we enter into our 3rd week of Easter, in the Gospel we see the Apostles’ encounter with Jesus, and we see in the Acts of the Apostles the opposition to the Apostles’ message that Jesus has in fact risen from the dead. Peter and the apostles tell the Sanhedrin, the Jewish court, “The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree. We are witnesses of these things.” 

As an administrator I do a lot of investigations into student conduct, I can’t tell you how important it is to me to get eyewitness testimony! A parent calls the school very upset about what happened at school. I am very quick to say, “Ma’am/Sir I wasn’t there…and with respect, neither were you. We’re getting second-hand information. Give me some time, I’ll talk with the teacher about what she saw, and I’ll get some student witnesses from both friend and foe, to figure out what really happened. Then I’ll call you back to follow up. I wasn’t there, but let me listen to people who were.” That’s smart right?

I wasn’t there when Jesus told Peter that he is the Rock and upon that rock he would build his church, and I wasn’t there at the Last Supper when Jesus said, “Take and eat, this is my body.” And I wasn’t there when Jesus breathed upon the apostles and said, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them. And I wasn’t there when Jesus ate a meal with the disciples after he rose from the dead and said to Peter, “Do you love more than these? Feed my sheep.” But the apostles were, and they have given testimony to these incredible events that they witnessed with their own eyes. The Greek work for “witness” is mártyras, it’s where we get our word martyr–because the disciples went to their death giving witness to what they saw. They said, “We must obey God rather than men,” even to death. 

 And other people didn’t want to believe it, because to believe it would radically change their way of doing things–and so they rejected the truth of eyewitness accounts–and some even had them killed. The question before us today, what will we do? Will we believe it? Will we believe that Jesus performed great miracles, healing people and feeding thousands with a few pieces of bread? Will we believe that Jesus gave Peter his own authority to govern the apostles and the community of faith? Will we believe that through the Apostles and their successors ordinary bread and wine is changed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ? And will we believe in the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting? 

To give your “yes” to these articles of faith, to accept the truth of the Gospel accounts is to place confidence not in what we saw, because we were not there, it requires us to place our confidence in what they saw, what they experienced, and what they gave their life for, and that will demand of us a radical change in the way we live our life–it has implications. God is real. God visited his people. God created a church. God created a hierarchy of leadership in that church, who not only have his power to forgive sins, but makes him present in the Eucharist, and fills us with his spirit through the bath of rebirth. And all of this makes us people of the resurrection. We are reborn. We are made new, clean, and right with God again. 

Don’t think for a second that after all of that, God isn’t calling us to his service in some way, the question is how is God calling us? And when we go forth into the world proclaiming Christ crucified and risen to the world, will we obey God, or the teachings of men? Choose wisely.

2nd S. Easter 2022: Be Divine

Today’s homily is for the 2nd Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, April 24, 2022, and the readings can be found by clicking here.

John’s Gospel tells us quite plainly, “Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.” This is not a history book nor a science book, this was not written to teach us how the heavens go, it was written to teach us how to go to heaven; the very path to eternal life, the salvation of our soul. In God’s merciful love, his son paid a debt of sin that he did not owe because we owed a debt we could not pay. And in God’s merciful love he inspired the sacred authors to write the roadmap of salvation. We don’t know of any other way that a person might be saved except through the waters of Baptism. 

What a wonderful gift these Scriptures are to us, that preserve the life and teaching of God’s people, Jesus, and the apostles, whom our Lord bound together by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and charged with continuing His work of healing and forgiving sins. 

Make no mistake, the sacred scriptures are quite clear, Jesus came to earth and planned to stay with us until the end of time, and He has—not in his flesh—but in the flesh of his ministers by the power of the Holy Spirit. Just soak that up for a second. Jesus is here guarding and guiding his Church. That was John’s vision. He saw Jesus sitting in the midst of seven golden lamp stands that represent the seven churches of Asia Minor, the candle being the bishop,  Christ’s light in a world of darkness. In god’s merciful love he remains among us protecting and guiding the Church. 

And our bishop has ordained the ministerial priesthood and deacons to be his help in making Jesus a visible reality in the community of faith and in the world. What an honorable vocation, what an exceptional calling. Tragic to have such a shortage of men willing to be his voice, his eyes, his hands and heart. Jesus still sits amidst his Churches—not just in Asia Minor, but throughout the whole world, on every continent. That’s why we must support missions and missionaries—that Christ might be in every country and every community. In God’s merciful love he sends out men and women to share the good news. 

Jesus said to the apostles, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And he breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” And the Apostles courageously went forth, and in Acts we heard, “Many signs and wonders were done among the people at the hands of the apostles.” The sick and those possessed by demons carried into the streets in the hope that the first Pope’s shadow might fall upon them and they might be healed. What a sight. The mission and ministry continues still to this day. The harvest is abundant, but the laborers few. I’m asking for a few things today—first, pray for vocations to the priestly, religious, and diaconal life—not just today, but everyday. Make it a part of your morning or evening prayer, or at meals. Secondly, read the Bible–get one if you don’t have one. If you are a Christian who has not read the story of Jesus’ earthly life from beginning to end, then you need to. Thirdly, support our parish, our diocese, our ministers, and the bishop who makes Christ present to us. With words of affirmation, with service, in financial generosity, or with a card that says thank you for letting Christ the teacher, healer, and servant live among us through your life. And finally, be merciful. Give someone a break–even when they don’t deserve it. Allow God’s Divine Mercy to flow through you to others. Be Divine.

Easter Sunday Vigil 2022: It is Good…Again

Today’s homily is for Easter Sunday Vigil Saturday, April 16, 2022, and the readings can be found by clicking here.

I remember bits and pieces of when we were just little, before we were even in kindergarten, and my mom had made tacos–it was perfect. The table was set, my mom had done such a beautiful job, tortillas, beans, hamburger, onions, tomatoes…but my dad came home drunk and angry, which was not uncommon. I remember him taking the beans, dumping them on my mom’s head and flipping over the table–all of my mom’s hard work wasted on the floor. Immediately, with tears in her eyes, my mom began picking up the pieces, starting over, making it good again. And, can you believe, that all these years later, there’s still nothing my mom and our family loves more than Tina’s tacos. My brothers and sisters, listen to me, sin and violence does not have the last word, love does, God does. 

God created us in the divine image; “male and female he created them.” And he blessed them, saying: ‘Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.’” What a beautiful plan, what an amazing start…what love God had for his creation, what confidence he had in their potential. He gave them everything, put them in charge of everything, and loved them above all else, but they did love him back. They flipped the table, it came crashing down, and they were lost…we were lost.

In the garden with Adam and Eve, when Cain killed his brother, Abel, with Noah and the flood, and again with the tower of Babel, we are a sinful, arrogant, violent, selfish, impatient, and unloving people–and we cause sadness and suffering. We dump beans on people’s heads and flip over tables and create brokenness. In this way, in this sinful condition, there is no way to be saved. 

But God did not want us lost. He did not want us without his love, and so even as that first sin took place, God had already begun a way to save his children–not with what they could do (he already tried that), but with what he would do. We call that Salvation History; beginning with the call of Abraham, then Isaac, and Jacob, with Moses who led God’s people to freedom from slavery, to Kings David and Solomon, to Isaiah the Prophet, through whom the Lord siad, “My word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” 

Jesus is that word that came forth, and the salvation of unworthy, broken souls like yours and mine, is the end for which it was sent. With Mary’s obedience who said, “Let it be done to me according to your will,” and Jesus’ obedience to his fathers will, who said, “Not my will, but yours be done.” It was Jesus’ obedience, even to death on a cross, that paid the price for our disobedience in the garden, and our disobedience even still.

But death could not hold him! No sir! Death will not have the last word. Death has no power over life! Darkness has no power over light! And he is risen! Our Lord is truly risen! Alleluia, he is risen! Not just for his sake, but for ours, who believe and enter into the waters of Baptism. Somehow, through Jesus’ obedience, we who though disobedient, can still achieve the righteousness of God and hope in salvation. All of human history unfolded to this very moment that we celebrate tonight, Jesus conquered the grave and brought life to all who believe. As the angel said, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised.” Pope Francis said, “The whole of salvation history is the story of God looking for us: he offers us love and welcomes us with tenderness.” Tonight we not only celebrate Jesus’ rising, we celebrate our rising too, and we also celebrate the elect, who enter into baptism, and candidates whose baptism is brought to completion in Confirmation. God still looks for us, offers us love and welcomes us with tenderness. Love and life still conquers sin and death. Believe that. Tina’s tacos are the proof.