13th S. 2022: For Life

Today’s homily is for the thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, June 16, 2022, and the readings can be found by clicking here. The recorded homily is here.

In today’s Gospel Jesus and his disciples were on their journey toward Jerusalem, and while on the way they did not find welcome in a Samaritan village–not because Jesus had done anything to them at all, but only because Jesus’ destination was Jerusalem. You will remember, of course, the Samaritan woman at the well who reminded Jesus that Jews had nothing to do with Samaritans. There was quite a division between Jews and Samaritans–where they worshiped, how they worshiped, their understanding of God, and even their social norms and values. Jesus’ disciples thought to rain down fire from heaven to consume them, but Jesus would have none of it…I guess he’s called the prince of peace for good reason. 

As we in the Catholic Church, our Christian brothers from other communities, and people of good will, celebrate the end of Roe v. Wade, many are quite celebratory, and rightfully so, many are angry about their supposed loss of liberty and reproductive rights and are worried about women who find themselves with unwanted pregnancies, and as a result take drastic, dangerous, and harmful actions causing harm to themselves. 

Sadly, on this issue (and many others) our country remains divided. Like Jews and Samaritans, we often have trouble finding common ground. And like Jesus’ disciples then, many of Jesus’ disciples today are quick to call down fire to resolve the issue–but as we read in the Gospel, this is not Jesus’ way. Jesus demands more of us. He demands that we love and work towards peace. He demands that we roll up our sleeves, set our hand to the plow to find meaningful solutions to the anxiety and fears of the day. As Jesus’ disciples we must commit to the work not only of ending abortion, but to addressing the situations that leads to a woman desiring an abortion in the first place. And these are social structures and attitudes that must be changed. This takes work and commitment. For too many woman abortion promised an “easy fix” to take care of a problem, but too many others believe that ending abortion is also an easy fix. My brothers and sisters, there are no easy fixes–there is only work, there is only love, and there is only seeing others through the eyes of Jesus. 

It might surprise many of you, that I am not actually anti-abortion. I am pro-life, and we are called to be pro-life, and that includes being against abortion, but is so much more. Jesus was not anti-anything. He was pro-life and worked to bring people back to the community of love and healing. Jesus was pro-life when he forgive sinners and welcomed them home. He was pro-life when he changed water into wine. He was pro-life when he said, “those who are without sin cast the first stone” as he stood alongside the woman caught in adultery. He was pro-life when he raised Lazarus from the dead. And he was pro-life when he fed, taught, and counseled others. Jesus wasn’t just against violence he was for life. And we have do to better than being against abortion to save the life of an unborn child–we must be for life to save the child and its mother as well. That’s much harder to do. 

I received an email this past week from The California Catholic Conference of Bishops. It read, “[We] are fervently committed to ensuring women in California know they are supported and that there are options when facing an unplanned pregnancy. We challenge lawmakers to provide equitable assistance and commit new funding and resources for maternity and childcare. California needs to be a sanctuary for women, children, and families struggling to thrive in our state over those seeking abortions. It’s time to reverse the state’s priorities. It is not enough to claim you are for life; you must be the hands and feet of Christ working to make it a reality. Be a loud voice, a shining light, and a beacon of hope.”

We who are pro-life must be about the work of bringing love, acceptance, forgiveness, counseling, and hope to women and girls in this state and nation. There are no easy fixes with this, but after forty five years of legal abortion, and over 50 million abortions in the U.S. alone, we celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision to end legal abortion, and we must be about the work of legislation and communities of support that are pro-life, pro-women, pro-adoption, pro-counseling and resources, and pro-families. That’s what being pro-life is all about.

Corpus Christi 2022: Quote Me!

Today’s homily is for The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, June 19, 2022, and the readings can be found by clicking here.

Happy Father’s Day! As you know, the role of the father is to say what is true–not what is easy to hear, but what is true. The father, by boldly proclaiming that truth places his children on solid ground, on an unshakeable foundation upon which his children build their lives, in security and safety knowing that the ground will not shift beneath them. In that light, today, on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, or Corpus Christi Sunday, begins a three-year National Eucharistic Revival. 

Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (JN 6:51) And at the Last Supper, he took bread, gave it to his disciples, “And extending His hand, He gave them the Bread which His right hand had made holy, ‘Take, all of you eat of this; which My word has made holy. Do not now regard as bread that which I have given you; but take, eat, and do not scatter the crumbs; for what I have called My Body, that it is indeed. One particle from its crumbs is able to sanctify thousands and thousands, and is sufficient to afford life to those who eat of it. Take, eat, entertaining no doubt of faith, because this is My Body, and whoever eats it in belief eats in it Fire and Spirit.” That quote is from Deacon St. Ephraim, 350 A.D. 

St. Paul, who was not at the last supper, when writing to the Corinthians, tells them, “I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’” St. Paul wasn’t at the Last Supper, I wasn’t there, you weren’t there, but the Apostles were. And they went to their death boldly proclaiming the truth that under the appearance of ordinary bread and wine, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and the words of consecration, our Lord comes to us for our salvation. They believed it. So should we.

St. Justin Martyr, around 150AD said, “This food we call Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true. For we do not receive these things as common bread nor common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior being incarnate by God’s Word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the Word of prayer which comes from him, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus.”

From the Didache “The Teachings” in 100 A.D. we read, “On the Lord’s own day, assemble in common to break bread and offer thanks; but first confess your sins, so that your sacrifice may be pure. No one quarreling with his brother may join your meeting until they are reconciled; your sacrifice must not be defiled.”

St. Ignatius of Antioch, “They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not admit that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, the flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His graciousness, raised from the dead.”c. 90 A.D. 

St. Irenaeus of Lyons, “For just as the bread which comes from the earth, having received the invocation of God, is no longer ordinary bread, but the Eucharist, consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly, so our bodies, having received the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, because they have the hope of the resurrection.”c. 180 A.D. 

St. Cyprian of Carthage, “The priest who imitates that which Christ did, truly takes the place of Christ, and offers there in the Church a true and perfect sacrifice to God the Father.” c. 258 A.D

Deacon St. Athanasius, “You shall see the Levites bringing loaves and a cup of wine, and placing them on the table. So long as the prayers of supplication and entreaties have not been made, there is only bread and wine. But after the great and wonderful prayers have been completed, then the bread has become the Body, and the wine the Blood, of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  – Sermon to the Newly Baptized” c. 373 A.D., 

St. Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, “Since then Jesus himself has declared and said of the Bread, “This is My Body,” who shall dare to doubt any longer? And since He has affirmed and said, “This is My Blood,” who shall ever hesitate, saying that it is not His blood?” and “Do not therefore regard the Bread and Wine as simply that, for they are, according to the Lord’s declaration, the Body and Blood of Christ; for though the senses suggest to you the other, let faith make you firm. Judge not the matter by taste, but be fully assured by faith not doubting that you have been made worthy of the Body and Blood of Christ.” c.348 A.D.

And finally, St. Cyril of Alexandria, “We have been instructed in these matters and filled with an unshakable faith, that that which seems to be bread, is not bread, though it tastes like it, but the Body of Christ, and that which seems to be wine, is not wine, though it too tastes as such, but the Blood of Christ . . . draw inner strength by receiving this bread as spiritual food and your soul will rejoice.” c.444 A.D.

The revival is on. We need to be reconciled to God. We need to be at Mass every Sunday and weekdays, if possible. We need to receive Eucharist. And we need to boldly proclaim to family and friends that here, in this Holy Roman Catholic Church is where our Lord visits daily. That’s unshakeable, solid ground. We need it more than ever. We need Eucharist more than ever. Happy Father’s Day.

Trinity Sunday 2022: Goddedness

Today’s homily is for Trinity Sunday, June 12, 2022, and the readings can be found by clicking here.

I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.

These words that we just read aloud are the core belief of the Christian community about the inner life and working of God. Those words were chosen by faithful men–most of whom are now saints of the Church–at the Councils of Nicaea in 325 and Constantinople in 381. Those men tried to find human words to express the infinite mystery of God–not an easy task.

I’m sure all of us at one point have had an experience for which we simply cannot find words adequate to express the reality. You might try to retell the event, the experience of natural beauty, or of human architecture or design, or an emotional event that radically changed your life. You probably sounded like a babbling idiot because the other person listening was like, “Nope, I’m not quite with you.” Finally, you just say, “Well, I don’t know, you just had to be there!” That experience for which words are always inadequate is referred to as ineffable. Ineffable is defined as, “too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words.” 

That was the disciples’ experience of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They had always worshiped God the Father, Yahweh. They knew his laws and what he had done for them and their ancestors, and whatever Goddedness was had by Yahweh, the Apostles came to realize, was somehow also had by Jesus. Without a doubt Jesus wasn’t just human, he had Goddedness too–and so they worshiped him. God from God, light from light, true God from true God–of the same substance as the Father. And then came Pentecost (mind blown). The very same Goddedness that was shared by the Father and the Son, lived inside of them, changing them, teaching them, saving them. And they said, “Jesus promised he would send us the Advocate.” You know, the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, and who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified…oh yeah! and he has spoken through the prophets…yeah, that’s Him.

I’m human, you’re human, we possess…well, human-ness. Our personhood is unique, but we all possess humanity. Whatever makes God, God, God’s “Goddedness” although hard to explain, was experienced by the Apostles. They knew God the Father, they walked and talked with God the Son, they experienced God the Spirit at Pentecost. And they made up a word to describe that experience. They probably were going to call it a three-ity, or a Tri-godidity, (I would have called it a triangular-idity), but they decided to call their experience of three distinct persons who shared one substance of Goddedness, the Holy Trinity–and we’ve been trying to explain it ever since.

St. Augustine of Hippo said, “The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and each of these by Himself, is God, and at the same time they are all one God; and each of them by Himself is a complete substance, and yet they are all one substance. The Father is not the Son nor the Holy Spirit; the Son is not the Father nor the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is not the Father nor the Son: but the Father is only Father, the Son is only Son, and the Holy Spirit is only Holy Spirit. To all Three belong the same eternity, the same unchangeableness, the same majesty, the same power.”

But we need to move from the head to the heart. From definitions to experiences. The apostles didn’t write out the definition for the Trinity–they encountered it, and so can we. We pray, we receive Eucharist, and we feel the Spirit move within us–encouraging us, changing us, and saving us. Really, you just have to be there. Right in the middle of it all. Experiencing God’s ineffable love.