11.27.22 1st S. Advent: Climb!

Today’s homily is for 1st Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2022, and the readings can be found by clicking here. The video of the homily is here.

St. Augustine of Hippo said, “If we ask the question whether Jesus is the Christ, all who are Christians reply yes with one voice. But let their voices be silent for a little while so we can question their lives.” It is easier to call ourselves Christian than to actually be one. As we begin a new year in our Church, now is the time to renew our commitment to the Christian life.

The Prophet Isaiah said, “In days to come, the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established as the highest mountain…Many people shall come and say: ‘Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.’” That sounds amazing. Who doesn’t want to sit in God’s presence, hear God’s voice, and walk in his peaceful paths? It really does sound amazing…but first we have to climb. 

Our family does Thanksgiving on Wednesday so we had Thursday wide open this year. We decided to go for a hike around Pinecrest lake. The lake was mostly drained, but it was really nice with so few people there! One side of the lake’s shore was sunny and I was sweating–even with snow on the ground–and while I was relieved to finally be in the shade when we got to the other side, it was crazy slippery from snow that had become ice! I think Jill is the only one that didn’t slip and fall, and I fell twice! 

The Pinecrest hike is NOT steep! It is not dangerous! It is not difficult, and I’m embarrassed to say that I did not do well. I was exhausted, limping, and couldn’t wait to get back in my truck. I must admit that I’m out of shape, and today’s readings should have us worried if our spiritual fitness looks anything like my physical fitness. Isaiah said the Lord’s mountain is established as the highest mountain! I was exhausted by the lake, I’m not ready to climb the highest mountain! Did you notice that people said, “Come, Let us climb the Lord’s mountain,”…they hadn’t even started yet! They were still at the bottom all-motivated. How many, do you think, actually made it? How many of us will make it?

As we begin Advent, we should be motivated as we begin to climb the Lord’s mountain this year. We should be filled with the hope that marks this first Sunday of Advent–but we must prepare. Because hope without preparation is just wishful thinking. I saw one girl on our hike in the snow with Converse Chuck T’s and a crop top t-shirt. If we are going on a hike we need the right clothing, the right shoes, and the right attitude. If we are hiking the Lord’s mountain, we need Sacred Scripture, our Rosary, and the right attitude.

First, get a good Bible for this year. Not the great big one on the coffee table. Get a New American Bible Revised Edition; the NABRE. It’s what we hear in Church on Sunday in the United States. Start by reading the story of Jesus Christ in the Gospels and then move on to the Acts of the Apostles. When you’ve gotten through Jesus and the Church, read some of the letters written to Churches in the ancient world; Roman, Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians. 

Next, prayer. The rosary is a beautiful prayer of the Church and it’s easy. There are lots of guides on the internet that will walk you through all the prayers. Get a rosary you like and just start carrying it around with you for a while, get used to it, start using it. And the greatest prayer of the Church is the Mass. Be here. Every Sunday–no exceptions.

Finally, stay positive, stay appreciative for all the Lord sends your way– the good and the bad–and stay awake! We do not know on which day our Lord will come. We must be prepared, for at an hour we do not expect, the Son of Man will come. And by that time it will be too late. Now is the time for preparation so our lives are the evidence of our belief in Jesus.

11.24.22 Thanksgiving Day: Give Thanks!

Today’s homily is for Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 2022, and the readings can be found by clicking here. The video of the homily is here.

Do you want to be happy? I mean truly filled with joy? Of course you do. Which of us doesn’t? You’ve seen people like that haven’t you? People who remain positive, hopeful, hope-filled no matter the situation! That joy is not only for a few, that is the joy that the Lord wills for all his children. Our destiny is superabundant joy in this life and life eternal. Do you want the recipe? Here it is; we just heard it in today’s Gospel. 

Ten lepers were cleansed, but only one returned. Scripture does not say where the other nine went, nor what they were doing, but there was one who returned. And what was he doing? He was “…glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.” He glorified God and gave thanks. If you want to live joyfully, glorify God just as loud as you can, and give thanks always. Live a life of gratitude. 

There is a scene in Harry Potter when at Christmas time Harry’s cousin, Dudley, received so many gifts, but he was angry and complained that there wasn’t enough. This is why many of  us are so unhappy. Too often we act like Dudley, spoiled rotten, surrounded with every good thing, but still wanting more. Of course we’re unhappy, we’re trying to satisfy the “more” our heart desires with stuff that will not only never satisfy, but will too often leave us feeling empty, sick, or broken. 

True joy starts with thanksgiving. It begins by thanking God all throughout our day for the blessings of life, children, grandchildren, food on our table, a job, a roof over our head. The leper did it in a loud voice. So should we! Make your faith known to all. St. Paul tells the Thessalonians, “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks.” (5:16) That’s the key right there isn’t it? Give thanks in a loud voice. Pray all throughout the day. Rejoice always! 

This Thanksgiving as we gather with family and friends cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Give thanks to our Lord for the superabundant blessings He pours out upon us. Give thanks for family and friends. And make time in your gathering today for each person to share how the Lord has blessed them, healed them, or given them cause to rejoice this year. And then rejoice and give thanks together. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

11.20.22 Sun. Homily: King of the Castle

Today’s homily is for the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, November 20, 2022, and the readings can be found by clicking here. The video of the homily is here.

As we come to the very last Sunday of our liturgical year we are confronted with the only thing that matters, namely, as the end of our life draws to a close we might hear the sweet words of Jesus Christ, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Isn’t that beautiful, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Why is it so hard to recognize and to allow Jesus to be the King of our life? 

My sister once came over to our house to visit, and when we were about to leave, we needed to put our dog, Teddy, in the cage. My sister said, “Teddy, go lay down.” Nothing. Again she said, “Teddy, go get in bed.” He didn’t move a muscle. Finally, I said, “Teddy, go to bed.” And just like that, right into the cage he went. Good boy!

While I love my sister very much, she is not the king of the castle. I know it, she knows it, and quite clearly, Teddy knew it too. I take care of Teddy, I feed him, pet him, love him, and sometimes even discipline him. I’m the king who takes care of him–well, to be honest, my sons feed him, my wife cleans him, we all love him, and mostly I discipline him. But that’s not the point, the point is that Teddy clearly knows who the king of the castle is–and it’s not my sister.

My brothers and sisters, if we have any hope of heaven, we must begin to recognize Jesus Christ as king of the castle, and today we celebrate Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. In today’s Gospel, the rulers sneered at Jesus and said, “Let him save himself.” The soldiers jeered at him and said, “Save yourself.” Even one of the criminals hanging on the cross reviled him and said, “Save yourself and us.” Everyone had something to say to Jesus, but only one had any respect for God–sometimes referred to as fear of the Lord–and prayed the only thing that matters, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

There is only one who can open the gates of heaven to us. Only one to whom we must hear and obey. There’s only one King of the Castle and only one king of the Universe, the Lord Jesus Christ. Like my sister, there are a lot of people trying to tell us what to do. Advertisers, politicians, employers, husbands and wives–even our kids! But there is only one who commands our absolute obedience, and that’s Jesus. In everything we do, in everything we say, in every thought we think, we must be obedient to Jesus, he alone is our king. 

Is that true for you? Is it true that at every moment of every day, I speak and act in a way that is pleasing to the Lord, as reflects the obedience to love God and neighbor that he commands of us? I’m sad to say that it is not always true for me. As this year draws to a close, we recommit ourselves to allowing the King of the Universe to take our heart and mind captive. We recommit to prayer. We recommit to attending reconciliation monthly and Eucharist weekly. We recommit to reading  God’s Sacred Word and to going to Adoration more regularly. We look at our budget so that our spending reflects generosity toward those most in need, and we recommit some of our time to volunteering to help those who cannot at this time help themselves. That’s loving God, that’s loving neighbor, and in those ways we name Jesus Christ King of the Universe, King of our Universe, and King of our Castle. Only then, does the King hear our plea to remember us when he comes into his Kingdom. As St. Jane Frances de Chantal said, “You must refuse nothing you recognize to be His will.” That’s true obedience to the King, and that’s when we hear those words for which our hearts long, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”