11.13.22 Sun. Homily: Persevere

Today’s homily is for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, November 13, 2022, and the readings can be found by clicking here. The video of the homily is here.

Last week I challenged us to consider what difference we would make in this life, and to what degree we will have personally advanced the kingdom of God. I asked us to reflect on this question, “What difference have I made in this world–what is my contribution?” These are very important questions, indeed. Today the Gospel invites us to consider the quality of that contribution. Today we ask, “Will my work stand the test of time? Am I building on earth, or am I building up my faith with God?

I will absolutely admit that I love beautiful things–cars, homes, cathedrals. When I visited Italy–and Rome in particular–I was just so impressed at the majesty and beauty of the great Cathedrals and of the Vatican. This church itself is beautiful. I was working at St. Stanislaus Parish on J street when the new Church on Maze was built–it’s beautiful. And when those buildings are complete it is quite natural to just stand back and say, “Man, that’s amazing!” And that’s where we find Jesus in the Gospel today. The temple in Jerusalem had been rebuilt in 515BC after its destruction by the Babylonians in 586BC. 

The Gospel tells us that while people were standing around they were marveling at the costly stones and offerings. That’s an ancient way of saying they were impressed with the bling. Jesus says, “It’s all coming down. Everything you see here will crumble.” And of course we know that it did–in 70AD the Romans destroyed Solomon’s Temple, in Jerusalem, and it has not been rebuilt to this day. 

Jesus’ point is that we have a tendency to be overly impressed with the things of the earth, and when they are destroyed we are shaken–we’re upset. Today he tells us we should expect difficulty and suffering in this life. Two thousand years ago Jesus said we would have wars, earthquakes, famine, and plagues.” Uh, wars, check, earthquakes, check, famine, check…and most recently…COVID, check. And he tells us that these things will happen…in fact, he says, “they must happen first” and that we should not be afraid because this is just the beginning. Christians will be persecuted, jailed, betrayed by their own relatives, and some will be killed.” Check, check, and check…

Jesus did not and does not promise us a rose garden. Jesus never promises his disciples that once they follow him all their troubles will fade away. No, it’s exactly the opposite. When we choose to follow him, we should expect difficulty, struggle, opposition, and persecution both from the enemy and from those who follow him. Jesus says we will be hated by all because of the name of Jesus, but even still, with all this trial, “By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” Perseverance in what? Faith. 

Faith: our relationship with Jesus. If our relationship with Jesus remains strong–our prayer, belief, trust, and hope–then the world can fall apart all around us, and we’re good. The most amazing things ever built in this world can crumble to dust and we won’t even bat an eye. We can lose our home, our business, our cars, and even those that we love–and we will not be shaken, because Jesus said this would happen, and that He would be there always through the thick of it. Jesus promises that we will have suffering, loss, and trials–some of us are in the midst of those trials right now–but his promise is that he will be with us in the midst of those trials and that he will raise us on the last day–that’s the promise. 

Our veterans know this best, I think. Courageous men and women who stout-heartedly walk through the valley of death and fear no evil because He is at their side. We look to our veterans as examples of courage in the midst of tribulation. Veteran’s day is not only about giving thanks for their service, but about being inspired by their love and selfless sacrifice. On this weekend, honor them, thank them, but most importantly, imitate them.

11.6.22 Sun. Homily: God’s Law

Today’s homily is for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, November 6, 2022, and the readings can be found by clicking here. The video of the homily is here.

As we come to the end of Ordinary Time, next week is the last Sunday before celebrating The Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe, and then we’re in Advent as we begin the new liturgical year. Of course, many in our neighborhood will already begin to prepare for Christmas and they will skip Thanksgiving and Advent to be sure–but worst of all they will skip recognizing Jesus Christ King of the Universe. That is unfortunate, and we must not be among them in doing so. We will get to Christmas and candy canes and presents and such, but all things in proper order, okay? We must properly conclude this year before beginning a new one. 

Since we are at the end of the liturgical year, naturally, our readings turn to the end of our life, and the end of the world. Today we look at the end of our life. What difference will you and I have made in our lifetime? Do you ever think about that; what difference our life will have made? More importantly, as our life comes to an end, will there be any doubt about the impact that we have made individually to advance the kingdom of God? Have we supported missionaries? Have we been generous toward the Church and her ministers? Have we fed or cared for the marginalized, the sick, the widows, orphans, or immigrants? Will others look at our life and say, “Surely, Jesus Christ is Lord and God, and he is their Savior. He will raise them up on the last day.” 

Have we fought on behalf of the most vulnerable, the unborn and the elderly? Have we concerned ourselves with justice and accountability? Have we made any effort at all to concern ourselves with the incarcerated– both youth and adult? Do we support coat drives, food shelters, women’s and men’s shelters? We cannot do it all. But we must do something. Tuesday is an opportunity to do something beautiful for the most vulnerable people in our whole world–those whose ages range from 1 day to 9-months old. We have an opportunity to stand for life in all its stages. 

The seven brothers in the Book of Maccabees stood for something. They refused to eat pork in violation of their law. It wasn’t only the Mosaic Law, it was God’s law. Read the whole story: Read 2nd Maccabees Chapter 7. A faithful woman’s sons were tortured and murdered from the oldest to the youngest because God’s law mattered more to them than their very life. And when the king came to her youngest son, she encouraged him to be strong like his brothers, defy this cruelty, and be raised at the end of time. The youngest was tortured and killed and then the mother was killed too. And all because they refused to eat pork. Some of you are thinking, “But bacon is good. Why not just eat the pork?” It wasn’t about pork–it was about loving God’s law. And God’s law forbid eating pork–so they didn’t do it. Period. Not even to save their life.

Where are we with God’s law? Where are we in the belief in the resurrection of the dead and life eternal? We have to ask ourselves–do we believe it? The Pharisees, in the Gospel, believed in the resurrection and that’s why they brought the question about marriage to Jesus. They believed, and their belief made them want to answer the questions, “How must I live today? How does God view my life today? Who have I helped? Who have I served? How have I lived and taught my children to live? How have I loved? Who have I failed to love, or don’t even want to love at all? And most importantly, does God’s law, the law of Moses, and the law of the Church matter at all to me? Would I be willing to die, to watch my children die for love of the law? Do I even care about the Law at all? We should. Ignorance of God’s Law is no excuse. There will be a judgment. Which side will we be on? Those who stood for life? For love? For God and God’s laws? Or among those who have no time for God, for our country’s laws, for the unborn, for the poor, for Thanksgiving or Advent, for Jesus Christ, King of the Universe?