12.4.22 2nd S. Advent: God is Just

Today’s homily is for 2nd Sunday of Advent, December 4, 2022, and the readings can be found by clicking here. The video of the homily is here soon.

When my son was in first grade he came home to tell me that his teacher had kept the whole class in from recess again because a few boys would not stop talking. When I called, the teacher confirmed that my son Mark was not among the wrong doers and that she sometimes keeps the whole class in for a consequence. I told her that if my son was doing wrong he should be punished, but if he was not then he needs to go to recess, to do otherwise is to be unjust. Justice demands giving to others what is their due. Many times in our fallen world there are injustices, but to the degree that we can help it, we must be just because God is just. He gives to each what is their due–both rewards and punishment…heaven and hell. 

Today’s readings speak of warning, repentance, and consequences. St. Augustine of Hippo said, “Don’t imagine that you love your children when you never discipline them, or that you love your neighbors when you never admonish them. This isn’t love, but mere weakness. Let your love be eager to correct, to reform.” God is love and God is just.

We live in a time when the leaders of homes, of schools, and of governments have become weak. In a misdirected and misunderstood desire to show love and mercy, we have failed to love and teach justice. If we are going to truly love, first justice, then mercy. First the truth of consequences for wrongful actions, and then generosity and support while those consequences are endured. 

John the Baptist cries out, “Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” John the Baptism was one who cried out in the desert admonishing and encouraging others (sometimes harshly) to change their ways! He says they need to get their life in order–and so do we. That’s the warning for this Sunday in Advent. Make straight paths! Enough of this hem hawing and meandering about. We need to be of one purpose, one heart and mind, and passionately driven toward the gates of heaven. Too often we are divided in our allegiance to God and to this world.

St. John said, “[Jesus’] winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” When wheat is cracked both the plasticy shell and the grain fall to the threshing floor. The shell, called chaff, is light and easily blown by the wind. The winnowing fan separates the wheat from the chaff. The wheat is gathered in, the chaff burned. That’s the consequence for living unlovingly, worldly, and opposed to God, namely, hell, the unquenchable fire. There are but two options for all eternity–life or damnation–and each of us has a choice. The consequences are real and God is just. He will give us our due. Is it any wonder St. John and Jesus are always warning their hearers to repent? They’re both giving us a chance!

The evidence of our true repentance is a change of life. It’s a change of the way we do things. St. John says, “Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance…every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” The fruit of the Christian life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Do we have this evidence in our life? What needs to change? What have we been caught up in, addicted to, neglected, or ignored? This is the time. It’s time to begin again, get back on track again, attend reconciliation, get right with our family and with God, and produce the fruit of the Spirit filled life. 

God is love, but God is just. We’ve been warned. We need to repent. There will be consequences. Believe it.

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.