God Calls Us to be Faithful

Homily for Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter (Year I)
May 20, 2020 – 8:30 AM
High School Mass – final for 2019-20 school year (Live-stream during COVID-19)

Focus:              God calls us to be faithful.
Function:         Be faithful.


Raphael - Paul Preaching in Athens

Saint Paul delivering the Areopagus Sermon in Athens, by Raphael, 1515.

Paul goes to Athens.

He goes, commissioned by the Holy Spirit, to tell everyone there about the Lord Jesus.

And it was a dismal failure.

Some scoffed.

Most left with hearts untouched and simply said, “We would like to hear you on this matter some other time, but not today.”

But some joined.

Some joined.
Some recognized the truth in what they heard.
Some became followers.

And so, in that respect, it was not a dismal failure. It was a success.

It was a success because Paul was faithful.
Paul was faithful to what God asked him to do.

Brothers and sisters, what about us?

Paul came to the end of his time in Athens.
We come to the end of this school year.

In many ways, it may feel like this school year was a dismal failure.
Ending early. Goodbyes not said.

And yet, in many other ways, it was a resounding success.

Look at what God has brought about because people were faithful.

Look at what God has brought about through teachers and staff who were faithful to their calling to educate our youth, to teach them the skills that they need for life, to proclaim the Gospel to them.

Look at what was done simply because we were faithful.

Look at what God has done in you simply by your faithfulness:
your showing up to attend Mass, increasing a hunger for the Eucharist…
your tuning into your live sessions…
your completing your school work…

God is bringing good out of it.

Some of you might have scoffed.
Some of you, perhaps, were indifferent.

And others were faithful.

Brothers and sisters, in the end, what’s important for all of us is that we’re faithful.

As we come to the end of this school year…
As we prepare to begin summer…
Take care to be faithful to what it is that God calls you to do.

Be faithful to pursue him in all things, to seek his face in all things.

The God who created heaven and earth has created you. He knows you and he loves you. He desires you to know and to love him.

At times, you and I have not chosen him. We have not reached out to him. We’ve rejected him by our sins and yet he never rejects us! God reaches out to us. God sent his Son, who died to take away our sins: Jesus.

Jesus rose from the dead.
Jesus appeared to his disciples.
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit upon them, upon us.

As we approach the Feast of Pentecost, in a little over a week’s time, God prepares to send the Holy Spirit new upon the earth.

He gives you everything you need to become a saint, and he calls you to become one!

How do we become one?
Brothers and sisters, be faithful!

You are his masterpiece.

Do you believe that?
Do you really believe that?

Then join him.

Say not, “We would like to hear about this some other time.”

Now is the time.
Now is the day of salvation.

Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

Homily for 5th Sunday of Easter (Year A)
May 10, 2020 (Mother’s Day)
Sacred Heart, EGF – Sunday 9:30 AM (Live-stream during COVID-19)

Focus:       Do not let your hearts be troubled.
Function: Turn to Jesus.


How could their hearts not be troubled?

John 13:
Jesus himself was troubled.
“One of you will betray me”
“I will be with you only a little while longer”
“[Simon Peter], before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.”

It was dark. Indeed, as the gospel tells us, “it was night.”

How could their hearts not be troubled? And yet, there is it. John 14 has Jesus telling his disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

Yes, it is night.
Yes, my hour has come – the hour of darkness – the hour when Evil will seemingly have its way.

And yet…I have overcome the world. My mission is being fulfilled.

This is the way to conquer sin and death.
I am the way, the truth, the life.
First the gibbet, then the glory.

So, do not let your hearts be troubled.

Do not let your hearts be troubled because:
I go to prepare a place for you.
I will come and take you to myself.
I will not leave you orphans.
I will come to you. I will come to you with my Spirit, that where I am, you also may be.

How could their hearts not be troubled?
Certainly.
Yet, in another sense:
How COULD their hearts be troubled?

Jesus had already done the impossible. In the chapters of John’s gospel leading up today, the disciples have seen Jesus feed the 5,000. He has healed the man born blind. He has raised Lazarus from the dead.

Jesus was in control.
Jesus was God.
He knew what was going to happen.

Today, Jesus tells the disciples that there will be suffering.
He also tells them that they, and he, will come through it.

I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

You need not know how we will get through this. Simply believe in me. I did not come to show you a way. I am the way.

I will do it.
I will lead you.
Just believe in me. I will come to you.

And he does.

And today, where he is, they are.

How could our hearts not be troubled?
We are weary. We are anxious.
We do not know the timeline. The uncertainty is perhaps the worst part. When will it end? No one knows.
We are presented with conflicting information and conflicting advice.
What are we to make of it? Who are we to trust? We may not know.

But we do know one thing.

We know that the words which Jesus spoke to the apostles then are the same words that he speaks to us today:

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in me. I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Believe in me. Remain in me.
I will lead you through this.
You need not have all the answers. I am the answer.

Brothers and sisters, these are dark days. It is night.

It is night but we have the promise:
We have the promise that the Dawn from on high will break upon us.
The sun will rise in the East to scatter the darkness
because the Son has risen from the grave.

He has come back.
He has not left us orphans.
He has sent us his Spirit.
His Spirit lives within us.
His Love has conquered death.

He is faithful.
He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

He is with us, and he will lead us through this.
And that is enough. It is more than enough.

A mother’s love and presence has the power to calm the troubled heart of her child. A mother’s embrace soothes the pain of stubbed toes and scraped knees, leading her child through the pain.

How much more does the promise and presence of Jesus’ love and lordship
conquer and cast out our fear and fretfulness?
Today we celebrate Mother’s Day.
As we honor our own mothers, we remember Christ’s mother.

We remember that humble handmaid who faced uncertainty and the unknown.
The appearance of an angel with a message.
The boy Jesus disappearing.
The cross.

How can this be?

Her trust in God was unfailing.

Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done unto me according to your word.

May she who was his mother
and who is our mother,
embrace us with her maternal care
and calm our troubled hearts
so that we might have the strength to endure the pains of growing up,
as Christ leads us through the dark of night and into the dawning of eternal day.

We are Never without Hope because We are Never without Christ

Ferverino for Holy Hour
Thursday, April 30, 2020 – 6:30 PM
Sacred Heart (live streamed holy hour during COVID-19)


Eucharist

Photo credit: Steven & Francois LeMire

It is good that we are here.

Lately – a lot of anxiety, fear, discouragement
• The unknown
o “when will it end?”
o Uncharted territory – “we’ve never experienced anything like this before”
• Isolation
• Grieving Losses
o Graduations, weddings, ordinations
o Unable to gather in community
o Missing family – parents, grandparents, grandchildren
o Eucharist/Masses
• Loss of control

Uncharted territory/new circumstances; but a familiar pattern:
1. Status quo: Things are good / OK
2. Trials: things are not so good
3. Heaven – things are good again, and even better

Scripture:
o Adam and Eve
1. Eden: Walking in the garden with God
 2. The Fall and the promise
 3. Heaven: Restored to Paradise (Christ’s descent to the dead)

o Noah
 1. Before the flood
 2. The Flood
 3. After the flood (be fruitful and multiply – the rainbow and the covenant)

o Abraham
 1. Has his own land
 2. Leave your land
 3. Promised Land

1. Promise of a Son; Promise of a great nation
 2. Asked to Sacrifice Isaac
 3. Isaac restored

o Jacob and sons
 1. Prosperity in the Promised Land
 2. Famine – go to Egypt
 3. Reunited with Joseph who is powerful in Egypt

o People of Israel
 1. Favor in Egypt – family of Joseph (esteem)
 2. Slavery in Egypt
 3. Led out of slavery by mighty deeds of God done at Moses’ hand
(led through the Red sea

 1. Egypt – at least they had food
 2. Desert – worry of starvation
 3. Promised Land

o Jesus and the disciples
 1. Preaching a way of life that brings true life; working miracles
 2. Suffering and Death
 3. Resurrection and glory

We’ve never been here before (COVID-19), and yet we have been here before (the familiar pattern).
1. Things were going well, or at least OK
2. COVID-19 hit – we are still in the midst of it.
3. What is to come? We say that we don’t know, and to some extent we don’t. But to another extent, we do. We do know what will come because we know the old familiar pattern. We know what God has done in the past, and we know that God is faithful.

What will keep us going?
What kept them going?

Hope.

Hope keeps us from discouragement.
Hope sustains us in times of abandonment.
Hope opens our heart to expect beatitude.

Hope is the virtue by which we desire the Kingdom of Heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help and grace of the Holy Spirit.

God is the One who restored Adam and Eve to the new Paradise.

God is the One who saved Noah from the flood.

God is the One who fulfilled the Promise to Abraham.

God is the One who gave Isaac back to Abraham.

God is the One who guided Joseph when he was sold into slavery in Egypt.

God is the One who guided the reunion of Joseph and his brothers.

God is the One who raised up Moses through whose hands mighty deeds were wrought in Egypt.

God is the One who, through Moses, led the people out of slavery in Egypt and into the freedom of the promised land.

And, brothers and sisters, it is God who will lead us through these times.

The Letter to the Hebrews says that “hope is the sure and steadfast anchor of the soul which reaches into the interior behind the veil, where Jesus has entered on our behalf as forerunner…” (Hebrews 6:19-20)

The old temple – 3 parts. Outer court, Inner court, Holy of Holies.

Holy of Holies
• Veil separating the inner court from the Holy of Holies
• Ark of the Covenant containing the Ten Commandments
• Where the presence of God dwelt in the midst of his people
• No one could enter, not even the priests
• Only the High Priest – one day/year, on the day of Atonement.
• Lev 16: “Tell…Aaron that he is not to come whenever he pleases into the sanctuary, inside the veil, in front of the [mercy seat] on the ark; otherwise, when I reveal myself…he will die”
• He would enter the Holy of Holies with the blood of a sacrifice, and sprinkle it on the Mercy Seat above the Ark that contained the Ten Commandments.
• In fear that he might be struck down, a rope is tied to foot of the High Priest so they can drag him out if is struck down. It was his anchor to this side of the veil.

Christ
• His death on the Cross

o The veil of the temple is torn in two from top to bottom. (MT 27:51). As Fulton Sheen points out, torn in two from top to bottom, not from bottom to top; because God is the one who tore open the veil. We could not do that.

• His Ascension

o His body pierces the veil of the Heavens. Christ the High Priest goes there where his body stands before the Father’s throne to intercede for us.
o Christ, the High Priest, has the rope tied to his foot as well, not so that we can pull him down to us, but so that he can pull us up to him.
o He is our anchor. And this is our hope. As long as we cling to him, we are never lost.

Listen again to the definition of hope from the Letter to the Hebrews:

Hope is the sure and steadfast anchor of the soul which reaches into the interior behind the veil, where Jesus has entered on our behalf as forerunner…(Hebrews 6:19-20)

Brothers and sisters, Christ is our hope.

We are reminded of this in Easter – the season of hope.

Christ is our anchor in the storm that rages around us. No matter where we may be blown, no matter where we may be tossed about by the winds and waves that pound us, we are never lost so long as we cling to him.

Hope looks to the future beyond the present moment.

For the sake of the joy that lay before him, Christ endured the cross. (Hebrews 12:12)

Remember what God has done in the past
so as to strengthen your hope in the present
of what God will do in the future.

Remember what God has done, not what we have done.
It is God who will see us through this storm, it is not all up to us.

We have our part to play, but it is God who works through us to bring us through this. It’s not all up to us, it’s up to God, and that is a great inspiration to hope. God has done it before and God will do it again!

Hope looks to the future, but it impacts the present.

Hope looks to the past and to the future to give us the strength to endure the present when the present is painful.

Hope is nourished in prayer. And so, tonight we come before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

Tonight we come before our High Priest who has passed beyond the veil of this valley of tears, and we hold on.

We hold on to the anchor that is Christ.
We hold on to our hope.

The Eucharist reminds us that we are never without hope, because we are never without Christ.

Jesus, we trust in you. Cast out all fear, anxiety, and discouragement. Strengthen our hope.

I leave you with a prayer by St. Teresa of Avila:

Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing frighten you.
All things pass away.
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever possesses God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.