Holy Thursday – the Priesthood, the Eucharist, and Fraternal Charity

Homily for Holy Thursday
April 14, 2022
Sacred Heart, EGF – 7:00 PM

This day shall be a memorial feast for you.

The Lord speaks these words to Moses and Aaron before they celebrate that first Passover.  He is going to lead them out of Egypt.  The 10th plague, the death of the firstborn, will be the final plague that sets them free.

God will protect the Israelites from death by means of the Passover Feast.  They slaughter the lamb and sprinkle the blood on the doorposts.  The angel of death will “pass over” them. 

This is the feast of Passover. 

This day shall be a memorial feast for you.

For the Israelites, Passover wasn’t something that happened many years ago.  It was made present to them every year by their participation in it. 

They relived the events every year on the memorial feast
They didn’t merely remember; they re-lived. 
The past was made present to them.

This day shall be a memorial feast for you.

The Lord gathers tonight to celebrate the Passover, that memorial feast, with his disciples.
He says, Do this in memory of me.

In other words:

This shall be a memorial feast for you.

And, as for the Israelites, so for us.  We do not simply remember what the Lord did.  What the Lord did is made present for us.  Here.  Tonight. 

Tonight, the Church commands the priest to shed light on the 3 mysteries highlighted in this memorial feast.  The priest is to speak about the priesthood, the Eucharist, and fraternal charity.

First, Priesthood.

What is the priest?  The priest is one who offers sacrifice. 
The priest stands in the person of Christ
and acts in the person of Christ, the head of the body, that is the Church.

The Lord said to them, “Do this in memory of me.”

Not just “remember this.”  But “make it present.”  Make me present.  Make me present for my people so that the grace I won for them can be applied to their lives.

The Son of God took on flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary.
We call that the incarnation – when God became man. 

The priesthood exists to extend the incarnation,
to continue to allow God to become man.

A man called to the priesthood
offers his human nature to Christ.

He offers his flesh to Christ
so that the divine power that flowed through Christ
can flow through the priest who acts in his person
to bring the life of God into the lives of God’s people
through the sacraments.

Just as our Great High Priest offered himself,
so the priest who is configured to Christ
is to offer himself in sacrifice
for the sake of the People of God.

The priest is an “alter Christus”, “another Christ.”

The priesthood continues the Real Presence of Jesus in the world.

Tonight was the night that the Lord instituted the priesthood. 

Do this in memory of me.

The priesthood exists for the sake of the Eucharist. 

The Eucharist, as we know, is the flesh and blood of the Lord.
The whole Christ is present in the Eucharist.
His humanity and his divinity are present in the Eucharist.
Body, Blood, Soul, Divinity.

I said that the priesthood continues the Real Presence of Jesus in the world.
The Eucharist continues the Real Presence of Jesus in the world.

The blood of the sacrificial lamb
was smeared on the doorposts of the Israelites
and the angel of death passed over them. 
The blood, the sign of life, preserved their lives.

The blood of the Lamb of God now anoints the lips of believers
so that they might live,
so that they might “pass over” from death to life
even as the Israelites “passed over”
from the death of slavery in Egypt to the freedom of life of the Promised Land.

The Eucharist is the gift of the Son
who continues to be made present on our altars
so that his one sacrifice which he will complete tomorrow
can be continually offered to the Father,
presented to the Father
for our salvation and the salvation of the world.

He then gives his Body and Blood to us
to be our food for this journey of life,
to feed us until he leads us home.

Do this in memory of me.

Jesus offered his Body and Blood,
His whole self,
including his blood, sweat, and tears,
which he will soon shed in the Garden of Gethsemane.

He offered himself for us because he loves us.
He did it out of love for us.

Which bring us to the third mystery we celebrate today:

Love from the heart. 

Love was what led Jesus to give himself for us.
Love is what led him to wash the feet of the disciples.

I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, so you should also do.

Do this in memory of me.

The priesthood gives us the Eucharist.
The Eucharist gives us God, who is love.

Jesus taught us the two greatest commandments:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.
Love your neighbor as yourself. 

Tonight, he raises the bar.

It is no longer enough to love your neighbor as yourself.

He gives us a new commandment:
Love one another as I have loved you.

Tomorrow, his love will lead him to offer his life for us.

Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down his life for a friend.
You are my friends, if you keep my commands.

Jesus gives us the command of love at the same time he gives us the Eucharist and the Priesthood.

The Priesthood, the Eucharist, and Fraternal Charity all continue the Real Presence of Jesus.

Charity toward others means that I see the presence of Jesus in them.  Charity is showing reverence to Christ in the other like we show reverence to Christ in the Eucharist. 

Following the Lord,
we lay down our lives in order to enrich the lives of others. 

Love moves us to use our baptismal priesthood
to offer the sacrifice of ourselves
for the sake of God and one another. 

Love says, “you are worth the sacrifice.  You are worth dying for.” 

Do this in memory of me.

Our Lord tonight institutes the priesthood, the Eucharist, and the commandment of fraternal charity.

All three go together.  All three are necessary. 

All three have the same goal:
Union with.
Union with God.  Union with one another.

The priesthood, the Eucharist, and the command of charity all exist for the sake of communion.
If one of them is missing, something of Christ is missing. 

Brothers and sisters, these mysteries are made present for us tonight.
Let us receive them and allow them to be made present in our lives.

Do this in memory of me.

Mary, Mother of God

Homily for Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
December 31, 2021
Sacred Heart, EGF – Saturday 5:00 PM    

At the start of the new year, we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

Mary is the mother of Jesus.
Jesus is fully human like us.  That is true.
But Jesus is also fully divine.  He is God.

Jesus has a human nature, but he also has a divine nature.  A nature is what a thing is.  A person is who a thing is.  For example, Fido is a dog.  Dog is the nature, the “what”.  Fido is the identity, the “person” if you will, the “who”.

Jesus is a divine person.  His identity is the Son – the second person of the Holy Trinity.  He is God.  He is a divine person with a divine nature.

“The word became flesh” and dwelt among us.  When he was conceived in Mary’s womb, he took up a human nature.  He also kept his divine nature.  He is one divine person, with a human nature and a divine nature.  The 2 natures are not confused, but united, in the person of God’s son.  Jesus is not half God and half man.  He is fully God and fully man.

For that reason, if Mary is the mother of Jesus, and Jesus is God, then we must rightly conclude that Mary is the Mother of God.  To deny that Mary is the Mother of God is to deny that she is the mother of Jesus, or to deny that Jesus is God.

Catechism: “Mary is truly ‘Mother of God’ since she is mother of the eternal Son of God made man, who is God himself.”[1]

The title “Mother of God” points to the central truth of the Incarnation: Jesus Christ is true God and true Man.

If he was not God, his death could not have atoned for our sins.
If he was not human, he would not have been able to pay the debt that humans owed, because he would not have been able to die.

Three errors around this:

  1. Jesus is true God but not true man.  Jesus did not really receive a human nature from Mary, so she is not his mother. 
  2. Jesus is true man, but not God.  Mary can be called Mother of Christ but not Mother of God.  Heresy of today: “Jesus is a great teacher, a great prophet, he showed us how to love…”  Yes, yes, yes.  But He also claimed to be God.  And He rose from the dead. 
  3. Nestorianism.  There are 2 persons in Christ: one human and one divine.  Mary gave birth to only the human.  She can be called “Mother of Christ” but not “Mother of God”.  Leads to saying things like “Christ is not God, God only lived in him like in a temple.”

    But no, St. John says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

    Nestorianism: condemned at the Council of Ephesus in 431.  Mary is proclaimed “Theotokos”: God-bearer.  More than “Christotokos”: Christ-bearer.

If Christmas highlights God taking up a human nature and becoming one of us, then tonight’s feast affirms that he remains what he was before: divine.

Perhaps it could be said that Christmas highlights the humanity of Jesus,
and today’s feast highlights the divinity of Jesus.

Tonight’s feast affirms that Jesus is a divine person with a human and divine nature.  It is at the center of who He is for us.

He is God.
She is the Mother of God.

He is also human.
She is his mother.

When the fulness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”

Jesus came to reconcile us to God, to make us sons and daughters of the Father once again. Like the younger son who returned to his Father after squandering the inheritance[2], we are welcomed back into the family of God, our sonship is restored, because of the sacrifice of Jesus. 

He is not ashamed to be called our brother, and to call us his brothers and sisters.
and so, his mother becomes our Mother.

Mary is the Mother of God.
She is his Blessed Mother.
She is also our Blessed Mother.

The divine and human natures are united in Jesus, who is God,
because we are to be united in Jesus, who is God.

That begins here in the Church – the Mystical Body of Christ on earth.
And it will reach its fulfillment in Heaven.

She who brought Him to birth in Bethlehem, intercedes for us
so that He may be brought to birth in us.

She who formed Him in her womb intercedes for us
so that we might be conformed to Him.

For that reason, we pray:
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

[1] Catechism of the Catholic Church, #509

[2] Luke 15

Blessed Are You Who Believed

Homily for 4th Sunday of Advent (Year C)
December 19, 2021
Sacred Heart, EGF –Sunday 10:00 AM, 5:00 PM

The fullness of time had come:
The moment that the Father had been preparing us for…
He had been preparing us for centuries, from the moment the apple core hit the bushes.

Gabriel appeared. 

The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.

This was the moment,
the moment of Mary’s call,
the time for the revealing of her vocation.

The angel declared and the world held its breath,
held its breath as it awaited her response.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux describes the moment:

The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.

The price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at once if you consent…

Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.

Why do you delay, why are you afraid? Believe, give praise, and receive. Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident. This is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence. In this matter alone, O prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous. Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary.

Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. See, the desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter. If he should pass by because of your delay, in sorrow you would begin to seek him afresh, the One whom your soul loves.

Arise, hasten, open. Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving.

Behold the handmaid of the Lord, she says, be it done to me according to your word.[1]

And the Book of Wisdom tell us that:

While gentle silence enveloped all things,
and night in its swift course was now half gone,
the all-powerful Word leapt from Heaven,
from the royal throne,
into the midst of the land that was doomed.[2]

Brothers and sisters, we enter now into the final week of Advent. 

Mary sets out in haste on her journey toward Elizabeth.  Her journey of 90 miles over the rugged mountains will take several days.  Our spiritual journey to Bethlehem to see the newborn child lying in the manger will take several days.

She travels, carrying valuable treasure, the most valuable treasure, in her womb.

We travel, too.
We travel throughout this week,
carrying valuable treasure,
the most valuable treasure of the Body of Christ from this altar,
in the womb of our hearts.

Mary travels to Elizabeth, to assist her during the final trimester of her pregnancy.

We travel to those we will encounter this week, to assist them by our acts of charity.  We travel and we enter the houses of others with the Lord hidden within us.

Elizabeth and in the infant in her womb shout and leap for joy,
because the Lord is in their midst.

At times, we are Mary, bringing the Lord whom we bear within our breast to Elizabeth.

At times, we are Elizabeth, filled with wonder and awe when we realize we have been visited by the Lord.

Elizabeth exclaims to Mary, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

Brothers and sisters, what about us? 

When the Lord speaks to us,
when the Word leaps again from Heaven and speaks into the ears of our hearts…

Do we believe?
Do we give our “yes”?
Do we go in haste?

The whole world awaited Mary’s reply.
The whole world awaits our reply.

You are I were made for great things.
We often think we are too small.

Bethlehem was also too small:

And you Bethlehem-Ephrathah, too small to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel…

Everything was at stake when the world awaited Mary’s reply.
A great deal is also at stake when the world awaits our reply.

The grace of the Holy Spirit knows not of slow workings.[3]

Mary went in haste to see Elizabeth.  She did not delay.

The rugged mountains [could not stop Mary] from pursuing her purpose.[4]

Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.

These are words to Mary.
They are words also to us – to us who have believed the message of salvation. We are blessed when we believe that what has been spoken to us by the Lord will be fulfilled.

If the Lord speaks it to us, no obstacle can stop us.
There is only one thing that can stop us: our fear. 
No other obstacle can stop us.

We just need to be like Mary.
We just need to stay “yes.” 


Let it be done unto me according to your word.

Mary believed and said Yes.  She was blessed and so were we.
The Holy Spirit acts in us.  Believe and say yes. 
You will be blessed and so will we.

[1] Bernard of Clairvaux, “The Whole World Awaits Mary’s Reply”.

[2] Wisdom 18:14

[3] St. Ambrose in Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers, Volume 3: St. Luke (Volume 3, Number 1, Page 38).

[4] Theophylact of Ohrid in Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers, Volume 3: St. Luke (Volume 3, Number 1, Page 38).

God Gives the Growth. Scatter the Seed.

Homily for 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)
June 12-13, 2021

St. Lawrence, Mentor – Saturday 7:00 PM
Sacred Heart, EGF – Sunday 10:00 AM

Focus:             God gives the growth.
Function:         Scatter the seed.

Every year, Sacred Heart School has different dress up days.  One of the days is Vocation Day.  This year, as it happens every so often, a young boy dressed up as a priest.  At the end of the day, I invited him and his mom to stop by my office.  I gave him one of my collars.  The real deal.  His name was written on the back along with a note that read, “Jesus said, Come follow me.” 

When they got to the car, his little sister wanted to look at it.  He told her, “You can look at it, but be careful, I’m going to be needing that some day!” 

I scattered a seed.  Or, maybe I watered a seed that was already planted.

I don’t know what will come of it. 

Maybe it will get lost. 
Maybe it will end up tucked away in a special box. 
Maybe he will find it someday, years from now. 
He might throw it away when he is 16. 
Then again, he might wear it on his ordination day.

I don’t know what God will do with that seed.
I don’t need to know.

All I need to do is scatter it.

God is the one to make it grow.

I would like to share with you some words entitled Prophets of a Future Not Our Own:[1]

Prophets of a Future Not Our Own:

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.

No prayer fully expresses our faith.

No confession brings perfection.

No pastoral visit brings wholeness.

No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.

No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.

We plant the seeds that one day will grow.

We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.  This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.

This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.  Of its own accord the land yields fruit.

What if the man in the parable never scattered the seed?

[1] Bishop Ken Untener, “Prophets of a Future Not Our Own”, https://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/prayers/prophets-of-a-future-not-our-own

There is Power in the Blood

Homily for Corpus Christi – The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Year B)
June 6, 2021
Holy Trinity, Tabor – 8:00 AM
St. Francis, Fisher – 10:00 AM
Sacred Heart, EGF – 5:00 PM

Today, we celebrate the great feast of Corpus Christi – the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.

Today, we also reinstate reception of Holy Communion under both forms.  Today, the chalice returns for the faithful after 15 months.

The Church teaches that,
in receiving Communion under the form of bread alone,
in receiving the host alone,
or in receiving communion under the form of the wine,
a person receives the fullness of the Eucharist, the whole Christ,
Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

At the same time,
the Church also teaches that the fulness of the sign is more perfect when we receive both.

Jesus said, “Take and eat…this is my Body.  Take and drink…this is my Blood.”

It is interesting to me that, in order for a Mass to be a valid Mass, the priest must receive both the Body and the Blood consecrated at that Mass.  He cannot receive just one or the other. 

In light of this day that so many of us have waited for, I would like to reflect today on the Blood of Christ.

There is power in the blood. 

Blood carries the life force of a person.  If a person loses a lot of blood, they grow weak and will soon die.  Lost of blood can equal loss of life.

In such cases, a blood donor is needed.  Blood donors save lives.  The person losing blood is given a blood transfusion and their life is restored.

There is power in the blood.

Cain slew his brother Abel, and God said to him, “Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.”

Pilate washed his hands and told the Jews, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.”

The life of the flesh is in the blood. 

There is power in the blood.

Before the angel of death was sent to go through Egypt, to inflict the final plague by which God would force Pharaoh’s hand to let his people go, the Israelites were to sacrifice a lamb and smear the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of their houses.  Seeing the blood on the doorpost, the angel of death would pass over the house and spare those in it. 

There is power in the blood.

Blood indicates family ties.  Blood is thicker than water, they say.  In some times and cultures, blood brothers are forged by two men cutting the palms of their hands and shaking hands.  They share in the blood and family ties are forged.  Covenants are sealed in blood. 

Today, the Israelites offer holocausts and sacrifices as peace offerings to God.  Moses takes the blood from the sacrifices.  He splashes half on the altar, which represents God.  The other half is sprinkled on the people.  A covenant is made.  Family ties are forged. 

There is power in the blood. 

Take this, all of you, and drink from it. 
For this is the chalice of my blood,
the blood of the new and eternal covenant,
which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. 
Do this in memory of me.

Christ sheds his blood, his life force, so that our lives might be spared.

There is power in his blood.

His blood anoints our lips at the same time that his blood is presented before the Father in the Holy of Holies that is Heaven, just like it was sprinkled on the people at the same time that it was splashed on the altar, sealing a covenant between God and man.  That covenant is sealed between God and this man or God and this woman in Holy Communion. 

There is power in his blood.

The blood that once anointed the doorposts of the Israelites now anoints the lips of believers, and the angel of death passes over us like he passed over the houses where they were.  Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.  Ours was the blood that should have been shed but he offered his instead. 

There is power in his blood.

Last month at Sacred Heart School, the juniors had their class retreat.  We had Mass outside at Turtle River State Park.  It was a windy day.  I received communion and proceeded to distribute communion.  Carrying the paten in one hand, and covering it with the other so that the hosts would not blow away, I went to each person and gave them communion.  There were 5 hosts remaining.  I turned back toward the picnic table which served as our altar, consumed the remaining hosts, and then looked up.  That was when I saw him: the altar server.  His face fell.  I had forgotten to give him communion. 

I picked up the chalice that was on the altar, handed it to him, and said, “the Blood of Christ.”

He received a drop.

And that was all he needed. 

One drop of the precious blood of Christ would have been sufficient to redeem the world.

There is power in the blood.

Call Upon the Holy Spirit

Homily for Pentecost (Year B)
May 23, 2021
Sacred Heart, EGF – Saturday 5:00 PM; Sunday 10:00 AM (Baccalaureate) 12:00 PM

Focus:             You’ve been given a manifestation of the Spirit.
Function:         Call upon the Holy Spirit.

John II Restout. Pentecost. 1732.

Come Holy Spirit,
Fill the Hearts of your faithful and enkindle in us the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit, and we shall be created,
and you shall renew the face of the earth.

A strong, driving wind, filled the house where they were.

They were all filled with the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is never poured out in half measure.  No, he always fills the one to whom he is given.

Light shines upon all, but only the person whose eyes are opened will see. 

So too with the Holy Spirit.

He is poured out upon us in Baptism and Confirmation.
He wells up within us at various moments in our lives.

But only the person who opens himself to the Spirit will be able to see and testify to the power of God.

Brothers and sisters, what if we allowed the Holy Spirit to fill us?

What if we allowed the Holy Spirit to animate us?  That word, “animate”, coming from the Latin word “anima”, where we get the word “soul”, or “animal”…the soul is what enlivens something that is living.
What if we allowed the Holy Spirit to animate us, to work in us and through us?
What if we surrendered ourselves to the Holy Spirit in the different situations we face rather than trying to force things or control things ourselves?

What if we did that?

If we did that, his light would shine in us and we would see.
If we did that, his voice would speak in us and we would hear.
If we did that, his fragrance would anoint us, and we would smell in the world like a newly baptized baby anointed with that fragrant holy Chrism oil.

He would lead us to places beyond ourselves.
He would open up new possibilities and horizons before us.
He would use us as instruments in his hands, accomplishing mighty words which we could never have dreamed of.

And we would stand in wonder and in awe – one of the seven gifts of the Spirit.

We would taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

We would see the mighty power of God for ourselves
and then,
then brothers and sisters,
you and I would truly be
witnesses to the resurrection,
witnesses of the Risen Christ,
the Body of Christ, alive and active in our midst,
the Body of Christ, the Church,
animated by the gift of the Holy Spirit poured forth across the face of the earth.

They were all filled with the Holy Spirit.

Brothers and sisters,
We, too, have been filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit.

We have.

Sometimes he comes like a strong driving wind, compelling us to speak.
Sometimes he comes like a gentle breeze, nudging us to take a small step in faith, calling us to action, but he comes.

He has come.
He is known to us.

His presence is as familiar as a gentle rain starting to descend just as the Pentecost sequence is sung.

Do we open ourselves to him?
How do we open ourselves to him?

It’s very simple.

Invoke him.
Welcome him.

Pray and pray often, “Come Holy Spirit.”

The Spirit comes to the aid of our weaknesses.  He always comes to the aid of our weaknesses. 

Call upon him.
Call upon him and you open the eyes of your heart.

Come Holy Spirit.

When my patience is wearing thin, Come Holy Spirit.
When I’m afraid to stand up for what I need to stand up for, Come Holy Spirit.
When I don’t know what to do next, Come Holy Spirit.
When I don’t understand what’s happening in my life right now, Come Holy Spirit.
When the fires of temptation approach, Come Holy Spirit.

Saint Paul urges us, “Don’t stifle the Spirit.”  Rather, call upon him.  Invoke him. 

Saint Paul also tells us today that “to each individual, a manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.”

I believe it’s Saint Cyril that says that the Holy Spirit is like the rain. 
Just like the same rain falls on all the different seeds in the ground,
causing them to sprout and to become what God made them to be:
this one a stalk of corn,
this one a grain of wheat,
so too the same Holy Spirit falls upon the faithful
and causes us to become who he made us to be.

To each individual a manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.

The different charisms we have:

Some are gifted in administration.
Some are gifted with hearts of compassion.
Some are gifted with the ability to help others.
Some are gifted musically or with writing or with teaching.
Some have gifts for evangelization.
Some have gifts for craftsmanship.

But when the Holy Spirit animates those gifts, they are used to proclaim the glory of God.

You’ve been given a manifestation of the Spirit.
You’ve been given a manifestation of the Spirit that I have not been given.
You’ve been given a manifestation of the Spirit that the person next to you has not been given.

And yet, if one member of the Body stifles the Spirit, the whole body suffers. 
We need each other. 

Brothers and sisters,
Don’t stifle the Spirit. 

Invoke the Spirit. 

Open yourselves to the action of the Spirit.

[For Baccalaureate]

My dear seniors,
We need your gifts of the Spirit. You have so much to offer.

We need you, in the days ahead, to follow the lead of the Spirit in your life.

You’ve followed him up to this point.  He’s led you here, today, to this moment. 

As you go forth into the world:
I think especially at this time, it’s very easy to say, “I’ve got my plan and here’s where I’m going.”

That’s good.  Have your plan.  Leave room for the Holy Spirit to work, too, though.  If the Holy Spirit calls you in a different direction, don’t be afraid to follow where he leads.

You have the promise of Jesus,
the promise of Jesus who says,
“The Father takes from what is mine and declares it to you.”

He declares to you the gift of the Holy Spirit, always with you to guide you as you take this next step in your life. 

Welcome the Spirit.
Call upon the Spirit.
Follow where the Spirit leads.

And you will experience the true power of Pentecost.

Come Holy Spirit,
Fill the Hearts of your faithful and enkindle in us the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit, and we shall be created,
and you shall renew the face of the earth.

Mercy Sets Us Free

Homily for Divine Mercy Sunday (Year B)
April 11, 2021
Holy Trinity, Tabor – 8:00 AM
Sacred Heart EGF – 10:00 AM

Focus:             Mercy sets us free
Function:         Jesus, I trust in you.

Carravagio, The Incredulity of St. Thomas, 1601-1602.

The doors were locked.

They were locked for protection.
They were locked for fear.

Those who crucified Jesus would, perhaps, seek to kill the disciples. They were locked out.
But the disciples were locked in.

On the evening of that first day of the week, the doors were locked.

A locked door won’t stop the risen Jesus.
The locked door of death didn’t stop Jesus.

He comes.
He stands in their midst.
He speaks. 

Shalom.  Peace be with you.

They had denied, betrayed, run away. 

He walks through the locked door and speaks words of peace.
He shows them mercy.

Mercy set them free.
Mercy unlocked the door.

And with great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. 
They bore witness to what they had seen.

Brothers and sisters, as for the disciples, so too for us.  All too often, for us:
The doors are locked.
Our hearts are locked.  Hardened. 

They are unwilling to believe that things can be different,

Unwilling to believe
that Jesus could forgive me,
that I need forgiveness
that I need Jesus

I think that I can protect myself by locking the door.  I can save myself.  I don’t need anyone.  The sign is on the locked door: Keep out!  Stay away! 

Christ wants our freedom.
Christ came to set us free.

You and I were not made to live behind locked doors,

We were made to GO OUT,
          to be free
          to love and serve the Lord and one another
          to witness with great power to the Resurrection of Jesus.

As a priest, one of the most fulfilling things is to watch a Thomas come back to the upper room of the confessional and to see him show his wounds to Jesus…the wounds from the sins he has committed…the chains that have him bound, the chains of which he cannot free himself.  He shows them to the priest.  He trembles with fear and embarrassment.

Then Jesus, through the priest, smiles at Thomas.

He speaks a word:
Shalom.  Peace be with you.

He speaks the word of absolution.

The key is inserted into the lock.  It turns.  The tumblers give way and the chains fall.  The door is opened.

Thomas breathes a sign of relief…the sigh of the Spirit is breathed forth from the lips of the penitent as new life is breathed into him.

He leaves the door of the darkened confessional and steps out into the light.

He goes – changed – and…with great power, he bears witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus whom he has seen.

Mercy sets us free.

Mercy unlocks the door
          not so that those who would harm us can come in
          but so that we can go out
                   go out carrying the power of the Spirit in us
go out and free others by bearing witness to what we have seen: the risen
Christ who has appeared to us!

The doors were locked.

Brothers and sisters,
where is there a locked door in your life?

Where do you see the locked door?  In yourself?  In another?

Today we celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy. 

Today’s feast reminds us that the most hardened, locked heart can be opened.
It can be opened today.

Jesus told St. Faustina that on this day special graces flow from the side of Christ unto the world…today Jesus’ grace is given even to the most hardened hearts.

Today is the 8th day.
Today is the day that Jesus walks through the locked door and stands in the midst of his disciples. 

Picture your locked door.

Picture the door in a room of your heart that you are afraid to open.  The room that you haven’t shown to anyone.  The area of shame, of sin, of pain.  The door to that room is locked out of fear.  You don’t want to look in there.  Or you are trapped in their and you can’t bring yourself to look outside.

Jesus wants to come but you are afraid.

Perhaps you are hearing the voice of Jesus asking you to do something that scares you…
To go out…
To follow where he is leading you…

Look at that locked door.  Are you picturing it?

Now whisper, out loud, “Jesus, I Trust in You.”
He can unlock the door.

Free Barabbas Day

Good Friday Homily
April 2, 2021
Sacred Heart, EGF – 7 PM

Ecce Homo “Behold the Man” by Antonio Ciseri, 1871

Do you know what day it is today? I thought I knew…until one of the altar servers asked me that question at our rehearsal this morning. He enlightened me.

It’s “Free Barabbas Day.”

His favorite part of the Passion, apparently, is when the whole congregation exuberantly exclaims: “Not this one, but Barabbas!” And so, to him, today is “Free Barabbas Day.”

Indeed.  Wisdom from a high schooler. Because, for all of us, today is “Free Barabbas Day.”

After all, who is Barabbas?

You are. 

I am. 

Barabbas was a revolutionary…a rebel.  Is not rebellion the sin of Adam and Eve?  Is that not the sin that each one of us has inherited?  Has committed at some point in our lives?

Barabbas was the one enslaved in a prison of his own making, of his own choices. Barabbas was one who deserved to die for what he had done. Along comes Jesus on that first Good Friday, and that Good Friday became “Free Barabbas Day.”

He was pierced for our offenses,
crushed for our sins,
upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole.

The guilty man goes free and the innocent man takes his place.

I wonder what Barabbas did with the rest of his life?

There is Power in Suffering

Homily for 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)
Sacred Heart, EGF – Saturday 5:00 PM; Sunday 10:00 AM, 12:00 PM
Focus: There is power in suffering.
Function: Offer your suffering to Jesus.

Job laments.

He laments because he suffers.

He cannot see the reason for his suffering. He does not understand it. He cannot see where God is in it. He begins to lose hope. “I shall not see happiness again.”

Suffering makes us feel that way.

Peter’s mother-in-law will not rise from where she lies when Jesus enters the house.
Her energy is gone.
She has begun to despair.  

Jesus enters.  They tell him about her.  He takes her hand.  The suffering leaves.

The whole town gathers at the door.

So many people suffering.
So many, like Job.
So many, like Peter’s mother-in-law.
So many, tempted to despair but now filled with hope.  Filled with hope because they have heard of Jesus.  Everyone is looking for him.

They find him.
They touch him.

Hope is restored.  The suffering leaves.  

Where does it go? Jesus takes it.

He bears it for them.  

Good for them.

What about us?

What about those who face chronic pain, 
who have gathered at the door of the house where Jesus is staying 
and have knocked with our prayers, 
only to be met by seeming silence?

What about those of us who, 
like Peter and Andrew, 
have immediately brought the suffering 
of our mother-in-law or father or uncle or cousin or child 
to the attention of Jesus 
only to wait and wonder 
if or when 
he will hear and respond?

Like Job, we lament.
Like Job, we suffer.

Last summer, I visited a man who suffers from chronic pain.  He cannot eat or drink anything.  He receives all his nourishment by a feeding tube.  He longs to receive the Eucharist, to come to Mass.  He cannot.  He longs to give of himself, to have a purpose.

Like Job, he laments.

He told me, “I want to give, but I have nothing to give.”

Of course, he does have something to give.

As a member of the Body of Christ, when he suffers, Christ suffers.  And Christ’s suffering redeemed the world.  Christ’s suffering is made present in our time through the suffering of our brothers and sisters.

I asked him if he would give his suffering to Jesus, if he would offer it to him, and ask him to give us the priests we need for the future of our diocese.  

His face lit up.  “Oh, I can do that!”

I gave him the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.  The sacrament gives one the power to bear his sufferings with the grace and strength of Christ.  

I anointed his hands, 
the hands that he used to work with, 
the hands that would now be used to carry his cross,
the hands that would be raised in prayer,
the hands that would be held out in offering, 
offering his suffering to Jesus, imploring him for the priests that we need.

We had our vocation camp 2 weeks later.  A monthly discernment group grew out of it.  Two men in the discernment group are applying for the seminary next year.

Jesus was present in his suffering.

Where Jesus is present, miracles happen.
Where Jesus is present, hope is restored.

There is power in the wounds of Christ.

You and I have been joined to him.
We are members of his Body.
Our wounds are his wounds.
When we suffer, the Body of Christ suffers.  Christ suffers and the drama of redemption continues to unfold.  

There is power in the wounds of Christ.

The blood that washed away our sins flowed from pierced, wounded hands.

His blood flows through us
and when we suffer, it flows out of us through our wounds,
our wounds which are his wounds.

Offer him your wounds.

The price for souls was paid by the suffering of Christ.
His suffering continues today.

When you suffer, Christ has not abandoned you.  
He is living in you.  
He is still suffering to redeem the world.  
He is still shouldering his Cross, through you.
You are a partner in the work of salvation.

Each person, in his/her suffering, 
can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ.

Can we, like him, stretch out our hands as we endure our passion so He can break the bonds of death and manifest the resurrection?

As we celebrate the memorial of the saving Passion of the Son, can we offer in thanksgiving this holy and living sacrifice?

Can we say to him the words that he will soon say to us: “This is my body, given up for you?”

The Glory of the Lord Shone Around Them

Homily for Christmas Eve (Year B)
December 24, 2020
Holy Trinity, Tabor – 4:30 PM
Sacred Heart, EGF –10:00 PM

Focus:             The glory of the Lord shone around them.
Function:       Come and behold him.  Come and see his glory.

Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard van Honthorst, 1622

He was no stranger to the darkness. No, he was used to it. He had kept the night watch many times before.

The shepherd.

Watching, keeping vigil, staying alert. 

His eyes scanned the field before him, waiting for the first sign of trouble but hoping that there wouldn’t be any.

Watching for the wolf.

Keeping an eye on the wayward sheep – the one wayward sheep who always tried to wander off, and who would bring half the herd along with him when he did.

That wayward sheep was not so unlike the people of his own nation.  They continually wandered off, wandered into idolatry, meandered into sins that soon enslaved them and brought about their captivity.

Like himself, like his sheep, they were a people who walked in darkness. They had been invaded, deported, and returned.  They were a people living in a land of gloom who longed for a glimpse of glory. They were a people who had seen despair and longed for hope.

They were not so unlike us.

The shepherd was not so unlike you or me.

We, too, long for hope.
We, too, long for light.

We long for an end to the darkness that has enshrouded us over this past year. 
We long for an end to divisions and for the Kingdom of God to break in ever brighter. 
We long for an end to the darkness of evil and for the light of goodness to prevail.
We long to know that God is near, that we are not alone, that we are loved and cared for
We long for forgiveness and for reconciliation.  We long for restoration of broken relationships.

We long for the glory days, the days of old when we never realized how good we had it. 
We long for the glory of God.

Tonight, the shepherd is changed by the glory that he has seen.

Tonight, we, too, are changed by the glory we see.

What is this glory that we see?

A child in a manger.  He is the glory of God.  Our savior is born. The prophecies of old are fulfilled. 

God is with us. Emmanuel.

He has not abandoned us. 
He has become one of us,
has become one of us to save all of us,
to save each of us,
to save me.

The glory of this night is the glory of eternity.  My sins will not be my condemnation. 
Tonight there is mercy.
Tonight there is forgiveness.
Tonight there is tenderness – the tenderness of God displayed in the radiant face of a newborn babe.
Tonight, the grace of God has appeared, and nothing will stop that grace, that glory, from breaking in.

Tonight, the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.

The people of Israel, yes.
Shepherds in the field, yes.

But also us.

We are also the people who have walked in darkness,
trudging down the darkened streets of loneliness and isolation,
feeling very much alone.

But the mystery of this night, brothers and sisters, is that we are never alone.

God is with us.  Emmanuel.  The child born for us tonight reminds us that no matter what darkness we may walk through in this world, God is with us.

God knows us.  God loves us. God acts in this world. 

God enters into our world,
into our humanity,
in the dark of night,
to bring light to those of us who have walked in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to shine a light in the midst of a land of gloom.

Tonight the glory of God gleams all around us like the glory of freshly fallen snow glistening under lampposts in the dark of night.

Tonight, a child is born for us.  A son is given us.  The Son of God takes on flesh so that our flesh might take on the glory of eternity.

Brothers and sisters, come and glimpse his glory.

Come with the shepherds to the stable.  Come and behold him.  Look into the radiance of his face.  See in this child the presence of God.

The shepherds saw his glory and they were changed forever.  How could they not be?

The glory of Christmas is that we can come and behold our God.  We can come to see him, and in seeing him, in glimpsing his glory, we too will be changed forever.  We will be filled with his peace.

Jesus is here now just as he was here then.  We just have to look for him. 

Come and behold him,
born the king of angels

O come let us adore him
O come let us adore him
O come let us adore him
Christ the Lord.