Christ is Coming!

3rd Sunday of Advent

Christ is Coming!  Amidst all the preparations for Christmas – food, shopping, cleaning, gifts, cards, travel plans – it’s all because Christ is coming!  The most important preparations we make, then, aren’t the externals of the beautifully cleaned and decorated house or the delicious food we’ve prepared, but the internals of how we’ve cleaned and made room in our heart for Jesus, how we’ve prepared a meal for Him in our souls – through prayers and actions – when He comes at Christmas.  All the preparations are necessary, but the most necessary ones are the preparations that no one else can see but God.

No Homily for 2 Weeks

I will not be preaching at the parish this weekend, and next weekend I get to be at a camp serving high schoolers from around our diocese.  The theme of the weekend will be: “Restless: Made for Union with God”.  Please keep me and these high schoolers in your prayers in a particular way next week and weekend.  God bless and have a great couple weeks!

Exactly Where We’ve Chosen

Feast of Christ the King

God’s judgment is totally different than ours.  Our judgment of people and situations is narrow and subjective – concluded based on our limited perception.  God’s judgment, on the other hand, takes into account every thought, every inclination, every factor, every pressure, every influence – God’s judgment is absolutely fair.  After our own particular judgment at the end of our life, and after the final judgment at the end of time when everyone’s life will be completely laid open for all to see and we will understand how our life fit into God’s great story, we will know ourselves (and others) as God knows us (which is fully and entirely, nothing hidden)…and we will end up in exactly the place we belong in God’s love: no shame, no pride, just an honest acknowledgment of the decisions we freely chose to make in this life, whether for God, others, or ourselves.  God is absolutely fair, and we will end up exactly where we’ve chosen to be.

Enter Into Joy

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Master in this weekend’s gospel puts a serious amount of cash into the hands of his servants, gives them absolute freedom, and then leaves on a trip.  When he comes back, we realize that his end game is NOT about the money: it’s about having his servants share in his work so that they can also share in his JOY.  Do you lack joy in your life?  God has given us everything we have – our faith, education, personality, interests, money, business skills, life experiences, talents – along with absolute freedom, and then “stepped back”…so that we can decide (like the first two servants) to use what He’s given us to build up His kingdom – then we’ll experience His JOY!  Or not…like the third servant.  How will you use what you’ve been given this week?

Stocking Up On Oil

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

The image most often used in the Bible to describe God’s relationship with us is that of a marriage.  In the Gospel parable today, 10 virgins are waiting for the groom to arrive and lead them all (with the bride) to the wedding celebration.  The groom was running late.  Five of the virgins brought extra oil for their lamps while five of them did not.  When the five who did not had to leave to get more oil, they missed the groom leading everyone to the wedding.  Arriving to the door late, they found themselves locked out.  The oil is our relationship with God.  We are called to stock up on it throughout a lifetime of shared experiences as we come to know the Lord more and more deeply. Jesus wants to lead all to eternal life, to the wedding party, but He warns us to be ready.  If our relationship with God is not a top priority for us and we think we can wait to stock up on this oil, or that we can just borrow from others in a pinch, we may find ourselves missing the party, too.

Vocations Start With YOU!

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Every person in this world is called to have a deep, rich, personal relationship with God – that is the first and primary vocation (call) from God to each and every one of us.  After that universal vocation comes our particular vocations – how we can best share our love for God with others – whether that’s through marriage, priesthood, religious life or single life.  As we focus on vocations to the priesthood and religious life during this National Vocations Awareness Week, what are some practical steps that can be taken to support our young people in these particular vocations?  You’d be surprised, but the answer starts with YOU!

What Are You Carving?

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Michelangelo, one of the greatest artists of all time, loved sculpting most of all.  He could look at a block of marble, see the potential, a vision for what that block of marble was hiding, and then carve away everything that was not that potential.  Each one of us is standing in front of a block of marble called, “The rest of your life.”  Do you have a vision for what you want that block of marble to look like at the end of your life?  God has a vision for each one of us, He sees so much potential, He tells us in the Gospel today that within each of us is a heart that can love God with everything we’ve got and love our neighbor as ourself.  What do you want to look like at the end of your life: a roughly carved block of untapped potential tromping around heaven, or a true masterpiece of God’s creation?  It’s already inside of you!  So what are you carving?

Never Silenced!

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the Gospel today, Jesus’ opponents want Him SILENCED!  They set a trap for Him in the form of both a political and religious kenundrum of the time: the census tax of Caesar.  Jesus skillfully beats them at their own game, refusing to be silenced.  Present day opponents of Christ and His Good News are seeking to silence the voice of Christ in this world by silencing us.  Whether it’s the pressure to keep Jesus and religion out of politics, a false understanding of “separation of church and state”, the temptation to understand faith as simply a personal matter, or the lie that it’s harmful to impose our beliefs on others, opponents of Jesus are trying to silence the voice of Christ.  Jesus wouldn’t be silenced by His opponents and we as His Body won’t be silenced either!  Proclaim your faith, O Christian, because the world needs your voice!

What Are You Wearing?

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The parable which Jesus gives about a king inviting guests to the wedding reception of his son is ultimately a parable about eternal life and heaven (which our 1st reading from Isaiah speaks of as “God’s holy mountain”).  The king in the parable is God, his son is Jesus, and the wedding banquet is eternal salvation.  Some have ignored the invitation (God’s original Chosen People, the Israelites), so the king has sent out his servants (the Apostles) to invite anyone and everyone, the bad and the good alike (the Church), to this wedding reception.  One man, however, is thrown out for not wearing his wedding garment.  While it may seem harsh, the wedding garment symbolizes the garment we were given at baptism when we were asked to put on Christ.  We may say “yes” to God’s original invitation, but Jesus makes it clear that one “yes” is not enough.  After that, we also have to say “yes” to putting on Christ each and every day, to wearing the wedding garment we’ve been given.  And as we learn at the end of the parable, busy-ness, laziness, forgetfulness, whatever made that man not wear his garment, is not a good enough excuse when the final day comes.  What are you wearing today?

Intoxicating the World

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

A vineyard is meant to produce grapes, which turn into wine, which lightens and cheers the hearts of all those willing to drink of it.  Isaiah says that God’s Chosen People, the Jews, were the vine, hand-selected by God, to produce amazing wine for this world – but they didn’t produce good fruit.  So God took the vineyard from them and gave it to other tenants: now we, as the Church of Christ, have been given this vineyard to tend, so that we can produce good fruit for the world.  It means first being intoxicated by our own relationship with God, and then intentionally sharing these “spirits” with others so that they can find deep meaning, purpose and happiness of heart in relationship with God.  Then they will also begin producing good fruit for others.  Our potential is amazing!  So how are you bearing fruit?