If you were a member of the parish 3 years ago, I encouraged you to read the book Forming Intentional Disciples. One of the points that book made was that many Catholics are sacramentalized but not evangelized. What exactly does that mean? Well, what I want to do in today’s homily is to evangelize you, which simply means sharing the Good News of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. You could also say that I am sharing the Kerygma (the Good News of God). I do so first to help you and I grow in living the Good News of knowing and following Jesus Christ as our Lord and God. But also because I am convinced that many of our loved ones who have fallen away from God or His Church have done so because they do not know why following God as a disciple is so relevant for our lives. What I am sharing is not new…. Or what I developed myself. Most likely you have heard these points throughout your journey in faith, but perhaps you haven’t heard them connected in a formula that can be used as talking points. The Good News or Kerygma can be remembered in 4 simple points:READ MORE
In our Gospel today we are given three parables that present pictures of the mystery of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let us reflect on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. One way to think of the parable is as the mixture of good and evil growing together side by side in our world and even within the Church where we experience the growth of healthy, vigorous wheat alongside unhealthy, destructive weeds. And second we can see in ourselves both good and evil, wheat and weeds, present in our hearts, our thoughts and our actions. As we explore this further let us consider two questions: 1) How do I view the Catholic Church and its purpose? And (2) How am I doing at living out my Catholic faith? Am I a healthy wheat or possibly more of a weed in God’s Kingdom?READ MORE
The end of our Gospel is probably a familiar verse to us- “Come to me, all you who are labor and burdened, and I will give you rest”. Don’t we all want to experience that rest? Well, in order to learn how to find that rest, we need to understand the 1st part of the Gospel. The first part of our Gospel is a prayer of Jesus to God the Father, and the second part is Jesus’ invitation to each of us. So to experience that rest, we need to understand and appreciate the context of and Jesus’ prayer to the Father.READ MORE
Raise your hand if you consider yourself a Disciple- as one who follows Jesus? OK, now let us see if we will still say that after we reflect on our Gospel today- in which Jesus tells the 12 disciples what the cost is, what the conditions are to be His follower. As it was demanding for these first disciples, so it is for us.
Jesus begins by telling the 12 apostles several challenging statements to live by if they are to be “worthy of Him”- to be worthy of Jesus means to be one with Jesus in Heaven. For certainly, everyone who is or wants to be worthy of Heaven will be purified to meet these conditions, so now let us look at what Jesus says are the conditions to truly follow Him as his disciple.READ MORE
Who is the Holy Spirit? What is His role in a believer’s life? Would you be able to answer those questions? Sadly, when many people think about the Holy Spirit, all they think about are the symbols, like the dove or maybe the tongues of fire from our 1st reading. People might be familiar with the symbols, but unfortunately, so few people really know who the Holy Spirit really is or what His role is in their lives. Romans 8:14 says, “Those who are led by the Spirit are children of God”. So the first thing we know is that we are God’s children. However, many people don’t really know what it means to live a life led by the Spirit, then neither do they really know what it means to be a child of God. So today, I want to do what I can to help you to know who the Holy Spirit is, what His role is in our lives, and what it means to be led by the Spirit.READ MORE
Today we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven, we celebrate that Jesus went back home to the Father. This must be a day of celebration for us, because it is through the Resurrected Jesus ascending from earth into heaven that we have the ability to go to Heaven ourselves. And though we should see our lives here on earth as just a temporary pilgrimage to our everlasting Heavenly homeland, today I want to focus on the experience of the Apostles and see how for them, the Ascension is a kind of preparation for Pentecost in which they will receive the Holy Spirit, which we’ll celebrate next Sunday.READ MORE
Last week we heard from John chapter 10 where Jesus revealed two titles. One, that He is the Good Shepherd who will seek and gather all the sheep, especially those that are lost; and second, Jesus said that He is the Gate- the only entry to salvation. Today we pick up a few chapters later, but we continue Jesus’ revelation of Himself and teaching to his disciples. If you look at John’s Gospel, beginning in chapter 13, we get an account of the Last Supper, and then in John chapters 14 through 17 we have what is sometimes called the farewell discourse. It’s Jesus's teachings to the apostles at the Last Supper, but not on the Eucharist per se, but rather on what their lives will be like and what they will be engaged in after he has died, risen and ascended into heaven. So let's peek into what's going on at the Last Supper and see what Jesus says to his disciples.READ MORE
The 4th Sunday of Easter every year has become known as Good Shepherd Sunday, as the Gospel each year is taken from a section of John chapter 10, where Jesus uses the image of sheep and shepherd to teach his disciples. So today, we start to transition in our Gospel from the Resurrection accounts to prepare for Pentecost and the start of the Catholic Church. So let us prepare ourselves too.
To help understand the image Jesus uses today of the sheep and shepherd, at night the shepherds would put their sheep in a corral with stone walls to help keep the sheep contained. And there is only 1 gate to enter in and out of it, and a gatekeeper who knew the shepherds would stay in front of the gate. Therefore, any strangers or thieves would have to go over the walls because they couldn’t go through the gate. He would let the shepherds in though, and the shepherd would call his sheep by name, and the sheep knew and would follow the shepherds voice. This is such a powerful and meaningful image. But the disciples didn’t understand the meaning of this figure of speech. Therefore, Jesus clarified that He himself “is the gate, and anyone who goes through Him will be saved and will find pasture in eternal life”. Therefore, not only is Jesus the Good Shepherd who leads his flock to the green pasture of salvation, but He is also the gate- the only way entrance way to eternal life. However, this is not just nice imagery Jesus is using to instruct his disciples, but it is actually a fulfillment of the Old Testament in which God foreshadows that He will be the Good Shepherd who will seek and save the lost sheep.READ MORE
In this famous Gospel, 2 disciples are walking away to a town called Emmaus, about 7 miles from Jerusalem. On the way they meet, they have a conversation with Jesus, and as they were listening to Jesus their hearts burn within them. Wouldn’t you like to have that same encounter? Good news is we can, and God desires us to. However, let’s be practical…walking 7 miles must have taken over 2 hours, sooo- we must be ready to invest our time also. I don’t mind- do you mind staying for 2 hours? Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us have the same kind of encounter with Jesus in the time that we have.READ MORE
Welcome to the greatest love story ever told, this drama (and I use that word on purpose) between Jesus and the Samaritan woman is so full, and rich, and deep, let me jump right into it. I am sure you have heard this story many times in the past like I have, however, there is a book by Dr. Brant Pitre, a Catholic theologian who has a PhD in Jewish Studies, the same theologian who I’ve learned the Jewish roots of Christ’s death and resurrection that I am currently presenting to the parish over 3 more Monday evenings. Anyways, he wrote a book called “Jesus the Bridegroom- the Greatest Love Story Ever Told” that devotes a whole chapter to this story about the Samaritan Woman at the Well. Let me give you some of the profound insights so that we can have a much deeper understanding and appreciation about just what Jesus says and does. And I cannot make all the connections from the chapter in this 1 homily, so I encourage you to buy and read it for yourself.READ MORE
On this final preparation for the coming of Christ, each of our readings speak to us about what it really means to receive Christ into us. Let us look at each of our readings and be inspired and convicted to fully receive Christ into us.READ MORE
We celebrate the 3rd Sun of Advent, just two weeks til Christmas. Are you wanting, are you ready for the coming of Jesus? Indeed for us human beings, it is easy for us to get so busy in this season that before we know it Christmas is here, and we have hardly prepared. Have you taken time to pray and reflect on what it means for Jesus to come? Are you ready and wanting Him to come, with all your heart? It is easy to kind of go through the motions in Advent and Christmas- something we have probably done many times over the years- and so we can kind of know what to expect.READ MORE
Happy New Year everyone. Although the world celebrates the new year in January, we as Church celebrate the start of Advent as a new year. We begin a new cycle of readings, in this year of ‘A’, the Gospel of Matthew. However, we don’t start this 1st Sun of Advent, as one might expect, with the beginning of the Gospel, instead the Church wants us to begin towards the end of Matthew’s Gospel, with the preparation of the 2nd coming. The word ‘Advent’ means ‘coming’. So indeed, the Season of Advent is about preparing ourselves for the coming of Christ, but especially in the 1st couple of weeks, we focus not on preparing ourselves for the 1st coming but for the 2nd coming. Listen to the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 524: “When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present an ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation of the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming”. We, in this age, remember the 1st advent, but are to focus our hearts and our desires for the 2nd advent, for the final coming of Christ.READ MORE
The story is told about a man who was so scared and nervous during his first plane ride. The man beside him suggested that he get a glass of whisky from the flight attendant. Which he did and which he downed in one gulp. When he asked if he could get another one, the man beside him pointed out to the button above his head and told him to press it if he wanted another drink, whereupon he stood up and pushed the button and held his glass underneath. (When we are scared sometimes our mind does not work well.)READ MORE