Sometimes what seems new is not. For what seems new is something forgotten from the past. What we might now experience as new is taking the path of returning to the Garden of Eden, wherein humanity experienced directly the love of God and life without sin. It was an existence in which loving God was more important than anything else and serving each other was always the second consideration. What is too often forgotten is what Jesus Christ came to announce: the presence of the Kingdom of God — something old offered new again.
The Israelites had been held in exile in Babylon for several generations. While in Babylon, some of what the Jews had believed was lost as many of them had been slowly assimilated into Babylonian culture. King Cyrus of Persia, who had conquered Babylon in 538 B.C., allowed the Israelites to return to Jerusalem, but what they had left had been destroyed. The Book of Nehemiah describes the rebuilding Jerusalem and the efforts to help the people regain a sense of who they were as a religious people.READ MORE
My brothers and sisters remember that in last week’s Gospel we heard the miracle of Jesus changing water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana, which was Jesus’ first action of many that revealed him to have God-like powers. In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus unambiguously verbally declare Himself, for the first time, to be the Messiah, the Anointed One with the Spirit of God. So today is what I like to call the Mic-drop Gospel. For those of you who are, say under 25 years old, a mic-drop is when someone says something so amazing, so shocking, that it leaves everyone else speechless. In which no one can, or dares try to, say anything to counter or top what was just said, it’s that striking. For the audience in that synagogue, I imagine it took several minutes for everyone to pick up their jaws from the floor and even begin to process what Jesus just said, let alone think about what the ramifications of what he said are. Even though our Gospel today stops there, leaving us and everyone gathered to process what Jesus said, next week’s Gospel will pick up right where this left off. So, for those who don’t like cliff-hangers and can’t wait for next week to hear what the people thought and what the ramifications were of what Jesus said, go ahead, I give you permission, class, to read ahead. No really, go ahead, I encourage you, as is good to do every week, to read ahead and reflect for yourself in preparation for next Sunday. But for today, let me unpack the amazing words Jesus said, so that we too can be astonished, and begin to process what they mean for us.READ MORE
In the first reading, Ezra gets a strange reaction from the people to whom he reads the book of the law. First they lie down, with faces to the ground, and then they all are weeping. Remember the background of this reading. The people of Israel had returned from exile and needed to become a unified nation. Most had never heard the laws, so when they learned what was expected of them and realized how much of the Law they had broken, they wept from shame. Many probably didn’t know that they had been breaking the law. Others might have been overwhelmed with all the requirements of the law.
Ezra and Nehemiah console the people by reminding them that their return makes this a day “holy to the LORD” (Nehemiah 8:10). He adds that they would draw strength from “rejoicing in the LORD.” That may be good advice for us also.READ MORE
Maria* was going back to Church after her second-grader enrolled in First Communion classes. She didn’t know what to say to her daughter after being asked why she didn’t go to Communion. Maria had an abortion in her teens and felt that she couldn’t go to confession because she had committed an “unforgivable sin.”READ MORE
I really love our Gospel today. I can honestly say that it is one of my very favorite stories of the Bible. While the actual narrative is fairly short, if one would take the time to consider the detail of what’s going on in this story, to consider and imagine the reality of what’s taking place in each of the lines John presents us with, one could very well walk away with the idea for a best-selling novel, or hit movie, or on a more practical plain, some real solid take a-ways that can radically deepen our spiritual life.
Now my guess is that if you asked several people what the Wedding Feast at Cana was all about that some of the most common things we might hear is that it is where Jesus performed his first miracle, what John called a sign. Others would say, or add to that, that the events of Cana was the start of Jesus’s ministry, that it served as his “Coming Out Party” if you will.READ MORE
After joining the parish with my family in April 2017 and attending weekly Mass, I was still feeling like I needed something more. This feeling has been with me my whole life, but has been heightened since having children. I just couldn’t pinpoint what was missing.
After starting Discovering Christ, I realized that I was missing out on a personal relationship with God. Through the series, I was able to cultivate this relationship. It was like planting a seed that will grow and I will be able to nourish for the rest of my life. It’s had such a profound impact on me and I know that I will always look back on this experience in absolute wonder of its influence.READ MORE
3 weeks ago, Christ was born, and today we flash forward 30 years and celebrate when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and begins his public ministry. So today is the last day of the Christmas season and tomorrow starts Ordinary time.
Most likely, 99% of us here today have been baptized, and for many of us, our baptism was many years ago. And so very few of us remember our baptism and perhaps have lost touch with what really happened, and what the effects are. In today’s society, there are many baptized people in the world but often times we would not be able to recognize those who have been baptized to those who have not; and so the effects of baptism is stripped of it’s power, even for us too. Therefore, for many people, when they think about what baptism is, they might think of as a cleansing or purification, or they think of it simply as an initiation into a faith or a belief, like what you do to be initiated into a club or secret society. In fact, for some Protestant denominations, even if a person was baptized as Catholic or even another Protestant denomination, they have their new members be baptized again because it was not in their faith or belief system. And don’t get me wrong, we are baptized into a faith, into a system of beliefs, into the Church, but it is much more than just an initiation into an organization or club. What I want to do today is, with the help of our Scripture readings and the Catechism, to highlight what the Catholic Church teaches the effects of baptism are, and help us to reflect on if those effects are active in our lives. The opening paragraph on baptism in the Catechism as it succinctly mentions the effects of baptism. Paragraph 1213 says, “Through baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons (or children) of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission”.READ MORE
On the Feast of the Epiphany, it is traditional to bless the home using chalk to write above the main entrance. Here’s a suggested format for the blessing:
Leader: + In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Leader: Let us praise God, who fills our hearts and homes with peace. Blessed be God forever.
All: Blessed be God forever.
Leader: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling place among us. It is Christ who enlightens our hearts and homes with his love. May all who enter this home find Christ’s light and love.READ MORE
Today is called the celebration of the Epiphany of the Lord- epiphany means revelation or manifestation. And so today, we celebrate God revealing and manifesting Himself. For the Magi in our Gospel, seeing the star and finding the Christ-child was an epiphany, a realization, in which they were able to the see the revelation of God, to whom they in did homage and worshipped.
However, as I was preparing this homily, I was intrigued by our 1st reading from Isaiah, and not for the obvious reason because it is a prophecy in which gold and frankincense would be brought to a king, which of course the Magi in our Gospel did bring, and that praises were to be sung to the Lord. But I was intrigued by and with this homily want to reflect on the first 2 lines of our 1st reading. As a reminder, the first verses of our 1st reading is this: “Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. See, darkness covers the earth, and dark clouds cover the peoples, but upon you the Lord shines, and over you appears his glory”. In that context, Jerusalem referred to the Jews, the people of God, as Jerusalem was the city in which the people of God lived. But now, today, Jerusalem also refers to the Church, the new Jerusalem, the new city of the people of God. So really, it refers to all of us, and so, in a way, this prophecy can and should be spoken about us also. In this verse, the word ‘glory’ is used twice- ‘the glory of the Lord shines upon you’ and then ‘over you appears His glory’. When I first read this, knowing the context was to include you and I, I pondered what exactly is ‘glory’- we hear the word often, but rarely do we think about what it means. What is God’s glory, what exactly should shine upon us and appears over us? Intrigued, I did what every good Catholic would do, right? I went to the Church’s google, the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Do you ever do that, become intrigued by something- like something you read or maybe a Church teaching- and want to learn more about it, so you do a little research in the Catechism? If you don’t, you should, there is so much more we can learn and love if we were a little more curious and investigative! Anyways, I looked up ‘glory’ in the subject index of the Catechism, read a few of the paragraph’s in which ‘glory’ is spoken of, and focused on 2 paragraphs. By the way, the numbers in the Catechism refer to paragraph numbers, not page numbers. And in case you might be wondering where I am going with this, hang with me, it really does help shine light upon Epiphany and Christmas.READ MORE
Merry Christmas, everyone! Yes, it is still the Christmas season for one more week. In this season all people are invited to begin to uncover the mystery of who Jesus Christ is in His fullness. Indeed, Jesus Christ is a mystery. A couple of days ago, we celebrated in faith that Jesus, who is the eternal Son of God, the fulfillment of all the prophets in the Old Testament, the Messiah, and the Christ, was sent by God the Father to become a human baby who will eventually save his people. And today the mystery of God’s plan of salvation continues as we highlight the fact that God chose to carry out this plan by means of a family—the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Our Gospel today is so rich in foreshadowing and discovering who Christ fully is. In our Gospel, we flash forward 12 years into Jesus’ life when the good Jewish parents, Joseph and Mary, took their Son Jesus, though He already is the Son of God, to the Temple to present Him to God, His Father. And so, ironically, through this Christmas and the Gospel today, the mystery of who Jesus is becomes a little clearer, and as the mystery of who Jesus is becomes unraveled in our hearts, our identity and our families become who they are meant to be—holy.READ MORE
This season is full of many traditions. If you watch any Christmas movie, especially the Hallmark movies, they are chalk full of Christmas traditions, and sweet memories. My family certainly has some. If you were to visit my parent’s house you would see my Christmas stocking that my mom made when I was a baby still hung in the same place that it, and each of my families’, has been for over 40 years, and you would find prominently displayed on the tree the torn and crumpled ornaments that my sister and I both claimed we made in grade school. Similarly, for you, each family here probably has your own little traditions, perhaps centered around the Christmas tree. You might bake and decorate Christmas cookies together and enjoy the same types of food every year. Even being here at this Christmas Mass might be a tradition for your family. All of these traditions bring with them many kind of different memories. And all these many Christmas traditions are good because they bring the family together and fill our hearts with warmth and joy. However, the Christmas traditions are only temporary, family will disperse again, at some point the Christmas tree will die, and all the lights and decorations will come down. The cookies will be eaten, and the Christmas festivities will come to an end. But my brothers and sisters, traditions are not solely what Christmas is about. Christmas is about God’s gift to us. God’s gift to us is His son, the true and central purpose of this holiday season. For over 2000 years; since the 3 wise men traveled, a group of shepherds cautiously approached, and the choirs of angels rejoiced, Jesus’s birth has been celebrated. However, the birth of Jesus Christ is not a tradition, it is so much more. The birth of Jesus is not just something that we remember or do every year, like a tradition. Even though the Christmas festivities end, the celebration of Jesus Christ does not come to an end, because He doesn’t have an end. The celebration of our Savior is eternal and we should be celebrating that gift. In fact, as our readings and Scripture confirm, Jesus is the eternal Son of God. Even though creation has had a beginning, and will have an end, as Scripture says, Jesus Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. It is Jesus who, ‘through whom all creation came into being’. Therefore, in Jesus, the Creator has entered into his creation. The eternal has entered into time and space, the divine has become human. What a gift!READ MORE
I see countless Christmas trees around the world below,
With tiny lights, like heaven’s stars, reflecting on the snow.
The sight is so spectacular; please wipe away that tear,
For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear,
But the sounds of music can’t compare
with the Christmas choir up here.
Gaudete in Domino Semper! — Rejoice in the Lord always; Again I say rejoice! The Lord is near! (Entrance Antiphon; cf. Phil 4:4-5)
Today, being the third Sunday of Advent, we celebrate Gaudete or “Rejoice” Sunday. Festive, rose-colored vestments, instead of the violet. The reason we call this Sunday Gaudete Sunday is that the Entrance Antiphon for today’s Mass begins with the Latin: Gaudete in Domino Semper, which means, Rejoice in the Lord always.
The words rejoice and joy appear over a hundred times each throughout the Old and the New Testaments of the Holy Bible. (In the Old Testament they appear in the Psalms, Proverbs, Sirach, Tobit, Isaiah, Zechariah, Joel, and others.) In the New Testament they are used by our Lord several times in His parables and His other teachings, by Saints Peter and Paul, and is part of Mary’s Magnificat.READ MORE
On this 3rd Sun of Advent the Church calls us to re-focus ourselves in this season, which is why we change the color of the candle that we lit on the Advent wreathe, as well as the color of my vestments. This 3rd Sunday is called Gaudete, means to rejoice. So also, our readings keep to that theme: “Shout for joy”. “Sing joyfully”. “Be glad and exult with all your heart”. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again, Rejoice”. Those are the opening lines from our 1st and 2nd readings. So today, I want us to reflect on the difference between true and authentic Christian Joy and the superficial happiness of the world; and then help to explain how to attain and keep that authentic Christian joy. First, you probably know about the superficial happiness that I’m talking about, and the mask that people tend to put on on the outside, but inwardly they are far from happy and content. The worldly happiness tends to be short-lived and is so dependent on other people and circumstances around us. I can see by the nodding of your heads that you know well that kind of superficial worldly happiness. On the other hand, Christian joy is the joy and happiness that is long-lasting, it is deep-seated, and is not so dependent on people and circumstances. It is not a mask that is seen on the outside only, but it is a deep interior joy and peace which consistently and naturally affects what others see on the outside. Do you know and have that kind of joy? If you’re thinking I’m not really sure that I do, then this homily is for you, because I will help to explain how to attain it, so listen up. For the rest of us, we probably want to have that joy always be continually deepening within us, therefore, this homily is really for all of us.READ MORE
My brothers and sisters, now with the beginning of a new liturgical year, we enter a new cycle of Gospel readings, this year, the year C of the cycle, we hear mostly from Gospel of Luke. Luke, in addition to being a physician, is an historian, and so he is conscious about writing the historical fact of the time and place of the real events. Have you ever wondered why God came into that place at that time? Even though you and I might so often skim over the unfamiliar names and places mentioned in the Gospels, they are important because not only do they give credibility of the historical real events, but they also give meaningful context to the readers who did know of the people and places mentioned. And so, Luke begins this Gospel: “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, … during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas”. Even though you and I have heard of the names of Tiberius Caesar, Pilate, Herod, and so on, in hearing and reading the Gospels, we probably don’t really know who these people were. Each of the names mentioned were people who had made wrong choices and had done evil things. For example, Tiberius was the emperor from year 14AD to 37AD, so 23 years, for the entire adult life and ministry of Jesus. Well, of all the emperors of Rome, it is written that Tiberius was the most depraved and wicked. Even though the Roman empire was peaceful during his reign, Tiberius’ personal life was extremely immoral. Similarly, the Gospels speak of the dishonesty of the governor, Pontius Pilate. There are non-Christians’ accounts that testify that Pilate was known for corruption, acts of insolence, inhumane cruelty and murder of untried, un-condemned people. Sounds pretty bad, right? Well, that is how the politicians behaved at that time, so what about the religious people serving in the Temple? Luke specifies that Annas and Caiaphas were high priests at that time, unfortunately, Annas and Caiaphas were both deposed from their high priesthood for various wicked acts they were engaged in. Therefore, Luke is giving the reader the political and spiritual context of the times, times in which there were evil leaders, corrupt governors, and even scandalous high priests.READ MORE
As I write this, it’s been 48 hours without pain in my right foot. Well, out of respect for someone with real pain, I’ll call it being discomfort-free. You may recognize me as the person who hobbled around church on a knee crutch for a few months after having blown out my Achilles tendon playing racquetball with my son. Post-surgery and rehab, I’ve had more or less continuous tenderness in my right foot. More on that in a minute…READ MORE
I consider myself a re-vert, a cradle Catholic, as well as a convert. I know that sounds crazy, but I can explain.
My father was Catholic and my mother a new convert to Catholicism. I was baptized in ‘62 and received all of the sacraments. I grew up under a much misguided understanding of Vatican II. My parents were deeply influenced by the progressive spirit of the Counsel. Consequently, that misguided spirit colored my perception of Catholicism. By high school I was questioning the faith and this questioning was met with no answers or, as I now know, incorrect answers. My questioning continued as I went to college, met my first husband and had my daughter. I expected my marriage to work because I was taught and believed that marriage was forever. Unfortunately, that firm belief alone was not enough to make it work, especially when faith had not informed my selection process of a life-time mate. The relationship proved destructive before the vows were even finished and it lasted two painful years. The failure of my marriage was brutally devastating to my sense of self. I thought that if this was the best influence Catholicism could have in my life, then it wasn’t for me. This experience sealed my belief that the Church was void of the sacred and was a closed community, in which there was no place for someone like me, someone divorced. For me, this was the finish of any Catholic faith.READ MORE
Today we begin the 4-week season of Advent, which is, of course, preparation for the birth of Christ in a manger at Christmas. So, be honest, when you heard the Gospel today, how many of you thought that we made a mistake and read last week’s readings instead of today's? If you were expecting to begin hearing about Mary and Joseph and the nice peaceful first coming of the baby Jesus, instead of the terrifying signs of the end of time and the 2nd coming of Christ in great power and glory, that is understandable. But we need to reflect on the importance of both of the comings of Christ and ask ourselves: how are we approaching the second person of the Trinity who is both fully human and fully Divine?READ MORE