I want to spend some time reflecting on three fundamental truths of the Catholic faith and how their interconnectedness helps us to cooperate in our own redemption and the redemption of others. God, in all of His divine genius, has created a beautiful gift for us in the Church and it’s important for us to learn how it all works so that we can utilize this gift thoroughly.READ MORE
Our Gospel today continues the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes in which Jesus is teaching his disciples how they are to live as set apart from the world, which as we just heard is a very high expectation. Jesus calls us to ‘love our enemies’. Yes, Jesus means those people we so often try to avoid because they annoy and frustrate us, we are called to love and do good to them. And if that isn’t hard enough, Jesus seemingly commands his disciples to do the impossible: be merciful as our Father is merciful. So often, we can hear Jesus’ teaching and perhaps feel a little, OK, better said, A LOT overwhelmed and unqualified, just like the first disciples must have felt. However, in this homily instead of trying to stir us on to do that which is so difficult, let me reflect on our 2nd readings from this week and last week to help shed light on one very critical aspect which makes our difficult task possible, and not so unbelievable as the first disciples must have thought. Indeed, this critical point makes it possible for us, but it also heightens the urgency and severity to Jesus’ words, and should make it more convicting for us. To do this, I am going to need your participation. Throughout this homily, I want you to be thinking about one very important question. That very important question is: Why are there so many atheists and agnostics in the world today?READ MORE
To begin my homily, I have two questions for you: First, raise your hand if you want to be happy? I know that’s a crazy question, of course all of you raised your hands because we all want to be happy. In fact, true happiness is what we were made for! Good, today Jesus tells us how to be happy.
Second, raise your hand if you want to be a Disciple? Good, I do too. If you remember in last week’s Gospel, Jesus called Peter, James, and John to become fishers of men and they left everything to become Jesus’ disciple. This week in our Gospel, Jesus gathered the 12 disciples with a large group of people and began to teach them what it means to be a disciple. So those who raised your hand and said you also wanted to become Jesus’ disciple, listen up. Our Gospel reading says that Jesus “raised his eyes to his disciples and said, “Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours”. Sound familiar? Yes, today we heard Luke’s version of the Beatitudes. You are probably familiar with Matthew’s Beatitudes- “Blessed are the poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, they will be comforted, and so forth”. And even though both Gospels say ‘Blessed’, the Hebrew word Jesus uses in both versions more accurately means ‘happiness’ or ‘to be happy’, of course if you follow Jesus’ directions, you indeed will be both happy and Blessed! There are also some differences in Luke’s version compared to Matthew’s. First of all, Luke uses the 2nd person- and he says ‘blessed are you’, rather than Matthew’s more general 3rd person- in which he uses ‘blessed are they’. And secondly, Luke’s version is more rigid and imposing, as there is a whole list of woes or curses included, which is quite the different tone from Matthew’s nice and comforting version. Therefore, can you imagine the disciples listening intently as Jesus looked into their eyes and said, “Blessed, Happy are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied. Happy are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh. I imagine those words were consoling, after all, keep in mind, the 12 disciples left behind their families, their jobs, and all the comforts of home to follow Jesus. But then Jesus goes on to say, “Happy are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in Heaven”. I can imagine the disciples after hearing this last declaration of what it means to be happy, were like ‘I don’t want to think about people hating, excluding, and insulting me. Uh Jesus, can you go back to what you said earlier, those are more comforting?’READ MORE
As many of you know, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who considers himself Catholic, has gone further than any other politician (so far) in making it legal to perform abortions up to birth. Furthermore, they do not have to be performed by a licensed doctor. So, what have we learned?
1. We need to do a good job of investigating and discerning who we vote for! I wonder how many Catholics in New York voted for him just because he was a so-called Catholic, without really looking at his platform? I also wonder how many of those who voted for Cuomo, did so because of his stance on other issues, or even because of his proabortion stance, who are now sorry they have voted for a politician who would go to this extreme? I wonder if they are now second-guessing their decision to make his stance on other issues as more important than his view on life? I have no ties to New York and I do not know, but I wonder. Therefore, we need to investigate and research which candidates will work for what is closest to our beliefs as Catholics. It also shows that we must have a voice. We cannot allow the politicians to govern according to their agendas, instead of serving the people, and so we, the people, must speak up and declare abortion is murder and is not to be tolerated (and especially not celebrated!)READ MORE
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Our Diocese is blessed with people who are moved by the grace of God’s love and motivated to share that love with others. Loving your neighbor means acting with compassion, and I am so grateful for the love and compassion you share with those who are served by the Charity & Development Appeal (CDA).
Every gift to the CDA helps transform the lives of people who seek the loving presence of Christ. Thank you for helping 70 ministries, apostolates and organizations to serve those who seek the grace of God’s love.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
†Thomas J. Olmsted
Bishop of Phoenix
Welcome back, class. Again, keep in mind that in this section of the class we are discovering who God really is. And so, if you remember last week, we learned that Jesus went into the synagogue of his home town, and read the prophecy from Isaiah in which the future Messiah, the Anointed One of God, will bring good news to the poor, liberty to the captives, sight to the blind, and freedom for the oppressed. Then Jesus startlingly declared that that prophecy, the long-awaited coming of the Messiah, had been fulfilled in their midst. In other words, Jesus declared Himself to be the Messiah, the Anointed One of God. Before I go more into today’s lesson which describes who God is, first, let’s look at how the people responded to Jesus’ declaration that He was the Messiah, “all were amazed at his gracious words that came from his mouth”. Amazed at his gracious words, I’m hoping I’m misinterpreting how Luke meant it. But if not, what a reaction! In other words, ‘oh good, thank you for being the Messiah’, oh, gee, thank you for being the One who brings good news and freedom’. Gosh, I sure hope they didn’t get it, or really did not fully understood the magnitude of what Jesus was saying, because I’d expect jumping up and down for joy, I’d expect they would be running to tell everyone who they saw, or at the very least a little more heartfelt gratitude, anything other than a passing thanks without much meaning. But wait, that rings familiar to me, isn’t that how you and I can sometimes approach God? With so much indifference, like we don’t really recognize the magnitude of who He is, and we don’t really know or fully understand all that God has done and is doing for us.READ MORE