Friday, July 30, 2010

Homily for Luke 12:13-21 Eighteenth Sunday

Last week we began speaking of prayer as the spiritual food of our soul; if we need to eat to keep our bodies alive and healthy, how much more do we need to pray in order to feed our souls and to keep them healthy and alive. We also discussed the need to pray with persistence and trust, trust that our heavenly Father loves us as His Children. The Father already knows what we need and so will only give us the good things we need, but not necessarily the things we want. For our prayers to be answered we need to forgive one another and to pray correctly (with the proper disposition of heart). We ended by revealing the secret of the prayer of the saints, a secret that sadly most Catholics will not put into action. That secret is prayer in front of the tabernacle, prayer in front of the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist is literally Jesus in His human body with His human heart, and the Human heart of Jesus is the only way to the Father’s heart.

Today the Holy Spirit wants to slap us out of our complacency. In the words that He inspired, we hear that all things in this world are vanity. The wise man writing in our first reading, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is confronting the evils of this life- in particular suffering and death. It makes no sense to him. He has long observed that both the good and the evil man will face suffering and death. This is why he can conclude that the pursuit of earthly things is vane. All is vanity.

What he is really trying to point out is that all the things of this earth which takes us away from an intimate relationship with God are worthless. All the things in this world will have to be left behind including those people we love—so why do we strive to make this world our permanent dwelling especially when it is such a vale of tears…in this life all must suffer both the good and the bad, all must die leaving behind everything.

In this life then, we must strive for the higher things, the things of the Spirit—seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Our earthly desires and passions will take us away from our heavenly calling if we seek to fill our desires and passions with created things instead of God. Comfort and pleasure, not to mention sinful pleasure, are obstacles for us to reach God if we set our hearts on them. Our hearts are made for God, not for things of this world, whether it be the riches of this world or the comfort and pleasures of this world. Only God can fulfill the deepest desires of our hearts. And so our hearts will never rest until they rest in our God alone.

It is this wisdom of our first readings that Jesus in our Gospel today, uses in his advice to the man who approached him. The death of a father had just taken place and the two sons are arguing over, of all things, the inheritance. The reality of death confronts them, not only their father’s death but their own, (for whenever we face the death of a loved one, we also face the inevitability of our own death) and yet the one wants more of the inheritance than what he has received. He appeals to Jesus to intervene on his behalf- after all it’s only fair…This is, of course, a familiar situation. How many families are torn apart by fighting over the inheritance after a funeral?

Jesus reads this man’s heart- and finds there…greed. In the face of his suffering, this man thinks that more material goods will fill the void in his heart. And so Jesus responds to the request by telling him a parable. “Where is your treasure?” Jesus asks. Is it in the things of this world…or the things of heaven?… Are you too worried and anxious about obtaining more possessions to be concerned about your eternal salvation…are you more worried about obtaining money, than obtaining the greatest of all treasures, Jesus Himself?

Jesus here want us to seriously reflect that this life is short and the next life is long, eternally long; are our hearts then really set on obtaining heaven...are we really taking our conversion and salvation seriously enough? Jesus is reminding us of our mortality and warns against greed and the reliance on riches. He tells us that death will come quickly and unexpectedly. Death comes for us all sooner or later (sometimes sooner), then judgment, then heaven or hell. Are we ready for death today?

Let me share with you a story I just heard, a priest I know once gave a homily on today’s gospel. He asked the congregation. What if today was your last Mass? Your last homily? Your last Holy Communion? How would you attend, how would you pay attention and listen? Would you open your heart? (In other words he was asking, “are you taking your salvation seriously enough.)

He said this homily and these questions were made very unforgettable when the ushers came forward at this very same Mass to take up the collection. As one of them genuflected before the altar he suffered a heart attack and dropped dead as he did so. It was his last Mass and his last homily. I am sure that nobody in church that day ever forgot it either. Are we willing to risk living an eternity separated from the Love of our heavenly Father by taken it all for granted, by assuming we’ve already made it or thinking there is plenty of time?

And so, Jesus again speaks of the necessity of prayer, the necessity of forming that intimate union with our God and doing it now—one’s life does not consist of possessions, but in obtaining and possessing God (the one thing that Matters).” If we instead, make the object of this life the values and things of this world our relationship with Christ and our lives will lose meaning. With our hearts set on things we slowly become stupefied in the sleep of indifference. And in this indifference we will no longer be able to realize that the greatest gift in this life is the Holy Eucharist which is Jesus, the only way to the Father.

If we don’t center our lives on Jesus in the tabernacle we may think that we are living good Christian lives, but we are not. We will take our eternal salvation for granted; we will presume every one goes to heaven when they do not. Away from the Eucharist we will become slave to our senses—wanting only comfort and pleasure; we will think only of the things of earth and not of the things of heaven, we will become complacent. We will want only for material things and so will become attached to the created things of this world instead of the Creator of the world.

In the end, all will be vanity, for we will have sought in created things that which they can not give. What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and suffers the loss of his own soul? Eternity is forever! Work out your salvation with fear and trembling!!! If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.

Let us realized that if we are not going to take our salvation for granted, if we are going to bear fruit in our lives, the fruit of salvation for ourselves and others, then we must place our hearts often next to the tabernacle, which is under the cross. The Eucharist is Divine; it is Jesus; it is God. The Eucharist is not only the secret of prayer, it is the one and only door way to heaven; it is heaven. There alone will we find the consolation we desire and the strength in the Lord we need to survive the trials of this life. There alone will we find fulfillment to the deepest desires of the human heart, our heart, and reach a union forever with the God who is love. May we pray today for the grace of heeding the words of Jesus and doing so now. Let us pray for the grace to discover that our hearts will only be satisfied with union with our Lord. May our Holy Communion today be an occasion where we discover more deeply the true importance of our relationship with our Eucharist Lord and so may it lead us to the communion with Him forever.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Luke ll; 1-13 17th Sunday in Ordinary time. July 25th, 2010

Last we spoke of the importance of prayer; especially contempletive prayer-sitting, like Mary, at the feet of Jesus, looking lovingly at His face and listening attentively to every word He speaks. This week, we read two more accounts of prayer. In our first reading, we see Abraham praying and interceding to God about the fate of Sodom. And in our reading from the Gospel, we read Jesus teaching the apostles how to pray, for we know not how to pray as we ought. The two accounts teach us the importance of prayer and its effect in our lives. If only we would realize how hungry we are for intimacy with God, we would always find time to pray!

It seems that we all lack the time in our busy lives to pray. And so, in our busy and hectic life, how often do we really pray? What if prayer was just as important to us as eating? It seems we always have time to eat if we are hungry.

When giving a retreat to Teens, one priest asked the teenagers this question? “If you only ate food as often as you prayed, how hungry would you be? Most of them admitted that they would definitely be suffering from malnutrition. The priest ended by saying, “Imagine only eating on Sunday for one hour at the most.” Imagine those who don’t even eat at least once per week on Sunday, they must be dead!!! Most of the malaise, emptiness and sadness in our lives, comes from the fact that we don't eat enough of the food that really matters and so are starving ourselves from intimacy with God, the one thing that truly matters.

Along with how often do you pray, is the question, "how persistent are you in prayer? Perhaps you are suffering from Spiritual malnutrition. Just as we can't live healthily without eating regularly, we can't be spiritually healthy without persistent daily prayer. You probably eat at basically the same times each day. Why not have scheduled times to pray each day too? Then persevere in keeping the schedule. We should for sure, each and every day, pray first thing when we wake up and right before we go to bed. What about scheduling a Holy Hour each and every week? For those who are able, about a Holy Hour and Holy Mass every morning; We have adoration of the Blessed Sacrament one hour before Holy Mass, every Monday-Friday.

Besides thinking we are too busy, why is it that we are so hesitant to put time aside for prayer? Perhaps, we think God is distant and uncaring; after all it, seems He doesn't always answers our prayers. In today's Gospel Jesus tells us just the opposite. Jesus in today’s Gospel is doing something very unique- for the first time He is addressing God as Father or in Hebrew “Abba.” A better translation is “daddy.” He is telling us to call God our "daddy."

By giving us the "Our Father", Jesus is teaching that Our God is not distant and uncaring; He is intimately concerned for us, never taking His eyes or His mind off of us; He is actually Our Father. We for our part then are to speak to Him humbly, as a child speaks to its daddy. We are to speak to Him with simplicity and the purity of a child.

Purity and childlikeness helps us to make sure that we never say the “Our Father,” or any other prayer to God, without the realization that it is God the Almighty that we are speaking to. Intimacy and reverence must always go together in addressing our prayer to God. And so our prayer must be reverent and said from the heart to a All Holy Father who Loves us so much.

Because God love us so much, Jesus instructs us that our prayer to the Father should also be a trusting prayer, one that realizes that the Father already knows what we need even before we ask, and so will only give us the good things we need; however, not necessarily the things we want. Along with the Father giving us only the good things that we need, He will also give it in a way, and at a time which is best for us. He answers all prayers, but according to His Holy Will, not to our own.

This brings up another point Jesus that teaches about prayer; and that is, for God to listen to our prayer we must, must first be reconciled both with Him and with our neighbor. In other words, for our prayer to be effective, for it to bear fruit in our life, we must be in a right relationship with God by regularly receiving forgiveness for our sins in the Sacrament of Confession; always remembering however, we will only be forgiven to the extent we forgive others. In order to receive forgiveness, we must forgive others who have sinned against us.

Next week, August 4th, we celebrate the feast day of St. John Vinney, the patron saint of parish priest; He sums up what we have said on prayer very nicely:
“Do you see the effectiveness of prayer when it is done properly? Are you not convinced like me that, if we do not obtain what we ask God for, it is because we are not praying with faith, with a heart pure enough, with enough confidence, or that we are not persevering in prayer the way we should? God has never refused nor will ever refuse anything to those who ask for his graces in the way they should. Prayer is the great recourse available to us to get out of sin, to persevere in grace, to move God’s heart and to draw upon us all kinds of blessing from heaven, whether for the soul or to meet our temporal needs.”

By the way, St. John Vianney discovered the secret of moving and opening the Father’s heart to our humble prayer. That secret was humble, faithful, persistent and reverential prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament. St Vianney spent hours on his knees before Jesus in the Eucharist, praying for the conversion of His parishioners and for the whole world. When he came to Ars, no one was going to Church at all, by the time He died, there were over 40,000 souls coming to Ars to Holy Mass and to have St. Vianney hear their confessions and to pray for them. His prayer definitely saved many souls.

Thankfully there are many people throughout the world today, both religious and lay faithfully alike, who like St John Vianney, make weekly, even daily Holy Hours before the Blessed Sacrament. "Thank God, there are those who pray each and every day with the faith of Abraham from the heart. It could be their persevering prayer before for the tabernacle that as so far saved our sinful world from God's divine justice. They are the modern day Abraham's dialoging with God, imploring his mercy and forgiveness for the sins of the modern cities of our world.

But are there enough praying? Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, there just weren't enough people--ten--reaching out to God. And so, will you also be one of them that will on your knees before the Blessed Sacrament, reach out to the Father through the Son on behalf of others, so that our world may be converted and so souls be saved? Speak to the Father today from your heart. Beg his mercy for our fallen Cities and country while the Father is still preserving in his mercy, beg His mercy for yourself and others. Persistence prayer to Our Father God will begin to end the persistent sin and un-forgiveness in our world and in our own life.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is if course the greatest of all prayers for it makes present to us Jesus Himself, and His priestly prayer and His sacrifice on Calvary to the Father for us, and for our salvation. Let us at this Mass and every Mass, as we offer ourselves along with Jesus in loving sacrifice to the Father, ask our Blessed Mother to obtain for us the grace of "Prayer from the Heart", prayer stemming from great love of God and great love of neighbor. May she allow us to enter into her school of prayer so that through the power of her Spouse—the Holy Spirit, we may become united to her Son and through Him united to the Father from whom all good things come.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

we will have chosen the better part and it will not be taken from us.

Luke 10; 38-42 Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. July 18, 2010

We have been speaking about our need to have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ in order to bring the Good News into our world. Today, we read a seemly very different kind of Gospel, but one that has the same message for us—We need to have this deeper intimate relationship with Christ before we can live and spread the Good News, and so we need to put making time for this relationship primary in our lives, at the top of our list of priorities.

Today, we see Jesus at the home of Lazarus, where his two sisters are doing different things. It would seem a very familiar scene in any household- one person is stuck doing all of the work, while others do nothing. And so it would appear that it is Martha who is actively doing all of the work, while Mary seemingly sits passively at the feet of Jesus.

Martha and Mary have openly received Jesus into their home, and He for His part, would never forget their hospitality toward Him. Later, He would reward them by raising their brother from the dead; We always have to remember that Jesus can never be outdone in generosity; He loves those who love Him.

Martha does what is customary; she is so absorbed in making sure everything is perfect- actively attending to so many details- is there enough bread? Have we prepared enough meat? (On and on). Mary, on the other hand, it would seem, sits passively at the master’s feet to listen. However, Mary’s is the position of the servant-a position of humility. She sits at the feet of THE MASTER- Christ and is absorbed with His words as she stares into His face. She is not helping Martha with all the chores. Now, out of fairness, we might think that Jesus should say to her- “please help your sister- she is anxious and worried about so many things;” but he does not. Jesus instead says, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about so many things and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part; it is not to be taken from her.”

After we recover from our natural shock, we have to consider what all of this means. For the Fathers of the Church this passage has been seen as showing the two aspects of Christian life-prayer and service. Mary representing prayer and Martha-service. Now often, these two aspects are seen in opposition to one another, however, nothing can be further from the case.

Every Christian, even the most recluse hermit, even the pope, must live these two aspects of the Christian life- prayer and service; both are needed to authentically follow the Master. Most of us understand the need for service, but the prayer aspect is often put in second place or even overlooked, when it is really that which is most primary, most important. In fact, by giving primacy to prayer we can make our service a prayer, make our work a prayer. In other words, if we give prayer the first place in our lives, this practice of being in God's present will overflow into our daily lives of service, we can do our work, our leisure, everything with the profound sense that we are in the presence of God. This will bear much fruit in our lives by leading others to the presence of God as well.

The reality is, is that we all have such busy lives, such packed calendars. And so, it is very easy to allow this busyness to distract us and prevent us from the one thing that really matters--our time for daily prayer, our time for daily and intimate conversion with our God--being with God.

But if our work is going to bear fruit that will last we can't forget to pray and to make pray the most important activity of our lives. We have to be careful we don't just get in the mode of doing and not being, being busy, busy, busy and forget that God is always with us; we have to be with Him as well.

There is another element to this that we need to look at. Even when we do make time for prayer if we are not careful we can bring the busyness of our lives into our prayer time. What do I mean? Because our lives are so busy and we only have so much time, we think we have to be a Martha and actively accomplish something in the short time we have.

And so, when we only have so much time to pray we can then think that it has to be an active time, time in which we achieve much. Our understanding of prayer then can take on only the dimension of Martha and not of Mary. In other words we see prayer only as way of doing many things, not as a way of being.

In our prayer we can become like Martha anxious about many things, saying many words, saying many prayers, when only one thing is necessary to like Mary, sit at the feet of Jesus and listen in silence to Him speak to our hearts and in faith contemplate His face. This type of prayer, known as Contemplative prayer is the most active way we can pray; it is listening to God in the silence of our hearts and contemplating His face.

Again I think because of the busyness of our lives and the resulting having to have to accomplish something all the time, our time is measured by success, this type of prayer, is unknown or devalued by many. Sadly it is consider by many who do know about it as being merely passive, doing nothing, accomplishing nothing. The fact of the matter is, Contemplative prayer is far from being passive and accomplishing nothing, it really that which is most primary, the most active thing we can do in our lives. Time with our Lord is the most loving and indeed most effective and active way of living the Christian life; it is far from sitting before Jesus doing nothing—being with our beloved is never doing nothing; it is accomplishing the most important work of all.

This undervaluing of Contemplative prayer can also occur at our Prayer at Holy Mass as well. We can understand our participation at Mass only as matter of doing many things and not of being; as doing something, like saying the responses, singing, reading, taking up the gifts, or helping to distribute Holy Communion. All of these things may be necessary in our service at the Mass, but they are not the best part; only one thing is really needed and that is for us to be like Mary, to sit at the feet of Jesus and silently listen to His words and contemplate in faith, His Face in the Holy Eucharist.

I think there has been a great mistake in the last forty years since the Second Vatican II and that is to misunderstand what the Council meant when it called the faithful to a full and active participation in the Holy Mass. For many this was interpreted as filling up every moment in Mass with noise, making sure everyone was busy and accomplishing something by taking a so-called "active" part in the Holy Mass.

In this busyness it almost seems we left out the primacy of prayer at Holy Mass, especially that most active of prayer, silent contemplation. This interpretation failed to understand that most active part that the faithful can take is that of contemplating the face of Jesus, and his once and for sacrifice of love for us on Calvary; and then responding to this saving and redeeming act of His love by offering ourselves in return. What could be more active that. In fact, the Council said as much, when in the introduction to its Document on the Sacred Liturgy it said that Contemplation was the highest form of "Action";

Holy Mass allows us to literally sit at the feet of Jesus and contemplate His face in the Holy Eucharist either while the Mass is being offered or afterward during times of Eucharistic adoration; this is the better part. Let us choose this part, being careful not to bring the busyness of lives into our attitude of the Holy Mass. We can be "doing" at Mass many things, but not really be "present" at Mass, present to our God. Here we don't have to busy doing many things or accomplishing anything, all we have to do is to be present and open our hearts as God pours out His love anew on us in order that we can love Him in return and then go out and love our neighbor for love of Him.

Martha learned a valuable lesson from Jesus words in today's Gospel. She learned to balance service and prayer in her life. She gave sitting at the feet of Jesus the primacy in her life. By doing so, even her life of service became a life of prayer-she did everything realizing that God was always with her and she with Him. Jesus for her part blessed her with being the first to see Him and so be with Him after His resurrection. At this Holy Mass and every Mass let us imitate her, let us give contemplative prayer the primacy in our actions; Let us give sitting at the feet of Jesus and staring into His face in the Holy Eucharist, His resurrected body, the first place in our lives. By doing so Jesus will bless us, as He did Martha, with the power of His resurrection in our lives, we will begin already on earth to experience what the Angels and saints experience as they sit at His feet and contemplate the face of Jesus unveiled in all its glory in the eternal Mass of heaven. We will have chosen the better part and it will not be taken from us and we will be able to share what we experience, the very love of God, with all of those we meet in our daily lives.

Holy Mary, Mother of the contemplative life; help us to see the face of your Son in the Holy Eucharist and listen to His words so that we can become contemplatives in the street, bringing the love of God into our modern world....Amen..

Saturday, July 10, 2010

In this beautiful parable, we realize that we are all the wounded man, alienated from God and in need of redemption and healing.

Luke 10, 25-37. Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. July 11th, 2010

We have been looking at the demands of the Gospel, such as our call to holiness, and our call to go out and evangelize. We are to make everything else in our lives secondary as we answer our Blessed Lord's call to be great saints in order that we can bring Him and His love to others, saving them and ourselves in the process. If we turn to Jesus, draw near to Jesus, trust and love Him, Jesus will help us and be with us, just as He was with the seventy-two He sent out in last week’s Gospel,

There is no doubt we need Jesus’ help before we can bring His love to others. So before we can go out, we must first come, come more deeply to Jesus. We must come to Jesus through deep conversion and deep prayer, especially prayer before His very Person truly present in the Holy Eucharist; all in order that we can begin to live a more intimate life with Him; He living in us and us in Him.

United to Jesus we can love everyone with the very love of Jesus, because we have Jesus Himself alive in our heart and soul. Again, this is what it means to be a saint, this is what it means to be holy and to evangelize. The greatest failure in this life, is to fail to become a saint; for to fail to become a saint is to fail to live and love fully. It is a failure to love God above all things and our neighbor as our self for love of God. This is the very reason for our existence; we have been created for a life of love by the God who is Life and Love.

In our parable today all of this is brought out very beautifully. The road from Jerusalem to Jericho turns out to be an image of human history; the assaulted man lying half-dead by the side of the road is an image of fallen humanity--of you and me in our brokenness. We are so much in need of the healing of our inability to love as we ought, as we desire and have been created to love. Not to love fully is not to live fully; in other words, to be lying on the side of the road dying.

In the parable, both Priest and Levite pass by; they symbolize that human beings merely on their own power can not heal the brokenness of our world, much less the brokenness of the human heart. Politics, the efforts of man of alone, cannot heal and save us. But, then along comes the Samaritan. The Samaritan then, can only be the image of the God become man in order to save and heal us, the God-Man--Jesus Christ, still among us as a man in the Holy Eucharist with His healing and saving divine power.

God who in the mystery of His divinity is very distant to us, and even more distant to us because of our sin, has now in His Divine Mercy become very, very near. So near in fact, that He has made Himself our neighbor by becoming one of us. In Jesus, God has now become our neighbor. He has come into the world in order to take care of His wounded creature, assaulted and separated from Him by sin.

And so Jesus, the God-man, pours oil and wine into our wounds, a gesture which is symbolic of the healing gift of grace available to us through the sacraments. Jesus brings us to the inn, which is the Church, in which he arranges our care and also pays a deposit for the cost of that Care. The deposit is paid with nothing less than the outpouring of His own precious blood, which we have access to, in and through the Holy Mass.

In this beautiful parable, we realize that we are all the wounded man, alienated from God and in need of redemption and healing. Each one of us is in need of the gift of God’s redeeming love so that we too can love God and others as God has loved us. And so, as a result of Jesus great act of Agape sacrificial Love, there is a great reversal in our understanding of this parable. We, who at first, are the wounded beaten man found along the road, once healed, are now to, in Christ, become the Samaritan. We, in imitation of Christ the Good Shepherd, are to become like Him so we can follow Him by loving our neighbor, even if our neighbor be our “enemy”.

In fact, no one is our enemy for we are call to be neighbors to all and to realize that everyone is our neighbor, no exceptions. And when we see each man as our "neighbor, we begin to live rightly; we begin to love rightly because we become like Jesus, who loved us first; we then become Jesus for others. Then we become saints because we love our neighbor with an agape sacrificial love (as Jesus did for us) pouring out our life in union with Jesus, so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.

How do we begin to do this practically speaking? By first desiring it and then deciding to love others by first respecting them in a divine way and then living for their sake, not just our own. This includes forgiving, in a divine way, those who have assaulted us, injured us. Jesus the good Samaritan Himself would later become the assaulted man. What the robbers did to the man, the world would do to Jesus, stripping him, beating Him, going off to leave Him die on the cross. But he for His part forgave them, and even gave His life for them to heal them; we are to do the same.

Our Lord Jesus suffered and died for love of all, yes even for those who are the most difficult in our life in our families and in our parish. Jesus loves them in a unique and special way just as He loves us in a unique and special way; He expects us to love them like He loves us, even more He expects us to love them as if they were Him. In fact He said as much, “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, you do unto me.”

Today we are being called to take a good look at and rethink the way we approach our neighbor, especially our difficult neighbor. We must cool our passions with the truth which comes from Christ and leave our feelings and emotions aside and decide to love them regardless of how we feel. Once we do this, we can forgive them and do acts of kindness toward them. Yes, this takes considerable effort, especially with those who are not kind in return, but we can do it anyway with God’s grace.

There are people that even the slightest gesture of kindness towards them actually offends them. Sometimes all we can do for these people is to love them in prayer only.” Praying for people whom we don’t like does take considerable effort; too often our thoughts and feelings can quickly turn to ways we can in justice, “get even” with them, in this they become our enemy instead of our neighbor. It is here we have to again surrender our passions to our Lord in order to be healed so that in mercy, we can truly seek to love these people and yes, even wish God’s abundant blessings and graces upon them.

Remember we as Christians are to do good to everyone, even “to bless those who curse us, pray for those who abuse us,” expecting nothing in return; that is humanly speaking. We will have the grace of the friendship of Christ as our reward-and this is of course, greater than any other gift. Look at the Samaritan- the poor Jewish man could not pay him back- he just was robbed. He may have been too weak to even say “thank you.” Yet, the Samaritan did it anyway- loving the man who hated him. Remember the Samaritans and the Jews were enemies of one another.

We are called to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind and then our neighbor as ourself.” Mother Theresa of Calcutta put it this way, we are called “To give our all for love of Jesus who thirsts for souls, who thirst for their love. She described evangelization as taking the Jesus that is in my heart and putting Him in your heart, you who are my neighbor. For her, this, even more than providing for one’s material needs, is what it means to “feed” the poor. The poor are those who have beaten up by life, left to die spiritually by the side of the road. They may be materially speaking rich or poor, but spiritually they are starving to death for the love of God and for the knowledge of His Truth which subsists in its fullness in the Catholic Church.

Let us in our Mass today especially ask for the grace to live this Gospel- to love those who may not love us in return. We are all called to be the Good Samaritan, we are called to be the saint who like Christ, always loves the poor man left for dead on the side of the road, no matter who He may be. But first, we must draw near to Calvary made truly present for us on this Altar, and to the Good Samaritan who here continues to offer Himself for us so that we are able to offer ourselves as well for the love of God and of our neighbor.

May our adoration and proper reverential reception of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist heal us and grant us the grace to be all for Jesus and to offer our all in sacrificial love for Him and for our neighbor. Let us like Mary, with simple and humble hearts, show our neighbor by our actions, that Jesus is everything for us. Let us do this today, so that life, eternal life may be ours because in our own holiness we will have led others to Jesus and to His love.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

however simple and small our lives may seem, Jesus desires to work through us anyway

Homily for Luke 10: 1-12, 17-20 Independence Day

Today we continue our readings from St. Luke’s Gospel on discipleship. Last week, Jesus told us that the cost of being a disciple is high; we must give up everything to follow Him. Recall that Jesus said, “Let the dead bury the dead,” and “no one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.” The disciples of Jesus left everything to follow Him; they left their families, their jobs, their possessions and even their comfort zone to follow him.

Today, we heard that Jesus sent out his disciples on a mission. Jesus gives them great authority- to preach, to teach and to heal in His name. They are to go with nothing extra. We heard that they took no moneybag, no sack, and no extra sandals into a hostile world; they were like lambs amongst wolves. They are to depend on Jesus for everything. This may seem to be rather extreme for us; but as we heard in the Gospel, the results were amazing, and the disciples rejoice because they had seen the divine power of God working through them in their human weakness and emptiness.

You might be thinking, if this is what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, I don’t think I want anything to do it. After all, we certainly cannot give up everything-our homes, our jobs, and all of our possessions to follow Jesus. And being sent without any supplies? Think of how we pack for a trip- of course we pack and prepare for every possible contingency. My friends always shake their heads when they see how much I pack on a trip. My one friend always says, “Father you packed the kitchen sink!” When we travel, we have to make sure we have extra money or least have all of our credit cards ready. So, how in the world can we possibly live this message of discipleship in our day?

To get over our fear, we first start by realizing that Jesus is indeed calling each us to be His disciples so that he can send us forth to preach the Good News. And then we begin to answer this call with a heartfelt desire to begin to live totally attached to Jesus, the pearl of great worth. In our hearts and with our whole being we have to desire to literally cling to Jesus . Then with his help received through prayer, we slowly detach ourselves from those things which interiorly, that is within our hearts, that we have place before him and so which separate us from Him.

It is not that we all must physically get rid of all that we possess, but that we must free our hearts from of all that we have placed before Jesus. We no longer live just to obtain things, but now we live to obtain the one thing we can't live without, the Creator of all things, Jesus and His Love. And then we abandoned ourselves into His loving arms.

Here we must mention something that our hearts cling to even more than things, and which prevents us from attaching ourselves more fully to Jesus, and this something is our sin. We must, in our hearts and in our lives detach ourselves from Sin-sin is that which makes us fearful to give ourselves totally to Jesus-sin makes us think only of the cost, only of what we must give up instead of what we gain for giving ourselves totally to Jesus.

In order to let go of our sin, we reach out for Jesus' divine help which is especially given to us through the Sacrament of penance. With this help we repent and convert our lives. This means we do the hard work of changing those actions in our lives which are not in accordance to God’s divine Will. We more and more conform ourselves to the teachings of His Holy Catholic Church, living them out in our daily lives.

The more detach ourselves from the things of this world especially sin, the more we allow ourselves to become attached to Jesus and to become intimate friends with Him, possessing Him fully in our hearts, then the more He wants to send us out into the world-“for we can’t hide our light under a bushel basket.” Jesus sends us out, like the 72, with our hearts united to His in order that we can, by our lives, give witness to this love we have for Jesus and the love He has for us and for all men. We become living testimonies to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and instruments of His healing love. And this is the healing saving love for which our modern world is starving.

It is easy for us to sometimes think we can't do anything or that we don't really have anything to offer. But however simple and small our lives may seem, Jesus desires to work through us anyway. He calls each of us and wants us to be even greater disciples than we already are. Jesus tells us, “do not be afraid” for along with this call, Jesus offers us the grace, that is the strength to witness to Him. We may not be in important or influential positions, but by our actions, however small, when done with love of Christ, we witness to Jesus. Again, as Blessed Mother Theresa said, discipleship is not doing great things, but little things done with great love for Jesus.)

Today we have discovered that before the Lord can really work in and through our lives, just like the disciples, we have to begin to rely evermore on God for everything. God worked through the disciples only because they trusted in Him and abandoned themselves into His arms (this was seen by the fact that they went out with no possessions. This takes great trust). We too must learn to abandon ourselves into the loving embrace of our Father more fully. We must believe and trust that Jesus desires to do great things with us. Jesus wants us to be great saints and to be used as His instruments to spread His healing and saving love to the world. Jesus wants us to be holy as the Lord God is holy, in order that the world can see Jesus in us and in us, He can love the world through us.

Let us turn to Our Lady for help. Holy Mother of God, true and faithful mother of all the disciple of Christ, Pray for us; help us leave behind whatever our hearts are set on before Jesus and cling to Him alone. Help us at this Holy Mass to abandon ourselves into the Arms our Heavenly Father by sacrificing all we have and are on this altar of sacrifice so that we may receive more fully the Pearl of Great price, Jesus your Son in the Holy Eucharist. God Bless you and Happy Fourth of July!