Monday, September 20, 2021

To be the GOAT in God's Kingdom, serve the least - Homily, 25th Week in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

 Who is the Goat?


This is a common abbreviation that is used today which means the greatest of all time.


We like to focus on who is the greatest.


If you watch the sports shows on TV or listen to the radio, you’ll hear the discussion come up quite often.


I did an Internet search of the Goat in Sports. 


Some names that came up were Michael Jordon, Babe Ruth, Serena Williams, Wayne Getszky, Nadia Comenic, Tom Brady, Tiger Woods.


I’m sure that you recognize these, and you can think of some others.


When you think of someone who is the Goat it is the top performer in a particular field.   


It could be sports, business, entertainment, or political leaders.


It’s interesting to discuss who is the greatest and we all may have opinions on who they are.


When you think of someone who is the Goat it’s usually the one with the most skill, power, influence, net worth that leads to fortune and fame.


These are all measures of success of the greatest in the world we live in.


This week we hear the disciples of Jesus discussing who is the greatest among themselves


Jesus teaches them a lesson on who will be the greatest in the God’s kingdom which is much different than the greatest of the world.



Today’s Gospel starts off with Jesus going on a journey through Galilee with his disciples.


He wanted to be alone with them as he was going to tell them a second time of the events that would eventually lead to his death and resurrection.


He was telling them that he was going to make the ultimate sacrifice, giving his life.


But they didn’t seem to understand what he was telling them and were afraid to ask him any questions. 


As the disciples continued on their journey, they were not at all focused on what Jesus had told them.


They were focusing on themselves, and who was going to be the greatest among them.


They had been with Jesus for some time and experienced his miracles of healings and casting out demons, the multiplication of the loaves feeding thousands, and transfiguration with Elijah and Moses appearing. 


They must have been anticipating that something greater was coming in following Jesus and wanted to position themselves to be first among the disciples to be rewarded.


Jesus knew they did not yet comprehend what required to be greatest in his Kingdom.


He tells them, “If anyone wish to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all”.


He then finds and child to give them an example of what he means.   


At the time of Jesus children were of the lowest of status, equivalent to a slave.   


There was a very high mortality rate and only 40% of children lived to the age of sixteen.


Until a person reached adulthood they were not seen as any real status.


Jesus tells them something that was probably quite contrary to their understanding,


“Whoever receive one child such as this in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but the me who sent me”


He was telling them that to the be greatest they had to be of service to the least in the world, a little child who had no status, and in doing so they would be serving God.


This was probably not at all what the disciples where expecting and it would take them more time to learn.



As disciples of Jesus, we are all still trying to learn about what it means to be the greatest in God’s Kingdom.


Being the last of all and servant of all is so contrary to the values of the culture that we live in.


The culture is focused on having the most money, power, and fame to be the greatest.


The Church helps us to become the greatest in God’s kingdom by serving those who are the least.


The Church does so by example in speaking out for a providing ministry for those who are most vulnerable and considered the least in our world, 


the unborn,


the homeless,


those with mental illness, 


refugees and immigrants escaping poverty and violence,


those affected by human trafficking,


the elderly


Who is the Church? 


We are!


Of course, we have the Church and the formal hierarchy of Pope and Bishops that speak out on defending the least of all.


But we the people who make up the Church are the ones who can make the most difference in serving those who are most in need.


How can we do this?


One important way is to support the ministries we have in our own parish, the Gabriel Project, the Food Pantry, and special collections we have throughout the year that support those who are most vulnerable.


There are also the Catholic Charities ministries in the Archdiocese that serve those who are most in need that we can volunteer for and provide financial support.


We can also speak up for to defend the unborn, poor, elderly, and persecuted among those we associate at work or school and among family and friends. 


When we support those who are the least, we are striving to be the greatest of all time, not in the world, but in God’s kingdom. 



Jesus IS the Bread of Life, Homily, Beek 19 Ordinary Time, Cycle B

 Have you ever felt a little overwhelmed by life? 


Are the burdens just too much and you just want to get away from it all?


I’m sure many of you took a vacation this summer to get a break for a time.


But after returning from vacation were burdens still there to weigh you down?




The prophet Elijah in the first reading wanted to escape from his burdens.  


God had called him to prophesy to the people of Israel, but it was just too much for him.


He journeyed out to the desert and sat under a broom tree asking God to take his life and then feel asleep.


I guess he hoped that by sleeping by the broom tree that all his troubles would be swept away.


God heard Elijah’s prayer but answered in a way he was not expecting.


He gave him food and drink, a hearth cake, and some water, and he ate and drank.


This nourishment from God provided gave him strength to sustain him forty days to make it to the mountain of God, Horeb.


In calling out to God, Elijah received God’s grace to strengthen him though life giving food and drink.




I suspect that many of us have had moments in our lives where we felt overwhelmed like Elijah


Life doesn’t always go as planned.  


We have setbacks in our life, such as job loss, broken relationship, or health issues that were not in our plans. 


Our life turns into a mess, and we can get discouraged.


We may turn to distractions to take us away from the mess: entertainment, new relationships, or unhealthy habits.


These distractions may temporarily fill a void to take us away from the mess, but we’re eventually left to face the problem.


This can leave us with a sense of being alone and helpless.


I’m reading a book now from Matthew Kelly called Life is Messy. 


I’m only part way through the book now, but Matthew chronicles some challenges he has encountered that really had set him back.


He does not give a lot of details of the setbacks, but one of the was dealing with cancer three times before he was forty. 


This was beyond his control and derailed many of his life plans.


In dealing with the experience, he felt a deep sense of emptiness struggling with this challenge. 


He turned to the distractions, but it did not help with a feeling of emptiness in dealing with all his challenges.


The only thing he found that did help was finding a quiet place to be with God, talking to Him about his struggles and how it made him feel empty, and asking God to fill him up.


This sounds so simple, and for Matthew it really helped.  




In our Gospel today we continue with Jesus’ bread of life discourse in John Chapter 6.  


John’s Gospel is the only one that does not have the Last Supper with the institution of the Eucharist.  


Instead, it contains a very detailed description from Jesus on who he is, the Bread of Life, and what He can do for us.  


Jesus gets a lot of resistance from the Jews as they really don’t know who he is.  


They only know him as the Son of Joseph and Mary who are from Nazareth. 


They can’t make sense of Jesus telling them, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 


The know Jesus only as a man from Nazareth, but Jesus is speaking to them as the divine Son of God.


They just don’t know it yet because the events of His death and resurrection have not occurred.


Jesus tells them two very important things.


“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes has eternal life. 
I am the bread of life. 

Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;
this is the bread that comes down from heaven
so that one may eat it and not die.” 




“I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”


Jesus is speaking of himself as the Bread of Life in Sacrament of the Eucharist.  


If we take the words that Jesus spoke as truth, he is telling us that we will live forever if we eat of His flesh and blood in the Eucharist.




This is an amazing revelation, but it’s one that is so hard to believe. 


Many of Jesus disciples left after this discourse as they just couldn’t accept it. 


Unfortunately, today there are many Catholics who also find this hard to believe.


A recent study by the Bishops conference indicates that only about 30% of Catholics believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. 


Therefore, many are not receiving the Eucharist as they have left the Church or going to church very infrequently.


That’s very sad as many are losing out on the divine power of the Eucharist that can bring us eternal life.




If Jesus is the Bread of Life in the Eucharist that can give us eternal life, He can surely help us in the messiness of our lives dealing with the burdens that we all go through.


The Eucharist is the divine food that provides us supernatural grace to help us with our struggles here on earth while we are on are journey to eternal life. 


As we go through our challenges in this life we can certainly do as Elijah did in calling on the Lord in our distress.


God will hear our prayer and answer them.


Like Elijah we can also receive food from God that will nourish us to help us with our struggles in this life and lead us to eternal life.


All we need to do is believe the words of Jesus and come to Mass to receive him in the Eucharist.


It’s very a simple thing to do, but it can be so hard for those who don’t believe.


If you know of someone going through some hard times invite them to spend some quiet time with God in prayer to share their troubles with him asking for help. 


If they’ve been away from the Eucharist invite them to come back to receive the divine graces of the life-giving power of Jesus.


It’s a simple thing that may help them more than they can ever imagine.  















Come away and rest, Homily, 16th week of Ordinary Time, Cycle B

 I’m sure that after the year and half of dealing with the pandemic that many of us looked forward to a vacation to get some rest and relaxation.    I just got back from a vacation myself.  The one thing I looked forward to most was doing nothing, no schedules, or timetables, just relaxing.    Anyone here felt a little bit like that this after all the challenges we’ve all been through?    Well imagine that you just arrived at your vacation destination, and you are all ready to go relax by the pool.  As you arrive at the pool you are greeted by your boss telling you that the vacation is canceled, and you’re being called back to work.   That would be very disappointing to say the least.     


I’m sure that the apostles may have felt a little bit like this after their mission that Jesus sent them on. Jesus had just sent the twelve out on a mission with authority over unclean spirits.  The apostles reported their ministry to Jesus of driving out demons and curing the sick.  He recognized the apostles human need to be refreshed after their hard work and invited them to: “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place to rest for a while.”   So, the apostles went out in a boat with Jesus to a deserted place.  Before the apostles got to their destination a vast crowd of people were already there.  


We don’t know how the apostles responded, but they must have been a bit overwhelmed by all the people. We do know what Jesus did.  He was moved with pity, and he taught them many things.   Jesus responded as a shepherd, one who provides spiritual care for the suffering and misfortunes of others.  Jesus in his humanity recognized the need for rest and connecting with the Father to be spiritually refreshed.  That’s why he encouraged the apostles to get away to spiritually recharged.  We hear quite often of Jesus going to deserted places to pray.   This as well refreshed him by being with His Father and gave him the ability to minister to so many.   He also recognized the needs of the people who came to meet the apostles and himself.  They were yearning for someone to take care of them follow, like sheep without a shepherd.  Jesus would soon be feeding the multitudes of people who came seeking him in the miracle of the multiplication of the fish and loaves.   


It’s important for all of us to get rest and recharge.   Vacations and time away from work or school help with this.    But we know that vacations come to an end and we our routines of work, school, and caring for family will resume.   How do we keep refreshed and recharged spiritually on an ongoing basis, so we don’t get overwhelmed?  By getting away to a quiet place daily to spend some time with Jesus.    We can do this by spending some time each day with Jesus by reading Scripture and praying on its meaning.  By doing so we can learn from Jesus to help us with the our challenges in our own lives.


Sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start in reading the Bible.   Picking one of the four Gospels and reading a bit each day can be a good way to do this.  There are some excellent easy to understand commentaries on the Gospels that can help interpreting them.   Catholic commentary on Sacred Scripture is series that I use. The readings for daily Mass are also excellent resource to follow.  The readings include the scripture from the Old Testament, the Psalms, and the Gospels.  Most Catholic bibles have a list of the daily readings. There are also many printed and online resources available for these daily readings that come with reflections that help to prayerfully reflect.  Quite a few of them are available as audio recordings listen to while doing other activities.  

I hope that all of you can get some rest and relaxation in this summer.   As you do so include some time to recharge by resting with Jesus each day in His Word and prayer. If you spend just 5 or 10 minutes, you’ll be amazed at how much you will be refreshed by spending time resting with Jesus each day. 









Planting seeds that will grow, Homily for 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B


This is the time of the year that many of us our celebrating the joy of seeing our children or grandchildren graduate from school.


It may be a first step of going from preschool to kindergarten.


Or it could be finishing high school and entering college, a trade school, or the military.


It might even be receiving a degree to become a teacher, nurse, or engineer or finishing an apprenticeship to becoming a journey electrician.


These accomplishments are something that started out small with hopes and dreams of each of these children when they were little infants. 


Through the love and nurturing we all provide it help them grow.


It began with the trust that God put in us by provide us the gift of a child.


Putting our trust in God we had our children baptized so they could grow as a child of God.


Like the mustard seed we heard about today, these children have grown and are now producing fruit in God’s kingdom.



Jesus came to bring about the Kingdom of God.  


His parables give us insight on how the Kingdom comes about.  


Jesus ushered in this Kingdom by becoming man and living among us. 


He showed us how to bring the Kingdom about, through self-sacrificial love.   


We are now in Ordinary time and many of the Gospel stories we hear about during this time are about making God’s Kingdom present by loving God and neighbor.  


Christ began the work.  


It’s now our job as the Body of Christ, His hands and feet, to carry out his mission.  


How do we accomplish this mission?  


We don’t do it on our own.  


It’s all dependent on God.  


He provides the seed of faith.  


He also makes possible the soil to grow through our family and Church. 


Today’s parable gives us some insight.   


The seed sown represents God’s work in us through our faith.   


It starts out small with the seed of faith being planted in us at baptism. 


Most of us were baptized as infants and given that gift of faith through our parents. 


That faith is then nurtured through our families and faith community creating the soil for the seed to grow.  


The sacraments of initiation, first communion and confirmation, gives us the grace to grow in our faith.  


The Word of God we study and hear at Mass, strengthens our faith so we learn to be disciples of Jesus and spread the Kingdom of God.   



As we grow in our faith, we begin to branch out and serve others by showing our love of neighbor.  


It may start through small acts of kindness among our families & faith community.  


It may be as simple as a little child bringing in a can of soup for our food pantry.  


But it can then grow into a family bringing a bag of groceries.  


This grows into hundreds of families donating their food and time to serve the hundreds of families at our food pantry each year.  


All of this made possible from the gift of faith from Jesus and establishing his Church to help us love God and our neighbor.  


Something very small, an infant being baptized, 


like a mustard seed, turns into something large, 


a whole community of faith,


feeding hundreds of families every year, 


like the mustard plant with large branches for many birds to dwell in. 



We have a good reminder of God’s work in our lives each time we pray the our Father.


We may not recognize it because we pray it so often and may not pay attention.


Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.


Each time we pray the Our Father we are calling upon God to bring about heaven here on earth.


We are subjects of his Kingdom and our given the grace to help bring about heaven on earth.


Of course, God has the power to bring about the peace of His heavenly Kingdom through divine intervention.


But God loves us so much he provides us the opportunity to be active participants in making his heaven here on earth.


So, as you go about your daily lives plant those seeds of faith, hope, and love with those in your family, friends, and community to show God’s love.


You’ll never know how those seeds will grow.


It may take years, or even decades to see the fruit, but eventually it will grow into something that you could never have imagined.


As we continue with our Mass, may the Eucharist we receive, 


provide the grace to help us grow in our faith, 


to help make the God’s Kingdom present through each of us, 


as members of the Body of Christ. 






What brings you joy? Homily for the Sixth Sunday of Easter - cycle B

 What brings you the greatest joy in your life?


A few things that bring me joy are:


Being with my wife, children, grandchildren, and family.


Watching a beautiful sunset on the beach.


Playing a round of golf with friends and maybe even scoring well.


Eating my favorite food at my favorite restaurant, Linda’s kitchen.


I’m sure that you can think of many other things that bring you joy.


While these things bring joy, that joy may only endure for a limited amount of time.


The challenges we all go through in life can take away the joy we experience in our lives.


If we really want to experience joy all the time, listen to the words of Jesus.



In today’s Gospel Jesus is addressing his disciples just before the crucifixion.


He’s giving his farewell address to them to encourage them before they encounter many trials.


He tells the disciples that they are his friends.


A good relationship with a friend is a self-giving to one another.


It’s not like the relationship of a master and slave that is one way, where the slave obeys the masters command out of fear of punishment.


Jesus also tells his disciples that he chose them first.   


Jesus, who is God, chose to love them.


Why did Jesus, choose to love them? 


Because he is God and God IS love.



Jesus told his disciples they are his friends.


Friends do things for each other out of their love for each other.


When we are friends with someone, we do things to show them our, such as spending time with them or doing things they like. 


Have you ever had a friend where it felt like a one-way relationship where you were the only giving but nothing was coming in return? 


Did that relationship last?


Friendships need both parties to be giving of each other to sustain.


Do we choose to love God, as he loves us?



The good news for us is that God is love and chooses to always love us.


We are forever in his friendship.


It is up to us to remain in love with him.


If we remain in the love of God what’s the benefit?


Jesus tells us, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you, and your joy might be complete.”


We get glimpses of joy in our life as I mentioned earlier.


Imagine what it would be like to have the joy of Jesus in us all the time.



So, how do we remain in Jesus’ love so we can experience His joy all the time?


Again, Jesus tells us, “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love.”


That commandment is: “Love one another as I love you.  No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”


Jesus tells his friends, the disciples this, just prior to his crucifixion.  


They probably heard his words but did not really fathom what he was telling them.


Jesus, gave his friends the ultimate gift of love, sacrificing his life for them, so they could have eternal life, living in joy in the presence of God.



Loving one another sounds so easy, but we all know how hard it is to do. 


We are all human and know we will fail in always loving one another.  


But we can do our best by remaining in the love of Jesus, by remembering one simple word, Joy, and what each of the letters stands for.


J is for Jesus.  


O is for others.


Y is for yourself.


If we keep the priority of our love for Jesus and others, before ourselves, we can remain in Jesus’ love.


How can we show our love for Jesus?


Praying daily, receiving the sacraments, spending time with Him in adoration, and keeping his commandment of loving one another.  


By receiving the Eucharist, we keep in communion with Jesus.


He becomes part of us, and we become His Body.


When we fail to love, his forgiveness in the sacrament of reconciliation helps restore our friendship with him, so we can continue to love our neighbor.


If we keep His commandment out of love, rather than obligation, we will be able to remain joyful.


Strengthened by the grace of his commands we can love one another.


How can we show our love for others?


By living the Beatitudes.


The Beatitude are the attitudes of being a disciple of Jesus.


In the Beatitudes Jesus tells us we are blessed.   


Another word for blessed is happy and happiness done in the name of Jesus leads to joy.


We are so very blessed to be able to show are love for others in many ways such as:


Supporting pregnant moms in need through the Gabriel project.


Donating groceries to support the Harvest food pantry.


Being present to console a family or friend who has lost a loved one to death.


Helping an elderly neighbor with their yard work.


Providing a listening ear to someone experiencing a loss of a relationship with their spouse.


These are just few ways we can follow the commandment of loving others.


By giving of ourselves in love to others the joy of Jesus can be within us and we can follow the Jesus’ commandment remain His love.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Divine Mercy: The Infinite Mercy of our Lord Jesus - Homily for Divine Mercy Sunday

 Jesus gives his disciples another beatitude in today’s Gospel: Blessed are those who have not seen and believed.  Who here is blessed? We are all blessed for believing in the Risen Lord. Today we conclude the Octave of Easter with Divine Mercy Sunday. Last week on Easter Sunday, we heard about the empty tomb. Today Jesus appears to the disciples after his resurrection.

In the disciples first encounter with Jesus after the resurrection, they were together on Sunday locked away in hiding.   They just experienced the death of Jesus and were in fear for their own lives.  When Jesus appears to them, they were probably scared to death. Seeing someone risen from the dead was probably a shock to them. All of them except John, had abandoned Jesus and must have felt guilt for his death. They probably expected Jesus to be angry at them. But Jesus is not angry.   In fact, he greets them in an unexpected way: “Peace be with you”. What a tremendous gift! He greets them as friends embracing them with forgiveness and love, which is what they really needed to hear. 

            Jesus then does something amazing. He breathes on them saying: “Who sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained”.  

He sends his disciples to do His work of extending mercy through forgiveness of sins.    Where else do we hear about God’s breath?  In the second creation story in Genesis where God breathes life into the man formed out of clay.  Jesus gives His disciples the power to breathe life into those who are deadened by sin through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In this encounter Jesus offers peace to those who have offended him and then sends them on a mission to offer His peace to others by forgiving sins.

The disciple Thomas wasn’t at the first appearance of Jesus and refused to believe unless he could touch Jesus’ wounds himself.   Thomas is very much like people in our own culture who must experience something before they believe.  When Jesus appears a second time, he offers Thomas to see and touch his wounds.  We don’t know if he did, but we hear him proclaims his belief: “My Lord and My God”.   Jesus came to Thomas, so he’d experience his presence to help him believe.

Jesus comes to us as well and is present in so many ways. One of the most healing ways we encounter Jesus is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  The priest in the person of Christ extends His Mercy to us by saying, “I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Go in Peace.”  Whenever I hear these words of the priest I feel renewed and burden free.   My relationship with God has been restored and I’m embraced in his peace. It’s very healing.   It’s good to know that I can receive it again because I’m a sinner.   I do my best to keep from sinning but being a fallen human being, I’m going to sin again.   

It’s fitting that on Divine Mercy Sunday we hear about Jesus giving his disciples the power to extend His mercy.    Saint John Paul II decreed in May of 2000 that the Second Sunday of Easter be known as Divine Mercy Sunday.  

He was very familiar with the message of Divine Mercy from St. Faustina, a native of his homeland of Poland.    During the early part of the 20th century there were many evils going on through expansion of Nazism, communism, and a deep disrespect for the dignity of life.  In the 1930s, Jesus chose a humble Polish nun, St. Faustina, to receive private revelations about Divine Mercy. In these private revelations Jesus requested that Divine Mercy Sunday be observed.   As recorded in St. Faustina’s Diary Jesus tell her:


“The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain 


complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. … Let no soul fear to draw near to 


Me. … It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after 


Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy. (Diary, no. 699)

Jesus also appeared to St. Faustina in a vision with his right hand raised in a blessing and his left touching his garment above his heart.  Red and white rays emanate from his heart, 

symbolizing the blood and water that was poured out for our salvation.   The Lord requested the words, “Jesus, I trust in You”, be inscribed under his image, and that it be venerated around the world. 

Jesus said about this image: 


“I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish” (Diary, no. 48).


The Divine Mercy image is located in front of the altar is usually located in the confessional.

Our Lord also gave a prayer, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, to St. Faustina with this promise: 


 “Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death. … Even if 


there was a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet only once, 


he would receive grace from My infinite mercy. I desire that the whole world 


know My infinite mercy” (Diary, no. 687). 


We’ll pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy in the Church today at 10 am.  You’re invited to join, but if you’re not able please pick up a Divine Mercy Prayer card after Mass.   It’s easy to pray using a rosary.   The traditional time to pray the chaplet is 3 pm if possible, the hour of our Lord’s death, but you can pray it any time.  Please pray this often, especially for someone who is physically, mentally, or spiritually sick or in the process or dying. 

We may know someone whose been away from the Sacrament of Reconciliation for a long time.  They may feel that a sin they have committed is not able to be forgiven and are afraid to ask for Jesus’ mercy. This is a lie and what the devil wants them to think.  That’s why we pray the Divine Mercy chaplet for them to ask for God’s mercy. These unforgiven sins are wounds on their heart that need healing and God’s mercy heals. Jesus knows all our sins and took them on so we can be forgiven, but we have to ask for forgiveness. The wounds in his hands and feet are a sign of His love that he wants to forgive us. If you know someone who thinks their sins can’t be forgiven, please invite them to receive Jesus’ infinite mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, share the Divine Mercy message, and pray the Divine Mercy chaplet for them.


If you would like to explore more about Divine Mercy, I’d recommend looking into the Marians of the Immaculate Conception Divine Mercy web site.  If you want to pray the Divine Mercy devotion, take it with you on the go and download an app to you Smartphone.