Monday, November 26, 2012

Heading To Africa

Please pray for my four classmates, Dcns Robert, Kevin, Albert and Peter. They will be ordained on Saturday, December 1st in Ghana, Africa. I studied with these four men at the St. Paul Seminary and have the great privilege to travel over for the festivities.

Please pray for Fr. Gabriel Waweru (pastor in Hibbing) as we head over the pond!

Know of my prayers for you all.

God Bless,

Sunday, November 25, 2012

2 Samuel

Some thoughts on 2 Samuel, which captures the kingship of David, can be found here.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

1 Samuel

Here are some thoughts on an exciting book in the Old Testament, 1 Samuel.

34th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Feast of Christ the King

            If you’re looking for a reason to have another party this holiday season, I would suggest celebrating the liturgical new year.  Next Saturday evening marks the beginning of a near year starting with Advent.  Celebrate the festivities.
            For centuries the Israelites, and even now the Jewish people, have waited for the Messiah.  They have looked for the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Messiah: the Son of man who will receive “dominion, glory, and kingship; all peoples, nations and languages [will] serve him.” 
            They have longed for the one who will bring military and political victory.  They imagined a prosperous king who would bring abundant blessings of money, land and descendants to His people.  This same king was to establish his kingdom in Jerusalem and live out God’s law perfectly.
            We Catholics believe that the Messiah has come.  In fact, Jesus Christ, the King of kings turned the concept of kingship upside down.  He was not born in a palace, but in a manger.  He did not inherit prosperity as his foster father was a poor carpenter.  Nevertheless He did indeed bring abundant wealth—not human riches—but by opening the eternal treasures of heaven.  He brought victory, not from a military, but from sin, death and the evil one.  He did in fact establish His kingdom in Jerusalem as this was where He shed His blood and gave His life for us.  In short, Jesus Christ “is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth.
            Jesus says something very important in the Gospel: “My kingdom is not of this world…  Can you say the same?  Is Jesus truly your king and His kingdom your number one priority?  Or is your kingdom sports, family, career, hobbies or something else?  Not that these are bad things—these can actually be great goods.  But if anything less than Jesus is our king—if anything less than His kingdom consumes our time—we will live in a crumbling world.
            So how can we be more faithful members of the King’s kingdom?  It is helpful to consider what makes us good members of our own society.  In the USA, Minnesota and even Duluth, we are called to be faithful citizens.  We ought to take part in our society by voting, taking part in political discourse and decisions.  Some of us are even called to help lead in our government at a variety of levels.  We are also called to obey civil laws that seek the common good of each of our members.  We pay taxes for the upkeep of our roads and bridges, education and services to the poor.
            As members of Christ’s kingdom we ought to act in a similar fashion.  God wants us to be active participants in His kingdom here on earth in our faith.  This includes our public worship in the Mass and in our private faith lives in our families.  We ought to obey God’s commandments, both those that agree and disagree with our civil law.  And yes, we are to give of our time, talent and treasures—not of our leftovers or surplus, but by giving a true tithe—ten percent.
            I recently heard an insightful quote from facebook: “Barack Obama may be my president, but Jesus Christ is my king.”  All of us should be able to agree with this statement, whether or not we voted for our president or not this past election.  And we should be able to say similar statements: “I have to drink my morning coffee, but Jesus is my king.  I love playing hockey, but Jesus is my king.  I care deeply for my family and friends, but Jesus is my king.  I am an accountant, but Jesus is my king.”
            Is Jesus truly the King of your life?  If not, in what ways is He calling you to go deeper into His kingdom?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Daily Mass Homily: Wednesday, November 21st, 2012 (School Mass)

           We heard of four creatures in our first reading today: a lion, ox, human and eagle.  These creatures first appear in Scripture in the book of Ezekiel and are descriptions of four angels.  The early Church linked these angelic figures with the four evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  In my own life I have a devotion to these evangelists which is why you see the symbols for the Gospel writers on my chasuble and chalice.  Here at St. John’s we see two places where there is an eagle—in the blue stained glass window and the ambo—that represent our patron, who soared the heights of theology and spirituality.
            The Gospels are so important to our faith that we read from one of these four accounts every time we go to Mass.  Whether it is a daily Mass or highest feast, we meditate on one of these.
            We also hear from a Psalm at each Mass.  These are crucial to our faith because Jesus Himself prayed these verses.
            In both the Gospels and Psalms we hear a common theme which we celebrate in our country tomorrow: thanksgiving.  Actually, the word from which thanksgiving comes is Eucharist.  Thus, the Mass is our highest form of thanksgiving we can offer to God.
            This Thanksgiving we should say “thank you” to our parents, family and friends for all the gifts they have given us.  We should also continue to say “thank you” to God for His infinite graces given to us, especially at Mass. 
As we take a moment of silence before offering our intercessions, please think of something you are thankful for and offer that to the Lord.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Some thoughts on the delightful book of Ruth can be found here.

Daily Mass Homily: Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

            We might think that one of the greatest sins in our society comes from those who hate the Church or any sort of faith.  Actually, the greatest sin in our society is apathy or indifference to faith or the Church.  As Jesus says in the book of Revelation, “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either cold or hot.  So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” 
            Many of the greatest saints—those who were cold and hostile to the Church—became the greatest saints—on fire with God’s love.  Think of Saul, who persecuted and possibly killed Christians or St. Augustine who for many years was vehemently against a Christian worldview.
            Today we hear of Zacchaeus, who was a tax collector in one of the most hated professions of his time.  He stole from the poor to give to the rich.  Yet Zacchaeus was not indifferent.  As he experienced the Lord, he, too, was set on fire and paid back his debt fourfold.
            We are called to be on fire for our faith and our Church.  We should always avoid being indifferent.  People will note how we Christians live and, please God, may the witness of our lives inspire people to leave apathy behind and become on fire for Jesus and His Church.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A note on my commentaries

I have begun posting some comments on individual books of the Bible.  I am attempting to provide summaries of important themes for each book of the Bible that can be easily read in one setting.  The texts so far have been between 3-4 Reader's Digest sized pages.  In each I provide a paragraph or two on what I think is the key verse of the book at large.  I then provide an outline of the text in order to highlight key events.  Finally, I write some thoughts on key events and people.  Don't be scared of this commentary on Scripture.  They are meant to provide an introduction to the Scriptures that will hopefully inspire you in your faith.

Year of Faith: Gaudium et Spes Notes

An outline for our third session presentation on Gaudium et Spes can be found here.

Daily Mass Homily: Monday, November 19th, 2012

            The responsorial Psalm we prayed this morning is the first of the 150 Psalms in the psalter.  It is a prologue or introit to the whole book.  In it, the just man is contrasted with the wicked.  Blessed the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked, nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent, but delights in the law of the LORD and meditates on his law day and night.  He is like a tree planted near running water, that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade…Not so the wicked, not so; they are like chaff which the wind drives away.”
            The righteous man is the one who follows God’s commands.  Like a tree planted next to water his roots run deep.  He is unmoved in times of drought and intense heat as he is planted in something greater than himself.
            The wicked man—the one who does not follow God’s commands—is like chaff that the wind easily blows away.  Throughout our 2000-year history we can note many different winds—heresies—that blow the chaff this way and that.  Yet the Church remains firmly rooted in God.
            We must remember that God’s law and the Church’s teachings are one.  We must never think, “The Church teaches x, but I believe God would say differently.”  This is simply not possible as the Church is the Body of Christ given to us by God to plant us firmly in His law of love and truth.
            May we live out our faith in accordance with the teachings of the Church.  We will then be rooted deeply in God’s love, grace and truth.  We will not be blown around by the winds of modernism, materialism and relativism.  We will then produce great fruit no matter what climate our society brings.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Some thoughts on Joshua can be found here.  

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

            Imagine a woodpecker.  Now this particular woodpecker I want you to think about has a few important qualities.  First, it is indestructible.  Second, it is eternal…it never dies.  Third, it lives on a tree just below Mount Everest.  One day this woodpecker decides he wants to level this great mountain.  He flies to the summit and scratches away at the uppermost rocks for thirty seconds.  He then returns to his nest and sits there for one hundred years.  After this time he returns to his work and pecks away at the top for thirty seconds more.  After thousands, millions and perhaps trillions of trips, this woodpecker could achieve his task.  And when Mount Everest has been leveled flatter than North Dakota, this is only the beginning of eternity.
            We approach the end of another liturgical year—a year that parallels Jesus Christ.  We begin anew in a couple of weeks with the start of Advent when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ as a man.  We then celebrate the great feast of the incarnation—Christmas.  A few weeks later we will contemplate the second essential mystery of Christ—the passion and death of Jesus—of which we contemplate with prayer, fasting and almsgiving during Lent.  We then rejoice in Jesus’ Resurrection during the Easter season.  And during the rest of the year—Ordinary Time—we consider Jesus’ public ministry as he taught, healed and forgave sins.
            The last few weeks of Ordinary Time—the time in which we are in—we are presented with readings that help us reflect on both the end of our lives and the end of the world.  In so doing we recognize how weak we are.  We hear about international wars, natural disasters, wars between the angels and demons and cosmic events.  We realize that at the physical level we cannot alleviate the wars in the Middle East, stop a hurricane (like Sandy) or affect the sun, moon or stars.  Yet we humans have one feature greater than all that we cannot do in the physical world—we decide our fate for all eternity.
            It is true that heaven and hell exist.  It is true that, as our reading from Daniel notes—“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some shall live forever, others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace.  It is true that we choose where we end up.  While none of us can earn heaven (Christ alone can do this) we can choose to receive the gift of heaven.  This is not a one-time choice, but a decision made throughout our lives.  And each action we make in our lives—from how we work, raise our families, perform at school, compete in sports, hunt or fish—leads us either closer to heaven or hell.  As C.S. Lewis said, each of our actions make us either a more heavenly or a more hellish creature.
            When we ponder such realities, we don’t need to be afraid.  We have Jesus Christ on our side—the one who “by one offeringhas made perfect forever those who are being consecrated.”  We reach for heaven, not only from a fear of hell, but for a love of God and neighbor.  Indeed, “perfect love casts out fear.”
            As we carry on our week and proceed to the end of the liturgical year—how will you act?  Will it be to hell, or, please God, to heaven?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Year of Faith: Dei Verbum Notes

Here are the notes for Dei Verbum (On Divine Revelation) which we will cover at the next session of the Year of Faith at St. John's.  

Daily Mass Homily: Wednesday, November 14th, 2012 (School Mass)

           During this season of the year, we prepare for our annual Thanksgiving feast and are reminded of how important it is to be grateful for the blessings in our lives.  I love looking at the artwork made by our students.  The halls are filled with turkeys, instructions on how to cook a Thanksgiving meal, and someone even made a turkey out of Fr. Rich's picture.  I have no idea how that happened!
           Out of ten lepers cleansed by Jesus in our Gospel, only one—the Samaritan—returned to give him thanks.  Whenever we hear of a leper or leprosy in the Bible, we must think of someone who has an incurable and contagious disease of the skin.  These people suffered from boils, loss of fingers and toes, and pain we can’t imagine.  In the Old Testament they were considered unclean and had to be live outside the Israelite camp. 
            Jesus hears the lepers call out, goes out to them and cures them.  Only one—the Samaritan—came back to thank Jesus.
In our own lives, we can never say “thank you” too much.  I have never heard a wife say about her husband, “He says thank you way more than he should” or a husband say the same thing about his wife.  I have never heard a teacher say he or she says these two words too much.
            You students have a lot to be thankful for.  [I asked them whom they should be thankful for at school.  One student said “The sixth graders because they’re bigger than us.”]  We thank the teachers of St. John’s school who work very hard—and for less pay than public school teachers—to make our school work.  We give thanks to Ann, our excellent cook who feeds you every day.  We give thanks to Eric, Al and Pete who keep our facilities in tip-top shape.  We thank Mrs. Frederickson as she guides our school with her leadership skills.  We thank all the volunteers, aides and staff who support the mission of our school on a daily basis.
            Above all, we give thanks to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  We give thanks for doing something none of us by our own righteousness could do—giving His own life for the forgiveness of our sins: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
            We can never say “thank you” enough.  We have much to be grateful for at our school.  Above all we praise God who sent His son to die for our sins.  Be sure to thank Him and those that work for His glory in our school.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Daily Mass Homily: Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

            Today we hear St. Paul writing to specific individuals.  He addresses older men, older women, younger women and younger men.  That hits pretty much everyone.
            This is a specific example of a general truth about the Scriptures—they are written directly to each one of us.  God had each of us in mind when He inspired men to write His Word down.  Unlike a novel written by a human author with a general audience in mind, God’s infinite knowledge was able to have each reader from all times to speak to.
            We give thanks to God for His gift of the Scriptures.  Particularly here at Mass—the best place to hear from God’s Word—we listen as He speaks to us individually.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Commentary on Deuteronomy can be found here.


Some thoughts on book #4--Numbers--can be found here.

Year of Faith: Sacrosanctum Concilium Notes

In preparation for our second Year of Faith night at St. John's this evening, an outline of Sacrosanctum Concilium can be found here.

Daily Mass Homily: Monday, November 12th, 2012

            This morning we tap into a religious reality that has been around for literally thousands of years—the priesthood.
            From the early books of the Bible, we see that God selects certain men to be separated from his fellows to serve God in a special way.  Originally it was a whole tribe—the Levites—who were designated priests.  Note that these men did not choose to be priests, but God chose them.
            In our first reading we heard St. Paul tell his disciple Titus to select presbyters from among men to serve God and His people.  This was an example from the beginning of the priesthood in the Catholic Church.  Once more God selects men to be, in a sense, separated from the world, to handle the holy things and teach the faith.
            What is really cool about our Catholic faith is that we are all considered priests by our very Baptism.  We are baptized priests called to consecrate the world.  
            At the same time, there is a difference in essence, not only degree (as the Second Vatican Council taught) between the ordained priesthood and priesthood of the baptized.  Christ has given us priests to lead worship, teaching and living in our society.  Please pray for your priests, that they may always have the courage to be faithful to Christ and His Church.  And know of our prayers for you. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Paul Harvey's "Prophecy" from 47 Years Ago

I am not a huge fan of Mass emails whether or not they deal with our faith.  Yet my Mom sent me one that is worth watching and it is only a couple of minutes long.  In it, the famous radio broadcaster Paul Harvey illustrates how, if he were the devil, he would work in the world.  Check it out here.

For a similar line of thought, check out C.S. Lewis's "The Screwtape Letters" that portrays the work of the evil one in a similar way.


Here are some thoughts on book #3.

Leviticus commentary found here.

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

            A couple of weeks ago I visited North Dakota.  I was actually about an hour south of the heart of the oil boom.  It was interesting talking to some of the locals about how this massive increase in wealth will impact the economy, housing, public services and even crime in this prairie state. 
            One of the gentlemen I spoke with said something very insightful.  After noting that many lower class, middle class, or upper class farmers suddenly got into unimaginable wealth.  He said, “The farmers that lived simply and generously before they got rich still drive around in their old Ford pickup trucks and wear blue jeans and a t-shirt.  The farmers that were greedy and lived for themselves before the wealth are just as greedy and selfish now.”
            We Catholics have preached about the dangers of wealth and riches for centuries.  Yet as these farmers show, money and possessions are not in themselves good or bad. You could have all the wealth in the world and be detached from possessions.  You could be the poorest person ever and cling greedily to what little you have.  It is our ability to be detached or attached to possessions that good or evil can result.
            We have two excellent examples of detachment from possessions in our readings today from the two widows.  First we must remember that widows during the time of the Israelites and Jesus had a difficult life.  In both societies the women didn’t work and if anything happened to their husbands they lost their breadwinners.  Thus they were left at the mercy of their children—if they had any—family, friends and the religious communities for support.  In short, widows were very poor.
            The widow from Zarephath in our first reading had nothing more than a handful of flower and a cup of oil.  She was about to make a last meal for her and her son before they would perish when Elijah asked for this food.  The widow handed it over.  She gave everything she had and received infinitely more in return.  Indeed, God used this same jar of flour and jug of oil to feed this woman and her son for a year.
            The widow in the Gospel also gave everything—two small coins.  Yet Jesus affirmed that she gave more than all the rest.  While we don’t know the rest of the story with this widow we can safely assume that she was rewarded abundantly, if not in this life, then in heaven.
            Yet these widows’ generosity is only a hint or sign of the generosity of Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ, as the infinite, uncontainable God chose to become a man.  He emptied Himself to become a slave—like if the richest man in the world traded everything in the world for a couple of pennies.  Even as a mere mortal, Jesus once again gave everything.  He shed His blood and died on a cross—giving everything to God.
            May we have the courage to give everything—both our possessions and our very selves—to God.  May we follow the example of the widow of Zarephath, the widow in the temple, and Jesus Himself in handing all we have and are to God.

Friday, November 9, 2012


Here are some thoughts on the second book of the Bible.  Moving right along through the Word!

Commentary on Exodus found here.

Daily Mass Homily: Friday, November 9th, 2012

            For those of you disappointed with the elections and defeated Marriage Amendment on Tuesday, St. Paul offers words of consolation.
            First, St. Paul can relate to us in the persecution of the Catholic Church (and other Christian denominations) by the current administration of our federal government.  I agree with our pastor, Fr. Rich, as he wrote in his bulletin last week that this administration has attacked our religious liberties more than any other administration in the history of our country. 
While religious liberty is in jeopardy, we must remember that St. Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians while he himself was imprisoned—and thinking that any day he could be executed (and he eventually was—for the faith.  His encouragement, then, ought to speak volumes to us.  The fact is many in our society, including governmental leaders: “…conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their end is destruction.  Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their ‘shame.’  Their minds are occupied with earthly things.”
St. Paul also reminds us that our citizenship is not first in a particular country, but in heaven.  No matter what happens to the United States of America, we can have assurance this is not our first residence.  Our country could fall—and it in fact will one day (as all nations and states have)—yet we would still have a place to call home.
We pray today for all of our government leaders and that they all may be converted to Christ.  May our religious liberties in our country be forever protected.  And when they are not, may we have courage like St. Paul to face this persecution with joy, even if it costs arrest or even our very lives one day.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Daily Mass Homily: Thursday, November 8th, 2012

           We hear a couple of important words this morning in our readings.  First, we are told, “Do everything without grumbling or questioning…”  Grumbling isn’t just what our stomachs do when we are hungry.  To be a grumbler is to be a complainer.  We are called to live our lives well and without complaints.
            Second, we are encouraged to be “children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation…”  A crooked generation is one that is mistaken or wrong in many areas, like a crooked line that zig-zags and doesn’t reach the goal easily or at all.  We are called to make a straight line to God.
            Finally, St. Paul reminds us that we are children of God.  A child is someone who is completely dependent on others.  Children cannot feed themselves, teach themselves, bathe themselves, or shelter themselves.  They are reliant on their parents for everything.  So too, we must rely on God for everything.
            The Lord desires a relationship with us.  A relationship in which we set on a direct course to Him, without grumbling at the trials we face and as we strive to live out our call as His own children.

Daily Mass Homily: Wednesday, November 7th, 2012 (School Mass)

           We hear a couple of important words this morning in our readings.  First, we are told, “Do everything without grumbling or questioning…”  Grumbling isn’t just what our stomachs do when we are hungry.  To be a grumbler is to be a complainer.  We are called to live our lives well and without complaints.
            Second, we are encouraged to be “children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation…”  A crooked generation is one that is mistaken or wrong in many areas, like a crooked line that zig-zags and doesn’t reach the goal easily or at all.  We are called to make a straight line to God.
            Finally, St. Paul reminds us that we are children of God.  A child is someone who is completely dependent on others.  Children cannot feed themselves, teach themselves, bathe themselves, or shelter themselves.  They are reliant on their parents for everything.  So too, we must rely on God for everything.
            The Lord desires a relationship with us.  A relationship in which we set on a direct course to Him, without grumbling at the trials we face and as we strive to live out our call as His own children.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Year of Faith: Lumen gentium notes

On Monday, November 12th, we will be discussing the Second Vatican Council's document Lumen gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church).  An outline for this document can be found here.  If you are planning on coming (please do!) feel free to print this out and bring it with you.  Otherwise I will have copies available.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Earlier I posted 73 verses which reflect the 73 books of the Bible.  I am currently working on a project that will provide a summary of each of these books and explain more why I chose these particular verses.  This is quite the project, but I will slowly post my thoughts on each of these books as I go.

A rough draft of these thoughts of mine on Genesis can be found here.

Post Election Ferverino (End of Mass at CSS)

            I had the chance to live through a presidential election at St. Scholastica in 2004.  It was ugly.  There was hate and divisiveness tangible in classrooms, hallways and sports teams and there wasn’t much Christian about it. 
            It is one thing for there to be hateful division in society.  There should never be such among Catholics.  Ideas may be discussed and even rejected when wrong, but we must never judge people.  Christ died for us all, even the person across the political or amendment aisle. 
As Christians we are called to love.  Indeed, “they will know they are Christians by their love.”  We are called to love even our enemies.  No matter what happens in our election and amendments we must remember to love our neighbors as ourselves as Christ taught and did.

Daily Mass Homily: Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 (Student Mass at CSS)

           We are reminded today of how Jesus poured out Himself for us.  Picture the God Who made the stars in the sky, our planets and the sin.  Picture the God who made each of us.  This same God became a man.  He became little.  He became a baby that needed to get His diaper changed and be fed by His Mother.  St. Paul summarizes the gift of the incarnation: “though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.  Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness…”
            Our Gospel complements this reality.  In the parable about the man who provides a banquet Jesus is speaking of how God provides us with a banquet.  The banquet centers around Jesus Christ Himself.  He became little for us as a man, and even becomes smaller for us as He comes to us in the Eucharist.  He provides the banquet of the Mass for all.
            Yet how many people make excuses to not take part in the feast of Christ?  While I haven’t heard the excuse of needing to check out on oxen I have heard many other excuses as a priest of why people don’t go to Church: “I have hockey practice;” “I need to study;” “I have to work to pay off school;” “I will be hunting;” etc., etc., etc.
            Jesus also feeds us with the gift of His Church.  Remember, the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ and we can’t separate the Catholic Church from Jesus.  Jesus gives us the Church for us to be fed with truth.  Here, too, I have heard excuses of why people don’t come to the banquet of truth: “Who is the Church to tell me I can’t do x, y or z?”  “What is true for me might not be true for someone else;” “The Church has no business speaking about politics;” etc., etc., etc.
            We are called to pour forth ourselves like Christ.  It is only when we are spent for Christ that Christ can use us in the world.  When we give ourselves fully to Christ and His Church it is then Christ can act through us.  Then great things happen.

The Year of Faith at St. John's

To celebrate the Year of Faith we will be meeting on Monday evenings at St. John's for a talk and time of prayer.  The subjects covered will include the Second Vatican Council documents and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  The evenings will conclude with a half an hour of Eucharistic Adoration with Confessions available.  We start up at 6:00pm with the holy half hour from 7:00-7:30.

You can find my outline of Pope Benedict XVI's letter Porta fidei (The door of faith)--which officially opened the Year--here.

Next week I will be covering Lumen gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church) and Sacrosanctum concilium (The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy).  Simply click on the Latin names of these documents to get linked to them on the Vatican website.

Hope you can make it to these blessed evenings!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Daily Mass Homily: Monday, November 5th

            I sometimes get saddened and confused by those Catholics who disagree with Church teaching.  In part, I have had the blessing to study the teachings, theology and philosophy of the Church and see how it is seeping with love and mercy. 
Fr. Rich and I have preached several times that the Church is not one voice among many valid opinions.  When the Church speaks she speaks the truth in the midst of many opinions.  Our trust and preaching is based in the truths expressed in our first reading.  St. Paul writes, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. 
The Church desires unity, particularly in faith and morals both in house and in society.  We pray this morning that we may all may grow more deeply in unity in the Body of Christ.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

            At the city and state level we have some comical laws.  This past week I did some intense research on some around our area.  First—a couple from Brainerd.  I actually visited Brainerd yesterday and these were verified by the good citizens there.  Did you know that in Brainerd it is legally considered a riot if there are three or more people standing on a street corner?  Or, in Brainerd it is illegal for an adult male not to have a beard.  I wasn’t arrested yesterday because of my beard, but I worry for Fr. Rich if he were to visit there.  I don’t think permanent five o’clock shadows count as a beard.  Closer to home, in Duluth it is illegal to tease a skunk.  Talk about adding insult to injury.  If you choose to tease a skunk, not only will you smell rotten for a couple of weeks but also you supposedly could be fined.  And for those of you who have had a temptation to allow an animal to sleep in a bakery here in town, don’t do it.  This, too, is illegal.  I point out some of our comical laws as an example of how our human laws will never be perfect.  It is interesting to think which laws people fifty or a hundred years from now will get a chuckle out of.
            Yet throughout our history some of our societies have had egregiously wrong laws.  Consider the Mayans, who centuries ago sacrificed children.  Or the Nazis who persecuted and killed Jews by the millions in horrendous ways.  In our own country we have had slavery, nearly exterminated American Indians and didn’t allow women to vote—all of which were backed by civil law.  Even now you can kill a human baby in the womb through abortion, but if you destroy a bald eagle’s egg you will face a stiff fine and possible jail time.  While it is good for us to attempt to provide order in our society, our human laws are never perfect and they never will be.
The only perfect law is God’s law.  And we hear the heart of this law this morning in Deuteronomy: Hear, O Israel!  The Lord is our God, the Lord alone!  Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.  Jesus affirms this as the greatest commandment and adds that the second greatest law is to love our neighbors as ourselves.
We are to follow God’s law first, and hopefully this is complemented by our societal regulations.  Yet when there is a contradiction, we must follow God’s law first.  This is exactly why we see as heroes those men and women who hid Jews during the Holocaust, or provided refuge and support for runaway slaves in our own country—both of which were illegal.
In the Gospel we also have the seemingly brown-nosing scribe who regurgitates Jesus’ teaching and says He is right.  Jesus answers this man and tells him he is not far from the kingdom of heaven.  Note that Jesus did not say he had achieved the kingdom of heaven but is on his way.  I suspect that Jesus affirmed this man’s knowledge, while encouraging the scribe to act on the two greatest laws.
We are called to live out God’s law in many different ways.  In particular, we have the chance on Tuesday to vote.  Please do.  And when you fill that ballot out, remember the laws we should abide by and which our country should strive to emulate—love God with all our heart, soul and strength and our neighbor as ourselves.  Prayerfully consider the candidates and their positions and how they will impact our city, state and national government.  Vote on Tuesday and vote well.