Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Modern Day "Widow's Mite"

This video says a lot... 

Baptism Anniversary!: Daily Mass Homily--Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

(Listen to this homily here).

            It is one of the most important days of my life today.  Nope, it’s not my birthday.  Nope, it’s not my anniversary of my ordination.  On April 29th, 1984 I was baptized.
            My parents had a tradition of having our Baptism candles lit on our Baptism anniversary every year.  We had a special meal and even got a gift.  I’m eager to see if they sent a check in the mail to honor this tradition!  Though I’m kidding there, I guarantee I’ll get a message from them today.
            Two of our students here at school will be baptized this coming month.  What was really cool—they were asking me to be baptized.
            In addition to the sacrament itself—being immersed or dunked in water while the priest/deacon says, “N, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”—the baptismal candle represents the light of Christ.  My parents and godparents, our two students’ parents and godparents and so on with every baptized person, is entrusted with the light of Christ.  It is to be kept burning in the darkness of the world.
            We can never underestimate how essential Baptism is in each of our lives.  May we live in this truth today holding the light of Christ well.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Greatest Story Ever Told Session #23: 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2 and 3 John

(Due to batteries on my recorder running out, comments on 1 and 2 Peter and 1 John can be found here while 2 and 3 John can be here.  Sorry for the inconvenience!)

We continue through the third section of the New Testament--the letters--with two letters from Peter and three letters from John.  In 1 and 2 Peter, our first Pope wrote largely from a baptismal perspective. He encouraged new converts to remain steadfast with Christ, endure suffering and avoid false teaching and teachers.  1, 2 and 3 John feature many themes which permeated the Gospel according to John--light vs. darkness, spirit vs. flesh, love of God and neighbor, testimony, witness, fellowship and belief.

"My sheep hear my voice": Daily Mass Homily--Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

(Listen to this homily here).

            Some of my fondest memories with my Mom and Dad are with sports, specifically with training and racing.  Both of my parents—especially my Mom—have put on many miles biking while I run or kayaking as I swam in a lake.  They’ve traveled many races to cheer me on in races, marathons and triathlons.
            What really inspires me is that I can always pick Mom and Dad’s voice out as they cheer me on during races.  This amazes me as I don’t know if they’re actually yelling louder than the rest of the crowd—well, my Mom probably is—but I still hear them.  It’s always a motivator hearing my Mom’s screams and Dad’s boisterous encouragement as I’m ready to die.
            Today we continue hearing about Jesus’ role as the Good Shepherd: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” 
This is actually true with shepherds and their flocks.  Sheep and goats recognize the voice or call of their shepherd.  You can witness this among nomadic shepherds—if different groups of goats and sheep are intermingled, the shepherd can call, start walking away, and his flock will follow him. 
And a shepherd recognizes the voices of their sheep—much like if you have a dog and can recognize their bark. 
Praise God, we have heard the voice of our Shepherd.  That’s what brings us to Mass on a Tuesday morning!  We know his voice.  And he knows our voices.  He hears our prayers.
Hold onto this image today as you strive to hear the voice of our Shepherd and as he listens to yours.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The "other" sheep in Christ's Flock: Daily Mass Homily--Monday, April 27th, 2015

(Listen to this homily here).

            I hope the Gospel sounded familiar this morning—it was the exact same one we heard yesterday.  I preached about the Good Shepherd yesterday—today I would like to focus on another line.
            Jesus says, “And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice.  So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.”
            We can’t underestimate what Jesus was saying here.  If you subscribe to science, humans have been around for 200,000.  Thus for 198,000 years God was building up his chosen family through his chosen people—the Jews.  The Jewish worldview divided every person into Jew or non-Jew—Gentile.  What Jesus is saying is that there were others “not of this fold” and he was opening the doors of relationship with God to all humanity.
            I don’t think anyone here is of Jewish descent, so consider what this means for us!
            We see Peter experiencing this radical and novel shift: “What God has made clean, you are not to call profane…As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon [the Gentiles] as it had upon us at the beginning…If then God gave [the Gentiles] the same gift he gave to us when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to hinder God.”
            Thank God for Jesus’ mission to bring us all into one flock.  Had he not, most of us would be nothing more than Gentiles!
            We give God thanks and praise for sending us his son to be our Good Shepherd—may we continue to be faithful followers in this flock that crosses all humanity.

Shepherds in the OT point to the Good Shepherd: 4th Sunday of Easter

(Listen to this homily here).

            I hope everyone is comfortable.  I haven’t preached for a week and my battery is charged up…I might just go on and on this morning!
            Whenever I hear of shepherds I think of one of my friends, Fr. Albert Wugaa.  Fr. Albert is a priest in Ghana, Africa and from the same diocese as Fr. Francis and Fr. Solomon.  (He’ll visit here soon enough and you’ll get to meet him).  The child Albert was a shepherd boy—at seven or eight years old.  While I was in McGregor playing video games, he was in Ghana taking care of his family’s prized possessions.  He stayed outside in the heat, cold, rain and dust.
            Fr. Albert is an inspiration—one of my heroes (though I’d never tell him that), and has quite a story.  His family saw a gift in him and sent him to school to be educated.  He hadn’t been in school until ten or so!  The school he went to—Catholic.  He ended up getting baptized, growing in the faith and recently answered the call to be a priest.
            I mention this because shepherds have a special place in the Bible.  Think of David.  Before he was defeated Goliath, became or king or messed up with Bathsheba he was a shepherd.  Or remember to whom the angels announced the birth of Jesus?  The shepherds in the fields.  We are familiar with one of the greatest Psalms—Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want, he makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me besides still waters.”
            Here’s another connection to our Gospel in John 10.  The more I read the Bible, the more I am amazed by how things that happened or were prophesied hundreds of years before Jesus were fulfilled by Jesus.  Check this out, from Ezekiel 34 (you may think it sounds like this is from John, but it isn’t!): “For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out.  As a shepherd seeks out his flock when some of his sheep have been scattered abroad, so will I seek out my sheep; and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness…I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord GOD.”
            With all this in mind, listen again to Jesus’ own words: “I am the good shepherd.
A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep.”
            What is one of the main jobs of a shepherd?  Protect their flock!  Fr. Albert, at a young age, was entrusted with his family’s well being.  If one of the sheep or goats was lost, this would mean less food, less money, less clothing for their family.  Do you remember what David slew Goliath with?  The slingshot?  What gave him confidence was that he had killed a bear and a lion to protect his sheep.  He put himself in harms way to care for the flock.
            This is what Jesus did for us—his flock.  He stood in the breach to protect us from death.  He laid down his life for our sins.  He stands between us and our anxieties, weaknesses, failures, grief and trials.
            How do we follow such a Shepherd?  Do we thank Jesus for all he has done for us as the Good Shepherd?  May we, as part of his flock, follow him closely!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Retreat: Parish Bulletin--4-19-15

            This week I will be making my annual retreat, as I will be spending five days at Pacem in Terris, a retreat center in Isanti, MN.  It’s a cool place where retreatants stay in their own hermitage in the woods—in silence.  (Yes, I’ll be silent for five days.  No, that will not be easy!)
            One of the perks of being a priest is that we are required to make an annual retreat.  Canon Law mandates it!  The Church sees how important it is for a priest to get away, pray, rest and be rejuvenated in spirit.  I have made such a retreat for several years now, and I am always blessed by what God has in store.
            Each of us longs for such periods of rest and refreshment.  That’s why the cabin, deer stand, fishing boat, shopping trips or vacations are so exciting.  In our chaotic world we need such breaks!  Always remember what St. Augustine once said: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.”  As much as we yearn for a physical break, our souls are made for spiritual breaks.  Bring God with you on your down time.
            If you ever have the chance to go on a retreat (whether for a day, weekend or week), please do.  While this may not be possible for many of you, I encourage you to find times of mini retreats throughout your day and week.  Take five minutes a day in silence…enjoy a cup of coffee while reading a spiritual book…dedicate yourself to quiet prayer each day.
            We have two wonderful mini retreat experiences at our parishes—Mass and Eucharistic Adoration.  Both are available daily.  Both provide you with a chance to step out of the world and spend time with God.  Both put you in the presence of Jesus.  Soak in the quiet, peace, mercy and nourishment of Mass and Adoration!
            Know of my prayers for you all this week.  In a special way I will continue to pray that you and your families are happy, healthy and holy and that our parishes may grow in joy and unity.  Please pray for me as well!
            God Bless!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Aslan, a powerful portrayal of Jesus: 3rd Sunday of Easter

(Listen to this homily here).

            One of my all time favorite books is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, part of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series.  I highly recommend this book and series to everyone.
            If you haven’t had a chance to read this book or see the movie, it tells the tale of four children who step through a wardrobe into a different world—Narnia.  This is a place where fantasy comes to life with dwarves, centaurs, talking animals and mysterious powers.  The children walk into a battle between good and evil.  The wicked White Witch has grasped control, leaving Narnia in a time where it is always winter, but never Christmas—similar to International Falls!  My favorite character—and the main character at that—is Aslan, a talking lion.  He is the son of the Emperor-Over-the-Sea who actually created Narnia at the beginning of time. 
            One of the children does a punk move—he betrays his siblings and all of Narnia to the White Witch.  The price for such a betrayal—death.  Aslan takes the boys’ place, and the most powerful scene depicts this majestic animal being shaved and slain on a large rock.  Much to the readers’ delight—and to all the characters in Narnia—Aslan rises again, conquers the White Witch and her minion and brings peace back to the land.
            When the last pages of this book and series were over, I was bummed.  That’s the mark of great writing—being disappointed when it is over.  C.S. Lewis captured my imagination.  While he was writing fantasy, C.S. Lewis made it clear that Aslan, the king of Narnia, was a deliberate depiction of Christ.  Lewis once stated that he wrote how he thought Jesus would appear in a different world.
            The Chronicles of Narnia was fiction.  What we are about here—this is fact.  Jesus’ resurrection was not fantasy.  It was not a story.  It was and is true.
            I have been preaching the past couple of weeks on the realness of the resurrection.  Today I would like to point out that this resurrection was indeed a bodily resurrection.
            Our current society is pretty arrogant.  Without even knowing it, we often walk around as if we are the smartest generation in the history of the world.  Perhaps this is true in some areas—medicine, science, technology, space travel and the like.  But what about common sense, faith or understanding the human person? 
            Such biases have slipped into biblical studies and even faith communities.  Scholars point to a spiritual resurrection, or a shared dream, or an apparition or anything but the scientifically-impossible claim of a bodily resurrection.  Many 21st century readers of the Bible treat the disciples like primitive cave people who would believe any myth, story or tall tale that claimed a dead man rose.
            The disciples weren’t idiots!  Listen again to how the disciples reacted to seeing Jesus: “…they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost.”  Would you react any differently if you saw your dead friend walking around? 
Jesus made it abundantly clear that they were seeing a body: “And why do questions arise in your hearts?  Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.  Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.”  To drive home the point, he asks for something to eat and, “They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.”  Ghosts do not eat.  Apparitions don’t eat.  Only a living body can eat.
The bodily resurrection is true.
I’d like to close with a great quote from C.S. Lewis’ book.  While it is written in the genre of fantasy, it is true about the reality of Jesus: “When a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward…”  Jesus, the willing victim, took our place and was killed in our stead.  He rose from the dead—bodily—and now death itself works backwards.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Holy Spirit in Acts paid us a visit: Daily Mass Homily--Thursday, April 16th, 2015

(Listen to this homily here).

            It is fitting that we read from the Acts of the Apostles after Easter.  This book tells the story of the early Church’s formation after Jesus died, rose and ascended into heaven. 
            Acts is also known as the Gospel of the Holy Spirit.  Where Matthew, Mark, Luke and John record the acts of Jesus, Acts features the graces of the Holy Spirit given to the Church.
            Last evening we had an outpouring of the Spirit in our own parish as our six high school students were confirmed. 
            While on the surface it looked pretty normal—there were no tongues of fire and the building wasn’t physically shaking—the graces given were astounding.  I love that…what looked like simple gestures of prayer and a sign of the cross impacted the lives of our confirmands forever.
            There are two particularly powerful moments in the Confirmation ceremony.  The first is when Bishop stretches out his hands over the group as he prays—this is the laying on of hands.  This same action is done several times in the book of Acts.  These young men and women were confirmed at the hands of Bishop Paul Sirba.  What’s really cool—Bishop had hands laid on him.  So did the bishop before him.  And the bishop before him…all the way back to Jesus Christ.  Our kids were just confirmed from a line that goes all the way back to Jesus!
            Second—the sacrament of Confirmation takes place as Bishop seals the forehead with Chrism oil—the good smelling one—and says, “N, be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit…Peace be with you.”  The Chrism oil was blessed by our bishop and is the same oil that will be used in Baptisms and Confirmations this year.
            The Holy Spirit we see working so powerfully in Acts—through forgiving sins, healing, raising the dead—is the same Spirit that continues to work today!  Remember, Jesus himself said, “He does not ration his gift of the Spirit”! 
            Praise God, the young men and women who were confirmed yesterday are forever changed.  They are imbued with the Spirit.  Our parish is soaked with the Holy Spirit!  May we respond to the Spirit in our lives!

Bishop Sirba's Confirmation Homily: 4-15-15

Last evening we had the honor of being visited by Bishop Paul Sirba as he celebrated Mass and confirmed our high school students.  Here is his homily from a beautiful Mass and Confirmation!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Greatest Story Ever Told Session #22: Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James

(Listen to this session here).

We continue with the letters of the New Testament--the third section in the NT wing of the Biblical library.  This session features St. Paul's third pastoral letter (along with 1 and 2 Timothy) to Titus.  Paul advises Titus in similar ways he advised Timothy.  Philemon is a touching letter featuring 25 verses and three men and one of these being a runaway slave.  Hebrews, possibly an early eucharistic homily, describes Jesus as the fulfillment of the old priesthood, old sacrificial system and old temple.  It is a rich and deep read!  Finally, James' letter describes many facets crucial to our faith--faith and works, wisdom, taming of the tongue and joy through suffering.  

Were the early disciples communist?: Daily Mass Homily--Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

(Listen to this homily here).

            This morning I want to speak a little bit about forms of government.  This is a topic I rarely preach about, and I’ll admit I am not the biggest political expert in the world, but here goes.
            Why government this morning?  I remember several years back asking a priest about this reading from Acts: “The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.”  My question—isn’t this communism?  Doesn’t the Church reject communist forms of government?
            We need to remember that the Church never endorses one type of government over the other.  What she does do is guard against abuses in a variety of systems—this includes both unbridled capitalism (which we have in the USA) and communism.
            Back to my original question from years ago—there is a vast difference between the community of believers in the early Church and the communism of today.  The biggest difference: the disciples were clearly living for Christ, while communistic governments today promote atheism (from Karl Marx himself).
            Another dissimilarity—the disciples shared their possessions freely to help their brothers and sisters in need.  Such freedom is not at work in communism today—the state dictates such equality.
            Finally, we (as the disciples did in the first century) understand the dignity of every individual.  This is why we are called to share from what is ours (and yes, the Church maintains we can and should have a right to private property).  In fact, some of the saints argue that love compels us to such giving—“Give until it hurts, then give a little more,” says Mother Theresa.  St. Thomas Aquinas said that a poor and hungry family has a right to take bread from a wealthy person, and this isn’t even stealing—the excess belongs to the poor.  In communistic societies the individuals dignity is reduced to being a cog in the wheel of the state.  Their rights are suppressed for the sake of the state.
            So, no, the early disciples were not communist as we understand that term today.
            What we should take from this reading from Acts is the need to share what we have with those in need.  In the end, everything belongs to God, and no matter what sort of governmental structure in which we live, we are called to be generous to those in need. 

Introduction to Confession: Talk given to 1st Communion parents--4-13-15

Posted here is a talk I gave to our first communion parents to help them prepare for their child's first Confession.  Hopefully our parents will respond to the invitation to come to Confession as well!  My goal was to speak about why we go to Confession to a priest, walk through what happens in the Sacrament and why it is important to go to Confession regularly.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Born again?: Daily Mass Homily--Monday, April 13th, 2015

(Listen to this homily here).

            Our brothers and sisters of other Christian denominations—especially in Evangelical circles—have coined the term born again.  I think we’ve all heard of this term, or of born again Christians before.  As Catholics we are not necessarily opposed to such a term, but for us being born again means something deeper.
            In the conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus, Jesus teaches, “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, unless one is born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.’”  Nicodemus introduces our term as he replies, “How can a man once grown old be born again?”
            If we stop reading, we are left thinking we must be born again through a spiritual experience of faith and a conversion of heart.  But keep reading.  Jesus shows us there is more to being born again: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless one is born of water and Spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.”
            Jesus is pointing to here to the sacraments, particularly Baptism, and possibly Confirmation.  In both we receive the Spirit and we begin our journey of faith through the waters of Baptism.  We need both water and the Spirit!
            This Wednesday our high school students will be confirmed by Bishop Paul Sirba.  Our Mass to celebrate Confirmation will take place at 6:00pm and I hope you can all attend.  It’s a big event.  The Acts of the Apostles relates that, “As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”
            I pray that our building will shake with the Spirit on Wednesday.  I pray that we may continue to speak God’s Word with boldness because we have truly been born again.

Thank you to a faithful servant!: Parish Bulletin--4-12-15

            In my column this weekend I want to express my personal gratitude to Pat Bjorum, who will be retiring after forty years of service to our parish and school.  Her retirement date is set for April 30th, 2015.  This is well deserved having served for twenty-five years as a second grade teacher at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School (1975-2000) and fifteen years as our Director of Pastoral Care (2000-2015). 
To be honest, I feel ill equipped to write this article.  I happen to be the last pastor with whom Pat worked—and that is an honor.  Pat has worked at St. Thomas Aquinas parish and school for no less than 12 pastors (and longer than I have been alive!)  More than this, I now consider Pat a friend and coworker in the vineyard of our Lord. 
In less than a year, Pat has shown me what it means to follow Jesus’ command in the Judgment of the Nations: “Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me’ (Matthew 25:34-36).  Pat has always been a voice to those left on the fringes of society.  She steadfastly spoke for the poor in our parish—the hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, ill and infirmed.  I know she will continue to do so in this new phase of life.
As we move forward we are discerning what our needs are and how we can best fulfill God’s mission as a parish.  As we do so, please pray, especially for the right person to say yes to joining our parish staff! 
As we do so, I want to be clear—our goal is not to replace Pat.  This is impossible because individuals can never be replaced (especially someone with four decades’ worth of experience and a Master’s Degrees in pastoral care to back it up!).  At the same time, the mission to serve must carry on.  Our goal ought to be offering similar services to the poor, homebound and sick that Pat provided and established in our parishes with the same compassion and care.  Individuals—both paid and volunteer—will be called upon to ensure we always seek the lost in our community.
I am proud of our parish for its longstanding outreach to the poor, elderly, homebound, infirmed and ill.  Thanks, Pat, for your many years of dedicated service to those who are often left on the margins of our society.  While I wanted to throw a huge retirement party, Pat specifically requested serving coffee and donuts after the 10:30 Mass on Sunday, April 26th.  Please thank her now and then!
God Bless!

Why did Jesus keep the wounds?: Divine Mercy Sunday (2nd Sunday of Easter)

(Listen to this homily here).

            Here’s a reflection for you this morning—why did Jesus’ glorified body still have the wounds?  Even after the resurrection, there were holes in his hands and feet and his side had the scar from being pierced.
            The resurrection appearances of Jesus reflect superhuman—supernatural—characteristics.  For example, he could enter a room with locked doors.  John points out this occurred on two different occasions: “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst…”  Then, a week later when Thomas was present, “…Jesus came, although the doors were locked…”  It wasn’t like Jesus had a key, or it was a special room!  John deliberately points out an uncanny ability for Jesus to pass through walls.
            Or, if you do some calculations on when and where Jesus showed up—it was simply impossible for human travel (especially without a car or plane!).  Jesus could be in one place and then—snap—he’s in another.
            Or, remember last week?  Mary Magdalene, Jesus’ good friend, didn’t even recognize him!  Remember?  She thought he was the gardener.  At other times the disciples had the same confusion.  There was something mysterious going on with Jesus that made him other-worldly.
            So I ask again—why did Jesus retain the wounds even after the resurrection?  He was God, after all, and kept them deliberately.  Why?
            At first glance, they proved Jesus was who he said.  Today he tells Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”  This was no ghost or apparition—this was Jesus.
            It seems that one reason Jesus kept the wounds was to remind his disciples then and now of the cost of our sin.  Before the resurrection was the crucifixion.  He was pierced for our sins and he now wears the wounds as trophies of his victory.  This is also the reason why we Catholics have crucifixes—a cross with Christ’s body.  We are always reminded of the price tag of our sinfulness and that there is no Easter without Good Friday.
            Also, consider what usually occurred when Jesus appeared to his disciples after the resurrection.  He almost always did two things.  He first declared, “Peace” and then showed the disciples the wounds.  Peace plus the wounds is mercy. 
            That’s what we’re all about as a Church.  This is the one word that could describe the pontificate of Pope Francis (or love).
            Today we rejoice in Divine Mercy Sunday.  This is a brand new feast—relative to our 2000 year history.  It was inaugurated by St. John Paul II in 2001, and was to be celebrated the Sunday after Easter around the world.
            There is a rich history to this feast (which can be found on the Lighthouse Media cd titled “The Second Greatest Story Ever Told”).  It involves the mystical experiences of St. Faustina in the early part of the twentieth century and a devotion to Divine Mercy.  It includes the personal love of this devotion by Karol Wojtyla, who became John Paul II. 
            Today I want to point to one aspect of this movement of our Church—the picture you have all probably seen.  The image of Divine Mercy features the glorified Christ.  Emanating from his body are two colors of light—bluish/white and red.  These beams show how Christ’s mercy and love radiates from his body to the world. 
And the colors are significant.  The bluish/white remind us of the water that Christ’s body gave up after he was pierced.  The red imagines the blood that he shed.  The early Fathers saw the water and blood as signs of Baptism (blue) and Eucharist (red).  Truly amazing as it is through Baptism and the Eucharist that we receive Divine Mercy!
On this, Divine Mercy Sunday, we rejoice in the mercy God radiates upon us.  We never forget what Jesus did for us, and we can always be reminded of his death by gazing at his wounds, or at a crucifix.  May we reflect on and bathe in this mercy today and during our week.

Friday, April 10, 2015

All power belongs to Jesus Christ: Daily Mass Homily--Thursday, April 9th, 2015

(Listen to this homily here).

            All power belongs to Jesus Christ, who died and rose for us.
            Yesterday we heard of a miraculous healing of a crippled man.  After he was made well, the crowds look to Peter and John in amazement—supposing that they had cured him.  I love their response: “You children of Israel, why are you amazed at this, and why do you look so intently at us as if we had made him walk by our own power or piety?”
            I was really struck by the humility of Peter and John.  Yes, it was through their hands that this man was made well.  But they knew it was not them, it was Jesus.
            St. Paul takes up a similar attitude in his writings.  In an address to the Corinthians he writes, “We hold this treasure in earthen vessels to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.”
            I say this because it is a reality in our church that we can have cult followings to a certain priest, bishop, pope, speaker or minister.  Paul says again, “Some of you say, ‘I belong to Paul,’ or ‘I belong to Apollos,’ or ‘I belong to Christ.’”  He then asked, did Paul die for you?  Did Apollos?  No…it’s Jesus.
            It’s so important for us to remember always that it is all about Jesus Christ.  Whatever good we experience at our parishes…whatever fruit may be borne through our ministry—it’s Jesus work.  We are asked to be earthen vessels.
            As we continue our efforts to proclaim the Good News and do good in our world, we thank God.  We thank Jesus Christ to whom belongs all the power and glory.