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Posts Tagged ‘homily’

 In today’s liturgy we read Paul in 1 Corinthians.

I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea,  

and all of them were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.  
All ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink,
for they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them,  and the rock was the Christ.  
Yet God was not pleased with most of them, for they were struck down in the desert.  
 These things happened as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil things, as they did.  
 
Do not grumble as some of them did, and suffered death by the destroyer.  
These things happened to them as an example, and they have been written down as a warning to us, upon whom the end of the ages has come. 
Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall. 1 cor 10:1-6, 10-12

Paul draws the comparison between the disobediant Israelites under Moses to those present Christians in Corinth.  God sent the Israelites a savior from their bondage in Egypt (Moses) as He would send the “new Moses” Christ Jesus to lead mankind from its bondage in sin.  The Israelites passed through cloud (Spirit) and sea (water) just as we are now baptized.  God provided real and spiritual food and drink for their sustenance, just as Jesus now provides His real body and blood which we eat and drink for our spiritual wellness.  As the Israelites participated as a community, so do we. 

Yet, with all that God had done for the Israelites, most fell into grumbling, idol-worshipping, and disobedience and were “struck down in the desert.”  They did not complete the forty years wanderings to make it to the promised land.

Paul warns us that just like them, we may suffer (eternal) death, though we too have been chosen by God, saved through baptism of water and spirit, and have eaten and drunk from the communal cup.  At any time, we may fall back into idolatrous behavior, in other words, Sin! 

The doctrine of Once Saved, Always Saved is a false assurance.  Though God fills our lives with blessings and provides the grace necessary to sustain and save us, at any time any of us might fall into temptation, a fall that may take us away from salvation, just as the Israelites – for whom God sent Moses, performed miraculous deeds and parted the sea – were eventually struck down in the desert.

In today’s Gospel (Luke 13:1-9) , we see that the owner of the fig tree is disgusted that so much time has passed, yet his tree has not born fruit.  Why should he not cut it down?  But the vine dresser offers to provide a year’s worth of extra nurturing.  One more chance for the fig tree to show its worth and do credit to the owner. 

God is patient with us as we find our way to Him…and back to Him.  But remember that despite His infinite patience, a time will come when we will be called to account and on that day, we will pass the test, or we will be cut down.  Some people might think this is unfair.  Why?  hasn’t God provided Jesus Christ for our salvation?  the words of life in the Gospels and in the other books of the Scripture?  the apostolic priesthood to be reconciled to Him and from which to receive the sacraments?  the holy Church to teach and guide us?  grace to sustain us?  the Holy Spirit to lead us?  Some say a loving God would not abandon us because of our sinful ways, because we are doomed to fall to temptation.  I say, our God loves us as any good father does, and therefore, expects us to do our best.

If today you observe yourself and you are doing the modern equivalent of dancing around a golden calf, then today is the day to repent.

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Today–when we celebrate Epiphany— is one of my favorite days in the liturgical calendar.  It is the day I get to move the magi into the manger scene, and as a kid, I always loved rearranging, gazing on and meditating before the Nativity set we had under the tree.

In today’s homily, Fr. Tom told us about a friend of his from Peru who had never heard of Santa Clause until he got here to America.  (Santa Claus is a very European tradition.)   His family did not celebrate Christmas Day in the way we do here.  They gathered, went to mass and had a wonderful feast dinner.  But it wasn’t until Epiphany that they exchanged gifts.  On the morning of Epiphany, the children would rise to find gifts from the magi who had been following the star searching for the Lord.  The children would be told that when the magi came to the family’s house, the magi found the love of Christ so strong, they were sure that the Christ child was there, so they left gifts for Him….and those of course became what we would think of as Santa gifts.

Fr. Tom gave us homework.  He told us to make Epiphany a day of gift-giving “from the heart.  A day to give something of our faith to those we love–a Bible, a spiritual book, Rosary, whatever.”  He said, “Wouldn’t that be something?”

Inviting gifts of the season by having a Christ-centered, loving home.  An Epiphany gift given from the heart.  Wouldn’t that be something?

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A few years ago, when our nation was still bruised and our hearts raw, the 9/11 anniversary fell on a Sunday.  In the liturgy that weekend, completely coincidentally, we shared as our gospel reading Matthew 18.   If you are not familiar with this passage, the relevant text from this gospel reading is

Then Peter approaching asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?”  22  19 Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.

Now, remember this reading had nothing to do with 9/11.  All Roman Catholic churches participate in the same liturgy every Sunday.  In masses in Italy, Nigeria and South Korea Catholics are also reading this gospel passage (part of the wonderful nature of the catholic–universal–liturgy).   So here we are, hurting and reading about forgiving over and over and over. 

On that 9/11 Sunday moring, our parish priest Fr. Tom started the homily by reminding us that today was 9/11, and that a few short years earlier, men took over airplanes full of innocent citizens and in the name of God, destroyed themselves, the planes of people and the Twin Towers.  He said, we might ask how we could ever forgive such a thing?  Can we?  What is it that Jesus is instructing us?  How can we forgive when such a thing seems so beyond our capacity? (more…)

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