True Love

Feast of the Holy Family, Cycle A

Sir 3:2-6, 12-14 Ps 128:1-2, 3, 4-5 Col 3:12-21 or 3:12-17 Mt 2:13-15, 19-23

As You Wish

The story “The Princess Bride” is about a farm boy – Wesley and Buttercup (the most beautiful woman in the world). Wesley loves Buttercup deeply, and whenever she asks him to perform some chore, he always replied to her – “As you Wish”. After some time Buttercup realized that whenever Wesley said “As you Wish” – He was really saying – “I Love You”. When she realized this, she realized that she loved Wesley too. Unfortunately, Wesley could not afford to marry her, so he set out for the New World to seek his fortune, promising to return no matter what.

Unfortunately his ship is captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts (who never takes prisoners) and after news of his death reached her, the evil Prince Humperdink (who only wants to marry her so that he can use her to further his evil plans wooed Buttercup to marriage.

When the evil prince has Buttercup is kidnapped and taken away as hostage Wesley returns to free the Princess from both the kidnappers and the evil prince.

Love is Fertile when commitment exists

It seems that all of the forces of the world are conspiring to prevent Wesley and Buttercup from becoming married. Marriage is the foundation on which families are built. Like Wesley and Buttercup we too battle against sin and the world to preserve the beauty of our relationship with one another.

Marriage requires a lifelong commitment to love one another no matter what. This commitment is the fertile soil in which our love for one another grows. This commitment means that I understand that while I may not like my spouse every day of our life together, I will always choose to love her. Saying “I Do” at the altar is really saying “I will” every day of my life.


Two perspectives on Love – Selfish and Selfless

There are two different perspectives on relationship – The Selfish perspective which asks the question “What can I get out of you?” and the Selfless perspective which asks the questions “What is the best thing that I can give to you?”


If we approach the commitment to marriage from the selfish perspective, then commitment is the worse thing we can have because it ties us down to a relationship that might be the best thing for me now, but won’t be tomorrow, or next year. This approach is ultimately life-taking because our relationship ends up dead, drained of all life.


If we approach marriage from the selfless perspective, then our marriage commitment becomes a great blessing, and a defense of my spouse and my self. With commitment I become free to relate with my spouse as who I truly am. I am not worried at the back of my mind that if I say this or do that, then I will end our relationship. At the same time, with commitment I am able to say things to my spouse that they need to hear, but that they struggle to hear.

What obstacles to True Love have I put into my Marriage?

On this Feast of the Holy Family the Church invites us to examine our commitment to our own marriage – to ask the question “What obstacles to “True Love” have I put before my marriage?” Do not answer these questions for your spouse, but rather answer them for yourself.


What does “True Love” look like – Sacrificial Love

Marriage requires sacrifice. Sacrifice means a surrendering of the will for the good of the relationship. The sacrifice of the cross began with the surrender of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemene. This means that we are called to be living out our married lives in a way that we sacrifice for our spouses as an expression of “True Love”.

The Mutual Sacrifice of Wesley and Buttercup

In the Princess Bride, Wesley risked his life for Buttercup, he rescues her from her kidnappers. At the same time Buttercup sacrificed for Wesley, when she agreed to go through with the marriage to the evil prince in order to save his life.

Sacrifice your Obstacles

As Christians in marriage, we are called to sacrifice for our spouses. When we choose to sacrifice, we are setting aside our own desires when they conflict with the needs of our spouse. This is one of the ways that we as spouses mirror the love of Christ – We sacrifice for the other. Think back to the obstacles that you have placed in your marriage. [PAUSE] These are the things that we are called on to sacrifice – things that are draining your marriage of life.

Ask God for help – He is backing you up!

When we have the grace of Marriage, we take God as our witness, as the guarantor of our promise to love one another fully, completely, in sickness and in health until death do us part. We need to be reminded of His presence in our relationship in difficult times and to ask for the grace to work through our troubles so that our relationship becomes fruitful, and to give thanks to him for the good times that we are able to share with one another.

When you are struggling – it is time to sacrifice in secret.

Another tool that God has given us to breath life into our marriage is that of sacrificial love. Especially when we are in difficult times God invites us to sacrifice for our spouses, quietly and in private – asking God to strengthen them and help us through whatever difficulty we are experiencing.


Sacrificial Love brings New Life

The beauty about sacrificial love is that it brings about new life. In the example of Christ, his sacrifice on the Cross allowed Him destroy death and bring us into the heavenly kingdom.

True Love mirrors the love of God

True Love” is not selfish – It demands to be shared. In this way the Love between the Husband and Wife mirrors the Love of God, whose love goes beyond Himself, and leads to the creation of new life, and welcomes that new life into the relationship. This is why in Christian Marriage, we have a responsibility to be open to life, so that we can share the our love with our children.

How our Culture views Children – The eyes of Selfish Love

Children are another area where our cultures selfish view of love conflicts with the Christian’s selfless love view of Children.

When we view Children through the eyes of selfish love we see them as a burden, something that is necessary to bring us into adult-hood. You can read articles in USA Today, or on the internet that describe the price tag that comes with each child that you have. In one recent article, this was estimated to be between $134,000 to $270,000.

This point was brought home clearly to me a few weeks ago when I got into the elevator with another guy, and the subject got onto kids. He said that he was lucky in that he only had to deal with one kid. When I told him that I had five he said he was sorry for me – what a pain. I was shocked.


Children are a blessing from God – they cause us to grow in holiness!

When we view children through the eyes of selfless love then we see them as a “Blessing, the fruit of the womb”. That God has created with us children to enter into our relationship of marriage, to share in the Joy of our married Love. This is what marriage and family is for – to experience the joy of a loving relationship and to have companionship to help us through the hard times of life.

St. Paul’s advice to families

In today’s readings St. Paul gives teaches us how to fill our families with selfless love. He teaches us to treat each other with heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, To bear with each other and forgive one another as Christ forgives us. A family founded on selfless love will live its life framed by love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control our hearts.

Can be useful as an examination of Conscience

This advice on family relationship is an excellent source of reflection when we go to confession. Think about your family relationships in the light of this reading and ask conscience how you are living out the love that God called you to live in your family.


True Love always wins out!

Even though Buttercup agrees to marry the evil prince Humperdink to save Wesley’s life, the evil prince tries to kill Wesley anyway. However, “True Love” wins out when Wesley escapes death and returns to rescue Buttercup and they ride off to live happily ever after.

Like Wesley and Buttercup we need to confront the obstacles to True Love in our relationships by adopting the attitude of selfless love – sacrificial love. [PAUSE] The truth about relationships is that even if only one person in a relationship changes, then the whole relationship is transformed. [PAUSE]

The witness of Christ is that “True Love” always wins out – which is why we as Christians sacramentally invite God into our relationships. Through marriage we give him permission to transform our families into Holy Families so that His love can be reflected into the world. This Christmas allow Christ to give you His gift of True Love by sacrificing one of those obstacles to relationship for the sake of your family.


Don't Get Distracted!

Thirty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

Reading 1 Mal 3:19-20a Psalm Ps 98:5-6, 7-8, 9 Reading II 2 Thes 3:7-12 Gospel Lk 21:5-19

Three lessons from today’s Scriptures about the end of the World.

Don’t Get Distracted!

You don’t know when or how – so don’t get distracted. Jesus doesn’t answer the when and with the signs he gives general ideas, but not specifics. This is done so that we stay focused on what is important, my relationship with Christ rather than looking to the news papers – for astrology, and other superstitions that lead me astray because they are founded in falsehood.

Examples of ways that we get distracted
How can we get distracted? What are some examples of distracted people / places / ways?

See that you are not deceived
Tim Lehaye – The Left Behind series is a good example of this. These books speak about the “Rapture” – which is Christian theology about how the second coming of Christ will come about. They are based on some thinking done by a Irish Protestant pastor from the 1830’s and are not grounded in Church teaching or theology. We agree in the events, but not the sequencing and order of things to happen. If you read this kind of stuff, do it with a healthy dose of skepticism – and then go read in the Catechism (CCC 1021 – 1065) to see what the Church teaches.

“The Time has Come.”
Have you ever had the Jehovah’s Witnesses, come by to visit you? Basically, the witnesses are heretics (I am using this as a theological term – not to be derisive) – A heretic is someone who believes in false teaching about the nature of God, and the nature of the Church. Anyway, I mention the witnesses because they have believed in a variety of times for the end of the world. (First it was 1914, 1918, 1925, 1975, and 1989).

What does Jesus say to these people? No one knows the time except the Father. So don’t get distracted by them.

“I am He”
We have had various people come and claim to be Christ. The leader of the Nation of Islam – a racist cult of personality around Louis Farakhan is one such example. Another is that of the Branch Davidian Cult that died in the tragic fire in Waco Texas in 1993. Both of these people claimed to be the messiah, and yet their testimony was unconvincing. Christ warns us not to get distracted because at the time of the second coming he will come in his power and majesty, and he will be unmistakable and undeniable. So we need not be worried.

What happens to people who get distracted?
They start behaving like some of the Thessalonians – They sat around eating and drinking waiting for the world to end. Don’t be a Thessalonian, rather pursue your daily life of prayer and tend to your responsibilities so that you are prepared for the end of the world.

By your perseverance you will secure your lives.
Instead of following after strange teachings, or times or places – persevere in following the Gospel. It is by daily living a holy life that you are prepared for the end of the world.

The Gospel says that we don’t know the time or the place of the end of the world. But it will come, and when it does, it is our relationship with Christ that will be our salvation.



Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

Two Views on the Pharisees
Our culture portrays the Pharisees as the “Bad Guys” – But at the time of Jesus they were not the “Bad Jews” – but the good Jews. They went to Synagogue on Saturday, they fasted they obeyed the Law and tried to live out the Torah. . Today we compare two different Pharisees – the one in the Gospel that Jesus tells us about, and the one who wrote the 2nd Letter to Timothy – St. Paul.

Role Reversal
In today’s Gospel Jesus tells the story about the prayers of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. The Tax Collector was considered at the time to be a “Bad Jew” for two reasons. First, they helped the Romans to collect taxes – they collaborated with the enemy. Also, most Tax Collectors were corrupt, they padded the tax bill and extorted their own people. They were despicable.

Why is Jesus so hard on the Pharisee in the Gospel? – God in a Box, or God in your heart.
Jesus is hard on the Pharisee because he is not praying to God, but worshipping himself. He has placed God in a box that doesn’t allow God into his heart. Jesus praises the Tax Collector because he allows God into his Heart.

Putting God in a box is a spiritual trap that we fall into at one time or another. It is when we prevent our religious practice from penetrating our heart, so that we can allow God to transform our lives. Whenever we put God in a box, and keep Him out of our Heart, we limit God’s love – which is infinite.

The Other Pharisee
The other Pharisee in today’s reading is St. Paul. In his second letter to Timothy, written shortly before his beheading in Rome, He reflects on his life. Paul was very much the brother in the Gospel today. He was very strict and ardent in his following of Judaism.

Then something happened to him on the Road to Damascus – Christ came into his heart and St. Paul allowed himself to be transformed. Into his life flowed the Holy Spirit like a river, and flooded over the Church, and the Roman world, down to us today. We see the fruits of a good and holy life in St. Paul’s letter today. This is the source of our encouragement to seek and strive after leading a life that is always open to the living presence of God that seeks to dwell in us as a fire.

Poured out like a libation
In his letter today St. Paul expresses the way that his life is ending – He starts by expressing that “My Life is being poured out like a libation…” A Libation was a cup of wine that the pagan priests would pour out as a sacrifice to the Emperor. – Here St. Paul describes how God is pouring out his love through his life, and St. Paul is the Pharisee that we are called to follow.

Human Beings need Hero’s
Look across all people for all time, and you will find in all cultures there are people who are held up as role models – as people to be emulated. Why?
Because they inspire us to live a better life. Therefore, we have a need to always seek what is Good, what is true, what is excellent.

This need to seek the good, the beautiful, the true. These three qualities (The good, beautiful and true) are rooted in the fact that we are created in God’s Image and likeness.

We have a need to live lives that help us to seek out the Good, the True and the Beautiful because we are created to be in communion with God.

Heroes – Role Models help us to live lives that end like St. Paul’s – where we say at the end of life saying “I have competed Well…”

Secular Heroes – Spiritual Heroes
Right now the Colorado Rockies are Heroes. Athletes look up to them in how they approach playing a team game. Look at the time they put into practice, exercise, diet, rest, listening to their coaches, studying the game, strategy and tactics at playing a good game.

We need Heroes and the Spiritual life is no different. St. Paul is an example of a hero whom we can get to know, study, and follow after. He can help us to “let God out of the Box” – so that the Holy Spirit can be poured out through us.

Heroes make the spiritual life livable. Sometimes we look at what we as Christians are called to and we lose hope – we think that the goal is unrealistic. This is where Hero’s help us to strive down the path that Christ has called us to – they help us to achieve what seems unachievable.

Examples of Heroes
As a kid – the Astronauts – They led lives of adventure / they were smart, brave, and did very difficult things.

As an adult – The Archbishop. He is courageous, an example of how to live a holy life, to speak the truth in the face of serious opposition. Hero’s help us to let God out of the box we tend to place Him in and into our hearts – where He can pour out His love into our lives.

Stewardship Challenge – How am I going to let God into my heart this year?
Time is the gift of the opportunity to change, to begin to conquer the reign of Sin in our lives.

If not, what are we spending the gift of time on? Is it a worthwhile pursuit? Where is it taking us?

How am I going to let God into my heart this next year? We are in the midst of our annual reflection on Stewardship – in which we reflect on the ways that we steward the gifts that God has given us. Last weekend we reflected on how we steward the gifts of Talent, by sharing them with our Brothers and Sisters. This weekend we are reflecting on our stewardship of the Gift of Time. What are we going to do this next year with the gift of time that God has given us?

[[Make A Commitment together]]
Today, I am going to do something that we never do in Church – Ask the Ushers to pass out the Bulletins and the Pencils – OR STAGE THE BULLETINS AT THE END OF EVERY PEW?

Everyone, let us pray this prayer together.

Prayer for Discernment.

Heavenly Father
We thank you for the Gift of Time, the Gift of the opportunity to fall more deeply in love with you.
Send your Holy Spirit over us,
Direct our hearts and thoughts to the ways
That you want us to invest your gift in this next year
We ask this through Christ our Lord

St. Anthony of Padua

Pray for Us.

Next to the prayer is a commitment card, it lists in English on one side, and in Spanish on the other side ways that we can offer to invest some of our time this next year. Prayerfully look over this list and mark off the items that the Holy Spirit directs you to follow. Then, tear the paper in half, put one half in your pocket or purse, and the other half in the collection.

The Offertory of the Mass is the time when we offer ourselves along with the Gifts of Bread and Wine to God. Take this time to prayerfully offer to God some of our time this next year.

On the tear out section of the Bulletin is a list of ways that you can offer to invest some of the time that God has given you this next year.

TAX COLLECTORS – Hero’s for starting out

The Tax Collector in Today’s Gospel challenges us. At the time of Jesus a Tax Collector was a “Bad Guy”, and yet, Our Lord assures us that this Tax Collector is closer to God than most of those who heard this Gospel. Why? The Tax Collector is acutely aware of where He is at in His relationship with God, and he begins His journey to heaven in Truth – He humbles himself so that God may work through him. The Tax Collector is the most despicable of all of the members of the Jewish nation, and yet, he too is our Hero today, because he teaches us to turn back to God, even if we think that He is a long way off.

John Paul II
One of My Hero’s is Pope John Paul II – He had a profound effect on my formation as a Deacon. When the time for my last son to be born came, I found myself with my wife in the Hospital over the New Year between 2005 and 2006. Just before we headed out the door I grabbed a book that someone had gotten for me as a gift a long time ago. It had sat on the shelf gathering dust for years, and yet the Holy Spirit prompted me to bring it. The book was written by John Paul II, and it was about his life growing up in communist Poland, and being the Bishop there. I spent my time over the New Years holiday in the Hospital with my wife and new son, reading quietly while they were asleep, and helping them out when they were awake. John Paul became a hero for me over the course of that weekend, and I have learned to ask for His prayers, and to follow his spiritual advice, to be encouraged to grow closer to Christ, whom John Paul relentlessly pursued.



Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch
Philippians 3:17-4:1, Gospel : John 12:24-26

Today is the Feast of Ignatius of Antioch, one of the most beloved bishops of the apostolic era. Ignatius was also known by the name “Theophorus” which means God Carrier. He was a disciple of the apostle John and was ordained the 3rd Bishop of Antioch, Syria, by St’s Peter and St. Paul.

Ignatius is remembered for his journey to Rome, where he was martyred by lions in the coliseum in Rome 1900 years ago. Ignatius wrote seven letters on his journey to Rome

The Transmission of the Faith of the Apostles
I wanted to reflect on the role and nature of the Church, because Ignatius is one of those figures in early Church history that God used to help the Church come to a deeper understanding of herself, her mission and her connectedness to Christ. If you ever have the opportunity to discuss the faith with those who are Mormon in faith, which claims that there was a great apostasy after the Apostles died out, Ignatius is the counter-argument par-excellence. By studying his letters, and knowing his relationship to the apostles, and to the Scriptures, you see the continuity of the Catholic faith being handed on from generation to generation.

A Holistic view of the Church
Ask many Catholics today, what is the Church and you will get a variety of answers – It is the Pope and the Bishops in communion with the Pope, It is the People, or worse – It is an institution with a set of rules and regulations that we need to follow, or I don’t need a Church I can come to know God alone.

At the heart of St. Ignatius’ vision of the Church is the idea that it is through the relationships between the members of the Church that God’s plan for salvation is worked out. This is why communion amongst the members is so important. Whenever we find ourselves having an impoverished view of the Church we end up minimizing one of these relationships, and reducing the avenues of grace that God has chosen to work through.

Ignatius’ view of the Church called for obedience to the relationship, a willingness to continue to walk with one another in charity so that we are transformed in our relationships to be as St. Paul calls us to – imitators of him, as he imitates Christ.

My servant will follow me – on “the Way” of the Cross.
The Gospel today calls us to serve Christ, by following him on the way of the Cross. Walking the way of the cross means that we are called to live a life of sacrificial love; to die to sin. The question that we are confronted with today is; what sin, what relationship, what person must I die to, in a sacrifice of love so that God’s glory can shine through my weakness. Let us be inspired St. Ignatius’ own witness to the faith inspires us to pursue the way of sacrificial love.


Cheat to Win!

Twenty Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

Reading 1 - Am 8:4-7; Responsorial Psalm - Ps 113:1-2, 4-6, 7-8; Reading II - 1 Tm 2:1-8; Gospel - Lk 16:1-13 or 16:10-13

In Today’s Gospel Jesus tells a confusing parable. He praises a steward who cheats his master out of wealth. What is going on and what is Jesus getting at?

Jesus praises the dishonest steward for two reasons. First, the Steward is dealing in reality. He recognizes the situation that he is in (He is going to be fired for his poor stewardship), and he takes action to solve the impending problem (He is going to lose his job).

Jesus is encouraging us to imitate the steward in our spiritual lives in two ways.

The first way that we can imitate the dishonest steward is to deal in reality. How often do we recognize the situation that we are in with regard to our salvation? One way that we can deal in reality is to make a daily examination of conscience at the end of each day before going to bed. Ask for the Holy Spirit – who Christ sent to lead us to the Truth to reveal to us the state of our soul for a day.

The second way to imitate the steward is to be energetic and resourceful about solving the problems of our reality. The Steward used the gifts at his disposal to work his way out of a difficult situation. We too need to imitate the steward and use the gifts that God has given us to help us to conquer sin.

Jesus describes the gifts that the Steward uses to solve his problem as “Dishonest Wealth”. It is wealth that the Steward has not earned by his own hard work. He takes the promissory notes and rewrites them for the debtors to be something that is possible. Jesus does the same thing for us. Our sin creates a promissory note to God that we cannot possibly pay. Jesus takes that promissory note and re-writes it, in His own blood.

This is why Jesus encourages us to make friends with Dishonest Wealth – to make friends with the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. This is the key verse to the parable and helps us to unlock what Christ is saying here.


A Christian is a person who is a follower, an imitator of Christ. All of us Christians here today are called to be imitators of Jesus. We do this by using the gifts that belong to another (the gifts that God has given us) for others. We demonstrate our trustworthiness to God when we use the gifts that he has given to us for the benefits of others.

When we can succeed in using our Gifts that God has given us to help our sisters and brothers, then we will be entrusted with true wealth – with eternal life.

Recently I attended a meeting of the Altar and Rosary society, which is a community of women here in the parish that is focused on ensuring that we have all of the necessities for celebrating the liturgy. At this meeting one of the women expressed her gratefulness to her sisters for their prayers for one of her loved ones. He had been suffering from cancer, and by their intercession, he was healed. This had happened several years ago, but her heart was still filled with thanksgiving. There is a direct connection between Thanksgiving and generosity.

Thankfulness opens the gates of generosity. When we are able to understand what we are thankful for, we are able to set aside the distractions to our generosity with our gifts, and give freely.

We live in a culture where advertising is always trying to tell us that we will only be happy when we get the next new thing, or the next new new thing, or the new next thing, or the next next new thing. This gives us a sense of ingratitude, because I can never achieve happiness. As Christians it is important that we are aware of this so that we can work against it. When we become aware of our stinginess we can make it part of our daily prayer to give thanks to God for the gifts that He has given us. If it is a struggle for you to be thankful then ask the Holy Spirit to help you to become thankful for the gifts that God has given you.

This is why Jesus says that we cannot serve both God and Mammon. Mammon will never satisfy us, and it will distract us, and disable us in our pursuit of God. Mammon means “That in which one puts ones trust”. Here Jesus uses mammon to mean things of the world, the Mammon of iniquity, the Things that we trust in that are not of God.

In the Gospel today Christ challenges us to trust in God, to love Him, serve Him and imitate Him. How trustworthy are we proving to be with our stewardship of His gifts?



Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C
Wis 9:13-18b Psalm 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14-17, Phmn 9-10, 12-17, Lk 14:25-33

Colditz POW Camp
Early in World War II, the Germans near Calais, France captured Captain Pat Reid, an officer in the British Army. He was sent to a German Prisoner of War camp, where he escaped by digging a tunnel out under the fence. Unfortunately he was caught and sent to a special POW Camp at Colditz Castle.

All POWs have a duty to try to get home. At Colditz Castle Captain Reid was made the Escape Officer by the SBO. His job was to coordinate all escape attempts from the prison camp so that they would succeed and not undermine one another. As escape officer he helped men escape by cutting through the floor of the 2nd floor theater that lay over the German barracks – then the men marched out of the German side of the prison disguised as a German officer. They also dug tunnels, leaped over walls, hid in trash piles, or mattresses or boxes. The prisoners used ingenuity and determination get out of Colditz, and their efforts were rewarded with several “Home Runs” – men who escaped to Switzerland.


The Gospel today challenges us in our commitment to following Christ as His disciples. Jesus is on “The Way” to Jerusalem, where He knows that He is going to suffer and die to bring salvation to all of mankind. Jesus turns to the crowd, to us and challenges us with our commitment to follow him. Like Captain Reid, we need to have determination and ingenuity to escape from the prisons of sin in our life.

Sin is our prison.
Sin is a prison because it limits our ability to choose freely. If I have an addiction, can I truly choose to smoke a cigarette, or to have a bottle of beer. No – I am not freely choosing it, rather I am driven to do it by my addiction.

Jesus confronts His disciples (us) today to deal with the things that are keeping them from the Kingdom of God. In the Gospel Jesus uses three different parables as a way of asking us the question – “Do you have what it takes to be a follower of Jesus? Can you carry your cross?”

Parable 1 – Hate your Family - Do not let obstacles stand in the way of your pursuit of God?
Is Jesus encouraging us to hate or family? Of Course Not! Our entire relationship with God is familial. We relate to God the Father through Christ our Brother – His only Son. Jesus is saying don’t let your family stand in the way of your coming to know God.

So what does this mean? How does this play out in our lives? For some, it is a direct obstacle. I have known converts to Catholicism whose families opposed their becoming Catholic. This is indeed a very difficult cross to bear. It takes a special grace, courage and conviction to persevere in these circumstances.

There is another way that family can become an obstacle for our relationship with God. Family, especially the relationship between parents and children forms the foundation for how we come to understand the Father and the Son. If we grew up in a family where we suffered from Divorce, or abuse then this becomes an obstacle for how we understand God.

The root question behind this first parable is what obstacles, what things am I attached to more than God. Another way that we can ask ourselves this question is to ask “What is my favorite Sin?”

Parable 2 – Build the whole tower - Have the determination to see the task to completion.
The man building the tower did not have the resources to see the job to the finish. The job at hand is the life of the disciple that ends in Heaven. One of the spiritual lessons here is to persist in your determination to get the job done. The POW’s at Colditz prison just would not give up. Every time they failed to escape they treated as a learning experience, and went to work on next avenue for escape.

Another way of asking the question is do we have discipline in our spiritual life? What are the ways that we quit pursuing Christ early, and fall back into our rut of sin? Discipline is one of the key ways that we have to see the job through to the end. Discipline is building a habit of spending time with Jesus – and it will get us through the tough times and allow God the opportunity to work in our lives one day at a time.

Recently Time Magazine published an article about the life of Mother Theresa, where they revealed that for the last fifty years of her ministry she felt no connection with God. The article asked the question – How did she do it? The answer is discipline rooted in her knowledge of the love that God had for Her.

Parable 3 – Know your own strength in the battles you face.
The third parable that Christ gives is that of a King going to war. When we are out-numbered we need God’s grace – his help. To help us in this perseverance we have two special sacraments for being “On the Way”. Confession and the Eucharist. We come to mass every week to be nourished by the Word of God made Flesh – the Holy Eucharist – which contains within it the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is food for the journey – and through it our soul is strengthened to live a good and holy life. The other gift that we have for the way is the sacrament of Reconcilliation. This is one area where we as Catholics are weak in our journey, weak in our perseverance. A recent survey indicated that 54% of all Catholics attend reconciliation rarely or never. This means that most of us here today have not been to confession in any recent amount of time. Why?

A way we can do this on our own this week is to find time to go to a daily mass this next week, or make a point of going to confession, and getting rid of the prison of sin in your life.

Take up your cross and follow me.
Each of these parables reminds us of the seriousness of our vocation as Christians to carry the cross with sacrificial love. The Cross is the plan of action that God gave us to escape the prison of Sin in our lives. Taking up the cross means to embrace a life of love, a life of healing and a life of sacrificial love.

For Captain Reid and his fellow POWs their cross was to spend their lives planning and preparing with all of the determination and cunning that they could find waiting for the right moment to escape to freedom in Switzerland. After two and a half years Captain Reid succeeded and walking across the Swiss border on the 18th of September, 1942.

We too must embrace the cross and spend our lives escaping from the captivity of sin for the freedom of Gods love. We must be resourceful Christians, and use every tool at our disposal to escape from the prison of Sin. Jesus is encouraging us today to escape the prison of sin and to score a “Home Run”.


Christianity is NOT a spectator Sport!

Twenty First Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

Reading 1 Is 66:18-21 Responsorial Psalm Ps 117:1, 2 Reading II Heb 12:5-7, 11-13 Gospel Lk 13:22-30

First 400 years of Blood
If Christianity were a spectator sport it would have never survived the first four hundred years of existence. The History of the Early Church is filled with the profound witness of the Faith where Christians died by the hundreds of thousands.

In the “Old Days” it was against the law to be a Christian, if you were caught, and you did not reject you faith, you were tortured, and then killed in games of blood sport to entertain the masses in the stadiums of the Day.

Spectator Christians are not well
One of the sicknesses that afflicts our Church today is that many Christians try to live out their faith as if it were a spectator sport, something to do on Sunday morning or Saturday evening. But

• Jesus did not come and die on a cross so that we could live our faith with a luke-warmness.
• Jesus died on the cross so that the Fire of the Holy Spirit could transform our lives.
• He died on the cross to remove the division of Sin that separates us from God.
• Christ died on the cross so that we could be united with Him, Soul to Soul.

What is a Spectator Christian?
All of us suffer from sin, and so in a certain sense all of us suffer from being spectator Christians. Here is a list of excuses that Christians use to avoid from getting more involved in their faith, from getting into the game.

• My faith is really an eternal insurance program
• I am here because I fear hell more than I love God. (This ought to be reversed, fear of hell is healthy, but love of God is the motivation that Christ brought us).
• I am too busy, or I have more important things to do
• I am too tired
• I only attend mass on the big occasions (Christmas and Easter).

If this is you – then Fight Back!
If you recognize that one or more of these descriptions (or others) fits you then now is the time to fight back; To break out of the trap of these lies and to enter into the game to win.

Christianity is a Contact Sport!
Spectator sports are for entertainment, they are eye candy to distract us from the issues in our lives that really matter. Christianity calls us to live life like a contact sport. The Christian life calls us to confront tough issues, first in our own spirituality, and then in that of the society and world around us. We are called to be the Salt of the Earth, and the Light of the World. Salt flavors and light illuminates. We are called to live lives that transform the world from that of Sin into that of Grace.

Two ways we get into the Game
Flash Conversion – on a retreat or some religious experience - This happened to St. Francis of Assisi.
The life of slow but continuous conversion - Pope John Paul II, and Mother Theresa did not fall off the pumpkin truck as holy men and women, rather they worked hard at their vocation to holiness every day of their lives. Jesus says “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.

It is for this reason that St. Paul encourages us to live a life of discipline. Do not forget the goal that you are striving for, that goal is a holy life, a life that is on fire with the Holy Spirit, that is transforming the world that we live in one soul at a time.

Once you’re in the Game – How do you play to your potential?
There is a great parallel between how someone like John Elway or Jay Cutler prepares to win at football, and how John Paul II or Mother Theresa pursued God.

What are the elements of a solid Spiritual Training Program?

Prayer – Do I pray in the morning and in the evening?
Fellowship with other Christians; companionship on The Way.
Fasting –
• Do I fast? Do I try to keep a meatless Friday in honor of the death of Christ.
• Do I live a life of sacrifice for my Wife? For my Husband? For my Children? For my parents?
What can I sacrifice – Some bad habit I have? Whining? Ten minutes of television time / time with the Good news instead of the news paper. Giving my spouse a quiet break after a long day at work?
• Do I Struggle with a deeper addiction?
• Pornography? Alcohol? Drugs? Violence/Anger? Video Games? Gambling? – Sacrifice is the key to curing these sicknesses
Do I know the Game? Do I spend time with Holy Reading? Scripture? The Catechism? Apologetics?
When was the last time I went to Confession? How can I get better at seeking Christ if I never seek healing for my wounds?

Evaluate your own Spiritual Life – Ask the Holy Spirit to convict you where you need to change.

Mission of the Whole Church
Jesus Christ left the whole Church with a mission – To carry His salvation to the ends of the Earth. That salvation is not carried there by words spoken in mass, but rather it is carried there by the actions of the whole Church. We are all called to live our lives so that the world witnesses the Truth of Christ’s words through the actions of our lives.

If we can succeed in doing this, then we will not find ourselves at the ends of our lives saying to the God – “Lord, let us in…” or “We ate and drank with you and listened to you in our streets.” But rather we will then find ourselves at the banquet, living the reality of the Kingdom of God. Christianity is not a Spectator Sport – It is a Contact Sport. It is time for us to get in the Game!


Truth and Decision

Homily for the 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle C

What kind of division does Jesus Bring?

In the Gospel today Jesus says that he came to bring division – and this message can be a little unsettling for us – It leads to the Question – What kind of division does Jesus bring?

Jesus brings division because he causes a decision

Jesus brings the division of knowing the Truth – which is who he was. Truth, by it’s nature forces us to make a decision, we either chose to accept the Truth, and incorporate it into our lives, or to reject the truth and believe some lie instead. In this way Jesus is the Word of God – whom St. Paul says earlier in the letter to the Hebrews (5:12) that “the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.

Truth is the light of Reason

As Humans we have a fundamental need for the Truth, just as we need food and water to live, we need truth to think.

Truth convinces us to make a decision – we either see the truth in the argument or we reject it.

Some Examples of how we need the Truth in our lives.
  • For example, drink milk, because your bones need calcium. I give you a reason for wanting to buy milk.
  • You need to take this medicine because it will lower your blood pressure.

Because Truth is at the foundation of all of our thinking and living life, we are attracted to Truth – We are designed for knowing the Truth. This is one of the ways that we are created in the image and likeness of God. As Christians we are called to live our lives in such a way so that we bear witness to the Truth in all that we say and do.

Truth is universal
For Truth to be universal means that it means the same thing to all people in all time.

An Example of a how universal and relative truth work. – Red and Green colors work in traffic laws.

Moral Truth is Universal
In the same way moral Truth is universal. We “Get it” when we think about universal truth applying to traffic laws, but we often don’t like to think of moral truth as applying to our behavior.

Being a successful liar only works if people assume you are honest.
Being honest as a person is important to our world – in fact everyone assumes it. This is why liars try to lie, because they assume that you and I will believe the Truth.

Our culture today teaches that there are no Moral Truths, this is why we murder the unborn, we have corrupt politicians, and have infidelity in marriage. We live in a society that is in darkness, and as Christians we are called to bring the light of Truth into the world with how we live out our lives.

What does it mean to “Witness to the Truth”?
The Example from the First Reading – Jeremiah witnesses to the Truth, and how the world Responded

Have you ever heard the adage “Don’t shoot the messenger just because you don’t like the message?” This adage is based on a desire to know the Truth, and to deal in the Truth. In the First Reading today, Jeremiah is a prophet of God, and he is bringing the message of Truth to the people of Jerusalem. They had turned away from God and were worshiping false Gods. Jeremiah was sent by God to proclaim the Truth of God to them, to teach them that God loves them truly, purely, completely. They did not want to hear it, so the people denied the Truth and threw Jeremiah into a well, where he was sitting in the dark, stuck in the mud. Jeremiah felt that he was dead.

The beauty of Truth is that it’s witness endures in spite of its rejection. Truth speaks to the soul and so it will come back even though we want to suppress it. This is what happened to Jeremiah today, he was sitting in the Mud when the Truth convicted Ebed the Cushite to go to the King and explain how the King had allowed people to commit a wrong against the Truth. Ebed said to the King – Look, you just shot the messenger, the messenger of Truth is in the Mud, lets get him, and so they did.

What are the offenses against the Truth? – Each Day we live is an opportunity to Repent.

Whenever we are confronted with the Truth we need to make a decision. The great thing about the Gospel is that God is always leading us to conversion, he is always asking us to change our mind, to reconsider. Each day that we are alive he asks us to convert, to change our mind and to accept the Truth a little more deeply in our lives each day.

Two ways that we offend the Truth, that we sin against God is though lying and through Gossip.
If I have a habit of lying, of speaking falsely I must ask myself why? Why to I behave in a way that I know is contrary to the Truth. I must become uncomfortable with the false witness I am giving. I must reject the lies that I tell myself – they are only “white” lies – This is a lie that I tell myself so that I don’t have to examine my own reasoning and find see the flaws in my own character. If you struggle with lying then ask the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Truth each day to point out to you when you are tempted to lie, and then speak the truth instead. Each evening examine your behavior, again call on the Holy Spirit to witness to you how you did, and to help you to do better tomorrow.

Gossip is when we take pleasure is speaking about someone’s faults – even if they are true. There is a right time and place to speak about faults, and it is when that conversation will bring about conversion. An example of this would be in confession with a priest, he might speak to you about your faults to help you understand them and to correct them. When we speak about our neighbors faults to another, we are destroying their reputation, we are not treating them with love. We all have faults, and we all need to live with one another’s faults. Jesus showed us how to do this when he said that Mercy (Love) wipes away a multitude of Sins. Rather then talking at great length about the faults of another, rather than gossiping about them, we are called to bear with another’s faults out of love.

St. Therese of Liseux, the witness of Love verses Gossip.

Love converts the soul of the one loved, and of the one who is loving.


St. Paul calls us to persevere to the end – To run the race to the finish, but to run the race so as to win. Everyone, in every state of life has an opportunity to bear witness to the Truth – Even Jeremiah, sitting in a well in Jerusalem bore witness of the Truth to the King – and so he was pulled out of the Mud. We too are called to bear witness to the Truth with our lives each day this week – We are called to reflect the love of Christ into North Star community center in how we greet and treat those around us – our room mates, care takers and fellow residents.

The Gospel today challenges us to answer the question – How am I going to witness to the Truth of God’s love this week?


Knowledge, Faith and Reason

19th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C.

I was reading in the news the other week that scientists from CalTech University have recently discovered 6 galaxies that are 13.2 Billion years old. This makes these the oldest galaxies discovered to date, and they formed some 500 million years after the theoretical Big Bang that caused the creation of the Universe.

[[PAPER BAG PUNCH LINE - blow up and pop a paper bag]]

The answer is no. Science is by definition the study of measurable things. God is by definition infinite – which is to say that he is not measurable, and so God is not a subject of physics, but of theology.

But science is struggling to understand is how did the universe come to be. There are various theories, One is that this universe was created from the collapse of the last universe, and that came from the one before that… But there must have been a point in time where there was nothing, and out of that point came everything. Scientists call this the “Big Bang”, and it is reasonable to conclude that there is a creator that created all of the stuff of the universe, and we call that uncreated creator God.

All knowledge is rooted in the Truth, and Truth is truth for all peoples for all time every where. It is the position of the Church that Faith and Reason are help-mates, both as mechanisms for coming to know the Truth, and while they need there own separation to function they should not be set against one another.

Reason is knowing the Truth by analytical thought – such as knowing the creator of the universe.

St. Paul says that Faith is the knowledge of things unseenknowledge of what is not measurable. Faith is knowing that something is True because it is revealed to us by God. One of the things that we know as truth by Faith is that God created the universe.

In today’s letter to the Hebrews St. Paul reflects on the beauty of the faith of Abraham. When St. Paul talks about Faith he is discussing how Abraham knew God, he knew the Truth, and the profound effect it had not only on his life but on our lives as well, as Abraham is the Father of all the Faithful. The Church gives us this reflection today so that we can reflect on the state of our own faith lives.

What is our Faith like today? - The Two Kinds of Faith

There are two forms of faith amongst Baptized Christians today – Dead Faith and Living Faith.

Dead Faith

By Dead faith I mean a Faith that is dormant, not lived out, or lived out in a minimal way. Faith that defines a neat and tidy box around God. Dead Faith has a tendency to minimize our relationship with God. When we live a life of dead faith, the Church becomes just another institution, and set of rules that must be followed. Dead faith ultimately kills us. Dead Faith is alive and well in our world today, because the second largest group of baptized Christians in the United States today are ex-Catholics.

Lest we look at ourselves as better than them, we need to repent, to change. Many ex-Catholics are ex-Catholic because of the example of faith given to them by us, the practicing Catholics – They suffer from a dead faith because our mostly dead faith has killed off theirs.

Good News for Dead (and Mostly Dead) Faith Christians.

Jesus came to heal the sick, to cure sinners and to lead us from Death to Life. This was his entire mission here on earth, to lead women and men into a relationship of Love with God. – He came to baptize us with Fire and the Holy Spirit – to have a living faith – a Living Relationship with Him.

Living Faith.

At Baptism all of us were given a candle that was on fire – and we were told to keep that faith alive.

[[Light Baptismal Candle and hold it in the right hand]]

The fire of that Candle is a symbol of our faith. Fire provides warmth, light and security. Have you ever met someone who was truly “On Fire” for Jesus. Their faith fascinates us like the fire of a camp fire. One person who I met that was “On Fire” for Jesus is Mark, a beer drinking, Rugby player from Metro State College. Mark dressed like a bit of a barbarian, armed with an infectious grin, crazy, unkempt hair and a fierce love for the Lord. Spend ten minutes in conversation with Mark and you had no doubt of his intelligence, his Love for the Lord and his desire to deepen his own relationship with God. Mark is for me an example of Living Faith. He was a fascinating person, profoundly aware of his own short-comings and sinfulness, and at the same time, very much alive. Being around Mark made me desire to be more alive as well. This is the beauty of a living Faith.

[[Place the Candle on the Ambo]]

A Living Faith is the foundation for knowing what is God’s will in my life. In this way Faith leads to service – which is the subject of today’s Gospel.

Whenever Christ is speaking of the Servant in the Gospel he is speaking to each of us, because we are His disciples in the world today. Christ’s Teaching to his disciples today is to be always at work with His Father’s business. This is the mission of the good and faithful servant. This is the mission of you and I today.

What are ways that we can live out our lives of Faith? What are ways that we can be found doing the will of our heavenly Father?

1. Become a Catechist. A good way to learn your faith is to pass it on to another. When you have to explain your faith, you come to understand it more yourself. Those of you called by God to be catechists ought to contact Marina and Tina (There numbers are in the Bulletin).

2. Volunteer to serve at the Mass. We are always in need of new Lectors, Extra-ordinary ministers of the Eucharist, Musicians, Ushers, Servers, Sacristans. Part of the obligation for those serving in these roles is to deepen their own faith lives, and having a ministry to perform in the Church gives expression to that faith life, and encourages it’s growth.

3. Consider helping out in taking communion to the Home Bound and the Nursing Homes. This parish has a tremendous number of elderly people who are deeply in love with Jesus in the Eucharist, but are seldom unable to receive him. This is part of the Master’s business that we as a parish have an opportunity to reach out even more to these members of our community.

4. The Neo-Catechumenal is coming to our parish in a few weeks. Consider joining them to improve your relationship with Christ.

Faith requires a life of preparation and work

All means of growing in faith require action on our part. Faith is not something that your or I can receive from a pill, rather it requires work and commitment from us. We have to become engaged in our relationship with Christ and break out of the Dead-Faith Habits that we have allowed to form in our lives.

St. Thomas More

St. Thomas More was the Chancellor of England during the time of Henry the VIII (The time of Columbus). One night he was visiting with some friends, and they were smoking pipes, playing cards and drinking beer. That evening as the cards went around one of his friends asked him – “Thomas, if you were to die tomorrow morning, what would you be doing tonight?” St. Thomas thought for a moment as the hand was played out, and then replied; “I think that the Lord would want me to enjoy my friendships with you guys, and would love the fact that I spent the evening playing beer and drinking cards, because He knows how much my soul longs for him, and will happily go to him when called.”

The example of St. Thomas is the example that Christ teaches us in the Gospel today. Live your life being about the Masters work, so that when the end comes, it will not matter because you will be prepared. When St. Thomas was executed by King Henry his last words were – 'I die as the King's true servant, but as God's servant first`.


When Christ comes, be that today, tomorrow, or in 70 years – will He find your faith alive? Will he find you busy with His Fathers work?


Pray like a Pirate

17th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C

Praying like a pirate.

Would you like to hear how pirates pray before meals?



Years ago I had the opportunity to learn – hears how it goes.

(To the tune of Gilligans Island)

Bless us Lord and these thy gifts which we are about to receive (Pound the Ambo 3 Times)
From thy bounty through Christ our Lord Amen amen amen. (Amen Amen Amen).

If you really want to wake up people, try praying that with your family the next time you go out to a restaurant for dinner


The reason that I bring up praying like a pirate is for three reasons – first, everyone prays to God. We have different ways, and different motivations, but everyone prays at some point in their life. Second, today’s scripture readings center on the subject of prayer, and third, the common pirate expression ARRRG (That’s A with 3 R’s and a G) is a nice mnemonic for the process of all authentic Christian Prayer.

You might be thinking to your self – how does that go me matey deacon? ARRRG

ARRRG Stands for Acknowledge, Relate, Receive and Respond to God.


In order for prayer to be authentic it needs to begin with an acknowledgment of all of the stuff that is stirred up within ourselves, and is going on. To pretend that Prayer is simply a serene, and peaceful experience is not to understand what true prayer is. God created us for intimacy with him, he desires to love our souls in their totality, he desires relationship with us. When you meet a friend, you always ask how’s it going? To which typically the response is an automatic – really good. This is not true acknowledgment. Abraham gives us a glimpse of answering God’s “How’s it Going” question in today’s reading. He is walking with his dear friend God on the way to Sodom and Gomorrah, and he is struggling with the balance of God’s Mercy and God’s Justice. Abraham has known God long enough at this point to be able to understand these two find qualities of his friend, but he is struggling to see how God puts them together. And so, this understanding bubbles up out of him as he goes down the road to Sodom with God

Acknowledge means that we allow ourselves the time to allow the stuff of our life to bubble up and out as we spend time with our friend.

Relate (Honestly and Consistently) (The first R of ARRRG).

Next, after seeing what is going on within us, we need talk about what is going on in our heart with God. This is not because God needs to know what is going on in our heart, but rather, that it is part of our own design that we enter into relationship by speaking about the things that are going on within us. Relate is at the heart of Relationship. If you are not relating then you are not in a relationship.

The key to this relation is that we are honest (don’t beat around the bush, reflect on the outside what is going on on the inside. This is sometimes hard to do – especially if we have false images of God in our mind. God wouldn’t want me to be angry, mad, sad, unforgiving, hurt, joyful or what-ever. If we are not relating honestly, then we are not relating. God knows that we have human emotions and foibles. He loves us regardless, and so he desires us to be honest with Him.

A good way to reflect on this from the Scriptures is to look at the psalms. There are psalms of Joy, of Praise, of Thanksgiving, of Lament, of Anger, of every human emotion. Honest relating to God about what is going on inside is crucial.

Honestly and Consistently

The consistent part is harder for us to manage. This requires of us the discipline to keep at our relationship with God each and every day – even when we don’t want to. St. Francis De Sales asked a friend of his – when you pray – do you fly like a chicken or an eagle? He went on to explain that most Christians who flew like chickens flew that way because they only related to God in time of need, where as those who soared like eagles had made the time in their life to consistently acknowledge and relate to God.

One practical way to do this is to turn off the radio in your car on the way too or from work, and spend some time just mulling over your day, and relating it to God. Begin your time with a short prayer to the Holy Spirit, and then acknowledge and Relate.


All of us here who are baptized enter into our relationship with God, with the Holy Trinity through Christ. It is because we sacramentally share in His death and resurrection that we have the indwelling of the Holy Trinity within us. Christ is the God-Man. He is fully God, Fully divine, and yet equally and at the same time fully human. So Christ is the gateway for men into the life of the Holy Trinity. Now we need to ask the question, how does Christ enter into the relationship of the Holy Trinity? Christ says Everything I have I have received from my Father. – So receiving is the natural way for us to be fed by God.

Also, note that if I acknowledge what is going on within me, and honestly and consistently relate that experience to God, I am naturally disposed to receive. 99% of the spiritual life is receiving from God.

Practically, how do I receive? With a grateful heart. A spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving for the wonderful gifts that God has given us. Secondly, through a sacramental life – we receive the Eucharist, Absolution in our sacramental life. Today we all have the opportunity, and the invitation from Christ to receive Him.

The Last R – Respond.

After we have received (internalized) the grace / gift / love / truth / beauty of God, He convicts us to act, to respond. This is the easiest part of prayer. If you get the first three steps down this flows easily

The Mass is a excellent expression of the ARRRG principle of prayer. We enter into the Mass acknowledging our Sins, we relate to God throughout the Eucharistic Prayer, and then we receive Jesus, in communion, and have a time to listen to him, converse with him and love him in a very intimate and physical way.

Today at this liturgy we have the opportunity to enter into intimate prayer with God. When the end of mass comes today, what will your response be?


No Money, Sack or Sandals

14th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C
Isaiah 66:10-14c, Psalm 66:1-7,16,20, Gal 6:14-18, Luke 10:1-12, 17-20

Wear Sandals
Small Headlamp bag filled with change.]]

I thought that it would be useful for us to get into today’s Gospel using what St. Ignatius would call active imagination. To help out with this, I have some stuff back in the Sacristy that I need to get

[[Go to the Sacristy and put on the Pack]]

So, I want to take us back in our imaginations to the time when Jesus sent out the 72 disciples. I imagine that the night before he announced this to his disciples and so early the next morning they gather to go out, and that is where this mornings Gospel starts.

[[Return to the Center of the Church wearing the pack]]
No Money Bag – (Trust God, Enable the Charity / Hospitality of the Neighbor)

But – without a money bag how do I pay for meals?
What will I do when I need a room to stay in?
In this context, money disables the missionary. Without a money bag I am relying on God to provide, and on others to reach out to me in hospitality.

Do I trust God enough to provide for my needs?
Do I trust God to work through others to help me with His work?
The Money Bag is symbolic of my distrust in God, and in God’s invitation to trust him more deeply. What area in my life holds some distrust? Why?

[[Throw the Money Bag at the foot of the Ambo]]

No Sack –

But – it’s not really a sack – it’s a backpack J
Ok, it really is a sack, but I need it to carry all of my stuff. How can I go on a mission without carrying my books, a bedroll, some water, and food?

What is the baggage that Christ is calling me to surrender? How is my stuff getting in the way of my relationship with God?

I must go on this mission unburdened –
By my own self-reliance – remember the money bag – God is in control
Of my own false expectations – That Christ is this conquering hero-messiah
Of my own false judgements of other people.
Of my own hurts – things that only God knows that lie within me. These distort the way I try to understand and represent the truth.
Letting go of my sack means being open to God healing me, and being docile to the direction of His Holy Spirit.

Am I willing to set aside my baggage so that I can carry out the will of the Father? What baggage is Christ calling me to surrender?

[[Take off the pack and place it at the foot of the Ambo]]

Without my pack I am freed of my burdens, I am not burdened – and I am better disposed to receive the grace of God.

No Sandals – In the Holy Land most people went around barefoot at all times. Only the rich and powerful wore sandals.

[[Remove the First Sandal]]
Going without sandals means that I am willingness to set aside my agenda – to live a life of humility. It is a willingness to imitate Christ who came to be with us.

[[Remove the Second Sandal]]
Now we are ready to preach the coming of the Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of God

What does it mean that the Kingdom of God is at hand?

It means that Christ is at hand – He is coming, He is here – In you and I my dear brothers and sisters for we are the Body of Christ. The Kingdom of God is at hand – Christ will be with each one of us in a few moments when we invite him into our souls, into our houses in Communion.

Christ is the message, he is the messenger, he is the Good News not just with what he says and does, but in his very person.

How do we enter into the Kingdom of God? Through Faith and Conversion.

Faith – When I say Amen to receive the Body of Christ, I am stating that I believe what we believe in the Creed. I am saying that Christ is the Son of God, a real person who took on flesh – and became like us, he lived, was crucified and rose from the dead to lead us into communion with the Father in heaven. This is what St. Paul speaks of in his letter to the Galatians today.

Conversion – Repent – The Kingdom of God is at Hand. What does it mean to repent? It means to see things in a new light, in the light of Faith, rather than by the light of the World. It means to change my minds and to see things rightly. So Repent. Part of how you understand where you are on the road to salvation is by the degree of repentance, conversion that exists in your life. From the very beginning God created us to be free of evil. The healing that the 72 performed were a sign of a deeper spiritual salvation – freedom from sin. Healing in our life invites us to conversion, and little conversions lead to deeper conversion, which lead us into a true sense of liberation and freedom – freedom from Sin, and entrance more fully into the Kingdom of God.

Little Conversions lead to big conversions. For the 72 leaving behind the moneybag (ego), the sack (attachment to things), and the sandals (pride) led to deeper conversion in their own lives, and in the lives of those to whom they were sent.

What decision have I made that Christ is calling me to repent of? What must I change? (SOME SIN EXAMPLES)

What is the Goal of the Kingdom of God?

The goal of the Kingdom of God is that our relationships are transformed by the Love of Christ. We live in the Kingdom of God when we allow Christ to enter into our relationships through Forgiveness, Love and Service.

Husband and Wife, Father and Son, Mother and Daughter, Friends, Co-Workers, Neighbors and Classmates.

Proclaiming the Kingdom of God means that we allow Christ into our hearts and He transforms our relationships by his love, so that we learn to forgive, and to serve one another.

Who do I need to forgive? Why does Christ teach forgiveness? Vengeance is mine says the Lord. When someone hurts us we have a legitimate rite to judge them. When we forgive we do not deny justice, rather we turn justice over to God who is the definition of Justice. Forgiveness means letting go of the debt – freeing ourselves of the burden and trusting that God will give justice to those who have hurt us.


God is calling each one of us to be laborers for his kingdom, to bring in the harvest. What are you going to do?


Vocation, Holiness and Mission

Nativity of St. John the Baptist
Is 49:1-6, Psalm 139:1-3, 13-15, Acts 13:22-26, Luke 1:57-66, 80

Today is the Birthday of John the Baptist and the Church invites us to reflect on the nature of Christian life – on our Vocation, Holiness and our Mission.

Charles de Foucauld
In 2005 Pope Benedict XVI beatified Charles de Foucauld. Charles was born into wealth and spent much of his youth on empty pursuits. As a young man he entered the famous military academy of Saint Cyr, where he was expelled for smuggling his mistress into the academy (a big no-no). He was later re-admitted, where he graduated, sent to Algeria in the Cavalry and expelled for behavior reasons (public concubinage).

After being expelled from the Military Blessed Charles went back to North Africa and explored for a couple of years, living among the people and making maps and diaries. He was awarded a prestigious medal by the French Geographic Society. Afterwards Charles returned to France. He was listless, bored of life, he had lived life abundantly, but not been fulfilled.

While living in Paris, his cousin encouraged him to speak with a famous confessor at that time, Abbe Huvelin which he did and it led to a conversion in his life. Charles said – “The moment I realized that God existed, I knew I could not do otherwise than to live for him alone.”

Today the Church calls us to reflect on our mission. The Scriptures today reflect the fact that each of us were created for a specific mission, for a specific purpose. In the Church we call that purpose vocation.

What is Vocation?
Every vocation in the Church is at the service of holiness.
John Paul II described 4 ways of discover my own vocation
· Talk about the Word
· Pray with one another
· Participate in the Sacraments – The Mass, Reconciliation, Marriage and Holy Orders
· Seeking the Face of Christ in my Brothers and Sisters (JPII’s Prayer).

The goal of vocation is to grow in Holiness.

After his confession with Abbe Huvelin Charles went on a pilgrimage to the Holy land and ended up being the gardener at a convent of Poor Claire nuns in Nazareth. Charles discovered his own vocation in his service to the nuns, and to the Muslim men who he worked with in the Monastery.

How is Vocation / Holiness manifested in Marriage and Holy Orders?

The holiness of marital love,
the harmony of family life, / parish life
the spirit of faith with which the problems of daily life are confronted,
openness towards others, especially towards the poorest, and
participation in the life of the Christian community

What is Holiness?
Pope John Paul II described Holiness as
· intimacy with God,
· the imitation of Christ, who was poor, chaste and humble;
· the unreserved love for souls and a giving of oneself on their behalf and for their true good;
· the love for the Church which is holy and wants us to be holy, because this is the mission that Christ entrusted to her"

Holiness is to be …transformed into a radiant reflection of the mystery of the Holy Trinity.

There are 3 ways to know that I am living out my Vocation.

· Reflect on your life to see if your decisions are illuminated by the intelligence of faith.
· Learn to know and contemplate Christ's face
· Discover in Him our own authentic identity and the mission that the Lord entrusts to us.

How does Prayer guide Holiness?

Prayer, developed and lived, will help us to be guided by the Spirit of Christ to collaborate in building up the Church in charity. We grow in desire to encounter Christ so that we can be free to be the children of God.

Three Questions about my own call to Holiness.

How is my Faith? Do I know my Faith? Do I examine my Faith (Examination of Conscience).
Do I contemplate (think deeply), allow myself to be in the presence of Him –
In my Spouse?
In the Sacraments (Eucharist / Reconciliation / Marriage / Holy Orders)
In the Body of Christ (My Brothers and Sisters)
What is my Mission? It is a secret mission just for me, and God has given me the secret decoder ring.

The whole world wondered what marvelous things the would be in store at the wonder of the Birth of John the Baptist. In the same way the staff at Saint Cyr’s wondered the life mission was for this young man who entered their academy. It was in his pursuit of his vocation that Charles discovered his mission, his vocation, the path to Holiness that God had called out for him. It was not in great military expeditions, nor in intrepid explorations, but rather in the quiet humble life of living out his life as a priest in the Moroccan desert that he would come face to face with Christ in the local people.

Through his trials of life – his military training, his failures and successes that God prepared him to be a hermit in the desert. In his ordinary life as a gardener in the Holy Land and in North Africa Charles’ life reflected the life of the Trinity. The local Muslims referred to him as Marabout, or, "the holy one." – a testament to the progress that Blessed Charles had made during his life.

Today through the readings God says “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” – Today we are called to reflect on our vocation, on our mission and to evaluate where we are on the road to Holiness.