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?