Spiritual Leprosy

  • Attacks the skin
  • Is caused by a bacterial infection.
  • Slowly destroys sense of feeling
  • Rots the flesh
  • Victim looses extremities – Toes, Fingers, Ears, Nose, Hands, Feet, Arms and Legs
  • Contagious
  • Once caught, there was no cure. 
  • Victims were condemned to a life of isolation, loneliness, abandoned to become a disfigured cripple and were slowly eaten away until they died.
  • Societies forced lepers to live in leper colonies. 
  • Cure invented in 1980
  • So we don’t need to worry about today’s readings 
Just kidding

Selfish Impulsive Neglect - SIN
We do suffer from another form of leprosy, a spiritual leprosy – it is called Selfish Impulsive Neglect – SIN.
  • SIN is a spiritual infection that destroys our sense of conscience – right and wrong.
  • SIN is a disease that reduces and diminishes our soul.  It makes us less than God created us to be.  It causes us to turn inward, to become isolated, and it causes our soul to become disfigured.
  • SIN is contagious.  When we witness others SIN it weakens our own desire for holiness, and makes us more likely to fall from temptation into SIN.
  • SIN drives us into isolation, we go and hang out with other SINNERs where we slowly rot away until SIN is all we have left. 
How do we deal with SIN?
  • Gospel
  • The Way
  • Our Recognition
  • Our Prayer
  • Christ commands us to show ourselves to the priest (Confession)
  • Mercy is universal – were not all healed?
  • What is our response?  Do we see it?  When was the last time we went to confession?
  • Do we take all the medicine, or just enough to keep limping along?
What happens when we get to the root of SIN?
1 Kings – Naaman
  • Get rooted in God – Baptism Obliterates Sin
  • It is the font that is living and effective in our life and is always leading us from Death to Life!
  • Our response to this gift is Thanksgiving
  • Elisha’s refusal leads Naaman to a deeper conversion
  • He anchors himself in the Earth – Humility becomes the foundation of his faith.
What happens next?
2 Timothy
  • St. Paul discovers that there is a purpose to suffering
  • Baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection invites us to share in the crucifixion.
  • This Baptism invites us to share in the sufferings of Christ in our own life – to begin to imitate the love of Christ as we suffer – to intercede for those with Spiritual Leprosy
  • The alternative is to deny Christ – that leads to death.
  • Perseverance is the key to the Journey – Knowing that we are on the way.
  • Mercy is the second key – that God is faithful and forgiving – even when we fail.
 Today let us hear Christ – Stand up and God, your faith has saved you!


Choose Wisely

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – Choose Wisely
From the Indiana Jones Movie series, my favorite movie is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  In this movie Dr. Jones goes on a wild adventure to find the Holy Grail, pursued, of course, by evil Nazi henchmen. In the final scene of the movie the Nazi wants Jones to go and retrieve the grail, so to get him to do so, he shoots Indiana’s father, and now, only the grail can save him.  So Indiana defeats the traps protecting the grail and enters into a chamber filled with chalices, and a very old knight.  The final challenge is to choose the correct chalice, if you drink from the wrong chalice you die a horrible death.

The evil Nazi chooses poorly, and crumbles into dust, but Indiana remembers the humility of Christ and chooses wisely, and goes on to save his Father as well.

The readings today speak to us about THE CHOICE that we need to make in our life – have we chosen wisely or choose poorly?

Readings help us to choose wisely in 3 ways
The readings today help us to understand that there are 3 ways in which our action of choosing Christ changes the world.

  • We choose when we confront our sin.
  • We choose when we speak the truth of God.
  • We choose when we place God above all else.

The challenge of today’s readings is can we choose wisely in each of these areas?

Since we are surrounded by so great a crowd of witnesses…
The choice that we need to make is this – do we choose Christ, or do we choose other things?  In the second reading St. Paul reminds us that we live our lives in the presence of the saints – “Since we are surrounded by so great a crowd of witnesses…” Do we have this awareness in our lives?

Do we surround ourselves with reminders of the witnesses?
Think about our houses – do we have reminders of our faith in our house?  My grandparents used to have a picture of the Last Supper in their dining room, so that each time the family sat down for a meal that they would recall the Eucharistic banquet, as well as the fact that Christ was also present at each meal with them.  We have pictures of our parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren to remind ourselves that we are living in the presence of people who will witness to our faith, witness to our choice for or against God.

Are we competing with a burden?
St. Paul goes on – “let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.

Perhaps the first choice that we make is in the silence of our hearts when we need to choose between sin and virtue.   Paul reminds us that we are in a race – like at the Olympics. Would Michael Phelps choose to swim with an Anchor tied to his right leg? Would Simone Biles try to perform her gymnastic routine with her right arm taped across her chest?  Then why do we seek to choose to follow Christ while weighed down with sin.

For many of us, sin is a perennial and pernicious challenge. Do we take the time in our lives to seek out the grace of the Sacrament of Confession?  It is through that Sacrament that we are lose the anchor of sin, and free our arms so that we can truly compete well.

The first way that we choose Christ, is when we choose not to sin in our lives.  That choice affects us, and then through our living a life of virtue has an impact on the lives of the “great cloud of witnesses that surround us”.

So persevere in your struggle against sin, hope is not lost, because the fight continues.  Paul reminds us that Christ endured the opposition of sinners to get to the Cross, and he asks us – “Have you opposed your sin to the point of shedding your blood?”  If not, do not lose hope but persevere, and Christ will conquer sin for you!

In the first Reading a group of princes are upset that Jeremiah is prophesying their doom.  Jeremiah choose Christ, was obedient to God and the King, and then shared with the world the truth that he heard from God.  This upset the princes so they threw him in the cistern to die – and he sank into the mud.

Are we willing to choose Christ, to proclaim the truth that Christ teaches even when the world is adamantly opposed to it?  Are we willing to suffer the condemnation of the world for the sake of the Gospel?  If we are, then it will be an opportunity for us to embrace the Cross.

An example – teaching on sexuality, life and marriage
We live in a world today that is opposed to the Churches teachings about the sanctity of life and sexuality.  It has become the news that the world does not want to hear, even in our churches when we preach on the teachings of the Church and of Christ in these areas we have the opportunity to hear about how we are wrong, and how we do not know or understand the Gospel.

Can we take this witness into the world, into our places of work, our schools and to our family members who are in need of a witness to the truth?  Are we willing to bear the consequences of this choice?

In our witness God preserves what is essential
There is a sign of hope in the first reading – while we may suffer for speaking the word of God, He will preserve us through all of our sufferings.  See that while Jeremiah was cast into the mud, God moved the heart of Ebed Melech the Cushite to right the injustice of the princes.

When we choose to God and face the persecution then we walk the way of the Cross.  This type of choice begins to form our souls into the image of Christ.

This past summer I found a tabloid version of the Bible.  It really is a clever way to express the scriptures to those who would not normally read them.  I can imagine that in the tabloid Bible, today’s reading would be proclaimed with the headline “Son of David opposes family – says he is here to divide them up!”  To leave the mass today with this simplistic understanding would be a disservice to the Gospel.

Christ is a Binary Choice
Christ is a binary choice.  Either he is an evil or crazy man who deceives others into thinking that he is God, or he is God.  We have to study his actions and choose.  If he is evil or delusional, then we should leave now.  If he is who he said that he is, then everything that Christ says and does is of the utmost importance.  This is at the heart of the choice that we have to make.

The greatest love that we can experience is from God
What Christ is saying is that he has come to illuminate the world.  To open our eyes to the darkness of sin, and to share His love with us.  Christ is in agony until he can share the depths of his love with us.  The depths of his love with us is to know that the greatest love that we can experience in this life is not the love of our spouse, or of our children or of our parents, but the love that God has for us.  This is at the heart of his message.

The division that Christ speaks to is the division that is a consequence of choice.  Whether it is our personal sin, what the world thinks of Christ’s teaching or even what our family thinks of us, we have to make a choice.  Do we choose to follow Christ into eternal life, or to choose a different path

Choose Wisely!


Mirror, Mirror

Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord!
Thanks be to God!

The readings today give us some clues on how we can go and live out this command that we hear at the end of Mass.  It is our mission, as the faithful of Christ to live our lives reflecting the love of God that we receive in our souls into the world.

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall
In Snow White and the Seven Dwarves the evil witch has a magical mirror – and she is so vain that each day she begins her day with the chant – Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, who’s the fairest of them all?

Everything is good while her outer beauty lasts, but as her beauty fades, she discovers that her step-daughter – Snow White is the fairest, and so she plots to destroy her beauty.

I think that it would be kind of cool to have a magically mirror in my life – that way I could get up in the morning and ask the question –

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, let us reflect Christ to them all!

Then we could begin to live an examined life, a life that is measured by an ability to understand how well we reflect the love of Christ each day.  Then we could begin to truly strive after holiness and transform the world!

Transformation = Prepare, Rest, Intercede
The readings today give us some hints on how to find this magical mirror and place it in our lives so that we can reflect the love of Christ into our families, to our friends and to the world.  There are three clues offered to us in the readings – Prepare our Souls, Rest in our Souls, Imitate Christ’s love through our sufferings.

First – How are we hospitable to God?  In the first reading we see an extension of the actions of the Good Samaritan from last Sunday’s readings.  Abraham is waiting on a hot day in his tent, and when he sees the Holy Trinity walking by in the form of three angels, he welcomes them into his tent.  He prepares for them the finest bread, meat and drink to cool and nourish them.  God rewards Abraham’s hospitality with the gift of new life – his son Isaac.

Prepare our Souls for Christ – Do we watch and welcome?
We can also look at this reading as an analogy for our soul – do we welcome God into our hearts, have we prepared a place for him within us.  We can do this each time we celebrate the Mass when we say

“Lord, I am not worthy that you enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed”.

Are we living our lives in such a way that God will find a welcome for himself within our souls?  Do we sit at the entrance to our tent (soul) and wait for the Lord’s visit? – Or are we too busy / too afraid with work to welcome Christ into our presence.

Rest in Stillness – Be imprinted by Christ!
This takes us to the Gospel.  In the Gospel today, Jesus comes to visit the house of Mary and Martha.  Martha is anxious and worried about many things.  She is distracted from listening to Christ – She is unable to be still in the presence of God.

We live in a busy world – we are always going all over the place – and the world changes rapidly.  How many of us are able to practice a little bit of stillness in our lives?  To prepare for this homily I tried to set aside a little bit of time each day to listen to the readings, to sit and let them soak in.  That is a hard task to do – what with the busyness of work, kids, bills etc.  Every time I tried to quiet myself my mind erupted with 15 different things that “had” to be done.  These are distractions that prevent me from soaking in the presence of God as Mary did in the first reading.  In order to be an effective mirror of Christ’s love to the world we need to set aside busy-ness and entertainment and be content to listen to the Word in our hearts – let it challenge us and transform us.  This is what Mary is doing in the Gospel.

Then, after this flood of distraction entered my mind, my heart remembered the words of Christ – Martha, Martha, you are worried and anxious about many things… - It was a duh! moment – If God loves me greatly, surely he will allow me the freedom of spending a few moments resting and reflecting at the feet of Jesus.

Learning to reflect God’s Love
What Mary is doing by sitting still and quiet at the feed of Our Lord is that she is learning to reflect Christ.  She has focused her entire being on learning to love as Christ is loving her in that moment.  We are all called to that intensity of life, that encounter with God that transforms our souls.

St Paul – Suffering as intercession
St. Paul speaks of his encounter with Christ in his suffering – and this is perhaps the most difficult way that we are called to imitate the love of Christ – but at the same time it is the most profound way to learn to love as Christ loved in his sufferings.

St. Paul knew that Jesus expressed the fullness of his love, the deepest part of his love when he suffered on the Cross.  That was Christ’s action of profound love.  St. Paul tried to reflect Christ’s love in his sufferings by praying for others while he suffered.

We did not comprehend the strength of God’s love until he showed it too us on the Cross.  This is at the heart of the revelation of Christ.  When he suffered the most, he loved the Most.

Transform Suffering to Intercession as an act of Love
This is why St. Paul was able to rejoice in his sufferings.  He saw them as an opportunity to reflect the love of God in the deepest way.  This is what St. Paul says when he says that he is filling up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ – what is lacking is his choice to share in the sufferings of Christ by taking his sufferings and then praying for the needs of the Church!

Do we Welcome, Reflect and follow Christ closely enough, to allow him to share in our sufferings.  This is a hard and difficult mass.  St. Paul teaches that the way that we allow Christ to share in our sufferings is to pray for the needs of the Church when we are experiencing the pain, loss, and abandonment.

The offertory is a particularly powerful time to offer these prayers, as we pour into the chalice our sufferings, our pain, and our love.  We ask to receive from God in this Mass the grace of his Son, that our pain can be transformed into the forgiveness of our sins.

If we can do these three things – prepare a tent acceptable to the Lord, to wait at the feet of Christ and allow his presence to imprint itself on our hearts and to invite Christ into our sufferings, so we can learn to love as he does, and pray for others to lead them to eternal life then we will be better prepared to “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord!”.


Spiritual Slingshot

From a fuzzy dot to an incredible scene
In 2006 NASA launched the New Horizons Spacecraft with the mission to visit Pluto.  Last year that mission succeeded and we saw the very first pictures of that far-away planet. Before New Horizons, all we new of Pluto was that it was a fuzzy dot of light on the edge of the solar system.  After New Horizons flew past we had amazing pictures of the mountains and ice-fields of this far away place.

Gravity Slingshot
In order to get to Pluto in time New Horizons needed to perform a gravity slingshot around the planet Jupiter.  In doing this the spacecraft sped up by 9000 miles an hour and was able to make it to Pluto on time.

Spiritual Slingshots
In the Church year we have the opportunity to perform a Spiritual Slingshot around the two great feasts of the year where we have the chance for an intense spiritual encounter with God - Easter and Christmas.

  • At Easter time we encounter the DEPTHS OF GOD'S LOVE in that He is willing to endure suffering and death in order to open up the way for us to have a relationship with God.  
  • At Christmas we encounter the HUMILITY OF CHRIST - That he would give us himself in the gift of the flesh so that we could encounter him as a person and so be drawn into His love.  

These two encounters act like a gravity slingshot for our faith - and have the ability to send us with renewed energy on our way.  As a result of these encounters we understand God and ourselves in a much clearer way!

Baptism of the Lord
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, it is the end of our spiritual encounter with the Humility of Christ and it sends us on our way back out into ordinary time.  The challenge for us as Christians is "Are we going to allow this spiritual encounter with Christ to propel us into the New Year?"

Christ is Last
In the Gospel today Christ receives his Baptism from St. John the Baptist.  How he receives His Baptism is an important lesson for us.  If you notice - Christ is Baptized LAST - after everyone else.

Imagine being there...
Think about it this way - All the people are being baptized in the Jordan - and as each person enters into the river their sins are being washed away by the waters of the river - the waters become filled more and more with the sin of the repentant - while they walk away clean. Can you imagine being a sinner compelled by the preaching of John the Baptist and getting in line behind Christ waiting to be baptized - only to have Christ move you forward in the line?

In order to take our sin to Calvary 
Then after all of us have been cleansed by Baptism, Christ steps into the water and is Baptized.  It is as if He is entering into ALL of our sins and so accepting them into his humanity - to carry ALL of these sins with him until he reaches the completion of His mission and dies on the cross.  That is the profound encounter of today's feast.


What are the effects of the Sacrament Baptism?
For those of us who are Baptized, we benefit from Baptism in three ways:

  • ·Baptism washes away our sins - Baptism has a tremendous power over Sin.  It does this because it is preparing us to receive the presence of the Holy Trinity.  This is why the practice of invoking the grace of our Baptism is particularly effective when combating the temptation to sin.
  • Through Baptism the Holy Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit come and dwell in our souls.  This is another profound thought.  Just as the Trinity is revealed for the first time today in Scripture, when we are Baptized God unites Himself to our soul, and so is present with us throughout the rest of our life.  This is another profound thought to consider the next time that we are tempted with sin - we bear within our soul the gift of divine life.
  • By the presence of the Holy Trinity we experience spiritual adoption by God - we become His sons and daughters.  We become those who manifest God's love to the world.

We respond by becoming students of Christ
The first response is that if I am a son or daughter of God then I am called to imitate in my life the life of the Son of God - Jesus.  The first step to imitating another is to learn about them.  This is what St. Paul says to Timothy in the second reading.  "Beloved:
The grace of God has appeared, (JESUS) saving all (BY DYING ON THE CROSS) and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly" in this age,

New Years Resolution
In our culture, the New Year is a time for resolutions, for making changes in our lives.  The first suggestion of the readings today is that we make a resolution to take advantage of this great and rare encounter with the Humility of Christ - so that we can spend this year becoming better students of Christ.

3 Ways to live our lives - Serious, Just and Devout
In his public ministry Christ taught three ways that we can live our lives

  • ·Christ taught us to take life seriously - to understand that our life and our faith is serious - and not something to be passed over lightly
  • Christ taught us to live justly - which means according to God's plan.  Where in our lives today are we living injustice - are we living in sin - these are areas we are called to change!
  • Christ teaches us to live our lives devoutly - with a love that imitates the love of Christ.  This year is the year of Mercy, and we care called to witness that mercy to the world

Christ's Students become aware of their mission
As we become more and more like Christ this year, we become aware that like Christ - God is calling us to life with a mission - life with a purpose.  The first reading from the prophet Isaiah shows us the goal of our mission.

Isaiah - Those who are Baptized are God's servants
The opening lines of the first reading make it clear that God is addressing this first reading to those of us who have been Baptized.  He says "Thus says the LORD: Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit;"  Those who are Baptized are called to be the servants of God - we are the ones who have received God's spirit!

We must be gentle and humble because the world is broken
Those who have received God's spirit have a mission, a purpose which Isaiah shows to us when he says "he shall bring forth justice to the nations, not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street.  a bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,"

We are called to carry out our mission by being men and women of Mercy, Gentleness and Humility!

Missionaries of Mercy
As Baptized Christians we are the people who have been given the purpose of showing God's justice to the world.  We do this by living lives that imitate Christ.  In Christ we learn that God's justice is founded on His Mercy, and so we are called to be men and women of mercy in the world.

We live in the Coast lands - Pagan Territory
God has sent us into the coast lands to bear this witness.  For the Jews at the time of Isaiah, the coast lands are the areas of Israel where the people do not know who God is, and so they need a witness to God's ways.

In our world today the coast land would be the places of this country where there is a need for people to witness to God's love.  Colorado is one of those places.  According to a 2010 Pew Research survey 1 in 4 Coloradoan's is a person without faith - without and experience of the love of God.  It may come as a surprise to use that we live in a place that is so in need of this message - God teaches us that our mission is to be "a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness."

Mission of the New Evangelization is a mission of action
In 1993 St. Pope John Paul II came to Colorado and gave the Church of Denver the mission of being the heart of the New Evangelization - to bring the message of Christ's love and humility to the world.  We are called to live out this mission here in our state - not by words but by actions that show how we choose to live out our lives.

Baptism compels us to be witnesses to Love
This is the gift of Baptism - this is the gift to which we are invited to participate in.  The feast of the Baptism of the Lord is the feast in which we celebrate the gift of Baptism in our life.  Let us take advantage of this Spiritual encounter and allow it to propel us into this year with a deeper desire to share the message of Love with the world in darkness around us.