Friday, July 31, 2015

"What is bad they will throw away"

[Originally a homily for 7/30/2015--I hope to have an audio version of this up soon, as an experiment working with audio on this site]

Most of us have had this experience of going to a grocery store or fruit stand, wanting to buy something. We look at, for example, and apple. It has an attractive exterior and so we go over and pick it up, hold it in our hands, and rotate it. After all, we want to make sure we don't waste our twenty hard-earned cents.

But then, all of a sudden, we feel a soft spot or we notice an imperfection of some sort. So we throw it back on the pile and never look at it again or think of it again.

This is the same image Jesus offers as when he speaks of the Kingdom of Heaven, and in this particular example, we are the apples. At the end of the age God will come by and look at all of us--people in these pews like apples on a rack. From the outside we dress ourselves nicely in business suits, beautiful dresses, habits, chasubles, or clerical shirts. Yet all God has to do is pick us up, run his hand over us, and rotate us, and he'll be able to feel all the imperfections. Then He will decide whether or not He wants to spend His hard-earned twenty cents.

So what are we to do? We look to ourselves and how critical we are of minor imperfections on fruits and vegetables. If God is the same, how can anyone be saved?

Unlike the apple, I would argue that we do have some say in the matter. God has taught us how to be acceptable in His eyes. We can clothe ourselves with fancy things or dress our image with pious words, but it is better than we put the armor of faith (cf., Eph 6:11) and our Lord, Jesus Christ (cf., Rom 13:14). By this I mean we must put on a pious inner conviction. It is my view that we do this by heeding the first words out of Christ's mouth in the Gospel of Mark: "Repent, and believe in the gospel" (Mk 1:15).

It is by putting on a spirit of repentance that we cleanse ourselves of imperfection, asking God always to forgive us our sins and faults. Likewise, we must put on faith in the saving work of Christ, giving thanks to Him always for His goodness.

Humbled by repentance and inspired to love by His goodness, we likewise go out, ready to forgive the faults of others and call them to a better and higher way of life by our words and deeds. In doing so, for "love covers a multitude of sins," (1 Pet 4:8), we may hope with a Christian hope that God, at the end of the age, will walk by and see us. He will hold us in His hand, feel us, and rotate us. He will find that we are good and take us home with him.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Catholic Schools Today Interview

I was recently interviewed as a newly ordained priest, asked about my experiences as a newly ordained and school's role in it. Fr. Regan and I are guests.

The link will be a direct stream of the show in .mp3 format. We come in at about the 30 minute mark.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Fourth of July Homily

[A homily given on the fourth of July. Some of the more "philosophical" elements, as opposed to the pastoral/moral ones, were added after the fact. This is not a verbatim homily, but rather an approximation]

Brothers and sisters,

On this feast day for our nation we are confronted with many troubling things. The Supreme Court's ruling on marriage, the issues of abortion, contraception, and health care (who provides it and how), are among the many things that affect our hearts and minds. Yet we must be careful, because it is all too easy to focus on ideologies and people.

Archbishop Cupich said it well, I think, calling all of us to respect our brothers and sisters and love them, whoever they are. This love and respect must be "real, not rhetorical." He also says that we must proclaim and preach the Gospel, "hold fast to an authentic understanding of marriage which has been written in the human heart, consolidated in history, and confirmed by the Word of God."

Gay marriage and abortion are contrary to Catholic faith and teaching, but proclaiming the Gospel with respect to life and marriage should not allow us to lose sight of the people to whom we preach.

For we know that there are many homosexuals who are abandoned, mistreated, bullied, and shunned for who they are or what they struggle with. Moreover, many homosexuals who are Christian, who seek to live chastely and grow in holiness are rejected both by Christians and this or that gay community.

Similarly, women who seek abortions are often times scared, coerced, abused, or abandoned.

People such as these need the Gospel as much as we do, and we are called to be Christ to them in a real fashion, not rhetorically.

On this Fourth of July, we celebrate the birth of our nation. It is our home, where our father and mothers of ages past came to seek shelter from persecution, to seek a better life, or to raise their families in peace. We know that just as our homes are not perfect, our home is not perfect. In Scripture today, we see that even the descendents of Abraham were far from perfect. Jacob tricked his father Issac into receiving his blessing, depriving his brother Esau from his birthright (cf., Gen 27:1-29). Esau hunted and exiled Jacob, but later, when Jacob (now Israel) returned, his brother reconciled himself to him. Through our many difficulties we too much seek peace and unity.

Thus, though we disagree with what our country calls justice and equality, we must love our country for our sake as well as theirs. Only love brings forth reconciliation, peace, and truth. Truth cannot be purchased in any other way. Nevertheless, we also recognize that there is no justice, faith, or love without God. We have already learned, again and again, that the justice of our nation is not Justice.

Our laws, Constitution, and courts interpret each other. The notion of equality is not dependent upon them but upon their interpretation, which comes and goes with the tide. We Christians must, all the same, strive for love, faith, and justice that is not temporary, but firmly rooted in God. We must do this is a real, and not rhetorical way.

This is done by concerning ourselves with those who are weakest among us, the sick, the elderly, the imprisoned, and the abandoned. The only equality and freedom that lasts is freedom in the love of Christ.

May God bless us all this day, and may we, His children, strive for unity and peace which can only result from a genuine and real love of Him who loved us first.