Saturday, December 31, 2016

2017/01/01 What's Your ONE THING?

At the beginning of Advent, I challenged everyone to ask yourself if you were better off spiritually than you were a year ago… and more importantly – I challenged you to start a new habit NOW so that you WOULD be better off a year from now.  Most of us ‘probably’ didn’t really start a new habit, so I bought a thousand of these MASS JOURNALS (From Matthew Kelly) to pass out to everyone old enough to write.  This is a habit I’d like us ALL to start TODAY.

Imagine if every time you came to Mass, you went home inspired…  Imagine if week after week you brought this journal with you.  When you arrive in your pew, you kneel down for a minute and pray this simple prayer on the back:  “God, show me ONE way in this Mass that I can be a better person this week”.  That’s it…simple.  Then – pay attention:  to the music, the prayers, the readings, the homily…and when it hits you, write it down.  

If you do that every week for a year, you will have yourself a powerful spiritual journal.  YOUR life will be changed.

On the way home from church, talk with your family – what was YOUR one thing?  You will be amazed at the things people will pick-up on. 

Imagine what would happen if EVERYone in our Parish did this – everybody coming to church with their journal and praying to God – God show me one way in this Mass I can be a better person this week.  It would be a revolution!!!  Every one of us would be more engaged – every one of us trying to grow in our faith.  Imagine the conversations that would take place after Mass – everybody sharing their one thing – Imagine the conversations with our family, friends, co-workers.  Our PARISH would be changed.

Take it one step further – what if every Catholic in the United States came to church looking for their one thing?  This culture would be changed.  You and I can’t change the country, but we can change one person – our self.

Start today – pray the prayer – write down your one thing, then on the way home….ask someone what THEIR one thing was and how they’re going to be a better person this week – then share yours.  In fact – go on-line to our parish website and post your one-thing!  I’m serious!  Then you can scan through what other people said their one thing was… it should be inspiring to see how many different things we all hear.  I really want our college folks to do this.  It will help keep us connected with them – AND – since they go to different parishes, they’re likely hearing a DIFFERENT one-thing.

Yes, this might be a bit awkward at first – but just by asking the question, we start to change our culture to make it NORMAL to talk about what God wants from us.

2017/01/01 What's in a Name?

What’s in a name?  We call Mary the “mother of God”.  But, she’s got more names than anybody I can think of:  our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Lourdes, our Lady of Fatima, Undoer of knots, I could go on… But THIS name is key to our Faith.  If we don’t believe Mary is the Mother of God, our Faith collapses… If you don’t believe me, let’s look at some history and see what kind of arguments it started… and follow that argument it to its logical conclusion.

In the early 400’s, this was not a dogma of the Church…meaning, Mary was not yet “officially” declared to be Mother of God.  Most dogmas, in fact, are not defined until someone tries to prove it’s not true.  In this case, MANY people in the Church had started calling Mary “Theotokos” – which is Mother of God…or more literally ‘God Bearer’.  However, a guy from Syria named Nestorius thought that was demeaning to God… if God was born of a woman, then that makes God human.  So he decided to use a different term “Christokos” – which is ‘Christ Bearer’.  Seems like a simple, innocent change of a word – why should anybody care?  People DID care – in fact, Pope Celestine along with the council of Ephesus ex-communicated Nestorius over this simple, innocent change of a word.

Theologians were adamant that ‘Christ Bearer’ ended up dividing Jesus into two persons:  the human Jesus and the divine Jesus.  To deny that Mary gave birth to God is to deny the divinity of Jesus… and if Jesus wasn’t divine, then that would shake the very foundations of our Faith, because he as much as told us he was God!  Think about that yourself for a moment:  First – do you believe Jesus was/is God?  Second – do you believe He was God when he was two years old?  Third – do you believe He was God while still in the womb of Mary?  While He was in the womb is when Elizabeth declared, “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”  Even Elizabeth recognized the fetus was God.

What we believe about Mary is important because it directly impacts what we believe about Jesus.  Actually – there’s a line in the second reading which helps us understand:
     When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son,
     born of a woman, born under the law,
     to ransom those under the law,
     so that we might receive adoption as sons.

Born of a woman – born under the law – because only someone born under the law could fulfill the law.

God sent his Son – who is the second person of the Trinity – which means He IS God!  Humanity in its fallen state could NOT fulfill the law, so God had to do it to take away the sins of the world.  Only God could adopt us into His family as sons and daughters.  If Jesus wasn’t divine, then you and I are still immersed in our sins and we’re all damned!

What’s in a name?  Everything.  No Mary, No Jesus.

Since Mary IS the mother of God – and Jesus is our brother – then Mary is OUR mother too.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to her.  A mother loves unconditionally – and she loves you and me as much as she loved our brother, Jesus.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

2016/12/18 - 4th Week Advent - Colossal Interruption


Got a few great things coming up:

First – at the doors you’ll find a wide assortment of CD’s and books – some of which are new titles you probably haven’t seen yet.  This is a great chance to pick up some Faith-filled stocking stuffers for only a $3 donation.  Check it out after Mass. 

Second – We’re starting a new Bible Study on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of the month – first Thurs at SC, 3rd Thurs at SR.  And – we’ll offer babysitting!  More info in the bulletin, or contact me. 

Third – Everyone is encouraged to have their homes blessed.  Fr Eugene and I have left several evenings open in January and February.  Call the parish office to schedule your blessing.  More details in the bulletin (if not this week, it will be there next week)

OK – getting down to business of the day.  If you summed up today’s Gospel, this would be it:  Joseph Did as the Angel commanded.  … if that was the whole story, we could all go home now… but there is SOOO much more to the story...  So much more than you and I get in this short little snipit.  Try to put yourself into Joseph’s shoes as we listen today and we’ll talk about it in the Homily.


Every eye turned when Joseph walked into the local tavern – Joseph NEVER walks into the tavern… ESPECIALLY at 10 am!  Most lost some interest in him when he ordered a glass of kosher milk.  He sat in a dark corner – obviously in deep thought.  By evening, He was on his sixth glass of milk.  The other patrons kept glancing over at him as he sat there mostly with his eyes closed… he would mutter to himself once in a while – then shake his head and mutter NO loud enough that everyone could hear.  Then he’d take a drink and go back to thinking.  What was he thinking? 

This is bad… really bad.  My life was all planned out!  I finished my carpentry apprenticeship a few years ago; my business is starting to take off to where I could support a family:  I’ve developed a reputation for quality work at a fair price.  Speaking of reputation:  I am son of David’s line – I’m in good-standing at the synagogue   –all in all, My life’s plan was all in order!   

Until a few months ago – as my parents were arranging the marriage to a young girl from town, I was excited.  I knew who she was… pretty… smart… and very devoted to God, which will be good for my reputation as well.  But before she would agree to marry, she asked to talk with me and she explained that she had taken a perpetual vow of chastity. 

Say WHAT?  As you can expect, that set me back a bit… OK, more than a bit.  I mean – what man marries a woman who has made a vow like that?!  I almost walked out immediately, but she kept talking… there was something DIFFERENT about her:  the way she talked about God was so sincere and heart-felt and convincing, that I knew regardless of that vow, this is the woman I need to spend my life with.  THIS woman was going to bring me closer to God.  For the first time in my life, I found something so precious, I’d do anything to be with her – including throwing out my own life plans of a family and taking my own vow of chastity.  So the betrothal was completed and we started making marriage plans.   

After that little roadbump – everything was going according to plan – until…. this morning.  She tells me she’s going to have A BABY!!  You can imagine how I felt… I was Angry!  She convinced me to take the vow of chastity with her and then she goes with another man?!!?!  Anger doesn’t describe it… more than anything, I was hurt…. I felt like a fool…This woman had me truly convinced that she was a Godly woman, and I was really looking forward to our life together… but she was a fake… a liar… a cheat.  Not only that, but what will the people think of me?  My reputation is going to be ruined.  I might even have to move to another town and start over.  What’s worse, Mary is going to be stoned and her entire family’s reputation will be destroyed.  Once I make it public that this child is not mine, she’ll be taken into the public square and stoned to death.  It’s God’s LAW that we should do so… but still… there’s reason to doubt.  See – she told me – she INSISTED… that she had NOT been with another man – but – (shakes head) – I almost can’t say it with a straight face – she CLAIMS that the Holy Spirit impregnated her.  (shakes head)  I thought she was so young and innocent and truthful and Godly, but she expects me to believe THAT?   

No …That’s too much to believe…. No… the right thing would be to take her to the public square –
Shakes head…. but I can’t do that… she’s just an innocent young girl.   Instead, I’ll just quietly end the betrothal – then she’ll be free to marry the real father.  It’s her only chance of avoiding being stoned. 

What a colossal mess!  He laid his head down on the table – not even realizing how tired he was from agonizing about this all day.  Next thing he knew an angel appeared to him… he was scared to death!!!  The angel sat down at the same table with a glass of kosher milk and talked in a low, steady voice:  Joseph – you are a righteous son of David.  God sent me here so that you would understand what Mary told you is true…. The Baby to be born IS the Son of God – conceived by the Holy Spirit.  Mary did not lie… she has remained faithful to her vow and to you.  Do not be afraid, Joseph.  If you will accept the job, God wants you to be part of His plan.  You will be the protector of the Messiah and His mother. 

Suddenly Joseph woke up, feeling a mix of fear and excitement:  It was true!  Mary really WAS the Godly woman he thought she was!  What’s more, did he understand that right???  HE had been chosen to play a role in God’s plan of salvation?!  What had started as the worst day of his life suddenly turned around and he saw this colossal interruption by God as the source for the greatest blessing of his life and for that matter, it was bigger than that:  This was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy…this was huge for the life of Israel.. this was colossal! 

See what I mean?  Joseph did what the angel commanded… but there is SOOO much more to the story.  Joseph was human – and he had to struggle with all of the emotions and decisions that you and I would have to deal with in that situation. 

God wants to invade your life plans with a colossal interruption.  God has chosen you and me to play a role in bringing His salvation to the world!  And how will you and I react?  

No way – doesn’t fit into MY plans for MY life. 

See we all have our plans – and anything that gets in the way of OUR plans we get rid of as soon as possible:  we get a headache, we take a pill.  Our wife doesn’t give us the respect we deserve, so we get rid of her and get a new one.  A baby shows up by surprise… we run over to Planned Parenthood to have that little mess cleaned up…. 
In the 21st Century, we are in so much control of our lives that anytime God tries to invade our plans with His Grace, we stop it as quickly as we can… because it’s not in OUR plan. 

Imagine the blessings God could dump on the earth if, like Joseph, we would throw our plans out the window and let God make our life plans.