Tuesday, November 29, 2016

From the Catholic Liturgy for the First Sunday of Advent, Nov. 27, 2016. Advent is often overlooked in our culture due to the rush to Christmas. Even many Catholic Christians do not understand the full depth of rich meaning to this Season, seeing it primarily as a preparation for the Nativity of Our Lord. Advent is a time to honor the First Coming of Christ in Bethlehem, to welcome Him as he comes into our lives today, and to prepare for His Second Coming which can be at any time. All three are part of the Advent Season and spirit. The classic holiday story by Charles Dickens, "A Christmas Carol" can help us understand the triple meaning if we take the story's central plot and apply it to Advent. In this homily we do exactly this and ponder Advent-Past, Advent-Present, and Advent-to-Come.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

From the Catholic Liturgy for Christ the King Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016. Today we celebrate two events: the great feast in honor Jesus Christ King of All Creation, and the end of the Jubilee Year of Mercy called by Pope Francis last December. Both of these events call us to personal transformation in our lives so that the social and political transformation of our society in Christ may blossom.  We place ourselves under the Lordship of Jesus and as members of the His Kingdom we seek to bring the Kingdom-values of justice, peace, charity and mercy into out own world, renewing society and reforming our culture, person by person, heart by heart, until Christ rein in all.  St. Miguel Pro, SJ, is patron saint and outstanding example of seeking this social renewal in the Name of Christ the King! (Note: forgot to hit "end" after homily so the Creed is also recorded.)

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Forgot to hit "record" to make an audio of this Sunday's homily....but there is the text if you wish to read it...

From the Catholic Liturgy for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, November 6, 2016.
1st Reading:      2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14          
2nd Reading:     2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5        
Gospel:              Luke 20:27-38

Today’s Scripture readings speak to us about a central and important truth of our human existence: that our lives are lived in two distinct yet related phases – a temporary earthly existence and a spiritual everlasting one.  And these same Scriptures teach us that the way we live in the first phase decides how we will live in the second one.  We see that death is not the end, the last word, some black hole to oblivion for us. No, death is simply a transition from one phase to the next, it’s a change of address.

Now this is not something entirely unique or new to Christianity. Every human culture no matter how ancient has held firmly to the belief of an afterlife that is somehow affected by the way we live our earthly lives. This is a universal human belief. What is unique about eternal life as taught to us by Jesus is that it, too, has two phases.

The first phase is our transition from earth to Heaven or Hell, the choice of which is up to us according to how we freely choose to live our lives. Purgatory is in there, too, but since it is really just a delayed entrance into Heaven I am not going to include it under that destination.  In this first phase our souls live a very real existence along with others who are there, and just because our bodies have been left behind we shouldn’t then think that this is some kind of pretend-life or fantasy-life. As Jesus points out in today’s Gospel, the angels who are spirits do not have bodies and yet they are living a real life with God.

The second phase of the after-life is also mentioned in both the Old Testament and Gospel readings today and we will profess our belief in it in the Creed in just a few minutes. It is the resurrection of the dead. This means that at the end of human history (any time) our souls will be reunited with glorified bodies and both together will either rejoice with God and the saints in a marvelous awesome Heavenly life or suffer the consequences of our freely chosen sins and selfishness in Hell.

And it is this phase, the promise by God in Christ of a real life, a happy life, an eternal life, in both body and soul, that has drawn billions to Christianity over the past 2,000 years and has been the strength and support of martyrs. We have witnessed this terribly in the past few years in the Middle East. This promise of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, gave hope and strength to the 45 million Christians who were martyred just in the 20th century alone, primarily by atheists in totalitarian governments. The Center for the Study of Global Christianity informs us that right now in our day, a Christian is martyred every 5 minutes somewhere in the world. That’s 12 martyrs every hour; 288 Christians killed for the Faith every day, simply for being faithful to their convictions amidst political craziness, seeking to worship God in church, trying to pass on the Faith to their children. These martyrs, like the brothers in our first reading, refuse to worship false gods that their culture and their political leaders demand of them.

And what about us? We live in a place where there are churches in every neighborhood. We can freely worship. Do we live by our convictions of faith? Do we vote by our convictions of faith? Or do we bow down to the false gods that our culture and our politics place before us? Finances? Political Party right or wrong? Immigration? Health Care? Are any of these gods who clamor for our vote above and beyond our faith? When someone gets pushed out of shape because the Church stands for something that is at odds with their political party or their candidate they have to stop ask themselves: who is my god? What holds my heart? When we stand before the Lord awaiting the transition from earth to eternity, that change from phase 1 to phase 2…he is not going to ask us if we have been on the popular side of social issues, but if we have been faithful to the Gospel.