7 and 18 June 2017 Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Cristi) A Homily

17 and 18 June 2017 Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ  Corpus Cristi A Homily

 

Deuteronomy 8:2-3,14-16

Psalm 147

Second Corinthians 10:16-17

John 6:51-58

 

My sisters and brothers in Christ.

The Readings for this Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ have to do with our hunger, need and deep longing for nourishment.

We know that every living thing requires nutrition.

As human beings we, in general, reduce this complex process of nourishment to two words: “food” and “drink”.

The first reading today from Deuteronomy speaks to the need for food by relating a story about bread.

The story is aboutf Moses and the people who tested Moses and the LORD in the desert.

The people were afflicted with hunger and the LORD answered by giving “manna”.  The word “manna” does not mean anything in particular.  The word means “What is it?” or “What is this?”  

In other words the people were so afflicted with hunger they might have eaten anything that appeared  possibly be food.

The explanation was for these afflicted people that this “thing” that turned out to “nourish” the people and save them from starvation was “food” from heaven since it appeared each morning.

This “food” that “was unknown to our fathers” eventually became known as “bread come down from heaven”.

This gives us some insight into the history and emotional “charge” that the word “bread” has for the Chosen People.

“After all the stiff necked people”, asked Moses,  “what was the point of freeing the people from Pharaoh’s oppression if they were to end up dying in the desert from starvation and thirst?”

 

The second Reading speaks about “the cup of  blessing that we share is…. a participation in the blood of Christ.” The word “wine” is not mentioned in this explanation by Paul of Christ’s blood being present “in the cup of blessing”.  

When we  “bless” at Eucharist:

        Bread becomes body.

        Wine becomes blood.

 

The one bread broken for us and  the one cup shared with us makes us,

“though many”   “one body”.

We actually “become” what we eat and drink when we bless, transform, eat and drink the Body and Blood of Christ.

Finally, today in the Gospel,   Jesús explains what eating his body and drinking his blood does to us and for us.

What Jesús invites us to believe is that he is “living bread” given by the “living Father”.  This “living bread”  come down from heaven is the “living flesh” of Jesus. All of this “living” gives “life”.

The Son of man asks that his “living bread”  be eaten.

The Son of man asks that his “living blood”  be taken as drink.

This eating and drinking, this nourishment helps us to  survive our earthly life.

This eating and drinking gives us the sustenance to have “eternal life”.

Jesús’ promise is one that we may find difficult to believe, Jesus tells his listeners, because our ancestors ate bread that came down from heaven but died.

This “bread” Jesús tells us is Jesús’ himself “come down from heaven.”

Jesús therefore concludes saying:

“…whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

Let us bless, consecrate, transform, be transformed, eat and drink.

Let us eat this bread.

Let us drink this wine.

Let us live forever.

 

 

 

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10 and 11 June 2017 Most Holy Trinity Sunday A Homily

10 and 11 June 2017 Most Holy Trinity  Sunday A Homily

Exodus 34:4-6,8-9

Psalm Daniel 3:52-56

Second Corinthians 13:11-13

John 3:16-18

My sisters and brothers in Christ.

The feast of the Most Holy Trinity helps us make the transition from the Easter season with the grand mystery of Jesús being raised from the dead. We also recall the mysterious, undeserved  privilege of our being drawn personally and as a community into participating in the Resurrection of Jesus.

We need to be reminded in our daily struggles, joys and sorrows that we participate in the great cycle of life, death and renewal.

The mystery of the Trinity seems on the surface like some kind of strange mathematical formula that describes or helps us appreciate the “indescribable”.

We know music, dance, words, poetry and even the most creative artistry through paint, carved images, even concrete angels cannot encapsulate, capture or contain the “divine presence.”

A mathematical description of the Divine Presence, as in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, is another attempt at giving expression and insight into the mystery of God’s presence and love in our lives and community.

The Scriptures today are quite brief.

This may indirectly tell us we are not going to capture “God the Father” or the “Word made flesh”, or the “Spirit” no matter how many  simple or complicated and even elegant words we can string together.

The Book of Exodus today has the LORD proclaiming to Moses  his own name or title which is: “LORD.”

Conveniently, for us, Moses then hears from the “”LORD” something about the LORD’S own self description.

The words spoken are:

         “The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God,

                   slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.”

 

It is important to note that there is no “verb” or action word in this proclamation.

The root for the word “LORD” has to do with “causing things to be or exist”.

One spiritual writer suggests that we think of the Lord as a verb not a noun.

“Nouns” imply things that are static, set,  permanent.

The “LORD” describes the “LORD” in terms of an active presence that is quick in “mercy” and graciousness.

The LORD is “slow”, “poor” or of  “extremely limited” resources when it  comes to “anger” but “rich” in kindness and fidelity.

We often may think of the “LORD” as a  divine “scorekeeper” of our failings  or an “intelligence gatherer” who scoops up all the bad things about us.

In other words we may think of the LORD as the opposite of the LORD’S own self description to Moses (and us) today.

“The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God,

               slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.”

Moses is a realist and recognizes the need of the LORD’S own people.

Moses speaks his truth and his own experience when he describes the people to the LORD:

       “This is indeed a stiff-necked people….” Mose then asks for three things:

                         First: “…yet pardon our wickedness….”

                        Second:  “…..Do come along in our company…..”

                         Third: “…and receive us as your own (people).”

Moses is not shy, sly or confused about what the people need.

 

The Gospel today clarifies why the Father gave his only Son to us.

God did not send his Son into the world “to condemn the world but that we might not perish but might have eternal life.”

Jesús’ mission was not about condemnation but about our
being saved through him.

A merciful and gracious  God  rich and kind and faithful has little time for condemnation. Our God has all the time in world for forgiveness, grace and mercy.

 

 

 

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7 June 2017 Wednesday Ninth Week Ordinary Time Year 1 Homily

7 June 2017 Wednesday Ninth Week Ordinary Time Year 1  Homily

Tobit 3:1-11,16-17

Psalm 25

Mark 12:18-27

 

The scriptures sometimes give a female account of an experience to balance the cultural dominance and the usual importance and primacy of male figures and leaders.


In the Book of Tobit Sarah, a woman who has been widowed seven times is in a similar hopeless situation like Tobit. 

Tobit is discouraged because of his blindness,  dependence on others and difficult as in cranky attitude. Tobit’s discouragement leads him to pray for death.

Sarah also, like Tobit, prays for death.

It happens that “Almighty God” hears the two petitioners and sends Raphael to remove the cataracts from Tobit’s eyes and give Tobit’s son Tobiah in marriage to Sarah.

 

Jesús, today, faces a different group who  “question” Jesús looking for a way to “ensnare” him.

Yesterday Jesus responded to a question about payment to Caesar and payment to God.

The issue today is belief in the resurrection.  The Sadducees did not believe in an afterlife, angels or resurrection.

The example they propose to trip us Jesús is about a  woman who buries seven husbands. According to Jewish Law the remaining brothers are required to marry the woman. This has a practical basis. Theoretically the brother of the deceased  will give the widowed woman a son so she will have an heir to support her in her old age.

Jesús explains to the Sadducees that after death we are changed and rising from the dead means we are not given in marriage.

Jesús declares God “is not a God of the dead but of the living.”

May the living God live in us and draw us more fully into the Divine life of the Father, Son and Spirit.

 

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6 June 2017 Tuesday Ninth Week Ordinary Time Year 1 Homily

6 June 2017 Tuesday Ninth Week Ordinary Time Year 1  Homily

Tobit 2:9-14

Psalm 112

Mark 12:13-17

 

Tobit is blinded by cataracts.

Tobit accuses his wife of receiving “stolen goods” since his wife brings home a young goat she received as a bonus for her work as a weaver.

Tobit’s wife Anna accuses Tobit of lacking charity towards her because of his attitude.

Discouraged by this Tobit prays for death.

 

Jesús is pursued by the Pharisees and the followers of Herod.

They together plot against Jesús looking for a way to “ensnare him in his speech”.

The issue presented is about allegiance to Caesar or allegiance to God.

This is played out in a discussion over payment of taxes to Caesar.

Jesús asks for a coin and asks whose image is on the coin. The questioners say “Caesar’s”.  

Jesús then says give or pay to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what belongs to God.

We must exercise wisdom in discerning what “belongs” to

God and what “belongs” to others.

We ask the Spirit of guidance, inspiration and illumination as we make our way to the Lord.

 

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5 June 2017 Monday Ninth Week Ordinary Time Year 1 Homily

5 June 2017 Monday Ninth Week Ordinary Time Year 1  Homily

Tobit 1:3; 2:1-8

Psalm 112

Mark 12:1-12

The First Reading explains why the prophet Jonah was reluctant to go to Nineveh.

Nineveh had taken the Judean people into exile. As long as they lived in exile they could not practice their religion or even bury their dead.

Remaining faithful and living justly is difficult enough we know  when we live in freedom.  Being faithful becomes heroic when the simplest “faith” obligations are public crimes.

Jesús foretells his own story in the parable today.
Jesús will give all, lose all and be put to death.

Jesús has become a danger, beyond control of the authorities, a teacher with a disturbing message.

The Father takes the on who is rejected and makes him the cornerstone.  

 Let us rejoice.

 

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3 and 4 June 2017 Pentecost Sunday A Homily

3 and 4 June 2017 Pentecost Sunday A Homily

Acts 2:1-11

Psalm 104

Second Corinthians 12:3-7,12-13

John 20:19-23

 

My sisters and brothers in Christ.

The feast of Pentecost is replete with striking images.

There is a “noise like a strong driving wind……tongues as of fire….(they) were all filled with the Holy Spirit and…….spoke in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim…”

The “different tongues” aspect causes confusion in the listeners.  Jerusalem at this time is full of “devout Judeans from every nation…”

How is it possible they ask that each understands the “different tongues” because each person hears “in his own language.”

One of the first gifts of the Spirit to the church is the inclusion of all people from all parts of the world in hearing and responding to the proclamation of the Good News.

We sometimes react to events coming from a position of “scarcity”.

The Gospel comes to us from a position of grace, abundance and fullness.

The selection from the Acts of the Apostles today does not include the ambiguity of the response of some of  the people witnessing this event.

Two verses (twelve and thirteen) express the “confusion, astonishment and amazement” that this confluence of wind, fire and “speaking” cause.

“They were all astounded and bewildered and said to one another, “What does this mean?”  But others said, scoffing, “They have had too much new wine.”

In other words the “sweetness” of drinking too much new wine made them drunk.

Some of the people observing the work of the Spirit could not trust that it was the Spirit that helped these people understand the “proclamation of the Good News.”

Coming from a position of “scarcity” of mercy and tolerance these observers concluded the people were drunk.

In the Second Reading, from the Second Letter to the Corinthians, we are given an idea of how this embrace of the “fullness” of the Spirit’s gifts works in the community.

The “gifts” Paul tells us are different but the come from the same Spirit.

The “gifts” are for one purpose only: service of God and others..

The “gifts” are produced and given by the Spirit to everyone.

The “gifts” are given for “some benefit”.

We might not have been give the “gift” we wished for or worked for or prayed for.  

Whatever gift or gifts we are given are for “some benefit”.

The “benefit” is not given “for” me but “to” me.

The “benefit” is given for service to others, not for service to me.

Paul naturally falls back upon the image of the unity of the body, our bodies, to explain how the community is called to function by the Spirit.

“…all the parts of the body, though many are one body….”

“For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,

whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,

and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.”

The Gospel reminds us of one of two gifts of the Spirit that our “drinking of the Spirit” give to us.

First of all the gift Jesús was given and gives to us through the Spirit is the gift of peace.

The “disciples” after the death of Jesús  are afraid.

Jesús’ first words to the disciples are “Peace be with you.”

Jesús repeats these words after showing them his hands and his side.

Jesús then gives the gift of the Holy Spirit to the disciples with a very distinct “gift” and “mission” in mind.

“Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,and whose sins you retain are retained.”

The mission of mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation, faith and steadfast love is given to the church so that we may be

One,

Forgiven,

Forgiving,

Body of Christ.

 

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27 and 28 May 2017 Ascension Sunday A Homily

27 and 28  May 2017 Ascension Sunday A Homily

 

Acts 1:1-11

Psalm 47

Ephesians 1:17-23

Matthew 28:16-20

 

The feast of the Ascension is a “transitional” feast.

In the Gospel Jesus tells the disciples:

“And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you;

 but stay in the city

 until you are clothed with power from on high.”

 

The “promise of the Father” is a “clothing with power from on

high.”

 

Apparently Jesus must “leave” or “ascend” so that the “promise of

the Father” can “clothe the disciples with power from on high.”

 

There must be some sorrow and sadness for the disciples at the

moment of Jesus “ascending.”

The disciples some forty days earlier had seen their hopes and

dreams and Jesus die on a cross.

 

Was Jesus “ascending” , “being taken up into heaven” a really

welcome and clearly understood event for the disciples?

 

Was Jesus going to come back?

Was Jesus going to abandon the disciples as they had abandoned

him?

As the Gospel recounts this even to Jesus “being taken up into

heaven” the disciples “did Jesus homage” returned to the city of

Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple

praising God.”

 

We are given a further clarification about the meaning of this

“transitional event” or “transitional experience” in the First

Reading.

 

The “promise of the Father” is made more explicit.

Jesus says “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes

upon you….

and you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit….and you will be

my witnesses

in Jerusalem,

throughout Judea and Samaria

and to the ends of the earth.”

 

Times of transition

can be disconcerting,

can throw us off balance,

can make us wonder what and when the next new thing will occur.

 

In fact Jesus is asked “Lord are you at this time going to restore the

kingdom of Israel?”

 

Jesus is  being asked the political question of the Judean people of

his time.

Will Jesus throw out the Romans and establish an earthly kingdom

in Israel?

 

Jesus explains that we cannot know “the times and seasons” since

the Father is the one who establishes his kingdom.

 

Our part is to “witness” what we do know about the

establishment of the kingdom. We know the Kingdom of God is not an earthly kingdom.

Our business has to do with cooperating with,

witnessing to the establishment of God’s kingdom.

 

The disciples are asked an interesting question at the end of the

First Reading.

The two men dressed in white garments ask:

“Men of Galilee,

why are you standing there looking at the sky?

This Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven

will return in the same way as you have seen him going into

heaven.”

 

We are in a “transitional time”.

We are in a time of questions and questioning.

We are in a time when we are invited to experience the Holy Spirit

“who clothes us with power from on high.”

We are invited to stop  “standing ….looking at the sky”.

We are invited to witness to Jesus now, here and to the “ends of the

earth.”

 

 

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24 May 2017 Wednesday Sixth Week Easter Homily

24 May  2017 Wednesday Sixth  Week Easter  Homily

Acts 17:15-22-16:1

Psalm 148

John 16:12-15

 

Paul could “cover all of the bases”.

Paul is escorted to Athens because there is some trouble over his preaching.

Paul does not sit idly by, while waiting for Silas and Timothy,

Paul engages in a discussion with the various philosophers of the city.

Paul is taken to the Areopagus (the hill of Ares). Ares is the god of war.

Paul does battle by putting a name to the “To and Unknown God” whose altar he discovered among the many “gods” of the Greeks.

Paul meets disbelief when he speaks about the resurrection of the dead.  

Paul then moves on to Corinth.

Corinth will provide Paul with subject matter that will inspire Paul to write more “Letters”.

 

Jesús promises in the Gospel today that “the Spirit of truth” will come and “guide you to all truth.”

We are given the assurance that the Spirit of truth will take from the Son what he, the Son has been given by the Father.

Jesús declares or testifies that we will be cared for, guided, given the truth about the gift of the Father’s love present in the Son and in the Spirit.

We are invited to come to believe that we are a part of that divine dance.

 

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23 May 2017 Tuesday Sixth Week Easter Homily

23 May  2017 Tuesday Sixth  Week Easter  Homily

Acts 16:22-24

Psalm 138

John 16:5-11

 

This story might be called “turning the tables”.

“The crowd in Phillipi joined in the attack on Paul and Silas….(the authorities) threw them into prison.”

Paul’s initial success in Philippi has turned into being attacked by a mob and being “thrown into prison.”

Paul the former persecutor now experiences. Personally persecution.

The prisons cannot  “hold” Paul and Silas.

The jailer is ready to kill himself but Paul tells him not to harm himself.

The jailer becomes “captured” by the Gospel, by Christ, by the witness of Paul and Silas.

The jailer comes to believe and takes the disciples to his home for a meal.

We are invited today to come to faith and to eat a meal.

We are invited to wait in faith for the Advocate who comes as the Spirit of truth.

 

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22 May 2017 Monday Sixth Week Easter Homily

22 May  2017 Monday Sixth  Week Easter  Homily

 

Acts 16:11-15

Psalm 149

John 15:26-16:4

 

Philippi is “a leading city….and a Roman colony”.

Paul and his group spend time there.

This is an important city because one of Paul’s letters is addressed to that community.

 

The group, on the sabbath go out of the gate looking for a place of prayer.

This search ends with Paul speaking to a group of women.

Lydia  and her household are baptized and she “prevailed on” the group to “stay at her home.”

Lydia is an example of a business woman, the head of a household and a person of some persuasive force.  Paul was not known for being “prevailed upon” according to most of the Scriptural testimony.

Jesús in the Gospel speaks to the disciples about the coming of the Advocate, Paraclete, the Holy Spirit of truth.  

The persecution of the Church must have lead to great divisions and divided loyalties.

“Falling away”, being “prevailed upon” by the sword or money or power must have called for stark and courageous “testimony” from the communities who had come to believe and testify to Jesús.

Jesús invites us to give faithful testimony since we have been with him from the “beginning”.

In a way our life, our life in Christ begins when we come to see and believe that Jesús is Lord, Messiah and Savior.

 

 

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