Saturday, September 22, 2012

25th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year

May the Peace Christ Reign in our hearts,

Once upon a time I asked a young man what he wanted most in life, and how he would know if he had made it.

He responded immediately without hesitation by saying “ I want the 4 P’s “

When  he saw the confused look on my face he elaborated,


Then he said “When I have the 4 P’s I will know that I made it.

That’s is success for me. “

I said, “you sure had that list on the tip of your tongue” and he told me “I think about it alot.”

Prosperity and Property involved physical assets

Power and Prestige are more concerned about how people saw him.

I was saddened because he never mentioned love or companionship or caring for others at all.

For this young man success was all about having more..and sadly success was all about him.

We all know that power and prosperity, property and prestige don’t make a person happy.

Just look around... at people like Michael Jackson, and Lindsay Lohan, in fact it’s hard to find someone in the entertainment world that is happy and lives a fulfilling life

Even if they have an abundance of property, power, prestige and prosperity often they still have lives that resemble a train wreck.

Today’s Gospel shows us that the Apostles were not immune to the glitter or temptation of the 4 p’s

When Jesus was sharing with them  his future passion and death. Instead of listening and trying to comfort him they were arguing about who had the greatest prestige.

Jesus knew he had to make them understand once more that happiness was not about how much property they had,

or how much money they had,

or what people thought of them

or how much influence they had over others.

You know today we treasure Children, but this was not always the case.

During the time of Jesus Children were insignificant.

A father could simply refuse to accept a child and it would be put outside to die in neglect.

Children were the poorest of the poor with no rights and with no means to repay any kindness.

So Jesus took a little child and told His Apostles success is welcoming and caring for them he was saying success is welcoming and caring for someone who can never pay you back.

For a follower of Christ…

Success is giving without expecting anything in return.

Success is a life poured out in loving service.

Success is letting go rather than holding on.

Success is caring about others more than you care about yourself.

I never heard what happened to that kid but I will always remember his determination to have his property, power, prestige and prosperity.

Sadly some people never get it.

I once visited a lonely old lady.

She lived in a huge house and every time we spoke she told me that someone was after her money.

The people that were living in her home and caring for her kept changing because after awhile she would convince herself that they were after her money and fire them.

She had no contact with her family.

You know the story she was sure that they wanted her money.

I went to see her once a month and listened to her and tried to help her understand the people actually cared about her. Sometimes I was this close to getting through to her

But she never really believed me and could not accept that they were not just after her money.

Then one day her helper called and said you don’t have to come tomorrow father.

I immediately asked if she was OK or if she had take ill.

The helper responded candidly Father. She thinks you are after her money.

So much for the four p’s

What do we think about success ?

And Jesus said….

"If anyone wishes to be first,

he shall be the last of all and the servant of all."

Taking a child, he placed it in the their midst,

and putting his arms around it, he said to them,

"Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me;

and whoever receives me,

receives not me but the One who sent me."

Saturday, September 01, 2012

22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year–B - 2012

Recently while I was walking down Hart Street I saw a bunch of kids over by Papergoods Pond and some of them looked familiar.

So I mustered up my courage and I walked right up to them.

I had it in my mind to walk by if none of them said hello or gave any sign that they recognized me.

All of a sudden one of the kids who was confirmed last year looked up and said Hi fr. Robert and the door was opened for me to strike up a conversation.

We bantered for a while about a bunch of stuff, then we got into a rather heated discussion about football and if Berlin could beat Xavier.

Then the conversation took another turn when out of the blue the Confirmation Kid said “I know I haven’t been to Church for a while.”

“A while” I said with a chuckle “I haven’t seen you since Confirmation…”

He nodded with a sheepish grin and responded, “Isn’t it enough to be a good person?  I’m a good person I don’t hurt anyone.”

I told him I knew he was a good person and that’s very important but that God wants more for him.

God’s law says keep holy Sabbath.

Catholic do that by going to Mass..

I went on to explain that we can’t change God’s law.

We can’t add to it nor can we subtract from it.

All we can do is discern God’s law and follow it.

That’s exactly what the first reading is speaking about today.

God gave the Israelites His law so that they could take possession of the land… for the Jewish People that was the promised land and let me tell you it looked good after 40 years in the desert.

For us the promised land is heaven.

The Law, God’s law guides us to heaven.

That’s the purpose of God’s law.

It is not to enslave us, or take away our fun.

It  is not so God can win and have his way.

It is not to give the priests or the Church power over us.

God’s law was given to us so that we might live a good and holy life and when our time on earth is finished end up in heaven.

Pure and simple

But then one of the other kids piped up and said what about all those people who go to church every Sunday but just go through the motions.

And I told him that he had a good question.

While it’s very important to follow God’s law it’s not enough to go through the motions.

There also has to be a change of heart.

When we surrender ourselves to God’s law it has to change our heart.

That’s what Jesus was talking about in today’s Gospel.

Sometimes people who just go through the motions of following God’s Law do more damage than those who don't follow it at tall

The Pharisees observed the letter of the law and all the minute prescriptions but they never changed their hearts… they were still angry, bitter, merciless people.

At another place in the Gospel Jesus compares them to whitened sepulcures beautiful on the outside but rotten on the inside.

In the end even though they followed all of the prescriptions of the law and washed their dishes the right way, the pride, jealousy, and anger of the Pharisees pushed them to plot against Jesus

My conversation with the kids at Papergoods Pond ended on a cordial note and I moved on..

I have seen  them a couple of times since roaming around town.

A couple of days ago a whole bunch of them were sitting outside of Stop and Shop on those picnic tables and they waved to me before I waved to them...

How often do we ask the same questions as those kids.

One day a woman was said to me “come on fr. Robert the Church has to get with the times you guys gotta be more open and change all those rules.” as if God’s law is ours to change.

There’s a name for Catholics like that they are called them cafeteria Catholics… picking and choosing what they feel is important or convenient and leaving out the rest.

Let me assure you Robert’s law will not get you into heaven nor will it give you a better quality of life.

Only God’s law so us the way to the promised land only God’s Law.

How often do we allow ourselves to sit back on our laurels and say things like..

I keep the law.

I go to Mass

I don’t hurt anyone,

but still allow ourselves to be angry or bitter or to think we are better than other people just like the Pharisees.

No God’s law is not ours to change the only thing that we can and must change is our lives and our hearts.

When it comes to God’s law our only choice is to be faithful… no matter what the rest of the world is doing.

Help us love and help us live your Law O Lord


Saturday, August 04, 2012

18th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B - 2102

Once upon a time… a couple came to me and It was obvious that they were not happy.

When they came in the door they would not even look at each other.

It took them a while even to talk.

After I welcomed them for a long time we sat there in very uncomfortable silence.

Finally she said I simply can’t take it anymore. I can’t take it.

He just can’t accept that I love him or even worse he is manipulating me to get what he wants.

Over and over, day in and day out he asks me to prove my love for him by doing something

And no matter what I do or no matter what I say it is never enough for him never enough.

There is always another request he always wants more.

I don’t know how the story ended. After a few more words he simply got up and left and after a while I drove her home.

I never heard from them again.

The crowd in today’s Gospel witnessed an incredible miracle.

Jesus fed 5000 families with a few loaves and a few fish and there was an abundance of leftovers.

They all saw the little he had and they all knew that they had eaten well

They all say that there was even an abundance of leftovers.

But they missed the point of the whole experience

They did not recognize this miracle as a sign of God’s Presence or God’s  love

They did not understand that the miracle was that the Messiah, God’s chosen one was in their midst.

The miracle was the revelation that God himself was in their midst.

They simply wanted more bread and they thought they had found a way to get as much bread as they wanted and fill their empty stomachs

That was the reason they sought out Jesus and requested another sign.

They simply wanted more bread to eat.

How often is Jesus asked for a sign?

How often do the people of the Gospel say things like give us a sign and we will believe.

Frequently in the Gospel people ask him for a sign right after one has been given to them.

This Sunday the question each and everyone of us need to ask ourselves is; 

How often do we relate to God in the very same way

If I had a nickel for every time that someone said to me I pray and pray and pray and God doesn’t give me what I want. This would be a very rich parish indeed.

Prayer which only requests prayer which wnats

Prayer which demands a sign (“give me prayers” as one of our senior citizens calls they) betray a faith which only seeks or only wants.

I’ll love I’ll trust you as long as you give me what I want or what I think I want.

Sometimes, infact most to the time we pray As if God doesn’t know what we need and when we need it.

Yes Jesus said ask and your shall receive and seek and you shall find.

But if all we do is ask

If our prayers always start with phrases like I want, show me, prove to me.

Then there is something drastically wrong with our relationship with God just like there was something terribly wrong with the relationship between that sad young couple who came to my door one day.

In the most difficult of situations maybe our prayer could be Jesus I trust you

Or Jesus show me the way you would have me act.

May we pray to understand God’s will and live it to the best of our ability.

May we pray for the gift of self surrender

Let’s not work for things that perish, that rust, wear out or go stale

Let’s not pray and work for things that we have to throw away when the smell in the refigerator

Let us work instead for a life giving relationship with the God.

Jesus said to them,
"I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst."

Only God understands our hunger and only a relationship with God can satisfy it.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist

In the first reading (from the Vigil Mass) we heard one of the most beautiful passages in Sacred Scripture.

It is known as the call of the Prophet Jeremiah and in it God calls a young man to his prophetic service.

The words are so touching...

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.”

From the very first moment of his life God had a plan for Jeremiah.

From the very first moment of his life Jeremiah was called to be a prophet to the nations.

And just like Jeremiah,
God had a plan for John the Baptist.
God’s plan for John was also to be a prophet.

By his preaching and his simple humble life
John was to call people to repentance and conversion through baptism.

John the Baptist gave those who followed him  the hope that they could be better people.

And in his ministry John prepared a place for God in the hearts and minds of the people  who came to Him.  

John did indeed prepare the way of the Lord.

We all know that rather than renounce his mission as prophet John the Baptist surrendered his life.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you”

When God called Jeremiah he had every excuse in the book:
I’m too young.
I know not how to speak.
Who knows what else he said?

However, in the end he gave himself to God and God’s plan.

John the Baptist did the same hundreds of years later.

Good People,
God also has a plan for each one of us.
God needs every single one of us.
From the very first moment of our lives God had a plan for us.

There is a special place for each and every one of us in the puzzle of God’s loving providence.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you”

Those words were not only spoken to Jeremiah or John the Baptist they are also spoken to us.

And just like the prophet Jeremiah
sometimes we look for excuses.

I’m too old,
or I’m too young,
or I’m too busy,
I have other things to do (That’s a big one).
I assure you God never calls at a convenient time.
You should see me when the phone rings at 3:00 in the morning.
It is not a pretty sight but I answer and I go.

Sometimes when God calls people say,
I’m not holy enough,
or I’m not smart enough,
or that’s not what I want.

Sometimes we not only refuse God’s call for ourselves
we try and convince others to do the same.

Not too long ago I was walking at the Meridan Mall and a woman came up to me and said...

Aren’t you Fr. Robert?
When I said yes n she told me that her grandson is one of the new altar servers and was so excited.

Then she said that and one day he mentioned being a priest.

Then in a rather animated voice she told me..

I’m telling you right now Fr. Robert you will never ever make my grandson a priest.

That’s not want for my grandson and it is not going to happen.

I didn’t know what to say.

Certainly her grandson was too young to decide what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.

I do know that our job is to help a person find God’s call not determine it for them.

From all of my years in Campus Minsitry I learned that when someone forces their dreams on a young person it’s a disaster waiting to happen.

Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking
I answered God’s call and I’m all set.

I answered God’s call and
I got married and had a family.

I found the woman who would do my laundry for the rest of my life I answered God’s call.

I know I answered my call to be a priest...
I can’t imagine myself living my life in any other way.
I have never ever gone to bed at night with the thought of leaving..

I don’t smile all the time because only crazy people do that.

Truth be told,
God doesn’t call just once.
He calls us over and over again.

There are many vocations inside of our vocations.
I know I was called to be a Franciscan priest
but I also know that  was called to come to St. Paul Church in Kensington CT.

I admit I came to St. Paul with a lot of fear and trepidation.

There is always a dialog between the friar and the provincial when we are assigned but when I was asked to come there there was an extended dialog with Fr. Provincial regarding this assignment.

We as friars have the consolation of knowing that when we receive our letter of obedience it is indeed God’s Call.

And I have to say that with everything that has happened
and everything that we still have to face I am grateful for the chance to be here
to serve here
to get to know you and your families.

Being 100% truthful the only fly in the ointment for me is that my Mom is 421 miles away.

And I know part of my call is surrendering that worry and conern and offering it to God.

I know God loves her and God loves me
and I trust I have to trust that God holds her in the palm of his hand
and will send her the people she needs to care for her.

This is my call...

All of you,
Rather all of us are called everyday over and over and over again.

All of us have calls within our calls.

God needs us until our very last breath and I assure you God will call us into his service until our very last breath.

All of us like the prophet Jeremiah and like John the Baptist must be attentive to God’s call.

When God calls you and when God calls me let’s say yes
and let’s help each other say yes.

Let’s say yes without fear (easier said than done)
Let’s say yes with trust (God won’t give us anything more than we can handle)

Let’s say yes even if we don’t understand and it makes no sense.
(Remember It’s God plan not ours)

Lets say yes filled with hope and anticipation.
(For following God’s will is often a great adventure.)

For God’s words to Jeremiah
and God’s words to John the Baptist
are also God’s word to you and God’s words to me.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you”


Saturday, June 02, 2012

Trinity Sunday–Year B - 2012


Have you ever noticed that chairs have four legs.

When you study a chair you can figure out that its is to give us a place to sit.

They all have a big place for your
and all Chairs are meant to support us no matter which way we lean
that's why they have four legs.

A pitcher has one large opening at the top and a spout.

When you look at it carefully you can see that  a pitcher is meant to hold something and then to pour it out easily.

You can tell a lot about the purpose of a something by how it is made.

Today is Trinity Sunday and the Church calls us to reflect on the sacred mystery of the Trinity.

And when we contemplate the mystery of the trinity we learn not only about God but we also learn about ourselves.

The mystery of the Trinity as revealed to us  in the Scriptures  gives us a tiny insight into the very nature of God.

Scripture teaches us that there is
One God and this God  is Three Persons
God the Father – Creator  
God the Son – Savior
and God the Holy Spirit – Sanctifier

We also know from Scripture that  this one God in  three persons lives forever in communion and forever in love.

The love
the unity and the communion that
God the Father
and God the Son
and God the Holy Spirit
share with each other is so beautiful that it is beyond our understanding.

And perhaps the most amazing truth revealed to us is that we are created in the image and likeness of God.

Remember you can tell a lot about something or someone by how they were made.

Because we were created in the image and likeness of God.  

It follows in some small way that we too share in the love that exists between the God the Father
and God the Son
and God the Holy Spirit.

Have you ever wondered why we love,  
Have you ever wondered why we are at our best when we love ?

Have you ever wondered why our desire to be in relationship is so strong?

Have you ever wondered why loneliness which is the lack of relationship is so difficult?

Have you ever wondered why we would gladly sacrifice ourselves for someone we love?

Our faith teaches us long for love and we long for communion because that’s how we were made.

We were created to live in communion with each other.

We long to love and be loved because God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit  loves and longs to be loved.

This desire to love and be loved,
this passionate need for communion with others is part of us.

It resides in the depths of our heart at the very core of our being.

Our desire to love and be loved is probably the strongest influence in our lives.

When we love, when we live to give ourselves away, like the Three persons of the Trinity, our lives can be truly heroic.

When  our desire for love is disordered and self seeking when we love only ourselves then we are capable of doing horrible things.

So holy ones as we contemplate the wonderful mystery of of the Most Holy Trinity.

Let us also see how we are made, who we are and who we were created to be.

And just like every chair has four legs so that it can hold us up.

And every pitcher has on large opening and a spout because it is was created to hold something and then pour it out.

Let us never forget that we are created to live in communion and love with God and with our neighbors.

And may our prayer be this day...

Thank you Lord for creating us  to love and be loved.

Glory be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning is now and every shall be world without end Amen.

Friday, May 11, 2012

6th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year - B 2012

May the peace of Christ Reign in our heart,

God has a funny sense of humor. Last week I was sitting in my rocker on the stoop and a man walking his dog went by.

We started talking as is often the case.
He was very friendly and of course the conversation quickly went to religion.

The gentleman was Catholic but doesn’t go to Church and he told me point blank why when he said...
“I don’t go to Church because all you priests talk about is love,
love this and love that....
It just gets old that’s all...
you heard it once you heard it a hundred times.”

I listened politely and then I went back into the friary to read the Gospel for this Sunday... and low and behold “agape” John the evangelist’s’ favorite word for love is mentioned 7 times in today’s Gospel...

And so I decided I better speak about prayer.

Toward the end of today’s Gospel Jesus says,
“Whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.”

Obviously Jesus is talking about prayer...
When we speak to God,
when we give God glory or praise,
when we ask God anything we are praying.

And the only reason we pray is because we know that God loves us and we understand that God’s love like God Himself is forever.

God’s love like God  is infinite.

God’s love is not like our love.
It does not depend on God’s mood.
It is not dependent on how we act.
It does not grow cold or hot.

It is our  knowledge of God’s love for us that allows us to be filled with hope,
hope for better lives,
hope for holier lives.

A prayer uttered without any hope of being heard
or answered by God is a prayer that can never be fulfilled.

But as we learned from another Gospel passage, faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain.

Today’s Gospel reminds us that there is more to prayer than just asking and receiving.

In today’s Gospel Jesus reminds us to make our requests in His name.

We do this all the time when we end our prayers with a phrase like “we ask this through Christ our Lord.”

So if we must pray in Jesus’ name we can’t pray for things that Jesus would not approve of.

We can’t pray for a selfish ambition or greedy reasons.
We can’t pray that God favor us over someone else.

Obviously the Our Father or the perfect prayer teaches us that every prayer must contain a statement of trust and or surrender to God’s will.

And so every prayer must contain a statement like
“thy will be done” or “thank you for hearing my prayer” or
as St. Faustina used to say “Jesus I trust you”

“Thy will be done” means our prayer should never be our attempt to change God’s will as if we know better.

As William Barclay a biblical scholar said
with prayer we should always try to discern God’s will in our lives and accept God’s will in our lives.

Finally we must never pray as if no one else matters.

Our prayer can never be a string of self-centered requests.
Sometimes when we pray for a sunny day there is a farmer who is also loved by God just as much as God loves us prays for rain.

Only when we grow in the habit of praying for the good of all will our prayer be authentic.

Only when our interests transcend ourselves can we begin to love and call ourselves God’s friends.      


Friday, April 20, 2012

3rd Sunday of Easter Year–B 2012

I would like to look at three  profound truths of our faith found in today’s readings.

First of all the today’s readings remind us that God’s plan to save our world always involved suffering love.

The cross was not a mistake. It was not something forced on God. Suffering love was God’s choice and God tried to prepare humanity for this choice throughout salvation history.

In the first reading from Luke the author of the Acts of the Apostles  tries to explain this to his readers.

In the Gospel Jesus explains once again for the umpteenth time that the  Messiah had to suffer and die.

Jesus submitted to the Cross because it was the will of His Father and with His suffering love on the Cross Jesus paid the price of our sins.

No matter how many times Jesus had explained this to them and no matter how clearly Moses and the prophets and the psalms had foretold this profound truth, the disciples and the people of Jesus’ time just did see the cross coming.

Jesus’ followers and the people of His time held on to their misconception for dear life. They thought that salvation was just about getting their political independence back, they were convinced that the messiah was sent simply for the restoration of Israel’s political independence, not the salvation of the world.

This misconception proved a serious stumbling block to their faith.
I would almost say a grave stumbling block for their faith in Jesus.

The second profound truth of our faith is this.
The Cross was not the end of the story.
Jesus rose from the dead.

Death did not win, sin did not win, evil did not win.
The tomb was empty indeed and Jesus was alive.

In today’s Gospel passage Jesus went out of his way to make sure that the disciples and those who would follow them knew this profound truth.

He presented himself to them and interacted with them and went so far as to eat something to prove that he was not a ghost or a spirit but rather had indeed risen from the dead.

Next He showed them his hand and his feet, and the scars of the cross to prove he was not someone who looked like Jesus.
If Jesus had not risen,
and If the tomb was not empty,
if the early Church had not been absolutely convinced that Jesus had risen from the dead we would not be sitting here now.

The power of  resurrection faith transformed the disciples and gave them new hope and new courage.

After the resurrection they were no longer afraid, rather they boldly proclaimed that what Jesus said and what Jesus did was true
Tradition teaches us that their faith so transformed them that all but one of the Apostles chose suffering love over life and died martyrs for their faith.

The third and last truth I would like to mention is this.
Jesus had every right to be hurt or angry or disappointed in his dear friends

He had walked with them and laughed with them.
He had depended on them and they had depended on him.
He knew and loved their families
He had worked miracles in their sight and gave them incredible insights into God’s love for them and God’s plan for them.

But they all abandoned him.
It is important to notice that the first words out of His mouth after the resurrection were not words of reproach
or even disappointment
rather they were words of encouragement and hope.

“Peace be with you” he said.

Dear friends good people.
The people of Jesus’ time were not the only ones burdened with misconceptions about God and his presence in our lives.

So often we look on God as some kind of slot machine where if we ask long enough or pray long enough or play long enough we will get what we ask for.

Many people think that our faith is about our own little needs and our own little wants rather than the salvation of the whole world.
Quite frankly I’ve heard people say I prayed and God didn’t give me what I asked for so I don’t believe anymore.

People in this boat don’t see God as Father and source of all life
People who think this way don’t understand that every moment of our life is a gift from God.

They just don’t see that God is to be thanked and praised rather than peppered with our wants and desires.

Next as followers of Jesus
If we think that we can go through our lives somehow spared from suffering we are sadly mistaken.

God was willing to give his life away
and so must we be willing to surrender to suffering love.
Love is God’s call for us and suffering love is the Highest form of love,
suffering love is the way that God loved us.

When suffering love comes our way we must not run and hide like the Apostle but we must embrace it like Jesus, God Himself, accepted it.

Holy ones our entire faith rests on the resurrection…
After the resurrection the faith of the Apostles changed.

We are the post resurrection followers of Christ yet quite frequently we act like the pre resurrection disciples afraid to give any public witness to our faith in Jesus Christ.

Our love for the world
and the proclamation of our faith must be bold
we must live our lives, and profess our faith,  without fear but rather filled with hope.

For when Jesus said
“You are witnesses to these thing”

He wasn’t only speaking to the Apostles he was also speaking to us.

Let us meditate on God’s place in our lives

Let us embrace the cross and accept the suffering love which comes our way.

Let us be bold and confident post resurrection Apostles of our Lord Jesus.

For we are indeed witnesses to these things.
How we love your word O Lord.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

2nd Sunday of Easter–Year B 2012

Divine Mercy

Two moments stand out in today’s Gospel.

The first is what Catholics believe is  the institution of the sacrament of Confession.

“Jesus breathed on them and said receive the Holy Spirit whose sins you forgive are forgiven and whose sins you hold bound are held bound.” (John 20:21)

We  believe that with these words Jesus gave the Apostles and those who follow after them the power to forgive sins.

All of us are sinners.
all of us make mistakes.

There have been moments in each of our lives when we have chosen not love not to share not to give.

Many of us carry the burden of our mistakes for a long time.
I have met women who mourn their children lost to the plague of abortion for years and year and years.

I have met men who live with the regret of past sins and try as they might can never seem to get beyond them.
Sometimes they seem doomed to repeat them over and over again.

Jesus understand us,
he understands that we need an clear and infallible way of knowing that our sins are forgiven.  

So many people pray and pray and pray for forgiveness in the silence of their heart but remain burdened and broken.

And so when Jesus  rose from the dead he gave the Church the power to heal and the power to forgive.

Confession is not something that the priest made up to hear people’s secrets.

Believe me there are only so many variations on a theme.

When we hear the words of Absolution in confessions Confession God is simply telling us I’ll never give up on you.

Confession is God’s way of picking us up and dusting us off.
As you have heard me say so many times... God is reckless with his mercy.

God is reckless indeed.
Please write this on your heart.
When you hear the words of absolution your sins are gone.

The other moment which pops out when you read this Gospel is Thomas’ encounter with the risen Lord.

Some might say oh that’s the doubting Thomas Gospel and I’ve heard that before.

Yes Thomas doubted but tradition tells us that there was more to him than his doubt.

Thomas is mentioned twice in the Gospel of St. John
After the rising of Lazarus from the dead Jesus announced that they would be returning to Judea where the Jews had previously tried to stone him.

The other Apostles were afraid to go but not Thomas.
He said... “Let us go and die with him.”

Thomas was more than his doubt and after his encounter with Jesus his profession of faith was strong and immediate.
My Lord and My God.

Tradition has it that he would later suffer martyrdom rather than renounce his faith in our Lord.

We have to be so careful that we don’t judge people by one moment or one mistake or one action.

We have to be careful that we don’t judge ourselves in the light of one moment or one failure or one action.

Jesus did not give up on Thomas but he encountered him where he was and called him to more.

We can’t give up on people but like Jesus must encounter them where they are and call them to more.

That’s what love demands and that’s what God’s mercy demands.

Pope John Paul II declared today the Second Sunday of Easter Mercy Sunday. It’s fitting the Gospel certainly speaks of God’s incredible mercy.

Mercy Sunday is a day when all Catholic should meditate on and great comfort in the Loving Mercy of God

St. Faustina a religious nun who lived in the first half of the 20 century was gifted by God with the task of proclaiming to world the loving His loving unfailing mercy.

Mercy was Thomas’ for the asking because Jesus knew that Thomas was more than his doubts.

Mercy is ours for the asking...
for Jesus said
“Receive the Holy Spirit who sins you forgive are forgiven them whose sins you hold bound are held bound. “

The World doesn’t need us to re writing God’s law proclaiming this is not a sin and that is not a sin like they used to do in the 70s when I was growing up.

Rather the world needs a greater understanding of God’s law  and a desire to share his mercy with each and everyone of us after each and every one of our sins.


Saturday, April 07, 2012

Easter Vigil 2012

A few moments ago the bells rang out from our bell tower.

They did not toll rather they peeled,
and from the sound that echoed around town,
it was easy to discern that something special was going on at St. Paul’s, something joyous.

Once after a school mass I rang the bells as the kids walked back to school and as the kindergarteners came out of Church I asked them what those bells meant and a little boy responded the “Church is happy.”

Yes the Church is happy and our Church is happy tonight, very happy.

Tonight we gathered in vigil to meditate on the Word of God.

Tonight we will baptize two beautiful children Brittany and Gary.

Tonight after a year of preparation we will welcome Thomas into full communion.

Tonight after a year of preparation we will confirm Sebastian in his Catholic faith.

A very special thank you to Fr. Raymond and the RCIA Team that helped prepare them for these special moments.

And tonight everyone including two more beautiful children Tyler and  Kyle will make their first communions.

Our Church our parish has great reason to be happy tonight.

Someone passing by might ask themselves what are they so happy about at St. Paul’s the economy is bad, gas prices are up... the world’s a mess.

And every once in a while it is also appropriate for all of us to ask ourselves that very same question.
Why are we happy ?
What is the reason for our joy ?

During this beautiful Triduum of prayers,
we have commemorated the institution of the incredible gift of the Eucharist Christ’s living sacrificial presence among us. We have reason to be happy.

For the last few days we have walked with our Lord on his way to Calvary reverenced the Cross and meditated on his passion and death.
God so loved the world. We have reason to be happy.

Many of us have taken stock of ourselves and our own brokenness.

Some even made their Easter duty and went to confession and experienced the healing forgiveness of God’s mercy. We have reason to be happy.

The Church is happy tonight because we know that resurrection confirms everything that Jesus said and did.

Death doesn’t win.
Sin doesn’t win.
Despair doesn’t win.

When all seemed lost in darkness and anger and violence
the Light of our Risen Lord appeared in our world,
just like the light of our paschal candle appeared in the darkness of this church.

We know that the light of faith given to us by our Lord will always sustain us even in our darkest moments.

Holy ones... the Easter message doesn’t take away all of the challenges and trials of this life rather,
Easter reminds us that there is always hope, hope for something better.

As the women made their way to the tomb they were overcome with grief but they were determined to anoint His body because they loved Him.

The Apostles Jesus’ dearest friends were so overcome with grief and fear that they were in hiding and wouldn’t even show their faces.

But once they encountered the empty tomb their lives were changed forever.

Their meeting with the angel changed everything

They understood that the power of Jesus’ suffering love on the cross had conquered even death itself.

The experience of the resurrection took away their fear and challenged them to go out... and share the good news.

“Go and tell the others and Peter” the Angel said
and that’s what they did and the world has never been the same.

And we are sitting in this church right now because they did as they were told.

Filled with hope,
filled with joy,
Guided by the very light of Christ as we go through life
let us go and do the same.

Someone is waiting,
someone desperately needs to hear the reason for our joy.

After this night of prayer and vigil let us leave this Church with a new and certain hope of God’s promise and God’s love.

He is risen

Friday, March 30, 2012

Palm Sunday Year B - 2012

palm-sundayAs we just heard in the powerful reading of the Passion Jesus encountered many people on his way to Calvary.

There was the crowd that welcomed Him to Jerusalem in triumph  then screamed crucified him when he stood before Pilate.

There was the woman who begged for forgiveness and anointed Jesus with expensive oil.

There was the anonymous man who gave Jesus and his friends the upper room for their last Passover together.

There were his disciples, his dearest friends, who filled with fear abandoned him  as soon as there was trouble.

There was Judas who was filled with a tragic mixture pride and died lonely and broken in despair.

There were the priests and the scribes and the Pharisees who only thought about themselves and were worried about their power and prestige.

There was the woman at the fire, a gossip, who taunted Peter to deny Jesus.

There was Peter who overcome with fear denied his dearest friend and wept bitterly because of it.

There was Pilate who didn't care about the truth but was only concerned about satisfying the crowd and keeping peace.

There were the Roman guards who cruelly made sport of Jesus and whipped and scourged Him.

There was Simon of Cyrene who when pressed into service helped carry the cross.

There were the people who taunted him as he hung in agony on the cross.

There were the women and the youngest disciple who remained faithful to him to the end.

My dear friends there is a little bit of each one of those people, in each and everyone of us.

Sometimes we are eager to love and help others..
Sometimes we are filled with pride and anger.

Sometimes we care about the truth and sometimes the truth doesn't matter at all..

Sometimes we go with the crowd even when they are wrong simply because it’s easier.

Jesus knew each and every one of those people he encountered those last few days of his life and yet he loved all of them.

Jesus knows everyone of us,
and everything about us and he loves us too

He loves us so much that Last Supper He gave us His Body and Blood in the Eucharist and He chose to die for us paying the price of our sins, a price which was not His to pay.

This week we have some unique opportunities to know more about Jesus and his love for us.

On Monday there are our Easter Confessions. I hope many of you chose to attend especially  if it’s been a long time since you’ve gone to confession.

I love giving someone absolution especially when they’ve been away from the sacrament a long time.

On Tuesday there is the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral my Dad always took our family to the Chrism Mass we never missed it. At this Mass the Archbishop blesses the oil for all of the sacraments celebrated in the coming year.

On Thursday we can mediate on Holy Eucharist and the saving power of humble service.

On Friday once again we can meditate on the cross it’s power over sin and death.

On Saturday we can keep vigil at the most sacred liturgy of the year the Easter Vigil.

This year our parish will have 2 baptisms and we will receive two fine young men into the Church.

If you’ve never been to the Easter Vigil I promise you, it’s beautiful and rich in symbolism, The Easter Vigil  is timeless and ancient, some of the prayer date back to the very beginning of the Church.

I encourage you to make your Holy Week Holy by participating in these most special moments in the prayer life of the Church.

May we walk together on these most holy days.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Mandate…

It has always been my practice to preach on the readings of the day and the only time I’ve ever varied from that was the business report that you give the parish once a year.

Recently I attended a meeting with Archbishop Mansell and during the meeting he spoke about the new Health and Human Services Mandate and its implication for Catholic institutions in our country.

How many of you know what that it ?

For those who don’t know what I am talking about It seems that the government has decided that that all employers including religious institutions will be mandated to provide contraception and abortifacients in their health care plans.

This clearly goes against both our religious conscience and our religious freedom.

It true that there are exemptions in the  mandate for religious institutions  when the majority of people employed are of the same faith.

However, in our larger institutions like hospitals and universities it puts our church in a terrible place because it either means that we don’t hire non Catholics who might be best suited for the job or that we violate our conscience... by provide medications and procedures which violate our conscience.

If we compromise on this principle one has to wonder what will come next.

I can’t imagine signing a check that would pay for medication that would kill a baby... I just can’t do it and I won’t do it even if it is the law.

Some of you might be thinking to yourselves I don’t want to come to church and hear the priest talk about government policies.

I know my email box is going to fill up with complaints and I know my voice mail will too.

I’m willing to accept that.

I assure I am making these comments only after a lot of prayer and discernment.

A homily is supposed to take the Gospel and apply it to our everyday lives and circumstances.

Good people I feel compelled to look at  this mandate from the federal government in the light of the Gospel of our Lord.

This is not a partisan issue. I believe that there are both democrats and republicans who are for and against this mandate.

This is simply the matter of a government agency making a radical change to our constitution by forcing us to violate our conscience.

Never before has the government put itself so clearly in between our conscience and our God.

When our founding fathers wrote the separation of church and state into our constitution  it simply meant there would be no recognized national church.

During our meeting Archbishop Mansell expressed grave concern about the whole situation and he begged the priests present to speak about it and make sure their congregations knew what was going on.

After listening to him I  admit I studied the mandate even more and now I almost feel guilty that I did not bring this to your attention early.

This week I have included a fact sheet in the bulletin so that those who wish can inform themselves more about the mandate.

I promise to put a  bunch of links on our website  which will explain the HHS Mandate and its implications for the free practice of our faith here in the United States we all love.

I know that you will agree we must always remain faithful to the Gospel not matter what the cost.

I am sure you will also agree that Catholics have always tried to be faithful citizens of our great country .

This mandate will place us all in a  most difficult situation because it is the  the first time our government seems to be inserting itself between our individual conscience and our faithfulness to God’s Word.

There is an old latin say which goes like this
Qui tacet consentit

He who is silent consents...

I can’t remain silent anymore I fear I have been silent too long.

Thank you for listening

God bless you all and God bless America.

Friday, March 16, 2012

4th Sunday of Lent–Year B 2012

Hit-BottomYou know having been a college chaplain for so long I’ve met a lot of young adults and I’ve met a lot of parents.

And every year I grew in appreciation for the vocation of being a parent.

It’s a beautiful vocation, it’s one of the most noble tasks that God can give to a person and it’s not easy.

Good Parents and most of you  are good parents, are somehow able to nurture, educate, provide for, correct and love their children into adulthood.

Many parents don’t see how much of an effect they have on their children but every parent does indeed have a profound effect on their child in every possible way.

One of the most significant qualities of a good parent is patience.

Parenting has to be done patiently, not matter how hard you try, no matter how much you yell or punish or cry or plead… growing up takes time.

Sometimes it seems to take forever.

And then one day around 21 years old or sometimes even younger all of a sudden there is a person standing in front of you, a beautiful person, a confident person, hopefully even a holy person.

One of the hardest lessons a parent has to learn is that sometimes you simply have to let your child hit bottom and then be there to help them pick up the pieces.

Sometimes after everything else has been done that’s the only course of action left.

That’ really hard to do especially for this new generation of helicopter parents who hover like crazy.

And who would like to cover the world with pillows so that if their kid ever fell down they would not hurt themselves.

In the first reading God simply had to let Israel bottom out.

He had given them everything they needed.

When they were unfaithful he sent them prophet after prophet.

He begged them, he tried to woo them, he even punished them.

God did everything he could and they simply would not listen.

So he left them to themselves and  all of their intrigues and infidelity failed them.

They were defeated in battle and Jerusalem their beloved city and temple were destroyed

And then they were all marched into exile.

In other words he let them hit bottom.

It was only after they lost everything or nearly everything and only after they lived in near slavery that were they able to open their hearts to God again.

Watching someone you love bottom out is never easy.

It is one of the most difficult things a parent or spouse or grandparent or friend can do.

However, Just as God remained faithful to Israel even after they hit bottom so we too must remain faithful to those we love no matter what.

Sometimes actually almost all the time the journey to the bottom hurts everyone involved.

But when the bottom is finally hit and the person sincerely raises their hand for help, or even simply raises their eyes for help, our response must be quick it must be heartfelt and it must be complete.

In the Gospel today we read one of the most quoted passages in scripture. It is John 3:16

It speaks about how radical our love must be especially for those who have hit bottom.

You see this passage all over the place at sporting events on bill boards and recently I even saw it once a tattoo.

We Catholics aren’t great a memorizing scriptures but here it is let’s write it on our hearts.

Repeat after me….

“God so loved the world that he sent his only son that all who believe in Him might not perish but have eternal live.

May our love be as strong,

and as complete,

and as selfless as God’s love.

Even and especially when someone love when someone close to us has to hit bottom.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

7th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B - 2012

Sins forgivenMay the Peace of Christ Reign in our hearts.

It’s kind of amazing when you picture this Gospel story in your mind.

Jesus has just returned to Capernaum.

The people of the town are so excited to see him.

There are so many people that they have surrounded his house and have blocked the doors and filled every window.

As they crowd around they listen to every word Jesus says.

All of a sudden while Jesus is speaking there is noise on the roof, than scraps of wood and mud and palm frons begin to fall into the room.

And as everyone watches in amazement a hole begins to form in the roof and by now everyone is wondering what is going on.

Then to top it off all of a sudden a man in a stretcher is lowered into the room next to Jesus.

And if all of this isn’t enough Jesus simply looks at the man and  says “your sins are forgiven.”

When the scribes and religious leaders of his time hear this they complain “Who is this who claims to forgive sins.”

So to prove to them and everyone that He does indeed have the power to forgive sins, Jesus simply tells the man get up and walk.
And with those words man who was unable to walk before and had been lowered into the room gets up and walks out.

This whole passage reads like a scene from a movie with one unexpected event after another.

Let’s try and look at the cast of characters

The people have seen Jesus do pretty incredible things... that’s why they are crowding around him but they are not sure if his good deeds are from God or not.

With today’s healing and the forgiveness of sins many are beginning to believe that Jesus is indeed the Messiah.

The religious leaders of the time are very confused.
They see good things happening but they don’t know how to react to them.

They are stuck in their conviction that only God can forgive sins and this man couldn’t possibly be God.

Whoever he is they see this new Rabbi as a threat to their power authority and place in society.

They are not happy.

The men who carried the paralytic are pretty extraordinary.

They were men of faith and men of action.

They must have had really big hearts.

They believed in Jesus and would stop at nothing to get their friend or relative to Him.

They probably struggled along the way to Jesus’ house.

We don’t know how long they travelled.

We do know that it is not easy carrying someone on a stretcher.

When they arrived and could not get near Jesus they did not give up or get discouraged.

Filled with faith they did something extraordinary and climbed up on the roof.

The man who was being carried must have been a very special person so special that his friends or relatives would do anything for him.

He too dared to believe in Jesus.
Dared to hope in his power to heal.

Finally from today’s gospel passage we learn that Jesus is slowly but surely drawing those around Him into the mystery of His identity and mission.

With each passing day they learn a little more about Him.

He inspires by His words.
He is compassionate.
He heals people.
For some He is indeed sent by God,
for others He is threat.

Today’s Gospel story is the first time Jesus allows the crowd to know that he can even forgive sins.

You know there is a little bit of us in each of these characters.

Quite frequently we are pulled towards a strong personality like Jesus, amazed at how they are able to communicate or what they have accomplished.

And quite frankly we can be pretty fickle the today’s hero is tomorrow’s failure.

Sadly like the Religious leaders of Jesus’ time sometimes we refuse to change our perspective on what’s going on in our lives.

Sometimes our opinions are set in stone and nothing will change them.

Hopefully like them men who carried the sick man to Jesus, we care about others.

Care about others enough to eve climb  a roof for them.

Which brings us to our weekly questions.

Have we ever really cared enough about another person to carry them?

Carry them through a sickness, or the loss of their job or an addiction or whatever..

Have we ever really carried someone?

When we’ve run into obstacles in our lives have we let them win or have we found a way around them  like the men who would not be deterred and climbed the roof?

Do we really believe that God loves us and will always do what’s best for us?

Finally are we aware of our own brokenness or sinfulness and do we believe that Jesus can and will forgive our sins if we ask him?

As we begin Lent these are all very important questions to ponder.

This Lent may the Lord in His love and mercy call us to a deeper understanding of ourselves and His love for us.

May  he inspire us to  be men and women of faith and action.


Friday, February 10, 2012

6th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B - 2012

Once upon a time I was talking with a woman who had been recently diagnosed with cancer.

She told me that her son had come to the hospital and was completely devastated.

In a moment of frustration and anger he said,
“Why did God give you this horrible disease?”

His Mom looked at him with love and said
“Honey, God doesn’t give people cancer, cancer comes from all of the man made chemicals and pollution in our world.”

It’s easy to see how her son thought that God had given his mother cancer.

The people of Jesus’ time were also convinced that sickness was some kind punishment from God.

They believed that either the person who was sick or someone in their family had done something wrong and their illness was a punishment from God. 

Many believed that sickness was God’s way of getting even.

Over and over again in the Gospels Jesus fought this way of thinking.

The sick man in the today’s Gospel was an exceptional person with a horrible disease.

Leprosy has always been a frightening disease it disfigures and isolates a person in so many ways.

For centuries people who suffered with leprosy were driven from their families and lived in lonely isolation.

They were forced to shout unclean unclean when anyone was close.

They were never allowed to touch another person again.

Sometimes the people in the family or village celebrated the sick person’s funeral as if to say your are already dead to them.

Many people burdened with this level of suffering and isolation sank into madness or despair.

Can you imagine seeing your own funeral ?

Yes this man was exceptional because he man did not give up.

Somehow he heard about Jesus and His power to heal and he believed.

When he was finally able to speak to Jesus his request simple and direct.

"If you wish you can heal me," he said.

It was because of his faith, because he dared to believe that he was healed.

That simple request was also a profound profession of faith.

When the leprous man asked Jesus to heal him he was professing his conviction that Jesus did indeed have divine power.

This man’s healing wasn’t only a physical healing it was much more.

When he was healed he was able return to his home and family and hug and touch the people he loved.

The reason Jesus asked him to go to the priests was so that they could certify that he had indeed been healed could return home.

It is important for us to understand that God doesn’t punish people will an illness.

Sometimes we get sick because of poor choices we make.

Sometimes we get sick because our bodies just wear out like anything else.

Sometimes we get an infection or come into contact with something that his harmful to us.

When sickness comes to us or someone we love we need to react like the man in the Gospel.

We  need to react with faith.

We need to profess our belief that God can and will heal us.

Sometimes God will heal us physically.

Sometimes He will heal us spiritually and  simply give us all the grace we need to carry the burden of sickness.

Sometimes we will simply be given the beautiful consolation of a holy and peaceful death.

Whatever the case may be, we will always be  better off if we can face sickness with faith rather than anger, bitterness and despair.

This week we buried 3 beautiful people from our parish and because of their faith each one of them faced death without any fear at all.

Once when I my Mom had a heart attack I sat by her in the hospital and after a long time worked up the courage to ask her if she was afraid to die.

Her response was simple and inspiring “O Rob put that out of your mind I know God loves me.

When we or someone we love faces illness or suffering may we hold on to our faith like the man into day’s Gospel.

May our prayer be simple and direct like his was.

If you want to you can heal Lord.


Friday, February 03, 2012

5th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year - B

May the Peace of Christ Reign in our hearts…

Alright I admit it… during my life there were moments when I was definitely a problem child.

I didn’t listen, I was willful and even devious at times.

It was my way or the highway.

And if justice would have had its way with me I would have been in sorry straights.

On the other hand If only love or what appeared to be love was present in my life

I might have been that proverbial spoiled brat

And frankly when I was nine my Aunt Molly told me she thought I was a spoiled brat.

My parents somehow knew how to combine justice and sacrificial love .

They loved me but they didn’t give me everything I wanted or thought I needed.

And when I needed a swift kick in the behind they gave it to me.

As usual in today’s Gospel there are several levels of meaning.

On the surface it appears that these are simple narratives explaining how Jesus began his ministry in Galilee.

Everyone is impressed with him, he speaks with authority and he revealed that he had the power to heal people.

He is a big hit… “Everyone is looking for you” the disciples said to him.

On a much deeper level I believe that Jesus is still wrestling with the manner which  the Father needs him to accomplish his mission.

How is he to win souls for God?

How he is to save the world?

Would the world be saved if he died for our sins as justice would demand,

or would the world be saved if he gave into our needs and desires and won us over with miracles and healings etc.

Jesus must have often wondered how he could win the hearts and minds and souls of the people he loved.

At first glance it seemed that miracles and healings were working.

Everyone was looking for him, seeking him out.

His disciples were thrilled and must have panicked when they couldn’t find him in the morning.

You see the problem was simply this Jesus was an incredibly compassionate man.

When he saw a sick person it was hard for him not to heal them.

Yet every time he did so he inadvertently reinforced the wrong understanding of his mission.

Jesus is a great success in Capernaum and everyone is looking for him but they are looking for him for the wrong reason.

They are looking for him because they want something and they think Jesus can give it to them

They are saying to themselves

Let’s follow him because he can heal us when we are sick

Let’s follow him because he will feed us when we are hungry

Let’s follow him because he can give us what we want

Kind of like when we say, Dear Jesus help me win the lottery or help me win at the Casino.

Everyone in Capernaum was looking for him because they probably wanted to build him a house and have him stay with them and take care of them.

And as word spread and people from near and far started coming to see him the people of Capernaum probably wanted to cash in on his success.

Sadly after their first encounter with Jesus the people of Capernaum were not more inclined to self-sacrifice or selfless love or being faithful to the covenant.

The miracles healed their bodies but not their hearts.

Just like my parents or any parent knows that they will spoil their child if they gave them everything they wanted.

It is so crystal clear that Jesus would not have won many souls for God by setting up shop in Capernaum and beginning a healing ministry.

And so at first glance even though he appeared to be a great success remember everyone is looking for him.

After prayer and discernment in quiet place in the wilderness Jesus was able to once again refocus his mind and heart on Father’s will.

He did not return to Capernaum as the Disciples and the people wanted.

He left the sick and the hungry in Capernaum as hard as that might have been for him.

Healing them and feeding them would not guarantee the salvation of their souls.

After Prayer Jesus knew that he could not stay in that place and he moved on to other villages to proclaim the Gospel.

The temptation to work miracles and win souls would be with Jesus until the very end of his life.

It started in the desert when the devil said to him turn these stones into bread and it would finish In the garden of Gethsemane when he would ask the Father to take the cup of suffering away from him and let him save the world in another way..

We all know how the story ends

Jesus paid the price of our sins with his suffering love.

There is a lot for us to contemplate here

How do we view God and what is God’s place in our hearts?

Do we expect him to take away all of our suffering?

Do we expect him to keep us healthy even though we eat too much and exercise too little?

Do we think that somehow if we say the right words in the right order he will give us what we want ?

How often do we go away to a deserted place and refocus our minds and hearts on God’s will and God’s plan for us?

Are we looking for him because we hope to get something Or are we here in these pews because like Jesus we have come to understand that selfless sacrificial love is the only way for us to save ourselves and save the world.

Very important questions indeed

We adore you O Christ and we praise you

Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world


Saturday, January 28, 2012

4th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B–2012

4 bToday the Church asks us to continue to meditate on the beginning of the Gospel of Mark.

In fact we will meditate on this Gospel for most of the year.

Up until now,
Jesus moved by the preaching of John left his home.
He was baptized in the Jordan.
He is tempted in the desert and discerned what God needed him to say and do.

Last week we heard how He called his first disciples
and finally today in our Gospel reading we find him in the Synagogue in Capernaum at the very beginning his public ministry.

It is important to note that the very first thing he does is preach.

As he preaches the people are astounded because he taught with authority, his own authority.

He doesn’t depend on other rabbis to back him up,
rather he simply proclaims what he knows to be true.

And to prove that he does indeed have the authority to speak for God  he heals a man possess by a demon and everyone in that Synagogue was astounded.

It is important to notice that he does not heal the man by touching him.

He doesn’t need any kind of medicine to free this man from his burden.

Jesus’ word alone has the power to drive the demon from the man.

And so in the Gospel of Mark
from the very first moment of his public ministry
the evangelist  wants to make it crystal clear that Jesus does in fact have power and authority.

He wants the reader to understand that is no ordinary Man speaking.

Catholics believe that Jesus’ Word has been passed down to us in two forms,
the scriptures which we hear every Sunday,
and the living tradition of the Church.

Today the Gospel calls us to ask ourselves how  we view God’s Word?

How do we understand the place of God’s word in our lives?

Are the Gospels a collection of nice feel good stories or are they God’s Word?

Do we give the Gospels and the living tradition of the Church authority in our lives?

Do we model our words
and our lives
and our dreams after the Word of God
found in the scriptures and the tradition of the Church?

If we just feel comfortable after every Mass,
If we come only expecting to be entertained, 
if the Gospel never challenges us,
then maybe just maybe we missed the point.

Just like Jesus healed the man in Capernam
He can free us from out demons too.

May the Word of Jesus,
the Word of God,
challenge us,
mold us,
heal us, and inspire us   Amen

Catholic Schools Week 2012

schoolCatholic School Week at St. Paul School

As you can see today we begin our celebration Catholic School Week.

There are those who say that Catholic Education has run its course.

They believe that Catholic Schools have served their purpose of educating and integrating a vast sea of immigrants into our nation.

They believe that the time for Catholic Schools and even Catholic Education in general is passed and that the resources we spend on them could be better used elsewhere.

We here at St. Paul… do not share their opinion.

We don’t share it.

Over and over again the people of this parish tell me how important our young people are to them.

The parish survey done a couple years ago showed that our young people were the number one concern.

We have a lot to be proud of and grateful for.
We have a excellent school and an excellent Religious Education Program.

Forming our young people in our faith,
being present in their lives,
helping them understand that they are precious in God’s sight
and loved by God is part and parcel of what it means to be a Catholic.

And just like every family sacrifices for their kids so do we here at St. Paul’s.

Just like the parents in our school and in our religious Education write out their tuition checks.

Every month I write out our “tuition check”
and I do so willingly because I know it is the right thing to do.

All of us should understand that we have a serious obligation to prepare our young people for a world that becomes more and more secular and more and more Godless every day.

With our Catholic School and our Religious Education programs we have the possibility of planting the seeds of faith in the hearts of our children. 

Sometimes these seeds don’t germinate… right away.

Recently I met a beautiful couple
who hadn’t been in Church for years.

They came to talk about being married in the Church.

One of them said to me “Father I admit it I’ve been away from church for a long time.

I don’t go to church regularly but now I want to come back to God and come back to the Church.”

I have to admit I was a little skeptical.

When I pushed a little harder and asked this person why?

They responded,
”Father I just wandered away for a while,
I went to St. Paul School and what I learned there is still a part of me.
I want to live a good life.
I want to raise my kids Catholic.”

I was very moved and simply said
“Welcome home.”

There’s a dividend from our little School which is beyond price

I promise you here at St. Paul Church

We will do all that we can to make our school the best that it can be.

First and foremost it will be deeply rooted in the truths of the Gospel.

It will always be a Catholic School in every sense of the word.

Second of all it will be a place where children learn and learn well..
We will never be able to provide our students with all the extras that they can afford in a public school but,

Last year our third graders were reading on 5 grade level
our 4th graders were reading on 6 grade level
our 5 graders were reading on 8th grade level
our 6th graders were reading on 9th grade level
our 7th graders were reading on a 10th grade level

In math
Last year
our 3rd graders were working on 4 grade level
our 4th graders were working on 5th grade level
our 5th graders were working on 7th grade level
our 6th graders were working on just shy of a 8th grade level
our 7th graders were work on a 9th  grade level

Last year in our school every grade was working above grade level in reading and math.

A couple times they were more than one year ahead and we have the test results to prove it.

We do provide an excellent education.
That’s a lot to be proud of.

As we begin Catholic Schools Week. I want to thank the incredibly dedicated administration faculty and staff of St Paul school for their dedication and sacrifices for our children.

I want to thank you for supporting and believing in our young people

When you came in the kids were passing out a little card with a saying which hangs right inside the door of our school.

Let us recommit ourselves to Christ and our young people by praying it together.

Let it be known to all who enter here
that Jesus Christ is the reason for this school,
the unseen but ever-present teacher in all its classes,
the model of its faculty,
and the inspiration for its staff and students.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B - 2012

May the Peace of Christ reign in our hearts,

Being a priest you have the privilege of speaking to many people at so many different places in their lives...

We talk to people when they are young or preparing for marriage.

We talk to people who have been away from God for a long time and are wondering how to come back.

We talk to people when their parent is sick or has just died.

We talk to people when they just lost their job.
We talk to people in intensive care.

The other day I sat right there with our Third Graders who were preparing for their first confessions.

They told me it was really hard to be good.

Last year as they prepared for first reconciliation they asked if it was a sin to shoot your father with a nerf gun.

They were so sincere and honest. It was humbling what a privilege.

Yes Priests listen and talk to lots of people…about lots of things

Some of the most moving conversations a priest has with those who are terminally ill or very sick.

When a person finds themselves in that kind of situation they don’t often have the energy or time for facades.

Frequently they simply say what is on their mind or what is on their heart.
Some are angry that their time seems to be running out.
Some are afraid.

Sometimes they express gratitude for all the blessings in their lives.

Many lament that they’ve left things undone..

They look back on their lives and remember all the times they did not answer God’s call

They say things like…
I should have spent more time with my kids.
I learned too late how much I really loved my wife and how much she loved me.
I should have planned better to provide for my family.

Today’s readings remind us that time is indeed short.

In the first reading the reluctant prophet and procrastinator Jonah finally gets around to calling Nineveh to conversion.

We all know the parable… he did his best to run from God and only after he was swallowed by a whale and spit up on the shore of Nineveh did he say yes to God’s call.
In the second reading St. Paul bluntly tells the Corinthians.
“I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out.”

In the Gospel Jesus simply walks up to the some fishermen and calls them to the service of God’s Kingdom.

The scholars tell us that the first apostles probably knew Jesus before he called them
but nonetheless the call was stark and urgent.

Jesus didn’t try and convince them or woo them
He didn’t explain all of the consequences of his call and what it is going to cost them.

He simply says come follow me and they did.

The call of the first apostles was simple, short, sweet and urgent

Sometimes, even when we accept that doing God’s will in our lives is urgent we find excuses not to answer God’s call.

We convince ourselves that we don’t have what it takes,
that we are not qualified to do God’s work

When we’re tempted to use this excuse
it is important for us to look at today’s Gospel and see who Jesus called.

He didn’t call the theologians or the priests.
He didn’t call the scholars of the law.
He doesn’t call the rich or the powerful who could have gotten the job done much easier.

Jesus called simple hard working people, just like you and me.

Holy ones God has called each and everyone of us over and over again
And God’s call is urgent

We all know how quickly  time flies.
Yes each and everyone of us has only has so much time.
And we never know how much we have

Have we answered God’s call in our lives ?
Will we answer the next time God calls?

Will we pick up the phone and call the sibling or parent we’ve been fighting with for way too long?
Will we put aside our own interests and invest more of our limited time in our marriages and in our kids?

Will we be committed to becoming better people holier people more generous people?

It is so important not to leave things undone  or procrastinate in doing God’s will.

All of us have heard the same call that Jesus shared with the Apostles…

Come follow me …

Pray God the next time we hear it… we say yes.