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.