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Thursday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

If you’ve been a Christian for a while, you may struggle with the same challenge as Paul (and I): Confidence in “the flesh;” in other words, confidence in the self.  In all Paul’s writing, ‘the flesh’ points not to our physical nature, but to our ‘self’ as it exists independent of God.  It alludes to our will, our rationality, our emotion, our human-informed capability for both vice and virtue.  In the first reading when Paul talks about “confidence in the flesh,” he’s talking about the human ability to be good, or to ‘save yourself.’  There’s a tendency among many people (especially we who are trying very hard to be good) to believe that our salvation counts on our goodness.  That our ‘flesh,’ our being on its own, can and MUST act rightly if we are to have a good life and eternal life.  If we act wrongly, bad things will happen.  It totally depends on ME.  In a funny way, it’s self-centered; this belief inflates our sense of self-importance.  Paul confesses to being like this before his conversion.  Lots of religious people think this way.  Most days, I think I do.  It can be a problem.

Wednesday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Before I became Catholic in 2003, I really wrestled with my decision. A wise person that I consulted told me that maybe a way to pray about it would be to pray: “God, if it is your will, increase my desire for it, and if it is not your will, decrease my desire for it.” At the time, that was the exact prayer I needed - and I now realize, it was a version of the line from the Our Father: “Thy will be done!”

Tuesday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Most of the time when I receive an invitation I am just grateful that someone wants to have me over. I look forward to enjoying a meal with them and to spending time with them and perhaps others.

Monday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

There is not in recent memory a time of such discord, factionalism, and disunity in our society. People seem to feel emboldened and even justified in saying and doing the most dreadful things. Oftentimes there doesn't even seem to be an objective other than causing outrage and division. The message in today's Scriptures relates a message that is particularly relevant in these times. It is a message of oneness and wholeness…a message of unity.

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Here is a tweet from a priest that I follow on twitter: “All liturgy should be celebrated solely by the candlelight of beeswax candles in an enormous, dark church filled with the smoke of incense. All parts should be either chanted loudly and solemnly in Latin or said in such a low voice that no one can hear them.” Here was my reply. “At the Last Supper, on which every Mass is based, none of these eccentricities existed!” What is it about us that we like to take what is accidental to Christianity and bring it center stage? And what is it about us that we take what is center stage of Christianity and relegate it to the boundaries? 

Saturday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Are you familiar with some of the following questions:  Are we there yet?  Is it finally over?  When can we leave? Maybe we have heard a child asking those questions.  Maybe we have asked those questions or similar ones.  Let’s sit with these questions for a little bit as well as St. Paul’s words to the Philippians.

The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed
(All Souls)

Scripture Readings

I sometimes forget how much of an influence my parents, grandparents, and friends have played in my development as a Christian.  It’s often easy for me to overlook the influence of other Christians because that influence is so fundamental to who I have become.  At times like this I realize the importance of having people in my life who serve as role models for the life of faith.  That may be one reason I find myself resonating so much with the scripture readings for today.

Solemnity of All Saints

Scripture Readings

Today is All Saint’s Day.  This has always been one of the most treasured feast days for me.  I remember being in middle school and dressing up as St. Maximillian Kolbe, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Padre Pio.  Every all Saint’s Day, the whole school was a melting pot of St. Lucies, Francises, Elizabeths, Dominics, and Joans of Arc.  The sight of St. Loyola playing tetherball with St. Peter was spectacular. 

Wednesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Of course we know that today is Halloween- I’ll be taking my kids trick-or-treating, and we’ll probably eat copious amounts of candy! Yet today is also the vigil of a very important feast day, All Saints’ Day (November 1st), a day when we remember all those faithful people who have gone before us and who now enjoy heaven and a vision of God. The next day, All Souls’ Day (November 2nd), while not a holy day of obligation, is still an important day of remembering all those who have died, even if they have not yet attained heaven. Indeed, the whole month of November is traditionally a month of remembering our loved ones and others in the church universal who have died.

Tuesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Very simply put, from the tiniest of cells grows an embryo, from the smallest embryo grows a baby, and from the littlest, vulnerable baby grows an adult, maybe 5 or 6 feet tall, sometimes taller! As I reflected on today’s Gospel reading from Luke (13:18-21) – the parables of the mustard seed and the yeast – I thought of how my once very small baby boys are now taller than their Dad and I, and possibly still growing. We could not perceptibly see them growing, yet little by little, day by day, month by month, year by year, they have grown. Yes, there have been mornings when one of them would come down for breakfast and, standing next to me in the kitchen, I would swear he had grown overnight. But mostly, somehow, it happened gradually without our daily awareness. This, I think, is kind of how God’s Kingdom grows.

Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

I have the incredible blessing of being able to watch my 3 grandchildren on a regular basis.  Although I am exhausted at the end of the day, one thing that I have noticed about children is how they live in the present moment.  Today’s first reading and responsorial psalm encourage us to “Behave like God as his very dear children.”  If God is love, then I think one of the best ways that we can act like children of God, is to live in love in every moment.

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Right after I was ordained in 1994, India’s corporate sector was introduced to a very influential and effective thinker, Stephen Covey. Many of us as priests also read his very popular book, The7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This book sold more than 20 million copies in fourty languages. In 1996, Dr. Covey was recognized as one of Time magazine's 25 Most Influential Americans and in 2002, Forbes named The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People one of the 10 most influential management books ever written.Stephen Covey died last July  but continues to influence the management world. I for one was a Stephen Covey’s fan. One reason for this was that he gave new insights into my own following of Jesus. Here is one statement that influenced my discipleship: “There is no involvement without commitment.” For example, my priesthood require both commitment and involvement. What would my priesthood look like it I was not committed? What would the celebration of this Eucharist look like if I was not involved?  Whether it is marriage, friendship, work or sports or the following of Christ, there is no involvement without commitment and there is not commitment without involvement. 

Saturday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Besides maybe jousting or hurling (hurling not curling), Lacrosse is my favorite sport.  If you are unfamiliar with it, in either its guys or girls version, I recommend learning about it.  It has historical roots back to Native Americans.  It is fast paced and high scoring.  My keenness for Lacrosse comes from my upbringing in Maryland, where it is our ‘state team sport,’ and my experience playing in high school.  Well, playing might be too generous.  I practiced lacrosse but seldom played.  I suppose you could say I was a bench-warmer, though I was more of a bench shouter.  I embraced that my role as bench-warmer also made me our team’s unofficial cheerleader.  I might not have been playing, but I still had something to contribute.  This is the message we find in the second half of our first reading.

Friday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

We seem to be a nation of advice-seekers.  Advice columnists in the newspapers thrive on dispensing advice to letter writers.  Teenagers and young adults text each other asking for up-to-the-minute advice.  Self help books remain a top selling genre at bookstores. 

Thursday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

It’s been said that to be strong in any way, we must first be strong in heart.  Whether we seek physical strength, endurance, financial strength, knowledge, wisdom, or perseverance, we must first have the “strength of the inner self” that Paul writes about.  Without the heart to keep at it, we never develop any other strength.  So what does it take to develop a strong heart?  Is it knowledge?  Is it a problem to be figured out and solved?  Paul prays to God to send us what we need: Love. 

Wednesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

In our day, almost no one has personal servants though that was once commonplace, even in middle class America. Many households had at least one maid or a cook or a helper who stopped by a few days a week. These days, we have restaurants, cleaning agencies, daycares, and other institutions, to provide those kinds of services. These days, American workers don’t have “masters” but rather bosses and managers and managerial systems. I mention that because today’s gospel (Luke 12:39-48) definitely requires a bit of reflection and interpretation for our culture.

Tuesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

In the text from Luke for today, we are told that blessed are those “whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.” Heeding this beatitude, we are called to be on watch, ready, waiting for Jesus’ return. But what does that mean?

Monday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

What images come to mind when you think of 'belonging'? Is it family and friends? Social groups, neighborhood, or geographical location? Church community? We can all identify with these (and countless others) in varying degrees. However, today's Scriptures tell us, in several ways, to Whom we truly belong…and it is God.

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

If a Christian does not look different than those who are worldly, then what is the point in being a Christian? What good does it serve to be Christian by name? To what purpose then, was the death of Jesus Christ? 

I have titled this homily, “But It shall not be so among you.” Today’s gospel reading reveals the internal power struggle among Jesus’ disciples. James and John beat the other disciples in asking Jesus if in his Glory they could sit one at his right and the other at his left. Mark tells us that when the other disciples heard this, they got indignant at James and John. Perhaps, this may have been because each of them either nurtured the same ambition or because they felt upstaged by the two brothers. Either way, Jesus’ response swift and categorical. “But it shall not be so among you” (Mk 10: 43). 

Saturday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

My oldest sister is a religious sister with the Nashville Dominicans.  Her state of life has humbled me, guided me, and even perplexed me.  I experienced disbelief one day as she explained how we would be communicating once she entered.  She told me that texting, phone calls, and emails were out unless it was an emergency. Instead we’d be writing letters; real, snail mail letters.  Now, I don’t write many letters.  I write emails, send text messages, and keep up with Facebook messages but don’t really write letters and unfortunately I haven't gotten much better just because she is a sister.  Then, as I read today’s first reading, I was convicted by how Paul wrote and how I write.