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Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

(While in India, Fr. Satish is unable to post a new homily. Below is a past homily from reading Cycle C and you can find the relevant scripture here.)

Today’s readings tell some rather unbelievable stories – unbelievable not because God cannot accomplish great things but because stories such as the ones we have today is not a part of our normal experience. Both in the first reading and the gospel reading are two stunningly similar stories of young men being raised to life. How often have we seen that? This is hard to believe.

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Scripture Readings

Every so often, I am in total awe at things that connects us to ancient history. The Feast of Corpus Christi is one of those celebrations. The history of this goes as far back as 498 AD. In the early church, Holy Thursday came to be known as Natalis Calicis, or the Birth of the Chalice. However, since the focus of Holy week was on the passion and death of Jesus, the main event of Holy Thursday, the Last Supper at which Jesus gave us his body and blood, did not get the importance it deserved. Into the picture comes St. Juliana of Mount Cornillion, in the late 12thCentury. Her devotion to Blessed Sacrament, a vision she had, and her personal efforts led to a special day being set aside celebrate Corpus Christi. By mid 13thCentury, the Feast of Corpus Christi was an established celebration in the church. On Sept 8, 1264, Pope Urban and IV declared the annual celebration of the Feast of Corpus to be celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. 

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Scripture Readings

I am a foodie. I often use food to understand spiritual mysteries. I am not the first to do this. For example, Isaiah 25:6 says, “On this mountainthe LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples, a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.” The Bible often uses the imagery of a banquet to describe heaven. After all, the most important event of Jesus life was the Last Supper. Being a foodie, I get it! Jesus also said, “You are the salt of the earth.” I get that too! Today, I would like to use food to understand the Trinity. St. Patrick used the Shamrock the Trinity and Fr. Satish is using food… more specifically Indian cuisine. 

Pentecost Sunday

Scripture Readings

The room from which I workout, I can see much of the parish campus. Just the other day I was saying to myself, soon there will be leaves on these trees. I could not wait for spring. This morning as I worked out, I looked out of the window again. The trees are now covered in green. Not just trees but the grass is green, there are flowers in the fields, and I heard the birds chirping. As the sun tried to peek through the clouds, the entire campus lit up. I said to myself, this is what Pentecost was like. There was the pre-Pentecost world. The trees were bare, the grass was dry, the flowers had faded and the birds had lost their sound. The post-Pentecost world – it has colors, and sound, and beauty, and song. What shall I say? I am a hope-filled romantic.  

Here are my three points: 

a) “Just as the Father Sent Me!" In today’s gospel reading, Jesus says to his disciples, “Just as the Father sent me, so I sent you” (Jn 20:21).  What did the Father send Jesus for? As I see it, Jesus was sent to make our world as beautiful as it was at creation. Jesus did his best. Not everybody brought his vision, but by the time he left the earth, he had filled the world with love, and goodness, and mercy, and peace. For this, at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he was anointed by the Holy Spirit. Now, as Jesus was entrusting his work to the disciples, he says to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit!” (Jn 20:22). They would need the Holy Spirit in the same say he did, so that they could continue his work. There was only one difference.  While at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry the Holy Spirit came only upon him, at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon all creation. Hence, at our baptism, we too got a share of that first Pentecost Now, God has given us the Holy Spirit, so that we might accomplish the work that Christ began. Today, then, as we realize that Jesus is sending us just as the Father sent him, let us open our hearts wide for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit in and upon us. We must continue Jesus mission to make our world a beautiful place. We must live heaven on earth. For this, let us pray for a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  

b) A De-Babelized World! Pentecost did not only transform the church but also our world. At Pentecost, a world divided by the many languages, cultures, nations, and races understood each other. Our world needs a new Pentecost more urgently that even. Our nation and indeed the entire world is divided into two main camps. There are those who believe that the old days of a few powerful countries being superpowers, and the rest of the world being divided by which superpower they follow, is achievable. In this view, while America screams, “Make America Great Again,” so does Russia, and China, and India, and Iran, and the European Union. Each nation wants the same thing - to become great again. And people believe that there will be a single, clear winner. For this reason, each nation is dedicating more and more time, money, resources and human-power to an unprecedented arms race. And then there are those who believe that the days of the old ideologically divided world are over.  I am one of those people. I believe that there is a new world order. In this new world order, either all of us win together or we lose together. My belief is not merely based on politics. My belief is based on my Catholic view of the world. Let me explain. In the Bible, the various races and languages that exist in the world today is attributed to the building of the Tower of Babel. Since then, the world was divided into languages, races, cultures, peoples and nations. However, at Pentecost, a new world order is unleashed. The post-Pentecost world is a de-Babelized world. It is world in which, even if people speak different languages, even if people are from different countries, even if people belong to different races, and cultures – they understand each other. Pentecost takes us to God’s original vision of creation, of the world, and of people in it. Pentecost is feast of world unity, of world peace, of the progress of the entire world and of all peoples. It is a beautiful world. It’s a world of colors, and music and the language of love. Whether we buy into this vision or not, is a choice we make.   

c) Life in the Spirit. What does Pentecost mean for us? Pentecost means that we live life in the Holy Spirit. Pentecost means that we allow Jesus to send us just as the Father sent Jesus. Pentecost means that we work with God to take our world back to God original intent. We must work with Jesus to make our world as beautiful as God’s original world. How do we accomplish all this? Here is the practical implication of this feast – that we in fact and in deed, live in the Spirit and not in the flesh. Here is the difference between the flesh and the Spirit. Paul says, in today second reading, “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, lust, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Pentecost is God attempt to recreate a world that is built around love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness gentleness, and self-control. For this, Christ empowers us with the Holy Spirit and sends us forth.  

The Eucharist is a proto-type of heaven. All peoples, all nations, all races, all cultures, worship the same God today singing songs of unity, love, and peace. This altar today unites people from all nations. What beauty of what happens here must now beautify the world. For this, Christ has given us the Holy Spirit and sent us to the world. -

Fr. Satish Joseph

he Ascension of the Lord

Scripture Readings

Today is the Feast of the Ascension. On the one hand, this feast is the culmination of Christ’s life. Jesus came from the Father and now he returns to the Father. However, I would like to approach the feast from the perspective of the disciples.  As I see it, this feast is also a celebration of God’s enduring trust in humanity. Let me explain. Think about one time in your life when you were in total awe of something that happened to you. Perhaps it was walking down the aisle with your just-married spouse, or holding your first-born for the first time, or holding the diploma after graduation, or receiving the appointment letter to a job you really wanted. I am thinking of my ordination my ordination. I remember having just been anointed by the bishop. A very strange feeling overcame me. It was the feeling of an awesome sense of privilege, unworthiness, and immense responsibility all the same time. I saw my Ordination both as God anointing me and God putting God’s trust in me. I wonder if this is how the disciples felt at Ascension. 

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Scripture Readings

My homily today is very simple, because the readings for today's Mass are very simple. John says, “Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love" (1 Jn 4:8).”  

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Scripture Readings

There is a story my second-grade teacher told us in religion class that I strangely still remember. One day, Michelangelo walking through a garden in Florence, saw a block of marble in a corner protruding from the earth. It was half covered by grass and mud. He stopped suddenly as if he had seen someone. He exclaimed: "An angel is imprisoned in that marble; I must set him free." Armed with a chisel, he began to work on that block until the figure of a beautiful angel emerged. The teacher continued, “Each of us is an angel in the making. God is the artist. The chisel is the Word of God. God uses his word to bring out the best in us.” Later when I got older, I verified the truth of Michelangelo’s story. It turns out, that my teacher was correct. The angel is now in the Basilica of St Dominic in Bologna, Italy.  

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Scripture Readings 

As you can imagine, Holy Week is one of the most demanding weeks in a priest’s sacramental life. Not only was I ill this Holy Week, but Fr. Dave’s illness and hospitalization made the week even more demanding than it generally is. Nevertheless, to say, by the Easter Sunday 6pm mass was over, I was overworked, exhausted, and hungry. I said to the congregation, “Jesus is risen, but I am dead!” I was looking forward to kicking my shoes off, having a glass or wine or three, some dinner and crawl into bed. I also said this to the congregation: “I don’t care what you are doing tonight, but I know what I am going to do.” I Left the sacristy, entered the kitchen and had barely poured my glass of wine, and my phone rang. There was a call on our emergency line that somebody was actively dying at hospice. This person was not a parishioner at any of our local parishes. Hospice had been trying to reach priests at many of our neighboring parishes, but they were not available. Most probably they probably were visiting family. I looked at my wine glass and then I looked up… and said to Jesus, “You are really not funny!” I also said to myself, “You think you know what you are going to do next. You don’t!” 

Third Sunday of Easter

Scripture Readings

In preparation for a weekend homily, I read the scriptures the prior Monday. I let a few themes revolve around my small brains for a couple of days, and finally by Wednesday, I have a more defined theme. This week things worked very differently. I chuckled when I read this statement in the second reading from the 1stletter of John “My children, I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin.” My instinctive reaction was, “Yeah, right!” Over the next couple of days, the thought just would not leave my head. And even though, the gospel reading is a much more attractive passage and perhaps easier, I decided that I would reflect on John’s letter.   

Second Sunday of Easter (Or Sunday of Divine Mercy)

Scripture Readings

Once so often somebody comes into the confessional with such a sense of sorrow for sin, that they find it had to believe that God can forgive them and love them. This is not because they do not believe that God is all forgiving. The darkness they find themselves in, is a little too dark for them. For some reason they think that they do not deserve God’s forgiveness. I am saying to you today what I say to such penitents: “If you put all the sins that you have committed today together, you cannot beat God’s love and mercy. If you put all the sins you have committed your entire life together, you still cannot beat God’s love and mercy. If you put the sins of all the people in the entire world together, you still cannot beat God’s love and mercy. If you put all the sins of all the human beings from the beginning of creation to the end of the world, you still cannot beat God’s love and mercy. Now if you think that your sins are too much for God, then the Sacrament of Reconciliation is not for you! You can leave!” Nobody has ever left. Most of the time, by then, they are in tears and accept that they can be and are forgiven!

Easter Sunday - The Resurrection of the Lord - The Mass of Easter Day

Scripture Readings

The story of Arnaud Beltrame has taken the world by storm. He is the 44 year old French Police officer who offered to exchange his life for a hostage in a recent armed struggle in a supermarket in France. After exchanging his life, he helped guide the special forces by leaving an open-line cell phone on a table. The terrorist was finally taken down but not before Arnaud was stabbed in the throat. On his deathbed, Beltrame received two sacraments - the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and the Sacrament of Marriage. His newly-wed wife said of him at his funeral that his heroic sacrifice was "the act of a policeman and the act of a Christian.” I call Arnaud’s act a “holy exchange.” 

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion

Scripture Readings

We are entering Holy Week. We are doing so as March Madness reaches it climax. Holy Week is the climax of the Church’s liturgical year. What shall we do? Holy Week or March Madness? Some might be asking the wrong question - “How can I squeeze Holy Week into March Madness? Do it the other way around, people of God! How can we squeeze March Madness into Holy Week? In reality, these two events need not be in competition. Holy Week is about the events of our salvation. March Madness is pure entertainment. We know, don’t we not, that March Madness will not save us! Salvation is at the foot of the cross!  

Fifth Sunday of Lent – Year A Readings

Scripture Readings

I have had my share of funerals between both the parishes. There are many things I could say about each of these funerals. At one of them, the grand-daughter concluded her eulogy by saying what she would say to her grandpa when he was still alive. She said, “See you later, alligator.” Is it not precious that we can say that to each other as bury the people we love? Sometimes I think, though, that sometimes we take the reason for this hope for granted? Why is it that we can say, “See you later,” when people die? What did it take to get us to that hope? 

As Lent begins to come toward the end, the readings are gradually drawing our attention to the events of Holy Week and Easter – the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. However, we do not reflect on Christ’s death and resurrection for its own sake. The readings are also trying to communicate to us that our destinies are closely tied to the death and resurrection of Jesus. In fact, it is because of the death and resurrection of Jesus that this grand-daughter could say, “See you later, alligator,” to her deceased grandpa. There is a reason why we leave a graveside with hope.  It is because we believe in the words that Jesus said to Martha in today’s gospel reading, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live.” Jesus is the reason for our hope. 

Fourth Sunday of Lent – Year A Readings

Scripture Readings

John is an amazing story teller. This story of the healing of the blind man is very powerfully scripted. John has his purpose in writing the story. He wants the world to come to faith in Jesus Christ. But there is a problem - blindness. His deeper point is what might be harder for us to accept - that the blind person in the story is not just the man born blind. We might say that we get the irony in the story and that the real blind people in the story are the Pharisees who refuse to see Jesus as the Messiah. John is making an even more poignant point - that the real blind person might be you and me.

Third Sunday of Lent – Year A Readings

Scripture Readings 

The story of the Samaritan woman is narrated by John as a personal conversion story. Even though John tells it as a personal story, he does not tell us the name of the woman. Perhaps John was being intentional. This way, this is the story of every person. Her story can be your story and mine as well. Like the Samaritan woman, we all have a jar. In this jar we keep that which is most precious to us – family, friends, job, home, possessions, hobbies. Sometimes, this jar might be empty. The jar describes us – it is the sum of all that we are. That day, the Samaritan woman came to fill her empty jar with water. The irony is that Jesus does not merely fill her jar. Rather, Jesus led her to the well. The jar… she left that at the feet of Jesus. What does this story mean for me? What could it mean for you? Three things: 

Second Sunday of Lent

Scripture Readings

There are at least two instances where people have asked me to pray for the unknown. In both cases it was test results awaited for cancer. Nothing unnerves us more than the unknown… the unknown when someone loses their job… the unknown when divorce hits… the unknown when someone loses their spouse… the unknown when someone is awaiting for a transplant… the unknown when someone is deployed… the unknown when someone we know battles addiction… the unknown when someone is diagnosed with terminal illness. 

First Sunday of Lent

Scripture Readings

There is a ninety year old parishioner whom I visit every so often. She takes Lent very seriously. The other day when I visited her she winked at me and said, “I am giving you up for Lent!” It was one of those rare times when I did not have a comeback. I said to  her that I was going to tell on to the entire parish. She smiled. Humor aside, I think the story highlights our obsession with “giving up” during Lent. Often, Lent becomes all about giving up. Sometimes, the  very thing that is integral to the Lenten spirit is also the cause of its demeaning. Equating Lent with “giving up” or penance-for-penance-sake destroys the spirit of Lent. 

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time 

Scripture Readings

As powerful as the story of the healing of the leper is in today’s gospel reading, I want to begin with Paul in the second reading. Pauls says, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ!” (1 Cor 11:1). Paul makes this statement as a conclusion to the question of believers eating food offered to idols by an unbeliever. This was a complex issue for the early Christians and it will long to explain it in this homily. The point I am trying to make is that Paul refuses a black and white answer. Rather, he says that he’d rather eat the food placed before him by an unbeliever so that he does not displease the unbeliever. On the other hand, if a believer would be scandalized by Paul’s behavior, he would rather not eat it. Thus he concludes, “… I try to please everyone in every way, not seeking my own benefit but that of the many, that they may be saved” (1 Cor 10:34). Paul imitation of Christ lies in this - that he does not seek his own benefit but of others, so that they might be saved. His imitation of Christ is not about saving himself. His imitation of Christ is that they might be saved!

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings 

Of all the weeks, this was not the week that I wanted to deal with a scripture reading from Job. In today’s first reading Job reflects on life and says, “Is not man's life on earth a drudgery?” (Job 7:1). Drudgery is a very distressing word. It is an immensely burdensome state of being. I have just returned from home seeing the drudgery of my ninety year old father. My heart breaks to see him this way. He sleeps almost all day, wakes up to eat, use the the bathroom, pray a little and then back to bed again. All the medication he takes to stay alive… it is depressing for him and my family. My eighty year old mother said to me the other day, “Does this have to be how our last days are? Dad sleeps most of the time and I walk about the house like a ghost.” Its called drudgery. As I left home this time, I did not feel that I was merely leaving home. I felt that I was abandoning my parents. My life still has meaning. My ministry is still my life. I am surrounded by very some supportive people and a lovely puppy. But to me life seems like drudgery right now. I won’t be surprised if there are people in this church who feel like my father, my mother or I feel at the moment. Drudgery is real.  

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

At every visit home, one of the greatest edification I receive is from my parent’s spirituality. First of all, they are two very genuine people. So I believe that their spiritual life is also genuine. Their hour-long morning and evening prayer, their selfless intercession for every need of the world, their participation in daily mass, their devotional practices and corporal works of mercy are truly inspirational. Not once have I felt that my priestly holiness and spirituality is superior to theirs. In fact, I have felt that the opposite is true. I know that my parent’s holiness far exceeds mine. And I know this to be true about them not only as retired people but even when I was a child. For that matter, there are many people in this congregation of whom I would say the same thing.