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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. 

Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

(Fr. Satish is in India visiting his parents. This homily was preached by him three years back. The homily is still relevant for today as we reflect Christ's call in the Gospel).

Each time I leave my home in India to return back to my ministry in Dayton, the  last day, the last hours, and the last moments are even intensely emotional. Just before I leave, mom and dad always pray over me and give me their blessings. As they blessed me this time I realized how much it hurt all of us to part from each other. For some reason, my mother always surprises me with her prayers over me. She prayed something like, “Loving God, bless the people of my son’s parish whom you have called him to serve. Bless them and let them know your love through him.” This is what is surprising about my mother – she is always able to rise above the immediate situation and find the bigger meaning and purpose. She did this when I left home at 16 and she does it even now when I am 48. In her simple prayer, my mother, had lifted us all from our gloom and given meaning. We still wept as we parted but there was hope.

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

I was watching a show on the Hadron collider, the most expensive scientific experiment ever done. The collider conducts experiments in particle physics to recreate the same condition that existed when the Big Bang occurred. How much do you think has been spent on this experiment? Thus far $ 6 billion has been spent and another 5 billion has been dedicated to it. This makes experiment controversial. Is this experiment really worth it? Should we not be spending this money on other urgent human needs? Particle physicists justify the experiment by saying that the more we discover about the origin of the world the more we can say about ourselves and build a better future. I personally think that it is important that we know about ourselves, but there is another significant question. If our experimentation is only going to tell us about the origin of the world and how the world is held together, how much should we spend for knowing the meaning of life? If we take today’s scripture seriously the most significant question about the meaning of life does not cost us money, but rather, it sets us on a life-long quest.

The Epiphany of the Lord

Scripture Readings

Last week, I had, what I am now calling, “homily fatigue.” I think the way Christmas fell this year took its toll on me. Hence, what I have for you today instead of full length homily, is a brief reflection.    

Today is the feast of the Epiphany. Even though this feast is about Jesus, I want to begin with Mary. Today’s scripture tells us that the Magi “were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother.” 

I absolutely love this image… the child with his mother, Mary. 

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Scripture Readings

In preparing this homily for the Feast of the Holy Family, I have been thinking… What is the meaning of a “holy family?” How do we define a “holy family?” Are there criteria? In other words, “What makes a family, holy?” If there is even one person in the family who is not living an exemplary Christian life, would that family still be a holy family? If there are arguments, misunderstandings, addictions, broken relationships, deep hurts… could that family still be a holy family? 

I have to admit that my homily for the Feast of the Holy Family has been influenced by my experiences this week. I have three stories of three different families… and then some practical implications. 

The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)

Scripture Readings

The author of this story is unknown. All we know is that it is written by a young mother and that it was Christmas day. She writes: “We were the only family with children in the restaurant. I sat Erik in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly eating and talking. Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee. His eyes were wide with excitement and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin. I looked around and saw the source of his merriment. It was a man with a tattered rag of a coat; dirty, greasy and worn. His pants were baggy with a zipper at half-mast and his toes poked out of would-be shoes. His shirt was dirty and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard, and his nose was so varicose it looked like a road map. We were too far from him to smell, but I was sure he smelled. "Hi there, baby; hi there, big boy,” the man said to Erik. Erik was responding with glee to the man’s comments. My husband and I exchanged looks, "What do we do?" Nobody thought the old man was cute. He was obviously drunk. We ate in silence; all except for Erik and the man. We finally got through the meal and headed for the door. My husband went to pay the check and told me to meet him in the parking lot. The old man was poised between the door and me. "Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik," I prayed. As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back trying to sidestep him and avoid any air he might be breathing. Before I could stop him, Erik had propelled himself from my arms to the man's. Suddenly, a very old, smelly man and a very young baby consummated their love relationship. Erik, in an act of total trust, love, and submission laid his tiny head upon the man's ragged shoulder. The man's eyes closed, and I saw tears hover beneath his lashes. His aged hands full of grime, pain, and hard labor -- gently, so gently, cradled my baby's bottom and stroked his back.”

Saturday of the Third Week of Advent

Sunday Readings 

There are two stories in today’s scripture readings. The first reading tells us the story of David and gospel reading is the story of the annunciation. I am stepping aside Advent themes to deal with very common questions that people ask: “What is God’s will for me?” “How do I discern whether I am doing God’s will or not?” Discerning God’s will is a complex spiritual exercise. In the stories of David and Mary, we might have some insights.  

Third Sunday of Advent

Scripture Readings

For Advent this year, my focus has been almost entirely on the first readings of the last three weeks, more specifically, the Babylonian exile. In the first week of Advent, I focused on the people of God desperately yearning God’s redeeming intervention. In the second week of Advent, I reflected on Isaiah’s announcement the exile was coming to an end. I remember preaching that while the exile could be attributed to God’s justice, the people newfound freedom was an act of God’s mercy. This week, we continue with our reflection on the exile. Only thing is that today’s first reading is directed toward the people who are finally back in their homeland. 

Second Sunday of Advent

Scripture Readings

When we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, one of the first things we do is examine our consciences and seek God’s mercy. “Kyrie Eleison! Christe Eleison! Kyrie Eleison!” And then the celebrants announces the absolution, saying, “May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life!” The congregation responds with a resounding, “Amen!” And then community does something special. We break out into the Gloria! “Glory to God in the highest,” we sing, “and peace to his people on earth!” The reason is simple. The experience of God mercy and forgiveness leads us to rejoicing! One moment the mood is sorrow for sin and the next moment the mood changes to praise! This contrast of moods is also the best way to explain the spirit of Advent. All of Advent we prepare our lives for Christ. And then at Christmas, we break forth singing “Glory to God in the highest!”