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Sunday, December 04, 2022
Saturday, October 01, 2022
Faith (Luke 17:5-10) 27th Sunday Ordinary time – Deacon Pat
Adapted from a homily by Father Michael Marsh
How many of us have said: “If I just had more faith.”
I think most of us have struggled with this at some point in our lives.
We might even have thought:
· If I just had more faith, I wouldn’t have so many questions or doubts.
· If I just had more faith, God would answer my prayers.
· If I just had more faith, he or she would not have died; or he or she would have recovered.
· If I just had more faith, I would be more involved in the Church.
· If I just had more faith, I would be a better person, a better parent, a better spouse.
· If I just had more faith, I would know what to do, I would handle things better.
· If I just had more faith, life would be different.
Maybe to understand this Gospel message more deeply and this concept of faith we need to examine the apostle’s approach to faith.
Jesus has just warned them not to become stumbling blocks to others and enjoined them to forgive as often as an offender repents even if it is seven times in one day.
The Apostles must have thought:
· This new teaching is too difficult to do and to live that way.
So, they asked, “Jesus, Increase our faith.”
It seems like a reasonable request.
If a little is good, a lot must be better.
If McDonald’s can supersize our fries and drinks surely Jesus can supersize our faith.
This request to increase their faith,
the belief that if they had more faith things would be different,
reveals, at best, a misunderstanding of faith itself and,
at worst, probably demonstrates a fair amount of unfaithfulness.
Jesus is very clear that faithfulness is not about size or quantity.
“If you had faith the size of a mustard seed,” he says, “you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
· Faith is not given to us in a packet to be spent as currency in our dealings with God.
· Faith is not measured out according to how difficult the task or work before us will be.
· Faith is not a thing we have or get.
Faith is a relationship of trust and love.
It means opening ourselves to receive another’s life and giving our life to another.
That other is Jesus the Christ.
That one faith-relationship is determinative of who we are and how we live.
· Faith is not about giving intellectual agreement to a particular doctrine or idea.
· Faith is not about how much or how strongly we believe Jesus’s words or actions.
When we speak about a married couple’s faithfulness, we do not mean they always believe or agree with each other’s ideas or even a particular understanding of marriage.
· They are faithful because they have committed themselves to each other in love and trust.
· They are faithful because they continually give their life to the other and receive the other’s life as their own.
· They are faithful because they carry with them that one relationship wherever they go, in all that they are, and all that they do.
So true it is also in our faith-relationship with Jesus.
Faith will not, however, change the circumstances of our lives.
Instead, it changes us.
Living in faith does not shield us from the pain and difficulties of life,
it does not undo the past,
and it will not guarantee a particular future.
Rather, faith is the means by which we face and deal with the circumstances of life – the difficulties and losses, the joys and successes, the opportunities and possibilities.
Faith does not get us a pat on the back, a reward, or a promotion in God’s eyes.
It is simply the way in which we live and move and have our being so that,
at the end of the day,
the faithful ones can say, without pride or shame,
“We have done only what we ought to have done!”
Nothing more and nothing less.
· We have lived in openness to, trust in, and love for Christ.
· We have allowed him to guide our decisions, our words, and our actions.
· We have been sustained by him in both life and death.
Faith, however, is not lived out in the abstract.
It is practiced day after day in the ordinary everyday circumstances.
Some days when the pain and heaviness of life seem more than we can carry it is by faith,
relationship with Jesus,
that we get up each morning and face the reality of life.
Other days present other circumstances.
When we feel the pain of the world and respond with compassion by:
· feeding the hungry,
· housing the homeless,
· speaking for justice;
· when we experience the brokenness of a relationship and offer forgiveness and mercy;
· when we see the downtrodden and offer our presence and prayers,
· and when we help a woman carry her pregnancy to term,
— in all those things we have lived, seen, and acted by faith.
And speaking of acting, we now have a special opportunity to put our faith in action, especially in light of the reversal of Roe versus Wade.
We have an opportunity to help those mothers with a crisis pregnancy who might have previously aborted their child.
So many will now be in need of reassurance, support, friendship, and help.
Thank goodness for the Gabriel Project where volunteers called Gabriel Angels are trained to:
· be a resource to answer questions about pregnancy, childcare, and parenting,
· Provide friendship and emotional and spiritual support,
· Help with items for a new baby,
· And have knowledge about available community resources.
Maybe God is calling you to become one of these Gabriel Angels, one of their volunteers?
Or maybe you can help in other ways.
Truly this is something worth praying about.
God often creates situations and then waits for us to act. Or not act.
Wasn’t it Padre Pio that once stated the greatest of all sins in the world are sins of omission?
So what is our take-away from this special Gospel message today?
Maybe it is that Faith is how we live;
the lens through which we see ourselves, others, and the world;
the criterion by which we act and speak.
Maybe it means that Faithfulness no matter where we go, no matter what circumstances we face we do so in relationship with the One who created, loves, sustains, and redeems us.
Jesus does not supersize our faith.
It is not necessary.
We live by faith not because we have enough faith but because we have faith, any faith, even mustard-seed sized faith.
That is all we need.
Jesus believes that, so should we.
The question is not how much faith we have, but rather, how are we living the faith we do have?
How is our faith, our relationship with Jesus, changing our lives, our relationships, the lives of others?
If it is not, more of the same will surely make no difference.
The mustard seed of faith is already planted within us.
It is Christ himself.
He has withheld from us nothing.
We already have enough.
We already are enough.
We do not need more faith.
We need more response to the faith, to Christ, to the relationship we already have.
Let us now act upon this faith, starting today, and become a reflection of Christ to the world around us.
Saturday, May 07, 2022
Saturday, February 12, 2022
Saturday, December 04, 2021
Sunday, October 10, 2021
Twenty-Eighth Sunday Ordinary Time – Deacon Pat
One of the many struggles of sharing the gospels, the good news of becoming a Christian with someone, is getting them to see that there is a cost of making the decision to become a disciple of Christ.
So often, the focus is more on the reward that awaits them, and they never stop to think about what this decision will cost.
When someone does not understand the price to be paid when choosing to become a Christian, difficulties will arise when they find themselves in situations that are demanding, situations that can eventually cost them a great deal.
It is in such times that one’s faith is put to the test.
In these circumstances, some disciples turn from the path of righteousness and head back into the world from which they had escaped.
In the Gospel today, we can see just such a situation when Jesus is approached by a young man who seems to be interested in doing what is right in regards to salvation.
Jesus tells the young man that there is a price to be paid if he chooses to take the path he is seeking, and in the end, we see that the young man was not willing to make the sacrifice necessary to inherit eternal life.
In this story, we learn that being a disciple of Christ will cost us everything that keeps God from being first in our lives.
We also learn a lot about the man who approached Christ.
We learn that he was following the rules, but that he probably did not truly understand what was beneath the rules, the reason for the rule.
He runs up to Jesus and says, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
He did not say, “Who must I become to inherit eternal life?”
Perhaps, this young man already felt that he was doing all that was required of him by following the rules, and he only wanted Jesus to confirm what he was already doing.
He did not actually expect Jesus to tell him to do anything beyond the law, beyond the rules.
In addition, when Jesus asked more of him, he refused because that was not what he wanted to hear.
How many of us are just like this young man?
We do what we think is expected of us, we follow the rules, or maybe most of them, but don’t let Jesus ask anything more of us, or we too might refuse.
Didn’t Christ tell us that to be a Christian we cannot serve two masters, we serve either God or mammon, but we can’t serve both.
In the Gospel, the young man had two masters speaking to him:
· God in the flesh told him to sell everything;
· Mammon (The World) told him to hold onto what he had.
He couldn’t do both, so he chose to submit to the one he valued the most.
The man went away grieved.
As far as he was concerned, the choice to follow Christ was just too costly.
Many of us come to Mass to hear the word of God and focus on the promises of eternal life.
Most of us see ourselves as basically good people, believing our lives are morally good, and when we pray to God, we often ask for guidance and direction to make our lives better.
Yet, we are often caught off guard when we find that Jesus desires more than we are giving, that he desires all that we have, all that would stand in the way of serving God.
So, what do we do?
Some of us, many of us, turn away from what He is asking.
In other words, is it not true that many of us really are not seeking to change much in our lives at all?
We seek God to only confirm what we are already doing, maybe only to have Him acknowledge the rules that we have followed.
Are not many of us just like the young man in the gospel message?
But what is Christ trying to teach us?
What is the message for us today?
Isn’t he trying to say that our faith is much more than just following a set of rules?
Being a Christian will actually cost us everything that keeps God from being first in our lives.
As with the young man, it was not his wealth that was the problem, but rather the value he placed on it.
Jesus never said it was sinful to be wealthy, but he did warn us of what riches, or the pursuit of, might do.
What Jesus did, was simply state that there was one thing this young man lacked:
Jesus looked at him, loved him, and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing, Go, sell what you have and give it to the poor and you will have treasures in heaven: then come, follow me.
Consider this, to lack something means something is missing, but Jesus tells him to get rid of something.
Yet, it is in the getting rid of something that Jesus says he will find the means to get something.
What this young man needed was to love God above all other things.
It was here that he would find eternal life.
How many of us need to get rid of something to get something?
Confusing, isn’t it?
How many of us completely understand Christ and his teachings for us?
Can we rightly say that we understand our faith as well as we should?
How many of us know not only what the church teaches, but also why it teaches what it does?
I believe that if more of us knew the “why” of what our church taught, and not just the “what”, our catholic church especially here in America would look much different.
So where do we begin to grow in our understanding of the faith?
Well, we have many options.
We can read the church documents, such as the documents from Vatican II, or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
We can visit trusted internet sites, listen to podcasts, or we can attend classes.
Our parish offers a variety of opportunities just look in the bulletin or listen to the invitations shared in the announcements.
There is also ACTS for men and women.
And for the men especially of the parish, we have “That Man is You” which has been life-changing for thousands across our nation.
In closing, I have two final questions for all of us to prayerfully consider. They are:
· What must I do to inherit eternal life?
· And Who must I become to inherit eternal life?
I challenge you as I challenge myself to honestly and humbly ask Christ these two important questions and then to listen to his response in the quiet of our hearts?
Once the response is heard, we will then have a choice to make.
· To act with all of our heart and soul?
· Or to be like the young man in the gospel message today, ask the question but find Christ’s response to be too costly, and just walk away?
The Choice is ours..... It’s called, “OUR FREE-WILL.”
Monday, May 10, 2021
Deacon Pat Homily (Saint Joseph – Mother’s Day)
John 15; 9-17 Love One Another-the Supreme Commandment
· If you were going on a long trip, what would you say to your family and friends before you left?
· If your children were moving away from home, what would you say to them?
· If you knew that you were going to see someone for the last time, what would you say?
In each case you would probably remind them of your love and care for them, as well as give them some instructions or words of advice.
Well, not unlike us, knowing that He was soon to leave, Jesus gave us and his disciples His final instructions and words of advice.
Today’s Gospel passage is part of the final instructions that Jesus gave to the disciples the night before he was crucified.
Jesus knew that the disciples would not easily find love in the world.
He knew that the world would largely hate them and His message.
In fact, much of the world still hates His message today.
How often are Christians belittled, ignored, or even attacked?
Nevertheless, we, like the disciples, are called to love each other and our fellow man in spite of opposition.
When we love each other, we will experience the joy of obeying God.
When we love one another, we also allow the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and grow in us.
But how it grows will depend on our connection to each other, to God, and to His Church.
The stronger our faith the more we will do, and it is the things that we do for God and for others that brings glory to God and strengthens the Holy Spirit within us.
Love for others means being willing to die for others.
Jesus showed his love for us by dying on the cross for our sins.
The men and women who serve in our armed forces also show this same type of love.
· They and countless others who served were willing to sacrifice their lives for the freedom of others.
· They were willing to go out of their way for others by dying to save their lives.
· They came to the aid of those who were in need even at their own personal expense, and they are still willing and ready to do so today.
Mothers show this same type of love for their children.
· More mothers than not would willingly lay down their lives for their children rather than see them suffer.
· Their love is freely given and given without compromise or cost.
· That is why we honor them so much, especially on Mother’s Day.
· They reflect in a powerful and mystical way, God’s love.
Thank you, Mothers, for who you are
and for being that special light and comfort in our lives.
Jesus also showed how far that type of love can take someone when he died for us.
If Jesus could lay down his own life for us, isn’t there a part of our lives that we are willing to lay down or surrender as well?
Maybe it has to do with a pride, or an unwillingness to help, envy, greed, hatred, an act of forgiveness, or even something else?
This message that speaks of love is intimately connected to relationships.
God wants us to have relationships that are more than superficial.
But relationship building takes time and requires compassion, wisdom, empathy, kindness, courtesy, and forgiveness.
When we love one another, we act as God’s hands and feet to those that he puts in our lives.
Serving others does take time, effort, and sometimes even a little money but the blessings outweigh the costs.
We must not forget that loving others as God loved us is the heart of Christian discipleship.
Christian life can only exist through these human relationships, especially when they are based on mutual respect and humane values.
The apostle Peter showed the same type of love in the first reading.
His love for others, combined with the visions he and the Roman centurion Cornelius had led Peter to minister to Cornelius and his family.
When Peter proclaimed the Good News, the Holy Spirit moved within his audience, and it marked both a second Pentecost and the spreading of the Good News to all people (not just the Jews).
If the Holy Spirit could move in the hearts of Peter’s audience, it can also move in the hearts of the people in our world today.
Yet, these people will need to be open to hearing it, and more especially we need to be open and willing to share it.
If we are to be fruitful for Christ, we must seek His will for our lives and let Him lead us to what He wants us to do for others and for Him, even if it seems a little uncomfortable.
Because when we love one another, we fulfill the second of Jesus’ two Great Commandments, to love thy neighbor as thyself.
When we love Jesus, He also becomes our true best friend.
· Friends have our best interests in mind, just like Jesus does.
· Friends will be with us in good times and bad times just like Jesus is.
· They help us to expand our world, expose us to new and creative possibilities, and sustain us when we are in need.
God has chosen all of us for the purpose of bearing much eternal fruit in such personal characteristics as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
These characteristics will grow within us and help us when we tell others about Jesus and lead them into a fruitful and personal relationship with him.
Let’s take a moment and reflect upon our lives, our lives as Christians.
· We can say that Jesus is our friend, but can we say that we are His friends?
· Do we listen to Him when he speaks to us, or do we only want Him to listen to us?
· Do we want to know what’s on His heart and mind, or do we only want to tell Him what’s on ours?
Being a true friend of Jesus means listening to what He wants to tell us and then using that information to do His work in our world and in our lives.
So, with all that has been shared, what is the true message for us here today?
Simply, the message is:
· Christ is love, and we are to love as He has loved, even to the point of willingly laying down our lives for our friends.
· And, even if the world shall hate us, we are to love, and in that love, and service of love, we will be… eternally… united.. with God.