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Sunday, June 16, 2024


A few years ago my Spiritual Director shared a riddle with me and then sent me away to ponder the riddle until our next meeting.

Here is the riddle:

What is stronger than God,

More evil than the devil,

Poor people have it,

Rich people don’t need it,

And if you eat it, you will die.


I thought and thought about the riddle and then I finally figured it out, the answer is “Nothing.”

What is stronger than God,

More evil than the devil,

Poor people have it,

Rich people don’t need it,

And if you eat it, you will die.

A riddle can also be called a parable. Parables are stories that leave the listener without an answer. Jesus liked to use parables in his teaching and often left the disciples to try and figure out the meaning of such stories. And here we are today, some 2000 years later, still trying to figure out just what Jesus meant when he told the story of The Wedding Feast, The Dishonest Steward, The Good Samaritan, and even The Mustard Seed.

A wise theologian once said that we can not comprehend the parables of Jesus until we see ourselves in the story. Like a small child, recognizing herself in the mirror for the first time, when we see ourselves represented in the story, then we finally get it.

Then we realize that we are:

• the rebellious son who ran away with his father’s fortune,

• or the Levite who passed by the beaten man on the road to Jericho,

• or even the foolish man who built his home on sand instead of rock.

Once we see ourselves in the story, the story then takes on a whole new meaning, and we learn a little more about ourselves, and more about God. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the second parable in Today’s Gospel that speaks of the Kingdom of God:

“With what can we compare the Kingdom of God, what parable will we use for it?  It’s like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground is the smallest of all seeds on the earth; yet when it is sown, it grows up and becomes the greatest of all plants, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in it’s shade.”

Was the point of the parable that something small can grow into something great? Was Jesus perhaps saying that a small baby that was born in a humble stable would grow up to become a Savior, and people would find comfort and security in him? Could Jesus have been saying that this Church, which began with just a tiny gathering of fearful men in a small, upper room in Jerusalem, would one day become a gathering of millions of faith filled people? Or could this parable mean that if we only had faith the size of a mustard seed, our faith would mature and grow, and would be enough to bring us to everlasting life? That is what is so wonderful about parables, there can be many different interpretations and meanings, and God has left it up to each one of us to figure it out for ourselves.

Today, However, I want to suggest another possible interpretation of the Parable of the Mustard Seed on this Father’s day. Could it be that the mustard seed is the child in our midst? We all know how much Jesus loved children, and how he would call them to him, even as the disciples tried at times to keep them away. Could Jesus be using the words of a parable to remind the fathers of every age that our children are our greatest gift, and our greatest responsibility? These children, these mustard seeds, are to be nourished, encouraged, protected, and guided, until they can grow to become the greatest of all plants.

But as Dads, we often become distracted and can fall short.

• We often work long hours to provide for our families and don’t have time or energy to play catch or help with school projects.
• We often are annoyed by our kid’s music and ask them to wear head phones shutting them out.
• We often try to mold them into what we want them to be, missing their uniqueness, and failing to support their dreams.

Assuming for a minute that Jesus told The Mustard Seed Parable to serve as a timeless reminder to fathers, there are also a few things I believe to be true as well:

• That the best way to love our children is to love, honor, and respect their mother.

• That the best gift we can give our children is a sense of safety and security as they grow up.

• That it is more important to give them our time, not our money.

• That it is more important to be respected by them, than to be liked by them.

• That it is more important to encourage them in their interests, than to require them to share in ours.

• And it is us, fathers, who are to teach, model, and live our Catholic faith fervently as the spiritual leaders of the home.

Like it or not Men, our actions speak volumes about us to our kids. They see everything we do, and what we don’t do, and they learn from us. They will always love their mother, but they will want to be like you. We have been given this great gift; some biological, some adopted, and some just placed in our lives.

Fathers play an irreplaceable role in the lives of children, and without their influence, lives of children are seriously affected. Just look around, look at a culture where so many homes are father-less. Look at how many children struggle without that Spiritual Leader in their midst.

With so many riddles in the world, the answers are often found in the examples of those who model for us God’s love, strength, and virtue. And as Saint Paul states in the 2nd reading, for we walk by faith, not by sight, and we aspire to please Him.

As mothers are the heart and love of the home, fathers are to be the spiritual leaders of the family, just as Saint Joseph was the spiritual leader of the holy family.

The Father who through his actions and example:

• nourishes his children,

• helps them to grow,

• at times may find a need to prune,

• but ultimately will form them with large branches

• and then, can joyfully witness how others will come to dwell in their shade.

Fathers, you are the reflection of Christ to your children, young and old:

• serve them well,

• fulfill your responsibilities,

• watch those seeds grow into something great, great in the eyes of God,

• and then, in this life and in the next, you Truly will be blessed.

Happy Father’s Day!

Sunday, December 03, 2023

Advent - Be Awake! The joyful wait

Adapted Homily originally written by Msgr James P. Moroney.

I remember the day that Tom died, as Betty held his hand. She wept.

Oh, how she wept as she clung to his body in the hopes of somehow not losing the 39 years of married life they had lived and loved together.

The kids tried to console her, but it was of little use.

She just needed to cry until she couldn’t cry anymore.

The pain and the emptiness were much deeper than what I could ever have imagined.

She spent the next days and weeks longing for Tom more than she had ever longed for anything in her entire life.

She so wanted him to come back that every creak of the floorboard, and shadow around the corner, made her heart leap in hope.

Regrettably, time went by before I had realized it, it had been almost a year since I had spent any significant time with Betty.

She was still sad, but not as desperate as the last time I had seen her.

I inquired how she was doing and she told me about the day that made all the difference.

She said she had gone to Church and she was sitting all alone in the pew staring at the crucifix above the altar.

When all at once it occurred to her that it was not actually Tom for whom she longed, but God.

·     The God who she prayed would forgive Tom’s sins.

 The God who would keep her in his grace until the last day.

The God who had gone to prepare a place for Tom, and for her, and for all who loved others as he had loved them.

And her waiting for Tom was just a shadow of her deepest longing for God, her desire for love, and her desire to live in God and to know peace with him forever.

Don’t we all ache for God?

Don’t we all wait, waiting for something better, just like:

·   The addict in the alley behind the Gas station who waits for a God who will come and remove all that enslaves him.

How about the single mother who waits for a day when she no longer has to work fifty-four hours a week, a night when she can sleep 8, a life when she will finally know the kids will be ok.

What about the soldier in the Middle East who waits for a morning when there are no more explosions, and every look is not feared as the precursor to an assault, and when he doesn’t have to bury his new best friend.

Or the old man in the nursing home who waits for the day he will no longer be alone, when pain will no longer be his most constant companion, and when he can once again rest in the embrace of her whom he loved.

What about the prisoner on death row who waits for a place where he will no longer be seen as evil, for a life that makes sense, for a time when love can be given and received, for the coming of a God who will love him.

What about the investment banker who waits for the day when he’s not gripped by the fear that he’s about to lose everything, for the day when he can count his value in the quality of his love rather than the size of his profit.

Or what about the little child who waits within her mother’s womb for a world that will welcome her, and parents that will love her, and a country who will protect her.

As Christians we should all realize and recognize that we wait in joyful hope, with baited breath, as we gaze toward the Eastern skies in expectation of the one who rises with healing in his wings…

But Exiled in a Babylon of our own selfishness, we cry out:

“Rend the heavens, O Lord, and come down to us!”

Yet he patiently waits for us in that confessional, ready to embrace us, pick us up on his shoulders, and carry us home to himself.

Still longing to be loved, orphaned by our infidelity and broken promises, we cry out,

 “Why do you let us wander and harden our hearts?”

Yet he patiently waits on that altar, to feed us with himself and to make us sons and daughters of his Father, to live in us that we might live in him.

Still frightened that we have been abandoned, strangers in a strange desert, we cry out:

“Let us see your face and we will be saved!”

Yet he patiently waits for us in the poor, the sick, and the old, ready to console our frightened spirits.

Let us be honest, we all wait in joyful hope.

The part of us that is afraid to confess that secret sin.

The part of us that doesn’t think it’s possible to forgive what ‘that one’ did to us, or that God could really forgive me.

The part of us that cries in the middle of the night.

The part which feels empty and alone.

The part that’s overwhelmed and confused.

The part which amidst all the din and doubt waits…waits in silence for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ upon a cloud in all his glory.


My dear brothers and sisters:

This is a time for all of us to Wake up and to Get ready.

We are to be watchful and alert!

We are to go to confession, We are to celebrate the Holy and Sacred Mysteries like never before, and we are to pray; to pray deeply and honestly!

Also, we cannot forget about those around us.

We are to feed and care for the poor.

We are to go visit the prisoners and the old people in nursing homes.

We are to find the ones we have not yet forgiven and call them right now.

This is what the season of Advent is all about.

Making our hearts into mangers to receive our king, for He is coming. 

There is but one ultimate question that we need to ask ourselves and ponder:


Am I ready…to stand before the One who is Truth Himself, the One who knows my heart completely, the One who has seen everything?


Am I ready to meet the Creator of the world, the creator of my soul?


Am I..






Sunday, March 05, 2023

Transfiguration of our Lord - Seeing God face to face.

Homily for the Second Sunday of Lent Year A
 Adapted from a homily by Fr. Tommy Lane 

As we begin to discern today’s readings, I would first like to share with you a short story that just might help us understand the deeper meaning. The story goes something like this: Twins, a sister, and a brother were talking to each other in the womb. The little sister said to the little brother, ‘I believe that there is life after birth!’ Her brother protested: ‘No, no, this is all there is. This is a dark and cozy place, and we have nothing else to do but to cling on to the cord that feeds us.’ But the little girl insisted: ‘There must be something more than this dark place, there must be something else where there is light and freedom to move.’ Still she could not convince her twin brother. Then...after some silence, she said hesitantly: ‘I have something else to say, and I am afraid you won’t believe that either, but I think there is a mother!’ Her little brother now became furious: ‘A mother, a mother, what are you talking about? I have never seen a mother and neither have you. Who put that idea in your head? As I told you, this place is all we have so let’s be content.’ The little sister finally said: ‘Don’t you feel this pressure sometimes? It’s really unpleasant and sometimes even painful.’ ‘Yes,’ he answered, ‘what’s special about that?’ ‘Well,’ the sister said, ‘I think this pressure is there to get us ready for another place, much more beautiful than this, where we will see our mother face to face! Don’t you think that’s exciting! 

 In the story, the twin brother did not believe there was anything beyond what he could see and hear and touch, while his twin sister believed there was a life beyond what she could see and hear and touch. The story reminds me of our lives. We are like the twin sister when we say, “we are only passing through,” meaning that this life is preparing for eternal life. 

 We all know and realize that We live in strange times with lots of tragedies and appalling accidents and many people dying young. During times like this, we need more than ever to remember that our lives here on earth is temporary, that we do have a special purpose, and that we are on a pilgrimage to God. Through our baptism, we are all sons and daughters of our heavenly Father. Like the girl in the womb who could not see her mother but believed, we too believe that eternal life follows this life and that there is more to this life than what we can see and hear and touch. 

The Gospel today helps us to understand this even better. On the mountain Peter, James, and John saw that there was more to Jesus than met the eye. During the transfiguration they got a glimpse of the future glory of Jesus’ resurrection. Like them, we too get glimpses of the presence of God in our lives.
 • We get glimpses of God in the love we receive from other people. 
 • We get glimpses of God when badly needed help suddenly comes to us from out of nowhere. 
 • We get glimpses of God when we look back over our lives and what we couldn’t understand in the past makes sense now. 
 • We see glimpses of God when we see someone making a sacrifice to help somebody else. 
 • We see glimpses of God in the beauty of a fine day, a nice beach or a beautiful sunrise or sunset. 
 • We see glimpses of God when a passage from the Bible or a homily strikes a chord in our hearts. 
 • We get a glimpse of God when we spend time in prayer and experience the loving presence of God in our lives. 

 And We get more than just a glimpse of God when we receive the body and blood of Jesus in Holy Communion. 

 The Transfiguration coming early in Lent encourages us to continue our Lenten penances because it reminds us of the glory of Jesus risen from the dead. When Jesus and the disciples came down the mountain Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone about his transfiguration until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. Of course, they did not know what he meant. Unknown to them the glory of Jesus’ transfiguration was preparing them to accept the scandal of the cross. They would understand this only afterward when looking back. 

 The good times take us through the bad times. So, when our cross is heavy or when we are tempted to despair about the meaning of life, let us look beyond the pain of the present moment and remember those times when we got glimpses of God, those times when God sent us his consolations. Let us look beyond the pain of life and see the presence of God in our world, and the offer of life that God wants to make to each of us. Let us look beyond the illusion of happiness that this life offers and gaze toward the real happiness that God offers us. Let us look beyond this world to eternal life with God. And let us be patient. As Catholics, we understand that the pressure we often feel in our lives is there to not only help us build virtue, grow in love and forgiveness, and reduce our pride but mostly to get us ready for another place. A place much more beautiful than this. A place where we will see our Jesus, our God, face to face.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Kevin Kearns Funeral Homily - 01.20.2023 - Saint Joseph Church, Marysville, CA


Kevin Kearns Homily – Deacon Pat Kearns (Funeral Mass 01/20/2023) 

Kevin was quite the man, remarkable in many different ways. He was smart, creative, kind, giving, and yes at times stubborn and onery. He was also a fighter and a man of faith. We were quite surprised many years ago when he was diagnosed with advanced stage 4 cancer. He was only given a 50/50 chance to live. He fought, receive great medical care, and won the battle. He eventually went into remission and after so many years was deemed completely healed, cured. He did have some residual side effects from the drugs and radiation, he became hard of hearing, but he wouldn’t admit it. 😊 
Just like how he would never admit he was color blind. Remember some of the outfits he would wear? He swore those colors matched. 😊 

But seriously, having cancer changed his life greatly. After his recover he saw life much differently. He knew that life could end at any time and unexpectedly. If you ever asked him how he was doing, he would always say “Blessed.” He truly saw his life that way. He embraced life and was thankful for the life he had. He also shared his blessing with others. Most might not know but years ago he created a charitable organization that he named “Hope Floats.” He used the organization to sponsor teachers in poor areas of Africa and Guatemala. He also helped with the funding of cancer and diabetes research, and did so much more, too much to list. He was always looking for ways to help those in need, especially children. Maybe that was his way of being fatherly since he had never married. And speaking of fatherly, after our father suddenly died at the age of 65, Kevin naturally and effortlessly took over the role as the patriarch of the family. He watched over his younger 5 brothers, their lives, their families, and was always eager to help if help was needed. He also had a family-related dream. For many years he dreamed that one day he would buy a large piece of property and that all the brothers and their wives could live by each other and share in each other’s daily lives. He loved his brothers more than anything. Well, a little more than a year ago, Kevin did acquire a large horse ranch in South Carolina. He then moved to the ranch and became a South Carolina resident. My brother Tim and his wife Angela followed. And two of the other brothers were beginning to make plans to join them in the near future. His dream was becoming a reality. I had never seen Kevin happier than when he was on the ranch or with his horses. He especially enjoyed driving the tractors, riding the horses, puttering around the ranch on his Kubota Mule, or exploring the forest on one of the quads. In a small way we might say he was already experiencing a bit of Heaven on earth. + 

When we reminisce about the life of a loved one, especially so near to their time of passing, and if they go suddenly as in Kevin’s case, one can’t help but feel a sense of sadness and sorrow. We are united today in our sadness and sorrow at the death of Kevin Kearns. The reality of death, with all its pain and sense of loss, confronts us at this moment. But as we are united in sorrow, we Christians are also united by something else... our Faith. Confronted with the reality of death, we must allow ourselves to be confronted with the reality of our Faith. The reality... not a "maybe" or "I hope so" or fantasy or wishful thinking, but a reality. Our Faith opens our minds to the whole picture about life, death, and what happens after death. Only in the light of our Faith can we begin to understand what has happened to Kevin and how we are to keep going from here. When in our Faith we speak about heaven, and resurrection, and the next life, we do not speak about these things primarily because they give us consolation and strength. They certainly do that, but the primary reason we speak of these things is because they are True. God has spoken His Word to us; we hear it in the Scriptures and in the teachings of our Church, and we respond to it by saying, "Yes, I believe; it is true!" God has broken the silence about death, and told us that He has conquered it! Death was not part of God's original plan; it came into the world because of sin. Death is not from God; death is from turning away from God. Yet God did not leave us in death's power. He sent Christ, who died and rose again and conquered death! God has spoken to the world through Christ, and told us that He wants to give us victory over death in and through Jesus Christ! Because of this, a Christian is not silent in the face of death! Many people, on coming to a wake or funeral, do not know what to say! Death seems to have the last word. But we who believe are not silent. We speak! Christ is risen! Death has been conquered! Many people think that the story of human life is, "Birth, life, and death." For a Christian, it's different. The story is not "Birth, life, and death," but rather, "Life, death, and Resurrection!" Death does not have the last word; life does! Death is not the last period after the last sentence of the last chapter of the human story. There's another chapter to come! Death is not the end of the human story; it's the middle. The end of the story is Resurrection and life that has no end! The farewell that we give to Kevin today is a temporary farewell; the burial we give Kevin is a temporary burial. He will live! He will rise! 

The ceremony today contains many reminders of this, and it points us to the fact that Kevin was baptized. We sprinkled the (remains) with holy water at the beginning of the ceremony... This recalls the waters of baptism that were once poured on Kevin. The white funeral pall is a reminder of the white garment placed on the newly-baptized... a sign of the new life of Christ given to the Christian. This candle is the Easter candle; it is present at every baptism, and symbolizes the Risen Christ. When Kevin was baptized right here in this church, the life of the Risen Christ was poured into his soul! He began to share, here on earth, the life of heaven! At baptism, God rescued Kevin from the power of death; He literally snatched him from the dominion of death and transferred him into the Kingdom of Christ -- a kingdom of eternal life. Christ said to Kevin on that day, "You do not belong to death! You belong to me!" Therefore, a Christian does not merely die. A Christian dies in Christ. Those two words, "in Christ," make all the difference in the world! We belong to Him by baptism, and we live in Him by a life of prayer, obedience to His teachings, and faithfulness to the Sacraments of the Church. If we live in Christ and die in Christ, we will rise in Christ! In the midst of all this, should we grieve? Yes, brothers and sisters, it is OK to grieve; it is natural, because we love Kevin. Even Christ wept when His friend Lazarus died... and He wept even though He was about to bring Him back to life! Yes, we as Christians grieve. But we grieve with hope. It is OK to be sad today that we do not see Kevin anymore, but it would be wrong to think we will never see him again. It is OK to grieve, but it is wrong to despair. Christ is alive! We pray today for Kevin that he may complete the journey to heaven. Pray for him every day, and for yourselves. Look at him today and say with faith, "Kevin, you do not belong to death. You belong to Christ, and so do we!" Amen.

Sunday, December 04, 2022

The reality of Heaven and Hell (Advent)

"The Reality of Heaven and Hell" (2nd Sunday of Advent) 

Today is the 2nd Sunday of Advent, a time of preparation, and the Gospel today has a profound message for us. The Gospel begins with the words of the prophet Isaiah, declaring that God was sending a messenger to prepare the way. The messenger would be a voice crying out in the desert. That voice was to be John the Baptist. Understanding John the Baptist is not an easy task, probably not unlike the task posed to those of his time. Few people, 2000 years ago, probably truly and completely understand what he meant when he declared his mission “To prepare the way of the Lord and make his paths straight.” However, the gospel states that John the Baptist who appeared in the desert proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And what was the response of the people of that time: The scripture states that people of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. John further stated that one greater than he would be coming. John the Baptist is the very voice of Advent, the voice of the coming of the Lord Jesus to earth to intervene in the relationship between God and ourselves. What John stated when he said “I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit", was not just a word about Jesus, It was the Gospel – It was the beginning of the good news for the world. John and his message happened at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry on this earth, and John and his message still are the beginning today for all those who want to find their way out of the wilderness and into the Promised Land. 

However, there is one reality that so many Christians have lost sight of, and because so, their whole faith foundation has become weak and makes them easy prey for temptation and sin. This reality that I speak of, is having a clear distinction and belief in Heaven and Hell. That’s right, I said Hell. I would be shocked to hear of a Christian that didn’t believe in Heaven, but you would not believe how many Christians I have met that question the reality of Hell. Without a clear understanding of the reality that your behaviors and actions in this world do have consequences, and that the result of those actions either lead you to heaven or hell, could leave a person confused, and lost, and can lead to a rationalization for behaviors that are clearly sinful and in opposition of God. What is missing, and what I am speaking of, is the understanding of a healthy “Fear of the Lord.” The “Fear of the Lord” as it is spoken of in the Bible, is not just a concept, but an experience that predisposes us to wisdom. In fact, “The Fear of the Lord” is the beginning of wisdom. The “Fear” is not the fear of a tyrannical God who arbitrarily inflicts punishment, but a fear that gives proper respect to a God who administers “Just punishment” for those who deserve it. The biblical “Fear of the Lord” is an intelligent fear, based on a deep perception of the holiness and majesty of God, which rightly recognizes the possibility of violating the law of God, despising His love, rejecting His mercy, and meriting eternal separation from Him. While the fear of the Lord is simply the beginning of wisdom, the end of wisdom is love. The scriptures tell us in fact, “blessed is the man who fears the Lord.” 

Saint Catherine of Sienna, a Doctor of the Church, relays to us from a vision from God the Father that there is much more depth to the reality of heaven and hell than many commonly suppose. She states that sin and evil are far more ugly and more horrendous than most of us can imagine, but so too are the beauty, glory, and goodness of heaven greater than we can comprehend. Saint Catherine states that there are four torments of hell. 

 • The first is that souls are deprived of seeing God. 

 • The second is that the souls agonize ceaselessly with regret about what has been lost. 

 • The third is that unlike the beatific vision in heaven, the souls in hell will be immersed in the demonic vision, the source of evil itself. God even showed Catherine a brief vision of hell and reminded her of the vision by stating, “You will recall that when I once let you see him (the devil), for a tiny while, hardly a moment, as he really is. You said, after coming to your senses again, that you would rather walk on a road of fire even till the final judgment day than see him again. But even with all you have seen, you do not really know how horrible he is.” 

 • And the fourth torment is the ceaseless burning of an immortal fire that has as many forms as the forms of the sins that were committed. Stating that: 
- Misers will be plunged into the filth of greed 
- Violent souls will be engulfed in cruelty 
- The indecent will be engulfed in indecency and wretched lust 
- The envious in envy 
- And those who were hateful and bitter toward their neighbors will be engulfed in hate. 

So why do I go on and on about the reality of heaven and hell, it is because heaven and hell is a reality, a reality that so many have allowed to fade away in their conscience. Without this acknowledgment and understanding, Saint Augustine, Saint Catherine, Saint John of the Cross, Saint Theresa of Avila, Saint Therese of Lisieux all warn of the ease and likelihood of falling for the traps of the devil and spending eternity in hell. 

So where do we go from here? This brings me remembering a story I once heard that involved a professor and a great master. The professor traveled to the Far East to meet with a great master and the professor asked the master to teach him what he needed to know to have a happy life. The professor stated: - I have studied the sacred scriptures - I have visited the greatest teachers in the land, but I have not found the answer, please teach me. At this point, the master served tea to his guest. He poured the professor a cup full and then kept on pouring and pouring so that the tea began to run over the rim of the cup and across the table, and he still poured, until tea was cascading upon the floor. The professor watched this until he could no longer restrain himself. “It’s overfull, stop, no more will go in,” he cried out! “Like this cup” the master stated, “you are full of your own opinions, your own ideas, your own speculations, you are full of yourself. How can I show you the way, until you first empty your cup.” Doesn’t this story represent our own lives so very much! We want to be shown the way, yet at the same time, we want to pursue and follow our own desires, our own ideas. 

John the Baptist called to the people with the message of repentance. He called to them to hear his message and then to take action so that they would be able to greet the Messiah and walk in his way. He preached to “repent.” Repent, what does the word repent mean? Quite simply, it means to “turn around”, to change directions, to face a new way, and to begin to walk in that way, leaving the old way behind. Just as the professor had to empty himself to learn the way of the master, so each of us must change direction if we are to truly see the Lord and walk with him from the wilderness to the promise land. 

Advent is a time to empty ourselves. It is a time of Quiet and reflection. It is a time for acknowledging our sins, it is a time for enjoying the sacrament of penance, it is a time of forgiveness, it is a time for change. It is a time to purge ourselves of habits and behaviors that draw us away from God, and it is a time to cultivate holiness in our lives and in the lives of others.  

When we realize this and make room for God in our lives, then we are on the way to true repentance after the example of John the Baptist and can joyfully accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

Saturday, October 01, 2022

Faith the Size of a Mustard Seed

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.

Sound Familiar? 

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?

Situations where God was waiting for us to act and we did nothing.


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.