Sunday, December 30, 2007

Feast of the Holy Family - homily

December has been a great month here at St. Andrew’s. It really has been impressive to see our parish family make such a good Advent preparing the Birth of Christ. Many people came out for Friday night Adoration, during our Advent series. Also, there were many who used the sacrament of Reconciliation during the month. There should have been a lot more, but I heard many beautiful confessions. Hearing confessions is my favorite part of being a priest, so this has been my favorite month here. Of course, we also had so many people coming out for the Christmas masses, some of our family members who we hadn’t seen for a while. We have a great parish family, and it has definitely been felt this past month. I think it all starts at the top with our spiritual father, Fr. Mike. He is a great shepherd! He is also very cool – when the Redskins won last week, he immediately offered to take my 6 pm Mass tonight so that I could, ahem, watch today's game. Pastor of the year!

It’s fitting that we talk about our parish family on today’s feast of the Holy Family. The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph is the model for all families. Now, the wives who are here are especially promoting this as the model because of the situation between the wife (Mary) and the husband (Joseph) – a perfect wife who has to continually deal with the imperfections of her husband! I can hear you ladies now saying, “That’s what I’m talking about”! And, I’m sure it couldn’t have been easy for Joseph to deal with Mary’s perfection!

The Holy Family is the model for all Christian families because they lived out the virtues on a consistent basis. They lived charity, generosity, kindness, and all the virtues. Underlying all of this was a mutual respect for each other. Mary and Joseph had profound respect for the other and Jesus, and Jesus was respectful and obedient to his parents. This point about respect is highlighted by the Church as well as Scripture. If we read about the family in the Catechism of our Church, we see that respect among family members is among the most important qualities of a Christian family. In our second reading today, St. Paul is stressing that husbands and wives should respect one another, and that children should be respectful of their parents in obedience. I would also add that parents should respect their kids; many parents of teenagers have come to me when problems arise, and I emphasize to them that they remind their teens of the respect and trust they have for them. Respect is to be mutual with all family members.

The families at St. Andrew’s seem to get all of this! You all respect for and love one another! I have seen many examples of this. I have seen families come out and serve the parish together. So many families come to Mass here together which is becoming more of a rarity in our world. Families have fun here together. And, families pray together; we have had many families attend Friday night Adoration together. One of the biggest slogans of the Church regarding families is “the family that prays together stays together”. We have such a great parish family because we have so many great individual families.

Finally, one of our parents recently told me how strict she is with her family's nightly meal. We are equally as firm with our parish family's weekly meal, the Eucharist. We all need to come here every Sunday for our family meal. We are not whole whenever we have empty seats in Church; it’s like having empty chairs at the dinner table. If we know those who take a week or two or maybe more off from coming here, we should invite them to join us every week so that we can be united around the table of the Lord. As we receive our spiritual food – the Body and Blood of our Lord – let us leave here and imitate the love and respect of the Holy Family. In doing so, let us imitate the love and respect of the Most Holy Family – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit.

Friday, December 28, 2007

"The kingdom of God is like..."

Eucharistic Adoration tonight, 7-8 pm, SAA Church. All who wish to adore Jesus in the Eucharist are invited!!
The following are my notes from the reflection I gave on Dec. 21 on the parables of Jesus, “The kingdom of God is like…”

I. Welcome (to newcomers)
- to Adoration
- to Advent series

II. Parables
- teach about the kingdom of God
- show religious genius
- the most prominent form of Jesus’ teaching
- surprising, mysterious, hidden

- Jesus wants to show that the kingdom is hidden
- “kingdom of God is like…”
- uses ambiguous images
- reveals to Apostles; keeps hidden from people b/c kingdom is hidden
- doesn’t want to make crystal-clear; need faith
“let those who have ears hear”
- know how to interpret parable

- familiar + unfamiliar
- Jesus speaks about the unfamiliar (kingdom) by using familiar images (treasure, pearl, feast, e.g.)
- tries to teach people about something they don’t know by using things they do know
- meets them on their level and raises them up

- conversion
- through some parables, Jesus introduces a new way of thinking
- see things as God sees them
- workers in the vineyard, e.g.
- God’s generosity + mercy
- grace is a gift, not something you earn

- kingdom is here, but is also outstanding
- present and future
- if it’s totally present, Jesus could present it crystal-clear
- but it’s still mysterious

III. Themes / understandings of some parables

- what Heaven is like:

a. buried treasure (Cantalamessa)
b. a great pearl
c. a wedding feast (Cana, Ephesians, Revelation)

- Prodigal Son
- Confession / Reconciliation
- Pope Benedict XVI
- “all I have is yours” (Lk 15:31) – father of prod. son
- is equivalent to what Jesus says in his high-priestly prayer to the Father in Jn 17:10- “all I have is yours and all you have is mine”

- mustard seed
- faith (individual)
- Church

- the unmerciful servant
- forgiveness + God’s forgiveness
- “forgive us our trespasses AS we forgive those who trespass
against us”
- i.e., if we don’t forgive others, then God won’t forgive us

IV. Parables + Eucharist
- any speak directly about the Eucharist? No
- but, many definitely refer indirectly to it
- treasure hidden in the field

The Eucharist is the greatest treasure on earth

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!!

Here is my homily from last night's Vigil Mass:

A few weeks ago on a Saturday evening, I returned to the rectory after hearing confessions. It was about 5 pm, and I had about a half an hour to relax before the next activity. I turned on the TV, hoping to find some sports on, maybe college basketball. And, there was nothing good on! We have the basic cable service which is now like 800 channels, and nothing good on! Of course, now with the Redskins making a playoff charge (yeah, Skins!), there is plenty of fantastic stuff on these days.

So, I get to the movie channels, and see that “The Nativity Story” is showing. I don’t know how many of you have seen it but I’ve always heard great things about this movie. Now, I was just looking to relax and take a short break from religious stuff. But, then I began to think, ‘you know, I am a priest, I probably should watch this’. It was about halfway over, but what I saw was really powerful. It was a beautiful depiction of the feast we celebrate today. I especially was moved by the wise men who were older men and very much respected for their wisdom. They had come from so far away to worship a baby, a little kid! Then, of course, there’s Mary and Joseph who went through so much to have Jesus born. And, the light that shines down from heaven on the manger scene…oh, if I just ruined the ending to those who haven’t seen the movie, I apologize. It was so powerful that I just lost it. I was balling, saying, ‘Lord, this isn’t fair. I’m just trying to relax here’. The magi really moved me. They had come to worship a kid, “the one who would save his people from their sins”.

Now, I haven’t always been interested in movies like this. Growing up, I would get into “Jesus of Nazareth” during Holy Week but that’s about it. I was raised Catholic, went to Church on Sundays, and attended Catholic schools. But, I never really ‘got it’ about faith. In fact, I was pretty clueless. I didn’t have much of a relationship with God; I only talked to Him when I needed something. Looking back on the first twenty years of my life, there wasn’t really a friendship there with Christ. I knew about Jesus, but I didn’t know Him. It wasn’t until I began to get to know Him that our faith became real to me.

There are some here today who haven’t been to Church in a while. To you I say, welcome. You are always welcome here. There are some who are struggling in their faith, questioning their faith, maybe asking, ‘what’s the point?’ or saying, ‘I can’t relate to any of this’. Wherever we are in our faith, I would suggest looking at your friendship with Christ. That’s where it all starts. The Catholic Church herself says that it’s not about a religion, it’s about a person, Jesus Christ. If there’s no friendship with Christ, then this is all pointless. But, when we get to know Christ, that’s when it becomes personal. That’s when it becomes real. He saves me from my sins. He wants to have a friendship with each one of us.

Many of you know that it started with the Eucharist for me. For whatever reason, I thought for the first twenty years of my life that the Eucharist was just a symbol, just a piece of bread. It wasn’t until I was twenty one that I got it. A priest said to me, “Greg, ‘this is my body’ means this is my body”. It was then that I realized, ‘wow, we really believe this. We really believe that the bread and wine is really Jesus’ Body and Blood’. The Church has believed from day one that the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. It’s really Him!

One of the first prayers that I said to Jesus when I began my friendship with Him was, “Lord, I am sorry. I didn’t know”. I thought about all of those times I had received Holy Communion and had done who-knows-what the night before. “I’m sorry, Lord”. There are many who feel that they can’t even approach Christ because of things they have done in the past. Nonsense. Throughout the Gospel, Jesus invites us to come to Him, no matter what we’ve done. If there are serious sins from our past, we can go to Confession, and get them cleared up quickly. Our Lord truly wants us to come to Him in friendship.

Now, if this is true about the Eucharist, that the Lord will be in front of us in a few minutes, then we have the same opportunity that the wise men, the shepherd, Mary and Joseph had at the Nativity scene. We will be able to see our Lord who will be born on this altar in a few minutes. Like the wise men, we have “come to worship Him”. Through the eyes of faith, we will worship our Lord and Savior. We will see the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Prince of Peace, the reason for the season. We will see our Lord, our Savior, our friend, Jesus Christ.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

4th Sunday of Advent - homily

Last week I celebrated Mass at the nursing home on Arcola (Avenue) which I do once a month; it is one of the highlights of my month. I take my Mass kit and vestments down there and celebrate Mass with about twenty of the residents. They are elderly and ill but have a great spirit about them. So, the other day, I was getting ready for Mass. I put on this purple (technically, it’s violet) vestment. As I was doing that, I began to hear some murmurs. Tension seemed to be filling the room. I immediately made a disclaimer, saying, “folks, don’t worry. This is not for the Minnesota Vikings (who wear purple and play the Redskins tonight)!”

Now, I have to something to say that you may not want to hear. I do not pray for the Redskins to win. People come up to me after they lose and blame me for not praying hard enough and congratulate me on a job well done when they win. I don’t pray for them to win but I do pray for no injuries. You see how fruitful that has been this year! I hope the boys win tonight. If they do, three words: WE WANT DALLAS!

Maybe it’s just me and maybe this is a bit dramatic, but when I hear today’s Gospel, I think, ‘what a mess!’ We just heard Matthew’s narrative of the birth of Jesus and it’s not what we would expect to hear about how the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and Prince of Peace came into the world. There’s talk of divorce among Jesus’ parents. Mary is pregnant from someone other than Joseph. And, an angel has to get involved so that Joseph won’t split.

Of course, Mary and Jesus live God’s Plan perfectly and Joseph is obedient to God through the angel, but this doesn’t sound like the perfect plan. It’s a mess which is the human condition. This would continue throughout Jesus’ life. When he was twelve, he was separated from his parents for three days. As an adult, he was widely rejected by his people and even one of his Apostles. His death was a mess, too; he literally became a bloody mess. Even the four Gospel accounts are not lined up perfectly and have several inconsistencies.

So, what is going on here? First, if everything in and around Jesus’ life was perfect, if everything has worked out perfectly, then we would raise some red flags. We wouldn’t be able to identify with that and would doubt it. The imperfections actually show us that it probably did happen the way it has been reported. We can identify with the imperfections. Second, God enters into the mess. He is not above it; He actually comes right in the midst of it. In his birth, He comes into the mess. In his death, he becomes the mess; he becomes sin which is our mess.

We all come here tonight thinking of the mess in our homes. There is much food to cook, many presents to wrap, and many family gatherings to attend. Christmas can be a real mess! On a deeper level, we have the mess of family problems, conflicts, and tensions. As we consider and deal with all of this mess during Christmas, let us think that God wants to enter into our mess. He wants to be in the midst of it so that he can clean up our mess.

In a very real way, we have the same situation in the Eucharist that those who witnessed the Birth of Christ had two thousand years ago. Jesus will be “born” on this altar in a few minutes. He will come into our mess, and get right in the middle of it. As we receive our Lord today, let us receive his peace amid our mess and stress. May each one of us know his peace, joy, love, and hope throughout the Christmas season.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Young Adult activities

1) Eucharistic Adoration, tonight, 7-8 pm, SAA Church. Tonight is the final night of our series on “The Person of Christ”. The hour will include live music and a reflection on the parables of Jesus. All who wish to adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament are invited!!

2) Fr. Mike and I will be offering the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the Church confessionals tomorrow (12/22) from 4-5 pm and Monday (12/24) from 10 am – 12 noon.
Bethany M. asked, “Does Saint Andrews have any activities aimed at Catholics in their 20s? I was looking through the site and couldn't find a section for twenty-somes but was hopeful that I was just not seeing what was there. If Saint Andrews doesn't, does the diocese?Thanks.”

Thank you, Bethany! I recently sent an email to our Young Adults (20s and 30s) about upcoming YA events at St Andrew’s; the (applicable) info is below. Also, Fran posted the number for the YA coordinator for the Archdiocese. Finally, St. John the Baptist parish in Silver Spring offers regular events for their YAs; you can contact the coordinator of their group, Dennis, at 301-622-1122.

1) Coed flag football, Saturdays, 11 am, athletic field

2) Live music + prayer – Dec 21, 7 pm, Church
We do Adoration every Friday night, but are doing it in a special way during Advent. We will have live music for part of the hour, and I will offer a brief reflection. One parishioner wrote about Adoration recently that it is "Amazing, Inspiring, Beautiful, Powerful, Awesome, Life Altering.... Go! You will be so happy you did." It is AWESOME!
Drinks at a local establishment afterwards are on me for anyone who comes to Adoration (even for just a few minutes)!

3) Mount 2008, Feb 8-10. This is a retreat at Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg (Md.) for high school and college age students. It's about 1500 who attend from all over the country. There will be music, talks, Mass, Adoration, Confessions, prayer, workshops, etc. It is an AWESOME weekend! The cost is $55 (St A's can help if cost is a problem). I can send registration forms to anyone who's interested.

4) Red Cross in need of blood
One of our YAs wrote the following to me the other day: "Red Cross is in bad need of blood donations right now. Think you could pass the word on and get some more people to stop by donor centers soon to drop off a pint? There's one really close by in Rockville that's easy to get to. And even those who gave the double batch of cells in August are free to donate now."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Penance Service tonight, 7:30

Parish Penance Service - tonight, 7:30 pm, SAA Church
The service will include readings, a homily, and a public examination of conscience. Then, there will be several (visiting!) priests here to hear individual confessions. Please encourage others to take advantage of this opportunity to receive God's Mercy, and pray for a good turnout of St A's parishioners!
Here are my notes from Friday night's reflection on the miracles of Christ:

I. Welcome (to newcomers)
- to Adoration
- to Advent series
- Ed Becker

II. Defining a miracle
- an event in which a change in the laws of nature is picked up by our senses
- can be scientifically measured & recorded
- doesn’t take faith to acknowledge that it happened; everyone can see

- e.g.: Jesus turns water into wine

III. We need faith to “see as” a miracle
- faith leads to “miracle” OR miracle leads to faith
- Jesus didn’t do miracles just to show his power; if so, would have done them 24/7
- Did them to help people in their faith

- faith: see reality as it is
- faith w/ miracles: see the Christ who is in your midst

- faith of people who witnessed miracles??
faith in the miracles / signs OR faith in Jesus (saw Jesus as wonder-worker only, not Messiah)
- one day: King
- five days later, Crucify Him!

IV. Miracles are signs of
1) the Kingdom ; they prepare us for the Kingdom
- present Kingdom (kingdom is near) AND
future kingdom (down payment / glimpse of God’s glory)

2) personal authority of Jesus
- He’s the One who works the miracle
- his identity is unavoidable; know the kingdom of God is among you
(in Jesus)

V. Example – cure of a paralytic
“they were all amazed and praised God and were filled with awe” (Lk 5)
1) awareness and acknowledgement of the kingdom in Jesus
2) awareness of his authority

VI. Are the sacraments miracles?
- technically no
- miracles are like the sacraments - point to a deeper reality
- but differ from the sacr. in that changes are not picked up by the senses
- bread still looks like bread; wine looks like wine (sacr.)
- water looks like wine (miracle)

- sacraments – supernatural change takes place (transubstantiation, e.g.)
- miracles – natural change takes place

VII. Modern miracles (Eucharist) - Jesus continues to help our faith

1) In 1263 - Orvieto, Italy

- a German priest who doubted the Real Presence saw drops of blood seep from the Eucharist onto the altar and corporal
- Pope Urban IV was in the town next to the priest; the priest took the corporal to the Pope who declared it a miracle (a miracle itself?, knowing how long the modern Church takes to declare a miracle!)

-The linen corporal bearing the spots of blood is still reverently enshrined and exhibited in the Cathedral of Orvieto.

2) 1730, Italy
- thieves broke into the deserted Church of St. Francis, took the golden ciborium which contained the consecrated Host, and dumped the Hosts in a poor box
- priests found the Hosts two days later in the rarely used, dusty poor box; hosts covered by cobwebs
- hosts were carefully cleaned and placed back in tabernacle; priests expected hosts to deteriorate which bread would normally do
- over 250 years later, Hosts are still completely in tact, shiny, fresh, and maintained the scent of unleavened hosts
- other unconsecrated hosts have been placed in the tabernacle and have decayed and been disfigured- St Peter’s YG at this miracle – 50 teens on their knees
“greatest reverence of the Eucharist I’ve ever seen” (YG priest)

- helps our faith in the Real Presence

Sunday, December 16, 2007

3rd Sunday of Advent - meditation

The following are excerpts from a meditation by Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, Pontifical Household preacher, as found on

The most complete text in which Jesus reflects on his relationship to John the Baptist is the Gospel passage that the liturgy has us read next Sunday at Mass. John, in prison, sends his disciples to ask Jesus: "Are you the one who must come or should we wait for another?" (Matthew 11:2-6; Luke 7:19-23).

The preaching of the Rabbi of Nazareth whom he himself had baptized and presented to Israel seems to John to go in a very different direction from the fiery one that he had expected. More than the imminent judgment of God, he preaches the mercy that is present, offered to all, righteous and sinners.

The most significant part of the whole text is the praise that Jesus offers of John after he had answered the question posed by John's disciples: "Why then did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet [...]. Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force. All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come. Whoever has ears ought to hear" (Matthew 11:11-15).

One thing is made plain by these words: Between the mission of John the Baptist and that of Jesus something so decisive has happened that it constitutes a parting of the waters, so to speak, between two epochs. The focus of history has shifted: That which is important is not in a more or less imminent future but "here and now," that kingdom that is already operative in Christ. Between John's preaching and the preaching of Jesus there is a qualitative leap: The littlest one of the new order is superior to the greatest one of the old order.

The occurrence of this epochal turning point is confirmed in many other contexts in the Gospel. We only need recall such words of Jesus as: "Behold, there is one here greater than Jonah. [...] Behold, there is one here greater than Solomon!" (Matthew 12:41-42). "Blessed are your eyes because they see and your ears because they hear. Truly I say to you, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see and did not see it, and longed to hear what you hear and did not hear it!" (Matthew 13:16-17). All of the so-called parables of the kingdom -- one thinks of the treasure in the field and the pearl of great price -- at bottom express the same idea, always in a new and different way: With Jesus, history's decisive hour has struck, in his presence the decision that determines salvation imposes itself.

It was this claim that brought Bultmann's disciples to break with the master. Bultmann included Jesus in Judaism, making him a premise of Christianity but not yet a Christian; he attributed the great turning point to the faith of the post-Easter community. Bornkamm and Conzelmann realized the impossibility of this thesis: The "epochal turning point" already happened in Jesus' preaching. John belonged to the premises and the preparation, but with Jesus we are already in the time of fulfillment.

In his book "Jesus of Nazareth," the Holy Father confirms this conclusion of the most serious and up-to-date exegesis. He writes: "For such a radical collision to occur, provoking the radical step of handing Jesus over to the Romans, something dramatic must have been said or done. The great and stirring events come right at the beginning; the nascent Church could only slowly come to appreciate their full significance, which she came to grasp as, in 'remembering' them, she gradually thought through and reflected on these events [...]. No, the greatness, the dramatic newness, comes directly from Jesus; within the faith and life of the community it is further developed, but not created. In fact, the 'community' would not have even emerged or survived at all unless some extraordinary reality had preceded it."[2]

In Luke's theology it is evident that Jesus occupies the "center of time." With his coming he divided history in two parts, creating an absolute "before" and "after." Today it is becoming common practice, especially in the secular media, to abandon the traditional way of dating events "before Christ" or "after Christ" ("ante Christum natum e post Christum natum") in favor of the more neutral formula of "before the common era" and "common era." It was a decision motivated by a desire not to offend the sensibilities of people and other religions who do not use Christian chronology; in that regard it should be respected, but for Christians there is no question of the decisive role that Christ's coming plays in the religious history of humanity.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Parish Penance Service - Dec 18, 7:30 pm

1) Adoration, tonight, 7-8 pm, SAA Church. All who wish to adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament are invited!! Tonight we will have live music (Ed Becker) for part of the hour, and I will offer a brief reflection on the miracles of Christ. You might have seen the recent comment from Fran:

"Adoration is Amazing, Inspiring, Beautiful, Powerful, Awesome, Life Altering...Go! You will be so happy you did".

Please invite 2-3 family members or friends.

2) Parish Penance Service - Tues, Dec 18, 7:30 pm, SAA Church

The service will include readings, a homily, and a public examination of conscience. Then, there will be several (visiting!) priests here to hear individual confessions. Please encourage others to take advantage of this opportunity to receive God's Mercy, and pray for a good turnout of St A's parishioners!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What a night!

What a night last Friday was! We had Adoration before and after the 7:30 Mass (for the Immaculate Conception), with a good-sized crowd showing up well before Mass and many who stayed well after Mass. Live music (by our 6 pm group, "Apostles Lips") was a powerful and welcomed addition to our Adoration experience. It also allowed me the opportunity to offer the sacrament of Reconciliation of which several people took advantage. I've heard that my reflection (on the titles of Jesus) went over well; the notes from the reflection are below.

This Friday night we will continue with the Advent series during Adoration; my reflection will be on the miracles of Christ. Ed Becker will provide the live music; I have played his CDs during Adoration before, and at least a few people have given positive feedback about his music. It will be another great treat to have him!

We will probably follow the same format as last week (minus the break for Mass) - exposition @ 7 pm, music, reflection, quiet prayer, opportunity for confession, music, and benediction. The plan is to finish @ 8ish, but it may go a bit past that, especially if confessions go for a while. Please come for at least a few minutes, and invite 2-3 friends or family members to join us. It's a great way to prepare for the coming of Christ together!

Advent Series: Person of Christ

Dec 7: Titles of Jesus

I. Welcome
- to Adoration (every Friday)
- to series

II. Informal titles
- friend, teacher, healer

III. Tonight – some of the formal titles
- Christ / Messiah
- Son of Man
- Son of God

IV. Jesus as “Christ”
- “Christ” very much in line with “messiah”
Christ: “anointed”
Messiah: God’s anointed one

- did Jesus think of himself as the messiah?
- he was profoundly conscious of being Messiah

One theologian (Wright) – if there was one thing that Jesus was conscious of, it was that he was the messiah

Mt 16:16ff
- Peter: “you are the Christ”
- not revealed by man, but by Father
- Peter exalted for using this title for Jesus

Paul uses ‘Christ’ constantly in his writings
- from day one
- indicated that Jesus took title himself

V. Jesus as “Son of Man”
- Jesus’s most common way to refer to himself
- as Jesus relates to us
- Mt 16:16ff – “the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve”
- Jesus is the servant of man

- why did God become man?
St Athanasius: “the Son of God became man so that we might become God”

- title has background in Judaism
- Daniel 7:14- Daniel’s vision of one like a “Son of Man” in glory
- compared to John’s vision in apocalyptic literature

-Christ is servant of man, but also judge of all mankind
Mk 14:62 – “you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven”

VI. Jesus as “Son of God”
- Son of Man (his relation to us), Son of God (his relation to Father)

- Resurrection is the main clue that he is Son of God
- the question for St Paul and for us
- if raised from dead, he is the Son of God
- the Father is the One who raised the Son from the dead

- Christ refers to himself as “the Son” in relation to God the Father

1) Mt 11: 25-27
“No one knows the Father but the Son…”

2) Mk 12:1-12
-parable of the wicked tenants; implies that Jesus is the son of the king (Father)

- very strong words from Jesus: many thought they were blasphemy

- No one ever called God ‘Father’
- from total abstinence (OT) to total evidence (Jesus)
- new revelation about God: he has one Son, a man

- Jesus is unique Son of God
- Jews believed they were all sons of God
- Jn 5 & 15: Jesus claims to be unique Son of God

- vertical relationship w/ Father: Son of God
- horizontal rel’ship w/ us: Son of Man

- Cross
- fully human, fully divine

VII. Adoration: we are saying to the host in the monstrance:
“You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”

Monday, December 10, 2007

Please pray for Fr. Andrew Royals, a young priest of the Archdiocese of Washington who is in the hospital with heart problems. Thank you!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Advent, 2nd Sunday - homily

I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is that I made a five day retreat last week in New Jersey and it was excellent. The bad news, for your sake, is that it was silent. I didn’t talk to anyone for a week, and now I have some catching up to do! It was a very good week; tough, but good. I was with the Hermits of Bethlehem; it was a priest, religious brothers and sisters. They come together every morning for Mass, and then spend the rest of the day in their tiny little houses which are called hermitages. They do this in silence.

I can live this way for about a week, tops; they do it every day. I was wondering how they do it, but then thought about how sometimes, there are certain passages or lines from Scripture that we think, ‘wow, I would love to meditate on that all day’. And, that’s what the hermits do. They meditate on the Word of God all day, every day. In solitude and in silence. And, believe me, the Word comes alive. God speaks to us in silence. It was a great week, but I’m happy to be back.

But, we were roughin’ it! It wasn’t the diet of John the Baptist – locusts and wild honey – but it was close. We did have a “desert day” which was bread and water only. Yes, St. John the Baptist lived a tough life. Some would say he lived tough love. This scene from the Gospel is an example of that. He is calling out the Pharisees and Sadducees because he doesn’t see any signs of their repentance. Basically, he is calling them out for merely going through the motions of religious rituals. He is saying, ‘guys, get ready! The time is now. Christ is coming! Repent; turn away from sin and turn your hearts to God. Prepare, for the kingdom of God is at hand!’

This prompts the question for each one of us: do I only go through the motions as a Catholic Christian, or have I given my heart to Christ? This is an especially good time to ask ourselves that question as we attend many of our religious rituals during the Advent and Christmas seasons. Are there signs of my repentance, where I’m turning away from sin and turning toward Christ? If so, what are the signs?

One of the most common signs of repentance is prayer – not just formal prayer, but praying to Christ from our heart during the day. Also, good works in our parish, community, and families which are above and beyond the call of duty show that we’ve given our hearts to Christ. Living the virtues is another sign of our repentance.

Every time we go to the Eucharist or Confession, we give evidence of our repentance. We are obligated to come to Mass every Sunday, but there are other ways we can go to the Eucharist which involve a choice to be with Christ; for example, Friday night Adoration. We have Adoration every Friday night here, and during Advent, we are giving a series of reflections on the person of Christ during Adoration. We had a great night this past Friday: I gave a reflection on the titles of Christ and we had live music. There was a nice crowd here who seemed to really enjoy it. The next two Fridays we will focus on the parables and miracles of Christ.

Going to Confession is an obvious (and maybe the greatest) sign of our repentance. On December 18, we will have a Parish Penance Service. There will be visiting priests – VISITING PRIESTS! – here who will be offering the sacrament of Reconciliation. It will be a powerful way for us to turn away from sin and toward our Lord.

There are people in our lives who live tough love: St. John the Baptist, maybe our parents, teachers, clergy, friends. But, it is love. Love is wanting what’s best for the other. St. John the Baptist truly wanted what’s best for the religious leaders and others. If he didn’t care about or love them, he wouldn’t have said a word. But, he knew that it would be best for them to repent, to change their lives, and to prepare for the coming of the Lord. It is best for all of us to repent, to prepare, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!

Monday, December 03, 2007

On retreat

I'm on silent retreat (shhh!) this week at a hermitage. Please pray for me as I will pray for you!

Advent series: the person of Christ

Friday nights, 7 pm, SAA Church during Eucharistic Adoration with live music.

Dec 7: “Who is this Jesus?”
Exploring the titles of Jesus

Dec 14: “They were all amazed”
Defining the miracles of Jesus

Dec 21: “The kingdom of God is like…”
Understanding the parables of Jesus

Sunday, December 02, 2007

First Sunday of Advent - homily

Today’s Gospel seems very timely for the week we just had which was a very tough week. Jesus’s line about “if the master of the house had known…when the thief was coming” speaks directly to the situation with Sean Taylor of the Redskins. Also, there was a good, young man from St John’s High School who died this past week, Carl Waclawik. These are two young men who died suddenly. Our hope is that they were prepared. Jesus says to us, “you also must be prepared”. It can happen at any time, folks.

Our hope is that Sean and Carl lived with Jesus, died with Jesus, and will live forever with Christ in his Kingdom.

When we hear about studies and surveys of what people most worry about or are afraid of, death is one of those things. I think that one major reason people are worried about death is that we are worried about judgement. When we talk about judgement, we talk about "particular judgement" which will occur at the end of each of our lives. We also talk about Final Judgement which will occur at the end of the world, at the second coming of Christ. If we prepare for judgement, we will be less worried about it.

One of the things that also makes the list of people’s biggest worries is public speaking. Many people are more worried about speaking in public than death! And yet, if people practice their speeches or talks, they will be less worried about them. If they prepare, they will be less worried. There’s also the example of preparing for a thief or burglar. If we prepare our home with the proper security, then we will be less worried about a break-in. In the same way, if we prepare for judgement, we will be less worried about it.

Jesus talks about judgement in today’s Gospel. I’d like to point out three things he says. First, he says that the people who lived “in Noah’s days” gave no thought to things like judgement. They gave no thought to impending catastrophe, like a flood. That was their bigger sin; it was bigger than any carrying on they were doing with eating or drinking. Second, Jesus says to the Apostles and to us, don’t do the same thing! Don’t get so busy that you give no thought to judgement. Third, those who are “taken” are those who are prepared, those who are vigilant. We want to among those who are taken to the kingdom. We want to be among those who are prepared.

How do we prepare for judgement? We stay close to Jesus. Two specific ways to prepare for judgement are the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Most Holy Eucharist. When we go to Confession, it’s like we start judgement now. We go before the priest who is acting in the person of Christ the Judge. The priest judges our actions but also offers mercy to us, the penitents. Rather than waiting for one big judgement at the end of our lives, we take it incrementally every time we go to Confession.

If we stay close to the Eucharist, then we will not be worried about judgement. If we stay close to the Eucharist, then we live lives of Grace which gets us to Heaven; we stay close to Jesus and in close friendship with Him. That’s what this is all about.

We hope that Sean and Carl stayed close to Jesus and were prepared. We hope that we, too, stay close to Jesus, that we are prepared, that we are vigilant, and that we are among those who will be taken to eternal life.