I have not posted a lot of homilies this summer because I’ve been away several weekends. Over the weekend of July 12 I was away at a Steubenville Youth Conference. These have been going on for 40 years, and now take place at 17 locations around the US and Canada and include more than 50,000 people in a summer. They are powerful opportunities for young people to encounter God’s love for them and to be transformed by it. The music was great and the speakers were powerful, but can you guess what the youth loved the most? Mass, Confession, and Adoration. These were the most powerful ways they encountered Christ’s love for them. I hope that this summer has given you an opportunity to encounter Christ’s love for you and be changed by it. Check out the video at the end of this post for a glimpse into the youth conference itself. You can find my parish group at 4:37 in the video.

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Ordinary Time, 16th Sunday. The most amazing part of the Steubenville conference? Confession, Mass, and Adoration. It is where the young people heard the voice of the Shepherd. The bad shepherds follow the example of the Thief: they mislead and scatter. Jesus does the opposite: gathers and teaches, and restores the soul.

The voice of the Thief tells us we need euthanasia and assisted suicide in order to escape from suffering. It tells us that we should have the freedom to decide when our lives end. But the Shepherd shows us that love and community are the answers to the suffering we face. When things are cloudy and dark, where do we run? Run to the Good Shepherd!

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Ordinary Time, 14th Sunday. God has created us to serve. Having a master gives us purpose and keeps us from becoming aimless and depressed. Serving the greatest Master makes us all we were meant to be; serving lesser masters leaves us enslaved. When America declared independence, they understood they were to serve the people and follow God’s laws as a nation “under God.” Even our newly “independent” government realized we depend on one another, the laws of God, and the international community. God serves us a we serve Him. In serving God we discover true freedom.

(5 July 2015)

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Ordinary Time, 13th SundayRecorded live outdoors at the parish picnic Mass. It can be hard to trust that God really knows what He is doing. We have to learn to listen and cooperate with God’s ways. Today’s Gospel is a perfect example. A woman has been afflicted with hemorrhages for 12 years; a twelve-year-old girl gets sick and dies. Does God really know what He is doing? Yes. Twelve years ago he had plans to answer both these prayers. God knows what is best for us.

Last Friday our Supreme Court discovered in the Bill of Rights a law that two brides or two grooms is the same thing as a bride and groom. How does Christ teach us to respond to this answer? First, with incredible love for every person, especially those who disagree with us. Second, Pope Francis reminds us in Laudato Si’ that we don’t have absolute authority over this world or over our human nature. We have to work in accord with the nature our Creator has given us. Marriage is the intertwining of life and love; the social norms of Marriage exist for the sake of the children. The children will suffer the most from a distorted view of marriage.

We are not alone in this difficulty. God continues to be present in the world with incredible care for ever person. He wants to touch and heal every wound. More deeply, he wants a relationship with each person. The wounds and struggles, even the political struggles, are opportunities for us to turn to Jesus, to let him touch us, and begin a relationship with True Love. Stay in touch with Jesus.

(28 June 2015)

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Ordinary Time, 12th Sunday. In his new encyclical titled Laudato Si’, Pope Francis speaks about ecology using a familiar two-part pattern. He condemns a culture of indifference (which he calls a throw-away culture). This leads us to be indifferent to the needs of others, especially the poor, and to the needs of our planet. He then invites us to a culture of encounter and dialogue where we are open to meeting God and being met by him through others and through creation. It’s much more than just “an encyclical on climate change”, it’s an Encyclical about a change of heart.

The beginning of the encyclical reminds us of the storm from the Gospel. The Good News is that Jesus was in the boat with the Disciples. Pope Francis reminds us that God is present in and through His creation. The answer to the storm is the attitude of Jesus who looks for His Father all around him. We need to learn this same attitude of Jesus and grow in our encounter with God’s Fatherhood. In order to be a good father you must be a good son.

We also face personal storms that, like Job, threaten the very core of our being. God reminds Job that He is the Lord. As Job lets God be the Lord he finds peace. Accepting the Fatherhood of God brings peace and calm to our lives, our families, and even our planet.

(21 June 2015)

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The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). Today’s feast is about the Body of Christ, but today’s readings are all about blood. The Jewish people believed that blood carried the life of animals and humans within it. The life of the animal belonged to God so they spilled the blood on the ground as a way of giving it back to God. But when it came to sacrifice, the blood was saved. Half was sprinkled on the altar and half on the people. God and the people have become “blood brothers.” On the Day of Atonement the High Priest would renew this covenant.

Jesus is the true High Priest. He entered the Holiness of heaven bringing his own blood. It is this same Blood that is present here at Mass. Instead of being sprinkled on you, you take it into you. God shares his life with us and it cleanses us from the inside. His life begins to flow through your veins. What extravagant love of God! He can’t help himself – he just loves giving to his beloved. The Mass is this great sacrifice of Christ present again here and now.

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The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. Three persons, one God: the Trinity is a family. Or we could say more accurately that the family is a kind of trinity. Our family relationships give us our identity. Similarly, the identity of each member of the Trinity comes from their relationships with one another. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we become members of the family of the Trinity. This is our true identity. Making the Sign of the Cross reminds us who we are. It also reminds us what we do. We must know and love God and love our neighbor. All people are God’s children and they are my brothers and sisters. We are Family and Love is our Mission.

(31 May 2015)

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Pentecost Sunday. The Spirit wants to restore our relationships with God and others. The key to any relationship is Communication; we need to hear and to be heard. So the first thing the Spirit does is restore communication between people of every language. Communication leads to Community. Our sin wounds community. The word sin comes from the German word sünde (to sunder, divide). The Spirit forgives sin so our relationships can be restored.

Communication is also essential in our relationship with God. We have to hear and be heard; we have to share with God and learn to listen and respond to Him. The Spirit gives little nudges to move us from the grasping and isolation of consumerism into the receiving and giving of true relationship. Come Holy Spirit!

(24 May 2015)

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“All Are Welcome,” sings one popular Catholic hymn. Despite the efforts of your local Catholic parish to install Greeters and be friendly, the rule on Communion remains Catholics Only. Catholic weddings and funerals are especially awkward. Why would Catholics be so un-welcoming as to distribute Communion at such events and explicitly not allow everyone to participate? Some Protestants feel stung by this treatment – they are Baptized, they have a relationship with Jesus (probably better than most Catholics do) – and yet they don’t feel welcomed at the Lord’s table. It’s a question that cannot  be answered satisfactorily by catching the priest after Mass. The full answer involves Sacramental theology and 500 years of Church history. Here’s an attempt to provide a satisfying answer without the intricate details.

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