Category Archives: Homilies and Talks

Homilies

Reflection at Eucharist 5/19/18 by Fr. Michael

+As we come to the end of the Easter season, our readings are taken from the last chapters both of the Acts of the Apostles and the gospel of John. With the coming of the Holy  Spirit the Church is empowered to live the gospel, the fullness of the Christian life even as both Saints Paul and John were empowered to do.

When the early disciples thought that John was not going to die because of what Jesus had said to Peter about him, John only suggests what Jesus may have meant by what he said. If we yield to the working of grace in our own lives, allow the Holy Spirit become the very source of our life and vitality, then we too, like John, become his beloved disciples. Death no longer holds cause for fear, for God’s life is already at work within us. It no long matters when the Lord will come.

Let us then, this day, pray with Mary for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon our lives, upon the lives of those we love, upon the whole world. Let us pray that we realize and experience just how much we are God’s very own sons and daughters so as to become living witnesses to this divine life to all those with whom we live.

Fr. Anton’s homily for the Ascension

Pope Francis has a way of saying “We cannot honor our Mothers too much.  Without Mothers, there would be no priests or religious, no faithful  doing the works of Christ, no one to sing the praises of the Lord.”

On behalf of our Community, “Happy Mother’s Day” to all the mothers with us today, a day when we remember all our mothers with love and prayer!

My brothers and sisters, many of us remember the television series Star Trek, starring Wm Shatner,  and the catchphrase “Beam me up, Scotty!” based on the command Capt Kirk gave his chief engineer when he needed to be transported back to the Starship Enterprise.

If we were students in a Catholic school,  every year we looked forward to forty days after Easter, Ascension Thursday, a Holy Day of Obligation, which meant a free day from school, when we could play outside on a beautiful day in May and rub it in the jealousy of the kids in public school.

Maybe we thought that’s what the feast was all about: Jesus getting beamed up to heaven, teleported up from the earth …After all, our gospel simply says: ‘So after the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God.’

The first reading added  scant more details:

‘As they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. They were still looking up intently as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white  stood beside them, saying “Men of Galilee, why do  you stand here looking up at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return … the same way .. you have seen him going into heaven.”’

Well, hard to believe, but  “Beam me up, Scotty,” is a misquotation. That phrase was never spoken verbatim in any of the TV series or films.   Several things sounded close, but never that exact  quote, it something that just took on a life of its own, even became a bumper sticker.

That aside, Jesus  really was taken up into heaven, which we recite in our Creed, and will repeat again today:  “He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.”

His Ascension is an important feast, but it can get overshadowed by 40 days of Lent climaxing in Holy Week,  then joyful celebrations of Easter for 50 days, culminating in Pentecost, the birthday of the Church and opening of the Reign of God.

One day,  Ascension Thursday,  standing alone, lost in the shuffle.

So important a Feast, however,  that 20 years ago, the bishops moved it to a  Sunday ,to facilitate the obligation to attend Mass, and  include as many as possible in celebrating it.

That’s where we are today.  The Ascension of the Lord, His ultimate victory celebration. Jesus raised from the dead, now seated at God’s right hand.

The story began with  God creating the world, and us …And seeing that it was good. Even when sin entered the world,   sin could not thwart Him.God  sent His Son to put on our flesh and bring us salvation, redemption.

When the soldiers crucified His Son,  fixed a sign to the top of the cross stating “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”  in three languages,  divided his garments among themselves and cast lots for his seamless robe, when they buried Him,  even that could not thwart God’s plan.

God raised Jesus from the dead, glorified His Body with new supernatural powers that it permanently enjoys.

Jesus had  come from the Father,  descended from heaven, and on this, His last day on earth, He returned to the Father …He ascended into heaven and  is seated at the right hand of the Father!

If we’re looking for testimony,the Resurrection and the Ascension are the greatest witnesses,the ultimate affirmation of the Son by the Father. No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven… the Son of God!

The Ascension, however,  is a statement of our destiny as well. Remember our first two catechism questions:

Q: Who made you?     A: God made me.

Q: Why did God make you?

A: God made me to know Him, love Him and serve Him in this life, and be happy with Him in the next.

Though we may be sinful, limited, fall short of the glory of God … each one of us is called to share in God’s own life, to be divinized, to be seated at God’s right hand as sons and daughters redeemed by the Son.

We couldn’t have a more basic affirmation of our humanity than in the Ascension.

When Christ stripped Himself to put on our own flesh, that gave our flesh a certain dignity, that God would wear it. But our real dignity culminates in the Ascension,it’s our triumph, it’s a promise that we were created to dwell with God.

That’s what God has done for us, that’s the gift He has given  us. Salvation is God’s act of lifting us up to share His own life.

Usually we hear it at funeral masses, but wouldn’t it be more than appropriate for the Day of Ascension: Jesus saying: “In my Father’s house, there are many mansions…  I am going to prepare a place for you, but I will come again, to take you to myself, so that where I am, you also may be.”

Or His other words which give us so much hope: “This day you will be with me in paradise.”

Hope is what it’s all about.

Thank you, Bishops, for helping us pay attention to the Ascension of the Lord!

Reflection by Fr. Michael at Eucharist 5/11/18

Today we celebrated the holy abbots of Cluny  so here was my take on the gospel.. Michael

+(Jn 16:20-23)The gospel this morning points us toward the mystery of God’s great love for us in Jesus, a mystery that stands at the heart of our Christian lives, at the heart of the Holy Rule of Benedict to which the abbots of Cluny were so dedicated.

Jesus uses the image or metaphor of a woman in labor to give birth to a child in which there is great pain but once the child is born, the pain is forgotten and there is great joy that a child is born. Our lives as Christians, as monks are right now in this process of giving birth as each one of us faces the dying to self that must take place in us if we are going to be born into God’s very own likeness. Inevitably we are in anguish but as this new life is born in our hearts, our hearts come to overflow with the inexpressible delight of love as St Benedict tells us and run, even when joints may become weak or fragile, along the path of God’s commandments.

Homily 04/29/18: 5th Sunday of Easter +Remain in Me as I Remain in You

5th Sunday of Easter, 2018

There is nothing like the living experience of the power of the Resurrection. In two of our readings this morning we are called to remain in Christ even as he remains in us. We are invited into an intimacy with Christ that many of us will hardly dare to think of or imagine to be possible but it is this closeness to Christ, our oneness with him that makes our lives fruitful and filled with lasting joy.

Throughout these past weeks we have heard again and again of Christ’s unexpected appearances, whether it was at the tomb to Mary Magdalene after his death, to the apostles in the upper room, to the travelers to Emmaus or along the seashore while the disciples were fishing. Jesus continues to come into each one of our lives at unexpected times and places. He seems to enjoy surprising his friends and followers.

As monks we may go through periods of our life when we feel he is nowhere in sight but if we dare to trust, somewhere deep down we know he is closer to us  than we are to ourselves, is guiding us into a process of transformation that far exceeds out ability to understand and will only come to an end when the darkness of this life passes away. When we reflect carefully on the meaning of his passion and death we see how we as his disciples are being drawn into his own complete surrender to the Father’s plan for our world today.

As believers, Jesus is drawing each and all of us gathered here this morning into a life surpasses any human design, into the very life Jesus now shares in the eternal embrace of the Father. Sometimes an event will reveal what this may possibly be like. Just a few weeks ago there was captured on film and may now be seen on YouTube, a five or six year old boy who had a question for the Holy Father as he visited a parish in a poorer suburb of Rome. The young boy, Emanuele, went to a microphone but then broke down in tears before the whole audience.. The Pope beckoned him up to his chair so that the boy could share what was going on in his heart. Embraced by Francis, Emanuele was able to tell him privately that his father had recently died and while his father had all his children baptized, he did not himself believe in God. The boy loved his father, believed him to be a good man but was in anguish about his salvation. Pope Francis asked the boy if God would abandon his children if they are good? And he told him that God was surly proud of his father because it is easier to baptize your children as a believer than if you are a non-believer. He told the boy, surly this pleased God very much. Talk to your dad, pray to your dad. Pope Francis then asked Emanuele permission to share what had gone on between the two of them with all those gathered there.

I share this because I feel this is what our gospel is attempting to tell us, that God readily understands what’s going on in our hearts with all their fears and doubts. In this is our Father glorified, that our lives may bear abundant fruit and walk in the footsteps of his beloved Son Jesus. And we can do this all day long by opening our hearts from moment to moment to our loving Father’s presence by remaining in his Son Jesus even as he remains in us.

Isn’t this what our celebration of this Eucharist is bringing about as often as we participate in it. The glorified Christ giving us a share in this very Body and Blood reveals just how open and receptive God is toward each one of us who partakes of them. Through them we share in God’s very own inner life and come to reflect this life to all around us in every aspect of our world today.   Amen

Fr. Michael’s Reflection at Eucharist 04/25/18

+(1 Peter 5:5b-14; Mk 16:15-20) Going through the readings for today I found myself moved by Peter telling us to clothe ourselves with humility in our dealings with one another. There is evil in our world but we must remain steadfast in our faith, “knowing that our brothers and sister throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.” There is a lot of suffering in our world today and if one is sensitive and tuned in, one may find it nearer than imagined. What must have been going on in the mind and heart of the young man who recently took the lives of four persons at the waffle house? What must be the inner pain that drives a person to commit such a criminal act? The God of all grace has called each one of us to glory, Christ Jesus is himself restoring, confirming and strengthening us right in the middle of the suffering we endure.

Then Jesus in the gospel invites us to go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel everywhere. What was begun by the Incarnation and his suffering on the Cross, Christ continues to do in each one of our lives. As Christ’s love abides in us we become living messengers all day long of God’s saving and transforming power. What we do at this altar goes on all day long as we allow Christ’s Spirit come down upon us. Just as bread and wine become the very body and blood of Christ, so our lives become living members of Christ’s own for the life of the world.

Homily – Fr. James – 4th Sunday in Easter Time

In today’s gospel, Jesus proclaims Himself to be the Good Shepherd who even lays down His life for His sheep. And He says that He has “other sheep” that are not of this fold. Jesus accepts full responsibility for All men and women. As the Catholic Catechism says: “There is not any person now, nor was there in the past, nor will there be in the future, for whom Jesus Christ did not die”. Truly, as John tells us in the second reading: “See with what love God has first loved us”. Jesus tells us that we also have a definite responsibility toward all peoples of all time. St. Augustine tells us: “Extend your love over the entire earth if you want to love Christ, since the members of Christ are found everywhere in the world. If you love only one part, you are divided. You are not in the Body; you are not under the Head.”

At the very beginning of the Scriptures, after Cain had murdered his brother Able, God asked: “Where is your brother?” Cain answered as a coward: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The response of God then and the response of Jesus today is: “Yes, you are!” Jesus makes it clear over and over in both his words and his parables that our love, our concern, our responsibility must lie with Every person in the world, especially with the poor and the outcast.

This love must extend to those who are “not of my flock”. Jesus says: “I must bring them also, and they will hear my voice”. It is questioned by some how those not of the flock will be saved. This is a mystery that is ultimately known only by God. However Jesus says: “I must bring them also and they will hear my voice”.

We do not know what will happen to anyone at the moment of death. Yet it seems very possible that at that moment, when Jesus is revealed to us as the Head of His Mystical Body of all peoples of all time, all will hear His voice and recognize that as being the true voice which led them throughout life, even if they thought at the time that it was the voice of Abraham or Mohammed or Buddha. Then they will realize that they are part of that one flock which is Christ, of that one Body of which He is the Head. The voice that is heard at that moment will not be first of all a voice of judgment. It will first be a voice of love and acceptance of all. The question at the last judgment will not be whether Jesus accepts us, but whether we truly accept and love Jesus in the fullness of His total Body which is every person of all time.

This highlights what is perhaps the greatest sin of our time – namely the failure to accept those who are not of our faith or our culture. Augustine again says: “All men are one Man in Christ, and the unity of Christians constitutes but one Man. And this Man is all men and all men are this Man, for all are one, since Christ is one.” (pardon the sexist language!) Hence to establish a policy of excluding all Muslims or all Buddhists is to abort the very Body of Christ. It is a failure to recognize the other as truly our brother or sister. It is to answer as Cain did: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” But the response always remains the same – a resounding YES! We are all a part of the flock of Christ, just as we are all a part of the Body of Christ. And when we receive Jesus Christ in Communion today, we receive with Him all the rest of humanity and Jesus asks us the same question as of old: “Where is your brother? Where is your sister?” That brother or sister is not just our blood relatives, but the person next to you now – the person trying to become an immigrant in our nation, – the person trying to cross the borders – the person persecuted simply because they are not like us in every way. Our nation is challenged today as to whether we are truly a Christian nation or whether we are a national clique of like people.

Jesus Christ Himself calls us today to recognize the fact that we cannot accept Him as our Savior and at the same time reject some who are His brothers and sisters. We are all to be one flock under one Shepherd. And in that way to become the total Christ who is given over to the Father.

Deacon Lawrence’s homily for Feast of Annunciation

In our first reading today, the Lord, through the prophet Isaiah asks King Ahaz to name any sign he wants from God, anything he might desire. But Ahaz is sure there is a trick involved. Maybe we can sympathize. If something sounds too good to be true, it’s probably too good to be true. We are suspicious of free gifts, only too aware that there is usually some catch involved. All we have to do to win a million dollars is subscribe to a magazine. We have already been selected. Sure. Once we have fallen for something like this once or twice, we tend to wise up. Like Ahaz, we simply don’t trust the offer any more. In Ahaz’ case, to avoid the trap he is sure is there, he plays the pious card, and uses the pretense of humility to avoid having to commit to something he doesn’t understand. He refuses God’s gift.

We have spent the last week celebrating what Christians believe to be the greatest free gift ever given to humankind: the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. And rightly so. The resurrection of Christ is the fulfillment of the promise of salvation history, and the cornerstone on which the Christian faith has been built. When Christ rose from the dead, our human nature was changed forever. We live in a post-resurrection world, in which we have been lifted from our human state to share, however gradually, in the divine, a fact which we reinforce each day in the Eucharist.

Today, though, we celebrate a humbler gift: the conception of a child. It is humbler on the surface because it’s more common. A little more than 4 babies are born on this earth every second, that’s 250 every minute. We may assume that conceptions are occurring at, at least, an equal rate. Meanwhile, since the dawn of human existence, there has been exactly one resurrection from the dead. Jesus. So it is little wonder that the resurrection is given more attention than the conception. Of course we expect things to even out at the end of all time, when we will all be resurrected and sent to our just reward, but until then resurrection remains a rarity.

But of course today isn’t the anniversary of any ordinary conception. It marks the conception of Jesus of Nazareth, God who became human. It marks the conception of a new kind of humanity, fully human and fully divine, the Word made flesh, the meeting of heaven and earth in one person. God comes down to us not just to touch us, or to speak to us, or to perform some miracle of nature, to heal someone or to part the Red Sea, but to rupture the barrier between earth and heaven, not only to affect us but to become one of us. Matter, the stuff of which we are made, from which everything we know is made, the stuff which God made from nothing, now encloses God. As many of our liturgical texts and hymns pronounce, Mary, who is a creature of God, now carries her creator in her womb. She has become the mother of the one who made her.

Heaven has touched earth and neither will ever be the same. Heaven is now part of nature, just as, when Jesus ascends in a few more weeks, his human body, born of nature, will be part of heaven. This means that we, right now, right here, have access to heaven in much the same way Mary did.

Today’s psalm and second reading tell us that we should be ready to do God’s will. We might think that this is not too difficult, if only we knew what God’s will was for us. In fact, it is very difficult, not because we don’t know God’s will, but because, like Ahaz, we don’t know what it will mean for us or what the consequences will be. Doing God’s will opens us up, as it did Mary, to uncertainty, trial and tears. But it also opens us to God’s greatest gift for us – a chance to be truly ourselves, as we were created to be, with Christ at our very center.

The angel in the gospel today speaks not only to Mary, a young woman in first century Nazareth, but to us as well. It asks us if we too will accept God’s will and allow God’s son to be born in us, in our hearts and in our bodies. And it asks us not just once in our lives, but every day, at every moment. The angel stands at the door and knocks, waiting for our answer.

King Ahaz refused God’s gift. Mary accepted it. She accepted it not knowing what it meant or how it would all turn out. Unlike Ahaz, she simply trusted in God. All creation, as we are told somewhere, earth and heaven and the netherworld, waited, holding its breath, for Mary’s answer.  And it waits for ours as well. Will we, like Ahaz, hang back, not trusting, fearful of the consequence of any answer? Or will we put aside our own will, our calculating suspicions, and trust entirely in God, and answer, with Mary, “Yes?”

Homily 4/8/18 – Fr. Carlos – Church is an Easter community

This gospel is an anticipation of the birth of the church, at Pentecost,  it is John’s version of it.   It lays down the foundation for a group of disciples to be a church.  Christ is Risen indeed but his message and cause goes on.  Not an idea but Jesús lives on for all human beings and his followers must bring this message to the world.   Through the power of the Holy Spirit a community is gathered, an Easter community, a community of the Risen Lord, the body of the Risen Lord.  It is not so much a congregation or a company of people who come together…. as  a living body of people who are called together to become  the body of Christ.    This church belongs to men, in  a sense, for it consists of human persons.   But more so this is a church of God because it comes from God and God is love and God is self-communicating.  What one freely receives one freely gives.   In the early Christian times, the Church had no buildings.  Christians met in any house which had a room large enough to accommodate them.  These gatherings were called house churches.  The best known was that of Aquila and Prisca.  Every home in a real sense should be a church.   More importantly this church is an easter community, meaning that the members experience christ as living in their midst.  It is not a spectator church.  Everyone is involved in this living church and its propagation:  through service, kindness and help to the poor and oppressed and most especially in the breaking of the bread.  To be a leaven in society.

This ekklesia to use a more technical term is a community of believers that came from doubt and confusion.   It is not a community with clear ideas of what life is all about and who Christ is for them.  It grows in understanding of itself through the Holy Spirit.  There is always the temptation for human beings to reduce the divinity in a category that allows them to understand it.  Like Thomas he doubted the resurrection because it is not within the experience of human beings to see another come from the dead.  Thomas doubted because he had his own faith to hold on to.  He had his own value system, principles to be kept in life, tenets to hold on to which he learned from the temple and religious authorities since he was a young child.    It definitely precludes resurrection.  It is a big mistake to call those who do not belong to our church unbelievers. Perhaps our big problem is that they are all believers and that we could not convince them that our belief is better than what they have.   This is most often our line of approach to those who do not belong to us.  Ours is  better.    Jesús is the message, as Risen Lord not ideas, to be seen effective in the lives of people.  And if this risen lord is effective in the lives of his followers it would show:  kindness, generosity, non judgmental, total respect for others, humble and so on.   but unfortunately many of us could not live what we proclaim by words.   Christians must be alive themselves and life giving to others to bring to others the good message.   We do not posses Christ as the disciples wished in the first days of his rising from the dead.  They want to keep him the way they saw him and knew him.  They want to confine Jesús inside the human ambience at their beck and call not realizing that he would be more trully risen in Spirit.  Blessed are those who do not see and yet believe.  True and not true.  We cannot see how we want Jesús to be: modern prophet, revolutionary, defender of the oppressed, ordinary guy just like one of us etc.  meaning  that he should exist within our grasp.  Thomas must understand that from then on Jesús will live in men and women who could say that “It is no longer I that lives but Christ lives in me as St. Paul said.   Doubt is a pre-requisite to faith.  The real doubt is to doubt how we personally understand ourselves, others, life,  and faith:  how we understand God and Jesús.   It is to doubt our arrogance in insisting that our knowledge is the norm for the other.   That is why we are experiencing once more the burnden of new temple authorities of our times:  financial temples,  church as organization, interest groups, the business temples etc.  all opposed to the idea of resurrection; to the reality of another mode of existence – that there is an entire new way of existence beyond the existence human beings ever knew.   Thomas must kneel before a personal Lord

Reflection 4/10/18 – God is full of surprises

+In Pope Francis’ most recent apostolic exhortation titled Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad) He writes that “God infinitely transcends us; he is full of surprises. We are not the ones to determine when and how we will encounter him; the exact times and places of that encounter are not up to us. Someone who wants everything to be clear and sure presumes to control God’s transcendence.”

It’s this very understanding of God, it seems to me, that Jesus is showing us in his words to Nicodemus we just heard in the gospel: “’You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” We are so often inclined to tie the work of the Holy Spirit to one way of acting when the Spirit is ever showing us how to live in the freedom of the children of God. We see this freedom in the first Christian community where all things we held in common and each was given as he or she was in need.

This time of Easter celebration is a fresh invitation to live in that life that was freely given us at baptism and is ever at work in our daily lives if we are open and responsive.

Reflections: Solemnity of the Annunciation

Fr. Michael Reflects:

This morning I celebrated Eucharist for a small group of retreatants and others who can’t come for one reason or other to our 10:30 celebration. Here is the brief reflection that was shared.. Have a joyous feast, Michael 

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+We have just celebrated the glory of Christ’s resurrection and today we reflect on His birth. What can seem as a strange arrangement or composition is actually a happy combination. There is a real way that celebration of Christ’s resurrection in our own lives is deeply akin to allowing him to be born again in our day and age by allowing His life to live in us, allowing His Spirit to overshadow our own lives so that we become living examples in our world today of what the Incarnation was intended to bring about so many years ago.

It is in our lives today, where Christ comes alive for all to encounter and believe in, as we become living examples of the Good News of the gospel. It is grace that overshadows our own lives, makes possible the goodness and love God came into our world to leave as a lasting fruit of what took place over 2000 years ago. Each of us is to say with Mary:  “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to your word.”