Category Archives: Homilies and Talks

Homilies

Homily for January 14, 2018 – Fr. Carlos Rodriguez – ‘Staying with Jesus’

True to himself when he said:  He must increase and I must decrease John points to Jesus that his disciples may follow Jesus.   He was the one making the path ready for the coming of the Lord.  The joy of John is to lead others to Jesus.  He knew it was his mission.  This was his greatness.  Jesus said no one born of a woman  is greater than John.

Andrew followed the footsteps of John by saying that he and his companion has found the Messiah they were looking for.  He and the other disciple of John must have been captivated by the countenance and the spirit that Jesus exuded.  They did not hesitate to ask Jesus:  where do you stay  Rabbi!

It is an unusual question to ask someone where he stays, like how long will you stay, will you stay with someone etc.   Usually we ask where is someone’s house/home located.  To use stay implies non permanency.  Besides we usually don’t ask someone we meet for the first time “where do you live.”  But that is what happens when we get captivated by the person of Jesus.   We want to be with him.  We want to stay with him.  We want to know him.   We wish we also had his wisdom and peace.  We are ready to follow wherever he wants to go.

Matthew says it was the 4th hour meaning it is already late and to go to Jesus’ house they have to stay overnight because the next day is the sabbath and they are not allowed to travel.   In a way, the house of Jesus or where he stays is secondary for the real reason for Andrew to come and see Jesus, to stay with Jesus and know more about him.   So they went and saw and stayed with Him.

When we met Jesus in our lives for the first time, you and I have different stories to tell.  Our hearts were simply filled with peace and joy of being with him.  Those are the initial stages of our becoming a disciple of Jesus.   There was the essential basic trust in Jesus that is required in order to be a true disciple.   This basic trust is what makes us persevere and remain faithful to Christ.

Surely, when we become disciples of Christ, that is to believe in him, there are a lot of questions that come just as the disciples had them.    Jesus is not like any leader or prophet whose background can be investigated.  In the person of Jesus we are also confronted by a mystery.  Not something we do not know but  a reality that is so deep and profound that when we think we know it we are led deeper into it.   We are breathless and we realize the reality of Jesus is infinite.  The logic of faith takes over human logic.  Like Andrew and his companion they are willing to go where no one has gone before, that is, into the mystery of the person of Jesus.

However, when Jesus looks at us he knows us more than we can ever know ourselves.  So when Jesus accepts us you can be very sure that he loves us and he sees and know in us that which can make us a good disciple of his if only we trust him even if others do not like us.   The confidence of a disciple is to be curious about who Jesus is and then is invited by Jesus into his home which is really heart.  Jesus did stay long in one place.  He really had no home:  Foxes have dens, birds a nest, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head on.   The disciples stayed for a day or two however for us we stay till the end of our lives.

Why did Jesus choose a tax collector?  Why not John or one of from the Essenes who are very spiritual.  We must remember that at the time of Jesus only the elite and the learned are privy to God.  They are closest to salvation.  Torah is learned and the more you know about it the nearer you are to God.

Jesus chose the disciples to show that through the common people the power of God will be at work.   It is not the greatest of a human being that God is glorified.  It is the humble, lowly, sinful, marginalized human being where the power of God can be most clearly seen.

To stay with Jesus is to discover the heart of Jesus, to learn how to relate to God the father by watching him and most of all to trust when things that happen are painful and hard to understand.  To stay with him means to wait for the day when he tells each and every one of us, I will remain in you always.  My father and I will live in you.  We will be one with Jesus and the Father.  From physical nearness to inner intimacy, a communion of spirits no longer hampered by time and space.  All disciples must transmit this experience to others.  We fail to be true disciples if we do not.

Homily for the Feast of the Holy Family by Fr Michael

+Love, a Relationship That Grows                                   Holy Family 2017

At an address to engaged couples by Pope Francis there were a Nicolas and Marie Alexia there from Gibraltar, the southern tip of Spain, who asked him: “Your holiness, many today think that life-long fidelity is too challenging; many feel that the struggle to live together may be beautiful, enchanting, but it is difficult, even impossible. We ask you for a word to enlighten us on this.”

The Holy Father responded: Today everything changes so quickly, nothing lasts long. And this mentality leads many who are preparing for marriage to say: “We are together as long as the love lasts,” and then? All the best and see you later… and so ends the marriage. But what do we mean by “love”? Is it only a feeling, a psychophysical state? Certainly, if that is it, then we cannot build on anything solid. But if, instead, love is a relationship, then it is a reality that grows.

Whether it is in family or community, it is a sense of growing relationships that gives it permanence, gives it a stability that brings about growth and maturity. And let me suggest that this is right at the heart of our gospel today when Simeon blessed Mary and Joseph and said to Mary: “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted—and you yourself a sword will pierce—so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” As was to take place when Jesus began his public life, proclaiming the Kingdom of God, immediately there were those who could accept his message and those who were threatened by it, knowing that if this was the long awaited Messiah, then their own expectations, their own lives had to change, take a whole new turn.

Jesus is the authentic sign of God’s great love for us and of what makes for a real, an abiding love. God’s love for us calls each one of us into a lasting relationship, into a faith or trust that transforms our lives so that both family and community life become a place where all its members may continually grow as living members of Christ’s very own body. And isn’t this what we heard about in the first two readings this morning?

When Abram had no child in marriage with Sarah so that he worried about the future of his family, God led him out under the open sky at night and tells him to count the stars, if he can for just so shall his descendants be. Abram had faith in God and it was “accredited to him as an act of righteousness.” With God’s intervention everything changes in their lives and a whole new future opens up for them.

So often it happens in each one of our lives, whether as married couples, members of a monastic community or living the single life, that we are brought to the point where our human means or psychophysical state proves inadequate but this is precisely where God’s divine hand reveals itself. Our human love becomes inadequate to sustain us and this is the time when Divine grace manifests itself, opening up new horizons, even unto eternal life.

As the Letter to the Hebrews reminded us, “there came forth from one man, himself as good as dead, descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands of the seashore.” All this was but a foreshadowing of what takes place on this Altar. For here we celebrate Christ’s abiding love for us, love that brought him to where all was apparently lost as he gave up his life for the salvation of the world. Through his total surrender, he became the Savior of the world, revealing a love that never ends, making each one of us, our families, our communities, sharers of God’s very own Life.

Gen 15:1-6; 21:1-3; Heb 11:8, 11-12, 17-19; Luke 2:22-40

 

 

Christmas – Homily at Midnight Mass 2017 — Fr. Seamus

 HOMILY +  CHRISTMAS – 2017 – “Midnight Mass” –

The mystery of the Incarnation is a wonderful exchange between divinity
and humanity. The early Church explored this idea deeply. The antiphon
for first Vespers on January 1 – The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God,
picks up this theme beautifully: We sing:  “O wondrous exchange! the
Creator of all, having assumed a living body, chose to be born of a
Virgin, and coming among us in poverty, enriched us with his divinity.”
In the Churches of the East, this concept is called theosis,
which in the West we simply call divinization. The idea might
seem strange to us at first, that God became human so that
humans could become divine. Saint Athanasius, in his sermon “On
the Incarnation” 54:3, expressed this idea clearly. The early
Church had many battles with those who denied Jesus’ divinity.
Because they defended his divinity, they had the opportunity to
meditate on what it means for the Word, the Logos, to become
flesh. One of the great riches that came from their meditations
was the teaching that God became human so that humans could
become divine. Of course, this process of divinization is not of
our own doing. Rather, God takes the initiative and we simply
respond by living lives that reflect the splendor of God.
We find this same idea expressed in the commingling of water
with wine at the Preparation of the Gifts in reference to
Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity so that we
might share in his divinity.
Pope John Paul II expressed this idea in his encyclical
Veritatis Splendor, in which he sees the splendor of truth that
shines forth in all the works of the Creator and, in a special
way, in humanity, created in the image and likeness of God.
Truth enlightens human intelligence and shapes human freedom,
leading humanity to know and love the Lord; hence, the psalmist
prays: “Lord, show us the light of your face!” (Psalm 4:7).
Human existence restored by this divine exchange achieves
wondrous union with God. Seeing Christ in others and being
Christ for them truly honors and venerates his abiding presence
in us. By the mystery of the Incarnation, we are made eternal,
even in our frailty as mere mortals. This is the great mystery
we celebrate when the Word became flesh. God bless you, and
Merry Christmas.

Homily Christmas Day Mass by Fr. Elias

 

 

ABBOT ELIAS DIETZ, O.C.S.O.

Homily – Christmas Day Mass, Dec. 25, 2017

[Jn 1:1-14]

I Am The Alpha and The Omega

Our experience of life is always in the middle of things. We cannot remember our birth or our earliest months and years. No doubt we experience life intensely as infants and young children, but what happened for us then is not really part of the life experience we can draw on consciously from memory. The same applies to the other end of life. No doubt the passage through death can be an intense human experience. But we never have a chance to write a diary entry about it or tell our friends and family about it. Our beginning and our end completely escape our experience.

No wonder we have a fascination, if not a fear, about these moments beyond our reach. Our comfort zone is in the midst of human activities, in the middle of life as it happens. We generally avoid talking much about how it will all end. And our talk about how it all began never amounts to much, especially when we play the armchair scientist.

So it’s wonderful to notice that the first pages of the Bible and its last pages address these impossible-to-reach zones with confidence and creativity. Genesis assures us that our pre-history is nonetheless filled with God’s presence, that we are wanted and loved, and that what has emerged from the depths of time has purpose, meaning, and value. And the Book of Revelation assures us that all imaginable evils, disasters, and struggles are no more than the angry last gasp of all that is opposed to God; the Lamb already presides over the Holy City in peace.

So if Genesis deals with “in the beginning” and the Apocalypse with “in the end,” we might expect the opening words of the Christmas gospel to be “in the middle,” since Christ comes to us in the middle of things, in the midst of human experience as we know it. And yet, as the Letter to the Hebrews puts it so well, he is heir of all things, and through him the universe came about. The mysterious zones of the beginning and the end come together in him, the Alpha and the Omega.

The Prologue to Saint John’s gospel brings it all together in something we can easily relate to here in the middle of our human experience: the Word; the word, the reason, the purpose that has always been there, and the last word of all that will ever be. “What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Instead of recalling Mary and Joseph and the manger and the shepherds, John wants to impress on us that, in Jesus, God comes to us in the middle of it all: in the middle of time, in the middle of the known world, in the middle of life as we also know and experience it. And he wants to impress on us that in this Child is the answer to all that fascinates and frightens us about the beginning and the end and all that is beyond our experience or capacities of thought or imagination.

Most important of all, John wants to assure us that one and the same light shines through it all from the “Let there be light” of Genesis to the Light illuminating the Eternal City. As familiar as it is, our life in the middle, the life we know best is usually opaque: “the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.” Should it surprise us to be at a loss about what is happening around us in the world, in the Church, even in our own home? Our usual place is in the thick of things, and we cannot see very far back or very far ahead. Saint John’s very special Christmas message—the one the Church chooses to hear again every Christmas Day—is that those who accept the Lord’s coming, those who want to become children of God have no need to fear: the Word and the light continue to reach them where they are:

And the Word became flesh

and made his dwelling among us,

and we saw his glory,

the glory as of the Father’s only Son,

full of grace and truth.

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Homily for the 4th Sunday by Fr Anton

Sermon at our Community Mass, 10:30 a.m., Sunday,  December 24, 2017
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Our waiting is over!   Tonight’s the night!
All over the world, angel choirs will sing:
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
Human choirs will sing of a Silent Night, Holy Night, where all is calm,
all is bright…
All over  a world that doesn’t live in Peace  or Good Will.

It was exactly like that a  hundred three years ago today, 1914,
the world had erupted into the most savage war so far,
yet that Christmas Eve witnessed a Miracle of Grace, a miracle of  Peace
and Good Will.
Christmas Eve 1914: the day of the Christmas Truce, the day the fighting
stopped, even if for just one day.

Just before Christmas, several peace initiatives had been floated.
Pope Benedict XV begged for an official truce between the warring
governments,
asking “that the guns may fall silent at least upon the night the angels
sang.”
Officially rebuffed.

In Britain, 101 mothers sent an “Open Christmas Letter”  addressed “To the
Women of Germany and Austria” in a public appeal for peace.   Snubbed.

Then it was Christmas Eve.

The armies were dug into their trenches for hundreds of miles along the
border of Belgium and France, in a battle line that would not move
significantly for  two years to come,
dug into  No Man’s Land,
a wilderness of shattered trees,
ground plowed up by shellfire, scarred with bomb craters,
strewn with corpses of dead comrades and dead horses,
everything around them burned and destroyed.
The weather was December-cold, frost on the ground, campfires forbidden.

At dusk, like most evenings, the shooting on both sides let up a little,
rations were brought up to the front line,
and soldiers on both sides were able to collect their food and rest.

As night settled in, the same phenomenon occurred spontaneously up and
down the line.
Somewhere off in the distance, bells rang out in the villages …
For hundreds of miles, up and down the line, the bells of Christmas Eve …
Like Voices, light and sweet.    And somehow grace touched cold human hearts.

First, the humming of childhood hymns,  then soft singing,
then the singing grew louder.
The trench lines were close enough that enemies could hear each other,
they began singing to oppose each other, to taunt their opposite numbers.
Then they were singing carols to each other,
singing together in harmony.
From their same common tradition, Christmas Music calmed their savage
breasts.

The trenches were so close that soldiers could  shout greetings to each
other: ‘Merry Christmas, Englishmen’!        Greetings were shouted back.

The Germans placed candles on their trenches,
held up Christmas trees with candles, with  signs in English and French:
“Merry Christmas”
Allied soldiers raised signs with German words: “You no shoot – we no shoot”

Then a flag of truce, bright as a Christmas star.
Hesitatingly at first, large numbers on both sides began to leave their
trenches, unarmed, to meet between the lines.
Somehow they agreed  – all on their own –  not to fire at each other until
after midnight.
The artillery fell silent.
Not a shot was fired all night.

They say it started in Ypres,  in West Belgium.
The fact is… that night, along two-thirds of the front,   in different
sectors,
roughly 100,000 British and German troops were involved in an unofficial
cessation of hostility along the Western Front,   recorded by  men from
various regiments and units,
their letters and diaries documenting  how something so fantastically
unmilitary occurred.

Up and down the line,  men shook hands, fraternized  in the craters of  No
Man’s Land,
swapped cigarettes, rations, schnapps, chocolates, in good fellowship,
officers exchanging wine, cognac, cigars, black bread, cookies and ham.
It had to be grace, because enemies don’t share food … friends do.
For one night, they unofficially and spontaneously ceased hostilities and
made peace.

Looking back, it’s as though the prayers of Pope Benedict were answered,
and then some!

Come daylight, they helped each other recover dead comrades,
conducted joint burial services and prisoner swaps,
openly congregated in sunlight amidst one of the most violent events of
human history.

Soccer games kicked up among  enemies,  sometimes with tin-can footballs,
Saxons against Scots,
Brits against Germans,
Brits against Brits,
one historian reporting 29 separate  soccer games along the line.
Their only field:   their bombed-out No Man’s Land,
the score:    usually  3 -2, in favor of  whoever was writing the letter
home.

A handful of  German officers asked to see a field chaplain, so they could
return a chalice found on the battle field.

Christmas Day without shooting meant  men could come out of their
mudholes, rest, exercise or work in full view of the enemy.
One lad, 18, wrote home to his Mum in Sheffield:
“No shooting … All day, Christmas Day… even as I write this …
marvelous, isn’t it?”

A few weeks later, newspapers had photographs of troops mingling and
singing, with stories that cheered  the “lack of malice” felt by both
sides, regretting  that “absurdity and tragedy” had to begin again.

Response from German headquarters  was censorship, disapproval,  and
reminders that fraternizing with the enemy constituted treason.
It didn’t happen again … Future Christmases became  bitter and hateful,
not because of increased discipline, but because poison gas was
introduced, causing so many thousands of deaths in those same trenches.

But the Christmas Truce of 1914 was real!  Not a myth …  but a Miracle!
After months in the trenches where all they heard was whining of bullets
in flight,  machinegun fire and commands from  distant German voices,
what a blessing to have silence, the eerie sound of silence, a silent peace,
and shouts of “Merry Christmas, English!”
…  to have your heart filled with thoughts of “Live and let live”!
…  to have the frozen fields of France warmed by songs of Christmas peace!
…  to have just one day on which soldiers could settle their accounts,
find their peace with  God,
since so  many  that shared the Christmas Truce  wouldn’t live to see
another yuletide.

My brothers and sisters, our bells are ready to ring out Christmas  …
How’s  our gift list? Do we have a  present  for the Baby Jesus??
What if, for love of Him,  we reached into our hearts,
to the battlelines dug into our hearts,
where we  have bad blood, where we can’t say:  “Live and let live”!
What if we admitted we’re tired of making war,
we want to lay down our own weapons and share a moment of peace,
we want to  declare our own little truce.
What if we took the initiative,
offered gifts of love, peace and hope to those who may never have expected
them of us,
so that finally our hearts could  really feel what the angels sang:
“Peace on earth, good will toward men.”

Bombs may not stop exploding in Iraq,
bullets may not stop flying in Syria,
– but at least  there will be peace in our hearts!

That’s the present He wants us to bring Him   as we sing:
Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Advent by Fr Michael

+THERE IS ONE AMONG YOU                                       3rd Sunday of Advent, 2017

Our Gospel speaks of John the Baptist, the voice of one crying out in the desert, the one who makes straight the way for the Lord. We can look at John the Baptist as a prophet who prepared the people of his time for the coming of the Christ but let me suggest there much more here. John represents what is going on in each of our hearts as we strive daily to open them to the presence and power of Him who is in our midst, renewing the face of the earth. In our own lives there is a voice crying out in our own time about the God of peace who makes us holy so that we may be preserved in spirit, soul and body, blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Just as God sent his beloved Son in the flesh over two thousand years ago and yet he remained hidden among his own people, so too today Jesus is present among us, the strap of whose sandal none of us is worthy to untie. Jesus is here present in the most holy Sacrament, is present in our Church, present in each of our brothers and sisters, especially in the poor, the sick, the migrant, the oppressed of our society. To realize this is to rejoice always as Paul invites us this morning, and to give thanks in all circumstances. Then we will not quench the Spirit, we will test everything so as to retain what is good. Move than ever as Christians we are being called to be persons of discernment, know what is good and refraining from every kind of evil.

The prophet of Isaiah helps us to do this. If we want to recognize the Jesus who is in our midst we have only to look for the one who brings glad tidings to the  poor, the one who heals the brokenhearted, who proclaims liberty to the captives, release to the prisoners and announces a year of favor from the Lord. To do this is to be filled with rejoicing, to know the joy of Christ’s living presence right here among us and to be deeply humbled by his love continually shown us through one another. Advent and Christmas tell us not only of him who came two thousand years ago and who is to coming at the end of time but, above all, of him who draws near to us within the circumstances of our everyday lives.

The spiritual writer Ronald Rolheiser tells the story of what happened to him some years ago when he attended a weeklong retreat given by a Bob Michel a member of his own Order, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Bob was a highly sought-after spiritual mentor. “His approach was disarming. Most of us, [Rolheiser tells us] are forever looking for something novel, at the cutting edge, outside the box, something complex. But what he offered was stunningly simple and down-to-earth. He spent the whole time trying to teach us how to pray in an affective way. In essence, what he told us might be summarized this way; :You must try to pray so that, in your prayer, you open yourself in such a way that sometime—perhaps not today, but sometime—you are able to hear God say to you, ‘I love you!’ These words, addressed to you by God, are the most important words you will ever hear because, before you hear them, nothing is ever completely right with you, but after you hear them , something will be right in your life at a very deep level.”

The message, this spiritual mentor gave Rolheiser and to those with him on retreat, is far from anything sentimental. It is what we are all longing for in our lives as Christians because it is at the heart of the mystery of the Incarnation. What the Word of God become flesh is saying to us more than anything is that “I love you!” It is the source and summit of our lives as is the Eucharist we gather around this altar to celebrate. What first took place with the birth of Jesus found its fulfillment on the cross.

Our lives can become occupied with many things at this time of year but may we find the time or take the time to hear its quiet and transforming message of God saying to us “I love you!”

Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11; Thess. 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28

 

Homily for Br Norbert’s funeral by Fr Elias

ABBOT ELIAS DIETZ, O.C.S.O.

Homily for Funeral Mass of Br. Norbert Meier, OCSO                          December 14, 2017

[Wis 3:1-6,9; Rm 14:7-9, 10b-12; Lk 12:35-40]

A Wonderful Gift of Life

We are here this morning to show our gratitude for the wonderful gift of life: the long, full life—all 91 years’ worth—of our Br. Norbert. But God’s gifts are not like our gifts. He gives us life, and yet so much depends on how we live it. It is our life, and yet “no one lives for himself,” . . . “whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” God returns to reclaim his gifts. But he expects to find something greater than what he gave: “As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.”

So, even though we have faith in Christ’s resurrection and live in confident hope of eternal life, there is, nonetheless, this moment of return, when “each of us shall give an account of himself to God.” It seems natural to ponder this aspect of Christian death just now, in the middle of Advent. It is the season of keeping watch: “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.” It is also the season of preparation: what will I have to offer when the time comes to give an account of myself? What shall I bring to the Child in the manger?

Brother Norbert’s way of life among us over so many years is a good example for us of these Advent virtues. To be vigilant doesn’t just mean staying awake: it has especially to do with the quality of our attention, with sensitivity to what is going on around us, and with reliability. Br. Norbert was as reliable as they get, and was entrusted with a wide range of responsibilities over the years. Probably already from his Marine days, he was disciplined and methodic in everything he did, but with a gentle touch, perhaps because he experienced a certain amount of pain and suffering, especially from his chronic back problems. He was often elected to the various councils, and was the inevitable choice when we needed someone to count votes—a man we all trusted. The only time I knew Br. Norbert to be unhappy was during the short time he was appointed prior. Typically, he accepted the job out of a sense of duty and a desire to do whatever was needed. But it didn’t sit well with him: it made him too visible, and he much preferred to stay in the background.

The real test of virtue is whether you do the virtuous thing even when it is unnoticed. This was Norbert’s comfort zone: do the right thing for the right reason and try not to be caught at it. As he moved into old age, he adapted less in terms of personal preference or comfort than in terms of service: when he couldn’t be on his feet too much, he did the driving; when he couldn’t drive anymore, he focused on the print shop, all the while fixing anything anyone brought to him, and, when all else failed, making rosaries.

So, we can be grateful for this example of the Advent virtues. Norbert was among us as a ready, vigilant, and reliable servant of all.

And what about the other aspect of Advent I mentioned earlier: preparing gifts, preparing what one will have to offer. Norbert’s lesson to us here is that the best gifts are the common ones. To illustrate what I mean, I’ll read a short passage from one of Saint Bernard’s Sentences or sayings, where he imagines the community as the little convoy of Magi on its way to offer gifts to the newborn Savior. He points out that the original Magi and their gifts had to do with circumstances and customs of ancient times, and then he says:

But since all of those factors no longer obtain, we offer him more acceptable gifts—the salve of myrrh in the form of our common life, the semblance of frankincense in the sweetness of our good reputation, and the splendor of gold in our purity of conscience. Through these we zealously seek not the friendly esteem which comes from a dutiful manner of life, nor the empty glory which comes from a favorable opinion of us, but rather the honor of God and the good of our brothers. (Sent 1.15; CF 55:122)

Or—to use Bernard’s original expression—the honor of God and usefulness to the brothers: what a fine summation of the monastic way and of Norbert’s way among us.

And since Saint Bernard has us imagining things, I’ll venture to add a further fantasy. Imagine that all the monks of the greater Gethsemani in heaven and on earth get together to elect the three Magi it will send as a delegation to bring Gethsemani’s version of these particular gifts to the Christ child in Bethlehem. In which case, I’m guessing Br. Norbert would be elected. And I’m sure he would do his best to turn it down.

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Homily by Fr Carlos – 12/1/17

In our modern time we do not have much contact with kings.  Most of us have grew in a democratic way of life..  What we hear about kings is most often extravagant, old fashioned, outlandish and expensive.  The people bear the burden of their expenses for travels and allowances.  They are very rich and most of the time have a life of their own far from the life of their subjects.  Their function nowadays is mostly to be a symbol of unity of  the nation.

In biblical times Kings are not exalted by their power and wealth and skills in governing their people.  The king is depicted as a good Shepherd defending his sheep from lions and bears risking his own life, and that is what David continued doing during most of his kingship:  Defending Israel against her enemies, the Philistines and others so that his son Solomon could be ruling during a time of peace and prosperity.   The Kings of Israel suffered the wrath of God for not taking care of His sheep not the King’s.  Even David did not act like a true shepherd with Uriah.

Jesus mission was to preach of the coming of God’s kingdom.  Jesus is the king of this kingdom.   But he is a most unusual King; he is a crucified king.  And from his royal throne on the cross he extends his royal invitation to his subjects.  “If anyone will come after me he must pick up his cross daily and follow me.  In Baptism we have accepted this invitation.  There are no states in this Kingdom that are more perfect than any other.  Everyone is called to reach the potential that he has been given.  It is a most unusual kingdom.  The greatest in the Kingdom are the children.  The weak conquer the strong, the foolish confound the wise and a camel gets through the eye of a needle, we add by subtracting and multiply by dividig because nothing is impossible with God.  Then there  is this most unbelievable thing.  There is only one law.  The law of love.  Kingdoms of the world are more complicated than that.

Christ is king not because he wants to be high above us, but because he identifies himself with us.  No earthly king does that.  (Cite the Prince and the Pauper the Undercover ).  At the end the prince goes back to his throne, announces edicts that benefit the people; and the undercover boss to his office and initiates reform in the various branches of the company and rewards those who are faithful.

Christ does more than that.   At the end of time all kings and nations will appear before his throne.  He will separate the sheep from the goats.  And the reason for the separation is that the good subjects saw the needy and helped them the unconcerned  subjects did not.  In Christ’s  Kingdom the most salient and crucial characteristic is this:  To help the needy is not merely a good deed done to a neighbor, a fellow subject of the king.  The helper is dealing with the king himself.    Christ lives in his subjects.  No king ever does that.  Usually there is a barrier between  king and subjects:  pedigree, level of education, fine manners and social grace etc qualities we seldom see in subject unless they are nobles.  But with Jesus

these barriers do not exist.   This king dignifies everyone in his kingdom.  If one has refused to help a needy he or she did it to their king.  There seems to be only one entity that lives in this kingdom, that is, they have shared the honor and glory of the king.  They have become kings themselves by virtue of Christ the King living in them.   The king teaches his subjects to be meek and humble.  To go through life bravely carrying their cross just as he would accompany them in carrying their crosses.  This king does not shun away from being weak.  He is a king who will meet the greatest enemy ever to threaten his kingdom which is death;  not by eliminating it by power but meeting it on its own term, to die himself and be victorious over it by bringing life that will no longer under the dominion of death.  no kings on earth has ever conquered  this enemy.  That is why the barriers are artficial and pretentious in the earthly kingdom because the king and his subjects are under the same spell of death and if all dies the barriers no longer matter.  Jesus is King because he removed those barriers by being one with his subjects and living in them as St. Paull realized.  Jesus is king because there is no longer any enemy that could threaten the subjects of his kingdom.  In Christ’s Kingdom human beings attain their fullest dignity which no one can take away from them.  While on earth its members expose the lie of the barriers of the earthly kingdom.  The one law of Love becomes a reality

A brief homily by Fr Michael for the Feast of St Andrew

St Andrew plays a major role in the NT. Though in our gospel from Matthew, he is first called directly by Jesus along with his brother Peter, to become fishers of men, in John’s gospel we have him taking Peter to Jesus after having met Jesus as a disciple of John the Baptist.

What is striking about him and his brother is the way Jesus called them right in the midst of the circumstances of their daily lives and the way they are so deeply touched and respond in faith. God is ever calling each one of us right in the middle of our everyday lives and whatever we may be doing, to be living witnesses of the great love that has come to us through his Son Jesus. As often as we respond in faith and love we are proclaiming the Kingdom of God. We can evangelize right in the humblest of circumstances.

Due to St Andrew relics being carried to various parts of the world, he is greatly loved and honored throughout the world, in Constantinople, in Russia, in Scotland as well as in Rome. We find realized in him the fulfillment of those words quoted by Paul in our first reading: “Beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Homilette for Memorial of St Cecilia by Fr Michael

+The context of our parable is significant this morning. Jesus tells this parable “because he was near Jerusalem and they, his disciples, thought that the Kingdom of God would appear there immediately.” There was a mounting hope and expectation going on around Jesus, many seeing him as the long expected Messiah who was about to begin a whole new era for the Jewish people. Our parable, familiar to us already from last Sunday’s gospel which seems to be St Matthew’s rendition of the same, reveals to us what Jesus expects from and hopes for from his followers. He is about to go up to Jerusalem to give his life, giving them an unexpected example of just what he and his use of this parable are really meant to communicate.

We have all been given a coin, given our own unique gifts that we are to use for the good of our brothers and sisters. Our gifts are traded as we use them in  such a way that others are blessed, enriched by our lives. Jesus was about to share his own great gifts for the salvation of us all, about to lay own his life for love of us that we all might be filled with God’s own goodness and love. The Eucharist we are about to celebrate makes present here and now this giving of Himself for love of us, calling each of us to do the same for others each day of our lives. St Cecilia did this fully in her own time.