Friday, December 6, 2019

Homily – 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18
2nd Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
Luke 18:9-14

            Perhaps one of the greatest social diseases of all time is that of seeing oneself as better than others. This can lead to all sorts of destruction in our world – destruction of family relationships, destruction of friendships, even destruction of very selves before God.
            This weekend Jesus’ parable targets our susceptibility to contracting this disease and spreading it to those we love.
            Jesus is placing this mirror before us and calling us all to take a good look.
            He’s using the concept of prayer (both nature and quality) as a way of getting our attention and forcing us to really see ourselves in the reflection.
            In the first example of this prayer, he’s showing us a Pharisee (the pompous and self-righteous of Jesus’ day) who thinks he’s praying to God, but in fact is only praying to himself. This prayer is self-centered and selfish, and, in fact, idolatrous because this Pharisee has made himself into a god and is speaking his prayer only to himself, with zero self-awareness or humility.
            Seattle Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Mueggenborg provides great insight on this particular passage in his reflection book on Luke’s Gospel.
            He said, “The Pharisee reveals that his ultimate concern is himself through his stated interest in his own social standing, his own holiness, his own security, and his own justification. The only concern the Pharisee shows for others is that he can consider himself better than the rest and separated from the rest.
That can happen to us in our prayer as well whenever we pray only about ourselves and our own concerns or whenever we consider our own point of view as the only one to be considered. It can also happen to us whenever we fail to consider that God’s will is more perfect than our own and that God knows what is best for our lives. Basically, anytime our prayer becomes a monologue within ourselves then we have left little room for God to speak.” 
Then there is the second example of prayer. For this, Jesus uses a hated and reviled tax collector (the lowest of the low in Jesus’ day).  A person on the margins.
This person knows he’s a sinner and is trembling before the Lord when he asks for God’s mercy.
His words are shown as the perfect prayer:
“O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”
The tax collector’s prayer shows three important things about  approach to prayer with God: humility, simplicity, and honesty. 
  These are wonderful qualities for us to bring into our daily discussions with the Lord.
The tax collector also beat his breast while he prayed.
As you may remember, the 2011 Roman Missal translation reinstituted the striking of the breast as part of the Confiteor prayer in the Penitential Rite. Some say this action unites us with the humble, simple and effective prayer of the tax collector in this Gospel passage.
Looking at the Gospel passage in a larger context we see Jesus using parables the past two weeks to help us to deepen our prayer life.
And reminds us of the importance of our relationship with God and our relationship to others.
Prayer is the antidote to the social disease of seeing oneself as better than others, because it deepens our communion with others. This is why we come together around this table.
What should our takeaway be?
“Ultimately our prayer is meant to deepen our communion with God and others. Whenever we pray with contempt or pride we destroy that communion.
Jesus has taught us that only the merciful will receive mercy and that only those who forgive will be forgiven.
In the same way, the Lord wants to teach us in this parable that only as we are compassionate for the spiritual struggles of others will God be compassionate for our own shortcomings.
It takes a lot of spiritual maturity to have compassion for those who struggle in their spiritual lives. That compassion for others and sincere prayer for them is one sign of a great disciple.
We may think that we are great disciples because of all the virtuous works we do (like tithes and fasting) but in reality it is our humble love for others and repentance before God that the Lord most desires.

God hears such a disciple.”

Homily – 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4
2nd Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14
Luke 17:5-10

One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should

One life  
With each other
One life
But we're not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other


            Perhaps you recognize these as song lyrics.  They were written by a person some have called a modern day prophet; others call him a flashy, loud Irishman. 
But the rock star in question does profess to be a disciple of Christ, has become a committed servant leader on important global issues, and most of his song lyrics endeavour to raise our collective consciousness to the needs of the world.
In Habakkuk, we hear the prophet cry out for a “just one” of faith.
How different is that from today's world? 
I think the lyrics from the song help us to see that we Christians are all One and we have to "carry each other."
Each of us has a Mustard Seed planted in our hearts by God. That Mustard Seed of faith needs nourishment. That Mustard Seed helps guide us to lookout for the interests of those on the margins of our world.  In fact, Jesus’ point is “nothing is impossible to the person who has faith.”
The person who wrote the One song lyrics is Paul Hewson.  Most people know him simply as Bono of the rock group U2. 
In 1985, Bono took a trip to Africa with his wife Ali to work for a month in an orphanage in Ethiopia.   
The people of Ethiopia were being devastated by one of the worst famines in human history.  It impacted eight million Africans and killed over a million people -- mostly children.  
Bono and his wife were horrified by what they witnessed in Africa.  Some called it "a biblical famine in the 20thcentury" and "the closest thing to hell on Earth."
At the end of their journey Bono had an experience that would change him forever.  As they were about to leave the orphanage, a man ran up to with a young child and tried to hand the boy to Bono.  The African man said, "Sir, will you take my son home with you?"
Both men knew if the boy stayed in Ethiopia he would likely die from hunger, but if he left Ethiopia he would live.
What to do?
 With tears welling up in his eyes, Bono's said he could not take the boy with him. 
The conversation shook his soul to the core and changed the path of his life forever.
In that moment, God planted a Mustard Seed in his heart for the people of Africa.
It also inspired one of U2's most powerful and beautiful songs:  Where The Streets Have No Names.  That song is a metaphor for his African experience.  And a metaphor for heaven.
Since then, Bono founded the One Campaign – A Campaign To Make Poverty History in Africa.
The rock celebrity quietly goes around the globe arm-twisting world leaders to commit more of their country's resources to poverty and disease control in Africa -- fighting such things as AIDS/HIV, malaria, and national debt that is preventing many African nations from getting on their own feet economically.    
Bono is still talking about Africa today -- over 30 years after that moving experience.
Pope John Paul the Second was a big supporter of Bono's efforts in Africa and even wore the rock star's signature sunglasses for an infamous photograph that I'm sure created quite a stir around the Vatican.
Bono was one of the key activists who helped The Pope with his Jubilee 2000 effort by inspiring a "Drop The Debt" campaign designed have rich nations forgive the debt of poorer, developing world nations.  This is reminiscent of the biblical jubilee of the Old Testament.
 As Bono put it at the 2006 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC, "This is not about charity.  It's about justice."
He added, ''Where you live in the world shouldn't determine whether you live...  God is watching how we respond to Africa."
God wants to work through each of us to make sure ALL in this world have their basic needs met.  So people don't starve and have access to drugs for treatable diseases.
"You see, all faiths agree: God is with the vulnerable and the poor.  God is in the slums...  God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives.  God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war.  God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives.  And God is with us, if we are with them."  Bono spoke these eloquent words at the National Prayer Breakfast as an invitee of President George Bush. He and the former President remain close after securing US funding for live saving HIV drugs for Africa.
Catholic Social Teaching has been leading the way on these issues for well over a century in our world, but Catholic Social Teaching isn't just something someone else does.  Catholic Social Teaching calls each of us to action. This is our Mustard Seed moment.
The events of our lives are God calling us to pay attention to these needs.
Christ sends people like Bono into our world to remind us we are all in this together.   We all have to look out for each other. We have to carry each other. 
It's amazing the difference one person can make in this world.  If only we see ourselves as one People of God.
What is God calling you to do? 

Homilia – XXVI Domingo Ordinario – Palabras de Maria

María pronunció las palabras de los Profetas en su brillante Magnificat.
Amós tuvo una advertencia similar para los ricos y poderosos de su época en la primera lectura de hoy.
Esas personas vivían bien en la época del profeta Amós, mientras los pobres sufrían.
¿Qué tan diferente es eso a los Estados Unidos hoy en día?
En el Magnificat de María, puso el pensamiento convencional patas arriba, mostrando que los poderosos, los arrogantes, los ricos se apartarían del reino de Dios mientras los pobres y hambrientos encontrarían su hogar con Jesús.
Hoy, Jesús está contando lo mismo a los fariseos en la historia del hombre rico y Lázaro.
Me pregunto si oyeron su mensaje de condenator.
¿Me pregunto si lo oímos?
Esta parábola es el Magnificat de María que cobran vida con detalles pintorescos.
Lázaro es un pobre hombre que ha sufrido mucho en su vida. La mayoría de la gente acaba de pasar por las calles y no le prestan atención ni su situación.
Lázaro está cubierto de llagas que los perros solían lamer, y tiene tanta hambre que estaría feliz incluso por un trozo de comida de la mesa del hombre rico.
Habiendo sufrido toda su vida, es transportado en la muerte al paraíso prometido por Jesús.
Mientras el hombre rico va a un lugar de tormento a su muerte.
Incluso en la muerte, el hombre rico pide egoístamente a Lázaro traerle agua para saciar su sed. 
El hombre rico tenía tanto derecho durante su vida que esperaba ser servido por alguien que consideraba menos importante que él mismo.
Después de escuchar las poderosas palabras de Abraham acerca del gran abismo que lo bloquea del cielo, el hombre rico le pide a Abraham que envíe a alguien para advertir a sus cinco hermanos para que no cometan el mismo error en sus vidas.
Pero Abraham le recuerda al hombre rico que los profetas advirtieron al pueblo durante siglos que cuidara de los pobres y humildes, y sus palabras fueron ignoradas. Y la mayoría de los profetas fueron ejecutados por condenar los corazones de los ricos y poderosos.
A Dios no le importa cuánto dinero tengamos en esta vida. Le importa cómo lo usemos. Cómo lo usamos para elevar a los pobres y humildes, y para ayudar a edificar el reino de Dios.
Todo lo que tenemos en esta vida es un don de Dios. Cada dólar que ganamos, el coche que conducimos, la casa o el apartamento en el que vivimos, todo es un regalo de Dios.
Ese aliento que acabas de tomar es un regalo de Dios.
Y Dios nos manda escuchar los gritos de los pobres y espera que compartamos nuestros dones con los demás.
Lamentablemente, aquellos que son ciegos y sordos a los profetas también probablemente serán ciegos y sordos a la resurrección de Jesús.
Este es el mensaje evangélico para este fin de semana. Ruego que veamos y escuchemos esta importante lección de Jesús y vivamos de una manera que honre Su sacrificio.


Mary spoke the words of the Prophets in her brilliant Magnificat.
Amos had a similar warning for the rich and powerful of his day in today’s first reading. These people were living well at the time of the Prophet Amos, while the poor were suffering.
How different is that to the United States today?
In Mary’s Magnificat, she turned conventional thinking upside down, showing that the mighty, the arrogant, the rich would be turned away from the kingdom of God while the poor and hungry would find their home with Jesus.
Today, Jesus is telling the same thing to the Pharisees in the story of the rich man and Lazarus.
I wonder if they heard his convicting message?
I wonder if we hear it?
This parable is Mary’s Magnificat come to life in picturesque detail.
  Lazarus is a poor man who has suffered much in his life. Most people just passed him by on the streets and pay no attention to him or his plight.
Lazarus is covered with sores that dogs used to lick, and he is so hungry that he would be happy for even a scrap of food from the rich man’s table.
Having suffered his entire life, he’s transported in death to the paradise promised by Jesus. While the rich man goes to a place of torment upon his death.
Even in death, the rich man selfishly asks to Lazarus bring him water to quench his thirst.  The rich man was so entitled during his life he expected to be served by someone he saw as less important than himself.
After hearing Abraham’s powerful words about the great chasm blocking him from heaven, the rich man asks Abraham to send someone to warn his five brothers so they don’t make the same mistake in their lives.
But Abraham reminds the rich man that the prophets warned the people for centuries to take care of the poor and lowly, and their words were ignored. And most of the prophets were put to death for convicting the hearts of the rich and the powerful.
God does not care how much money we have in this life. He cares about how we use it. How we use it to lift up the poor and lowly, and to help build the kingdom of God.
Everything we have in this life is a gift from God. Every dollar we earn, the car we drive, the house or apartment we live in, all of it is a gift from God.
That breath you just took is a gift from God.
And God commands us to hear the cries of the poor and expects us to share our gifts with others.
Sadly, those who are blind and deaf to the prophets will also likely be blind and deaf to the Resurrection of Jesus.
This is the Gospel message for this weekend. I pray we see and hear this important lesson from Jesus and live in a way that honors His sacrifice.