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Baccalaureate Mass – UST 2018

May 19, 2018

IT IS FIRST ABOUT WHO YOU FOLLOW

The linked homily was given to the Graduating Class of 2018 of the University of St. Thomas  in Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral in Houston, Texas.  

Follow Me.  No doubt you have heard these words many different times and from many different peoplein your life.  And you will hear them again, but starting today, I dare say that they are not so much of a command, as they once were, but a choice.

If not this weekend, at some point in the near future, your academic career will end.  Though I pray you never stop learning, it will no longer occur in a classroom or with the assistance of a syllabus.  The schedule you have known and the assigned instructors you have received now open up to a plethora of choices.  Follow me, they will say.  The choice about who you follow is perhaps the most important of all, because from them, you will learn what, who and how to love.

In this way, our Gospel is a bit deceiving because it seems to imply that life is first about who you love before it is about who you follow. Do you love me, Jesus asks.  It is tempting to think that our activity begins with our answer to this question, but we have to remember that today’s reading is from the end of John’s Gospel.

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The Ascension of the Lord

May 14, 2018

DISCIPLES AND APOSTLES

Go to the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every living creature.  . . . it sounds simple enough doesn’t it?  But there is an awful lot happening, behind the scenes of this command, that is worthy of our consideration.

First, the context in which we hear this Gospel.  The Gospels we hear just before speak to what is about to happen.  Jesus tells the disciplines, “it is better for you if I go,” and “I have much to tell you but you cannot bear all of it now.”  And so I ask you, why is it better for them if Jesus goes?”  And what is it about what he wants to say that they cannot take?

Simple: that by the grace of the Holy Spirit, they have been given what they need to save themselves.  That because of Jesus’ resurrection and then ascension we have all that we need by the grace of the spirit.  And yet how many of us keep praying without the accompanying activity?

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6th Sunday of Easter

May 7, 2018

THE JOY OF HOLINESS

What are the qualities you attribute with the saints?  That is what are the qualities you attribute to holiness?  How do you know someone is holy? What is the measuring stick?

In Gaudete et Exsultate, Pope Francis writes that there are five great expressions of love for God and neighbour of particular importance in the light of the limitations present in today’s culture.  In many respects, this list of five expressions are the exact expressions we find in all of our readings today.  They include:

Inner Strength that comes from the love of God; Joy and Humor; Boldness, no fear; to exist in Community; and to exist in Constant Prayer.  These are the five expressions of holiness – five expressions that are present when we are with God.

If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, and my joy will be complete in you.  My friends, we are called to live with joy.

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Fourth Sunday of Easter

April 23, 2018

SHEPHERDING HOLINESS

We hear, in our Second Reading from the First Letter of John, which to me sets the stage for the Gospel today:  Beloved, we are God’s children now;what we shall be has not yet been revealed.  We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like God,for we shall see God as God is.”   

And who is God?  The Good Shepherd.  And what shall we be?  Holy.  Today’s Gospel is both about God and about us: it is a recipe for our own holiness: to be known, to protect, to sacrifice – for those known and unknown to us, to work, teach and lead.

I am not sure if you have had a chance to read Gaudete et Exsultate yet – it is Pope Francis’ most recent Apostolic Letter.  Broadly speaking, it is about holiness; and so much of what he writes is relevant to today’s Gospel as a way of considering our role as a shepherd to the flock in our care.

Francis reminds us the criteria on which our holiness is determined is very simple, and it is found most explicitly in Matthew 25:  “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me”.  It is upon this criteria that a nation – a people – will be judged.

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Third Sunday of Easter

April 16, 2018

PEACE IN THE OPPOSITE

What are the themes we hear in our Easter Readings?  What kinds of things come up as listen to the stories of the early church now forming? (I mentioned a few last week:  all was in common, the loved one another, awe and wonder)  Today we hear two, if not more:  community and peace.  In these early days, we hear how the apostles came together – often in fear, which can be quite similar to awe.  And so when Jesus came among them, he said, “Peace be with you”.

Peace is one of those tricky words – a lot like love.  Peace doesn’t mean no conflict – peace means that we will not lose our ground should conflict occur.  Peace does not mean clear sailing or an easy path; the peace of Christ means that though bad things may happen, we trust that all will be as it needs to be, allowing our heart and mind to be at ease.  Peace is like standing in the eye of a hurricane – the calm in the chaos.

Community, Awe, and Peace.  This is Easter.  This is the effect of the resurrection.  This is redemption of our sinfulness.  Because as we have explored before – our sin leads us to believe that we are alone, that we are disconnected from God and each other.  Healing occurs when we know that we belong.  Grace is found in our connection to each other.

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2nd Sunday of Easter

April 9, 2018

A COMMUNITY OF AWE

I recently just finished reading “Barking to the Choir” by Jesuit Father Greg Boyle.  He is the priest who founded Homeboy Industries in South Los Angeles, which has become the largest gang rehabilitation program in the US.   In this book he reflecting upon the Acts of the Apostles – which focused on our first reading today.  He writes that when you read through Acts, a few things begin to stand out.

“See how they love each other” – not a bad gauge of health.  “There was no needy person among them.” A better metric would be hard to find. But he writes there is one line that stopped him in his tracks, and it caused me to open up my Bible because I just couldn’t believe I had not noticed this before.  “And awe came upon everyone.

Julian of Norwich thought that the truest and most authentic spiritual life was one that produce awe, humility and love,but as hard as love and humility are, awe might be the most difficult.

In spite of God’s magnitude, we have managed successfully to domesticate God.  How often do we settle for purity and piety when we are being invited to an exquisite holiness?”

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Easter Sunday 2018

April 2, 2018

MIRACLES ARE THE STUFF OF LIFE

Do you ever stop and wonder what part you would have played between Good Friday and Easter Sunday?  Where would you have been as they raised Jesus on the cross and laid him in the tomb?

Would you have stayed to watch him die?  There with the crowds?  Would you have heckled and jeered?  Would you have cried?  Would you even have stopped doing what had to be done?  Because lets be honest, only a few took the time to lay Jesus in the tomb.  Only a few even bothered to go there at all once he had died.

For all of our celebration that is today, I think we sometimes forget what a rather unassuming day this was . . . when it first occurred.  No one got together.  No businesses were closed.  What would become the most dramatic moment in human history occurred without any real consequence.