The Light of Christ: in my Mind

2nd Sunday of Advent

Have you ever put yourself in the manger scene?  Have you ever experienced the birth of Jesus or the time after His birth, with Mary and Joseph, or the shepherds, or the wise men?  Lectio Divina (Latin for “Divine Reading”) is a form of Christian prayer where we read a passage of Scripture and then use our imagination to place ourselves in the scene: then we see, hear, touch, taste and feel everything as if we were there!  We interact with others in the story.  We take on different roles.  And through this form of imaginative prayer the Scriptures come alive!  At Christmas we celebrate the coming of Christ into the world, the coming of clear Light into a sometimes foggy and murky world, into our sometimes foggy and murky lives.  This week, find some time to let the Light of Christ enter your mind – spend some time in that manger scene.  (Then next week we’ll talk about the Light of Christ shining in our actions, and the final week of Advent how the Light of Christ can shine in our words.)

Vocations Work

This weekend I will be taking a prospective seminarian down to
St Francis Seminary in Milwaukee on a weekend visit (so I will not have a homily to post).  Please say a prayer for our safe travels and that this young man might hear God’s voice clearly this weekend, know what step to take next in life, and have the courage to take it-wherever that step might lead.

Who’s The King of My Life?

Feast of Christ the King

We as Americans don’t always like the idea of authority, a king, a ruler.  We pride ourselves on democracy, equality, independence and standing on our own two feet.  But as Christians we claim that God is God and we are not, as Christians we claim to submit ourselves to Jesus Christ, as Christians we claim to bring about the reign of God’s kingdom on earth – beginning with our own lives: minds, hearts, words and actions.  So what am I?  Am I more of a modern American with a mind of independence?  Or am I more of a Christian with the mind of being entirely dependent on my God?  This feast is a challenge for us as a Church and as individuals to ask ourselves, “Where in my life do I still try to be independent?  What in my life have I not offered to God?  Do I allow Christ to be the King of my life?  Is He King of all of it, or just some of it?”  We will always feel like something is missing in life, like there must be something more, like something in us is just not quite filled, until we give our God every aspect of our life, total control: until Jesus Christ is truly our King!

Looking In The Mirror

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

What do you see when you look in the mirror?  The problem is that we can only see the external; a mirror can’t show us what we look like internally: how our souls look, how our thoughts, words and actions are changing us, for better or for worse.  Our first reading and Gospel are apocalyptic readings that refer, in part, to the end of time.  “Apocalypse” doesn’t mean “destruction,” it means “pulling back the veil, uncovering.”  The day will come when the veil will be pulled back and we will see not just the external, but the whole truth of every person and situation: we will see everything as it truly is, and everything will see us as we truly are – all things will be unveiled.  Will we be attractive?  Will we be the beautiful, genuine person God created us to be?  If you invite Jesus in now, He can heal those deeper, darker, blemished parts of your heart and soul…but only if you invite Him in. What do you see when you look in the mirror?  Can you look deeper?

Discipleship Weekend

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend I joined almost 60 high schoolers from around our diocese for the winter High School Discipleship Weekend.  These are young men and women serious about living out their Catholic faith: they want to continue growing in a deep and genuine relationship with Jesus Christ, they are learning to be active leaders in the faith, they are growing in intentional service to God and others, and they freely chose to give up their entire weekend in order to make these things a priority in their busy lives.  Although I had basically lost my voice by Sunday morning, here is my homily from this amazing weekend!

Themes: trust in God, giving what little we have, God compares us to our former selves (not to other people), knowing when spiritual growth really begins to happen (which is opposite of what we usually think) – all of which, by the way, lead to a freedom in life, a freedom of heart, a deeper peace that we all want but that can only be given by God!

Growing Pains

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

In our Gospel this weekend Jesus sums up the entirety of the Scriptures with the simple teaching to “love God and love neighbor.”  Christianity IS that simple…but it’s not that easy!  Growing in love of God and others is painful: like the pain and frustration you see go across a child’s face when they have to learn how to share with someone else, we experience that same pain of transformation as we say goodbye to our selfish inclinations and learn to open ourselves up to love of God and others – which makes us become more of the person God created us to be!  Our belief in Purgatory (which separates us as Catholics from all other Christians) is rooted in this idea of transformation from the inside out.  Heaven is a place where every individual completely loves God and completely loves others…that transformation, those growing pains, have to take place at some point, whether during this life or after.

What Has Jesus Done For You?

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

When I was young, I didn’t like doing the dishes – it was an obligation, a duty, something I HAD to do.  When my parents came up to visit me the other week, I cooked them a nice meal, and then miracle of miracles…I wanted to do the dishes!  Out of thankfulness for all they’ve done for me, I WANTED to do that service for them.  In our Gospel today Jesus heals a blind man who then follows Him along the way.  This once blind man is not living his faith out of a sense of duty or obligation – he’s living his faith with enthusiasm because he’s thankful for what Jesus has done for him.  How do we live out our faith?  How do we live out our relationship with God?  Is it under a burdening sense of duty and obligation, or as an energizing, thankful and joyful response to what Jesus has done in our lives?  What has Jesus done for you recently?  Keeping that answer at the forefront of your mind will transform your faith!

Swoosh Moments

Diocesan Youth Rally

When I was little I loved playing basketball.  As I grew I moved from a little foam basketball to a little heavy basketball to a women’s basketball to a men’s basketball, from granny shots to real shots; then, one day, I finally realized what it felt like to make the perfect shot – you may as well turn around and start heading down the court because as soon as it leaves your hand you know it’s going to be a swoosh!  That swoosh experience, that feeling of everything working exactly how it’s supposed to (no matter what the sport or activity)…you know what that feels like!  “That’s exactly how it’s supposed to be!” we say to ourselves.  Now what if you could say that about life?  What if you could get to the end of a day and say, “That’s exactly how life’s supposed to be!”  With the Lord…you can!

Why?

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

It’s a natural human tendency to make sense of things.  We ask the question “Why?” and we come up with an answer to appease our minds.  Our brains will even make up answers (even wrong ones, and totally believe them) just to satisfy this impulse to make sense of things.  When it comes to suffering, pain, difficulty, and even death, however, coming up with an answer for “Why?” often makes God into some kind of monster.  In the Scriptures God never gives an answer to “Why?” (I don’t think there is one), but what He does do is show us “where” He is when it comes to suffering, pain, difficulty, and even death: “I’m right there with you!  I walked that path already so that you would never have to walk it alone!  You’re never alone!”

What Are We Holding Onto?

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

An enthusiastic young man comes to Jesus in our Gospel asking what he must do to inherit eternal life.  Having followed all the commandments from his youth, Jesus invites the young man to take a step in faith…but this young man is very wealthy.  At Jesus’ challenge to sell what he owns and follow Jesus alone, this good young man walks away – he isn’t willing to put something in his life down to take hold of Jesus.  We only have two hands, and this weekend Jesus is stretching out his hand asking us to take hold and be raised to another level of our relationship with him.  But we only have two hands, and keeping hold of Jesus often involves putting something else down in life – even good things.  We’ve only got two hands: what are you holding onto?