What Are You Wearing?

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The parable which Jesus gives about a king inviting guests to the wedding reception of his son is ultimately a parable about eternal life and heaven (which our 1st reading from Isaiah speaks of as “God’s holy mountain”).  The king in the parable is God, his son is Jesus, and the wedding banquet is eternal salvation.  Some have ignored the invitation (God’s original Chosen People, the Israelites), so the king has sent out his servants (the Apostles) to invite anyone and everyone, the bad and the good alike (the Church), to this wedding reception.  One man, however, is thrown out for not wearing his wedding garment.  While it may seem harsh, the wedding garment symbolizes the garment we were given at baptism when we were asked to put on Christ.  We may say “yes” to God’s original invitation, but Jesus makes it clear that one “yes” is not enough.  After that, we also have to say “yes” to putting on Christ each and every day, to wearing the wedding garment we’ve been given.  And as we learn at the end of the parable, busy-ness, laziness, forgetfulness, whatever made that man not wear his garment, is not a good enough excuse when the final day comes.  What are you wearing today?

Intoxicating the World

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

A vineyard is meant to produce grapes, which turn into wine, which lightens and cheers the hearts of all those willing to drink of it.  Isaiah says that God’s Chosen People, the Jews, were the vine, hand-selected by God, to produce amazing wine for this world – but they didn’t produce good fruit.  So God took the vineyard from them and gave it to other tenants: now we, as the Church of Christ, have been given this vineyard to tend, so that we can produce good fruit for the world.  It means first being intoxicated by our own relationship with God, and then intentionally sharing these “spirits” with others so that they can find deep meaning, purpose and happiness of heart in relationship with God.  Then they will also begin producing good fruit for others.  Our potential is amazing!  So how are you bearing fruit?

Obedience and Change

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In this Sunday’s Gospel we have a story of change: one son says “no” to his dad’s request, then changes his mind and does it; the other says “yes” to his dad’s request, then changes his mind and doesn’t do it.  We all have the possibility to change, for better or for worse, every single day.  Every day is an opportunity to follow God’s voice again…or to choose to let that voice fade into the background.  A disciple is one who follows the voice of God each and every day; one who has an obedient and faithful heart – not just in word, but also in action; not just on Sunday, but on Monday through Friday as well.  Which son are you now?  Which son will you decide to be tomorrow?  Change is always possible!

No Homily For 2 Weeks

This weekend, in place of the homily, our parishes will be viewing our annual diocesan Catholic Services Appeal video.  The Catholic Services Appeal supports the operational costs of the diocese, over 30 faith building programs (especially for the youth), and the education and formation of seminarians.  God has given each of us so many blessings and gifts – please be generous with what God has given you!  And if you don’t belong to the Diocese of Superior, please be generous in supporting those programs in your area that contribute to the building up and spreading of our amazing Catholic faith!

Next weekend, as a member of the Vocations Team for the Diocese of Superior, I will be attending a conference with vocation directors from around the country aimed at promoting and supporting vocations to the priesthood.  I would appreciate your prayers for the success and fruits of that conference.  Thank you for the ways you currently support vocations in your parishes, and please continue to pray that we all might listen to God’s voice more attentively each day.

 

Confrontation and Unity

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend’s readings center on unity.  God desires complete unity for us: in our families, in our communities, and in our Church.  Today’s readings show how God uses confrontation and correction (always in love) to bring about true unity…as opposed to cheap unity, which avoids differences and assumes that since there’s no arguing, everyone must be united.  God’s dream is for one Church, truly united, walking together on the road to heaven, picking each other up when we fall and encouraging (and even correcting each other) on the way.  Are we willing to speak up and try to win someone over for Christ this week?

Embrace Your Crosses

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Life gives us many crosses and we have 2 choices: avoid them or embrace them.  Jesus embraced His cross and He asks us, His followers, to do the same.  When we try to avoid our crosses they begin to slow us down and sap the life out of us.  But when we invite Jesus in and embrace our crosses, He gives us the strength to live a strong and rich life even in the midst of our struggles and difficulties.  “Jesus, I give you my crosses today, come and give me Your strength to carry them with my head held high and to live a rich life.  Amen.”

Another Niche or The Christ?

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus brings his disciples to a great pagan temple today with hundreds of niches housing the statues of all kinds of different gods.  With all these other gods in the background, Jesus asks his disciples, point-blank, “Who do you say that I am?”  Most of us have been taught since we were young to answer,”Jesus is God, the Christ.”  While we might know the right words, our daily  actions and decisions also speak on our behalf about who Jesus is to us.  In the busy-ness of our lives, does Jesus ever become for us just another concern among all the many others?  Does Jesus fade into the background and fill another niche?  (I know that’s a tendency for me).  Or do our thoughts, decisions, and actions invite Jesus to stand front and center in our lives by proclaiming, “You are the Christ, the Son of God!”?

Don’t Stop, Ever

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the Gospel today, a pagan woman approaches Jesus asking Him to heal her daughter.  Jesus’ actions should bother us: First, Jesus doesn’t respond.  Second, He rejects her.  Third, He insults her.  Then finally, when she refuses to stop, He works a miracle for her.  What is Jesus doing?  He’s coaxing out of her an extreme act of faith and perseverance.  Have you ever asked for a deeper faith?  Does it ever seem like some of your prayers haven’t been answered by God?  Maybe He’s trying to do the same thing with you that He was doing with this woman in the Gospel – maybe He’s trying to call out of you an extreme act of faith; maybe He’s trying to grow in you a heroic faith!

From Big Moments to Small Moments

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus comes to the disciples today walking on the water – that’s a Big Moment, a miraculous moment, one that’s hard to miss, and it strengthens their faith.  Elijah is told in our 1st reading that the Lord will be passing by: there is a great wind, a tremendous earthquake, a blazing fire, and yet, Scripture says, God was in none of those seemingly big moments.  Rather, God was in a tiny, whispering voice – a Small Moment, so small it could be easily missed, but just as real as a Big Moment…and I would say even more important!  God’s ordinary language is in Small Moments, countless little whispers to us throughout the day.  He gives us a few privileged Big Moments precisely so that we will continue looking and listening for Him in the hundreds of Small Moments every day.

Trip and Moving

Soon I will be going on a pilgrimage to hike a 250 mile portion of the Camino de Santiago in Spain, which ends at the remains of St. James the Apostle. Because of that, I will not have homilies to post for a while.

Also, effective mid-July, I have been reassigned as the associate pastor of the parishes in Medford and Whittlesey, Wisconsin.  To everyone in the Rice Lake area: thank you so much for receiving me so warmly and welcoming me into your lives over these last 3 years; it has been a pleasure and a privilege to be your priest and I will miss you all greatly! Please pray for me during this time of transition, and I will be praying for you.

After pilgrimage and once I’m settled into the new parishes, I will continue recording and posting my homilies: so we can stay connected even after I’ve moved!  God bless and have a wonderful start to the summer.