2019 Homilies

January 6: The Epiphany of the Lord
Readings:  Isaiah 60:1-6 / Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6 / Matthew 2:1-12

Way back in 1996, Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia spoke at the Suenens Conference in Cleveland. He shared a memorable story of a visit when he and a compañero were met at the outskirts to a poor village. They were on foot. The residents had three questions for the bringers of “good news”:

Does your God save bodies, or only souls?
Are seeds only yours, or do we have seeds too?
Are you our brothers and sisters forever?

January 13: The Baptism of the Lord
Readings:  Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 / Acts 10:34-38 / Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

There are three images that come to mind on this Baptism Feast. They are inspired by our experiences here. 1. Even before newly baptized are sacramentally welcomed into our Community, they are reaching out and holding on to us. 2. Our baptismal certificates are a testimony to the fact that “transitions” are worth noting. And 3. If what we do because of our commitment to baptismal promises is of value, “they will come.”

January 20: Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  Isaiah 62:1-5 / 1 Corinthians  12:4-11 / John 2:1-11
Homily Text

Denis Hayes is the CEO of the Bullitt Foundation in Seattle WA. The foundation is housed in the Bullitt Center, the greenest building on the planet. He was in town to speak to the City Club about the environment. With that stunning presentation in mind, the story of the wedding feast of Cana provided an opportune moment to focus on the six stone water jars. Water is life. The miracle this world needs now is for all of us to do what we can to guarantee enough water for everyone on Earth.

January 27: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  Nehemiah 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10 / 1 Corinthians 12:12-30 or 12:12-14, 27 / Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21

This Sunday followed on the heels of a confrontation near the Lincoln Memorial between Black Hebrew Israelites and a large group of young men from Covington Catholic High School who had participated in the March for Life.

 After witnessing all that went down in the past week, it occurred to me that sometimes, the only way different ingredients can become one in the sauce, or soup, or stew, is if they are heated up.  Left to simmer a while.  Maybe it is the challenges our many parts suffer from time to time that adds the heat, allows for the surrendering, brings out the flavors of the many parts, all in the same pot.

February 3: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19 / 1 Corinthians 12:31—13:13 or 13:4-13 / Luke 4:21-30

Paul writes that “now” we see things as if in a mirror, darkly. He uses the image of a riddle to suggest that the truth might be right under our nose, but we cannot see it plainly. Love will sharpen our vision and help us see clearly. Truth and love will protect Jeremiah in his prophetic mission. Truth and love will be the heart and soul of Jesus’ ministry. That will lead to a time when we will see “face to face.”

February 10: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8 / 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 or 15:3-8, 11 / Luke 5:1-11

Isaiah, Paul, and Peter were all sent, with a task. They all felt unworthy. But . . . Apparently, their own sense of unworthiness was not a disqualifier. On the contrary . . . it seems to have been a requirement.

We have had our own personal bouts with unworthiness, but we got over those.  Like Isaiah, Saul, and Simon, we have seen wonders and we have been tasked.

“We can do this,” we mutter. And we have.

February 17: Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  Jeremiah 17:5-8 / 1 Corinthians 15:12, 16-20 / Luke 6:17, 20-26

Luke’s beatitudes include “woes.” The litany of bless-ed and woes used to make me think that it was all a matter of timing: either we suffer now and enjoy bliss later, or the other way around.

This time though, courtesy of Luke, I see that it’s not so much about “now and later” as it is a mandate to collapse the time, “fill the gap,” diminish the disparity.

Luke used the word NOW four times, in his “bless-ed’s\”” and “woes.” Luke wants us to be alerted now, address the woes now, whenever, wherever we can. And if it means sharing our blessings, so be it. No one can hold back the “kindom” of God. It would be foolish for anyone to try.

February 24: Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  1 Samuel 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23 / 1 Corinthians 15:45-49 / Luke 6:27-38

“Pardon.” “Give.” Pay it forward. We are being encouraged to love for the good of the Body.    That’s all of us. Everywhere. All the time. There is no guarantee it will come back to us “packed down, shaken together, running over.” But there is an incentive for us to put it out there: it means that, over and over again, we reach for the best we have to give. Sarah tells me stretching is good exercise. You will need a Community to support you in this endeavor. Count on us.

March 3: Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  Sirach 27:4-7 / 1 Corinthians 15:54-58 / Luke 6:39-45

“Don’’t praise anyone before you hear them in a discussion, for this is the test of a person.”

Sirach suggests it is reasonable to expect anyone who “talks the talk” to “walk the walk.” But sometimes, we must talk the walk as well. We have to speak up, weigh in, be consistent and persistent. Do something extra.

March 6: Ash Wednesday
Readings:  Joel 2:12-18 / 2 Corinthians 5:20—6:2 / Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

What do we have to do in this sacred time? I suggest we search out a place somewhere between the shofar and our secret. Lots of room for lots of options. A place where you can “tear open your heart” without making a mess. “Believe in a God who is gracious and deeply loving as a mother,    quick to forgive, abundantly tender-hearted.” And stay there a while.

Perhaps you are there already.

March 10: First Sunday of Lent
Readings:  Deuteronomy 26:4-10 / Romans 10:8-13 / Luke 4:1-13

Lent is a little more than 10% of the calendar year, set aside for preparation: reducing, reusing, recycling, perhaps repurposing of our lives. It is intended to be a disciplined and deliberating time. Celebrated as a community. That way it is helpful, for one, and for all.

Even some of the youngest among us today have endured “Lents” born out of time.

March 17: Second Sunday of Lent
Readings:  Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18 / Philippians 3:17—4:1 or 3:20—4:1 / Luke 9:28b-36

An awakening comes whenever we see something as if for the first time. “Now we know,” unmistakably, undeniably, irreversibly. This moment was for us, and nothing can be the same anymore. New priorities become very clear. We change course. Like Abram and Peter, we are not the same after the encounter.

March 24: Third Sunday of Lent
Readings:  Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15 / 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12 / Luke 13:1-9

Everyone knows about the burning bush that captured Moses’ attention while he spent weeks in the wilderness minding the sheep. Another bush shows up in the gospel, a bush big enough to be called a tree. It does not speak. It does not even bear fruit. It is in trouble with the owner.  Fig leaves are big, distinctive, but they should be the sign of a healthy tree.

My sources say that fig trees require very little fertilizer to bear fruit. It is water they need. It may not have been getting enough attention, so the vine dresser says “a year of care will tell.”

March 31: Fourth Sunday of Lent
Readings:  1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a / Ephesians 5:8-14 / John 9:1-41 or 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38

A familiar story of a father with two sons visits us today. Against tradition, at the risk of embarrassment with a command performance in front of the whole town, the father will protest that love for a child can endure forever.

The elder son needs more convincing: “My child, you have been with me always.” Like the manna . . . When you needed me, it was here.

April 7: Fifth Sunday of Lent
Readings:  Ezechiel 37:12-14 / Romans 8:8-11 / John 11:1-45 or 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33b-45

To tell someone they can start over is the ultimate freedom, for both parties. Each can begin anew with all the experience they have just gained; they are wiser, more aware of weaknesses or character flaws, perhaps both are more humble. The one who forgives is free of the distraction, the anger, the resentment, the burden.

Free for good.

April 14: Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord
Readings:  Luke 19:28-40 / Isaiah 50:4-7 / Philippians 2:6-11 / Luke 22:14—23:56 or 23:1-49

This morning, with our hosannas, Occupy Wall Street came to mind. We all sang as an echo whatever the choir was singing. That’s how the participants during that demonstration communicated with one another. We occupy this space regularly, and our news is good enough to share. Our points of focus inspire and motivate us. We are constantly inviting one another to actions of one kind or another.

April 18: Holy Thursday
Readings:  Isaiah 61:1-3a, 6a, 8b-9 / Revelation 1:5-8 / Luke 4:16-21

Jesus washed the feet of all twelve of the disciples, including Judas, Thomas, and Peter, the three who would betray, doubt, and deny in short order. But the gesture was not without requirement:  “This is the commandment I give you: love, love . . . even betrayers, doubters, and deniers. Love everyone, no exceptions.”  Would we be celebrating this evening if Jesus had only washed the feet of nine of the twelve?

April 20: Easter Vigil
Readings:  Genesis 1:1—2:2 or 1:1, 26-31a / Genesis 22:1-18 or 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18 / Exodus 14:15—15:1 / Isaiah 54:5-14 / Isaiah 55:1-11 / Baruch 3:9-15, 32—4:4 / Ezekiel 36:16-17a, 18-28 / Romans 6:3-11/Lk 24:1-12

When we blew our tapers out, it was not because we no longer needed light. We have a precious confidence here, in this space, with these people. We know the Source. We believe this light will return.

We are flint. We are steel. We are not boasting. We are grateful.

April 21: Easter Sunday of the Ressurection of the Lord
Readings:  Acts 10:34a, 37-43 / Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Cor 5:6b-8 / John 20:1-9 or Luke 24:1-12

We do not assemble here for secret rituals, feel-good ceremony, or the payment of old debts.

We gather to hear, again and again, that God speaks through creation and in our history. That God acknowledged our fleshy struggle by taking it on, from conception to a last breath. That God abides, moves, accompanies, heals, and awaits us. We gather to be charged with a mission to address the needs of others, near and far.

See, we make all things new.

April 28: Second Sunday of Easter
Readings:  Acts 5:12-16 / Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19 / John 20:19-31

None of us will ever see all the signs and wonders this Community makes possible. Most are hidden, in “safe spaces.”  But let us not doubt what motivates the “doers” of these deeds. They were not eye-witnesses to the Resurrection. No one was. But their goodness and kindness make it possible for others to witness the Risen Christ. No doubt about that.

May 5: Third Sunday of Easter
Readings:  Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41 / Revelation 5:11-14 / John 21:1-19 or 21:1-14

John’s chapter 21 was added later, after John had put down his pen. It was added by a Community that finally accepted that Jesus’ return would not be imminent. There would be work to do in the meantime. The Risen Christ would be ascending soon. He would need unwavering commitment from disciples to maintain a presence in Word, and Sacrament, and People.

May 12: Fourth Sunday of Easter (Mother’s Day)
Readings:  Acts 13:14, 43-52 / Revelation 7:9, 14b-17 / John 10:27-30

Consider this as a workable analogy on a Mother Earth Day . . .

We are all in the same boat, a massive ship, but we have explored less than 10% of the vessel on our own. It is taking us to “safe harbor”; there are signs of trouble on board. Parts are failing and systems are showing signs of stress. It is likely this ship will get us to port. But the reality is, this same ship will be making a return voyage with our children and grandchildren. And the stability and security of that fifty-year voyage is uncertain. Are we willing to own up, to pay for the review and repairs this vessel will need . . . now?

May 19: Fifth Sunday of Easter
Readings:  Acts 14:21-27 / Revelation 21:1-5a / John 13:31-33a, 34-35

Does anyone here really believe the Spirit would settle for working with just “the elders”
when every member of the Body was available, gifted, and willing?
The Spirit would never take that risk. Why should we?
All of us have been inspired at one time or other by what another said or did.
That was the Spirit, speaking, doing, breathing through another of the members.
We come here eagerly, regularly, and are sent from this place deliberately to do good work.
That’s the Spirit. That is fresh heart.

May 26: Sixth Sunday of Easter
Readings:  Acts 15:1-2, 22-29 / Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23 / John 14:23-29

Elie Wiesel once observed: “People are united by their questions. It is the answers that divide them.” We should ask more questions. Maybe some of the division would go away.

June 2: The Ascension of the Lord
Readings:  Acts 1:1-11 / Ephesians 1:17-23 or Hebrew 9:24-28; 10:19-23 / Luke 24:46-53

An “on-the-spur-of-the-moment” plunge into a bottomless storage unit in my home turned up a number of useable items that were put to good use by someone looking for just those things. The connection was “Freecycle,” a website sponsored to keep as many items as possible out of the landfill. “Reuse” is the mantra. The takers of my newfound treasures needed more than just a few kitchen items. They needed a home.

June 9: Pentecost Sunday
Readings:  Acts 2:1-11 / 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13 or Romans 8:8-17 / John 20:19-23 or John 14:15-16, 23b-26

When someone says they are sorry, and asks for forgiveness, isn’t that enough?
So the simpler message this morning is: don’t do it. Retain . . . no . . . one’s . . . sin.  If we want to accept the “peace” and receive the Spirit, we can never refuse to forgive.

June 16: The Most Holy Trinity Sunday
Readings:  Proverbs 8:22-31 / Romans 5:1-5 / John 16:12-15

We are failing at grasping our connection with God. We are supposed to be about the business of being transformed, transcending the everyday that fills our days. But the sacred is in the ordinary. We come here to sing songs that are familiar and be with people we know and love. But to be “touched” by the same burning coal that landed in the tongue of Isaiah. Find ten minutes a day to be open to that experience.

June 23: Corpus Christi
Readings:  Genesis 14:18-20 / 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 / Luke 9:11b-17

WE don’t always see the face in front of me as one of many that make up the face of Christ. It’s not that I don’t know any better. We all do.
Sometimes we don’t sit still when we should. We are too busy moving with crowd, looking for the next thing when we should be in the moment instead. It’s good that we gather here as often as we do to get our bearings, to recall that we are the Body of Christ.

June 30: Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21 / Galatians 5:1, 13-18 / Luke 9:51-62

I was stunned by a line in the scriptures today. Paul’s words. “If you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (Galatians 5,18) There are no big words in there. Paul is writing simply, to Gentiles he knows well. And to us.

July 7: Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  Isaiah 66:10-14c / Galatians 6:14-18 / Luke 10:1-12, 17-20 or 10:1-9

July 14: Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  Deuteronomy 30:10-14 / Colossians 1:15-20 / Luke 10:25-37

The Word is not in a static container that preserves, but in a living, breathing, growing, evolving entity. In US! A living vessel. The Word, like the Spirit, is current and ever-present. So the answer to the question addressed to Jesus in the gospel, “who is my neighbor,” has to be a verb!

July 21: Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  Genesis 18:1-10a / Colossians 1:24-28 / Luke 10:38-42

Interruptions don’t just make us aware of the needs of others; they make us acutely aware of our own. When someone asks for a moment of our time, we immediately take stock of the time we have to spare.

July 28: Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  Genesis 18:20-32 / Colossians 2:12-14 / Luke 11:1-13

I believe Jesus hoped we would be answering these prayers for one another, first and foremost. It is comforting to know you can leave critical requests at the doorstep of someone you trust.

August 4: Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23 / Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11 / Luke 12:13-21

“Nobody gets to heaven without a letter of reference from the poor,” according to James Forbes, pastor of Riverside Church in NYC. That makes sense as a follow-up to a story told this morning called “Lee Man.”

August 11: Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  Wisdom 18:6-9 / Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19 or 11:1-2, 8-12 / Luke 12:32-48 or 12:35-40

Abraham and Sarah never had clarity. Only trust. Isaac was born of that trust. What were the servants in Luke put in charge of? What are we in charge of? The grain? The household? Or the trust of the owner! Until he comes . . .

August 18: Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10 / Hebrews 12:1-4 / Luke 12:49-53

Jesus declared: “I have come to light a fire on the earth.” And he did. He showed us how it is done. The spark could easily be your imagination, your thoughtfulness, your goodness. The fuel is the kindling in this room, the tinder that is willing to lend a hand, offer support. The oxygen is the easiest part – that has to be the Spirit, the strong driving wind.

August 25: Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  Isaiah 66:18-21 / Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13 / Luke 13:22-30

The way I see it . . . we build the kindom, so we build the gates as well. Right now we are on one side of a narrow door, and the whole world is on the other. Our mission is to open that door whenever anyone comes. That’s the way of the kindom. That’s commensality. Open, welcoming, including, seeing the godliness of everyone and everything. That’s how the kindom comes! If we fail to open the door for others now, why would a door open for us down the road?

September 1: Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29 / Hebrew 12:18-19, 22-24a / Luke 14:1, 7-14

I am not doing anything today in order to be rewarded tomorrow. By the time all this gets figured out, it will be too late to do much about it. In the meantime, “We first” puts the onus, not on one or the other, but upon all. Now. It is “kindom” speak. It presumes unanimity, a common purpose, many hands and many hearts willing to work for a common good. So, today, we build. We welcome. We leave to serve.

September 8: Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  Wisdom  9:13-18b / Philemon 9-10, 12-17 / Luke 14:25-33

“Count the cost.” Jesus’ advice before anyone builds a tower is sound and helpful. But his remark begs the question: “Who will pay?” There is one tower that must be built for the good of all today – what we will do about climate change. A young Swede, Greta Thunberg, is today’s prophet. She speaks on behalf of her peers to an adult world that is not willing to build the tower in a timely or prudent manner.

September 15: Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14 / 1 Timothy 1:12-17 / Luke 15:1-32 or 15:1-10

September 22: Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  Amos 8:4-7 / 1 Timothy 2:1-8 / Luke 16:1-13 or 16:10-13

September 29: Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  Amos 6:1a, 4-7 / 1 Timothy 6:11-16 / Luke 16:19-31

October 6: Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  Hebrews 1:2-3; 2:2-4 / 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14 / Luke 17:5-10

October 13: Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  2 Kings 5:14-17 / 2 Timothy 2:8-13 / Luke 17:11-19

October 20: Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  Exodus 17:8-13 / 2 Timothy 3:14—4:2 / Luke 18:1-8

October 27: Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18 / 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 / Luke 18:9-14

November 3: Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  Wisdom 11:22—12:2 / 2 Thessalonians 1:11—2:2 / Luke 19:1-10

November 10: Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  2 Macabees 7:1-2, 9-14 / 2 Thessalonians 2:16—3:5 / Luke 20:27-38 or 20:27, 34-38

November 17: Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings:  Malachi 3:19-20a / 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12 / Luke 21:5-19

November 24: Christ the King
Readings:  2 Samuel 5:1-3 / Colossians 1:12-20 / Luke 23:35-43

December 1: First Sunday of Advent
Readings:  Isaiah 2:1-5 / Romans 13:11-14 / Matthew 24:37-44

December 8: Second Sunday of Advent
Readings:  Isaiah 11:1-10 / Romans 15:4-9 / Matthew 3:1-12

December 15: Third Sunday of Advent
Readings:  Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10 / James 5:7-10 / Matthew 11:2-11

December 22: Fourth Sunday of Advent
Readings:  Isaiah 7:10-14 / Romans 1:1-7 / Matthew 1:18-24

December 25: Christmas
Readings:  Isaiah 52:7-10 / Hebrew 1:1-6 / John 1:1-18 or 1:1-5, 9-14