Archive for August, 2011

Homily for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 6, 2011

In the Preface to the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass there is a line addressed to God which says: “We do well always and everywhere to give You thanks”. Each and every week at Mass the priest says to you: “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.” And you respond each week: “It is right to give Him thanks and praise.” “It is right” . . . in other words, you are saying that it is a matter of justice: it is the right thing to do to offer God our thanks and our praise. Then the priest says that we do well always and everywhere to give God thanks: always and everywhere.

Our hearts were made for God. Many things in this world can easily come between us and Our Lord, but that is not the way that we were made: we were made for union with God. He is the source of our life: He shares His divine life with us; and He is our ultimate goal. We were created to be with God forever in Heaven. In order to attain our goal, we have to follow God faithfully. We are commanded to love God above all things. God does not take away our free will, we are perfectly free to choose God or choose to turn away from God, but when we turn away from God by sin we turn away from the very purpose of our existence and if we turn our backs on God, we turn our backs on true happiness, peace and joy.

In today’s Gospel, Saint Peter walked on the water. When we meditate on this Gospel passage we might be tempted to only think about the fact that Our Lord saved Saint Peter from drowning, but we should also think about the fact that before he turned his attention away from the Lord, Saint Peter walked on the water. Saint Peter did what is humanly impossible, so long as he kept his trust fixed on Jesus. Only when he wavered and lost that trust did he begin to sink.

Walking with Our Lord, putting all of our trust and hope in Him, does not mean that there will not be storms in our lives. Yet the strength to weather the storms comes from the Lord. While Saint Peter was walking on the water there was a strong wind, there were probably waves and he was outside of the boat. When he shifted his attention away from the Lord and became fearful, he began to sink. Of course as soon as he called out to the Lord, the Lord immediately stretched out His hand to save Saint Peter. We should learn from Saint Peter and try to put all of our confidence in God. When we begin to fall, we should call out to Our Lord immediately.
Those words of the Preface teach us an important lesson: we do well always and everywhere to give God thanks and praise. We need to keep God at the center of our lives. When we fail to keep God in mind, we tend to sink into our difficulties. The storms of our lives can overwhelm us if we forget to seek the Lord’s assistance. When we focus on the storm, instead of on God, we lose hope and become fearful. We need to learn to trust God. We should get into the habit of recalling God’s presence to our minds often throughout the day. God is always present to us, we are just rarely aware of it. If we could get into the habit of turning our attention to Him, thanking Him, praising Him, calling upon His assistance throughout the day, focusing on Him during the storms would come that much more naturally to us.

Recognizing God’s presence in our lives takes practice. God does not usually communicate to us in loud, dramatic ways. Our first reading today illustrates this point: Elijah was in a cave on mount Horeb and was told that the Lord would be passing by. There was a strong and heavy wind, which was crushing rocks; there was an earthquake and a fire; yet the Lord was not in those things. The Lord appeared to Elijah in a gentle, whispering breeze. Many times we do not recognize God’s presence in our lives because we are too busy to notice. God speaks in the silence: He does not usually force His way into our chaos: He waits for us to quiet ourselves down before He speaks to our hearts. Often, we can recognize God at work in our lives when we look back on various things that have happened to us. If we practice being mindful of God, if we practice living in His presence, we will begin to recognize Him more and more. He is always with us: let us try to be more aware of Him.

Lord Jesus Christ, we know that you are with us always. Help us, Lord, to be more mindful of You throughout the day. Give us the grace to remember to call upon You often and give you thanks always and everywhere. Amen.

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Homily for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 1, 2011

In today’s Gospel we hear of the miraculous feeding of the five thousand from five loaves of bread and a two fish. This miracle performed by Our Lord teaches us a few things: it reminds us of God’s loving Providence. God provides all that we need: physically, as well as spiritually. We may not receive everything that we want, we may not receive everything in the way that we want, but God does provide for us: He pours out His blessings upon us in great abundance and we owe Him our gratitude. Saint Paul reminds us that everything that we have that is good comes to us from the hand of God: and if we stop and reflect upon it, we have many good things in our lives. Indeed God provides for us in abundance. God wants us to have abundant life: here and in the life of the world to come. This super-abundant generosity of God is symbolized in today’s Gospel by the amount of food left over after the multitude had been fed: all ate and were satisfied and there were twelve baskets of fragments left over.

The multiplication of the loaves was also a prefigurment of the greatest of all gifts that Our Lord has ever given to us: the gift of the Holy Eucharist. Just as Our Lord provided physical food for the people in the wilderness, Our Lord He gives Himself to us as spiritual Food for our journey to our heavenly homeland. God does not abandon us to walk alone in this valley of tears, but He provides spiritual sustenance for us: He walks with us. We receive from the altar the Author of all grace: and Our Lord desires to pour out abundant graces into our souls each time we receive Him in Holy Communion. Grace is our share in God’s own divine life: grace gives us the strength, the courage, and the wisdom to be able to love as we were created to love. The graces that we actually receive from Holy Communion are only limited by our openness to receive His grace. The more we free our hearts from sin and open ourselves to receive grace, the more grace we will receive. The thing that keeps us back from becoming Saints is our unwillingness to surrender ourselves completely to God.

We are, at times, tempted to think that if we lived in other circumstances that we would become holy. Sanctity is not achieved by doing great things, we become holy by doing the little, day-to-day things in a great way: with great love. Do not wish that your circumstances were different so that you could become a Saint, become a Saint in the midst of your circumstances. By faithfully fulfilling our daily duties in life, out of love for God and love for others, we will grow in holiness. It is not a question of how much we are able to give Our Lord, it is a question of giving to Our Lord all that we have and all that we are and all that we do: however great or insignificant we think that offering is. The disciples in today’s Gospel gave Our Lord five loaves of bread and two fish. That little amount of food was next to nothing compared with the size of the crowd that needed to be fed. Yet they gave Our Lord all that they had and He was able to use it. When we do all the little things that we do out of love for God, our lives will become very pleasing to Him and He will make great use of all that we offer to Him for our own good and for the good of others.

There are many discouraging things in our culture around us these days. Perhaps you have family members or loved ones who are suffering. Perhaps you are carrying a heavy cross. Whenever we are faced with trials, especially trials or sufferings that are borne for many years, we might be tempted to become discouraged. Do not give in to despair: do not waste time worrying, and worry is a waste of time: it does not achieve anything. Do you want to see things around you changed? Pray, root sin out of your life, offer yourself completely to God, Who gave His Son for you. Be leaven in the world. It only takes a small amount of yeast to leaven an entire loaf of bread: it only took twelve un-educated men from Galilee to change the entire world. Perhaps you are thinking that you are not called to be an Apostle to the nations. That is probably true, but you are called by God to fulfill your place in the mystical Body of Christ. Sin is not merely a personal reality: sin has a negative effect on the entire mystical body; the same is true of holiness. Your personal sin or holiness has an effect that goes well beyond you: whether you are aware of that fact or not. We are all called to holiness; we are all called to give everything (all that we are and all that we have) to Jesus Christ. He will do the rest. Let us offer ourselves wholly and completely to Him: not holding anything back and let us put all of our hope and all of our trust in Him.

Lord Jesus Christ, You completely poured Yourself out upon the Cross for us and You give us Yourself to us in Holy Communion. Give us hearts that are open to receive all the graces that you desire to give us in Holy Communion today. Help us to imitate You and pour ourselves out for You and for others. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, on fire with love, enkindle our hearts with love. Amen.