Do we work to see ourselves working for the Lord or do we work for the Lord? It’s the difference between bitter darkness and joy in the Holy Spirit. Anecdote about a butcher knife to illustrate the incisive difference.
Tag Archives: HOMILIES
After sixty years of life, decades as a preacherman Catholic priest, our Lord has now been introducing me to His dear mother. Quite the statement, that, I know, I know. It is what it is. This homily goes hand in hand with the one yesterday. From these two homilies, yesterday and today, can you guess what the homily would be tomorrow if I were to have one (Mass super early in the rectory chapel on the day off)? After all, that will be the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.
I had to quit quite abruptly as all this was getting me choked up…
This is an instruction about forgiving others when everything in us is screaming out: “Vengeance is mine, not God’s!”
I give a couple of examples in my own life to demonstrate how it is that we can forgive. I had to learn. It took years. I had really been smashed down.
Wherein a rather vivacious apologetic is offered for the medicinal usage of excommunication. Here’s the deal: I’m Pope Francis’ Missionary of Mercy. Most of what we do is to lift non-declared excommunications, you know, latae sententiae. And then we absolve whatever sin, however reserved, according to the faculties granted us by the Holy Father. Pope Francis didn’t say that there is no such thing as excommunication anymore. No, no. He holds that there is so much latae sententiae excommunication going around that we need more personnel than is present in the Apostolic Pentitentiary over in Rome. Thus, the Missionaries of Mercy.
My internet interlocutor who challenges me on the Gospels of the day sent a missive just before Mass. So, what could I do, but preach on all of that after some remarks on the Gospel. I love it.
I’m so bad and evil, precisely the reason why I rejoice for Matthew becoming Saint Matthew. The irony is crushing, exhilarating, joyful, mirthful, utterly and only Christian…
What any demon manifests is always directed by Satan, the father of lies and a murderer from the beginning. Even during an exorcism whatever Satan or his demonic minions have to say is meant as deception even if on the face of it the truth is to be had. Sometimes the method, the circumstances change everything so that the truth is perverted upside-down, inside-out, back-to-front, always what the dark prince of this world – as he is called – wants in his arrogance and writhing spiritual and intellectual frustration.
Before the crowds can react to the miracles and instruction of Jesus, the devil jumps in to start “evangelizing”. What a fright, unless we are with Jesus. In that case, we laugh, heartily. For the love of Jesus provided by Him, the Son of the Living God, cuts through the mind games of Satan such as this fake “evangelizing”.
But if we are not with Jesus – or just fake out even ourselves that we are with Jesus even though we are not keeping His commandments and not respecting our neighbor – well then, we will fall into the trap of the false “evangelizing” of Satan.
But perhaps we are afraid to really hear what the Gospel has to say. I know that I have been afraid for a very long time in that the Gospels of recent have been opened up to me. Not that I’m “special” mind you. I’m trying to confess here that I’ve been belligerent in not listening to the Holy Spirit for so very long. Saint Peter says this:
- “Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation, for no prophecy ever came through human will, but rather men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God. (2 Peter 1:20-21).”
I rant a bit against some of fellow Scripture scholars and their methods of interpretation manifesting their adherence to dialectical materialism, to marxism. Forgive me this. I get into the Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven pretty quickly.
Pretty much since my first Confession, my first Holy Communion, my Confirmation, I’ve been baiting the authorities that be about all that which is good and holy, not because I’m good and holy, but precisely because I’m not and I wanted, in all my cynicism, to see if anyone would stand up for that which was and He who is truly Good and Holy. Some disappointments were to be had as we are all so very week. But as I was ordained to the diaconate and to the priesthood my baiting intensified as a teaching tool, that by which the uninstructable might me shaken up enough that they might at least question the heretical positions that had taken up to rationalize whatever horror was purposely going on their lives.
It got to the point very quickly as a priest – under the thumb of whatever more seasoned pastor – that I had to be reprimanded as being too brash, too challenging, to much respecting of the moral capacity that we all have especially if we but assent to the grace of God.
- “People are just too weak. Let them do whatever the hell they want to do, because we don’t want to offend them as they give us money.”
Walking into the door of the rectory of a parish in my first summer as a deacon, I was told what’s in the quote above, except replace money with new cars once a year. Seriously, before I was even greeted. I just continued my usual explication of the Living Truth of the Son of the Living God with all humor and charity and mercy, but the Living Truth was not watered down one bit.
Thus we come down to today, to my take on the Gospel of Jesus baiting people in His own hometown synagogue of Nazareth. Hah! Have I gone off the deep end in seeing Jesus’ actions as a vindication of a lifetime?
At the same time, know this, that people will forgive my own terrible idiocies if they see I’m actually trying to say something in sincerity about Jesus however much I otherwise get in the way, however much because of my own inadequacies I would otherwise obscure the Living Truth of Jesus. At least that. Jesus makes it happen for the good of His little flock.
But I still feel vindicated in not being “a man of consensus.” That title was put to us as the ultimate goal for which to strive, but this did not mean unity of judgement in the unmanipulatable Living Truth who Jesus is. Rather, being “a man of consensus” was all about being soft and nothing, able to compromise with the world’s sin, with the world’s darkness, with the world’s lies and aggression. Just no. That’s not what we are called to do. We are called to be one with the Son of the Living God, Mary’s dearest Son.
I had better get it right, because, if not, I’m liable to be scolded by Jesus’ good mom, the Immaculate Conception. She wants her priest-sons to speak rightly about her Divine Son, Christ Jesus, Christ our God, The Priest.
This family obligation, if you will, hit me quite strongly this past week. Because of renovations in the church, just painting and such at the moment, the statue of Our Lady of Fatima had to come down temporarily, so, she’s been standing right next to the priest’s chair in the sanctuary, off to the side.
I get distracted by noticing her fierce and, if I may, snarky eyes, as if encouraging me to speak more fiercely in an every more snarky manner. Since that’s the direction I’ve been heading over a lifetime, but more markedly in these past number of months, this is perhaps wishful thinking on my part, you know, the old “I’m blame Jesus’ good mom for any fierceness and snarkiness in my preaching.
I mean, here’s my view up close of those ever so fierce and snarky eyes:
Yes, she is happy to be our good mother as well, but what I see in those eyes is someone who has seen it all, and wants that the truth in all charity be preached to the little flock of Jesus her dear Son.
I have to recall when, at just 16 years old, as a Fatima Cadet of the Fatima Family Apostolate of Father Robert J Fox, I was able to help carry the statue of Mary on the vigil of the apparition of July 13, so, for the candlelight procession in Fatima the night of July 12, 1976.
These are the things I carry in my heart, into my preaching, to this day.
To be clear: what I carry in my soul is the grace of the good confessions of a life-time (at the time) in Fatima. Mary, you have to know, leads us to her Son. That she has interceded through the years that I might be able to preach about her dear Son is about enough to bring me to tears of thankfulness. Non sum dignus. Poor Father Fox, who had to hear my confession of a life-time (at the time!). His goodness and kindness and faithfulness have always been a good example to me to strive to follow.
It’s good to have a good confessor to whom to confess to Almighty God.
Go to Confession!
Examples from the fake “joy” of terrorism, alternative “life-styles”, self-entitled narcissism, and so on, all in contrast to just when the true joy of the Holy Spirit is established by Almighty God in the souls of His little flock.
To anyone who might recognize himself in the alternative “life-styles” example: no apologies for my comments here. And certainly no apologies to the at-one-time largest monastery in North America (with, I think, some 412 professed monks), which was one of many home parishes for me when I was very many decades younger than I am now.
Oh, yes: Thanks go to the airport transport driver, really cool guy.
Homily challenge! I like it! Before Mass, I received an email from a friend who challenged me to explain some of the hard sayings of Jesus, conundrums, harshness that is apparently to be found in this parable. Challenges, being put under pressure, make me thrive. I guess I’m pretty fired up in this particular homily, a little extended for a weekday attempt, but I can help it.
If you have any homily/sermon challenges for future attempts of this preacher-man to be faithful to the Holy Spirit, let me know before that Mass by way of a comment on any post whatsoever. The comments are moderated, so out of context to that post comments won’t make it through, but I’ll see then. You never know what will happen.
I was first challenged about this parable of the virgins by a terribly cynical anti-God (literally) very top-of-the-heap official in the Holy See:
- “Go ahead, George, un-street-smart naive priest that you are: trundle over to Vatican Radio to recording room […], and whatever you spew forth we’ll put up for immediate broadcast around the world. Trundle off now. People will be listening.”
Oooo! Pressure! But not really. Because the only “pressure” I feel for preaching is that I might honor Mary by saying something at least somewhat fitting about the words of her dearest dear Son, Jesus. Anyway, that Vatican Radio thing was something like 25 years ago. I think I about said the exact same thing then as the recording from the other day above.
Here’s the deal:
- Jesus puts before us life and death. He’s deadly serious. Take a look at how he tortured to death, taking on the punishment we deserve for sin, the worst we can give out, He standing in our place, Innocent for the guilty, having the right, then, in His own justice to have mercy on us.
- Yes, Jesus is being terribly sarcastic in this parable on our behalf, instructing us on how not to be the foolish virgins and rather how to be the wise virgins. And if that involves “harshness” of instruction on behalf of the foolish, so be it. Maybe it will get them to heaven. But it’s their choice.
By the way, don’t think for a second that – in our fallen human nature – those wise virgins didn’t suffer like hell to remain virgins. Knowing the impossibility of the same if left to their own devices and without grace, they learned instead to depend on God’s good grace, on how to live in God’s good grace, despite the weakness and temptation and darkness of fallen human nature. They learned to be humbly thankful to God: the gift of chastity while remaining in God’s love is in fact a gift from God and is the fruit of love of God.
By the way, don’t think for a second that – in our fallen human nature – those foolish virgins didn’t suffer like hell to remain virgins. But this was not something meritorious. They used this “virginity” so as to put their narcissistic self-congratulatory arrogance in the faces of others, prostituting themselves to “feeling virtuous” before others, “buying the oil, the love of God, at the merchants, the aggressive fallen world. So wrapped up were they that they weren’t even shaken by the extreme sarcasm of the wise virgins, a last ditch effort to stop them from flinging themselves into hell.
To be stark about it, we are not our own saviors; we can buy our salvation. Jesus is our Savior, and He provides this as a gift. Will we receive it, or will attempt to buy it by prostituting ourselves to rationalizations about how it is that we think we are so great apart from God?
When Saint Paul says that Jesus “became sin” for us, that’s rather a controversial statement. Speaking in shorthand begs some reflection, some questions. I take it all a step further, saying that “Immaculate Mary” “became sin” for us. This is a rather intense, if long, and emotional sermon for me to deliver.
I always and only speak from the heart, trying to listen as I speak to the my Guardian Angel and the Holy Spirit, since I know nothing and they know everything, and seeing that there is a grace for preaching in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I may not have cooperated with that grace. You be the judge.
- Some parishioners were profoundly affected for the better. Those people have suffered immensely in life, in all the truth of God’s charity.
- In summary of long reprimand of one parishioner, this sermon was an abject, total failure on my part, and was a perfect example of division instead of unity, horribly depressing and dark, but that I should be of good heart, as I can use this as an occasion for learning.
- I still see the “great faith” of the “Dog-Woman” in all her hellish suffering as the brilliantly shining glory of God among us as grace upon this earth.
- I still see the crucifixion of Jesus as the manifestation of glory upon glory of God’s truth in all charity upon this earth.
- I still see the Woman under the Cross as the manifestation of God’s glory upon this earth in a mere human being, although the Woman of great faith, the ever holy ever virgin Immaculate Mary now assumed into heaven.
Perhaps I am to be anathematized for what I say, but this sermon is what I consider to be the best of my entire life, bar none. Of course, I am biased.
Again, it’s a little long, but I’m speaking about Mary – OUR MOTHER! – throughout, regardless of whether or not I mention the “Dog-Woman.” I can’t help but speak at length about my mother and yours, Jesus’ Good Mom…
Perhaps like you never heard it presented: Remember the gushing blood…
I guess I got a bit passionate with this one. No apologies to the ever-naive. Grow up.
Jesus is the One. He’s the only One.
Perfect love casts out all fear. Do not be afraid. Do not be terrified.
Listen, folks: This is about Jesus. He’s the One. He’s still and always will be the only One. Only He is the Divine Son of God, the Way, the Truth, the Life. Only He is the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception. He always will be. Pachamamas be damned.
The one thing I forgot to mention in this homily was that the “pity” or “compassion” the Father had upon seeing his prodigal son is something rather altogether more precisely the kind of mercy that belongs to Jesus alone. And, indeed, the word used is employed exclusively for the mercy Jesus shows to us sinners. It’s not that Jesus merely had compassion or pity, but rather that His very heart was sacrificed. Yes. And it was, for us, literally, in the agony of the garden and upon the cross and upon our altars.
[[ I’m reposting this as not many sermons in the world were on Our Lady of Sorrows as the feast fell on a Sunday this year. ]]
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I’ve been recording my homilies these past days, but it never worked, until I realized that I have to but the little flash card in the recorder for it to work. Sigh. But I did it today.
About today. Here’s something humiliating but great for improvement. I realize in listening to this – it is so very painful – that if I’m thinking out a homily on the spot, you can hear me thinking kind of like hearing the grass grow. Sssssllllloooooooowwwww.
Well, now I know. Glad I know. Anyway, I tell two stories, one about my mom and one about Lourdes. Kind of. I need to be more prepared.
I also learned I’ll have to keep the recorder closer to me while I speak. It’s a little fading here and there. So I learn. Anyway, hope you like it.
UPDATE: This is the Pieta I mention in the homily. Originally, the bank of candles surrounded the image in front and to both sides on wooden shelves, in front of which, all the way around, there were kneelers so that many people could be there at the same time.
Dear Pope Francis, if you want to translate the finer points of Sacred Scripture from its original Greek, you might ask a Scripture Scholar. This Missionary of Mercy is at your service.