Sunday, May 21, 2023

St. Peter, as a Pastor

There are two distinct versions of this homily, both linked below. The first one is a "remix" of sorts, in that it was preached at the Sunday 8am Mass which was also our Mass for our high school graduates, and therefore was addressed to them first and foremost. The other is the "vanilla" version that was at 5:30 and 10:00 Masses. 

Interestingly (maybe?), that was the order of their inspiration too. Usually you would pick a topic and come up with a broad homily for the whole of the parish and then add little touches to make it fit the special occasion better. But that seemed dangerous: you've got eighteen-year-olds in the front row, their immediate families, and perhaps extended family and friends, some of whom might not be Catholics, and all are probably looking for some direct relevance to the situation. 

So I approached it as: Let's find a topic "that'll preach" for graduates, and then reverse-engineer it so it fits the other congregations too. And while today's gospel is gorgeous, it's also a little confusing. The practical side of things seemed a better fit. And no letter is more practical than 1st Peter (except maybe James). And reading throughout this Easter season Peter's consistent message of undaunted grace in times of severe trial was perfect, a no-brainer for kids leaving home and for everybody else's life besides. 

Graduate Mass:

Normie Mass:

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Holy Spirit: Agent, Advocate, Ally

Both this Sunday's readings and my homily pick up right where they left off last week. All are continuous: Acts of Apostles last had Stephen and the deacons being commissioned, and now Deacon Philip is in Samaria as they move out after Stephen was killed. 1st Peter is one chapter later. And Jesus picks up again just two lines later in John 14 at the Last Supper.

Last week Jesus focused on opening up the relation of the Father and the Son. And so the focus of the homily was on them and how to picture their orientation toward each other and their distinct roles toward us. This week Jesus talks a lot about how he will ask the Father, and the Father will send the Advocate to them in Jesus' name. So this homily explains, first, what the Spirit does for us and, second, how the Christian life is about us being inserted into the inner workings of the Trinity: Being incorporated into, and united with, Jesus. Loving and serving the Father because we are ourselves in the Son. The Spirit freeing us and then fusing us to Jesus, and us going out in the power of the Spirit to preach, serve, and strive, with confidence in the Spirit's aid.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Jesus: Road, Ferry, Telescope

The disciples Philip and Thomas get feature roles in John chapter 14, as Jesus uses their comments as springboards to take us deep into the heart of God, into the inner workings of the Trinity. This gospel reading for the 5th Sunday of Easter is probably the single most important text for the Christian doctrines of Incarnation and the Trinity. And while the teaching can still contain mysteries for our minds, Jesus gives us great images by which to start to understand the three Persons.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Ransoming, Redeeming, Retelling

Jesus is himself the first person to retell the story of Israel with his death and resurrection at its center. Peter, both in Acts and in his First Letter, retells that story too. And although the Bible never explains how exactly Jesus' death saves us, it regularly uses the word "ransom" to describe Jesus' death on the cross. And more often than not the words that we read in English as "redeem, redemption" are really the same Greek word as "ransom". Even though we often tend to lump our "redeeming" with words like "forgiving" or "satisfying" or "rescuing", it first and foremost is buying word, a marketplace word, a word for trading away your costly valuables to release an enemy's victims from their slavery. And that is a favorite image of the first Christian centuries: giving up a Son to free us slaves.

O wonder of your humble care for us! 

O love, O charity beyond all telling, 

        to ransom a slave you gave away your Son! 

O truly necessary sin of Adam, 

        destroyed completely by the Death of Christ! 

O happy fault that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!

Thursday, April 6, 2023

"The Blood of Jesus Purples Our Lips"

For our Holy Thursday Mass tonight we had Communion by intinction. Meditating on that word. "intinction", I remembered the above quote from St. Peter Julian Eymard from the wonderful book The Real Presence. 

So I invite you too to meditate on the imagery of the Body of the Lord, tinged with His Blood, given to the faithful. In the words of The Letter to the Hebrews, Chapter 10: “We have confidence to enter the Holy of Holies by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, his flesh.”

(Also, how great is it that when I searched Google for an intinction picture, the first image was of our own Bishop James Conley distributing Communion.)

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Matthew's Lost Last Supper

Sure, at Mass we are constantly reminded of the Last Supper, but we actually rarely hear the story. And when we do, it is all but drowned out by the subsequent events of the passion. So let us turn our eyes to Matthew's narration of it and see Jesus offer Israel a "system update": the rollout of Covenant 2.0

Friday, March 24, 2023

The Eucharist: A Parish Mission In Two Senses

March 18-22 I was blessed to be able to offer a four-day Lenten parish mission at my parents' church, St. Louis de Montfort in Fishers, Indiana. 

Their pastor, Fr. Thomas Haan, invited me as part of the parish's ongoing renewal and encounter with Jesus, and especially with Him in the Blessed Sacrament, in anticipation of the Eucharistic Congress hosted by Indianapolis in 2024. 

I preached the weekend Masses as a preview, and then gave spiritual conferences on three topics the following days, once in the morning and once in the evening.

Mass Homily: The Treasure and the Revival

Monday Evening: Worship and the Mass

Tuesday Evening: The Eucharist and Justice

Wednesday Evening: Adoration and Prayer

                                                     photo credit: Fr. Ben Rynearson, St. Wenceslaus, Wahoo