Tuesday, July 24, 2012

St. Sharbel Makhluf

See the readings for Mass today:
At first glance, when Jesus asks: "Who is my mother?" it might sound like he is dissing his mother.  Unless you know his mother, it seems to get worse when he says: "For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother," She was His first and best disciple.  She would be tops in the crowd of those who do the will of His heavenly Father.  The Blessed Mother's last words recorded in Sacred Scripture come to us from St. John's Gospel: "Do whatever He tells you." Isn't this good advice?  The beauty is that, as His first and best disciple, she always leads us to her Son.
St. Sharbel Makluf, who we celebrate today, had a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother and the Blessed Sacrament, before which he spent many hours in prayer.  He celebrated Mass close to noon so he could devote the morning as a preparation and the rest of the day as a thanksgiving.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Homily - July 15, 2012

This Sunday's readings remind me of a story I heard Archbishop Pilarczyk tell about his childhood.  When he was a very young child of three or four, he walked into the garage one day and saw his father cleaning.  He asked his father if he could help clean the garage.  His father graciously accepted his son's help and showed him how to use the broom.  It was many years later that the Archbishop realized that in his cleaning efforts as a young child, he got in his father's way more than he actually helped him.  But it was good for the child to have a stake in the well being of the household.
When I was in about the eighth grade, my father was putting brakes on the car in the driveway.  I asked if I could help.  He gave me the task of putting the wheel back on the side he had just finished.  After several minutes, I told him I was finished.  The lug nuts were on but needed to be tightened with the tire iron.  When my father inspected my work, he pointed out that the lug nuts were on backward.  The tapered side of the lug nut is supposed to go to the inside, not the outside.  This helps to get the wheel perfectly centered on the axle so it will not wobble.
In our Sunday readings, we hear that God calls and sends us to others with the Good News of Salvation.  But wouldn't it be a whole lot better if He just did it Himself.  Definitely.  But God wants us to have a stake in our salvation.  The Prophet Amos was fine just being a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores, but God wanted to use him as an instrument of His message.
The men Jesus called to be His Apostles were common men with jobs.  Many of them were fishermen.  St. Paul was a tent maker.  Jesus calls the people who seem very ordinary to take his message to the world.  All of us are called by God and sent out.  Some become famous by doing it while the vast majority of us are unknown to the world.  Nonetheless, all are sent out.  The vast majority of us find our mission territory right in our own families, right in our own places of work, in our own group of friends, on our own bowling team.
We may be tempted to think that we need special gifts or a lot of money to be effective ambassadors of the Good News.  However, a major lesson we see in today's readings is the importance of total dependency on God.  Jesus' Apostles were not even to take money or a change of clothes on their missionary journey.  We are called to do it with whatever gifts we have been given, great or small.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Homily - July 8, 2012

The Second Vatican Council reminds us that by virtue of our baptism, we share in three offices of Christ: Priest, Prophet, King

Priest: pray, participate in Mass, offer ourselves with the bread and wine on the altar to almighty God.
Prophet: teach, good example
King: self control, sensible discipline of children

Today, we cover Prophet:
I’ve probably mentioned this many times before but it bears repeating.
If you are baptized, you are a prophet.
If you are baptized, you are a missionary.
We don’t have to go to a far off land to spread the Gospel.
Our mission territory could be right in our own homes,
Right in our own families,
The bowling team,
Right in our own workplace.

Of course, it’s not easy.
As prophets, we may take the risk of being called things like: holy roller, goody two shoes

Human nature – We’ve had prophets and teachers in our midst for thousands of years yet we seem to stay about the same.
Ezekiel was dealing with rebels who rebelled against the Lord.
Are we not rebels who continually rebel against the Lord?

Sometimes the prophet will have to say things to people that they will not want to hear.
But we must speak the truth anyway.
Parents take little children to the doctor all the time to get shots.
We know the shots will cause pain.
The child knows the shots will cause pain.
But we don’t let say: “No shots” because it will hurt.
We know that even though it hurts, it’s what the child needs.
Sometimes when we are being good prophets, we have to say things that cause pain.
But it is what the person needs.
We want everyone in Heaven.

Prudence is acheived with the help of God's grace.
St. Paul reminds us of the Lord's words: “My Grace is sufficient for you.”

In Ezekiel’s time, they had a prophet among them.
And Jesus was definitely the prophet of prophets in his time.
What about now?
Do we have a prophet?
All of us.
How do we know what to say?
How do I interpret Scripture?
It can get kind of confusing.
We need the guidance of some real teaching authority.
The college of bishops that forms the teaching magisterium of the Church is our authority.

Even St. Paul said he submitted to the apostles.
The present day apostles are their successors.
We call them bishops.
How fortunate we are to have this teaching body with authority.
We don’t have to just make things up and then hope that we’re right.
If one of the greatest saints, St. Paul, could submit to the authority of the apostles,
Why can’t all who call themselves Christians?
We can’t say we are with Christ, and apart from his apostles.
If we are Christians, we are with Christ and with the Church he established.
Like St. Paul, if we are Christians, we must submit to the apostles.
And as a body united with the pope, they have never taught any error in faith and morals.
Then we can make room for the Prophet of prophets among us, Jesus the Lord.

Paul empties himself and becomes weak in order to be filled up with God’s grace to make him strong.
Part of the way he empties himself is submitting to the apostles.
Then he becomes strong by their backing behind him as prophet to the Gentiles.
Embrace our weakness to quell the rebellion.

We also: submit
Gain the backing of the college of bishops that form the teaching magisterium of Christ’s Church.
Lesson in humility.
There is a God and it’s not me.

Having this backing should give us great confidence as we go out on our daily mission.
And we will sometimes be rejected.
But we remember from today’s Gospel,
When they reject us, we are in good company.
They rejected Jesus first.