Sermon for the Fifth Sunday of Lent

In the Gospel for today’s Mass (B Cycle) we hear Jesus at prayer as he ponders the difficult and painful days just ahead of him. It is now the hour for the Son of Man to be glorified, that is to say, be crucified. Jesus saw it as his glory, that he give his life for us and show the world that he loves the Father. And yet he knows he is heading for a painful time.

There are some difficult truths evident in this Gospel that, if we can accept them will set us free. One of the sources of stress for us in life is that we often have unrealistic expectations of what this life should be. A more ancient description of life describes it as a “valley of tears” and teaches us to long for heaven. Today however, with a higher standard of living, most of us have come to expect that life should be comfortable and happy. When it is not we get resentful and anxious. But the truth is that we are not in paradise and sorrows and difficulties are a frequent part of life. Simply accepting this fact is a great source of peace.

In the homily today I explored, “Five Hard Truths that Will Set You Free.” The five truths are not original to me. I first heard them from the Franciscan Theologian Richard Rohr. Here they are:

  1. Life is hard
  2. Your life is not about you
  3. You are not in control
  4. You are not that important
  5. You are going to die.

I took these principles and related them to Jesus’ words in the Gospel today. As I have said, they are hard sayings but, if you are willing to accept them they are a source of peace since they help us gain a more humble perspective on life. That done, our egos are less wounded by the disappointments and sorrows of life.

If you care to listen to the Homily it is here: Five Hard Truths that Will Set You Free (32 Minutes)

At the end of the Homily I reference an old Gospel Hymn “Beams of Heaven.” If you’d like to hear it, then it is here below in the video. The refrain is: I do not know how long ’twill be, nor what the future holds for me. But this I know, If Jesus leads me, I shall get home some day!

Sermon for the 4th Sunday of Lent – Lighten Up!

In The Gospel in today’s Mass (Cycle B) is one of the most familiar texts of the New Testament. Many can quote it from memory: For God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son, that all who believe in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God sent not his Son in the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16). But it is interesting that most quote only the first part of the passage. But the second half contains a warning and announcement of the essence of our judgement. Jesus says, “Here is judgement, the light has come into the world but some have preferred the darkness….they hate the light and do not come near it.

It is a very profound teaching about the nature of our last judgement. And here is the teaching:   In the end, our judgement is not so  much about God’s decision as about ours. God wants to save us. But do we want to be saved? You might say, “Everyone wants to go to heaven!” But heaven is not just a place of our design, heaven is the Kingdom of God in all its perfection. The truth be told, there are many who do not love God’s kingdom! The Kingdom of God is about justice, mercy, love of enemies, chastity, mercy, truth, love of the poor, and so forth. There are things in this description that many hate! Many today hate chastity and calls for sexual purity. Many do not love the poor and stridently disagree with many fundamental and truthful teachings of the scriptures and the Church. But this is what the kingdom of heaven is! Yes, everyone wants to go to heaven, but it is a heaven of their own making, not necessarily the real heaven. Jesus says in the gospel today that some people hate the light. This is evident today. Hence this Gospel says two things.  First, God wants to save us and invites us to His kingdom. Secondly, not everyone wants to live in God’s kingdom. The judgement in question is not God’s decision, but ours

If you’d like to listen to it my homily for today is here in mp3 format: Lighten Up!  

In this homily we explore the following:

  1. The desire that God has to save us.
  2. But what do we desire? Jesus says some prefer darkness and hate the Light? What does he mean?
  3. Our final judgement is ultimately God’s acceptance of our choice to love or hate the light.
  4. But how is it that some end up hating the light? In effect they go to sleep, enter a moral night-time and come to hate the light like a grouchy sleeper who doesn’t want to wake up and who curses the morning light that bids them to get up.
  5. Well then, walk in the light. Don’t go into moral darkness and sleep such that you grow so accustomed to the dark that you come to hate the light.

40 Reasons for Coming Home – Reason # 22 – You were made to praise God.

Reason # 22 You were made to praise God!  Sometimes the Scriptures just say it plain. Ephesians 1:12-13 says In Christ Jesus we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the one who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory. Notice that the text says we exist for the praise of God’s glory. You and I were made to praise the Lord. The old catechechism says that God made us to know him, love him, and serve him in the life, and to be happy with him forever.

It is simple but profound. You and I were made for these fundamental reasons. We were not made for all the reasons that the world says such as: to be popular, rich, famous, sexy, powerful. Most who have tried these things feel unsatisfied and in the end if we live for this we eventually die…end of story! But the truth is we were made for God and exist for the praise of his glory. Our peace and contentment are wrapped up in God and God alone.

One thing I’ve noticed in my life is that it is just plain refreshing to praise God. It resonates within my very being to sing a stirring hymn of praise or meditate upon a refelective song.  There is just no doubt in my mind, I was made to praise to the Lord because when I do there is a wondrous sense of fulfillment within me.

Here then is another reason to come home to God’s house: we were made to praise God. And I promise you, whatever your personality, when you praise the Lord, you will find joy and serene peace because this is why we were made. Below are a few songs of praise in different styles: contemporary, traditional Latin, and Gospel. Pick a video and spend a few moments praising God. But remember, it is best done in Church every Sunday. We’ve saved you a pew.

CONTEMPORARY

TRADITIONAL LATIN – Exsultate Justi in Domino – Translation: Exsult you just in the Lord. Praise befits the upright! Give praise to the Lord on the harp and with ten stringed lyre sing to him. Sing to him a new song, sing well to him with strong voice! For the word of the Lord is upright and all his works are faithful! The Lord loves mercy and justice and of his mercy the earth is full.

GOSPEL

Vocations – that tug in your heart?

The following video is one of the more intriguing vocation videos I have seen. And it is from an interesting source. The video also illustrates well the general theme of this blog that the longings we experience are ultimately about God, whatever our vocation. Sister calls her longing that “tug in her heart.”