Saturday, November 03, 2007

God was once approached by a scientist who said, "Listen God, we've decided we don't need you anymore. These days we can clone people, transplant organs and do all sorts of things that used to be considered miraculous." God replied, "Don't need me huh? How about we put your theory to the test. Why don't we have a competition to see who can make a human being, say, a male human being." The scientist agrees, so God declares they should do it like he did in the good old days when he created Adam. "Fine" says the scientist as he bends down to scoop up a handful of dirt." "Whoa!" says God, shaking his head in disapproval. "Not so fast. You get your own dirt."

In the gospels there are so many instances of people encountering Jesus, most of them have some sort of an obstacle that they are looking to overcome. Today in the gospel we are hearing that no matter what the obstacle is, we need to fight through that. Zacchaeus had several obstacles, we know he is a tax collector, obstacle number 1, we also know that he is “short of stature”, vertically challenged if you will. If you are in that same category, you know what it’s like to stand along a parade route and not be able to see anything because there are so many people in front of you. This was what Zacchaeus was going through, in trying to see Jesus.

This story of Zacchaeus can certainly teach us something, first of all, no matter what we have against us, no matter what sins we have in our lives, no matter how long we turn from our God, eventually we come to the realization that we need him. Jesus will walk among us, giving us innumerous opportunities to look for him, we have that opportunity in the sacrament of reconciliation, our proverbial tree, like Zacchaeus used to see over the obstacles in his way, to recognize him and tell him with our actions, you are my God and I need you in my life.

Today, my dear friends, I challenge you, find that tree that God puts before us to see over those obstacles, to over come the adversity in our lives and look towards our Lord walking before us. Zacchaeus climbed that tree, he saw Jesus, and Jesus saw him. His persistence in seeing this man he heard so much about paid off, because he was noticed, and he was called forth by name to come and join Jesus. Now, of course the people grumbled, because remember he is a hated tax collector, but Jesus obviously had a plan, and he responds to the grumbling with the ultimate message of love “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” He did not leave Zacchaeus up the tree with no where to go, but rather called him out of his predicament, and said “today I will join you and stay with you.” He changed his life, like he is seeking to change ours, giving opportunity because he sought to see his God, as we are called to seek him every day of our lives.

And so my brothers and sisters, today seek the face of God, seek him before all else, give your lives to him, climb that tree and climb high, because our God will notice us, will recognize our efforts, and he will call us by name, and stay with us always.

May the Lord who calls us out of our adversity, give you his peace!

Monday, February 12, 2007

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Blessed are the poor, the hungry, the weeping, the hated and the insulted. But what does this mean? It seems rather odd, if we do not properly reflect on this passage from the Gospel of Luke. How can we say that we are blessed because we are poor? How can we say that those who hunger are blessed, or that God looks favorably on those who are persecuted for believing in him?
To really understand this passage, we have to look at the context in which Jesus is speaking. Jesus was speaking to a crowd of Hebrews, and their concept of blessing is not a divine pat on the back, but rather an opportunity to encounter God. The Beatitudes are the true sense of the word blessing, because they bring us happiness, a happiness that we can only experience when we encounter God, face to face in our every day life. The word beatitude actually means happy, a happiness that flows directly from God into our lives.
Blessed are the poor, the kingdom of God is yours. If we go through life like this is the final stop, like this is all that there is, then we have a problem. When our lives are lived trying to selfishly gain all that we can, with out consideration for the needy, the oppressed and marginalized then how can we expect to enter the kingdom? If we can not bring ourselves to be poor in the sense of putting ourselves AFTER our obligation to bring Jesus to those who need Jesus the most then how can we expect to be hear from God “well done good and faithful servant, enter into your heavenly reward” Jesus also says But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your consolation. If your heaven is found here on earth, then what are we looking forward to? If we do not see something waiting for us after this temporary stay here on earth then we need to reevaluate what true wealth is, it is not riches here on earth that will get us into heaven, but riches of God’s grace and love found in our heart that will prove to be most valuable in our lives.
Blessed are those who hunger, you will be satisfied. Jesus is not talking about physical hunger, though he has proven himself in that matter as well through the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. BUT we are called to hunger for something deeper, something that will not pass, and something that will nourish us in every aspect of our lives. We must hunger for righteousness, for justice, we must hunger to be saints. You know, coaches tell the players on their teams, that they should want to win so bad they should taste it. Well, we should want to be God’s so bad, we should taste it, God’s presence in our lives should leave a proverbial sweet taste in our mouth. Therefore, blessed are we because we find God in our midst when we truly hunger for him. But he continues, Woe to you who are filled now for you will be hungry. If we do not have any room in our hearts to be open to receiving God, then our spiritual life will come to a screeching halt, and when that happens our relationship with God is in grave danger. We must not be filled with the things of the world that are like plaque in our spiritual arteries, blocking the flow of God’s graces in our lives, but our lives must allow God’s grace to flow freely, which is vital to our journey towards our heavenly reward.
Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! You must be thinking he can’t be serious. We should be happy when we are hated and insulted because of our faith? YES, and it has been that way for 2000 years. Martyrs even up to this century have given witness, which is what the word martyr means, in Greek μάρτεριον means “to give witness”. Blessed are we who are persecuted for our beliefs, because that means we are doing something right! If we are half as unwavering about our belief in God as Society is adamant in not needing God, then our message is guaranteed to change the lives of those who we come in contact with. Hopefully we will put all our efforts into making our belief known, because we are all called to be witnesses, maybe not to suffer physically as the martyrs have done over the ages, but to at least be willing to defend our faith as best as we can, when ever we can.
The first reading today spells out for us in no uncertain terms our responsibility as Christians Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the LORD. So blessed are you if you accept God, trust in God, and see his presence among you, but God help you, literally when we reject God. Why? Because he has made the ultimate sacrifice for us, and he asks us to give him our undivided devotion, to be his in every moment of our lives. We are called to look at our lives in a new way, to listen to all of Jesus’ characteristics of one who is blessed, and evaluate our lives of how well we fit into that mold. If we do not see ourselves fitting into the mold, remember we are clay in the hands of God, the potter of our lives, and we must be willing to be molded into the Christian that we are called to be. Allow your lives to be molded so that when you look at your life, you can say I am blessed, because I see God is very present in my life. Once we can say that about our lives, we can be even more confident in hearing the words of Jesus from the Gospel Behold your reward will be great in heaven.
May God, who calls us all to find our happiness in him, give you his peace!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A Word from our sponsor

The Following is my homily from the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2007:
You may have heard in past homilies about “Little Johnny”, but we have not heard too much about his little brother Mikey. One day Johnny and Mikey were sitting at the breakfast table enjoying their favorite breakfast, French Toast, after gorging themselves they looked up at the plate in the center of the table with wide eyes, looked at each other, and immediately started to fight about who should get the last piece. Johnny and Mikey’s mother stopped their fight and said, “now boys, if Jesus was here, he would say to the other, you take the last piece.” Johnny and Mikey looked at each other, waiting, finally Mikey spoke up, and smiling lovingly at his brother he said “Johnny, you be Jesus.”
Our readings today at Mass are full of little helps, encouragements and admonitions about our life as Christians, our life as followers of Jesus.
The first reading in today’s Mass tells us, that God is our strength, he is our fortress in our times of distress. In the face of upset and in times that we seem to lose hope, the book of Jeremiah reminds us GOD IS THERE WITH US. He tells us this in no uncertain terms, when we are standing before a discouraging situations “Be not crushed on their account, as though I would leave you crushed before them”. And when we have to make the decision between sin and rightousness, and we know that we have to make these decisions CONSTANTLY God tells us again, “They will fight against you but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you.” Where else can we find such encouragement? Where else can we find such love? We find it perfectly in God, but we have to be instruments of that love as well.
St. Paul writes to the Corinthians, one of the earliest communities that St. Paul we a Spiritual leader to and tells the citizens of Corinth the message of God, which is LOVE. This love is not just some unreachable ideal that we are being told about, but a goal that we MUST strive to reach, a love that eliminates from our world prejudice, hate, violence and countless other atrocities, which we hear about every day. This love that St. Paul tells the Corinthians about is our PERSONAL invitation to be Jesus to everyone around us. We have all heard this reading several times I am sure. “Love is patient, love is kind, It is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests,it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things,hopes all things, endures all things.” An important question to ask ourselves when we hear any passage from the Bible is: how does this relate to me? How can I put this into practice to make myself, my family, my community, my country and my world a better place? It is easy to put this passage into practice, every time you hear the word “love” put in the pronoun “I”, and we get this: “I am Patient, I am kind, I am not jealous, I am not pompous, I am not inflated, I am not rude, I do not seek, my own interests, I am not quick-tempered, I do not brood over injury, I do not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoice with the truth, etc.” If we can honestly say that this sounds like us, then we are on the road to perfection, the road to the heavenly banquet. Most likely, we can not say that this is us 100%, which is normal, so what do we do about that? We work harder; we try every day to become more of who we say we are.
When we try to show love to other people no matter where we go, our world is bound to become a better place. BUT when it seems to just not be taking, when despite our best efforts, we just can not see a noticeable difference in society, we MUST NOT lose hope. Our society is not used to love and affection, we can see that just by turning on the TV, so we will meet opposition in our efforts, because we are being counter-cultural. Sound familiar? It should, Jesus was also counter-cultural, and he met opposition, in the gospel we hear about that opposition: “They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.” Jesus is love to everyone he met, yet they still put him up there, on the cross, but he did not see that as defeat, but saw it as the greatest opportunity to love. When all seems like it is falling apart around us, trust in God, he is our fortress and stronghold, when all seems to be hatred and war in the world, LOVE harder than you ever have, and when someone is reaching out to us looking for a smile and a helping hand, let us respond to little Mikey’s message: “YOU BE JESUS.”


Wednesday, November 22, 2006


You know, "thanks" is a word that has fallen away from normal vocabulary use. But really we have alot to be thankful for. How about the fact that you can read this blog, or that we hvae someone to turn to when we need to talk? That is worth a little word of thanks.

God has given us much to be thankful for. It is important that we rocognize this each day, lest we become too familiar with the blessings in our life and start to lose sight of their true value.

So all in all, this is a drawn out way of saying to all who read my blog ... which is most likely the person who falls upon it after hitting the "random blog" button ... HAPPY THANKSGIVING


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Practice what you teach!!

My father said to me today that I should get back to blogging, and so, with out further ado, here it is, another factor from the friar.

Today, after 5 years of studies, 7 years of formation, much prayer and a few bowls of pasta later, I have arrived at my ordination day. It is hard to believe, and has still yet to hit me!

The title of this particular blog is part of the sentence that the ordaining bishop says to the new deacon when he hands him the Book of the Gospels, with the deacon kneeling infront of him, holding one side of the Gospel Book, the Bishop says: "receive the Book of the Gospels whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach." What powerful words!! (and usually the words that everyone hears and says back to you many times after the Ordination Rite). But I think we all have to reminded every now and again, to practice what we preach.

And so, with this long overdue friar factor, I hope to get back into the blogger's world. Until then ... Oremus pro invicem!! (let us pray for one another)


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Here comes the sun!

Well, it's been a few days so I decided it was time to get back to 'blogging'.

Today is a wonderfully warm and sunny day in Rome. This is a complete contrast to yesterday when it poured and was dreary for most of the day. Where am I going with this? We will see ...

The sun seems to be a focus for a lot of people, it is often the determining factor in what we do, how we feel, etc. Today I realized this as I traveled on the ever so full 64 bus back home from school. Yesterday in the rain my patience would have been tried, and probably found wanting if I were in the same situation. Today, with the sun and warmth, I just smiled and went along for the ride.

Still asking where I am going with this? Well, here it comes ... Stick out the storms in life! We have to remember that the storms are a passing phenomenon, and that the sun sits being every cloud bank. The warmth and light will shine on our faces once more, to remind us that sunshine will come ! So remember, when the storms and dreariness pass on, always take a moment sit back and marvel at the wonderfulness of God and his creation and just soak up the "rays of God's goodness!"


Saturday, May 06, 2006

Tempus Fugit ... Time Flies!

Where does the time go? Wasn't it just yesterday that I got off the plane here in Rome to begin my 5 years of studies on my journey through the formation program in my province? Didn't I just profess my vows for the first time? Amazingly, no, it has actually been 5 years since I moved here to Rome, 5 years since I took my first profession. I was told that the time would go by quickly, but I did not believe it!

So where to now? I received the official letter from my Provincial yesterday that said that I was approved for Solemn Profession. That means that I will be professing the Vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience for the rest of my life. WOW, I reflect on it and wonder, how have I arrived at this spot? The answer, of course, is always the same, with the grace of God!

I want to close this blog with a paragraph from the letter that I recieved, because though it was addressed to me, the words are applicable to all:
May you be refreshed continually by the example of the poor one of Assisi ... I challenge you to grow in the joys of gospel love and charity and fraternal concern ... be an example of genuine charity and faithful obedience, emptied always of all the world's cares - all for the greater glory of God.