The Mission of Harvesters Wanted:

To spread the Good News of JESUS CHRIST in word and in action! As well as promoting the baptismal call of all the faithful to follow whatever vocation our God has called them to!

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age. ~ Matthew 28:19-20

The place to find homilies and reflections given along the path of faith by Fr. Adam Carrico, a Roman Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville.

When this life is complete, I pray they say I lived For The Greater Glory of God +AMDG+

Friday, February 16, 2018

SELF-RIGHTEOUS OR GOD-RIGHTEOUS?

Ash Wednesday

Saint Boniface Parish

February 14, 2018




It is just amazing to see so many of you here to celebrate Saint Valentine! I just can't imagine how this happened. Saint Valentine, you may may or may not know, because it is Saint Valentine's Day, even though, because of changes in the liturgical calendar, many more secular celebrations of Valentine actually take place than religious celebrations. His saint day was today and it was celebrated throughout the universal church before Vatican II when much of the calendar was kind of uncluttered. In this way many of the minor Saints didn't get demoted, per-se, but their celebrations were kept on particular country’s liturgical calendars and removed from the universal calendar. But make no mistake about it: Saint Valentine, as Saint Valentine, doesn't care. He doesn't care at all. He lived for CHRIST, and he died for CHRIST - that is what he cares about. He does not miss those days when his feast was more widely celebrated, and I doubt he really bemoans the fact that it has become a secular holiday especially now that he is with CHRIST for all eternity: the one whom he loved and longed for. He probably would prefer that his memory lead others to CHRIST, but ultimately he has done his part.

Check out Portraits of Saints

Truly, as corny as it may sound, life really is all about love. Our Gospel for today reminds us not to be righteous and as a teenager, a few years ago, I was from time to time reminded by my mother that I was being self-righteous and that of course is a bad thing. To be self righteous is to assume that we know everything, that it's all about us, that we are the source of our own greatness. We become our own source of understanding - we make it happen, all the things that the world tries to convince us of. But it's not our own righteousness that brings us here today, and it's not out of our own righteousness that we pray, and we give alms, and we fast. It is not out of our own righteousness that we wear these ashes on our foreheads. If we were doing it for our own righteousness I would imagine we would do it more for all 40 days of Lent! We wear ashes for the start to remind ourselves, and others, that this is an important time in our faith. This is important time as a community to remember the one who loved us so much to go out of GOD’s way to travel this far to become one of us and ultimately to die for us. That is a sign of love and by it we are made for righteous.


Righteousness in itself is not necessarily bad. GOD is righteous. GOD is right, always perfectly right and just, and so we take part in that. We are made righteous, we are made holy by following the ways of GOD. And so I ask you, if the same Roman soldiers who came for Saint Valentine almost two thousand years ago, if they came and searched your room, your apartment, your vehicle, your bag, maybe even your pockets would they find reason to convict you? Would they find enough evidence of your faith in GOD, in CHRIST JESUS, to sentence you to death? Now we don't know everything about Saint Valentine, and it is very difficult at this time to separate historical fact from legend, but we understand that the soldiers bludgeoned him to death with a club. They tortured him and beheaded him. They buried him in an unmarked grave and his followers, those who desired to respect his sacrifice, went under the cover of darkness - for fear of their own brutal execution, to dig him up and give him a proper burial. Are you prepared for something similar? Some say that it couldn't happen again, we say that we're far from that, but have we really advanced that much? I don't know, some days I really don't think we’ve come nearly as far as we think.


We wear these ashes, not for our own righteousness, but to remind others that God sees fit to make sinners like you and me, hypocrites like you and me, to make us righteous in HIS eyes. Because HE died for you, just as much as HE died for me, just as he died for St. Valentine, Mother Teresa, John Paul II and all the rest. HE died for you and for me to make us righteous, to bring us to the fullness of what we are called to be. Today we wear ashes and for the next 40 days we pray, we fast, and we give alms to remind ourselves that all of that stuff that draws our attention so very easily is not really worth it. With this celebration we are talking about our eternal happiness. Let us lift up that desire to God who makes us righteous in his eyes.



Monday, February 5, 2018

SUFFERING CALLS US TO LOVE

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary

Saint Patrick Parish

February 3-4, 2018

USCCB Lectionary Readings





If there's anyone who just loves suffering, I’d like you to go ahead and let me know, you can jump up and shout and let us all know... nobody, well Ok, I guess that's all right. Yesterday evening, before we began Mass, Father Jeff asks “what are you preaching on?” And I said “suffering,” he says “of course you are.” He knows me too well. I begin with suffering but I hope to end with hope - and so that's where we are headed. Suffering is something that every one of us, in one way or another, from the moment of our birth, or more than likely even before our birth, our mothers will certainly tell us that. Definitely from the moment of our birth, to the moment of our death, we experience suffering to some degree. The mere fact that we, as human beings, as material creatures, will experience hunger after a few hours of going without food is evidence of the reality of suffering. It starts there, and just works its way out from there. Life means suffering, to one degree or another, and because suffering is such a basic part of life much as been said about the nature of suffering.


I often think about suffering. In fact one of my favorite ancient, wise, spiritual gurus, who often wears green - and no, I'm not talking about Father Oz, I’m talking about Yoda. Yoda says that fear leads to anger, anger leads to hatred, and hatred leads to suffering. Suffering in turn leads of course to the dark side. In many ways I think that's where our culture takes suffering. We don't deal with it very well, if at all. We don't want to look at suffering, we don't want to deal with it. We'd rather just forget about it. But, as I've just made known, suffering is part of our lives. It is because we don't do very well with suffering that we don't do well with sacrifice either. I think Yoda's stopped a little too soon. Suffering can lead to sacrifice, and sacrifice can lead to Sacrament. And ultimately Sacrament leads us back to GOD. Yoda stopped a little too soon. We, all of us, have suffering in our lives and we can, if we're able, turn that over, turn it into something greater than what it seems to be. We don't do that very well; and since we don't do sacrifice very well I think that's evidenced in the problems we have in our families, the difficulty in marriage, the fact that we have a shortage of priests, is evidence of the reality that we don't do sacrifice very well. I invite you to listen attentively to the rest of our liturgy, sacrifice and suffering are all throughout the words of our Eucharistic Prayer and of our liturgy itself. That's why we are here, not for our own personal pleasure, or own personal fulfillment, that may be important, but we we are here to offer the sacrifice of JESUS CHRIST who first sacrificed for us. Sacrifice and suffering are all throughout our Catholic life. 


As a culture we have kicked virtues out the window. We just chucked them right out the window. Virtues like patience, prudence, justice, fortitude, faith, hope, love and charity. All of these are too complicated so out they go. Instead the ‘virtue’ we prefer is positivity. Positivity, a false virtue. Positivity if a virtue makes suffering a sin. How dare you? How dare you force your suffering upon me? How dare you take away my positivity, my joy of life, and everything! Scripture tells us that there is a time to live and a time to cry, and I wonder if, as a culture, we have collectively decided that we should be laughing all the time - and leave the crying for behind closed doors. Perhaps, instead, we should be laughing and crying in more equal measure. That balance acknowledges the place of suffering in our lives. It doesn't hide it away, it doesn't try to bury it, disguise it, or shame it. Real virtue lets suffering be what it is - human, and in a very real way it makes it  beautiful. There is beauty in suffering; if you're able to look at it, if they're able to see it for what it truly is - for what it calls out from within us.


Just yesterday, I was on a bit of an Anointing of the Sick circuit. I was called out to do four different Anointings. I would have preached about suffering anyways, but this experience added just the right human touch. By the way, all of these aren't parishioners, and so we can avoid trying to figure out who it is and just listen. First up was a young woman, very much in pain, suffering with addiction, and for years and years has felt pulled into that destructive pattern. She is currently at that moment in her life where she just might be able, if she's willing, to turn that suffering into sacrifice. She needs prayers and we need to pray for her. Second, an elderly man, who, if he hasn't already, was transitioning to his next life. I was able to be there, with his family, to offer him the Sacrament of Anointing and the Sacrament of the Eucharist, to assist him in that transition. His suffering is leading his family and others to CHRIST. We pray for them. While I was with that family another patient’s son invited me into his mother's room. She is a delightful woman, who isn't sure what is going on, but she is suffering and she is leading others to CHRIST - including the the nurse technician who was there to do some tests on her. A very kind, very holy woman, who, by her mere presence invites others to trust in CHRIST. And finally the family of an older gentleman, who has suffered quite a bit in the last several months, who has had his ups and downs. The cancer seems to have returned once more, and they're not quite sure what they're going to do, but we pray for them. We pray for them all and in fact I asked each one of them to pray for the others. That's what we do. We take our suffering, and through that we hope to open our hearts to the suffering of others. Suffering reminds us of our humanness, it reminds us of our need for others, our need to pray for others, our need to count on others.


Just this morning there are people throughout the state of Kentucky, and beyond, who will be going to Mass the only way they know how - by watching Mass of the Air, a ministry that is led by our own Deacon Mark. This is a ministry that allows people, who have access to a television, in any number of situations, to be able to at least be in the presence of Mass, to hear Mass being said, and hopefully have someone bring them the Eucharist as well. A couple of weeks ago I taped, with the assistance of the whole crew of course, it doesn't just happen without the work of many dedicated people, Mass for this the Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time. While preparing for that taping it occurred to me that there are many reasons why these individuals aren't here with us. Many have physical ailments that prevent them from being here, and they suffer because of that. Some have spiritual ailments, a confusion that causes them to imagine that they are not welcome here, and they suffer because of that. Some have mental ailments, they are perhaps stuck in their homes, or in some other institution that prevents them from coming here. In many ways they just don't feel like they're safe leaving wherever it is that they're at, or they are in some kind of situation that is preventing them. Almost all of those who watch Mass of the Air suffer in some terrible way, and I was able to look into that camera, hopefully looking into their eyes, as they sit at home or wherever they find themselves, and tell them that they are loved. This culture, this society, would quickly dismiss them say that they are a burden, they say their pain has no purpose, that they as human beings have no purpose. To look in their eyes, and say that you are loved, that CHRIST loves you, and you're suffering, even if you don't understand it at this moment, it does have a purpose. That suffering is bringing us together as the body of CHRIST. I pray that there are many people out there hearing that message this morning.


Our readings for today are just full of suffering. If anyone needs spiritual guidance in their suffering, I often point them to the Book of Job, our first reading. Now don't just start reading it and then stop, it won't do you any good, in fact it will probably going to make it worse. You've got to get to the end of the story. Read Job, he helps us understand what it is to suffer in our lives. The second reading, from St. Paul, he is speaking of how he suffers for the benefit of the Good News. How his suffering is leading others to CHRIST, without charge, how he preaches the Gospel, which he has freely received, and which he freely gives. Paul suffers for CHRIST, but he finds meaning through the suffering. Finally we have our Gospel, the Gospel in which Peter's mother-in-law, herself a woman so close to CHRIST, we must ask if anyone could have said “why is it that I am suffering? Don't you know? Couldn't you have stopped this?” This woman is scared for her life, she is suffering and the fever has almost overtaken her. It is at this moment that CHRIST is invited into her life. Surely HE knew, as the divine person that HE is, that there was suffering going on - he could have just prevented it from the outside, and yet she was allowed to suffer, for a moment, so that she could be introduced to CHRIST. In fact after CHRIST raises her, heals her, and calls her to a new way of life, HE goes to pray, and HIS apostles come to HIM saying that everyone is looking for HIM. Isn't that really what it is. Everyone who suffers, all of us, in one way or another, we are all looking for CHRIST. Looking for HIM who has the answer, HIM who calls us to a new way of life. We, as the body of CHRIST, we are meant to be that person in their lives. They are looking for CHRIST, and for better or for worse, they have us, not just me, all of us. They look to us in their lives to offer them CHRIST's presence.

Christ Healing the Mother of Simon Peter’s Wife by John Bridges, 1839

There are many ways in which our society tries to answer the question of suffering, and these are the top 3 hits, my three favorites. Number one - everything happens for a reason. Now, isn’t that lovely, nothing like taking a huge problem and dismissing it with everything happens for a reason. Two - GOD doesn't give you anything you can't handle. Well that’s nice, GOD becomes some kind of chess player, or something. Finally, my personal favorite, the one I've heard most recently - GOD gives HIS greatest battles to HIS bravest warriors. I didn’t know GOD is such a battle general. All of these saying, in one way or another, do have some hint of truth to them, but I think they are ultimately simple answers to a complicated question. I was discussing this question with a group of seniors at Sacred Heart and one in the back raised her hand and she said “well, are you saying that everything doesn't happen for a reason?” I stopped, and thought for a moment, and I said “actually yes, I think everything does happen for a reason, but it's not as simple as just saying it happens for a reason, the reason is love.” Love ultimately means vulnerability, and vulnerability means suffering. If we love, we open our hearts to the capacity to hurt, and the capacity to hurt will eventually lead us to hurting. Either we love, or in the words of Yoda, we turn towards fear - we turn away from one another. I do think everything does happen for a reason, in a way none of us will ever fully understand, but at the same time it calls us to love. Suffering calls us to recognize that each and every one of us suffers to a degree, and it really doesn't help to compare suffering either, by the way, we all suffer and some of us do suffer more than others, but it doesn’t really help to do those calculations. This line of thinking doesn’t lift anyone up, it quickly leads to the line of thinking that says “just get over it, you're not one of those starving children in the middle of a developing country” or “just look at all the good things you have.” This isn’t loving, it’s shaming, and the suffering remains, along with feelings of shame for suffering. No matter the level of suffering  your suffering still has value. Let's not demote suffering too quickly.


Today we also have the the Saint Blaise blessing of throats. Here is a living example of what one person’s suffering can do. A young boy who lived centuries and centuries ago, was choking on a fish bone. We don’t know the boys name, but he would have long ago been completely forgotten, if not for his suffering. His suffering introduced him to Saint Blaise, who was able to heal him, and introduce him to CHRIST, and the effects of that boy’s suffering lives on in the love that the Church expresses through this blessing. That boy, along with Saint Blaise, are introducing us to CHRIST this very day. Suffering can lead to sacrifice and sacrifice can lead to Sacrament, if we suffer with love. The number of prayers and blessings that the Church has that take one person’s suffering and introduces others to CHRIST through it, it’s astounding!   


So we are called, as the people of GOD to be CHRIST for others both in our own suffering and through the suffering of others. I have never see a crucifix with the smiling JESUS on it. It's a simple truth but I think it tells us a lot. HE suffered for us. HE came much farther than we ever will, to suffer for us, to sacrifice for us, to call us to Sacrament. You, as the lay faithful have an opportunity at every Mass to connect suffering to Sacrament. We as the clergy have a mass intention, someone has asked us to pray for them. You are invited to pray for them as well, but you can have your own mass intention for yourselves. So I want you in the next few moments to bring to mind someone who is suffering. Prayer connects us. Prayer binds us together. Hold that person in your heart. If it's you that's fine, if you're the person who's suffering the most in your life right now, pray for yourself. Let us all brings someone to mind so that we can be connected one to another, so that we won't forget that suffering indeed does have a purpose, suffering calls us to love.



Thursday, January 25, 2018

MEEK WOMEN OF GREAT FAITH

Winter Sports Rosary Rally

Sacred Heart Academy

January 21, 2018




In these little reflections, I often like to focus on a particular virtue. I know, through Sports Leader, that's kind of the program, that you have a virtue and you talk about it, work with it, and all of that. The virtue that had crossed my mind for this time is the virtue of meekness. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” ~ Matthew 5:5 For many who encounter this verse of Scripture, including the woman who wrote the article that I'm getting all of this from, can read that verse of scripture and think: “That's not for me. I don't want that, I don't particularly want to be meek.” I mean, after all, you are being trained, you are being formed, to be Strong Women of Great Faith. That is exactly what we need. This world needs Strong Women of Great Faith. This world needs strong women who will understand that the world’s approach to women is not perfect, that there are many obstacles in the way, including the systemic treatment of women. Even beyond that there is the need to respond with courage, strongly and appropriately, to any kind of harassment. We indeed need strong women!


Meekness seems to suggest something different, doesn’t it? To be meek seems to be sheepish, nervous, indecisive, shy or timid and not at all strong. But if we look at the Greek word from which meekness comes from we find the word “praus” (pronounced prah-oos.) There you go, you've learned Greek! I believe, now don't quote me on it, but I believe this is where we get the English word prowess - the ability to do something and do it well, with mastery.


Something else I learned recently, Kentucky is the only state in the continental United States that doesn't have an equestrian state sport. Kentucky, of all places! There is a young woman, a 15 year old, who is going to a private school in Virginia because she is the second or third highest ranked equestrian in the United States. She would be one of you - a Valkyrie, her mom would have sent her to Sacred Heart, if we had a state team for equestrians, but we don't because the state doesn't even do that apparently! Strange, and something to work on I guess. We may not have a team, but do we have any riders? I know we've got bowlers and ballers, swimmers and cheerers. Do we have any riders though? No riders, OK. I know one thing, equestrians love their horses.

In search of horses the Greeks would go up into the mountains and they would capture these wild horses specifically looking to find the one. The one in a hundred, the one in a thousand, that one horse that could be a war horse. Many of the horses they found were not the one, they would either get them and they would be completely uncontrollable, unable to even be ridden, or they would become so, well, what we would say ‘meek’ using today’s common understanding of the word, that they weren't fit for war, these would become work horses. But those who had praus, those who had been, in their eyes, meeked, they were the ones who became war horses. We are talking about animals who were able, with a slight bend of the riders foot, a slight tap of the heel, to stop in mid motion and do any number of maneuvers. This is all with battle raging all around them, with horrifying sights and sounds, with terror all around them, they would be able to sense their rider’s needs and be able to respond appropriately. We must also keep in mind that this was all without reins - the soldier would be holding their weapon, and I don’t believe they had stirrups either, the part for the riders foot, they would have held onto the horse with just their legs tightly around the animal. This ability to respond to the slightest command of the rider, that is what it meant to be meek. It had nothing to do with letting go of one's strength. It was not becoming childish, weak or timid. It was about becoming a weapon, a weapon in the hands of a skilled warrior! These horses were worth - everything. Their riders would want to protect them, with everything that they had. They would not have just used them, they would love them, they depended on them for their own safety, and the ability to defend their homeland and their people. These were meek horses.


We are called to be meek, to be weapons in the hands of an Almighty GOD, weapons for the kingdom of peace, for a kingdom of justice, to be that which GOD uses to promote GOD's kingdom. That is what true strength is. It is not denying what you are capable of. To be meek is to know exactly what you are capable of. You are warhorses, you are called on to know that you are a Strong Woman of Great Faith but to also be able to respond to the slightest hint of GOD's call in your life. To be able to sense GOD's need for you today and everyday. In our Gospel today at Mass we hear of the calling of Andrew, James, John, and Simon Peter. They said yes to the LORD when he called them. They said yes and they went. They abandoned everything. You, as Strong Women of Great Faith, are called to that same meekness. Called to respond to the LORD's calling in your life because GOD has a plan for each and every one of you. A call to better the lives of others, to be strong and not weak, to be a marvelous weapon in the hands of our great GOD. It occurs to me that this is exactly the same kind of qualities that you all need to be successful in your sport. To be able to respond to your teammates, to be able to respond to conditions, to be able to respond to the cues of those who have been there before, who know what they're doing. It amazes me, what you all do. The little ways that you're able to communicate with one another. Learn from that. Learn from your ability to listen to your coaches, to your captains, to your teammates, and apply that knowledge to your spiritual life as well. I believe GOD is talking to you, talking to you just as much as your teammates are. All we have to do is listen, listen with meekness, meekness of heart.


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

OUR TIME IS NOW

Third Sunday in Ordinary

Saint Boniface Parish

January 21, 2018

Readings: Third Sunday in Ordinary, Year B




Certain peculiarities about the weather have fascinated me for quite some time. For example, to fry an egg on the asphalt in the middle of summer is quite amazing. That image, I hope, gives you something a look forward to, given the cold that we have recently experienced! The season will change, we can always count on that. When it comes to the cold though there's something that kind of terrified me as a child. The weatherman would sometimes say something like: ‘you can only go outside with exposed skin for x number of minutes before frostbite will begin to set in.’ Minutes, and you will start to lose fingers and toes and all kinds of things that are just terrifying! It comes down to time. You have so much time, before loss will be experienced if appropriate action isn’t taken. 


This time sensitive reality is what crossed my mind when I saw a video that was posted recently of an incident that took place on the 11th of January, of this year, in Baltimore. In Baltimore there are a number of hospitals, no doubt, but at a particular hospital and a man named Imamu Baraka was walking down the street and began to record on his phone a group of security officers taking a woman from the hospital, to the bus stop. In and of itself this would not be particularly noteworthy, except for the fact that this woman was only wearing hospital gown, it was a night, and it was only about 30 degrees. I would imagine she only had a certain amount of time before she would herself began to experience the devastating effects of frostbite. This woman wasn't quite capable of caring for herself either. An African-American woman, not that that particularly matters, but to paint the picture for you; she was about middle aged, maybe a little older, and pretty obviously not mentally sound. She was obviously confused. She probably wouldn't have know what to do when the bus arrived anyway. What might have been the outcome if this man wasn’t there?


Now, the hospital could have easily had a plan, maybe she would have been safe. Maybe. It seems to me that an institution that vows, through the Hippocratic Oath, to do no harm, was certainly causing harm here. Now we might say that it wasn't the doctors, or the nurses doing this, it was the security guards. Well I doubt the security guards were acting on their own. Of all the people who could have acted it came down to this man, a stranger, walking down the street. He witnessed this happen, he asked the woman ‘are you OK’ and he called 911. Somewhat ironically it is not certain if the ambulance that came to get her took her right back around the corner to the hospital from which she had come.


All of this is to say for this man, his time had come, his moment to act was now. This woman who had been left abandoned by an institution that was meant to help her was leaving her for a bus. You know how the buses have that diamond Safe Place signs on them. Apparently the bus was a safer place for her than the hospital. Just walking along he knew in his heart that it was his time, and he acted on it. There is a psychological effect that can take place among people, it's called the bystander effect, and it is especially dangerous when there is a group of people gathered around. The group can kind of mitigate responsibility. It's called the bystander effect because essentially you're counting on the other bystanders to do something. You may think to yourself: 
Well, I'm not good enough, I don't have the skills, surely someone else here has the skills to better see to this person's needs than I do, I don't have to worry about it. 
Perhaps, instead of thinking yourself not good enough, you could think of yourself as being too good:
I don't have time for this. I shouldn't be the one responsible for having to deal with this. I've got better things to do with my life. So I’ll go on my way.
This man, however, saw past all of that and knew that it was his time to act. In a similar way, I was driving down the road about a week ago and there was an accident. A lady had run off the road and hit a telephone pole. As I was driving by I saw her coming back up from having been hunched over the airbag, and so I knew that she was at least conscious, but I didn't know much other than that. I saw a vehicle turn into the driveway, the next turn down from the accident and I told myself: ‘well surely that person is going to help her.’ I didn't stop. It has bothered me ever since. We have moments in our lives when we are called to act, and in a specific way, as Christians, we are called to act as Christ for others. We can, if we are courageous, if we are willing, if we are able, we say yes to that call when it comes. Not if it comes, but when it comes.

Jonah, in a similar way, had been called to act as Christ even before Christ had manifest himself. He was called once, and perhaps he thought himself not good enough: ‘surely I can't be the one that God is calling to save the people of Nineveh, I can't do that. I'm not good enough.’ Or I think probably more likely he thought something more like: ‘Me? You want me to go and save THOSE people! No, I’m not going to do that, I'm going to runaway!’ Well, God is rather persistent, God sent a whale, or really Scripture tells us a large fish, to swallow Jonah up and three days later plop him out on the seashore. God again asked Jonah: ‘Jonah, go to Nineveh, now is your time. It's time to step up.’ This time Jonah did go, he went to Nineveh; and a foreigner, who may not have been speaking their language, was telling Nineveh: ‘Now is your time! Forty days more and Nineveh will be destroyed!’ Just a day into his journey the people of Nineveh accepted his call, they heard that their time was now, and they repented. They said yes to God's call in their lives. They saw, they heard, they knew that it was their time to act. 

Jonah and 'the whale'

Paul, in his writings, is telling us that the world’s time is coming to an end. We don't know when, we don't know how, we don't know where, but we know that the world's time is limited! We know that everything outside of the world is infinite, unlimited. Others places in Sacred Scripture Paul talks about being in the world, but not of the world. So while we recognize that this world's time is coming to an end, we are still called to act in it. We are called to be Christ in it. 

Of course there is our Gospel for today. Time, it seems, just kind of runs throughout today's Scripture. In our Gospel we see Christ walking along the shore of Galilee. Simon, he say, it’s your time, John your time, Andrew your time, James your time! They heard the call of Christ, and they acted. Now, we don't know whether or not this was exactly the first time they met Christ. In some ways I would imagine that they kind of grew up with him. Either way, he said follow me, and follow me now. He didn't order them in such a way, he invited them, but he essentially said, it's time, we're going. And they followed. They heard, they saw, they felt, they encountered their time to go, and they said yes. They said yes, when others could have said no, they could have said no. 

Jesus calling the First Apostles

I want each of you, for a moment, to think of a phrase that you have heard time and time again. You know it is true but you’ve heard it so often that it has lost a bit of its impact - its punch. You’ve heard it said so often that it's almost like nails on a chalkboard. You know it has truth and you know it still, it rings in your head a little bit. For me I think of a phrase that a deacon would use time and time again in almost every homily he delivered. He would say ‘God proposes, not imposes.’ God pro-poses not im-pose. Now, you all haven't heard it before, I suspect, so I'm going to use it once with you. God proposes, God invites, God doesn't insist, God gives us the opportunity to say yes to his call in our lives. He is persistent, God is always persistent, calling us time, and time again. And sisters and brothers, make no mistake, our Gospel, our readings for today point towards the reality that this is our time. I don't know for what exactly, you're going to have to do some of the work too! I can't explain all of it to you, but each of us is being called by Christ to live the life of discipleship, to hear his call, to follow him. Maybe it's a simple call, maybe a big call, I don't necessarily know if any of us are called to go to Nineveh, but near, or far, we will go where we are called! And the time is now,the time is now. We can say yes to the God who proposes a new way of life. We can say yes to God who proposes a new freedom, proposes a new reality. That God invites us, invites us time and time again. We can, if we pray for the courage, say yes when we come upon our moment. When we know this, this is me, nobody else is going to do it, I'm going to have to do it. I pray, we pray, that we all have the courage to say yes when we're needed by God to fill whatever role it is that God desires for us to fill.


Monday, January 15, 2018

IT WAS ABOUT FOUR O'CLOCK IN THE AFTERNOON

Second Sunday in Ordinary

Saint Patrick Parish

January 13-14, 2018

Link to USCCB Lectionary Readings




Holy Scripture is absolutely full of very memorable lines. Each of us, if we have a little bit of time to think, I would imagine could kind of come up with a list of - if not exact lines at least scenes from Sacred Scripture that speak particularly to us. I had an opportunity to ask Deacon Scott what his favorite scripture verse is before Mass this morning. It kind of caught him off guard a little bit but he thought a little and he said a line from 1 Peter that says if you teach, teach well, if you preach, preach well, but do so for the greater glory of God. Now, I'm not going to put Father Oz on the spot, because I didn't get a chance to ask him, but I'm certain that he could come up with some lines as well. Of the many memorable lines we might think of, we heard one today, John the Baptist saying “Behold the Lamb of God.” Others might be “This is my body.” “This is my blood.” “God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son.” “Jesus wept.” The shortest verse in the Bible, when Jesus was there with Mary at the tomb of Lazarus her brother. My personal favorite - a line that comes shortly thereafter, as Lazarus is coming out of the tomb: “Unbind him and set him free.” Each of us, in our own way, could surely find something that speaks to us in a particular way. 

The Gospel of Saint John

But today we have something different. A little bit of a different sort of line in Scripture, one that few I would imagine would point to directly and say “that's the line that speaks to me!” That line is: “it was about four o'clock in the afternoon.” Why does it matter? Why in the world was this even included? In some ways this line speaks to the truth of Scripture - just by the mere fact that it's there. If the writer of The Gospel of John was intent on fooling people, tricking people into believing something that he himself did not believe, why would he have added such an insignificant line? Why wouldn't he have spent time writing that? “It was about four o'clock in the afternoon” doesn’t seem, like the kind of line one would add if they were being deceptive. What this line does for us is it points to exactly how meaningful this experience was for not only Andrew, but also for John - the other disciple that we assume was with Andrew. 

John the Baptist "Behold, the Lamb of God!"

Let’s set up the scene. John and Andrew, disciples of John the Baptist before they became disciples of Jesus Christ, had been with John for some time now. They had become accustomed to the odd way that the Baptist spoke - often hinting at the one who was to come. This day was different, John the Baptist, kind of out of nowhere says “behold, the lamb of God!” Look here he is! This is the one I've been talking about! They've been with John the Baptist for a while. They've gotten used to his strange style and kind of just blurting out things every now and then, but this though, this was different, this was present, this was there. The Lamb of God is here, this one, this one is the one I've been telling you about. And so they went after him,the one John had pointed out. They went after him and Jesus turns and says “what are you looking for” - what do you want? And they said “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Now, if you ask me, this is another one of those awkward lines that might not get too much attention. But isn't that the kind of thing that someone would say if they're really looking to get to know someone? Think of a new best friend perhaps, or in another situation a romantic interest. Where are you staying? Tell me something about you? Let me get to know you a little bit. Open up. I want to know you. And so he did. He said follow me. And they did. They went and spent some time in his home in Capernaum. They spent some time together. They sat in the presence of God-made-man. And if we can only imagine what that must have been like! To have his eyes look into their eyes, to have those words enter their ears, to be in the presence of the one that they had been waiting for! They had followed John the Baptist for a while. John said he is coming, then pointed him out, and there he was! The time had finally arrived. They were there in God's presence. It made such an impact on them that they remembered awkward kind of details. It was about 4 in the afternoon. 

"Rabbi, where are you staying?"
"Come and see."

Many of us, all of us, in one way or another. No matter how old or young we are have moments like this in our lives. For many of us, especially those of us 15 years or older, 9/11 is certainly one of those incidences. For those who are a little bit older than that, the Challenger explosion. Many can point and say this is exactly where I was, what I was doing, what time of day it was, how it felt... All of us can point back and say that's about when it happened. We have these large events that affect many of us, natural disasters things like that, maybe even the death of a celebrity or a politician. Tomorrow we remember Martin Luther King Jr. Those of an older generation can probably tell you exactly where they were when they learned that he had been assassinated. Moments like this etched their way into our being and we can't shake them, as much as we may want to. 

These events, they happen to us in personal ways as well, both joyful and sad. For instance, I'm sure that most mothers here could tell you exactly when their child was born. Details like that etch themselves into our hearts. Mothers and the birth of their children, the moment when family members pass, gathered together in their hospital room. I certainly will never forget many of the details when I got the phone call from my father letting me know that they had found my brother and that he was dead. These moments, these moments find their way into our hearts - and they stay. That's exactly what John and Andrew are describing. It was about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. It meant the world to them. In many ways they didn't know how to describe it, it was just so powerful. Isn’t it really the small details that stick anyways? When they leave, they leave forever changes, they can't stay the same. They encountered a presence. They sat in the presence of the Divine. Andrew goes and tells his brother Simon, and Simon agrees, perhaps reluctantly, to go with him. They go to the house that Jesus is staying in and what's the first thing that Jesus says when he sees Simon? He gives him a new name... and the crazy thing is Simon still stayed! He accepted the name Peter because that moment must have meant something to him. I don't know about you but if I meet somebody new for the first time and he says Adam from now on your name is going to be Edward I’m gonna be like alright... nice to meet you... I'll see you later. But Peter accepted that name, this encounter, it changed his life. It changed who he was. It changed everything about him. It was a momentous occasion. It all started at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

Life and Death

Returning to motherhood for a moment, as an aside, I want to point to our first reading. Those many moments when a child wakes up their parent at night. That's the vision I get when Samuel keeps coming to Eli. You called me and he responded like no no I didn't call you. Maybe perhaps the next time your children wake you up in the middle of the night you can say the Lord is calling you say Speak Lord your servant is listening. Go back to bed. Go back to bed. Point is Eli is sacrificing. He has been called, he has encountered something that has changed his life, and he is willing to have this other kid wake him up numerous times throughout the night. He is willing to sacrifice, his life is different, he is willing to open up and to be present to others. And in the same way we're called to have a similar encounter with Jesus Christ. An encounter that changes us, that calls us to sacrifice, that calls us to a new way of life. 

Many of our Protestant brothers and sisters they will speak of the moment when they accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Oftentimes they will look at us and say we don't really have that. When they say: what moment was that for you? My response is that we as Catholics don't just have that one moment, that one experience. Now this is not to discount the very powerful moments in prayer that we might have, not to discount moments of revelation when encountering Sacred Scripture, or sitting alone before Mass praying. Those are important. But as Catholics we encounter God communally as well. We call these communal encounters Sacraments. There's one sacrament in particular, this is going to be a trick question. One sacrament in particular where we get to say ‘this is the moment when I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior’ a moment to accept an adult faith if you will, a faith where adults live out their faith in a personal manner and say ‘this, this is the one who I live for. Many of us I would imagine, would assume that I'm talking about Confirmation, and in some ways that may be true, but not quite. Some, especially those who are going through RCIA, who were baptized later in life, they may say Baptism, and again, sort of right, but not quite there. 

Saint Therese's Camp - Alaska

What I am talking about is the Eucharist - that moment when you come forward and the minister presents to you the body of Christ, and you say amen, you say yes - this is my God! It is an opportunity that we have, not just once, not a moment that we can go back to and say oh this second on this day 20, 30 years ago, rather it is a moment that we have every week, every day if you so choose. A moment, a routine that is powerful. A moment to look at Christ, and see Christ gazing back at you, and say yes this is a moment, this is a moment that will change my life, this is a moment where I have encountered God, and God has called me to a new way of life! Simon Peter, John, Andrew, they all left their lives from before, they didn't hold on to what they had in the past. They were new people! One even had a new name! They were different. They had encountered something that would not allow them to stay the same and they didn't stay the same - they followed him. If anything speaks to the truth of the Gospel it is that: that these ordinary men, these fishermen left everything because they encountered... encountered something profound. They encountered him. Today encounter him in the Eucharist, and for the next couple of days, for the next week look back and say ‘that was my moment.’ Until you meet him again in the Eucharist, until you meet him again in your brother and sister, and you will encounter him again, you encounter him today. Open your hearts to that. Allow that presence to call you to a new way of life.


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Four Years Sober

Five years ago I would have told you that this would be a ridiculous and unnecessary idea, a stupid idea really; that I certainly didn't have a problem with alcohol and that I was just fine thank you very much! Four years ago I would have told you that my life was practically ruined and that it didn't matter if I drank again or not.


That was then, this is now. Now I am so thankful that God has given me the grace to resist the urge, an urge that comes and goes to this day, an urge to run, to escape into the bottle. God has given this grace by placing people in my life that have stood by me in the ups and downs of these past five years. God has also done this by giving me a sense of purpose, by helping me to see that my struggles with addiction, mental illness, and suicide can all help call people to a deeper understanding of Christ's love for them in (not in spite of) their brokenness. I could see my story as a humiliation, something to be avoided at all cost, but I cherish the opportunities that I have to tell my story, to open up to others about my humanity as well as the reality of what Christ is able, and willing, to work with.

Link to Sirach, Chapter 2, NRSVCE

If you, or someone you love struggles with addiction, mental illness, or thoughts of suicide please know that I am more than happy to talk with you; to listen about the darkness in your life and help you look for help and signs of Christ's abundant light. You are not alone. God bless!




Thursday, February 9, 2017

Be Salt and Light!

Fifth Sunday in ordinary Time

Saint Patrick Parish, Louisville, Ky.


Now I’m not a chemist or geologist, but I am pretty sure that by itself salt cannot lose its taste. The only way I can think of for salt to become less salty is for it to be diluted, say for instance that I put a small amount of salt into a large amount of water – the salt would lose its taste. The same goes for light, the only way to stop light from being light is to hide it, to prevent it from being seen. Our Gospel reading for today challenges us to think of our faith in the same way that we think of salt and light, either we let it be truly what it is, or we hide and or dilute it. To either be salt and light for the world or not. 


I have a story that I’d like to share that may help to make this hiding and diluting faith more clear; it just so happens that today is Scout Sunday because my story takes place at Philmont Scout Ranch in Northeastern New Mexico. Now Philmont is an enormous place that employs more than a thousand people and hosts tens of thousands of young people every year. Over the summer of 2011, I had the opportunity to be one of the Catholic chaplains at Philmont. While I was there, I also participated in the Saint George Trek which happens every two years and brings together young Catholics, both boys, and girls, from across the nation to hike Philmont for 11 days. It is an opportunity for these young men and women to discern their vocation and possibly pray about becoming a priest or a religious sister. So, there we were, my crew and I, out in the middle of this wilderness and we had already hiked 15 miles that day, our itinerary had gotten messed up, and we unexpectedly had to hike a lot more than the previous days. It was getting late, and we decided to stop and quickly eat our dinner before continuing down the trail. It was already starting to get dark by the time we got on our way for the last several miles, and we knew, we knew what was going to happen. There is even a video out there of one of the guys going from person to person asking who they wanted to play them in the Hollywood reenactment of the very much foreseeable outcome of these unfortunate events. I insisted that I be played by Matt Damon. After critically evaluating Matt Damon’s decisions it is obvious that he should have had the crew make camp right where they were. You need to understand that hiking in the dark not only has the dangers of tripping over something in the pitch-black, but there are wild animals out there – big wild animals. 


Sure enough, just as we expected, with a couple of miles and several hours of hiking left, we began to be stalked by a mountain lion. Now I was in the back of our line, and I have never, ever, been so scared in my entire life! All I had was a little knife and a dinky pathetic flashlight for safety. We must have made quite a sight walking as closely together as possible and singing random songs, like Row Row Row Your Boat, as loudly as we could trying our best to do what we had been trained to do if this scenario ever arose. I never saw the creature, but I heard him move from one side of us, around the back, to the other side, back and forth always following us! Now, this was by far not the proudest moment of my life but one of the boys was bigger than I was and I was in a near panic after the first mile or so. I kept thinking ‘it’s going to attack my legs,’ ‘it’s going to attack my neck,’ ‘it’s going to attack my legs’ … over and over. And so, I am ashamed to say; I asked this larger boy to take my place at the back – I told him ‘if anything happens I’m going to be right there, don’t worry!’ It was at that instant that my salt lost some of its flavor – my faith was shaken, and I did something that I still regret. 


Halfway through we remembered that one of the guys, we’ll say his name was Tim, we remembered that Tim had this awesome flashlight that had a strobe feature that was bright enough, and fast enough, to disorient a human, and we hoped it would be the same with a mountain lion. So we called up to Tim, ‘hey Tim, let us have your flashlight.’ And do you know what Tim said? He said ‘only if you replace the battery when we get to the next camp.’ I said ‘Tim! Give us your flashlight!’ It was at that instant that Tim’s salt lost some of its flavor – his faith was diluted by fear, and he did something that looking back he probably would be a bit embarrassed. 

I hope these two humbling examples help to illustrate how fear, fear above all emotions, can dilute and hide faith. Fear takes away a bit of the flavor, a bit of the taste of our faith. The Church in her teachings, in her traditions, in Sacred Scripture, has made it clear how far we are to take loving our neighbor and our enemy. Our first readings from the prophet Isaiah today is quite clear:

Share your bread with the hungry,
shelter the oppressed and the homeless;
clothe the naked when you see them,
and do not turn your back on your own.
~ Isaiah 58:7

Now you might say to me ‘but Father, it says to look after our own’ to which I would remind you that it does say that, only after saying shelter the oppressed and the homeless. I truly fear that politics in our nation is diluting our Christianity. This cannot be the case; we are not called to be Catholic Christians through the eyes of our political leaning! We must view our politics through Christian eyes! Otherwise, politics will dilute, without a doubt, will dilute our faith. There are people is our world who are suffering greatly, and we have the opportunity to help them, to see them worthy of our care and love, but we will be unable to do so if we let fear dilute or hide our faith. 


We as Catholic Christians cannot sit comfortably in either political party if we are faithful and support life from the womb to the tomb, all life long, we cannot be comfortable in either political party. There is a great debate going on in our country as to what we should do with the world’s refugee crisis. If we close our eyes to their plight we would be hiding our light under a bushel basket; we would be diluting the salt of our faith. We, my brothers and sisters, are called to be a light on a lamp stand, to not live a diluted form of Christianity. To be true to what makes us God’s people we must welcome the unfortunate. We say yes, with courage, and with the help of God, to being salt and light for a world in need!