About Harvester's Wanted:

A Catholic priest's reflections along the path of Faith.

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

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Promises of the Season

Homily for the First Sunday of Advent, Year A 
St. Francis Xavier, Mt. Washington KY & 
All Saints, Taylorsville KY

November 30 & December 1, 2013

Happy New Year! No, I have not lost my mind; the First Sunday of Advent is on the Church calendar as the first Sunday of the year. Just like the secular New Year, with all of its resolutions for the future, Advent is a season of promises, and likewise Advent is a time to reevaluate your expectations of reaching those promises. I cannot help but think of the Advent calendars, you know the ones with the little chocolates or toys. You would open the little door each day, and find a little treat, but the real excitement came with the realization that Christmas day was one day closer. It’s no wonder that this tradition came about; we do kind of the same thing in church. Who here can say that they do not look at the Advent candles and automatically do the mental math to answer the question: how long till Christmas? I know I do! Advent is a season of promises, most notably the promise of Christmas. Do we, however, rush quickly through the season of promises without appreciating the promise itself? C.S. Lewis, a prominent writer and Christian philosopher, wrote that:

If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased.[1] 

This quote should surprise you! It was meant to be surprising when it was given for the first time more than 70 years ago. The world wants to play a devious trick. The world wants you to think that Christianity is all about giving things up and feeling guilty when you do not. Advent is here to remind us that while we are asked to be mindful of the things we do, we are also rewarded with great promises that go far beyond the other things that we think we would rather be doing. Advent is a season of promises and its promises are many!


Let’s take a moment and look through some of the promises we are given in today’s readings: the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest mountain, all nations shall stream towards it, one nation shall not raise sword against another, our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed, the day is at hand, be prepared for at an hour you do not expect the Son of Man will come. So many promises and all of these promises have as their core Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of all promises. These promises are huge, and imagine that these are just the promises in today’s readings – in the season of promises what more might Christ have in store for you, what more might be in store for us!?!

Keeping in mind the fact that God does not always answer our prayers in the way we would expect them to be answered; what promises in your life would you want God to fulfill this Advent season? Have you taken the advice of C.S. Lewis? Have you prayed big as he urges? You might pray for wisdom in dealing with things at work. You could pray for patience with your family and loved ones. You might pray for a greater desire for prayer. You could pray for the courage to stand up to that bully at school. I have a friend who recently told me about how she has been praying for the ability to work so as to please God, and not her boss. She is now more comfortable in her work, and more attached to a divine reason for her doing a good job, and beyond that she is also more productive and achieving even better than she had been when she was working more to please her supervisor.

These examples seem worldly, I know. They are, however, examples which reveal God’s desire to be involved in all aspects of our lives. If God desired to be a distant God, unconcerned and disconnected from our daily lives, that God would not have become man and lived, worked, and died as a man. Our Gospel for today says: so too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come. Advent is a season of promises. Are you willing to get out of the way so that this promise can be realized in your life as well?




[1] C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, a sermon first given at Oxford University Church of St. Mary the Virgin, June 8, 1941.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Introducing: Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Goyette


Kortnee & Dan Nuptial Homily
Saint Aloysius,
Pewee Valley, KY

November 9, 2013


           I met Colby last summer. He was two at the time and he could barely talk, he could, however, run. I think he skipped learning how to walk and went straight into running. Colby was also the center of attention at the parish, and he knew it – everyone knew Colby and Colby never met a stranger. I know one thing about Colby, he’s going to break some hearts and cause his mother a world of frustration.

I was helping out with vacation bible school and I noticed Colby would come up to me, pretend to be picking something off my pants leg and walk away while putting this thing in his mouth. At first I though it was a piece of lent or something and so it concerned me that the child was swallowing anything he could get his tiny hands on, so I watched him closely and sure enough he was just walking up to me, pretending to take something off me, and eat it. I also noticed that he would only come to me, and none of the others standing around, and that he would also walk away right after taking his bite so to speak. It was this final clue that made it all click. Colby, you see, would come up with his mother at Mass, and she would receive Holy Communion. Colby, like many children, want something too. Now in a different setting, and without his mother’s controlling presence, Colby was going to come up to me and get what he wanted, even if it were only pretend. It was pretty profound to think that Colby was pretending to ‘eat me’ like he would one day truly partake of the Body of Christ that would be consecrated at an altar much like this one here. I was truly an image of Christ for Colby even if Colby couldn’t even begin to describe it to you.


            In our Gospel we hear of people approaching Jesus and they, like Colby, were not sure what they hoped to receive. They knew they wanted more wine because marriage feasts, in that culture, went on for days if not a week or more. Unfortunately we don’t have the time in our culture for such lengthy communal festivities. They wanted more wine but Jesus was insisting that he was not ready to begin his public ministry, he was not willing to give these people the wine they wanted and he wasn’t yet willing to give them the miracle they did not even think to want. Mary, his mother, on the other hand knew that Jesus was capable of filling a need and she bypasses his unwillingness and got things moving; letting Jesus handle the rest.

            Who then are we in this Gospel story? Who do we identify with? Especially for our lovely bride and groom, who are you to identify with? I think most of the time we are somewhere between the people who want something more, and Jesus who is not sure if he is ready to give it to them. We know we want more out of life but hesitation often holds us back. Now Mary is frequently a symbol for the Church, and she brings these two aspects together, and after examining the situation, she declares that it will work out. She, the Church, reveals that the mission is true and good.

             Dan and Kortnee, do you know exactly how your married life will play out? Of course not! Are you a little nervous as you prepare to make this definitive step in your lives? Of course you are! You hold within yourselves this very tension which the Gospel reveals to us. You have come before the Church asking for marriage, she in her wisdom has agreed that this is the vocation you are called to, and today you will make a public definitive act as you begin to live out that calling. You have a very real idea of what you are seeking but at the same time aren’t the surprises part of the excitement? You know you love one another, there is no doubt there. Where that love will lead you both, however, that is yet to be seen. So in a very real sense, Kortnee and Dan, you are both like Colby – like little children first grasping hold of a greater reality, and just like Colby you are reaching out for Christ, although you might not fully realize it. Your fulfillment is now bound to the other. Your spiritual paths are joined and you now will for now on approach this altar together as one. Remember the words of our second reading: clothe yourselves with heartfelt mercy, with kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Do this not only because you love one another, but because you are Christ for one another! Your relationship with one another affects your relationship with Christ, and vice versa. Do not work to hide Christ from the other but instead work to more fully reveal him to one another and through that love you will reveal him to the world. The world needs, and the Church needs, indeed I need, this sign of your love for one another and for God!



Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King


Homily for 34th Sunday of Ordinary, Year C
Cathedral of the Assumption,
Louisville, KY

November 24, 2013


Two weeks ago now there was a man standing out on Shelbyville Rd. right in front of the mall. He may still be out there for all I know; this may, in fact, be his plan from now until Christmas. Coincidently, or more likely with no coincidences at all, he was standing in front of Chick-fil-a there at the intersection. To ease your possible concerns: no, this is not a homily about Chick-fil-a or their policies and opinions. This man was, however, holding a sign in big black permanent marker that read: Christianity has failed. He was just there on the sidewalk, going back and forth, holding his sign, Christianity has failed. Now the thought crossed my mind: maybe he was using reverse psychology or maybe he truly believes Christianity has failed. All the same I did find it rather ironic as a relatively young man sitting in my vehicle wearing my collar, actively preparing to take on a lifelong calling to priestly ministry. I thought ‘I’m living proof that Christianity has not failed’ and in my arrogance I thought, much like the Roman soldiers in the gospel, ‘show me your proof!’. My thought was arrogant because Christianity has indeed failed: failed to meet this young man’s expectations, failed to entertain, failed to give simple answers to life’s complex questions, failed to meet the criterion of truth that this world itself doesn't even belief. In the world's eyes, Christianity failed in the beginning and will always fail.

The parallel with today’s Gospel is almost painful. Christ may as well have hung on that cross with a sign that not only said ‘King of the Jews’ but also a sign that read ‘I have failed!’ There, surrounded by his enemies and with only a precious few loved ones in sight, it looked like failure to all present. Where was the sense in all of this? Even one of the criminals pointed out the failure of Jesus. A man in the same position had the daring to point out how Jesus seemed to be a failure. Those witnessing these events at the time were pulled into thoughts of failure, how then are we to view the crucifixion as anything other than failure? It is so easy to see Jesus hanging on that cross and see failure, missed opportunities, and hard truths.

Our Lord Jesus Christ the King of the Universe 

We are blessed to know the other side of the story, however. Humanity would have been blessed enough to have Christ born as one of us. We would have been blessed enough to have him die for our sins. God, however, was not finished pouring out his grace upon us for Christ rose from the dead and resurrected humanity with him. Today we celebrate the solemnity of Christ the King. It is important to remember all that our king has done for us. Christ also did not leave the sign of his torture behind. He carries his cross still as an invitation for us to see within our own suffering the loving presence of Jesus.

That young man on the street corner, it would be easy to see him in a simple light. God helped me look deeper, however, and I resented him and I loved him at the same time. I could feel his search for meaning, and I was sad knowing that that search, with that attitude, will always leave him empty handed. Only the king can give meaning, especially when that king has a cross for a throne. It might be naïve, but I hope that young man was using reverse psychology; I hope he was saying one thing with the intention of getting people to realize the opposite. If the young man at the intersection was using reverse psychology, if the divine plan somehow incorporates appearing one way but being another, if the truth is hidden in this way: are you willing to be tricked into surrendering to a king on a cross?



Saturday, October 26, 2013

Justified Through Hope in God

Homily for 30th Sunday of Ordinary, Year C ~ 
St. Francis Xavier, Mt. Washington KY & 
All Saints, Taylorsville KY

October 26 and 27, 2013

            Captain Jack Sparrow. By now most of us have probably seen the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, some, like me, have seen them several times. Nevertheless, let me remind you of a couple things about Captain Jack. First he’s a pirate, and he loves being a pirate, he often does things that suit him and his interests. When the story finishes, and he has done the right thing, he has basically gotten him what he wanted all along! Is Captain Jack Sparrow a good guy or not? Or is he more of a neutral guy who often appears to do good things? Isn’t Captain Jack often the hero we almost want to hate? Doesn’t that humanity make him more realistic? Along with all of this, the fact remains: Captain Jack is a pirate, when you have a pirate as the hero aren’t you bound to hit a few bumps along the way? This is how we often want our heroes to appear; overall they are good but always human and prone to making mistakes, and, well, prone to being human.

File:Jack Sparrow In Pirates of the Caribbean- At World's End.JPG
Captain Jack Sparrow

This is the human story, isn’t it? We both want to do the things we want to do and look and feel as if we are being good at the same time. Not to overuse the Hollywood imagery but I cannot help but think of a huge celebrity giving away a lot of money to charity. These celebrities give a lot of money at times, but don’t we always know that they are giving from their excess? What they give doesn’t hurt them; they get to both look good and keep living the life that they want to live. On a much smaller scale I know I do pretty much the same thing, I want it both ways: I want to live the way I want and have people think I’m doing what is good. Oh humanity you never cease to amaze me with your complex beauty and idiosyncrasies!

We have a similar problem in today’s readings. The first line of the first reading: The Lord is a God of Justice! I don’t know about you, but when I hear something like that a part of me starts to think oh boy someone’s about to get it! Jesus, typical Jesus, he won’t let our normal expectations come true – he has to go and flip things on their heads. I’m not sure if it’s obvious, but the bad guy makes it out of the Gospel looking pretty good, and the good guy starts to look pretty bad. We might be too used to thinking of the Pharisees as the bad guys. It good to be reminded that they were the religious leaders of their time; they followed the Law of Moses so closely it was almost disheartening to think how can they be so good at following all these minute details? For most people at that time, the Pharisees made you look bad, and the tax collectors, well he typically would make you look pretty good. Now these guys weren't just your average IRS agent. The IRS gets paid to do their job, and there is supposed to be a fair amount of oversight to make sure they do their job fairly. The tax collectors of biblical times were far from being IRS agents. These tax collectors paid the Roman Empire for the privilege to collect taxes in a certain area. They calculated how much the Empire wanted, against what they thought they could get people to pay, and then they had to outbid the competition. All these calculations, in the end, just drove up the amount they had to take from the people. These people were organized crime sanctioned by the government. On top of that they were sellouts – in this area of the Empire they typically would have been Jews who decided that they wanted money more than the respect of their neighbors and friends. Someone from God’s chosen people decided that being chosen was not good enough for them; nope, they’d rather have their Imperial friends and a lot of money. Sounds like a person that would be easy to dislike, just a little. Ah but there it is: the simple fact that the tax collector went home justified and not the Pharisee. As a religious leader, this gets my attention, and I think that is the point, Jesus wants our attention!

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

I’d like you to imagine for a moment two children, two little boys. One of the little boys LOVES to tell on his brother. He is constantly running to their dad yelling ‘daddy, daddy, look what Tommy did!’ Now it is true, Tommy is often in trouble: climbing trees, breaking toys, getting into mom and dad’s things, scaring their sister; anything and everything that Tommy can get into, Tommy finds a way. John, on the other hand, hardly ever gets into trouble, mostly because he seems to be constantly watching Tommy and what he’ll get into next. I wonder if we might not see the actions of both children as two children looking for the attention of their father in two very different ways. Which child do you think the father loves more? There is no secret to this father, he loves both of his children very much, he loves Tommy because he reminds him of all the trouble he used to get into as a child, and he loves John because he reminds him of all the trouble he used to get into as a child. Now John gets Tommy in trouble, again, and Tommy comes crying to his father saying he is sorry, like he always does, and he promises to behave, which he’ll do – for a while. All the while John is standing there with that smirk on his face. That smirk, however, quickly turns into a frown when the father tells both his children to go play together out in the yard. I’d say Tommy is the one who goes away justified. They both came before their father asking for something. It is Tommy, however, who is the one who walked away having received what he asked for. He asked for mercy, and he received it. Notice too that Tommy does not leave without some form of penance – he is told to go play with John, his brother who got him in trouble. Playing together Tommy might be kept out of the most serious and dangerous kinds of mischief and John might learn to loosen up a bit.

Switching gears a bit I’d like to talk about hope. It is important to point out that the virtue of Hope, like all virtues, exists between two vices. In this way, Hope exists in the middle between the vices of despair and presumption. One can say that these vices represent having too little hope, and too much hope, at least too much of what might sound like Hope. We do not get despair in these readings today. Instead we get a lot of people crying out to God, and we get a few people standing there expecting to get what they think they deserve. The people who are presumptuous think that they know the answer; they think they already have everything they need. I pray that we avoid such presumption, pray that we avoid such arrogance! Those people who cry out to God are true people of Hope! They are people who have not given up on crying out for mercy because they have Hope that the almighty God will hear their cries, as pitiful as they are. They cry out in Hope, because of Hope.

We cannot presume that we will have salvation, like the Pharisee; nor can we presume that we are the MOST loved son, like John in our story. We cannot be presumptuous in matters such as these. We cannot be presumptuous and still be truly honest with ourselves; we cannot do this any more than we can presume that Captain Jack Sparrow will do the right thing! Captain Jack is a pirate, and we are all sinners; we are all sinners in need of God’s mercy. In the words of the justified tax collector: ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ It may sound ridiculous, but we can hope to be the tax collector. It would have sounded strange to Luke’s audience too, but that is what we can hope for. Did the tax collector go home and get rid of all the wealth he had accumulated through cheating people? It is possible, and I think that it is what we are called to imagine. Even if this is not the case, however, the tax collector walked away justified that he would be shown mercy, and he was shown mercy, for we are told that he was justified.

          How many times already in this Mass have we asked for God’s mercy? We have prayed six times, six times already that God be merciful on us! Three of these times were at the penitential rite, at the beginning of Mass, and the other three were in the Gloria. We also had father pray that God hear our pray and grant us the mercy that we asked. Were you paying attention? Did you ask for mercy the way the tax collector asked for mercy? Sister and brothers, the Good News that we are invited to hear today is that we are the tax collector, and even we are justified in calling out to our God for mercy. Our God, our Father, he loves us all more than we can ever fathom, and we call out for mercy knowing that we are sinners, and he grants us that which we truly seek which is communion with Him.







Saturday, September 28, 2013

He Knows Your Name

Homily for 26th Sunday of Ordinary, Year C ~ 
St. Francis Xavier, Mt. Washington KY & 
All Saints, Taylorsville KY

September 28 and 29, 2013

            There he was: sitting all alone in his miserly cold, dimly lit room. There he was spending time with the one thing that he loved most in the world, the thing that made him feel safe; the thing that separated him from everyone else. There he was counting his money. He had a handy response for anyone who tried to pull him out of this lonely existence. Bah humbug he would say. Bah humbug! I am of course speaking of Scrooge from A Christmas Carol, and while I realize that the Christmas season is still months away, even if the stores will soon be putting out their Christmas displays, Scrooge is too good an image to pass up for today’s Gospel reading.

File:Marley's Ghost-John Leech, 1843.jpg

            Scrooge of course is an image for the otherwise nameless Rich Man in today’s Gospel. The thing that I find most striking about our Gospel reading is that the Rich Man knows the name of Lazarus. We know this because he calls out to Abraham saying send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. The Rich Man does not say “Abraham send that dead beggar over here!” No! He knew Lazarus’ name, and in connection with that Lazarus had for sometime sat at the door of the Rich Man, a Rich Man with wealth and brothers, for the Gospel tells us he had five, he therefore had the power to remove Lazarus from his doorstep. Based on this I find it justified to imagine that this Rich Man thought he was doing Lazarus a favor. He allowed Lazarus to be near enough to the house that perhaps from time to time he got a scrap to eat or a little alms money; all the while the Rich Man would tell himself, his brothers, and his guests that he was so very charitable on the occasion of one of his many daily sumptuous feasts. Lazarus, however, was never really treated charitably, for he never had the chance to do what he would have gladly done, that is to eat the scarps that fell from the rich man’s table. Lazarus was always kept separate, on the other side of the door; and yet isn't it curious that the Rich Man knew the name of Lazarus.

            Like the Rich Man, Scrooge too knew the name of the lowliest person in his life. Scrooge knew the name of Tiny Tim. He may not have known that Tiny Tim was sick; in fact Scrooge would not have bothered to know that much detail, but it is safe to say that Scrooge would have at least known the names of Cratchit’s children. He may have been surprised by the illness when the Ghost of Christmas Present showed him the scene, but he was not so surprised that he had to ask “who is that?” when Tiny Tim appears. It is one thing to be complacent when there is someone in the world who is suffering and you do not even know that person’s name. Complacency in that all too common instance, while not ok, is understandable when there are so many things going on in our lives right in front of us. Complacency in the face of suffering in the life of someone whom we know the name of, however, that degree of complacency is much harder to excuse.      


File:Gustave Dore Lazarus and the Rich Man.jpg

When Luke sat down and wrote his Gospel he did not name the Rich Man; either Luke or Christ could have easily given the Rich Man a name – they gave Lazarus a name, why not the Rich Man? As in every other occasion of an unnamed character in Scripture Luke is basically leaving a blank underlined by a ‘your name here’ label. We are therefore invited to place ourselves in the story alongside the Rich Man and ask ourselves who we most resemble. It is a product of our fallen existence that we often seek comfort at the cost of complacency. Comfortable complacency is a way of life for many. Those people out there, these people right here, this person standing right here; we all have a tendency to lean towards comfortable complacency even when there is someone in our lives, someone whom we can easily name, someone at arms reach who is suffering. Ask yourselves right now who in your life do you know who needs a kind word and a little help? What is that person’s name? If this is a difficult exercise then I imagine that the lure of comfortable complacency has pulled you in. Surely there is a person at work, a neighbor down the street, another kid in your class, a friend who is too proud to bring up their own pain, a teammate, a sister, a brother, an acquaintance. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s a person whom you run into regularly that you avoid even knowing their name, maybe the checkout girl at the grocery store, the guy behind the counter at the gas station, that person on your street that you’ve consciously kept a distance from for fear of getting entangled in their life, that other mother in the pickup line, or that guy that often comes to your favorite hangout spot and sits alone. I dare say that the sin of the Rich Man was not that he had all kinds of stuff and Lazarus didn’t, that surely had a role to play; rather the sin of the Rich Man was keeping Lazarus on the other side so that he wouldn’t feel compelled to share his things. Scrooge too built a wall, a wall made out of gold coins, a wall that insulated him from the world just as effectively as any wall made of brick and mortar could ever have.

Sisters and brother comfortable complacency separates us from those around us; comfortable complacency is a wall, a great chasm, between us and those we could empathize with but choose not to. Fear leads to loneliness. It is easy to see Scrooge as being lonely, but what about the Rich Man? Was he lonely? I’d say a man who throws lavish dinners every night for a select group of people may not seem lonely but effectively is a very lonely secluded person. Does not our world hold up this Rich Man as an example to emulate? Doesn’t our society say ‘forget that person who will drag you down with their problems?’ Aren’t we in fact living in the age of YOLO? An age where you only live once can easily be used as an excuse for running from the problems in your own life, and especially in the lives of those around us? Don’t we know the name of someone whom we’ve kept on the other side of a great wall built of our own self interests? Don’t you know a name?   

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But wait! Christ knows our name, doesn't he? Sisters and brothers there is good news here, for Christ knows our name! Christ knows the pain in your hearts, Christ knows the walls we build up, Christ knows your fear over letting people in and he knows our anxiety over reaching out to those around us. Christ Jesus knows your name! He knows your name and he is not afraid to cross the uncrossable chasm. When Father Abraham told the Rich Man that no one could cross from one side to the other he was talking about humanities ability to do so. What is impossible for a man is possible for God-made-man, for that is an uncrossable chasm in itself. The Incarnation reveals to us the lengths that God will go to because God knows the names of each and every one of us. The Incarnation and the Resurrection free us from chains of comfortable complacency. Jesus graciously gives us the opportunity to know his name and by knowing and loving his name we have the opportunity to be moved towards loving the names of those around us. Christ Jesus knows our name and he’s willing to do the impossible because of that, not because he has to but because he loves us.

            This frees us for the opportunity to grow in our love and understanding of his sacred name. What Jesus has done for us gives us the opportunity to do as the letter to Timothy instructs, we are thus freed to pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness, to compete well for the faith and to lay hold of eternal life. At this Mass we are invited to grow closer in our understanding of, and love for, the name of Jesus both in his Body and Blood, which we will receive from this altar, as well as in the communion we celebrate between one another. When you think of the name of someone in your life that needs you to be more active in their life we all have the opportunity to remember that Jesus first knew our name before we knew theirs.




Saturday, September 7, 2013

Pray for Peace

In honor of the Holy Father's request for a day of prayer and fasting for peace, especially in Syria: 


... and I'll be my brother's keeper, 
so the whole world will know that we're not alone.


World peace begins with inner peace and peace with those around us. Start there and God knows where we'll end up. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What are You Doing Here?


Homily for Wednesday in the 22nd Week of Ordinary, Year I
Given at Saint Thomas Aquinas Chapel, Saint Meinrad Seminary

September 4, 2013 

Introduction to Mass: 

We come to this Eucharistic celebration today perhaps a little confused about who we are, and what we are doing here. May the example of Christ in word and sacrament strengthen us in our doubts for the formation year that lies ahead. 
_____________________

Homily:

[In a voice of nervousness:] Oh no, what am I doing here? I’m not sure if I belong here! Preaching, already, and on the first early Mass of the year!? What will I say? Will they even hear? Will they all show up? Even if they do will they even be awake? What am I doing here?

What am I doing here? This question begs a second question: what are you doing here? This is not a redundant question; it is one that the returning guys know will be asked of them numerous times. Vocations directors, formation staff, spiritual directors, that voice inside your head; all will repeatedly ask that question albeit in varying forms: what are you doing here? For all the new guys the rector himself will soon be asking you this question, when he meets with you here in the coming weeks. A word of advice: he’s looking for something more profound than getting some movies in, or catching up with the latest celebrity gossip. We all then have to answer the question what are you doing here?

I’ve had many years here to consider the answer to this question; I’ve been here long enough to see two former fellow seminarians return as formation staff. The question always remains the same even for them, what are you doing back here? It is easy to get caught up in the question itself, while it does need to be asked, sometimes the ‘what are you doing here’ covers up the ‘being here.’ Worry, stress, anxiety, missed opportunities, thoughts of inadequacy, loneliness, thoughts of home; all of these can compound and complicate the question what are you doing here?

Paul certainly gives us an answer to this question worthy of reflection. He says to the Colossians just as in the whole world it, meaning the word of truth, it is bearing fruit and growing, so also among you. You and I have heard that word of truth, here! You and I have the opportunity to grow, here! You and I have the opportunity to bear fruit, here! Throughout this year, when you ask yourselves, and others ask you, what are you doing here; instead of becoming discouraged and hard on yourself, avoid the temptation of thinking you’ve made a mistake. Avoid the temptation of thinking you are wasting your time because no matter what, if you are here and open to the word of truth, you too will grow and bear fruit.

This is not always easy, believe me brothers I know this very well. Sometimes it can all seem like too much. Seminary is difficult, life is difficult, put them both together, and as we say in Pewee Valley, it ain’t no picnic. Sometimes it feels like it would be easier to just stay in bed, possibly stay there till you’re dead. Take Simon’s mother-in-law for example. She was basically done, instead of the seminarian fever however it’s reasonable to believe that she was really sick. Just imagine Jesus walking into this scene:

Healing of Peter's Mother-in-law by John Bridges 

[In Howard’s mother’s voice:] Howard, Simon, whoever you are! What’s that man doing in here? I just knew my daughter would end up marrying a putz like you! Can’t you see I’m dieing here? All I want is to be left alone and here you are with you little friend, Jesus! Hey you! Yeah you! What are you doing here?

What’s more stubborn: a seminarian or a Jewish mother-in-law? This year may bear the answer to that question. With a quick prayer and a hasty rebuke of that fever, however, and Jesus even has this Jewish mother-in-law up, bearing fruit and growing. What can I say, Jesus has that effect on people. Jesus gets people up and moving. Jesus knew why he was in that room because Jesus knew why he had come into the world. He tells us right here that he has come to proclaim the good news. He proclaims it here today at this altar, to all of us wondering why we are here. What will your response be?    
_____________

Intercessions: 

For all Church leaders; the Bishops all the way up to catechists and parents, that they all may gain clarity and perseverance in their role through the certainty that Christ has in his. We pray to the Lord. 

For civil, business, and military leaders; that they may contemplate why they are where they are so that they may go about their duties more reflective of the effects they have on those they lead. We pray to the Lord.

For this community; that we may find a sense of peace in being here, so that we can be about the work of growing as disciples of our Lord Jesus. We pray to the Lord.

For all the lonely and oppressed and for all of those who no longer know why they go on living in this world. That the light of Christ, seen in the joy of his disciples, may brighten their world. We pray to the Lord.

For all the dead, especially the dead that we carry close to our hearts… that they may all one day intercede for us before the face of God. We pray to the Lord. 



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Nice is Nice... But


Homily for the Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C
Given at Saint Aloysius Parish, Pewee Valley 

August 17 & 18, 2013 

            It is nice to be home, it is nice to be home and it is even nicer to be here doing this, proclaiming the Word of God for you and expounding upon that Word in a homily. Dreams, anxieties, anticipation, and many many years of work and prayer have gone into the formation that I received in preparation to be right here, right now. That fact, like these readings for today, might frighten you a little, but we’ll get back to that.

            First I want to reflect for a moment on that word nice. I used it there at the very beginning… it’s nice to be home; please don’t get me wrong, that is true and all, but the word nice just doesn’t really indicate that which I fully mean. I remember it vividly, my sister once told me – in the way that only younger sisters can – that I should be nice because I’m a seminarian. I was probably poking fun at her or something… imagine! Anyways, I responded with “if by nice you mean I should lie, then forget all of this.” The truth is that nice is often used to do two things: to say that the thing in question is good enough and/or to sugarcoat the truth of the matter by accentuating the limited but true positive qualities that the subject does possess. Take Christians for example… they’re nice Christians. What do you think of when you think of nice Christians in this context? Are you a nice Christian, am I a nice Christian? All the while Christ himself is saying to us how I wish it were already blazing!

Saint Aloysius, Pewee Valley, Easter Vigil 2011 

            How I wish it were already blazing! Now if you ask me that’s not nice, oh no, that’s real! That’s Christ talking about true disciples, not nice disciples, not nice Christians, but rather that is Christ talking about true Christians, true Christians willing to get into the mess and filth of a broken and sometimes blazing world. I warned you this might be a little frightening! And if you’re not frightened, frightened at least a little, then you’re probably either stuck on being nice, or you’re in a nice sleep right now. Either way it’s right there in our Gospel: Christ coming to set the world on fire and cause division instead of peace. Jesus! You should be nicer! You are a Christian after all! A nice Christian!          

            It is all throughout our readings, this insistence the world has for followers of God to be nice. The Jews wanted Jeremiah to be nice, believe me Jeremiah was not nice: Jeremiah spoke the truth and caused division. So what did they do with this troublemaker? They threw Jeremiah into a cistern. Now a cistern could have been a well from which clean drinking water came, but why throw a man into your clean water? Instead I imagine them throwing Jeremiah into a sewer. Now that is not nice at all! If that is what it might take to be a true disciple them I tell you that scares me! I have a little OCD, and by a little I mean a lot, and the thought of being in a sewer, nope I could not deal. This cuts both ways you see, true discipleship is scary for all who are called to follow God’s way. Paul too is talking about running the race to win it, to win the race against the opposition from sinners. A nice Christian may want to stop and make sure that the opposition is smoothed over, at least a bit; Paul here is saying to run right past them and let your joy in Christ challenge them to run the race as well. A true disciple is a runner, not someone who just makes their way eventually.    

            I was speaking with a friend of mine recently, she makes jewelry, nice jewelry let’s say. I think she would agree that it can always get better, so we’ll say nice jewelry. Anyway she was talking about how many people would assume that jewelry comes out of a nice clean process. Instead she described a process of fire, heat, shaping of metals, dust, dirt, and even the use of acid to clean the metal after all of this upheaval has taken place. We don’t see all of that do we? We just see the beautiful jewelry that comes out of this tumultuous process. The formation of Christian disciples is a lot like that, except the end product is our eternity in heaven; that is when we get to fully shine. We may see, and others may see, a glimpse every now and again of that beauty while on earth. The true glory, however, is waiting for us and I pray we can hardly recognize one another when we get there, after the dust and ash of this life are finally cleaned away.    

            Our readings, our Gospel message, for weeks now have been about building discipleship. Today’s Gospel especially warns us that this is not an easy process. Discipleship is not something where everyone will get along as a nice big happy family. Instead, at times, there will be division. Sometimes that division will be among friends, sometimes among coworkers, sometimes even among families. This is not to say that personal salvation is the only thing we are to be concerned about, we’re Catholic and the community means too much for us to take such an individualistic path. Our example is the key; instead of trying to force someone into becoming a disciple, we invite discipleship. Returning to the running analogy of Paul, to stop running is to stop being a disciple; to stop and try to convince a bystander to run would be to stop running. Paul, as the coach, is instead yelling at us to “keep running!” Believe me this race is too long to only pass a bystander once, this race is on a circular track and you’ll pass by people who are close to you numerous times; eventually they may get bored of simply standing there and decide to run the race as well. It may not be nice to pass people like that but if you are burning with the fire of discipleship that fire may catch in their hearts as well.

            Bear with me for a moment, I’ve always wanted to add a certain visual quality to a homily and I can think of no better occasion than my first time preaching back home.

[Go get the crucifix and return to ambo]

Saint Meinrad Seminary, Saint Thomas Aquinas Chapel 

This is it folks. This is what it is all about. It is through this that we have our salvation. It is through this that we have the Eucharist and the Church; and this is not nice. This is anything but nice! This is blood, tears, pain; this is standing on the edge of despair. This is the reality of discipleship! And this is what Paul says we should be running toward! Filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit all of us young and old, all of us woman and man, all of us nice and not so nice! We are all called to run this race keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus on the cross, keeping our eyes fix on Jesus raised from the dead, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus in the Eucharist and, through the Eucharist, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ found in each and every one of us. My sisters and brothers I wish to expound upon what I said at the beginning. It is nice to be home; it is also good and true that I am home. It is good that I am home where I first learned what discipleship is all about. I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!     


Friday, August 23, 2013

Vanity of Vanities

Homily for the Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C
Given at Immaculate Heart of Mary and Christ the King parishes

August 4, 2013 

            Vanity of vanities! All things are vanity! That’s a wonderful line isn’t it? It’s the kind of line that poets and songwriters only dream of. This time say it with me… vanity of vanities! All things are vanity. A wonderful line, but what in heaven’s name does it mean? Here in a second I want you all to spend a moment and think about vanity that you have in your lives; but before that let me first say that vanity here is not a simple kind of vanity wherein a person is typically called vain. We can be vain in that way of course: on days when the temperature is up and sweat is pouring down my face I have a somewhat nasty habit of responding ‘thank you, I know’ when someone says ‘you look hot.’ I then often encounter their response in the form of a look that says ‘really?’ That’s vanity in the simple sense. Vanity in a larger sense, however, is an over the top focus on any aspect of one’s life. It would be as if the wicked queen in Snow-white, contrary to the way we all remember it, said: mirror mirror on the wall, who is the smartest, or wealthiest, or most athletic of them all?  Now after all of that go ahead and spend a moment and think about what your daydreams reflect in that mirror. Now in Father John fashion turn to one another and tell your neighbor “I am vain.” Amen, I am vain too.

            Many, I would imagine, thought of socially acceptable things to take pride in. I wonder if anyone thought of things like most hurt, sickest, most misunderstood, most underrated… the list here could go on for as long, if not longer, than the traits that people on first glance would feel good about taking pride in. All of these traits can become vanity because they take up a portion of the person’s attention that is far beyond what the thing deserves. Whether or not they are characteristics that we might at first glance described as a drive for success, or are rather ways of thinking that tend to separate the person from society; both of these ways of thinking take the width and breath of what it means to be a fully engaged human person and narrows that focus to one or two smaller issues that then become blinding of all the rest.   

The point here is to not put vice, particularly the vice of vanity, into a box. The moment one puts a particular vice into a box, labels it, and considers themselves done with that particular issue… well it’ll probably come back to bite you some other way. Many addicts report that once they have kicked their original addiction they are surprised to find themselves in an unforeseen and different addictive struggle. It’s not smart to put vice into a nice, neat, little box. Vanity is a lot like that. As fallen humans we seem to have a way of getting stuck on a single aspect of life; and then making that one things our all. Vanity, in many ways can be likened to idolatry in that what we are vain for becomes, in a sense, our god.

The readings for this week are full of people who have a focus on the singular and then take it to the extreme. In the first reading, right after that memorable line, vanity of vanities, we encounter two people: one whose sole purpose seems to be the acquisition of knowledge, and the other who is obsessed with work. Both, the author of Ecclesiastes assures us, are practicing vanity. Then in the second reading we have Paul telling us to “think of the things above, not of what is on earth.” He then goes on to talk about how distinctions between people, Greek and Jew, slave and free… all of these cause division, and while he does not directly state it, these characteristics that divide are a source of vanity as well.    

Then there is the Gospel with its great example of a man practicing both greed and vanity. This man cannot be accused of putting vanity into a little box; oh no! He feels the need to tear down his old barns just to build newer, bigger, better barns to hold his large crop. He thinks he is set for life, but little does he know that that life is a lot shorter than he imagines. He has taken his vanity for work, because God knows he was probably singularly focused on raising that huge crop before it came in, and turned it into vanity for his wealth after all his hard work paid off. I imagine these new barns weren’t just built to hold all his stuff; they were also built to show it off. “Look at me and my big barns, have you seen my barns, let me tell you about my barns,” he planned to say to all who would listen!


There is a detail of the Gospel that I want to point out, and that’s the fact that even had he lived I’m not sure that he would have had many people around to brag about his barns to. The parable only has two characters: the man, and finally God, and notice how the rich man was all too happy to leave God out of the conversation. It was God who interrupted this man’s dialogue with himself, a dialogue that consisted of a lot of I language and the frequent use of the words me and my. I don’t imagine the rich man lying in bed that night waiting to die thinking about his foolishness, no I don’t think he was ready for that yet, instead I imagine him lying there realizing how lonely he was, something that was bound to happen eventually even if he lived for years to come. God did not bring this loneliness upon him; the man brought it upon himself, brought it upon himself through his vanity.

While it was basically stated before I want to make sure that it is clear that all these readings have at least one thing in common and that is the fact that the vanity described is only vanity because it excludes God and others, instead of including God and others. The hard worker and the person in pursuit of knowledge could have done so for God and the people. The people that Paul was preaching to could have taken a measure of pride in their identity, without excluding God and God’s family. And of course the rich man in the Gospel. Without even taking away his imminent death wouldn’t the sleepless night that we presume he had, wrapped up in his loneliness waiting for the end, wouldn’t this sad fate have been more cheerful if instead of building new barns he built new tables to offer a feast for the entire community, rich and poor alike? A feast, not to brag, but instead meant to thank God for the bountiful harvest. There is a Native American saying that I heard somewhere along the way that says if a person catches too many fish for their family to eat in a single day, they would store it in their neighbor’s belly. The rich man’s hard work would have paid off all the more had he been more intent on including God, both in the work, and in the success.


These bible readings help to reveal to us today that God, in a strange way like vanity, cannot be put in a box. God deserves so much more than that. These biblical characters, however, wanted to do just that, they tried to keep God in a box. Perhaps they worshiped God once a week, they paid their respects, but then they returned to that one thing that meant enough to them to hold their attention for the other six and a half day. God deserves so much more than our little boxes, our little corners of life. It is not that God is saying we should not live our lives; God is also not saying that we should live our lives without passion and drive. We might be tempted to make God the most important thing and then stop there, but even that is not what God wants for us. God wants to be part of all that we do, a part of our passions, a part of our success, a part of our failure, a part of anything and everything that might consume us if God wasn’t there right beside us calling for love and balance. My friends, my sisters and my brothers we deserve to have God exist within every part of our lives. We deserve to feel the security of knowing that while we make mistakes, while we encounter small deaths and large deaths on a daily basis and throughout our lives, we deserve to know that those deaths bring life in Christ Jesus.


Sisters and brothers, you have taught me this, you have renewed my understanding of the love that Jesus has for us all. In speaking with Father John about the things I have learned over this remarkable summer I have often talked about how the strength of the people, the strength of you all, to hold in tension a realization of the limitations the world sets against you, alongside a joy that only comes in freedom. The joy, the openness, and the warmth have surprised me and I believe they come from your struggle to live out the point of this message, to let Christ into your lives more and more every day. In as much as I hope to represent Christ for you, know that you have welcomed me in. Please know that while my official time with you draws to a close in the next week I will never again feel like a visitor among you but a member of the body of Christ coming home, because have no doubt, I can’t stay away from my new family long. In the words of Father John a visitor is a blessing, both blessed by the community and a blessing for the community and I hope to continue being that with you and for you as you continue to strive and keep Christ in all that you do. God bless!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Widow and Us

Homily for the Tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C
Given at Immaculate Heart of Mary and Christ the King parishes

June 9, 2013 

Death; death permeates these readings and can weigh a person down like a heavy coat in June. These readings remind us that even though the world has come back to life after all those dark days of winter, dark days that once past are quickly forgotten; death is never that far away. We have recently experienced the death and burial of Christ after the struggles of Lent; we went through all of that. Now here we are after some pretty uplifting Sundays… Easter, Pentecost, Holy Trinity, The Most Holy Body and Blood, confirmations… so many celebrations of late, and now the Church takes us right back to that all too familiar place, the death bed, the mourning chamber.  We are reminded that death is lonely and inescapable!

Who here has had no experience of death? A precious few young people I would imagine and those days too will eventually come to an end. We all, sometime or another, each and every one of us; yes all of us, we all experience death both in our lives and one day in a very personal way. There’s the joke that only two things in life are certain, death and taxes, well if the tax help commercials are to be believed there are companies that can all but get you out of the taxes; that leaves only death. Death, the great equalizer of all humanity; we have experienced death, I have experienced death, Father John has experienced death, we have experienced death in our community, on our streets, in our town, our country, and in our world. All one has to do is be open up enough to care about others around them for one moment, for one second, and it will be right there – pain, suffering, and eventually death. There it is again, death is lonely and inescapable!

The first reading and the Gospel describe widows who have lost their sons. We can too easily look past the pain and the anxiety of these two widows, look past their plight to the reassurance that things turned out all right in the end. We can instead try and slow down and spend some time with them in their suffering. The sufferings of each of these widows, while wholly unique to each of them, have similar characteristics. They are widows, they have no husband, and there is no mention of other children, they are now alone, and for a woman in Biblical Palestine this was as good as a death sentence. They are also unnamed. Sisters and brothers never pass up an opportunity when in the Scriptures a character is left unnamed, that space has been left open for each of us to fill with our own worries and anxieties. You and I are challenged to place ourselves in the story with our own troubles and imagine that the little hope we had for the future, our child, has died. These women and their dead children deserve more than just a quick glance, a look of pity that quickly turns to something more cheerful, they deserve to have us sit with them a while. Death for us, like it was for these widows, is lonely and inescapable!

To take this a step further, there is Paul in the second reading. He described how he persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. How many widows do you think he left in his wake? We know he was an accessory to at least one murder, the stoning of one of the first deacons and the first Christian martyr, Stephen. Paul stood by holding the cloaks of the murderers. One can bet there was one widow right there in Paul’s early career. Paul would go on to do a lot of good, but one cannot simply forget his past life, he certainly is interested in reminding people of his blood stained zealous history. People had a hard time escaping from Paul as well as the death that he brought with him.

Death is painful, and most of us know all too well how easy it is to want to run away from it, avert our eyes, do whatever it takes to feel safe again. These readings make that difficult, Scripture insists that we take a good hard look at both our mortality, and the mortality of those around us, for death is lonely and inescapable! Like so many things, however, there is the danger of not enough and then there is the danger of too much. Church, have you adequately looked into that void which is death? Are you in danger of becoming immersed in death? Let the Church say amen. I’ve always wanted to do that! That tipping point, that point where you might fall into looking at death too much, that is exactly where I want you! Amen, amen I say to you “God has visited his people!”

"God has visited his people," how much more meaningful are these Gospel words once we have opened ourselves to the experience of death itself? We have not brushed past death just to get to the happy ending; instead we took our time and gave death a good hard look and because of our efforts we are now more prepared to hear this joy filled phrase! “God has visited his people.”

Death doesn’t always have to be sudden and dramatic. Instead many people experience small deaths on a daily basis: deaths that slowly kill off a person’s desires, kill a person’s passion, kill a person’s hope for the future of the world and them in it. God has visited his people, not only in times of physical death, but in times of this spiritual death as well. And make no mistake about it a spiritual death can lead to a physical death, and vice versa.

There is a section from the Book of Job that I want to share with you. The whole book is interesting, and I highly recommend sitting down and reading through it. It’s the one where God allows the devil to take away the many good things in Job’s life to tempt him into blaspheming against God. Once Job has lost all of his flocks, all his children, as well as his health, and even his own wife begins to turn against him, it is then that Job’s three friends come to visit him. For seven days and seven nights these three friends say nothing, they only wish to keep Job company in his sorrow. Those seven days came to an end, however, and eventually one of Job’s friends begins to question him. Trying to be helpful this friend begins to wonder what Job must have done to deserve all this suffering. God’s visits are much more like the first seven days. God is not interested in finding the answers; God – especially in the person of Jesus Christ – is much more content with being with us in our suffering. Few words, if any, will make a difference for people like Job and an attempt at answers will only confuse the situation all the more. Instead, like Job, we need to know that God is with us in our suffering. How though are we reassured of this presence? We can be reassured through the cross, through the knowledge that God himself has suffered pain, trial, humiliation, and death itself. God is no stranger to these life events, and God is content to visit with his people and let his loving presence say what words so often cannot.

Sometimes suffering is so great, however, that the presence of God remains hidden – in many ways this is where we come in. We can bring God’s presence to life for one another by being present to those who are suffering, present to those so in despair that they have trouble  feeling God with them. We can sit with people and bring comforting consolation often without saying a word. I know we already do this, but how much more affective are we when we do it with the realization in our hearts of what we are actually doing? Visit with people, be with people, and bring Christ to others in your visits ever mindful that God has first visited you, comforted you, strengthened you. We cannot give what we do not have, so experience that presence and go share it with those who need it as much, or more, than you do.


Church can you feel it now? Can you feel God’s presence here among us brought alive by being in communion with one another? I know I can! I know that worshiping with you all puts flesh on that Pentecost event that happens here every time we gather to worship the Lord!


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Suscipe



Suscipe
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will – all that I have and process.
You have given all that to me.
I now give it back to you, O Lord.
All of it is yours.
Dispose of it according to your will.
Give me love of yourself along with your grace,
for that is enough for me.
Saint Ignatius Loyola

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

First Communion Representatives


Homily for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year C ~ 
St. Francis Xavier, Mt. Washington KY & 
All Saints, Taylorsville KY

May 5, 2013

         We have entered into the season of sacraments, so to speak. We have a brand new deacon, we’ll soon have a couple of brand new priests, there are countless confirmations and weddings both here, at our sister parish, and throughout the diocese. I addition to these sacraments there are of course first communions. First communions are great aren’t they? The faith of a child growing up, no longer having to come up with arms crossed but now with arms wide open! (SFX – ask those who received first communion last week to come to the front, All Saints – ask the three girls receiving their first communion to come up front.) 

In the first reading we hear that the early Church in Antioch needed good representatives. They had received bad representative already, representatives who gave them news that was more than a little disheartening and their message proved to be a stumbling block between them and their new lives as Christians. The fact that they were born and raised as non-Jews was being held against them as they tried to live a life of conversion in the Body of Christ. It could be said that the heart of the argument from these bad representatives was that these gentiles were not mature enough to be good Christians, they were too young in their faith to make a real commitment, and they needed to go through the adolescence of living as perfect Jews before they could be considered counted among the true followers of Christ.     

Like these early Christians we need good representatives as well. We need representatives to counteract those of the world that tell us we need to have this certain product and then we will be with the in crowd, or we have to make a certain amount of money and then we’ll be considered successful, or we need to have certain kinds of jobs and then we can be considered as living a full life. These worldly representatives feed us this kind of falsehood all the time and do so in more and more inventive ways. These representatives try and complicate our lives by adding to the list of things we need to do in order to fit, in order to have a place. The temptations of the world have as their end making us believe that there is too much between us and true happiness which is union with God. The world also wants us to believe that it is all on us, on the individual person to make it happen. The world says that if you really want salvation then you will have to do it yourself, make it happen for yourself.     

Oh but sisters and brothers there is truly good news here!


We hear in today’s readings that good representatives were in fact chosen: we have the two that Acts names – Judas and Silas, the Twelve Apostles mentioned in the second reading, the Holy Spirit, our advocate promised to us in the Gospel, and then we have Christ himself. We have Christ as a representative who has not left us and headed up to a heaven in the clouds, remaining distant until the second coming. Rather he returns to us time and time again, especially in the Eucharist. The people who caused all the worry and turmoil in Acts were working on their own agenda, but the men that the Church sends were chosen – they were working on the mission of the Church. In a similar way Christ chose his apostles, they did not decide their mission, Christ did; and even Christ and the Holy Spirit are not working on their own strategy but that of the Father. The message of these chosen ones is not complicated, it is not a stumbling block but rather it is a freeing opportunity to journey with God. These representatives do just that – they re-present God; those other representatives well they were not really representing anyone but themselves and their own ideas of how living a life of faith should look.  

Just like that early Christian community we have similar representatives. We still have the words of Judas and Silas, we have the example of the Apostles, and we certainly still have Christ and the Holy Spirit. In this season of sacraments we also have representatives in these children. Christ often talked about a childlike faith and we get to see it in these children who Sunday after Sunday will come forward from now on and be offered the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and they will say Yes, Amen! These young people have certainly undergone some instruction but nothing as painful as those false representatives wanted to see those early Christians put through. The mentality of those false representatives would have the Church insisting on years and years of instruction and the wisdom that comes with age before one can truly understand what they are saying yes to by saying amen to the Eucharist. The fact is that none of us truly understands completely how the Eucharist is what it is, and that goes for these children as well, but the Church gives voice to God’s desire for them to come forward and receive him nonetheless. The First Communion of these children (was/is) not just for them, and their communion with God, but rather their First Communion (made/makes) them a representation of the Christian life for all of us.