Thursday, December 31, 2020

There is a message for us in the simplicity and humility of Christ's birth.  God arrived, not as a conqueror, but as a child in a stable. He wasn't rich nor did he lead some powerful organization. He was a teacher on a hillside. Yet, he makes every powerful leader in history look trifling in comparison. 

The point of his birth was to show us that a life of courage and generosity and importance can begin from whatever desolate place we find ourselves. No matter how ordinary or hopelessly broken we feel, we are vessels of divine purpose. 

May the humility of Jesus empower us and change our lives forever that we might hear the call to help him to bring salvation to the world. No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, God needs you to follow humbly in Christ's footsteps.  

“The world needs Christians who let themselves be moved, who never tire of walking the streets of life, to bring everyone the consoling word of Jesus.”  

Pope Francis 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020


The first recorded words of Jesus are in the Gospel of Mark: "Repent and believe in the gospel."

The Greek word Jesus used was metanoia.  And the literal meaning of metanoia is "a change of mind."  A variation of the same Greek word describes the change a caterpillar goes through to become a beautiful butterfly.  Being a Christian is not about following a set of rules; it is about being transformed by God's love and then sharing the beauty of it. 

Søren Kierkegaard expressed the energy of "metanoia" this way:

"Don’t just be a Christian. No, take all of your life to become a Christian: Choose, again and again with each new day, to be a real self, an authentic person in relation to God. Abandon your calculated safety for a reckless, wholehearted life of faith in Christ. Continue to become. Grow. Risk. Take that radical leap of faith right now."

Saturday, December 19, 2020

In 1975 Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan was arrested by the Communist government of Vietnam and imprisoned for 13 years, nine of them in solitary confinement.  He said this is what he learned from that experience.

"Only one moment exists for you in all its beauty and that is the present moment. Live it completely in the love of God.  If your life is built up like a large crystal from millions of such moments, it will be a wonderfully beautiful life.  Can't you see how easy it could be?"

When asked how one can reach this intensity of love in the present moment Cardinal Van Thuan said, " I simply recall that I must live each day, each moment as if it were the last one of my life. I leave aside everything accidental and concentrate only on the essential; then each word, each gesture, each telephone call, and each decision I make is the most beautiful of my life.  I give my love to everyone, my smile to everyone; I am afraid of wasting even one second by living without meaning. I will not wait. I will live in the present moment, filling it to the brim with love.”

Jesus told us,  “Don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.” Matthew 6:34

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Wednesday, December 16, 2020


Magnanimity comes from Latin: magnus – great + animus – soul = “great soul.” To have a great soul. 

What a great word!  Why don't we use it more?  The desire to have a great soul should be at the core of what motives everyone who follows Jesus Christ.  Doesn't something happen inside when you think about possessing a great soul?

Jesus displayed magnanimity on the cross. He persevered in harsh mistreatment yet prayed, "Father forgive them…."  

Stephen displayed magnanimity at his stoning: He had the face of an angel and responded to his mistreatment with "Lord, do not charge them with this sin." To endure injustice while simultaneously responding in humble patience and trusting wisdom is the Christ-likeness we desire.

When Nelson Mandela invited his white jailer as a VIP guest to his inauguration as president of South Africa, and he invited the prosecutor of his trial to lunch, that was magnanimity. 

The dictionary states that the quality of being magnanimous is - “loftiness of spirit enabling one to bear trouble calmly, to disdain meanness and pettiness, and to display a noble generosity.” 

Abolitionist author Harriet Beecher Stowe said, "What makes saintliness in my view, as distinguished from ordinary goodness, is a certain quality of magnanimity and greatness of soul that brings life within the circle of the heroic."

In this most difficult of times, let us think big and love greatly with joy and hope in our hearts.

Let's all try to be magnanimous today!

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Thoughts on the Trinity.

We believe in a Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit –each person distinct and yet perfect in unity and purpose. 

God the Father, The Creator, is knowable through the wonder of creation.  Being in awe of the vastness and preciseness of creation can fashion a knowing in our hearts. “This cannot be an accident," we think, “there must be a God.” Throughout history, most people have engaged thoughts of God through nature. 

Jesus, The Son, has a story that is full of visuals; his birth, the miracles he performed, his teaching moments that fill the New Testament. Because he was one of us in the flesh, he is the most relatable. We can sympathize with Jesus and learn from him how to cope with our troubles from seeing how he coped with his. 

To know the Holy Spirit requires more of us.  We must exercise our spiritual eyes.  Because the Holy Spirit is spiritual; it is not in space; it has no shape or color; our imaginations cannot picture it. The Spirit's gift comes from the fact that it is spiritual.  Its role is to provide us with spiritual eyes, giving us the ability to see God at work in the world. 

The Trinity works in perfect harmony. The Holy Spirit prepares us to receive the Son of God, the Son leads us to the Father, and the Father bestows the eternal life that comes to everyone from believing in God. Christ is alive in the world through the Spirit, and the Spirit empowers those who believe in Christ to respond in joyful obedience to the Father.  What a gift we have in the Holy Trinity! 

Let us invite the Holy Spirit into our hearts today asking that we might know the wonders of our God.

Come Holy Spirit

Send us from heaven

A ray of your light.


Come Father of the poor,

Come giver of gifts,

Come, shine in our hearts.


Most consoling of consolers,

Soul’s welcome guest,

Pleasant coolness.


Rest in toil,

Heat made bearable

Solace in our tears.


O most blessed light,

Fill the depths of hearts

Confident in you.


Without your power,

There is nothing in man,

Nothing unstained.


Clean what is filthy in us,

Freshen what is withered,

Mend what is broken.


Relax our rigidity,

Warm our coldness,

Straighten our crookedness.


Give to your faithful,

Confident in you,

Your sevenfold gifts.


Grant us the reward of virtue,

Grant us to die in your grace,

Grant us joy without end.


Saturday, December 12, 2020

It is good to remember the God Christians worship revealed himself by providing a delicious tasting wine at a party.  Now isn't there something fabulous about that! The wedding at Cana in Galilee was the occasion when Jesus performed His first miracle. (John 2:1-12) He not only took water and turning into 90+ point wine, but he also made a lot of it ... 150 gallons of excellent wine.  Whoever says God is boring, religion is dull, and out of touch with real-life needs to read this story. Jesus is the ultimate party guest! He brings the wine.  He brings the joy.

Why do we see religion as dull and irrelevant?  When Jesus came into a town, do you know what he did? He healed every one of anything that afflicted them. In Luke 14:40, it says: "At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them." Can you imagine the mood of the people healed of their illness?  Trusted me, there was a party in town that night.  Everyone who became well would be laughing and dancing and praising God. 

The God we believe in is a God who brings healing and joy.  If there ever was a time we need that God, it's at the end of 2020.  On the night Jesus was born, an angel appeared to a group of shepherds near Bethlehem and proclaimed, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people." Good news - great joy - that's what Jesus Christ is all about. 

Humanity yearns for hope, meaning, and purpose.  Without God as a vital part of our existence, only emptiness and futility remain. There is no denying that life is hard, especially this year. We could find reasons to despair on every corner. If ever you feel tempted to frown, if the news headlines are too much, or if your day was just plain awful, look to Jesus for joy. And remember, he is the great winemaker, the one who heals, who gave his life that we might live. 

This is good news of great joy!

Friday, December 11, 2020

Apostle Paul during one of the worst experiences of his life, realize that we can overcome ANY obstacle with God on our side.  He wrote to his friends in Philippi:

"I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. I know how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances, I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:10-13

We all are coming out of one of the worst years of our lives, full of moments where we have felt discouraged and insecure.  The way to insure next year will be different is to put our trust in Christ.  Join me in starting each day with Paul's words:

I am able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:10-13

When we turn to Jesus Christ, we can do things we never dreamed were possible. Or survive things we wish we never had to face.  2020 is nearly gone, 2021 is full of promise.

Be positive.  Lean on Christ.  He will give you strength. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

The fullness of JOY 

is to behold 


in everything

Julian of Norwich

Monday, December 7, 2020

Do ever feel like God withdraws from you, that God is not close to you?

You are not alone, the writers of the psalms also felt that way.
  • Do not abandon me, O Lord; do not stay away, my God!  Ps 38
  • Do not stay away from me! Trouble is near, and there is no one to help. Ps 22
  • Do not banish me from your presence; do not take your holy spirit away from me.  Ps 51
 Clearly, the people who wrote the bible must have felt it too.
I do not know if God is distant at times, but I do know it feels that way sometimes.  
So how do we manage that? How do we live when God feels distant?  

We remember.
  • We remember a moment when He felt so close. 
  • We remember a liturgy where our spirits sored with the joy of His closeness.
  • We remember the bread and the cup overflowing with his presence.
  • We remember a song or hymn that touched us deeply.
  • We remember a line from the bible that soothed our hearts .
 When I am feeling distant from God I remember a poem that really made me feel better:

“One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.
After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.
This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”
He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”

“Our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.”

Saint Augustine (354–430)

Friday, December 4, 2020


"The most important hour is always the present. 

The most significant person is precisely the one sitting across from you right now. 

The most necessary work is always love."

Meister Eckhart

Thursday, December 3, 2020

 "Joy does not simply happen to us.  

We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day."

Henri J.M. Nouwen

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Thanksgiving Homily

In Luke 17. Jesus of Nazareth is traveling along the border of Samaria when ten lepers call out to him asking for a healing.  They are all healed and only one returns to say thank you - a Samaritan. 

I heard a story recently about a man who was lost in the woods. Later, when describing the experience, he told how frightened he was and how he had finally knelt and prayed. Someone asked, “Did God – answer your prayer?” “Oh no," the man replied, “before God had a chance, a guide came along and showed me the way out.”   

You laugh, but we do the same thing. We miss God providing for us each day. 

Think about what it would be like if we woke up today with only the things we thanked God for yesterday?

  • We awake to see the sun shining and don’t give thanks to God. 
  • We hear the birds chirping, see beautiful flowers and trees, but we don’t give it a moment's thought that God has given us those blessings and given us the senses to enjoy them. 
  • We turn on the water and never think of how so many in the world don’t have running water, needless to say, hot water.  
  • We complain about our jobs, forgetting that many would be grateful just to have a job.  
  • We complain about having to social distance or wear a mask rather than thanking God for our good health. 
  • We grumble about this virus's inconvenience while others like the lepers in our Gospel story face death today.

To be oblivious to the fact that God is blessing us, or even worse, to take credit for His blessings as if we earned them by your efforts is just as big a slight to Jesus as those nine lepers not returning to say thanks that day. The Samaritan leper is our model for this Thanksgiving Day.  It’s important to remember to thank God for our blessings.

But there is a more profound message in this Gospel story. This Gospel message also challenges us to reach out to others. We all have lots of people in our lives that are risking the loss of their soul's salvation because they don’t recognize what God is doing in their lives. By living our lives in gratitude to God, we have the opportunity to witness our faith to those around us like the Samaritan leper did that day. 

We who have known Jesus 'healing power in our souls by giving the glory to him with thankful hearts can draw those around us to the Savior. If we live like that exuberant and grateful leper praising God for his blessings in our life, people around us will be attracted to our JOY.

The root of joy is gratefulness. It is not joy that makes us grateful, it is gratitude that makes us joyful  Look closely, and you will find that people are happy because they are grateful. The opposite of gratefulness is just taking everything for granted. Today let’s not take things for granted but realize that everything is a gift.

Let us glorify God this holiday season with a grateful heart.