Category Archives: Homilies

Sixth Sunday of Easter

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily from the 6th Sunday of Easter: CLICK HERE!

In our first reading today we hear only a small piece of a 6 chapter story from the Acts of the Apostles sharing the ethnic and religious tensions that could have been fatal to the early Christian Community…

As more and more Gentiles (read non-Jews) believed in Jesus, the good Jewish Disciples went into a tizzy.

Jesus was a Jew and they believe in him as the Jewish Messiah.  Their logical conclusion was that Jesus’s followers would conform to the regulations that defined the Jewish Tradition and the worst points of contention centered on:  dietary rules and circumcision.

So the question was, are these rules essential for being a follower of Jesus? For Peter and the Church in Jerusalem the answer was yes… But, Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles (non-Jews), disagreed.  How to solve the problem?

Get some sleep!  All answer comes in a dream.

And one day Peter had a dream in which a luscious banquet of forbidden food was lowered in front of him, and a voice invited him to help himself.  Peter scrupulously refused, insisting that “His faith was stronger than his appetite.”

The voice twice repeated the invitation and finally rebuked Peter saying, “What God has made clean, you are not to profane!”

Talk about putting the breaks on any notion that Peter and his friends may have had about making their own rules and binding and loosing!

And then in today’s reading we hear of the meeting of Peter and Cornelius.  Peter knew Cornelius was not perfect, but he could not get that dream out of his head. And when Cornelius told Peter about a dream he had, they began to realize that God had set them up on a “blind date”.

As Peter talked about Jesus, Cornelius and his household were filled with the Holy Spirit. Seeing that, Peter says, “God shows no partiality… Whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to Him.”

And so having admitted that God’s Spirit cannot be bound by human rules, Peter baptized the Gentiles (non-Jews) on the spot!

Now God does not always intervene with dreams.  So the community of believers had to re-think their sense of what determined who belonged to the community.

And in the end, they grew in understanding that there are no better criteria for belonging than what we hear in the St. John’s Letter and John’s Gospel: Love one another!

Jesus’s disciples came to understand that it was not they who chose Jesus; but Jesus who chose them, and ultimately us, to love as Jesus loved and loves eternally.  To be chosen, and we all are, means ultimately to spread the love we have and continue to receive from God.

GOD is MORE… as a friend of mine wrote in his book “Saving the Catholic Church”.  More than any real or imagined obstacle that human can impose. More than any barrier we think should exist…

This week as we go about our moment to moment living, where will God be reminding us to love more, to break down those barriers that keep us from loving one another, that keep us from being friends, neighbors, fellow citizens of planet Earth.

How will we include others this week (more than last week or last month or last year). How will we tear down those walls and open those doors that separate us in so many areas of life.

Just maybe the essence of being a follower of Christ is to realize we are chosen and then to chose to spread God’s love without distinction or prejudice or exception.  AMEN and AMEN.

Fifth Sunday of Easter

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily from the 5th Sunday of Easter: CLICK HERE!

The story is told of a mother waking her child up on Sunday morning for Mass:

Mother: Time to get up and get ready for church.
Son:  I don’t what to get up and go to church.
Mother:  Why don’t you want to go to church?
Son: The music is awful, the homilies are boring.
Mother (having had enough says): Nonsense! You have to go to church! You’re 45 years old and besides… you’re the Pastor of the church!

Why are you and I in church today?

First Communion, yes…  To pray…  To receive communion.

And all of this and more is true… But we are here because Jesus wants us to stay connected to Him and to one another.

Every week Jesus stays connected with us as he speaks to us thru the scripture/bible reading.  Each week Jesus shares his life and love with us when we receive Holy Communion: The Body & Blood of Jesus.  Food for our journey of life and journey of faith each day.

How did Jesus say it in the Gospel today, “I am the vine you; you are the branches.”

We are connected and we need to stay connected with Jesus and with one another and being Jesus people, Jesus asks us to bear good fruit, to be good, to do good for others everywhere and with everyone!

Finally, let me make the following suggestion for God’s children, that is all of us… every morning, when we jump out of bed we might say, “Jesus let me bring goodness and bring you to everyone I meet today in my attitude, words and actions. AMEN and AMEN!”

Fourth Sunday of Easter

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily from the Fourth Sunday of Easter (First Communion): CLICK HERE!

The story is told of a mother preparing pancakes for breakfast for her two boys, Jimmy and Johnny.  Before the pancakes could be placed on the breakfast table, the two boys began to argue over who was going to get the first pancake.  The mother, thought that this is a teachable moment, so she said to the boys, ”Now boys, if Jesus was here right now, he would say, ‘Let my brother have the first pancake.’” With that, Johnny said to Jimmy, “Jimmy, you be Jesus today!”.

Well on this First Communion Weekend, on this Sunday often referred to as Good Shepherd Sunday, we are all being reminded that we are all being called by God to be good, to be “Jesus-Like” every day.

And the Eucharist that we share in every week is Jesus himself reminding us, encouraging us, nourishing us, to bring the Jesus we receive in Holy Communion to everyone every day.

You know at the end of Mass, the Priest or Deacon says something like, “the Mass is ended, go in peace.” This is not, “Mass is ended, see you next week or whenever”.  No, this is each of us being sent out to the world we call our home, our school, our workplace, our community, where we can bring a glimpse of Jesus to others in our words and actions of kindness, love, goodness, caring and sharing…etc…

This past week I called a priest friend of mine on his 90th birthday. As we talked, I asked him what is the secret to reaching 90 years of age.

He said, “Good friends…”

And I thought to myself, isn’t that what Jesus… The Good Shepherd asks of us, to be good friends to everyone, every day, just as He does for us every day.

Does anyone remember the call/response statement I shared with everyone about God many, many months ago?  It was, “God is good all the time; all the time God is good!”

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, asks us to be Good Shepherds to everyone ALL the time.

To be good friends, be good “Jesus People” to everyone you and I meet in our words, our attitudes and our actions!

In the mid 70’s I lived with Bishop Maginn.  He had a little poem he used to share that went like this:

Good, better, best
Never let it rest,
Till the good is better
And the better is best.

Let’s keep working with the help of God in the Eucharist to be not only good friends and good Jesus People, but better friends and better Jesus People… and the best friends and best Jesus People Jesus wants us to be every day!

Third Sunday of Easter

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily from the 3rd Sunday of Easter: CLICK HERE!

“And the two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made know to them in the breaking of the bread”.

If we think about it, we interpret most things from a limited point of view. For instance I heard this observation this morning:  When we are driving our car, everybody driving slower than you is an idiot and everybody driving faster than you is a maniac. Interestingly, nobody is driving at the speed you are.

We see in Luke’s Gospel that Jesus transformed his Disciples concern and fear to hope by opening their minds to understanding the Scriptures, not from their perspective, but from His.

And so the Disciples began to re-interpret not only their faith, but their entire way of living.

Consider Jesus’ greeting of peace in today’s gospel.  Easter peace is nothing like our understanding of peace.

We often settle for peace that is merely the absence of conflict, peace that settles for nothing bad happening, peace that is equated with the status quo… but too often fear and tension lie just below the surface for such peace.

True peace is rooted in the gospel of justice and mercy. Christ’s peace is realized when all are respected and honored as brothers and sisters in light of the Risen Christ.

Just maybe respect is exactly what is missing in many of the tensions that we hear about in our world today. Many of the interactions people have with one another.

And talk about an act of respect that I am sure many saw last Sunday at the conclusion of the Master’s Golf Tournament. When the last golfers had left the 18th green, the caddy for Hideki Matsuyama placed the flagstick back into the hole. He then took a step back and reverently bowed in honor and respect for the Augusta Golf Course.

Thomas Merton once wrote regarding peace, “instead of loving what you think is peace, love others and love God above all. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed. But hate these things in yourself, not in another.”

So my friends, may we grow in being witnesses of Christ’s peace in our families and communities, our churches, schools and workplaces and may the work of peace continue as we grow in coming to know the Lord more and more in the scriptures and in the breaking of the bread (Eucharist), as we continue on our way of life and faith.