Tag Archives: Rev. Joseph Cebula

Easter Sunday

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily from Easter Sunday: CLICK HERE! 

One of my favorite “songs” is the Creation Story, from The Book of Genesis that we have heard every Easter Vigil for the past 8 years or so. The Creation Story is a yearly reminder not only of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth, of the birds and animals, and even man and women in his image.

A reminder that creation, new life, hope and so much more, continue today and everyday.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending”.

Wise sayings are like Parables. They take on a life of their own and often evoke new meaning when read again, a new insight we need in that moment.

Easter is our annual celebration and each year we are invited to live it anew.

The Easter Gospel summons the Disciples to Galilee. Galilee is where Jesus began his ministry and where Jesus now invites his Disciples to begin their ministry as well.

As St. Augustine noted, “The Risen Lord makes us EASTER PEOPLE and ALLELUIA is our song.”

The life, death and resurrection of Jesus changed things, maybe better said broke the bonds of sin and death.

The life, death and resurrection of Jesus changes our ending in a profound way.

As Easter People, disciples, missionaries, Christian people… Today we are called to proclaim that Jesus Christ is alive, He is not dead, but has been raised.

As Easter People, disciples, missionaries, Christian people… We now continue to “do small things with great love” (St. Therese).

We pray today that we will rise to the occasions of life to bring Christ to others every day. To bring life and hope and love and so much more…

Maybe Saint Mother Theresa gives us a place to begin, “let us always meet each other with smile, for a smile is the beginning of love”.

Good Friday

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily from The Good Friday Service: CLICK HERE!

When I reflected upon today’s Good Friday Service, the first thing that came to my mind was Jesus saying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

Here is Jesus of Nazareth, looking down from the cross just after he was crucified between two criminals. He sees the soldiers who have mocked, scourged, and tortured him, and who have just nailed him to the cross. He probably remembers those who have sentenced him – Caiaphas and the high priests of the Sanhedrin. Pilate realized it was out of envy that they handed him over.

And maybe Jesus is also thinking of his Apostles and companions who have deserted him; of Peter who has denied him three times; to the fickle crowd who only days before praised him on his entrance to Jerusalem, and then days later demanded his crucifixion?

Maybe Jesus was also thinking of us, who forget him in our lives, from time to time…

But here on the cross, Jesus’s love prevails.  Jesus asks his Father to forgive all of us!

For it is by the very sacrifice of Jesus on the cross that all humanity is able to be forgiven! Forgiveness was a central theme of Jesus.

Jesus teaches us forgiveness in the Our Father, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

When asked by Peter, how many times should we forgive someone, Jesus answers seventy times seven.

And during the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, Jesus tells them to drink of the cup, “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”.

Jesus call to forgive is also a call to love. To love deeply, to love as God loves.

Maybe this Good Friday is another reminder that the love our God calls us to live daily includes being forgiving persons, families and peoples – yesterday, today and tomorrow.

May we, like Jesus, also be able to forgive others spontaneously, sincerely and with deep love!

Palm Sunday

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily for Palm Sunday: CLICK HERE!

It’s Palm Sunday 2021 and of course the first thing that comes to mind on Palm Sunday is PALM…

As we know, for us as Christians, the palm branches are associated with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

And as John’s Gospel shares, “They took palm branches and went out to meet Him.”

Palm branches are a symbol of victory, triumph, peace and eternal life.

Many people have the tradition of bringing palm home, maybe making a cross from the palm or placing the palm behind that cross on the wall in their home.

But maybe there is another step in this tradition throughout the year…  Let this Palm Sunday, let the palm we have at home, be a constant reminder of the gifts of peace and joy and eternal life, that Jesus brought to us and to the world.

Let this Palm Sunday be a reminder of our journey of life and faith that has so many ups and downs but a life when lived in union with Jesus Christ continues to bring: victory, triumph, peace and eternal life.  Yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Fifth Sunday of Lent

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily from the Fifth Sunday of Lent: CLICK HERE! 

In year’s past one of the debates that surfaced was whether golf was a sport, an olympic sport. And about six years ago, golf received the recognition.  It was a sport!

In some ways, we can see golf as a nearly perfect sport. We often think that sports is not only about winning but also about seeing what we have inside ourselves.

In most every sport, I am reacting to someone else.  In golf, if is only me and the ball.  When I play the game, I know what is inside of me.

Well, we might think of Lent as a testing of what is inside of us…

Lent often reminds us just how far we have to go to respond to God’s invitation of love to truly be followers, Disciples of Jesus.

However, today’s reading might be more than how much we have inside ourselves. Just maybe the question is to what extent have we let Christ into ourselves?  To what extent do we let Christ work in us?

What did we hear today from the Prophet Jeremiah?  From now on God will place his law inside our hearts. God will do the work that we have not been able to do. God will give us His faithfulness.

And this came to be in Jesus. Jesus comes into human history. Jesus comes into our community of faith. Jesus comes into our hearts. Jesus takes on the very burdens that have broken us.

It is Jesus, as we hear, in today’s Gospel saying, “When I am lifted up… I will draw all people to myself”.

All people are the ones that God wants to be part of the new and eternal covenant that Jesus fulfills on our behalf.

The truth is, all people, every one of us, are in need of the love and power of God to radiate from inside us.

We all need the New Covenant of Jesus to be written deeply and permanently in our hearts.

What’s inside us? We often look inside and see inadequacies, hesitation, doubts and sin. We often see only ourselves, in our weakness, at work.

Lent teaches  us, reminding us, that our salvation is precisely learning how Jesus is at work in our hearts, more powerfully than any of our own efforts and actions.

As we cooperate with the grace and love of God more and more and more, we will see more clearly the Grace of God, as that which is deepest with us.

 What’s inside us?  What are we made of?

Sports may tell us one thing, but Jesus tells us the most important thing: His place IS inside of us, working mercy and grace.

Third Sunday of Lent

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

“Enough,” she said sadly. This was not working. They had some wonderful times together and he was a nice guy, but it was clear, at least to her, that each wanted different things out of life.  So with tears and a smile on her face, she wished him well and they parted.

Enough, he said with frustration. The project was going nowhere. They were wasting valuable time and resources.  There were too many competing visions and goals and egos.  He decided to cancel the next meeting; instead, he spoke one-on-one with each member of the team.  He reviewed what needed to be done to move forward.  Then he and the team member decided together whether he or she would continue working on the project.  A smaller, more focused and in-sync group then brought the work to completion.

Enough, they said.  It had been a long year, with both Mom and Dad working at home and the kids attending classes online in their rooms.  Living in the same 3,000 square feet of space 24/7 can’t help but lead to impatience, bickering, boredom, and frankly loneliness. So Mom and Dad announced a cleaning day. Every room of the house, yes, including your rooms kids, would be vacuumed, cleaned and dusted. Clothing would be hung up (laundered, if needed), books and games put back where they belong; stuff not needed would be donated or tossed. Everyone worked together cleaning the kitchen and shared family spaces. The day ended with pizza and a movie. Dinner was restored as sacred time, with everyone assigned a role and attendance mandatory.  With a clean and orderly house, the family found that attitudes had gotten a bit more positive.  They started to be a family again.    Just Enough…

My guess is, we all reach the point of enough when we are tired of accepting less than what is possible; when what is right and just eludes us because of selfishness or greed; when we refuse to remain silent any longer for the sake of complacency posing as peace.

Jesus reaches the point of enough in today’s Gospel.

Enough of the commerce and profit that had degraded the Temple. The time had come to restore the Temple as a place of prayer, of welcome, and peace, of charity and kindness.

What Jesus does in cleansing the Temple we must do in our lives.  Enough of the merchants who try to sell us on a set of beliefs and values based on self-interest and greed; Enough of the “money changers” who shortchange us of the time and attention we want for family and friends; Enough of the useless, the meaningless, and the destructive that make our lives less then what God created them to be.

I guess in some ways it is about keeping perspective, keeping God, faith, family, others, caring, love, forgiveness, and responsibility at the forefront of our daily lives, before those other distractions and false gods.

And if I were to ask you on your way out of mass today, what do you remember from today’s Homily? I am sure it would be “Family Cleaning Day” begins when we get home today!

Second Sunday of Lent

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily from the 2nd Sunday of Lent: CLICK HERE! 

Today we hear stories of people changing, people coming to a deeper understanding of God, people taking the next step as a person and person of faith.

In our story about Abraham, one might wonder how could Abraham so willingly sacrifice Isaac?  But the real story has to do with Abraham’s understanding of God.

The Lord appreciated Abraham’s desire to be obedient, but the Lord went on to teach him that instead of sacrifice, that other gods expected, the Lord desires loving relationships.

And even in our Gospel Reading today, we see the disciples begin to understand a bit more who Jesus was and what he was about, namely God’s ultimate messenger, that Jesus was the culmination of everything in their tradition… the God who created out of love, desires only love.

Abraham and the Disciples could not take it all in at once, they needed time to come to understand and to live this new understanding, this new reality… but once they did they became disciples capable of communicating the message of God’s great love more and more.

Several years ago, I was playing a practice round of golf for a tournament I was playing in Myrtle Beach.  I arrived at the golf course and played with 2 other people; we were all 60 years old or more. As it always happens, besides introductions, questions arise like: Where are you from?  Are you working or are you retired?   And, if you answer working the follow up question is: What do you do for a living?

Well, and so it came to pass that I was asked the question “what do you do for a living” and I answered, “I’m a Roman Catholic Priest”.

Usually, that silences the group and the language improves substantially and someone says, “Father the tee is yours…”

Anyways, when we finished the round, I was putting my clubs in my car and one of the men came up to my car to share something with me. Something that changed his understanding of God and his life.

He said, with tears in his eyes, “Father Joe… I always believed that God loves us and I believe that God loves me, but it was only in recent years that I came to better understand, to believe that if I were the only person ever to live, that Jesus Christ loves me, beyond my comprehension.”

What’s our understanding of God?  How has and how will my understanding of God that is exemplified in Jesus expanding as we live our lives daily as person, family and Parish.

As one person has shared, the God who created us continues to Invite us to live as if love were the only thing that matters.