Tag Archives: Reverend Joseph S. Cebula

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time: CLICK HERE!

What is prayer?  Talking with our friend, listening to our friend: God.

Somewhere along our journey of life, we learned that there are various types of prayer: thanksgiving, petition, intercessory, praise, adoration, contrition… just to name a few.

As we hear in the Gospel, we are all called to pray.  The Disciples even went so far to ask Jesus how he prayed, and his response was a “Prayer of Petitions” we call the Our Father.

There is no doubt that prayer can be personal but Jesus also reminds us that prayer at its best is COMMUNAL.

How often do we hear about people coming together to pray for any number of reasons? After a tragedy, to celebrate a blessing, to pray for others in need, to pray before and after a sports event, prayer for a meal…

And as Jesus reminds us in the Gospel today, our prayer is not meant to be only be me centered, our prayer is meant to bring us to actively care for others.

As we pray today and every day, may our prayers be more than something we say; rather be a genuine expression of faith, hope and love – daily.

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

To watch Fr. Joe’s Homily for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time: CLICK HERE!

Today’s Gospel shares with us the appointment of 72 people by Jesus to GO OUT and proclaim the Kingdom of God to all the nations.  72 is equal to the number of nations at the time of Jesus.

Jesus did not give them a Catechism to teach from.  Jesus asked that they share his word/his words with others through their LIVES, as well as their words.

Put another way, “Preach the Gospel at all times and if necessary use words.”  A quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.

So today and tomorrow, may our lives speak the words of Jesus the Savior of the World to the people we associate daily.  Lives that speak loudly about our faith, hope and love; love for God, love of others, our forgiveness of others, life and eternal life, comfort and care and healing,  sharing from even the little we have, welcoming, etc…

Every weekend, Jesus our Savior and friend, sends us out in the world to “bring Good News” to someone, to others, to the world…

Imagine what can really happen, as we continue to live as Jesus asks of you and me and us in the days ahead.


Finally, I feel I need to end my homily with an apology of sorts.  Most know that on some occasions, I have mentioned the driving challenges on the Northway…

Well, I had an the occasion to be a passenger to and from Long Island from Kingston, N.Y.  As I said to the driver, I was appreciative I was not driving – I would have turned around a long time ago.  The driving illustrated by many was at a level of aggression, I have never experienced.  And hope it stays that way.

So, Northway Divers, your driving techniques may not be the best at times, but it is certainly not the worse.

But to all drivers, I would suggest:

Drive Carefully … Drive Defensively … Drive Sober … No Texting

Get to where you are going safely, even it takes a bit more time!

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time: CLICK HERE! 

The Scriptures we hear every week are sometimes a bit difficult to understand, let alone live in our present age… Take the first reading today from the Book of Kings.  Elijah sets out to inform Elisha that he is to succeed him as Prophet.  But, as we can obviously discern, this is a life changing moment for Elisha, as is evident in what he does.  Elisha slaughters his 12 yoke of oxen (that is 24 oxen) and uses his plowing equipment to make a fire, then boils the oxen and gives the cooked oxen to the people.

Put another way, this could be compared to a master mechanic melting down all his tools, thus abandoning one’s current means of livelihood in order to following a whole new calling.

One might think or even say, well that is asking a bit much, don’t you think?  Giving up everything to begin a new life, a new occupation?  Well is it?

Every day and for thousands of years, people have made changes in their lives that meant they had to:

  • Do things differently
  • Change their way of living
  • Change their way of thinking
  • Have a different routine or schedule
  • Make room in their lives for another or others
  • Make sacrifices

AND they have and continue to respond daily!

They have done it and continue to do so for their family, their children, fellow human beings…  For justice, for equality, for the environment…

The Scriptures also remind us that as baptized persons we too are being asked daily to really live our faith, not just say I am Catholic or Religious or Spiritual.

We hear and read about and watch stories of athletes and entertainers whose enormous efforts, dedication, and sacrifice led to a rare level of achievement.  And, we applaud such stories, as we should.  We admire those who succeed and the coaches and mentors, and others who supported and inspired their efforts.

The same needs to be happening with our efforts of faith, with the living of our faith; our Baptismal Promises…

Some thoughts to consider that can hopefully point us to actions is:

  • How is my life, as a person of faith, witnessing to love of God and others and faithfulness as a present day Disciple of Jesus in my every day relationships.  How might we do better?
  • How is my life not only one that teaches others, but a life that continues to learn about many things, including my faith.  There is so much we do not know or forgot, that we can learn and share with others, especially our children.
  • How is everyday life calling me to love, to care, to forgive, to share, to live… to WITNESS to our Baptismal Promises to love God, love others, and be Faithful Disciples.  Efforts, dedication and sacrifices that make all the difference today and forever.

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily from The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ: CLICK HERE!

We often refer to the Mass as the Eucharist.  The Mass, as we know has two parts: Word and Sacrament; Scriptures and Eucharist!

As Catholics we believe that every time we receive the Eucharist, Holy Communion, we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

The Eucharist is, if you will, FOOD for the journey of life and faith.

Today’s reading of the feeding of the 5,000 men, points us to the Eucharist.  Just as Jesus fed the people, took care of the people in his “midst” that day in Galilee, the Eucharist we receive today, and every day, is an ongoing reminder that Jesus continues to care for his people today.  But the Eucharist we share in every week, is also meant to remind us that, like Jesus, we who participate receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ – are now asked to go forth, to spread the Good News of Jesus and to care for one another.

Put another way, we who receive the Body of Christ, are called to care for the Body of Christ where ever we find ourselves in our daily lives.

In a phrase, “We bring Christ to others wherever we go.”

It happened some years ago at the Seattle Special Olympics.  Nine runners – all physically or mentally challenged, assembled at the starting line for the 100 yard dash.  At the signal they all took off running to win!  All, that is, but one boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over and began to cry.  Hearing his cries the other eight runners all turned around and ran back to the boy.  One girl with Down’s Syndrome bent down and kissed him saying, “This will make it better.”  Then all nine runners linked arms and together passed the finish line.  Everyone in the stadium stood and cheered for the winners…all nine of them!

May we continue to bring Christ to others wherever we go.

Pentecost Sunday

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

“Well, Chippie doesn’t sing anymore.”

Let me give you the back story, to this quote:

One day a woman in Galveston, Texas was cleaning the bottom of the cage of her parrot, Chippie, with the canister vacuum cleaner.  She was not using an attachment on the tube. When the phone rang, she turned her head to pick it up, continuing to vacuum the cage as she said, hello into the phone.  Then she heard the horrible noise of Chippie being sucked into the vacuum.  Immediately she put the phone down, ripped open the vacuum bag, and found Chippie in there, stunned but still alive.  Since the bird was covered with dust and dirt, she grabbed Chippie, ran into the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and held the bird under the water to clean it off.  When she finished that, she saw the hair dryer on the bathroom sink; turned it on and held the bird in front of the blast of hot air to dry him off.

A few weeks later a reporter from the newspaper that originally published the story went out to the house to ask the woman, “How’s Chippie doing now?”  She said, “He just sort of sits and stares.”

Today’s Gospel tells us that this is what happened to the Apostles.  They were traumatized by the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus and bewildered by his post-resurrection appearances and his command to prepare for the coming of his Holy Spirit.

I would guess that many of us can identify with Chippie and the Apostles.  Life has sucked us up, thrown cold water on us, and blown us away.  And somewhere in the trauma, “we have lost our song.”

Pentecost is not just something that happened 2,000 years ago;

Rather, Pentecost – the Gift of the Spirit – is happening in our lives and world today and today reminds us that the Holy Spirit moves us recipients of the Gifts of the Spirit to action and is meant to inspire us to share this gift with others.

We sang in the Responsorial Psalm today:  “Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the Earth.”

How can we, how will we bring the song of life in today’s world?

  • Spirit filled people are praying people.
  • Spirit filled people allow the Spirit to guide their lives through Word (Scriptures) and Sacrament (Eucharist)
  • Spirit filled people pass on the love of God to people living around them by acts of kindness, mercy and charity.

Let me end with an act of kindness, I witnessed this week while at dinner with a family of 4 (all adults) as we celebrated the birthday of the patriarch.  One of the adult daughters (a 20 something) over heard the waitress speaking with a person at the table next to ours. Seems he was to meet someone for dinner (it was his birthday also) and they did not show up.  So what this adult child did was leave the table and paid the waitress for the man’s dinner bill.

I thought to myself, here is goodness, kindness… the HOLY SPIRIT at work.  Here is the Gospel being proclaimed in the real world.

Today is a great day to ask the Holy Spirit to re-kindle or stir up in us the spirit of new life and enthusiasm of faith and in the process be reminded that renewal of the face of the Earth, includes each of us doing our part in living the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit received at our Baptism and Confirmation…

This week, look for the Spirit at work in the world around you and seize the moments and opportunities to share the faith in word and deeds with others.

Seventh Sunday of Easter

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily for the 7th Sunday of Easter: CLICK HERE!

This summer marks the 50th Anniversary of just maybe the greatest scientific accomplishment in history.  At 9:30 pm Houston time on July 20, 1969, Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the surface of the moon.

When President John F. Kennedy took office in 1961, America was experimenting with rocketry and space exploration.  With the Russians having already launched Sputnik in 1957; space exploration took on a new urgency.

In a speech to Congress, President Kennedy said, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.”

Despite this ambitious goal, nothing existed to stop them from realizing the dream.  But what Kennedy did was marshall the resources and talent from the civilian, military, corporate, and educational sectors to leapfrog the Russians and take the lead in the space race.

For Kennedy, going to the moon was more than being better than the Russians.

Kennedy saw the American Space Program as the noblest illustration of the American pioneer spirit.  A journey that would not only open new frontiers but bring new technologies in: communications, medicine and transportation, among other things.  We can thank Project Apollo for our cell phones, cordless appliances, radial tires and the laser technology that makes many surgical procedures possible.   (Oh, and of course – Tang)

Said President Kennedy, “we choose to go to the moon and do other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because the goal will serve to organize and measure our best energies and skills; because the challenge is one that we are willing to accept, and we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”

In his brief Presidency of 1,037 days, President Kennedy articulated a vision of America’s great space adventure that harnessed the imagination and talents of our nation as never before.

The night before his death, at supper with his Disciples, Jesus articulated a similar vision:

  • A Church brought together to realize the vision of the Kingdom of God hear on Earth, as it is in Heaven.
  • A vision centered in the conviction that, in God, we belong to another…
  • A vision that lifts up and honors the gifts and the talents, that each one of us bring to the table.

In the “High Priestly Prayer” of Jesus we hear in today’s Gospel, Jesus prays for us…

He prays that the extraordinary love that binds the Father to the Son, will bind us to one another and in the process we will realize God’s vision that can transform our world with extra ordinary peace and the mercy of God that knows no limits.

As Neil Armstrong said as he stepped on the moon 50 years ago, “one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind…”

May the small steps we take daily in living our faith individually and cooperatively, lead to giant leaps for proclaiming the Gospel to Jesus Christ today and in the days and decade ahead…

Feast of the Ascension

On this Feast of the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven we are reminded that having completed his mission on Earth Jesus commissions his Disciples of yesterday and today to continue to witness to His life, death and resurrection through the lives we live daily with all.

There is no question that God wanted and wants the best for all people (past, present and future) a desire exemplified in Jesus.

Jesus changed the lives of people for the better some 2,000 years ago, as many other disciples have done of the past 2,000 years.

There is no doubt that we live in challenging times…  Yet working for a better world is possible…

Says Father James Keller, the founder of The Christophers, “Our world will change for the better when there are more people who get into the thick of things and fewer who sit on the sidelines finding fault;  when there are more people who point out what is right and fewer who harp on what is wrong;  when there are more people interested in lighting candles and fewer in blowing them out.”

It almost sounds like Jesus in the Gospel today who says to his Disciples, “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature…”

There is no one way to do this.  But simply put it might just mean bring the goodness, the love, the mercy of God and so much more not only by the words we use, but by the lives we live daily to an always watchful, waiting and appreciative people.

Sixth Sunday of Easter

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

Today’s First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles gives us another glimpse of the early Church.  And what we see is the Early Church and its leaders were not always on the same page.  But, there was something they did agree on: when issues arose, they not only needed to talk about it, they needed to discern where the Holy Spirit was directing or pointing the Church.

And one might ask today; where is the Holy Spirit directing our Church?

Not just a good question, but a great question.

This past week, local news carried a news item put forth by a New York City Law Firm about the Diocese of Albany and sexual abuse by Clergy.  Most of the information was old news from the past and some of the information shared was inaccurate.

But what such news items do for me is remind me, and maybe all of us of something that is horrible, horrendous to say the least.  And in light of new Legislation here in New York State, it seems we may be hearing and reading more about this in the coming months…

Then on Friday, I received an advance copy of a book that maybe sums up the feelings of many, entitled “Letter to a Suffering Church: A Bishop speaks on the Sexual Abuse Crisis” by Bishop Robert Barron.

Initially, I was not going to refer to the sexual abuse crisis, but we cannot bury our head in the sand, because the the Church is suffering in many ways.

So what’s to be done?  By me, by us, by others, by the Church?

Maybe our First Reading today gives us at least a first step:  turn to God.  Pray, asking God to allow us to discern the direction of the Holy Spirit for the Church of today and tomorrow.

I think sometimes our first response to this problem, or this challenge, is personal – this is what I would say or do.  Yet what is often missing are the facts which need to be part of the conversation.  But also not to be forgotten is the question, where is the Holy Spirit in this effort or conversation?  Where is the Holy Spirit guiding not only me but where is the Holy Spirit leading the Church?

As we heard in the Gospel today, Jesus reminds his Disciples (of 2,000 years ago and today) “…the advocate, the Holy Spirit… will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have told you… Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid… Peace I leave with you, peace I give to you.”

Individuals, groups of people, the Church… maybe even ourselves are suffering…  But there is hope, peace is possible…

In these days ahead, may we prayerfully and thoughtfully seek the Spirit of God to guide us, His disciples, and to guide the Church of Jesus Christ (note that I did not say my church or our church, but the Church of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior).

In the end, we are not Catholics because our leaders are flawless, but because we find Catholicism both compelling and beautiful.  We believe that it is Jesus who is our way, truth and life.

Fourth Sunday of Easter

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

In our First Reading today from the Acts of the Apostles we heard Paul and Barnabus, who spoke to the people urging them to REMAIN FAITHFUL to the GRACE of GOD.  And even today this exhortation is appropriate and timely to remain faithful to the grace of God.

It is easy to point a finger – literally or figuratively – about how this person or that person or those people are not being faithful to the grace of God…  And for sure, you and I, can give example after example of the lack of faithfulness to God by many people, and maybe even ourselves…

But maybe something that may underline this lack of faithfulness to the grace of God may be the lack of hearing the voice of The Shepherd: Jesus Christ our Lord, and Savior, and Brother…

The truth is, it is a challenge to hear the voice of The Shepherd.  Other voices seem to be all around us, voices that are: louder, more attractive, more convenient, less challenging, easier, less responsibility…

Yet today, the Scriptures are reminding us not only to be faithful to the grace of God, but to be attentive, be open to the voice of God in our lives.

It goes without saying that God can speak to us at any moment, in any situation or place.

  • Be it in our car…
  • Be it a quite moment…
  • Be it in some situation or conversation of life…
  • Be it in those moments of prayer, of silence…
  • Be it here at Mass…

How attentive, how receptive are we to the voice of God spoken not just to others but to each of us as person, family and Parish?

I would suggest what might be one of the biggest reasons we seemingly have a deaf ear to the voice of God in our lives is we may have to change, we may have to get involved…  And you know what?  We don’t want to…

The Scriptures this weekend are a reminder that as we grow in begin attentive to the voice of the Lord, who is our Shepherd, we will grow in awareness of a God who cares for us, who wants the best for us, who wishes to lead us to verdant pasture.

The Lord is our Shepherd who continues to call us to that which is greater than our expectations… May our prayers and singing that “The Lord is my Shepherd” become more and more evident in the lives we live today and tomorrow as person, family and Parish…