Blog Archives - St. Boniface Catholic Church - Evansville, IL

Homily for Nov. 28

11/29/2010

 
First Sunday in Advent A 2010

Today’s second reading and today’s Gospel use a similar image but in different ways.  The second reading says, “It is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.”  The Gospel says, “Therefore, stay awake!”  So which is it, are we asleep or awake?

How do you wake up?  Some people need an alarm clock to wake up while others internalize an alarm clock and wake up at the proper time.  Parents of teenagers report extreme difficulty waking up their children.  Websites give advice to parents from throwing ice water on their child, to turning up the stereo, to scheduling a shower time, which if missed, assures them of cold water.  Waking up just isn’t a problem for teenagers.  More and more adults are addicted to the snooze button on their alarm clocks.  It begins with an innocent excuse, “I stayed up last night working on this report or cleaning the house, I deserve just nine more minutes this morning.”  So you hit the snooze button once.  After a while, hitting the snooze becomes more and more frequent.  Now you find yourself addicted to that little button, hitting it five, six, seven, or more times before you get out of bed.  Waking up sometimes is difficult and we need help.  We need a parent to throw water on us or a spouse to motivate us not to hit that snooze button.  In short, waking up may be something we don’t accomplish on our own.

The same is true for staying awake.  Maybe you have been driving for a long time on vacation and you are tired, you ask your spouse to help you stay awake so you arrive at the destination safely.  Maybe you are in class and afraid to fall asleep so you ask your friend to tap you on occasion to keep you awake.  Perhaps you were out all night and father’s homily is a little dull so your pew-mate gives you a nudge to keep you from snoring and embarrassing yourself.  Staying awake and waking up are not things we can always do on our own.  We need other people to help us on our journey.



A few weeks ago, I had lunch with my former pastor and a couple of old parishioners.  As we arrived at the destination, the priest noticed a sign saying a security company protects the property.  Fr. Pat took one look at the sign and said that company is worthless.  He said, “That company couldn’t even secure a doghouse.”  It is easier to keep watch when we don’t have to stay up all night on our own but we have others who watch with us.  If we all attempt to keep awake at once, everyone will be asleep when the thief comes.  Instead, we need to rely on others to wake us up when we are sleeping and to wake others when they are asleep.  May this Eucharist strengthen us on our journey.


Homily for Nov 21

11/22/2010

 

Feast of Christ the King C 2010

 

It is said that the images we derive of God as small children carry through for the rest of our lives.  As a child, I would go out to my great aunt and uncle’s farm every Sunday with my grandparents.  We would have a delicious meal, the adults would speak afterwards, and I would often go and play.  One day I discovered an old Catholic missal and there were many pictures inside that I did not understand.  There was a picture of a bleeding lamb, a picture of the Trinity, a picture of Jesus carrying the cross, a picture of Jesus with his disciples.  One picture intrigued me above the others and it was a picture of Jesus seated on a throne while wearing a crown.  I now know it was a picture of today’s feast but my own understanding of the feast changed over the years. 

 

As a child, I thought how neat it would to be a king like Jesus.  After all, he is sitting on his throne and looking down at all the earth.  Later in life, I realized his kingship was not as pretty as portrayed in the picture.  The kingship of Jesus was nothing glorious.  He did not live in a castle, wear fine robes, or eat delicious foods.  He was a king in service of the Father and the poor, lonely, and sick.  Whereas other kings sought out their own interests, Jesus was God for us by humbling himself and becoming subject to death itself.

 

Imagine what the criminal from today’s Gospel might say to us about Christ the King.

I never listened to Jesus proclaim the Gospel or saw him heal or forgive sins.  I was a robber assailing others while Jesus built up his kingdom.  Of course, I heard of Jesus; everyone did, but I never thought his message had anything for me.  It is not that I was opposed to it; I just did not recognize its importance for me.  Eventually, I was apprehended; being a long-time thief, the prosecutors sought to execute me.  I was sentenced to death. 

 

I was nailed on a cross at Golgotha, and I saw Jesus and another man nailed too.  The inscription over Jesus’ cross read King of the Jews.  Now Jesus had done nothing criminal.  Unlike other men, I saw something authentic about him.  He was not preaching himself but preaching God being active in the world.  I grew angry with the crowd reviling Jesus.  These are pretentious people and  even now Jesus is at peace in spite of the pain.  As I looked at the inscription I thought  about who Jesus was.  If he worked all of these miracles, surely he could do something about his current situation.  Why not?  As I thought of it, I recognized he had absolute trust in his Father.  If he has this much trust, surely the Father will hear his plea.  A father must listen to his beloved son. 

 

At this time the other criminal started reviling him.  I do not see Jesus claiming any authority; I see Jesus in prayer with his Father.  I cry out recognizing Jesus, please remember me.  I know who you are.  Remember me when you come into your kingdom.  Jesus looks at me and promises me that I will be with him.  I am at peace because his Father is my Father too.  Jesus is a king but no one else recognizes it.  Behind all the bruises, the crown of thorns, the nails, the dirt, and the blood is the King of Kings welcoming all those who accept him.

 

Christ’s throne was the cross.  His crown was made of thorns.  Still to this day people do not recognize Christ is King.  How can Christ be king of my life in the midst of its brokenness and sins?  How can Christ be King when evil seems to defeat good?  During the life of Christ, he identified himself with the poor, and the suffering.  How on earth can the King of Kings be recognized in the smelly, hungry, schizophrenic street person we encounter while shopping for Christmas?  And yet, if you take my example, I was able to recognize Christ was King on an instrument of death.  So why do we struggle to recognize Christ as King elsewhere?

 
Thirty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time C 2010

The early people of Israel believed God’s justice would manifest itself in this world.  The righteous would receive blessings and the wicked would experience punishment here and now.  Later, they noticed that many good people undergo terrible sufferings.  For instance, today’s first reading shows how many Jews suffered under the Greeks who wanted them to abandon the covenant.  God’s chosen people wondered how these horrible things could go unpunished.  If God is just and promises blessings, why do these terrible things happen to us?  People realized life does not merely cease upon death.  The resurrection of the body sprung from these seeds of thought.

Today’s Gospel has Jesus debating with the Sadducees over the resurrection of the dead.  Reading from the Old Testament, Jesus draws a powerful conclusion.  God does not say, “I was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”; rather, they are still alive before him.  Since they were joined to God through the covenant, death cannot destroy the union the covenant promises.

Jesus does not merely promise a shadowy existence of the soul upon our death or even the immortality of the soul.  Instead, Jesus promises us a physical bodily resurrection from the dead.  It means that these very bodies will be raised from the dead and transformed to share in God’s very glory.  We glorify God in these very bodies.

My deceased grandpa loved to smoke his cigarettes.  One day as I was telling him that smoking is bad for his health, he told me it was merely incense for his body.  Now, I disagree with that interpretation though I do love incense.  The resurrection of the dead does promise us that our bodies are sacred.

Recently a large controversy broke in news about yoga being anti-Christian.  The person condemning yoga objects to "the idea that the body is a vehicle for reaching consciousness with the divine."  Whether we agree or disagree that yoga could be Christianized, this individual fails to recognize the sacredness of our body.  We do not only approach God in word but also sacrament.  As Catholics, we emphasize the physical presence of redemption.  We receive the sacraments because our body is a vehicle for approaching God.  We can’t approach God any other way because we are physical beings.  To say otherwise makes us angels or another spiritual being and this fails to recognize the gift of our bodies. 

At this Eucharist, we approach our God in our mortal bodies and ask for him to touch us by the gifts of his Body and Blood.