Thursday, June 12, 2008

Father's Day 2007

Last year I celebrated Father's day by preaching at St Michaels. In honor of all fathers I'm posting that homily...Happy Father's Day!!!


Luke 7:36-8:3

Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table.
And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume,
and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.
Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner."
Parable of Two Debtors 40And Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he replied, "Say it, Teacher."
"A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.
"When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?"
Simon answered and said, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more." And He said to him, "You have judged correctly."
Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.
"You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet.
"You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume.
"For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little."
Then He said to her, "Your sins have been forgiven."
Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, "Who is this man who even forgives sins?"
And He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."


I would like to congratulate in a special way all the dads that are present here today, may your day be a blessed and restful one in the company of your families. I have to confess that as a dad, I have asked myself many times: Why do we celebrate Father’s day? Why do we celebrate this day in June? I have always suspected that this holiday was created mostly so Dads do not feel left out, after all Mothers day was just a few weeks ago. You see I’m willing to bet that no Dad was ever consulted about the creation of this date. I know that if it were up to me I would celebrate this day, Super Bowl Sunday. But here we are on the third Sunday of June.
So today I would like to take some time and reflect on the Gospel reading in light of this very special day. The gospel story introduces us to two very different people, a Pharisee and a woman. Each one of them shows different attitude towards Jesus. The Pharisee looks at Jesus and sees just another man, a prophet that has come to honor his house with his presence. The woman on the other hand hears that Jesus is in town and recognizing him as God, the only one with the power to forgive her many sins goes after him and finds him and unlike the Pharisee, throws herself at his feet in gratitude and gives Jesus one of the greatest display of love and devotion ever recorded in Holy Scripture. But the question is: Why do these people react so differently to Jesus presence? Why is this difference so radical? What lesson can we get from this two people? Jesus himself is telling us today : Those who realize God’s power to forgive, those who are willing to show how sorry they are for their sins and how grateful they are for God’s unconditional forgiveness, are capable of great displays of love.
In a day like today this is a very important lesson. You see I believe that a great thing about being a dad and for that mater the great thing about having a dad is that we get a lot of opportunities to practice the incredible power of forgiveness. There is an old country song (and yes, sorry to scandalize our young congregation members but your deacon likes to listen to country music) There is an old song that says that the love of a father is a love without end, Amen. This is what the woman of the Gospel understood when she saw Jesus, this is what the Pharisee missed: A love and a willingness to forgive with no end.
So I restate my question, why do we feel it is important to celebrate days like father’s day and mother’s day? The reason is simple. We all know how much our parents have to put up from us. And we are grateful for the unconditional love they have given us throughout all of our lives.
I think the most important point to remember in a day like today is that the love and the capacity our parents have to forgive, pales completely when compared to God’s infinete capacity to love and forgiveness. After all our parents are not perfect, they are also affected by their own sins, and sometimes… many times, they are also in need of our forgiveness. But God’s love truly IS a love without end, Amen! His is a love that is willing to forgive the worst sinners among us. The only thing we have to do is turn to him and tell him how sorry we are.
We must stop treating God like the Pharisee in the gospel. God is not our equal, he is our father and as our father he to deservers our love and gratitude for everything he has given us, for our health, our community and our country.
You see one not so glamorous parts of being a dad is that if you do your job well, you become the 24 hours on call service desk for your children, every time there is a problem just call dad and he will fix it. DO we treat God like this to? Do we only call on him when there is a problem we can not handle or when there is something broken in our lives that we do not how to fix?
I believe that today is a perfect day to follow Jesus advice, today is a perfect day to recognize God for whom he really is, the only one that can truly forgive all of our sins, today it is a perfect day to tell God how sorry we are for not living up to what is expected from His children, and it is a perfect day to commit ourselves to go to our homes, schools and communities and show our gratitude to our Father in heaven with great displays of love.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Missing Sunday Mass

The beginning of summer is a good time to review what the Church teaches with regards to our Sunday obligation. Simply put missing Sunday mass is a grave matter for us Catholics. It is an act that goes in direct violation of the third commandment and hence a serious or mortal sin. If we do not have a “good reason” why we did not fulfill this obligation, we can not approach the sacraments until we have received absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
With this said, what are “good reasons” to miss mass? Well… the best way to look at this is to think about our intensions. Did we intend to attend mass? Was there any cause outside of our control that prevented us from fulfilling this obligation? Good examples of these are: lack of transportation, sick child, family emergency, un-avoidable work schedule, been in a place with no mass available. There are much more but…you get the idea.
A question many people ask is: What do I do when I'm on vacation? While we are obligated to go to mass every Sundays of our vacations, the Church does not expect you to do heroic deeds to get to mass. For example, the church does not expect you to rent a helicopter to fly a 100 miles to the closest Sunday mass.
I tell people to do this: First, go to, this is a great web site with mass times from all over the world. Second, find a Church that is within a reasonable distance from were you are going to be. Third, schedule a time Sunday morning for mass, but be flexible. Most of the times, vacation schedules are very fluid; to be in the safe side go to your pastor and explain that you intend to go to mass but there is a chance you might not be able to do it. Ask him for a "dispensation from your Sunday obligation". This will allow you to miss mass in the event your vacation schedule changes. Happy travels and God blessings!

Tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Mt 9:9-13As Jesus passed on from there,he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post.He said to him, “Follow me.”And he got up and followed him.While he was at table in his house,many tax collectors and sinners cameand sat with Jesus and his disciples.The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples,“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”He heard this and said,“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.Go and learn the meaning of the words,‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”


Well… The Holydays are over! … you might be wandering what I’m talking about. Christmas was 6 months ago, but if you have been attentive, for the last few months it seemed that almost every weekend we were celebrating a different feast. Since the end of Lent we had: Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday, Ascension Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christy and just last weekend, on we celebrated the Feast of the Visitation the Feast of the Sacred Heart!
Now, each one of these celebrations is important to us because they bring our attention to special aspects of God’s immeasurable love, however for the next few months every Sunday is what we call a Sunday of ordinary time. If there are no special celebrations during these Sundays, how are we supposed to experience God during this time? Well, during ordinary time we are called to experience God in the ordinary aspects of our lives.
Now I do not want to give the impression that ordinary time Sundays are less important than feast Sundays. Let me make this very clear: as Catholics we believe that every Sunday is a very important day, because Sundays is the day in which we gather as a family to celebrate the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to offer this in reparations for our sins, and that is a huge deal!
But I would like to propose that Ordinary Time Sundays are perhaps even more significant than a Sunday feast. Why? Because like Father Mike likes to point out “Ordinary time is for ordinary people”. It is a time for people like you and me, and if you think about in the ordinary times of our life’s is when we are more ourselves, and these are the times in which God can get closer to us.
Take Today’s Gospel for example. What can be more ordinary than today’s reading? Jesus goes to the place where Mathew the tax collector is working, the Roman Internal Revenue Service, and tells Mathew to follow Him. In response Mathew takes Jesus to his house, to have dinner with him and what seems to me are many of Mathew's friends: other tax collectors and your average run of the mill sinner. Now what can be more ordinary than this? No great healing or walking in water, just a chance encounter at the IRS office and then just “chilling” at Mathew’s home, with some of his bodies having something to eat. And yet, Jesus uses this simple scene to teach us a very important lesson. Jesus the Christ, the son of the Living God, second person of the Most Holy Trinity, did not come to call the righteous and the saints to Himself, he came for the sinners, for people like Mathew the tax collector, and all of his sinner friends, and he is willing to meet them where they are most themselves, in the middle of their ordinary lives.

Now…We come to church every Sunday looking to encounter Jesus in the Eucharist. For some of us this is the one hour in our week in which we approach God. Within these walls we are in our best behavior, some of us even make a point to wear our “Sunday’s best”, because we recognize how important and special this time is. When we are here at least for an hour each week, we are all saints, right? So… What happens when we return to our ordinary lives? Do we leave Jesus behind? Do we say “Goodbye Lord See you next week?”
Every year ordinary time coincides with the summer, a time to relax, to be ourselves. A time to visit friends and families, go on vacation, or just stay home hanging out with friends. Is a time to take a break from school and work and just… You know…”chill”.
It is a perfect time for us to meet Jesus in the ordinary events of our lives. The sad reality is that some Catholics not only say ‘See you next week Lord, but “see you in a couple of weeks Lord” because it is too much trouble to find a Catholic Church near the beach or at the cabin or wherever it is we are going on vacation. Or even worst “See you in the fall because we are taking a break from Church this summer” My brothers and sisters let me make this very clear now, unless we have a good reason to miss Sunday mass, like a sick child or been in a place were there is not easy way to get to a Catholic Church, missing Sunday mass is a very serious sin, a mortal sin that can only be forgiven in the sacrament of reconciliation
This is why Sunday’s should be a sacred day for all of us regardless of where we are, but Jesus does not want to meet with us just on Sundays, he wants to go with us to the places where we are ordinary, to our homes, to our jobs and even come along in our vacations! He is willing to meet us wherever we are, He wants to sit with us at lunch in the cafeteria, He wants to work with us in the garden, He wants to hang around the pool with us, go to the movies with us and take that long road trip along with our families. He wants to go to the places in which we are ordinary because these are the places in which we are who we really are, sinners, people in need of redemption.
Let me tell you a secret my brothers and sisters, when we are willing to invite Jesus to the places in which we are ourselves, ordinary times become extraordinary.
Let us ask our Lord to give us strength to fulfill our Sunday’s obligations wherever we go this summer and to bless those simple moments in our lives in which, if we let him, He will come to us not as a judge but as a friend and healer. Amen!