September 2nd, 2018 …Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time


Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem
gathered around Jesus,
they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals
with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands.
—For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews,
do not eat without carefully washing their hands,
keeping the tradition of the elders.
And on coming from the marketplace
they do not eat without purifying themselves.
And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed,
the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds. —
So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him,
“Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders
but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?”
He responded,
“Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written:
This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines human precepts.

You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”

He summoned the crowd again and said to them,
“Hear me, all of you, and understand.
Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person;
but the things that come out from within are what defile.

“From within people, from their hearts,
come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile.”


At home we have a family room. It was designed and laid out to accommodate all six of us comfortably. We have an extra-long couch and a big screen TV and it’s a nice place to gather as a family or to relax alone. However, during the summer when all the kids are at home it can easily turn into a battle zone when one of my kids wants to play video games and the other wants to binge watch Netflix. Either way it is a much-used space in our home. Sometimes used too much. This week I wanted to sit in front of the TV to take in a Giants game, but when I walked in the family room ready to enjoy some down time, I saw that the room was a disaster. One of my many little quirks is that I can’t sit and relax in a messy room. If the room is in a state of disarray, I get antsy and just can’t seem to unwind. So, I summoned my all four of my kids into the room and asked them to clean up the mess.

Now, if it were a few misplaced items, I’d have just done it myself, but the kids and their friends really out did themselves this time. There were the remnants of a burrito, partially full soda cans, glasses, game controllers, sleeping bags and blankets, Dominic’s socks which the dog usually eats, and wrappers from a variety of snacks. You get the picture. So, amidst all this mess, I asked the kids to simply and quietly clean everything up. Immediately, my kids broke out into a chaotic chorus of accusations and finger pointing. One would say, “You were the last to use it.” And the other would respond,” Yeah, but you took it out.” Another would say, “You said you were going to put it back.” while the other would respond, “No I didn’t.” All the while, the volume of their discord grew, and the mess was not getting cleaned up. I just wanted to watch a Giants game.

I share this with you this morning because on a greater scale all of us gathered here are witnessing the same type of discord as it pertains to our greater Catholic community. Since the news broke out about the reprehensible actions of clergy in Pennsylvania, a cacophony of voices has swelled to a deafening pitch. Accusations and innuendos are being hurled back and forth in a clamorous battle whose only intention is to further agendas and to create division. A whole lot of nasty bickering is going on with absolutely nothing getting done. And here we are just a bunch of regular Catholics who want to grow closer to God.

In today’s Gospel passage we see the same type of disingenuous activity. The Pharisees see that Jesus’ disciples don’t commit themselves to the same types of rituals that were common to Jews at the time. So, they question Jesus. Although their questions aren’t asked out of curiosity but rather as a way of incriminating Jesus. Jesus sees right through their little charade and rebukes them, calling the Pharisees hypocrites.

Similarly, in recent weeks a flurry of letters and news reports from both in and outside of our church, have emerged that are causing wide spread devastation and pain. Wounds that have barely begun to heal are being thrust open once again. This church, our church, is supposed to stand for love, peace, forgiveness, charity and healing, today finds itself mired in the worst kind of controversy. The actions committed by some clergy were just plain evil. And honestly, it is just that each perpetrator of these horrific crimes has their name made public. What these guys did was just plain wrong. But the issue I’m having is the church’s response to all of this. Instead of establishing an environment of healing it seems that some would rather promote a dialog of discord, dissention and division. How can this possibly help us?

Now, Catholic means universal. Clearly this implies a sense of unity and togetherness. The church is supposed to be the mystical body of Christ here and now. This is to say if Christ was moving around our city today, he’d most certainly alleviate the suffering of the poor and the sick and the marginalized. He’d promote love as a way to experience a oneness with God.

Now at home when all the kids were engaged in their hurling of accusations and their dodging of responsibility, I simply put my foot down and exercised my right of parental mandate. I told the kids to be quiet and clean up the mess. They did, albeit reluctantly and I got to watch the Giants game.

If only the issues with the church could be dealt with so swiftly. But the reality is that what is plaguing us right now is infinitely more complicated as there have been so many folks who have been hurt immeasurably. I truly wish I had the answer to fix this problem. And after reading a multitude of letters from bishops and others I’m not sure these guys know what to do either.

I can only tell you what I am doing amidst all my frustrations and at times anger. I pray. When I see folks who are hungry, I try to give them food. When I encounter people who are seeking Christ, I share with them how Christ has forever changed my life. When I experience pain because of other’s actions or words, I try to let compassion move me to forgiveness. I try to encourage and support people whenever I can. I try to love as Christ loves us. And ultimately, that is what each of us here are called to do. That’s the beauty of our Eucharistic celebration today. We take the same love we receive and experience from Jesus and pass it on to all who we encounter.


April 1st, 2018 … Easter Sunday


Mark 16:1-7

When the sabbath was over,
Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome
bought spices so that they might go and anoint him.
Very early when the sun had risen,
on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb.
They were saying to one another,
“Who will roll back the stone for us
from the entrance to the tomb?”
When they looked up,
they saw that the stone had been rolled back;
it was very large.
On entering the tomb they saw a young man
sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe,
and they were utterly amazed.
He said to them, “Do not be amazed!
You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified.
He has been raised; he is not here.
Behold the place where they laid him.
But go and tell his disciples and Peter,
‘He is going before you to Galilee;
there you will see him, as he told you'”.


This Easter has taken on a different tone than in years past. A few weeks ago, my mother in law passed away. The story of Easter has death playing a leading role. Each mention of dying poked at wounds in me that have not yet begun to heal. The passing of my mother in law was still too fresh to ponder any death and not think of her. It wasn’t until Holy Thursday that I realized that my recent loss was very much intertwined with our Triduum traditions here at the parish. After communion on Holy Thursday, the acolytes stripped the alter. The candles, altar cloth, corporal, even the flowers were removed. All that remained was the bare wooden frame of the altar. This is such a beautiful church and so much care is taken by so many people to keeping it looking this way. And when the altar gets stripped, we are only left with the absence of something that was once so perfect and reverential. As the movement ceased and the acolytes completed their task, moving everything away, I found myself longing for the altar to return to a state which was more familiar to me. The altar is the focal point of the sanctuary and I wanted it back the way it was. I guess deep down inside, what I was really feeling was the loss of my mother in law, Diane’s mom, our kids’ grandmother. She was gone. She was a big part of our lives and I wanted to have her back.

Up here on the altar, I thought of the apostles. On Holy Thursday we recall the last supper, the agony in the garden, and Jesus being taken away. The absence, the feeling of loss that I felt was also felt by the apostles. They had been with Jesus for three years. They witness marvels at the hand of Jesus. Not just the miracles but the insights they received about God and his kingdom. There is no doubt that they grew to rely on Christ’s presence. Then on Holy Thursday, outside the garden of gethsemane, Jesus is stripped from their lives. They now find themselves lamenting his absence.  They were alone. In this uncertainty, fear must have entered their hearts.

But then Sunday comes along. The Easter miracle begins with Jesus’s mother, Mary Magdalene and the other women bringing spices to anoint Jesus Christ’s body. When they get to the tomb, they see the stone which covered the entrance rolled away and the tomb empty. They are also greeted by an angel who proclaims that Jesus is raised.

I imagine the joy that must have crept into their hearts at hearing that their beloved Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead. In an instant the grief that had overwhelmed them just days earlier had gone. Now hope emerged with the angel telling them that they will see Jesus in Galilee. These women left the darkness of pain and entered the light of hope.

And really, that is the promise of Easter. Hope. We hope to be acquainted with Christ face to face when we pass from this world to the next. Jesus shedding his bodily form freed him to enter each of us. Christ’s sacrificial death really becomes our birth into a life made new.

Last night at the Easter vigil the newly baptized and confirmed folks in the RCIA gathered in the sanctuary and began the process of dressing the altar. How fitting to see these folks still glowing from receiving the sacraments, taking the bare altar and making it beautiful again.   It was so touching to the to see the tender care they used to make sure everything was placed exactly as it should. Their movements were portraits of reverence and grace. And when they were done, the altar was restored to its resplendent beauty.

Experiencing all of this brought a change of heart to me. The absence of my mother in law will always be with me, but with me now are also the stories that each of the folks in RCIA brought to my life. But what really transformed my heart was knowing how my life was now enriched by the relationships I’ve created with these people. Tears filled my eyes as I realized that God filled a void in my life created by loss with the love of these 21 people in RCIA. But it’s not just me that is blessed by them but our entire community. Our family has grown with their initiation into the church.

The focal point of our liturgy today is the Eucharist. We all will process to this altar – made beautiful by the hands of many. We approach as a community to memorialize the sacrificial death of Christ. We receive communion to take the presence of Jesus far beyond the walls of this beautiful church to love others as Christ loves us.


December 10th, 2017 … Second Sunday of Advent


Mark 1:1-8

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way.
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.”

John the Baptist appeared in the desert
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
People of the whole Judean countryside
and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem
were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River
as they acknowledged their sins.
John was clothed in camel’s hair,
with a leather belt around his waist.
He fed on locusts and wild honey.
And this is what he proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”


A few weeks ago, my daughter, Izzy, came home with a stray dog. She and her friend were down by the beach and saw this little dog running in front of her car. Izzy’s first thought was, “this little guy had better be careful as he is the same color as the street.” They stopped, watched him, and waited for his owner. The dog was very skittish and was hiding under a parked car. Finally, they approached him with a little snack as he lay cowering. He was dirty, had pretty severe rash, was obviously malnourished, and was just plain scared. They tried locating his owner but were unsuccessful. So, they brought him home.

Once at the house, they bathed and fed him. Now, we have a pretty busy household with many moving parts. Diane conducts this orchestra of school, sports, playdates, tutors, and doctor’s appointments. Not to mention we already have a dog. We simply don’t have the bandwidth to add a stray dog to the mix. Or at least, that’s what we thought. So Diane quickly took hold of the situation and brought the dog to a local vet that was open on Sundays. Her idea was to see if the dog had a chip in it so we could locate the owner. But there was no chip. The vet went on to say judging by his poor condition, that this dog had most likely been homeless for months. By this time we had this dog with us for a few hours. The kids were already playing with him and thinking of possible names. So we wanted to prepare the kids for the possibility that this dog might not be with us for too long. We posted his picture on various social media sites and enlisted a host of animal friendly folks to try and find the owners of the dog. We received a lot of interesting comments but non from the owners. As they days passed, we brought him to our vet for shots and to address his various maladies. We also brought him to the groomer which made a huge difference in his appearance. Then Diane and I had to have the conversation. The adult talk about whether or not to keep the dog. The contributing factor had very little to do with the fact that he’s awfully cute and a pretty good companion. It had everything to do with the kids. Specifically, Izzy.

As any parent will freely admit, teenagers are a unique breed. More often than not, their focus is on their immediate needs and wants. As parents, we try to encourage them to have compassion, charity, and a genuine sense of care for those around them.

Izzy is a typical teenager, who has good days and bad. But one Sunday, a few weeks back, she stopped everything, put her own plans for the day on hold, and showed a delicate tenderness to one of God’s little creatures. Once at home, she continued to care for this dog showing patience, compassion, and love. Diane and I said to ourselves, what message would we be giving to her and the rest of the kids, if we didn’t see this all the way through and make the commitment to keep the dog? And so, the love we share in our home has now grown with our new little addition.

In today’s gospel we hear of John the Baptist. We are given an account of his appearance and his ministry. John came before Jesus to prepare those during his time for the coming of Christ. John was the forerunner. A messenger of sorts. He said, “One mightier than I is coming after me.” As I prepared for today’s homily, I thought of my role as a parent. As a dad, I give everything I have for the betterment of my kids. Like all parents, Diane and I try to teach our kids everything we know so as to pass on the wisdom that we have amassed during our lifetime. We do our best to instill values, model morality, and live with a sense of care and responsibility for those around us; especially the ones in most need. Deep down, I can tell you that I do this because I want my kids to experience the joy of giving and sharing and loving. I want my kids to live their lives driven by compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. It is in this sense, I try to be like John the Baptist, hoping to announce that one greater than I is coming after me. This vision, I share with every parent.

Expanding on this theme of those coming after us, today we welcome the RCIA community. Today, they come forward to openly and publicly express their desire to enter our church community as they prepare to receive the sacraments. I can tell you that each of their stories will stir your heart. They are the ones that are coming after us. They will bring their many life experiences and wealth of talents to our community. Their contribution will add to the beauty of our church.

Today’s gospel continues with, “I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

I can tell you that it was the presence of the Holy Spirit inside of Izzy which fanned the flames of mercy and compassion within her. I can also tell you that it is the presence of the Holy Spirit within our church community that has us seeking a path closer to the one who created us. And I can tell you that the ever present influence of the Holy Spirit has everything to do with each of these folks in RCIA stepping forth to take part in the mystical body of Christ.

Let us all embrace the Holy Spirit within each of us as we take Christ’s presence beyond the walls of this church in the way we love on another.



November 12th, 2017 … Thirty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time


Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.
The foolish ones said to the wise,
‘Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise ones replied,
‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’
But he said in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Therefore, stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour.”



November 12th, 2017

So, if I had to update the imagery offered in today’s gospel with something much more relatable to our modern culture, I’d say, imagine your cell phone. You are waiting for an important phone call. Not just a call from work, or to arrange plans, but a life changing call. News from a person who is the closest to you. A call whose impact, you know, will touch each facet of your life. The significance of this call is immeasurable. You know the call is coming but you just don’t know when. In anticipation of this call, would you charge you phone all the way? Or would you leave it at 40% and hope everything works out? Would you put the phone on vibrate and stick it in your bag hoping to hear it?   Or would you set the volume to its highest level and keep the phone in your hand?

It’s this sense of being ready that is at the heart of today’s gospel passage. We know we are going to be receiving that call, it’s our job to put ourselves in a position to not only receive it but also to be sensitive to its meaning.

Often times this passage is interpreted to mean judgment. Being righteous, avoid evil, for you don’t know when you will be called to reconcile all your deeds and be judged as either good or bad. This morning, I’m going to challenge you to stretch your understanding far beyond this traditional view. Consider this: Jesus wants to give his love to us, he wants us to receive his love, then he wants us to take the love we have now received and share with everyone else.

If we prepare ourselves to receive his love. If we wait in anticipation to embrace the gift of his love, we are in a far better position to recognize it, then receive it. If we make ourselves sensitive to the presence of Christ’s love, we can see it coming and welcome it with a full and open heart.

So what does Christ’s love look like when we wait for his call with a fully charged battery? It’s like when we see others engaged in an activity or endeavor that is charitable in nature. We see these folks giving of themselves for the sole purpose of improving the lives of others. This is Christ’s love in action. Receiving his love this way might move us to participate with those already involved or to feel compassion for those being served.

Being sensitive to receiving God’s love doesn’t always mean that we are the direct recipient of his goodness, but rather opening ourselves to be the vehicle that transports his presence to others. When we see someone in need, hopefully we feel a stirring within us that at the very least draws us to compassion. When we are moved to help, to share in the pain of others, we are responding to a call to let Jesus work through us for the sake of others.

For any of this to be possible, we must remain vigilant. We must maintain a sense of readiness, awaiting the call that lets us experience Christ in a more profoundly intimate way.

This morning we experience Jesus in word and sacrament. Tomorrow lets have others experience Christ through his presence within us.


October 15th, 2017 … Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Matthew 22:1-14

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people
in parables, saying,
“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son.
He dispatched his servants
to summon the invited guests to the feast,
but they refused to come.
A second time he sent other servants, saying,
‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet,
my calves and fattened cattle are killed,
and everything is ready; come to the feast.”‘
Some ignored the invitation and went away,
one to his farm, another to his business.
The rest laid hold of his servants,
mistreated them, and killed them.
The king was enraged and sent his troops,
destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready,
but those who were invited were not worthy to come.
Go out, therefore, into the main roads
and invite to the feast whomever you find.’
The servants went out into the streets
and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,
and the hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to meet the guests,
he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.
The king said to him, ‘My friend, how is it
that you came in here without a wedding garment?’
But he was reduced to silence.
Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet,
and cast him into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’
Many are invited, but few are chosen.”


This week, the attention of our entire community has been focused on the wildfires to the north of us. There has been so much damage done. Tragically, the number of those who have lost their lives keeps increasing. With thousands of structures being destroyed, countless families now find themselves homeless. The smoke and ash that has been our constant companion this week serves as a reminder of the harshness of this disaster and the sorrowful toll that it is taking on so many. By now, most of us know someone who has lost a home, a business, or worse yet, someone related to one of the victims.

So great is the impact of this fire that the horrific loss of life in the Las Vegas shootings just two weeks ago seems but a distant memory. It seems even longer but it has only been a few weeks since we watched the rescue workers coming to the aid of those buried under the rubble in Mexico City after the earthquake that killed nearly 400 people. Stretching our memories just a little farther, recalling those who suffered from the effects of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. The communities in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico are still recovering from the devastation. I know, from the conversations that I’ve had with many of you that I’m not alone in coming to terms with the amount of suffering that we all have witnessed recently.

These images of suffering accompanied me as I prepared for this homily.   And while pondering the scripture for today, reflecting on banquettes of rich food and choice wines or the opulence of a wedding feast, embracing this festive imagery was rather difficult.

But a lavish celebration boasting grandeur and merriment is not quite what Jesus had in mind. In his parable, Jesus was calling everyone into the kingdom of God. He wants all of us closer to him. God stretches open his embrace to reach all of us because we are his creation and his love for us knows no limit. The image of the wedding feast serves to provide for us an invitation to share in the goodness that is God’s love. The image of the feast suggests that there will be no want, nothing will be lacking, while we are in communion with God. Everything will be provided. The abundance of the feast, the rich food, the choicest wines, the fatted calf, remind us that what God provides is far superior to anything else we may imagine.

But just as the king in today’s gospel threw out, into the darkness, the guest who arrived without a wedding garment, our response to Christ’s invitation is crucial. When the king summoned his guest, they responded by ignoring him and going back to their fields. Some of the guests responded by beating then killing the servants who brought the invitation. And the guest who arrived without the wedding garment, responded by failing to accept fully the invitation to what he was called to do.

Just as it was inappropriate for the guest to attend the wedding feast of the king’s son without a wedding garment, it is inappropriate for us to enter into the presence of God and not clothe ourselves in compassion, forgiveness, and love for all of humanity. We are called to show mercy and charity to those who we hold most dear, to those who we don’t really like, and to those who we don’t know. Our response to Christ’s invitation should move us to care.

As I mentioned, the devastation and suffering which we have all recently witnessed has created an opportunity for us to be authentic with our response to being invited to the feast. We, now, get to make longer and wider the table of the banquette. For the gifts that we have already received from God are not ours to hoard but rather to share. So many people around us find themselves in pain. There are a great number of folks in this church and beyond who are suffering. There are many who find themselves alone or in despair. There are way too many who are disillusioned by the state of our church and religion as a whole. Christ implores us to, “Go out therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.” This is what our response is supposed to be as God’s servants.

We, individually and collectively, can ease the burden or suffering of others. We can offer assistance and hope to folks in need. We can offer understanding and inclusion to those who find themselves alone or alienated. We can help those who cannot help themselves. We can invite those who we encounter to the feast.

Just before he was elected pope, Francis gave a brief speech which included the following, “The Church is called to come out of herself and to go to the peripheries, not only in the geographical sense but also to go to the existential peripheries: those of the mysteries of sin, of pain, of injustice, of ignorance and of religious indifference, of thought, of all misery.”

Our invitation to the feast allows us to receive Christ. Our response to the invitation compels us to spread his reach far beyond the walls of this church.

July 9th, 2017 … Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Matt 11:25-30

At that time Jesus exclaimed:
“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to little ones.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”


“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you – for my yoke is easy, and my burden light”

I’ll be honest, I’ve lived my entire life here in the city.  I labor as a husband and father, in finance and in ministry.  I’ve never really had much need for a yoke.  And until I prepared for this homily, I had a very limited knowledge of yokes.  By contrast, Jesus knew a great deal about them.  It turns out that crafting a yoke was the job of a carpenter, Jesus’ trade.

I learned that yokes are not one size fits all.  On the contrary, a carpenter carves a yoke precisely to the measurements of the animal upon which it will be used.  If an animal has upon it, an ill-fitting yoke, the animal will experience unnecessary pain and discomfort.  Some yokes are heavier than others because of the size and strength of the animal. If a smaller, weaker animal is fastened to a yoke intended for a larger one, the burden placed on the smaller animal might seem too much to bear.  Again, being a city boy, I was not well versed on yokes and so this newly found knowledge came of great interest to me.  It also shed light on an old saying that I’m sure we’ve all heard – especially in times of great struggle, “God will not burden us with more that we can bear.”  Jesus, the craftsman of yokes knows exactly how much we can shoulder.

This all starts with Jesus’ simple three word command, “Come to me.”  Moving towards Christ brings with it the understanding that we feel the need or perhaps have a desire to share our life with Jesus.  To make him a part of our decisions, our ambitions, our fears.  Moving towards Jesus means that we open ourselves to have a relationship with him.  We foster that relationship with prayer, we experience Christ through scripture and the sacraments.  This is what it looks like when we respond to Christ’s call, “Come to me.”

Moving closer to Jesus and having a relationship with him will not free us from burdens, or struggles, or suffering.  It’s really important to grasp this point.  We can’t have a Santa Clause view of Jesus Christ.  This is to say simply asking Jesus to bring us things like wealth, prosperity, good health, or a life absent from pain or sorrow.  Rather sharing our lives with Jesus means that we are not alone when we suffer.  That our burden is made lighter because Jesus is holding us up as we struggle.  Labor and burdens are not meant to be erased from our lives.  Rather, they are meant to be pathways to solid ground, far underneath our troubles where there is grounding, stillness, and ultimately peace.

Accepting Christ’s call and moving closer to him and receiving his yoke means that we are also accepting of living a life as Jesus did.  That we live a life of forgiveness, that we welcome the opportunity to be led by compassion.  That we discipline our impulses of anger or lust.  That we strive for absolute honesty, a love four our enemies, and that we respond to violence or hate with creative and loving nonviolence.

Jesus describes his burden as light because what he is asking us to do is to receive his love and to pass that same love on to everyone else.  In truth, offering love to others as freely as Jesus does can be a challenge for some.  There are some folks who believe that one’s love must be earned or deserved thus placing conditions or merits to love.  But let’s remember that Jesus say’s “Come to me.”  Not, “Come to me only if…” or “Only some of you can come to me.”  Jesus Christ’s love is always unconditional.  We receive it that way and we are to pass it along that way; without condition.  And when we think that offering up compassion and mercy, and charity and forgiveness is a burden we cannot manage, that’s when we remember that we are not doing this alone as Jesus is right there with us.


June 25th, 2017 … Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Matthew 10:26-33

Jesus said to the Twelve:
“Fear no one.
Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed,
nor secret that will not be known.
What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light;
what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.
And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul;
rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy
both soul and body in Gehenna.
Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?
Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.
Even all the hairs of your head are counted.
So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Everyone who acknowledges me before others
I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.
But whoever denies me before others,
I will deny before my heavenly Father.”


I came across a statement that really made me stop and think. It’s one of those thoughts that when you hear it, will stay with you and force you to recall it. The statement reads, “Each human is created to be a dwelling place for God and his love. Humans can never be truly human unless the greatest value in each of their lives is to receive the love of God and to give it to the people around them. This past week I accompanied the delegation from our parish to El Salvador. We spent a week with the people of Paroquia San Antonio (San Antonio parish) in the town of Soyapango, just outside of San Salvador. To be completely truthful, I had a healthy measure of hesitation as our departure date neared. My trepidation stemmed from knowing this was not going to be a vacation. I knew that we were going to immerse ourselves in the poverty and the difficult circumstances of the people of El Salvador. This was not going to be a relaxing by the pool while somebody served you sort of trip. I have some familiarity with Latin America and its poverty, disease, and crime. I would be lying if I said that I was not more than just a little apprehensive about exposing my daughter, Izzy to all of this. But the truth is, the driver behind our participation, was Izzy.

Humans can never be truly human unless the greatest value in each of their lives is to receive God’s love and share it with those around them. In all my years and with all I have seen, never before have I witnessed the fullness of this statement until we were received into the community at El Salvador.

The people there have experienced civil war, economic devastation, natural disasters , and most recently an eruption of gang violence. These people have lived through a depth of misery and suffering that most of us here could never imagine.

In today’s gospel, we heard Jesus tell his disciples, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul, rather be afraid of the one who can destroy both the soul and body in Gehenna. Gehenna was a common reference to the fires of hell. And indeed, as one ponders Gehenna, images of pain, suffering and darkness immediately come to mind.

The people of El Salvador have been to hell and back. But here is the thing, the darkness and despair that has plagued the history of this country were not sufficient enough to trample the soul of the Salvadorians.

The community of Paroquia San Antonio places its greatest value in receiving God’s love and sharing it with everyone around them. This parish mobilizes a force of 2000 volunteers spread across a multitude of ministries to extend the reach of the loving hand of Jesus. Please understand, this corps of volunteers is not wealthy nor does it enjoy a lifestyle of luxury or ease. Rather as with the entirety of the Salvadorian people, they endure a daily struggle just to survive. These people have firsthand knowledge of poverty and despair and still choose to be the instrument of God’s care. The people of Paroquio San Antonio spread across the town of Soyapango and beyond in search of the sick, the elderly the impoverished, the forgotten, and those who seek Christ to offer the light that is God’s love. The vastness of these efforts left me in awe of God’s power.

Today we heard Jesus say, “Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your father’s knowledge. Even the hairs of your head are counted.”   Walking alongside the people of Paroquio San Antonio I saw this. I saw care being given to the poorest of the poor. I saw comfort being given to those in pain. I saw a brighter future being offered to those in despair. And I saw God’s mercy and compassion in the eyes of these volunteers. Faith brings us so far. Prayer is inspiring. But nothing stirs the spirit more like witnessing God in action. Indeed, I learned more about my faith and discovered more about God’s love through this experience.

One example that I would like to share is an experience we had while we were in the most rural part of El Salvador, quite simply we were in the jungle. We met a woman named Angelica who opened her home to the children of her community because she could no longer just be a witness to the crippling effects of malnutrition in the children of her village. Angelica is not a woman of great means. But I challenge you to find someone with a bigger heart and a greater capacity for love. In Spanish, Angelica means angel; for so she is. Angelica provides meals and basic education to the children around her. She welcomes them with open arms and is as affectionate as a doting grandmother. She stretches every dollar and is not shy about asking for help. After spending the afternoon with these children, it was easy to recognize that Angelica’s tender care was the place these children called home.

I asked her, “These children eat here during the week but what about the weekends?” Angelica’s gaze dropped to the floor and the expression on her face changed as she told us that they probably don’t get enough to eat. For Angelica, this charitable act of mercy is not simply an act of service. Rather, it is her mission to keep these children alive. Before we left her, we walked one of the children home. The poverty and the living conditions of this little boy’s family simply broke my heart. No one should have to live like that. Yet amidst conditions that would repulse all of us here, an angel steps forth who places the greatest value in receiving God’s love and passing it on to the people around her.

Our journey to receive God’s love today does not take us to the jungles of El Salvador but rather to this altar. As a community, we gather to receive the Eucharist, the manifestation of God’s love. We receive it and are charged with passing God’s love to all those around us.





June 11th, 2017 … The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity


John 3:16-18

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.


This week I was asked to help out with daily mass. Now being a deacon, I cannot celebrate mass but I can preside over a communion service. My first one ever was Friday morning. It seemed to go pretty well. I got here early, went over the prayers and readings, I had my homily. I even wrote out the intersessions. My next one was yesterday morning at eight. Again, like Friday, I got here early. I had everything prepared and was even a bit more relaxed since I already had my first communion service under my belt. I figured, I got this. So, off I go; the opening prayer, the readings, I delivered my homily, moved on to the Our Father, then started the Eucharistic portion of the service. After I returned to the altar following Communion, I caught sight of the sheet of paper that had the intersessions written on them. The ones I forgot to read. My heart sank.

For those of you who frequent daily mass, the intersessions are kind of a big deal. As they are being prayed, the folks in the pews get the opportunity to add their own personal intentions. These petitions pretty much cover anything and everything. Folks just let go of what is on their hearts and the community prays for them.

As I stared at the sheet of intersessions I said to myself, “Nice going Eddy, now these prayers will never be heard and the people in the pews did not get the chance to voice their own intentions.” I know it’s not the end of the world but I did beat myself up a little over it.

In today’s gospel, we heard Jesus say, “God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish. Whoever believes in his name will not be condemned.”

Believing in the name of Jesus goes beyond simply recognizing Jesus as the son of God. If we really believe in his name, we can’t help but feel the love he has for us. We experience his presence in ourselves and others. When we believe in the name of Jesus, we open ourselves to have a relationship with him. One of the ways we express and nurture this relationship is through prayer. We bring Jesus into that intimate part of ourselves where we keep our hopes, desires, and fears. We bring to Christ all our special intentions, even the ones that I forgot to deliver Saturday morning.

Ultimately, as our relationship with Christ deepens, we learn to live in the closeness to him that is created. We find ourselves moved beyond words when we recognize his presence in our lives because we see his response to our prayers. These are truly intimate and affirming moments that deepen our love and devotion to Jesus. With this, our faith blossoms.

To believe in the name of Jesus gives life to his presence. When we all do this, as a community, we become the mystical body of Jesus here and now. And this is what it means to be church.

Today as a community, we celebrate the Solemnity of the most Holy Trinity. Three persons but one God. It is God’s desire that we experience his divinity and thus enjoy life eternal. God the father, creator of all, author of life. Jesus his son, born incarnate to share in our experience. Christ whose life serves as the perfect example of mercy, compassion, forgiveness, charity, and unconditional love. The Holy Spirit which resides in each of us, stirs our soul and moves us towards God’s will. To believe in the name of Jesus means that we embrace the Holy Trinity and let it touch the different facets of our life.

Jesus says in today’s gospel, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”

So great is God’s love for us, as a Community of Persons, that he let us share that very love in the community of persons we are, giving and receiving love, as God does. The Mystery we celebrate today is, thanks to God’s grace, the mystery of our relationships with each other.


June 10th, 2017 … Saturday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time


Mark 12:38-44

In the course of his teaching Jesus said,
“Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes
and accept greetings in the marketplaces,
seats of honor in synagogues,
and places of honor at banquets.
They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext,
recite lengthy prayers.
They will receive a very severe condemnation.”

He sat down opposite the treasury
and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury.
Many rich people put in large sums.
A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.
Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them,
“Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more
than all the other contributors to the treasury.
For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had,
her whole livelihood.”


I guess that it goes without saying that nothing escapes God’s eye. This is both reassuring and at times troubling. Reassuring because knowing that God’s presence is all around us can be a source of strength and can settle us into a state of peace. It also is a sign of his love for us as he cares so much about each of us that he chooses to stay near. This closeness to God is called grace. Our response to it is what fuels our desire to be good. Responding to God’s grace is behind our charitable acts. Feeling God’s presence gives us the courage to offer forgiveness even when we don’t feel that it is merited.

However, this closeness to God and his watchful eye can also be troubling to us because we know that God will also witness those times when we fall short; when we intentionally choose the wrong path, for whatever the reason. Yup, God sees that too.

Today’s gospel gives us two images. The first, Jewish leaders who don long robes and recite long prayers in public so they can be noticed and judged righteous by the crowds. They assume places of honor and all the while they remain sinful.

The second image is that of an elderly widow who gives all that she had to the temple’s treasury. She does so without fanfare or spectacle.

Jesus witnesses both. Jesus comments on both. Jesus also knows what is in the hearts of both. And this is where being mindful of God’s watchful eye becomes important. I certainly can’t presume to know what was on the mind of the widow as she approached the treasury but I could venture a guess. She gave because of duty. She may have thought that as long as she was doing God’s will by tithing, God would not abandon her. The presence of God and her closeness to it, created a response that was good and admirable. Clearly, this presence of God is dismissed by the hypocritical scribes.

Our calling is to live our lives knowing that we are walking alongside Jesus. Keeping that frame of mind and surrendering to it means that we are always aware of God’s grace. Great things happen when we live our lives this way.

June 9th, 2017 … Friday of the 9th Week of Ordinary Time


Mark 12As Jesus was teaching in the temple area he said,
“How do the scribes claim that the Christ is the son of David?
David himself, inspired by the Holy Spirit, said:

The Lord said to my lord,
‘Sit at my right hand
until I place your enemies under your feet.’

David himself calls him ‘lord’;
so how is he his son?”
The great crowd heard this with delight.


Jesus did a great many things when he walked the earth. He performed countless miracles and provided insights into the kingdom of God. He also challenged people of his day to question conventional wisdom as it pertained to living out their faith. Jesus’ question to the crowds about the Christ was an attempt to get Jews of the time to broaden their expectation of who the Messiah will be and what his role shall be. There were those who believed the Messiah would be a great king or someone who possessed tremendous wealth and influence. Yet others believed that the Messiah would be a military leader who would rid the region of Roman occupation. Jesus says in today’s gospel, “David himself calls him ‘lord’; so how is he his son?” This is to say, if David refers to the Christ as Lord implying the divine, how can the Messiah have his origin from humanity and not from heaven?   Jesus wants the people in the temple area to abandon their preconceived notions as to who the Messiah is. Jesus wants the people to stop limiting the role or the impact of the Christ by applying worldly expectations of power and wealth.

Jesus wants the people of his day as well as us today, to remain open to encountering the Christ as he is and not so much for who we want him to be. Christ is the fountain of all that is good. Christ modeled compassion for the poor and sick. Christ was always ready to offer forgiveness and mercy. Christ showed us perfect love and faithfulness to God the father. However, there may be some folks out there who feel Christ is only here to judge the sinners as bad and the righteous as good. And, indeed he may do just that. But what about Christ’s message about love and mercy and forgiveness? He spoke a lot about this. He called for us to follow his example. Ultimately, Jesus wants us to remain open to his calling and to not be afraid to follow him even if it brings us to places we never thought of while meeting people we’d never thought we’d encounter. All the while offering out love compassion.