Saturday, December 31, 2016

Are you sick of all the darkness and garbage around us and want to do something about it?

Many of us can get overwhelmed with all the darkness and garbage of humanity surrounding us.  It also reminds us, unfortunately, of that which lies within our hearts as well and we must deal with.  But how do we do it?  How can we do anything to make even a dent in all that overwhelms us?

The answer is simple.  Our Lord showed me back when I was in the seminary in Toronto, Canada.  I used to take a daily walk around the block and noticed all this garbage on all the streets... literally almost everywhere you walk you can see garbage.  Anyway, one day Our Lord spoke to me and said, "I want you to pick up all the garbage in this city."  I replied to Him... "But that is impossible!" 

"Not for Me if you let Me do it with you."  So I asked Him what He wanted me to do.  He simply asked me to pick up as I walk along any piece of garbage that comes across my path.  I do not have to go in search of garbage... I do not need to go to the right or to the left in search of it.  I just simply have to pick up each piece that comes in my path.  

I told Him... "Yes, I can do that."  And so I began to walk.  As I started to pick up each piece of garbage along the way, I realized my hands are going to get full pretty quickly and it would need to be dumped.  How am I going to carry all this garbage along my walk?  But Our Lord had an answer for that too.  He had placed garbage cans in the streets and in the private drives of where I was going to pass by.  So, as I began to get full of garbage in my arms, poof... there was a garbage can and I would unload and begin again.  

There came a point where I came across a really sticky, icky, gooey mess... I think it was a broken egg with some wet paper towel with it.  So, I stepped over it!  Our Lord rebuke me and told me to go back and pick it up.  I grumbled and complained but then He said, "You were like this too... a sticky, icky, gooey mess but I was not afraid to pick you up off the ground and clean you."   So, I went back and picked it up and then through it away.  Yes... it was really gross. But our souls are like that too and He is not afraid of getting to the ground, just like He did with His disciples feet and to wash the most disgusting part of us.... our souls.

Anyway, I finished my walk and came to the end.  There at the end on the street corner was a garbage can with no garbage in it but surrounded by garbage all around it on the outside.  I cried out to God again... "See! I told you that this is pointless.  It is impossible.  This city will never be clean!"  So I walked away back across the street to enter back into the seminary. 

Once I made it back across the street Our Lord asked me to look back and watch.  I noticed a woman who had seen what I had done and was beginning to pick up the garbage around her.  Our Lord then said, "See.... that is how we will pick up the garbage."

The point of all of this is that we can get overwhelmed too and not know what to do about all the messy lives around us and our own life too.  This calls the work of intercession.  We need to learn how to deal with those persons and messy situations God places before us.  We don't have to go in search of them either... they are already there. 

Simply take each person, each situation as they come and go to the foot of the Cross with Our Lord and then lay before Him the person(s) and situation and all the darkness associated with it.  Lay it before God's garbage can... the Cross that cleans up all of our icky, gooey messes that we make in life.  Let Him help you clean it all up... one piece, one step at a time.

Are All Religons Equal???

“Almighty and ever living God, who in the Nativity of your Son established the beginning and fulfillment of all religion, grant, we pray, that we may be numbered among those who belong to him, in whom is the fullness of human salvation. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.” Amen.
No, all religions are not the same nor are they equal. This collect prayer from the Mass for December 31st tells us otherwise. Religion can fall into two categories. The first is man made in which man is seeking God and sets up a religion to pursue Him. The second is established by God and the door and avenue by which He pursues man and is the surest way of reaching Him as it is the path that directly meets Him.
There are many religions but only 2 are established directly by God. The rest were either created by man or set up by man who believed they were inspired by God, yet only two actually were set up by Him. The Jewish Faith was established by God in God pursuing His chosen people and establishing a Holy Nation with them. This is verified by more than one person claiming God inspired them to set this up.... and it was given over long periods of time through the Prophets and Fathers of the Fathers of the Faith. Miracles were also given to show that it was God established rather than man established. In this religion, God promised to send a Messiah... the Christ. The One who would deliver His people and established an eternal Kingdom. Those who are Jewish who do not accept Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, are still waiting.
The only other religion is Christianity, and more specifically, the one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church to which all Christians were formerly a part of and united to. But what is it really and how did it come to be? Again, we must realize that there were more than one witness to it and it has been confirmed over long periods of time by other witnesses and miracles which alone can be attributed to God such as the dead coming back to life. 
All religions are silenced when God speaks and tells us what He wants... how He wants us to follow Him. God spoke to us through His Word... and the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us. This Word has a name and His name is Jesus Christ. There is no other name in Heaven, on earth or under the earth which brings salvation to mankind. No other religion does this. All religion changed at Christmas when God spoke to us through His Son.
“Jesus saith to him: I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No man cometh to the Father, but by Me.” (John 14:6)
“Be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God hath raised from the dead, even by him this man standeth here before you whole. This is the stone which was rejected by you the builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts of the Apostles 4:10-12)
“Who is a liar, but he who denieth that Jesus is the Christ? This is Antichrist, who denieth the Father, and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father. He that confesseth the Son, hath the Father also. As for you, let that which you have heard from the beginning, abide in you. If that abide in you, which you have heard from the beginning, you also shall abide in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise which he hath promised us, life everlasting.” (1 John 2:22-25) 
“He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.” (Luke 10:16)

A Homily for the Feast of the Holy Family...

“Let us go the house of the Lord rejoicing...” (from Psalm 122). This Psalm was sung and prayed by Jewish pilgrims who journeyed to the Temple in Jerusalem from all the surrounding countryside and nations. On this Solemnity of the Holy Family, we remember that the child Jesus also did this with His family... the Holy Family, walking hand in hand. What would it be like to journey with them to the House of the Lorad... to enter into God’s Temple with them? I am not just speaking about the earthly Temple, but more so the Heavenly one... God’s House where God the Father resides. This is the mystery we contemplate today. 
 I remember back when I was a wee lad that once I met a new friend, I would love to go and visit his home and especially to meet his family. I loved to know more about my friend and those he loved... his father and mother, his brother and sisters. The more time and the deeper the relationship, it would get to the point where it was like his family was my own. With Jesus, our brother and Lord and God, it is much more than this. He calls us “friends” and invites us into His home, the home of the Holy Family. 
When Jesus gives Himself to you at Christmas, we think we just receive Him.... but Christmas is much more than this. Jesus gives you everything He loves and opens His Heart to you. He did this from the Cross when the soldier pierced His Heart and out flowed Blood and water. He literally opens His Heart to you and shares everything that is in it with you including His Family. Remember, He did this when He gave you His own Mother Mary to be your own when He said to His disciple: “Behold your Mother.” Now we are invited to journey with Him to Nazareth, to His home... the home of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and St. Joseph. His home is literally our home.... His family is ours.
You need to go there with Him, with your closest and most intimate Friend. Ask Him to take you into His Home and learn from the school of Nazareth, the Holy Family. From this mystery, Our Lord will then take you even deeper. He will walk with you to His Father’s House... 
You see, Jesus gives you everything. Not just Himself, not just the Holy Family.... He gives you and invites you to enter into the very mystery of the Holy Trinity, to enter into communion with God the Father, with Himself as His only Son, and into communion with the Holy Spirit. He gives you the Holy Family and the HOLY FAMILY of God the Father. God’s Family is yours. This is the mystery Our Lord invites you to enter into today and to receive into your home... into your heart and soul. 
“Jesus answered, and said to him: If any one love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make our home with him. He that loveth Me not, keepeth not My words. And the word which you have heard, is not Mine; but the Father's who sent Me. These things have I spoken to you, abiding with you.” (John 14:23-25)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Good St. Joseph, Protector of the Holy Family...

• A sign shall be given by the Lord… a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel… meaning God is with us.
• In the course of Our Lord’s birth, we tend to focus either on the child Jesus, and for good reason… or on the Blessed Virgin Mary and poor St. Joseph seems to be left in the backdrop, hidden from the spotlight…. But we must realize that he also chooses to do this just as Our Blessed Mother who says that we must do whatever her son tells us. She always points to Him as well.
• In today’s Gospel we hear of the virgin birth. When Mary was betrothed to St. Joseph but before they lived together, she was found with child. Scripture then goes on to say that because Joseph was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.
• What does this mean?
• According to the Jewish custom at the time, any woman found to be with child outside of marriage could be stoned to death. St. Joseph is not only trying to protect the dignity of Mary and the child because of his love for her but there is something more going on.
• St. Joseph knew Mary well. She was holy and innocent and had consecrated her virginity to God for the rest of her life. His love for her was so deep that he was even willing to marry her knowing that he would never have any children with her.
• So, what was he thinking when he found her to be with child yet, knowing he was not the natural father? We have a glimpse of what he might have been thinking by these words, “because he was a righteous man, he was willing to divorce her quietly.” Besides wanting to preserve the dignity of Mary, he also knew her to be holy. She would not lie… so knowing she was with child that there was a great mystery involved. Where did this child come from? It was as if, in humility, he thought he was not supposed to have a part of this plan to be with this holy woman who was already with child. So, he was stepping away.
• It was only when the angel revealed to him that this child was conceived by the Holy Spirit and that he was still supposed to keep himself betrothed to the Blessed Virgin Mary, that St. Joseph accepted the responsibility of taking responsibility of this child as if it were his own.
• Herein lies the fatherhood of St. Joseph… Although he was not be the father of this child through the normal course of childbearing, he was to be known as the father of this child through the marriage he had with Mary and St. Joseph took responsibility over her and the child as a true father and spouse.
• He accepted God’s plan and was to play and crucial role in protecting and leading the Holy Family. Just imagine if God the Father had chosen you to be the custodian of the Blessed Virgin Mary and on top of this, God asked you to protect and lead His only Son.
• There is a beautiful painting in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston called the “Rest on the Flight Into i Egypt” by Luc Olivier Merson… Our Lady with her child resting in the arms of a sphinx in the desert with St. Joseph lying on the ground next to a campfire and the donkey… Giving her son and the Blessed Virgin the safer place to rest while he kept watch over them… this is what this passage in Scripture is saying… He wanted to protect her and her child from all harm.
• St. Joseph’s Feast Day is March 19th which is believed to be the day of his death. May all fathers learn from St. Joseph what it is to be a father… to protect and safeguard their children and spouse and lead them safely into God’s Kingdom