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One Catholic Life

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One Catholic Life

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Latest Episodes

The Crucifix on the Wall: Homily for the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. On the surface that seems so barbaric. And yet that law, known as the Law of Retaliation, was one of the most civilizing acts in human history. In the ancient world, before there were any laws, if a person was hurt or offended, then they would round up their clan and go after the person who caused the injury and their revenge would often be worse than the original crime, perhaps even leading to death. The Law of Retaliation was intended to put on a limit on the retribution: You could only take an eye for an eye. In other words, your retribution couldn’t be worse than the crime. If someone stole your livestock, you got an equivalent amount of livestock back, you didn’t get to burn their farm to the ground. This “eye for an eye” Law of Retribution is found throughout the Old Testament, and Jesus’ disciples would have been very familiar with it. We even see the remnants of the Law of Retribution today in our own justice system. Judges and juries attempt to give sentences that are just, without being cruel or unusual punishment. It doesn’t always happen the way it’s supposed to, but at least that’s the intent of the law. But today Jesus is moving his disciples—and us—beyond the law. “An eye for an eye” might have been sufficient at one time, but to be a follower of Jesus we must go beyond that. “Offer no resistance to one who is evil.” “Turn the other cheek.” Jesus is always seeking to lead his disciples further along the road to salvation. And he does this by moving them beyond the law, beyond logic. We see this again when he talks about loving our neighbors and hating our enemies. It’s understandable to hate an enemy, it’s logical. But again, Jesus is trying to move his disciples beyond logic. Or rather, he is giving his disciples a different kind of logic, the logic of love. “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” These are very hard teachings to obey. But Jesus has high expectations for us: “Be perfect, just as your heavenly father is perfect.” Jesus always seeks to lead us further and further toward perfection. Beyond the law, beyond logic, to love. It is in fact the law of love, the logic of love. This is what it means to be Christian. This is the perfection that Jesus asks of us. But he doesn’t just ask it of us. As our Messiah, our savior, he goes before us in living it out. He shows us the way. He gives us the cross as is his concrete demonstration of what it looks to refuse to take an eye for an eye, of what it looks like to love our enemies. We see it every time we gaze upon the crucifix. The crucifix is both our example and our destiny. This past week we had an open house at school, and there was a young family that came with their son to look at our kindergarten. They mentioned early on that they weren’t Catholic, but they were very interested in our school. As we took them on a tour of all the classrooms they had lots of questions. Questions about Mass, questions about religion class, even questions about what science class is like in a Catholic school. It’s very interesting, the perceptions people have about Catholic schools, and we tried to answer all their questions as we walked. And when we got to the last classroom on the tour, the mother took me aside and pointed at the crucifix on the wall and asked in a low voice, “Is there one of those—” she didn’t know what to call it— “A crucifix?” I asked. “—yes, is there one of those in every room?” And I thought to myself,

10 minFEB 24
Comments
The Crucifix on the Wall: Homily for the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Glad Tidings to the Poor: Homily for Christ the King

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, the last Sunday of our Church year. Today all of the themes of Jesus’ life and ministry come together in this one culminating feast here at the end of the year. Each liturgical year has its own particular character because of the fact that we read from one particular gospel. This year it’s been the Gospel according to Luke, and it’s good for us to look back over the year and try to see the entirety of what Luke has shared with us about Jesus. After all the events of Advent and Christmas last year, as January was coming to an end, the weeks of Ordinary Time were beginning, and the Gospel of Luke turned to the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Jesus returned to Nazareth where he grew up, and Luke tells us that his first public act was to enter the synagogue on the Sabbath, unroll the scroll and read these lines from the prophet Isaiah: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me t...

11 min2019 NOV 25
Comments
Glad Tidings to the Poor: Homily for Christ the King

The Mysterious Package: Homily for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

Back around 1995 or 1996, I was teaching my 8th grade class about vocations and the different religious orders. Their assignment was to research a particular religious order and write a report to share with the class. Now this was around 1996 B.G. Before Google. There was no Internet, no search engines, no Wikipedia, no email, and so I had given them a magazine that listed addresses for all the different religious orders in the United States. They got into groups, chose a religious community, did some encyclopedia research, and then they wrote letters to these different communities asking them for information. We got all kinds of wonderful letters back. Religious communities were excited to share their stories with the students. They sent brochures and even wrote letters by hand to tell them about their daily lives. We probably received a dozen or so letters from the different communities. But one was different from the others. Rather than a regular envelope, this one was a big mani...

10 min2019 AUG 26
Comments
The Mysterious Package: Homily for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

The Persistence of Ralphie: Homily for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

Being a parent or grandparent can be really strange. And one of the strangest things about it is when the kids start to imitate you. At first its kind of funny and cute, the way you make faces at them and they try to make faces back. They dress up as mommy or daddy, pretending to do grown up things. But it’s not so funny when they start imitating your bad habits or repeating certain words. As they get older they begin to admire other people and try to imitate them. And it continues even into adulthood. We read biographies from business and political leaders trying to discover the habits and practices that make them so successful, and we try to imitate them. Well that’s what’s happening in today’s gospel reading. Jesus has gathered around him a group of disciples. We recall that the word disciple means “learner.” These are all learners. These people who are following Jesus are trying to learn what he has to teach, trying to learn how to live life the way he does. They must have...

12 min2019 JUL 29
Comments
The Persistence of Ralphie: Homily for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

The Cup of a Carpenter: Homily for Corpus Christi

I read recently that filming is going to begin next year on the fifth Indiana Jones movie. I guess everybody knows who Indiana Jones is, the swashbuckling archaeologist, who goes in search of artifacts like the Ark of the Covenant. Well there’s a scene in the third Indiana Jones movie, The Last Crusade, that can speak to us today as we celebrate Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ. In The Last Crusade, Indiana Jones has spent the entire movie searching for the Holy Grail, the chalice that Jesus is supposed to have used at the Last Supper. The Nazis are also searching for it, because it’s rumored to grant immortality to whoever drinks from it, and they want this powerful artifact for the war. At the end of the movie, Indiana Jones is the first one to reach the secret location where the Grail has been protected throughout the centuries by a guardian knight. But when Indiana Jones gets there, he discovers that the Grail is hiding among dozens of chalices of various shapes an...

10 min2019 JUN 24
Comments
The Cup of a Carpenter: Homily for Corpus Christi

Navigation Apps and Repentance: Homily for the Third Sunday of Lent – Year C

One of the most useful apps on a smart phone is the Maps app. You type in an address of the place you want to go and you’re instantly given not only written directions for how to get there, but you also get a map that shows a path for how to get to your destination. You don’t even have to know the name or even the address of a place you’re trying to get to. You can simply type in “food near me” or “shopping near me.” and you’ll get a list of places you’re looking for along with directions for how to get there. If you’re walking, you can tap the little icon of the person and you’ll get walking directions. If you’re driving, you can tap on the car icon and you’ll get driving directions. If you want to take public transportation, the apps will even tell you which bus routes to take. You can also label places that you visit frequently to make it easier to get directions. For instance, you can type in your home address and give it a label, “Home,” so that no matter where a...

--2019 MAR 25
Comments
Navigation Apps and Repentance: Homily for the Third Sunday of Lent – Year C

The Rhythm of the Spiritual Life – Homily for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

All three readings today speak of the rhythm of the spiritual life. We see it at work in the lives of Isaiah, Paul, and Peter, each in a different context, but it’s the same rhythm. It’s a rhythm of dialogue, of back and forth, like a conversation. And it begins as all things spiritual begin, with God’s initiative. God is always seeking us out, God is always trying to engage us in his divine life, and God always meets us where we are. God comes to Isaiah as a member of the royal family who has a vision. Jesus comes to Paul when he is on his way to Damascus to persecute more Christians. Jesus comes to Peter while he is on his fishing boat working. The rhythm of the spiritual life begins with God taking the initiative to seek us out in our particular walk of life. We can call this movement an encounter with the divine. The spiritual life begins with Encounter. Encounters with God have a profound effect on us. Isaiah has a deep encounter with God in a vision of the Lord on a throne ...

9 min2019 FEB 11
Comments
The Rhythm of the Spiritual Life – Homily for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

In the Principal’s Office: Homily from the Christmas Eve Children’s Mass 2018

Here is the audio from my homily for the Christmas Eve Children’s Mass, December 24, 2018.

8 min2018 DEC 26
Comments
In the Principal’s Office: Homily from the Christmas Eve Children’s Mass 2018

A Thrill of Hope: Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Advent – Year C

Once upon a time, in the early ages of the world, people believed that storms and droughts and sickness were sent by angry gods and goddesses. To the ancient people, the universe was a fearful place, a place of chaos, a place of danger, and the only way to stay safe was to offer sacrifices to try and please the gods. Ancient peoples would sacrifice a portion of the crops, they would sacrifice animals, and in some cases, they even sacrificed humans. But then came a people who learned the truth. God revealed himself to the chosen people as the one God, the only God, and made a covenant with them through Abraham: He would be their God, and they would be his people. He promised them a land flowing with milk and honey. And although the people tried to live out their part of the covenant, they often failed to do God’s will. They worshipped a golden calf while Moses was receiving the Law on Mount Sinai. They grumbled and complained as they traveled through the desert. But God remained eve...

11 min2018 DEC 24
Comments
A Thrill of Hope: Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Advent – Year C

Bumper Stickers and Masters: Homily for the Solemnity of Christ the King – Year B

The other day I was driving home from work, coming up Freya hill, and I noticed a bumper sticker on the car in front of me. People put bumper stickers on their cars for all kinds of reasons, but mostly because they have something to say to the world. “Vote for this or that candidate.” “Work for world peace.” “Support my kid’s school.” Well, this particular driver had a different message. It was a big, red rectangular sticker, and in white letters it read, “No Gods. No Masters.” I suppose that’s how a lot of people today view life, especially here in America. In America we’re pretty proud of the fact that we broke away from England, we cast off the monarchy. That idea has permeated our culture so much that it’s become part of the intellectual air we breathe. We do take pride in the fact that we can forge our own fate, that no one is our master. Like that line from the poem “Invictus,” “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” Our TV shows and our movi...

10 min2018 NOV 26
Comments
Bumper Stickers and Masters: Homily for the Solemnity of Christ the King – Year B

Latest Episodes

The Crucifix on the Wall: Homily for the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. On the surface that seems so barbaric. And yet that law, known as the Law of Retaliation, was one of the most civilizing acts in human history. In the ancient world, before there were any laws, if a person was hurt or offended, then they would round up their clan and go after the person who caused the injury and their revenge would often be worse than the original crime, perhaps even leading to death. The Law of Retaliation was intended to put on a limit on the retribution: You could only take an eye for an eye. In other words, your retribution couldn’t be worse than the crime. If someone stole your livestock, you got an equivalent amount of livestock back, you didn’t get to burn their farm to the ground. This “eye for an eye” Law of Retribution is found throughout the Old Testament, and Jesus’ disciples would have been very familiar with it. We even see the remnants of the Law of Retribution today in our own justice system. Judges and juries attempt to give sentences that are just, without being cruel or unusual punishment. It doesn’t always happen the way it’s supposed to, but at least that’s the intent of the law. But today Jesus is moving his disciples—and us—beyond the law. “An eye for an eye” might have been sufficient at one time, but to be a follower of Jesus we must go beyond that. “Offer no resistance to one who is evil.” “Turn the other cheek.” Jesus is always seeking to lead his disciples further along the road to salvation. And he does this by moving them beyond the law, beyond logic. We see this again when he talks about loving our neighbors and hating our enemies. It’s understandable to hate an enemy, it’s logical. But again, Jesus is trying to move his disciples beyond logic. Or rather, he is giving his disciples a different kind of logic, the logic of love. “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” These are very hard teachings to obey. But Jesus has high expectations for us: “Be perfect, just as your heavenly father is perfect.” Jesus always seeks to lead us further and further toward perfection. Beyond the law, beyond logic, to love. It is in fact the law of love, the logic of love. This is what it means to be Christian. This is the perfection that Jesus asks of us. But he doesn’t just ask it of us. As our Messiah, our savior, he goes before us in living it out. He shows us the way. He gives us the cross as is his concrete demonstration of what it looks to refuse to take an eye for an eye, of what it looks like to love our enemies. We see it every time we gaze upon the crucifix. The crucifix is both our example and our destiny. This past week we had an open house at school, and there was a young family that came with their son to look at our kindergarten. They mentioned early on that they weren’t Catholic, but they were very interested in our school. As we took them on a tour of all the classrooms they had lots of questions. Questions about Mass, questions about religion class, even questions about what science class is like in a Catholic school. It’s very interesting, the perceptions people have about Catholic schools, and we tried to answer all their questions as we walked. And when we got to the last classroom on the tour, the mother took me aside and pointed at the crucifix on the wall and asked in a low voice, “Is there one of those—” she didn’t know what to call it— “A crucifix?” I asked. “—yes, is there one of those in every room?” And I thought to myself,

10 minFEB 24
Comments
The Crucifix on the Wall: Homily for the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Glad Tidings to the Poor: Homily for Christ the King

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, the last Sunday of our Church year. Today all of the themes of Jesus’ life and ministry come together in this one culminating feast here at the end of the year. Each liturgical year has its own particular character because of the fact that we read from one particular gospel. This year it’s been the Gospel according to Luke, and it’s good for us to look back over the year and try to see the entirety of what Luke has shared with us about Jesus. After all the events of Advent and Christmas last year, as January was coming to an end, the weeks of Ordinary Time were beginning, and the Gospel of Luke turned to the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Jesus returned to Nazareth where he grew up, and Luke tells us that his first public act was to enter the synagogue on the Sabbath, unroll the scroll and read these lines from the prophet Isaiah: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me t...

11 min2019 NOV 25
Comments
Glad Tidings to the Poor: Homily for Christ the King

The Mysterious Package: Homily for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

Back around 1995 or 1996, I was teaching my 8th grade class about vocations and the different religious orders. Their assignment was to research a particular religious order and write a report to share with the class. Now this was around 1996 B.G. Before Google. There was no Internet, no search engines, no Wikipedia, no email, and so I had given them a magazine that listed addresses for all the different religious orders in the United States. They got into groups, chose a religious community, did some encyclopedia research, and then they wrote letters to these different communities asking them for information. We got all kinds of wonderful letters back. Religious communities were excited to share their stories with the students. They sent brochures and even wrote letters by hand to tell them about their daily lives. We probably received a dozen or so letters from the different communities. But one was different from the others. Rather than a regular envelope, this one was a big mani...

10 min2019 AUG 26
Comments
The Mysterious Package: Homily for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

The Persistence of Ralphie: Homily for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

Being a parent or grandparent can be really strange. And one of the strangest things about it is when the kids start to imitate you. At first its kind of funny and cute, the way you make faces at them and they try to make faces back. They dress up as mommy or daddy, pretending to do grown up things. But it’s not so funny when they start imitating your bad habits or repeating certain words. As they get older they begin to admire other people and try to imitate them. And it continues even into adulthood. We read biographies from business and political leaders trying to discover the habits and practices that make them so successful, and we try to imitate them. Well that’s what’s happening in today’s gospel reading. Jesus has gathered around him a group of disciples. We recall that the word disciple means “learner.” These are all learners. These people who are following Jesus are trying to learn what he has to teach, trying to learn how to live life the way he does. They must have...

12 min2019 JUL 29
Comments
The Persistence of Ralphie: Homily for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

The Cup of a Carpenter: Homily for Corpus Christi

I read recently that filming is going to begin next year on the fifth Indiana Jones movie. I guess everybody knows who Indiana Jones is, the swashbuckling archaeologist, who goes in search of artifacts like the Ark of the Covenant. Well there’s a scene in the third Indiana Jones movie, The Last Crusade, that can speak to us today as we celebrate Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ. In The Last Crusade, Indiana Jones has spent the entire movie searching for the Holy Grail, the chalice that Jesus is supposed to have used at the Last Supper. The Nazis are also searching for it, because it’s rumored to grant immortality to whoever drinks from it, and they want this powerful artifact for the war. At the end of the movie, Indiana Jones is the first one to reach the secret location where the Grail has been protected throughout the centuries by a guardian knight. But when Indiana Jones gets there, he discovers that the Grail is hiding among dozens of chalices of various shapes an...

10 min2019 JUN 24
Comments
The Cup of a Carpenter: Homily for Corpus Christi

Navigation Apps and Repentance: Homily for the Third Sunday of Lent – Year C

One of the most useful apps on a smart phone is the Maps app. You type in an address of the place you want to go and you’re instantly given not only written directions for how to get there, but you also get a map that shows a path for how to get to your destination. You don’t even have to know the name or even the address of a place you’re trying to get to. You can simply type in “food near me” or “shopping near me.” and you’ll get a list of places you’re looking for along with directions for how to get there. If you’re walking, you can tap the little icon of the person and you’ll get walking directions. If you’re driving, you can tap on the car icon and you’ll get driving directions. If you want to take public transportation, the apps will even tell you which bus routes to take. You can also label places that you visit frequently to make it easier to get directions. For instance, you can type in your home address and give it a label, “Home,” so that no matter where a...

--2019 MAR 25
Comments
Navigation Apps and Repentance: Homily for the Third Sunday of Lent – Year C

The Rhythm of the Spiritual Life – Homily for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

All three readings today speak of the rhythm of the spiritual life. We see it at work in the lives of Isaiah, Paul, and Peter, each in a different context, but it’s the same rhythm. It’s a rhythm of dialogue, of back and forth, like a conversation. And it begins as all things spiritual begin, with God’s initiative. God is always seeking us out, God is always trying to engage us in his divine life, and God always meets us where we are. God comes to Isaiah as a member of the royal family who has a vision. Jesus comes to Paul when he is on his way to Damascus to persecute more Christians. Jesus comes to Peter while he is on his fishing boat working. The rhythm of the spiritual life begins with God taking the initiative to seek us out in our particular walk of life. We can call this movement an encounter with the divine. The spiritual life begins with Encounter. Encounters with God have a profound effect on us. Isaiah has a deep encounter with God in a vision of the Lord on a throne ...

9 min2019 FEB 11
Comments
The Rhythm of the Spiritual Life – Homily for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

In the Principal’s Office: Homily from the Christmas Eve Children’s Mass 2018

Here is the audio from my homily for the Christmas Eve Children’s Mass, December 24, 2018.

8 min2018 DEC 26
Comments
In the Principal’s Office: Homily from the Christmas Eve Children’s Mass 2018

A Thrill of Hope: Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Advent – Year C

Once upon a time, in the early ages of the world, people believed that storms and droughts and sickness were sent by angry gods and goddesses. To the ancient people, the universe was a fearful place, a place of chaos, a place of danger, and the only way to stay safe was to offer sacrifices to try and please the gods. Ancient peoples would sacrifice a portion of the crops, they would sacrifice animals, and in some cases, they even sacrificed humans. But then came a people who learned the truth. God revealed himself to the chosen people as the one God, the only God, and made a covenant with them through Abraham: He would be their God, and they would be his people. He promised them a land flowing with milk and honey. And although the people tried to live out their part of the covenant, they often failed to do God’s will. They worshipped a golden calf while Moses was receiving the Law on Mount Sinai. They grumbled and complained as they traveled through the desert. But God remained eve...

11 min2018 DEC 24
Comments
A Thrill of Hope: Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Advent – Year C

Bumper Stickers and Masters: Homily for the Solemnity of Christ the King – Year B

The other day I was driving home from work, coming up Freya hill, and I noticed a bumper sticker on the car in front of me. People put bumper stickers on their cars for all kinds of reasons, but mostly because they have something to say to the world. “Vote for this or that candidate.” “Work for world peace.” “Support my kid’s school.” Well, this particular driver had a different message. It was a big, red rectangular sticker, and in white letters it read, “No Gods. No Masters.” I suppose that’s how a lot of people today view life, especially here in America. In America we’re pretty proud of the fact that we broke away from England, we cast off the monarchy. That idea has permeated our culture so much that it’s become part of the intellectual air we breathe. We do take pride in the fact that we can forge our own fate, that no one is our master. Like that line from the poem “Invictus,” “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” Our TV shows and our movi...

10 min2018 NOV 26
Comments
Bumper Stickers and Masters: Homily for the Solemnity of Christ the King – Year B
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