Every year on February 2nd the Church celebrates a feast known today as the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. It is a feast where we celebrate Jesus being presented in the temple when he was a baby by Joseph and Mary. Another traditional name of the feast in the West is the Mass of Candles, because it was at this feast that they developed the custom of a solemn blessing of candles that would symbolize the light of the world, that is Christ, coming into the world and His being presented in the Jerusalem temple.
Let us look at the prayer read outside at the beginning of our procession. Today is the blessed day when Jesus was presented in the Temple by Mary and Joseph. Outwardly fulfilling Jewish law, but in reality Jesus was coming to meet his believing people. Prompted by the Holy Spirit, Simeon and Anna came to the Temple where they recognized the Lord and confessed him with exultation. So let us also, all of us gathered here by the same Holy Spirit proceed to the house of God to encounter Christ. There we shall find him and recognize him in the breaking of the bread.READ MORE
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. Jesus chose to enter the world as a baby, as part of a family. In this way, family life has been part of God’s plan for our salvation, a path to holiness. You might say well that’s easy for a family with two members who knew no sin and the third who was very righteous. But as we see in today’s Gospel, life was not easy for the Holy Family. They are not holy because they never struggled, never worried about what to do, never had problems. No, they are holy because despite their challenges and sufferings they kept trusting in God and His plan for their life. And the family is the path to holiness for most of us here. By placing our trust in God throughout the joys and struggles of married life we are called to grow in holiness.
Before exploring further marriage and family life, a short story. I heard this on Relevant Radio. There was a fireman, I believe from Ireland, who was asked to comment on the one thing that stood out to him the most throughout his career. He had this to say. Whenever I responded to a fire at a residence I could usually tell when a couple was married or just living together. When the couple was just living together, the man of the house would always get out even if all the other family members were not out yet. Whereas, if the couple were married the man of the house would not leave until the other family members were out of the house. That is the self-sacrificial love marriage calls us to.READ MORE
This week and next, our Gospel will focus on the person of John the Baptist, and more importantly how he announces and reveals the fulfillment of the coming of Jesus Christ.
Now, raise your hand if you have a loved one, or at least know of someone who has fallen away from God and the practice of their faith? Chances are, they were raised to believe in God and his Son, Jesus Christ, and they might have grew up going to Church. Think about the many people who might only come to Mass this Christmas, what do you think they would say they believe in? They might know we celebrate the birth of Jesus, but to them the birth of this baby is really no different than any other little child. If Jesus is God, they might wonder: what makes Jesus God? Is it just the mighty works and miracles that Jesus later performed- the same miracles they may or may not believe what they read in the Bible to be true. Even so, they probably don’t know why Jesus is relevant in their lives today. What makes Jesus God? And why is Jesus and Christianity relevant and important to them today? Let us see how our readings today answer these questions.READ MORE
In our Gospel today we hear the tax collector’s simple prayer, “O God be merciful to me, a sinner.” This has been described as a complete summary of Christian spirituality. This prayer connects us with God because it recognizes two things. First, it acknowledges God’s greatest quality in relation to us a sinful people which is His mercy. Secondly it recognizes our need for that mercy for our own salvation.
Before we explore this further a story of God’s answer to one man’s humble prayer. Some of you may have heard this story about Catholic musician, Jacob Rudd. Jacob was in the seminary studying to be a priest. When a decision had to be made to go on from college seminary to major seminary he began to question whether God was calling him to the priesthood that he loved so much. Jacob had a deep devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux and asked her to send a rose to aid in his discernment: a red rose if he was called to marriage and no rose if he should continue towards the priesthood.READ MORE
Raise your hand if you want to go to Heaven? Good everyone’s hand is raised.
Raise your hand if you want to become a Disciple of Jesus? I should see everyone’s hand- Because as we will see becoming a disciple is what it takes to enter Heaven.
Raise your hand if you think you are a Disciple of Jesus? 5%- bulletin, Becoming Disciples is part of our Vision statement as a parish. - demanding cost of discipleship.
Gospel- Confusing and hard statement- unless we hate our family member’s we cannot be Jesus’ disciple? How can God who is love, who called us to love our enemies, and honor our father and mother- call us to hate the very same people we are called to love and honor?
What does Jesus mean? Perhaps Matthew’s version of this passage will clarify. “Whoever loves father or mother, or son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me”
So how might you sometimes love your family more than God? Say you go on vacation or to your sons or daughter’s sporting event or something- if you don’t try to find a Mass where you are then you are loving your family more than God.READ MORE
I began my homily last week stating our new Vision statement that the Pastoral Council and Parish Staff developed a couple of weeks ago. Our new Vision statement is: The Body of Christ Becoming Disciples. Upcoming bulletins will share more details about our Vision statement, so please stay tuned. In my homily last week, I said that stewardship, and being a good steward, is an aspect of Discipleship. Our Gospel last week, the Parable of the Rich Fool, revealed what stewardship is. Stewardship is not solely about money, as some people might think, but rather stewardship is the attitude we have about all the things that we have, including money; it is about seeing everything we have as gifts from God to be used well for His purposes and the good of His people. And so, to paraphrase the last line of last week’s Gospel, stewardship is about becoming rich in what matters to God. So, if you attended this mass last week, or a mass that I did not celebrate, I encourage you to read my homily from last week on our website.READ MORE
As we reflect on the readings today there is one question we should ask ourselves, will I commit myself wholeheartedly to following Jesus? Before we explore this further I will share these words spoken by Franklin D. Roosevelt to our nation in 1936 which I think apply to us today. He said, “No greater thing could come to our land today than a revival of the spirit of religion—a revival that would sweep through the homes of the nation and stir the hearts of men and women of all faiths to a reassertion of their belief in God and their dedication to His will for themselves and for their world.” He would say, “I doubt if there is any problem whether it be social, political or economic that would not melt away before the fire of such a spiritual awakening.”
Our readings today allude to a great cosmic battle that is taking place all around us. They invite us to consider the struggle and difficulty inherent in being a Christian. The path of following Christ is frequently one of opposition, one of difficulty in every time and place. If we are not living with that tension then perhaps we are not living out our faith fully as a follower of Christ. To follow Christ completely will come with a cost as His mission was not to smooth over differences but to call us to the fullness of the truth and to perfect holiness.READ MORE
What is the Vision of this parish? Who are we, why do we exist, what are we called to? A couple of weeks ago, the parish staff and Pastoral Council met together to discuss those same questions. The Vision for us, the parish of Corpus Christi, which we came up with is: The Body of Christ Becoming Disciples. A true disciple puts God first in all things in one’s life and allows God to influence every aspect of one’s life according to His will. You will be able to read more about what our vision statement means in the bulletin shortly, but today our readings talk about one important aspect of becoming a disciple. That aspect of discipleship is stewardship. When you think of Stewardship- most probably think about money. But, as I hope to show in our readings today, stewardship is not all about money, money is only a part of stewardship. But stewardship is about directing the attitude of our hearts and the things of our lives towards God.READ MORE
Friends, if you remember last week’s Gospel in which Deacon preached about what it means to be a follower of Jesus, what it means to be a disciple. Perhaps the last verse will jog your memory, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God”. In other words, to be a disciple, to truly follow Jesus we cannot be look back to what we left behind, but we must have eyes and hearts looking forward to where Jesus leads us. I bring last week’s Gospel up because today’s Gospel and the sending of the 72 others comes immediately after that verse. However, what I want to do today, is to continue the theme began last week about what it means to follow Jesus by highlighting perhaps the greatest example for us in St Paul, and unpacking a few but powerful verses of his writing in today’s 2nd reading.
St Paul is the first witness and teacher about what Christianity and Discipleship is all about. Keep in mind also, that before Paul became perhaps the greatest evangelist the Church and world has ever known, Paul was Saul- a devout Jew who persecuted the Church Christ established. So, if there is hope for a man like Saul, there is hope for you and I, and every lost soul we pray for.READ MORE