TORMENTED BY DEMONS

The homily is based on Matthew 15:21-28.

In today’s Gospel story, Jesus meets a mother who begs him for help. Her daughter, she says, is tormented by demons. The mother is desperate, so desperate, in fact, that she herself torments the Lord’s disciples, who eventually goes to Jesus to ask him to send the woman away “for she keeps calling out after us.”

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THE ART OF WALKING ON WATER

This homily was based on Matthew 14:22-33.

We’ve all heard that phrase “standing on solid ground.” Today’s Gospel is about anything but standing on solid ground. Do you remember ever feeling like you’ve run out of solid ground? One day you get out of bed, and for some reason, you feel completely unsure of your world, your life, and yourself. Maybe it’s because there’s some kind of crisis in your life–the sudden death of a loved one, the painful end of a valued relationship, the loss of a much-needed job, or just some unexpected detour or dead end. Sometimes you can’t even quite put your finger on any specific reason for how you feel, but the bottom line is, you don’t feel grounded.

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ONLY JESUS

This homily is based on Matthew 17:1-9 for the Transfiguration of our Lord.

The Transfiguration of our Lord was–quite literally–“a brief shining moment.” It was that one fleeting moment when Jesus’ divinity–normally hidden during his earthly life–shone through, but only for one fleeting moment.

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One moment Jesus’ face was bright like the sun, and his clothes white as light as he stood there between the two great prophets, Moses and Elijah. The next moment he was alone and it was “only Jesus.” Continue reading ONLY JESUS

FINDING IT AND LOSING IT

This reflection is based on Matthew 13:44-46.

We have two very similar mini-parables in today’s Gospel reading, and the one thing they have in common is that their characters both find something and lose something. In the first one, a person digs up a valuable treasure in some field, and what does he do? He “loses it”: He reburies the treasure, sells all that he has, and buys the field.

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LISTEN TO THE GROANING

This homiily is based on Romans 8:26-27 and Matthew 13:24-30.

In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul uses an intriguing description to refer to the sound of the Spirit praying in us: “The Spirit himself intercedes with ‘inexpressible groanings’.” There’s a reason why the Apostle didn’t liken it to something more conventional or more appealing. Like why not, for instance, a beautiful song?

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ALONE TOGETHER

This homily, based on John 6:51-58, was delivered at St. Agnes Church for the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ.

Sherry Turkle has a book called “Alone Together” The title is telling enough, but if there’s any doubt about what it means, the subtitle says it all: “Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other.”

We know what she’s talking about, don’t we?

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GRASPING MYSTERY

This homily based on John 3:16-18 for the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity was delivered at St. Agnes Church.

St. Anselm of Canterbury came up with a concept that is as much a tongue-twister as it is a brain-twister. He described God as “that than which nothing greater can be conceived.”

Think about that for a minute. It means that there is absolutely nothing that we can imagine that can be greater than God.

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Mystics–those blessed people among us who have been blessed with such an intense prayer life that they have acquired an intimate knowledge of God–have reached a consensus about the mystery of God: The closer they approach God, they sense, more than ever, their own sinfulness. More than that, the more they get to know God, the more they realize they know so little about Him. This is what St. Anselm means with his tongue/brain-twister. God is simply so holy and so great that His ways are just way beyond us, and He Himself is just way beyond our conception. Continue reading GRASPING MYSTERY

ONE PENTECOST EXPERIENCE

This homily for Pentecost Sunday, based on Acts 2:1-11, was delivered at St. Agnes Church, San Francisco, and is my personal tribute to the late Fr. Jerry Martinson SJ (1942-2017).

Pentecost doesn’t always happen exactly the way it did that first time. 

That first Pentecost, the disciples were waiting for the Holy Spirit as they huddled in that upper room, the same room where Jesus had promised to send them his Spirit. But nothing could have prepared them when the Spirit finally showed up in their midst. There was wind and fire and an explosion of languages. It must have been an extraordinary and unforgettable experience! That one event certainly shaped the rest of their lives and defined the history of the Church.

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