Did you hear something that resonated with you? Are you looking to reflect on the weekend homily?
No need to worry! The homily will be made available here in both written and audio form some time during the following week. Click on the links below to take you to a specific homily.
No need to worry! The homily will be made available here in both written and audio form some time during the following week. Click on the links below to take you to a specific homily.
twenty-fourthsunday in ordinary time
Twenty-fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time
September 12, 2021
History books tell the story of the Woman’s Suffrage Movement that finally led to the 19th Amendment of our Constitution giving the right to vote to women in 1920. Or before that, the Abolitionist Movement to end the practice of slavery in our country. But there are some of us who are old enough will remember the “movements” of the 50’s and 60’s: the Civil Rights Movement and the Anti-war Movement and the Anti-apartheid Movement (of South Africa) and the Farm-workers Movement, and all the heroes those who literally gave their lives to those movements.
Our younger generation will have their own to remember: Occupy Wall Street, Criminal Justice Reform, Me, too! Black Lives Matter! and so many other movements that take up issues under the banners of Global Warming, Immigration, Gun Control, equal access to health care, protection of our LGBTQ family and friends; calls to bring an end to the Death Penalty, gun control and bullying and violence in our schools.
There has never been a time in our history without movements to address complex critical issues, nor a shortage of people of passion in every generation to lead those movements. Because every issue, every passion that surrounds those movements surface and are given life and find momentum because of one thing: someone is suffering. Suffering gives is the catalyst to all social justice issues. Always has been; always will be. History will prove which of them make strides in humanity’s treatment of one another and which ones barely make a ripple.
But there is a side of suffering that should not be avoided, from which every human person benefits and of which every one of us is called in some way to participate: the Suffering Servant.
In the great tradition of our faith, the image of the suffering servant has surfaced time and time again in great prophets of old (like Isaiah) and prophets of our time who have “set their face like flint” for their belief that God is calling us to a higher standard. We have seen it in saints who are given recognition by the Church and saints that live quiet and humble lives who “give (so generously for) the necessities of the body” for the poor and suffering. There are servants who live in the center of great movements and whose names will be remembered in perpetuity, and servants who live and die in the quiet of their own homes and neighborhoods – all of whom have followed the way of Christ THE suffering servant of all time, denying themselves and taking up the cross.
This weekend we rightfully remember all those who lost their lives in that tragic day 20-years ago in our country, and the thousands of others- soldiers who fought sacrificed so much, and other innocent men, women and children, who have lost their lives in the 20-years of wars to follow. Our faith compels us to remember them.
But our faith also compels us to unite with them in that suffering, to do what work we yet need to do for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for the sake of those who continue to needlessly suffer, for the sake of those yet to take their first breath or breathe their last.
In a moment (and I promise, it will just be a moment) we will stand and recite the Creed. We will begin with the words, “I believe…” At the urging and intercession of St. James, may we always give life to that faith by our works on behalf of those who continue to suffer in this world – especially if that means we too might be given the privilege of suffering on their behalf.
twenty-third sunday in ordinary time
Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 5, 2021
It all started with CNN in 1980 but they were not to be alone for long. Along with FOX and MSNBC, the network news channels began battling for our ears. Neck-to-neck and not to be outdone, they all started their spin-offs. And if what they broadcasting is not to our likeness, we always have Bloomberg Television, CBSN, EWTN, Newsmax, The Blaze, Fusion, One America News Network, NewsNation, Black News Channel, Al Jazeera America and almost 2000 more specialty news channels available to the English-speaking world including, of course, those who wish to get their news from a multitude of Weather Channels and at least seven ESPN channels. Adding to the mix are countless, literally thousands of blogs and self-touted internet authorities from which we can choose, as well.
Our minds are filled with so much information and mis-information, political perspectives that become ideologies that no longer look for truth - but simply for anything, truth or not, that supports a far-biased perspective. Sometimes we just quit listening to any of it and come out of it knowing nothing. Most likely, come out of it with fear and trembling.
And yet, in that crazy mix, stands the whisper of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God’s Word made flesh.
Perhaps we have more in common with the deaf man than we think. His speech was impeded, as if often the case, by what he can (or more likely cannot) hear. Just like him, our voices, too, are formed by what we hear or don’t hear. Our opinions and our truths, our viewpoints and ideas are formed by what we hear, what we choose to listen to. How we prioritize our life, how we spend our money and set our schedules; what takes precedent on our calendars and what we buy on Amazon; who we see as our enemies and who consider our allies; what we fear, who we love and accept, and who we hate and condemn is all decided by what voices we allow into our lives.
Still, the Gospel of Jesus Christ doesn't give up. God’s Word made flesh will not be silenced, will not be drowned out.
Isaiah said there would come a day when the eyes of the blind would be opened, the ears of the deaf (would) be cleared. That day came when God spoke through Jesus Christ; when he made the love of God human, real. St. James and so many others did their part to carry that word to the next generation. He said, “Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters! Listen!”
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not just words written in a book that we kind-of listen to once a week or even once a day; it is not simply a story of yet a healer and preacher of the age. It is God, the God of eternity, that spoke, and still does. There is a living Christ among us now, the Spirit of God not giving up, trying so hard to get our attention. We may not feel the finger of God in our ear but it’s there, a voice of love and mercy that is groaning, “Ephphatha! Be opened.” We may not feel his finger touch our tongue, but it has, begging us to not let his voice be silent any more.
feast of the assumption of the blessed virgin mary
Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
August 15, 2021
In 1950 Pope Pius XII declared the doctrine of the church regarding the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Growing up in Europe, his generation would have already witnessed the slaughter and genocide of hundreds of thousands of Armenian people in the late 1800’s, the loss of ten million lives in World War I (the war to end all wars…but didn’t), the death of forty million lives in the Russian Revolution, the extermination of six million Jewish lives in the Holocaust, and fifty million casualties of World War II.
Perhaps, having been a part of a world where the reverence and respect for life had been so blatantly disregarded, Pope Pius knew what we all knew: that we must do better, that we were better than this. Here’s what he declared in that doctrinal statement in 1950: “I intend that the celebration of the Assumption of Mary might make clear the sacredness and the high destiny of every single human person.” Clearly, this was more than a theological doctrine about the Blessed Mother; this was a doctrine about the sacredness of every human person – body and soul.
Fast-forward to 2021: In our world today, we continue to experience a mostly-unnecessary, but continuing world-wide spread of COVID-19; gun violence has become commonplace, almost an acceptable norm; the lives of unborn children continue to be at risk. We live in a world where families still must flee their homes in fear, seeking refuge in far-away places. Addictions continue to threaten individual’s lives and the well-being of families. Today, a tiny fraction of people hold the vast majority of wealth (and therefore, power), and racial inequities around the world continue to create great chasms of injustice. In our country health care is unevenly accessible and, quite literally, our over-indulgence is the cause of many health-related issues in young and old.
I’m not a Pius XII but I think you’d agree: we must do better than this; we are better than this.
Perhaps, for these reasons even more than for reasons of church dogma, it is good that we remember and celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. By declaring the ultimate dignity of the body and soul of the Blessed Mother, we also declare the dignity of the body and soul of all human beings.
What this Feast has to offer is a chance, before the end of time or the end of our time, to make a difference, to change, to re-evaluate what is important and essential and critical, and to honor our own and each other’s bodies and souls. Before all the enemies of the kingdom of God have been destroyed, we have the opportunity to participate in that promise and adjust our values, change our priorities, and correct our injustices, to be a part of creating a holier world- one life, one body, one soul at a time, maybe even starting with our own.
What this Feast has to offer is the opportunity to be a part of fulfilling that great Canticle of Mary, where the proud will be scattered in their conceit and the mighty will be cast down from their thrones; when the lowly will be lifted up, when the hungry would be filled with good things and that the rich be sent away empty.
So today, in the words of Pope Pius XII, I pray, and I hope you do too, “that the celebration of the Assumption of Mary might make clear the sacredness and the high destiny of every- single- human person.”
19th sunday in ordinary time
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 8, 2021
As most of you know, Sr. Jovita, who has served our parish (St. Mary Help of Christians Parish) over the last 14-years and the church for a lifetime, will move this week to a retirement apartment for the Sisters of St. Agnes in Fond du Lac. It is a well-deserved move and we all know she will find ways to continue to serve the church in the years to come. Now, I know that I should not start telling stories about her until after she leaves, but I just can’t help it.
It happened a few years ago. Sr. Jovita was driving back to Briggsville from a long day in the Wisconsin Holy Land. She was getting tired, so, wisely and prudently that afternoon, she pulled off the road to take a short nap.
To make a long story short, she was awakened from that nap by a young police officer and an ambulance crew that was soon to follow. Someone saw her and, fearing that she was experiencing a medical emergency, thoughtfully called it in. Later that week, I made her a sign to keep in the car: “I’m fine. I’m just taking a nap.” She keeps that sign in her car and continues to use it to this day.
Athlete’s call it “hitting the wall.” Those who suffer from addictions call it “hitting the bottom.” We’ve all felt it at work, when we just can’t take it anymore. When we walk out of the doctor’s office after the bad test results. When we realize our smart phone is smarter than we are. As parents, when we snap at the kids, or as kids when we slam our bedroom door on our parents with the obligatory, “Whatever!”
Olympians, politicians, pastors, husbands and wives, store clerks, nurses, teachers, even drivers…we all know the moment when we reach our limit. Even Elijah, the great prophet knew the moment – He sat down under the broom tree and “He prayed for death, saying: ‘This is enough, O Lord!’”
In those moments, my friends, we pause, we take a breath, we might shed a tear or scream at God or anyone who is listening; or maybe we just take a nap. But then, sometimes later than sooner, we find what we need to move on, we drive the next mile, we walk the next step, we turn the page. We do what we have to do because God gives us our “hearth cake and jug of water,” that voice within us that assures us we don’t have to do this alone. We are sealed with the Holy Spirit and we find the words we need, the strength we need, the grace we need at that moment.
With friends and family and (sometimes) strangers who offer us a hand, let us cry on their shoulders, listen to our story, offer us a note of encouragement, God shakes us out of our despair.
In this, we remember the promise of Jesus, the bread of life. The bread of life who dwells with us in our worst moments and holds us up. The bread of life who speaks to us in our desperation and our exhaustion and gives us the strength to take the next step. Jesus is the bread that offers us forgiveness when we can’t forgive ourselves, and the grace to forgive someone else when we are sure we can’t, to be compassionate, imitators of God. Jesus is the tomorrow when we are stuck solidly in the muck of today.
Sometimes we have to pull off the road or rest our heads against the broom tree. But then we get up, dust ourselves off, and continue the journey. Because we believe…
18th sunday in ordinary time
18th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Deacon Dennis Sutter
Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life.”
As a kid, growing up on a farm, you sometimes had to create things to do for entertainment in between the work that needed to be done. Well, we, my older brothers and I, decided that it would be neat to make paths through our oats field, like a maze, and try to find one another. You could crawl on your hands and knees and flatten the oats as you made a path, and no one could see you because the oats were about 3 feet high.
Well, when dad found out what we were doing he didn’t think it was such a
neat idea at all, and he made that very clear and memorable.
You see as kids we were focused on having fun, but dad, in this case, was focused on providing for a family, raising a crop that would provide food for us. The oats we had trampled on in the paths we had made were destroyed; it couldn’t be harvested. We didn’t realize its value, because we were kids, and didn’t understand. For the moment, the field of oats were something to play in. But for my father, the oats held a much higher value, for him the oats would help feed the chickens, the sheep, and the cows, so we, in return, could get eggs, and wool, and milk, and meat.
In our first reading the Israelites are in the desert with no food and they’re
complaining to Moses that they would have been better off enslaved back in
Egypt with food, then free in the desert, hungry and in need. But God was there, he heard their grumbling, and he provided quail and bread, food for their journey, bread from heaven.
Freedom comes at a cost, as independent as we sometimes are, we find out that walking through life on our own doesn’t always work out, but that to succeed we need God’s help, His Grace, which, when asked, he graciously provides.
Our faith asks us to live in the world but not to be a part of it.
Our second reading says we should put away our former way of life and be renewed in the spirit of our minds, created in God’s way.
God is always with us. He was with the Israelites as they walked out of Egypt and away from slavery. He was with them in the desert as they journeyed to the promised land. He's with us today in John’s gospel in the person of Jesus Christ.
It says the crowds were looking for Jesus. Why?? In Jesus’ words, “you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life.”
That phrase “do not work for food that perishes,” sort of stuck with me. I
started thinking about what I feed on, my diet, of the things I listen to every day,
about the things I watch, what I read, my daily conversation with people, how I
spend my time, even the food that I consume.
And then I started thinking about what am I working for? Do I work for things I need or things I want? And is it giving me life or is it consuming, my life?
Am I working for God, as one who follows him, or myself?
I am by no means saying we shouldn’t enjoy life but in my life are my pursuits leading me towards, or distracting me from, eternal life.
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
Bread is such a simple and common food throughout the world. Yet, when I
think about it, it’s hard to understand as great and wonderful as God is, the one who created you and me and the world, could humble himself to be the bread that gives life to the world, the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We gather at this table as a community, celebrating the Sacrifice of Our
Lord. Humbly preparing ourselves to receive the Bread of Life, knowing who it is
that we hold in the palm of our hands.
We're always looking, searching for the next best food, fun, or destination,
that the world has to offer, when, it is the Bread of Life that offers us the highest value, eternal life.
I trampled a part of my father's oats crop because I didn't realize it's value,
that it provided food for me and our family. We may not fully comprehend this Life-Giving Bread, but may we always trust Jesus' promise that it will take away our hunger and thirst for the temporary things of this world.
So, they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
15th sunday in ordinary time
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 11, 2021
Like many of you, I am a list-maker. You know – we make a list of things to do, things to buy when we go shopping, lists of people to contact, lists of errands we need to run. Lists help us to at least offer the illusion that we are not living pure chaos every day, all day. We don’t always write it down, sometimes it stays in our heads (and sometimes it gets lost in our heads) but at least with a list, we have some kind of direction for our days, a direction of what we plan to accomplish.
But the downside of living our life day-by-day with lists is that while we might remain on task, it is so easy to lose sight of our call. Our Call: that sense of purpose that is deeper to our character than any to-do list, knitted into our very DNA by God the Creator. Our Call is not what we want to do or accomplish, but what God wants us to accomplish through us, what God needs us to do, not for our sake, but for the sake of the kingdom. And I’m pretty sure we can’t get there, to really know our Call, with our to-do lists.
What makes it all the more difficult is that our “Call” is almost impossible to name. It is generally as vague as fog but at the same time it is relentless. (As God often is.) But all of us have been called. By the very nature of our creation, God has carved into our hearts a place for us to serve, a path for us to take. No less than he did for Amos or any other prophets (reluctant as they were). No less so than the apostles (who got their call directly from the voice of Jesus himself!) The voice of God beckons us, as well, sets us on a mission to, in our time, in our circumstances of life, in some way, manner or form, to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To plant a seed of his mercy. To speak of peace and justice in the midst of anger or division. To bind up some wounds. To clarify a truth. To love when and where no one else dares to love.
What else in God’s name do we exist for other than to do that?!
Our challenge, at every stage of our lives, is to find call. To wake up every day and ask God: what is it you want of me today? Where do you speak up? What can I do to bring some hope? How can I be a part of this, God, not just a spectator? And that, my friends, is the challenge.
Hidden in the many words of scripture today were these few: “May you know what is the hope that belongs to our call.” It was the verse that the cantor sang between the Alleluias. Right there, in that almost forgotten proclamation, I find the key.
Look for what gives you hope. Because right there, riding on the wings of hope, you will find your call.
We are part of something greater than we can imagine, than Amos could imagine, than what even the disciples could imagine. As St. Paul so eloquently wrote: “In [Christ] we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory.”
We pray today that we will never lose sight of that hope, the hope that guides us and sustains us and enlightens the eyes of our hearts. If that is the only thing on our to-do list, that would be enough.