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Archive for the ‘Liturgy’ Category

“I do believe, help my unbelief”

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Homily preached at the Church of the Good Shepherd, January 30, 2011, Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

From ancient times, Christians have been visiting an area of rolling hills overlooking the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. There a church was built as early as the Fourth Century to mark the traditional site of the Sermon on the Mount. According to tradition, it was here that Jesus taught the Beatitudes, which we just heard in today’s Gospel reading.

The modern church that sits on this site was built in 1938. It’s a small, octagonal church with a central dome. The surroundings are expansive and vast. From a plaza beneath the church you can sit and look out over the Sea of Galilee. It is so easy to imagine listening to Jesus teach in the open air.

I’ve been to that spot three times, leading pilgrimages. Generally I would take the group into the Church, and we would listen to the same Gospel reading we’ve just heard, sitting in a circle around the altar. After a short period of reflection, we would go outside and discuss what the Beatitudes meant to us. (more…)

Making Peace by the Blood of His Cross

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

Homily preached at the Church of the Good Shepherd November 21, 2010, Solemnity of Christ the King

Did you know that today’s celebration is one of the newest on our liturgical calendar? The Feast of Christ the King was established by Pius XI in 1925. In church years, that’s practically yesterday.

In his letter establishing this celebration, Pius XI carefully laid out his reasons as to why he thought this feast was necessary. His primary reason was to highlight the fact that our modern societies needed to be reminded that only by following the Gospel will true justice be achieved. Only the commandments of Christ the King can bring true peace and social cooperation. (more…)

The Two Doors

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Homily preached at the Church of the Good Shepherd, October 24, 2010

I don’t know how many of you have been to the Museum of Tolerance just down on Pico Boulevard. It is dedicated not only to remembering the Holocaust, but also many other forms of prejudice throughout history, and it’s definitely worth a visit. If you have time this afternoon, why put it off? It’s open today until 5 p.m.

The experience of self-examination begins right at the entrance to the exhibits. There are two doors. One is labeled “Prejudiced” and the other is labeled “Not Prejudiced,” and visitors are invited to enter through the door they think describes themselves.

Unfortunately, the door marked “Not Prejudiced” cannot be opened. Every visitor must humble himself or herself and enter through the door marked for the prejudiced.

In today’s gospel reading (Luke 18:9-14), we are also presented with two doors. One is labeled “Judgmental” and other is labeled “Non-judgmental.” But just like at the museum, we all must enter through the door marked “Judgmental.” (more…)

The Trial of the Steward

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

Homily preached September 19 at the Church of the Good Shepherd

“I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth.”

Did Jesus really say that? Apparently so. And that’s why the parable in today’s Gospel reading (Luke 16:1-13) is probably one of the most debated passages in all of the gospels.

On a quick read, it seems that Jesus is endorsing dishonesty. But there are a few things that make this parable an excellent way to understand all of the parables of Jesus by examining one of the most difficult parables.

First of all, this is a great example of why we shouldn’t quote lines from scripture without context. Even a parable must be interpreted in context. That means not only what comes before and after in the gospel, but also the culture of the times.

Then, we must understand that a parable is not an allegory. A parable is a story based on nature or human relationships, with an unexpected twist, that is open to more than one interpretation.

So based on that, let’s see if we can unpack what this parable has to say to us today. And to do that, we have to remember the passages from Luke we heard over the past few weeks and what is coming up. (more…)

Ask and You Will Receive

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

Homily preached at Good Shepherd Church, July 25, 2010

Ask and you will receive.

The simplicity of this statement is astounding. And yet it is at the same time so full of meaning that we have spent 2,000 years trying to understand it.

We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, great teachers of prayer: Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Therese of Lisieux, Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, and so many others. We travel prayerful roads with them and with others we know in our own lives as we unravel the mystery of prayer. We learn, we practice, we seek, and yet the wonders of prayer are never exhausted.

Still, there is the stark simplicity of Jesus’ words: “Ask and you will receive.” But what do we receive? Ah, there is the mystery.

But before we tackle that, let’s take a look at some of the basics of prayer we can learn from today’s Gospel. (more…)