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Meeting Joseph at the Home Depot

December 19th, 2010

Homily preached at the Church of the Good Shepherd on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 19, 2010

Who is Joseph? When we look at the Holy Family, we see Jesus, about whom we know so much. We see Mary, who holds a place of honor in our hearts. But what about Joseph?

We know so little about him. But maybe we know more than we think.

We learn a little about Joseph in today’s gospel reading. Here we see a truly heroic figure whose courage is somewhat forgotten. Read the rest of this entry »

Making Peace by the Blood of His Cross

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. Read the rest of this entry »

The Two Doors

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.” Read the rest of this entry »

The Trial of the Steward

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Ask and You Will Receive

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. Read the rest of this entry »