Sunday, January 30, 2022

What's love got to do with it? (Sunday homily)

 Jeremiah had to do it, and so did Jesus.

That is, they had to say things that upset people.

But the reason they did it wasn’t just to stir the pot.

It was out of love for the people who needed to be woken up.


So, before you get into an argument with someone – especially online – ask this question: 

how is what I am saying fundamentally about loving this person I’m talking to?

You could even start that way. Instead of leading with, “you’re wrong!”

Begin with, “because I care about you, I want to say thus-and-so…”

Ah, but that takes more work:

you and I have to stop and process that question: 

what has love got to do with whatever I’m going to say? 

See, everything you and I stand for, as Catholics – 

everything we get beat up for believing – is about love.

God’s love for us, and a proper love on our part for each other.

So, for example, consider what we say about marriage.

That, in turn, is directly related to what a man is, what a woman is.

Sexual love is properly shared between a husband and a wife. 

There is another love – it’s called friendship – 

which is proper for two men, and for two women.

Yet another love that is proper being parents and children,

and between brothers and sisters. 

So, consider the popular slogan: “love is love.”

That makes people feel good, but that is actually a lie.

The love of married couples is NOT the same as love between siblings.

And lying is never the loving thing to do.

Here’s the hard truth no one wants to say:

Because men and women are different – 

they complement each other, but they are not interchangeable – 

then, when two people of the same sex attempt marriage,

there are some essential things that are missing.

And people will say, oh those don’t matter. 

But we know that’s not true, because many same-sex couples themselves go looking, 

outside their relationship, for precisely those missing elements.

So, we all saw a picture of the Secretary of Transportation, 

Pete Buttigieg, with his “husband” and two newborn children.

Everyone said, how wonderful!

But what was intentionally excluded from that happy picture? 

The mother of those children. 

Men need women to compensate for their weaknesses, 

and women need men for the same reason.

If you are wondering what love is: it is to seek the good of the other.

And again, a hard truth: the good of you, the good of me, 

is rarely “self-fulfillment.” The true good I need is self-DENIAL.

So, when you or I just nod and go along with today’s false values,

that is easier, but how is that the loving thing to do?

So many people say, I’ll just create my own reality.

That sounds great, but it’s an illusion. 

After 80, 90, 100 or so years, we all die,

and then we face Ultimate and Unyielding Reality.

Then, either our choices in this life prepared us for God’s Reality, 

and then we will be happy forever!

Or else, our choices shaped us at cross-purposes to God’s Reality, 

and that means eternal misery.

Yes, these are hard things to say, and people may not accept them.

But remember when Jesus said the tough things he did, 

at the same time, he was planning to die on the Cross, 

for the people to whom he spoke.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Jesus gives you the best access (Sunday homily)

 First, let me say that I am still recovering from Covid. 

My energy levels are low. 

I’m very grateful for so many prayers and so much love, thank you! 

This will be a short homily.

Second, this is the weekend to announce 

the Catholic Ministries Appeal. 

I’ve written more about this in the bulletin. 

You know about this: 

it supports several very worthy causes in our archdiocese, 

and you’ve always been generous in supporting them. 

Remember that when we exceed the goal, 

a portion of that comes back to St. Remy 

and we use that for our youth programs.

Now let me talk about the readings. 

If you are enough of a bigshot in politics, 

you might be able to have dinner with the President to give him advice. 

If you write a big enough check, 

you can get one of those fancy suites 

at the Bengals stadium, protected from the weather, 

and have a waiter to bring you drinks and snacks whenever you want.

But notice what Jesus does. 

He doesn’t just call us VIPs who can sit close to him. 

He makes us part of him: members of his Body! 

What could be closer or more intimate? 

And it doesn’t require a million-dollar check. 

This privilege isn’t only for a few. 

Anyone, no matter how lowly or disreputable, can have this access.

And yet how many Catholics, treated so royally by Jesus, 

disregard his generosity? 

He asks that you and I come be with him once a week, 

but many find that too much to ask. 

Since you and I are a part of him, 

of course that calls for living holy lives – 

but we don’t want to be too different from the world around us. 

If people had to pay money for this access, 

perhaps they would value it more?

Remember what Saint Paul said to you today: 

“You are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.”

There is nothing anyone in the world can say, or do, 

to change that great honor and dignity! 

There is no one who can take away that good news! 

Sunday, January 09, 2022

Jesus' baptism and your identity (Sunday homily)

 Today we recall when Jesus showed up 

on the banks of the Jordan River and asked to be baptized.

We might wonder, first: why did he do this, 

and second, why is this important to us? What does it mean?

John was baptizing people as an act of repentance. 

They were confessing their sins along the way.

So: they were, in a sense, going to confession.

The shocker is to see the Lord Jesus get in that line.

Jesus puts himself squarely with us, in our situation. 

He does not hesitate at all.

This is also about Jesus showing himself as the new Adam.

The first Adam rebelled and failed to keep God’s law, 

and that set the whole, sorry story of human history in motion. 

Here, Jesus does the exact opposite.

This Adam is obedient. He fully does his Father’s will. 

And, most astounding, Jesus accepts the punishment for sin 

that otherwise was due to Adam and the rest of us.

So, when Jesus came to be baptized, he accepted 

his vocation as the faithful Son, the new Adam, the Messiah.

That included the Cross.

Remember something else John said on this occasion:

“Behold the Lamb of God”!

I hear you saying, “Fine, but what does this have to do with ME?”

When you and I were baptized, we became part of Jesus, 

born again of water and the Holy Spirit. 

So, I ask you: will you respond to God as Jesus did?

Will you embrace the life you have been given?

Will you take up the Cross? Will you be a witness to Jesus?

Maybe you never gave much thought to your baptism. 

Think about it now. 

At a certain point, each of us must decide 

to make the commitment of baptism our own. 

So, in case it wasn’t clear, this is why I sprinkled you with Holy Water. 

And, in case you never realized it, 

when we recite the Creed in a moment, 

you and I are confirming our baptism.

Something else happens when we are baptized.

You and I become part of Jesus, and we gain God as our Father.

Saint Paul said we become “heirs of hope of eternal life.”

When Paul calls us “heirs,” that is no metaphor.

He means that literally.

Children not only inherit all the stuff their parents owned, 

they inherit all that their parents are.

When children are conceived and born, 

What do people say? “You have your mother’s eyes!”

“You look just like your daddy!”

And as we grow to adulthood, like it or not, we become a lot like them.

So, to be “heirs” with Jesus, means that when the Father said, 

"You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased,”

He didn’t only say it to Jesus. He said it to you and me, too!

That’s what the Father said – of you – when you were baptized.

It is what he says every time you and I go to confession.

Each of us has moments of doubt.

Maybe you are single and wondering, what does God have for me?

Are you called to be a priest or in religious life?

That seems so scary, and you may think, I’m not holy enough.

Or you are married

and you despair of ever being a good enough parent. 

Every mistake is always on your mind.

Perhaps you are a young person, and you hate being asked, 

“what are you going to do with your life?” Because you have no clue!

Let’s talk about how, in recent years, so many people are “coming out” 

and saying, “I’m gay,” or “I’m trans” and the like. 

So many of us are bewildered. We’re told, just say it’s great.

We react with jokes or just trying to wave it all away.

These developments are part of a much broader problem: 

more and more people simply do not know who they are. 

By that I mean: they are losing the thread of what it means 

to be human, as opposed to being just another animal.

They are losing the realization that they – we – are a child of God.

And by that, I mean, a God who relates to us 

and acts in our lives and wants you and I me to know him.

A lot of the anger and dislocation in our society is a product of this:

that people who were created to be loved, are starved for that love.

Without stable, secure, family love, they don’t know who they are.

Sooner or later, each of us will meet a family member or friend 

who says he or she can’t relate comfortably with the opposite sex.

They are so disoriented 

that they don’t know if they are male or female.

Don’t dismiss them. Embrace them! Walk with them. And tell them:

Jesus got in line with you! He takes up your cross with you!

The Holy Spirit came down on you!

And the Father says to you: “You are my beloved child. 

With you I am well pleased!”