The title of my homily for this feast of St. Philip and St.
James is, “Introducers!”
I’m only going to look at Philip - not James - sorry to any
James here. I want to look at Philip’s place in the gospels - and it’s not that
much of a picture of him. I like to see him as “The introducer!”
I have lots of weddings and one of my favorite questions is,
“How did you two meet?”
And often in the description of how a couple discovered each
other I hear the word “introduced”. My
best friend introduced us to each other. Or a cousin or a co-worker. Nice. I’ve
heard a couple of times the story when a
guy said his girl friend introduced us to each other - and I dropped her
- when I saw this one. Ouch! Maybe.
If we look at our life, we
can come up with people who introduced us to Tupperware, The Green
Turtle, Bridge, Tennis, NCIS, Ball Room Dancing, or what have you.
If we look at the story of our life, we can come up with who
introduced us to friends.
Good playwrights and good story tellers know how to use
people to introduce other people or new situations into a story - small part
people who bring about a change in the direction of the plot.
So in the Gospel of John that we heard today, we see Philip
playing the role of middle man - the go to man - who brings people to Jesus.
[Cf. John 14:6-14]
In the first chapter of John, we read about Philip
introducing Nathaniel to Jesus.
In the twelfth
chapter of John, some Greeks want to meet Jesus - so they go to Philip who is
the guy to go to - to have an audience with Jesus.
I’m sure those who know the present pope get calls from
strangers to see if they can get an introduction to meet the pope.
And in today’s fourteenth chapter of John, Philip wants an
introduction from Jesus to meet Got the Father. The Gospel of John uses
Philip’s question to Jesus to see the Father - to have Jesus tell Philip a basic or key message that he gave us: “See
me, see the Father!”
OUR JOB AS CHRISTIANS
Our job as Christians is to introduce people to Christ.
How many people have become Catholic because of the good example of their
Question: how many people have we introduced to Christ - and
Christ introduced them to the Father because of us?
My prayer at every wedding and every funeral is that someone
here will be introduced to Christ, to religion, to God the Father, because of
being at that wedding or funeral. This might be the only time they are in
church this year.
Tomorrow we have First Communion at St. John Neumann -
2 different Masses - as well as in many,
many, many churches across the world. I am aware that there is someone here who
hasn’t been going to church for the first time in a long time. I pray that they
will be introduced or reintroduced to Jesus Christ.
As priest I hear horror stories - about priests. Someone
told me they went to the first communion of a grandson and the priest announced
with full firmness of voice from the pulpit: if you haven’t gone to confession
in the past year, don’t even think of coming to communion today. I remember one priest giving a talk on Birth
Control at a First Communion Mass. Recently, someone asked me a question about
baptism: “Can a child who was conceived by artificial insemination be baptized?” I said, “Of course!” Then the person who
asked me the question, said that a
priest told my niece that her kid could not be baptized. I would hope there is a lot more to the story
than that. So I don’t know the rest of
the story. I figured something is missing in the story. I figure some people at a wedding or a
funeral or a baptism or a First Communion - who have dropped out - might have
dropped out because of a hurt. As priest, I’ve heard lots of stories about
priests who pushed people away from God and church and the sacraments.
My hope and prayer is always that we priests - and all
Catholics - that we be introducers of people to God and Christ.
You’ve all heard the quote from St. Francis of Assisi. I’m still not
sure if it’s true, but in a way who cares: “Preach the gospel, sometimes use
The title of my homily is, “Introducers.”
Philip introduced people to Jesus - and Jesus will introduce
us to God the Father.
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life - as we heard in today’s gospel from
A twist in the story is the presentation of God by
introducers or those who people look to for Christian example. I’ve heard various
people tell me about their God - and as I heard their take on God, I have had to
bite my lip - and my tongue - because the God they were introduced to is not my
Who is your God? Who
is Our Father?
Jesus tells us in today’s gospel that he is the way the
truth and the life.
Jesus is the way to the Father. Jesus shows us the truth called God. Jesus gives us the life that is God.
When people introduce me to a God who they think planned a
baby’[s death - when I hear people think God’s maps out another’s life and puts
horror stories in the script - when people introduce me to a vengeful God - I say, “That’s not my God.. Then I
introduce them to Luke 15 - and say, “Read all three parables and read them
PAINTINGS: Top: The Apostle Philip by Durer, c. 1516 Middle: Apostle Philip by Ducio c. 1301 Last: The Apostle Philip by El Greco c. 1612
Quote for Today - May 1, 2013 "I subscribe to the theory that a good review makes you feel good for seven minutes, and a bad review makes you feel miserable for seven years." Mary Gordan, New York Times, March 9, 2007, page A. 21
The title of my homily for this 5th Tuesday of Easter is, “Different Kinds of Peace.”
I don’t know about you - but these after Easter readings can
get quite repetitive or broken "recordish".
We hear Jesus telling us over and over and over again to
love one another and how he’s trying to do his
Father’s will and commandment to love.
And I’m sure you noticed the first reader having to sail
through the waters of some tricky words
in the Acts of the Apostles. This
morning we heard about Paul and Barnabas going to Derbe, Iconium, Lystra, Pamphilia, Pisidia, Perga,
Attalia and Antioch.
All aboard! [Cf. Acts 14: 19-28]
So like you I listen to the readings over and over again for
something to hit or to challenge me.
In today’s gospel the word “peace” showed up. Like the word
“love” it too is often found in these after Easter readings. Today, I heard
Jesus saying to his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” [Cf. John14:27]
Thenthere was a
tiny twist. Jesus talks about peace and adds the nuance, ”Not as the world
gives do I give it to you.”
I said to myself, “Explore that!” I asked: “Do different
people have different takes on what the word ‘peace’ entails?” I wondered if I
had a clear take on what Jesus means by peace - giving or creating or working
Time was ticking, so I decided that attempts at answering those
questions could be enough for a short Tuesday morning homily.
With that as a long introduction, once more the title of my
homily is: “Different Kinds of Peace.”
HEBREW MEANING OF
In the Jewish scriptures - “Shalom” was a greeting on
the street and on the road - which one made to one’s neighbor. It meant health,
no debts, family members are not fighting each other. It meant rain and good
crops. It meant no foreign armies or wild beasts were lurking on one’s property
or in the neighborhood. It meant one’s family is feeling God’s blessings - and
everyone is keeping the covenant with God - that is, being right with God and
neighbor. It’s a prayer: “Please God -
may that peace be flowing like a river into your family and your land.”
In the New Testament “Shalom”
meant all those same things. Then as Christ’s words made more and more impact and sense - as Christian thought developed - “Shalom” also meant union with Christ and seeing oneself as a member
of the whole Body of Christ in community. As Christian theology developed more,
it was seen as the plan and the hope and
the vision of Christ for his kingdom to come - on earth as it is in heaven - as
we pray in the Our Father. In time the Greek ideal of peace - meaning good
order and harmony - also came into the message and greeting of “Peace”.
TYPES OF PEACE - DIFFERENT FROM JESUS’ TYPE OF PEACE
My original question stayed there: what type of peace would be
different from the type of peace Jesus envisioned?
Is there anyone who thinks they will feel peace if they had
tons of money and tons of success?
Is there anyone who thinks they will be at peace if we have
bigger and better guns and bombs and greater gigantic walls protecting us - so no trouble can come in?
Does anyone think we’ll have peace without making sure
everyone gets a place at the table -
gets a voice and a vote - gets a piece of the action - and a piece of the pie? So
does anyone think we’ll have peace without having to be concerned with our brothers and sisters -
especially those in need.
After all that, I realized I still don’t get exactly what
kind of peace Jesus is pronouncing and promoting - but I hope I’m a bit closer
I know that it's stopping the rock throwing - verbal and stone - and use those rocks to build steps and bridges to each other.
I get that peacemaking is work. It’s crucifixion at times. It’s
dying to self. Yet, it remains illusive - so I suppose that’s why we keep on
wishing one another “Shalom” - “Peace” - when we meet and greet each other -
and then we try to see what we can do to be peacemakers - to be instruments of
the Lord’s peace this day. Amen!
 Cf. Today's first reading where they stone Paul to death to shut him up - Acts 14:19
The title of my homily for this 5 Sunday of Easter C is, “7
C’s: Make One of Them Comparisons.”
Have you ever noticed that words beginning with “C” often
appear when talking about spirituality and religion?
For example: “Conversion, Change, Challenge, Care, Concerns,
Community, Choice, Christ, Communion, Contrast, Comparisons.”
The title of my homily is, “7 C’s: Make One of Them
Today’s readings offer great contrast, great change and
In today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles we have the closing message that the door of
faith is now opened to the Gentiles. Tremendous new life lay on the other side
of that door.
When the Apostles and followers of Christ were communicating
with the Jews - there was conflict and controversy. When the door opened to the
outside world - to the Gentiles - things changed. We’re hearing now in the Acts of the Apostles - this post gospel
writing - about what happened next - we see the door open to the whole world.
The Gospel moves out of Jerusalem, out of Israel and into the whole
Mediterranean world and beyond - and eventually to us.
The door has opened.
Today’s second reading from the Book of Revelation offers with great imagination and energy - a
contrast between the old and the new.
Being a product of the 1960’s I hear Bob Dylan’s song, “The Times They Are A Changin” in this
The last sentence in this reading we heard today has, “The
One who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.” The first
sentence has, “Then I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth.”
Sandwiched in between those two sentences we have the great
image of a wedding, a new marriage, between heaven and earth - God with us. We
have the great contrast between the old city, the old Jerusalem, and the New Jerusalem - and the
heavens opening up.
Here comes new life…. Here comes the Bride …. Sin and death
are gone…. divorced from us…. The Great
Divorce that Adam and Eve caused - their Original Sin that got us thrown out of
paradise - is ended. The New is here. That’s the Good News that Christ
Powerful language - powerful images - powerful possibilities
- powerful contrasts and comparisons.
And today’s gospel begins with a scene from the Last Supper.
Judas leaves the room and then everything changes in comparison. Now the Son of Man can be glorified. There is
a world of difference between a room filled with Judas and a room without
The title of my homily is, “7 C’s: Make One of Them
Think about the power of comparisons!
Think about the power comparisons play in our thinking
Think about the power of comparisons - how they can overwhelm us - wham us -
push us - manipulate us - mess our minds up - to do things we might not want to do.
We have all heard the saying, “Comparisons are odious.”
We’ve all heard the saying, “Comparisons can crush!”
We have all heard the saying that comparisons can lead to
happiness as well as to feeling miserable.
Sometimes we secretly rejoice when the rich and the famous -
the other - fails and falls - we feel better about ourselves in comparison.
It’s the stuff that sells and populates
and peoples People Magazine.
Comparisons can also get us to rush to do something new - to try to be
different - sometimes to be stupid or overspend - because we want to shut up inner comparisons and complaints we’ve
been talking to ourselves about ever since we were kids.
Think about our life.
Are we comparing ourselves to someone else?
Are we comparing our bodies, our flab, out love handles, our
house, our cars, our jobs, our vacations, our salary, our wrinkles, our age,
I’m saying here to listen to our inner voices: comparisons
have tremendous power. Do we want to give it that much power in area A, B, and
Parents want their kids to be different than they are.
Kids want their parents to be like so and so’s parents.
Parents compare themselves to other parents.
Adults compare the care and energy and effort and cost they
have to put out for aging parents or siblings or children - sometimes comparing
all they are doing compared to what their brothers and sisters are doing - or
compare themselves to other people - often without crossing their threshold and
knowing what they are going through.
I like that image of the door in today’s second reading.
Write the word “comparison” in ball point pen on your hand -
and think about all this, this week,
Use contrast - use comparison - and construct the rooms - the
mindsets we’re living in - and then construct - imagine - a changed room - a
rearranged life - and then make choices to change. Ask Christ to come into our
rooms, into our homes, into our mind set and here him say to us, “Peace.” Then
work with him towards change and conversion - one step at a time - not wanting
another to change - but to change ourselves and then see how the rest of the
room - the rest of our lives change - step by step - a day at a time - because
we have changed.
I like that image at the beginning of today’s gospel. Things
change when Judas leaves the room.
I like to ask from the pulpit: “What happens when I walk
into a room? What happens when I walk out the door? Do people say, ‘Phew.
Finally. Now we can relax.’”
I remember hearing how hurt a priest felt when he walked
down the aisle and heard, “Oh no not him again!” We’re lucky is this parish -
you can avoid us - if you want.
Comparisons are powerful….
Let’s use that image to go deeper.
Think of the Judas we are to ourselves - in our upper room -
this complaining self - this stealing self - screaming inwardly all the time
how things are going - wanting my picture to be the picture of how life works.
See ourselves selling ourselves out for 30 pieces of silver or whatever. See ourselves
crucifying the Christ within us.
Give that Judas his or her walking papers and start living
the Gospel life.
Contrast, compare, ourselves in those two modes.
Chose life. Choose
Comparisons can crush - but see that comparisons can also get
us to rush - slowly - to new life - to have new order in our life.
It’s Spring …. It’s Earth Month …. Last Monday was Earth Day
…. the call is to clean up our environment.
We’ve been told to talk about the environment from the
pulpit. I gave a whole sermon on that last week….
Let me throw in a few comments in my ending…..
It’s easy to complain about the other person’s garden - yard
- house. It’s easy to complain about the other person’s habits.
I’m pushing for looking and working on self….
I hate it when I see people dump on Annapolis - but I found out I can’t do much
about it. But I can pick up stuff people dump on St. Mary’s Parking lot or Newman Street
across from the front of our church - leading down to Compromise Street. I can make that
compromise in my mind and do what I can do.
I can challenge those who make fun of those concerned about
our earth - by saying, “I’m a tree hugger. I like trees - spring, summer, fall
and winter. I like clean water. I am
glad that smokers are not blowing smoke in my face - and people who don’t smoke
I think get 10 more years of life than those who don’t.
The title of my homily is, “7 C’s: Make One of Them
Compare yourself to the self you are called to be. Then open
that door and work with Jesus and say, “Behold I make all things new!”
Quote for Today - April 28, 2013 "Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike." John Muir, The Yosemite, 1912