"In verbo veritatis" (2 Cor 6:7)

August 26, 2018

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Filed under: Homilies — Tags: , , , — komonchak @ 11:08 am

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time – August 26, 2018 – St. John’s

For five Sundays now we have been engaged in a slow meditative reading of the sixth chapter of St. John’s Gospel, whose entire theme is Christ as the Bread of Life. Jesus presents himself as that bread first of all through his words, through his teaching, and this bread is consumed when people who bring hungry hearts and minds receive it in faith. Last week we heard him speak of himself as life-giving bread in a second sense, through his presence in the eucharist when we eat his flesh and drink his blood under the sacramental signs. We will have noticed that the structure of the Mass, our weekly celebration, follows the structure of Jesus’ words, as we first listen to him through the Scriptures and in the homily and respond with the words of our faith and as from this altar table we then receive him in the eucharist.

Today we near the end of this Gospel chapter and hear that some of those who heard Jesus, even some who had been his disciples, did not believe him or the remarkable claims he was making. As they began to drift away, he asked his closest disciples whether they, too, wished to leave, and, speaking for them all, Peter makes the powerful confession of faith: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life. We have come to believe and now know that you are the Holy One of God.”

It is impossible to read or hear this exchange without relating it to the scandal many Catholics are experiencing today and which has led some of them to leave the Church and others of them to reflect on and to explain to others, and perhaps even to themselves, why they are staying. (more…)

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July 30, 2018

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time – B

Filed under: Homilies — Tags: , — komonchak @ 3:10 pm

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – July 29, 2018 – St. John’s

Our second reading today, taken from the fourth chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians, sets out a description of what makes the Church the Church. Paul is addressing the Ephesians as a group, but not any hap-hazard group such as the people who might happen to find themselves in the same bus or train or airplane. He addresses them as a community, and the first thing he mentions that makes them a community is that they have all been called: “Walk worthy of the call you have received.” Each of them has been called, yes, but as he will say in a few lines, they were called into a single hope.

But there are other constituents of their common life, their community: they have one spirit, which makes them one body; they have one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. No other group of human beings at the time would have been brought together around those principles of unity. This was something new in the religious and cultural world of the time. And it is true still today: no other group of human beings gathers around these principles of unity.

It is only after he reminds them that each has been given a gift to use, that St. Paul goes on to say that there are various ministries given in order to help all the members in their work at building up the Body of Christ that is the Church. But his first emphasis is on what all Christians have in common, and it is to serve that community of faith, hope and love under the one God that the ministries of some exist. Some are singled out for the care of all.

It is because some of those so singled out have not served the Church but have betrayed it that we Catholics are once again suffering so painfully. It is painful for me as a priest to see still more horrors being disclosed again, and I can imagine how much more painful it must be for the parishioners of this parish in particular to be reminded of a frightful past. And now the scandal involves a man at the highest levels of the hierarchy being identified as a serial abuser and removed from office, with a hundred questions arising as to how he could have risen so far even after his behavior was widely known and even brought to the attention of authorities in Rome. I am afraid that we have not seen the end but perhaps only the beginning of disturbing new revelations. I can tell you that the anger among priests is almost palpable, and to judge from my readings of many different Catholic websites in the last few weeks, the anger is just as great among the laity.

That is why I wanted to begin this homily where today’s excerpt from St. Paul’s Epistle begins: with the basic gifts and blessings received in common that make us the Church, that bring us together this morning as a Church, the things that are prior to and far more basic and far more central than the hierarchy: the common calling, the common grace, the common faith, the common hope, and all this under the one God who is Father of all, in the one Lord, possessing the one Spirit. These are what really make the Church the Church, that make us–you and me, here and now, this morning–that make us the Church, and we need to remember them, to treasure them, to cling to them, to make them the primary reality that defines our identity as Catholics, that anchors our own individual spiritual lives.

I don’t think any of you would be here in this church this early morning if that were not already true of you. But it is good to be reminded of it, so that we don’t take blessings for granted and don’t confuse the non-essential with the essential, the peripheral with the central. And let us join in prayer that God would heal his Church of these new wounds and lead those in authority to do all that they can to prevent these outrages from ever happening again.

July 22, 2018

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B

Filed under: Homilies — Tags: , , , — komonchak @ 4:52 pm

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – July 22, 2018 – St. John’s, Goshen

I could not read today’s first reading without thinking of how applicable it is to the scandals that have racked the Catholic Church for the last several decades, which savagely wounded this parish in particular, scandals one wanted to think were past and gone but which have surfaced again in the last weeks as affecting men in very high positions in the Church. “Woe to the shepherds,” Jeremiah begins his indictment, “woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture…. You have scattered my sheep and driven them away. You have not cared for them.”

It was the lack of care for their people on the part of bishops that most angered people, both in and outside the Church (more…)

January 13, 2018

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Filed under: Homilies — Tags: , , — komonchak @ 3:02 pm

SECOND SUNDAY OF THE YEAR – JANUARY 16, 2000 – BLESSED SACRAMENT

As we begin a new calendar year, as we begin our walk through the ordinary Sundays of the liturgical year, the Church asks us to begin at the beginning. Last week we celebrated the baptism of Jesus, his empowerment by the Spirit for his messianic ministry. Today we are still there, near the Jordan, with John the Baptist’s testimony: “Behold, the Lamb of God.” And we hear of the calling of the first disciples. The whole public story of Jesus Christ is beginning.

But there is another beginning also stressed in today’s readings, the beginning of faith in the hearts of the disciples. (more…)

October 29, 2017

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2017

Filed under: Homilies — Tags: , , — komonchak @ 3:16 pm

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 29, 2017 – St. John’s, Goshen

Some things never change. To illustrate the second of the great commandments stated by Christ in today’s Gospel, we heard an extract from the Book of Exodus. The events described in this, the second book of the Bible, date from around thirteen centuries before Christ and were first handed down in oral traditions which began to be written down and combined into a narrative some centuries later. The section from which our reading was taken is known to scholars as “the Book of the Covenant,” because it sets down prescriptions that embody Israel’s responsibility in the covenant, or pact, that God struck with her at the foot of Mt. Sinai. It may have become part of the book long after the Israelites entered the Promised Land, that is, around six centuries before Christ. In other words, we have listened to moral prescriptions, commandments, that are at least 2,500 years old, and were written for a land far away and a culture far different.

But, as I said, some things never change. It is not possible to hear those words without thinking about circumstances and challenges of our own time and place. Let’s look at the text closely, and allow me to illumine the prescriptions by citing a commentary on the Book of Exodus [by Martin Noth], published in Germany 75 years ago, that describes them as “aiming to protect those who are underprivileged in law, work and society (personae miserabiles)”.

And so we have, first: “You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.” (more…)

May 22, 2017

Sixth Sunday in Eastertide – 2017

Filed under: Homilies — komonchak @ 3:52 pm

Sixth Sunday in Eastertide – May 21, 2017 -St. John’s, Goshen

This year our second reading during Eastertide has been taken from the First Epistle of St. Peter, which is a writing that from beginning to end basks in the light and warmth of Easter. Last week we heard the recipients of the letter, who, of course, include us today, described as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people God claims for his own to proclaim the glorious works of the One who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were no people, but now you are God’s people.”

Between that exalted announcement and the passage we heard today, St. Peter set out the consequences for the lives of this new people of God as he described what their relationships should be like both within their community, in the larger civil society, and in their homes. (more…)

March 19, 2017

Third Sunday in Lent – 2017

Filed under: Homilies — Tags: , , — komonchak @ 11:41 am

Third Sunday of Lent – March 19, 2017 – St. John’s, Goshen

True, integral Christianity has two dimensions, one inner, one outer, and they are both represented in our New Testament readings today.

Our second reading was taken from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, a letter that is almost entirely devoted to the question of how we human beings can be in a right relationship to God. His premise is that all of us–whether Jews or Gentiles–have fallen short of what we should be as creatures and children of God, and that the recovery of a right relationship with God is impossible by our own efforts. This right-making was initiated by God and was accomplished by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and it must be appropriated by each of us by an acknowledgment of our need, a confession of our sins, a surrender of ourselves in faith and obedience, all of it the gift of God’s Spirit transforming our minds and hearts.

This is what St. Paul has been describing: (more…)

April 10, 2016

Third Sunday in Eastertide

Filed under: Homilies — Tags: , , , — komonchak @ 12:15 pm

Third Sunday of Easter – April 22, 2007 – Blessed Sacrament

During the fifty days of Eastertide, which ought to have at least the same place in the awareness of Christians as the forty days of Lent, the Church tries to appropriate, make its own, realize, make real to itself the great blessings of the day which, as John Henry Newman said, “has made us greater than we know.” Easter is not the feast of the resuscitation of a corpse. It is the feast that marks the turning of the ages, that sets the great “Before-and-After” of human history, the end of the reign of sin and death, the triumph of love and life.
As usual we have an account of a resurrection-appearance of Christ. This one anticipates the life of the Church that will unfold in the future. (more…)

March 27, 2016

This is the Day the Lord has made!

Filed under: Homilies, Newman — Tags: , , , — komonchak @ 5:53 am

Easter Alleluia

          And now, to conclude, for it is hardly befitting on this Day to speak much, when God has done His greatest work. Let us think of it and of Him. Let us rejoice in the Day which He has made, and let us be “willing in the Day of His Power.” This is Easter Day. Let us say this again and again to ourselves with fear and great joy. As children say to themselves, “This is the spring,” or “This is the sea,” trying to grasp the thought, and not let it go; as travellers in a foreign land say, “This is that great city,” or “This is that famous building,” knowing it has a long history through centuries, and vexed with themselves that they know so little about it; so let us say, This is the Day of Days, the Royal Day, the Lord’s Day. This is the Day on which Christ arose from the dead; the Day which brought us salvation. It is a Day which has made us greater than we know. It is our Day of rest, the true Sabbath. Christ entered into His rest, and so do we. It brings us, in figure, through the grave and gate of death to our season of refreshment in Abraham’s bosom. We have had enough of weariness, and dreariness, and listlessness, and sorrow, and remorse. We have had enough of this troublesome world. We have had enough of its noise and din. Noise is its best music. But now there is stillness; and it is a stillness that speaks. We know how strange the feeling is of perfect silence after continued sound. Such is our blessedness now. Calm and serene days have begun; and Christ is heard in them, and His still small voice, because the world speaks not. Let us only put off the world, and we put on Christ. The receding from one is an approach to the other. We have now for some weeks been trying, through His grace, to unclothe ourselves of earthly wants and desires. May that unclothing be unto us a clothing upon of things invisible and imperishable! May we grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, season after season, year after year, till He takes to Himself, first one, then another, in the order He thinks fit, to be separated from each other for a little while, to be united together for ever, in the kingdom of His Father and our Father, His God and our God.

John Henry Newman: “Difficulty of Realizing Sacred Privileges,”
Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 6, sermon 8)

       Let him easter in us,
be a dayspring to the dimness of us,
be a crimson-cresseted east.

G. M. Hopkins, “The Wreck of the Deutschland,” 35

November 15, 2014

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

33rd Sunday of the Year – November 19, 1972 – CNR
The first reading in this evening’s Liturgy isn’t obviously connected with the others. It sings the praises of a faithful and industrious housewife. If we don’t think it is the only way for a woman to show her worth, it does show her displaying a nice balance of care for her family and concern for the poor. And its final praise is perhaps especially worth mention in an age which seems to have inverted proper values: “Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Need I add that the same thing is true of men?
Of the other readings, the Gospel parable might be taken as an illustration of the final lines of Paul’s letter: “All of you are children of light and of the day. We belong neither to darkness nor to night; therefore let us not be asleep like the rest, but awake and sober!” The parable of the rich man who went off on a journey and left his servants sums of money to be kept for him, was originally told by Jesus as an indictment of the religious leaders of his time. They were like the man who had received the money and then gone and buried it, out of fear of losing what had been entrusted to him. He received the master’s condemnation. His audience would have understood Jesus to be criticizing the Scribes for hoarding for themselves the Word of God they were given to care for, burying it in their restrictive and legalistic interpretations, preventing it from being a life-giving force. It is a classic indictment of the fearful conservative, who is so afraid of losing what he has that he buries or imprisons it, and so in effect kills it.

(more…)

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