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November 26, 2017 - Culture Wars in The Church: A Reflection on the Feast of Christ the King

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Scripture Readings

I am sure you have heard about the concept, ‘Culture Wars.’ Culture Wars refers to the conflict between traditionalist or conservative values and progressive or social liberal values in the Western world. Here in the United States, the term culture wars entered our contemporary vocabulary in the 1990’s with a book by James David Hunter, entitled, Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America. On the Feast of Christ the King, I begin my homily with a reference to Culture Wars because this movement is affecting the Catholic Church greatly. There is a very small but a vociferous movement in the Church that believes that Pope Francis is committing heresy. There are many reasons for this accusation, but the most prominent of them is that the Pope making it possible for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion on a case-by-case basis. They accuse him or undermining centuries of Church doctrine. Pope Francis, on the other hand, is clear the he is not overruling doctrine, but that he is providing pastoral care for those in need. The culture war in the church runs the risk of creating a schism. 

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November 19, 2017 - How will Our Story be Retold?

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Latest data tells us that now the richest 1% own 86% of the world’s wealth. In the United States, top 20% of Americans own 86% of the country’s wealth and the bottom 80% of the population own 14%. I begin with my homily with these statistics not only because of staggering the inequality, but also because in a Capitalist economy such as ours, the Parable of the Talents might make us conclude that the top 1% are really the heroes of the parable, and that the rest of us are lazy, stupid, and incapable. After all, the master said, “For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich.”  Matthew’s purpose of writing this parable is certainly not economic. If the Master is God and the servants are us, it becomes very important that the parable is interpreted correctly, least it become a tool for oppression. 

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November 12, 2017 - The Wisdom of Intentional Living

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

At every baptism, after the child is draped in white garment, the celebrant lights the baptismal candle from the Paschal candle, and hands it to the child with these words, “Receive the light of Christ.” And then the celebrant says to the parents and godparents: “Parents and godparents, this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. This child of yours has been enlightened by Christ. He (she) is to walk always as a child of the light. May he (she) keep the flame of faith alive in his (her) heart. When the Lord comes, may he (she) go out to meet him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom.” These words are a direct reference to to parable of the ten wise and foolish maidens in today’s gospel reading. The symbolism of the lighted candle is simply this - that our baptism, at which we receive the new life of Christ, is an invitation to live that new life, wisely and not foolishly, with faith rather then faithlessly, in anticipation of Christ’s coming rather than aimlessly. Our baptism is a commitment to intentional living. 

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November 5, 2017 - Proud of Our Humility?

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Last Tuesday, the Church observed the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. On the 31st of October, 1517, Martin Luther, an Augustinian Monk, nailed his 95 theses to the door of the chapel at Wittenberg castle. Luther’s main issue in the 95 theses was indulgences. There are very few events that divided humanity in the way the Reformation did. It is not my intention to criticize Martin Luther, to discuss indulgences, or to judge 16th Century Church leaders. Historians tells us, though, that the schism caused by the Reformation could have been avoided. Depending on which side of history the Catholics and Protestants find themselves, they look at the Reformation very differently. Yet Catholics admit that perhaps that the Popes of the time, Pope Julius II and Pope Leo X, misread the signs of the time. As Renaissance Popes, they were more interested in art, music, and architecture rather than paying serious attention to the needs of their flock. The rest is history. 

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October 29, 2017 - "in the Evening of Our Lives, We will be Judged by Love Alone"

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

The great Christian mystic, John of the Cross, once said, “In the evening of our lives we will be judged by love alone.” Today’s readings are bound to create a genuine problem for preachers and congregations in Catholic parishes across the world, unless of course, preachers decide to by-pass the issue. The very first statement in today’s first reading says- “Thus says the LORD: You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.” Across the globe, national elections are being won and lost based on particular political party’s stand on both documented and undocumented aliens or immigrants. Not only do some Catholics disagree with the Catholic Church’s pastoral teaching on immigration, but they have gone so as far as to openly dissent with Pope Francis and the US Catholic bishops on the issue. 

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