Deacon Ken’s Second Sunday of Ordinary Time Homily
Who of us could ever forget our wedding day? Men and women alike have described their weddings day as more than happy: They have described that infamous day as joyous. It is a day that only the birth of a child could surpass. The loved one has for their spouse is different than any they have ever experienced before. It is different than the love for a parent and even siblings. Married love is a deeper love. It is a love when most learn what it means to give of oneself to another.
I think it’s pretty slick of the prophet Isaiah to use wedding language to help the Israelites re-discover the love of God. The Israelites have just returned to Jerusalem from their Babylonian exile. The place is a mess. It’s been ransacked by all who have passed by. The giant doors that had protected it have been burned. The temple grounds have become the feeding ground for the wild animals. To the Israelites, God seems so far away. Isaiah contrasts the love of newlyweds to the joyous love God has for his people. The Israelites come to find peace and even joy in God’s love, even in their dire circumstances.
There’s much going on at the Wedding Feast in Cana. Most of the “goings on” are examples of love. It’s where Jesus begins his Priestly Ministry. it is a ministry that will lead him to do the will of His Father. The will of the Father will lead Jesus to the cross.
For the newlyweds It was supposed to be the happiest day of their life. Soon, it would become one of the most embarrassing days of their lives, if something wasn’t done about the lack of wine. The newlyweds must have felt horrible. How could they face their friends? What were they going to do? While we will never know their financial status, it couldn’t have been that great. They were running out of wine way to early at their wedding banquet, and they were newlyweds.
Somehow Mary is alerted that these newlyweds were running out of wine. As a mother, Mary understands how embarrassing it would be for the newlyweds to run out of wine. Mary doesn’t want what is supposed to be one of the happiest days of their lives to be ruined. Mary approaches Jesus and tells him: “the newlyweds have run out of wine.” Then Mary tells the servers to “do whatever he tells you.” Mary knows what is supposed to happen. Six stone jars full of water, become wine. Not only did they have wine but, they had an abundance of high-quality wine. God uses people just like you and I to come to someone else’s rescue. In one story, God sent a prophet to speak words of encouragement, so the Israelites would not give up hope: that God was coming to their rescue. In another, God sends Mary to tell Jesus to assist the newlyweds. It was at Mary’s prompting, that Jesus performed his first miracle.
There is a name for what the readings have expressed today. It’s called love working through faith. The thing about love working through faith is that we never know when God might need us to give another a word of encouragement. God might even ask us to help a friend in need. You can be assured that if God calls us to show love working through faith, He will give us what we need to complete our task. My brothers and sisters, enter into the wedding feast at Cana Where: Mary intercedes for the newlyweds through Jesus. Water is turned into wine. Jesus’ glory is revealed, and the apostles begin to believe. Enter into God’s love and be joyous in it.
Fourth Sunday of Advent Homily
At the Advent retreat last week, we offered prayers to God that we would find a way to open our hearts to the coming of the savior. We discovered that we had several ways to prepare for God’s only Son’s arrival. We had spiritual exercises such as participating in the Rosary and attending the advent retreat and praying. We also could prepare ourselves by participating in the Reconciliation service where we could cleanse our minds and bodies of sin, drawing us closer to God. Not one to let a good joke get away, we learned about George. George was an interior painter. He painted the interiors of houses and apartments. To increase his profit margin, George would add water well beyond the amount commended by the paint manufacturer. One day as George was leaving the paint store his bucket of paint in hand, a lightning bolt from heaven struck the earth near his feet. George looked up to heaven and said: “Was that you Lord?” The Lord said: “Yes it was.” George said: “Why did you do that Lord?” The Lord said: “George, repaint, repaint and thin no more!”
What I find interesting about the Advent season is that it is like two sides of one coin. On one side we’re asked to welcome the Lord’s coming through Spiritual exercises like prayer, retreats and penance services, personal acts, like forgiving those who have hurt us. And last but not least, by performing charitable acts for the poor who Jesus has a special heart for. The other side of the coin is the miracles that occur, announcing the coming of the Lord, before and during Advent.
Seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Micah announces to the nation that a savior is going to be born. This Saviors greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. The savior will come from a place that is said to be too small is unworthy and has little value or worth.
Zechariah and Elizabeth are an old couple. They both are well beyond child- bearing age. They are found righteous in the Lord, but they are without children. God sends the angel Gabriel to Zechariah and Elizabeth to announce Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Their child will “bear witness to Christ by his preaching, his baptism of conversion, and through his martyrdom” (CCC523).
That same angel Gabriel announces to Mary that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and that she would conceive a son. Her son would be fully divine and yet fully human. He tells Mary that her son will be the savior of the world. Though Mary doesn’t understand at first, Gabriel gives her confirmation
that if God can make an old barren woman be with child, how easy it is for God to make a virgin conceive. “For nothing is impossible for God”.
In just a short while, the Priest will elevate the host containing wine, and a patten filled with bread and he will ask the Holy Spirit to come upon these gifts and make them holy, just as the Holy Spirit came upon the virgin Mary. It is through the Eucharist, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will carry the Savior of world in our bodies, just as Mary carried the savior in hers. Receiving the Eucharist, we “hasten” to set about doing good by announcing the coming of the Lord to others, so that they too may leap for joy.
Finally, a statue, not expected to be shipped to our church until sometime in February, arrives in time to be consecrated at the Christmas Mass. I ask you, how is that not a miracle in Advent?
A savior comes from an unlikely place, a barren woman and a virgin conceive, bread and water are turned into the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have been consecrated to the Lord
through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ. For our part, we are only asked to trust and believe!
For indeed, nothing is impossible for God.
Deacon: Kenneth Stewart
November 2021, The Solemnity of Christ the King Homily
Christ the King
Brothers and Sisters, the life we are living now is but a fleeting moment in what is to come. Look around you. All you see will pass away and will be no more. When this life is through, we are destined to spend an eternal life, somewhere, be it heaven or hell.
In 1925, Pope Pius instituted the feast of Christ the King in his encyclical Quash Primas. Pope Pius was concerned about the growing tendency to deny Christ a trend he connected to the rise of secularism. Through his encyclical, Pope Pius hoped to achieve the following:
-That nations would see that the church has the right to freedom, and immunity from the state.
-That leaders and nations would see that they are bound to give respect to Christ.
-That the faithful would gain strength and courage from the celebration of the feast, as we are reminded that Christ must reign in our hearts, minds, wills and bodies.
The very same problems Pope Pius discovered almost One Hundred years ago, still challenge us today. Today many people believe there is little moral truth. If it feels good, do it! Relativism or the idea that what’s true for me might not be true for you, is the standard by which many live.
Today, many people feel it is acceptable to lie, cheat and steal if they can get ahead doing so. Individualism, worship of the new small “t” trinity (me, myself and I) sometimes seems to prevail over the Catholic vision of the common good and a community approach to life. Jesus tells us: “My Kingdom is not here”. In Jesus’ Kingdom: There is truth, Jesus is truth (John 14:6): the Church is truth (1 Thes 2:13). Catholics come to serve and not be served. We die to ourselves, to live for others. Humility and service to the poor, the weak and the outcast, are the rule of the day.
And when the end comes, the meek will inherit the earth.
In this world, we are in a constant battle with the evil one. The only way the evil one could ever defeat us, is to divide and conquer us. The daily grind takes its toll on our hearts and minds. Satan tries to drive a wedge between us and Jesus Throughout his public life, Jesus demonstrated His divine sovereignty by works of power over nature, illnesses, demons, death and sin. His kingship shall not be destroyed, His dominion will not be taken away As Christians and as followers of Christ, we have to do our part. We enter into the Kingdom of God by: attending Mass regularly, hearing the Word of God, and being transformed by that. -living an apostolic life, caring for the sick, feeding the hungry, and loving those on the fringe of society. -receiving the Eucharist, Jesus’ body and blood which sustains us in the fight. When we receive the Eucharist, a bond is formed between us Jesus is in you, and Jesus is in me. It is a bond that can never divide us, but makes us one. The Church gives us a name, and that name is “The Church Militant”. We are fighting against sin and evil. (Slowly) Brothers and Sisters, Hear me. the life we are living now is but a fleeting moment in what is to come. Look around you. All you see will pass away, and will be no more. When this life is through, we are destined to spend an eternal life, somewhere, be it heaven or hell.
Today, on the Feast of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Jesus asks us: “Who do you say that I am? Is Jesus our King of Kings? Is He our Lord of Lords? Is He our Alpha and Omega? If Jesus truly is our King of Kings, we will have a share in: A kingdom that will never be destroyed. A kingdom where love never fails, and a kingdom where life is never ending. Today, and every day, we celebrate the feast of Jesus’ kingdom by letting Christ reign in our hearts, minds, wills and bodies.
Deacon: Kenneth Stewart
Homily for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary time.
Love God and love people. Those words are the title of a recent Contemporary Christian hit song by a singer named Danny Gokey. It is a real good, feel good, upbeat kind of song. My favorite part is in the chorus and these are the words: “God wants more than just my love But I’ve been complicating things It’s just like me to overthink Gotta keep it real simple, keep it real simple Bring everything right back to ground zero ‘Cause it all comes down to this Love God and love people We’re living in a world that keeps breakin’ But if we wanna find the way to change it. It all comes down to this Love God and love people. It’s a cool song, but what does this kind of love look like?
A year or so ago, there was an internet story going around of a little boy who had overcome a nasty disease. Now, his sister had that same disease and she wasn’t doing well. The Doctors were concerned that she might not live. Those same Doctors discovered that the little boy’s body had built a natural immunity to the disease. If the Doctors could convince the little boy to give his sister a blood transfusion, she would most likely be healed, so the doctors explained to the little brother about how he could save his sister with a blood transfusion and asked if he would he be willing to help. The little boy said he would help. With the little boy laying beside his older sister, lovingly gazing upon her, the transfusion began. After a while, the boy asked the Doctor if it would begin to hurt. There was genuine concern on the little boy’s face. You see, the little boy misunderstood the doctors and thought he was giving all of his blood to his sister and that he would die in the process. The doctors reassured the little boy that he would be just fine, and that his sister would too. Love God and love people.
What makes one person willing to give the gift of life to another? What kind of person says to their family: “In my last days, when a part of my body gives up? or if my body becomes damaged that I will not live, give the good parts to another that they might live”. I believe it would be someone who could easily say: “Take my heart and let me continue to love others through you”. Charity, the source of good and pure works, resides in the heart, and expresses itself through love.
Saint Paul says: “If I have all faith so as to move mountains, but don’t have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything, I own…, but don’t love, I gain nothing. Love God and love people. Sounds easy enough. We are truly living in a broken world. The world is full of people who are self-centered and selfish. Their concern is only for themselves. It begs the question of who will care for the widow, the orphan, the dying? Through our baptism, we no longer belong to ourselves, but to Jesus who died and rose again for us. We have been born again to serve others. Through our baptismal priesthood, we receive the life of the Holy Spirit who breathes charity into us. Like the song says: “We’re living in a world that keeps breakin’ but if we wanna find the way to change it, it all comes down to this Love God and love people”.
Deacon Ken Stewart