Deacon Ken’s Homily

Body and Blood Homily
Sunday June 19th

      My little brother, who is not Catholic’ asked me once if I truly believed that the communion, I took every Sunday was truly the Body and Blood of Jesus. I said: “I sure do”. He then asked: “Why”, So I let him have it, with love of course. The simple answer is that Jesus said it was. Jesus said it was not only once but several times. Some, who followed close to Jesus said: “How can this man give us his body to eat and his blood to drink?” “This is a hard saying” they said, and they walked away. They knew Jesus was speaking literally and not symbolically. So, Jesus tells them again, only more forcefully this time “Amen, amen I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” In his letters to the Corinthians, Saint Paul makes it very clear that if you eat and drink the body and blood of Christ in an unworthy manner, that person is guilty of profaning the body and blood of Christ. What did the Church Fathers, those who followed shortly after the Apostles believe and what did they teach their followers? As Saint Ignatius of Antioch was on his way to Martyrdom, he wrote a letter to the people of Smyrna teaching them that: “The Eucharist is the flesh of our savior Jesus Christ, who suffered for our sins, and who in his goodness, the Father raised.” Saint Ignatius was a disciple of Saint John the Apostle. Earlier in the Gospel of John Saint John tells us that “Jesus is truth” (John 14:6). Jesus cannot lie to us, He cannot deceive us, Jesus cannot lead us astray if He is truth. So, when Jesus says: “This is my body, this is my blood, you can take that truth to heart. In the eight verses from the Gospel of John, Jesus tells us three times, eat my body, drink my blood, live forever.

      When we partake of the Eucharist, changes in our lives should occur. The Eucharist feeds our spirit. Every Sunday we should observe a noticeable change in our attitude of God, our Church, our church family, our own families and all of those living in our world today. As we share in the one body of Christ, we should become more Christ like. We should become attuned to the Eucharist, and in turn the Eucharist should confirm our way of thinking. As we leave the door of the church, Jesus doesn’t exit our bodies to permanently reside in the church, when we leave the door of the church, Jesus goes with each and every one of us. The things that we do, and the things we say should reflect that we are all little tabernacles sent into the world so that the world can see what Jesus has done for us, what Jesus can and will do for them. In the prayers of consecration, the priest asks Christ “to send down the spirit to make these Gifts Holy.” It is Christ himself, present at the altar, who changes the bread and wine into His body and blood. The Eucharistic prayers are directed to Jesus, Jesus hears those prayers and causes the effect.

      The Eucharist is indeed illogical to the human mind. But who knows the mind of God? Saint Ambrose says: “If God can speak into existence that which is not, then how easy is it for God to change that what is, into something that it wasn’t?” (author’s paraphrase) When we leave here today, we take our communion out into the world and share it with all we encounter. Like Mary, we should ponder in our hearts what the Eucharist calls us to do. Does it call us to a deeper communion with God and each other? Is our faith strengthened? Are we like the apostles who believed, or are we like the disciples who walked away? It is God’s love for us that he sent his son. Jesus loves us so much that he desires to be with us. He is with us in the breaking of the bread and in his word. Jesus knew he wouldn’t be on this earth forever, so he devised a way to spend time with us. Scripture tells us that in the breaking of the bread, Jesus can be found. He comes to dwell with us. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus appears to two disciples “in a different form”, (Mark 16:12) and they didn’t recognize Jesus. In the breaking of the bread, Cleopas and his friend recognized the Lord. In the breaking of the bread, did Jesus not feed five thousand from five loaves? Jesus shows us his glory at the wedding feast in Cana, when he turned water into wine. Jesus says: “This is my body; this is my blood”. It truly is a mystery, and it takes great faith to believe, but that is exactly what Jesus is asking us to do. Scripture tells us it’s so; The Apostles say it’s so. The Early Christians say it’s so. As Catholic Christians, we always follow the truth, wherever it takes us. Last evening at Evening prayers the antiphon before the Canticle of Mary summed up very nicely, what I was trying to explain to my brother. This was the antiphon: “How Holy this feast in which Christ is our food; His passion is recalled; grace fills our hearts, and we receive a pledge of the glory to come. Alleluia!

HAPPY FATHERS DAY
Deacons Kenneth Stewart

 

Easter Sunday Homily

       I get a chuckle when I think about the Resurrection. Mary arrives at the tomb and hastens to tell the Apostles that Jesus’ body is gone. Shortly after, the finger pointing begins. The apostles point their fingers to the soldiers: “You moved his body, didn’t you?” You and the Pharisees wanted to make Jesus body disappear, so, he couldn’t come back as he said he would, so you had to have moved his body!” The Pharisees point back at the Disciples and said: “You moved his body, didn’t you? You wanted to make all Jesus’ ridiculous statements about coming back look true and so you moved the body to make it look so! It’s kind of reminiscent of one child saying to another: “My dad can beat up your dad.” 

       Many people didn’t know what to believe, even those who traveled with and were close to Jesus. We’ll hear later that even doubting Thomas needed proof.   What proof do we need that Jesus is who he says he is, that He wants to abide with us, and that he is coming back for us? I’d like to share with you some words about proof which I found on the internet years ago. It is simply titled “Proof”.

“Proof”.

      How can we trust that which is unseen? Simple, look for the proof. The shadow, proves the sun. The echo, proves the sound. The steam, proves the heat. The watermark, proves the flood. The rustling of the leaves, proves the wind. We struggle to believe what we cannot see But we cannot see because we are really not looking. The creation, proves the creator. The Heavens, proves his glory. The Son, proves the Father. The cross, proves His love.

(Author Unknown)

      As we look back on Holy week, we see proof of God’s love. On Holy Thursday God blessed us with the Priesthood. Jesus gave the disciples all authority that had been given Him by the Father. Those Apostles laid hands on their disciples and made Bishops and priests. Our priest is gloriously ordained into that same Priestly lineage. At the Last Supper He initiated the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the way God chooses to abide in us. It is “THE” personal relationship of all personal relationships.

      On Good Friday, God shows us his love by offering His Son on the cross to remove all stain of sin, and free us from everlasting death. He took our debt upon himself to save us.

 

      On Holy Saturday we began our celebration in darkness but recall that in the resurrection Jesus is the light of the world. We are called to share that light, and on that night, we share that light with those who join the Church and experience Baptism where their sins are forgiven and they are united with Christ. In the Sacrament of Confirmation the Catechumens receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

     Holy week culminates on Easter Sunday. The church teaches that Easter Sunday is the greatest and oldest Christian feast, which celebrates Christ’s Resurrection. We celebrate because if He hadn’t risen from the dead, we would have no shot at everlasting life with him. How do we know that Jesus was resurrected, what’s our proof? Jesus tells us: “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live. Saint Peter tells us: “We ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.” In about 56 AD Saint Paul tells us: “For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time.

     We struggle to believe what we cannot see But we cannot see because we are really not looking. The creation, proves the creator. The Heavens, proves his glory. The Son, proves the Father. The cross, proves His love. Easter Sunday proves the resurrection. Jesus is alive and he is coming back for us. You can take that to the bank!

Deacon: Kenneth Stewart

 

Deacon Ken’s Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time Homily

      His name was JD. He was the neighbor from you know where. A royal pain in the neck. Nothing or no one in the world could please JD. The guy that hauled the gravel to his house was told to: “spread the gravel here, so deep (which was a near impossible task) and if you can’t do that, I’m not going to pay you”. Heaven forbids if a tire track was left. When people discovered that JD lived next door, they always seemed to apologize and then tell how horrible JD was. One neighbor described JD as “The unsociable one”. “I used to wave to him all the time, but he never waved back, so I quit waving”. JD hated his new neighbor’s dog. He didn’t like his neighbor’s pond behind the neighbor’s barn. I didn’t blame him, it was a nasty green color, but the pigs enjoyed rolling in it. JD didn’t like that his neighbor had pigs, even though the neighbor’s land was zoned “Agricultural”. It wasn’t long before the phone calls came. The County Water and Soil Conservation was the first. They recommended that the neighbor construct an interior fence so that a fifteen-foot-wide swath of grass would act as a natural filter for any water that might escape the pond. JD’s neighbor complied with those recommendations. When the County Water and Soil Conservation would no longer act, JD called the Township. The Township was informed That the County Water and Soil Conservation recommendations were completed and that there was nothing left to be done. The phone calls kept coming from different organizations. One day the neighbor spied JD and the fence, and things got ugly real fast. The neighbor told JD to leave him alone or he was going to jump the fence one day and thump him but good, (and that’s putting it nicely). What makes the JDs of the world? If one were to delve into JD’s life, could it be that he was just miserable and wanted others to be just as miserable as he was? Was it because JD worked third shift seven days a week? Could that be what made him so miserable and cantankerous? Killing JD with kindness DID NOT WORK! The neighbor refused to believe that God made JD that way. JD had to choose to be like that. He had to!
      If you’ve ever had a JD in your life, or if you have a JD in your life in the future, today’s Scriptures are where to turn for guidance and relief. “Pray for those who mistreat you”. “Love your enemies and do good to them”. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful”. Easier said than done! Many will agree that praying and loving and giving mercy to a person like JD is too tough. But, recall, Jesus prayed for those who had nailed him to the cross, and no one is being so evil to us as to nail us to a cross. It’s easy isn’t it to love someone who is loving to us? It’s easy to be merciful to someone showing us mercy. But that’s not what Jesus is telling us to do. He is telling us in no uncertain terms that we are to love those who are hard to love and be merciful to those who really need our mercy. Jesus tells us not to judge those whose lives we know nothing about. Not unless we want Jesus to scrutinize the actions of our lives too. Let those without sin cast the first stones means it is best to leave our hands in our pockets, and the stones on the ground! How can we be light to the world when we are acting dim-witted? Mark Twain once said: If you look out on a cold winter’s night with the snow and sleet coming in and you see under the lamp post a little puppy and the puppy is shivering because it is open to the elements, if you go down and you take the little freezing puppy up and you bring him upstairs and you wash him in warm water and you put him near the fire and you feed him the best that you have to offer, that dog will never, never bite you. And then he smiles and says that’s the main difference between dogs and human beings. We may never know what the roads of life are like that the JD’s of this world are travelling. We do know that by our prayers, that maybe, just maybe we can remove a twist or turn that hinders them on their way. For us here today, the Eucharist can soften our hardened hearts that we can love those who are hard to love, pray for those who need our prayers even if we think they don’t deserve them, and show mercy just as Jesus shows mercy to us. I want to leave you with these words from Saint Paul: Do not repay anyone evil for evil but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” What does this mean? It means that God will exact revenge for us using his wrath. If we act with love and kindness to our enemy, they’ll find no reason to hate us, and it will drive them absolutely bonkers! Now I don’t know about you but, that’s win-win for me! My brothers and sisters, Today, do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good for the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to.

Deacon: Kenneth Stewart

 

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

 

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