Homily – 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C – Father’s Day

Peter recognizes that Jesus is the Christ – the Messiah. However, he misunderstands what type of Messiah Jesus is. He most likely expects a Warrior King who will drive the Romans out of Israel. Jesus is the Messiah, but the only blood He plans to shed is His own. He will save Israel and the world by suffering and dying.

What does it mean to be a man? Does it mean being tough, destroying all who gets in your way? Going on adventures and slaying dragons? Having a different woman each night? Becoming completely independent – listening to no one, never asking for help, never admitting a mistake?

The strength of a true man is not in how many people he can beat up, but how many people he can help up.
He does not need to leave home to find adventure – everyday is an epic adventure – full of interesting people and unexpected challenges. He helps his wife conquer the housework, and his kids conquer their homework. He knows that the greatest dragon to slay is the one that is within his own selfishness.

A real man does not need many women – he is faithful to one, and by being faithful to her, he discovers more of her beauty each day.

A real man knows he can do nothing on his own. He depends upon God. He kneels to pray. He confesses his sins.

Jesus was not a macho Messiah. Jesus does not call us to be macho men. He calls us to be real men. Dear brothers, let us be real men. Let us thank the real men in our lives, let us thank our Fathers.

Homily – Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

“Follow Me.” Jesus has made this invitation to each of us. The particular way in which we follow Jesus is our specific vocation in life: myself as a priest, for some as religious and some who dedicate themselves to a single life in order to serve others. Most of those who are here, however, are called to the vocation of marriage.

Summer is traditionally wedding season. Many people are asking if I am busy with weddings. I am not. This summer, at St. Michaels – we have only two weddings. Many priests will tell you the same thing – less and less people are getting married. People instead are choosing to live together and even start their family without the sacrament of marriage.

What is fascinating is that many of these couples are not against marriage. In fact, the majority say that eventually they want to get married – just not now: “We can’t affort it right now, we want to be sure this will work out before we commit for life, we are waiting for our family to visit Canada to be at the wedding.”

This phenomena in our culture today reminds me of the individuals in our Gospel – these men hear the voice of Jesus calling them – they want to follow Him – but “not yet.” Let me do something else first. In the same way, these couples seem to have heard a call to marriage – they see themselves as being married eventually, but “not yet.” They are not ready.

Can we ever be ready to follow Jesus? When Jesus says, “Follow me,” he doesn’t tell these men where He is going, He doesn’t specify the challenges they will face or the sacrifices they may need to make. We can’t “get ready” to follow Jesus because we don’t know what we are getting ready for. Following Jesus requires trust that wherever He leads us, He will remain by our sides and he will give us the grace to remain faithful.

The same is true of married life. When two people promise to be “true in good times and in bad” they do not know how much good or how much bad is coming their way. That is why living together doesn’t prepare people for marriage. You may get to know each other a little better, but the person you know today is not the same person you will be married to tomorrow; they will change and you will change – you will need to get to know each other all over again. Living together may help you negotiate the housework, the thermostat and the toilet seat – but your circumstances will change – a loss of a job, the addition of children, midlife crisis – whatever you have negotiated today will need to be renegotiated later. No one knows what married life has in store for them – prosperity or poverty, an unexpected pregnancy or infertility – illness or disability. If we chose to follow Jesus, we must trust Him that wherever He leads us, He remains by our side and He will give us the grace to bear the difficulties and remain faithful.

So where is Jesus leading us? Our Gospel tells us one thing – Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, He will be condemned, will suffer his passion and die on the cross. Every vocation has one thing in common – it involves the cross, it requires sacrifice. If there is a way to prepare for marriage, it is to learn sacrifice.

This is why it is good for couples to live separately before marriage. Living chaste before marriage forces one to learn self denial, which will be needed often in married life. Having to pay for two rents instead of one teaches us not to compromise our integrity for cash, and to live with less disposable income, necessary to welcome children into the world. The loneliness of spending time apart prepares one for lonely moments in marriage when your spouse is not around or not paying attention. Living apart before marriage is hard, it requires sacrifice. But if you are not ready for sacrifice, you are not ready for marriage.

Jesus is calling all of us to follow him. And it’s ok that we are a little nervous. It ok that we don’t feel ready. Because we’ll never be ready. It will always be a risk to follow Jesus. It will always be a risk to get married. If Jesus is the one calling us, it’s worth the risk. Let’s not make up excuses like the men in the Gospel. “Lord I want to follow you, but not until next week.” Like Elisha in our first reading, like Peter and Paul and Andrew, let us sacrifice everything to follow Jesus wherever he leads us, including to the cross, knowing that He is by our side and will give us the grace to remain faithful.

Father Jason’s evangelization series – How to evangelize

During the season of Easter, Father Jason will be commenting on the theme of evangelization in his Sunday homilies. He will draw from the reflections of Pope Francis in his encyclical, “Evangelii Gaudium” and Patrick Sullivan’s guidebook, “Dare to be an Evangelist.”
Sunday, April 3rd – Me? Evangelize? What? How?
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Sunday, April 10th – “If you say so, I will lay down the net.”Escuchar en español:
Sunday, April 17th – Custom Fit
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Sunday, April 24th – All you need is loveEscuchar en español:

Sunday, May 1st – Spirit-filled Evangelizers
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Click here to visit Patrick Sullivan’s website.

Homily – 6th Sunday Easter – Spirit-filled Evangelizers


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Today we finish our series on the theme of evangelization. The final challenge of Patrick Sullivan in his book, “Dare to be an Evangelist” is “be joyful.” It makes sense – how will others know that we have “good news” to share if we are sad, pessimistic, or grumpy? Pope Francis has joked several times about how some Christians look like they just came from a funeral or just sucked a lemon. If Jesus Christ has brighten our lives – it should show in our faces.
Yet it is not easy to be joyful at all times. Being a Christian does not automatically make life easier. Bad things still happen to Christians – our loved ones still get sick like everyone else, we lose our jobs, we have difficult family members. When we try to share our faith we can quickly become discouraged – our best efforts to bring our friends and family to Jesus don’t always bear fruit.
How do we keep smiling? How do we keep going? Only with the help of the Holy Spirit. St. Paul says that joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit – a result of the spirit in our lives. Our joy does not come from the circumstances of daily life – which are in constant flux. Our joy comes from our supernatural faith in Jesus Christ. As our Gospel teaches, it is the Holy Spirit who reminds us of what Jesus told us.
The Spirit reminds us that Jesus forewarned us: “In the world you will have troubles but be of good faith, I have conquered the world” Jesus told us that many would not believe. He said we would be persecuted. That we would carry the cross. He said that his Gospel would pit father against son and brother against sister. Yet he is risen – I have conquered the world Jesus has won the victory over sin and death. He cannot and will not ever lose. Life may be hard but we have assurance of the victory.
The Spirit reminds us of Jesus promise: “Whoever loves me will keep my commandments and my Father will love him and we will make our home with him.” Jesus promises to abide with those who keep his commandments. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity who comes to dwell within us at our baptism. No matter what we face we are never alone or abandoned, Jesus is always with us. The spirit dwells within us.
The Spirit reminds us of Christ’s promise. “I have chosen you to bear fruit, fruit that will last.” Jesus has chosen us to evangelize. He did not set us up to fail. Jesus wants our efforts to be fruitful. He wants to help many souls through us. So we cannot be discouraged by our lack of visible results. We will only know the amount of people who lives we effected in heaven. Jesus has promised we will be fruitful and he does not lie. We must trust in him.
We have been called to evangelize. I hope that many of you have taken up the challenge to try and share your faith with others. I hope that you are continuing with the dares from Patrick’s book. Don’t get discouraged if it takes longer than 40 days – I am still on Dare #9! The book is still available on the Lighthouse stand.
Let us recap what we have learned. In order to evangelize we must be people of prayer – we cannot help other know and love Jesus if we do not know and love Jesus. To evangelize is nothing more than to be a good friend – to listen, to offer help and to share what is deep in our hearts. We must show people that we love them, by being generous with our time and treasure. Evangelization is not easy – but we can remain joyful if we trust in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit reminds us that Christ has conquered, he is always with us and he wants us to bear fruit.
Now go – and bear fruit!

Homily – 5th Sunday of Easter – All you need is love


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During his parish mission, Patrick Sullivan spoke of three languages of evangelization. These are truth, beauty and goodness. God is perfect truth, goodness and beauty. Hence, whenever we see goodness or truth or beauty in our world, it speaks to us something of God. In the beauty of nature – a waterfall or a sun set we encounter the majesty of God. The consistency of the Church’s moral teaching in a confusing and relativistic world helps us to see God is guiding her. The sacrifice and kindness of a Mother Teresa, a friend who is ready and available when we need them most – their goodness helps us see that God is with them. Some people are more attracted by Beauty than others. Some are more interested in the truth, yet I would argue that everyone is seeking “goodness” If they recognize goodness in us, they will recognize God.
Jesus Himself says, “They will know that you are my followers in that you love one another.” I have a friend whose father in law is Protestant. They would talk a lot about the faith and in the end the man was convinced about many Catholic truths – that Mary is the Mother of God, that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. However, he refused to convert. My friend would ask – “Don’t you want to receive the Eucharist?” The older gentleman said “Yes I would love to receive Communion, but I don’t want to leave my Church” When I go to my Church everyone knows my name and says hello. They ask me how I’m doing and genuinely care about the answer I give. When I go to the Catholic Church everyone ignores me. He could see the truth in the Catholic Church, but not goodness.
“They will know that you are my followers in that you love one another.” One of the greatest obstacles to evangelization is our failure to live this commandment of Jesus. So many people look for God in others Churches because they see the members love one another. “Love one another as I have loved you.” How can we love like Jesus?
Be humble. The first act of love that Jesus did for us is to become one of us. God the almighty became a small baby and grew up in an unimportant village in the far corner of the Roman Empire. He worked with his hands, he feasted with his neighbours. Sadly the image of Christians that is projected to the world is of people who are arrogant and aloof – people who think that they are better than everyone else and that they are here to save the world from damnation. Understandably people resent this image of Christianity. If we feel that we are better than someone, we cannot evangelize them. We must be genuinely humble. Patrick Sullivan’s speaks of how we cannot judge or criticize the people we are trying to evangelize – we must recognize their goodness. We must show an interest in what they are interested in – all things can be made holy because all things were created good by God. Jesus became one of us and shared in every aspect of human life except sin. As Christians we cannot be separated or above our contemporaries – we must be one of them.
Love is shown not in big words but in little deeds. Jesus paid attention to details. His first miracle was to make wine at a wedding. He noticed the crowds were hungry and asked the disciples to find bread for them. When the crowd was pushing on him, he noticed that the woman with the hemorage had touched him. Attention to details is a powerful way to show we care about someone. Remembering someones’ name, remembering their birthday or what type of icecream is their favourite, sending a personal message just to see how they are doing. These small details melt hearts.
Finally, love is generous. Jesus is the perfect example of generosity – he gave his whole life, his body and blood for us. We show our true concern and true care for others by being generous. Last week we spoke of generosity with our time. Patrick sullivan also speaks of other forms of generosity such as being willing to pick up the bill when we go out. These gestures show that we care for the other. When someone feels cared for, they listen – Theodore Rosevelt said: “Nobody cares what you know until they know you care” As Christians we must show the world we care.
“They will know that you are my followers by your love.” I am always surprised to listen to the stories of those who wish to convert to Catholicism. While every story is unique I am impressed at how small acts of kindness by Catholics can attract people to the Catholic Church. They say that actions speak louder than words – may our actions as a parish shout to our community that we love one another, that we are the followers of Jesus.

Homily – 4th Sunday In Easter Year C – How to Evangelize? One person at a time.


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Today, we continue our series about “How to evangelize.” Often when we think of an evangelist, we think of a travelling preacher, like Billy Graham – someone who speaks to large crowds, converts many people and then moves to another town.
In our Gospel, we see something different. The Gospel says that the good shepherd ‘knows his sheep,” and that the sheep recognize his voice. In the gospel of Luke, the good shepherd goes out looking for ONE lost sheep. While it is true that Jesus spoke to large crowds, afterwards they bring their sick to him – he deals with them one by one.   Lives are truly changed one by one – Levi, Peter, the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, Zacheus. This is how evangelization TRULY works – one person at a time.
We evangelize one person at a time, because as Patrick Sullivan says – each person is different. Each person is hurting in a different way, each has different questions, fears, prejudices.   We must come to understand each person’s unique situation and offer them the spiritual help they need.   Evangelization happens one on one because the process of conversion and spiritual growth takes time. The travelling preacher may touch hearts, but often, people don’t change overnight. They may need to think about it, ask questions and be encouraged.   They may take a few steps forward and then a few steps back. Evangelization requires a relationship someone who knows the person and takes the time to accompany them along their journey, however long that journey may take.
A good evangelist is not much more than a good friend.   St. Josemaria Escriva spoke often of the Apostolate of Friendship.   We must be good friends to others and through our friendship, lead them closer to God.   It is with their friends that people open up about their problems and challenges. They know that we care about them and for that reason become interested in what we have to say.   “Nativity of our Lord” parish in Baltimore has experienced enormous growth over the last decade. Their strategy is simple: “Invest and Invite”   They encourage their parishioners to invest time and energy in others – to really get to know people and to help them out.   Then once the friendship has reached a certain stage – invite them to come to church.
So, how can we be good friends?
FIRST – Spend time with people. Our time is precious, spending time with someone shows that we care, that we like being around them. How many friends do we have with whom we have said “We need to get together” but it never happens?   Take the initiative.   A relationship cannot grow unless we invest in it.
SECOND – Listen. St. Francis says “It is better to understand than to be understood”   In the work of evangelization we are sometimes too quick to want to make sure someone understands why it is important to go to Mass, or why this or that activity is a sin, yet we do not take time to listen to them, to understand their concerns, their worries and their fears.   Listening helps us to understand why they are the way they are, and thus explain the faith in a way that they will understand. Above all, listening is a sign of respect. If someone feels respected, they are more likely to listen to what we have to say.
LASTLY – Be honest.   The mark of a true friendship is that you can be yourself with each other.   Yet how many of us have friends with whom we never speak about religion? Can we be called real friends if we are hiding a part of ourselves?   If we truly love Jesus, we cannot fail to share this with our friends – who Jesus is, what he has done for us, how we personally have experienced his salvation. We might not talk about these things right away when we meet someone, but as the relationship develops it should naturally come up.   Otherwise we are being dishonest – and that cannot be called true friendship.
Evangelization happens one person at a time.   That is why everyone should play a part.   If we leave evangelization to the priest, we will have very little evangelical fruits – I cannot be a friend to many people at the same time.   Our parish mission statement indicates that we are a place of participation – evangelization is everyone’s job.   Patrick invites each of us to pray and consider – who is the person God is calling me to evangelize?   If every parishioner at St. Michael invested in only one friendship and tried to help that person come closer to God, think of the fruits we might see.   Even if only one in ten were effective, that would be a hundred new parishioners.   If you know how to be a good friend, you already know how to evangelize.