We are all formed by God and we all are his covenant
The Scripture we hear proclaimed on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord announces our mandate. The words speak to us of servanthood in the context of Jesus’ baptism. He, the one who is baptized, is called beloved because he is the model servant. There is no question about our calling; there is no denial of the covenant for which Jesus came to fulfill. We are reminded that we are formed by God and we are his covenant — the bond of love for all the people.
Christmas: A three-week season, not just one day of the year
How great our joy. Today the child whom we seek, the deliverer of mankind, is born. This divine gift does not come to us in wrappings of the secular world. The glitter on the gift is a star of the heavens; the paper in which the gift is adorned is of human flesh; the gift is offered through the womb of the earth, our Blessed Mother. This gift to us, Prince of Peace, is not bestowed upon a mansion, but laid in a manger. While the bows and colored paper torn from their boxes will be thrown into the recycling bin, this Christmas wrap, swaddling of the father’s love, is sacred and we cannot part from him. We all gather to see this child for our faith, like that of the shepherds in the field and the wise men, propels us closer and we proclaim our belief.
What way might you repent?
While St. John the Baptist was in the womb, he heard Mary as she visited his mother, and the unborn Baptist leaped for joy over the voice of Mary and the presence of the unborn Jesus in her own womb. Our spiritual tradition calls this the first Eucharistic Adoration, namely, St. John the Baptist was worshipping the Son of God whose presence he knew although he couldn’t see him. At a time when so many believers appear to have given into mediocrity, suspicion and fear, the zealous witness of St. John the Baptist pokes at us, provokes us into a greater love and deeper devotion to the demands of discipleship. During this season of Advent, St. John the Baptist compels us to repent, to forgive — that we might see the salvation of God. The Second Vatican Council Fathers echo the provocative words of St. John the Baptist, “The Lord himself renews his invitation to all the lay faithful to come closer to him every day, and with the recognition that what is his is also their own (Phil 2:5) they ought to associate themselves with him in his saving mission. Once again he sends them into every town and place where he himself is to come” (Christifideles Laici).
What the world needs is God’s love
Grace and peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. We are concluding our Jubilee Year, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Diocese of Orlando. On the first Sunday of Advent, I proclaimed this Jubilee, the Year of the Eucharist. Together, we proclaimed, “Never more than at this time do we find our urgent prayer, ‘Stay with us, Lord,’ burning in our hearts as it did with those disciples on the Road to Emmaus.”
To give to the Lord is a profound blessing
Grace and peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Jesus talks about the rich and the poor in the Gospel of St. Mark. But the rich and the poor of whom he speaks are not the typical ideals. The rich person is characterized by the poor widow and the poor person is characterized by the rich who give of his/her excess. The widow is fragile, someone who has lost a sure, reliable life partner. The widow is vulnerable. Yet, the widow is also faith-filled and her stewardship of all that God has given her is realized within her two small coins. She has given of her entire being for the glory of the Lord.
May we pray unceasingly, ‘Stay with us Lord’
During the month of October, the Gospels we proclaim have been from St. Mark, Chapter 10. The last Scripture reading from this chapter is proclaimed on Oct. 28. It would be good for you to pick up a Bible and read the entire Chapter 10 of St. Mark, to reflect upon the whole chapter and the message St. Mark conveys to us through the telling of his encounter as Jesus’ disciple. Upon prayerful discernment, I hope you will note that Jesus’ message is not to put ourselves before God; rather, whatever authority we exercise must be like that of Jesus, offered as service to others, rather than for personal aggrandizement. The service of Jesus is his passion and death for the sins of the human race.
In what are you lacking?
In what are you lacking? In the Old Testament, wealth and material goods are considered a sign of God’s favor. The words of Jesus, as St. Mark tells us, provoke astonishment among the disciples because of their apparent contradiction of the Old Testament concept. Since wealth, power and merit generate false security, Jesus rejects them utterly as a claim to enter the kingdom. Achievement of salvation is beyond human capability and depends solely on the goodness of God who offers it as a gift.
Pray with gratitude for our first responders
Our ever-reliable God will bless the reverent. We are created by God and within that creation we are given a dignity that is beyond all telling. Our first responders know of this dignity of each person and spend their lives honoring this dignity through their offering to keep us safe. It is fitting to recognize these men and women during our annual celebration of the Blue Mass on Sept. 28, 12:10 p.m., at St. James Cathedral. First responders throughout the Diocese of Orlando are invited to participate with us in prayer, praising God for our ability to serve him using our talents to flourish his kingdom here on earth.
I pray for you as you are suffering
At the end of August, I returned from Ireland. While there I was blessed to concelebrate Mass with Pope Francis for the World Meeting of Families. I am of Irish descent, born and raised for most of my life in Limerick. As I was growing up, the Catholic Church and Ireland seemed to be one. But, with the knowledge of sexual misconduct within the Church, this Catholicity was challenged and changed. So, as I processed into the Mass Sunday, Aug. 26, I was overwhelmed by the one-half million faithful who participated in this celebration. The media may never acknowledge this extraordinary number of faithful, but it struck me that those in attendance exceeded the number of registered Catholics in our Diocese of Orlando. I was humbled by the Holy Spirit filling the space of the earth, despite all the “bad news” spurred through the Irish media during the time I visited.
It is everyone’s responsibility to safeguard those around us
Some of you have asked for assurances that we are vigilant in keeping our families safe from harm. It is everyone’s responsibility to safeguard those around us. In 1995, the Diocese of Orlando created a diocesan lay review board to provide oversight to policy creation, and review situations involving allegations of sexual misconduct. Our policies are reviewed annually and updated when appropriate as we manage technology and changes.
Eucharist is center of experience of God
God asks us to reflect through the Scriptures of Aug. 19 about how we are living. Where is our focus? Are we interested in God? How do we express our interest? Where do we seek God? Do we share our knowledge of God? Are we helping each other to get to heaven? God guides us through the answers as St. Paul speaks to the Ephesians. Watch carefully how you live. Seek wisdom and be filled with the spirit. Forsake foolishness and advance in the way of understanding.
Are you hungry?
Who is hungry? This is what my mother would ask before gathering our family together for a meal. Then, she would ask us all to sit and eat as the meal is served. The Scripture for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time asks us the same question, “Who is hungry?” and through the prophet, Elisha, and St. Paul and Jesus, we receive the revelation of the gift of life: sustenance through God, for God. In these Scriptures, God feeds us, asks us to feed each other and we acknowledge our desire to be fed.
God’s blessing is one of mission
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Blessed be the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. This blessing is one of mission; that is, the Christian’s response to God’s blessing to spread the good news, the very nature of the Church. We proclaim God’s salvation throughout his earth.
‘Humanae Vitae’: God is the Creator of all
How many of us praise God for our being? How many of us acknowledge ourselves as wonderfully made because we are of God? In the United States, we have allowed all types of media to place great emphasis on the human body, not because of its God-given dignity, but as an object of desire or of no value. Our understanding of our bodies and souls as one with God has been fragmented and perhaps we have succumbed to the thought that we are in charge, rather than living as our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.
God sustains us on earth and in heaven
St. Paul was a tentmaker by trade. His reference to a tent in this Scripture passage speaks uniquely to the Corinthians because tents were common homes for many when Jesus lived on this earth. But our earthly abode is transitory, as we know all too well from the hurricanes we have experienced in Florida. Looking upon our possessions, what is the greatest? St. Paul reminds us that no earthly thing is everlasting, but our faith in our triune God sustains us on earth and in heaven.