Homily February 2, 2014 Presentation of the Lord

Posted in christian, Christianity, church events, ecclesiology, inspirational, politics, religion, scripture by Fr Joe R on January 28, 2014

Today’s feast, the Presentation of the Lord like the Epiphany is one of the oldest feasts celebrated in the church and even pre-dates the celebration of Christmas which came about at the end of the fourth century. It was then that the Presentation was moved from forty days after epiphany, to Feb 2nd, forty days after the feast of Christmas, December 25th. simeon anna In the western church, the feast was named The Purification of the Blessed Mother and from the tradition of holding candles and processions on this day it was also sometimes called Candlemas day. The liturgical renewal of Vatican II restored the name to Presentation of the Lord. Under Jewish law, the first-born male belonged to God and the parents would bring the child to the temple and present him in the temple and then buy him back with the ritual offering which would be a lamb and a turtle-dove for the rich or a pair of turtle doves or two pigeons for poor couples. Mary and Joseph came with turtle doves. It would also be at this time that the ritual purification of the mother would take place as a woman was seen to be unclean after going through childbirth.

As happened often in Jesus’ life, the time of his presentation was not completely uneventful. An old man named Simeon was present who had been promised by God that he would see the Savior who was to come before he died and he took Jesus in his arms and thanked and praised God for having seen Jesus the Savior and the light of revelation to the gentiles. In peace he was now ready to die. From his lips comes the beautiful prayer known as the Nunc Dimitis which basically said that he was ready to see the Lord. He also prophesied that Jesus would suffer and that a sword of sorrow would pierce his mother’s heart. At the same time there was a prophetess named Anna in the temple who was very old and she too recognized the child and thanked God for redemption. After all this, Joseph and Mary fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law and went home to Nazareth and settled down to a daily ordinary life in their humble home.nazereth

As we leave them there today, let’s remember that when we look back and see the events described in the scriptures, I think we see them as stories stylized for when we were children. I think we lose sight of the fact that Jesus, Mary and Joseph were very ordinary people scratching out a living and working day-to-day much like most of us do today. They were kind loving hospitable people looking out for all around them. They didn’t stand out and they simply followed the law and intentions of the law and prophets. They stand out today because of Jesu and how he took on humanity and made it possible for all people to be reconciled to God and to be with him forever.

On this feast of the presentation, it is a good time to look at ourselves and present ourselves to God. It is in him that life can be most fulfilling and he always is waiting for us to reach out to him. As Christians we don’t have a rite of presentation, but we have sacraments or calls to faith and holiness that can transform the ordinary day-to-day life we lead to a true walk with God. Like that family in Nazareth, we aren’t called to be extraordinary, but to be just ordinary people and to do it well. All through history, God took lowly, ordinary people and ordinary events and made extraordinary things happen. As God made something from nothing, so we in faith can do a whole lot if only we have the faith and the will to do it. So, as we offer our Mass today, let us give ourselves and our faith and what we are to witness to Christ.

Homily December 29, 2013 Feast of the Holy Family

Posted in christian, Christianity, ecclesiology, ethics, inspirational, religion by Fr Joe R on December 24, 2013

Today’s feast of the Holy Family brings up the whole concept of family and marriage and how they are seen and lived in olden times as well as today. In Jewish Biblical times, a marriage was an arranged affair between two families, oftentimes even cousins, which was a formal contract. In Egyptthose times, a woman had no standing or place in that society except as a wife. While the husband had a duty to look out for her and raise the children they might have, it was a male society. Wives raised the children and the boys when they reached 12 years of age joined the men and began to be taught and trained by their Father. Frequently, love followed in these relationships of husband and wife, but the key was faithfulness to the contract and the honoring and respecting of one another. Of course, extended families never moved far away and many authors note that the Hamlet of Nazareth with a population of about 100 were pretty much related as cousins in one way or another. Remember we talk of a time when people did not travel much except to Jerusalem to the temple. I realize this is far different from what we picture with the word family today, but it is not the first time that we modernize and Americanize a reality from the scriptures different form what it is now.

If we look at family as we see it we don’t really look at it as a contract(although the state does) but as a relationship which is very much born out of love. Even in the Church’s understanding of the Sacrament of marriage the idea of love is strong and the relationship of the two people is emphasized. jesus-teen-joseph-carpenter-shopMarriage is even seen as a sign of the relationship and love Christ has for His church. In the many weddings I have done I have seen so many couples ready to share their love and assume the life unfolding before them. Mutual love and respect and sharing brings them closer and hopefully leads to a happy life. Marriage today is more hands on and more of a partnership. Women and men share the tasks of home and hearth and also in the rearing of their children. It is certainly different from biblical times just as our world outlook is different. Being different doesn’t change the importance of marriage and family.

However, I think we know that relationships are not easy things because they take a lot of work. Whether we go back to Mary and Joseph’s time or look at our own time marriage is hard work requiring steadfastness and love. Relationships, living together, working together can be positive but sometimes people will fail, relationships end and separation occurs. Weakness and failure are things that unfortunately occur in our human condition. Maybe, and I only say maybe, over the centuries we have learned to understand humanity’s failure with the compassion of Jesus. Who better to identify as our judge and author of forgiveness? Throughout his ministry he kept meeting those who sinned and failed and yet he forgave and sent them on saying go and do it no more. He certainly condemned no one for trying and is there for those who fail. In a time such as ours when marriages fail at an alarming rate, A compassionate loving Lord is there to console. That people move on and try again to find the comfort and love of a marital relationship is better than a life of solitude and dysfunction for the individual. While this may not be the ideal, the sister sacrament of penance reminds us that we do often falls short of the ideal but in the end our faith and the cross saves us. So, today we should give thanks for our families and the lives we share.

Homily December 30, 2012 Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Fr Joe R on December 27, 2012

In the course of many years of witnessing the marriages of many young couples and meeting many couples in committed relationships, I must admit that like the uniqueness of each one of us, each relationship is just as unique in each other as we are in ourselves. As each of us has our failures, so do relationships even to the point of breaking sometimes. What doesn’t ever break however is the relationship we have with God. No matter how broken, how guilty, how unforgiving we are of even ourselves, God forgives and he loves. Even in failure he is there for us and in Him we can go on. As I said we are unique and our relationships are also, but at the same time some things are alike. I’m sure you parents of adolescents can identify with the disappearing Jesus and the “where were you?” “what were you doing?” I’ve heard the answer “nothing!” many times myself. So you see a short glimpse even of the “Holy Family” shows even they had some foibles and only God is perfect and He gives a lot of forgiveness and love.

Therein lies the real basis of a family and relationships. To commit to each other requires love and patience and forgiveness but all that is always in God. He has to be the foundation for family. The commitment of two people requires that they give themselves freely to the other. God is discovered in this way and a couple grows and shares and spreads that love.

We see that kind of love in the gospel today. Mary and Joseph’s relationship was certainly unique and as I said last week, they had the most unique special needs child in history. Imagine their dilemma between letting go and protectiveness. His “Father’s business” and growing up. The angel told them they would have a son but they had to figure the rest out themselves. Like any of us they did their best. I suppose that today we are celebrating their best. At the same time let us celebrate ourselves. After all, we have gathered as families and shared over Christmas. Let us be glad and rejoice over what we have. God is good to us what further needs do we have?

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The Nativity/ The Holy Family

Posted in Uncategorized by coapbk on December 22, 2008

Readings: Isaiah 9:2-7, Luke 2:1-20                                          

Reflection for Monday, December 22 by Joseph Diele

This passage seems to have been written between 733 & 722 BC. At this time, the Assyrians had invaded the Northern Kingdom of Israel. People were deported and the land divided and made into provinces of Assyria.  The final destruction of Israel happed in 722 BC by Assyria.

Isaiah writes this passage from Jerusalem, the Southern Kingdom, looking with sadness over the terrible destruction but also looking with hope and expectation.  With the realization of pain and destruction in mind read this passage.  What do you feel?  What was Isaiah able to hold on to? Can we hope in spite of such pain and destruction when it happens in our lives? Isaiah is more than an optimist and more than one who has a positive outlook. It is good for us to be optimistic and positive but I think we have something else here. Faith gives us insights that run deep.  Faith gives us awareness that there is a God we can rely on.  We can trust this God to be with us, in every hard time we experience.  We can trust that God will not abandon us. The prophet sees and trusts what he sees. He trusts the God who saved the people from slavery, the God who rode the waters with Noah and the God who created everything and everyone. It is from this awareness that Isaiah speaks a word of hope, the Word of God.

-When things are going bad where do we turn?

-What is our attitude in times of trial, destruction and pain?

-Can we see a light shinning in spite of the dark in our lives?

-Do our communities help us to shine through the darkness by trusting in God?