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7 minutes | Mar 22, 2020
Glow of God
St. John of the Cross said, “God’s first language is silence.” Remember, that the Word of God, Jesus, was with his Father and the Holy Spirit in silence before God ever said the words, “Let there be light.”
8 minutes | Jun 23, 2018
Fully Known and Fully Loved
The week of love is upon us. As you know, this week we have St. Valentine's Day as well as World Marriage Day. If ever there was a perfect time for a message of love, this week is it. So for this week of love, what does the Church give its preachers to work with? ... Two readings about leprosy ... Apparently, nothing says "I love you" quite like leprosy. The truth is, in today’s Gospel reading about the man with leprosy, we can discover a great message of love: Jesus fully knows us and fully loves us. This is the deepest desire of our hearts, to be fully known and fully loved. Like Jesus, I have a sweet spot in my heart for the man with leprosy. He’s someone I can identify with. You see, in my family when we gather for prayers at bedtime, all the kids cuddle with my wife, Julie, on her side of the bed, since she is the cuddly one, and I am left all by my lonesome on my side of the bed. Sometimes they jokingly say it looks like I am on leper island, because I am completely removed from where all the love is at. While this is a joke for my family and I, for the man in the Gospel, leprosy was no joking matter. For this man, leprosy was a death sentence. And while he waited for leprosy to bring him to his inevitable day of death, his daily life was like hell on earth. You see, now that he had leprosy, the rules he had to live his life by meant that everything he had built his life around was taken away. His nice clothes, hair and beard that had helped cover the sores from his leprosy were all taken away. He was taken away from his Jewish community of believers. He was taken away from the temple, the holy dwelling place of God. He was even taken away from the sanctuary of his own home. He was taken away from his hometown to go to the leper colony. He was taken away from his family. Even his ability to blend in amongst strangers was taken away as he now had to scream “unclean” to notify approaching strangers about his disease. Imagine how completely empty this man’s love tank must have felt. No one to spend time with as a companion, no one to give him a compliment, no one to give him a gift, no one to help care for him and no one to give him a loving touch. When everything that we’ve built our lives around has been taken away from us, the decision we face is pretty clear: to either let this situation tear us apart from God or to let this situation bring us closer to God. We must realize it is at this very moment when we feel empty inside that room has been freed up in our lives for Jesus to become the center of our lives. It is precisely when we feel like God has placed us on the sidelines of His life that it is most important for us to place Jesus at the center of our lives. Jesus wants each of us to build our lives around Him. This is exactly what the man with leprosy does. This man goes to Jesus, kneels in front of Him and in the bright darkness of faith, he says to Jesus, “if you wish, you can make me clean.” The next line in the Gospel is arguably the most understated line in the English translation of the Bible. It says Jesus was “moved with pity.” “Moved with pity.” It’s tempting to rush right past these three words to hurry up and get to the miracle. But if we want to understand Jesus and how he fully knows us and loves us, we should stop and spend some time at this place. To understand what an overwhelming experience of intimacy took place in this moment, we first need to take a step back to remember that the New Testament was not originally written in English, it was originally written in Greek. The original Greek word used here is splagchnizomai. The English language has no perfect translation for this word, so the word gets translated as “moved with pity,” which really misses the profoundly deep physical and emotional flavor of this word. When we hear that Jesus was “moved with pity,” it is saying that that Jesus saw into the heart of this man and that because of the pain Jesus saw in there, Jesus’ gut was wrenched, Jesus felt a deep powerful weeping inside, that in anguish His heart was torn open and the most vulnerable part of his being laid bare. The greatest lover who ever lived really knows what hurts this man and it shakes Jesus at the core of His very being, which is why Jesus stretches out His hand to touch, love, save and heal this man. This physical healing is only a hint of the compassion of Jesus for our wounded humanity. This compassion and love is something I have experienced first-hand. I stand before you today as a brother, Deacon and Dad who is grateful; grateful for all the times in my life when I needed love and healing and Jesus worked through others who got out of their comfort zone to reach out to let me feel Christ’s loving and healing touch. During a heart-wrenching break-up with my girlfriend in college, I remember calling my older brother and letting him know how empty and alone I felt and him dropping everything that was going on in his life to drive five hours to come and be with me for the weekend. Just his presence and companionship had a tremendous healing effect in letting me know I was fully known and fully loved. I stand before you as a Deacon today because unworthy as I felt pursuing Jesus’ call to become a Deacon, someone showed Christ’s love for me by giving a generous gift through their Annual Catholic Appeal donation to make my Deacon schooling affordable. I have no doubt that this person measured the generosity of their loving gift not by how much they gave, but by how much they had left over after they gave. And more recently, there’s been a change in our family’s nightly bedtime prayer routine. My sweet nine-year-old daughter, Journey, has started getting out of her comfort zone on the other side of the bed to come cuddle with her Dad during bedtime prayers. The message from the acts of each of these people is clear: Justin, you are fully known and fully loved. In a beautiful way, it is really Jesus who is speaking this message to each of us. So during this week of love, may we feel in the depths of our souls Jesus saying to each of us “you are fully known and fully loved.”
8 minutes | Jun 1, 2018
Each of Us is Good Enough
Has there ever been a time in your life where you felt like you just weren’t good enough? Maybe it was when you weren’t picked for a team at school or were bullied or it could have been when you were really into a special girl or a guy, but they just weren’t that into you. Maybe it was when you weren’t accepted into your top choice college or when you didn’t get that dream job. Whatever the situation was, chances are each of us has had a time in our lives when we felt like we just weren’t good enough. That time in our lives could be now or it could have been a long time ago and we’re still left with a residual feeling that we just aren’t good enough. If we understand the background of what the first four disciples went through leading up to Jesus calling them in today’s Gospel, we would understand that before they encountered Jesus, they probably felt like they just weren’t good enough. You see, as Jewish boys during the time when Jesus walked the earth, Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John would have gone to the Jewish equivalent of elementary school. From there, only the best and the brightest were selected to go onto the Jewish equivalent of middle school and then only the very best and the brightest were picked to go onto the Jewish equivalent of high school. Then, from there, it was only a few of the smartest remaining chosen ones who heard the words of acceptance that every Jewish boy dreamed of hearing. The Jewish school rabbi would turn to these few chosen ones and say, “come after me.” Come after me to become my follower, to become my apprentice, to become my disciple. For those like Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John who did not make the cut, they would have been told by the rabbi that they just weren’t good enough and had to resign themselves to a working at whatever trade their father did for the rest of their lives. So on that day of rejection, they would have made their walk of shame home from the temple. As they walked home with their heads hung low to take up their family trade of catching fish, I’m sure this sense of feeling like they just weren’t good enough had to seem soul crushing. They each knew that their parents, especially their Dads, would have a look of disappointment in their eyes when they heard this news from their sons. Each day, when these four picked up their fishing nets for work, they were probably reminded that they just weren’t good enough. Then as they were in their boats one day, a call from a Rabbi named Jesus broke through their fog of despair. The first three words He spoke to them were words they once had dreamed about hearing from a Rabbi but they had long ago given up on the possibility of ever hearing. The three words that meant they were good enough and had been accepted into their dream job of being a follower of a rabbi. Jesus said, “Come after me.” As they stood in their boats, this call from Jesus changed everything for them. They knew in an instant that they were made for more, so each of them dropped their nets letting the source of their livelihood fall by the wayside. They relinquished their role as captain of their own ships as they got out of their boats. Some of them even left their Dad behind in their boats as they went to go follow Jesus. As they were getting out of their boats, I imagine them catching a glimpse of their Dad’s eyes and for the first time in a long time, they saw Him looking right at them with a sense of pride in his eyes. Imagine what that must have felt like to have the most important person who has ever walked the earth say these three words that let them know they are accepted, that they are good enough, that they have been called to the best job ever. The good news is we don’t have to imagine what it must have felt like for these disciples. The good news is that Jesus says these three words to each of us, letting us know we are accepted, that we are good enough, that we have been called to the best job ever. “Come after me” Jesus calls to each of us. He wants us to be part of His team, He wants us to be His friend, He wants an intimate relationship with us forever, He is hiring us for the best job ever … to be His disciple. No matter what else happens in our lives, no matter what difficult times or disappointments we may face, no one can take away from us what Jesus has given us. We are good enough … and so are our brothers and sisters. That’s why immediately after saying “Come after me,” Jesus continues His call to His disciples by saying “and I will make you fishers of men.” Jesus realizes that there are so many others who are still floundering in the sea of despair, feeling like they just aren’t good enough. Jesus doesn’t want our brothers and sisters left behind feeling like this. Jesus wants us to help Him reach them, to fish them out of the sea of despair they are floundering in. Jesus wants them to hear these same three words that let them know they are good enough. This is the best job ever that each of us are called to do as a disciple. So let us think of a person in our lives who is floundering in this sea of despair right now. Maybe it is someone we know who feels lonely, someone whose boyfriend or girlfriend just broke up with them, someone who is being bullied, someone who was made to feel like they aren’t smart enough or attractive enough, or someone who was recently fired from their job or who was rejected when they applied for their dream job. Jesus wants us to invite this person to encounter Him. Jesus wants us to open our lips so this person can hear His call to “come after me.” Come after me to one of the activities in the bulletin to encounter Jesus who tells us that wherever two or three are gathered in His name, He is there. Come after me to sign up for a Bible Study after Mass today to encounter Jesus’ words in scripture. Come after me to reconciliation Tuesday evening to encounter Jesus’ mercy. Come after me to church to encounter Jesus in the Eucharist, because it is in the Eucharist that nourishes us and strengthens that we can find the courage to make an invitation like this to the person in our lives who most needs to hear it. The good news is each of us are good enough to be a disciple of Jesus. The good news is the person in our lives who is floundering in the sea of despair is good enough also. The good news is we get to be the ones to tell them “Come after me.” 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B January 21, 2018GospelMK 1:14-20After John had been arrested,Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:"This is the time of fulfillment.The kingdom of God is at hand.Repent, and believe in the gospel."As he passed by the Sea of Galilee,he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea;they were fishermen.Jesus said to them,"Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men."Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.He walked along a little fartherand saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.They too were in a boat mending their nets.Then he called them.So they left their father Zebedee in the boatalong with the hired men and followed him.
6 minutes | May 31, 2018
4 Steps to Joy and Light
Here it is the darkest week of the year outside, but light and joy are all around us inside. In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist testified about Jesus being the light and words of joy were scattered throughout the other readings. To represent this joy, we see the rose-colored candle on the Advent wreath lit. It may also bring some of you joy to see the priest and deacon wearing what some might describe as pink dresses. Sorry, Fr. Jeremy, I mean rose-colored vestments; real men wear rose, right? All this focus on light and joy may seem puzzling with Thursday being the darkest day of the year when the earth is tilted furthest away from the sun. But our light and joy don’t come from the earth’s tilt toward the sun of the sky. Our light and joy come from tilting our lives toward the Son of God.The path to true joy begins with making room in the inn of our hearts to fully welcome Jesus. God made each of us with room in our hearts perfectly sized to be the dwelling place for Jesus. The problem is we tend to try to fill this space in our hearts with smaller substitutes for Jesus. St. Thomas Aquinas said the four small substitutes for Jesus we use are wealth, power, pleasure and honor. These four small substitutes for Jesus never fill this Jesus-sized room in our hearts, so we are left feeling unfulfilled and frustrated. If we release from our hearts unhealthy attachments to wealth, power, pleasure and honor, we can fully welcome Jesus into the dwelling place of our hearts. Which of these four substitutes for God do we most need to release an unhealthy attachment to in our lives?For me, sixteen years ago, I was so attached to wealth that I couldn’t bring myself to embrace welcoming a child into my life. When Julie and I got engaged, I told her that after we got married, I wanted 0, 1 or 2 kids. Julie’s wanted 3-5 kids. You see, I viewed welcoming a child into my life as getting in the way of me doing what I wanted to do with “my money.” After we got married, I tried to delay having a child by giving as an excuse that we needed to have the perfect amount of money saved first before we could welcome a child into our lives. The truth is, if we would have waited to have the perfect amount of money saved up before having a child, we would have been waiting forever. Eventually, Julie’s persistence, encouragement and love paid off and I released this unhealthy attachment to money. Because of this, I was able to embrace welcoming our three children into my life. They have helped bring me closer to Jesus and have brought more joy into my life than I could have ever imagined. The second substitute for God is power. It was one of the darkest days of the year 73 years ago. The year was 1944 and two of the world’s most powerful nations, America and Germany, were on the battlefield during World War II’s Battle of the Bulge. This was one of the costliest battles in American history where 80,000 of the American and allied troops were killed, wounded or captured. However, the light that came into this world with the birth of Christ hadn't lost its ability to overcome even these darkest of days. It was in the heart of this battlefield in the Belgium wilderness on the dark night of Christmas Eve, where American soldiers and enemy soldiers from Germany laid down their guns, gathered together in the home of a civilian family to give thanks to God, to break bread together for Christmas dinner and to sleep in peace under the same roof. The darkness that was all around them in the battlefield that night, couldn't overcome Christ’s light and joy in that little corner of the battlefield. Soldiers and saints alike have had to let go of substitutes for God. The poster child for an unhealthy attachment to pleasure is St. Augustine. As a lustful younger man, his prayer was “God, grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.” Over time, he released this unhealthy attachment to pleasure and then he wrote a prayer to God saying, “How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose! You drove them from me; you who are the true; the sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place; you who are sweeter than all pleasure.”The fourth substitute for God is honor. In a few moments, we will have an opportunity to put this fourth step to joy into action. When we bow our heads tilting toward the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, let us do so to release any need we may have to be honored and instead honor the presence of Jesus who is right in front of us so that he may fill our hearts and our lives with his light and joy.Our choice today is either to try to make wealth, pleasure, power and honor the center of our lives and be left feeling unfulfilled and frustrated or to make Jesus the center of our lives and experience his light and joy. Let us make room in the Inn of our hearts this Christmas to joyfully welcome Jesus. As we tilt our lives toward Jesus, may we experience the light that only He can provide, so that our lives can mirror His life. Then like the star of Bethlehem, we can reflect Christ's light to point the way for others to experience the joy of encountering Jesus. Power – Two of the biggest world powers battled at the Battle of the Bulge. This Advent, we are reminded that the light of the world was born that will never die. One dark night about 2,000 years ago, the bright morning star of Bethlehem showed the way to welcome the light into the world. This moment in time has transformed some of the darkest days of history with us humans at our worst into shining examples of humanity allowing Christ's light to emerge triumphant. As we look through history, we see this clearly. Yesterday was the 73rd anniversary of the start of World War II’s Battle of the Bulge. What feeds your joy? I am convinced that it wasn’t the food those soldiers ate that night that gave them joy. I am convinced that in the midst of their circumstances, these soldiers managed to find joy inside because of the presence of Christ and his light in their lives. That spark of Christ's light in each of our hearts still today has the power to overcome the darkness of an embattled marriage. Gathering together to celebrate the coming of Christ still has the power to breathe life into the Cold War of a strained relationship with a family member or friend. It is in the light of love incarnate that who we are is made clear. When we tilt our lives toward Jesus, to make room for Him in the Inn of our hearts, we start a process of emptying from lives the artificial substitutes for God that we sometimes try to fill our lives with. St. Thomas Aquinas said these four artificial substitutes for God are wealth, pleasure, power and honor. We know we need God in our lives, but we try to fill the void with something less than God. That’s because only someone as big as our God can fill the God-sized hole in our hearts. The more we tilt our lives away from unhealthy attachments to wealth, pleasure, power and honor and instead tilt our lives to securing Jesus firmly in our hearts, the more joy we will experience in life. If each of us takes a moment to think about which of these four artificial substitutes for God we are most attached to or addicted to, we should each be able to identify what Jesus is most calling us to let go of so as to free up room in our hearts for us to more fully welcome Jesus into our hearts. Third Sunday of Advent Year B December 17, 2017GOSPEL JN 1:6-8, 19-28A man named John was sent from God.He came for testimony, to testify to the light,so that all might believe through him.He was not the light,but came to testify to the light.And this is the testimony of John.When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priestsand Levites to himto ask him, "Who are you?"He admitted and did not deny it,but admitted, "I am not the Christ."So they asked him,"What are you then? Are you Elijah?"And he said, "I am not.""Are you the Prophet?"He answered, "No."So they said to him,"Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?What do you have to say for yourself?"He said:"I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,'make straight the way of the Lord,'"as Isaiah the prophet said."Some Pharisees were also sent. They asked him,"Why then do you baptizeif you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?"John answered them,"I baptize with water;but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,the one who is coming after me,whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie."This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,where John was baptizing.
7 minutes | May 30, 2018
Doing Good for God
Do we care more about looking good or do we care more about doing good? The two groups in today’s Gospel, cared more about looking good in front of their peers than doing good for God who was right in front of them. These two groups aimed to ask Jesus a controversial question that would make Jesus look bad so they could look good. Before they ask the question of Jesus, they first try buttering Him up with compliments. One compliment they give Jesus is that He doesn’t care about looking good in front of the people. Once they’ve buttered Jesus up with flattery, they ask Him the controversial question. To pay the tax or not to pay the tax, that was the controversial question the Pharisees and the Herodians asked Jesus. Both of these groups viewed Jesus as troublesome and they thought that if they could get Jesus to publicly answer this controversial question, it would be Jesus’ downfall at the hands of whichever group Jesus sided against with His answer. By answering the question, they thought Jesus would either be labeled as pro-tax and in turn be seen by the religious Pharisees as selling out His Jewish people or Jesus would be labeled as anti-tax and in turn be seen by the more secular Herodians as a revolutionary threat to the Roman Empire they supported. By taking down Jesus with this verbal trap, the Pharisees and the Herodians believed they would look good to their peers by helping retain or gain power and prestige for their group.After they asked the question, Jesus responded by taking the coin that is supposed to be used to pay the tax to the Roman government and asked whose inscription and image is on it. They respond that the coin has the inscription of and is made in the image of the Roman governmental leader Caesar. Next Jesus says, "Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God." With this statement, Jesus reminds us that we are doing good when we repay to others what belongs to them. Just as the tax coin has the inscription of the governmental leader who made it, we believe the desire for God is written on the hearts of each of us. Just as the tax coin is made in the image of the governmental leader who made it, scripture tells us that each of us are made in the image of God who made us. God is the one who gave us our first breath of life. When we understand this, we avoid the pitfall others fall into when they try to find their identity and self-worth in looking good for others and we instead find our true identity and self-worth in being a beloved son or daughter of God. What exactly does it mean for we beloved sons and daughters of God to repay to God what belongs to God? Jesus stops short of spelling out exactly what this means. That’s because Jesus wants each of us to think and pray about what this means. When we think and pray about what it means to repay to God what belongs to God, we are first reminded that everything belongs to God and that we should start living our lives for an audience of one. This audience of one is God who made each of us for friendship with Him and it is time that is the currency of friendship. We are repaying or giving to God by spending this hour with Him at Mass, but God doesn’t want this one hour to be the end of the time we dedicate to Him this week. God wants this hour to be the start of the time we dedicate to Him this week. The God who gave us our first breath of life is the same God who paid the ultimate price by giving His very life on the cross for the sins of each one of us. We are going to experience this truth in a very real way in a few moments when we receive the body and blood of Jesus. As we open our mouths to consume the body and blood of Jesus, let us open our hearts so that Jesus may consume our hearts, so that our hearts may become like His heart, so that our hands may become His hands, so that our feet may become His feet, so that our face may become His face, so that when we encounter others, they may see Christ in us and so that in all those we encounter, we may see Christ in each of them. When we take this approach of seeing God as part of how we live every aspect of our lives, then we give God our time generously while doing the good He made us to do. In fact, we give our very beings to God when we live this way. This is what repaying to God what belongs to God means, giving Him our very beings. Jesus wants us to receive His body and blood here and take Him out into the world to continue His work in the world. One of the greatest goods we can do is going out and helping others have an encounter with Jesus and then bringing them back here to Church to help grow the Body of Christ. We have opportunities in our own community to help others have an encounter with Christ like at this Wednesday’s Act of Charity Day at the Boys and Girls Club, we have opportunities in other states to help others have an encounter with Christ like going with Fr. Jeremy to Texas to help the hurricane victims and we also have the opportunity to extend the hands of Christ into the farthest reaches of the world so that Christ may encounter those in other nations. We can help with this by supporting the World Mission Sunday appeal this weekend. Sometimes it is the ones hardest to reach who most need an encounter with Christ. Doing good must start with us giving God our time in prayer. If we don’t have time to pray, we are busier than God ever intended us to be. When we pray, let us say, “Lord, what would you like me to do today?” Listen in our hearts for the whisper of God’s response and which direction He is tugging our hearts in. Then, when we move into action, let us care less about looking good for our peers and more about doing good for God.
7 minutes | Jan 28, 2018
Seeking God's Forgiveness and Grace
Matthew 18:21-35The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.Then Peter approaching asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’ Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan. When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' But he refused. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt. Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?' Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.” The other night, I asked my wife, Julie, to be the practice audience for my homily. I told her she got to be the first person to fall asleep during one of my homilies. I was amazed when she didn’t fall asleep. That means, one of you could earn the distinction of being the first person to fall asleep during one my homilies. Today could be your lucky day. Now, here comes the homily. If we don’t know how to forgive, we don’t know how to live. This choice between being someone who is unforgiving to others or being a forgiving person is probably one of the most important decisions we make in our lives. As a married man, I am constantly reminded of my need for forgiveness. The good news is that each of us gathered here today as baptized Christians are recipients of God’s forgiveness and grace. While we may sometimes question if God will really forgive us for what we have done, we must remember that we believe in the same God who forgave Moses the murderer, David the adulterer, Paul the Christian murderer and He will forgive us also. All we have to do is seek His forgiveness and grace, which is God’s free gift to us.So we brothers and sisters who have received God’s forgiveness and grace, are faced with the question of what are we going to do with the forgiveness and grace God has given us? Will we use God’s forgiveness and grace for our own selfish purpose or will we use God’s forgiveness and grace for His purpose?In today’s Gospel, we heard about the unforgiving servant who chose to use forgiveness and grace for his own selfish purpose. First, this unforgiving servant was spared having himself and his family being sold into slavery along with his property and he was forgiven what equates to over a billion dollars in debt. What does he choose to do after receiving this forgiveness and grace? He then immediately goes to choke a fellow servant who owes him about $15,000 in today’s dollars. Will we be like this unforgiving servant or are we instead going to use the forgiveness and grace we’ve been given for God’s purpose by sharing it with others who have sinned against us? God wants us to focus not only on what we’ve been given, but also on why we’ve been given it. The unforgiven servant has this attitude of “great, I’ve been saved, to Hell with everyone else.” It’s tempting for us to get trapped into being like this unforgiving servant who chokes the fellow servant indebted to him. How often we may find ourselves having a chokehold in our hearts on the boss who didn’t give us the recognition we feel we deserve, on the boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse who wasn’t faithful to us, the child who hasn’t shown us the respect we feel we deserve, the parent who has been getting on our last neve or the friend we loaned money to who hasn’t paid us back. How are we to decide what crime is over the edge or what sin is too great to be forgiven? The short answer is … we don’t. When Jesus tells Peter to forgive 77 times, he means to forgive without limit. When God gives His forgiveness and grace to each one of us, He wants each of us to share it with others. This is how God’s forgiveness and grace goes everywhere God wants it to go. Now when we forgive, what Jesus is talking about is releasing the chokehold we have in our hearts on that person who has sinned against us. It’s tempting to think that by maintaining that chokehold against the person who sinned against us, we are somehow hurting that person. When we do this, the truth is, the person we are hurting the most is ourselves. When we try to trap someone who has sinned against us in a chokehold in our heart, we end up living a tortured existence like the unforgiving servant. When we refuse to share God’s forgiveness with one another, it is kind of like us drinking poison and expecting it to hurt the other person. As we feel the poison of unforgiveness destroying the health of our hearts and the life within our hearts, the antidote for this poison comes from seeking God’s forgiveness and grace, securing it in our hearts and sharing it with those who have sinned against us. God wants us to seek his forgiveness wholeheartedly and secure His forgiveness and grace in our hearts. When we secure his forgiveness and grace in our hearts, this forgiveness and grace fills our hearts and overflows in such a way that sharing this forgiveness and grace with our brothers and sisters is something that comes naturally. Over the last four years that I have been studying to become a Deacon, many people have shared God’s grace with me, including my Godfather Deacon Ken Cappelletty, Msgr. Billian, Fr. Phil and now Fr. Jeremy, my wife Julie, my children, Journey, Faith and Becket, my parents as well as each of you who have prayed for me and shown me God’s grace in other ways. I am most grateful to each of you for the grace you have shared with me. All this grace you have shared with me resulted yesterday in me receiving God’s grace in a special way from the Church when Bishop Thomas laid His hands on me ordaining me as a Deacon. Now, I am excited to use the grace God has given me by sharing this grace with each of you by serving here at Corpus Christi University Parish. In a few moments, as we join together, we will say the following words as part of the Lord's Prayer: "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." When we say these words, let us call to mind someone who has sinned against us, which we have been clinging to in our hearts and release that chokehold against them in our hearts. God wants us to let it go and wish them well. We have an opportunity when we offer each other the sign of peace today, to wish this person well. If this person is not gathered here today with us, let us in our hearts offer this person who sinned against us a sign of peace. It is only then that we stop choking off God's forgiveness and grace keeping it from baring fruit in our lives and the lives of those we encounter and that we start allowing God's forgiveness and grace to flow through us to touch the lives of others.In the end, the question we each must ask ourselves is do we want to be known as the person who lives a tortured existence being unforgiving to others or do we want to be known as the person who makes God’s forgiveness and grace touch the lives of others? The choice is each of ours to make. The Choice each of us makes between unforgiving and forgiving can become the story of our lives. Let us remember today and every day, that to forgive is to live. … Oh, and if you fell asleep during my homily, I forgive you.
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