XIX Domingo Ordinario

Cuando yo era un niño en las vacaciones de verano, mis padres se dejan notas cuando se fueron para el trabajo en la mañana de lo que querían a mi hermana ya mí a hacer ese día. Pasar la aspiradora de las escaleras. Vaciar el lavavajillas. Regar las plantas. Y normalmente, mi hermana y yo pasábamos todo el día relajante y viendo la televisión, y luego, cerca de las cuatro por la tarde, corríamos para hacer todo en la lista antes de que mamá y papá regresen a casa. Había muchas veces cuando acabamos de poner la aspiradora en el armario o el último plato en la alacena cuando mamá o papá manejaban al garaje.

Nuestro Señor habla de algo similar en el evangelio hoy. Él habla de un siervo que, esperando a su amo para regresar, comienza a aflojar en sus deberes, descuidando su trabajo y maltratando los otros criados. Entonces, a su sorpresa, el amo regrese inesperadamente, y el siervo es castigado por sus fechorías. El siervo probablemente pensó, “Yo tengo mucho tiempo para mejorar. Antes de mi amo regrese, habré reformado. Él nunca lo sabrá.” Pero el amo sorprende al siervo. El siervo no tiene tiempo para reformar a su vida y hacer todas las tareas que pretendía hacer.

¿Con que frecuencia podemos hacer lo mismo? Especialmente en la vida espiritual, es fácil para posponer las cosas hasta más tarde. Yo rezaré luego. Yo asistiré a la Misa la próxima semana. Yo me confesaré luego. Posponemos las cosas, siempre con la intención de hacerlos, pero no ahorita. Tal vez hay un pecado en nuestra vida que sabemos que necesitamos reformar, pero pensamos, “Yo voy a hacerlo una vez más, y después dejaré de hacerlo.” Quizás ha pasado mucho tiempo desde que te has confesado, y planeas hacerlo eventualmente, pero siempre hay una razón para posponerlo. Es tan fácil para aplazar y aplazar.

Una de las razones que es tan fácil para posponer las cosas como oración y leyendo las Escrituras es que las recompensas de otras cosas parecen muy inmediatas y tangibles, pero las recompensas de cosas espirituales pueden parecer más difícil de ver. Por ejemplo, si no pago mis facturas, las consecuencias son obvias. Pero si no oro hoy o no leo la Biblia hoy, no parece que haga una gran diferencia. Entonces, ¿por qué importa si sigo posponiendo las cosas espirituales? Mientras los haga eventualmente, ¿no es eso todo lo que importa?

Hay tres razones por que es problemática para posponer a las cosas espirituales. El primero es porque retrasa nuestro progreso en la vida espiritual. El camino a la santidad es precisamente eso – un camino – que caminamos paso a paso. Cuanto más pospongo crecer en santidad, menos creceré. Imaginen una familia manejando a Florida para vacaciones. Si ellos salen hoy, es posible que no lleguen a Florida antes del final del día, pero estarán mucho más adelantados que si esperaran irse mañana. Del mismo modo, si yo hago todas las cosas que debería hacer hoy, es posible que no seré un santo perfecto antes del final del día, pero estaré mucho más adelantado que si pospongo esas cosas hasta mañana.

La razón segunda es que nuestras acciones se convierten en hábitos. Es verdad que posponer la oración para un día puede no tener un efecto catastrófico en nuestra vida espiritual. Pero hacer eso día tras día lo hará. Cuanto más que pospongo las cosas como oración, leer la Biblia, confesión, y crecer en la virtud, más se convierte en un hábito, y es más fácil seguir demorando. No asistir a misa por una semana fácilmente se vuelve a dos semanas, que fácilmente se vuelve a un mes, y así. No orar por un día se vuelve a una semana, y de repente, ni siquiera pensamos en eso.

La razón tercera, y la más importante, para que hay un problema para posponer en las cosas espirituales hasta más tarde es porque no sabemos cuándo no habrá un más tarde. Este es el punto principal de la parábola de Cristo hoy. En algún momento, no habrá una más mañana. No habrá un más tarde. Todas las cosas que he pospuesto quedarán para siempre no hecho. Y aunque nos guste pensar que eso momento es muy lejos en la futura, no lo sabemos. No sabemos cuándo el amo llegará. En eso momento, ¿seremos el siervo fiel que el amo encuentre vigilante en su llegada, o seremos el siervo infiel que él encuentre no listo?

En la Iglesia, hay una práctica que se llama “memento mori,” que es latina para “recuerda que morirás.” Es la práctica de recordar a nosotros mismos que un día moriremos. No lo hacemos para ser mórbidos, pero vivir en la verdad. Tenemos solo un tiempo limitado aquí en la tierra. Un día, no sabemos cuándo, moriremos. Con el tiempo que tengo, ¿lo voy a usar para seguir a Dios, o lo voy a usar para hacer otras cosas?

Sabemos lo que el Señor nos pide. Como dice el Señor, “Al que mucho se le da, se le exigirá mucho, y al que mucho se le confía, se le exigirá mucho más.” Mucho ha sido confiado a nosotros. No nos demoremos en hacer lo que el Señor nos pide. Reza ahora – no mañana, no más tarde, ahora. Si necesitas confesarte, hazlo ahora. Deja de posponerlo. Si hay virtudes que necesitas cultivar o pecados que necesitas vencer, empiece ahora. No seamos servidores infieles que continuamente posponen las cosas hasta mañana. Más bien, seamos sirvientes vigilantes, a quienes el amo encuentra haciendo su voluntad.

 

 

 

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19th Sunday of Ordinary Time

When I was a kid on summer break, my parents would leave notes when they left for work in the morning of what they wanted my sister and me to do that day. Vacuum the stairs. Empty the dishwasher. Water the plants. And normally, what would happen is that my sister and I would spend all day relaxing and watching TV, and then, about 4:00, we would realize that mom and dad would be home in an hour, and we would hurry to do everything on the list. There were multiple times where we were just putting the vacuum back in the closet or the last dish in the cabinet when mom or dad was pulling into the driveway. I wonder if they knew.

Our Lord speaks of something similar in today’s Gospel. He speaks of the servant who, waiting for the master to return, starts to slack on his responsibilities, neglecting his work and mistreating the other servants. Then, to his surprise, the master returns unexpectedly, and the servant is punished for his misdeeds. This servant probably thought, “I have plenty of time to reform. By the time my master returns, I will have shaped up. He will never have any idea.” But the servant is caught unaware. He never has time to reform his life and do all the tasks that he intended on doing.

How often can we do the same thing? Especially in the spiritual life, it is easy to put things off until later. I’ll pray later. I’ll go to Mass next week. I’ll go to confession eventually. We put things off, always intending to do them, but just not at the moment. Maybe there’s a sin in our life that we know we need to address, but we think, “Well, I’ll do it one more time, and then I’ll stop.” Perhaps it has been a long time since you have been to confession, and you plan on going eventually, but there’s always a reason to put it off until next time. It is so easy to keep putting things off and putting them off.

One of the reasons I think it is so easy to put off things like prayer or reading the Scriptures is that the rewards of other things can seem very immediate and tangible, while the rewards of spiritual things can seem harder to define. For example, bills have deadlines, and if I don’t pay them in time, there are tangible consequences. But if I pray today or if I put it off until tomorrow, it doesn’t seem like it makes a big difference. If I make time to read the Bible now or if I do it in an hour doesn’t seem to make a big difference.

So why does it matter if I keep putting off spiritual things if it doesn’t seem to make a big difference? As long as I get to them eventually, isn’t that all that matters?

There are three reasons why putting off spiritual things is problematic. The first is because it delays our progress in the spiritual life. The journey to holiness is just that, a journey, one that we take step by step. The more I put off growing in holiness, the less I will grow. Imagine a family driving to Florida for vacation. If they leave today, they may not make it all the way to Florida before the end of the day, but they’ll be a lot further along than if they waited to leave tomorrow. Likewise, if I do the things that I know I need to do today, I may not end up a perfect saint by the end of the day, but I’ll be a lot further along than if I put those things off until tomorrow.

The second reason is that our actions become habits. It is true that putting off prayer for one day may not have a catastrophic effect on our spiritual life. But doing that day after day will. I like going to the gym. I know that if I skip the gym for one day, it isn’t going to make a huge difference, but if I skip the gym every day for a month, it will. The more I put off things like prayer, reading the Bible, confession, and growing in virtue, the more it becomes a habit, and the easier it is to keep delaying. Skipping Mass one week easily becomes skipping Mass for two weeks, which easily becomes a month, and so on. Not praying for a day easily becomes not praying for a week, and suddenly we don’t even think about it.

The third and greatest reason why it is a problem to put off spiritual things until later is that we don’t know when there won’t be a later. That is the main point that the Lord is making in the Gospel today. At some point, there will be no tomorrow. There will be no later. All the things that I have put off will remain forever undone. And while we all like to think that that moment is far in the future, the fact is that we have no idea when it will be. We do not know when the master will return. At that moment, will we be the faithful servant whom He finds vigilant on His arrival, or will we be the unfaithful servant whom He finds unready? In the Church, there is an ancient practice called memento mori, Latin for “remember death.” It is the practice of reminding ourselves that one day we will die. We don’t do this to be morbid, but to live in the truth. We only have so much time here on earth. One day, we know not when, we will die. With the time I have, am I going to use it to follow God, or am I going to use it to do other things?

We know what the Lord asks of us. As Our Lord says, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” We have been entrusted with much. Let us not delay in doing what the Lord asks of us. Pray now, not tomorrow, not later; pray now. If you need to go to confession, then do it now. Make a plan to do it this week. Stop putting it off. If there are virtues that you need to grow in or sins that you need to work on overcoming, start today. Let us not be unfaithful servants who continually put things off until tomorrow. Rather, let us be vigilant servants, whom the master finds doing His will.

XVII Domingo Ordinario

Mis hermanos y hermanas, como su párroco yo creo que es imperativo que me dirija los eventos de los últimos días en la arquidiócesis. Al hacerlo, quiero ser atento, ambos a la naturaleza dolorosa de este tema y al hecho que hay niños aquí. No quiero que esta discusión sería una causa de más dolor para alguien aquí. Sin embargo, el silencio de no abordarlo crearía mayor daño.

El arzobispo ha publicado una lista de estos miembros del clero de la arquidiócesis con acusaciones substantivas del abuso infantil o de posesión de material indecente conteniendo menores. Él lo ha hecho porque él cree que es lo correcto a hacer por el bien de las víctimas y para la transparencia. Quiero ser muy claro: nadie en la lista está actualmente en ministerio activo. Muchos son muertos. Ellos que no son muertos ya no están involucrados en el ministerio, ni aquí en la arquidiócesis ni en ninguna otra parte de la Iglesia. Ninguno nombre en la lista es “nuevo;” todos ya han sido reportados a las autoridades apropiadas. Ningún caso substantivo de abuso por parte de un miembro del clero de la Arquidiócesis ha ocurrido desde la implementación de la Carta para la Protección de Niños y Jóvenes en dos mil dos. La lista no contiene información nueva, pero es una compilación de información que ya se conocía.

En nombre de la Iglesia, quiero en primer lugar pedir disculpas. Quiero apologizar sobre todo a las víctimas de abuso. No hay palabras para expresar mi pena por el dolor que ellos han soportado. Quiero apologizar a sus familias y amigos y a otros que también han sido afectados por las acciones pecaminosas de unos miembros del clero. Yo apologizo a cualquier víctima de abuso de alguien que no era miembro del clero, pero para quien esto ha traído recuerdos dolorosos. Y yo apologizo a ustedes, los fieles, que han tenido que soportar continuamente el dolor de esto escándalo.

Como muchos de ustedes, esta lista ha creado una mezcla de emociones en mí. Sobre todo, estoy triste. Estoy triste para las víctimas, que fueron lastimados por las mismas personas que deberían haber estado más preocupadas por su bienestar. Estoy triste también para las familias de aquellos cuyos nombres están en la lista, y para quienes esta publicación trae dolor renovado. También, estoy enojado. Estoy enojado que la reputación de la Iglesia que yo amo ha sido empañado por las acciones pecaminosas de unos pocos. Estoy enojado porque mi vocación como sacerdote ha sido vinculada en la mente de algunas personas a estos pecados. Algunos de ustedes pueden estar conmocionados para ver en la lista los nombres de sacerdotes que conocías e incluso admirabas. Una parte de mí esta simplemente cansada; cansada de que la misma herida sea continuamente desgarrado públicamente y dolorosamente, cansada de tener las acciones pasadas de unos pocos puestos repetidamente en nuestra cara.

Para muchos de nosotros, yo incluido, esto puede ser una sincera prueba de fe. ¿Realmente quiero estar asociado con la Iglesia ante tales escándalos? Como un sacerdote en particular, hay la pregunta de si vale la pena quedarse si eso significa estar asociado con esto. Muchos de nosotros hemos enfrentado preguntas o comentarios como este de familiares o amigos. Tal vez conocemos personas que han usado los pecados de sacerdotes y obispos como una razón para salir de la iglesia. Es fácil simpatizar con estos sentimientos. En la luz de estas cosas, debemos preguntarnos, ¿Qué significa ser católico? ¿En quién está nuestra fe? Se nos recuerda que nuestra fe no es en seres humanos pero en Jesucristo. Sacerdotes y diáconos y obispos son pecadores. Yo soy un pecador. No pongas tu fe en mí; no pongas tu fe en el obispo o el papa. Nuestra fe es solo en Cristo, quien, como San Pablo dice en nuestra segunda lectura, ha perdonado todos los pecados, clavándolos en la cruz. Mientras, como católicos, naturalmente respetamos el clero y los religiosos, durante demasiado tiempo este respeto ha provocado que las personas pongan al clero y a los religiosos en un pedestal donde sienten que estamos por encima de las críticas. Deberíamos respetar a quienes han dedicado su vida a Dios, pero nadie está por encima de las críticas, especialmente cuando sus acciones dañan a los niños.

Entonces, ¿Cómo respondemos? Como una Iglesia, ya hay mucho que ha sido hecho como una respuesta en los últimos veinte años. Los procedimientos que la Iglesia tiene para proteger a los jóvenes son entre los más fuertes de cualquier organización. Estos esfuerzos han sido muy exitosos. Como dije antes, no ha habido ningún caso substantivo de abuso infantil desde 2002.

Pero nuestra respuesta no es solo institucional. Somos todos partes del Cuerpo de Cristo. Como miembros del Cuerpo, todos compartimos en las alegrías y virtudes de los otros miembros del cuerpo. Por eso nos regocijamos en las glorias de los santos. Pero también compartimos en el sufrimiento y los pecados de miembros del cuerpo. En el Cuerpo de Cristo, los pecados nunca son privados; siempre son corporativos. Eso es la razón que tenemos el sacramento de confesión. En el evangelio hoy, Jesús nos enseña para orar a Dios no como individuos pero como un cuerpo. No rezamos “Padre mío,” pero “Padre nuestro.” No decimos “Dame mi pan y perdona mis ofensas” pero “danos nuestro pan y perdona nuestras ofensas.” Y entonces, como miembros del Cuerpo de Cristo, nuestra mejor respuesta los pecados de otros miembros del mismo Cuerpo es orar.

En el evangelio hoy, Cristo nos insta a orar y ser persistente en nuestras oraciones. Tenemos confianza en la promesa de Cristo que quien pide, recibe. Debemos orar por las víctimas del abuso, para su curación y paz. Debemos orar por aquellas personas cuya fe ha sido sacudida por esto. Oremos por todos cleros y religiosos, que Dios les dé la gracia de vivir de acuerdo con su llamamiento. Y, si, oremos por los perpetradores de estos terribles actos, porque ellos también son miembros del Cuerpo de Cristo y necesitados de la gracia curativa de Dios.

Para hacer esto, tendremos una hora de Adoración Eucarística este jueves aquí en la iglesia a las 6:30 por la tarde. Habrá tiempo tanto para la oración comunitaria como para la oración privada y silenciosa. Durante este tiempo, nos reuniremos como un Cuerpo, unidos con Cristo nuestra Cabeza, para orar a Nuestro Padre Celestial. Ofreceremos nuestras oraciones en reparación y rogaremos al Padre por la sanidad y la fortaleza. Esperamos que muchos de ustedes puedan acompañarnos este jueves.

Tenga en cuenta que si alguien tiene alguna pregunta o quisiera hablar, yo y los otros sacerdotes siempre estamos disponibles. Además, si alguien tiene conocimiento de abuso de menores o mala conducta por parte de un miembro del clero o un empleado o voluntario de la arquidiócesis, comuníquese con la policía, así como con la Oficina de Protección de Niños y Jóvenes. En los próximos días, oremos los unos por los otros y por todos los miembros de la Iglesia, confiando en Dios, nuestro Buen Padre, que es tan clemente y misericordioso.

 

Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

My brothers and sisters, as your pastor I feel that it is imperative for me to address the events of the last few days in the Archdiocese. As I do so, I want to be sensitive, both to the painful nature of this topic and to the fact that there are children present. I do not want the discussion of this issue to be the cause of more pain for anyone present. That being said, the silence of not addressing it would create greater harm.

The Archbishop has publically released a list of those clergy members of the Archdiocese with substantiated accusations of child abuse or of possessing explicit material containing children. He has done so because he believes that it is the right thing to do for the sake of the victims and for transparency. Let me be very clear: none of the people on the list are currently in active ministry. Many of them are dead. Those who are not are no longer involved in ministry, either in the Archdiocese or elsewhere in the Church. None of the names on the list are “new;” all have already been reported to the appropriate authorities. No substantiated instance of abuse by a member of the clergy of the Archdiocese has occurred since the implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in 2002. This list does not contain new information, but is a compilation of information that was already known.

On behalf of the Church, I first and foremost want to apologize. I want to apologize above all to those who were victims of abuse. There are no words to express my sorrow for the pain they have had to endure. I apologize to their families and friends and others who have also been affected by the sinful actions of members of the clergy. I apologize to anyone who has been the victim of abuse from someone other than a member of the clergy, but for whom this has brought back painful memories. And I apologize to all of you, the faithful, who have had to continually endure the pain of this scandal.

Like many of you, this list has created a mix of emotions in me. Above all, I am saddened. I am saddened for the victims, who were hurt by the very people who should have been most concerned for their wellbeing. I am also saddened for the families of those whose names are on the list, and for whom this publication brings renewed pain. I am also angry. I am angry that the reputation of the Church I love has been tarnished by the sinful actions of a few. I am angry that my vocation as a priest has been linked in the eyes of some people to these sins. Some of you may be shocked to see names of priests that you knew and even admired on the list. Part of me is simply tired, tired of continually having the same wound painfully and publically ripped open, tired of having the past actions of a few repeatedly put in our face.

For many of us, myself included, this can represent a sincere trial of faith. Do I really want to be continue to be associated with the Church in the face of such scandals? As a priest in particular, there is the question of whether it is worth it to stay if it means being associated with this. Many of us may have faced questions or comments of this nature from family or friends. Some of us may know people who have used the sinful actions of priests and bishops as a reason to leave the Church. It is easy to sympathize with these sentiments. In light of these things, we should ask ourselves, what does it mean to be Catholic? In whom is our faith? We are reminded that our faith is not in human beings, but in Jesus Christ. Priests and deacons and bishops are sinners. I am a sinner. Do not put your faith in me; do not put your faith in the bishop or the Pope. Our faith is only in Christ, who, as St. Paul says in our second reading, has forgiven all our transgressions, obliterating the bond against us and nailing it to the Cross. While, as Catholics, we naturally have a sense of respect for clergy and religious, for far too long this respect has caused people to put the clergy and religious on a pedestal where they felt that we are above criticism. We should respect those who have dedicated their lives to God, but no one is above criticism, especially when their actions harm children.

So how do we respond? As a Church, there is already much that has been done as a response in the past twenty years. The procedures that the Church has in place for the protection of young people are among the strongest of any organization. These efforts have been very successful. As I stated before, there has been no substantiated case of child abuse since 2002.

But our response is not just institutional. We are all part of the Body of Christ. As members of the body, we all share in the joys and the virtues of the other members of the body. This is why we rejoice in the glories of the saints. But we also share in the suffering and the sins of the other members of the body. In the Body of Christ, sins are never private, they are always corporate. That is why we have the Sacrament of Confession. In the Gospel today, Jesus teaches us to pray to God not as individuals but as a body. We do not pray to “My Father” but “Our Father.” We do not say “give me my daily bread and forgive me my sins” but “give us our daily bread and forgive us our sins.” And so, as members of the Body of Christ, our best response to the sins of other members of the same Body is to pray.

In the Gospel today, Christ urges us to pray, and to be persistent in our prayers. We have confidence in Christ’s promise that whoever asks receives. We should pray for the victims of abuse, for their healing and peace. We should pray for those people whose faith has been shaken because of this. We pray for all clergy and religious, that God would give them the grace to live according to their calling. And, yes, we pray for the perpetrators of these terrible acts, because they, too, are members of the Body of Christ and in need of God’s healing grace.

To this end, we will have an hour of Eucharistic Adoration this Thursday here in church at 6:30pm. There will be time for both communal prayer and silent, private prayer. During this time, we will gather as a Body, united with Christ our Head, to pray to Our Heavenly Father. We will offer our prayers in reparation and beseech the Father for healing and strength. We hope that many of you can join us this Thursday evening.

Please know that if anyone has any questions or would like to talk, I and the other priests are always available. In addition, if anyone has knowledge of abuse of minors or misconduct by a member of the clergy or an employee or volunteer of the Archdiocese, please contact local law enforcement, as well as the Office of Child and youth Protection. In the coming days, let us pray for each other, and for all members of the Church, trusting in God, our Good Father, who is so gracious and merciful.

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

I’m going to make an assumption that basically everyone here wants to be a follower of Christ. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t. You’re here precisely because you want to be a disciple. And yet, I can also say with certainty that everyone here struggles to follow Christ completely. I can say that with certainty because you all said so yourself. At the very start of Mass, we all admitted, you and me alike, that we are sinners, that is to say, that we don’t follow Christ completely. We want to be disciples, but we struggle to follow Christ completely. What keeps you from following Christ completely? In today’s Gospel, we have three people who are all on the verge of following Christ. But they all have a something that keeps them from being all-in. We see three reasons in the Gospel: comfort, busyness, and regret.

The first man comes and tells Our Lord that he would follow wherever He goes. There does not appear to be anything wrong with the request. But Our Lord sees the man’s heart and replies, “The Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” He sees that the man desires a comfortable life, and that is one thing that Our Lord cannot promise. We too can seek to follow Christ, but allow our desire for comfort to get in the way. Maybe it is physical comfort, maybe material wealth, maybe it is social standing, but we allow comfort to get in the way of being a true disciple. We want to follow Christ, but we don’t want it to inconvenience us too much, to make our lives too difficult. There are two problems with this, the first is that it puts something else above Christ. When we only follow Christ when it is convenient, we are saying that our own comfort is more important than Jesus. But there is a second, deeper problem with this. We have plenty of things in our lives that we allow to be part of our life as long as they don’t inconvenience us too much. If they are people, we call them acquaintances; if they are things, we call them hobbies. Christ is not supposed to be an acquaintance, and following Him is not a hobby. That is the problem with allowing comfort to keep us from following Christ completely.

Our Lord then turns to another man and tells him to follow. But the man replies that he must first go and bury his father. There is nothing wrong with burying the dead; in fact it is a duty and a corporal work of mercy. However, in this case, Our Lord is leaving, and shows no desire to wait. Burying his father is preventing this man from following Christ completely, and anything that prevents us from following Christ completely, no matter how good it may be on its own, is to be avoided. The problem wasn’t that this man wanted to bury his father, but that he was allowing it to keep him from following Christ. We can do the same thing in our lives. We allow busyness, preoccupation with a thousand little things, to keep us from following Christ. Especially in our day, I think busyness is one of the main things that keeps people from following Christ completely. I’ll pray, but first I have to clean the living room. I would read the Bible, but my favorite show is on. I would go to Mass on Sunday, but the kids have a soccer game. I’m just so busy. There are many good things that we do day by day, but if we allow them to keep us from following Christ, if we give them more importance than we do to our duties to Our God, then they are no longer good things, they are evil works which keep us from God and from our greatest good.

Finally, a third man approaches Our Lord. He offers to follow Him, but first wants to say farewell to his parents. Again, there is nothing wrong in saying goodbye to mom and dad, but Christ knows that there is something else behind this: regret. “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.” It is tempting, as we follow Christ, to look at the things that we have given up, the things we have left behind in following Him, and start longing for them. We can start to regret giving up the things we left to be His disciple. Just like a plowman cannot go in a straight line if he keeps looking behind him, so we cannot follow Christ if we keep looking back. This is extremely dangerous, because it will silently eat away at our resolve to follow Him. We will start to look for ways to get back those things we no longer have, and will slowly start abandoning our commitments. The biggest problem is that in this regret is the mindset that what we have given up to follow Christ is somehow equal to or greater than what we have gained by following Him. It is not. Were we to give up the entire world and everything in it, it would not even begin to compare with the smallest of gifts that God gives to us when we follow Him. If I asked you to stop eating a cold McDonald’s hamburger and offered you instead a gourmet dinner, no one would have regrets over not getting the hamburger. We would recognize that the thing we gave up is worth so much less than what we got in return.  Regret minimizes the gifts of God and romanticizes those things that He has called us to leave behind in following Him.

In contrast to this, we have Elisha in our first reading. As he is plowing the field, the prophet Elijah calls him. At first he is hesitant, but then he makes up his mind to follow. Not only does he decide to follow, but he kills the oxen that were plowing, and uses the plow as wood to cook them. Elisha has completely broken ties with his past. He has decided to follow the prophet Elijah, and he has destroyed anything that could entice him to go back to his old way of life. He couldn’t go back to farming now even if he wanted to, because his oxen are dead and his plow is burned.

Are we like the men in today’s Gospel? Do we allow comfort, busyness, and regret can all keep us from following God? It should be noted that these three men were not, by all outward appearances, bad people. They wanted to follow Christ. They made what would seem like many to be reasonable requests: let me bury my father, let me tell by parents farewell. But each of them had something that was keeping them from following Christ completely: comfort, busyness, or regret. These three things can be active in our lives as well. They are insidious, because they usually start small, enticing us with little baby steps, hardly noticeable, until eventually we have completely turned away from Our Lord. In our second reading, St. Paul tells us, “live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.” When we allow a desire for comfort or busyness or regret to keep us from following Christ completely, we are living according to the desires of the flesh rather than being guided by the Holy Spirit. We must seek a life guided by the Spirit, aided by prayer and the sacraments. In this way, we can avoid the temptations of comfort, busyness, and regret.

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

If it is true that you are what you eat, then any day now I will turn into a big box of Cheeze-its. Thankfully, the proverb is a metaphor and not a literal description of what happens when we eat too much of one thing. But there is one case when the phrase “you are what you eat” should be absolutely true: the Eucharist. The purpose of the Eucharist is precisely to transform us in to what we eat. We should become the Body of Christ.

So how do we become the Body of Christ? It doesn’t just happen. We become the Body of Christ the same way that the bread at Mass does. In all the accounts of the Last Supper, Jesus is described as performing four actions: He takes the bread, blesses it, breaks it, and gives it. Notably, these same four actions occur in the Gospel account of the feeding of the five thousand. “Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.” This isn’t coincidental. St. Luke intentionally used these verbs to draw a connection between the feeding of the five thousand and the Eucharist. But we will get to that.

The bread is taken, blessed, broken, and given, and in the process it becomes the Body of Christ. Likewise, we who receive the Body of Christ are also taken, blessed, broken, and given. First, we are taken. We are chosen by God. We can forget that. For many of us, we have been Catholic our whole lives. We think that we are Catholic because our parents are Catholic, and their parents were Catholic, and so forth. But no matter how we came to the faith, whether we were raised in the Church or whether we converted later in life, we are Catholic because God has chosen us. So many people can feel unwanted, like they don’t belong anywhere or don’t fit in anywhere. But that isn’t true. God has chosen us. He has taken us to Himself and claimed us as His own. God has chosen us to be the ones that He will use to be His Body in the world.

The bread of the Eucharist cannot be the Body of Christ on its own; it must be blessed. And the same is true for us. On our own, we cannot be the presence of Christ for others. We must be blessed; we must be filled with God’s grace. This begins at our baptism, when we receive sanctifying grace, the very life of God in our souls. Throughout our lives, God continually blesses us, in big ways and in small ways. He blesses us in the sacraments, and He blesses us in the graces of everyday life. Just like the bread at Mass, God blesses us so that we can be His Body for others. God’s blessing in our lives is not just for our own good; it enables us to be His presence in the world. We must know that we are blessed if we are going to be a source of God’s blessing for others.

After the bread is blessed, it must be broken. We can forget the importance of this step, given that, when we receive the Eucharist at Mass, we each receive our own individual host. But when Christ celebrated the Last Supper, He would have used one piece of bread. The only way that He could give that bread to all the disciples is if, after blessing it, He then broke it. If the bread remained whole and intact, it could not be given, at least not as freely and fully as Jesus wanted to give it.

Likewise, if we are going to be the Body of Christ in the world, then after we are blessed we must be broken. What does it mean to be broken? Being broken means being brought to a real experience of our own weakness. We don’t like being broken. We try to hide our brokenness. But it is precisely through our brokenness that God wants to make us a blessing for others. As disciples, we have to be able to encounter people in their brokenness and bring them the love of God. But we won’t be able to do that if we aren’t in touch with our own brokenness. If we aren’t able to experience the love of God in our own brokenness, we won’t be able to be a source of that love for others. We have all probably encountered people who are unable to accept their own brokenness and, as a result, are unable to deal compassionately with the brokenness of others. As disciples, we cannot be like that. We have to allow God to break us, to bring us past our pride and our perfectionism, to bring us to a point where we admit that we are nothing without Him. If we are not in touch with our brokenness, what we bring others will not be the presence of Christ but only ourselves. If we are going to bring people Christ, we first have to reach a point where we realize that Christ is the only thing that we have to give. Only when we are broken can we be the Body of Christ in the world.

Once the bread is taken, blessed, and broken, it can be given. Now it is no longer bread, but it is the very Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. Likewise, after we are taken, blessed, and broken, we can be given by God to the world to be His real presence. The giving is the most important part. We don’t consecrate the Eucharist just to put it in the tabernacle; it is consecrated so that it may be given and received. Likewise, God doesn’t bless us just so that blessing can remain locked up inside of us. He blesses us so that we can be given to the world. He blesses us so that we can in turn be a blessing to others. Christ wants to give you to your family, to your neighbors, to the world as a source and sign of His real presence. But we can be afraid to be given. We want to remain where we are comfortable. When we do that, we hide God’s blessing away.

What happens when we allow Jesus to take us, bless us, break us, and give us to others? This brings us back to the Gospel. In the feeding of the five thousand, after Jesus takes the bread, blesses it, breaks it, and gives it to the crowd, what happens? St. Luke says, “They all ate and were satisfied.” They were satisfied. Their hunger was completely filled. Our world is hungry. It is hungry for love and acceptance. People are starving for the knowledge that they belong, that they are valued. People thirst for forgiveness and for the hope that they can truly start again. Our world is hungry, so much hungrier than the crowd that gathered around Jesus there by the Sea of Galilee. And Jesus wants us to be the one that satisfies their hunger and quenches their thirst. We are sent to satisfy a hungry world, not with bread and fish, but with the Bread of Life. We are taken, blessed, broken and given so that we can satisfy people’s hunger for mercy, their hunger for hope, their hunger for love.

Here at this altar, Jesus again takes bread, blesses it, breaks it, and gives us. But as He does that, He also takes us, blesses us, breaks us, and gives us. Let us become what we eat, so that we can be the Body of Christ, His real presence, given to satisfy a hungry world.

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

If it is true that you are what you eat, then any day now I will turn into a big box of Cheeze-its. Thankfully, the proverb is a metaphor and not a literal description of what happens when we eat too much of one thing. But there is one case when the phrase “you are what you eat” should be absolutely true: the Eucharist. The purpose of the Eucharist is precisely to transform us in to what we eat. We should become the Body of Christ.

So how do we become the Body of Christ? It doesn’t just happen. We become the Body of Christ the same way that the bread at Mass does. In all the accounts of the Last Supper, Jesus is described as performing four actions: He takes the bread, blesses it, breaks it, and gives it. Notably, these same four actions occur in the Gospel account of the feeding of the five thousand. “Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.” This isn’t coincidental. St. Luke intentionally used these verbs to draw a connection between the feeding of the five thousand and the Eucharist. But we will get to that.

The bread is taken, blessed, broken, and given, and in the process it becomes the Body of Christ. Likewise, we who receive the Body of Christ are also taken, blessed, broken, and given. First, we are taken. We are chosen by God. We can forget that. For many of us, we have been Catholic our whole lives. We think that we are Catholic because our parents are Catholic, and their parents were Catholic, and so forth. But no matter how we came to the faith, whether we were raised in the Church or whether we converted later in life, we are Catholic because God has chosen us. So many people can feel unwanted, like they don’t belong anywhere or don’t fit in anywhere. But that isn’t true. God has chosen us. He has taken us to Himself and claimed us as His own. God has chosen us to be the ones that He will use to be His Body in the world.

The bread of the Eucharist cannot be the Body of Christ on its own; it must be blessed. And the same is true for us. On our own, we cannot be the presence of Christ for others. We must be blessed; we must be filled with God’s grace. This begins at our baptism, when we receive sanctifying grace, the very life of God in our souls. Throughout our lives, God continually blesses us, in big ways and in small ways. He blesses us in the sacraments, and He blesses us in the graces of everyday life. Just like the bread at Mass, God blesses us so that we can be His Body for others. God’s blessing in our lives is not just for our own good; it enables us to be His presence in the world. We must know that we are blessed if we are going to be a source of God’s blessing for others.

After the bread is blessed, it must be broken. We can forget the importance of this step, given that, when we receive the Eucharist at Mass, we each receive our own individual host. But when Christ celebrated the Last Supper, He would have used one piece of bread. The only way that He could give that bread to all the disciples is if, after blessing it, He then broke it. If the bread remained whole and intact, it could not be given, at least not as freely and fully as Jesus wanted to give it.

Likewise, if we are going to be the Body of Christ in the world, then after we are blessed we must be broken. What does it mean to be broken? Being broken means being brought to a real experience of our own weakness. We don’t like being broken. We try to hide our brokenness. But it is precisely through our brokenness that God wants to make us a blessing for others. As disciples, we have to be able to encounter people in their brokenness and bring them the love of God. But we won’t be able to do that if we aren’t in touch with our own brokenness. If we aren’t able to experience the love of God in our own brokenness, we won’t be able to be a source of that love for others. We have all probably encountered people who are unable to accept their own brokenness and, as a result, are unable to deal compassionately with the brokenness of others. As disciples, we cannot be like that. We have to allow God to break us, to bring us past our pride and our perfectionism, to bring us to a point where we admit that we are nothing without Him. If we are not in touch with our brokenness, what we bring others will not be the presence of Christ but only ourselves. If we are going to bring people Christ, we first have to reach a point where we realize that Christ is the only thing that we have to give. Only when we are broken can we be the Body of Christ in the world.

Once the bread is taken, blessed, and broken, it can be given. Now it is no longer bread, but it is the very Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. Likewise, after we are taken, blessed, and broken, we can be given by God to the world to be His real presence. The giving is the most important part. We don’t consecrate the Eucharist just to put it in the tabernacle; it is consecrated so that it may be given and received. Likewise, God doesn’t bless us just so that blessing can remain locked up inside of us. He blesses us so that we can be given to the world. He blesses us so that we can in turn be a blessing to others. Christ wants to give you to your family, to your neighbors, to the world as a source and sign of His real presence. But we can be afraid to be given. We want to remain where we are comfortable. When we do that, we hide God’s blessing away.

What happens when we allow Jesus to take us, bless us, break us, and give us to others? This brings us back to the Gospel. In the feeding of the five thousand, after Jesus takes the bread, blesses it, breaks it, and gives it to the crowd, what happens? St. Luke says, “They all ate and were satisfied.” They were satisfied. Their hunger was completely filled. Our world is hungry. It is hungry for love and acceptance. People are starving for the knowledge that they belong, that they are valued. People thirst for forgiveness and for the hope that they can truly start again. Our world is hungry, so much hungrier than the crowd that gathered around Jesus there by the Sea of Galilee. And Jesus wants us to be the one that satisfies their hunger and quenches their thirst. We are sent to satisfy a hungry world, not with bread and fish, but with the Bread of Life. We are taken, blessed, broken and given so that we can satisfy people’s hunger for mercy, their hunger for hope, their hunger for love.

Here at this altar, Jesus again takes bread, blesses it, breaks it, and gives us. But as He does that, He also takes us, blesses us, breaks us, and gives us. Let us become what we eat, so that we can be the Body of Christ, His real presence, given to satisfy a hungry world.