What’s This Site For!

May 4th, 2017

Welcome to Deacon Larry’s Homily Website.  Deacon Larry Brockman’s  home parish is Holy Family Catholic Church in Orlando, Florida.  This site contains all of Deacon Larry’s Homilies organized by date.  There are three major categories- Holy Family Sunday Homilies; Holy Family Daily Homilies; and Westminster Tower Homilies.  You are welcome to read and download any homily.  Comments are also welcome. God Bless!

This site has been up for a couple of years now, and I see that there are a number of subscribers.  However, nobody ever comments on these homilies.  Please, I do welcome your comments.  They would help me to be more relevant to user needs!

Let God Be Your Teacher

May 4th, 2017

Thursday of Third Week of Easter

Acts 8:26-40; Jn 6: 44-51

Dc. Larry Brockman

“They shall all be taught by God”.  These are Jesus’ words at the beginning of the Gospel- a quote from the prophets.   

Now I am sure that most of us glossed over that when we heard it.  Of course we are all taught by God. Really?   

One of the things we discover about those who teach us at a very early age, is that to learn, we have to listen, and believe what the teacher tells us without question.  Likely our first teachers were our parents.  And fortunately for most of us, we blindly accepted the words and instructions of our parents as toddlers.  We believed; we had faith.  And so we learned the basics- how to talk, how to walk, how to eat, how to love.   

Then we went to school.  We believed that the pattern in the book is an “A” just because we were told so by the teacher.  We also believed that the sound of an “A” is “ah”.  And so, we learned to read.  Indeed, we accepted a lot about what our first teachers told us without question.   

This is the sense of what it means deep down when Jesus quotes the prophets:  “They shall all be taught by God”.  God’s word on everything is the absolute truth.  If we want; we can be taught by God by believing on Faith what he tells us because we can absolutely trust God.   

But the fact is that as we grow up,  we learned that our other teachers could not be trusted absolutely.  There were times that our parents, teachers, and other folks in authority either didn’t know the truth, didn’t tell the truth, or didn’t understand the truth adequately.  Similarly, there were things that we discovered were ambiguous- the truth wasn’t clear sometimes.  And so, we learned to “think for ourselves” and to pick and choose to believe from what we heard. 

Unfortunately, many folks have applied this rationale to the things that God wants us to learn about him.  We test everything God tells us sort of like we test the things we hear from other sources.  And when we test it, we use our rationale.  It’s as if we put our thought process ahead of the wisdom of God.   

Real Faith is coming to believe in what God has told us simply because God has said so.  We cannot always reason it out; some of it is a mystery.  That is why Jesus says we need to have faith like a little child.   

Now the story of Phillip and the Ethiopian Eunoch that we just heard is a great example of accepting on Faith what God has to say.  Here is a man who is totally foreign to the Jews.  He has somehow been attracted to the Jewish Scriptures, and is seeking the truth.  Jesus talks about such a person in the Gospel.  “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him”.  That is what happened to the Ethiopian- God was drawing him to the truth.  And Phillip opens his eyes to what it all means by relating the prophecy of Isaiah to all that happened to Jesus.  What faith this Ethiopian man had- he truly had the Faith of a child.  He accepted the word of God without challenging it.   

This Gospel addresses some of the most important elements of our Faith.  We are all called to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, rose from the dead, and gave us the Eucharist as the bread of life.  All of us are called to live a Christian life daily, and to be witnesses to the world.  We are called to live in the world- not to withdraw from it.  But to live in this secular world with conflicting values and voices, we need all the help we can get.  Jesus promises us that He is bread of life in this Gospel.  The Eucharist is that bread of life, and it is available to us as often as we seek it.  When we really believe that Jesus is present to us in the Eucharist,  and relish those few moments after we receive Him, then we will be given all the strength we need, all the graces we need, to be Christian witnesses in the face of an ever increasing secular world; to bear our share of the hardships which life brings us; to love our neighbors as ourselves; and to forgive as God forgives us. 

And those who truly believe like this will live forever.

Living in Real Faith

April 20th, 2017

Thursday of the Easter Week

Acts 3:11-26; Lk 24: 35-48

Dc. Larry Brockman

How strong is your faith?  Do you really believe all the church teaches about Jesus Christ?  Do you believe that God the Father sent His only Son to share our human condition, to be fully human and fully divine?  And do you believe that Jesus, although God, endured the incredible suffering and humility of the Cross?  Do you believe deep down in the Resurrection of the body and life everlasting for each one of us?  You know, all of what I just asked is part of our creed, isn’t it.  And on Easter, we were all asked to reaffirm our belief.  So do you really believe?   

Or do you hold back in reserve and kind of doubt some or all of the creed?  Before you answer too quickly, consider this.  Does doubt surface when you are confronted with your own mortality?  When you think about dying, do you wonder whether this is really all there is to life.  Or do you relish the idea of life in the Kingdom of God.  Chances are, when you think about dying, even the most faithful of us have twinges of doubt.  Maybe it is just fear of the unknown, but it might also be some doubt.  So, just how do we “cast out all fear” and embrace the unknown with real, genuine faith?   

You know, when you come right down to it the Apostles were incredible teachers on the matter of real faith.  They truly acted as all of us do- with doubt in the background.  During his lifetime, Jesus told the Apostles about the coming Kingdom of God; and he shared with them three times that the Son of Man would have to suffer horribly and die at the hands of evil men, only to rise on the third day.  But the Apostles didn’t get it; they were confused and Peter even tried to admonish Jesus not to say such things.  It just didn’t make sense that the Messiah would have to suffer.  Yes, the Apostles, the folks chosen by Jesus to spread the faith, had lots of problems exhibiting real faith.   

And right at the beginning of the Easter season, as our readings tell us the story of the Resurrection, even there we see doubt from the Apostles.  The Emmaus brothers tell the rest of the Apostles about their encounter with Jesus.  Jesus reenacts the Last Supper with them, offering bread and wine- his own flesh and blood.  And then breaks down the scriptures that predicted all that had happened to him.  It was only then that they recognized Him.  Jesus had just presided over the first Mass after the Resurrection.   

But the Apostles were incredulous- how could this be.  And then, Jesus is miraculously standing amongst them.  Jesus can read their minds, their body language, their doubt, and so he challenges them to touch him and see for themselves.  Then he eats a piece of fish- something a ghost cannot do.  Yes, it is the risen Jesus; he is a real, living person.  And Jesus then commissions the Apostles to be his witnesses to spread the good news of the gospel to everyone- everyone.   

And so, it finally begins to dawn on them.  The whole thing is really true- all of it; the incarnation, the call to repentance, the coming of the Kingdom, the suffering and death, the resurrection of the Body, salvation offered to all, and life everlasting.  It took a whole lot of convincing, but they all finally got it.  God so loved man that he sacrificed his son, and if we follow after him and take up our crosses, we will die physically, but only to be raised from the dead and live forever in the Kingdom of God.  They finally came to believe.   

That brings us to the first reading today.  Apparently the crippled man came to believe as well.  And the Apostles, now fully convinced and living in faith, were able to bring him to health through Jesus power.  And then they proclaimed that:   “God raised up his servant and sent him to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways.”   

So, if you really believe, then you will turn from whatever evil is in your life, mend your ways, and follow after Jesus.  You don’t have to understand everything; you just need to believe in it because there is so much more to life than what this world offers.  There is life everlasting in the Kingdom of God.  And that is all that matters. 

Making the Works of the Lord Manifest Through You

March 26th, 2017

Fourth Sunday in Lent

1 Sam 16: 1b, 6-7, 10-13a; Eph 5: 8-14; Jn  9: 1-41

Dc. Larry Brockman

Blind from birth!  In Biblical times that kind of defect was considered the consequence of the sins of the parents.  But we hear very clearly from Jesus’ own lips that this blind man’s blindness was not a consequence of their sin; but rather: “It is so the works of God may be made visible through him”.  Just how?   

Well, have you considered that in a way, all of us are “blind at birth”?  The great St. Augustine made this observation, and I quote:  “For the blind man here is the human race.   Blindness came upon the first man by reason of sin: and from him we all derive it.   That is, man is blind from his birth” – end quote.  Yes, we are all blind to God’s message not by virtue of our sins or our parent’s sin, but because of Original Sin- the sin of Adam.  We are born into the world prone to sin, and we are of the world unless we make a conscious decision to seek God; unless we make a decision to be enlightened about things that are not of this world.   

And so, St. Paul speaks about that enlightenment.  We were once darkness, he says. That is the darkness that comes from being children of the world.  Children of the world seek the things of the world- it’s comforts, it’s pleasures, and it’s works, in the hope that it will bring happiness and satisfaction.  The problem is that at some point in our lives we realize that things of this world really can’t bring happiness.   

All of us are prone to limitations- whether they are from our minds or our bodies or our environment.  And eventually these limitations take over.  In other words, we lose our loved ones, or we lose our agility, or we lose our minds or both; and eventually we die.  And if all there is to life is life in this world; then life to the fullest in this world will all have been in vain.    But if we live in the Lord, it is then we are living in the light of the Lord.  Paul goes on to tell us that we should live as children of the light “Which produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth”.   

Now Jesus also says this directly in the Gospel:  “We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work”.  So, Jesus is telling us that while we live, our mission is to do the works that the Father desires for us.  We have to do that while we live, because after we die we will not have an opportunity to choose him- we will have already made that choice in our lifetimes.   

It is only after Jesus gave that advice that he heals the blind man.  Jesus heals the blind man, a symbol of all humanity, as a sign of the path to salvation that He the Christ will provide.    Notice that he mixes his spittle with the dust of the earth, forming a kind of clay; just as the origin of life emanated from clay in the creation story.  But it is clay that uses Jesus spittle, symbolizing the effect of God’s creating Word coming from his mouth mixed with the dust of the earth.  And so, this blind man goes to the waters of the pool of Siloam, which means “sent”.  This prefigures Baptism, for the blind man emerges from that pool in a new life.  He is able to see, he is able to understand,  and he is sent forth to do his mission.  And this is the process each of us experiences- Baptism, a new life in Christ, and a mission selected by God for us.   

The blind man’s mission, of course, is to be a witness for Christ in front of the Jewish Establishment.  This he does fearlessly, only to be rejected by them, thrown out of the temple.  Jesus invites him to follow him as the Christ, which he does.   

And so, let all of us reflect on our salvation process.  For we were all called, as was the blind man, to go and be Baptized, and then sent from Baptism to be witnesses for Christ by doing his will for us. 

Lent is our opportunity each year to reflect on our mission.  Have we responded “yes” to our Baptismal rebirth in the Church?  Have we rejected the things of darkness, which are solely of this world and embraced our mission to shine the light of Christ in the world around us?   

Because the blind man represents all of us our positive response to the Lord at Baptism and in our lives is the way the works of the Lord will be made manifest to all.  We who believe and follow are the body of Christ, and we will be the light of the world till the end of time.

Have You Stiffened Your Neck?

March 23rd, 2017

Thursday of the Third Week in Lent

Jer 7: 23-28; Lk 11: 14-23

Dc. Larry Brockman

They have stiffened their necks and done worse than their fathers”.  Such are the prophet’s words from the Lord to the Israelis.  For generation after generation after they had been delivered from slavery to the Egyptians, the Israelis became complacent with their prosperity and freedom. They were so complacent that when the prophets told them that they were drifting away from the Lord by ignoring the law that Moses had handed onto them,  they “stiffened their necks”, meaning they just kept going right along in  their former path oblivious to the words of the prophets.   

Why? Because the prophets told them what they didn’t want to hear.  The prophets kept telling them that things had to change- they had to repent and follow the Lord’s law.   

That’s exactly what the Pharisees and Scribes did in the face of miracles that Jesus worked.  These religious leaders were the standard that others were supposed to seek- the good guys.  But Jesus kept telling them that they needed to change- they needed to live the law with their hearts.  The suggestion that they were less than perfect in their religious observance was threatening to them.  Because Jesus message was so repugnant to them, they sought desperately to discredit him by claiming his works were actually from the devil.  And Jesus called them on it. Only rather than get into an argument by quoting scripture to these scriptural experts, Jesus uses plain, simple, everyday logic on them; logic that the crowd of observers could easily relate to. 

How absurd were their claims that casting a devil out of a man be seen as the work of another devil.  Indeed, a house divided against itself does not stand.  And finally, he uses the argument “you are either for me or against me”.   

The lesson for us today is very simple.  It is so easy to get into the rut of complacency in our spiritual lives.  We desperately want to feel that we are on the right track.  And so, we really don’t want to hear about having to change our lives.  We want to just keep doing what we are doing, just like the Pharisees did.  And as long as our righteousness looks better than what we see other people doing, we tend to become complacent with our current situation.  In a sense, we “stiffen our necks”.   

Perhaps that’s why these scriptures were applied to Lent. because Lent is that time of year when we are challenged by the Lord to become better people.  Yes, better than we are even if we think everything is OK. 

In the other gospels, the man Jesus cured today was not only possessed by a demon, but he was blind and deaf as well.  When we are in a rut in our spiritual lives, we are blind and deaf to God’s message.  You know what? 

God’s message on how we can serve him better is all around us.  All we have to do is listen to it.  For example, our country is filled with those who hunger and thirst, they come for help at St. Vincent de Paul and other places.  Our country is full of people who hurt- they are in hospitals and rest homes and jails; and there are many who are taken advantage of- human trafficking is a real problem right here in Orlando.  But the more entrenched we become in our daily lives, the more we “stiffen our necks” at the suggestion that we have to change.   

Next week, the parish conducts a mission- right in the middle of Lent.  It’s a great opportunity to stop and listen and take to heart the lesson of the Old Testament that we are continually being called to conversion of heart; we are continually being called to become better. 

After all, we are either for Christ, or we are against him.

Shaking Us From Our Apathy

March 16th, 2017

Thursday of the Second Week in Lent

Jer 17: 5-10; Lk 16: 19-31

Dc. Larry Brockman

How ironic!  First, Jesus tells the parable about the rich man and Lazarus.  And in that parable, the rich man wants Abraham to have Lazarus rise from the dead to warn his 5 brothers that they need to mend their selfish lives.  But Abraham says that if people will not listen to Moses and the prophets, then neither will they listen to someone raised from the dead!  Jesus told that parable for the Pharisees and Priests benefit.  But they didn’t get the connection then, even though the Chief Priest was one of 5 brothers!  

But then, irony of ironies, Jesus actually went on to raise a person name Lazarus from the grave!  You know, Martha and Mary’s brother Lazarus.  And it was in front of the Pharisees and Priests and Scribes, too- the same people the first parable was directed to.  And do you know what the Pharisees, Priests and Scribes did?  They got so angry they actually plotted to kill Lazarus because of his testimony.  Not only that, the raising of Lazarus was one of the things that pushed the Jewish Rulers over the edge  After that they wanted to have Jesus arrested and put to death.

What this parable demonstrates today is just how difficult it is to shake people out of their comfort zone, especially when things are going well for them.  And as a matter of fact, when things are going well, people get angry when someone tries to shake them from their apathy over things that are wrong in this world.  Why, because they just don’t want to hear it.   

This was the case for the rich man; and the Pharisees were not far behind him.  People can either be too comfortable to care- like the rich man; or they have a vested interest in the status quo and don’t want to hear there is something wrong with it- like the Pharisees.   

Boy, do we have that problem today!  Our society has lost sight of evil.  Religious persecution of Catholics, Abortion, Assisted Suicide, Gay Marriage, untreated Mental Illness, Third World Hunger, and a whole host of other evils plague us.  But most of us are too busy and passive about it in our relative affluence.   

One of the things we do is to trust the Government to solve these social problems.  But isn’t that what Jeremiah was preaching against in the first reading?  Isn’t that trusting in man; trusting in secular society?  We have a responsibility to help folks who are in need and to help people see the error of their ways.  But we cannot delegate it away through the Government, especially now when the Government is so secular and when the Government has no way to pay for it.   

There is one thing all of us can do and that is to pray.  That’s what the Blessed Mother continually asks us to do when she appeared to visionaries at Medugorje and other places; and it’s what the Church is asking us to do during Lent.  Remember, we are being asked to engage in Fasting, Alsmgiving and Prayer during Lent.    And what is it that we should pray for.  Lots of things: our enemies conversion; inspiration on how we can deal with and solve our problems; that God will somehow intercede, and perhaps even send us a leader; but most of all, to trust that when we pray, our prayers will be answered.   

Sometimes todays problems seem overwhelming.  But it is then that we should remember Jeremiah’s words:  “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord; whose hope is in the Lord”.  So, pray, pray, and pray some more. 

Find Your Holy Life

March 12th, 2017

Second Sunday of Lent

Gen 12: 1-4a; 2 Tim 1: 8b-10; Mt 17: 1-9

Dc. Larry Brockman

Guess what? You were called to a holy life! That’s what Paul’s message to us is today. Yes, every one of us is called to a holy life. But what exactly does that mean?

Well, Paul says something very profound about that today. He says that a holy life is not measured by our works; but rather by our willingness to embrace the mission we are called to by God’s design. What is more, he says that mission was bestowed on us even before time began! That’s how universal and sweeping God’s overall plan is. And he tells us we have been given the grace to accomplish that mission, whatever it is.

The church gives us two examples today of persons who embraced God’s call and followed their mission. The first is Abram, known as Abraham. Abraham left the land of his fathers at the ripe age of 75, leaving everything behind; and settling in the land of Canaan. At the age of 75! That’s a lifetime for most of us; a time 10 years beyond normal retirement age.

But Abraham was willing to begin all over again in a new land. Abraham listened to the voice of God in his heart; trusted in the providence of God; and did as he was prompted. He could have raised more sheep; more cattle, and had much more influence right where he was because his family was well off. He could have retired in relative luxury. But he was a man of faith and trust in the Lord. And so he left and embraced a future of unknown challenges- all because he listened to God and trusted.

The second example is Jesus. Jesus has already had his 40 day sojourn to the desert by the time of this morning’s story about the Transfiguration. He had prayed, he had reflected, he had been tempted, and he had prevailed over the devil. He knew that his Father wanted him to preach repentance of sins and the coming of the kingdom of God. Now he was ready for that mission that God had chosen for him from the beginning of time.

So he ascends the mountain with his closest associates- Peter James and John. There, he is transfigured, transformed into a state that reflects his future glorification. He converses with Moses and Elijah. Scripture scholars tell us Moses represents the Law; and Elijah represents the prophets. The Gospel of Luke tells us what they were talking about- “Jesus departure from Jerusalem”. That means they were talking about Jesus mission to go to Jerusalem; preach the truth in the name of God and announce the coming of the kingdom of God; urge all mankind to believe in him, repent, and follow him. Because he followed that mission, he was arrested, tried, suffered, crucified, buried, and then rose on the third day. All this would happen according to the law and the prophets, because Jesus fulfilled what the law had prescribed and what the prophets had predicted.  This is represented by the conversations with Moses and Elijah. And we know that Jesus departure from Jerusalem was accomplished through his death, resurrection and ascension. Jesus tells them in both Matthew and Mark’s account that they should tell no one of this event till he rises from the dead. And they were baffled by that reference.

Now the Transfiguration is important to all of us because it is validates who Jesus is, and provides a pattern for the Apostles, and ultimately all of us to follow. All three persons of the trinity were present at the Transfiguration. Jesus, of course, in his body; the Father in the voice; and the Holy Spirit in the cloud that overshadowed the Apostles. Just imagine how powerful this must have been to Peter, James, and John. They fell face down on the ground in terror; that’s how remarkable it was. But then, Jesus predicts everything that would happen to him three times after the Transfiguration.  At the time, this baffled the Apostles; as wee; they couldn’t believe it. But on Easter when everything had happened just as Jesus had predicted, these men were firm in their belief.  These were powerful, unforgettable, God incidents that gave them unshakeable faith and firm resolve to go out and spread the Gospel to all nations. That was their mission; that was how they lived a holy life.

And so, we come back to our mission. How do we live a holy life? We need to follow the pattern. First, we have to reflect on our lives and listen to the voice of the Lord. That’s what the 40 days of Lent are all about. As we do that, we need to remember works are not as important as that urge inside of you on what God’s design is for you.

Some seem to be called to the glorious things of life- they are physically or mentally gifted, they are talented in art or music or sports, they are leaders; they are intelligent. But talents don’t always correspond to God’s call. Talents are gifts we use to fulfill God’s call. And it’s not about our agenda it’s about God’s agenda. His goals and the accomplishments needed to achieve them may differ from our personal goals and objectives. God is looking for a team effort, and just like any team effort, the team goal is what is most important, not the individual achievements. The team goal is conversion and salvation for all.

Others have talents which are less glorious in the eyes of the world but may be more in line with God’s objectives. Like people who are caregivers; people who humbly serve other’s needs, and people who support and enable but don’t lead. These efforts all contribute to the team goal of universal salvation when they are done in love.

We still have 4 weeks to go till Easter. Use Lent wisely, and find your holy life.

Reflecting on Our Mortality

March 1st, 2017

Ash Wednesday Blessing/Distribution of Ashes

2 Cor 5: 20- 6: 2

Deacon Larry Brockman

In just a few minutes, each of you will be given ashes on your foreheads. Each of you will hear the words “You are dust and to dust you shall return” as the ashes are applied. And that is a reminder to all of us of our mortality. Yes, each of our bodies came from the earth, and they will return to the earth.

But that is not the destiny of the true believer, is it. For we all believe as Christians that our immortal souls will live on, forever, in the coming Kingdom of God. That is our hope and our destiny. The problem is that many of the children of this world just don’t believe that. Some don’t believe in God, some say they don’t know, and some don’t believe in the kingdom of God.   But it is different for those of us who believe. Each of us recognizes that we owe everything to God, and we live our lives as Jesus passed on to us in the Gospel in the hope that we will experience everlasting life in the Kingdom of God.

In God’s infinite goodness, he sent his son Jesus to be one of us. And the scripture we just read said this of Jesus: “For our sake he made him sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteous of God in him.” Jesus, God become man, took on our corruptible body, and humbled himself by living within the limitations of the human form. Jesus accepted God the Father’s will that he suffer, die, and be buried for three days; only to rise from the dead and take his rightful place at the right hand of the Father. Each of us is called to die unto ourselves, and accept God’s will for us. That includes the good things of life- our talents, joys, gifts, and families. But it also includes the suffering that life entails- disease, old age, separation from loved ones, and lots of other things. We know that if we do that, we will be saved.

But wait a minute. Paul is saying something else about our role as Christians. Paul says we have a responsibility to be “Ambassadors for Christ”. That’s how Paul opened up this reading. Just how do we do that, how do we become ambassadors for Christ, and what does that mean?

Well Paul mentioned a couple of things. First, he says we need to be reconciled to God. Being reconciled to God means that we are in harmony in our relationship with God. That is the reason for the Church season of Lent. Lent is the opportunity that each of us has each year, to reflect on our own relationship with God. It is a season of prayer, almsgiving, and fasting lasting 40 days. The 40 days represents the length of time that Jesus went away into the wilderness and reflected on his life before he started his 3 year public ministry. We are being asked to spend 40 days each year reflecting on our lives.

During Lent we are advised to practice almsgiving and fasting  As a way of divesting ourselves from whatever it is that diverts our attention from God. Fasting usually means food, but when you think about it there are probably other things we should fast from that free us up for a better relationship with God. Consider for example the time we spend watching TV.

And almsgiving usually means giving money to a worthy cause. But giving away anything that really helps someone else puts us into a spirit of self-denial, a sort of emptying of ourselves from pre-occupation with ourselves.

Both fasting and almsgiving can then be seen to facilitate our ability to be open and ready for what God has in mind for us when we pray and reflect.

Now when you reflect on your own sinfulness, you reflect on those things that you do or fail to do that hurt your relationship with God. Deep down, you know what those things are because your conscience works on you when you are free of the distractions and the hustle and bustle of life. God is nudging you, even nagging you, to repent- meaning change. Because no matter how you look at it, none of us is perfect; all of us are sinners and need reconciliation with God.

Now when we become reconciled with God, then we “become the righteousness of God in him”, as St. Paul says. And so, we will receive the grace of God. That grace works through the Holy Spirit to shine in us. And together, the light of Christ becomes as a beacon for the rest of our companions. They will know we are Christians by our love, the love of Christ. That’s how we become “Ambassadors for Christ”. That’s how we fulfill our Baptismal promise to evangelize, just as Jesus evangelized all of us- by example.

Our reading today ends in an interesting way. Paul says in the name of the Lord that “In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.” So Paul is speaking of Jesus role as our evangelizer. But he finishes by challenging all of us to do the same. For he tells us: “Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

“I Will Never Forget You”

February 26th, 2017

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Is 49: 14-15; 1 Cor 4: 1-5; Mt 6: 24-34

Deacon Larry Brockman

“I will never forget you”. These are the Lord’s words to Zion this morning. And that’s each and every one of us- we are all part of Zion.

You know, it is really hard to conceive of just how much God loves each one of us. Each and every one of us was specially created by God. That means God thought about you, just you, and made you what you are. Each of us was given a unique set of talents, a unique body, and our own immortal soul. We are all one of a kind; there will never be another you.

And God loves all of us equally. Why would God create a being in his image and likeness that he didn’t love? God loved us so much he gave us a free will- so that we can determine our own destiny. But our main choice is whether we return to God or not.

Now we are even loved by God when we are sinners. In Luke’s Gospel, he tells a parable about the lost sheep. Yes, God goes after each lost sheep because he loves them. God is relentless in his pursuit of each one of us too. It’s that little voice in your conscience you hear all the time.

Realistically, all of us are sinners. It may be a matter of degree, but none of us is perfect. And if we feel that we are perfect, or close to it, we are deceiving ourselves. Part of the lesson of life is to realize that and to recognize and accept the suffering, disappointment, and imperfection that are part of life for each one of us. It’s part of God’s plan that we be tested and follow his script for dealing with our test. His script is the Gospel.

We also learn by recognizing that all the bad things that happen to our neighbors but for the grace of God can happen to us as well. Even when we are on a high plateau in our lives, it is all temporary; it can and probably will change. So, understand that God and God alone is under control. Humility is recognizing the truth of one’s status. And the fact is that no matter who you are, you are not in control. When you embrace that fact and all the uncertainty that it entails, then you will know and understand yourself better, and that is true humility.

Now I say all this because this morning our Gospel calls us to recognize that worrying is another limitation we have as human beings. We worry about our problems, our status, our future, and all kinds of things. But the fact is that we really don’t have control over the events of our life, God does. So, it is pointless to excessively worry about them. Just as we must accept that suffering and imperfection are part of every life, we also have to accept that excessive worrying over things makes no sense.

Because God loves you that means, as Isaiah remarked, that he will never forget you. If you really believe that God will never forget you, then the thing that each of us must do is to trust in God. That may be easier to say than to do. Just how do we trust in God that all of those things we worry about will be taken care of?

Well, that brings us to the topic of serving just one of two masters. In 19th century US politics there was a term called a Mugwump. A Mugwump had his “mug” on one side of the political fence, and his “wump” on the other. So, a Mugwump tried to play both sides of the fence at the same time. It was a derogatory term that accurately described people who tried to finesse the system. It just didn’t work.   Jesus is also telling us you cannot do that; you cannot have it both ways. You either belong to this world and the Master of this world, which is the devil and his followers, or you belong to Christ, and have a trusting relationship with God.

If you belong to this world, you attempt to be in total control of your life. You will determine how each need will be met; you will take care of yourself- even if it is at the expense of others. And you will depend on all of your abilities. It’s all up to you; you don’t need God. So when things don’t go your way, you will worry. And you will worry and worry.

Now you can try to be a Mugwump, and be in control yourself when things are going well. And then fall back on God when things go wrong. But my point is that it doesn’t work that way. It is all or nothing with God because God reads your heart. And if you have to always be in control, then you haven’t given your heart to him.

If you belong to Christ, then He is your master in this world. That means two things. First, you know God; you have a relationship with him. And like any special relationship that you have, you have to nourish that relationship often. That means you have a regular prayer relationship with God. You can hear him when he talks to you.

Second, you must learn to trust in God always. That means you share your successes with him, and your joy with him because you know God is the source of all blessings. So, you thank God as the source of those blessings- your family, your career, and whatever talents and good things you have. But you also share your sufferings, your worries, and your failures with him. You trust that, just as he helped you with your successes, so he will also help you when you experience things beyond your control.

After all, God has promised that he will never forget you.

Salted With Fire

February 23rd, 2017

Thursday of 7th Week in Ordinary Time

Sir 5: 1-8; Mk 9: 41-50

Deacon Larry Brockman

So, “Everyone will be salted with Fire”! Yes, every one of us will be tested, that’s the fire. And the salt represents the good effects, the good taste, that the testing produces in us. The salt flavor is the cumulative goodness from our ability to resist temptation.

Now Sirach gives us an interesting perspective on temptation. He walks us through various attempts to rationalize bad behavior. And people do rationalize in this way. They say to themselves: “I can live with this temptation, flirt with this temptation, because I am strong enough”. Or even worse: “I can get away with this because I will have time to reform”. But Sirach is clear: “Rely not in your strength.” And Sirach admonishes us “not to put off our conversion”.

Jesus message echoes this yet with a little hyperbole. Not only are we to avoid temptation, but we should eliminate the source of the temptation, even if it means cutting off our feet or hands or gouging out our eyes if they facilitate our temptations to sin.

We have just finished the year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis. And so, we are all sensitized to God’s great mercy. God does love each and every one of us unconditionally, even when we are sinners. And he is constantly offering us an opportunity to repent and reform. Further, all of us have an obligation to facilitate that mercy by evangelizing our brothers and sisters who are separated from the Church.

But this morning, we are reminded of our obligation to hold firm to the law and the teachings of the Church. It’s not that God will not be merciful to us when we sin. It’s just that we ought not take it for granted just as Sirach explicitly says in the first reading.

You see, our attitude must be one of abandoning ourselves to the Lord’s will at all times, and to obedience to the Lord in the face of difficulty. Then, when we find that we have fallen, mercy will be extended to us. But if we live our lives day to day, knowing in the back of our minds that things are not quite right, but not taking the time or effort to sort out God’s message for us, then we will be like the folks in Sirach’s reading, making excuses, hoping for mercy no matter what we do and what our attitude is.

Not only that, our actions are seen by others. And so when we flaunt with temptation, we can be influencing others. For example, our children see what we watch on TV. What we do speaks louder than the words they hear in religious education classes.   A

ll of us are caught up in today’s whirlwind of daily activity. So, we don’t always take the time to listen to the Lord and reflect on where life is taking us. The message today is that we need to do that. Because we are held accountable for our actions especially if we don’t have the right attitude in our approach to daily life.

In our morning offering, each of us should spend a little time reflecting on where God is pointing us today. And understand that the devil is persistent in offering seemingly attractive and pleasurable things. But we need to contemplate the consequences of all these things. That is how we can assure that our salt does not lose its flavor.