Life on the Chrism Trail

Homily for the Fifth Sunday in Lent

March 26, 2023
St. Patrick Cathedral
Fort Worth, Texas

Ezekiel 37:12-14
Psalm 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
Romans 8:8-11
John 11:1-45

Martha’s statement and Mary’s tears convey what all of us think and what all of us are feeling when death snatches from us a loved one. Mary’s tears are those of deep grief and fear at the death of her brother with only a sense that what was familiar, safe, and pleasant is now gone. Martha’s statement to Jesus speaks a firm knowledge based upon her clear perception of appearances. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Implied by this statement is the question, “Where were you?” “It’s only two miles away.” “Didn’t you know, and don’t you care?” Martha’s words and Mary’s tears each articulate our emotions that we experience in the face of the cruelty of death, “Lord, if you were here” (but you weren’t) he would not have died.” “You could have prevented this” (but you didn’t.). If you were here, your compassion would have saved Lazarus.

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Homily for the Fourth Sunday in Lent

March 19, 2023
St. Patrick Cathedral
Fort Worth, Texas

Exodus 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a
Psalm 23:1-3a 3b-4, 5-6
Ephesians 5:8-14
John 9:1-41

The story of the healing of the man born blind which we have just proclaimed from John’s Gospel takes place shortly after Jesus’ announcement that He is the Light of the World who comes to bring the light of eternal life to those in darkness. Today we hear how the Light of the World brought light to a man born blind and in so doing exposed the blindness of those who arrogantly declared that they could see better than anybody else. The episode begins with the disciples wondering about the cause of the man’s blindness. Was it the result of some sin … his own or his parents?

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Homily for the Votive Mass for Blessed Michael McGivney Display of Relics

March 9, 2023
Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish
Wichita Falls, Texas

Ephesians 4:1-7a, 11-13
Psalm 110:1, 2, 3, 4
Matthew 5:1-12a

I am overjoyed and filled with gratitude for the opportunity to gather with you this evening to celebrate this liturgy and to venerate the relics of the body of Blessed Michael McGivney, the founder of the Knights of Columbus.  I am especially grateful that the Diocese of Fort Worth should be the first diocese in the United States to receive the relics of this great and holy beatified priest. I believe that it is very fitting that Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish and the Knights of Columbus of all of Wichita Falls and the Northwest Deanery should be given the privilege of praying for his intercession and venerating the relics of his body, since the Knights of Columbus in this deanery have been so imbued by his spirit for over one hundred years. The spirit and body should be together. The spirit of Blessed Michael McGivney shows itself in your generous support for widows and children of your brothers who suffer untimely death, your solidarity in prayer for the faithful and patriotic brotherhood of men in the Catholic faith, and in your most generous support for the formation of priests in pastoral charity.

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Homily for Monday of the Third Week of Lent

March 13, 2023
Theological College
Washington, DC

2 Kings 5:1-15ab
Psalm 42:2, 3; 43:3, 4
Luke 4:24-30

Today’s readings carry us further into our Lenten preparation for our celebration of the Easter mysteries: a time for reflection and for conversion. The readings offer us the themes of healing and redemption. Naaman is in need of healing and the Nazarenes are in need of redemption — for which another word is vindication (Go’el).

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Homily for the Third Sunday in Lent

March 12, 2023
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Washington, D.C.

Exodus 17:3-7
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
Romans 5:1-2, 5-8
John 4:5-42

“If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” Oh, that today you would hear His voice: “Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the desert, Where your fathers tempted me; they tested me though they had seen my works.” “If today you hear His voice harden not your hearts.” The word Meribah means “to test” and the word Massah means to quarrel. These words became the names of the place in the wilderness where the children of Israel tested the Lord and quarreled with Moses on the beginning of their long journey in the wilderness out of slavery in Egypt and towards the freedom of God’s chosen people. It is part of the defining story of the Jewish people, and through our Baptism into the salvation won by Christ, it is part of our story as the Church — the new People of God.

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Homily for Monday of the Second Week of Lent

March 6, 2023
St. Joseph Seminary College
Covington, Louisiana

Deuteronomy 9:4b-10
Psalm 79:8, 9, 11, 13
Romans 8:31b-34
Luke 6:36-38

Even people who have never held the Bible in their hands are familiar with this verse from sacred Scripture. “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.” These profoundly serious words of Jesus are invoked frequently by some people as a justification for their own sinful habits. Of course, in recent years we frequently hear some individuals do this by citing these words of Jesus in connection with the airplane quote of Pope Francis from several years ago taken out of context regarding homosexual acts: “Who am I to judge?”

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Homily for the Second Sunday in Lent

March 5, 2023
St. Patrick Cathedral
Fort Worth, TX

Genesis 12:1-4a
Psalm 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22
2 Timothy 1:8b-10
Matthew 17:1-9

The first reading of this Sunday’s Mass presents the call of God to Abraham. At this time in his life, Abraham is seventy-five years old — a time that common sense tells us is too late to expect change from any human being. Those of us who have loved ones who have aged and entered the elder cohort of the human population or who have even themselves entered old age can attest to the wisdom of such proverbs as, “She is too set in her ways;” or also, “He is an example that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.” Yet, the matters of vocation and conversion are not matters of human initiative, ingenuity, or willpower.

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Homily for the Fifth Sunday of Lent

April 3, 2022
Saint Patrick Cathedral
Fort Worth, Texas

Isaiah 43:16-21
Psalm 126:1-2,2-3, 4-5, 6
Philippians 3:8-14
John 8:1-11

Today’s reading from the Gospel of John begins with Jesus returning from the Mount of Olives, the place where He will go on to undergo the agony in the garden. The scribes and Pharisees drag a woman caught in adultery before Him. In the case of women, the Law prescribed the death penalty for the sin of adultery, but it is not clear as to what was the prescribed punishment for adultery in the case of men. These leaders were trying to find a way to trap and condemn Jesus, and this situation looked to be an opportunity for them to execute their plan. Stoning the woman would violate Roman law and releasing her would oppose the Law of Moses. If Jesus were to respond in either way, His words and action would be instrumental to their plotting to cancel out Jesus’ credibility even to the point of killing Him.

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