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Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

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I'm sure that most of us have been following what has been going on in the Middle East during these past days. If you followed on television at all, you've seen the rockets going into Haifa, other places in Israel, killing people. But even more you've seen the bombing and the disastrous results of that. Thousands of people, mostly civilians, of course, many, many children killed, and hundreds of thousands having to flee their homes, they're on the road, without food, without water, without medicine. It's one of the most horrific situations that we've seen in the world in a long time. It's all there right in front of us.

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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The Gospel lesson this morning is taken from
a part of Mark’s Gospel that is describing the beginning of the public
life of Jesus. And as we heard, he experienced something new today. He was
rejected. Even despised. And what must have hurt most of all, is that it
was from his own neighbors, people he’d grown up with, from his own
family. He was rejected because he began to carry out the role that God
had called him to carry out: the role of a prophet.

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Last Sunday, at the end of the Gospel reading, we were left with the disciples’ question: “Who is this who has come into the world?” I hope we have reflected on that during this week. Who is this Jesus? Who? Of course, last week they had come to the conclusion “this is God.” And they were in awe and trembling because, as Mark makes so clear, Jesus had power over the winds, over the water, over the chaos, just as in the beginning of the scriptures where it’s revealed to us how God, the creator, brings order out of chaos, calms the waters, builds the earth.

 

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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The Gospel passage ends with a very
important question: Who can this be that the wind and the sea obey him? It
was a question that Mark, the Gospel writer, wanted the community of his
day to reflect on and, of course, it’s a question for all of us to reflect
on also. Often we think of the miracle stories in the Gospel as simply
that, miracle stories, stories of wondrous things that Jesus could do. And
sometimes we use them to prove that Jesus is the Son of God. In fact, what
these miracle accounts are, and this one certainly is, are a way of
teaching. Mark is trying to teach his community, and to teach us, that we
must reflect deeply on who Jesus really is. The wind and the sea obey
him.

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)

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During this past week, as some of you may
know, the Catholic bishops of the United States gathered for our
semi-annual meeting. One of the topics on the agenda was a report from the
committee on that very divisive question that arose almost two years ago
during the election about denying Holy Communion to people, determining
that some people are not worthy to come forward and accept the Body and
Blood of Jesus. Thankfully, the report came to a moderate conclusion, and
there is going to be a very real attempt that we won’t be trying to
exclude people from coming forward to receive the Eucharist.

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

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A few Sundays ago I told an anecdote at the beginning of my
ttreflection that I’m going to repeat today because I think it’s
ttappropriate for our reflections on the scripture lessons this morning. Some of
ttyou will remember the story about the little boy in the Confirmation class in
ttwhich all of the children were urged to pick a certain part of scripture to
ttmemorize and when the bishop came to Confirmation he might ask them to get up
ttand recite whatever they had chosen. When the bishop came, he did exactly that,
ttand this youngster was very enthusiastic and raised his hand right away. The
ttbishop called on him, and this youngster said, “I memorized Psalm
tt23.” Then he began to recite it. “The Lord is my shepherd, there is
ttnothing I shall want.” And he stopped, totally blanked, couldn’t
ttthink of another word. But then he blurted out, “And that’s all I
ttneed to know.” [Congregation laughs] And that’s what everybody in
ttchurch did, they smiled and agreed, that’s all we need to know.

Pentecost Sunday

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[Editor’s Note: St. Leo Parish celebrated the Sacrament of
ttConfirmation for six young adults today, so the homily begins directed at
ttthem.]


t

Perhaps I’ll say just a word about why it’s important
ttthat you say, “Yes, I want to be confirmed!” and that you say it in a
ttvery loud and clear, firm voice and with enthusiasm. Because, and I really want
ttyou to think about this as we go forward with this sacrament, what are you
ttsaying yes to? Is it to a ceremony that will be over in 45 minutes or an hour
ttor so, then we all leave the church and that’s it. No! When you say,
tt“I want to be confirmed,” you’re saying “yes” to
ttJesus. You’re saying “yes” to Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
ttYou’re saying, “Yes, I want to follow Jesus. I want to be his
ttdisciple. I want to live according to his values. I want Jesus to be the one
ttwho guides me in a very special way throughout my whole life. I wish to follow
tthim.”

Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

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The Easter candle, of course, is and has been for the last 40 days the
ttsymbol of the presence of the living, risen Jesus in our midst. With the simple
ttaction of carrying the candle away, we symbolize what we celebrate in this
ttfeast today: Jesus in his physical presence on earth has definitively left his
ttdisciples.

In the Acts of the Apostles, St Luke takes a lot of time to say the very
ttsame thing through the symbolic raising of his body up into heaven, clouds come
ttand he rides away in the clouds into heaven, someplace way up above. It’s
ttimportant for us not to be too distracted by those symbols, because in fact as
ttwe know from Luke’s account of the gospel, actually Jesus rose and
ttascended back to God on Easter Sunday. During a period of time, he would appear
ttoff and on to the disciples, but he was gone; his death was definitive and when
tthe rose to new life he reunited with God in heaven forever.

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August 29-September 11, 2014

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