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Father Fred's Homilies

Father Fred's Homilies (139)

Homily means a commentary, without formal introduction, division, or conclusion, on some part of Sacred Scripture, the aim being to explain the literal, and evolve the spiritual, meaning of the Sacred Text.

In the "First Apology" of Justin Martyr (c. lxvii) we read: "On the day called Sunday, all assembled in the same place, where the memorials [apomnemoneumata] of the Apostles and Prophets were read . . . and when the reader has finished, the bishop delivers a sermon", etc.

Each week we are blessed with some outstanding homilies by Father Fred, Father Pablo, and visiting priests. Sometimes we are out of town or ill and not able to make it to Mass at Sacred Heart. In those instances, it is nice to be able to read our Sunday homily so we can stay connected to our community and our family.

On November 19, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln came to Gettysburg, Penn. to dedicate a cemetery for those who lost their lives in the battle of Gettysburg.  He began, "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."

I have in my hand a piece to a jig saw puzzle.  It is no good unless it can find its place in the puzzle.  It is a useless scrap of paper unless it can find the niche for which it was created.  During the January snow storm of 4 years ago Fr. Pablo and I were stranded at home along with the rest of Houston County.  I had a jig saw puzzle, given as a Christmas present, of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.  It was the first and only puzzle I have ever done as an adult.  Thank goodness Fr. Pablo was around and had some experience with puzzles, and with the help of his mother and sister we finished the puzzle in a matter of two months.  As we worked left the completed part of the puzzle along we had 1000 loose parts on the dining room table.  I was so afraid that just one of the thousand pieces would be vacuumed up by the cleaning lady and the puzzle would be incomplete.

A well known sinner enters the dining room, a dining room for men only.  The woman heads straight for Jesus and caresses his feet.  Kissing them, bathing them with tears and perfuming them with ointment, wiping them with her hair.  Quite a scene.  But, Jesus doesn't seem embarrassed in the least.

My mother had three sons.  My two brothers had made a comfortable living as doctors. My mother was a wise woman. In her will my mother divided up her estate equally between the three of us- a priest and two doctors. (Now I ask you:  Is that fair?)  Now why had she done that?  To keep the peace between us.  How easily money becomes the wedge that drives us apart.  How many times have you heard of families falling out over their estates? What is more important to me: a few thousand dollars or peace with my family?  What is more important: some bucks in the bank or an ongoing relationship with my brothers? Only in our relationships do we know love; that is something money can't buy.

Love one another as I have loved you.  Words spoken two thousand years ago.  Today they are given a new life and a new voice in the latest Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Frances, Amoris Laetitia. The joy of love.

The Pope's letter is an exhortation on family life. And if Jesus' words find a fitting echo that echo would be in the family. I am going to try and offer snippets from a 250 page document. The triune God is a communion of love and the family is its living reflection of that divine communion, father, son and Holy Spirit.  Where is God? Who is God? Look at the life of a family as it struggles to love and you see God revealed.  Against this background of love one virtue stands out, a virtue overlooked in our world of superficial relationships:  Tenderness.   In our families we must learn to imitate Jesus' own gentleness in relating to one another.  Tenderness is a sign of a love that is free of selfish possessiveness.

There is a line in the Apostle's Creed which states "...and He descended into hell.."  What could this possibly mean?  The traditional explanation is that the gates of heaven were closed until Jesus died and rose, then after his resurrection he went into hell and freed all the souls of those who lived before he accomplished his paschal mystery.  But let's consider this through two other images.

One of the powerful things about this Gospel story is the abundant mercy of God in Jesus Christ.  One of the more interesting details is Jesus bending down and writing in the dust while the woman is made to stand in the circle of shame.  People have speculated what Jesus is writing in the dust?  Is he writing the sins of the men standing around the woman?  Who can Say?

From the encyclical, Deus est Caritas, of Pope Benedict XVI, "If in my life I fail to heed others, solely out of a desire to be "devout" and to perform my "religious duties', then my relationship with God will also grow arid.  It becomes merely 'proper', but loveless."  This line not only describes the elder son in the Gospel parable, he's proper but loveless, but many of us as well.  I do my duty; I do it properly, but without love. I do the job but I don't share myself. I celebrate Mass; I am doing it properly, according to the rubrics and directions of the church, but without love.  There is an emptiness there that does not share the heart of what the Mass is all about, Deus est caritas.

After all those fish jumped into the boat there a lot of things Peter could have said.  Like, WOW! Where did you learn to fish like that! Or, he could have said, if you're not doing anything tomorrow about this same time, would you go out with us again?  Instead, Peter said something that went far beyond fishing.

The Super Bowl happens next Sunday, and for those who care, we have already picked our favorites.  Although I must say the Panthers look like the favorites partly because of their quarterback, Cam Newton.  I have never cared for Cam Newton even during his days at Auburn.  As someone said, he seemed to have an ego a mile long.  Even so, others are talking about how much he gives back to the community and how friendly he is with the fans.  In any case I'm starting to have a slight change of mind about Cam.

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