Deacon Pat's Books

Deacon Pat's Books
Click of the piture to visit the book site.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Get behind me Satan!


Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A) 
Adapted from a homily by Fr. Chris Wadelton 

Can you imagine? One moment, Jesus is saying you’re “the rock on which I will build my church” and the next moment he’s calling you “a stumbling block.” That’s not just great wordplay – from cornerstone to stumbling block – but such an abrupt change had to be incredibly painful for Peter to hear. Can you imagine? And perhaps that’s the difficulty…Peter couldn’t imagine. He couldn’t imagine that Jesus had come not just to bring comfort to the people, but to free them. Comforting isn’t that hard – just give people a little more of what they want and tell them it will be all right. But freedom is different. Freedom requires that we recognize that what we have isn’t always life-giving and that it’s not always going to be alright. It’s not going to be all right if North Korea launched a nuclear missal toward California. It’s not going to be all right if we continue to abort nearly a million babies each year here in the US. It’s not going to be all right if we continue to say and do nothing as angry mobs of anarchists burn down buildings and assault and kill people. Giving people a little more of the same thing is not always going to be all right. 

Returning to today’s Gospel, the common understanding with this Gospel passage is that when Peter made his statement of Faith that Jesus is the Messiah – the son of the living God, he had in mind a warrior-king like David. A King who would drive out the Roman occupiers and liberate the Israelites. When you stop to think about it, that’s pretty understandable. It is a reasonable hope. The Romans were foreign occupiers, not only imposing their pagan laws but taxing the people to support their oppression. They maintained their occupation by violence. The problem with Peter’s expectation is not that it’s unreasonable, but that it doesn’t change anything. If Jesus were the warrior-king and used an even greater force and violence to drive out the Romans, it’s more of the same thing. Eventually, someone with even more force, or willing to do greater violence, will take over again. The cycle of violence keeps revolving. Jesus knows this. He knows He has to introduce a different logic, one that is based on forgiveness, mercy, and love, rather than violence, hate, and division. At the same time, he knows that the cycle of violence will not tolerate this new logic and that he will be killed. And Peter just couldn’t imagine this. It isn’t surprising that Jesus was killed when you stop to think about it. From the moment of his birth, he was such a threat to the cycle of violence, that Herod was willing to slaughter all children under the age of two in the hopes of destroying him. So, it’s no surprise that Jesus was killed. What surprised the world is that God raised Jesus from the dead. The Resurrection reinforces, in fact, establishes that forgiveness, mercy, and love are ultimately what will prevail. 

I know this is hard to imagine given how prevalent force and violence are in the world. But it is exactly what Jesus invites us to: lives shaped by forgiveness, mercy, and hope…actions shaped by compassion and love. When we imagine force and violence as the answer, then Church teachings become a stumbling block for people. When we imagine Love and forgiveness, compassion and hope as the answer, then we can stand tall upon the Cornerstone. But like Peter, what most of us want is a little more of what the world already offers – wealth, health and happiness, security, and comfort. But Jesus didn’t come to comfort us with a little more, instead, He came to free us. And freedom means seeing things the way God sees them. It means realizing that some of the things we’ve settled for, and even legislated and codified into our way of life, are not life-giving at all. And so, it’s hard to even imagine something different. People hide behind the excuse that it’s too complicated to change – or that it’s just the way we’ve always done it. This isn’t anything new. All we have to do is look around and see the things that are not right with the world. I’m not trying to point out what’s wrong with the world but to simply ask the question of whether we are ready for something different. 

Can you imagine? Can you imagine that God is really at work in and through your life for the good of the world? Can you imagine that this community has something of value to offer those who don’t think like us? Can you imagine that, even though afraid, we stand up to those who spew hate and violence and insults…and don’t respond in-kind? Can you imagine that even small acts of love and generosity challenge the cycle of violence and introduce a different reality? Can you imagine that love is more powerful than hate? Can you imagine that maybe our trials, our crosses, are actually opportunities to build virtue, strength, and understanding? Can you imagine? In closing, I would like to share a very short story that I feel is relevant to us today, especially with us enduring this COVID journey that we have all been traveling, and with so much varied emotion attached to it. The story is of a very zealous person who once wrote these words: “When I was young, I was a revolutionary. My prayer to God was: ‘Lord, give me the energy to change the world.’ As I approached middle-age and realized that my life was half-gone without my changing a single soul, I changed my prayer to: ‘Lord, give me the grace to change all those who come into contact with me. Just my family and friends and I shall be satisfied.’ Now that I am old and my days are numbered, I have begun to see how foolish I have been. My one prayer now is: ‘Lord, give me the grace to change myself.’ If I had prayed for this from the start, I would not have wasted my life.” Can we imagine ourselves standing tall upon the cornerstone, praying “Lord give me the imagination to see, taste, and believe the life-giving promises of a Messiah who came not to give us what we want, but what we need. 

Maybe this COVID Virus, the fires, the economic hardships, the civil unrest, our fears and anxieties, and all the other things we are currently enduring are just what we need at this time in life to bring us back toward God in a meaningful and soul-saving way. Back to His loving embrace. Back to His friendship. Back to His peacefulness. United Back, to the One.. who is Everything! Amen

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Who Am I? (21st Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A)


21st Sunday Ordinary Time – Year A

Adapted from Father Bob's Homily Franciscan Friars of the Atonement

Not many people are honest enough or brave enough to ask the question in today’s Gospel.  

Just think about you asking some friend or perhaps, more courageously, some enemy –

·       Who do you say that I am?

·       What do people think of me?  

·       Or perhaps more importantly, asking of ourselves – Who am I? 

I recently read a story about a doctor in a New York City Hospital who makes time to attend Mass every day.  

When someone told him how impressed they were, he said he was not always so faithful.  

It was a patient who made him look at his life.  

He said he would do rounds every day with his students examining patients.  

As they entered the room, the patients would look intimidated and apprehensive except one man, an Irish man in his sixties who was very sick.  

He said the man would always greet them with “Hey Guys”, as if they were a bunch of teenagers.  

Sometimes the patient would make the students nervous, as one said – “He seems to look right through us.”

The man grew worse, he was quickly deteriorating.  

The doctor went to see him alone and the man opened his eyes with a grin and said “Well, took you long enough” – like he had been expected the doctor.  

The doctor did not say anything as he read the chart.  

Then the man shared with the doctor a single remark that was half a question and half something else.  

He asked with a smile, “Who are you?”  

The doctor first thought that because of the drugs that he did not recognize him, but as if sensing what the doctor was thinking, he said, “Dr. Smith, who are you?”  

The doctor started to say, well as you know, I am a doctor, and then he just stopped cold.  

It was hard for him to describe or sort out what was going on in his head.  

All kinds of thoughts went through his mind which all seemed true and yet somehow less than true. 

Yes, I am this, but I am also that, but that is not the whole picture.  

The doctor’s confusion must have shown because the man gave him a grin and closed his eyes.  

The doctor asked, “Is there anything I can do for you?”  

The man said “no, I’m just tired.”  

He died a few hours later.  

The doctor could not get him or his question out of his mind– Who are you?  

For years he had trained as a physician and got lost in his profession.  

He realized that the man had taken away his degree, tossed it back to him and said – but who are you, really….beyond the degree?  

 

This story can doe the same for us if we will allow it.  

With humility and honesty let us ask:

·       Who are we beyond the facade, the front that we put up?  

·       Who are we beyond our job title, degree or trade? 

So often we try to be like the people we see in the commercials who are handsome or beautiful, well-dressed, smiling, smelling great, hair gleaming, homes comfortable, and lives that are stress-free.  

There is no blemish, lots of portrayed laughter and joy, and the good life abound, but that is not real, that is not who we are.  

Who are we, truly, beyond all the externals?  

Who do people say that I am, is the question that Jesus asks in today’s Gospel?  

How we answer that question says a lot about us. 

·       Does Jesus have any effect on our day to day living…on the way we treat others…on the way we treat ourselves?  

There is a dangerous trap that many people fall into and that is why we try to make Jesus into our image and likeness.

Yes, we humans often do this.  

Many of us have been guilty in one way or another, trying to make Christ in our own image. 

We want him to be like us.

We want Jesus to be the kind of Savior that we want.  

Sometimes we fail to realize that we do not call Jesus, He called us to follow Him.  

Yes, He has called you, not only Priests, Deacons, or Religious, but you in a very personal way. 

It was His cross that was signed on your forehead and because of your Baptism you are a disciple of Christ.  

The question that we should all ask ourselves is – are we living as a Disciple of Christ?

 

Christ is here with us now in a special way, and someday He will come in power and glory to place all creation at the feet of his Father.  

But today, He comes quietly, invisibly, and wherever you are, look for Him:

·       In the preached word.  

·       In the host at Holy Communion time, look for Him inside of you.  

·       Look for Him at home on the faces of your dear ones

Look for Him, especially where He told you to look.  

·       In the hungry and thirsty,

·       the stranger and the naked,

·       the sick and the imprisoned,

·       and the drug addicted.

In closing I have just a few short questions for you to prayerfully ponder,

·       If anyone is looking for Christ, will they find Him in you?

Or do they have to look for another?  

 

·       If Jesus were to ask you:

 – “Who do you say that I am?” –

– “Who do you say that I am?” –

What would be your answer?


Sunday, February 9, 2020

You are the Salt of the Earth, You are the Light of the World. (5th Sunday Ordinary Time)



Homily – 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A) 
This homily was adapted from a homily written by Father Albert Lakra 

I believe that most of us are aware that our culture has become somewhat darker in regard to immorality and anti-Christian behavior, but we must not close our eyes to the good that has come from the growing darkness. It is in the darkness that light can shine the brightest, and in today’s readings, Christ has a powerful message for us. He speaks to us and gives us direction on how we are to live our lives, especially in times of darkness. He states: “YOU ARE THE SALT OF THE EARTH; YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.”

Let me share with you a short story that might help us understand what Christ was trying to teach us. An ancient king once asked his three daughters how much they loved him. The eldest daughter said she loved him more than all the gold in the world. The middle daughter said she loved him more than all the silver in the world. And the youngest daughter said she loved him more than salt. The king was not pleased with the final answer. However, the wise cook overheard the conversation, and the next day he prepared a wonderful meal for the king but left out the salt. The food was so insipid, so tasteless, that the king couldn’t eat it. It was then that the King understood what his youngest daughter meant. He now understood the value of salt. 

Salt is a basic and essential item in our diet and the greatest and the most obvious quality of salt is that it lends flavor to food. Food without salt is sadly insipid, bland, and can even be a sickening thing. Salt is so important that one can’t even imagine living without it. In times of past, Salt was connected with purity, for it came from purest of all things visible, the sun and the sea. Salt was also the commonest of all preservatives. It was used to keep things from going bad and preserved things from getting corrupted. Salt was considered so important, that even the Jews added salt to their offerings to God. So, when Christ said to his followers – “You are the salt of the earth,” it simply meant that a follower of Christ must lend flavor to life, bringing joy & gladness, happiness & peace, justice & love, care & concern, hope & consolation, among those in their lives. 

A follower of Christ, a Christian, also has to be an example of purity, in speech, in conduct, and even in thought, living a life of honesty, diligence & conscientiousness. The Christian also has to preserve the good and prevent the evil in the society, and save it from deteriorating. By our very presence, we are to defeat corruption of all kinds. So When Christ used this image of salt, He was trying to teach us how a disciple of His should act and live in the world. But He also warned us by describing that just as insipid salt, salt that has lost its taste, its strength, is of no use in flavoring or preserving food, so too, the so-called 'disciples' are of no use if they choose to fail, especially by a lack of effort, or in a life content with being Luke-Warm in the faith. The corruption of the best is the worst. Those called to be the greatest, Christians, constitute the worst tragedy if they choose to fail, especially after being shown the way, the truth, and the life. 

Christ goes on to say to His disciples: “You are the light of the world.” He speaks of our visibility in the world. Let me share with you another short story that may help us better understand Christ’s words. The story is told of a little girl who was shivering her way along a main street in one of our great cities. Seeing the beautiful lights of a church building and hearing the music coming from within, she went in and warmed herself as she listened. In the Priest’s homily, he focused on and stated, "I am the light of the world." At the close of the Mass, the little girl went to the Priest and said, "Did you say you are the light of the world, sir?" The Priest replied, "No, dear child. Christ is the light of the world; I am only one of the smaller lights." The little girl looked at him for a moment, paused, and then solemnly said, "Well, sir, I wish you would come down and hang out in our alley, 'cause it's awful dark down there!" Christians are indeed, as Christ said, "The light of the world." And as one of those lights, let us ask ourselves: Do we ever purposely go to any dark places, to shine our light? Or do only “Hang out” with other lights? Or do we hide our Light? 

It is important for us to remember that a light, especially a light of Christ is something which is meant to be seen and not hidden. And in reality, there really is no such thing as a secret Christian disciple, because the secrecy will ultimately betray the discipleship or the discipleship will ultimately destroy the secrecy. Thus a disciple of Christ must be visible in the world, and our light is meant to be a guide by shedding its rays and showing the way, especially in the darkness. Our light also often sends a warning, a warning when there is a danger lying ahead. We are to be an example to others and to positively influence them; while at the same time lovingly giving them warnings of the dangers of the evil in the world. 

This idea of being visible to the world was so important to Christ that He used two more images to emphasize it. He spoke of a 'city set on a mountain,' and how it sticks out like a sore thumb, and that there is no way to hide it. And he spoke of a 'lamp on a lamp-stand.' And declared, “What is the point in lighting a lamp then covering it up? Clarifying that we are either a light to others, or we block the light. 

We must remember one powerful thing; to truly follow Christ is always radical. And we must honestly decide! Do I want follow Christ, or do I want to follow the world? The two are in direct contrast, and we can’t do both. If we try, we will do neither well, and we will become insignificant. Let us not become insignificant. Let us become true followers of Christ. In doing so, we don’t need any special talents or abilities, just as St. Paul says in the Second Reading, proclaiming to know nothing but “Jesus Christ, and Christ crucified.” Simply, we are to be, “The Salt of the earth,” and “The Light of the world,” and that through our lives – in action & speech, with our work & words, through our behavior, while fully trusting not in human wisdom, but in the power of God, that we can truly be that reflection of Christ’s light, that light that clearly shines, that light that shines especially bright today in our world’s darkness.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

The Presentation of our Lord


Homily for the Presentation of the Lord
Today’s Feast of the Presentation of the Lord is a feast that reflects the one light of Christ from different angles and in different ways. Historically the feast has been known by different names, each stressing a different aspect of the same mystery: the mystery that God has chosen to dwell among us.

Forty days after the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph traveled to Jerusalem to present him at the Temple. This was the first time Jesus entered the temple that years later he would cleanse of merchants with great zeal. The same temple where he would teach his disciples and challenge the Pharisees. The same temple where Judas would receive thirty silver coins in return for his betrayal.

As you heard in the Gospel, Mary and Joseph presented Jesus with grateful hearts and offered the sacrifice prescribed by the Law of Moses for the poor: two young pigeons. God fulfills the prophecy of Malachi when Simeon identifies the child as the awaited Messiah.  

Simeon’s words at first are joyful and triumphant, the child is a light for revelation, the glory of Israel, but then he turns to the Blessed Mother and his tone becomes somber speaking of suffering and sacrifice: this child will be a contradiction and a sword will pierce your heart.

This feast invites us to celebrate with Simeon that all prophecy has been fulfilled, while at the same time, it invites us to remember that Jesus was born to die as a sacrifice for our sins. (Pause)

For centuries this feast was also known as the Purification of the Virgin Mary, an event we also commemorate today. 

When a Jewish person had direct contact with blood, the person became unclean and he or she had to undergo religious rites to be purified. An example of this would be the Parable of the Good Samaritan where the priests did not help the dying man for fear of touching blood and becoming impure. And of course when women give birth, obviously they have contact with blood.  

The Book of Leviticus prescribed that forty days after giving birth a woman had to be ritually cleansed.  

Today, forty days after Christmas Day, we commemorate that the Blessed Mother faithfully followed the Law of Moses and was purified.  

She who was conceived pure, without the stain of sin, obediently offered the call for the sacrifice of two pigeons.

This feast invites us to ponder how the Blessed Mother faithfully followed the Law of Moses and went to the Temple with her son to be purified even though she did not need purification. An act of respect, obedience, and humility. (pause)

As if this feast didn’t have enough layers, there is one more.  
Today’s feast has also been called Candlemass throughout the centuries, a celebration of light (or candles).  

Traditionally candles are blessed on this day, followed by a procession in a darkened church, reminding us of Simeon’s words, that the child born on Christmas day is the “light of the nations.”

This feast invites us to recognize Jesus as the light that has come into the darkness to destroy sin and death. (Pause)

As you have heard, today, the one light of Christ is reflected from different angles and in different ways.  

The light that shines forth from the mystery that God has chosen to dwell among us cannot be contained.  

All is renewed, all is transformed, all things are different because God has become man.

The joy of knowing the Messiah, the sorrow of recognizing that he will be sacrificed, the blessedness of his mother and his perpetual light that dispels the darkness; all converge on this feast forty days after his birth.

The Church never ceases to proclaim the mystery that God has become man. The Church never ceases to proclaim that our God who created all things has emptied himself to become like one of his creatures.

As a candle offers itself as a sacrifice to give us pure light, ceasing to exist as its wax melts away, slowly and selflessly dying as it shines for others to have light, so too Our Savior is a light that offers itself in sacrifice so that others may have life.

Candles always accompany the altar of sacrifice, burning themselves to death as a sacrifice, reminding us of the One who died so that we could have life.

Now understanding the Gospel message a little more intimately, may we humbly and sincerely pray that the Lord help us to be candles of his light, dying to ourselves, our pride, our self-centeredness, and our greed, so that the light of Christ may shine ever so brightly within us and onto the world. Amen

Friday, December 27, 2019

100 days to Freedom is now available for order

The book is now available just in time for the New Year. Do you want 2020 to be a year of transformation? Are you ready to finally be the person God created you to be? Don't waste your money on the latest fad or weight loss gimmick. This whole program costs only $8.95 and will truly transform your life. In 100 days I lost 60 pounds, regained my physical health, deepened my spiritual life, and established healthy and holy habits. You will be amazed at the power of 100 days to Freedom. Order your workbook today!

Click here to order the book



Click here to order the book