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Deacon Dan's Homily 12-10-17

2 Advent B 2017

The Sacred Readings today offer us some comparison.

The first of which is the stark comparison between the words of Isiah and the words of Peter. Isaiah announces comfort, tenderness, and reward for suffering. Every time I hear these words I search out Handles great oratory. There the words are exhilarating. Isaiah is speaking to people in exile reminding them that nothing will stop the coming of their almighty god. Neither the height of the mountains, nor the depth of the valley or the breadth of the desert will keep God from coming. They are a people who have indeed suffered. They were torn from their homes and their sacred temple of Jerusalem had been destroyed. God’ knows their struggles and is rushing to lift them up. Isaiah, therefore, exhorts them to pronounce glad tidings, to ring out good news at the top of their voices. The trajectory is indeed positive.

Peter, on the other hand announces a dissolution by fire that will come quickly He tells us that the hea…

Deacon Greg's Homily 12-10-17

Prophets Provoke Presence
First, an Advent thematic overview...

Week One: Watch and Be Ready!
Week Two: Prepare the Way!
Week Three: Point to the Lord!
Week Four: Welcome the Lord!

These shoes of mine ran a Marathon! As unlikely as it seems, your Deacon ran today’s Rocket City Marathon in just over 5 hours! My Brother and a Team of Angels pushed me in what’s called a Racer’s Chariot!
This was an idea of my brother some time last Spring, and all he wanted to do was involve his brother in something that he loved to do. At first the idea seemed crazy, but then he found a local chapter of an organization who assists the disabled to be included in events such as this. Ainsley’s Angels was founded by the parents of a girl named Ainsley, who was disabled. They simply asked the crazy question, how can people like my daughter run in this race? Their efforts, the work of local volunteers, like our host Mitch, the vision of a guy like my brother, and the movement of the Holy Spirit helped me ru…

Deacon Greg's Homily 11-19-17

Happy Almost Thanksgiving... And we do have much to be thankful for!!

Adding to last week's image of Wisdom being resplendent, or attractive and impressive through being richly colorful, and hastening to meet us, welcoming us with solicitude, that is, with care and concern... Today she comes to us as a worthy wife and mother, sharing the challenge for us to stand in awe of her work! Her worthiness is defined in the same vain as the worthiness of an army, with great valor and courage! The description of course is rooted in the culture and time of the writer, but don't let the specifics limit the potential of how one can use their gifts and abilities to truly serve God with the same valor and courage!

Remember where you come from... This family of ours has made its share of mistakes, but Paul reminds us that we are indeed the people of God, the children of a light that has empowered us to do great things! Let's live like it! Even if we don't know the day or hour of the…

Deacon Dan's Homily 11-19-17

These last weeks of the liturgical year have us focusing on our preparation for the coming of the Lord. Whether it be the remembrance and the celebration of his first coming, throughout the Christmas season or his inevitable second coming, of which Paul reminds the Thessalonians in today’s Epistle.

Last week we heard the parable of the ten virgins- five wise and five foolish who await the bridegroom. From that Parable, we gleaned the necessity to be prepared during our waiting period for we know not how long the wait will be.

Today’s parable brings us the story of the three servants. A parable that is easily misunderstood.

First and foremost we must ask what the parable means by “his property?” The “property” in the parable is not merely personal wealth. If it were then this would be a lesson in financial entrepreneurship. It is NOT.

The property is not merely corporate wealth. If it was then the master is a CEO who is angry over a loss of profit. It is NOT.

If that is what it is NOT …

Deacon Greg's Homily 10-8-17

It seems that the invitation for special prayers are once again necessary. We pray for the victims and their families effected by Monday’s Las Vegas shooting. We pray for our country and the ongoing discussion on how we are to live together in peace. We pray for those in the path of another storm, and those who continue the effort to rebuild their communities after the previous ones.

This invitation to prayer isn’t just an invitation from Fr. Thomas, or myself, or from those asking for help, this is an invitation from today’s Word of God. This allows us to glimpse into another time, much like our own, where there was much confusion and need, and at the same time, much celebration and reassurance of the loving presence of God.

If the usual flair for reflecting on the Scripture is to highlight a motivational theme that calls us to do more, and be better at what we do, then today includes the reality of a heart-felt lament, and the consideration that with prayer, peace and peaceful ac…

Deacon Dan's Homily 10-8-17

Today’s Scriptures is replete with the imagery of the vineyard. Three texts, one from Isaiah, one form the Psalmist, and one from the evangelist Matthew, all share the vineyard image. It would be easy to assume that we should seek some sort of unified message. But the reality is that all three biblical authors use the superficial vineyard image for different purposes.

Isaiah focuses on the vineyard itself. Isaiah writes that “the lord’s vineyard is the house of Israel, the people of Judah.” Isaiah tells of the failure of the vineyard, the people, to produce useful grapes thus causing its own destruction. This was a pre-figurement of the Babylonian exile of the people of Judah. Easily we can relegate it to an historical account of that past event.

But we can also use it a means for self-evaluation. The church teaches that we make up the people of God. Individually we are a part of this great people, corporately drawn together. So two questions can be formulated. 1. Are we as individual…

Deacon Greg's Homily 10-1-17

After last week’s Parable of the Vineyard, it’s fair to pick up where we left off... The group who worked all day whined a little when the those who only worked for an hour got the same wage… IT’S NOT FAIR!!!!

First Reading from Ezekiel...

You say, "The LORD's way is not fair!" Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?

The argument here is that the Lord is asking us to follow his ways, tough as they may be, as compared to the ways of the time, where children were attached to the sins of their parents.

I guess you could say that there was s sense of “what the heck” in the air... I’m condemned any way, so why bother? The Lord wants us to know that EACH OF US is responsible for our choices, and therefore open to the rewards and consequences of our actions. There is no predisposition. We all start from the same place, and we all are given the same opportunity.

Gospel from Matthew...

'Son, go out and work in the vineyard to…

Deacon Greg's Homily 9-10-17

September 11th (16 Years - Monday)Remembrance of such milestones are crucial to healing and growth We develop phrases like 9/11 and name storms like Andrew, Fredrick, Donna, Hazel, Camille, Katrina, Harvey, and now Irma because in a weird way, we need them to be personal so as to never forget! But let’s not forget the nameless tragedies like the wildfires out west, earthquakes, tornados, and other natural disasters.  God doesn’t send natural disasters or use unspeakable tragedies to teach us a lesson! The lessons learned from such random events are seen in our readiness to RESPOND with faith, a faith that is shared and expressed in loving and genuine ways. Last weekend's and today's second collection is the least we can do to simply show our love and support for VICTIMS of flooding and monstrous high winds! Another thing we can do is lift them all up in prayer, so let us pray together in this moment of silence… THANK YOU.

Lydia’s Serenity Prayer: Lord, I'm not sure what t…

Deacon Dan's Homily 9-10-17

Part of my diaconal responsibility here at St. John is to assist couples who ponder the idea of getting married to one another. To do so we put them through a process. Some couples accept the process enthusiastically others place it on their list of to do. Arrange for the caterer, taste the cakes, buy the flowers, attend premarital counselling with Deacon Dan, get the dress fitting.

Dare say some benefit from the churches attempt to put them on a productive road others think they know all they can or want to know about marriage. C’est la vie.

In the preparatory process a tool is used called the FOCCUS inventory. FOCCUS assess not compatibility but degree of agreeability in various topic areas, Couples are then sent off to the Engaged Encounter weekend where they are presented with scenarios from various aspects of their future lives together. Then they return to me for a series of discussion about what they experienced.

With almost 100% predictability the topic covered in the EE tha…

Deacon Dan's Homily 8-13-17

The Sacred Scripture for this weekend, the 19th Sunday of ordinary time, offers a number of challenges for us. The first of which we face from the Book of Kings. It tells the tale of Elijah.

As background know that the prophet has just successfully destroyed the false god of Baal when he called upon the true God YHWH. Jezebel the Queen was not happy so she sent her army to search for and destroy Elijah. Elijah ran to the Holy Mountain of Horeb to seek protections from Lord Yahweh. In his call he expected God to respond in the traditional way. He expected God to make himself manifest in the earthquake, the wind and the fire- that was indeed God's preferential choice of manifestation in the past. But instead, God made his presence known with as soft whispering voice. Not what Elijah expected?

So the challenge before us is to access how we expect God to manifest Himself in our lives?

I dare say that most of us now expect him to do so as he did with Elijah. Softly and gently. We imagin…

Deacon Greg's Homily 8-13-17

Navigating Chaotic Waters…
(Note: Occasionally I write and present the Homily from a more bulleted outline... This is one of those times. Thanks! -GT)

A Deep Sea Fishing in the Gulf Family Vacation Year One: Awesome Deep Sea Fishing (Gulf smooth as glass)! Family Vacation Year Two: Recreate the magic of another deep sea fishing trip! Mistake: Cloudy Skies, A Few Sprinkles and Rough Water! Brother, Sister and I start out of the marina up in the crows nest! We All Got Sea Sick Before We’re Even Out of the Bay! Memory: Dad worked through the “green gills” and continued to Fish! After all, he had a lot invested in that trip, and “ENCOURAGED” us to come out and fish!  The Moral of the Story...
Be like DAD, and keep fishing through the chaos (and sickness!)


WE COULD FOCUS ON SYMBOLISM…

EARTHQUAKE - CHAOS, WHISPER = PRAYER

BOAT = CHURCH, WATER = WORLD, CHRIST = CALM


But I’d like to focus on our Call to be Prophets & Disciples in a Chaotic World!

DISCIPLE!

In Matthew’s Gospel, a call to disciples…

Deacon Dan's Homily 7-30-17

Homily – July 30, 2017 (17th Sunday of Ordinary Time - A)

Over the past week, I have begun recovering from shoulder surgery. I have plenty of time on my hand so I started a project of language learning. Using the app Duolingo, I am renewing my German, Spanish, French and Italian skills. In the process of recovery, both of my linguistic skill and arm function I was reminded that it is necessary to attend to a number of philological voices

For example, the therapist has frequently used her command voice telling me to relax while she passively puts my shoulder through motion. But therapist doesn't always command she also instructs. “You tore your subscapularis,” says Ashley, the therapist, proceeding to tell me its function

So while lying on the therapeutic bed being commanded and instructed I recalled how Jesus often times uses his command voice. Come-follow me- take –eat-forgive- love. To psalmist for today reminds us of the usefulness in following commands. He instructs us that …

Deacon Greg's Homily 7-30-17

Homily – July 30, 2017 (17th Sunday of Ordinary Time - A)

There’s a story told of a young woman who had been appointed President of the bank in which she worked. She'd never dreamed she would one day be president, much less at such a young age. So she approached the venerable Chairman of the Board and said, ''You know that I've just been appointed President. I was wondering if you could give me some advice.’'

The old man came back with just two words: ''right decisions!'' The young woman had hoped for a bit more than this, so she said, ''That's really helpful, and I appreciate it, but can you be more specific? How do I make right decisions?’'

The wise old man simply responded, ‘'Experience.''

The young woman said, ''Well, that's just the point of my being here. I don't have the kind of experience I need. How do I get it?’'

The wise, elderly chairman simply replied, ''Wrong decisions!’'

I wonder …

Deacon Dan's Homily 7-9-17

14 OT A 2017
The Gospel for today is very brief. Only six verses long, yet there is much contained in those verses. Much to be noticed, much to learn about Jesus and much to be applied to ourselves.

The first thing I noticed about the Gospel is that Jesus, in fact, is having three conversations.

I. In the first conversation the writer of the gospel, Matthew, begins by saying “Jesus exclaimed” noticed he did not say Jesus said, Jesus spoke or Jesus shared. “Jesus exclaimed” - to exclaim the means to shout out, loudly and vehemently. The content of his exclamation is addressed to the Father. It is a thanks giving for the Father’s gracious willfulness to reveal himself to the “little ones.” The uneducated, the simple everyday folk. This is not a discrediting of education and the attainment of knowledge. Rather it is an acknowledgement of the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not including the tomato in the fruit salad. It i…

Deacon Greg's Homily 7-9-17

Homily – July 9, 2017 (14th Sunday of Ordinary Time - A)
I want to be honest and share with you one of my own pet peeves in ministry… Too often, people disqualify themselves as disciples, or dare I say “good Catholics,” because they don't feel they have enough wisdom or knowledge. While I understand this is an important admission when it comes to being a teacher of calculus, or an expert in scientific truths of nuclear physics, or a doctor practicing internal medicine, but being a witness of this faith of ours does not require a license, or an “A” on the final exam.

In fact, to illustrate the point… The back pews are packed, while the front could use a few more brave souls! As the song says, “Be not afraid!” But to be fair to the back pews, a nice lady at the 11:30am Mass offered this on your behalf… The last shall be first!

But seriously… Here’s what qualifies us as Disciples: Do you remember the day that you first REALIZED that God is in your life, and Jesus is the real deal? …

Deacon Greg's Homily 6-11-17

Here's a riddle: What can you hear and feel, but not see or hold?

The wind, of course! (and Thunder as one parishioner told me on the way out...) 😁

In Greek it is Pneuma, and in Hebrew it is Rûah, each meaning "wind" and "spirit." Many even define it as "the breath of God," for as this wind and spirit enter a moment, something is always created out of the mystery!

The Breath of God comes to us from the Father...

The Rûah in Genesis depicts the moment of creation as "a mighty wind" sweeping over the waters. The Book of Ecclesiastes offers that, "Just as you do not know how the life breath enters the human frame in the mother’s womb, So you do not know the work of God, who is working in everything." The Prophet Ezekiel tells of the Lord saying to the dry bones in the desert, "Listen, [and] I will make breath enter you so you may come to life."

God has given us our life's breath, and he has entered our lives so that we…

Deacon Dan's Homily 6-11-17

I have been here at St. John’s since 1993. That is 24 years. I looked at my computer files and found 22 homilies I have delivered on this particular Solemnity. The Solemnity of the Holy Trinity. So it safe to assume that I have conveyed to you all the totality of what I understand about the Trinity. I have in the past explained the origins of the feast itself: I have in the past attempted to dissuade you from the futile attempt to comprehend the Trinity by telling you the Story of Augustine on the beach,; I have pointed out in the past the failure of the various metaphors applied to the Trinity. The Trinity is not like an egg, the trinity is not like water in its three states of existence, the Trinity is not even like the famed shamrock of the St. Patrick.

The Holy Trinity is the greatest of the Mysteries of God that have been revealed to us. As such it is unfathomable, unexplainable, but it is not unplumbed. Many a scholar and much ink has been spent over the millennia to do just…

Deacon Dan's Homily 5-21-17

Throughout the Season of Easter, you should have noticed that our first reading is a selection from the Acts of the Apostles. The Church intentionally brings us back to the origins of our faith. It does so not that we might glorify it in its pristine state. Rather it does so that we might be able to apply its principals

Principals that need to be imitated in our time and our moment in history. An example of which is the activity of one of the early church’s prime character. Philip! We met him for the first time last week. We met him not once but twice. He was introduced to us as one of the 7 proto-deacons of the Church. He along with Stephen Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch, were selected to be the servants of the community, they all received the laying on of hands.

We meet him a second time in last week’s gospel. Recall, Jesus had just taught the disciple that he and the father were one, that when you see Jesus you see the father. Philip, we can imagine …

Deacon Greg's Homily 5-14-17

Note: Dan and I agreed that while preaching about Mother's Day was not the purpose of this particular Homily, it was appropriate and fun to cryptically include something about "M.O.M."  Look for it below!
This Mother's Day offers a unique opportunity to celebrate with something more than flowers, or breakfast in bed, for yesterday marked the 100th Anniversary of the First Apparition of the Blessed Mother to three young children near Fatima. Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta were entrusted with a series of messages that were meant to challenge godless ways, during a time when the world was being torn apart by war and sin.

Yesterday, Pope Francis canonized two of the three seers of Fatima. Saints Francisco and Jacinta. His homily included a wonderful declaration, that is quite fitting for today… “We have a Mother. Clinging to her like children, we live in the hope that rests on Jesus.” But he also stressed the very sobering reality that still challenges our world toda…