New Address for Blog

This blog was created in 2010. It has existed at this website address since then until now (3/26/2024). With the redesign of my website, going forward all posts will be at this new address:

The new address includes all past blogs as well as future blogs. You can subscribe to receive emails from the new blog address by entering your email address in the subscribe box at the top and then clicking subscribe.

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Fr. Jeff

When Democracy Breaks Down

As I said in my reflection on Sunday, Pilate, as the local government official, allowed Jesus to be crucified “to satisfy the crowd.”  He offered to release Jesus as it was his custom to release one prisoner on this feast.  The “mob” did not want Jesus released.  They asked for Barabbas instead.

On Good Friday we will hear from the Passion of Jesus according to the Gospel of John.  When they brought Jesus to him, Pilate asked, ‘“What charge do you bring against this man?”  They answered and said to him, “If he were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.”

They had no charge to offer.  Why?  Because Jesus had broken no Roman law.   Jesus had broken no Jewish law.  What had He done to lead to his arrest?  The answer actually lies in what He had not done.  He had not done what they expected of the Messiah.  Pilate questioned Jesus.  Pilate declared three times, “I find no guilt in him.”  Ultimately, Pilate allowed Jesus to be crucified.  Why?  “To satisfy the crowd.

I find this very saddening.  We use the term “mob mentality” in such situations.  Unfortunately, it continues today.  I think of the riots following such tragic events as the death of George Floyd.  Legitimate protests were taking over by the “mob mentality” (see my article then “How Do We Look at the World?”).

Do you allow the crowd to control you?

You probably answered no.  Are you sure?  Are there times when you have “gone along” with your friends, doing something you didn’t want to do? 

How about what you think is right and wrong?  How much do you really think for yourself?  Do you make an informed decision or do you accept what people say to get along with them?

Jesus does not call us to get along with people.  In fact, He knows there will be division (see Luke 12:51).  Jesus calls us to truth, the truth that will set us free (see John 8:32).  We need to ask ourselves where do we go for truth? 

The answer should be God.

Where do you go for truth?  Is it textbooks, the internet, government officials, friends, or your faith?

Relativism says there is no truth.  There is.  It comes from God.  Unfortunately, many reject God today while others say God exists but do not grasp the truth that God offers us.  Society is losing the sense of how living God’s Commandments leads us to a good life (see Deuteronomy 4:4-6). 

The focus has become centered on “freedom.”  Relativism says people must be free to do whatever they want.  From the overemphasized focus on freedom, some people say that they are against a particular behavior but they won’t force their beliefs on others.  For example, a person might say they would never have an abortion but others must make that choice for themselves. 

If you feel that way, I encourage you to ask yourself why you are against abortion.  I see abortion as the killing of an innocent child.  Because I believe this, I know I must stand up for that innocent life.  I must be a voice for that innocent child in the womb.

Whatever you are for or against, ask yourselves why you have chosen this position.  Is it because you have studied the issue, including what our Catholic faith says, or is it because it is what others around you say?

This is where democracy breaks down.

Democracy is based on majority rule.  However, we do not get to determine what is right and wrong.  God does.  Are you a friend of Caesar or a friend of God?

Just because something is common, doesn’t make it right.  I remember when I was growing up, there was an expression, “if everyone jumped off a bridge, would you?”  Bad behavior starts with a few people doing something and it spreading.  Paul writes, “Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough?” (1 Corinthians 5:6).  Another expression is “one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.”

Do we need to tolerate others (see my article “Tolerance, Hate Speech, and Dialogue”)?  Yes, in the sense that we are called to love everyone.  However, this does not mean we can’t speak up for our beliefs.  In fact, if we love someone and see them sinning, we need to help point them to the truth.  This is biblical.  You can read it in Ezekiel 3:17-21.  When we see someone doing something that we know is wrong, we must first ask God if He wants us to say something.  Then, if we are called to say something, we need to ask God to give us the words that He wants us to say and for the courage to say those words.

Regarding freedom, I agree with Pope John Paul II when he said, “Every generation of Americans needs to know that freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought” (“Homily of his holiness John Paul II” during his Apostolic Journey to America. Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore. October 8, 1995. 7.).  I firmly believe that what we ought to do is determined by God.  Why?  I do not believe this because I am afraid of God.  I do it because I know God loves me (see John 3:16-17 and John 15:13) and wants what is best for me.  After all, Jesus died for me.

Please pray.  Please pray that God’s Truth be known by all.  Please pray for those are called by God to be a voice crying out in the desert.  Please pray for our church to always remain rooted in God’s Truth. 

It is not for us to declare what is right and wrong.  It is for us to discern what God has set as right and wrong.  Jesus is the way and the truth and the life (see John 14:6).  Listen to Jesus and follow him.


Fr. Jeff

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, Year B

Today we celebrate Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, more simply known to many as “Palm Sunday.”  We hear two gospels today.  We begin Mass with the blessing of palms and a gospel recalling Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem.

He receives a royal welcome, with “many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches” as they cried out “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” 

Do you give Jesus a royal welcome into your life?  Do you invite him into your heart everyday or do you hold him off to the side?

The second gospel is read at the normal point in Mass after the other readings.  It is the story of the suffering that Jesus went through for us

Jesus was arrested by the Jews and handed over to Pilate.  As the government official, Pilate thought he was in control.  “He knew that it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed” Jesus over to him.  Yet, he allowed Jesus to be crucified, guilt by association.  Why did Pilate allow Jesus to be crucified?  Because he wished “to satisfy the crowd.

Lest you think it was the Jews who were in control, we must remember who Jesus is.  He “was in the form of God and did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.  Rather, he emptied himself.”  He willingly left his place in Heaven seated at the right hand of the Father to come to save us.  He humbled himself, submitting himself not to the Jews but obedient to the Father.  His obedience, his suffering saves us from our sins.

Pilate was not in control.  The Jews were not in control.  Jesus knew all that would happen.  He sent his disciples to get the colt and it happened as He said it would. 

Jesus fulfills what we hear in today’s reading from Isaiah as the suffering servant.    He speaks “to the weary a word that will rouse them.”  He knew that God his Father was with him and would raise him up.

They would mock him.  Our psalm today prophesizes how Jesus would be mocked, “He relied on the LORD: let him deliver him, let him rescue him, if he loves him.”  Jesus’ opponents would say that his Crucifixion would prove that He was not the Messiah because they (incorrectly) thought the Messiah would be victorious in earthly terms. 

Here I think back to the first reading at daily Mass this Wednesday.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were told they would be thrown into the fire if they did not worship the (false) god of King Nebuchadnezzar.  They replied, “There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you in this matter.  If our God, whom we serve, can save us from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us!  But even if he will not, know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue that you set up.”  They trusted in God, whatever He did.  Do you?

Jesus’ Passion fulfilled the prophecies that said his hands and feet would be pierced and his garments divided.  God always had a plan.  God knew what had to be for us to be saved.

Jesus knew the plan.  He knew how He would enter Jerusalem for the final time.  He knew how He would celebrate the Passover at the Last Supper.  He knew Judas would betray him and that Peter would deny him three times.

Knowing this, Jesus could have left his disciples before they betrayed and denied him.  He did not.  Instead, before his arrest He gave those who would betray him the same gift He gives us at the altar today, the Eucharist.  It is the greatest gift.  It is the Body and Blood of Jesus.  It is the sacrifice of Jesus’ life offered on the Cross for us.  It is food for our soul.

Jesus knows what it is like to suffer.  On the Cross, He cried out, “My god, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  Why?  Why did God our Father allow Jesus to suffer in this way?  To save us.

When Jesus was arrested, the faith of his disciples was shaken and they scattered.  Do you run away from your faith or to it when you suffer?

Peter said his faith would not be shaken even if he had to die.  Yet, he did hide and deny Jesus three times.  Yet, in the end Peter too would be martyred for his faith.

After Jesus died on the Cross, it was a centurion, not a Jews, who said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”  Yet not all the Jews rejected Jesus.  It was “Joseph of Arimathea, a distinguished member of the council, who saw that Jesus had a proper burial.  He believed in Jesus and honored him even in death.  We do well to honor our loved ones in our funeral customs today

Today begins Holy Week.  There is so much to think about in what we celebrate this week.  I encourage to spend some time thinking about what the events in Jesus’ life this week mean for us.  In doing so, you honor Jesus’ words to his disciples, “Remain here and keep watch with me.”  I encourage you to come to Mass on Holy Thursday and to “keep watch for one hour” afterwards.  Come on Good Friday and again recall what Jesus did for us.  Come on Easter and hear the news that Jesus Christ is Risen.

Let “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

Hidden Depths of the Mass #33

I am Not Worthy to Receive You

Following the Sign of Peace, we come to the Lamb of God.  The words said by the priest, “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world,” come directly from John 1:29.  John the Baptist proclaims Jesus to be “The Lamb of God.”  He is the new Passover lamb.  In sacrificing his life for us, He becomes the lamb by which our sins are forgiven.

We respond, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”  The Catholic Church does not make these words up.  In this case, the words we say come from Matthew 8:8 and Luke 7:6-7.  Here we stand risen, made worthy by the sacrifice of Jesus.  We know Jesus can heal us of our sins.

(The previous articles in this series can be found on my website at

My New Blog is Ready

A couple of weeks ago, I introduced my new website and blog (see “A New Look to My Website”). At that time, while you could view the new blog (, the subscribe feature wasn’t working correctly. So, I have been posting new articles to both my new and old blog.

I am happy to say the subscribe option is finally working correctly! Thanks be to God! So, I will be transitioning from posting here on my “old blog.” If you have been subscribed to my old blog, you will need to sign up for the new one to continue receiving posts. You can find the subscribe box on the new blog at

I will stop posting on my old blog once everyone has had a change to subscribe to the new blog.


Fr. Jeff

Does Anyone Listen?

Do you ever feel like people aren’t really listening to what you have to say?  You try to present your perspective but you feel you either they weren’t listening or you must have not explained it well. 

We might do well to ask ourselves if the other person might feel the same way about us.  Do they feel like we aren’t listening to them?

This can happen between individuals, within or between small groups, and it can happen, it does happen, on a world scale. 

I’ve commented in recent articles that I wonder if anyone was really listening when the Alabama State Supreme Court said “embryos are children” (see “There is Hope in Alabama” and “There is Still Hope”).

In the debate for abortions regarding cases of rape, people will say, “rape is a terrible thing.”  They think that this justifies abortion in the cases of rape.  Do they listen to what they are saying?  Yes, rape is a terrible thing.  It should never happen.  I believe abortion is also a terrible thing that should never happen.  It seems obvious to me that two wrongs don’t make a right.  Do they listen to their own words, let alone what I say? 

They say they are pro-choice but what about my choice?  How come I can’t say no to my tax dollars being used to provide abortions?  What about the choice of a health care worker to not participate in abortions if they are pro-life?

Then we turn to the conflict between Israel and Hamas.  Does Israel listen to what the rest of the world is saying?  Many countries have called for a permanent cease fire.  Does the leadership of Israel listen to what they say themselves when they say success is to wipe out Hamas?

Then there is Russia.  Does Putin listen to other nations regarding the attacks on Ukraine?

This is a topic I have written about before in my article “Seeking Real Dialogue.”   This article flowed from my reading of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Fratelli Tutti.   Pope Francis wrote, “Approaching, speaking, listening, looking at, coming to know and understand one another, and to find common ground: all these things are summed up in the one word “dialogue” “(Fratelli Tutti, 198, emphasis added).

What about discourse between political parties?  How much does each side really listen to the other side?  I am not talking about giving into the other side.  I am concerned with listening to the other side, determining the validity of their points, and doing our best to address those points while holding fast to what our faith teaches.

The Catholic Church is not exempt from the struggles of seeking real dialogue.  Even within the church, polarization is on the rise.  Do people within the Church listen to one another?  Here, one example is the communication between the Vatican and the Catholic bishops of Germany regarding the German Synodal Way.

Of course, the one we must need to most listen to is God.  God is the one who is all-knowing.  We must pray that we see as God sees (see 1 Samuel 16:7).  We know Jesus to be “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).  We know we can trust in Jesus because He willingly laid down his life for us (see John 15:13). 

Real dialogue is not easy.  I wish it was.

When the other, whether it be an individual, small group, or a nation does not change their position to agree with ours, we feel like they have not listened.  When it is between individuals or in small groups, we may feel personally wounded.  They may feel the same way towards us.

In some cases, people really aren’t listening.  They have their own “truth” and are sure they are right.  However, we need to realize that just because they didn’t change their position, doesn’t mean they weren’t listening.  Sometimes, they did really listen but reached a different conclusion.

We need to pray that everyone really does listen.  We pray that everyone first listens to God.  We pray for real discernment on how what God has taught us fits the present situation.  We pray that we really listen to what others have to say so that we can address their valid points.  We pray that is God’s Will we seek above all else.

I would like to end with the following prayer to know God’s Will from St. Therese of Lisieux (as found on found at

Prayer to Know God’s Will

Lord grant that I may always allow myself to be guided by You,
always follow your plans, and perfectly accomplish your holy will. 
Grant that in all things, great and small, today
and all the days of my life,
I may do whatever You may desire of me. 
Help me to respond to the slightest promptings of your grace,
so that I may be your trustworthy instrument. 
May your will be done in time and eternity,
by me, in me, and through me.  Amen.


Fr. Jeff

5th Sunday of Lent, Year B – Homily

5th Sunday of Lent, Year B
Jeremiah 31:31-34
Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 14-15 (12a)
Hebrews 5:7-9
John 12:20-33
March 17, 2024

The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.

God had previously formed a covenant with the Israelites when He led them out from slavery in Egypt towards the promised land.  The Israelites responded, “All that the Lord has said, we will hear and do” (Exodus 24:7).

The Israelites pledged to follow the covenant that God had formed with them but they instead they broke the covenant.  They sinned in disobeying the Lord. 

This covenant required obedience to the Law.  If you kept the commandments, you would be saved.  It was not long before the people began sinning.  God knew this would happen.  He prescribed sacrifices for their sins. 

God offers a new covenant in Jesus.  God did not throw out the Law.  Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17).  God has given us a law that is good for us.  We do well to follow it. 

However, our salvation centers not on a technical following of the Law.   Our salvation is now rooted in Jesus’ Crucifixion.  In the garden, Jesus laments with “prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears.”  He didn’t want to suffer his Passion.  He cried out, “Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will” (Mark 14:36).  Jesus submitted his obedience to our Father’s Will and thus, “he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

Even in this world, our lives are best when we follow what the Lord has taught us.  When we don’t follow it, we sin.  When we sin, we can turn our hearts to Jesus, who in his compassion, has died for us, so that our offenses can be wiped out, washed in the blood of Jesus.  When we repent, we ask God to create a clean heart in us and renew a steadfast spirit within us. 

We can’t do this on our own.  We don’t need to.  It is God’s will and in his power to cleanse us and save us.

Do you want to be saved?

You might say, “of course.”

Are you willing to submit yourself to the Lord?

Jesus says, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat, but it dies, it produces much fruit.

Are you willing to die to your sins, are you willing to die to worldly things in order to receive the grace of your salvation?

God has already placed within you the seed of faith for your salvation.  The Lord had said, “I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Here lies our conscience.  People have a right to follow their conscience (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1782).  However, this does not mean that can do whatever our “inner voice” says.  Conscience involves more than just a general feeling.  We need to allow God to bring outward what He has planted in our heart.  We need to have a well-formed conscience (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1783-1784). 

It is not the world that should form our conscience.  Remember, as Peter said, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).  (For more on conscience, please see my presentation, Where Do We Go for Truth?, and my article, “Do We Listen to our Conscience?”.)

We need to do the best we can in having a well-formed conscience and following it.  Yet we may fall short.  Then we rely on the Lord’s words, “I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.”  It’s not that our sins no longer matter.  It is that God wipes them away when we submit ourselves to his will.

God does not abandon us to sin.  He does give us free will.  We make the best use of our free will when we choose to die to the things of this world to live in accord with the two greatest commandments, to love God and to love our neighbor.

Some people want God to give them a place in Heaven but they want to live their own way in this world.  They want the reward but they want complete freedom. 

We cannot save ourselves.  Jesus came for this purpose, to save us.  His obedience to the Father is “the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

The Hidden Depths of the Mass #32

The Sign of Peace

Having celebrated the Sacrifice of Jesus in the Eucharist, after praying the Lord’s Prayer, we offer a Sign of Peace.  On several occasions Jesus offered peace to his disciples.  The words said by the priest here come from John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”

Jesus continued, “Not as the world gives do I give it to you.”  The Sign of Peace we offer to each other is not a worldly “hello, how are you doing.”  It is not a worldly peace we offer.  We are expressing our “ecclesial communion” (GIRM, 82).  We do not move around the church like at a social hour.  Rather, we let the Peace of Christ spread out from one to another after the priest first says, “The peace of the Lord be with you always.”

(The previous articles in this series are available online at

How the Family Feels

I don’t know how many funerals I have done since I was ordained a priest almost seventeen years ago.  Depending on the parish, I have done anywhere from ten to fifty funerals a year (including Masses and services without a Mass).  It would not be hard for it to become routine.  I don’t want it to be routine. 

There have been funerals where I didn’t know the deceased person at all or the family.  In some of those, someone in the family started coming back to church after the funeral.  Others I never saw again. 

There are also funerals where I knew the person as a member of the parish.  Some were a familiar face in the parish.  Sometimes I knew a family member but not the deceased themselves.

No matter what category the deceased person or their family fell in, one thing is certain.  They are all children of God.  Each deserves to be treated with dignity and compassion.  Funeral ministries may be repetitive as a base level, but funeral ministry should never become purely routine. 

God reminded me of this during the past week.  One of my aunts, my mother’s oldest sister, passed away.  I had visited her in the hospital last month to anoint her and offer all the prayers for the dying.  Yesterday I presided and preached at her funeral at the church where she had been a parishioner for many years, St. Catherine of Siena.  It is the church where I was baptized in 1970 and confirmed in 1981 (we had lived elsewhere in between).  After the funeral Mass, we laid her to her place of rest in same row at the church cemetery where my grandparents (her parents), my mother, and a grandson of this aunt who died at birth are buried.

Even the inclusion of my aunt’s name in the Prayers of the Faithful at Sunday Mass in the parish I serve was different.  This weekend we had six people included.  I had never met five of them. 

Does the family experience emotions at the death of a loved one?

Yes, and I know what this is like.  We all need to grieve and we each grieve differently (see my article, “Allowing Ourselves to Grieve”).  However we grieve, it is important and necessary that we allow ourselves to grieve.  It is natural and it can be healing.

Traditionally, there are calling hours before the funeral Mass.  “After” the Mass, there is a burial.  I put “after” in quotations because the burial is seen as part of the funeral by the Catholic Church.  You may have noticed that there is no final blessing at the end of the Mass in church when the burial immediately follows.  The final blessing comes at the end of the burial, the Mass and burial seen as one.  Then, the family often gathers for a luncheon (see my articles, “Why Do We Celebrate Funerals?” and a Sunday homily I offered in 2017 on our Catholic funeral customs.)

The experience of these funeral customs is different when the deceased is someone I know.  Even the planning for the funeral is different.  When I don’t know the deceased, an important part of meeting with the family is finding out about the person to personalize the funeral.  In this case, I knew my aunt.  The conversation was different.  Actually, a deacon who is a friend of her family did the official meeting but I did spend time on the phone with one of her daughters discussing the funeral.

It is becoming less common for families to have calling hours.  Sometimes it is because the family doesn’t think anyone will come because all the friends of the deceased have already died or might be unable to come because of their own health.  However, we shouldn’t think the calling hours are without purpose and can be readily omitted.  In the look at the funeral book for Catholic funerals, the first ritual you find in the book are vigil prayers for the calling hours.  The funeral book talks about the calling hours as an opportunity for others to offer comfort and sympathy.  This is the fourth Spiritual Work of Mercy, to comfort the sorrowful (see Isaiah 40:1). 

Generally, the calling hours are the day before the funeral.  Now, people are starting to have calling hours right before the funeral.  While this can be convenient, think of the person who has to work that day.  Offering the calling hours the night before gives them an opportunity to offer their sympathy to the family and a final goodbye to the deceased if they know them directly.

Offering the funeral service is part of the seventh Spiritual Work of Mercy, to pray for the living and the dead.  Here we can ask the question, “who is the funeral for.” 

I think people today often see the funeral as only for the loved ones still living.  Certainly, we gather to offer those who are living comfort and we pray for them to be comforted by God in the hope of the resurrection, knowing that Jesus died for our sins.  This is a very important part of our funeral customs.  However, it is not the only reason.  We pray for the deceased to be welcomed into Heaven.  Our prayers do not change how God will judge for their sins.  That is between them and God.  Our prayers can be of aid for their time in Purgatory.  Yes, the Catholic Church still believes in Purgatory (see my article, “Purgatory as a Gift That Gets Us in Shape for Heaven.”)

At the funeral service, we have Bible readings that speak of how the Christians are called to live and what God offers us for eternal life.  These words offer us hope in knowing that lived is changed in death, not ended.

Then we go to the cemetery to lay our loved one to rest in a dignified place (see Tobit 1:16-18).  This fulfills the seventh Corporal Work of Mercy, to bury the dead.  We don’t randomly discard the body.  While cremation is now allowed, our Catholic faith still holds that we don’t separate the ashes by dividing them among family members to wear as jewelry nor are we to scatter the ashes out of respect for the remains of our loved one.  It saddens me to hear that some people today refer to what is done with the deceased body after death as “disposal of the body.”  Disposal?  The body is not a piece of trash.  It is part of who our lived one is, body and soul (see my blog articles on new methods of “disposing of the body” “Respecting the Dead” and “More on Respecting the Dead”).

After my aunt’s burial, we gathered for a luncheon and shared fellowship along with food.  My aunt was a good cook.  I wish we would have been eating something she cooked rather than having celebrated her funeral yesterday.

Our Catholic funeral customs offer comfort for the mourners and prayers for the deceased.  It can also be a time of closure.  I don’t know what families and friends do when an obituary says there are no services.  How does one have any hope in that or find any closure?

Before concluding, throughout the article I have provided links to articles I have written about Catholic funeral customs and praying for the deceased.  You can find a complete list of all the articles I have written on funerals on my website at


Fr. Jeff

4th Sunday of Lent, Year B

Last week we hear God giving the Ten Commandments to his people (Exodus 20:1-17).  God made it clear to his people how He expected them to live.  It’s not just what He wanted.  God knows that the Ten Commandments are good for us.

While God knew that the Ten Commandments are good for his people, it wasn’t long before they began breaking them.  God’s people have a history of sin over the centuries.  We hear of their sins in today’s first reading from 2 Chronicles, “In those days, all the princes of Judah, the priests, and the people added infidelity to infidelitypracticing all the abominations of the nations and polluting the LORD’s temple which he had consecrated in Jerusalem.”

Do you follow the Ten Commandments or do you sin?

God had not given the Ten Commandments only to abandon his people.  He wanted to help them.  “Early and often did the LORD, the God of their fathers, send his messengers to them.”  God sent the prophets as his messengers to warn them of their sins and call them to a better way of life. 

Why did God send his messengers?  Because “he had compassion on his people.”  God loves his people.

How did the people respond through the centuries as God sent his messengers?  “They mocked the messengers of God, despised his warnings, and scoffed at his prophets.

Does the same thing still not happen today?  When someone offers the gospel to people today are they not sometimes mocked for their faith?  At times, some people scorn us for our Christian beliefs.  Other people simply ignore the warnings that God offers them.  Sin continues…

In the time 2 Chronicles was written, the sin of the people had gotten so bad that God allowed them to fall in battle against their enemies.  Their enemies even “tore down the walls of Jerusalem.”  Yet, the people initially failed to understand why God allowed this.  They did not recognize their own sins.

Are we any different today?  Do we recognize our own sins and repent?  Do we recognize the sins of society and point our society back to God?

Today’s first reading ends with a few verses of what happens after the Exile is over.  “The LORD inspired King Cyrus” with a message and charged him to build a new house for the Lord in Jerusalem.  King Cyrus does it.  Good things happen when people listen to the Lord.  The first temple had been destroyed because the Israelites did not listen to God.  A new temple was built when King Cyrus, who was not a Jews, listened to the Lord and fulfilled what God asked of him.

As today’s psalm says, “By the streams of Babylon we sat and wept…How could we sing a song of the LORD in a foreign land.”  In exile, God’s people lamented their defeat.  From their lament, many of them came to realize their sins and repented. 

I pray this happens today.  Society needs to recognize its sins.  Sins that kill innocent babies.  Sins that mask ending the life of the terminally ill early as false compassion.  Sins of greed and thirst for power that leads to wars.  Sins that do not respect our own bodies and/or the bodies of others.  Sins of omission in not standing up for the poor.  I pray that God opens all our eyes to the sins of our world today.

Is there hope?  Yes!

Paul writes to the Ephesians in today’s second reading, “God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for useven when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ — by grace you have been saved.”  We may be sinners but God still loves us.  While we must repent and allow God to change us, our salvation does not come from our own works.  “It is the gift of God.”

How does God present this gift to us?

We find the answer in today’s gospel (specifically John 3:16-17), “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Sonso that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”

This is what provides our hope.  Jesus makes salvation possible.

Still some people don’t repent.  They like the pleasures of their sins.  They keep to their wicked ways.  They do not accept the Light of Christ.  “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed.  But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.”

In Baptism we receive the Light of Christ.  Embrace the Light and let it shine through you to others.


Fr. Jeff