Hi everyone - here's my homily for the FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT - March 18, 2018.  The readings for today's Mass can be found at:  Thanks as always for reading and sharing this blog on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and other Social media platforms - and for your feedback and comments.  Hope you have a great week!  God Bless - Fr Jim

    Not too long ago, I read a compelling story about the legendary whistleblower of police corruption, Frank Serpico.  Some of you might recognize the name; Serpico is an iconic film released in the 1970’s starring Al Pacino - it was an adaptation of his true life story.  Frank Serpico was a police officer in the NYPD who witnessed some of his fellow officers committing acts of violence, taking payoffs, and participating in other forms of police corruption. Disturbed by what he had seen, he decided to expose them all.  Not surprisingly, that doesn’t go down well with people who could be impacted by his decision.  He is harassed and threatened by his peers.  He also becomes a divisive figure in the department.  All of this begins to take toll on his personal life.  After receiving constant death threats, he is shot in the face during a drug bust on the job, which almost costs him his life, an incident that all these years later, still is very suspicious.

    Most police officers are courageous, upright individuals - which is why this story was so shocking and complex.  Did some of the more upstanding cops keep their mouths shut out of fear?  How could they find themselves falling into some of the same criminal acts as some of their colleagues?  How was it that Frank Serpico would be one of the lone fighters who had the gumption to come forward and call out these bad actors, knowing full well that this was a risky, career jeopardizing and life threatening move. 

    In a recent interview, he shared a poignant story from his upbringing that he saw as part of the answer.  When growing up, young Frank Serpico was working with his father in their family owned shoe-repair shop.  A young cop came in and had his shoes shined by the father, only to walk out without paying or even saying “Thank You.”  The next time the officer came in, the father demanded payment as soon as he walked through the door.  Afterwards, he said to his young son, “Never run when you’re right.” 

    Frank Serpico sees this incident as a formative one... It’s not like he didn’t know what he was facing in terms of taking on this corruption.  It’s not like he was shocked by the reaction, the threats, and the harassment as he exposed a scandalous act which, in time, would play a key role in turning the whole department around and reestablish trust and integrity.  But those words had a weight to it and obviously stayed with him during the times when he was struggling and had doubts about his principles, when he doubted, and when he wanted to give up... “Never Run when you’re right.” 

    That line came to mind when praying with this Gospel.  Because tonight - we hear that Jesus is very much aware of what is about to come upon Him.  “The hour has come” He says... “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies”, he prophetically explains that ‘the hour’ will demand the pouring out of his very life.   Knowing the depths of pain that this cross will cost, Jesus admits that he is “troubled” - However, he too has the emboldening encouragement of His Father who reminds His son that He has glorified Jesus already - and will indeed glorify him again when Jesus is lifted up from the earth on the Cross. 

    Unlike the other three Gospels, one of the goals of St. John (who we hear from tonight) is to reveal that Jesus is none other than God.  This is why he includes other incidents that the other Gospel writers omit (like turning water into wine at Cana) and omits other things that were included by other Gospel writers.  For example, all 4 Gospel writers,  in some manner, shape or form, point out that Jesus was fully aware of what was awaiting him - His betrayal, His arrest, His abandonment, torture, and ultimately death in one of the most grotesque manners of all times.  Yet, unlike the other Gospels which depict Jesus entering the Garden of Gethsemane, where He agonizingly prays with God the Father that “this cup would pass away” - sweating blood, his anxiety was so deep and real... In today’s Gospel, we have John’s equivalent of the Agony in the Garden - and it didn’t sound too agonizing.  Jesus knows what’s happening and why it’s happening. The most we hear of his distress is being “troubled”, which he quickly dismisses and moves forward. Just as quickly, the voice of God the Father is heard, reaffirming that He has glorified and will glorify Jesus again.

    That can leave us with the impression that things somehow became easy for Jesus because He knew He was fully God.  That the Passion, the Cross that He knows is coming towards Him - and knows deep in His heart that will result in the most ultimate of glorification of being “lifted up” on the cross that would save the entire world. Quite poetically, Jesus tells us, “I will draw everyone to myself.”  It is easy to assume that hearing the words of the loving Father reassured Jesus that things would somehow improve for him. 

    Just because Jesus has that knowledge and awareness; just because Jesus knows this was the Father’s most perfect plan for reversing humanity’s imperfections doesn’t mean it was any easier for Him to endure what He had to endure.  We hear this confident, glorious prelude to the Passion as a formative foundation to encountering, embracing and taking up the Cross.  This Gospel episode was done for Jesus’ first listeners as well as for all of us 2000 years later: to not lose hope in the sight of the Cross; to not give into despair when Jesus is consumed on it. To not crumble in fear and uncertainty at the seeming finality of what happens to Jesus.

   We begin to realize, even more so during the last two weeks of Lent, that God the Father promises to glorify us when we embrace the cross and trust His decisions.  It’s difficult to take an honest look at the sinful areas of our lives, do a thorough examination of our dormant conscience and open up our hearts to the Lord as we enter the confessional.  It’s hard to confront the ways my ego likes to go about things, the way my self-centeredness hurts others.  It’s risky to be vulnerable and offer ourselves in service to those who are unable or unwilling to do for themselves.  Christianity is hard.  And it’s true; the world around us seems less inclined to support the call of Christ to embrace these and other crosses. To see that glory does come and will come -when we do. 

    Yet, we who are here, are blessed enough to know the everlasting truth of this Gospel message despite how hard it is.  We know that waiting patiently for the Lord to make all things new is something that our quick fix world is rarely able to do.  But after the Passion, after the Cross, Jesus’ glory, His resurrection, His plan of making all things new await those who have the patience to trust in His love for us.  And so, we too are inspired to remind ourselves - “never run when you’re right.”

JOHN 3:16 - - WHAT'S THAT?

Hi everyone.  Here's my homily for the FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT - MARCH 11, 2018.  The readings for today can be found at .  As always, my thanks for reading blog, sharing this on twitter, facebook, reddit, etc. and all your comments and feedback.  Have a great week - God Bless, Fr. Jim

  While Tim Tebow’s pretty well known for his public witness and expressions of faith, not too long ago, he shared an interesting story that I had never heard of before.  The 30 year old who has played football both in college and in the NFL (and is now playing Major League Baseball for the Mets) talked about something seemingly random that he did that had nothing to do with sports.  As he and his teammates from the University of Florida during his Junior year were getting ready for one of the biggest games of their season, he noticed that different guys were putting different eye blacks under their eyes.  Rather than simply putting a black strip there to reduce the glare from the sun while on the field, they would write little messages like “Hi Mom”; “I love you” to their girlfriends or something similarly personal.  Tim said he thought to himself it would be cool to write something inspirational or encouraging.  So he was thinking maybe I’ll write “God Bless You” but then decided to put “Philippians 4:13" which points to the passage in scripture saying I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me which he saw as something perfect for him as a devout Christian playing a tough sport.    After the Gators defeated Tennessee in that game, and the team kept winning games (and Tebow kept wearing the eye black) of course Florida fans started assuming that this was the secret for their success on the field and fans started putting the same eye black with Philippians 4:13 on it hoping the team would continue to succeed.

    As they were preparing for the championship game at the end of the year, and Tim was getting ready to go on the field, he said that he felt God had put on his heart that he should change the verse.  Which for sports fanatics is almost unheard of...  Sports fans can get incredibly superstitious... wearing ball caps inside out and thinking that will somehow assist the team in “rallying” from a deficit.  So here he’s had this incredible run, this incredible season and now he’s going to change the eye black?  Tebow acknowledges that this was probably going to be the biggest audience on national television that he would play in front of, so since the last passage had received a good amount of attention and press this was a perfect opportunity to share something else from the word of God.  So what did he pick?  John 3:16.  Which was just in the Gospel we heard proclaimed.  Why?  Listen to the words from that passage again:
    For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish, but might have eternal life

    In that one sentence from scripture, John 3:16 reveals to us the heart of God,
    the mission of Jesus Christ and the greatest of hopes that you and I have as Christians.
    -we don’t believe in a pagan-type of god (or gods), who acts arbitrarily for their own amusement...that we need to make some bizarre sacrifices too in the hopes of appeasing it so it won’t smote us or disfavor us.
    - we don’t believe in a god who threw this creation into existence,- and then he has nothing more to say or do with us.
    - we don’t have a god that we must live in fear of or feel unworthy of approaching...
    In Jesus Christ all of those theories, notions, beliefs are shattered. 

Because God so loved the world...
God so loved you and me...
God so loved everyone of us who lives and moves  that He is constantly rooting for us, reaching out to us, seeking us, coming to us in His son Jesus Christ all with that deeply rooted hope and desire in His Heart – let’s just pause here for a second, and realize we’re hitting the deepest desire of the Heart of God, which is –  that after seeing all the illusions, passing fads, and broken promises of the  world that offers us “happiness” that at best is fleeting (and at worst makes us anything BUT happy) fade away –
    that we will make that essential, life-altering, life-giving decision to Believe in Him.... to Follow Him... in the here and now as we’re constantly challenged with decisions and choices that reflect whether we’re truly living for him or someone else all the way into spending an eternity with Him.

    Makes sense why this is considered one of the most important passages in the entire bible - and why it’s so often cited.  But one of the amazing things to me about Tebow’s story with the eye black thing was that he said he put the tape on for that championship game, played (and won) the game and really didn’t think much about it.  A couple of days later, the team’s public relations guy contacted Tebow and told him that during that championship game, over 94 million people googled “John 3:16.” 

    In one sense, that’s so awesome to hear.  That many people looked it up and encountered in that passage the heart of Christianity and the heart of our God.  But on the flip side - it kind of strikes me as shocking that something that is the heart of Christianity and the heart of God would be so unfamiliar to such a massive number of people.  Or to put it more directly - we as Christians are missing something or doing something wrong if that passage which is so succinct and essential is so foreign to so many people. 

    That God so loved... and so loves the world... that He gave and gives His son so that everyone might not perish but might have eternal life - that is up to each of us to communicate.  And not simply imitating Tebow and walking around with black tape with John 3:16 on it.  To be honest that would be kind of weird for you to randomly walk into class like that... and that can be too easy to let ourselves off the hook thinking “if I just put that on my facebook profile I’m good.”  It worked for Tebow because of that unique circumstance -coupled by the fact that he truly lives a life that testifies to that being his Hope and Belief in a number of beautiful, meaningful ways.  For you and I, as we encounter this scripture during this journey of Lent, who are the broken and broken hearted that we are being asked to bring the healing presence of Christ to?  Who are those who have fallen down or been pushed aside, that Jesus wants to use our hands to help pick up and raise up again?  What areas of death, and destruction are out there that the God of life and restoration is looking for us to bring the risen Christ to usher new life into?   

    If we want this season of Lent to really be effective and meaningful, our faith and actions need to unite in authentic, genuine ways that we are able to communicate the love, the mercy, the heart of our God - so that John 3:16 isn’t memorized nor trivialized - but rather is actualized in our lives so that others may know the meaning of John 3:16 and come to know the love of God. 


Hi everyone... so this week, I'm heading to Kentucky with a group of students for a Mission Trip in the Appalachian Mountains.  So here's my homily for our Mass that we'll be celebrating in West Virginia - halfway enroute to Kentucky.  Can I ask for your prayers for our safe travels and for a meaningful, impactful week for all of us to truly encounter Jesus Christ in a new way.

Depending on Internet connections... I'll try to post some updates from the week here.

The readings for today can be found at:   Thanks as always for reading, for sharing this blog on Twitter, Facebook and reddit - and for your comments and feedback.  God Bless!  Fr Jim

 I always liked this Gospel.  Angry Jesus.  Yes.  He gets so fired up he makes a whip, knocks over tables and is enraged.   Of course I like that because in my twisted logic that gives me permission to lose it when someone cuts me off on the Garden State Parkway or something... which of course it doesn’t.

Jesus is fired up because His Fathers House - the temple was being misused.  It wasn’t uncommon in Jesus’ time for them to sell oxen, sheep and doves to pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem.  Remember when Jesus was first presented in the temple by Mary and Joseph that they brought a pair of turtle doves/pigeons as an offering.   So these shop keepers were convenient for your pilgrim on the run.  They could just purchase those things there.  But - they were overcharging.  They were taking advantage of the people.  The sellers, the money changers weren’t there trying to assist Jews in a sacred moment.  They simply wanted to make money off of them.  So Jesus sees how this whole thing has desecrated His Father’s House... the temple.  That’s what gets him fired up and angry.

But, as is often the case, there’s more than just a historical incident being recalled in this Gospel.  Notice a few moments later when Jesus prophecies “destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again”.  Those in the crowd think the guy is nuts.  Huh?  It’s 46 years and we’re still not done constructing this place - they think.  What’s he talking about?   What he was talking about was himself being the temple... being God’s House.

So let’s take it a step further... We read elsewhere in scripture (Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians 3:16 to be exact) that we ourselves are temples of the Holy Spirit... we are to be a dwelling place for God.  All of a sudden, if you’re like me and you think about Jesus entering into this area, I’m not such a fan of Angry Jesus... I want gentle Jesus.  I want merciful Jesus.  Because does he see the hypocrisy in my heart; the ways that I’m not acting as I should... as I’m called to?  Most definitely yes.

Fortunately, as we are honest with that; and as we welcome Jesus into this space, he has no need to get angry.  Because as we’re honest, as we welcome Him, we’re demonstrating a desire on some level to be rid of that... Saying we don’t want to live like that...  And Zeal for His House - you and I - our hearts, souls and lives - that consumes Jesus as well.  It consumes Him in the gift of Himself on the Cross - which is made real in the Eucharist - and given to us to consume as well.

As we do, may His love consume us... that we may become the true temple, the House of the Father that He desires us to become... and with His grace and our cooperation, will.


Hi everyone, here’s my homily for the SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT - FEBRUARY 25, 2018 - The readings for today’s Mass can be found at:  Thanks as always for reading, for sharing this on Facebook, Twitter, reddit and other social media and for your feedback and comments.  Hope you have a great week!  God Bless - Fr Jim  


When was the last time you had someone say to you “Just Trust Me” for something… when your doubts, suspicions, and worries were really doing a number on you?  To the point that you just couldn’t see a way forward, not knowing how this situation was going to pan out or you weren’t even sure if there would be an answer or a solution - yet, someone was emphatically trying to encourage you to keep going, not give into despair, not lose hope, to keep trying, and keep believing, no matter what. Even to the point of pleading with you that to keep the faith- that if you couldn’t trust yourself, then to trust them:  Just trust Me.   For example: 

-My brother and sister in law try reasoning with my nieces as they navigated everything from being scared about going to school to getting on a bicycle or surfboarding for the first time and just hearing/seeing them in a myriad ways - “you can do it, just trust me” and how often that made the difference for them in conquering some imaginary yet seemingly insurmountable barrier facing them. 
- Remembering stories from one of my oldest friends of going through Boot Camp to become a Marine and tackle all the seemingly impossible challenges as part of the 12 week process, but how fellow recruits and even their drill instructors was able to help him get through the mental block in their own unique way and say you can do it... just trust me - how that ultimately made the difference for him... 
- Having a friend who was given some incredibly bleak news by one doctor, being encouraged to go to another, to try something else, and finally finding that someone else who affirmed yes you will die – we all will one day - but not because of this and not when that other doctor told you would – just trust me...   Which happily was very spot on.

Being able to trust someone else... 
            someone who was worthy of that trust...
            someone who saw beyond whatever it was that was limiting them...
            someone who saw some new potential and hidden possibilities… 
                        made all the difference... These moments of encounter transformed their very lives.

There’s so much going on in these readings tonight that it can almost be a bit of an overload.  We have this first reading, with Abraham being ordered to sacrifice his only son, Isaac by God -then in the Gospel, we have Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain before Peter, James and John... If you’re like me it’s easy to get lost in a bunch of questions and complications that can arise from these scriptures… to go in different directions (and in some cases, distract us as well).    But this one thought that kept coming back repeatedly over both of these which really became a source of reflection as I was praying with these texts was: How much do I trust God?

Of course, at an intellectual level (which can also be at a superficial level if I’m not honest with myself) I can say “of course I trust God... I mean I’m a priest... it’s supposed to be part of my gig, right?”  And there’s truth to that.  But I know how often I still wrestle with the devil - with fears, doubts, temptations... areas where, in all honesty, I know my trust in God, my faith in Him can waver, or become a bit weaker....   things that limit me or even undermine my calling; my vocation to not just be a priest, but to be a Christian who walks the talk.  That was the reality that came to light the more I dug into these scriptures.  Because in so many ways, there’s good enough reason for those closest to God, closest to Jesus to doubt in these scriptures… yet He keeps inviting them to this deeper trust in Him and His ways.  Just think about it:

We have to remember that Abraham was a 100 years old... his wife Sarah was 90 when God had promised them that the thing that they had longed for, the thing that had been missing from their marriage and their lives - a child - was finally going to become a reality.  They both laugh at the thought of this... How can this be - it doesn’t make sense?   Yet, God says, trust me.

Fast forward to today’s reading from Genesis.  Isaac, who God Himself acknowledges is Abraham and Sarah’s “beloved son”, tells Abraham to give him back to God (sacrifice Isaac).  How can this be - it doesn’t make sense... Yet, God says just trust me...

Then the Gospel, again we have to back up first…  A few days before the transfiguration (today’s Gospel reading), Jesus  told the disciples for the first time... that He would suffer greatly, be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the scribes; that He would be killed and rise again after three days.  That thing just didn’t make sense to Peter...who argues with Jesus that he will not let that happen... Peter will not let the Master they’ve witnessed feed thousands with a few fish and loaves, the one who had just healed a blind man... the one they’d left everything behind to follow; they won’t let him suffer and die.  However, Jesus affirms, “Get behind me Satan” to that line of thinking - because it conflicts with God’s plan.  How can this be - it doesn’t make sense... Yet, God says just trust me...

In today’s Gospel, which is a few days later, and we hear of this incredible experience: Jesus’ transfiguration... His appearance changes where two men who’d been dead a long time and were two of the greatest figures from the Old Testament, Moses and Elijah, appear and are witnessed to be speaking with Jesus...  Oh, the voice of God the Father is heard as well: “This is my beloved son.  Listen to Him.”   As Peter, James and John run through all sorts of emotions - joy, excitement, wonder, terror... and confusion as Jesus kind of reminds them of His earlier prediction about His passion:   Jesus tells them they are not to say anything about what they’ve just experienced, except when the Son of Man would arise from the dead.   Those last words in this Gospel just stand out for me.  After all they experienced, we read: they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.     How can this be... it doesn’t make sense to them --- people don’t rise from the dead... and yet, God says just trust me. 

Because we’re all on the other side of these stories, they kind of relegate to the background narrative we know or have heard of.  We can look at Abraham, Isaac and Sarah, or Peter, James and John as mere biblical heroes, missing that space between that characterization  and the other part of their stories – stories of being human and very relatable to us and our own lives.  And how that gap is filled when each of them was able to move past their fears and doubts, their own plans, to come face to face with God’s invitations, His plans and ultimately had to trust Him...and how when they did, He surpasses their humblest of expectations, their wildest imaginations.

I think that’s one of the reasons why we’re given these readings on this second Sunday of Lent.  Here we’ve set out on this 40 day spiritual journey to delve deeper in our relationship with the Lord.  To see all the areas that need renewal... repenting of my sins that have hurt others, hurt myself, and in some way, turned me away from God.   To be open to hearing anew how God loves each and every one of us unconditionally... That he looks at each of us as His beloved Son and Daughter (just sit with that thought for a moment... thanks to Jesus Christ, these words from God the Father are true for each of us... the voice from the sky calls out and looks at each of us and says ‘This is my beloved Son... This is my beloved Daughter...”) How awesome is that? How wonderful and reassuring is the thought that all of us are His beloved sons and daughters that He wants to hug warmly and touch our lives like a loving father.  It’s also very comforting to know that God our Father has a call, a special plan for each and every one of us. 

No matter our age, our difficult pasts, our seeming endless weaknesses that we can probably itemize in amazing detail (it’s amazing how helpful the devil can be in assisting us in this area) In very personal, specific ways -
God is calling out to each of us
- to love and care for one another, especially those we hate, despise or dislike - more selflessly;
- to sacrifice our comforts and convenience to help someone who has no way of repaying us
- to be open to the difficult task of forgiving those who have hurt us beyond measure
- to discover what things have become “gods” in my life,  how they have led me astray and how to excise them from my life
- to desire to know, to love Him more deeply... to grow in a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ through His word (in scripture); through the Sacraments He left us; through our prayer.

The more we pursue these things in ways that begins making sense to us personally (who’s coming to your mind right now that you just know God is putting on your heart to forgive?  What is that specific situation where you’re being asked to put someone ahead of yourself? Be honest with these questions and answers, because there’s a reason why He’s placing them into your heart right away) The more we start to ask ourselves each of those things, the more we see how God is inviting us to make this Lent different.   Too often Lent becomes some inconsequential spiritual endurance contest (I think back to a few years ago when I gave up all coffee for 40 days but whined about it so much that whatever graces that could’ve been gained were lost) – When what the Lord really desires is for this to be a time of eternity-defining transformation.  Where God truly moves us, through us and within us. 
As we go deeper in our own hearts to consider the different things that He might want us to confront, the ways we might be looking at substantial change that seems impossible to consider; the invitations He offers that we’ve dodged for so long as we keep asking “but, how can this be” the God who is always faithful says just trust me…


Hi everyone, here’s my homily for the FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT - FEBRUARY 18, 2018 - The readings for today’s Mass can be found at:  Thanks as always for reading, for sharing this on Facebook, Twitter, reddit and other social media and for your feedback and comments.  Hope you have a great week!  God Bless - Fr Jim  

 Like many others all over the world, I’ve been distressed by yet another mass shooting that shook the conscience of our country in a High School in Florida.  I struggle with such an extreme act of evil that killed 17, injured at least another 14 and has terrorized countless others well beyond the confines of the High School in Parkland, Florida.  To exacerbate matters, apart from the fact that we’ve gotten way too comfortable or used to hearing and normalizing horrific stories like this, the reactions we’re seeing is a lot more than just disappointing.  The blame-gaming... the finger pointing... the angry rhetoric that is said to be justified because these things have become a common occurrence... the politics of it all where some are taking our already fiercely partisan divided nation and attempting to hijack a massacre for their own talking points... it honestly depressed me a great deal.  When I started thinking of all the issues and questions such as gun control; mental illness; bullying; extremism... coupled with the reflections on different meetings that I’ve attended where we talk about how many young people continue to struggle with depression, stress, and anxiety (and how that’s depressing, stressing and making many of us anxious as well), it made me feel a little hopeless.  And I don’t think I’m the only one who felt that way.

 That was very much on my mind when I kept going back to these readings today... Whenever we have some major horrific event, there’s always a temptation to allow our own personal biases, opinions and agendas to enter in. Yet, that’s not what a homily is supposed to be about.  I’m not supposed to be another talking head on a cable news channel, a politician giving a lofty campaign speech or an opinion writer.   The Church tells us that the scripture readings proclaimed at Mass are meant to be a dialogue between God and us- and the Homily is to try to open our ears and hearts to hear what God is saying to us... and how to connect He who is eternal, who is out of time, and He who never fails, to us here in this time and space.

 Every year on this first Sunday of Lent, we hear an account of Jesus being tempted in the desert.  It’s understandable if you feel like you might have just missed out on that in this brief passage.  Unlike Matthew or Luke who gives a much more detailed account of what happens between Jesus and the devil, Mark is incredibly succinct.  In as little as three words, we are told that Jesus was “tempted by Satan.”   It sounds so matter-of-fact that you almost get the impression that St. Mark is downplaying this encounter.  

 However, St. Mark approaches his entire Gospel as Jesus’ victory over evil in this all-important spiritual war.  So, far from trying to gloss over this episode, it’s more likely that Mark doesn’t want to even give Satan an opportunity to explain his twisted logic and distortions in Mark’s proclamation of the good news of Jesus.    Importantly, we can’t fall into the error of thinking that Satan’s not still an enemy that we have to fight.  Yes, Jesus defeated him spectacularly on the Cross and in His resurrection.  But we have to choose whose side we are on.  That’s the heart and soul of the last words Jesus speaks in tonight’s very short passage. 

 Too often we, or others, use these words “Repent, and believe in the gospel” as directed outside of the walls of this Mass, or our Churches - claiming that the problem is out there somewhere else.  If all those who are now outside were inside here, if they would repent of their pagan, unbelieving ways, everything would be all right...    But Jesus is speaking these words to us - to you and me.  Before we dare to be so presumptuous to say we have all the answers, all the fixes, and all the antidotes to every evil   afflicting our human family, we have to be sure that we’ve taken these words to heart ourselves. 

 When Jesus calls us to “repent” He’s asking more than just a quick examination of conscience;   it’s deeper than that...  We have to recognize the choices between the values of God and the values of this world... to see how those choices are made on a daily basis.  Over time these seemingly harmless choices add up to things which bring about and encourage life, and things that bring about and encourage death on every level - physically, emotionally and spiritually.    So this first Sunday of Lent, we’re challenged with the question - What is it that God wants us to confront in our own desert of 40 days?  In what ways has Satan tried (or has been successful) in tempting us not to follow God’s plan for us?    In what ways have my doubts, my discouragements and my fears undermined my belief that I am giving into the depths of hopelessness?  It’s in repenting of them, and believing in the supreme power of the gospel that God redirects each and every one of us in a unique, personal, individual way to not merely transform our hearts, our souls, our lives... but also help us do that in countless ways in the world around us. 

 Friday afternoon I read an example of someone who is doing just that.  This fifth grade teacher after witnessing the horrors of Columbine in 1999 where 13 were killed and 24 others were wounded by two young men wielding guns and knives in their high school - she decided that every week, -every Friday afternoon - she would ask her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit with the following week and nominate one student who they believe has been an exceptional classroom citizen for that week. As she goes through these private ballots handed out to her, she’s not really interested in making a new seating chart or declaring a “student of the week” winner.  Instead, she asks herself:  Who is not getting requested by anyone else? Who can’t think of anyone to request? Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated?  Who had a million friends last week and none this week?   She explained that her purpose was to look for lonely children;  look for children who are struggling to connect with other children. To identify the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social circle. To discover whose gifts are going unnoticed by their peers. And she’s pinning down—right away—who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying.  In her own creative way... in a way that’s not partisan or even overly religious, she’s very clearly being loving, caring, attentive, and compassionate and possibly redirecting people at a vulnerable age - shifting the very trajectory of their lives.

 It’s easy to give into despair.  It’s easy to join in Satan’s favorite activity of being more divisive and indulge in mindless name-call, blame game.  In the face of the most recent horror of Parkland Florida, it’s almost understandable that we have gotten into the routine of feeling helpless or hopeless.  Rather than comforting us, Jesus calls us to action and reminds us we have no time for that.  We have got far more important things to do and time is running out. And we’re called to escape that mindset.  This is the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent, and believe in the gospel...  It’s way past time for us to get serious and get down on some action that makes a meaningful and eternal difference.


Hi everyone, here’s my homily for ASH WEDNESDAY - FEBRUARY 14, 2018 - The readings for today’s Mass can be found at:  Thanks as always for reading, for sharing this on Facebook, Twitter, reddit and other social media and for your feedback and comments.  Hope you have a great week!  God Bless - Fr Jim  


    It seems like it’s been a lot longer, but the initial reporting which started an avalanche of stories surrounding celebrities and horrific stories of rape, sexual assault, harassment of women by men in positions of power only started in October of last year.  On October 5th the NY Times published a story about the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, one of the most powerful men in all entertainment as a film mogul and producer of countless movies and television shows.  These accusations were followed by a not well-received apology from Weinstein and him being ousted  from his own company.  Even more noteworthy was that in some ways the horrible episode empowered many other women to come forward and publicly and courageously say #MeToo as they recounted their own personal struggles dealing with similar horrific treatment by men who were respected journalists, celebrated actors, and accomplished media personalities.  
    It’s probably too early to tell exactly where and how these revelations will result in real, meaningful change where women are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve when auditioning for a role, competing for a job or simply in day to day interactions in the workplace with men in positions of power.   The #MeToo movement became #TimesUp and as awards season continues, there seems to be a groundswell of actresses and actors who are even using those annual events as an opportunity to come together to flush out this abhorrent and unacceptable behavior.
    In the peak of this story though, when the allegations were coming out, followed by apologies, firings/resignations in such a rapid pace - to the point you couldn’t even keep up with it on a daily basis - there was one story in particular that really caught my attention.  Several women made complaints to the NY Times that the comedian Louis C.K. had also committed several acts of sexual misconduct.  Pretty quickly, Louis C.K. acknowledged that the stories were completely true.  He was fired by the network that ran his TV show, and he’s really not been heard or seen of since then.   What was different about this case though was the response that came from fellow comedienne Sarah Silverman.  
    Sarah Silverman started a monologue on her Hulu show I Love You, America, saying the growing wave of people “calling-out of sexual assault has been a long time coming... [and] “It’s good,” she said. “It’s like cutting out tumors: it’s messy and it’s complicated...”  This statement was undoubtedly hard though for Silverman since Louis CK had been one of her closest friends for a long time.  She said her initial reaction when people asked for a comment about Louis’ admission was “I really, really, really don’t want to [comment on this story]. I wish I could sit this one out.
    At the same time she acknowledged the painful reality that Louis C.K. “wielded his power with women in ways that were troubling and sometimes made these women feel they had to leave the field of comedy entirely.”   The courage that Ms. Silverman had shown didn’t end there either, She asked rhetorically: “I could couch this with heartwarming stories of our friendship and what a great dad he is, but that’s totally irrelevant, isn’t it? Yes, it is.”   After reading her heartbroken statement about the situation, what really hit me was this final point she made:    “I love Louie,” she said, “but Louie did these things. Both of those statements are true. So, I just keep asking myself, can you love someone who did bad things? Can you still love them?
    For me that humanized all of the celebrities that are involved in this painful chapter of the entertainment history.  The reality of the ugliness of this abhorrent behavior.  The pain and justified anger the victims have experienced.  The confusion and sadness that friends, family members, colleagues, and fans of both the victims and those who committed these acts are going through right now.  And yes, even the pain that those guilty of these crimes, these behaviors are experiencing.  That’s what evil does... that’s the effects of sin... it hurts everyone in ways you couldn’t possibly imagine.  Which is why I appreciated Silvernman’s heartfelt question so much – can you love someone who did bad things? Can you still love them?
    Because Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent that we begin today forces us to personally ask ourselves a similar question.  Not so much can we love someone who did bad things - (although that’s a part of it, when we deal with the difficult, but necessary call to forgiveness of others) - but Can we love ourselves who have done bad things.  That is what we are here to acknowledge as we receive these ashes on our forehead.  These ashes are a symbol reminding us that without the very breath of life from our loving, faithful, and generous God - if that breath  was removed from us, then all we would be is a pile of ashes.  And as those ashes are put on our foreheads we hear the words “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”  We need this symbol. We need to hear those words because the truth is, we all fail, we all fall short, we all sin...  So we’re here to be honest with ourselves to recognize that we haven’t always been thankful for this gift of life; we haven’t utilized all the tremendous gifts and talents that God has entrusted to us in a way that glorifies Him, ourselves or others.
    That is not exactly something that anyone would enjoy acknowledging.  Particularly in a world where personal appearance, and image are so important.    Yet when we look closely, the scars we’ve left on others, the wounds we’ve caused on ourselves -all of those things, are the results of our sins, are there.   And that can be a harsh realization.

    But we can - no check that - we should in fact love ourselves - despite that harsh realization.  Because that’s why Jesus came in the first place.  Jesus’ whole purpose for leaving the perfection of love and life with the Father and the Holy Spirit in Heaven was to come to each and everyone of us personally and individually to tell us that God does indeed love us as well - even when we’ve done bad things.  He’s never “done” with us.  In fact, that’s precisely why Jesus has come - to save us from sin and death.  There’s never a moment when he’s run out of patience with us.  He loves us.  Jesus has come to save us from those bad things that makes us forget how loved we are... that makes us not want to love ourselves. 
    The Lord lays out the map on how to learn to love ourselves in today’s Scriptures: The Old Testament Prophet Joel teaches us: ...return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. (Joel 2:12) St. Paul follows up with: We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God concluding: Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.  These passages set us up to hear this Gospel message where Jesus once again calls us to intentionally move away from our self-centered pursuits and instead embrace the call to Fast - to Give Alms - to Pray... not only for those who have harmed us, but for the harm that we have caused through our own bad choices our own selfishness.  When we do these things, we are participating in the pure love of God.  We are doing something for someone who has no way of repaying us.  [For more information, check out our weekly bulletin at ]
    These are the basics... it’s up to us to see that NOW is the acceptable time NOW is the day of salvation to personalize those basics and to do something to make this Lent a meaningful time where we confront the reality of the sins we’ve committed; the pain it has caused in the lives of others and to ourselves.
    Sarah Silverman ended her thoughts on Louis C.K. saying  “I hope it’s O.K. if I am at once very angry for the women he wronged and the culture that enabled it. And also sad, because he’s my friend. But I believe with all my heart that this moment in time is essential. It’s vital that people are held accountable for their actions, no matter who they are. We need to be better. We will be better.

    Lent provides us with the same opportunity to explore the depths of our souls and hold ourselves accountable for our own actions.  It’s not easy, but God lovingly and patiently wants to meet us as we begin this difficult task.  With the cross of Jesus traced on our foreheads to remind us the lengths to which he has gone for us to save us from our sins.   That is the good news today...   Jesus walks with us on this journey of repentance and renewal - as we recognize that we too need to be better for ourselves and for the world around us... and with His grace, we will be better.