Hi everyone - here's my homily for the FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT - March 30, 2014.  The readings for today can be found at  As always, thanks for reading, your comments and feedback and sharing this on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.  Grateful for your interest.  Hope that your Lent is being productive!  God Bless - Fr. Jim


How much do you hate it when you hear someone say "Oh, you missed it..."?

Back in 1998, I was at the World Series, Game one, New York Yankees vs San Diego Padres - It’s the first World Series game I’ve ever been to in my life. The Yankees are down, 5-1, they’ve had a bunch of opportunities to catch up and blown them all.

I think it was the 6th inning when the friend I was with had to excuse himself after having few "beverages." That happens to be the moment when Short Stop Chuck Knoblauch comes up to the plate and cracks a monster grand slam home run that sets the stadium absolutely shaking and ties the game.

The one thing my buddy didn’t want to hear, after waiting over two hours in traffic to get into the Bronx, another hour of pre-game nonsense and non-stop introductions of players, bat boys, waterboys, watching the Yankees trailing for the entire game; then being on line for the bathroom, and then hearing Chuck Knoblauch’s grand slam home run from the announcers on the radio broadcast being aired inside the stadium – the one thing he didn’t want to hear from me when he got back to his seat was "Oh, you missed it!" YOU THINK????

That could be anything though, couldn’t it?

You miss that dinner out with a group of friends at Sams Place and they’re still laughing about something that happened and they try to explain it to you saying you just had to be there – "Oh, you missed it..."

Or your working late or class gets out late or you have a late appointment so you tell some of you’re friends that you will meet up with them at some place in the City and when you get there they say "Oh, you missed it" – Jimmy Fallon was just here and we took a selfie with him...

It’s frustrating, to say the least... And in those cases, it’s not like there’s anything we can do about it - Things happen and at times we miss whatever the it is: There are times we need to "excuse" ourselves after having a few beverages; other commitments might have prevented you from being able to go out with your friends; and how were you to know that if you had skipped that class or cancelled that appointment that you might just bump into a celebrity? Frustrating, but there’s nothing you can do about those missed opportunities.

What’s worse is when you made the deliberate choice to forgo something and end up missing out on something. "Hey, you in for this week’s lotto pool?" - Nah, we never win, I’m going to skip on it this week - and the next week there’s the picture of 20 office people with one of those giant checks...

Today’s Gospel is an "Oh, you missed it" story. But the difference is, the people choose to miss it. We hear in this story about this guy who’s been blind from birth. And Jesus cures that. That’s a pretty big deal. That’s a pretty big story. That’s something incredibly significant. And yet, of the 110 lines or so that this passage runs, the entire miracle is about 5 lines and the remaining 105 is all about how people miss it.

- They miss it because they want to debate Why the guy is blind -debating that either his parents or the guy himself must have done something wrong that resulted in his blindness (in case you missed it - Jesus says it’s neither; we don’t have a vengeful God who punishes people with a disability because of someone’s sin)

- They miss it because they think God has to operate by the same rules they’ve been commanded to – that God can’t cure on the Sabbath, because we’re not suppose to work on the Sabbath (they seem to have a pretty high opinion of themselves putting themselves on the same level as God).

- They miss it because they refuse to consider that Jesus Christ is who he says he is -the Messiah they supposedly anticipated but were blind themselves from seeing. That the Messiah was more than just a king, He was in fact God himself – the Son of God...

- They miss it because in their desire to prove themselves right - they want to intimidate the man who Jesus had opened his eyes and his parents from speaking the truth about the miracle that Jesus had done; what God had done for them.

How different from last week’s Gospel - the Samaritan woman meets Jesus, talks with Him, is moved and transformed by Jesus and the whole town is forever changed by that. Here, this man is touched - healed - transformed - and the whole town rejects him, the town rejects Jesus, – Oh man did they miss it...

And this isn’t about giving Jesus credit for healing this man.

This is about curing the blindness within all humanity; the blindness in all of us.

It’s about seeing that God does work miracles in our lives.

It’s about seeing that God is active in our lives.

It’s about seeing that Jesus wants to touch you - every single one of you and heal whatever blinds you from seeing and feeling and knowing how much God loves you and I.

Because the thing of it is, if we miss that, we miss a whole lot.

I can’t get that line out of my head from that first reading – Samuel is looking for the new king of Israel. He sees a guy Eliab, one of Jesse’s sons, he looks kingly - like he would fit the bill and God says - NOPE - Eliab’s a nice guy - but he ain’t the one. Why? Not as man sees does God see - because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart.

We should write that down and look at that every day. God’s not some disinterested creator who set this all in motion and watches us with some sense of amusement (like we’re his entertainment) God loves you. Jesus walks with you and is calling each of you to something - something unique - something special - something he put into your heart the moment you were conceived.

What is holding us back from truly seeing that? How is it we’re missing that?

Jesus loves us so much, that he’s not even waiting for us to ask for the cure to our blindness - he’s offering it to us. He’s telling us if we believe in him as the Son of Man, we will have a new vision. We will be able to see how God is present to us and how that can change our vision of things; change the path we’re on; transform the gift of life we’ve been given.

Because the last thing we want to hear at the end of our lives is Jesus saying to us "Oh, you missed it"


Happy Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.  The readings for today can be found at  As always thanks for reading, sharing and your feedback!  God Bless - Fr. Jim


Why is Mary so revered by Catholics? 

We can look at some of her many titles and attributes coming from Scripture – Mother of God; Full of Grace; Most Blessed - and those indeed tell us how special she is. 

We can reflect on how as Jesus hung on the cross, He gave Mary, His Mother, to us saying “Behold your Mother.” In that He was establishing a new relationship of Love between her and all disciples as our Mother. 

But it’s something more.  An interesting paradox particularly revealed in today’s Solemnity of the Annunciation.  We hear the Gospel account of how the Angel Gabriel brings Mary this amazingly good news that would seem to distance her from us.   Yet, at the same time, this Gospel reveals what ties Mary to us in an intimate way; in her dialogue with the angel, we see the pattern for how God works in our lives as well. 

Fr. James Martin, S.J., in his new book entitled Jesus: A Pilgrimage, expands on this in a beautiful chapter that reflects on today’s feast day entitled simply, “Yes.”  In this chapter, Fr. Martin shares how we see glimmers of how what happens to Mary happens to us. To summarize, he points out that:

-          God initiates the conversation.   And as much as we might bemoan that we don’t have heavenly visitors communicating to us in a similar fashion to Mary (careful what you wish for on that by the way…) – the reality is that we can see how He breaks into our lives in unexpected ways: perhaps a scripture reading, a friends comforting words during a time of great distress or vulnerability, or a spectacular sunset that leaves us in awesome wonder of the greatness of creation and moreover our Creator.  Those are the beginnings of God’s conversation with us.

-          When that reality clicks - when we realize God is speaking to us - sometimes we’re excited, or grateful... sometimes we’re like Mary - fearful.  We might struggle in wonder at our littleness in light of the awesomeness of our creator who is paying attention to us and ask, “who me?  We argue…And at that moment, the angel speaks the words to Mary that her son Jesus will say over and over throughout the Gospels:  Do not be afraid… 

-          But humanity clicks in… and like Mary we wonder How can this be?  That’s a common question - whether it’s something where God intersects in proposing something wonderfully new or when we experience some darkness in our lives.  How can this be is another universal question that all humanity – disciple or not – asks at some point. 

-          The response to that question, in either of those situations, we find  in this interaction with Mary and the angel. The angel invites her to look around – look at your cousin Elizabeth – look at what God is able to do!  Remembering what God has been able to do in the past is essential in embracing the future – however dark, however mysterious or shrouded it might appear. 

-          In that, Mary’s confidence is renewed to say Yes… to which Fr. Martin shared part of a poem called “The Annunciation”:                 

But we are told of meek obedience. 
                No one mentions courage
                    The engendering Spirit did not enter her without consent.
                                     God waited

 That’s why this feast should fill us with joy and cause us to align ourselves even more closely to Mary… How God Loves us!

He initiates the conversation
He intersects with our lives
He invites us into His story
He comforts us in our fear at accepting this radical change by reminding us of all He has done and continues to do for us.
He trusts us, humbly waiting for us to say “Yes.”

May Mary our Mother pray for us that we will have her attentiveness, her courage to accept what it is God is inviting us to be a part of.  To say “Yes”  to Him – and to be surprised by the results; see the blessings multiplied in ways we can’t anticipate; see our lives and the lives around us changed. 

That’s what the Annunciation promises us – when we say Yes to God, the world is completely transformed.


Hi everyone, here’s my homily for the THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT - March 23, 2014. The readings for today can be found at
As always, thanks for reading, sharing this blog on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit - and your feedback and comments. God Bless - Fr. Jim


A couple of years ago there was a story about a very remarkable young man that’s one of the most inspirational stories I’ve ever heard. It’s about a guy by the name of Patrick Henry Hughes who was born with severe physical abnormalities. He was born without eyes and was unable to fully straighten his arms and legs which left him incapable of walking.   For his entire life he has been blind and confined to a wheel chair.   Despite these so called "handicaps" he’s become a gifted musician - able to play the trumpet (participating in a college marching band for the University of Louisiana) as well as play the piano. 

When an ABC reporter went to interview Patrick and he offered to play the piano, as his father rolled his wheelchair up to the baby grand, the reporter confessed he had low expectations.  The reporter thought to himself, "This will be sweet. He has overcome so much. How nice that he can play piano." He was awestruck, however, as he described what happened next.  "Then Patrick put his hands to the keyboard, and his fingers began to race across it - the entire span of it, his fingers moving up and back and over and across the keys so quickly and intricately that my fully-functional eyesight couldn't keep up with them. I was stunned. The music his hands drew from that piano was so lovely and lyrical and haunting, so rich and complex and beyond anything I had imagined he would play that there was nothing I could say."

What made this possible wasn’t simply Patrick’s determination but also the love and selflessness and dedication of his parents.  They noticed at age 9 that he had a gift for music, so they got him piano lessons, then trumpet lessons - they kept finding creative ways to assist him to hone these gifts. So much so that by the time he got to college, Patrick’s father would be working nights just so he could attend classes with his son (to take notes for him) as well as go to band practice where the father would be learning the choreography necessary for those elaborate marching band moves.  On game day during the half-time show, there they were, father and son, on the field doing the routines. In the meantime, his mother would work full time to help support the family which includes two other children.

The whole story was moving on so many levels. Patrick’s drive, his spirit, his outlook; where he smiles at ths camera and says somewhat matter-of-factly,  'God made me blind and didn't give me the ability to walk. I mean, big deal. He gave me the talent to play piano and trumpet and all that good stuff' - that humbles me and embarrasses me when I think of how often I complain about different limitations or struggles I encounter in my own life. 

But equally as touching is the selflessness, the sacrifices, the love of his parents. While I don’t have any children (at least not biologically - spiritually, as a priest, I do, which is one reason we call priests ‘Father’) I’ve been blown away seeing how my brother and sister in law try to juggle the demands of three little ones... As well as a bunch of my friends as they’ve had their children as well.  And in all of those experiences - their children never leave their minds and hearts for a moment. For Patrick’s Mom and Dad when they realized they were facing these added challenges when he was born, they remember asking, "Why us? What did we do that this happened to us?"  Now over 20 years later, they still ask themselves those questions. Only now, they explain it this way; "We ask the same question . . .but we put it in a whole new light. . .'What did we do to deserve such a special young man, who's brought us so, so much. He sees the world in a way that we can't even imagine..." 

You can’t help but be in awe of that kind of selfless love where nothing else matters but their children. That whatever obstacles, whatever challenges Patrick faced, they wouldn’t give up on him... no matter what.  And so when playing instruments becomes a passion of his, and he wants to play with the band... they find a way so that he can experience the joy of being a part of that community, making tremendous music and inspiring the rest of the world around him.

One of the amazingly special things we learn through the scriptures, and in a particular way with tonight’s Gospel is that is precisely how God loves us.  So often, whenever I’ve read this story about Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman, my attention has always been drawn to her and viewing it from her perspective . But this week, I kept finding myself drawn to Jesus.  And one of the things that stood out for me was that at the beginning of this story, we hear that Jesus was physically tired and hungry. St. John casually sets the stage that, "Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well."  Later we learn that the disciples had left to go into town to get food and provisions and the first thing they were concerned about when they returned was his physical hunger "Rabbi eat" - and when he responds negatively to fulfilling that human need, they wonder, "Could someone have brought him something to eat?"

But what changed in Him occurred during the interaction with the Samaritan woman - very beautifully Jesus says that his hunger has been filled, his energy has been rejuvenated in doing "the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work."  What is that will? What is it that God has sent his Son into the world to do? What does this reveal to us about God?

Namely, that in Jesus Christ, we find God’s selfless love for us. That nothing matters more to God than us – his children – and that whatever obstacles, whatever challenges we’re faced with - He never gives up on us - no matter what. For the Samaritan Woman, who’s been with 6 different men, who’s experienced the pain and shame of these broken relationships; the gossip of neighbors, the judgmental glances of townsfolk which is why she’s drawing water at the hottest and most difficult part of the day (simply to avoid them) - she’s experienced rejection, isolation and loneliness. All of these things that diminish her and limit her ability to believe, to know that she is God’s beloved.

But God never stopped thinking about her. Pursuing her. Reaching out to her. Jesus was literally exhausted and hungering for her to know how loved how worthy she was, worthy of so much more than the life she was living already. 

So it is for us. We may not have been married 5 or 6 times – but if we’re honest, we’ve gone down different paths we’re not too proud of, been frustrated in trying to find fulfillment in other ways than God’s ways. We may have been married to things, to pleasure, to honor, to power...Looked to different ideologies, politics, gurus for healing, satisfaction and contentment - not only finding they leave us still lacking something inside, but possibly even leading us astray.  

Whatever it is, reading this Gospel, I imagine Jesus still waiting for us... Pouring out his very self for us... Hoping that those merciful eyes of his will finally catch ours that so often turn away in shame; that his loving words offering us himself - not just figuratively, but literally in his body and blood will not be seen as simply "enough" for us here tonight, but enough to fulfill every thirst that we’ve ever suffered from, every yearning, every desire.  That He will fill us up, raise us up, remind us of our own goodness and worthiness precisely because He made us good and found us worthy - He thought us worthwhile, more than worthwhile - to come and live and love and lay down His life for us.  Like the Samaritan woman, from this night forward, may our lives be dramatically different.  May they be His. 


AND JOSEPH SAID: " . . . "

HAPPY FEAST OF ST. JOSEPH!  Patron of the Universal Church.  The readings for today's Mass can be found at bible/ readings/031914.cfm.  As always thanks for reading these homilies and for sharing them.  God Bless You!  St. Joseph, Pray for Us!  - Fr. Jim

About a week ago, depending upon your perspective, there was a headline that made you happy or extremely sad.   Lady Gaga threatened (promised?) she might quit the music business.  I'm sure for her legions of fans, this provoked a mad dash of tweets, Facebook posts demanding an UNLIKE button and so on as often happens in our day and age.  Not to question Ms. gaga's motives, but part of me thinks she accomplished her mission.  She drew more attention to herself simply by saying something. 

Not to pick on Lady Gaga - she's just another example of our fame-obsessed culture.  To feed a desire for greatness that humanity obsesses over, there's this belief that one needs to be "relevant."  Hence more and more often, all of us can fall into believing that we too need to broadcast every aspect of our lives to the  world - looking for likes, retweets -- looking for attention.

What a contrast St Joseph offers us today.  Curiously he is silent through scriptures - there's not one quotation of his recorded in the Gospels.  We hear about him in the Gospels, but that's it.    Even his interaction with God isn't a dialogue with an angel (as The Blessed Virgin Mary experiences) but rather he receives messages in dreams where it's an intimate and private conversation that we know about - but don't know what was said between The Lord and Joseph.

Yet one of the things that makes him such a revered Saint... Makes him the Patron of the Universal Church...  The model of workers, of fathers... Makes him a contrast to our very un-humble world is precisely that.  His silence.  His faith and trust in Gods word.  His responsiveness to God.  He simply does as the angel tells him.  He doesn't question, complain, obsess and certainly doesn't broadcast it.  He does it.  Probably thinking in awe of what he was being invited into... Perhaps wondering:  who am I to have received all this attention from The Lord to be included into his plan for salvation?  How is it that God the Father would Gift me to  have Mary as my wife and Jesus as my foster-child?

Ironically, in his abject humility and silence he becomes probably the only carpenter anyone remembers from the first century.  

Which points out one of the great messages St Joseph speaks to us today.  It is in our reverence and attention to Gods word to us... It is in our obedience to Him that we become truly great - and then find the only attention that we ever need: recognizing how loved we are as Gods children.  The Father loves and trusts us much that he wishes to include us in His ongoing plan of making Jesus Christ known, not always with our words and certainly not in giving into that temptation, that desire for attention -- but in listening in the silence to how God calls us... And in humbly, obediently responding to His personal invitations to each of us.   

May St Joseph intercede for us that we may possess:
the graces not to fear things hidden, 
the strength to be still, 
the fortitude to be patient and 
the courage to say yes to The Lord to the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  


Hi everyone - and Happy Ash Wednesday!!! My prayers that this season of Lent will be a grace-filled time of repentance and renewal. The readings for Ash Wednesday can be found at . Thanks as always for stopping by the blog, sharing it and your feedback and comments. God Bless - Fr. Jim


This past Christmas, my brother Craig got me possibly one of the worst Christmas gifts ever. Now I’ll admit, I’m not an easy person to shop for - what do you buy a priest? Black sweater? Black shoes? Black socks? Anything black? I get it... And my brother is a bit crazed when he goes Christmas shopping... it’s not unusual for me to get a frantic call on a Saturday afternoon in November with him saying "I’m at the mall - what do you want for Christmas - and if you say nothing, I’m just getting you a gift card..."  Fa la la la...

So I was somewhat surprised when I didn’t get that annual phone call and on Christmas day to see a somewhat substantial sized box under the tree to me from Craig. It definitely wasn’t a gift card (I picked it up just to feel how heavy it was just in case he threw the gift card in a big box to throw me off). All through Christmas dinner, I was curious - intrigued... excited to exchange gifts after dinner. So here we go, we start, he hands me the gift, I open it up and what’s inside:

The entire series – 6 seasons of the AMC show Breaking Bad on DVD.

He’s been after me for years to watch this thing – telling me "you have to watch it..." Hopefully it’s not shocking to you that the story of a High School Chemistry teacher becoming a drug supplier, for some reason never intrigued me. When I opened the box, I kind of laughed, and of course thanked him for the generous gift... to which he responded "You have to watch this - I need someone to talk about this with."

I know he’s not alone in this - Critics (including the Hollywood Reporter) called it "one of the greatest television dramas of all time." It won a slew of awards... Even more fascinating is that the show saw its ratings increase from season to season (which means people "caught up" with the show thanks to Netflix). It went from a show that seemingly only a few people knew about (including my brother) to this break-out hit-show who’s ratings soared over 450% from when it started to the series finale. That’s unprecedented and astronomical in terms of television shows. Entertainment Weekly described it like this: Breaking Bad was like a virus (or perhaps a drug) that slowly spread for years, then suddenly exploded into a nationwide outbreak.

So one night over Winter Break when we had the first of the 13 snow storms bringing 80+ inches of snow these past weeks, I thought, alright, let me check it out and I threw a disk on one night. And without the commercials, without having to wait a week, or several months for new episodes – I got hooked. I couldn’t stop watching them. But the thing is - I hated it. I texted my brother numerous times asking "Why do you hate me? Why did you give this to me? This is horrendous" "This is awful."

Not the acting, nor the story telling or anything like that. In those areas, it is very compelling (obviously since I watched the entire series) It was one of the first shows that I didn’t ever feel "jumped the shark" as you would say...Not to give things away or spoil it for any of you who are watching or planning to watch it - quite simply - Walter White, is a Chem teacher who finds out he has terminal lung cancer. When you first meet him he’s a somewhat likeable guy who deals with being kicked around by the world. He and his family have had difficult challenges to face even before this devastating news. And his answer to how to deal with the costs for his treatment, as well as to try to provide for his family is to cook the drug Meth. As a Chemistry teacher, he knows how to make it even more "pure" which makes it more addictive and more profitable to all involved in the drug trade.

What made it horrendous, awful for me was that - everything continues to "break bad" for himself, his family, his friends. Every time you think that maybe, just maybe something good will happen, something redemptive will happen - perhaps happiness – it always "breaks bad" - happiness is only for a moment... it’s fleeting as more and more people get wrapped up in overdoses, murders, stealing, fraud, brutality, rage – just look up the list of 7 deadly sins - they’re all there... all stemming from this man’s initial and continued bad choices. I’ll leave it there so, like I said, I don’t spoil it for anyone out there.

One of the reasons anything - TV shows, movies, plays - becomes successful - apart from being entertaining– is the relatability of what it is we’re watching. Think about different popular shows - what makes them popular or "hits" is when we associate with the characters. We can see ourselves in the storylines or say "that’s totally my family." Or it appeals to collective dreams and wishes of people

As I felt compelled to watch the entire series of Breaking Bad I wondered if it was because I saw the basic premise, the basic thread is the reality of sin, the reality of bad choices, and what those choices do to us? Slowly, gradually they always make things worse and worse for us and those around us... For most people, when they see the different messes, the different struggles that they’re in, they can identify that they didn’t just make a tremendous, massive fall in their lives: The student never intended to cheat in class - she got behind on assignments, she got overwhelmed with other things, she let fear and doubt convince her that was the only way and then found herself convincing herself just this once I’ll cheat - and then when she got away with it, found it easier and easier... Or - The guy always used to be sensitive and caring about people struggling with poverty and then started telling himself "well that’s what I pay taxes for, or that’s what so-and-so’s responsibility is; or - it must be that poor persons fault that they’re in the position they’re in, it’s not my fault, not my problem" - as they close their hearts and start treating a person not like a person - as a nuisance, as an annoyance... The married man didn’t just one day decide to cheat on his wife - maybe he let anger over something in their marriage stew, maybe he let his eyes and his conversation with someone gradually take him to a place he never imagined he would go as he kept making bad choices. The lists, the examples can go on and on...

For all of us, Ash Wednesday calls out to us to recognize that every single one of us has
made, continues to make (and if history is any indicator) probably will continue to make "bad" choices. That’s why we need this reminder, its why we repeat this ritual of being marked with ashes, with dust hearing the words "TURN AWAY FROM SIN, BE FAITHFUL TO THE GOSPEL". That is the hope of this season of Lent - that is the hope of Ash Wednesday. That God was able to do something miraculous and take ashes, dust, dirt - breathe His very breath of life into it and humanity came into existence - He created you and me. If he can do that with this dust - the promise, the hope is - what can He do with each and everyone of us if we actually turn away from those sins, if we stop believing the lie of the liar telling us there’s no way, there’s no chance, for us to do anything different than whatever sinful things we are doing that continue to weigh us down – If we turn away from all that garbage and turn back to Him, letting Him into our hurts, our brokenness... looking to Him to making a new start... Then we can experience miraculous, redemptive, life giving changes in our own lives and make a new start.

Already, there’s a part of us that’s probably knowing this is true but thinking - I don’t think I can do this right now... maybe later, maybe when I graduate from College and get some more time (which will never happen - believe me) To those doubts, to those lies, Saint Paul in the second reading today implores us NOW is the TIME - NOW is the DAY OF SALVATION. We may have come here to receive ashes - but it’s God’s Abundant Love and Mercy that is the true gift we’re being offered today. To begin to make that turning away from Sin and being faithful to the Gospel.

Today we have confession available all day - but if you’re not ready for that, then take these booklets home, and just spend some time reading about why we go to confession, and how to... Think about some ways that your choices of something to "give up" won’t be a self-imposed punishment that we suffer through for 40 days, but can be something that will help you grow closer to God and help others (which is the true purposes of fasting and almsgiving).

It’s so great that all of us gathered here together this day. Coming in confidence and trust to the one who shows us the way to begin again, to begin anew, to not give into despair thinking we’re destined to continue to struggle with bad choices - who sees and loves us - and as we come feeling somewhat awkwardly, feeling badly as we come forward and acknowledge the harsh reality of our own sin , he reaches back to us He is gracing us, blessing us, encouraging us to use this as a start to Break Bad - and become good...