Hi everyone, here's my homily for PALM SUNDAY OF THE LORD’S PASSION - March 29, 2015.  The readings for today can be found at http://usccb.org/bible/readings/032915.cfm.  Thanks as always for stopping by to read this blog, for your comments and feedback and for sharing it.  God Bless you this Holy Week as we renew ourselves in the amazing Love of God for us...  Fr Jim


Leonardo Da Vinci - the 15th Century artist, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer - who’s genius is still appreciated all these centuries later once told a fascinating story about the creation of one of his masterpieces "the Last Supper."

When Da Vinci started working on the painting, he lived in Milan. As he set out to paint the piece he decided he wanted to find a young man to pose for each of the persons in the painting. He wanted to find someone he imagined might look like what Jesus would look like; someone he could conceive of how the disciples might have looked like. So he began to search in Milan.

Some days he would walk the streets for hours at a time, looking at men’s faces, searching for his disciples, searching for his Jesus. One day he was in the Cathedral in Milan, and during Mass, the choir was singing and he looked up into the choir loft, and he saw this one young man who looked like what he thought Jesus would look like. He approached the young man after Mass and asked him if he would agree to pose for the painting. The young man agreed and he came to DaVinci’s studio for 4 or 5 days in a row and every day sat there for many hours on end while DaVinci painted him. When he was finished, DaVinci thanked the young man and he began his search for the 12 disciples.

One by one he found the disciples. The search was not easy. It took years. After three years he found all his disciples…except one - JUDAS! He couldn’t find himself a Judas. And he would walk through the Milan streets for hours and hours a day, and he became quite frustrated. Four years passed, and still he had found no one to pose for the person of Judas.

So, he decided that he was looking in the wrong places. He decided that if he was going to find the person of Judas, he had to look in places where this type of person would congregate. And he began to search in the prisons on the outskirts of Milan. At the time, there were five prisons. He went one after another and finally in the fourth prison, he found a young man who looked like he thought Judas would have looked. A harsh face, with a scar here and there and a certain look of resentment. Impatience in his eyes. He explained to the young man what he was doing. He asked the young man if he would agree to come and pose for the painting. The young man agreed and arrangements were made to bring the man from the prison to DaVinci’s studio in Milan. There in the studio, DaVinci set about finishing his masterpiece.

During the second day, DaVinci noticed, the young man, would look at Leonardo and he would look at the painting and then he would look down. And every time that this happened, DaVinci sensed there was a certain sadness growing in the heart of this young man. Finally, DaVinci stopped painting and he asked the young man: "Is there something wrong, am I upsetting you in some way?" The young man said "No."

Leonardo continued painting, but about a half hour later, DaVinci noticed that this sadness had grown so deep that he thought that at any moment the young man would burst into tears. He stopped again and he said to the young man: "Is there something wrong, have I offended or upset you in some way?" The young man put his hands over his face and he began to weep inconsolably. After several minutes, he began to compose himself. He looked up at DaVinci and he said: "Master, do you not recognize me?" and DaVinci said, "No, I am sorry, I don’t. have we met before?" and the young man said "Yes. Seven years ago, I posed for you in this same painting as the person of Jesus."

As we’ve just heard and participated in the proclamation of the Passion of Jesus Christ, recalling the events of the week culminating in his Crucifixion, it’s easy to detach from it and look at it like some drama that we’re familiar with but not apart of. Yet the truth of the matter is quite different:

Within each of us is the capacity for great love, as well as great evil. We can respond to God’s grace in our lives and participate in the very life of God and resemble Jesus Christ; or in our sinfulness, our image can become distorted, and we reflect even a Judas.

From the Cross Jesus looks out at those in the crowd, he cannot help but notice, some of those people beneath the foot of the cross were waving Palm branches at him, just 5 days earlier. For some reason, they had made a bad choice. For some reason they had chosen "evil" rather than good.

Jesus knows for sure that within us we have the capacity to reflect Him or to reflect his betrayer Judas. The complex choices we make between good and evil, right and wrong affect us, affect who we are, and who we most resemble.

Holy Week confronts us... makes us uncomfortable... Asks us to look in the mirror. What does your face say about your life? Who do you resemble? Whatever your answer, the good news is that's not the end. As long as you have a face to look at, you have opportunities to take steps to look more like Jesus.

He is not looking at us like a finished product-- or a completed painting -- that there's nothing more He can do with us.   He looks at us with Love. He asks us to trust that Love.  He invites us to journey with Him in the act of supreme Love to Calvary, to the Cross where the first words we hear from Jesus crucified on the cross won’t be "Why have you done this to me", but a profound statement of amazing love Father forgive them, they know not what they do.

Yes, it needs to start at the cross. There is where we acknowledge the times when we’ve been like Judas, reflected Judas instead of following His lead. We have a choice to either cling to His Cross or release it and trust in ourselves.  In trusting Jesus, God will wipe away those Judas images and draw out the Jesus Christ that is within us to the forefront.


Hi everyone, here's my homily for the FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT - MARCH 22, 2015.  The readings for today's Mass can be found at: http://usccb.org/bible/readings/032215-fifth-sunday-lent.cfm.  As always, thanks for reading, sharing this post on facebook, twitter and reddit and all your comments and feedback.  God Bless - Fr Jim

The headline from the Huffington Post read: "Louisa Manning - the sort of heroine this   [crappy] world needs"(it actually didn't say "crappy" but while "journalists" don't have a problem using the "S" word.. its hard to think it's okay in a homily to do so)... I read that and thought "Oh boy."

A couple of months ago, 22 year old Louisa became an international story for standing up to a bully from when she was in 8th grade. Louisa’s a student at Oxford University in England, and at some dinner-dance, formal on campus, she bumped into one of the guys she knew from back in 8th grade. He was pretty surprised to see how much she had changed in the years since they last saw each other. According to Louisa, he made an ‘objectifying comment’, and remarked how different she looked compared to before and then asked her out on a date, as one report characterized it: "Either not remembering how much of a jerk he was before, or just thinking that Louisa would put up with the fact he used to be a jerk to her."

Manning accepted the date, but instead of showing up, she had the waiter deliver this handwritten letter to him with a picture of herself at age 14. The letter went:

So sorry I can't join you tonight.
Remember year 8, when I was fat and you made fun of my weight? No? I do - I spent the following three years eating less than an apple a day. So I've decided to skip dinner.

Remember the monobrow you mocked? The hairy legs you were disgusted by? Remember how every day for three years, you and your friends called me Manbeast? No perhaps you don't - or you wouldn't have seen how I look eight years later and deemed me (EXPLICIT) enough to treat me like a human being.

I thought I'd send you this as a reminder. Next time you think of me, picture that girl in this photo, because she's the one who just stood you up.
Louisa's story has a very human, very understandable element that made it go viral. We can see, we can hear, we can empathize the pain that this young girl experienced. We can get a sense of the hurt to her self-image, the physical harm that this resulted in from being treated so poorly. Being bullied by some thoughtless peers of hers. Even with the praise of many in the press and celebrities, even with the attention she’s received as the story has spread from continent to continent - when I went to her facebook page to read some more details of this story, some of her posts ranged from anger, to defending herself against as she termed them "haters." There was also one slight addendum to the story that "the boy in question has since apologized." From the story and comments - you see that Louisa may have developed a much thicker skin, and was able to stand up for herself in a way that I’m sure she wished she could’ve done 8 years earlier. But, she’s still very hurt, still understandably angry. And in some sense this whole episode – after the crowd is done cheering and applauding her for standing up for herself in such a bold, dramatic way – it just seems worse. Did the guy express true remorse? Was he moved to compassion and shame for what he did? Will Louisa ever feel whole, ever feel that self-love that has eluded her since being treated so badly?

We all encounter painful, difficult, sometimes seemingly crushing challenges throughout our lives. Sometimes it’s a result of our own poor choices, our failures, our sinfulness. Sometimes it’s the result of the poor choices, failures and sinfulness of those around us. Whichever the cause of these wounds, these little deaths that we experience - what do we do with those things? Do we allow it to embitter us? Do we give in and let it destroy us? Change us into being much more protective- isolated from those around us (and less receptive to everyone)?

One of the lines in the Gospel we just heard proclaimed has Jesus saying "The Hour Has Come." Those words are meant to usher us into these last two weeks of Lent which are sometimes referred to as "Passion-tide" (meaning the Passion of Jesus Christ)

The Church’s focus for these last days of the season of Lent is drawing utterly and completely on commemorating those historic – life changing events, those sacred mysteries of Jesus’ Passion, Death and Resurrection - celebrating those things which are central to who we are. The events that transform Jesus from being simply some great moral teacher, just a profound philosopher, or some amazing humanitarian. Jesus Christ is the Son of God - God become man who’s single mission in life is to save you and I from Sin, from death. That’s it.

And we still stand in wonder, amazement at how that all takes place.

Because think about what we just heard tonight in what is basically the prologue to the Passion. Jesus reveals that he knows what’s about to happen to Him: the backstabbing, the betrayals, the abandonment, the lies, the slanderous lies that will be told about him. The orchestrated plan to eliminate him. Not just eliminate him but discredit him, embarrass him. How the stage will be set to make it very easy for everyone to bail on Him. Next Sunday as we participate in the lengthy reading of the Passions of Jesus Christ, we have to recognize that it nowhere near does justice to the intensity, the painful depths that Jesus would suffer for us.

Yet before we get there, as Jesus acknowledges to his listeners what’s to come, He is also telling us something quite profound. He’s not warning people who will play central roles in his brutal death not to think about doing it or He will "get even" with them. He doesn’t demand promises of loyalty saying "I’ll remember who did (and didn’t) stand by me." He seems simply to be saying- no matter what, I’m not giving up on you.

I’m not giving up on you when you let me down.

I’m not giving up on you when you betray me.

I’m not abandoning you even when you’ve abandoned me.

I’m not giving up on you, even after all these cures and healings people have experienced and others have witnessed doesn’t seem to have been enough to reveal to you who I truly am;

I’m not giving up on you even after all my messages revealing the absolute Love that God has for each and everyone of you hasn’t convinced your skeptical hearts.

I’m not giving up on you even after I’ve reached out to the ends of the earth - to those rejected by "the world" and dismissed as ‘outcasts’ to show you how vast, wide and deep my love for you - and your brothers and sisters hasn’t won you over.

No matter what, I’m not giving up on you.

In fact, basically Jesus is saying tonight, if need be, you can even rip me open - and see my heart for yourself... That heart won’t turn to hate. It won’t look for vengeance. God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit reveal in unified voice as Jesus reflects on these things and says "Father glorify your name" and the voice of God the Father is heard I have glorified it and will glorify it again.

As Jesus contemplates what is before Him, the Father and Holy Spirit are united with Him in this moment where the love of God is revealed as stronger, deeper, and more absolute for humanity than has ever been said, or ever known before in History. He will allow these unjust, horrific events to unfold - not fighting, not pleading, not trying to persuade - simply accepting it and showing the strength of His heart. He’s willing to accept the Cross, the Passion, the Dying. He’s willing to do that to show the Glory of the Resurrection when he will rise from the dead... to show the depths of Love. That love isn’t just a warm feeling... or a romantic notion. Love is being lost in the eyes of the beloved... that there’s nothing you wouldn’t do, even giving up your very life for the one you love.

That love makes forgiveness of our enemies possible.

That love makes healing not simply a longed for desire but a reality.

That powerful love Jesus has for you and for me calls us to love Him in return by following Him and showing the light of His powerful love here in our world, in our lives, in our families, in our dorms and classes, in our community of Newman Catholic, in our campus of Montclair State...and beyond… now, today.

The Hour has come... once again. Will we glory the Father’s name?

LOSING SIGHT OF JESUS - (Feast of St. Joseph)

Hi everyone... here's my homily for the SOLEMNITY OF ST. JOSEPH - MARCH 19, 2015 given at Our Lady of Lourdes, West Orange NJ  15th Annual Novena to St. Joseph.  The Gospel for today is Luke 2: 41-51 (can be found here: http://usccb.org/bible/readings/031915.cfm)  Thanks as always for reading, sharing on twitter, facebook, reddit and elsewhere on social media.   I appreciate your feedback and comments.  Happy Feast of St. Joseph!  St. Joseph, pray for us! - Fr. Jim 


It’s so wonderful to be with all of you tonight to celebrate this feast of St. Joseph on this last night of your annual Novena to St. Joseph. To hear how this devotion and your faithfulness to it has continued night after night (year after year) is so beautiful... and I’m honored to be invited to be one of the speakers for this annual tradition - so thank you Fr. Ferry and Fr. Costa for this opportunity.                                                                                                                                                 Sadly there’s so many people - both Catholic and Non-Catholic who misunderstand why Saints are a big deal to us. Some of that is their own prejudices, misunderstandings or false teachings on our faith... But some of it is our own fault - sometimes superstitions have taken hold and people do wacky things like put a statue of the Virgin Mary in a window so it won’t rain - or burry a statue of St. Joseph to sell their house. (Both things that members of my very Italian family have done - even recently... Funny story: My Mother and Father last summer were trying to sell their shore place and they did exactly that, they buried him in the ground after getting one of those "St Joseph house selling kits" which resulted in our having a somewhat loud discussion... After my going crazy on the beach asking "Was Joseph dressed wearing a Century 21 jacket or rather a Century 1 Jacket" and explaining that this wasn’t a devotion but Italian witch-craft - My mother "felt bad" that she buried Joseph" - not sure if it was because of our "discussion" or the fact that the house didn’t sell... so she told my father to dig St. Joseph up... Funny thing, they couldn’t find him. Not finding him in the ground, they then accused me of digging him up - look, I had nothing to do with it... I don’t know if the Flight from Egypt somehow became the flight out of Wildwood... but eventually they got a new statue, which wasn’t buried but is properly displayed in the home asking for his intercession) Sorry Mom - I should’ve warned you I was going to tell that story tonight. I’ll pay for that later...

Anyway the point is, we don’t look to Saints as little gods. We don’t look to them to grant us wishes like genies where instead of rubbing a lamp, we faithfully do these specific prayers to get what we want.
We look to the Saints - we ask them to pray for us and to inspire us – because they give us excellent examples about loving Jesus, following Jesus and the effect and power that had in their lives and the lives of all those around them. Which is why I Love this gospel story about the entire Holy Family - Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

By now, hopefully we all know that Mary was chosen by God to give birth to Jesus and we know that Joseph was told by God through an angel it was okay to take Mary as his wife and to trust and believe what she was telling him. Now right there– for those things to happen like that, Mary and Joseph had to have been open to hearing God’s voice - and they had to trust, to believe and to follow that voice. That’s pretty characteristic of what makes a saint a saint.

But part of what makes them – Saints – important to us is the human dimension.
That relate-ability between us and them
We try to picture and relate to Mary as a Mother; Joseph as a Father.
We like to imagine them just as young people, young parents.

Here they were normal, everyday type of people, a carpenter and his wife who were called into beautiful, divine, heavenly things that were anything but normal. And in this Gospel, we get a glimpse that the normalcy of every day life didn’t go away just because they were God-loving, God-listening people. It wasn’t like because they were guardians of the Son of God that everything went okay... not by a long shot:

In this Gospel story – which is really the only one of his childhood – we hear of Jesus getting lost in the temple. Jesus was 12 years old. This had been an annual event to go to Jerusalem for the Passover feast. It had also been a long trip with a lot of people, family and friends all going together.

Often times, hearing this story, I’ve imagined it as Jesus kind of slipping out of his parent’s care. Not sure if I want to characterize Him as being disobedient for the moment... Maybe he was distracted, maybe he was inquisitive, maybe the experience of his heart burning as he sat in his Father’s house just consumed him so much he didn’t even realize everyone had left and he ends up just hanging back in the temple.
But there’s a different aspect that doesn’t often get a lot of attention when we hear this story: Joseph and Mary screwed up. They took their eyes off of Jesus. They were distracted. (That might be jarring to hear. People might want to just blame Joseph since Mary was conceived without sin thinking it couldn’t have been her fault... Just because she was without sin, didn’t mean she couldn’t make a mistake though... I’m not trying to shift the blame away from Joseph since it’s his feast day mind you and laying all the blame on Mary! That’s why I said - they both screwed up!)

Being Italian, I like to imagine them as Italian too (like a dialogue you’d hear on Everybody Loves Raymond...) Maybe Mary and Joseph were having a couples squabble "what is with your relatives? Next year, we’re not traveling to Jerusalem with that cousin of yours!" Maybe in all of the confusion they were preoccupied with trivial things - "did we pack everything? We’re going to be doing a lot of walking - are you sure you don’t want to get a new pair of sandals for the trip home?"

It’s hard for us to imagine that Mary and Joseph might have fixated on those minor details, those ordinary, every day matters - and in that they lost sight of the Savior. Lost sight of God’s son - their son. That they would lose sight of Jesus... even for a minute.

Yet we can relate to that – can’t we?

You and I know how easy it is for all of us to do the same.

We often talk about, think about, pray about how we want to be peaceful, joyful people - how we want healing from suffering - pains that affect our minds, body’s and spirits...yet when confronted by the reality that Christ is calling us to change and let go of a sinful habit; or that Jesus is probing our hearts to forgive that relative that we’ve been holding anger against; or when the Lord is nudging us to apologize to that friend, that neighbor, that co-worker and we just continue to resist doing so - we lose sight of Jesus.

Or – We often desire to know God’s love in a real, personal, intimate way - yet somehow we allow the busyness of life, the obligations and responsibilities to eclipse that desire; maybe we stop praying regularly or fell out of going to Mass on a weekly basis; maybe we are blind to the poor, the suffering around us - and all of a sudden, not thinking that we’ve made a conscious decision to do so, the reality is - we lose sight of Jesus.

There’s a lot of ways we can relate to this experience in our lives, BUT – what Mary and Joseph, the first two who lost sight of Jesus teach us is that He can always be found.
When they realize what has happened they drop everything they had, they leave behind the crowd they were traveling with (even including people they loved) they turn around to go look for Jesus. To go search for Him. They panic as they spend three days looking. Each day having to become increasingly more anxious as they pondered Where is Jesus... Heartsick as they wonder would they ever find him? Perhaps feeling worried that they let God the Father down in losing His only son... They finally come upon him, sitting in the temple amidst the teachers as they would be discussing Jesus’ (and our) Heavenly Father.

Again we can appreciate the relate-ability of Mary and Joseph. The temple wasn’t the first place they imagined they’d find him, and upon discovering him, they let Jesus know how upset they were. "WHY HAVE YOU DONE THIS TO US? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety" - this being the scriptures, I’m wondering if St. Luke cleaned that up a bit... But the boy Jesus speaks honest words speaking of who he is and what is most important most essential for him - "I must be in my Father’s house."

As he returns to Nazareth with his parent’s Joseph and Mary, he doesn’t leave his Father’s house. The union between God the Father and His Son will never be broken. But now Jesus’ earthly family, this Holy Family is included in the Father’s house as he goes back to Nazareth and was obedient to them.

For us, I truly believe our devotion to St. Joseph only makes sense if we focus our attention, on that question that he and Mary must have asked each other: Where is Jesus?

Where is Jesus in our lives?

Where is Jesus in our work, our routines?

Where is Jesus in our families; in our relationships?

Has he been relegated to a minor place - someone we forget about in the ins and outs, the daily stresses, responsibilities, confusions?

Have we lost sight of him?

If we have, whether it was momentarily or much longer than that... Joseph and Mary offer us their life witness and testimony that the only way we can achieve the peace the fulfillment and love we long for is if we drop everything, even leave the crowds we are traveling with and go search for him. But here’s where we are more fortunate than Mary and Joseph – unlike them, for us, Jesus can be easily found. We hear his voice in the Scriptures, we encounter him in the Sacraments -especially in the Eucharist where he offers us His Body and Blood, and in Reconciliation where our sins our wiped away and our friendship with Him is renewed...

We don't encounter Jesus as a 12 year lost in the temple – rather, we are blessed to know that Jesus Christ, risen from the dead is in fact constantly on the look out for us, longing for us to long for him... Hoping that our desire is that what consumed His child-like heart and caused heart-burn for Mary and Joseph - to be in the Father’s house for all eternity. For you and I, that is only achievable if we never lose sight of Jesus


Saint Joseph - The Foster Father of Jesus, the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary... the Patron of the universal Church...  He's most remembered for his quote: "  " (that's a joke, he has absolutely no quoted words in scripture)

St. Joseph has been an inspiration to me for over 25 years now (with much thanks to my pastor, Fr. Eugene Marcone who brought this devotion to our parish all those years ago).  He's been a "model of chastity"; challenged me to be a "protector of the Church" and in many other ways.

He's also been a powerful intercessor for me and my family.  Many intentions that I've asked for his prayers for have been answered in a variety of ways. 

The following is one variation of the Novena - it is to be prayed each day for 9 days (that's what the word "novena" means - 9 days -- and lest people argue with you, it's a biblically based, scripturally founded devotion.  The first "Novena" was when Jesus told his apostles on Ascension Thursday to gather in prayer and await the Holy Spirit - who came upon them on Pentecost... 9 days later!)

I begin this devotion on MARCH 10th - to finish the EVE of ST. JOSEPH'S FEAST DAY on MARCH 19th - but you can begin it on the 11th and pray it through the feast day as well.

In addition, this Novena can be added to some of your daily prayers and devotions.


In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit
O Lord, open my lips.
And my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
O God come to my assistance.
O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be; world without end, AMEN

O Glorious St. Joseph / Faithful follower of Jesus Christ / to you we raise our hearts and hands / to implore your powerful intercession / in obtaining from the benign heart of Jesus / all the helps and graces necessary / for our spiritual and temporal welfare / particularly the grace of happy death / and the special favor we now implore

(Here pause for your intentions).

O guardian of the Word Incarnate / we feel animated with confidence / that your prayers in our behalf / will be graciously heard / before the throne of God.
Lord, have mercy on us.  Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us,Christ hear us.Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Spirit,  have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,  have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Joseph, pray for us.
Noble scion of David, pray for us.
Light of the Patriarchs, pray for us.
Spouse of the Mother of God, pray for us.
Chaste guardian of the Virgin, pray for us.
Foster-father of the Son of God, pray for us.
Sedulous defender of Christ, pray for us.
Head of the Holy Family, pray for us.

Joseph, most just, pray for us.
Joseph, most chaste, pray for us.
Joseph, most prudent, pray for us.
Joseph, most valiant, pray for us.
Joseph, most obedient, pray for us.
Joseph most faithful, pray for us.

Mirror of patience, pray for us.
Lover of poverty, pray for us.
Model of workers, pray for us.
Ornament of domestic life, pray for us.
Protector of virgins, pray for us.
Pillar of families, pray for us.
Consolation of the afflicted, pray for us.
 Hope of the sick, pray for us.
Patron of the dying, pray for us.
Terror of the demons, pray for us.
Protector of Holy Church, pray for us.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
Spare us O Lord!
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us O Lord!
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us!
He made him master of His House,
And ruler of all His possessions
O God / who in Your ineffable providence / did vouchsafe to choose blessed Joseph / to be the spouse of Your most holy Mother / grant we beseech You / that we may have him whom we venerate on earth / as our intercessor in heaven / Who lives and reigns forever and ever. AMEN.


Hi everyone, here's my homily for the SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT - March 1, 2015.  The readings for today can be found at http://usccb.org/bible/readings/030115.cfm.  Thanks as always for stopping by to read, comment and sharing this post on Twitter, Facebook and reddit.  Appreciate your support and interest.  God Bless - Fr. Jim


One of my best friends growing up was this guy who lived down the street from me named Kevin. We were in Little League together - we got in trouble (actually, lots of trouble) together - and on the other extreme, we were altar boys together (and come to think of it, sometimes got in trouble there too). One of the things Kevin liked to do was to play "War." That’s where we’d be building forts in the woods, waiting to attack our enemy - (who was usually some unsuspecting neighbor of ours who happened to be walking by). Looking back, I can see how that was one of many signs that Kevin wanted to be a United States Marine. Another sign would be how every Halloween he would dress in fatigues and camo paint his face - not because he couldn’t afford a costume, but because that’s all he wanted to dress up as – he wanted to be a Marine.

In High school, this quest continued for him - he joined a High School ROTC program - and was really into it. His folks weren’t as excited about it though. During his sophomore year they decided to move down to Virginia - for a lot of reasons - but I think one of the reasons was that they had hoped a different environment, away from some of Kevin’s "military buddies" (not me...) might help shake some of this desire out of him.

It didn’t work. In fact, not long after he graduated, without talking to his parents, he went to the Recruitment office one day, and enlisted. He called me to tell me that he would be leaving for Parris Island for Boot Camp in a few weeks. I wasn’t surprised - and was happy for him – even as his mother continued to cry in the background... Happy because he was fulfilling his dream.

It wasn’t until about 6 or 8 weeks later that I got my one and only letter from Kevin writing to me from Boot Camp. I still have the letter somewhere. In it, he talked about how awful, how much he hated it - Hated boot camp - the lack of sleep, the hours of repetitious mundane tasks, the yelling of the D.I.’s. It sounded like his dream had become a nightmare. He sounded sad, even a bit scared in his letter as he wrote the words "Jim, I keep asking myself ‘What have I gotten myself into...’"

What have I gotten myself into.

I kind of think that’s what Peter, James and John felt and thought in today’s Gospel. Look at what happens in the passage we heard today. They’ve been following Jesus for some time now. They had a concept in their minds of who Jesus was. Here Jesus takes the three of them up this high mountain by themselves. He’s "transfigured" before them - his face shines like the sun, his clothes become whiter than anything Tide or any other bleach could hope to make them. Moses and Elijah, two major figures who had been dead for centuries appear. Moses was the personification of "The Law" (remember Moses was given the 10 commandments to give to the People Israel) and Elijah represents "The Prophets" (the messengers of God to His people). So they see these two men speaking with Jesus and they take a step back - as the Voice of God the Father is heard "This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him." It’s clear - Jesus is now taking their place - fulfilling the roles they had held. The three go from excitement at first "Let’s build tents and never leave!" to being so scared - the Gospel says they were "terrified" so much so Jesus "hardly knew what to say." I wonder if they were thinking:

"What have I gotten myself into."

Because this changes everything for them. They had been with Jesus for a while now. They had heard him preach; they saw and experienced some of his miracles and healings; they had responded to his invitation to leave everything behind and to come and follow Him. But now as they were on this Mount, as they heard the voice of God, any semblance of a doubt about who Jesus is was gone. They knew who he was "THIS IS MY BELOVED SON, LISTEN TO HIM." There’s no wiggle room around that. Jesus isn’t some flash in a pan. Jesus isn’t some guy that they’re just going to get bored with one day and move on from. Jesus is God’s Beloved son.

Why would that be something to scare the three of them? As the Gospel says after all these sights, and sounds and feelings they are left with Jesus alone. It was cool up until now to hang with Jesus, to hear him preach some great words - do some impressive things - but, now they realized that was only the beginning of their relationship with Him. This would change their lives even more than following him to this point had done. What was going to happen next? As they are leaving he’s warning them of his own Passion and Death... There’s scary things on the horizon. What have I gotten myself into?

Is it different for us? We come to Church and (hopefully) it feels good - we’re happy to be here. It’s good that we like being apart of this community; it’s a good thing to want to get involved in things - but all of that is not enough. We hear God’s voice saying to each of us "This is my beloved Son - Listen to Him" things change. Because that puts a path out for all of us. It’s only in submitting our will to God’s will - letting go of the things that block God, enduring the difficulties of doing all of that and truly focusing on Jesus that God can transfigure us - God can transforms us into the beautiful beings he had in his heart and mind from the very beginning. Because that’s the other part: When we listen and follow Jesus – God looks at each of us and says we are His Beloved Sons and Daughters too.

My friend Kevin, ultimately got through boot camp, graduated from Parris Island, and became the Marine he had always dreamed he would become. Seeing him on his Graduation day, after that experience, I never brought up that letter he wrote - never asked how he got through his "what have I gotten myself into" moment (Marine’s aren’t known for wanting to probe their "feelings") Just seeing him, I could tell he had gotten through it, and was a stronger Man, a stronger Marine for it.

For the three apostles, we hear that Jesus came to them in that moment of fear, he remains with them and leads them with him down the mountain. And they keep following Him. They would mess up, many, many times- and every time, Jesus would draw them closer to himself in forgiving them over and over. And after Jesus had ascended and gifted them with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost - they would continue to spread His word to the world around them in ways they could never have imagined they’d be able to that day they first did this Mountain climb with Jesus.

What about us? Have you found yourself in the spot where you are asking yourself, "What did I get myself into?" When you first entered this college and was getting into the routine, did you feel that way? Jesus has called you to be here and you answered the call. As you know, that doesn't mean a smooth ride. It means you are being obedient to Him because you love Him.

As we come here to hear His Word and receive His Body and Blood - are we just telling Him things – are we asking for things – or are we Listening to him? What is he saying to you in your heart of hearts? God always has us on a path of change because He will not leave us as we are now. He has a better plan. What is he asking you to change? What difficult thing, what sin, what temptation seems to be holding you back from a deeper relationship with Him? Your relationship with Him is of the utmost importance. Nothing else measures up to that. Is God calling you to go somewhere that makes you feel uncomfortable? More than likely, we are a bit scared thinking about those things and we may wonder to ourselves "what have I gotten myself into?" God the Father’s voice confidently reminds us "This is my beloved son. Listen to Him."

What do you believe about listening and obeying what Jesus tells you? In your soul, the Holy Spirit confirms what it is you need to do. Following that voice will enable you to stand strong on your faith. Becoming fearless in Jesus is the goal for you. There is true freedom in walking boldly to His throne and journeying in confidence knowing He directs your path. Basically, Jesus knows what you have gotten yourself into and He is standing close helping you through. He will never leave you.