Sunday, February 19, 2017

Homily: 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Really?  We have to love those that we fear?  Those who are different from us? The ones who are strangers?

In the past few weeks there has been much written about the plight of the refugees.  Politics aside, as Christians, we are called to live the Gospel…which is much harder than reading or preaching about it.  So what does Jesus say in the Beatitudes?  And how can Pope Francis, Brian McLaren and Leonardo DaVinci add some light on this hotly debated subject?

Check it out…

Click here for a podcast of the homily

Click here for the text of the homily

Click here for the readings of this Sunday 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Eulogy for Marjorie Gilbert Knipper

On December 25, 2016 our Step-mother, Margie Gilbert Knipper, at the age of 86, died after a short illness.  She joined both of my parents in the arms of the risen Lord.  Today, friends and family gathered together as we celebrated her life with a Mass of Resurrection at St. Paul Church in Princeton NJ.

Margie had an incredible life as a religious sister, author, playwright, artist, poet, minister, Religious Education Director, and wife.

In 1980 she jotted down her Philosophy of Life:

1.      Trust in God

2.      Be kind to everyone

3.      Do what you want to do

4.      For spirituality – say the Our Father and listen to the Spirit within you

5.      Be honest – no matter what

6.      Don’t take yourself too seriously

7.      Be grateful. Thank God

8.      Appreciate a blade of grass, how a rug is made, a song, a child, a book, sand, sea, flowers…see God’s face in every flower.

9.      Pray for a friend!

Her life was filled with many blessings and no surprise that she was called home to the Lord on Christmas night.  Why do I say that?  Listen to the words I shared with all those who came together today – and more about our dear Margie…

Click here for the text of the homily

Click here for the podcast of the homily

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Look Into the Face of Another

Look into the face of another, and what do you see?

Ongoing research in neuroscience continues to open our eyes to a deep new understanding of how we develop our capacity to become human beings. It all starts with a gaze. It begins with what we see as an infant entering the world, blessed with a welcoming, life-sustaining environment. It is initiated at birth with our first look into our mother’s eyes. It is then reinforced with the gaze of our father, our grandparents, and others to whom we learn to return that gaze. No word is spoken, and we carry no memory of that time. But before language, before any conscious memory, there is this seeing into the eyes of the other—and of being seen by the eyes of the other. It is a mutual beholding of the other’s sacred being, of knowing that we are loved. I witness this myself every time I hold my six-month-old grandson: smile to smile, breath to breath, voice to voice, heartbeats in sync with a deep realization that some sort of energy flows freely between us...and then from us to others.

What energy would this be? In his most recent book, The Divine Dance, Fr. Richard Rohr writes of the Trinity being seen as the energy between the three “persons” rather than just the “persons” themselves. In other words, we are invited to look at the Trinity using the early Christian image of a circle dance—an unending flow of giving and receiving between Father, Son, and Spirit—as being the pattern of reality. Rohr writes, "God is not only a dancer, but the dance itself—reminding the world of our interdependence and our inherent union with what is. The Trinity teaches us how to live in creative collaboration, valuing and honoring our differences while also serving each other with humility and compassion." The power of this Trinitarian Flow is rooted in its mutuality and inclusion of all people. God freely gives this love to all of us, asking only that we pass it on to others.

I think this is why, when Jesus was looking to sum up the Law of Moses and the teaching of the prophets, his directive of how to love was to "do to others as you would have them do to you" (Lk 6:31). Thus it would seem love involves mutual mirroring of the Divine gaze—allowing Divine energy to flow. That there is this form of give and take—I do to you and you do to me—with no expectation of reward or gain. Simply a command to share the gaze of God, to share God's love. 

Soon we will celebrate Christmas—the birth of Jesus—God fully human and fully divine.  The Word became flesh, and thus the face of God is seen in Jesus. It is a time to remember that we truly are created in God’s “image and likeness,” much more than we ever imagined. Before we begin this new way of seeing another, we might start by looking into a mirror. What we see is the image of who we are. For some of us, this may expose an increase in wrinkles or perhaps lines of anxiety, or maybe the curling lips of a smile. But old or young, we will view the face made in the image of God. It is the image of who we are in God. The face God gazes upon and accepts and loves without judgment.  For God includes, accepts, forgives, and loves each of us unconditionally, just as we are—warts and all. All we can do is receive the gaze and share it with all others. In doing so, God's way of loving us, if we allow it, becomes our model for loving others. Thus, the Golden Rule calls for us to love others as we allow God to love us, which in turn should lead to a chain reaction, fostering a loving world.

Philosopher Emmanuel Levinas said the only thing that really connects people at a deeper level is seeing the face of the other. In his words, "If one could possess, grasp, and know the other, it would not be other."

Coming off an election cycle that fostered language from both sides of the aisle devoid of any sense of love, compassion, or mercy—maybe it is time to pause and ponder the gift of the Divine gaze. For we need to believe in it, celebrate it, receive it, trust it, allow it, and then pass it on to those whom we see—allowing ourselves to be open to new relationships and living in communion with those we gaze upon and who gaze upon us. Or in the words that Jesus gave us: to do unto others as we would have them do to us.

Look into the face of another, and what do you see?

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Homily: 3rd Sunday of Advent

During Advent we are called to celebrate that the Kingdom of God is here and now and at the same time still to come - that the Lord is truly near. But often we do not feel that way. Instead we can be more like John the Baptist, in today’s Gospel, wondering where God is in our lives. But there is reason to Rejoice! on this Gaudete Sunday – and for Thomas Merton the reason was found on the corner of 4th and Walnut in Louisville, Kentucky.

What did he realize that day? And how can his insight change the way you look at your life? How can his epiphany give you reason to Rejoice?

Check it out…

Click here for a podcast of the homily

Click here for the text of the homily 

Click here for the readings of the day

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Homily: Feast of Christ the King 2016

This weekend we bring our Liturgical Year as well as our Jubilee Year of Mercy to a close as we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King – a time for us to refocus on who or what is “King” in our lives.

There is no shortage of alternative “Kings”, but lately it would seem, politics has been a dominating “King” in all of our lives. If you are like me, maybe you are exhausted from being barraged for the past 18 months with divisive rhetoric from both sides of the isle filled with anger, fear and hatred and then seeing it repeated and amplified through social media – language and actions devoid of love and mercy…and now we are wondering why hate crimes are on the rise?

So what sets the priorities in your life? Who or what is your King?  Perhaps a bit of wisdom from Elie Wiesel, Pope Francis and Lukan Gospels will point us in the right direction. Click and check it out.

Click here for a podcast of the homily

Click here for the text of the homily

Click here for the readings of the day