Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Wedding HOMILY for Chris and Sarah on July 6, 2019

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Marriage of Chris and Sarah
Church of the Nativity
July 6, 2019

Prayer and Scripture: Rock-Solid Foundation for Marriage
By (Rev. Msgr.) Nicholas P. Amato 


Couples Selecting Their Readings

It is my practice when preparing couples for marriage to have the two of them choose the readings. 

Generally it goes something like this: before we meet next time set aside three evenings to have dinner at home together. 

For the first evening read all the selections offered for the Old Testament reading and decide which is your first choice and why. Then decide which one will be used for the wedding and why. The second evening choose an epistle and the third the Gospel, all using the same method.  

I invite them to do this because in the process they have to look at what in scripture resonates in their own lives as future husband and wife.

At our next meeting they sharing regarding which readings they’ve chosen gives me lots of ideas for the homily.

I must admit the quality and the amount of fruit that such a process produces really depends on how well they link scripture to their experiences. Most times it’s a mediocre harvest, if you will. 

However, with Chris and Sarah the harvest was plentiful! Think of acres and acres of green corn stalks or waving wheat. Think of an orange groves with hundreds of trees laden with luscious fruit.

Book of Tobit

In their both choosing the reading from the Book of Tobit, Chris and Sarah give themselves away. Prayer is and will continue to be the rock on which their marriage will build.

Tobias and Sarah — ahem, can her name only be a coincidence! — rise on their wedding night to bless God and praise his holy name. They are grateful for the heavens and all in nature, for Adam and Eve who began it all, and end by asking God to allow them live to a happy old age.

Gratitude gratitude, gratitude. Their prayer is filled with it.

And what gratitude was called forth from Chris and Sarah in choosing this reading?  They told me: grateful for them finding each other, grateful for the journey of faith they’ve been on together, for relief in stressful times, support in moments of health crises, a sense of comfort with being who they are as individuals and not having to change, and grateful for each having different skills with a certain complementarity.

Notice: gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. Their prayer, as Tobias and Sarah’s, is filled with it. 

When you pray and your prayer begins with what you’re grateful to God for, two things begin to happen. First, if you’re willing to never repeat the things you’re grateful for, you begin to look for more and more and begin to notice smaller and smaller things. 

Second, you begin to experience gratitude in the moment, rather than just in the recollection. A real sense of joy right now, right now, right now  begins to grow.

Romans 12: “Rejoice, Endure, Persevere”

The reading from Romans was Sarah’s first choice and her choosing it reveals something very personal about her values.  

The verse that jumps out for her is, “Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer,” and is a phrase that remains emblazoned on an erase board that continues to hang on her fridge.

That verse has gotten her through some tough times before meeting Chris. Her trust in God was tested and into her life walked Chris. That was no mere coincidence. Trusting in God gets results.

John 15 “I call you friends”

The reading from the Gospel of John was Chris’ first choice and particularly the words of Jesus, “Love one another as I love you.”What do they call forth in Chris’ life? His experience as an Eagle Scout and the Order of the Arrow.

When he read those words of Jesus they resonated with his life and values. It was a kind of “Aha!” As with Sarah, sacred scripture lighted up Chris’ very human experiences and resulted in a deepened faith and trust in Jesus.

For Chris it created a deeper level of commitment that had its focus in Jesus as an example of sacrificial love. 

That sacrificial love gets played out in a hundred and one ways from taking out the trash and changing the wiper blades on Sarah’s car to committing himself to love Sarah all their days. 

Conclusion

My challenge to you on your wedding day is to commit to doing what you already do so well:
Ø  Pray every day and begin by jotting 3 things you’re grateful for in a little spiral-bound pad, and never repeating an item.
Ø  Keep the phrase “Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer,” on your fridge and we all might do the same — a phrase that lifts the weight, is a shaft of light in darkness, or serves like a refreshing glass of ice water on a sweltering day. 
Ø  Finally, along with Chris selection of “Love one another as I love you,” we might all select a scripture verse that connects with our own life and values, and takes you deeper into a relationship with Jesus. Memorize it and recall it often as an affirmation of your deeper self.

Chris and Sarah, even before you have exchange your vows, the simple act of selecting three readings has taught us much about rock-solid marriages. Thank you and God bless you.

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May your both continue to be models of married love into a happy old age. 

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

HOMILY for June 30, 2019: 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

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13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C
St. Mark Parish
June 30, 2019

My Faith Life As a Journey
By (Rev. Msgr.) Nicholas P. Amato 


A Journey


For many years, I have used the word “journey” to express how I have been experiencing my life.

I am not sure exactly when I came up with the descriptive word, but I am certain it probably came from Saint Luke’s Gospel. In today’s passage, Luke uses the word “journey” four times.

The Gospel writer is apparently really trying to make a point. He sees Jesus’ entire ministry as a journey, and what’s more a journey to Jerusalem.

For Jesus, this was both a geographical and a spiritual journey. It is also symbolic of a spiritual journey that I believe you and I are on. 

And each day is another step in this journey – with Jesus, and back to God. It is a journey with new opportunities and new challenges always coming up.  

Experiencing my life as a journey also helps me to see myself as being on the way and not yet there, in other words, as being human and imperfect and in need of growth.

It helps me realize my resources and companions I meet along the way. 

So, the image of a journey is very powerful one for me.

Virtues for the Journey

Now, in today’s Gospel passage, we see some of the traits that Jesus holds up to us for this image to come alive in our experience. 

These traits emerge in Jesus’ response to some people who want to follow him on hisjourney. It is important to understand correctly what Jesus means here with each of his responses. 

1. Go Beyond Comfort Zone


One person in the Gospel says, “I will follow you wherever you go,”and Jesus responds, “Foxes and birds have places to stay, but I do not.”

What he’s saying is that sometimes following him won’t be very comfortable. Sometimes we will have to push ourselves and move out of our comfort zone.  

For example, maybe we’ll have to swallow hard, eat our pride, admit we made a mistake and ask for forgiveness. Sometimes, if we are going to journey with Jesus, we’ll have to go out of our comfort zone.

2. Do Good Now


Someone else in the Gospel says that he’ll follow Jesus, but wants first to go and bury his father. Jesus seems very blunt and cold and says, “Let the dead bury their dead.”

Scripture scholars tell us that from the original wording here, this man’s father was not yet dead and nor even dying. The man was just saying that he’d follow Jesus, but not just now, sometime later on in his life.  

Jesus’ point is, for example, that if we feel drawn to write a note expressing our appreciation and love to our parents or children or spouse or close friend, do it now and don’t put it off. 

If we are going to journey with Jesus, do right now the good things that we feel drawn to do.

 

3. Look Ahead


Then someone else says that he’ll follow Jesus, but he first wants to say good-bye to his family. While that would seems reasonable, Jesus says that it’s not a good idea to look back when you’re plowing a field. 

The idea is that if you are preparing rows for planting corn, the rows won’t be straight, if you’re looking behind yourself. Jesus’ point is to look ahead and live in the present and not in the past.

Don’t wistfully yearn for the “good old days” and don’t be bogged down in past hurts, mistakes, and failures. 

If we are going to journey with Jesus, just look ahead and make the most of today’s opportunities.
  

Conclusion


So, 
(1)   Sometimes we’ll have to go beyond our comfort zone
(2)  Do good nowand not put it off until later
(3)  Look ahead and don’t get stuck on what’s behind you, and 
(4)  Be respectful no matter what.

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They are some of the traits for living life as a journey with Jesus and eventually returning to the Father! 

Daily HOMILY for June 21, 2019: Friday 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Cycle C

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Friday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time
Retreat and Spiritual Center at Bon Secours
June 21, 2019

PERISHABLE THINGS ++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Ø Today Jesus offers us nuggets of practical wisdom 
Ø He is trying to motivate us to live wisely and avoid a shallow and foolish lifestyle
Ø He knows that we can easily get caught up in nice, comfortable material things
Ø So, he cautions that moths can eat holes in our finest clothing
Ø Metals are subject to corrosion and rust
Ø Anything we own can be lost – in a fire, in a theft or fraud, or in an economic downturn
IMPERISHABLE THINGS ++++++++++++++++++++++++
Ø But, Jesus adds, there are somethings that are not vulnerable to being lost in these ways
Ø And those things are the things of the spirit:
o   Like our relationship with God that comes from faith and prayer
o   Satisfaction that comes from giving of ourselves for the well-being of others
o   The inner peace that comes from living out of the way of love taught by Jesus
Ø No thing and no one can take these spiritual treasures away from us. They R lasting and will last
Ø In fact, so lasting are they that we will take them with us when it is our time to go home to God
MOVING FROM PERISHABLE TO IMPERISHABLE ++++
Ø To move from imperishable  rather than perishable things, Jesus tells us about the use of our eyes 
Ø What we look atis usually where we look for the things we will eventually treasure
o   So, instead of looking at some lewd Internet site, look at a site with a spiritual reflection for the day
o   Instead of looking at all kinds of clothes or gadgets that we really don’t need, spend time looking at a book and reading about how to communicate better or how to deal with anger
CONCLUSION ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Ø As Jesus says, “If your eye is sound, your whole body — your whole self — will be filled with light.”
Ø And — by the way — that very light will be part of the lasting treasure “Where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.”
Ø Great advice from the Lord on how to live wisely!
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