Catholic homily outline for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – Strengthening faith

A prophet is not without honor except in his native place.

A prophet is not without honor except in his native place.

Central idea: Humble prophets bring glad tidings to the humble poor. Doctrine: Perseverance in faith. Practical application: Shipbuilding our faith.

Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.)

This outline is written to be in accord with the Homiletic Directory issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (2014). To read an excellent summary of the Homiletic Directory, click here.

To view Lectionary 101, click here.

Central idea: Humble prophets bring glad tidings to the humble poor

Reading 1 Ez 2:2-5

As the LORD spoke to me, the spirit entered into me
and set me on my feet,
and I heard the one who was speaking say to me:
Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites,
rebels who have rebelled against me;
they and their ancestors have revolted against me to this very day.
Hard of face and obstinate of heart
are they to whom I am sending you.
But you shall say to them: Thus says the Lord GOD!
And whether they heed or resist—for they are a rebellious house—
they shall know that a prophet has been among them.

  • Ezekiel did not make himself a prophet. Rather, the Lord spoke to him and the spirit of the Lord entered him.
    • The Catechism tells us, “In their ‘one to one’ encounters with God, the prophets draw light and strength for their mission” (CCC 2584). One reason they needed light and strength was that although the Jews were specially chosen by God to be his children, they were obstinate rebels.
    • We Catholics cannot claim any superiority to them. We are baptized into Christ and yet we have the tendency to rebel against God’s will for us.
  • “The mission of the prophets” was to give to the Chosen People what they needed: “education in faith and conversion of heart” (CCC 2581). Both the Jews’ thoughts and actions needed to be turned to God’s will.
    • We also need an ongoing “education in faith and conversion of heart.”
    • Conversion of heart precedes the enlightenment of the mind. When we sin, we tell ourselves to “shut up” when it comes to recognizing that sin—we say, It’s not a sin or I didn’t sin or It was justified. That is hardness of heart. But when we return to God by repentance, we once again recognize the truth that Christ, our supreme prophet, has revealed to us.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 123:1-2, 2, 3-4

R. Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy.

To you I lift up my eyes
who are enthroned in heaven —
As the eyes of servants
are on the hands of their masters.

As the eyes of a maid
are on the hands of her mistress,
So are our eyes on the LORD, our God,
till he have pity on us.

Have pity on us, O LORD, have pity on us,
for we are more than sated with contempt;
our souls are more than sated
with the mockery of the arrogant,
with the contempt of the proud.

  • A good servant’s attention is focused on the one he serves.
  • In the psalm, those speaking are focused on the Lord now because their human masters are mistreating them. Arrogant men mock them.
  • It would have been better if they had had their eyes fixed on the Lord earlier to do his will. It would have been better for them to have been humble before God rather than to be humiliated by men.
  • Regardless of why we are mistreated, it is right to turn to the Lord in our affliction, not only because he is our true master but even more because he is our Father.

Reading 2 2 Cor 12:7-10

Brothers and sisters:
That I, Paul, might not become too elated,
because of the abundance of the revelations,
a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan,
to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.
Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me,
but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,
for power is made perfect in weakness.”
I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses,
in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.
Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults,
hardships, persecutions, and constraints,
for the sake of Christ;
for when I am weak, then I am strong.

  • Even though God’s spirit entered Ezekiel, the prophet could not become proud because the Lord told him his message would be rejected.
  • Paul confesses that he could have become proud because the Lord made him a prophet, his apostle. But Paul received this “thorn in the flesh” to keep him humble. It made him ask three times for it to be removed, but the Lord wanted him to keep it and to rely on the grace he was giving him.
  • Paul could be “content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints,” since they were accompanied by Christ’s grace.
  • Thus, whenever we suffer our eyes should shift immediately from ourselves and from those making us suffer to the Lord, like attentive servants.
    • Our inability makes room for Christ’s ability.

Alleluia Cf. Lk 4:18

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for he sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor.

  • We are poor entitled to glad tidings if we know our need for God.

Gospel Mk 6:1-6

Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples.
When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue,
and many who heard him were astonished.
They said, “Where did this man get all this?
What kind of wisdom has been given him?
What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!
Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary,
and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?
And are not his sisters here with us?”
And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and among his own kin and in his own house.”
So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,
apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.
He was amazed at their lack of faith.

  • Jesus is a prophet, that is, he reveals the truth to those with whom he speaks (CCC 436).
  • His own townspeople, in large part, reject him and what he has to say.
  • Their words of astonishment appear to be mockery and seem to be demanding miracles from him. In this they are anticipating how Herod behaved during Christ’s Passion.
  • Their words also reveal that Our Lord had lived an ordinary life in Nazareth, so his townsmen think they fully know him.
  • Evidently, they don’t think they need anything from him. They don’t see themselves as the poor, to whom the Lord brings glad tidings (Lk 4:18). This is ironic because of the low esteem their fellow Jews held Galilee and even Nazareth.
  • Jesus “was not able to perform any mighty deeds there” due to their lack of faith, “apart from curing a few sick people” who did have faith. His miracles, then, in part, are confirmations of the truth he speaks.

Doctrine: Perseverance in faith

  • We can lose our faith by doing evil. As St. Paul puts it, “By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith” (1 Tim 1:18-19; CCC 162). By conscience, St. Paul means “a good conscience” (CCC 162).
    • For example, many people today lose their faith in God, not because it is difficult to believe in him, but because they do not live the virtue of chastity.
    • Recall in regard to education in faith and conversion of heart that conversion of heart precedes the enlightenment of the mind. This is because when we sin, we tell ourselves It’s not a sin or I didn’t sin or It was justified. That is a hardness of heart that causes hardness of head!
  • It is also possible for us to find a safe harbor for our faith and even to help make one. The Catechism advises: we must nourish our faith “with the word of God; we must beg the Lord to increase our faith; it must be ‘working through charity,’ abounding in hope, and rooted in the faith of the Church” (CCC 162).
    • We can guard our faith and help it grow by constant prayerful reading of the Sacred Scriptures; by asking God to increase our faith; by doing good for others; by making acts of hope rather than giving into sadness; and by holding to all the doctrines of faith and morals that the Church teaches.
  • Jesus Christ is the supreme prophet. We share in Christ’s prophetic office by nature of our baptismal vocation. So we, too, have the call to witness to the truth by our words and lives.
  • However, when we begin to embrace our vocation to be witnesses to the truth, we become aware of obstacles. The obstacles are really our participation in God’s seeming inability to reach people who are indifferent to him or who reject him.
    • Christ did not force his townsmen to have faith in him. God sent Ezekiel to preach even though the people would reject him. St. Paul saw that power is made perfect in weakness.
    • God is omnipotent. “God who created everything also rules everything and can do everything. God’s power is loving, for he is our Father, and mysterious, for only faith can discern it when it ‘is made perfect in weakness.’” (CCC 268)
    • Our faith in the face of our weakness to move others reveals to us “the mysterious ways of God’s almighty power. This seemingly impotent faith glories in its weaknesses in order to draw to itself Christ’s power. The Virgin Mary is the supreme model of this faith, for she believed that ‘nothing will be impossible with God,’ and was able to magnify the Lord: ‘For he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.’” (CCC 273)
    • Our inability makes room for Christ’s ability.
  • There is also a kind of awesome hidden bonus or treasure in our weakness. St. Paul learns “from the Lord, ‘my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,’ and that the sufferings to be endured can mean that ‘in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his Body, that is, the Church’” (CCC 1508). This hidden treasure is that our inability is what makes us co-redeemers with Christ. This is why St. Paul can be content with ‘weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints.”

Practical application: Shipbuilding our faith

  • We have seen from the Catechism that we can guard our faith and help it grow by constant prayerful reading of the Sacred Scriptures; by asking God to increase our faith; by doing good for others; by making acts of hope rather than giving into sadness; and by holding to all the doctrines of faith and morals that the Church teaches. Also, our weakness need not be any obstacle to faith but can increase it. Thus, we have a menu of ways we can grow in faith. If we ask the Holy Spirit for light, he will show us what would be best to focus on.
    • Prayerful reading of the Sacred Scriptures. Our Lady heard the Word of God and kept it. Martha’s sister Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and listened and received the better part. There is no reason we cannot find five minutes a day to read the New Testament.
    • Asking God to increase our faith. “Increase my faith” is a perfect prayer in God’s eyes. He is pleased when we do so.
    • Doing good for others. The virtue of faith is united to the virtue of charity. We show we believe in God whom we cannot see by loving the persons around us we can see. All of us have many opportunities every day to serve others and make them happier, whether it is in our family life, school life, friendships, or in the world of work.
    • Making acts of hope. Sometimes we are tempted to give into sadness and to enjoy feeling sorry for ourselves. This is just a sneaky, diabolical way to make us self-centered. A very simple act of hope is the petition from the Lord’s Prayer, “Deliver us from evil.”
    • Being full-menu Catholics. Rather than being “cafeteria Catholics,” picking and choosing what doctrines of faith or morals we will accept and reject, we embrace all the doctrines of faith and morals that the Church teaches. This requires a serious effort to study the faith, particularly the areas we find more challenging.
    • Embracing weakness. Our weakness need not be any obstacle to faith but can increase it. Thus, a temptation to sadness, an impulse to be selfish, a desire contrary to the moral law, being rejected by another person—these are all opportunities to be humble and to let God’s grace go to work.
      • In these moments, we learn “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” and “in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his Body, that is, the Church.”
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Catholic homily outline for the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – Resurrection to Life

He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”

He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”

Central idea: The resurrection of the dead. Doctrine: The Christian meaning of death. Practical application: Preparation for death.

Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.) This outline is written to be in accord with the Homiletic Directory issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (2014). (To read an excellent summary of the Homiletic Directory, click here.)

To view Lectionary 98, click here.

Central idea: The resurrection of the dead

Reading 1 Wis 1:13-15; 2:23-24

God did not make death,
nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.
For he fashioned all things that they might have being;
and the creatures of the world are wholesome,
and there is not a destructive drug among them
nor any domain of the netherworld on earth,
for justice is undying.
For God formed man to be imperishable;
the image of his own nature he made him.
But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world,
and they who belong to his company experience it.

  • These words are hard to interpret; in fact, they look crazy! There is no evil on earth?
    • In the natural world, living things come into being and then pass away. The natural birth and death of all living things is part of God’s plan.
      • Ancient people knew this perfectly well by experience.
      • We now have additional insights into this through the theory of evolution. New kinds of living beings only emerge from new individuals, requiring the passing away of the old.
    • But man was made for eternal life, which means he was to be immune to any natural evil on earth that could harm him. Adam and Eve and their descendants were to be preserved from death. This immunity was removed by Original Sin. Nevertheless, our souls—but not our bodies—are naturally imperishable.
    • So what the author of Wisdom is really talking about is the death which results from sin, which is eternal separation from God. The author of sin and death is the devil, and when we sin we cooperate in the devil’s plan for our own destruction.
    • This reading is also a portrait of life in the heavenly Jerusalem, the new creation where, after our resurrection in Christ, we will be safe and imperishable. For this we glorify God. The food we receive to make this journey is the Eucharist.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11, 12, 13

R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

I will extol you, O LORD, for you drew me clear
and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O LORD, you brought me up from the netherworld;
you preserved me from among those going down into the pit.

Sing praise to the LORD, you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger lasts but a moment;
a lifetime, his good will.
At nightfall, weeping enters in,
but with the dawn, rejoicing.

Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me;
O LORD, be my helper.
You changed my mourning into dancing;
O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.

  • When a person of faith realizes he is in danger, he calls on God’s help. And when the danger passes, he thanks God for preserving his life.
  • It is an unfortunate thing, a consequence of sin, that some people plot the destruction of others and rejoice when they can harm them. This is an example of a “domain of the netherworld on earth.” Christ experienced this when the scribes and the Pharisees met together to plot how to put him to death. May God deliver us from such persons!
  • We should thank God now for his many blessings, but the greatest thanks we will give him will begin the moment of our resurrection from the dead when we stand in his presence:

I will extol you, O LORD, for you drew me clear and did not let my enemies rejoice over me. . . . You changed my mourning into dancing; O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.

Reading 2 2 Cor 8:7, 9, 13-15

Brothers and sisters:

As you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse,
knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love we have for you,
may you excel in this gracious act also.

For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that though he was rich, for your sake he became poor,
so that by his poverty you might become rich.
Not that others should have relief while you are burdened,
but that as a matter of equality
your abundance at the present time should supply their needs,
so that their abundance may also supply your needs,
that there may be equality.
As it is written:
Whoever had much did not have more,
and whoever had little did not have less.

  • Our Lord Jesus Christ, in his preexistence as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, was incomprehensibly “rich,” yet he put all that aside in his Incarnation and even suffered the desolation of death in order to make us rich by sharing his divine life with us.
  • Thankfulness for the goodness we receive overflows in our graciousness toward other persons, especially other Christians in need. In Catholic social teachings, this is the principle of solidarity: it is the truth that we are all in this life together, and so we look out for one another, especially those in need. This is what the Gentile churches were doing in regard to the mother church in Jerusalem.
  • This solidarity is “the love we have for you.” The love St. Paul has for the Corinthians is charity, the sacrificial love Christ brought into the world. In this liturgy, God again reveals his immense love in the crucified and risen Christ.

Alleluia Cf. 2 Tm 1:10

Our Savior Jesus Christ destroyed death
and brought life to light through the Gospel.

  • Our Lord “brought life to light through the Gospel.” In his preaching, in his miracles, in his passion, and in his resurrection, Christ revealed what life really is. Life is union with God and charity toward other human beings.

Gospel Mk 5:21-43

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat
to the other side,
a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea.
One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward.
Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying,
“My daughter is at the point of death.
Please, come lay your hands on her
that she may get well and live.”
He went off with him,
and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him.

There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years.
She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors
and had spent all that she had.
Yet she was not helped but only grew worse.
She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd
and touched his cloak.
She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.”
Immediately her flow of blood dried up.
She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.
Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him,
turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?”
But his disciples said to Jesus,
“You see how the crowd is pressing upon you,
and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”
And he looked around to see who had done it.
The woman, realizing what had happened to her,
approached in fear and trembling.
She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth.
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you.
Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”

While he was still speaking,
people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said,
“Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?”
Disregarding the message that was reported,
Jesus said to the synagogue official,
“Do not be afraid; just have faith.”
He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside
except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.
When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official,
he caught sight of a commotion,
people weeping and wailing loudly.
So he went in and said to them,
“Why this commotion and weeping?
The child is not dead but asleep.”
And they ridiculed him.
Then he put them all out.
He took along the child’s father and mother
and those who were with him
and entered the room where the child was.
He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,”
which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”
The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around.
At that they were utterly astounded.
He gave strict orders that no one should know this
and said that she should be given something to eat.

  • In this Gospel, two miracles are recounted. The first is the old woman with the chronic hemorrhage who is healed just by touching Jesus’ cloak. The second is the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead.
  • I think when Jesus said that the twelve-year-old girl was “not dead but asleep,” he was teaching us what death would mean from then on to those who belong to him. In this life, we fall asleep each night and then we wake up again each morning. In Christ, when we fall into death we wake up again into eternal life.

Doctrine: The Christian meaning of death

  • Jesus raises the dead.
  • Jesus’ earthly miracles are signs he is the messiah. To those who do not yet believe in him, miracles invite faith. To those who already believe, they strengthen faith. Yet, they are offensive to some (CCC 548).
  • Our Lord did not come—then—“to abolish all evils here below.” Rather, he came “to free men from the gravest slavery, sin.” Sin thwarts us “in our vocation as God’s sons [and daughters] and causes all forms of human bondage.” (CCC 549)
  • Those Christ raised from the dead during his public life would still, later, experience natural death.
  • However, in his own resurrection, Our Lord “passes from the state of death to another life beyond time and space. At Jesus’ Resurrection his body is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit: he shares the divine life in his glorious state” (CCC 646).
  • On the last day, he will raise up those who belong to him and they will share in his glorious divine life (CCC 994).
  • Christ transforms death.
  • Through his obedience to the father, “Jesus has transformed the curse of death into a blessing” (CCC 1009).
  • “[T]hrough Baptism, the Christian has already ‘died with Christ’ sacramentally, in order to live a new life; and if we die in Christ’s grace, physical death completes this ‘dying with Christ’ and so completes our incorporation into him in his redeeming act” (CCC 1010).
  • Christian life is a dying to our sinful desires and a living according to what is truly good. This is the case from its very beginning in Baptism until we take our last breath.
  • When we make this struggle, we are co-redeeming with Christ. This is possible because of the graces God showers upon us.
  • Because “[i]n death, God calls man to himself,” we can make our “own death into an act of obedience and love toward the Father after the example of Christ” (CCC 1011). We can even desire and welcome death, for as the Church prays in the funeral liturgy:

Lord, for your faithful people life is changed, not ended.
When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death
we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven. (quoted in CCC 1012)

  • Christ gives us hope for a new heaven and a new earth.
    • “At the end of time, the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness. Then the just will reign with Christ for ever, glorified in body and soul, and the material universe itself will be transformed. God will then be ‘all in all’ (1 Cor 15:28), in eternal life.” (CCC 1060)

Practical application: Preparation for death

  • How can we be ready for death?
  • One way is the nightly examination of conscience and frequent sacramental Confession.
  • Another is to pray from time to time a prayer for the acceptance of death.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I accept from your hands, whatever kind of death it may please you to send me today (tonight), with all its pains, penalties and sorrows, in reparation for my sins, for the souls in purgatory, for the conversion of sinners, for all those who will die today (tonight), and for your greater glory. Amen.

  • Another is to stay close to Our Lady and St. Joseph.
    • Recall that in every Hail Mary, we ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to “pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”
    • Joseph is the patron of a happy death because he died in the presence of Jesus and Mary.
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Catholic homily outline for Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – Faith

"The Storm at Seat." Detail from bronze Celtic Cross by C. Malcolm Powers

“The Storm at Sea,” detail from bronze Celtic Cross by C. Malcolm Powers

Central idea: Faith in God who has visited his people. Doctrine: Faith in Christ even in the midst of adversity. Practical application: Practicing the faith in the here and now.

Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.) This outline is written to be in accord with the Homiletic Directory issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (2014). (To read an excellent summary of the Homiletic Directory, click here.)

To view Lectionary 95, click here.

Central idea: Faith in God who has visited his people

Reading 1 Jb 38:1, 8-11

The Lord addressed Job out of the storm and said:
Who shut within doors the sea,
when it burst forth from the womb;
when I made the clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling bands?
When I set limits for it
and fastened the bar of its door,
and said: Thus far shall you come but no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stilled!

  • As Creator, God brought into being out of nothing everything that was originally created. And he sustains in existence everything that exists.
  • He also established within them the physical laws of nature to govern what they are, what they can do, and what they can become.
    • As St. Augustine put it long before the modern, scientific laws of nature were discovered, “In the earth from the beginning, in what I might call the roots of time, God created what was to be in times to come” (On the literal meanings of Genesis, Book V Ch. 4:11). God put a marvelous potential in the simplest elements.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 107:23-24, 25-26, 28-29, 30-31

R. Give thanks to the Lord, his love is everlasting or Alleluia

They who sailed the sea in ships,
trading on the deep waters,
These saw the works of the LORD
and his wonders in the abyss.

His command raised up a storm wind
which tossed its waves on high.
They mounted up to heaven; they sank to the depths;
their hearts melted away in their plight.

They cried to the LORD in their distress;
from their straits he rescued them,
He hushed the storm to a gentle breeze,
and the billows of the sea were stilled.

They rejoiced that they were calmed,
and he brought them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his kindness
and his wondrous deeds to the children of men.

  • Wind and wave follow their own laws, the laws put in things from their very origin by God, as St. Augustine pointed out.
  • Sailors are among those who know how puny they are in the face of the powers of nature. When their own skills are exhausted and the limits of their boats are reached, they can’t but call on he who is more powerful than nature, just as the disciples called on their sleeping Lord when their boat was about to be sunk.
  • This psalm is also an image of everyone’s life. Despite every advance in science and technology, we are still puny and in danger of injury and death from the forces of nature.
    • How many airbags will it take for an automobile to be so safe that we don’t need to ask God to protect us on a journey?

Reading 2 2 Cor 5:14-17

Brothers and sisters:
The love of Christ impels us,
once we have come to the conviction that one died for all;
therefore, all have died.
He indeed died for all,
so that those who live might no longer live for themselves
but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh;
even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh,
yet now we know him so no longer.
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.

  • Paul tells us that “those who live” ought to “live . . . for him,” for Christ. We ought to live for Christ not for ourselves. To live for him is to have faith in him and to act accordingly.
  • Our motivation, what “impels us,” is Christ’s love for us shown by dying for us and rising from the dead.
  • In Christ we are a new creation, no longer ultimately subject to death. There is no longer any reason to be terrified of nature or to fear other human beings.

Gospel Mk 4:35-41

On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples:
“Let us cross to the other side.”
Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was.
And other boats were with him.
A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat,
so that it was already filling up.
Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him and said to him,
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
He woke up,
rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!”
The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified?
Do you not yet have faith?”
They were filled with great awe and said to one another,
“Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

  • Nature has power over Our Lord, as man. Our Lord has complete power over nature, as God.
    • Exhausted by the work he had been doing, Our Lord fell into such a deep sleep that he was not awoken by the violent squall.
    • Awoken by his disciples, he rebuked the wind and the sea and they became quiet.
  • Jesus asked his disciples, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”
    • Faith is something they could get or get more of, since they did not have it yet. They would get it by entrusting themselves to the object of their faith, their master, Jesus Christ.
    • Jesus is also saying, if you have faith in him, you should not be terrified. If we have faith in him we should not be afraid of death.

Doctrine: Faith in Christ even in the midst of adversity

  • Our faith is in Jesus Christ, who is true God and true Man (CCC 423).
    • Born of the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ is “the eternal Son of God made man.”
    • He came to bring us benefits: “from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace” (Jn 1:16) (CCC 423).
    • As the Gospel verse puts it, “A great prophet has risen in our midst, God has visited his people.”
  • Faith in Jesus Christ is a gift of grace to which we respond with our assent, our “yes.”
    • “Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith ‘man freely commits his entire self to God.’ For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God’s will. ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ Living faith ‘work[s] through charity.’”(CCC 1814)
      • We can say “yes” to Christ and to all he reveals because he is truth itself.
      • We say “yes” with our total selves.
      • Our “yes” includes doing God’s will once we know it.
      • God’s will is that we love one another with deeds.
    • Our “yes” means we “also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it” (CCC 1816).
      • Every Catholic’s vocation thus includes evangelization.
    • We maintain our “yes” despite adversity.
      • Our age, the era of the Church—so far almost 2000 years in—is one of constant travail. “According to the Lord, the present time is the time of the Spirit and of witness, but also a time still marked by “distress” and the trial of evil which does not spare the Church and ushers in the struggles of the last days” (CCC 672).
      • If you can see the signs of the times, we are now entering a new time of special adversity for all who live and want to practice the faith. Every one of us will need more doctrine, more virtue, and above all, more faith so as not to be like the terrified disciples in the boat.

Practical application: Practicing faith in the here and now

  • Practicing the faith interiorly:
    • We can make a formal act of faith by reading (and soon memorizing) an Act of Faith, like the one linked to here.
    • A very simple act of faith can be made anytime we feel our personal “yes” to God is under attack or when we witness another person attack the Catholic faith: “I believe!” or even just, “Credo!”
  • Practicing the faith exteriorly:
    • When we do God’s will in very tiny or in bigger ways, we are saying “yes” by our actions. We are also giving silent but powerful witness to our faith through our living example.
    • We can have outward visual signs of our faith in our home (like a picture of the Sacred Heart), in our car (like a little statue of Our Lady), on our desk at work (like a small crucifix), on our electronic devices (like a decal), even on our clothing (like a “tiny feet” pin). We can also witness our faith by saying grace in a restaurant if we are alone or if the person we are with is Catholic and agrees. We can also witness by slightly bowing our head when we hear the name “Jesus.”
    • This is not to say we are to be walking billboards, but if we really believe in God it should naturally show through.
    • We can also speak explicitly about our faith. This can be to give witness to our faith, to explain something about the faith, or even to defend the Catholic religion (gently) when someone attacks it.
  • In the Offertory, each of us can offer up whatever efforts we have made up till now to live our faith. We can also offer our desire to do more. This unites us intimately with the mystery of our Lord’s death and resurrection, which we celebrate in the Eucharist.
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Catholic homily outline for the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – The King and the citizens of the Kingdom of God

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Jesus reading Isaiah in Capernaum (from Zeffirelli’s TV mini-series “Jesus of Nazareth”)

Central idea: Christ is the King of the Kingdom of God and we are called to be his subjects. Doctrine: Christ’s Kingdom is for us, the lowly. Practical application: We can “learn” Christ by prayerfully reading Sacred Scripture.

Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.) This outline is written to be in accord with the Homiletic Directory issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (2014). (To read an excellent summary of the Homiletic Directory, click here.)

To view Lectionary 92, click here.

Central idea: Christ is the King of the Kingdom of God and we are called to be his subjects

Reading 1 Ez 17:22-24

Thus says the Lord GOD:
I, too, will take from the crest of the cedar,
from its topmost branches tear off a tender shoot,
and plant it on a high and lofty mountain;
on the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it.
It shall put forth branches and bear fruit,
and become a majestic cedar.
Birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it,
every winged thing in the shade of its boughs.
And all the trees of the field shall know
that I, the LORD,
bring low the high tree,
lift high the lowly tree,
wither up the green tree,
and make the withered tree bloom.
As I, the LORD, have spoken, so will I do.

  • “I, the LORD, bring low the high tree, lift high the lowly tree.” We hear prefigured Our Lord’s parable of the tiny mustard seed that becomes the greatest of plants. We also hear an echo of Mary’s Magnificat: “He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree” (Lk 1:52).
  • What is the human reality that corresponds to the majestic cedar? It is to have a splendid body, a mind infused with truth, and a will wholly oriented to goodness.
  • We are made to want to be majestic, to dwell in a majestic place, and to be seen by others as majestic. Yet if we find ourselves actually low and fruitless, we can have hope. God has a predilection for us!

Responsorial Psalm Ps 92:2-3, 13-14, 15-16

R. Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.

It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praise to your name, Most High,
To proclaim your kindness at dawn
and your faithfulness throughout the night.

The just one shall flourish like the palm tree,
like a cedar of Lebanon shall he grow.
They that are planted in the house of the LORD
shall flourish in the courts of our God.

They shall bear fruit even in old age;
vigorous and sturdy shall they be,
Declaring how just is the LORD,
my rock, in whom there is no wrong.

  • Living an upright or just life and having real gratitude toward God are two sides of a coin.
  • To be planted in the house of the Lord is to take a stand to live an upright life. The fruit we bear—the good that we do—makes us happy to thank God.
  • But really, it is our gratitude toward God that makes us want to do good.
    • As Raniero Cantalamessa, the papal household preacher, points out, the Christian’s upright life, that is, his duties to live the commandments, to become virtuous, to avoid sin, to do penance—everything man “should do”—these duties toward Christ arise from our debt of gratitude toward his grace which he has given to us. This grace “comes before [our] efforts and . . . makes them possible.”

Reading 2 2 Cor 5:6-10

Brothers and sisters:
We are always courageous,
although we know that while we are at home in the body
we are away from the Lord,
for we walk by faith, not by sight.
Yet we are courageous,
and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord.
Therefore, we aspire to please him,
whether we are at home or away.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,
so that each may receive recompense,
According to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.

  • We are planted in the house of the Lord by baptism. We take root and grow by living an upright life.
  • In heaven we will aspire to please the Lord whom we see face to face. In this life, we also aspire to please him whom we only see by faith.
  • It takes courage to live this way simply because we don’t see the award which faith tells us is there and which the world tells us is not.

Gospel Mk 4:26-34

Jesus said to the crowds:
“This is how it is with the kingdom of God;
it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land
and would sleep and rise night and day
and through it all the seed would sprout and grow,
he knows not how.
Of its own accord the land yields fruit,
first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once,
for the harvest has come.”

He said,
“To what shall we compare the kingdom of God,
or what parable can we use for it?
It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.
But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants
and puts forth large branches,
so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”
With many such parables
he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it.
Without parables he did not speak to them,
but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

  • Physical life is a wonderful mystery. It is less mysterious today because of our greater understanding, which makes it even more wonderful we see its incredible order, complexity, and intelligence.
  • The farmer is only interested in the final harvest of grains of wheat and he performs only a few actions—plowing, sowing, maybe weeding, and finally harvesting. Yet each wheat plant carries out trillions of actions to produce those grains of wheat.
  • Our spiritual life is similar. We do little things in cooperation with God’s grace: try to speak with God, receive the Sacraments, perform little acts of service; and underneath God’s grace is at work—we know not how—transforming us into something great—into a harvest for eternal life and happiness.
  • Like the mustard seed, we can be unimportant, our efforts seemingly without effect, our numbers few—yet the effect over time can change us and the world.
  • Our Lord offers two parables of the Kingdom of God. The King of the Kingdom of God is Jesus Christ. So the subjects of the Kingdom of God are those who serve Christ. To be a subject of Christ requires faith in him, which includes the effort to be upright.

Doctrine: Christ’s Kingdom is for us, the lowly

  • But who is the Kingdom of God for?
    • It is for everyone who wishes to enter it (CCC 543).
    • It is for the poor and lowly, that is, the spiritually and materially humble (CCC 544).
    • It is also for those who show practical love toward the lowly (CCC 544).
    • And it is for sinners (CCC 545). Although the Kingdom of God is, from Christ’s perspective, for all sinners, it is only really accessible to sinners who admit that they are sinners and that sinning is bad. This is why Jesus invites us to conversion. (CCC 545)

Practical application: We can “learn” Christ by prayerfully reading Sacred Scripture

  • We grow as subjects of the Kingdom of God by listening to the Word of God and putting it into effect.
  • The Church exhorts us to learn Christ by reading the divine Scriptures prayerfully (CCC 2653). Prayer accompanies the reading so that a dialogue takes place between God and man.
  • Is there any reason each sufficiently mature Catholic should not spend five or ten minutes every day listening to Christ in his Word and then responding to Christ in his or her own words?
  • Here are two ways this can be done.
    • One is to follow the Sunday (or daily) lectionary readings. Over time, these readings present a very wide range of the most important passages from both the New and Old Testaments. In addition, each set of readings is selected to be mutually enlightening.
    • Another is to steadily work one’s way through the New Testament with special emphasis on the Gospels.
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The Eucharist: Catholic homily outline the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), Year B

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The Eucharist is Jesus Christ, the Alpha and Omega

Central idea: The Holy Eucharist. Doctrine: The Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Practical application: Worthy reception of the Holy Eucharist.

Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.)

To view Lectionary 168, click here.

Central idea: The Holy Eucharist

Reading 1 Ex 24:3-8

When Moses came to the people
and related all the words and ordinances of the LORD,
they all answered with one voice,
“We will do everything that the LORD has told us.”
Moses then wrote down all the words of the LORD and,
rising early the next day,
he erected at the foot of the mountain an altar
and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel.
Then, having sent certain young men of the Israelites
to offer holocausts and sacrifice young bulls
as peace offerings to the LORD,
Moses took half of the blood and put it in large bowls;
the other half he splashed on the altar.
Taking the book of the covenant, he read it aloud to the people,
who answered, “All that the LORD has said, we will heed and do.”
Then he took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying,
“This is the blood of the covenant
that the LORD has made with you
in accordance with all these words of his.”

  • This is the enactment of the Mosaic Covenant.
  • The Old Covenant is basically a promise by God the Father to the Chosen People: “I will give you all these blessings if you will obey my Law.”
  • The assembly of Israel said yes to this covenant.
  • Their yes was sealed by their being sprinkled with the blood of sacrificed bulls.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 116:12-13, 15-16, 17-18

R. I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord or Alleluia.

How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.

Precious in the eyes of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones.
I am your servant, the son of your handmaid;
you have loosed my bonds.

To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people.

  • It is right to be thankful for all the good we have received from God. It is good to thank him for it.
  • The greatest thing to be thankful for in this life is to be set free from sin. The greatest thing to be thankful for after this life is to be set free from death.
  • The Eucharist embodies these two “gratitudes” for the Eucharist is that very person who has set us free from these twin evils.

Reading 2 Heb 9:11-15

Brothers and sisters:
When Christ came as high priest
of the good things that have come to be,
passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle
not made by hands, that is, not belonging to this creation,
he entered once for all into the sanctuary,
not with the blood of goats and calves
but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.
For if the blood of goats and bulls
and the sprinkling of a heifer’s ashes
can sanctify those who are defiled
so that their flesh is cleansed,
how much more will the blood of Christ,
who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God,
cleanse our consciences from dead works
to worship the living God.

For this reason he is mediator of a new covenant:
since a death has taken place for deliverance
from transgressions under the first covenant,
those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.

  • This reading comments on the enactment of the New Covenant.
  • The New Covenant is basically a promise by Jesus Christ to all of us: “I will give you everything if you will follow me.”
  • The assembly of the Church says yes to this covenant.
  • Our yes is sealed by receiving the Body and Blood of Christ under the Eucharistic species.

Gospel Mk 14:12-16, 22-26

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
when they sacrificed the Passover lamb,
Jesus’ disciples said to him,
“Where do you want us to go
and prepare for you to eat the Passover?”
He sent two of his disciples and said to them,
“Go into the city and a man will meet you,
carrying a jar of water.
Follow him.
Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house,
‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room
where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’
Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready.
Make the preparations for us there.”
The disciples then went off, entered the city,
and found it just as he had told them;
and they prepared the Passover.
While they were eating,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, gave it to them, and said,
“Take it; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them,
and they all drank from it.
He said to them,
“This is my blood of the covenant,
which will be shed for many.
Amen, I say to you,
I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine
until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
Then, after singing a hymn,
they went out to the Mount of Olives.

  • This is the recounting of the Last Supper, the first Mass in which Our Lord offered himself to his disciples as spiritual food by transforming bread and wine into his Body and Blood.
  • This offering or sacrifice Christ made in an unbloody way. He would make that same offering the next day in a bloody way in his Passion.
  • Christ was thereby enacting the New Covenant between God and humanity.
  • We say yes to the New Covenant not by being sprinkled with the blood of animals like the Israelites but by eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ in the Eucharist.

Doctrine: The Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist

  • The Catechism reminds us that Christ is present to us in many ways here on earth: “in his word, in the Church’s prayer, . . . in the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned, in the sacraments of which he is the author, in the sacrifice of the Mass, and in the person of the minister.” But one presence on earth is greatest of all. Jesus Christ “is present . . . most especially in the Eucharistic species.” (CCC 1373)
  • What is this presence in the Eucharistic species? “In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist ‘the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially’” This is why we hear the formula that Christ is present in the Eucharistic species in his body, blood, soul, and divinity.
  • “This presence is called ‘real’—by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be ‘real’ too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present.”
    • Substance, the root of the word substantial, is an important term in Catholic theology. We could say it means the very being of someone or something. When you watch a film, the being of the actor is not really present on the screen—for the actor to really be present you would have to go to the set while the actor was being filmed. However, in the Blessed Sacrament, the being of Christ is present. (CCC 1374)

Practical application: Worthy reception of the Holy Eucharist

  • The sequence Lauda Sion, which we recite today, has two very sobering stanzas:

Bad and good the feast are sharing,
Of what divers dooms preparing,
Endless death, or endless life.

Life to these, to those damnation,
See how like participation
Is with unlike issues rife.

  • Some are receiving the Eucharist unworthily. We ought to want to receive Holy Communion worthily.
    • A most important reason for this is because this Communion is “intimate union . . . with Christ” because “[t]o receive communion is to receive Christ himself who has offered himself for us” (CCC 1382).
  • To prepare ourselves to receive Holy Communion worthily, “St. Paul urges us to examine our conscience: ‘Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself’ (1 Cor 11:27-29). Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion.” (CCC 1385)
  • The U.S. bishops call us to prepare for worthy reception of Communion.
  • Remote preparation for Communion includes “regular prayer and reading of Scripture, the faithful and loving fulfillment of the daily responsibilities of our state in life, and regular participation in the Sacrament of Penance, including daily repentance of sin by an examination of conscience and recitation of the Act of Contrition.”
  • “[P]roximate preparation includes our prayerful recollection as we come to Mass and fasting from food and drink for at least one hour prior to receiving Holy Communion as our health and age permit. . . . Proximate preparation also includes dressing appropriately and modestly.”
  • “These ways of preparing culminate in our prayerful and active participation throughout the eucharistic celebration, as we join with the Body of Christ.”
  • If all the above are the case then wild horses should not keep us from Holy Communion.
  • How often should we receive Communion? “The Church obliges the faithful to take part in the Divine Liturgy on Sundays and feast days and, prepared by the sacrament of Reconciliation, to receive the Eucharist at least once a year, if possible during the Easter season. But the Church strongly encourages the faithful to receive the holy Eucharist on Sundays and feast days, or more often still, even daily.” (CCC 1389)
  • Why not consider attending Mass and receiving Communion at least once this week in addition to Sunday?
  • Why not start a one-Mass-more movement in your parish so that many more persons may enjoy this “intimate union . . . with Christ”?
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Catholic homily outline for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity – Year B

The Holy Family is and every human family should be an image of the Blessed Trinity

The Holy Family is and every human family should be an image of the Blessed Trinity

Central idea: God reveals who he is by what he does. Doctrine: The Blessed Trinity. Practical application: Devotion to the Blessed Trinity.

Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.)

To view Lectionary 165, click here.

Central idea: God reveals who he is by what he does

Reading 1 Dt 4:32-34, 39-40

Moses said to the people:

“Ask now of the days of old, before your time,
ever since God created man upon the earth;
ask from one end of the sky to the other:
Did anything so great ever happen before?
Was it ever heard of?
Did a people ever hear the voice of God
speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live?
Or did any god venture to go and take a nation for himself
from the midst of another nation,
by testings, by signs and wonders, by war,
with strong hand and outstretched arm, and by great terrors,
all of which the LORD, your God,
did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?
This is why you must now know,
and fix in your heart, that the LORD is God
in the heavens above and on earth below,
and that there is no other.
You must keep his statutes and commandments that I enjoin on you today,
that you and your children after you may prosper,
and that you may have long life on the land
which the LORD, your God, is giving you forever.”

  • In history, by his actions, the only almighty God has revealed himself to Israel and has done good to her. Continuing to receive this good requires her keeping his revealed Law.
  • God reveals his inner life by his works (CCC 236). Through the events of the history of Israel, God reveals that he is one, almighty, and good.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 33:4-5, 6, 9, 18-19, 20, 22

R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the Lord the earth is full.

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made;
by the breath of his mouth all their host.
For he spoke, and it was made;
he commanded, and it stood forth.

See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.

Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.

  • Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own. Who are the people the Lord has chosen to be his own?
    • God chose the whole human race in Adam and Noah.
    • He chose the Jews in Abraham, Moses, and David.
    • In Christ, God chooses Christians.
    • God chooses everyone but some don’t know it and some don’t want it.
    • Those who don’t know it need our apostolate. Those who don’t want it need our good example.

Reading 2 Rom 8:14-17

Brothers and sisters:

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you received a Spirit of adoption,
through whom we cry, “Abba, Father!”
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit
that we are children of God,
and if children, then heirs,
heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,
if only we suffer with him
so that we may also be glorified with him.

  • As Moses recounted, the Lord did good to Israel. What is the good God does for us?
    • He leads us by the Spirit of God, by the Holy Spirit.
    • He blesses us with life and saves and sanctifies us.
    • The pinnacle of what God does for us is that he adopts us to be children of God. This is why we can call God the Father, “Abba.”

Alleluia Rev 1:8

Glory to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit;
to God who is, who was, and who is to come.

  • We glorify God—who he is and what he does—by being his glorious handiwork.
  • How then can we be glorious? We can do so through contemplation of truth, enjoyment of beauty, and especially doing good, even in suffering.
  • In the Eucharist, we glorify God by our gifts, prayer, and praise. In the Eucharist, God glorifies us by giving us his Son and the Holy Spirit.

Gospel Mt 28:16-20

The eleven disciples went to Galilee,
to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they all saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
Then Jesus approached and said to them,
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

  • As we saw in the first reading, Moses declares the one God and orders Israel to keep the commandments Moses enjoins on them.
  • Now, Christ declares the three persons in the one God and commissions his disciples to make disciples of all nations through baptism and keeping Christ’s commands.
  • Just as Moses’ revelation was for the good of the Jews and their children in their earthly life, Christ’s revelation is for our good and the good of our children so that we may have eternal life.

Doctrine: The Blessed Trinity

  • At the core of our Catholic faith is the mystery of the Trinity, and the invitation for us to participate in this divine life (Homiletic Directory §21).
  • This reality about God is revealed and man’s salvation is effected through the Paschal Mystery (HD §21), which is re-presented in this Mass.
  • What is revealed about God?
    • There is only one God. Yet within this one God there are three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
    • Jesus reveals that God “is Father not only in being Creator; he is eternally Father in relation to his only Son, who is eternally Son only in relation to his Father: ‘No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him’ (Mt 11:27)” (CCC 240).
    • This is why “the apostles confess Jesus to be the Word: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’; as ‘the image of the invisible God’; as the ‘radiance of the glory of God and the very stamp of his nature’ (Jn 1:1; Col 1:15; Heb 1:3)” (CCC 241).
    • This is why, “following this apostolic tradition” the Church calls the Son “consubstantial with the Father, that is, one only God with him” (CCC 242).
    • And, as we will affirm in the Creed, the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father and the Son.” To explain, “The Holy Spirit is eternally from Father and Son; He has his nature and subsistence at once (simul) from the Father and the Son. He proceeds eternally from both as from one principle and through one spiration…. And, since the Father has through generation given to the only-begotten Son everything that belongs to the Father, except being Father, the Son has also eternally from the Father, from whom he is eternally born, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son.” (CCC 246).
    • As the Athanasian Creed summarizes this: “The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.”
  • One very accessible image we have of the Blessed Trinity is the human family.
    • Like the Father, “In the procreation and education of children [the family] reflects the Father’s work of creation.
    • Like the Son, the family “is called to partake of the prayer and sacrifice of Christ. Daily prayer and the reading of the Word of God strengthen it in charity.
    • And like the Holy Spirit, “the Christian family has an evangelizing and missionary task.” (CCC 2205)“The Christian family is a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit.”

Practical application: Devotion to the Blessed Trinity

  • This week we can make the Sign of the Cross and pray the Doxology with more awareness and gratitude for what the Blessed Trinity has done for us and with longing to see these divine persons face to face.
  • We can also mediate on how our families—whether families of birth or of marriage—was, is, or could better an image of the Blessed Trinity.
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Catholic homily outline for Pentcost Sunday – Mass during the Day

Detail of Penecost by El Greco

Detail of Penecost by El Greco

Central idea: The Gift of the Holy Spirit. Doctrine: The unity of Easter, Pentecost, and the Eucharist. Practical application: The invocation of the Holy Spirit.

Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.)

To view Lectionary 63, click here.

Central idea: The Gift of the Holy Spirit

Reading 1 Acts 2:1-11

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled,
they were all in one place together.
And suddenly there came from the sky
a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in different tongues,
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem.
At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd,
but they were confused
because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
They were astounded, and in amazement they asked,
“Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?
Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?
We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites,
inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene,
as well as travelers from Rome,
both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs,
yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues
of the mighty acts of God.”

  • On Pentecost morning Christ’s promise to send the Holy Spirit is fulfilled. It descended on them like “tongues as of fire.”
  • “[F]ire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit’s actions.” Like fire which transforms what it touches into fire, the Holy Spirit also “transforms what he touches.” On the morning of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit rests on the disciples in the form of tongues ‘as of fire’ “and fills them with himself” (CCC 696).
  • How are the Apostles transformed? They can now boldly speak about God in a way that everyone can understand, regardless of their origin, and also regardless of their condition:
    “whether they are Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons” (1 Cor 12:13).

Responsorial Psalm Ps 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34

R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth or Alleluia.

Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!
How manifold are your works, O LORD!
the earth is full of your creatures;

May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
may the LORD be glad in his works!
Pleasing to him be my theme;
I will be glad in the LORD.

If you take away their breath, they perish
and return to their dust.
When you send forth your spirit, they are created,
and you renew the face of the earth.

  • One of the reasons men praise God’s greatness is because of his manifold living creatures.
  • We and they depend on God for existence. Every living thing dies and its body decomposes, but God continually gives new life by sending his creative spirit.
  • The new “creature” created on the day of Pentecost is the Church. The new breath which is in the disciples is the Holy Spirit. It gives life to the Church and renews her daily.

Reading 2 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13

Brothers and sisters:
No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.

As a body is one though it has many parts,
and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,
so also Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,
whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,
and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

  • The Holy Spirit makes each one of us members of the Body of Christ, his Church, despite any outward differences of race, creed of origin, ethnic group, social standing, or economic condition.
  • The Holy Spirit does not just unite us to Christ and one another. He also gives every one of us spiritual gifts for some benefit—our own benefit and the benefit of others.

Or Gal 5:16-25

Brothers and sisters, live by the Spirit
and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.
For the flesh has desires against the Spirit,
and the Spirit against the flesh;
these are opposed to each other,
so that you may not do what you want.
But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Now the works of the flesh are obvious:
immorality, impurity, lust, idolatry,
sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy,
outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness,
dissensions, factions, occasions of envy,
drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.
I warn you, as I warned you before,
that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, generosity,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Against such there is no law.
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh
with its passions and desires.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.

  • What does St. Paul mean by being under the law and not being under the law?
    • The myriad evil acts he catalogues condemns one according to the moral law.
    • However, when it comes to any grace-assisted natural virtue (like patience), or any supernatural virtue (like love), or any of their fruits (like joy), these can be practiced and enjoyed without any limit. They are wholly good.
  • The Catechism says that the Holy Spirit “transforms what he touches” and fills those he touches “with himself” (CCC 696).
  • What is this “himself” that those who are touched by the Holy Spirit receive?
    • The Holy Spirit’s nature can be seen in the effect he has on men who “live in the Spirit” and “follow the Spirit”: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, [and] self-control.”

Gospel Jn 20:19-23

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

  • Easter and Pentecost are so close as to form one event. On the evening of the Resurrection, Our Lord gave his disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit. One manifestation of this was their power to forgive sins, something which, up till then, only God possessed.

Or Jn 15:26-27; 16:12-15

Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father,
he will testify to me.
And you also testify,
because you have been with me from the beginning.

“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth.
He will not speak on his own,
but he will speak what he hears,
and will declare to you the things that are coming.
He will glorify me,
because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.
Everything that the Father has is mine;
for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine
and declare it to you.”

  • The apostles, back then, and the Magisterium of the Church, today, can testify to the truth of our salvation because of the gift of the Holy Spirit.
    • This means that the laity can also testify to the truth, so long as what we say is agreement with the deposit of faith.
  • Our souls can bless and glorify God because through the Holy Spirit we know the Son and through him the Father.

Doctrine: The unity of Easter, Pentecost, and the Eucharist

  • The first reading recounts what happened on the morning of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples accompanied by Mary, how they received this gift of tongues, and how they were emboldened to proclaim the Gospel. As the Communion antiphon puts it, “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke of the marvels of God.”
  • Yet the Gospel recounts how fifty days earlier, on the evening of Easter Sunday, “the risen Lord breathed on his disciples and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (Jn 20:22).
  • “Easter is” This is to say, “Easter is already the gift of the Holy Spirit.” However, “Pentecost is the convincing manifestation of Easter to all the nations, uniting many tongues in one new language of understanding ‘the mighty acts of God’ (Acts 2:11) displayed in Jesus’ death and resurrection.”
  • Today, the Church prays that in this Mass “the Holy Spirit may reveal to us more abundantly the hidden mystery of this sacrifice and graciously lead us into all truth” (Prayer over the Offerings). “This sacrifice” is the same event as the Last Supper and the Passion of Christ. The “all truth” is what Our Lord promised his disciples at the Last Supper, which was accomplished through the Holy Spirit.
  • Our reception of Holy Communion today “becomes the Pentecost event” for us. We, too, are “all filled with the Holy Spirit” and can speak “of the marvels of God.” Thus, these scriptures are fulfilled in our worthy reception of the Eucharist.
  • In this way, not only is Easter Pentecost, “Eucharist is” (Homiletic Directory §56)

Practical Application: Invocation of the Holy Spirit

  • When we receive the Eucharist well, that is, in a state of grace and with faith, we are once again infused with the Holy Spirit and can speak to others of the marvels of God.
    • One thing we can do is to bask in the presence of the Holy Spirit by praying the sequence Veni, Sancte Spiritus each day this week. We recited this before the Gospel.
    • Another is to learn and pray often the invocation of the Holy Spirit asking for the help of the Holy Spirit.
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Catholic homily outline for the Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year B – The Holy Name

St. Peter

St. Peter


Central idea: Christ cares for us, his children, through his Church. Doctrine: The holy name of Jesus. Practical application: Reverence for the Holy Name.

Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.)

To view Lectionary 60, click here.

For homily outlines for the Solemnity of the Ascension look here or here.

Central idea: God cares for us, his children, through his Church

Reading 1 Acts 1:15-17, 20a, 20c-26

Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers
—there was a group of about one hundred and twenty persons
in the one place —.
He said, “My brothers,
the Scripture had to be fulfilled
which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand
through the mouth of David, concerning Judas,
who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus.
He was numbered among us
and was allotted a share in this ministry.

“For it is written in the Book of Psalms:
May another take his office.

“Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men
who accompanied us the whole time
the Lord Jesus came and went among us,
beginning from the baptism of John
until the day on which he was taken up from us,
become with us a witness to his resurrection.”
So they proposed two, Judas called Barsabbas,
who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.
Then they prayed,
“You, Lord, who know the hearts of all,
show which one of these two you have chosen
to take the place in this apostolic ministry
from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.”
Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias,
and he was counted with the eleven apostles.

  • To be an apostle means to have an “office,” that is, an established position of authority and trust within an organization, in this case the Church. In their prayer, those gathered called the office “this apostolic ministry.”
  • The twelve apostles were chosen by Christ. The new apostle, Matthias, was chosen by the eleven apostles and the Holy Spirit. Peter, the head of the apostles, takes the initiative in filling Judas’ office.
  • This is the beginning of apostolic succession: those who have been given the office of apostle give that office to other men. Thus we have the line of popes and bishops from the time of Christ down to today.
  • Christ does not leave his Church orphaned but cares for her through the Holy Spirit and the ongoing “apostolic ministry.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 103:1-2, 11-12, 19-20

R. The Lord has set his throne in heaven or Alleluia.

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.

For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.

The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
Bless the LORD, all you his angels,
you mighty in strength, who do his bidding.

  • To bless means to glorify, to extoll as holy or perfectly good.
  • Any soul who has any insight into God’s nature spontaneously blesses him.
  • God also deserves our blessing because of “all his benefits.”
  • One kind of benefit is his kindness toward those who fear him, that is, those who accept they are his creatures and never want to offend their creator.
    • For Christians, fear of the Lord also includes the desire a good child has not to offend his perfectly good Father.
  • A second benefit is his perfect forgiveness of our sins. The only “divorce” children of God desire is the division God has made between us and our forgiven sins, “as far as the east is from the west.”
  • We followers of Christ can hardly begin to extoll God for all the benefits he continues to give us to care for us through his Church: the Sacraments, virtues, and the Truth.

Reading 2 1 Jn 4:11-16

Beloved, if God so loved us,
we also must love one another.
No one has ever seen God.
Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us,
and his love is brought to perfection in us.

This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us,
that he has given us of his Spirit.
Moreover, we have seen and testify
that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world.
Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,
God remains in him and he in God.
We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.

God is love, and whoever remains in love
remains in God and God in him.

  • God the Father loves us.
  • We must love one another.
  • If we love one another, God’s love is “brought to perfection in us.”
  • We have the experience of the Holy Spirit to confirm God’s love is in us.
  • We acknowledge that “Jesus is the Son of God.”
  • Our love for one another is the seal or guarantee that we are united to God.
  • Mutual love, which unites us to one another, to the Church, and therefore to the Blessed Trinity, is an on-going challenge to us while we are in the world.

Gospel Jn 17:11b-19

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:
“Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me,
so that they may be one just as we are one.
When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me,
and I guarded them, and none of them was lost
except the son of destruction,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
But now I am coming to you.
I speak this in the world
so that they may share my joy completely.
I gave them your word, and the world hated them,
because they do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
I do not ask that you take them out of the world
but that you keep them from the evil one.
They do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world,
so I sent them into the world.
And I consecrate myself for them,
so that they also may be consecrated in truth.”

  • Due to the truly good things that technological progress brings, it is easy to forget that the world is still under the dominion of the evil one. But all you have to do is open your eyes and look around and see all the commandments being broken everywhere.
  • Through our ignorance, or passions, or even malice, we baptized followers of Christ can also be in league with the world and the devil.
  • Therefore, we need protection from the harm the world wants to do to us. We need protection from our own self-destructive desire to join the world that is under the dominion of the evil one.
  • Our Lord says the remedy is to be “consecrated in truth.” Our Lord not only teaches us the truth about reality but he himself is the Truth.
  • So we have a choice.
    • We can unite with him. If we do, we will face the wrath of the world. But Our Lord promises to protect us ultimately.
    • Or we can give ourselves over to the world, and whether or not we realize it, to the evil one. If we do, we may receive the short-term “benefits” the world promises. But then we will experience the destruction that the evil one really has in mind.
  • Uniting ourselves with Christ is a gift of divine grace which we choose to accept and cooperate with through our efforts.
  • The Father must consecrate us and he will because we belong to his Son who sends us into the world.
  • Thus, in our lives in this world, we are not orphans (Jn 14:18).

Doctrine: The Holy Name of Jesus

  • Today’s Gospel is an excerpt from Our Lord’s “priestly prayer” which he prayed with his disciples at the Last Supper (CCC 2747).
  • In this priestly prayer, which is “inseparable from his sacrifice” (CCC 2747), Our Lord fulfills “from within” the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer (CCC 2750): “concern for the Father’s name; passionate zeal for his kingdom (glory);the accomplishment of the will of the Father, of his plan of salvation; and deliverance from evil” (CCC 2750).
    • Our Lord taught his disciples and us to pray the Our Father, so it is a prayer for human beings who are living in this world but who are also citizens of heaven. But at the same time, Our Lord lived out and fulfilled those petitions. This is fitting because he was not just true God but true man, the perfect man.
  • “By entering into the holy name of the Lord Jesus we can accept, from within, the prayer he teaches us” (CCC 2750).
    • What is “the holy name of the Lord Jesus”? Our Savior is Jesus Christ, Emmanuel. These names mean the person God has set apart for us (Christ or anointed), who is with us always (Emmanuel or God-with-us), and who saves us from sin and death (Jesus or savior).
    • How do we enter this name? We enter his name by becoming a Christian through Baptism. We enter his name more deeply by conforming ourselves more and more to Christ. And we reenter his name life after we have drawn back from it by sin, indifference, or thoughtlessness.
    • What does it mean to accept from within the prayer he teaches us? The Christian life, as summed up in the Lord’s Prayer, is possible. It has already been perfectly fulfilled by Our Lord, who wants to help us fulfill it as well. He helps us by his grace. It is desirable to fulfill because he who is desirable has done it. Even the difficult and sacrificial parts of fulfilling the will of the Father are also desirable and possible because Our Lord has done it.

Practical application: Reverence for the Holy Name of Jesus.

  • Second Council of Lyons (AD 1274) said that “Those who assemble in church should extol with an act of special reverence that name which is above every name, than which no other under heaven has been given to people, in which believers must be saved, the name, that is, of Jesus Christ, who will save his people from their sins.”
    • Here is how the Council Fathers said this reverence should specifically be made: “Each should fulfill in himself that which is written for all that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow; whenever that glorious name is recalled, especially during the sacred mysteries of the mass, everyone should bow the knees of his heart, which he can do even by a bow of his head” (§ 25).
  • Pope Gregory X asked the Dominican order especially to preach the need for people to bow their heads at Mass at the name of Jesus.
  • Later, the Holy Name Society was erected to uphold the divinity of Christ, to honor his name, and to oppose “heresy, blasphemies, cursing, swearing and the irreverent and unholy use of the Name of God” prevalent in society, “especially by men.”
  • Thus a good habit we can form is to nod our heads whenever we hear the name of Jesus spoken.
  • Bowing inwardly in honor of the name of our loving savior makes us put ourselves directly in opposition to any misuse of the name of God and any other sins of the tongue. As the Holy Name Pledge puts it, “In honor of His Divine Name I pledge myself against perjury, blasphemy, profanity and obscene speech.”
  • Misuse of the tongue for us is matter for Sacramental Confession. And when we witness it in others, it calls for inward reparation on our part. If appropriate, it also might call for correction of the other person.
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Catholic homily outline for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B – The virtue of friendliness

Road to Emmaus

Road to Emmaus

Central idea: God is love and wants us to love one another. Doctrine: The virtue of friendliness. Practical application: Becoming friendlier.

Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.)

To view Lectionary 56, click here.

Central idea: God is love and wants us to love one another

Reading 1 Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48

When Peter entered, Cornelius met him
and, falling at his feet, paid him homage.
Peter, however, raised him up, saying,
“Get up. I myself am also a human being.”

Then Peter proceeded to speak and said,
“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.
Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly
is acceptable to him.”

While Peter was still speaking these things,
the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the word.
The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter
were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit
should have been poured out on the Gentiles also,
for they could hear them speaking in tongues and glorifying God.
Then Peter responded,
“Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people,
who have received the Holy Spirit even as we have?”
He ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

  • Before Jesus ascended to the Father, he gave the apostles their great commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20).
  • Now Peter, the head of the apostles, sees even more clearly what the great commission means.
  • Membership in the Church that Christ founded is for everyone: “in every nation whoever fears [God] and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.”
  • Peter’s eyes are opened due to (1) the vision he, a circumcised believer, received; (2) the vision Cornelius, the uncircumcised Gentile, received; (3) the way Cornelius and his household and friends responded to the message Peter preached to them; and (4) the fact that the Holy Spirit was poured out on them.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 98:1, 2-3, 3-4

The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power or Alleluia.

Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.

The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.

All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.

  • Our Lord Jesus Christ has won victory over sin and death for us. He battled them in his Passion and won his victory by his Resurrection.
  • He did this out of his kindness and faithfulness.
    • As St. John put it in our second reading, “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.”
  • God’s justice is to save us all: his first chosen in “the house of Israel” and then his second chosen—all the rest of humanity—to “the ends of the earth.”

Reading 2 1 Jn 4:7-10

Beloved, let us love one another,
because love is of God;
everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.
In this way the love of God was revealed to us:
God sent his only Son into the world
so that we might have life through him.
In this is love:
not that we have loved God, but that he loved us
and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.

  • John the Evangelist reflects on the words of Jesus that he recorded in his gospel (below).
  • God has made a one-way communication to man. He shows us what love is by sending his Son into the world “as expiation for our sins.”
  • First he loved us, then we respond by loving one another.
  • When we respond in this way we show we are begotten by God, know God, and have God’s life in us.
  • To be begotten by God means to be a child of God.

Gospel Jn 15:9-17

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and your joy might be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another.”

  • Jesus Christ is a communicator. He communicates God to man. He reveals who God is, teaches us what God wants, and gives God’s own life to man. It is a one-way communication by which man receives:
    • “As the Father loves me, so also I love you.”
    • “I have told you everything I have heard from my father.”
    • “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you.”
  • But man only really receives God by responding to what is communicated to him.
  • What does God want man to do? He wants us to “love one another as I love you.” Christ loves us as a friend who lays down his life out of friendship.
  • We are now friends of God, not slaves of God.
    • Man can easily understand and even accept being God’s slave or servant. Under that regime, we must do what God wants or else.
    • But what God really wants is man’s friendship, which means God has made a certain equality between God and man. He does this by lowering himself in becoming man through the Incarnation and by raising man to himself through the Redemption.
  • This friendship is not for a select few but is intended for everyone. To return to what St. Peter realized in his encounter with Cornelius, “in every nation whoever fears [God] and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.”

Doctrine: The virtue of friendliness

  • God is love. One way love is expressed is in friendship. Friends act in a friendly way.
  • We are called to love everyone. God-in-Christ has restored us to friendship with him, ourselves, one other, and even creation.
  • One way we build friendship with our fellow man is through friendliness. Friendliness is a way of showing love toward others.
  • Friendliness is the virtue by which we show to others that we welcome, accept, value and support them. Friendliness helps us to make and keep friends. Friendliness helps us to ‘just get along’ with people in all sorts of situations. It assists us in cooperating with others to achieve goals. Other names for friendliness are sociability and agreeableness.
    • Flattery is the vice of feigning friendship to manipulate. Lack of friendliness is also a vice: nobody likes to be around a surly, self-interested lout.
  • People deserve our friendliness because of their inherent human dignity. On the practical level, we also need to be friendly to just about everyone. We are all members of the human community. We depend on each other. Friendliness makes cooperation easier and we need to cooperate.
  • Friendliness or sociability is the good habit of acting in a friendly way toward others. It is the possession of a wide range of positive qualities which makes one approachable to another, good to be with, and helpful to one’s friend. So, friendliness is . . .
    • Affectionate, warm, welcoming. You really do like the other and are happy to be with him or her. You show this in some physical way, like a smile, a handshake, a pat on the back, a kiss of greeting, your tone of voice, a hug, holding hands, and so on.
    • Delighted and admiring. Your friend is attractive to you because you see his or her good qualities and you rejoice in them.
    • Altruistic, benevolent, beneficial, generous and helpful. You want good things to come to your friend and will actively help him or her when you can. You willingly give of what you have to benefit your friend. In essence, you are kind toward your friend.
    • Benign. You do no harm to your friend.
    • Attentive, considerate, sympathetic and supportive. You are aware of what the other person is thinking and feeling and change your behavior accordingly so as to benefit him or her. For example, you may either sympathize with a friend who is feeling sad or try to cheer him up. You read the signals to judge if the other is hungry, thirsty, or tired. You listen with your eyes as well as your ears.
    • Patient, peaceful and easy-going. While you and your friend may do something exciting, even risky or dangerous, you don’t do anything to antagonize your companion. You don’t fly off the handle or show annoyance at him. You don’t criticize him. You and your friend can be quiet around each other. You can calm each other down.
    • Civil, cordial, courteous and respectful. You observe the proper forms of speech and gestures to make the way easy for you both. Once you know another person well, it is appropriate for your civility to become informal and familiar, even sharing ways of relating which are particular to the two of you. Nicknames and inside jokes are examples.
    • Cheerful. Nothing shows friendliness more than a cheerful smile and a pleasant expression. Around your friend, you are cheerful because you are with someone you like and doing something you both enjoy. Sometimes the two of you are engaged in an unpleasant job, but because you are with a person with whom you are in sympathy, you can find the activity more bearable.
    • Humorous. After cheerfulness, a good sense of humor is a great asset in friendliness. The best sense of humor finds incongruity in the situation or is at the expense of the speaker. Any laughing at the weaknesses of your companion could destroy whatever good will you have established between the two of you.
    • Forgiving, lenient, conciliatory and understanding. You know that friction easily occurs between people, even well-meaning ones. You are quick to forgive and forget, putting behind you offences the friend might accidentally have caused you. You say you are sorry if you are aware you have offended, but you don’t make your friendliness dependent on your friend asking pardon.
    • Communicative and responsive. The relationship between the two of you is built on a two-way verbal communication, reinforced by body language. In regard to facial expressions, while happiness is the fundamental one, what is also important is mirroring the friend. If your friend is disgusted with something, you can also look disgusted, since you are showing disgust not toward your friend but toward the thing he hates. On the other hand, if your friend is angry at something and you simply display a friendly, joking attitude, you are not respecting your friend’s feelings.
    • Cooperative. The essence of friendship is doing activities together. Thus, friends don’t have the attitude of ‘it must be done my way or the highway.’ They work together and are generally willing to give in on matters of personal preference in order to achieve their common aims.
    • Loyal, faithful, devoted, and trustworthy. Your friend can trust you both when you are with him or her and when you are absent. Your friend is confident that you will not speak or work against him behind his back. Mutual confidence (literally, with faith) is one of the bases of your on-going relationship.

Practical application: Becoming friendlier

  • One way to become friendlier is to discover your predominate fault (the negative behavior you constantly seem to fall into) when it comes to friendliness and then form a practical resolution to combat that.
    • You might articulate your various roles (spouse, parent, worker, church member, etc.) and look at the various facets of friendliness in light of those roles. For example, you can ask yourself, Am I cheerful to my spouse, to my children, and to my fellow flea circus trainers?
    • Maybe you realize you are surly toward family members when you are doing a job around the house you find unpleasant or frustrating. Then, you work on being cheerful while you do those kinds of jobs. Maybe you offer the work up to God beforehand for your family, whistle while you work, and promise yourself a little reward when it is done. If you follow this plan repeatedly, you will likely become more pleasant in these situations.
  • Is there any area in your life in which you give yourself permission to act like a jerk? Some people act this way toward clerks, waiters, customer service representatives, or people in similar roles, or toward their children, spouses, or employees.
    • If you realize you are abrupt toward people who cannot harm you back in any way, then a special effort to be friendly to them will help you correct this disorder and become more agreeable to everyone else in your life.
  • Friendly people regularly reach out to others. They are hospitable.
    • Invite someone to go somewhere or to do something with you. You could ask a coworker to take a walk with you at lunch or to go grab a cup of coffee in the afternoon. One family could invite another family over for brunch or dessert. Friendliness can also be cultivated by accepting an invitation, even if you would rather chill out by yourself.
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Catholic homily outline for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year B – Conscience

vine, branches and fruitCentral idea: Christ is the vine and we are his branches. Doctrine: Conscience. Practical application: Formation of conscience.

Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.)

To view Lectionary 53, click here.

Central idea: Christ is the vine and we are his branches

Reading 1 Acts 9:26-31

When Saul arrived in Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples,
but they were all afraid of him,
not believing that he was a disciple.
Then Barnabas took charge of him and brought him to the apostles,
and he reported to them how he had seen the Lord,
and that he had spoken to him,
and how in Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.
He moved about freely with them in Jerusalem,
and spoke out boldly in the name of the Lord.
He also spoke and debated with the Hellenists,
but they tried to kill him.
And when the brothers learned of this,
they took him down to Caesarea
and sent him on his way to Tarsus.

The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace.
It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord,
and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers.

  • We are fortunate if we live in a time and a place of peace so the faith can grow, we can teach it to our children, and evangelize.
  • But even where there is not open persecution, the seeds of the world’s hatred of the faith are present. When Paul tried to evangelize the Greek-speaking Jews in Jerusalem, “they tried to kill him.”
  • Just because Paul had to flee from one place, he did not cease to speak “out boldly in the name of the Lord” in the next. Rejection did not silence him.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 22:26-27, 28, 30, 31-32

R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people or Alleluia.

I will fulfill my vows before those who fear the LORD.
The lowly shall eat their fill;
they who seek the LORD shall praise him:
“May your hearts live forever!”

All the ends of the earth
shall remember and turn to the LORD;
all the families of the nations
shall bow down before him.

To him alone shall bow down
all who sleep in the earth;
before him shall bend
all who go down into the dust.

And to him my soul shall live;
my descendants shall serve him.
Let the coming generation be told of the LORD
that they may proclaim to a people yet to be born
the justice he has shown.

  • In Jesus Christ Our Lord we have deliverance from every evil and affliction and from death.
  • He is the savior of the world—past, present, and future.
  • Our duty is to evangelize our families and our neighbors so everyone in the world will know this and turn to him for salvation.

Reading 2 1 Jn 3:18-24

Children, let us love not in word or speech
but in deed and truth.
Now this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth
and reassure our hearts before him
in whatever our hearts condemn,
for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything.
Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us,
we have confidence in God
and receive from him whatever we ask,
because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
And his commandment is this:
we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ,
and love one another just as he commanded us.
Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them,
and the way we know that he remains in us
is from the Spirit he gave us.

  • We should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. Jesus’ one commandment, which encompasses the entire moral order, is to love one another as he has loved us, and this entails also believing in him.
  • Let us love not in words or speech but in deed and truth. John does not mean that our words cannot be loving or hateful. Clearly, they can be either. Rather, he means that every act, whether accompanied by words or not, should be actually loving.
  • To give a stark example, if a daughter has gotten pregnant because of premarital sex, one kind of father out of anger and shame might be convinced he should kill her. Another father might think in his heart that there is nothing amiss or even that they should celebrate. The Christian father, regardless of how he feels, will evaluate this news from the perspective of Christ and his commandment of love. His response might include recognition of the truth of the objective evil of the situation (the sin against chastity and a child likely deprived of a father), forgiveness, and then mercy toward his daughter and her unborn child.This is how we shall know that we belong to the truth and reassure our hearts before him in whatever our hearts condemn. At times, there may be a conflict between what we think and feel is right and what is actually “love . . . in deed and truth.” In this case we should pray and the Holy Spirit will assure us that Christ’s commandments are the better way to go.

Gospel Jn 15:1-8

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

  • Through the analogy of the vine and the branches—among other analogies Our Lord employs—“Jesus discloses what God the Father has given to humanity in the person of the Son.” Jesus gives “life, deliverance from darkness to confident sight, triumph over death by resurrection, [and] knowledge of the Father and full communion with him.” “At the same time [Our Lord] shows what people should do to draw benefit from the gifts his presence brings: come to him, believe in him, follow him and remain in him.” (The Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Bible and Morality: Biblical Roots of Christian Conduct49)
  • To be a Christian and to not remain united with Christ means to become dead and fruitless. It is terrible to imagine living one’s life in this way.
  • The fate of a Christian who does not remain united to Christ is even more terrible to imagine: like a fruitless branch, he is cut off, he withers up, and then he is burned up with the other dead branches in a fire.
  • To be a Christian united to Christ also means to endure being pruned of the parts that are dead or lead to death so that we can bear fruit.
  • What is the fruit we are to bear? It is endlessly varied but it consists of every good act that a human being who is also a follower of Christ can produce.
  • Part of this fruitfulness is to proclaim the truth of Christ as St. Paul did, teach this truth to the next generation like David exhorts us in the Psalm, moderate our conduct according to this truth as John advises, and stay united to it like Our Lord himself teaches us in the parable of the vine.

Doctrine: Conscience

  • In today’s second reading, St. John the Evangelist recognizes there can be conflicts between what we think is right and what God thinks. John calls this faculty of moral judgment the heart. He means what we call conscience.
  • Conscience is one’s reason sitting in judgment over one’s actions based on one’s understanding of what is really good and evil.
  • John Paul II wrote in his encyclical Veritatis Splendor (“The Splendor of Truth”), “Conscience is . . . an act of a person’s intelligence, the function of which is to apply the universal knowledge of the good in a specific situation and thus to express a judgment about the right conduct to be chosen here and now” (§ 32).
  • Conscience, therefore, must subordinate its judgments to the objective moral order established by God.
  • While conscience does decide what acts are right or wrong, it does not decide what right and wrong are. Right is what agrees with God’s law. Conscience uses its understanding of God’s law as the basis for judging its particular actions. Conscience’s understanding could be wrong, so it has to keep trying to improve its understanding.
  • Conscience is a gift from God that enables us to show God we love him by the choices we make. Our choices which accord with his law show him he is first in our hearts.
  • However, we are born knowing nothing and our moral education can easily be twisted because of original sin. Those are two reason we have to form our conscience.
  • We form our conscience first by learning the content of the moral law. It starts with the Ten Commandments. Because we are followers of Christ, we also want our judgments to align with the teachings Jesus Christ and his Church. If you know the answer to the question, “What would Jesus do?” in every situation, your conscience is formed perfectly.

Practical application: Formation of Conscience

  • A conscience that is properly formed knows not only what the moral teachings of Christ and his Church are, but also understands how to apply them to concrete, real-life situations. This is an ideal, but we can approach it through a number of means:
    • Learning the principles of morality, especially with the help of the Magisterium of the Church.
    • Experience in making moral decisions. We can learn from our mistakes and from the better and worse decisions we see others make.
    • Sincerely examining one’s conscience daily.
    • Receiving the sacraments regularly, especially Penance.
    • Having a personal relationship with Christ is key to imitating him.
    • Receiving spiritual direction. Get good advice and an objective viewpoint.
    • Avoiding what is harmful to our relationship with God. Deliberate sin blinds us.
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