Homily for the Second Sunday of Advent ©, December 9th, 2018:
Baruch 5:1-9; Psalm 126; Philippians 1:4-6,8-11; Luke 3:1-6
By Father Scott Karnik
The readings today tell us to prepare for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, just like last week. But this week, the readings tell us something more. They tell us that Jesus is coming to reconcile us with God His Father. God wants to forgive us our sins and save us, take us to Him, to be with Him in love forever, on that day when Jesus comes at the end of time.
First, in Baruch, the speaker tells Jerusalem to end her mourning. Jerusalem is told to prepare for the joyful return of her children (the exiles from Babylon). She is told to remove her garment of sorrow and to “put on forever the splendor of glory from God:…”(Baruch 5:1). This splendor of God is God’s saving action in returning her children from the Babylonian exile. The big message is that God has reconciled with His people. God has rescued them. Jerusalem will be reinstated in her former glory. She is adorned in holiness and she rules with justice. The outlook is Messianic. To “reinstate” means “to place again in possession or in a former position, condition, or capacity.” Our reconciliation today comes from faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. God is eager to reconcile with us. God is eager to reinstate in us His sanctifying grace, the state of love and grace Adam and Eve had before they disobeyed. This state of sanctifying grace enables us to practice virtuous acts. There will be no obstacles. Every lofty mountain will be made low and the valleys filled to make level ground. There will be no obstacles to come to God for forgiveness, love, mercy, and salvation. His salvation is universal, in a universal church.
Psalm 126 says the same. This is a pilgrim psalm sung as the worshipers approach the Temple. The psalmist anticipates the Messianic days when people will be filled with joy. But that is future. Right now, the people sow in tears. May God return prosperity, as the rains return fertility to the Negeb desert. The psalm says to us that it is of service to sinners who wish to be delivered from slavery to sin and to the just who sigh for the end of their exile here on earth. Our consolation will be so great that we will seem like men dreaming. Our consolation will be the forgiveness of our sins.
St. Paul asks the Philippian Christians to increase their love to know and to experience what is truly valuable. He asks this so that the Philippians will be pure and blameless at the day of Christ’s second coming. St. Paul has faith that the graces of their baptism will lead them to the glory of eternal life. God initiates and completes this whole good work. But God asks for our cooperation with His help by pursuing holiness and working toward salvation. We do that through the painful labor of repentance.
And finally in the Gospel, St. John the Baptist prepares the way of the Lord that today, through Jesus Christ, leads to the Messianic kingdom. He prepares through baptism. John’s baptism was a ritual act expressing the willingness of the person to join the movement of renewal. It counted on an interior disposition of repentance without which there could be no forgiveness. St. John proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The penitent sinner would arrive at the Jordan River to humble himself to receive this baptism of repentance (with water). Their penitent disposition would make them more receptive to Christ, who comes to baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
All of this culminates in the same message for us. Jesus is coming. Prepare for Him. Go to the beautiful sacrament of confession this Advent. Our communal reconciliation service is Monday evening at 7pm here at St. Anthony’s. It is the best way for us to make every lofty mountain low and every valley filled to make a level road that Jesus can walk on to come into our souls with His forgiveness and sanctifying grace. That will be the fruit of our painful labor of repentance from our sins. Jesus is coming again and He will take us who love Him with Him on that day. His consolation for us will be so wonderful that we will be like men dreaming.
Homily for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, ©, December 8th, 2018:
Today’s readings give us a side-by-side comparison of two conversations. One is between God and Eve and the other is between God, through His Archangel Gabriel, and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The comparison is revealing.
In fact, you can add a third conversation to this. It is the conversation between the serpent and Eve. The serpent tells Eve that if she eats the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, she (and Adam) will be like gods, and can decide good and evil for themselves. The evil one appeals to Adam and Eve’s pride. That is how Satan gets them to disobey. Now, they have both disobeyed. After God confronts Adam, and Adam blames Eve (and God), God confronts Eve about her disobedience. Eve says “The serpent tricked me into it so I ate it”(Genesis 3:13). Eve blamed someone else for her disobedience. Eve is a proud, sinful woman. She speaks honestly but she didn’t do it. Eve denies responsibility for her disobedient, sinful act of disobedience. Then, the author of Genesis says “The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living”(Genesis 3:20). After their disobedient act, Adam and Eve have children and transmit sin and a fallen, sinful nature to them, and to us today. She “was the mother of all the living”(Genesis 3:20). Eve’s act of disobedience (and Adam’s) transmitted original sin to all the living up to today. That is Eve’s identity. She disobeyed and transmitted original sin and separation from God to us.
Compare that to St. Luke’s Gospel, where today we read the Annunciation. God is going to announce to Mary that it is time for the Messiah to appear. This Messiah will be God’s own Son and God wants her to be His Mother. St. Gabriel’s salutation is important: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you”(Luke 1:28). Verse 29 says “But she was greatly troubled at the saying,…”(Luke 1:29). Mary is troubled because she is humble. So St. Gabriel has to explain this to her. Mary is in the same state of grace that Eve was before the Fall. Mary is “full of grace” and “the Lord is with you”(Luke 1:28). Notice that God has favored her by filling her with grace before she consents to anything that God asks her to do. Eve had contact with the evil serpent. Mary will have contact with God’s Holy Spirit to conceive in her womb. The child will be God’s own Son, without any violation of her virginity. The bottom line is that Mary obeys God’s plan while Eve disobeys. Mary is the new Eve. Mary is absolutely that. The Blessed Virgin Mary obeys and reverses Eve’s disobedience. She says “I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word”(Luke 1:38). It is the Blessed Virgin Mary’s obedience which enables God’s salvation plan. Mary obeys and conceives God’s own Son. His name is Jesus Christ and He is Savior of the World. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Mary’s “yes” enables the Savior to be born. Her “yes” brings the Savior who saves us. The Blessed Virgin Mary consents to being a way for our sinless God to come into contact with sinful man here on this earth to forgive sins, exorcise demons, cure diseases, feed the hungry, make paralytics walk, and save the disenfranchised, those on the periphery. The Blessed Virgin Mary is not a corridor, or a street. The Blessed Virgin Mary gave Jesus Christ His human nature, His flesh, His body, His blood, in her womb. It is important to say that Jesus’s human nature is sinless. He never sinned. So therefore, the human nature He has is not a fallen, sinful human nature that Adam and Eve transmitted to each of us. So she has to be sinless, in order to give Jesus his perfect human nature. That’s why Holy Mother Church, in her infinite wisdom, has declared that she is sinless from the moment of her conception. Jesus Christ, the Second Person in the Blessed Trinity, saved her from sin at the moment of her conception. God fills her with grace before she even decides to obey God’s plan. Mary is completely unique in this way. Mary is the only human being God can come into complete unity with in order to save us. God saves her from sin from the moment of her conception so she can fulfill her part in this incredible plan of God’s love and salvation for each of us. Notice that the Blessed Virgin Mary responds by expressing her identity: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word”(Luke 1:38). Mary’s identity is being an obedient woman to God. She is an example to us all to follow. Eve’s identity was to be a disobedient woman to God. She is an example for us to avoid.
There is one more important point in today’s solemnity. It is that the Blessed Virgin Mary’s “yes” alerts us to the fact that Jesus Christ is coming this Advent. Jesus Christ will come at Christmas when He is born through God’s love and mercy for each and every one of us, and Mary’s “yes”.
Homily for the First Sunday in Advent ©, December 2nd, 2018
Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25; 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2; Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
By Father Scott Karnik
Many of us wonder what Advent and Christmas are all about. We’ve gone through this numerous times, especially those of us who are older. What does this mean? Why is this important? Is it important? Yes, it is important because Advent prepares us for the coming of Jesus Christ, our Savior. No Jesus, no salvation, no forgiveness of sins. It is important to know that Advent is a way for us to prepare for Jesus Christ’s coming at the end of time. Jesus Christ is coming again and He will judge us. He will come with authority at the end of time. This end of time is certain. We don’t know when it will be. Don’t bother trying to calculate the time of the end either. It’s futile.
Jesus does tell His disciples and us how to behave while waiting for His coming. We are to avoid the cares and pleasures of this world. They are thorns which choke God’s Word. These daily pressures and cares lull people into a false security. Jesus tells us to watch and to pray. Since we don’t know when Jesus will come, He tells us to be ready now and ready every day. Then we can stand erect, expectant, and ready, like His disciples and unlike God’s enemies, who will panic.
St. Paul tells the Thessalonian Christians to increase their love for each other and everyone else too. The purpose of St. Paul’s message is to strengthen their hearts so that they are spotlessly pure in the presence of God on judgment day, when Jesus comes with His Holy Ones. St. Paul urges the Thessalonian Christians to prepare completely for the Last Judgment. Be ready.
So how can we be ready for Jesus’s Second Coming? The answer is in today’s psalm, Psalm 25. In it, the author laments his sinfulness and asks God for forgiveness and mercy. The psalmist also asks God to instruct him in the new covenant. “…guide me in your truth and teach me.” The psalmist asks God to teach him in his heart and soul. That is the place of God’s new covenant with His people. The psalmist’s main thought is contrition and forgiveness of his sins by God. He knows he is a sinner. He does not claim innocence. He asks God to forget the sins of his youth because God is always ready to teach and guide the meek in the right way of life.
So the answer to how do we prepare for Jesus’s Second Coming is to admit our sinfulness, ask God to forgive us, and to teach His new covenant laws in our hearts and souls. In our wonderful Roman Catholic faith, the best way to do that is the beautiful sacrament of confession. We will host our communal reconciliation service here at St. Anthony’s on Monday, December tenth, at seven pm. That is a good way to prepare ourselves. We admit our sinfulness, be contrite, confess our sins, and ask God to teach us His new covenant in our souls. We must develop that attitude daily. This is a way that this Christmas can be more meaningful. We can be more contrite, loving, humble, and merciful. Confession is a good, sacramental first step. We develop our readiness for that day of God’s judgment by repentance from our sins. Indeed, Advent is a real rehearsal for Christmas and for that day when Jesus comes again. Our contrition prevents a false sense of security, our being drowsy from the cares of this world. And God reassures us. He promises in Jeremiah that the Messiah is surely coming. Judah and Israel can count on it. God prophesies through Jeremiah that Israel’s future rests securely on two firm foundations: the new covenant of God’s law written in our hearts, and in the new David to come: Jesus Christ.
Homily for Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (B), 11/15/18:
Daniel 7:13-14; Psalm 98:1-5; Revelation 1:5-8; John 18:33-37
By Father Scott Karnik
This is the last Sunday in our liturgical year. This last Sunday always celebrates Jesus Christ as Universal King. It is the “day of the Lord.” God the Father crowns His Son Jesus with kingship and dominion over the universe that God created. This reading from the Book of Daniel happens in the midst of the introduction of the four evil beasts which ravage everyone. There will be unprecedented disaster and grief everywhere. Our wealth will be useless. There will be no peace. God will crown Jesus King in the midst of this chaos. God the Father will give royal power to Jesus Christ as a universal sovereign. Jesus’s power will be everlasting, untransferable, and imperishable. If you read Daniel Chapter Seven, you’ll see the four beasts come from the sea, from the earth. Jesus comes on the clouds. He is the divine king and with His omnipotent power, He will destroy the beasts and establish order amidst this chaos. Jesus is not the successor to any earthly throne. Jesus is Lord over every earthly king. Jesus will reign over His created world. Jesus’s reign will include the imposition of His holy law, His moral order. Holiness becomes His House, His Kingdom. All this describes Jesus the King of the Universe.
His Kingship relates to us. This King gives us “grace and peace”(Rev1:4). Jesus is the “faithful witness”(Rev1:5) He “loves us and has freed us from our sins by His Blood and has made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father,…”(Rev1:5). We are his priestly subjects. We are to glorify Jesus for the salvation we have received. We do not have to wait for the final destruction of evil for the victory. We already owe God thanks for His victory and salvation. Jesus will come again to judge those who reject Him and to take with Him those who follow Him. Judgment oracles like this one are to be read from this perspective. Believers share in Jesus’s royal priesthood. It is a common priesthood, different from the ministerial priesthood others are called to. Jesus has united us with His Body when He offered Himself for us on the Cross. Each of us is a member of the Eternal Priest, Jesus. Jesus’s Kingdom has no earthly origin. Jesus is a different type of king. Jesus is a faithful witness to the truth. He is king of those who hear His Voice and are committed to Him. His kingship and Kingdom are apolitical. Jesus’s coronation as King begins at His Passion and culminated with His Ascension into heaven. Jesus’s dominion as king extends over the whole earth through His Church, her teaching, and her sacramental ministry. That is where we subjects of Jesus come in. You will hear a beautiful description of Jesus Christ’s Kingdom in the preface prayer in the offertory, coming up. Jesus’s Kingdom is described as “an eternal and universal kingdom, a kingdom of truth and light, a kingdom of holiness and grace, and a kingdom of justice, love, and peace.” We receive Jesus in His Sacraments and we conform ourselves to Him. We receive seven virtues to help us. They are the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. God infuses them into us. The seven virtues also include four natural/cardinal virtues: courage/fortitude, justice, prudence, and temperance. The more we accept these virtues and practice them, the more we exercise our common priesthood in Jesus’s kingdom. We can practice these natural virtues to sharpen them and to go against our selfish inclinations. God’s Holy Spirit will guide us, quite frankly, through the teachings of His Church, this one, Holy Mother Church. Jesus gives us sanctifying grace. This sanctifying grace makes us sharers in His divine nature and life, adopted children, and heirs of heaven. Sanctifying grace enables us to act in a divine, holy way and cooperate with Jesus. We do that by being led by His Holy Spirit. We consent to Jesus’s work, Jesus’s word, Jesus’s truth, Jesus’s Kingship. Jesus Christ, our King, will not abandon us. He accompanies us on our mission to help us.
The reason why we must do this is because Jesus’s victory is already won. Jesus is already king. Jesus is so powerful a king that He can speak and His words bring order and victory out of chaos and evil. And He does that. Those same words are now included in the teachings of His Church. The more we follow them, the more we accept His truth, hear His Voice, and follow Him. Through Jesus, His victory will be ours, on that day, when Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, comes again.
Homily for Thanksgiving, November 22, 2018:
Sirach 50:22-24; Psalm 113:1-8; 1 Cor 1:3-9 and St. Luke 17:11-19
By Father Scott Karnik
We have much to be thankful for spiritually this Thanksgiving. The readings help us to see what we should thank God for this day and throughout the year.
First, may we thank God for this beautiful, holy, Sacrifice of the Mass. The Scripture commentary I studied for this homily says that we get the hymn Now Thank We All Our God from the first verse in today’s reading from Sirach. “Now thank we ALL our God” for this time together in prayer, praise, and worship of the God who loves us so much that He simply refuses to give up on us, each one of us. That’s something that should prompt all of us to come to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass this morning.
Second, let us thank God for His Name. We know Him by name: Yahweh, Elohim, Jesus Christ, the Lord, etc. This incredible God who is so beautiful that He would not let Moses see His Face is accessible to us by name. The author of Psalm 113 encourages worshipers to praise the Lord’s divine name. It is to be especially praised in Temple liturgical services and everywhere we go. He is there. God is a judge. But God does not judge like we do. God judges by correcting wrongs and relieving the poor. This psalm is a hymn of praise and thanksgiving sung in the Temple.
St. Paul greets his Corinthian Christians with “grace” and “peace.” These are Messianic blessings bestowed in Jesus Christ. To “bestow” means “to present as a gift.” “Bestow” also means “to use” and “to apply.” St. Paul thanks God for the graces He has bestowed upon the Corinthian Christian church, a church he planted. St. Paul criticizes the Corinthians for their misuse of God’s graces. They have used them to divide, and not to nourish love. But St. Paul still gives thanks because he is confident that God will finish the good work already begun in them. He believes the Corinthian church will be strengthened and ultimately judged victorious.
And finally, the grateful Samaritan leper gave thanks to Jesus and glorified God after realizing his cure. The Samaritan attributes his healing to God and praises God. For the Samaritan, his praise and thanksgiving bring him one more thing: salvation, thorough wholeness, and a proper relationship with Jesus Christ.
There is one more important point in today’s gospel. St. Luke shows that God’s blessings extend beyond Israel. His blessings are universal. St. Luke attacks the unjustifiable confidence of the Jews. The Jewish lepers received their cures as a matter of course. They’re Jewish and their messianic blessings are theirs by birthright. They are entitled. The Samaritan leper is a contrast to them. He shows the right attitude. He shows faith. He is indifferent to his own merits and consequent gratitude (due to his merits). God intervened through Jesus Christ on his behalf even though he was a hated Samaritan foreigner. A Samaritan could not claim to share in the benefits of Israel, at all. He has no birthright. But he obeyed Jesus’s command as a matter of faith. His faith in Jesus saved him.
To come full circle, in each of these readings, we can see gratitude/thanksgiving expressed by coming somewhere to express it, to this church, to this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2018. The author of Sirach wrote extensively about liturgy. The psalmist wrote this hymn of praise that was sung in the Jewish Temple during a liturgical service(s). St. Paul gives thanks to the Corinthian Christian church, which met and worshiped Jesus and praised Him at their Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. And this Samaritan leper returned to Jesus to thank Him for the cure he received from God through Jesus. He came to Jesus just as we can and should during this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass today. Thankfulness reflects God’s character. The more we practice thankfulness, the more we reflect God and unite with Him.
Homily for the Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, (B), November 18, 2018:
Daniel 12:1-3; Psalm 16:5-11; Hebrews 10:11-14,18; Mark 13:24-32
By Father Scott Karnik
Jesus is coming again. He has promised it. It will happen. We don’t know when. That is the main message from today’s readings. It fits into what was said last week about faith in Jesus’s once-and-for-all sacrifice for our sins.
In today’s reading from Hebrews, the author again tells his readers about Jesus’s superior priesthood and His superior sacrifice, compared to the Levitical priests. Consequently, the author tells his church that their Christian faith is superior to Judaism, so stay in the Christian faith. He says the multiple sacrifices are ineffective because they must be repeated. Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice has an eternal effect. The author concludes that Jesus mediates a new covenant which achieves something the Levitical priests cannot: forgiveness of sins. The best the Levitical priests can do is atone for sins. Jesus accomplishes the inner transformation of the sinner, just as Jeremiah prophesied (Jer 31:31-34). Jesus’s sacrifice forgives us our sins, cleanses our souls, and our consciences of guilt and engraves His law in our souls. Once Jesus has made that singular sacrifice, He sits down, on His Throne, at the Father’s right hand. That indicates completion. That indicates Jesus waits for His next task: to return to earth in glory, “…to bring salvation to those who eagerly await Him”(Heb 9:28).
The Book of Daniel describes the tribulation of the end times. It will result in the vindication of God’s elect. To “vindicate” means “to lay claim to (“they are mine”; “no one shall snatch them out of my hand”(John 10:28). The dead will be raised to everlasting life or shame, in accordance with their deeds. This promise of individual resurrection is unprecedented in the Old Testament. The distress at the end will be unprecedented. So will the eternal bliss that follows.
St. Mark’s Gospel quotes Jesus’s description of the end times. St. Mark writes of an apocalypse of unprecedented trial, tribulation, and turmoil. In the midst of that, the glorious “Son of Man” will come “in the clouds with great power and glory,…”(Mark 13:26). This a consoling scene in the midst of the unprecedented end times tribulation. St. Mark predicts God’s final victory over whatever darkness will envelop his Christian followers by quoting Jesus’s description of the end. Jesus turns this apocalyptic language towards Jerusalem, to condemn its pagan ways and predict its destruction. This happened in 70 A.D. The Temple has not been reconstructed since. But Jesus also identifies Himself with the “Son of Man” and He will be enthroned with the Father and receive a worldwide kingdom and everlasting dominion. This oracle foretells Jesus’s heavenly ascension and His second coming in glory at the end of time. We don’t know when that will be. Jesus makes that very clear, even saying He doesn’t know. Only the Father does because the Father has established that day and time by His Own authority, no one else’s.
We won’t know when. Jesus Christ’s Second Coming in glory has been imminent since His Ascension into Heaven. Right now is a time of the Holy Spirit for us and witness. Because of that, it is also a time of distress and a time of evil that will even attack Holy Mother Church Herself. That’s in the Catechism, #672. It brings the struggles of the last days. Remember also, that the glorious Messiah’s coming is suspended in history until His recognition by all of Israel. For a hardening has come upon part of Israel (Acts3:19-21; Rom11:15). We must wait. We must watch. We must be ready.
Homily for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), November 11th, 2018:
We are here today for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This is a sacrifice. It’s important to explain the meaning of that, relative to today’s reading from the Letter to the Hebrews. The key passage is verse 26, which says in part “But as it is, He has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself”(Heb 9:26).
Some context is necessary. The author’s writing this letter, or perhaps a homily, to a Jewish Christian church. They have been baptized into the faith of Jesus Christ, into “the way.” So their original sin and their personal sins are washed away. They are saved. But then, they sinned again. So what did they do? They returned to the Jewish temple to offer an atoning sacrifice for the subsequent sins. Then, they remained in the Jewish faith, which rejected Christ. This author must answer this in order to strengthen the faith of the Jewish Christians so that they will remain in their Christian faith. That is the author’s purpose for writing this. In Hebrews 2:1 the author writes: “Therefore we must pay the closer attention to what we have heard lest we drift away from it.” In Hebrews 3:12 he writes: “Take care, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.” The author establishes the priesthood of Jesus Christ to strengthen the faith in this church. He writes that Jesus Christ’s priesthood is superior to Moses and Aaron. And Jesus’s priestly sacrifice (of Himself) is superior to the atoning sacrifices offered repeatedly, every year, in the Temple. And in fact, the Temple Jesus offers His Sacrifice in is superior to the Jerusalem Temple too. The author argues that the repeated Temple sacrifices are superfluous and unnecessary because “…as it is, He has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb 9:26).
What does the reality of that one and only sacrifice for our sins mean for us here today? It means that Jesus’s blood, shed on the Cross, washes away our sins and forgives them. How do we affirm our faith in that so that we don’t fall away? By attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass today.
This sacrifice of the Holy Mass re-presents the reality of Jesus’s one-time sacrifice for our sins to you and me, here today. His one and only sacrifice is timeless. But time limits us. So to strengthen our faith, Jesus’s once-for-all sacrifice is re-presented in space and time here today. Jesus is not re-sacrificed. Our faith in His once-for-all sacrifice is affirmed in space and time here today. Can Jesus do this? Yes. Jesus can do this because He suffered and died on the Cross, then rose from the dead. Jesus Christ lives forever. He is immortal, and His sacrifice is immortal. “The glorious immortality of Christ’s body after its resurrection, far from being an impediment to the continuation of His sacrifice, is the very condition without which the sacrifice, once consummated could not avail as a sacrifice that is to endure for all eternity.” (Scheeben, The Mysteries of Christianity, pg. 519).
We are here today to experience the reality of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, once for all, here today, One hundred years from now, your children and grandchildren will be here to experience this same reality. So therefore, the reality of Jesus’s one-for-all sacrifice, applicable to us here today, demands that only Jesus Christ’s Body and Blood can be offered at this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. No symbol of Jesus Christ’s Body and Blood can do this. No mixture of Jesus Christ’s Body and Blood with the Bread and the Wine can do this. Only Jesus Christ’s Body and Blood, transubstantiated, changed completely, can accomplish this re-presentation of the reality of Jesus’s once-for-all sacrifice. In this Church, only Jesus saves.
There is one more important point. Jesus tells us to do this through His disciples at the Last Supper. Listen to His Words: “And He took bread, and when He had given thanks He broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. And likewise the chalice after supper, saying, ‘This chalice which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:19-20). These passages from St. Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 22:19-20. In St. Matthew’s Gospel, Chapter 25, Jesus says: “Take, eat; this is my Body”(Matt 25:26). “And He took a chalice, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”(Matt 25:27-28). The action words are “take,” “drink of it, all of you;…”
This Sacrifice of the Mass is an act of faith on our part to acknowledge, to believe, and to unite all of us to the truth and the reality of Jesus Christ’s one and only sacrifice for our sins, here today, two-thousand-years later. The faith we express by being here today is the same faith the author of the Letter to the Hebrews tries to strengthen in his Jewish-Christian church. To show the way for us, the widow at Zarephath, believes blindly in Elijah’s words that come from “…the Lord the God of Israel”(1 Kings 17:14), “The jar of meal shall not be spent, and the pitcher of oil shall not fail, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth’”(1 Kings 17:14). “And she went and did as Elijah said;…(1 Kings 17:15). She expresses her faith in God’s words. To show us the way, the widow in St. Mark’s Gospel reading today “…put in two copper coins, which make a penny (Mark 12:4). It was “…everything she had, her whole living”(Mark 12:44)To express our faith in Jesus’s once-for-all sacrifice, we must come here today, to the Sacrifice of the Mass, Jesus’s Sacrifice. In the first reading, we hear that the oil and meal did not run dry until God ended the drought. The Eucharist and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass will continue until Jesus comes “…a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him”(Heb 9:28).
We need priests to do all of this until Jesus’s Second Coming. So as National Vocations Awareness Week concludes, please pray hard for more faithful, holy, and repentant priests to continue this once-for-all Sacrifice of the Mass until the end of time.
COMMENT: The linchpin that holds this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is Jesus Christ’s Real Presence in Eucharist. It is His Body and His Blood that unites us in our faith to the altar, to His Church (the Roman Catholic Church), and literally, to Jesus Christ Himself. If we reject the Eucharistic theology, then this unity of faith explodes into as many different directions as there are different Christian faiths in the world today. That number is in the thousands when the truth is that only one church accepts EVERYTHING that Jesus Christ says about Himself in Eucharist. Only one church accepts without qualification and reservation EVERYTHING that Jesus Christ says about Himself in Eucharist. And only one church accepts literally EVERYTHING that Jesus Christ says about Himself in Eucharist. That church is the Roman Catholic Church and Holy Mother Church is right in doing so for the forgiveness of our sins and for our outright salvation.
Homily for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), November 4, 2018:
Deuteronomy 6:2-6; Psalm18; Hebrews 7:23-28; and Mark 12:28-34.
By Father Scott Karnik
When you concentrate on today’s readings you’ll find two parallels between Moses and Jesus. One is that they are both priests. The second is that they both teach.
Moses comes from a priestly family. His father was a Levitical priest. And Moses teaches the Israelites. Listen to Moses’s words: “Fear the Lord, your God, and keep…all his statutes and commandments which I enjoin on you”(Deut 6:2); and, “Hear then, Israel, and be careful to observe then, that you may grow and prosper the more”…(Deut 6:3). Then Moses teaches the Israelites the greatest commandment: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! Therefore you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength”(Deut 6:5). Moses teaches this to motivate the Israelites to obey the Ten Commandments and to remind them that the Lord’s liberation of them from Egypt has forged a bond between them and God that must never be broken. Moses teaches this to the Israelites before they enter the Promised Land that God will give them. Obedience will lead to the fulfillment of God’s promises of a fruitful land and many children. This is a side note but an important one: in Jeremiah 2:8, God, through Jeremiah, criticizes the priests for not teaching the law well. Teaching is a critical function of a faithful priest.
It is important to indicate that Jesus is not a priest. He is from the tribe of Judah. St. Joseph, Jesus’s foster father, is the last in the physical bloodline of King David. Jesus is a king. Jesus Christ is God’s Son. But the author of Hebrews establishes Jesus’s priesthood. The key words are in verse 28: “Indeed, the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever”(Heb 7:28). Those words establish Jesus’s priesthood as superior to Moses’s and Aaron’s. And Jesus teaches a superior law too. Jesus teaches that the first of all the commandments is a combination of two, loving the Lord, your God, with all your heart and strength, and loving your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:29-31). The scribe asked this question sincerely. He approves Jesus’s answer by saying “You are right, Teacher”(Mark 12:32). Jesus, as a priest, teaches the doctrine of the One who sent Him, His Father.
That brings us to today and the start of National Vocations Awareness Week. This is Jesus’s Church. This Church functions the roles of priests. They are all through our history. We need more of them, to teach. A priest teaches the way of God truthfully. A priest teaches Jesus Christ. A priest teaches a body of revealed truth taught by God and His Son, Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest. A priest teaches to assimilate this body of revealed truth into the hearts, minds, and souls of his flock. As Christianity and this beautiful Catholic Church grow, the need for priests to teach grows. We need more priests and more teachers.
So what must we know? That one of the critical functions of a priest is to teach God’s law, and the doctrine of Jesus Christ and His Church. What must we do? Pray hard for more priests. The dearth of priests is leading to the flock listening to the sinful world and unsound doctrine and it shows. Pray for priests to be faithful and repentant, and committed to teaching. Pray that men who hear God’s call to priesthood will say “Here I am. Send me.” By the way, there is good news. One of our seminarians is scheduled to be ordained to the diaconate next month and to the priesthood, about a year later. Why should we care? Because Jesus still sees a future for this Roman Catholic Church of ours. And to enable the fulfillment of God’s promises, we must be taught by priests to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, and all our souls, and with all our strength, and our neighbor as ourselves. Doing so builds up the House of the Lord. I will leave you with a portion of a prayer for vocations: “Multiply your people and increase their joy, so that the walls of Jerusalem may be built up. This is your house, O Lord God, this is your house. Let there not be in it, I beg you, even one stone which your most holy hand has not placed there. Preserve in your name those whom you have called and make them truly holy. Amen.”
Homily for All Saints Day (B), November 1st, 2018:
St. John in today’s reading gives us a vision of the end of the world and the salvation of the elect. Let’s discuss the stages of this vision. Stage one is the angel holding the seal of the living God. He will place this seal on “the servants of our God upon their foreheads”(Rev 7:3). Then the angels will release the divine storm winds from the four corners of the earth as a sign of divine wrath. The sign on the servants’ foreheads indicates ownership by God and exemption from the coming punishment. In our church, we place seals too, on the foreheads of infants at Baptism, the cross of Jesus Christ, and at Confirmation, the seal of the Holy Spirit.
St. John sees in the 144-thousand sealed from the tribes of Israel (except for the tribe of Dan) a great conversion of Israel to Christ. Then St. John shows another vision. This one shows “a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb,…”(Rev 7:9). These are the saints who passed through the great tribulation without compromising their faith. These come from throughout the world. They sing praises to the Lamb and wave palms. These are signs of victory.
Revelation is not exclusively a prediction of disaster. Revelation also shows heavenly salvation and our Christian hope. We are shown this vision in today’s reading from the Book of Revelation. It is a vision of the victorious elect who have survived the unprecedented distress of the great tribulation. They cry out in joy, glorifying God. Even the angels join their cry of worship. This joyful picture is a vision of heaven and the elect who are admitted. They have followed Jesus Christ on the way of the Cross. They have survived incredible tribulation and now glorify God on His Throne and the Lamb, Jesus Christ. Jesus’s blood has washed the robes of the saints clean.
St. John’s vision should give us hope. These are the saints of God who are admitted into God’s presence. Our hope is our desire for something and our expectation of receiving it. The virtue of hope is our desire to enter into Divine union with God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. This union will give us eternal happiness. Faith is an act of our intellect but hope is an act of our will. This vision is what we hope for. St. John’s vision encourages us to keep calm and carry on…following Jesus on the way through suffering and tribulation to an everlasting divine union in which we glorify God and He continues to love us.
Homily for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), October 28th, 2018:
Jeremiah 31:7-9; Psalm 126:-6; Hebrews 5:1-6; and Mark 10:46-52.
By Father Scott Karnik
We must hold onto our Catholic faith in Jesus Christ. Doing that enables Jesus to return us to our “rest,” in the Promised Land of grace and salvation where our souls reside. In today’s first reading, God the Father, announces through His prophet Jeremiah, that the Jews will return from Exile. Even those for whom travel is difficult, even they must return. This is such good news that the exiles will be overjoyed. They will return with tears of contrition. God promises the Exiles that the painful labor of sowing will be crowned with life by the Lord, who has returned them to the Promised Land, to the Temple, and God’s Presence. These days of return will be happy.
In today’s gospel, a blind man named Bartimeus is begging. Bartimeus is destitute and insignificant. Bartimeus is a sinner, a nobody. But Bartimeus acts when he hears Jesus is coming. He calls to Jesus persistently. His persistence wins. Bartimeus attracts Jesus’s attention and confidently approaches Jesus’s “throne of grace.” Jesus answers his faith-filled request. He cures Bartimeus’s blindness. Bartimeus’s faith in Jesus has saved him. But there is more. St. Mark also writes that Bartimeus “followed him (Jesus) on the way.” That phrase designates discipleship in the early Church. So the readings today illustrate the prophesied return of Israel and Judah to their promised land, to their beloved city of Jerusalem, and to the Temple where God will return. It is also the illustration of a man’s soul, seeking Jesus, meeting Jesus, asking Jesus for a miracle, and Jesus gives him two. One is the cure of his blindness, and the second, the formation of a disciple, who follows Jesus “on the way.” Jesus gives James, John, and us, the model of the Suffering Servant that He and we must become. Then St. Mark ends this chapter with this story , to encourage his Christian readers in their own situations, on their own way (of the Cross). “Take courage, get up, Jesus is calling you.”
February 12, 2017
October 23, 2016
October 2, 2016