Homily for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, (B), Sunday, July 8th, 2018:
By Father Scott Karnik
There is a stark contrast in this Sunday’s readings when compared to last Sunday’s. In the gospel today, we see that people in Jesus’s hometown of Nazareth reject Him. They reject Jesus because of their unbelieving astonishment. To “astonish” means “to strike with sudden wonder.” The Nazoreans say “Where did he get all this? What kind of wisdom is He endowed with? How is it that such miraculous deeds are accomplished by his hands?”(Mark 6:2). They know Jesus and they know that He did not attend a rabbinical school. They know Jesus and they ask “Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary, a brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not his sisters our neighbors here?”(Mark 6:3). Then comes this telling sentence: “They found him too much for them”(Mark 6:3). The Nazoreans demonstrate to Jesus their lack of faith, their unwillingness to believe. Compare that with the characters in last week’s gospel. The synagogue official fell at Jesus’s feet “and made this earnest appeal:…”(Mark 5:23). The woman suffering from the hemorrhage “heard about Jesus and came up behind Him in the crowd and put her hand to his cloak. If I just touch his clothing, she thought, I shall get well”(Mark 5:27-28). These two accepted in faith Jesus, what He taught, and what He did. Jesus tells the synagogue official to have faith. Jesus says “Fear is useless. What is needed is trust”(Mark 5:36).
What is needed is faith. So what is faith? The Catholic Church identifies faith as one of the theological virtues. We pray for faith, hope, and charity in every Rosary we pray. And we should pray the Rosary daily. The Hebrew word for faith in the Old Testament means “steadfastness.” It signifies a person’s attitude of trustfulness and belief. The Nazoreans reject Jesus’s preaching of the kingdom of God. Because Jesus had grown up amongst them, they refuse to recognize Jesus’s extraordinary mission. They would reject Jesus as a divinely-appointed teacher. They knew His relatives and His humble way of life. The Nazoreans are skeptical and unfriendly. Jesus was only “the son of Mary,…”(Mark 6:3). Jesus says that jealousy and familiarity create prejudice against Him. That is the real reason they are offended. This is also an affirmation that Jesus was a prophet to the rebellious Jews, just like Ezekiel was (Ezek 2:5).
What is needed is faith. Faith is an act of assent, an act by which one understands or judges propositions or opinions to be true. The synagogue official and the woman in last Sunday’s gospel had faith; they assented to a supernatural truth, that Jesus could cure the woman’s hemorrhage and the little girl’s (fatal) illness. They didn’t know how but that is not necessary. Their faith was an act of their intellect assenting/agreeing to a truth beyond their grasp. They DECIDED to have faith in Jesus. Our will is involved in our faith in Jesus Christ. Something else that is essential is also needed to have faith in something that is beyond our grasp. That is the grace of God. If we are to have faith in Jesus, to decide and to move our wills to prompt our intellect to believe in a divine truth, then we need to cooperate with God’s grace to move us to that belief, that faith. The synagogue official and the woman with hemorrhage did cooperate with God’s grace. They did submit their wills to God’s grace to move their minds to believe that Jesus could cure the hemorrhage and resurrect the daughter. The Nazoreans did not. They refused to believe. They refused to submit their wills to God’s grace to move their minds to belief that Jesus was MORE THAN only a carpenter and only the son of Mary. The Nazoreans fulfilled what God said to Ezekiel about the Israelites: they are “a rebellious house.” They are “rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their fathers have revolted against me to this very day”(Ezek 2:3).
We love our freedom and freedom is good when it is exercised wisely. But if it is used rebelliously, it hurts us. St. Mark writes that Jesus “…could work no miracle there, apart from curing a few who were sick by laying hands on them, so much did their lack of faith distress him”(Mark 6:5). He could not work miracles that He wanted to work for them. Christ’s power to work miracles is unlimited but faith is expected for the exercise of this power.
Faith is defined in the Catholic Church as the act of our minds assenting/agreeing to a divine truth. Our will moves our minds to accept that divine, supernatural truth and our will is moved by God’s grace. God’s grace, which prompts our will to move our minds to believe, is itself supernatural and a free gift.
So what must we know? That Jesus Christ wants us to have faith in Him; to trust Him. And we can have this faith, by our decision and our cooperation. What must we do? Pray to Jesus to deepen and to strengthen our faith and our willingness to cooperate with God’s grace in order to believe and have faith. Our willingness to have faith in Jesus is meritorious and virtuous. Pray for the right disposition to accept God’s supernatural truths about Jesus Christ. The synagogue official and the woman with the hemorrhage did have the right disposition to have faith in Jesus. The Nazoreans did not. Why should we care? We should care because the more faith we have in Jesus Christ and His Teachings contained in His Church, THIS CATHOLIC CHURCH, the more Jesus can do with us and through us. Jesus wants to be in our midst, working through us.
Homily for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday, July 1st, 2018
By: Fr. Scott Karnik
We have heard of “the way.” Jesus Christ calls Himself “The Way, the Truth, and the Life….” Today’s readings give us a view of what “the way” is and how we can participate in the way and enter the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ.
The author of the Book of Wisdom encourages us to love (practice) justice in order to develop wisdom (Fear of the Lord). Pursue God and His way. To “pursue” means “to seek” and “to engage in”; “to practice.” Pursue God with simple piety and God will come to you. “Simple” means “innocent.” “Pious” means “respect”; reverence for deity and devotion to divine worship.” The author tells us that all creation is good. God made it so. There is no room for death in God’s creation. It is the devil who created death and “death” is “life apart from God” in the author’s mind. Adam and Eve chose death. For us that is important. They chose death. They exercised a fundamental option. Death has no place on this earth apart from the human choice of evil. That is important. It is a fundamental option.
Saint Paul tells the Corinthians to “excel” in gracious acts of the faith, to include “this gracious act also.” He is encouraging the Corinthians to take up a collection for their brothers and sisters in the Christian faith in Jerusalem. The Jews there are persecuting them and they are in need. St. Paul is not saying to “open up the checkbooks.” He is saying to be generous to others. Help them by giving abundantly. St. Paul gives Jesus as the example. Jesus gives us his very self in Eucharist. He empties Himself for us. We receive Jesus Christ in Eucharist, bodily, spiritually, and with every grace that we need and with every grace that Jesus wants to give us. We benefit spiritually, plentifully, and all of us, equally. He supplies our needs like manna in the desert. Generosity is a grace that unites rich and poor, making them one. We become one in the Mystical Body of Christ by what we do and what we seek. We become one spirit, one soul, and one Church. Faith in Jesus Christ makes believers responsive to one another. That responsiveness is one way in which we enter into Christ and become brothers and sisters in the Lord. This is an actual, practical effect, via our faith, that benefits everyone. Faith removes spiritual barriers and equalizes through acts of forgiveness, love, and mercy. But this is not exclusively about whipping out our checkbooks. That is too narrow. This is about generosity and responsibility to all others. I have to insert a personal experience here. Twice, people have made a somewhat spontaneous donation to St. Anthony’s because they love coming into this church. They love the renovation. They come here to pray, attend Mass, confession, and to receive Jesus in Eucharist. They gave because they experienced Jesus Christ here in this church. In their generosity, they gave a donation in order to help insure that this church will remain here to help others experience Jesus Christ in prayer, confession, Mass, and Eucharist the same way they do. The same has happened with you. You gave generously to enable this renovation so that your children and others will pursue and seek Jesus, ‘The Way’, just as you do. Generosity generates more generosity to meet the actual and spiritual needs of all.
That brings us to the gospel. The moral of the story is, “Do not be afraid. Have faith.” The woman and the synagogue official do exactly that. Jesus will help us in following Him in the way. The woman’s faith is rewarded with health and peace. The synagogue official’s faith is rewarded by his witness of Jesus raising his daughter back to life by a spoken word and by touch. Another important point is this: the girl has died and, “Why trouble the Teacher any longer?” St. Mark wants the readers of his gospel, including you and me, to stay with Jesus, The Way, to the end: Jesus’s Passion, Crucifixion, Death, and Resurrection, followed by His Ascension into heaven and His outpouring of the Holy Spirit on this Church. Stay with Him to the end. When we experience confusion, devastation, sorrow, and tragedy, even when following Jesus The Way, Jesus tells us, “Do not be afraid; just have faith, what is needed is trust.” God can generate life out of death. Jesus tells us in this gospel that in the light of faith death is only a sleep. There is no room for death in God’s creation. Our fundamental option generates omnipotent life or sinful death.
So what must we know? We must know that Jesus is the way. We are to seek Him as the Book of Wisdom encourages us to do. To seek Jesus in our souls generates life. “Do not be afraid. Have faith.” What must we do? We must undergo the conversion necessary in our souls to enter into Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, the Resurrection, and the Life. We are asked to live that way, to the end, whatever that brings us. If we are in the Mystical Body of Christ, we live Him out by acts of love, forgiveness, generosity, mercy, piety, and worship, here, in this Church, on Sunday and daily, if possible. The Holy Spirit will guide us to be more generous with our time, talent, and treasure. God bless those who take the time to pray and to counsel in front of the abortion clinic here in Fargo. They encourage pregnant women to seek another way, which generates life, not death. That is only one example, but it’s a big one. Why should we care? We should care because only Jesus Christ saves us. Only Jesus Christ conquers death and evil. In Christ, death is only a sleep. The prayer before the scripture readings asks God to enable us to always be seen standing in the bright light of Truth.” The offertory prayer that we will hear shortly asks God that, “by the deeds by which we serve You, may we be worthy of these sacred gifts.” Those sacred gifts are Jesus Himself in the Eucharist. We receive Him. And finally, the post-communion prayer asks God that “this Divine Sacrifice we have offered and received, fill us with life, oh Lord, we pray, so that, bound to You in lasting charity, we may bear fruit that lasts forever, even beyond death, which in Jesus Christ, is only a sleep.
Homily for the Solemnity of St. John the Baptist (B), Sunday, June 24, 2018:
By Father Scott Karnik, Associate Pastor @ St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church.
Holy Mother Church celebrates three births as solemnities. The first is the birth of Jesus Christ, with the Solemnity of Christmas. The second is the Solemnity of the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The third is this one, the Solemnity of the birth of St. John the Baptist. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons is in today’s gospel: “For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.” John the Baptist went about preaching a baptism of repentance. John was the voice of one crying out in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord. He was the precursor of Jesus Christ and the last of the prophets.
St. Luke’s Gospel sets the scene at John’s circumcision. The baby is circumcised and Elizabeth says he will be named John, not Zechariah. Zechariah confirms this and then his speech is restored. “Then fear came upon all their neighbors,…” Fear means an awesome reverence for God’s wonderful deeds. Elizabeth’s neighbors rejoiced with her because “the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her.” The Jews are aware of a deeper meaning in this. They don’t know what but they understand God is doing something special. “All who heard these things took them to heart saying, ‘What, then, will this child be?’ For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.” The Jews celebrated a boy’s circumcision with great religious joy. Circumcision admitted the boy to spiritual communion with Israel and gives him a share in the promises of the patriarchs. It was a deed of contract between the boy and God.
The parallel in the Christian church is what John did, he baptized. So this is a good opportunity to discuss baptism in the Roman Catholic Church. Baptism is called a “gateway sacrament.” It is the first sacrament Holy Mother Church administers to a person. Baptism is necessary for salvation. It must be actually received or there must be a sincere desire for it. Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3:5 "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." A priest administers baptism by a washing of water with the proper form of words. It is through baptism that men and women are: freed from sin, reborn as children of God, and, configured to Christ by an indelible character, are incorporated into the Church, this Church, Jesus’s Church, the one He established on the rock of St. Peter. Our souls are dead in original sin. Baptism gives the new life of sanctifying grace. Baptism frees us from Satan’s power. By baptism we enter into Jesus. We unite with Him in His Mystical Body and live with His life. Baptism is the door to other sacraments. One must first be baptized before receiving any other sacrament. Baptism washes away original sin and actual sins, and all the punishment due to them. A valid baptism requires a Trinitarian form. The priest prays, “I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”, while pouring water on the person’s head. The person administering baptism must have the deliberate intention of doing so.
What is impressive and stunning about baptism is this: Every other sacrament we receive returns us to the state of grace and life we were in when we first were baptized. That is huge. Baptism is the first sacrament in which we receive God’s Holy Spirit into our souls.
Returning to the gospel, John the Baptist was Zechariah’s and Elizabeth’s first child, a son. John should’ve been a priest, like Zechariah his father. But he wasn’t. He gave that up and went into the desert to be prepared for his mission. The passing of the Temple and the Law are foreshadowed in John the Baptist. Baptism and Jesus Christ replace them. In the Roman Catholic Church we baptize infants. In Acts, Chapter Two, Peter tells the Jews at Pentecost that they must “repent and be baptized, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, that your sins may be forgiven; then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. It was to you and your children that the promise was made, and to all those still far off whom the Lord our God calls” (Acts 2:38-39). There is no verse anywhere in the Bible that restricts baptism to adults only.
It is breath-taking how important baptism is. It is breath-taking how much God graciously loves us, to restore His Life in us through this gateway sacrament. By the way, it is at baptism that we give a child his or her name, just like at circumcision. The name “John” means “Yahweh is gracious.” He is and baptism proves it.
Homily for the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), June 17th, 2018:
By Father Scott Karnik
If you read closely this Sunday’s readings, you’ll get an impression of the importance of growth, gradual growth. You will also clearly see who governs that growth, God Himself. Those are important points.
In Ezekiel, this reading is at the end of the chapter. God promises Israel, through Ezekiel, His prophet, to plant a “tender shoot” from a high cedar. God Himself will care for it and grow it. God is all-powerful and sovereign. God can and will do this. This refers to the Messiah, the messianic king and His universal reign. This messianic king is a “tender shoot” from the royal house or royal lineage of King David. God will plant and grow this “tender shoot” when it appears that David’s royal lineage has dried up. This “tender shoot,” this messianic king, is, of course, God’s own Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus was born when Rome had conquered the known world to include Israel. St. Joseph is the last man is David’s royal lineage. He adopts God’s Son. Jesus is in David’s lineage. He is king. This king, Jesus, will become a magnificent cedar. That is a way to describe His kingdom. It will be universal and will shelter all nations, including the Gentiles. All kings will welcome this messianic king and acknowledge His divine origin. Under this majestic tree, the Messiah, holy men will experience spiritual growth. It will be so because these holy men faithfully worship in the Temple.
In St. Mark’s Gospel, Jesus describes God’s Kingdom. It is like a seed that is sown. It grows to maturity. The seed develops in the soil itself, with its own energies, until it is ready for harvest. God’s kingdom, which Christ has established, will grow gradually, consistently, to final maturity. God is all-powerful. God is sovereign. God will grow His Kingdom without violent revolution and without dramatic theater. Jesus says this to correct the religious error of His time. That false idea was that the Messianic kingdom would be inaugurated dramatically, politically, and suddenly.
So, what must we know? We must know that we cannot control the coming of God’s Kingdom. God is sovereign. God Himself will do this. The kingdom will be fully mature when all are brought to the kingdom.
What must we do? St. Mark wants his readers to be open to Jesus’s word and to draw deeper in a faith relationship with Him. We can’t grow the kingdom. But we can plant the seeds of faith, hope, love, mercy, holiness, obey the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Holy Mother Church. We can attend Holy Mass every Sunday and weekdays too, if possible. We can encounter Jesus in this Church’s sacraments. We can pray, individually and as a family, and attend Eucharistic adoration. We can actively oppose the sins of this world, like abortion, and many others. God bless those who go before the abortion clinic here in Fargo to pray, to give counsel, and to point out the immorality of abortion. Doing these tasks is sowing the seeds, even small mustard seeds. We plant them. God grows them.
Why should we care? Because we can’t stop God’s Kingdom from growing to final maturity. We can’t alter God’s Kingdom to what we think it should be and when we think it should appear and under what circumstances. God is all-powerful. God transforms. God grows. We care to walk in the dynamic life of faith. We care to sow the seedlings of virtues. We care to repent and be converted. We care to fix our souls on salvation, which St. Paul says is unseen but hoped for. God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son will do the rest.
By: Fr. Scott Karnik
Homily for the 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday, June 10th, 2018:
Today’s readings give us two ways to react to our own sinfulness. In Genesis, Adam and Eve have disobeyed God because they want to be like God. When God finds out that they have disobeyed the one command He gave them, He interrogates them, to get them to admit their sin. Adam and Eve respond by blaming someone else. Adam goes so far as to blame God. Adam says “The woman, whom you put here with me, she gave me the fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.” Eve said, “the serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.” Adam and Eve’s response is blame, pride, and “I did it anyway.” They express no contrition. But God expresses mercy and love anyway. God will care for humanity in spite of sin. It is God who takes the initiative to restore His relationship with man, after man (Adam and Eve) has disrupted it.
In St. Mark’s Gospel, Jesus’s relatives see Him serve God His Father. Jesus dismisses personal security (a good job as an excellent carpenter), safety (he decided to roam the countryside as a travelling rabbi), and personal reputation (he did not care what people thought of Him). He would serve God His Father. The scribes accuse Jesus of demonic possession when He exorcises demons. The Scribes and Pharisees hate Jesus so much that when they see God’s Incarnate love for mankind in Jesus Christ, they believe they are seeing the incarnate power of Satan instead. Jesus warns them that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is unforgiveable. If someone refuses consistently the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit, they will end up being incapable of recognizing truth, right before their eyes. In their minds, evil will become good and good will become evil. A condition for forgiveness of sins is penitence, a feeling of pain or sorrow for sins. To refuse the promptings of the Holy Spirit will eventually destroy all sense of sin. If there is no sense of sin, there is no penitence, and there is no forgiveness because in our prideful souls, we haven’t sinned. “The woman, whom you put here with me”…she’s at fault, not me. The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.” It’s not my fault. But I disobeyed anyway. The scribes and Pharisees will end up being so hateful that they will plan and carry out Jesus’s crucifixion.
St. Paul writes that we are nomads in an earthly tent. We are to fix our gaze on what is unseen and hoped for, eternal love for God and unity with Him in heaven. We are to prepare for the eternal dwelling God is preparing for us. So therefore, our response to our sinfulness is shown in Psalm 130. It is a penitential psalm. The author pleads with God from “out of the depths.” The depth is that state of alienation and pain because he has sinned. He makes a supplication to God. A supplication is “a humble request in prayer.” He asks God for forgiveness of his iniquities, his wickedness. He declares that he will trust in the Lord and trust in His word. He will place his confidence in God’s forgiveness. The author believes the Lord is “kind,” the Lord is affectionate, gentle, and loving.” He believes the Lord has “plenteous redemption,” a willingness to buy back, to liberate one from sin by payment, by atonement for one’s sins. It is God’s own Son who will do that. This psalm contains a priestly assurance of salvation because of the psalmist’s penitence.
If we put these responses side-by-side, we see clearly how we are to respond to our sinfulness. We are to be humble penitents whom God will respond to with forgiveness, love, and mercy.
One more thing: Pray the Rosary. The first Sorrowful Mystery is Jesus’s Agony in the Garden. One of the purposes of praying that decade is to sharpen our contrition for our sinfulness. God’s response will be mercy and forgiveness, which is exactly what we need.
By: Fr. Scott Karnik
Corpus Christi Sunday Homily, Sunday, June 3, 2018:
The center of this Solemnity of Corpus Christi is sacrifice. Sacrifice brings about covenant. The common denominator in sacrifice and covenant is the shedding of blood. In the first reading from Exodus, the Israelites are willing to accept God’s will. So Moses writes the stipulations of the covenant, reads them to the people, and the people accept. Moses sacrifices bulls as peace offerings with God. Moses splashes half of the sacrificial blood on the altar. The altar symbolizes God. Moses sprinkles the rest of the sacrificial blood on the people. The sprinkled blood joins them to the blood splashed on the altar, God. There is now a covenant, a union between God and His Chosen People, the Israelites. The Israelites must keep the covenant in order to keep their union with God. To make a long story short, the Israelites fail. So God promises them a new covenant. The law will be written in their hearts.
In St. Mark’s Gospel, the Christian Eucharist is established as the new Passover. It is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is God’s perfect way to save all mankind. St. Mark’s Christians shared in the new covenant of Christ’s Body and Blood by sharing the Eucharistic bread and cup. But St. Mark also tells his readers that if they wish to share in Christ’s Eucharistic cup, they must also choose to share fully in Jesus’s way of suffering service. Imitating Jesus the Suffering Servant is essential to keeping this new covenant of grace. They, and we, must participate actively in Jesus’s mission on earth and keep His Commandments. We are to pour out our lives “for many.”
The Gospel scene is the Lord’s Supper. Notice the verbs St. Mark uses to describe this. “…he took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to them” (Mark 14:22). “…he took the cup, gave thanks and passed it to them, and they all drank from it” (Mark 14:23). You hear this repeated at every Mass. All of this emphasizes fellowship and covenant. Jesus transforms this bread into His Body. His Body is connected to a special event, His Death. We are to eat it. This is a new covenant sealed by Jesus’s Blood for His Community, His Church. Jesus’s saving power is applied to His disciples and to us to forgive our sins. We are to enact this new covenant by a legal and authoritative act, the Mass. We do this in memory of Jesus’s saving act. This memory unites us to Jesus’s one and only saving sacrifice. Remember in Exodus, the blood was splashed on the altar and sprinkled on the people, to unite them in a covenant. This memory is not a simple recall and acknowledgement of an act two thousand years ago. Anyone can do that. This is a memorial by which we today faithfully, willingly, and lovingly unite ourselves to Jesus’s one and only sacrifice of Himself on the Cross. Remember, a covenant unites us with Jesus and with God His Father. Christ offers the single sacrifice of Himself as a final annulment of sin, sins past, sins present, and sins future. Jesus sheds His Blood and dies. Jesus’s blood petitions God to forgive sins, purify us, and seal a covenant with God. In all of these respects, Jesus one sacrifice unto death replaces the old Israelite rituals. It fulfills them. Jesus Christ has accomplished the eternal forgiveness of sins in His sacrificial death. Therefore, it is Jesus who is mediator of this new covenant of grace. Jesus’s Passion and Death are His priestly offerings of Himself to atone for our sins. We consume His Flesh and Blood to unite ourselves to His Sacrifice and be saved in this new covenant of grace.
All that Jesus has done, and said, and taught, we will heed and do. Jesus forgives our sins and unites us to Himself and His Father in Jesus’s Mystical Body. That is the effect of Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ, which we receive here. We must come here to receive Jesus’s Body and Blood in Eucharist. We must receive Him in this Sacrifice of the Mass. We unite ourselves with Jesus’s one and only sacrifice in this Sacrifice of the Mass, which is done in memory of Him. This Church is correct to teach that the Eucharist is the real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, not a symbol. No symbol can do this. Only Jesus saves. Jesus saves us through the Sacrifice of His Body and Blood, Corpus Christi. We ought to be very thankful to be Roman Catholics for this incredible fact alone. Here is what we must do. We must pray for a greater faith in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in Eucharist, the host and the wine, changed really and truly into Jesus’s saving Body and Blood. May we rejoice in the sacrament of Eucharist on this day, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi.
Pentecost Sunday Homily, Sunday, May 20, 2018:
This Pentecost Sunday is real for you and me. This is not a commemoration of something that happened two-thousand-years ago. This Pentecost Sunday happens here and now for you and me, who are members of this Church. We receive the Holy Spirit right now, today, because Jesus has promised the Holy Spirit to be always with this Church. We receive the Holy Spirit’s gifts and yield its fruits. That is the context. Keeping that in mind, here are three things we can ask the Holy Spirit to do for us.
The first is to forgive sins. Jesus sends the apostles on the same mission that the Father sent Him on. Then Jesus breathes on them, tells them to receive the Holy Spirit, and says “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained. This clearly shows Jesus giving His apostles and disciples authority to forgive sins in a sacramental act. Holy Mother Church, in her wisdom, sees in this the Sacrament of Confession. Jesus’s mission is to forgive sins. That mission continues today and the sacrament He has established to do so is confession. His forgiveness, His Mercy, and His Love flow through this sacrament. Jesus Christ, by His Cross, undoes all evil and gives all good things, including forgiveness of sins. We priests receive it from the Holy Spirit, that authority which Jesus gave to the apostles and disciples and which comes down to priests today.
Second, the Holy Spirit strengthens our faith. We are in Christ by grace. Jesus has ascended into heaven so that His Father will send the Holy Spirit at Pentecost upon His apostles and disciples. Pope St. Leo the Great wrote that, “It is upon this ordered structure of divine acts that we have been firmly established, so that the grace of God may show itself still more marvelous.” The miracle of Pentecost is speaking. These devout Jews hear these Galilean apostles and disciples speaking in their own native language. The apostles locked themselves into the Upper Room because of their fear. The apostles and disciples receive the Holy Spirit, go out, and speak of Jesus’s salvation to everyone, because they can speak in other languages, without fear. Pope St. Leo the Great wrote that this faith, “…would remain unshaken by fetters and imprisonment, exile and hunger, fire and ravening beasts, and the most refined tortures ever devised….” He continues: “Throughout the world, women no less than men, tender girls as well as boys, have given their life’s blood in the struggle for this faith.” The Holy Spirit strengthens our faith by strengthening one man’s self-control, another man’s willingness to help the poor, another person’s fasting. The Holy Spirit saves, heals, enlightens the mind, teaches, counsels, strengthens, and consoles. The Holy Spirit pours forth his grace in full measure.
Third, the Holy Spirit unifies the Church. The author of the first reading in Acts emphasizes unity. It says that the Holy Spirit filled the entire house in which they were. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues to bring the Good News of Jesus’s salvation to all. The Holy Spirit enlivens the apostles and begins to form a new, universal worship society, the Church. Jesus’s salvation is for everyone. There are no exceptions. The proclamation of Jesus’s Lordship and Salvation always unites, in the Church, this Church, the one Jesus formed on the rock of St. Peter.
Today, Jesus Christ is present in this Church’s sacraments. In Baptism, we die and rise just like Jesus. In the Eucharist, we join Christ’s Body and each other. All natural distinctions which divide us are eliminated. So, if you want to be like LeBron James, sin. If you want to be like LeBron James, go to confession and have your sins forgiven. If you want to be like LeBron James, get in line to receive Jesus in Eucharist, at Sunday Mass. (I’m just using his name as an example).
The final era is now. So that makes this actual, real Pentecost Sunday very important for us and for this beautiful Catholic faith in which we worship Jesus Christ. We need forgiveness of sins. We need to strengthen our faith. And we need to be more unified to this beautiful Catholic faith. If you listen closely, enemies always attack the unity of this Church. They will not accept and obey. They will disobey and reject. With the Holy Spirit in us, we can be sources of grace, holiness, acceptance, and obedience for others and bring others into the folds of this Church. We can become citizens of heaven.
by: Fr. Scott Karnik
Ascension Homily, Sunday, May 13, 2018:
Jesus gives His Apostles and disciples, and us today, our marching orders. This is Ascension Sunday. Today’s readings narrate Jesus’s final post-resurrection appearance. Then, He ascends into heaven. The theme of the readings is the growth of the Church beyond Jerusalem. That’s where the Apostles, disciples, and we get to work.
First, Jesus has given His Apostles and disciples convincing proof of His resurrection. The Apostles and disciples will be genuine witnesses of Him. They saw and heard Jesus. To “witness” means to testify, “to make a solemn statement of what is personally known or believed to be true.” We witness Jesus Christ in that way by our faith in this Church’s teachings, in this Church’s sacraments, in Sacred Scripture, and in Eucharist. We cannot do this ourselves. The Holy Spirit will strengthen us for this mission, to “witness” Jesus to the entire world, wherever we are.
Second, in Ephesians, St. Paul summarizes what we are to witness to: God has shown His great power by raising His Son, Jesus Christ, from the dead and by seating Jesus at His right hand in heaven. It is there that Jesus reigns over all cosmic forces and His name is glorified and praised over all others. God places everything under Christ’s control. God makes Christ the Head of the Church, which is Christ’s Body. This completes Christ’s being. Christ’s glorification reaches its zenith when He becomes head over all the church. The church is united to Christ’s Body. The Head, Jesus, and the Body, the Church, are one. They have a common nature. So therefore Jesus is bound most intimately with His Faithful. Jesus’s One Body is His One Church. Jesus is not cut up into 40-thousand denominational churches. His one church and body is this one, the one He established on the rock of St. Peter, two thousand years ago. We are to witness to all of this today, here and now.
Third, we need not fear. Jesus will be with us in our preaching and witnessing. Jesus promises that He will affirm their gospel message with special signs of His Own Power and Protection. These miraculous signs will guarantee the truth and the divine origin of their message. Jesus commands His Apostles and disciples to preach the gospel of salvation to all people throughout the world. The Gospel message of Jesus and the salvation He brings are for everyone. There are no exceptions. Our fear and silence will be replaced by courage, faith, and witness to Jesus Christ in this church, His Church.
We were graced to have such a witness in our midst last week. Immaculee Illabagiza is a holy, faithful Catholic woman. Her family was slaughtered in the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Her witness is the forgiveness she bore to those who killed her parents and her brothers. God’s miraculous sign was the protection He gave her for several months while she hid in a bathroom in a minster’s house. There were killers outside, numerous times, looking for her, to kill her too. God shielded her. Now He uses her to witness the Gospel message of mercy, forgiveness, and salvation. She humbly obeys and faithfully witnesses. She is an example for us to follow. And Jesus is with her as she gives witness to Him.
The Easter season culminates in Jesus’s Ascension into Heaven. The Catholic Church wisely celebrates Jesus’s Ascension. Holy Mother Church commemorates Jesus’s Ascension because His marching orders apply today to us, just as they did to His Apostles and disciples two-thousand-years ago. Jesus lives. His message lives. His commission to us to witness lives too. We have witnesses like Immaculee Illabagiza to model our witness after. And we have a beautiful Christian message in our beautiful Roman Catholic faith to witness to.
So what must we know? That Jesus rose from the dead, reigns in heaven over all cosmic forces and is head of this Church. What must we do? Proclaim that. Give witness to that. Why should we care? Because Jesus loves us so much that He is united with us in a common nature, His being, our being, His Church and our Church. Jesus is so close to us that He unites Himself to us so we needn’t fear and be silenced. Jesus needs us to witness to Him today in the teachings and traditions of This Roman Catholic Church for the salvation of all. He is with us. We have our orders. Let’s march.
by: Fr. Scott Karnik
Sixth Sunday of Easter Homily, May 6, 2018
Easter Season 2018 concludes with today’s readings. Next Sunday we will celebrate Jesus Christ’s Ascension into Heaven. It is important to know what God has done for our salvation and what we are commanded to do to embrace His Salvation.
One: God loves us and has taken the initiative to express His love for us. In the first reading from Acts 10, St. Peter, the first pope of the church Jesus established, our church, visits the home of a Gentile believer, Cornelius. St. Peter says “…in every nation whoever fears Him (God) and acts uprightly is acceptable to Him.” Then God pours out the Holy Spirit on Cornelius and the other Gentile believers. This is the only time in the Bible when the Holy Spirit is poured out on believers before baptism. After St. Peter hears them glorify God and speak in tongues, he orders them to be baptized in Jesus’s name. God loves us. God acts first to save us. God takes the initiative. It is the same in the first letter of John, where he says God loved us first, “…and sent His Son, Jesus, as expiation for our sins.”
Two, this is the love with which God loves us. God’s love is universal. It is for Jew and Gentile alike. It is impartial. St. Peter orders Cornelius’s household to be baptized with these words: “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit even as we have?” He refers to the first Pentecost, in the upper room in Jerusalem, when God poured the Holy Spirit on the Apostles, disciples, and Jesus’s own Mother, who was there praying with them. God’s love for us is merciful. God sent His Son Jesus Christ to us to atone for our sins with the sacrifice of His Own Body and Blood, His Own Life. Jesus’s loving sacrifice of Himself satisfies God’s requirement for reconciliation between us and Him. God is so loving and merciful that He sent His Son to die on the Cross and rise again, “to restore fallen mankind to his original supernatural state (sanctifying grace).” That is the state of grace Adam and Eve were in before they sinned.
Three, God requires us to reciprocate. We must give God the very same love He gives us and we must give that very same love to each other, to include our friends and our enemies. That is the love with which Jesus has loved us. The model of love for all true discipleship is extreme, infinite, and universal. It is Jesus who lays down His Life for His friends, as does the Good Shepherd. Jesus compares His love for His disciples with the Father’s love for Him. The disciples, including you and me, must insure that Jesus’s love continues. We do that by obeying Jesus’s commandments. That authenticates our love for Jesus and God the Father and their love for us because it is the same love. It is a universal love, which is extreme and infinite. Jesus coaxes, encourages, and invites us to embrace that love by obeying His Commandments. And when we sin, we confess our sins, attend Holy Mass, and receive Jesus Himself in Eucharist to restore sanctifying grace in our souls. Being a branch of the True Vine gives us kinship with Jesus Christ and God His Father. We unite with Jesus by faith and by our determination to do His Will in all things.
God loves us and has taken the initiative to love us. He gives us the identical love He gives to His Son, Jesus Christ, the True Vine. We return that very same love to Jesus and God His Father by loving one another through the observance of Jesus’s commandments.
That’s the big picture of Easter. We should care because this is our pathway to being in the same state of love with God that Adam and Eve had before the Fall. That is what God’s Love and Jesus’s Love does for you and me here, today.
February 12, 2017
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October 2, 2016