Homily for the Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), October 21st, 2018:
What religion would you die for? What religion would you live for? Today’s readings answer those questions. They also identify the chalice and the baptism which we must drink, the chalice and baptism James and John participated in.
The reading from Isaiah explains the theme of vicarious atonement. The prophecy is of a “Suffering Servant.” God’s Suffering Servant will assume the punishment due to us for our sins. This Suffering Servant will do this in our name. The Suffering Servant will be regarded as guilty and he will be associated with the wicked, even though he was completely innocent. His suffering will be for a positive purpose-salvation. Christians see clearly Jesus Christ in this model of the Suffering Servant. God Himself speaks in Isaiah’s prophecy. God affirms this prophecy and the spiritual reality that the Suffering Servant achieves in his vicarious atonement. This vicarious atonement, this undeserved suffering, is the Chalice that Jesus must drink from, faithfully. Jesus’s vicarious atonement is meant to attract attention from others, Jews and Gentiles. In our time, this model of the Suffering Servant makes a positive sense of suffering, particularly unmerited suffering. It shows us how to evangelize our faith by bearing burdens and setting an example.
In the reading from Hebrews, this Suffering Servant is also a “great high priest.” The author identifies this great high priest as Jesus Christ. The author encourages us to approach Jesus on His throne of grace because this Suffering Servant and Great High Priest is merciful. He is merciful because He is human, as well as divine. Jesus Christ’s mercy is rooted in His sharing of our human nature. He was tempted in every way but did not sin. Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest has successfully entered into God’s presence. We sinful human beings can have hope and confidence in Jesus. So if we can hope in Jesus, we can and ought to proceed to Jesus’s throne of grace, to worship God and His Only Son, Jesus Christ. The author of this reading from Hebrews assures us that we shall find mercy and obtain grace in the form of help suited to each time and circumstance in our lives. In fact, God sends us His Holy Spirit. This is the third person in the Blessed Trinity. The Holy Spirit is a divine being who encourages and helps us reach up to our higher nature, the nature of holiness. The religion which has such a Great High Priest, who has a fully human nature along with His divine nature, in such a sanctuary, who is the very Son of God Himself is the very religion to which we must hold on to. Here’s the kicker: We must drink from the same chalice that Jesus has drunk from, and James and John. We must be immersed in the same baptism of suffering Jesus was immersed into. Suffering and sorrow will overwhelm Jesus. And for us too, our suffering will be unmerited and innocent. The example we must give is to serve the needs of all. The example we give is meant to attract others to us, to our religion, to our carrying out of our faith in Jesus Christ.
The words of St. Teresa of Calcutta identify the chalice we must drink from and the baptism we must be immersed in. “People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
Homily for the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time:
Wisdom 7:7-11; Psalm90:12-17; Hebrews 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30
By Fr. Scott Karnik
We are all human. We are all mortal. We were born. We live. We are sinners. And we will die. Solomon realized this about himself. He has no advantage to his birth. Solomon will live and die, just like his subjects will, poor and rich alike. So Solomon does something about it. Solomon prays to God for the gift of wisdom. God grants Solomon’s request. Here is what Solomon does next. Solomon treasures wisdom above all else. Solomon preferred wisdom to scepter and throne; devalued riches in comparison with wisdom; elevated wisdom above jewels, gold, and silver; loved wisdom more than health, and preferred wisdom to light. Solomon did what the rich, young man in today’s gospel could not do: Solomon abandons earthly desires and possessions for wisdom. So what is wisdom? It is another expression for God Himself. When Solomon realizes that he is a mortal, just like his subjects, he abandons himself completely to God and His way of life for himself. The author of the psalm asks God to teach men to know themselves before God. May man’s knowledge of the brevity of his life lead him to spend his life wisely. Knowing who we are before God will change us for the better. God is wisdom.
We get to that point by presenting ourselves with uplifted hearts to God and His life-giving word. We lift up our hearts to God’s word. God’s word is authoritative. In fact, in the second reading from Hebrews, God’s word is so alive and authoritative that it is interchangeable with God Himself, who speaks it. God takes the place of His Word. God’s word is all-seeing and all-knowing. It penetrates the innermost person and forces him to address what really matters. All things discover themselves and stand bare before God’s eyes. The author of Hebrews says nothing is hidden from God. We will all give an account of our lives to God.
In today’s gospel, we see God’s Word made flesh. It is God’s Son, Jesus Christ. St. John wrote in the prologue to his gospel that the Word made His dwelling among us, and we have seen His glory: The glory of an only Son coming from the Father, filled with enduring love (John 1:14). In today’s gospel reading from St. Mark, God’s Word meets man. The man asks what he can do to inherit eternal life. Jesus answers. The man answers back. And Jesus tells him there is one thing lacking. “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me”(Mark 10:21). Abandon yourself and follow Jesus, the Word made flesh. Trust Jesus above all else. Love Jesus above everything. Abandon everything. Put Jesus first and let Him change your life. That’s what Jesus told this rich, young man. He couldn’t, wouldn’t do it. Ultimately, the man entrusted possessions before God’s wisdom, God’s words, and God’s Word made flesh. That’s what Jesus emphasizes. Undue attachment to wealth is a form of idolatry. It is inconsistent with true service to God. Hopefully, the rich, young man was not ready to do this. Hopefully, he reconsidered and later did follow Jesus. We can only hope and pray.
So what must we know? That we can encounter God’s Word made flesh every Sunday at this beautiful Holy Mass. What must we do? We must come here with uplifted heart. The first part of the Mass is the penitential rite. We confess our faults and ask forgiveness. The second part is the liturgy of the word, where we listen to God speak to us. Another part is the liturgy of the Eucharist, where we receive Jesus Himself, the Word made flesh. He changes us if we let Him. Why should we care? Because God tells us that we are not our own gods. God’s word tells us that we mortals can and must trust Jesus, His Son, abandon everything, and follow Him. He will love us if we do and on that day, He will take us up with Him to heaven.
Homily for the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), October 7th, 2018:
Genesis 2:18-24; Psalm 128:1-6; Hebrews 2:9-11; and Mark 10:2-16
By Father Scott Karnik
“The family that prays together, stays together.” That very wise adage from Father Patrick Peyton applies very much to today’s readings. In Genesis, we hear about the creation of Eve, the woman who is the best-suited helper of the man. God’s motive to create her is that “it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him”(Gen 2:18). God creates the woman for the man so that the two of them can enter into the sacrament of marriage. The end of this creation story proves it. The author establishes the dignity of the man and the woman in this story. “Dignity” is defined as “the quality or state of being esteemed, honored, or worthy.” This couple, one man and one woman, is totally unique to each other. The author of this story writes that the man is joyful at God’s creation of the woman. He is not alone anymore. The suitable partner has the same human nature that he does. They are united. God wills that the man and the woman enter into the sacrament of marriage. Notice that God puts the man into a deep sleep when He creates the woman. The man does not witness the mystery of God’s act of creation of another human being. God’s creation of another human being is a divine act. This is where abortion is most sinful. It destroys an act of divine creation by Almighty God Himself. God created the man and the woman and then blessed them to be fertile and multiply; to fill the earth and subdue it”(Gen 1:28). God creates a family. The family is the man and the woman in love and they have babies. This creation story explains a present reality. A man and a woman fall in love and marry. In Genesis 2:24, to “leave” and to “cleave” indicate a covenant. Therefore, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that marriage is a sacrament and a covenantal relationship.
St. Mark writes in his gospel about Jesus’s attitude toward marriage and divorce. Jesus teaches that it is not permissible for the man and the woman to divorce. Other teachers did permit it. Jesus does not. Jesus uses Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 as the authority for His position. Jesus bans divorce. Then, Jesus privately tells His disciples that if a man or a woman should have to divorce their spouse, they cannot remarry without being considered an adulterer. The central message from St. Mark is Jesus’s challenge to husbands and wives to live in a faithful, fertile, holy, and perpetual union until death. To do so, requires prayer. It requires the husband and wife to remain in faithful contact with each other, with their children, and with God Himself. The man and the woman cannot do this alone. Father Patrick Peyton promoted the truth that “the family that prays together stays together.” He started a Family Rosary campaign that eventually led to a national radio program on which the Rosary was prayed. The danger of not praying together as a family is divorce and the cheapening of the sacrament of marriage.
This is important because the alternative to faith, family, and marriage is divorce, living together in sin, breakup, and abortion. These acts are promoted for the freedom they give. They do not provide freedom. They enslave. They enslave the man and the woman to their passions and selfishness. And then comes the critical question of how to deal with the consequence of that sinful union. The critical answer to that in this sinful world is abortion. The critical answer in this sinful world is divorce. They do not reinforce a family. They shatter it. Abortion is a satanic act which destroys God’s life-giving action. Abortion is a satanic act which destroys the life of a specific person that God wanted to place in this world, at this time, to perform a specific task to build God’s kingdom. Wherever abortion and divorce go, they leave destruction and death in their wake.
Jesus says that only a child-like trust will enable us to live up to His demands in the day-to-day relationships we have in families and elsewhere. We pray for grace from Jesus through His Blessed Mother by praying the Rosary, together, as a family. Jesus can keep families praying together and staying together. It is Jesus Christ’s forgiveness, love, and mercy that can reassemble lives shattered by abortion and divorce. He is eager and willing to forgive those who commit those sins. Jesus is one confession, Holy Mass, and Eucharist away.
So compare. Which world do you want to build? Is it the world of marriage, family, and children? Or is it the world of abortion and divorce? Which world do you want to live in? Which world do you want your children to live in? Which world do you want to leave for your grandchildren? The answer is clear on its face. It is the God-given world of one man and one woman in a family that prays together and stays together and has children. And with Jesus’s grace and our child-like trust in His teachings, that world can be revived quickly and powerfully.
Homily for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, (B), September 30th, 2018:
By Father Scott Karnik
Numbers 11:25-29; Psalm 19:8,10,12-13,14; James 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-43,45, 47-48
Today’s readings suggest a common theme of uniqueness of leadership in God’s Church. To “lead” is “to guide on a way, especially by going in advance.” The leadership demands strain Moses and he asks to die. He doesn’t ask for help. God ignores Moses melodrama. God tells Moses to assemble 70 elders at the tent of meeting. Yahweh will take some of the spirit that rests on Moses and give it to the elders in order to share the burden. So Moses does and Yahweh does. But what happens is the 70 elders prophesy. That is important. They can prophesy. But Moses ‘s leadership position is unique. Only Moses can bear the burden of responsibility of communicating Yahweh’s word to the Israelites and leading the Israelites safely into the Promised Land. Those two responsibilities are unique to Moses. Eldad and Medad prophesy too. Moses approves God’s distribution of spirit. Moses is not concerned with any loss of prestige. He is concerned about the good of the Israelites. God’s prophetic gift is not restricted to any class. Moses excellent character is displayed in this story. Read Numbers 11 and Numbers 12. You will see God further defining the uniqueness of Moses’s leadership.
St. James writes about the unique leadership of those who are rich. St. James extends the woe oracles Jesus pronounced on the rich and well-fed. The last stage of time exists now. Jesus Christ is enthroned at God’s right hand with victory and dominion. The great reversal of values is underway. The earthly values in this mortal world are being devalued right now as we speak. Abortion is one of them. Abortion will die a mortal death and the sooner, the better. The values of this mortal world deceive. St. James says the ones who are most susceptible to this deception are the rich. The rich look to these values for security. But these worldly values are subject to time, just as we are. The rich prefer to see their worldly wealth decay rather than use it to help the poor. They believe the present, sinful world will continue forever. They are so comfortable now that they refuse to believe that Jesus is coming again to judge this sinful world. Their hard-heartedness will be their ruin. St. James then accuses the rich of his time of unscrupulous selfishness. They would not pay the poor laborers at the end of the day. So therefore, they went hungry, along with their families. St. James also accuses the rich of not helping the poor secure their rights. And they fail to understand that God takes the part of the oppressed. This is especially true if the oppressed entrust their well-being completely to Jesus and live like Him. This crime of withholding wages from workers is so serious that it cries out to God for redress, just like murder does, just like sodomy does. Those who surrender to worldly pleasures and power might be or might become unscrupulous. They presume to live as they please with apparent impunity. But in God’s eyes they are fools and their sentence has already been passed on them. Now that Jesus Christ has been glorified, God’s judgment has been pronounced in principle. St. James condemns the rich for their injustice, not their wealth.
Jesus speaks of that same uniqueness of leadership in His gospel reading today. Jesus warns those who would scandalize the little ones who believe in Him. The person or persons who scandalize the little ones to that extent will endure the most severe punishment at God’s judgment. They will be sunk into the sea. They will be doomed if they do not repent, confess their sins, and do penance. The occasions of sin Jesus talks about are moral and originate inside the person. That person must overcome them at the root, where they are cut off, in order to avoid damnation. To scandalize someone by engaging in such sin means to sin and to jeopardize the man who is scandalized. It is better to die than to rob a man of his faith. Think about that in today’s scandalous revelations in our Church. Those people are sentenced already and their only escape is to repent, confess their sins, and do penance. But remember that we, the little ones, can scandalize too. We are not morally superior to anyone. The same moral standards that apply to Church leaders apply to us too.
The goal of man’s existence is eternal life. This brings him salvation, the kingdom of God. To fail to enter into life and to not share in God’s eternal kingdom means to miss the goal that God Himself has set for mankind. It is the most terrible lot that can befall us. A man’s earthly life has been made meaningless and when he dies, he will be meaningless forever. It is an eternal death, a destruction of his humanity which God designed for eternal life because He loves us that much. Jesus says it is better to cut off a body part than to scandalize another human being and be thrown into hell.
jesus repeats to his disciples that he will go to jerusalem to suffer, die and rise again as messiah
Homily for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), Sunday, September 23rd, 2018:
Jesus will be ready to make His final trip to Jerusalem when today’s gospel reading from St. Mark ends. Jesus will go to Jerusalem where He will suffer, be crucified, and die, and rise again on the third day. But Jesus has to give His disciples some remedial training first. Jesus has to re-instruct them about His Passion. It is difficult for them and us to understand. Our societal expectations clash with Jesus’s teaching of the necessity of personal sacrifice.
The disciples spend their energy arguing over who is the most important among themselves rather than try to understand Jesus’s second Passion prediction. So Jesus gives them a visual aid. It is a child. Jesus calls His disciples to serve the humble, the insignificant, and the unimportant. That child exemplifies the people Jesus wants His disciples to serve. The great reward for such humble service is the receiving of Jesus Christ Himself and God His Father. So therefore, there is no room in Jesus’s kingdom for the type of selfish ambition and aggrandizement His disciples are arguing over. In Jesus’s kingdom, ambition for the highest places is misguided and misplaced.
This is happening to Jesus’s very own hand-picked disciples because they are following their own concupiscence. They are following their own selfish desires and self-gratification instead of humility and wisdom. Self-gratification and selfishness lead to hatred and envy of others, false morals, heresy, division, and immorality. But God-fearing wisdom leads to purity, tranquility, modesty, docility, equity, mercy, and piety. Wisdom is practical and active and unitive. And the more wisdom unites, it promotes universality and salvation in this church. We are all asked to practice it.
This will be difficult. Consider today’s first reading from the Book of Wisdom. The evil sinners will persecute the just man who submits to the Divine Will. They will do so because the lifestyle of the wise, God-fearing man pricks the consciences of evil people. So the evil people fall on the just ones, to attack them. The wise ones will live in accordance with God’s plan and wishes. The basis of human evil is personal choice. The relationship with evil is direct, involves deeds and words, grows into desire and friendship, and ends in a sinful covenantal relationship. That should sound familiar. It is familiar because the basis of human holiness is personal choice. It is direct. Holiness also involves deeds and words, and grows into desire and friendship, and ends in a holy, loving covenantal relationship with Jesus Christ Himself. In fact, in today’s first reading, the title of the just and wise person who follows God’s plan is “the just one,” and “the son of God.” Those titles speak of the close relationship between the wise and the just with the Lord. The just man has said that God Himself will take care of him and protect him. Eventually, that is what Jesus’s disciples will learn.
So what should we know? That Jesus Christ calls us to the same personal sacrifice to serve the humble and the insignificant that He called His disciples to serve. What should we do? We should surrender selfish ambition, evil desires, and self gratification and replace them with purity, tranquility, modesty, docility, equity, mercy, and piety. And why should we care? Because the reward for this type of service is that we serve Jesus Himself and God His Father. We will see them face-to-face in the little children, the poor, and the insignificant that we serve and welcome by doing good for them. Indeed, that will be the answer to the final test. On that day, Jesus will come and say to those who serve Him: “Come. You have my Father’s blessing. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me. I was ill and you comforted me, in prison and you came to visit me…I assure you, as often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me”(Matthew 25:34-40).
Jesus is the messiah who willingly suffers and dies for our sake, to save us. Here is how we can follow him
Homily for the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday, September 16th, 2018
Isaiah 50:4-9; Psalm 116:1-9; James 2:14-18 & Mark 8:27-35
By Father Scott Karnik
Today’s readings point to Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Messiah, and the one who suffers, dies, and rises again to save us and give us eternal life. We know that. Isaiah’s reading today is one of the Suffering Servant songs. This servant speaks about himself. He says he gives his back “to those who beat me,…(Isaiah 50:6)…”my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting”(Isaiah 50:6). This servant has obediently accepted God’s call and will carry it out. Bible commentators say this is a prophecy of Jesus Christ and His Passion. And Jesus teaches this to His disciples and to us today. He says in St. Mark’s gospel, “He began to teach them that the Son of Man had to suffer much, be rejected by the elders, the chief priest, and the scribes, be put to death, and rise three days later”(Mark 8:31). And then St. Mark writes, “He said these things quite openly”(Mark 8:32). We know this. It is what Jesus connects to this that is important. Jesus “summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them:…(Mark 8:34). Jesus is speaking to us, today, His followers. We must imitate Jesus in His sufferings and Passion. We must reflect Him in ourselves. How do we do that?
There is an answer in today’s first reading from Isaiah. It’s in the first sentence. “The Lord God opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back”(Isaiah 50:4-5). Jesus wants us to hear His teachings, obey them, and persevere in obedience. First, we must listen to His words and teachings and those of His Church. For us, to hear means “to gain knowledge of by hearing; to learn; to listen to with attention; to heed; to entertain the idea”(of something that is said). Of course we can hear, figuratively by reading and praying too. We hear with a humble, uplifted heart to God’s Words in Sacred Scripture here at Mass. We have to be willing to come here to hear with an uplifted heart. Second, Isaiah’s prophecy says “And I have not rebelled,…(Isaiah 50:5). The Suffering Servant, Jesus, obeys. To obey means “to follow the commands or guidance of; to comply with; to execute.” We too must obediently follow Jesus’s vocation of denying ourselves, picking up our crosses, daily, and following Him. Either we must relinquish ourselves totally to the suffering Messiah that we follow, or make ourselves susceptible to an unfavorable judgment. We must obey and lose our lives for Jesus’s sake and the sake of the gospel. We too must suffer and carry Jesus’s Cross to Calvary. And third, Isaiah writes this phrase: “…have not turned back”(Isaiah 50:5). The Suffering Servant accepts his divine vocation. He perseveres in it. So do we. To persevere means “to keep at something in spite of difficulties, opposition, or discouragement.” Jesus teaches that He has a dual destiny. “The Son of Man” must suffer and be glorified later. St. Peter and the other disciples fail to understand the association of suffering and death Jesus must undergo in His office of Messiah. We have difficulty doing the same thing. It requires humility and humility is a bad word in today’s world.
All of this is important because there is no other way to conform to Jesus and receive the salvation He offers us. It really is His Way or the highway. This is important for us because in our own church, in our own faith, there are people who say they’re Catholic but they subscribe to the way of the (sinful) world. That is first for them. They pay lip service to their faith and place their hearts elsewhere. They are not to be followed or imitated. Jesus is to be followed. His way is the only way. To follow Jesus we must deny ourselves, pick up our cross daily, and follow Him through hearing, obeying, and persevering to the bitter end, which leads to the glorious salvation and life which will never end.
Homily for the Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), Sunday, September 9, 2018:
Isaiah 35:4-7; Psalm 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10; James 2:1-5, and Mark 7:31-37
By Father Scott Karnik
God shows no favorites. He has no distinctions. God’s salvation is universal. He offers His Son’s salvation to everyone. God grants universal salvation to every repentant sinner, rich or poor, Jew or Gentile, or Samaritan. God is impartial to us and our status in His Church is equal. So therefore, God calls all to life, and even favors the poor, orphans, and widows, to make them rich in faith. So therefore, the Church must reflect God’s actions and love in its structure. Partiality is an unjust judgment. It contradicts God’s judgment. The majority of the first converts to the Christian faith were poor. God makes them heirs of eternal life instead of beneficiaries of material riches. Partiality is based exclusively on material appearance, which often belies the interior character. In St. James’s reading he says “Listen,” (hear with thoughtful attention), my beloved brothers and sisters. Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that He promised to those who love Him?(James 2:5). So therefore, a Church which shows no partiality is united and reflects God’s love, which infinite and impartial. That is point number one and St. James makes it well.
Point number two is that we can know God’s real presence by its effects. Isaiah 35 shows some of them. God comes with vindication. To vindicate means “to set free, deliver: to protect from attack or encroachment.” And who does God come to with vindication? It is “…to those whose hearts are frightened:…(Isaiah 35:4). And God comes with “divine recompense (Isaiah 35: 4). Recompense means “to give compensation to: repay.” “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing(Isaiah 35:5-6). Then the psalm reading tells more about this God and His loving presence with us. This God “…keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets captives free. The Lord gives sight to the blind; the Lord raises up those who were bowed down. The Lord loves the just; the Lord protects strangers. The fatherless and the widow the Lord sustains but the way of the wicked He thwarts”(Psalm 146:6-10). The singer of this psalm encourages his hearers to trust in God alone and not mere mortals. If Israel relies on God alone, its happiness is assured. God has created everything. And God’s creation includes governance of all people. God’s faithful and powerful care makes an environment fit for human beings and maintains society in justice and peace. And God does one more thing. God expresses His kingship in the favor He shows to the oppressed and to those who rely exclusively on Him. Zion’s God will reign forever.
In St. Mark’s gospel, he highlights Jesus’s supernatural healings to show His divinity. But Jesus desires secrecy. Jesus wants both Jews and Gentiles to accept His identity and messiahship on His terms, not their own. Jesus heals miraculously both Jew and Gentile. But Jesus also suffers and shows His messiahship in His death on the Cross for our salvation. Jesus serves and suffers. So must we. It is incomplete to do good deeds and not attend church. It is incomplete to attend church but not serve those in need.
Homily for the Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday, September 2nd, 2018:
Deuteronomy 4:1-8; Psalm 15:1-5; James 1:17-27; and Mark 7:1-23
By Father Scott Karnik
“You get out of something what you put into it.” That’s probably the best lesson we can learn from this Sunday’s Bible readings. In today’s first reading from Deuteronomy, Moses tells the Israelites to “hear and observe the statutes and the ordinances which I teach you, and do them;…(Deut 4:1). Moses tells the Israelites to obey the law carefully. “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it; that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you”(Deut 4:2). Exact observance is required. Sacred Scripture also says we must make room for God’s Word in our souls. St. James writes “Therefore put away all filthiness and rank growth of wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls”(James 1:21). St. James writes that God’s Word has created us and lives in us to save us but His Word must be carried out. “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves”(James 1:22). God has made the world with a purpose and has chosen us. Our God is a moral god. God’s moral purpose pervades the universe of His chosen ones and those who commit themselves to a moral god must be moral themselves. God is faithful, so must we. True religion observes the connection between covenant faith and covenant love. Today’s psalm reading lists the virtues required of a worthy citizen of Zion, Mount Zion. God’s Presence is located there, in His Temple.
Moses explains why the Israelites, and we today, must observe carefully God’s commandments. It is “…that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers gives you”(Deut 4:1). God promises the Israelites a long life lived peacefully in the land God will lead them into so they can possess it. There are motives for our obedience. I encourage you to read all of Deuteronomy, Chapter Four. You and I are required to receive God’s commandments meekly, know them, and do them. We receive them and we do them so that our virtues are visible to others. That’s another motive, renown. Israel’s pagan neighbors will acknowledge that Israel’s God is closer to it than their own pagan gods are to them. And another motive is the excellence of God’s law itself. What other law is more excellent than God’s law? We get out of it what we put into it. We observe carefully God’s Word and teachings; we receive them. Then, we do them so that what comes out of us is pure religion and the virtues listed in Psalm 15. That is what Jesus refers to in the Gospel reading. He rejects the praise of our lips. Jesus says the soul is the seat of our moral life. It is from there that evil thoughts and affections emerge to cause moral defilement. One’s acts which are inspired from within show when a person is not obeying God’s commands, or is obeying them.
Those are the lessons and the tough challenges given us today in Sacred Scripture. But there’s one more thing. God is faithful to His Covenant with Israel, even though Israel is not. Israel will be exiled to Babylon. They begin to lose hope of ever returning to the Promised Land. Read Isaiah, Chapter 40. God tells the exiled Jews that they will return. God forgives them.
***** There are parallels between today’s readings and Holy Mother Church. You have heard all the dismaying reports and the dirty laundry. But Holy Mother Church’s relationship with Jesus Christ is unique. It is Eucharist, Jesus’s Bread of Life Discourse which makes it so. It is also unique because Jesus builds His Church on the rock of St. Peter. Jesus promises that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”(Matthew 16:17-19). Sadly, we’ve been here before in our Church’s history. There have been schisms, abuses, sinful leaders. Through it all, only this church is two-thousand-years old and still here. Jesus is present here in His Sacraments. The Holy Spirit is also present in this church. Read John 14:15. This church, this faith, is unique, when we carry out God’s teachings, amplified by this church’s teaching authority. May we pray and observe God’s commandments amplified by this church’s teachings. When we do, priests and faithful, we bear virtue and renown in this world. We will also be worthy of God’s presence. So please pray for an increase of the Holy Spirit on this Church. Please pray for many graces for her leaders, her priests, and her faithful to return to holiness and to strengthen our holiness. That is a good place to start because we, you and I, need that right now in this Church’s time. “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us SINNERS, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
Homily for 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), Sunday, August 26th, 2018:
By: Fr. Scott Karnik
Today’s gospel reading is the epilogue to Jesus’s Eucharistic Discourse. It describes the reactions to His Teaching on the Eucharist being His Own Body and Blood. There are reactions.
First, the murmuring of the Jews against Jesus’s teaching now spreads. “Many of Jesus’s disciples who were listening murmured about His teaching. To “murmur” means to “complain or grumble.” These disciples have a crisis of faith. “This saying is hard;…” These disciples think about cannibalism. They think materially. “Who can accept it?”(v. 60). St. John wrote this in his gospel to fortify the faith of his own church in Jesus’s Real Presence in Eucharist, Holy Communion. St. John adds to this a difficult teaching. St. John quotes Jesus saying to His murmuring disciples the scandal of His Own Ascent “…to where He was before?”(v.62). That means, of course, to His Throne in Heaven. But the first step of that ascent is Jesus’s ascent on the Hill of Calvary, where He will be crucified and die to save us. Then He will rise. The Scripture commentary I studied says we eat the flesh of Jesus in His celestial glory, where He is seated eternally at God’s right hand. Jesus says “It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail”(v. 63). The many disciples who reject Jesus and His Eucharistic teaching think carnally, not spiritually. Their view is of no avail, useless. Their human reason cannot comprehend Jesus’s revealed truth without the light of the Holy Spirit. They lack faith, do not understand, “drew back and no longer walked with Him”(v. 66). Remember this. Jesus had hand-picked these disciples. They were good people. They would do good things for Jesus’s Church, His new worship society. So if Jesus is speaking symbolically, He has the opportunity to tell them so. Indeed, Jesus has the obligation to tell them so, in order to eliminate a misunderstanding about Eucharist, which persists to this very day. These are good disciples and Jesus will not let them walk away based on a misunderstanding. This is the first schism in the Church, and it happens right before Jesus’s eyes. He does not abandon His teaching. Judas Iscariot rejects Jesus’s teaching. Judas stays with the Twelve but enters into darkness, defects, and betrays Jesus. When Jesus says “…the flesh is of no avail”(v. 63), He is talking carnal understanding. He is not speaking about His Own Flesh, which gives eternal life. These disciples’ reactions hurt and sadden Jesus. Jesus said in an apparition to St. Josefa Menendez that “The Holy Eucharist is the invention of Love….Yet how few souls correspond to that love which spends and consumes itself for them!...I live in the midst of sinners that I may be their life, their physician, and the remedy for the diseases bred by corrupt nature. And in return they forsake, insult, and despise me!...”
The second reaction comes from “the Twelve(v. 67). Jesus asks them, “Will you also go away?”(v. 67). Notice the word “also.” Jesus knows that He has lost those many disciples because of His Eucharistic teaching. Jesus will not compromise it. Jesus wishes for all of them and all of us to receive His Teaching with a purity of soul. He now asks His priests, His church leaders, His Apostolic College for their belief. St. Peter accepts. St. Peter takes the risk and opens his heart. St. Peter says to Jesus, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God”(vv. 68-69). St. Peter believes Jesus’s teaching in faith, even though he does not yet understand it. He will later.
May we believe in faith. May we accept this hard teaching. May we heed Jesus’s appeal from the heart. This beautiful sacrament of Jesus Christ’s real Body and Blood in Eucharist is meant to unite all of us in perfect unity. Therefore Jesus gave us the beautiful Sacrifice of Holy Mass in order to change the bread and wine into His Body and Blood, His Soul, His Divinity, and His Grace. This presents the reality of Jesus’s One and Only saving Sacrifice. Jesus’s One and Only Sacrifice is infinite, omnipotent, and timeless. We are not. We are confined in time and space. That’s why there is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Only in this Church can Jesus offer Himself really and truly in Eucharist. Only in this Church can you come to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to encounter Jesus’s Real Presence in the sacramental form of Eucharist and in Sacred Scripture. He does this to save us from sin and death. Jesus told St. Josefa Menendez “The greater your helplessness, the more My Power will sustain you. I shall rest in you, and you will have life in Me.”
Homily for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), Sunday, August 19th, 2018:
Fr. Scott Karnik
Jesus’s words in the first verse of today’s gospel are the same as the last verse in last Sunday’s gospel: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is MY FLESH for the life of the world.” It causes the Jews much consternation. They know exactly what Jesus is saying. They understand Him perfectly. And yet, Jesus will continue His argument.
First Jesus says “Amen, amen,…” “Amen” means “so be it.” Jesus knows that they know exactly what He is saying and He will stand by it.
Second, Jesus amplifies his argument by saying “…unless you EAT THE FLESH of the Son of Man and DRINK HIS BLOOD, YOU DO NOT HAVE LIFE WITHIN YOU.” Refusing to eat Jesus’s flesh and to drink His Blood has an effect-a lack of life within. Jesus says that “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” It is Jesus’s Body and Blood which is life-giving. He says “For my flesh is TRUE FOOD, and my blood is TRUE DRINK. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” No symbol can do this. It is only Jesus’s Body and Blood that accomplishes this. Notice that Jesus says “I am the LIVING BREAD that came down from heaven;…” Bread is an inanimate object. But Jesus inserts His very Life into it. How? He does it at the sacrifice of Holy Mass. Jesus died on the Cross once and for all for our sins. It is His glorified and resurrected Body and Blood that we receive in Eucharist and consume. It is His Body and Blood after His Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven that we eat and drink. That is where the eternal life is located. We receive His glorified and resurrected Body and Blood here at Holy Mass in the sacrament of Eucharist, which He gave to us at the Last Supper. You have to come here to receive Him. You cannot get this watching a sunrise or sunset on a lake, or sitting on a mountain top, or in a forest.
Third, Jesus is clearly talking about something other than simply faith nourishment. In this gospel the verb “believe” disappears. It is replaced by “flesh,” “blood,” “eat,” and “drink.” Jesus shifts radically the vocabulary. The verb “eat” is repeated six times in today’s gospel. Jesus says it five times and the Jews say it once. Jesus also says “feeds on me” once. Jesus is clearly referring now to a sacramental nourishment for our souls that gives us the eternal life that Jesus Christ now has. It will be activated on the last day. Jesus’s description grows and becomes more explicit, not less. In verse 54, the best translation of the Greek verb is to “gnaw” or to “chew.”
Fourth, Jesus is doing something incredible, miraculous, and supernatural here. Jesus says “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” St. Therese the Little Flower referred to her First Communion as a fusion with Jesus Christ, not a meeting with Him. To fuse means “to unite by or as if by melting together”; “blend,” “integrate.” That’s what verse 57 refers to. Jesus gives us His eternal life, which He received when God the Father raised Him up on Easter Sunday. Jesus says “Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.” Jesus in this verse, verse 58 refers to the flow of eternal life from the Father to the Son. That same flow of life extends from Jesus Christ’s glorified, risen Body and Blood to us who eat His glorified, supernatural flesh and drink His glorified, supernatural Blood. His Body and Blood in Eucharist is readily available to everyone who believes His words about this.
This is incredibly shocking to the Jews but Jesus stands by it. One more thing: you have to come here to receive Jesus’s Body and Blood in Eucharist, to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Pope John Paul II wrote “The sacrifice of the Cross is so decisive for the future of man that Christ did not carry it out and did not return to the Father until He had left us the means to take part in it as if we had been present. Christ’s offering on the Cross-which is the real Bread of Life broken-is the first value that must be communicated and shared. The Mass and the Cross are but one and the same sacrifice….By making the Body and Blood of Christ really present under the species of bread and wine, it makes-simultaneously-the Sacrifice of the Cross actual and accessible to our generation, this Sacrifice which remains, in its uniqueness, the turning point of the history of salvation, the essential link between time and eternity.” That is from Pope John Paul’s Message to the Eucharistic Congress at Lourdes.” The closest we come to heaven is right here at Holy Mass, when Jesus comes down at the words of consecration and changes the bread and wine into His Body and Blood. This is also something we must do to receive Jesus’s eternal life.
Jesus sticks to His argument, He amplifies it to the Jews, He goes deeper than faith nourishment, and He gives us eternal life by this holy and supernatural act. He does this only here, at the Sacrifice of the Mass. This can change our lives. This can strengthen our repentance and our personal love for Jesus Christ and His Father. Indeed, this is what it is meant to do, to give us eternal life.
February 12, 2017
October 23, 2016
October 2, 2016