About frjamesdiluzio

As a missionary priest, actor & singer, Paulist Fr. James DiLuzio developed a Mission/ Retreat entitled LUKE LIVE! Now in his 8th year traveling throughout the USA proclaiming Luke’s Gospel from memory with preaching and song meditations, his goal is to inspire , entertain and exemplify how we may more fully personalize and celebrate scripture in our lives. See www.LukeLive.com Throughout my mission/retreats, I offer many suggestions on how we may share our faith comfortably in all kinds of situations and contexts—highlighting the Paulist charism of Evangelization, Reconciliation, Multi-Faith and Ecumenical Dialogue.

ASH WEDNESDAY 2019

Homily by Paulist Father James DiLuzio


Fire, smoke and ash were part of the Earth’s beginnings.  Each made their contribution to the atmosphere and to the land.  Volcanic ash contains various amounts of soil nutrients that eventually allowed the plants to grow.[i]  So from the beginning, ashes represented death but also life, the end of life and the beginning of something new. The message of death to life is primeval in the very heart of nature and in the first tribes of human beings. Initially,  of course, the first impression is that of death alone.  Mourners rolled themselves on the earth to show solidarity with the dead buried beneath them. In early Judaism ashes had two connotations:  grieving the dead and nothingness –the inconsequential realities of all things human in contrast the greatness and glory of God. To these time and experience embossed additional meaning upon ashes:  mortification due to guilt tied to remorse for sins committed. 


All of these understandings echo through our Ash Wednesday rituals for there is nothing so sobering, so humbling, so freeing as recognizing death as the common denominator for all human persons – the great, the small, the powerful, the powerless, the rich, the poor, the healthy, the sick. Ashes insist we ask the questions “why are we here?” and “what do we believe?”  Do we embrace all the aspects of ashes—the grieving, the repentance, the cosmic realities that death does indeed give way new life?  Jesus assured us that “blessed are those who mourn” and that repentance is the only proper mindset to appreciate the full weight of God’s mercy, to appropriate the forgiveness that flows freely from a God of unconditional love—REPENTANCE that not only indicates sorrow for the harm we have brought upon ourselves from our thoughts, words and deeds but the harm our words and actions and inactions bring upon others but, in the best sense, REPENTANCE means CHANGE OF HEART, CHANGE OF MIND, THE WAY WE THINK, THE WAY WE LIVE.  JESUS by taking on the fullness of humanity INSISTS WE LIVE AS HE LIVED, THINK AS HE THOUGHT, becoming his eyes and ears, his mind and vision, his words and actions for all people in our lives and in our world.  For today– as it will be in the future–all people—believers and nonbelievers– need tangible reassurance that faith matters, that patience, kindness and forgiveness are earthly realities that reveal heavenly realities. 

In these ashes we die to FEAR and are RAISED to that YOU and I -with no exceptions—are INDEED the MANIFESTATIONS, the INCARNATIONS of GOD IS WITH US and  THROUGH US BECAUSE OF THE ONE WHO LOVES US and came to be ONE WITH US ON EARTH, guiding us onto eternal life.   Yes, today, we die again to the fear that we are not unconditionally loved and RISE to the Courage to BE CHRIST for others and with others.

Are we ready to come “down to earth” as Jesus did?  To BE humble, ever-conscious of the preciousness of life, our lives, thankful for WHO we are and WHAT we are, THANKFUL FOR A LIVING FAITH that sees our sins and failures all within a bigger vision:  that without humility, power is evil, without sobriety,  passions become addictions, without knowledge of and commitment toward THE INTERCONNECTEDNESS OF ALL THINGS–all peoples with peoples, with nature, with God through a cosmic communion,  faith is shallow, life is wasted.  Yes, at times we do  belong on an ash heap but NEVER FEAR:   the Holy Spirit cultivates the SPIRITUAL NUTRIENTS IN US to make faith alive, our lives “ALIVE” and worth living and dying for—because from the beginning, God declared all this –life, death, repentance, dying and rising BAPTIZED IN JESUS, CONFIRMED IN JESUS, IN COMMUNION WITH JESUS OFFERING COMMUNION, PATIENCE, FORGIVENESS, NEW WAYS OF LIVING TO THE WORLD –YES, GOD SAID THIS WAS GOOD.  SO VERY, VERY GOOD. WELCOME TO LENT!  


[i] SOIL ENRICHMENT:  Volcanic eruptions result in ash being dispersed over wide areas around the eruption site. And depending on the chemistry of the magma from which it erupted, this ash will be contain varying amounts of soil nutrients. While the most abundant elements in magma are silica and oxygen, eruptions also result in the release of water, carbon dioxide (CO²), sulfur dioxide (SO²), hydrogen sulfide (H²S), and hydrogen chloride (HCl), amongst others.   Taken from: https://www.universetoday.com/32576/benefits-of-volcanoes/

Other Sources:

online Jewish Encyclopedia: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/1944-ashes

From:  https://sknobloch88.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/ash-wednesday-and-ancient-gods/

Indian beliefs.  Agni was the ancient Indian God of Fire, believed to be the deity to cleanse and purify the body of sins.  The Romans adapted this God’s name in the Latin word ignis,  for fire.  And how we derived the present word ignite.

So, as the Catholics believe………”Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust”……….all is connected, and everything returns to its source.

All religion has common links

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An Idea for Church Accountability– Any thoughts? (Revised 3/5/2019)

I have an idea for accountability for living, often retired priests, bishops and lay administrators who did not act responsibly when allegations of abuse came from children and/or their families– specifically I am referring to those superiors / priests/ bishops/ lay administrators who did not believe the victims when they first came forward
and/or did not support them through the criminal investigations, if any.  I think those “deniers” need to be directed by QUALIFIED LAY PROFESSIONALS first to work through their guilt and /or any resistance they may have (or have had) accepting the truth and then to learn tools for making emotional and spiritual amends to victims. This would be a true Reconciliation ministry far above and beyond what happens in and through the courts. From this could come a second phase of reconciliation ministry that begins with overtures to the victims to take advantage of lay professionals (through or outside of the Church as they choose) with options that include a professionally facilitated process with the goal of reconciling victims with the family members and friends who denied them immediate care and/or who forestalled or denied them justice. Processes such as these would offer victims greater hope for integrity in all their relationships in the present and future. A third phase would offer victims the choice to confront their abusers(or surrogate if the abuser is deceased or in a mental institution) in a safe environment facilitated by lay professionals if the victim and his or her health professionals deem such a confrontation beneficial. A fourth phase would offer victims the choice of entering a process that could help them forgive their abuser/ perpetrators “IN THEIR HEARTS” so the victims can be free of recurring memories of their abuse and all the associated fears and traumas. The biblical story of Susanna and Daniel in the Biblical Book of Daniel could be the spiritual foundation for this ministry.

I believe the Church owes victims and their families many extended opportunities such as these IN ADDITION to the monetary compensation offered through the legal system because these kind of reconciliation ministries are central to the Gospel. Hopefully some or most of these steps are already being taken by lay professionals paid for by the Church directly or through court settlements. However, the love of Christ through the believing Church would be particularly manifest if all victims received the follow up and follow-through in all four phases and any others that healing from molestation warrants. Indeed, it is common knowledge that many families have longstanding histories of denial of abuse and corresponding addictions of all kinds. Should the Church formally sponsor programs and procedures that empower psychologists and other behavioral science professionals to address these conditions would mark a positive advancement in the Church’s recovery and return to integrity. Any thoughts?

The Times Are A’Changing

The only thing good about the scandals in the Roman Catholic Church is the way they have brought to light the abuse of power, the realities of sexual deviance, encouragement of healing for victims and accountability for perpetrators in all sectors of society. Signs of hope are in the Church this week at the Special Vatican convocation, the Me Too Movement, procedural changes in Church, Education, Sports, Medical, Scouts institutions. Acknowledgment of cover-ups of sexual abuse within the Southern Baptist Convention is another sad but necessary development in the quest for healing and ongoing prevention. See this Washington Post article:

My Life’s Philosophy as Told to a Child

My 9 year old Godson interviewed me last week for a school project. I humbly share it with you to remind me of what I always need to be about! God bless us, everyone!


LETTING OUR LIGHT SHINE


I called my Godfather, Fr. James DiLuzio for the essay. He was in the middle of writing a Homily for mass. He put down his pencil, and said he would take a break from writing and do the interview with me. I think that was really nice of him. The interview was based on my nine questions. He said:


“I was born in Nyack, New York on August 18th. I’m a Catholic priest, and am not married. Our tradition invites us to focus on our friendship with Jesus and share that friendship with everybody. The secret to happiness in any life is to be thankful for what we have and the people in our life, and not to worry about what we don’t have. My most important decision was to become a priest and to begin my work as a Paulist Father-Missionary. God is everywhere and his spirit is in all people, and the most important thing of God’s spirit is his invitation to be patient and loving with one another. I learned that helping other people is important, but at the same time, each of us have to use the special talents God gives us so that we can please ourselves while helping others, and that’s a good balance for praising God. Jesus told us to let our light shine, and as I got older, I appreciated that teaching more. The major values that I live by are love, kindness and as much patience as I can cultivate with God’s help, and as little judgment on myself and others as possible.”


Father Jim has a great outlook on life. I learned a lot from him. You can too!

Homily – Bridge the Gaps –On Faith and Finance

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time 2019

Fr. James DiLuzio C.S.P.

Who doesn’t dream of winning the lottery with visions of wealth and security, high standing in society?  Money is power in our world, power to influence others.  In truth, I’m as guilty as anyone in taking for granted the simple things and engaging in delusions of grandeur but Jesus began his public ministry asking that we, the people, not isolate and overprotect ourselves physically, emotionally, economically – because that is often what the rich and powerful do–but rather, live as one people devoted to God and one another. The Gospel is our continual wake-up call to more vital dreams. Initially we may begrudge it but ultimately it is GOOD NEWS inspiring the treasures of relationships, friends, family, delights of meals be they simple or exquisite—all with a continual consciousness of God.

What did Jesus mean when he said,  “I am here to proclaim a year of the Lord’s favor?”  He’s quoting the prophet Isaiah who, 500 years before, reminded the people that they were to return to the practice of JUBILEE—“years of the Lord’s favor.”  Every 7 years and again, every 50 years, the Torah commanded that debts were to be forgiven and indentured servants were to be freed – grounded on the understanding that God is the only true landowner.  We may quibble over ownership but  everything we are and everything we have belongs to God.  Leviticus 25: 23 “for the land is Mine; you are but strangers, resident with ME.”  This was the collective memory Jesus was evoking as the new “anointed one,” turning the people’s expectations of Messiah on its head for most were hoping not for a reconciler but a Vindicator exacting punishment on Israel’s enemies.  Jesus insists we see the world differently, not accepting it on its own terms but rejuvenating it, inviting it, coaxing it to become closer to God who redeems people. 

Biblical scholars tell us that when Jesus speaks of “liberty to the captives” he was speaking primarily about people in prison or sent to labor camps because of debt or inability to pay taxes.  We recall how the Jews detested Rome’s tax collectors!  In the Roman Empire the average person had no rights and the poor plebeian or slave caught committing theft could be punished with death (sometimes by crucifixion).   We do well to remember the horrific practices of so-called Christian nations from the Middle Ages up to as late as the 18th and mid-19th centuries in Europe:  the horrors of debtors’ prisons,  and worse, innumerable recorded cases of poor people, with no recourse to work, stealing a neighbor’s pheasant to feed a starving family, receiving the death penalty to instill fear in other desperate people.   Tragically, there’s not a big leap from these horrors to the ways our society cultivates ghettos and alienates poor neighborhoods.  Why?  Because we and our leaders tend to ignore the bigger picture, because we’ve allowed our society to slip—we cultivate awe of the rich and famous and powerful and forget to encourage generosity and compassion as ultimate values and part of our true goals in life.   That includes bridging the gap between the rich and poor, the advantaged and the disadvantaged.  Now this isn’t socialism.  I repeat, “this is not Socialism” or what others derogatorily label “the social Gospel.”  All it is, is Christ’s insistence that we LET HIM FREE US FROM GREED and enhance our lives on earth with COMPASSION.  Jesus invites us to know when enough is enough – enough of what we need to be good for a family, for a business, be it money or bonuses or furniture or clothing or toys or retirement or legacy for one’s families—all legitimate concerns but never meant to exclude concerns for others in this world.  Jesus, then and now, insists on “Glad Tidings to the Poor.”   Think of Zacchaeus coming down from his perch on a tree—there’s JOY there!  That’s a JUBILEE embodied in one faithful individual.  Or, if you prefer a more threatening image, think of the parable of the indentured servant who was shown great mercy but refused to show mercy to another—recall his ultimate end.  

Jesus invites us to expand our circles so that all peoples of all walks of life have honest levels of association with the downtrodden, the oppressed and afflicted, the forgotten and the neglected. True, we as individuals cannot attend to all, but we can strive to insist that all people’s concerns are able to be voiced, to be heard and that all aspects of societies and cultures, including government and finance, offer assurance that no one is oppressed, afflicted, forgotten or neglected because of laws or choices we and others make. How often I find myself repeating this phrase – “God wants us all to get ahead–not at the expense of others but the uplifting of others.”  It’s the second part of that equation that finds humanity lacking; finds Christianity lacking. In contrast, attend to the way in today’s Scripture (1 Corinthians 12: 12-30) Saint Paul reinforces this unity of all people, no matter how diverse –for every part of the body is necessary to for every “body;” — all parts must contribute to the well-being of the whole.  This too, is an extension of the Eucharistic Feast. The Eucharist being an ongoing participation in the advancement of all peoples –blessed assurance we are not alone.  

Happily, these past weeks of the recent Government shut-down have nonetheless given us signs of HOPE:   Neighbors and Churches expanded their food pantries and many Banks granted postponement of major credit payments to the almost ½ million government employees working but without their weekly or bi-monthly checks to pay their bills.  Like the redeemed Scrooge on Christmas morning, may we enthusiastically endorse those acts of kindness while we, today, re-commit our prayer and our choices for specific actions so that such kindness becomes the norm, not an exception to the way we live our daily lives and earn our daily bread.   What Jesus said that day in Nazareth, Jesus proclaims to us today: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor . . . recovery of sight to the blind.”  Must not we, too, see ourselves differently, because of Christ?   I’ve offered you what our theologians and scholars have to say about Jesus’s words.  Coming to this Eucharist today, we must ask ourselves, “What else could Jesus’ words possibly mean?”

The Scripture Readings for Sunday, January 27th are:

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 69

Reading 1NEH 8:2-4A, 5-6, 8-10

Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly,
which consisted of men, women,
and those children old enough to understand.
Standing at one end of the open place that was before the Water Gate,
he read out of the book from daybreak till midday,
in the presence of the men, the women,
and those children old enough to understand;
and all the people listened attentively to the book of the law.
Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform 
that had been made for the occasion.
He opened the scroll
so that all the people might see it
— for he was standing higher up than any of the people —;
and, as he opened it, all the people rose.
Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God,
and all the people, their hands raised high, answered, 
“Amen, amen!”
Then they bowed down and prostrated themselves before the LORD,
their faces to the ground.
Ezra read plainly from the book of the law of God,
interpreting it so that all could understand what was read.
Then Nehemiah, that is, His Excellency, and Ezra the priest-scribe
and the Levites who were instructing the people
said to all the people:
“Today is holy to the LORD your God.
Do not be sad, and do not weep”—
for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law.
He said further: “Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks,
and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared;
for today is holy to our LORD.
Do not be saddened this day,
for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength!”

Responsorial Psalm PS 19:8, 9, 10, 15   

R. (cf John 6:63c) Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart
find favor before you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

Reading 2 1 COR 12:12-30

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

Now the body is not a single part, but many.
If a foot should say,
“Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body, “
it does not for this reason belong any less to the body.
Or if an ear should say,
“Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body, “

it does not for this reason belong any less to the body.
If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be?
If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?
But as it is, God placed the parts,
each one of them, in the body as he intended.
If they were all one part, where would the body be?
But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you, “
nor again the head to the feet, “I do not need you.”
Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker
are all the more necessary,
and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable
we surround with greater honor,
and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety,
whereas our more presentable parts do not need this.
But God has so constructed the body
as to give greater honor to a part that is without it,
so that there may be no division in the body,
but that the parts may have the same concern for one another.
If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it;
if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.

Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.
Some people God has designated in the church
to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers;
then, mighty deeds;
then gifts of healing, assistance, administration,
and varieties of tongues.
Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?
Do all work mighty deeds? Do all have gifts of healing?
Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

Or1 COR 12:12-14, 27

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

and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.
Now the body is not a single part, but many.
You are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.

AlleluiaCF. LK 4:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Lord sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,
and to proclaim liberty to captives.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 1:1-4; 4:14-21

Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events
that have been fulfilled among us,
just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning
and ministers of the word have handed them down to us,
I too have decided,
after investigating everything accurately anew,
to write it down in an orderly sequence for you,
most excellent Theophilus, 
so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings
you have received.

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,
and news of him spread throughout the whole region.
He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.

He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,
and went according to his custom 
into the synagogue on the sabbath day.
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me 
to bring glad tidings to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them,
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Homily on The Wedding @ Cana

Readings: Is 62:1-5;  Ps 96:1-2, 2-3, 7-8, 9-10;1 Cor 12:4-11; John 2:1-11  

David Brooks, author, teacher, political and social commentator writes Op-Eds for the NYTIMES and appears on PBS Newshour on Fridays.   Yesterday (Friday), he wrote about Student and Teacher relationships and the necessity of healthy emotional bonds to actualize good learning. He quotes cognitive scientists Antonio Damasio who insists that “emotion is not the opposite of reason; it’s essential to reason. Emotions assign value to things.”  “Furthermore,” Brooks writes, “emotions tell you what to pay attention to, care about and remember. It’s hard to work through difficulty if your emotions aren’t engaged.  Information is plentiful, but motivation is scarce.

“. . . a key job of a school is to give students new things to love — an exciting field of study (AND) new friends (AND MENTORS). . . what teachers really teach is themselves — their contagious passion for their subjects and students. . .  children learn from people they love, and that love in this context means willing the good of another and offering active care for the whole person.”

Feeling cared about is essential for life as well as learning. That’s good instruction for all of us in addressing our relationships with family, friend and foe.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Wedding at Cana is Jesus’ response to Mary, his mother, when she asks him to attend to the lack of wine at the celebration:  “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.”  This remark has puzzled scholars for centuries, especially in the older translation:  “Woman, what does this concern of yours have to do with me?”  It sounds abrupt, uncaring, dismissive.  It didn’t help that  Jesus’ words were closely linked to a popular Aramaic and Ancient Greek phrase “What have you to do with me?” –a phrase indicating someone is intruding on one’s private business, as if Jesus didn’t want to be bothered. And by his mother no less!  Some scholars reflected that this interpretation was justified in that Jesus was always in communion with the Father.  However, Jesus came to earth to extend that communion with the Father to the world.  For Him and for us, the relationship with God could not be privatized, must not be privatized to the point it disregards or impairs our relationship with others. 

Happily, Current Ecumenical scholarship now emphasizes a more nuanced translation of this difficult phrase: It translates Jesus’ question as “What is this to me and to you?” meaning i.e. How does this request engage Jesus and Mary in what they both are supposed to be about; the ways they are to live?  The answer = how is this related to their TRUST in God!  In other words, it is God’s timing, not theirs to which they must defer.

In his humanity, Jesus did not sense the time for his public manifestation was to begin.  Yet he knew  he must always defer his humanity to God the Father.  Therefore, he decides to follow Mary’s inspiration placing himself and the situation in God’s hands.  Surprise! The time was now.  The time is NOW.  (It always is for, as Jesus will proclaim frequently throughout his ministry—the kingdom of God is at hand!)  With trust in God, Mary instigates Jesus’ first mission without any further discernment, saying to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” 

What wondrous love is this?  What confidence in God’s benevolence? In God’s munificence! Only someone who trusts that God cares for him or her, only one who feels he or she is known and understood, only one who knows he or she is loved has the confidence to look out for the needs of others.  Mary’s directions to the servers, “do whatever he tells you,” is her act of faith that she is loved and cared for by Jesus, echoing the words of the people to Moses at Sinai as he delivered them the TEN COMMANDMENTS: “everything the Lord has spoken we will do”  for they knew they were cared for having been led out of slavery from Egypt. Thus, Mary’s FAITH puts Jesus’ miracle into action.  And may we remind ourselves how FAITH is the necessary overture for all the miracles that occur throughout the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles and even the miracles, both great and small, that happen today.  Note, too, how Faith builds upon Faith; one good example sets the stage for greater goodness: Mary’s trust inspires the SERVENTS to fittingly follow Jesus’ direction.  This, in turn, becomes an inspiring example to the disciples.  No wonder Mary was and forever will be the preeminent Apostle, the first and foremost disciple.

May we take this lesson home with us today: Faith and Trust in God brought The Wedding Feast to its fulfillment.  This  Word and Eucharist is here to enrich us in that same Blessed Assurance:  We, too, are known, loved, cared for.  After all, Jesus is the BEST TEACHER—is He not? Indeed! With Love for us beyond all telling. Remember JOY is the outcome at this Wedding Feast.  And with trust in HIM, that JOY will sustain us in good times and in bad, at weddings and at funerals, at work and at home today, tomorrow and on to the future.  We only need to trust.  We merely must believe!

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading Excerpts:

 Is 62:1-5

No more shall people call you “Forsaken, “
or your land “Desolate, “
but you shall be called “My Delight, “
and your land “Espoused.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 96:1-2, 2-3, 7-8, 9-10

R. (3) Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.

Reading 2 1 Cor 12:4-11

Brothers and sisters:
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.
To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom;
to another, the expression of knowledge according to the
same Spirit;
to another, faith by the same Spirit;
to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit;
to another, mighty deeds;
to another, prophecy;
to another, discernment of spirits;
to another, varieties of tongues;
to another, interpretation of tongues.
But one and the same Spirit produces all of these,
distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.

Gospel Jn 2:1-11

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee,
and the mother of Jesus was there.
Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.
When the wine ran short,
the mother of Jesus said to him,
“They have no wine.”
And Jesus said to her,
“Woman, how does your concern affect me?
My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servers,
“Do whatever he tells you.”
Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,
each holding twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus told the them,
“Fill the jars with water.”
So they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them,
“Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”
So they took it.
And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine,
without knowing where it came from
— although the servers who had drawn the water knew —,
the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him,
“Everyone serves good wine first,
and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one;
but you have kept the good wine until now.”
Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee
and so revealed his glory,
and his disciples began to believe in him.

Homily for Baptism of the Lord Sunday – the conclusion of the Christmas Season

Excerpts from Today’s Scripture Readings:

Isaiah 42: 1-4 Thus says the LORD:
Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit; . . .

to open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

Isaiah 40: 11 Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
carrying them in his bosom,
and leading the ewes with care.

Psalm 29:  R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.

ACTS 10; 34 Peter proceeded to speak to those gathered
in the house of Cornelius, saying:
“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.


Luke 3: 15-16;21-22  The people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

After all the people had been baptized
and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying,
heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him
in bodily form like a dove.
And a voice came from heaven,
“You are my beloved Son;
with you I am well pleased.”

Note the difference between these two scenarios.  Who do we want to be?  

A man wakes up early in the morning.  The cool morning air on his face contrasts pleasantly with the cozy warmth under the blankets.  The old clock radio clicks on to play a sad, sweet, silly song he loved as a teenager and hasn’t heard for years.  It evokes sweet, sad nostalgia interrupted by a bit of static.  This  thirty-year old AM Clock radio was a gift from his parents when they could hardly afford anything.  Amazing it still works at all.  It broadcasts another song he has never heard before.  He listens intently, focused and attentive and looks lovingly at his wife still asleep at his side. With each passing year he loves her more and more, marveling how they, though no longer fit and trim, still delight each other. He whispers a prayer of thanksgiving to God filled with hope for the future.

Another man wakes up early that same morning. The cool morning air on his face is an affront to his comfort. The old alarm clock radio starts and stops with static before the morning broadcast begins. He recalls how  disappointed he was getting this piece of junk for Christmas when he was young.  Cheapskate parents –they never appreciated the finer things of life, nor did they fill him with ambition and tools for success. “Fool that I am,” he says, “you’d think after all these years I could at least have bought myself a Cd player alarm but who could afford it on the lousy salary I make?” His wife stirs beside him.  She’s gained too much wait.  Their relationship isn’t anything what it used to be.  What hope is there for the future? *

Today we commemorate the Baptism of the Lord.  In doing so we must recognize everything about the life of Jesus is meant to tell us about our own.  We follow Him into baptism so we may lead our lives as close to Jesus as we can be, embracing His Vision that we are beloved and wonderfully made.  No exceptions.  If we accept that we can see ourselves and others differently, not as the world sees us.

Many people think Baptism is only about freedom from Original Sin—our compulsion toward a “ME” centered world instead of a God-centered world.  However, Baptism offers us something more.  Our baptisms (bestowed upon most of us when we were mere infants) consecrated us into the truth that God loves us first –before we were even old enough to do anything good, bad or indifferent to ourselves or others.  Remember, in this fourth great event of the Christmas Season (After Christ’s Birth, His Consecration of All Families as Holy Families and His Offering Friendship to the World via the Magi on Epiphany) God called Jesus his “beloved” before he performed any miracle, before he preached any sermon, before he picked up his cross.  So,  too, God calls us his beloved sons and daughters, before we put any of God’s grace and goodness into practice.  Accepting the truth that God loves us first offers us ample opportunities to  love God, ourselves and others more readily, more spontaneously– out of gratitude, awe and wonder.  Thanksgiving for God’s Love, for the life God bestowed upon us constitutes the heart of a good life consecrated in God’s grace.   Baptism insists that we see that.  Jesus underwent Baptism to insist that we understand that.

Baptism and all the subsequent sacraments of the Church inaugurate in us a Heavenly Vision here on earth.  Jesus turned societies’ rules upside down – refusing to judge others in comparison or contrast to Himself.  Instead, He offered Himself in relationship to all—seeking friendship for the sheer enjoyment of being known and knowing others, confident that relationships of honesty, of quality and integrity are the heart of earthly life and the heart of heaven.  Why even the difficult relationships–and Jesus had many of them, including conflicts with his own disciples—yes, even difficult relationships offer opportunities for growth, for patience, courage and transformation.  Jesus literally didn’t care if people were of his stature, wealthy or poor, socially or religiously educated or even disciplined in their behavior.  He made no such judgments. He only desired to engage, to share Himself, His Being and HIS VISION—GOD’S VISION—an alternate way of living, engaging the world for all it CAN BE rather than taking the world on its own terms which all too often (although not always) eschews spiritual truths and values.  

Jesus may have accepted, for example, that it is inevitable that there will be rich and poor in this world, but while society insists that “Progress is King,” that those who succeed are superior beings to those who don’t measure up to its standards of success,  Jesus insisted such disparities never be perpetuated.  Rather, in communion, He invites us to bridge the gap of “the haves” and “have nots” by affirming our common heritage as children of God. If we believe we are “beloved” as Jesus in his humanity was beloved by God, then our task is to affirm the beloved-ness of all including those outside of our “set,” beyond our circle of friends, including those with whom we disagree—even they who are hostile to our vision of communion, those who intentionally thwart cooperation among peoples or refuse to see each and every one as a saint-in-the-making. 

By inaugurating us into a people, a Church, Baptism and the Sacraments support us in helping one another, struggling with one another, conflicting with one another insisting differences can be overcome because of The ONE who first Loved Us.  Sacraments insist we remain thankful for every opportunity we have, and that through Grace, we begrudge no one the same opportunities.  May our commemoration of the  Baptism of the Lord rekindle our lives with the fire of our Baptisms and this Eucharist, confirming our identities as followers of Christ Jesus in whom the Great Commandments to love God, self and others as ourselves continue to hold sway. Christmas may be over,  but its Spirit can perpetuate and enhance our faith, hope and love today, tomorrow and always if we let it.  God Bless us, everyone!

*These scenarios adapted from the book “How To Want What You Have” by Timothy Miller, PH.D. New York: Henry Holt and Company, Inc. Copyright 1995 pp 44-46