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.

EASTER 2021

A Homily by Father James DiLuzio C.S.P.

Easter Sunday 2021

For the first generations of Christians, the heart of the faith, the central purpose for their Conversion: Jesus’ Resurrection from the Dead.  The teachings, the miracles, the Passion Narratives were told and repeated because Jesus’s Resurrection confirmed the Primordial Longing of humanity at the very time we came into existence: the desire for Eternal Life.  The need to know that death’s finality was but an illusion came early in human history because people experienced a divine spark in the human condition that made us part of something greater.

Indeed, before any religions were formalized, before any rituals was ritualized, our Humanoid prototypes left evidence of memorials commending the dead to another world. Indeed, something erupted in the human condition that allowed our ancestors’ brains to expand, to seek a power, a spirit beyond ourselves, to ponder the stars and heaven as an essential goal.

Once Homo sapiens came on the scene, but long before the experiences that brought the Bible into a literary reality, Sumerians and Babylonians, Far Eastern cults of Zoroastrians and others attended to beliefs in the afterlife. Once Judaism became a tribal cult, the Hebrews eventually distinguished themselves and the true God by emphasizing this life and progeny as the central focus of life with God. They began with only vague ideas about life’s end–a kind of shade and shadowy existence in a place or state they called Shoal. “The living, only the living give you thanks, O Lord,” the psalmist cries. And that was and is an essential truth.  How we live from day to day is of great importance!

Yet through the experience of exile and the prophets, particular Ezekiel who insisted on a return to the land of Israel and Judah in images such as dry bones returning to life, Judaism evolved to reclaim a belief in resurrection of the dead. From the time of the Maccabees and the Writing of the Wisdom Literature, some two hundred years or more before Jesus’ birth, belief in the resurrection became a standard of the Pharisaic movement in which Jesus Himself was a part.

Ultimately, as hostility built toward Jesus, and premonitions of death consumed him, Jesus came to see that God would confirm Resurrection of the Dead and the Promise of Eternal Life through Him. But first, he would expose the sins of the World through the Wood of the Cross, compelling compassion and humility as the foundation for life in His Image as the antidote to death and dying, to sin, and violence, and hatred. Only such a dying would lead to a rising to New Life – to a kingdom of faith, hope, and love.  In His Image, as extensions of His Body in time and space, Jesus’ disciples would carry on His commission to transform the earth and everyone and everything in it.  HOW?  By trusting in the ETERNAL PATTERN, JESUS’ design of living, dying, and rising that all life entails.  The world may rage against such a paradigm, yet, ironically, it continually proports it as the circle of life:  Life, Death and Renewal.  But Judaism and Christianity, while acknowledging the Circle, also maintain a forward thrust moving Creation toward a New Heaven and a New Earth. A circular dance moving toward a HORIZON, beckoning renewal in faith, hope, and love, and trust in God.

Why even modern Science echoes this same truth. From the Big Bang, bursts of energy, combustion, then dying flames and embers contribute to something new, but not yet entirely new, for essential elements remain; some modified, others not, but keeping everything, and ultimately everyone, in relationship.  Past is present, and present becomes future all through Living and Dying and Rising. Consider the Dinosaurs—extinct, dead, YET a remnant remains in the composition of the birds of today – seemingly different, and totally new, yet not unconnected with their predecessors from the past.   We humans today are still composed of carbon and waters that formed life at the very beginning.  That is how we can say we are made from the very make-up of stars.  This scientific recognition brings a deeper understanding to our faith as we perpetuate the words of our everyday Trinitarian prayer:  “As It was in the Beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen!” 

This day, this HOLY DAY confirms for us again: Life, Death and Rebirth is God’s design. All in the Pattern of JESUS. Just as Jesus’ Resurrected Body was the same as his historic body–still in relationship with his ancestors, his mother, his disciples yet something new, beyond the confines of biology and physics.  An expanded reality akin to the expanding of the universe in circles and in straight, forward, and, at times, crooked lines. Old and New converging, becoming, dying, and rising.

 As Christians we are invited to trust in God’s Eternal Design. Sure, there are time we wish to rage against the night, yet, when we are disappointed or we fail, or become sick and feel worthless, Jesus gives us one another to support and sustain us the ought the dying times. His is a Living Body, active from age to age through every generation of believers. Together in Faith, we remind ourselves we are part of a greater story that includes suffering for a greater gain.  Trusting in God, our ongoing little deaths offer conversion to compassion for ourselves and others that will transform all suffering to redemptive suffering. Yes, there is a time to stay still, and a time to keep healthy, to stay alive, and there is a time to let go, to surrender to what we cannot control or fully understand.  This, too, is part of the Easter Story.  We are not afraid to die to resentments and hurts, to die to egos that must be continually affirmed. We may joyfully die to living for anyone’s approval but God’s, surrendering to the Gospel in which we do not need to see ourselves as better than anyone else (although we may be better at certain things) because we accept that all are equal to all, related to all; admitting our sins and failings as joyfully as we celebrate our accomplishments due to God’s generosity to us, the talents and interests God has endowed us individually, culturally, and religiously. Rising with Christ, forgiveness comes easy, the Spirit endows us with courage to change, to learn, to grow in wisdom.

What wisdom have we gained from this year of pandemic? How have we grown in compassion through Covid? Five-hundred Americans died this year, and yet millions rose to the occasion to offer care and social responsibility.  We are growing, too, in care for our environment, respect for our fellow creatures with whom we share this sacred earth.  Best of all, our solidarity with people of all ethnicities, languages, religions, and cultures is on the RISE, even as some slip back into an old world of prejudice and violence.

The TRUTH of Faith is this: Easter invites us to die and Rise with Jesus.  Through Him and with Him, our Communion becomes COSMIC, moving us on toward a future with God, brighter than any past.  Alleluia!

“BLESSED ARE THE MEEK WHO CALL OTHERS TO MEEKNESS.” A homily for the Fifth Sunday of Lent 2021

Biblical Readings may be found at Fifth Sunday of Lent | USCCB

There is a Young Adult Novel frequently assigned to Junior High School students in 7th and 8th grade throughout our country. We need to know what the new generation is reading and discussing, don’t you think?[1] Thankfully, this book is truly noteworthy: Mildred Taylor’s ROLL of THUNDER HEAR MY CRY, the 1979 Newberry Award winning novel about her African American family in Mississippi during the great depression.  What made me think of it?  The Gospel’s reference to “thunder:”

“Then a voice came from heaven — The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours.”

Like Jesus’ teaching, and Jesus’ miracles, Taylor’s novel ROLL OF THUNDER reveals deep truths about family, friendship, prejudice, fear, and redemption.  In one episode, nine-year-old Cassie is repeatedly demeaned by a slightly older and far more privileged girl of European extractions, who treats her as if slavery were still in vogue. With threats and beatings, she forces Cassie to carry her books and run errands.  One day, Cassie decides to take on the role of servant with fervor—not only to stave off the slaps but as part of a more noble goal to bring this girl back down to earth.  In a sense, “blessed are the meek who call others to meekness.” And so, under the guise of a “change of heart,” Cassie eagerly volunteers to carrying the girl’s books without being asked.  Tenderly she combs the girl’s hair, straightens the girl’s wrinkled clothes as they take the path to their respective schools—one for blacks, one for whites. As a result, Cassie becomes the girl’s confidante, learning about her girlfriends – who is loyal, who is deceitful, who she really likes and really cannot stand, her crush on a certain boy, and about her less-than-ideal life at home, including her fears concerning her father.  Nevertheless, the girl’s arrogance and condescension did not abate. Having a confidante and a supportive companion was not enough for her to see the light of what true equality and true friendship was. Cassie had to put her original plan, “a great day of reckoning,” into action.

Fully armed with a treasure chest of knowledge of her adversary, and, with no one else in sight, Cassie pushes the girl to the ground, besmudging her smirks, soiling her selfish, self-satisfied soul.  When her victim threatens to tell the teacher and all her friends, Cassie counters with the knowledge she has gained about her adversary, her conceits, and fantasies, and offers a realistic prediction of all what lies in store for the girl should these confidences come to light.  Stunned into silence, the girl rises. With Cassie helping her, at last they stand together.  The girls get along royally after that.

Sometimes it takes a push, a shove, to get the attention of the ignorant, the blind.  The mighty must be overthrown and brought down to earth.  Jesus surrendered to the Cross to hold a mirror up to the world: SEE HOW YOU HARM YOURSELVES AND ONE ANOTHER!  SEE HOW YOU OFFEND GOD!  We need thunder to see ourselves and fellow human beings as God sees us: sinners in constant need of redemption.

Society today offers innumerable signs that transformation is in order.  Interestingly, John’s Gospel is known as THE BOOK OF SIGNS.  Seven signs have preceded the conversation quoted in today’s Gospel. Jesus’ fellow Jews had witnessed:

  1. Changing water into wine at Cana in John 2:1-11 – “the first of the signs”
  2. Healing the royal official’s son in Capernaum in John 4:46-54
  3. Healing the paralytic at Bethesda in John 5:1-15
  4. Feeding the 5000 in John 6:5-14
  5. Jesus walking on water in John 6:16-24
  6. Healing the man blind from birth in John 9:1-7
  7. The raising of Lazarus in John 11:1-45

Yet, for all this, people preferred the ordinary to the extraordinary: the complacent to the dynamic; climbing, climbing, rising without the corrective dying and submission to deeper truths, beauty, integrity, charity, humility. So, of course, only some would believe in Jesus, although, interestingly, some outsiders, “Greeks,” came to believe not from what they themselves had seen, but from the faithful testimonies of Jewish witnesses.   Together, this assembly of believing Jews and Greeks began to transform the world in Christ’s Paschal Mystery. 

In John’s Gospel, “the ruler of this world” is Satan who builds walls amongst people, inflates egos and illusions so we think that “we are not like others,” and, worse, “better.” Often, we think we are “better” than others because we do not have the same set of problems others have. But, in truth, all problems are interrelated due to the principle of “cause and effect.” Jesus tears down walls, solidifies humanity through identification with suffering that invites investigation of what causes suffering. Saying that Jesus died because of our sins is far too simplistic.  The passion insists we follow Jesus into the grave to specify and innumerate the sins that cause death even unto this very day.  Dying with Jesus is what RAISES US UP!  As the Gospel says, God spoke in Jesus and through Jesus, announcing God is glorified through the SON and through all who follow Him.  His is the sound of thunder.

Today, we must ask, what kind of push do we need to see Jesus at work in us? To see Jesus in others?  To honor others as ourselves? When push comes to shove, we can return to the “safe haven” in which we take care of ourselves and let others suffer-as-they-will. Or we can follow the One who said, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” 

Jesus draws us to himself in this Eucharist, he draws us into compassion through broken bread tied to that same broken body we ponder on every Crucifix. He continually reminds us that he took on human suffering so that we would not isolate ourselves from other people’s sufferings, nor fail to address the roots, the causes of their fears, the deprivations, the indignities inflicted upon them.  “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”   Jesus literally allowed himself to be buried to show the transforming power of dying and rising.  To what “OLD ways,” must we die for Jesus to awaken us to something new?  MOREOVER, “Who are the people in our lives we need to invite into the Paschal Mystery?”  Are we content to be the ones who strive to transform the world OR do we want company?  Who among our friends and relatives need to be “brought down to earth?”  Who needs to consider Jesus? Who needs to know dying and rising as the only way not only to enter eternal life but to have experiences of heaven on earth?  Elsewhere Jesus said, “be cunning as serpents and gentle as doves.” Some people will respond to a simple invitation; others need a push. Jesus is like that little girl Cassie pushing us down to earth, so we approach every aspect of life rooted in our common humanity and dependence on God’s Holy Spirit. ROLL of THUNDER HEAR OUR CRY!


[1] Take a look at what is recommended reading for 7th Graders these days: 7th Grade Reading List Books | Goodreads   Many of these books were assigned to me in high school! 

Homily: Jesus cleanses the temple area circa 27AD.

Anger. S0 many things make us angry. Anger is a very natural human emotion.  Anger is not a sin.  What we do with our anger–how we express it– brings us into the realm of morality and sin. Still, far too often people justify temper tantrums and inappropriate expressions of anger citing Jesus’ banishing merchants and moneylenders from the temple.

But what Jesus exemplifies here is different from what happens when we get angry.  We must distinguish Jesus’ righteous anger from what we demonstrate due to wounded pride, selfishness, jealousies, or when we desire to intimidate, manipulate, or seek revenge. A careful study of the Scripture shows what appears as anger on Jesus’ part, is His ZEAL FOR GOD. That is why the disciples recall the passage of Psalm 69 and that is the difference.  This Gospel shows Jesus acting as God’s abiding Spirit insisting people internalize the outward sign of the temple to make their very lives temples of continual worship to God.    By the way, the reference here to “the JEWS” here, is not about an entire ethnic group. The ONLY way to interpret the phrase today is to apply it to anyone and everyone not concerned with deepening their relationship with God and others. It is a scandal that the Church did not emphasize this formally until Vatican Council of 1965.  But thankfully, we know this now, and we are obligated to assure that others know this, too. Now: back to Jesus’ Zeal for God and a properly God-oriented humanity.

Zeal for God is intimately aligned with the TEN COMMANDMENTS – the heart of restoring humanity to right relationship with God and others.  That is why we included a Reading of the Ten Commandments today. To become superficial with prayer, rites and rituals deprives us of the foundation of our true dignity –that everyone, all Creation belong to God.  Thus, business of temple sacrifices in 27 AD mirrors the business and activity in our 2021 lives, highlighting the sad truth that we often ignore our relationship with God.  The result:  superficial, hypocritical religion. Today’s Gospel insists we take note of “ROTE” and make a change!   

It is not that the money changers and animal merchants were so awful. Money exchange from Greek and Roman coins to Temple coins devoid of objectionable images was reasonable.  In fact, Jesus would have approved of not having coins with images that tempted people to make gods and goddesses of emperors, public officials, and civic leaders. We remain tempted to make gods and goddesses of many public figures today in all realms of government, sports, and the arts. We, too, must be on our guard!

And, as for the animal sacrifices, everything has its proper time. It was clear to Jesus that the time for animal sacrifices had come to an end.  The people had stayed too long in an early stage of their faith—substituting animal sacrifices in place of cultivating contrite hearts, repentant, humble ways of living. How often did the prophets of old proclaim that!  Jesus declared time to advance to a deeper, more intimate relationship with God and others had arrived because, the Christ was in their midst. 

When God is not the foundation of life, when we do not daily cultivate humility, thanksgiving, spiritual growth, repentance, and reconciliation, we must pray for ZEAL: the righteous anger of Jesus to be incarnated in ourselves.  Jesus’ ZEAL reflects an anger without judgement, an anger without hate, anger without condemnation—all the inappropriate ways to which we are so prone.  Although our angers often do not, Jesus’ Zeal always invites transformation, and spiritual renewal for everyone.  The ZEAL of Jesus is anger built on compassion—to orient people back to God and our genuine human dignity.

Today, therefore, this Gospel invites us to participate in the very justified movements such as Black Lives Matter; the LGBQT movement, ME TOO, Equal Rights, Equal Pay for Equal Work, and other important, transformative endeavors.  Not to have zeal for other’s rights is to devalue our won rights and dignity. Not to want to perpetuate the Kingdom of God for all, to cultivate Right Religion (freeing our faith from hypocrisy, superstition—and modeling ways for others to do the same), Right Government (freed from lies, illusions, arrogance, partisanship, and greed) makes prayer and religious observances superficial.  Rote religion deprives us of receptivity to the Grace Jesus offers freely, for GRACE and gratitude for grace are the true source of our human dignity.  

In these times of turmoil, as we strive to return to our true dignity, we must remember, too, that transformation may evoke violence in others because society is so threatened by transformative change. As it was in Jesus’ time, so it continues until now. In joining any just cause, we must first evaluate our personal angers in relation to Jesus’ ZEAL and, ultimately, patiently invite others to evaluate their angers and frustrations so that together we may explore healthy ways of converting our anger to cooperation for positive change. Still, confronting wrongdoing may require cracking a whip across a pillar –never upon human flesh and bone—because people must be called to attend to righteousness.  Otherwise, we all just go about our busy lives.  

What we know about Jesus throughout the Gospels and in centuries of faith development is that he while He used the whip to sound an alarm, he did not, could not inflict on others what was-and would-be inflicted upon him.  Note, John’s Gospel places Jesus’ Zeal at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  Once he exposed hypocrisy of superficial religion, he left the temple to heal, perform miracles, to preach with the blessed assurance, that everyone can belong, everyone can be mutually cared for. Indeed, spiritual ZEAL comprises patient endurance and compassion, saying to the corrupt, the defensive, the selfish, those who live in fear: “We know you were brought up this way!  We know fear and anger is evidenced on all sides.  Still, we know what is right, and what our God-given rights are. In our hearts, we think you know that, too.  Take responsibility for your past, join in a coalition for lives of faith, hope and love.” Things do not have to stay the way they are. Our past does not have to dictate our present or our future.  Today’s Eucharist offers Grace to you and me to restore us to the ZEAL that is Jesus’ mission.  Take and Eat. Go and do likewise.

Take Action Against Inhumane Conditions in Meat Packing Industries

* I am inviting you to make a phone call on behalf of abused poultry and meat packing Workers, many of whom are immigrants and don’t have a voice in government. They are striving to work hard to support themselves and their families in hazardous working conditions.

  1. Watch John Oliver’s Sunday EXPOSË: Meatpacking: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) – YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhO1FcjDMV

2. If you don’t have time to watch, just ake my word for it, phone

Congressman Mark DeSaulnier, Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee 503 Cannon House Office BuildingWashington, DC 20515Phone: (202) 225-2095

Tell his rep that your are phoning regarding his role as Chair of the House Education and Labor. URGE Congressman DeSaulnier to get the USDA to set universal SAFE SPEED LINES for workers in the poultry and meat packing industries. Conditions are currently inhumane and workers’ injuries are frequent and all too commonplace.

In addition, universal base lines for WORKERS’ COMPENSATION need to be put in effect as the variances between individual states’ requirements are unjust and in some cases, requirements are nonexistent.

Factories featured in John Oliver’s HBO series LAST WEEK TONIGHT need FEDERAL intervention as it is clear individual states are doing nothing to address the situations on both counts. Regarding Poultry: Tyson Poultry, Sanderson Farms, Perdue and Pilgrims. Regarding Beef and Pork: Tyson Meats, JBS, Cargill and National Beef.

In addition: please follow up with OSHA (OCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT) It is imperative you implement FEDERAL EMERGENCY WORKPLACE STANDARDS for SOCIAL DISTANCING (i.e. specifically workers distancing themselves along the poultry / meat conveyors) because of the tragic number of COVID cases and Covid death related cases in the poultry and meat packing industries Clearly, Individual State Legislatures have done nothing to protect workers not only in regard to Covid transmissions but the high incidents of accidental cuts and other injuries. Furthermore, many workers are penalized for taking necessary bathroom breaks – a practice that is offensive as well as inhumane. I would appreciate a reply to know how best to assist you in following up on these concerns. Thank you.

Tell him or her that you would appreciate a reply to know how best to assist in following up on these concerns.

IS THIS HOW GOD LOVES US?

A Reflection on a Lyric from Stephen Sondheim’s musical play PASSION


I re-watched a DVDI have of Stephen Sondheim’s PASSION. In the play, a man who has run away from a woman’s obsessive love finally surrenders to it. Georgio addresses Fosca with these lyrics by Sondheim. I’ve been thinking we could almost say the same thing to GOD.

Here’s the lyric:


“No one has truly loved me

As you have . . .

Love without reason,

Love without mercy,

Love without pride or shame.

Love unconcerned

With being returned —

No wisdom, no judgement,

No caution, no blame.

No one has ever known me

As clearly as you.

No one has ever shown me

What love could be like until now.

Not pretty or safe or easy.

But more than I ever knew.

Love within reason –that isn’t love.

And I’ve learned that from you. . . “

Homily for Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

14 February 2021 by Fr. James DiLuzio C.S.P.

“The ‘Boss,’ the Pope, a church in Lebanon, and our True INHERITANCE”

An article on MSN website came to my attention this week.  Entitled “The ‘Boss,’ the Pope and a church in Lebanon,” by Boyd Matheson, it described the synchronicity of 3 events worthy of world attention:  In a unique Super Bowl ad, Bruce urged Americans to put aside our differences and foster mutual respect, reconciliation, and collaboration for a better future. Using the symbol of a little church in Lebanon, Kansas, located at the literal center of the continental United States, his message was meant to empower a coming together figuratively, spiritually, physically, of all Americans to “the Center,” the heart of what our nation is supposed to be.

Meanwhile, at the Vatican, Pope Francis, in the annual assembly of ambassadors to the Holy See, issued this statement: “The democratic process,” he said, “calls for pursuing the path of inclusive, peaceful, constructive and respectful dialogue among all the components of civil society in every city and nation.”  The Pope went on to say, ““I am convinced that fraternity (I’ll add the implied “sorority”) is the true cure for the pandemic and the many evils that have affected us. Along with vaccines, fraternity and hope are, as it were, the medicine we need in today’s world.”

And listen to this title of an article from AMERICA magazine: “For the first time, Pope Francis appoints a woman with the right to vote as undersecretary of the synod of bishops” Her name is Nathalie Becquart, a member of the Xavière Sisters, Missionaries of Jesus Christ, in France.

And, as if this were not GOOD NEWS enough, I found this series entitled INHERITANCE published online by ATLANTIC magazine filled with articles on all that we have missed in African American history to advance common knowledge, empathy, and dialogue among Americans of European and African descent.  I highly recommend you look it up.  Here’s the link:

How W. E. B. Du Bois Changed Black Childhood in America – The Atlantic

Within the INHERITANCE project, I read about the great humanitarian and civil rights activist W.E.B. du Bois’ 1920 efforts publishing a Magazine for Black Children called THE BROWNIE BOOK with this goal: 

“It aims to be a thing of Joy and Beauty, dealing in Happiness, Laughter and Emulation, and designed especially for Kiddies from Six to Sixteen. It will seek to teach Universal Love and Brotherhood for all little folk—black and brown and yellow and white. Of course, pictures, stories, letters from little ones, games and oh—everything!

The effort lasted only two years because of lack of subscriptions but it is the kind of thing that this 21st century needs. We still do not live in a world, or a country, in which every child, especially minorities whose skin is dark, brown, copper, yellow receive this kind of affirmation with freedom from fear of being who they are and who God calls them to be.  This is urgent as we address the goals of BLACK LIVES MATTER and to address the related issues, we read in today’s news headlines “A Tense Lunar New Year for the Bay Area After Attacks on Asian-Americans.”  Tragically, yet another minority continues to be scapegoated through violence not only because of pre-existing, lingering prejudices but because of the irrational blaming for a peoples’ proximity to the place where the corona virus originated.

And here’s another NEWS ITEM: God Is On Your Side: A Statement from Catholic Bishops on Protecting LGBT Youth: “As Catholic Bishops in the United States, we join with the Tyler Clementi Foundation in standing up for at-risk LGBT youth in our country.  . . As we see in the Gospels, Jesus Christ taught love, mercy and welcome for all people, especially for those who felt persecuted or marginalized in any way . . . The Catholic Church values the God-given dignity of all human life and we take this opportunity to say to our LGBT friends, especially young people, that we stand with you and oppose any form of violence, bullying or harassment directed at you. . . Most of all, know that God created you, God loves you and God is on your side.”

God Is On Your Side: A Statement from Catholic Bishops on Protecting LGBT Youth • Tyler Clementi Foundation

Taking all these things into account—we must trust that the Holy Spirit is indeed active in the world for all of these news items to come together in a single week! — we must embrace the goal of affirming all peoples, all children –with ministries and programs to support them – as the necessary objective of our age.

Why do I focus on this insistence on TRUE COMMUNION among all peoples?  Because we are the JESUS’ FOLLOWERS WHO INSIST ON COMMUNION and because today’s Gospel involving Jesus curing the leaper is as much about restoring an individual back into his family and neighborhood as it is about his individual healing.  

In the Book of Leviticus, Moses and Aaron are cited as preaching the need to separate the lepers from the community to preserve the health of the larger group.  But this separation did not exclude care, delivery of food and necessities to the leper camp. As then, and now, the mysteries of illnesses and diseases require caution, prudence, and support.  Jesus, however, extends the care to freedom from fear and solidarity in suffering – that is the meaning of the CROSS and the fact that Jesus touches the leper. The medical community continues to be exemplary in responding to the COVID-19 virus and inspired compassionate treatment of family members and friends even as they need to stay in isolation.  Today’s Gospel reminds us that ultimate goal, however, always was and always will be INCLUSION and that HEALING includes liberation from whatever separates us, be it physical illness or the diseases of prejudice, fear, hate and violence.

What a gift that Jesus welcomes his followers to Communion. What a privilege to know that the sacrament we participate in today strengthens us with courage and wisdom to persevere in offering true communion to the world.

Commentary on Luke 5:12 to 26

 (To Accompany Luke Live! Online! On YouTube.) 

Now we may reflect on these two powerful healing stories.  In the first we recognize Jesus is fearless in restoring the leper back to health and communion with others, for to allow another to be isolated without a tangible sense of belonging is an affront to the Kingdom.  Jesus in not afraid to touch the leper, to heal him and offer him acceptance back into community—this acceptance confirmed through Jesus’ order the cleansed man get official recognition from the priests.   All of this points to what makes Jesus’ healing unique among other healings: their purpose is not only to remove a sickness in an individual but in society at large.  For Christ, no suffering or illness is to alienate us from others but rather the community is urged to welcome and support everyone especially in his or her time of distress. Only this way can society redeem itself from pride and arrogance and those underlying fears that separate people and exacerbate suffering.  As we have noted earlier, Jesus does not want special recognition for this accomplishment, he thwarts celebrity status because his example is meant to be applied universally to all of humanity.  What may seem “special” in Jesus is meant to be the norm for all peoples.

The healing of the paralytic is significant in that it is the faith of the paralytic’s friends that evokes Jesus’ healing him.  Here we see how the faith of individuals impacts others and the incident evidences the bond that faith establishes between the healthy and the sick.  Furthermore, this healing exemplifies the interconnection of bodily and spiritual health and well-being.  Jesus is concerned with both because the human body and spirit are of one and the same entity, fulfilling the very design and intention of God.  Also, note that although on the surface it may seem there is a direct correlation between one’s sins and physical health, many scholars today interpret Jesus’ words “Your sins are forgiven” not to apply to the paralytic’s personal sins (which would indicate on some level that sickness is a punishment for sins—an ancient concept that Jesus refutes elsewhere in the Gospels) but rather “sins” here refers to the collective offenses of humankind grounded in denial of God and the inter-connectedness of all people and all creatures–all aspects of God’s creation.  It is true that our emotional and spiritual condition (that may encompass feelings of guilt, resentments, and regrets) does, in fact, impact our bodily health, but the Gospel gradually moves us away from that old sense that sickness is a direct punishment for individual sins.   (You may wish to consult Luke 13:1-5, Matthew 5: 45, John’s Gospel 9:1-3 and, of course, the entire book of Job—the innocent man who suffers not as a punishment for sins but simply because suffering exists in this world.)

Here, I would like to remind you of a GOLDEN RULE for encountering Scripture: Never take one passage and keep it isolated from other passages. Every segment of scripture evidences a stage in the people’s spiritual development which grows in sporadic leaps, and, at times, regresses to earlier insights. Therefore, the true value of a passage may only be discerned when segments on similar topics are place in conversation with them. Considering JOB and the Gospel verses cited above, it should be clear that Jesus is speaking about the universal SIN of worldliness devoid of attentiveness to God and God’s ways–something that all of us participate in often without realizing it. That is “the sin that is forgiven.” Moreover, may it not be lost on us that as “the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,” Jesus concretizes what his fellow Jews already knew and should have known better: God wants us to participate in God’s essence. God’s Forgiveness is to be expressed and lived out continually among all who see themselves as children of God. (I will address more on the complexity of the processes of forgiveness and the distinction between offering forgiveness and accepting abuse or tolerating evil in the weeks to come!)

Fourth Sunday of Advent in the Liturgical Year of 2020 – 2021

Homily by Fr. James DiLuzio CSP

“In the Bleak Mid-Winter frosty winds made moan

Earth stood hard as iron

Water like a stone;

Snow had fallen, snow on snow,

Snow on snow

In the Bleak Mid-Winter long ago.”   Christina Rossetti

Think back to the days of childhood. Was there ever enough snow?  Nothing bleak about a beautiful, bountiful snowfall. The rush to breakfast, dress for school, last minute homework –all activity suspended, all sound sublimated to silence: traffic stopped—no one is driving at all; no horns blowing, no cop whistles.  Maybe the sound of a foghorn announcing School is closed.  After that, all is still.   All is hushed.  Oatmeal never tasted so good as on a snowy morning.

There is an inner child in us all, in whom our hopes and dreams are ever-present –even now when we, fully grown-up, might grouse, bemoan the shoveling, the icy obstacles to our best laid plans.  Yet even we men and women, waking up to a frosty morn, pause perhaps for yet one more cup of coffee, a deep breath, a long sigh, maybe even a nostalgic note of youthful fantasies before embarking upon our day.

I still dream of bountiful snowfalls. For me, this week’s meager 8 inches were a major disappointment.  Don’t you, too, long for a change from “busy, busy, busy?”  Even when we plan an expected day off, we plan and schedule much too much.  We need more Snow to SURPRISE US, drift us into empty space, nothingness, empty vessels awaiting fulfillment from God.  TIMELESSNESS, dear friends, is true Spirituality: A CONSCIOUSNESS of immanence, of the presence, the power that sustains beating hearts, pulsating lungs.  Advent, now beginning its fourth week, has been calling us to just that kind of “slow down,” inviting us to question how we choose to live out our days.

In some ways, this pandemic has been and continues to be a kind of Advent, a slowing down, an ever-expanding snowy day. Blanketed in sickness and death for millions, with millions more grieving, yet not without hope, not without cultivating in many of us a desire for self-care equally aligned with care for our neighbors. 2020 has heightened our sensibilities to our mortality—as the Cross of Jesus has been doing for 2,000 years. This year, Nature Herself has compelled us to attend to the vulnerable because of our own vulnerabilities in the same way Advent prepares us for deeper insights into Jesus.  We, the remnant, the survivors of the year, should be filled with gratitude and, hopefully, now more than ever, appreciating interruption, inconvenience, postponement as the means to be present to one another, aware of “God With Us” in life and in death. And is not PRAYER a postponement?  It interrupts our activities, however, essential, however important we deem them to be.  Why, to many Catholics, even MASS is an inconvenience.  But dare I say, at its heart, Mass is a respite, a pregnant pause for God not unlike the Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel to Mary –a marvelous interruption!   Mass can be our “Snowy Day.”  And the Gospel today reveals that our Blessed Mother was remarkably prepared for it!

Have you ever thought of this:  what were Mary’s goals, hopes, dreams beforeGabriel appeared?  What were her plans for her day?  I am sure she was set to do all that was expected of her– kindling the household fire, fetching water at the well, kneading dough, sweeping for a lost coin.  And what of her life’s ambition, her long-term objectives?  Marriage to a rabbi perhaps?  Or another man of equal status or position? Did Joseph match her expectations or was it a match arranged by her parents? How did she come to love Joseph?  What kind of home did she envision for herself and her husband?  Did she want a large family — children, adorable children bustling about home and hearth?   We tend not to acknowledge this basic, entirely human dimension of Mary’s story because we often rush to the end and take much for granted along the way.  

Clearly, our Blessed Mother was invited to postpone her plans just as we have and will continue to do because life will always assault us with interruptions!  Yes, “the best laid plans of mice and men!”  Mary was humble enough to be open, to be fluid and flexible because she evidently devoted considerable time in her days to stop and be still, for pregnant paused to ponder Scripture, Sacred Prophecies, Holy Days, and rituals –to be mindful of God.  Her assent to Gabriel’s announcement could only have come if she had already cultivated a prayerful pace for living. Taking time to affirm for herself that she could believe, she would believe in a promised Messiah, before knowing that she would be the chosen vessel of his Incarnation.

In these final days of Advent, I invite us to carefully, mindfully, cultivate a Snowy Day Sensibility, A Marian Spirituality to live mindfully, moment to moment in HOPE, cultivating Faith’s WISDOM.  Above all, that means we must reclaim and acclaim Jesus as our model for daily living, for we, too, are vessels of Christ’s presence in this world.  2020 has made us ever more attentive to the realities of our human condition. Mary’s assent that we need a Messiah needs to be ours, too. Pause. Ponder. Be Still. Know who you are, continue to hold in your heart all that we are celebrating Now, this day, and Christmas Day, and onward to eternity.  Let it snow!  Let it snow!  Let it snow!

Homily for 2nd Sunday of Advent Liturgical Year 2021


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Readings: Second Sunday of Advent | USCCB

Each of us are invited to embody aspects of the Scriptures, especially, of course, the life of Jesus. I repeat this adage frequently to myself:  Everything about the Life of Jesus is meant to inform my own life –Yours, too!  In his time, John the Baptist embodied Isaiah’s Prophecy: “Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill be made low;”

What do we make of Isaiah’s spiritual poetry?   What does it mean for mountains to be flattened and valleys smoothed?  Nothing less than all barriers to God are removed.  Images of tree lined paths upon the plains also remind us of the importance of humility, of being “grounded” in God. 

I found inspiration from a film I watched this week.  We live in a highly visually oriented culture, and most of us watch a considerable amount of films and television.  Therefore, we must keep what we watch in conversation with our faith.  The film I watched this time made it easy to do just that.  Entitled ‘THE HOLLY AND THE IVY,” this 1952 British film tells the story three adult children spending Christmas Day with their widowed father who happens to be the village parson.   These young adults have not lived model lives despite their father’s spiritual fervor and the strong morality and high ideals he impressed upon them.  It was not that dad was unsympathetic, nor was he an unforgiving man, yet the offspring never felt they could open their hearts and minds to their “Father” father.  From childhood to the very Christmas depicted in the film, they didn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t express their difficulties, their hardships, mistakes, especially not their sins to Father Gregory for fear of causing him disappointment, or exasperating their guilt.  In this sense, “the mountains were too high,” the valleys too low.”  When, finally, the film reaches its climax and the children’s secrets are revealed, there is a powerful catharsis.  The mountains made low, the valleys filled, all from the freedom that comes from being known and understood. That, dear friends, is “the freedom of the children of God.”

The movie proved a great reminder to me that Goodness –however much we experience and strive for goodness –is not the same as “being REAL”—honest in our struggles with faith, hope and love.  Our religious practice must be grounded in “’down to earth” realities.  We are not called to flee in fear from confession, from Sacraments or from one another, but humbly acknowledge that while we strive to imitate Christ, holding ourselves accountable to righteousness and moral integrity,  we must accept each other for who we are and who we are not, refraining from judgment and condemnation in order to say to one another, “I understand,” “I, too, am tempted,”  “I too have failed.”

Do you see why we needed John the Baptist to prepare us for Christ?  Do you see how repentance and forgiveness are the path to Jesus? To encounter Christ, we need to be flattened out!  We need to be open, trusting.  We need to be REAL in order to be GOOD; not only to prepare ourselves for Christmas, but to live the lives our Savior intends us to live.

Optional Second Ending: May we resolve this very day –now with two Advent Candles lighting [JD1] our way– to support one another in prayer, uphold one another in the sacramental life, affirm our need for ongoing forgiveness, to live Christian hope and fortitude.  Indeed, allowing honesty and reconciliation to make straight our path to Jesus, we may indeed address the wrongs we commit and our world’s dysfunction.  Both. Truly.  And remember the path we are walking on is the stairway to heaven.  


 [JD1]

A Homiletic Poem for the First Sunday of Advent 2020 by Fr. James DiLuzio CSP

A flickering candle in a darkened room.  The light is golden, the flame, gentle. It beckons.  It even seems to desire us and say, “Come, to my light!”  Still, it does not speak of its own accord, for a candle is but a sign—a sign for something, rather, Some One whose voice spoke long ago, “Be not afraid.” The Light Shines in the darkness and darkness shall not overcome it!  Yes, it is only one candle, but sufficient to point to the One who is humble of heart, who is neither too much, nor too little, who is the Eternal NOW. 

Let’s face it. Without Him, this world is too much for us.  It always was and always will be.  Indeed, right now, some people are too much for us! The stores are too much, the carols too ubiquitous already!  We haven’t even learned our Advent Hymns—not after all these years.  Maybe one. “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”  But heavens!  There are dozens more, each with a lesson for our souls.  We have 25 days.  Get started!

Advent offers much on its own, insisting that we live with longing for better days while attentive to Christ Past, Christ Present and Christ Future. If we let Him, Christ will cultivate in us a daily receptiveness to grace, fortifying in us perpetual patience to live one moment at a time, one day a time, one difficulty at a time.  Of course, there is temptation to light all the candles now!  But we must not!  One must be sufficient for today. We need the patience of Jesus now more than ever–and only we can choose to cultivate it.  Savor it. Allow the True Light of Jesus to enlighten our minds in one singular, sweet, deep breath—that’s all that matters now.  Breathe! Just Breathe!  And look to the candle!  If you cannot see it, imagine the flame! Let it warm your heart!

From this single flame, let Jesus convey Himself to you. Allow Him to penetrate your very being.   “Be still” but do not be stoic. Be firm in faith but with a faith that is fluid, too, fluid as Creation, as fluid as Advent which moves us backward and forward in time while living “in the moment” at the very same time. 

The First Sunday of Advent insists we embark on a voyage of memory to learn from our ancestors’ mistakes and our own; to admit that, yes, while we would all rather run away from all that bothers us today—and so much bothered us this year, and still does–Christ is behind us, Christ is beside us, Christ is before us perpetually offering the better way.

Allow Christ to take us far, far, farther back in time, to see this single flame as part of the one Eternal Flame, of Time before Time –long before we have had to prove ourselves or defend ourselves to anyone, before we had to make enemies of others to feel better about ourselves or worse, play the victim—for when we compare ourselves to true victims, we are not true victims at all.  But hope abides by going back beyond our pasts to the origin of the molecules that make up the wonder of you, of me, of everybody–of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen that long before we came on the scene, formed stars imploding, exploding!  Stars that in time, so much time—expanded their molecules to mix with molten ash and salty seas, and water ways flowing  from fresh, clear mountain ice –plants convoking convocations of creatures, primitive and primary, who came upon dry land to feast upon leaves, fruits and berries, multiplying, diversifying, evolving until, at last, with beating hearts and expanding brains: humanity . Thus, our ancestors came into consciousness and full human existence.  But not for our sake alone.  Not for aggrandizement, not for power, nor subjugation of fawn, field, or flower, nor to vanquish fellow beings—but to yield through hundreds of thousands of years to the ONE, to YIELD to the one who was and who is the pinnacle, the purpose of all creation—the ONE through Whom We Were Formed who humbly appeared in time —so that we may perceive in time and space–the perfect synthesis of Human and Divine: the Man God: Jesus the Christ.  Let these truths, THIS CHRIST — put all our issues in proper perspective.

Advent beckons back to such great beginnings and thrusts us into present realities. It invites us to marvel at God’s constancy and patience—through the people of the Bible, through the scandal of divisions of our time — precisely to clear our minds of all the cobwebs and shadows that distract us from our humble origins and our divine objectives. Yes, heaven is the goal, but it is to be lived out in harmony with every living thing; in humble gratitude for the distinctiveness that came to us only in time, GOD’S TIME, and with a God WHO IS NOT YET FINISHED WITH US!  We ignore that to our detriment and to our peril.   Sure, we can wallow in the wounds of this year or we can push forward – but let it not be in accordance with our will, our games of “hide and seek,” but in accordance with the Will of the True God revealed through Scripture and Sacrament:  A Living Christ Among Us.

  Too often we refuse to acknowledge how much we forestall, postpone, delay our spiritual, emotional, intellectual growth—yes, all of these in harmony and balance is what true holiness is.   Advent is a Seasonal Gift that says: Stop! Stay! Do not run away! Our problems will follow us wherever we go. Slowly surrender to Jesus so that we may abide imperfect people and recognize that in our own imperfect, unappreciated selves, Christ never abandons us, bestowing on us peace and perseverance through any and every provocation—not so unlike those He himself from infancy to death endured!  Yes, each in our own way and time are unappreciated.  Yet how much more unappreciated was He!   So, again, the Church commits us to a new year to patiently ponder our origins in Christ. May we not make ourselves so important, our guilts and grievances so great that we neglect our humble beginnings or forsake the One suffered for us, suffers with us, and offers something eternally new.  

Look around!  Look around!  Who did Christ intend you to see?  You took a step into this church—a building and a people. One more step forward is all that is needed to find communion.  Soon, and very, very soon, you will be welcomed to walk up the aisle to receive Jesus and to perceive through Him, the true purpose for why we are here: For when you return from receiving the Eucharist, others will be revealed to you:   Christ receivers, all. Christ perceivers, all. Christ bearers —Imperfect, impractical, impudent, nasty, selfish, mean-spirited, awful people—as each of us in turn can be. Welcome to Jesus’ world!  Yet this, too, is meant to be a comfort to us –this vision of others. For truly, we are not alone in our sins. Do not worry! Be happy! Misery loves company!  But more than that, more than that, in Christ, all that is miserable in us remains in a continuous Process of Redemption.  Conversion today! Conversion tomorrow and the next day!  It is Resurrection now! And Our God will never let the transformation stop!   Like with every married couple: for better, for worse, God bestows me upon you, you upon me, and everybody upon everybody else to become a communion of Saints-in-the-making just as sure as Jesus called Disciples long ago. Remember this: Our Savior was not a private tutor.  Our acceptance of Jesus as “Our Personal Lord and Savior” will only go so far because He is a Universal Savior!  The Cosmic Christ!  Remember that.

May we be satisfied this day with waiting for Christ as we attend to Christ in others; enjoying one candle at a time; one good friend at a time; one faithful spouse, one grateful child, niece or nephew at a time; one particular beloved Saint, one relative or loved one already in heaven—Yes, one at a time to remind us of our perpetual communion with Saints and Sinners as Christ affords us the patience to put up with one another until Christ is all in all. Let that be enough to bring Christ to us today, tomorrow and the next day. One Advent at a time, one moment at a time.  One day at a time. Why, “That Day” is TODAY! And let this day, this day, be glorious!