Homily for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time — As delivered on Sunday 4 July 2021.

Jesus is in trouble.  Why?  He is asking the faithful to “go the distance,” to push beyond the boundaries of the ordinary, to experience spiritual depth.  But they are not ready. Granted, sometimes, going the extra distance feels like “too much!” Yet for those who persevere, eventually, the fruits of their labor are realized. This is the goal for all who desire SPIRITUAL GROWTH. Yet we’re practically WIRED TO RESIST IT – call it our survival mechanism, comfort control, original sin, or simply our flawed humanity.  We pause, we hesitate, we retreat to the old, the comfortable, before we are shaken into advancing the Kingdom.  

The Bible, for example, in its honesty, evidences our continual approach / avoidance relationship with God.  The responsibilities of the Covenant with God started out small because God knew we can only take a little spiritual development at a time.  Yet even as we were spoon fed through the centuries, all too often we resisted spiritual growth.  Thankfully, God was and continues to be persistent. So, first there was God’s promise to Noah:  know that the true God will never harm you!  Then, with Abraham, comes a circumcision here, a loyalty oath there. That was enough for several generations to get the idea that God is for us and not against us.  Centuries later, Moses calls the people to advance: First come the 10 Commandments, and then, eventually, he gives them 613 Laws to expand their constant devotion to God.  Next comes the ongoing interpretation and applications of those laws culminating in Psalms and centuries of Prophets “pushing the envelope,” if you will. “An eye for an eye” evolves to justice with mercy; the old tribal mentalities move from “God is for US, but not for others” expand to, “May Israel be a light to the nations!” an insistence that the faithful welcome foreigners, attend to widows and orphans beyond literal family ties and local neighbors. Yet, even with some ready for more mature growth in living their faith, God sent Ezekiel to “a hard-hearted people.”  For not everyone was ready then, nor are they ready now for change, for awakening to deeper truths to advance on the spiritual path.  You may recall the hostility of civic leaders who threw the prophet Jeremiah into a cistern, saying, “do not impose spiritual values on the interests of the State!”  No?  Well, the Kingdom of Judah collapsed shortly afterwards because the people did not listen.

Today, we find Jesus, building on the Prophetic Tradition, taking a RISK, that the people are ready for more.  As it was then, so it is now:  As Jesus invites his fellow believers to stretch into new Spiritual territory, they, and even we, at times, may find His teaching appealing and appalling at the same time. True faith requires conflict to grow, and yet, so often we will not engage in the hard work of deepening our faith.  The response in the synagogue that day was, “WHO DOES JESUS THINK HE IS?  –a ‘son of a carpenter” could not be a prophet!” They forgot, of course, that the prophet Amos was a herdsman and dresser of sycamores; King David had been a lowly shepherd. 

Today, no Christian would say to Jesus, “Who do you think you are?”  We have learned to pray “My Lord and My God.”  Yet, fifty years ago, when a prophet like Saint Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador called the American President pleading for our government to stop the sale of US weapons to his and other violence-ridden countries, our nation ignored him. The people would not insist our government leaders apply Jesus’ Gospel to the politics of the day.  When Dorothy Day’s urged eccentric ministries to the poor from the times of the Great Depression up until her death in 1980, we patted her on her head and sent her on her way. Too often we value progress over compassion. Today, Pope Francis’ urges a more inclusive, welcoming CHURCH.  Many choose to ignore him and retreat into an older sensibility, insisting that faith means retreating from the world.

Added to this mindset is a rigidity in biblical interpretation that does not engage in contemporary knowledge. Some refuse to dialogue Scripture with the wisdom that comes forth in every decade, every century, every age.  Others insist that Jesus and Saint Paul teachings do not apply to today’s situations. We respond by saying: “Jesus and Paul’s teachings were never meant to be static, rigid, or become archaic. They have the movement of the Holy Spirit within them.  We must be ready to build upon what our ancestors gradually accepted knowing that NOW the signs of our times require an ever-readiness to accept new Spirit, new Divine Guidance for the challenges of our age.”

Limiting Jesus, or anyone, by their family tree, occupation, ethnicity, or culture, or limiting them to a particular time and context, is a ubiquitous sin found in every generation. Spiritual stretching is uncomfortable, we often avoid it through distractions, detours, and, at times, prefer dead ends.  Yet, struggle we must if we are to be a vibrant, relatable, and accessible Church for so many people at wit’s end with the signs of the times.

Today, the Church wrestles, once again, with our understanding of the Eucharist.  Is reception of Jesus’ body and blood to become a litmus test for the integrity of an individual’s faith?  In all honesty, are not most of us continually caught in an approach / avoidance with Christ, the Center of the TRINITY, the ever-living God?   Everyone agrees the Body and Blood of Christ is a gift of grace, that is, God’s benevolence, God’s love. The Vatican Office of Divine Worship, Pope Francis, and many bishops worldwide (except a few) have confirmed Communion as food for a journey, to fortify, assure and bless all the weak, the fallible, and yes, we, the imperfect, and sinful people that we are.  Remember this: Jesus offered His Body and Blood to all the Apostles, including Judas – perhaps a last opportunity for Judas not to be involved in Jesus’ arrest and execution.  That did not work out well, but Jesus offered him the experience of unity with him anyway. For our Faith to continue to grow, we must come to accept that Communion cannot be a reward for good behavior as some insist today, but Jesus’ gracious invitation to reconsider and deepen our relationship with Him on an ongoing basis, not a public statement of judgment as to who is worthy and who is not.  The Eucharist is God’s gift to us to be fortified in Christ, to share in Jesus’ Divine Spirit, to grow deeper into HIS Way of life.  Communion empowers all who receive it to engage the world in reconciliation and forgiveness with everyone, not just a privileged, “Church going few.” True religion is about ongoing growth in faith, hope and love.  Are we ready for it?  

Reading I

Ez 2:2-5

As the LORD spoke to me, the spirit entered into me
    and set me on my feet,
    and I heard the one who was speaking say to me:
    Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites,
    rebels who have rebelled against me;
    they and their ancestors have revolted against me to this very day.
Hard of face and obstinate of heart
    are they to whom I am sending you. 
But you shall say to them: Thus says the LORD GOD! 
And whether they heed or resist—for they are a rebellious house—
    they shall know that a prophet has been among them.

Responsorial Psalm

Ps 123:1-2, 2, 3-4

R. (2cd) Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy.
To you I lift up my eyes
    who are enthroned in heaven —
As the eyes of servants
    are on the hands of their masters.
R. Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy.
As the eyes of a maid
    are on the hands of her mistress,
So are our eyes on the LORD, our God,
    till he have pity on us.
R. Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy.
Have pity on us, O LORD, have pity on us,
    for we are more than sated with contempt;
our souls are more than sated
    with the mockery of the arrogant,
    with the contempt of the proud.
R. Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy.

Reading II

2 Cor 12:7-10

Brothers and sisters:
That I, Paul, might not become too elated,
because of the abundance of the revelations,
a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan,
to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. 
Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me,
but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,
for power is made perfect in weakness.” 
I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses,
in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. 
Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults,
hardships, persecutions, and constraints,
for the sake of Christ;
for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Alleluia

Cf. Lk 4:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for he sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel

Mk 6:1-6

Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. 
When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue,
and many who heard him were astonished. 
They said, “Where did this man get all this? 
What kind of wisdom has been given him? 
What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! 
Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary,
and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? 
And are not his sisters here with us?” 
And they took offense at him. 
Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and among his own kin and in his own house.” 
So, he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,
apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.
He was amazed at their lack of faith.

Our Cosmic Christ

HOMILY by Fr. James Diluzio C.S.P.

Readings: ACTS 9: 26-31; PSALM 22; 1 LETTER OF JOHN 3: 18-24 AND The Gospel of John 15: 1-8 The metaphor of Jesus as the Vine with We as the Branches

I have been meditating on the image of the VINE and the BRANCHEs and how extensive they are through time and space and beyond.  Extensive because of Christ and God’s plan for all creation. 

In focusing on the COSMIC CHRIST, I invite us to journey with some facts of science filtered through the eyes of FAITH.  We do not talk enough about the convergence of their respective truths. May our reflection open our eyes to the deep reality that all is COMMUNION, a celebration of relationship that is God’s plan for us all.  

The Bible says God created Adams (Hebrew for HUMANS) after a long process of essential elements coming together and becoming the material world. Science says In the Beginning, there were ATOMS, and, after a long process of essential elements coming together, this COMMUNION contributed to LIFE and humanity’s existence. Science starts and ends with humanity.  FAITH begins and ends with CHRIST. 

Science says all this started with a BIG BANG! Scripture says, all began with God’s word: LIGHT! But God did not create light for its own sake, but to anticipate and to bring forth Jesus in materials’ time and space; LIGHT to propel humanity into deeper communion with God, with others and with the elements from which we came.  

Science tells us the FIRST ELEMENTS from the Big Bang were hydrogen and helium .  As the cloud of cosmic dust and gases from the Big Bang cooled, stars formed, and these then grouped together to form galaxies.   AND RIGHT THEN AND THERE, creation was formed in the Christological Pattern of Dying and RYSING.  It is in everything because all is all in Christ. Stars explode. Stars die. DYING STARS contributed to life. When a star’s core runs out of hydrogen, the star begins to die out, but the dying star expands into a red giant, manufacturing carbon atoms by fusing helium atoms. 

  • Carbon – A component of ALL CREATION the carbon of dying stars is still in us because they were made for CHRIST and through CHRIST remain in us. 

Next, came OXYGEN as more massive stars began a further series of nuclear burning or reaction stages. Oxygen — necessary for LIFE be it in water or on land. Oxygen came to exist for Jesus to come into existence and, through human evolution, to bring us closer to GOD. 

And, as oxygen communed with hydrogen, water emerged colliding with the cold of space, becoming ice to melt on forming planets– particularly our own. NOTHING ON EARTH CAN SURVIVE WITHOUT WATER.  NOTHING!  Why did this water come to be? 

As it was CREATED FOR LIFE, it was CREATED FOR CHRIST, to bring about new forms of creatures first in water, and ultimately on dry land that prepared for humans to evolve so that humans would evolve to bring forth THE CHRIST who baptizes us with water and the essence of the FIRE of the HOLY SPIRIT. FIRE was also an essential element in Creation.  We need to remember that.   

I could offer more details, but I think you get the picture now. CHRIST IS COSMIC and the COSMOS is part of us because we are One in CHRIST. 

Rooted in our Relationship with Christ, we are compelled to extend that relationship with Christ by reverencing Christ in all our fellow human beings, all wildlife, and the earth itself, participating fully in GOD’S GRAND COMMUNION DESIGN. In this design, NOTHING IS WASTED.  NO ONE IS WASTED, EVERYONE BELONGS.  Remember that when we are tempted to become defensive in hearing the suffering of people of color, people of different cultures, countries, and orientations. Remember: the old is contained in the NEW in everyone, and what is NEW will become old only to be part of an ongoing transformation THAT GOD destined US to participate in –the FULFILLMENT of Christ as HIS BODY in history transforming the world in HIS IMAGE.  AGAIN: NOTHING IS WASTED.  NO ONE IS WASTED, EVERYONE BELONGS.  

Science tells us our UNIVERSE is expanding. WE MUST NOT FALL BEHIND!  Allow Christ today to expand our minds, evolve us, transform us, to the NEW HEAVEN and a NEW EARTH that is our destiny but that is accomplished in fostering COMMUNION with ALL –EVERY PERSON, EVERY CREATURE until all are one in Christ.  THIS COSMIC VISION MUST put our LIVES in perspective:  Always a MOVEMENT FORWARD, never a “dead end,” no matter how much like a “dead end” we may feel.  Our challenges, our difficulties, our conflicts, even the sickness and the death of our loved ones–or in our own sickness and anticipation of our own deaths—must be confirmed in SEEING THE WORLD AS GOD SAW IT FROM THE BEGINNING AND AS GOD INTENDS IT TO BE: an ongoing consecration into Christ Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. 

No matter how we may be participating in COMMUNION today, physically, virtually, we pray our sensibilities of “TAKE AND EAT will erupt a new consciousness in each of us, offering us COURAGE to advance the KINGDOM Jesus inaugurated.  Yes, one day we shall day, but with Christ’s blessed assurance, future generations will see us in themselves, and we will remain part of what is to come because we have communed with the COSMIC CHRIST leading us on to COMMUNION with God and all the saints not for just a moment, not just for today, but tomorrow, and tomorrow, and the next day.  In fact, forever and ever and ever. A World without End.  

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!

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.

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.

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


See the source image

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]

Suggestions for a Prayerful Thanksgiving (And FUN!)

BEFORE THE DAY BEGINS:  

  • Set DVR to pre-record Thanksgiving Day parade(s) and Football Games; pre-record or purchase/rent CHARLIE BROWN THANKSIVING or other cartoons
  • Book or Paper Copy of OVER THE RIVER & THROUGH THE WOODS by Lydia Maria Child * and other Autumn / Thanksgiving Poems such as The MIST & ALL (Keep aside until DESERT COURSE)
  • Community Games to Have on Hand:  Charades, Pictionary, Balderdash
  • A Card Table with Index Cards & pens/pencils, a Small Basket or Shoebox and One Sheet of Paper with these 2 “Treasured Gifts” Questions printed:
    • “What experience this year do I treasure most?”     
    •  “What gift have I received from last Birthday or Christmas to date that I still enjoy?”
  • Music via CD, Spotify, Pandora, YouTube (See item IX below)

II   DURING ARRIVALS and /or Hors D’oeuvres: Invite everyone to print on an index card or post-it their response to this question: “What experience have I treasured most this year?”  and /or “What gift have I received from last Thanksgiving or Christmas to date that I still enjoy?”  Place these “Treasured Gifts” papers in a small basket and place the basket on or near the dining table. During the first course, guests will try to guess who wrote what.

III TRADITIONAL GRACE “PLUS” Each guest identifies how they feel today using one “Feeling Word.” (“Happy,” “Sad,” “Thankful,” “Frustrated,” etc.)  No judgments allowed! Then, pray: “Dear God, Here We Are–Our family and friends–and these are the feelings we bring to this Thanksgiving Day.  Helps us understand the beautiful way You accept each us as we are. Make us confident in your love so that we may be at peace and feel your presence among us.  Help us to make the most of this meal, this day, and our time together.”  Then invite everyone to join in the Traditional Grace before Meals, OR if your company is of mixed religions, substitute the Christian Grace with this: “Blessed are YOU, Source of Life, God known by so many names, help us to experience GRATITUDE, for gratefulness is the pathway to mutual affection and the road to peace. Bless our Meal and our Conversation. Amen.”

III         FIRST COURSE ACTIVITY (Soup/Salad/Antipasto): Treasured Gifts: Each person takes a paper and reads it aloud. Guests try to guess who wrote it—i.e. match the statement with its author.  Once guessed, invite the person to share why he or she is thankful for this gift. 

IV         DURING THE MAIN MEAL: Invite each Guest to share his or her memories of the best Thanksgiving OR ANY SPECIAL MEAL that they have ever experienced and why it is an important memory for him or her.

V          AFTER THE MAIN MEAL PRAYER:  Thanksgiving is a Day of Gratitude which is a Day of Prayer. Before we take a break, I invite us to share our prayers for one another and others.  For whom and what should we pray?” Close with Psalm 121.

VI         AFTER MEAL WALKS & PRE-DESSERT CLEAN UPS: Postpone desert and encourage Physical Activity: walks outdoors or help in the kitchen if weather does not permit, Football fans can catch up on the game; Others PLAY COMMUNITY GAMES and/or access your DVR for the recorded PARADE(s) or Cartoons. 

VII       DURING DESERT:   

  1. Together recall the Thanksgiving Poem: Over the River and Through the Woods –After everyone has had a try reciting or singing a verse, pass around the copy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Over_the_River_and_Through_the_Wood
  2. Invite guests to share any favorite poems, rhymes, riddles or Autumn memories.

VIII      EVERYONE JOINS IN FOR FINAL CLEAN UP (OR, if space limitations in the kitchen, create Two Teams:  Those who go for walks and/or into the living room; and those who help in the Kitchen.  Try to have each team mixed with all ages, both men/woman/boys/girls if possible.  Each team memorizes OVER THE RIVER—as many verses as possible. Afterwards, gather together and see which Team remembers the most. 

IX         SOCIAL TIME:

  • Community Games to Have on Hand:  Charades, Pictionary, Balderdash
    • Dancing: Access Music via CD, Spotify, Pandora, YouTube
      • Old Fashioned WALTZ; I recommend “O Mio Babbino Caro” sung by Kiri Tekanawa (CD: Kiri Te Kanawa Sings Verdi & Puccini Arias;
      • Celebrate Married Couples with “I Dreamed of You” by Barbra Streisand: (CD Barbra Streisand: A Love Like Ours;

X          Farewells As each person prepares to leave, ask if they would like a final Thanksgiving

Blessing.  If yes, the Hosts may place their hands on each guest’s head or shoulders and

pray the PRIESTLY BLESSING from the Book of Numbers, Chapter 6: 24-26:

The Lord bless you and keep you!  The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace! “Conclude with “Safe home!  Godspeed!  God bless!”

OPTIONAL CHARITABLE COMPONENT TO THANKSGIVING DAY: INVTIE GUESTS TO BRING A SINGLE $ 1. BILL for each member of his or her family or party to participated in a PLEASE & THANK YOU GAME. Designate a charity and let them know what the dollars are for in advance OR have everyone vote on one of two or three choices before Grace (E.G, Catholic Charities for Puerto Rico Relief or Catholic Relief Services or Unicef.) Have some extra $1. bills around for those who forget.). The FIRST TIME anyone forgets to say Please” or “Thank You,” from the beginning of the Meal (after Grace) to end of dinner (i.e. “please pass the potatoes; thank you), he or she gets a WARNING.  The SECOND TIME he or she must surrender their dollar into a basket. Proceeds go to the previously announced charity. At the end of the day, people may contribute the Remaining Dollars or additional $ if they wish to the cause.   

More Details at https://frjamesdiluzio.com/2017/11/18/keeping-thanksgiving-spirit-filled/ 

Lydia Maria Child’s OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOODS

To Accompany Fr. James DiLuzio Facebook and YouTube videos reciting and singing the same

Over the river and through the wood,

    To grandfather’s house we go;

         The horse knows the way

         To carry the sleigh

    Through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the wood–

    Oh, how the wind does blow!

         It stings the toes

         And bites the nose,

    As over the ground we go.

Over the river and through the wood,

    To have first-rate play.

         Hear the bells ring,

         “Ting-a-ling-ding!”

    Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

Over the river and through the wood,

    And straight through the barn-yard gate.

         We seem to go

         Extremely slow–

    It is so hard to wait!

Over the river and through the wood–

    Now grandmother’s cap I spy!

         Hurrah for the fun!

         Is the pudding done?

    Hurrah for the pumpkin-pie!

Source: The Random House Book of Poetry for Children (1983)

These are variations:

The original piece had twelve stanzas, though only four are typically included in the song.

Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandfather’s house we go;
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather’s house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
for ’tis Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river, and through the wood—
oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose
as over the ground we go.

Over the river, and through the wood—
and straight through the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow,
it is so hard to wait!

Over the river, and through the wood—
When Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, “O, dear, the children are here,
bring a pie for everyone.”

Over the river, and through the wood—
now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

The following verses appear in a “long version”:

Over the river, and through the wood,
with a clear blue winter sky,
The dogs do bark, and children hark,
as we go jingling by.

Over the river, and through the wood,
to have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring, “Ting-a-ling-ding!”,
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

Over the river, and through the wood,
no matter for winds that blow;
Or if we get the sleigh upset
into a bank of snow

Over the river, and through the wood,
to see little John and Ann;
We will kiss them all, and play snow-ball
and stay as long as we can.

Over the river, and through the wood,
trot fast, my dapple-gray!
Spring over the ground like a hunting-hound!
For ’tis Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river, and through the wood,
Old Jowler hears our bells.
He shakes his pow, with a loud bow-wow,[1]
and thus the news he tells.

Variations from http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Over_the_River_and_Through_the_Wood