Fr. Richard Ounsworth. "In the Heart of God" Torch. June 7, 2022 While it might be true, as many biblical scholars insist, that we cannot read the doctrine of the Trinity straight out of the pages of scripture, we come pretty close to it in chapters fourteen to seventeen of St John’s Gospel. These words, spoken by Christ at the Last Supper, and culminating in his high-priestly prayer to the Father, may be seen as the first ever homily – by which I mean a sermon preached at Mass – and the first ever Eucharistic Prayer.
John Bergsma. "Good Friday" The Sacred Page. April 14, 2022 Every year on Good Friday, we read St. John’s account of the Passion from John 18-19, together with Isaiah 52-53 and Psalm 31. One of the themes that runs through these reading is the Priesthood of Christ.
Mary Ortwein. "Luke’s Story of the Passion" A Catholic Moment. April 9, 2022 “Look down upon me, good and gentle Jesus, while before Thy face I humbly kneel…” So begins a traditional prayer of the Catholic Church, the “Prayer Before a Crucifix.” What is the image of Jesus you see when you kneel before a crucifix? Is it a simple, bare bones image of Christ in his pain? Or a gentler image that evokes tenderness with tears? Or is there an element of the glory to come in the dying Savior?
Fr. Robert Ombres. "By Way of the Cross" Torch. September 6, 2021 Today’s gospel is demanding. It is demanding because it makes us think about ourselves at a deep level, and because it makes demands on us. As Christians we are disciples of Christ, we take our most fundamental identity from being in him. Baptism, we believe, can never be undone and it changes us at a level so fundamental that it can be described as ontological. By baptism we die to our former selves and enter a new, risen life. What we believe about Christ literally, that he died and rose, is to be believed about ourselves sacramentally.
Fr. Oliver Keenan. "Looking Through" Torch. March 9, 2021 The Gospel points back to the time of the Great Exodus, when the Israelites were instructed to seek salvation from the pestilence of fiery serpents by raising their eyes to a bronze serpent, fashioned by Moses. Investing hope in works of art is a perilous business, as the Israelites would have remembered well from the incident with a golden calf. It was, after all, Moses himself who discovered this outbreak of idolatry as he returned from forty days and forty nights spent apart from the people, receiving the law on Mount Sinai. Idolatry here was sparked by fear, a great anxiety that Moses had abandoned the people, leaving them deprived of contact with the Lord.
Fr. Lawrence Obilor. "He reigns forever" A Catholic Moment. November 24, 2019 History will always remember the 20th century as the deadliest century that saw the manifestation of the beastly nature of man. It was characterized by wars, genocides and revolutions; and the bloodiest of all is the famous World War II. Many of us reading this piece are either victims of or bearers of the aftermath effect of the following horrible moments
Fr. Andrew Brookes. "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom!" Torch. November 21, 2019 The request of the dying thief, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom’ is remarkable. Jesus is enduring one of the most shameful forms of execution devised by human beings, surrounded by a hostile and mocking crowd. For sure, Jesus has a board above his head, on which is inscribed: ‘Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews’.
Fr. Lawrence Obilor. "It costs a lot to follow him" A Catholic Moment. September 8, 2019 The teachings of Christ are often incomprehensible with the logic of the human mind and the principles of the world. It’s as if his intention is always to toughen the path of his followers in order to make them true and authentic. Yes, Christianity is not a secular institution, and the gospel is not a mundane ideology. It is the imitation of the life of Christ, who won our salvation only through the way of the cross.
Chris Bodewes. "Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time" Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. September 8, 2019 Today’s Gospel can leave you thinking that being a disciple of Jesus is an impossibility. Who among us can hate the most cherished people in our lives, our families? But that is not what is meant by this passage. In Luke’s time, hating meant preferring someone to another. And it is very possible to take a preference for God, to give our relationship with God a certain priority over other people and things that vie for our time.
Fr. David Goodill. "Gripped by Fear" Torch. April 17, 2019 Christ crucified is the one thing we have to preach, yet this one thing encompasses all. Fr. Matthew (Matty) Rigney O.P. once told me how as a young priest he was terrified to preach his first sermon. One of the older priests in his community helped him to overcome his fears; yes, preaching is terrifying, no one wants to tell people they have to be crucified with Christ. This is what we preach. Only by sharing in Christ’s death can we come to the glory of his resurrection.
Fr. Aidan Nichols. "Cleaving the Darkness" Torch. January 9, 2019 For early Christians, the thought that their Lord had himself undergone baptism was disturbing, embarrassing and even scandalous. Could the Immaculate Lamb, the altogether holy Jesus, really have submitted to an act of ritual purification? Could he have admitted by implication that he too was part of unclean, guilty, sinful, humankind? It says a great deal for their honesty that they did not attempt a cover-up, but left this seemingly controversial episode as it stood in the Gospel tradition.
Fr. Richard Conrad. "Accomplished in Christ" Torch. November 14, 2018 Chapter 13 of St Mark’s Gospel begins with Our Lord foretelling the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. The disciples ask him when “all these things are to be accomplished”. Instead of giving a straight answer, Jesus warns them against people who will make false claims to divine status. He predicts wars and natural disasters, persecution and betrayal, and the preaching of the Gospel to all nations. He repeats his prediction of the Temple’s desecration and of false messiahs; he describes his own people’s future suffering. Then follows today’s passage, in which Jesus speaks of a cosmic upheaval and of his own coming in glory to gather his elect.
Fr. Peter Hunter. "Love's Response" Torch. March 29, 2018 I could never be a secular humanist. I have friends who are. I respect them, and can accept that they hold their views after thoughtful consideration but I cannot share their views and particularly their view of human progress.
Joseph LaCombe. "The Good Thief" A Catholic Moment. November 20, 2016 I must say, I’ve been struggling a little with what to write about today, this Christ the King Sunday. I like to always try to find a personal aspect with which I can relate the readings to everyday life, and so I’ve been trying to think about what is relatable about recognizing Jesus as the King of the Universe?
Joseph LaCombe. "Check Your Baggage" A Catholic Moment. September 3, 2016 I remember back when I used to travel a lot for my job, all those hours going from airport to airport, slogging around my suitcase and my backpack, both of which seemed to be busting at the seams, filled with stuff. I always tried to maximize space, because I never wanted to check a bag and risk the airline losing it, or it being delayed in arriving at my destination, or having to wait at baggage claim after my flight, because I just wanted to get home.
Fr. Bruno Clifton. "The Burden of the Cross" Torch. August 31, 2016 In our intercessions at Vespers we pray, ‘give a new heart to those who have fallen from the practice of the faith; may they again find joy in Christian discipleship.’
Fr. David Sanders. "When I Am Lifted Up" Torch. April 18, 2014 Now today on Good Friday as we venerate the cross in the liturgy we may ask ourselves how in fact is the world redeemed, how are we saved? If Jesus was to heal the broken human world which we experience every day then he had to confront it and take it on at a profound level.
Fr. Aidan Nichols. "Peace on Earth?" Torch. August 18, 2013 In today’s Gospel our Lord speaks of his coming sacrifice – his Passion and Death – and of how he just can’t wait until it has come and his ordeal has happened.
Fr. Euan Marley. "Facing The Cross" Torch. April 6, 2012 When the first high rise flats were built in Britain, it soon became apparent that among the many signs of negligence in their design was that the lifts were too small to take coffins. To this day, undertakers often have to stand guard at the base of lifts, while the body is taken out in a body bag and hastily transferred to a coffin at the bottom. I think this was a significant oversight. Not just as a commentary on the mentality of these sort of buildings, but on a culture which had lost sight of death itself.
Fr. Duncan Campbell. "A Disciple" Torch. March 18, 2012 In this Gospel we have Jesus talking in an unusual way to an unusual man. When we hear Jesus speaking, usually to crowds, it is loud and clear, even if he speaks always in parables. These are puzzles, simple stories, that we won't forget, but we have to grow to understand. John must have remembered this conversation with such an important person. The other occasion John remembered was the Last Supper discourse.
Fr. Simon Gaine. "Facing the Challenge" Torch. September 5, 2010 Jesus has had his disagreements with learned scribes and Pharisees along the way to Jerusalem, while the unlearned crowds are still enthusiastically behind him. He speaks to them not to destroy their zeal, but to temper it with something more characteristic of his opponents. The crowds did not know what this road to Jerusalem meant for Jesus, nor did they know what following after him really means. Jesus wants to inform their zeal with a dose of learned realism, warning them that anyone who does not bear the cross and follow after him cannot be his disciple.
Fr. David Rocks. "The Triumph of the Cross" Torch. April 2, 2010 This is a day of fasting and abstinence. A day of silence and desolation. And when we arrive at its hour of glory, we witness the drama of a coronation.
Fr. Denis Geraghty. "'Good' Friday" Torch. April 10, 2009 When the evangelists write about the Passion of Jesus they are quite discreet. They do not go into any detail about the horrors of crucifixion and the terrible sufferings that it brings with it. Nor do they write simply that ‘Jesus died’. They write that he ‘breathed forth his spirit’. Then, at that moment, ‘the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to the bottom’. Not the outer veil but the inner one which exposed the Holy of Holies.
Fr. Theodore Taylor. "Keeping Company with the Lord" Torch. March 29, 2009 Jesus is near his end in the gospel of today. The acclamation of Palm Sunday is over and the crowds melt away. Jewish plotting for his arrest is stealthily working. What precipitates his words, 'Now the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified', is the approach for the first time in his ministry of Greeks (Gentiles) seeking him out. It was 'to gather into one the dispersed children of God' that Jesus was to die.
Fr. Richard Ounsworth. "We Beheld His Glory" Torch. March 22, 2009 One of the most important words in St John's Gospel is 'glory'; right at the beginning we read that 'the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of a father's only son…' Jesus Christ is the revelation of the glory of the Father. And that glory is beheld especially when Christ is 'lifted up' on the cross. The kind of exaltation - of lifting up, of glorification - that belongs to Christ is humble submission to death by hanging upon a tree.
Fr. Richard Conrad. "The Promise of Eternal Friendship" Torch. March 21, 2008 Jesus’s death has saved us. But how? A single, neat explanation cannot exhaust something so awesome. Scientists use several models for an ordinary thing — an electron or an economy — since we cannot understand it through and through. The extraordinary event of God’s death in the flesh must defy comprehension!
Fr. David Sanders. "The Peace That Only Comes Through Fire" Torch. August 19, 2007 I know a church where they stopped using incense after they had fitted smoke alarms. Fire is dangerous but sometime you have to take a risk. Imagine what would have happened to our faith if Moses had used a fire extinguisher rather than venturing into the presence of God at the burning bush.
Fr. Aidan Nichols. "Nowhere to Lay his Head" Torch. July 1, 2007 In the second part of today’s Gospel we learn that whereas foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. We might see this as simply a reference to Jesus’s itinerant life-style and to his poverty — poverty in the sense, at any rate, of dependence on the largesse of others (chiefly women is the impression St Luke gives in his Gospel). The novelist George Orwell once wrote an autobiographical memoir about sharing the life of tramps, ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’. Does this mean that the Son of Man was ‘Down and Out in Galilee and Jerusalem’?
Fr. Peter Hunter. "Banishing the Shadows" Torch. April 6, 2007 Why did Jesus die? That’s a question that arises for us all today of all days. Often I think it gets its charge from a piece of mistaken thinking, as we’ll see in a minute, but there’s a good honest question at the heart of it which faces us with some uncomfortable but ultimately saving truths about ourselves, so let’s see if we can find at least part of the answer.
Fr. David Sanders. "Rulers of the Kings of the Earth" Torch. November 26, 2006 As we come to the end of the Church’s year we are given a vision of Christ as the universal king. He is, as Revelation tells us, ‘The Ruler of the kings of the earth’. But then it adds that we too share in his kingship for he has made us ‘a line of kings, priests to serve his God and Father’. So what is the connection between Christ’s kingship and ours? Is there any link between the way he governs and exercises power and the way we should perform these functions?
Fr. John Farrell. "The Glory of Calvary" Torch. November 19, 2006 The end of the world has happened. The news is good. It is Good News. Christians are accustomed to understanding the history of salvation as a drama in four parts. Act One is from Creation to Jesus; Act Two is the life of Jesus; Act Three is the time of the Church and Act Four is the Glory of Christ and the Victory of God. Christians are less inclined to appreciate that Act Four comes before Act Three and, in every way, takes precedence over it.
Fr. Robert Ombres. "What Happened on Good Friday?" Torch. April 14, 2006 Anyone who has been at a public reading or a dramatization of the Passion of Jesus Christ knows just how many separate parts there are. At the liturgy on Good Friday we will hear the Passion narrative according to St John, and of course the other Gospels give their own accounts of the Passion.
Fr. Isidore Clarke. "The Royal Way" Torch. April 9, 2006 Palm Sunday is a mass of contradictions! It begins with a joyful procession of pilgrims, coming to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. That feast commemorated God delivering his people from slavery in Egypt. In each annual celebration God renewed his commitment to rescue his people from evil, and they renewed their commitment to him. In one such group of pilgrims the crowd proclaimed Jesus to be the son of David, who had come in the name of the Lord.
Fr. Allan White. "The Silent Cross" Torch. March 25, 2005 The liturgy of Good Friday is one of the most ancient and the most stark of all of the Church’s ceremonies. Traditionally, there is no homily given on that day. Is that because on this penitential day the patience and ascetic spirit of the people of God is not to be tried by the kerygmatic enthusiasm of the clergy? Or is it rather that there are no words which can frame the mystery we celebrate: the death of God in the person of His Son; more than that, the murder of God by those who came to be through Him, for it was through Him that all things are made.
Fr. Richard Ounsworth. "The Whole Story" Torch. April 9, 2004 One can hardly ignore the existence of Mel Gibson’s film of The Passion, and though it is by no means a perfect film, it does serve to highlight something about the suffering and death of Christ that is easily overlooked: it divides the world in two.
Fr. Benjamin Earl. "The Sign of the Star" Torch. January 6, 2004 Our Christmas Crib is now complete: a star has risen in the east, and the magi have followed this sign, until it came to rest over the place where the child Jesus lay. The magi have come and worshipped the one who has been revealed to them as the new-born ‘King of the Jews’. It all makes a very picturesque tableau.
Fr. Allan White. "Behold, your King!" Torch. November 23, 2003 The other day I saw what comes pretty close to the abomination of desolation. It was a singing Christmas tree. I was walking through a respectable department store when I noticed the bow in the middle of a plastic Christmas tree transform itself into a pair of lips and begin to sing Jingle bells in a harsh metallic voice.
Fr. David Sanders. "The Necessity of the Cross" Torch. April 18, 2003 Today the Church gets rid of the cross for a while. When we come to church the cross is veiled or even removed from the sanctuary.
Fr. Richard Finn. "Parody or Reality?" Torch. April 13, 2003 The desire to be met with acclaim seemingly runs deep - to be hailed as liberators, the streets of Basra or Baghdad lined with cheering crowds. Across the centuries those who wield power also want the glory. Roman governors and emperors long ago made an art form of their entry into the cities of the empire. You can still see on the arch of Galerius at Thessalonika how the civic notables lined up outside the gates to greet the approaching emperor and his retinue.
Fr. Timothy Radcliffe. "Stand Upright" Torch. December 3, 2000 In the last few weeks many people’s lives in England have been disturbed by floods, bringing chaos to their lives. In the time of Jesus ‘the roaring of the sea and the waves’ symbolized the collapse of our ordered world, the unleashing of destruction. Our worlds may collapse for many reasons. Our marriage may breakdown; we may lose our jobs, discover that we have cancer, become estranged from our children. In all of these situations, we may feel overwhelmed by disaster, and that our lives have no meaning.
Fr. Juan P. Ruiz. "Who is Wearing the Crown?" Juan Point at a Time. November 22, 2022 Sometimes it seems easier to wear the crown than let it rest on Christ, but he is king of the universe and it is for love of us that he takes the crown upon himself.
Fr. Addisalem Mekonnen. "Homily" St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church. October 31, 2021
Bishop Robert Barron. "Breaking, Singing, Pulling Away" Word on Fire. March 28, 2021 Friends, one of the best known stories in Western culture is the narrative of Christ’s Passion and death. However, this very familiarity can block our understanding of the account. What I want to do in this homily is to draw your attention to three odd details of Mark’s Gospel, each of which packs a punch spiritually.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Boasting in the Cross" Word on Fire. July 7, 2019 St. Paul tells us in our second reading that he boasts in the cross of Jesus. To any of his hearers in the first century this would have sounded like madness. Paul can boast in this shameful thing precisely because God has raised Jesus from death and thereby placed the world—the realm of hatred, violence, and division—under judgment. Now we must have the courage to leave the world and enter into the new creation, which is the Body of Christ.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Three Aspects of Christ’s Kingship" Word on Fire. November 20, 2016 We celebrate, as the very last Sunday of the liturgical year, the Solemnity of Christ the King. Think perhaps of the way that a king would come last in a great formal procession: so this feast comes as the culminating moment of the Church year.What I should like to do in this sermon is to explore three dimensions of Christ’s kingship, one inspired by each of our three readings for today so that we might marvel at the sublimity of what a strange and surprising king he is.
Richard Rohr. "Scattered Insights from Three Readings" Center for Action and Contemplation. July 3, 2016
Bishop Robert Barron. "The Awful Gospel of the Cross" Word on Fire. September 8, 2013 This week’s Gospel contains one of the greatest challenges Jesus ever offered to his disciples: “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Here Christ is emphasizing the great spiritual principle of detachment. In order to live healthy spiritual lives we must love Christ most of all, with everything else finding its meaning in relation to God.
Bishop Robert Barron. "The Voice of Ambition" Word on Fire. October 22, 2006 James and John want to sit at Jesus’ right and left when the Lord comes into his glory. What they don’t realize is that his glory is the moment of his crucifixion. To be at his right and his left at his enthronement is, therefore, to be crucified with him, to be willing to give oneself totally away. Be careful what you ask for!
Bishop Robert Barron. "The Cross is Our Peace" Word on Fire. July 23, 2006 We continue our reading of Paul’s extraordinary letter to the Ephesians. We hear that the cross of Jesus has broken down the wall of enmity which divided Jews and Gentiles. At the very center of Christianity is the conviction that the death of Jesus on the cross represented God’s victory over all the dark forces that divide us. What looked like ultimate defeat was in fact God’s triumph over the power of division.
Bishop Robert Barron. "There is No Chaining the Word of God!" Word on Fire. October 10, 2004 This week we once more hear from Paul’s second letter to Timothy. He writes to his young friend from prison, chained in place by the Roman authorities. But he boldly tells Timothy that there is no chaining the Word of God. This confidence in the power of God’s word is shared by all of the great saints up and down the centuries. John Paul II had it when he preached in his native Poland in the 1980’s, effectively unchaining an oppressed people.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Feast of Christ the King" Word on Fire. November 23, 2003 The final Sunday of the Liturgical year is dedicated to Christ the King. One of the earliest forms of Christian proclamation was “Jesus is Lord.” This was meant to be provocative, since Caesar was customarily described as Lord of the world. The first Christians were saying that Jesus is the one who must in every sense command, direct, and order our lives. Is Jesus truly the King of your life? That’s the hard question which this feast raises.
Bishop Robert Barron. "A Ransom for the Many" Word on Fire. October 19, 2003 What does it mean to say that Jesus died for our sins? How precisely does his cross save us? The first Christians saw sin as a sort of imprisonment, like being held for ransom, and in the dying and rising of Jesus, they experienced freedom. What freed them was God’s solidarity with them in their fear, even their fear of death. How do you experience the power of Jesus’ death on the cross? How does it set you free?
Bishop Robert Barron. "Surely This Man Was the Son of God!" Word on Fire. April 13, 2003 Another homily from Fr. Robert Barron and Word on Fire Catholic Ministries.
Bishop Robert Barron. "The Wedding of Heaven and Earth" Word on Fire. January 14, 2001 When Jesus appears at the Wedding Feast of Cana, he signals the marriage of heaven and earth. When God moves into our experience, he transfigures humanity, elevating art, philosophy, science and politics into bearers of the sacred. He changes the water of earth into the wine of heaven.
Luke 9:44 "Focusing on Jesus’ Passion" What does Jesus’ passion mean to us and are we praying enough on it?