Because of Pentecost

God is a Trinity of three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) who share one nature, one divine essence. This mystery is the highest and greatest revealed truth of our Christian faith. Everything we know and understand about being Catholic and Christian flows from this mystery. This day being Pentecost, we focus on how God the Father, through His Eternal Son, sent to His people the gift of the Holy Spirit as a means of grafting us into His very own divine life.

This day is historic, both because these events really happened and because it marks an immense change in the operation of God’s relationship to humanity. To perceive this change, we first understand that God created us as free beings, with our own souls endowed with the ability to reason and to choose. Second, we understand that, though we are different and separate from God, God is always pouring out His grace on all people. That is to say, God desires to be a part of every human life, and so, He operates in each and every human life because He loves what He has created. That love is the Holy Spirit, who keeps each of us in existence, prompts everyone to do what is good and avoid what is evil, invites us to know truth, and leads us to love and desire genuine beauty.

For most of human history, before the advent of Jesus and the day of Pentecost, God’s love and action on the human soul was external. God’s love and divine life did not enter our beings and so, we could not enter into heaven and into his presence. The Jews did believe in an afterlife for the good and righteous and a separate one for the damned, but heaven was closed to humanity for we were different from God. But let us remember, God loves what He created. He was not satisfied to allow humanity to remain separated from Himself. In His eternal plan, He sent the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Son of God, to become man in the person of Jesus Christ – God and man, two natures in one person. In Him, the Divine Life of God was joined to a human soul without suppressing His humanity and without diminishing His divinity. In Jesus Christ, God created the bridge by which He would bind all of feeble humanity to all-powerful divinity in order that all of us may have a share in his Divine Life.

This day of Pentecost, then, celebrates the moment when that bridge, that binding became possible for all of us. On this day, the Divine Life of God entered the souls of the disciples of Jesus gathered in the “Upper Room” and the souls of all who were baptized that day after hearing Saint Peter preach. Because of Pentecost, all who are baptized receive in their souls the Holy Spirit who is the very Love, the very Divine Life of God who does not want any of us to remain separated from Himself. Because of Pentecost, all who receive the Sacrament of Confirmation receive in their souls the seal of the Holy Spirit and the grace to be faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ and His Gospel, on order to courageously witness to the Truth even unto death. Because of Pentecost, all who go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation have the assurance that their sins are forgiven and that the Divine Life of God is restored in their souls. Because of Pentecost, we have the supreme dignity of being called to Holy Communion, the supper of the Lamb, Who makes us worthy to receive the consecrated bread of heaven which has truly become the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. And because of Pentecost, we are all one family in the Body of Christ. We belong to God and one another. We are all siblings, equal in the heart of God, and we must treat each other according to the same love we have received from God.

May we truly live these holy and miraculous realities and celebrate them joyfully as true children of God until the day we see Him face to face.

Finding Hope amidst Depression

Homily for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – B (2021)

The story of Job is an important book of the bible about the testing of a righteous man. It challenges the notion that bad things only happen to bad people. Stated another way, you must be a bad person if something bad has happened to you. If you were blind or deaf, sick or lame, then you or your parents must have done something for you to deserve punishment from God.

Job, however, was a good man by all accounts, yet God allowed Satan to test him. He lost his children, his servants, his animals, and his land – and he had no idea why. Today, we listened to the lament of a very depressed man. Perhaps, like me and like Job, you have experienced depression. When you heard these words, did you say to yourself, “I understand what he’s going through. I know that feeling.” Perhaps you feel that way right now. Let’s listen to Job’s words again:

Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?
Are not his days those of hirelings?
He is a slave who longs for the shade,
a hireling who waits for his wages.
So I have been assigned months of misery,
and troubled nights have been allotted to me.
If in bed I say, “When shall I arise?”
then the night drags on;
I am filled with restlessness until the dawn.
My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle;
they come to an end without hope.
Remember that my life is like the wind;
I shall not see happiness again.

Eventually, Job expresses hope in God in the midst of his distress and even appears to prophesy about a future incarnation of God in the flesh and standing upon the earth as well as his own resurrection:

He has put my family far from me,
and my acquaintances are wholly estranged from me.
My relatives and my close friends have failed me;
the guests in my house have forgotten me;

My breath is repulsive to my wife;
I am loathsome to my own family.
Even young children despise me;
when I rise, they talk against me.
All my intimate friends abhor me,
and those whom I loved have turned against me.
My bones cling to my skin and to my flesh,
and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that at the last he will stand upon the earth;
and after my skin has been thus destroyed,
then in my flesh I shall see God,

This moment is a critical one for the depressed Job, he realizes that his salvation, his Redeemer, is not dead. Despite all that he must endure, he does not despair and he does not curse God; rather, he believes that even if he were to die, he would see God.

What about us? Can we have the confidence of Job? Job may have been righteous and innocent, but what if we suffer because we were not righteous? What hope do we have? Job could only hope for what we already have in Jesus Christ. For Jesus is the fulfillment of Job’s very wish: Jesus is the Redeemer who lives! He stood upon the earth in the flesh! And through His resurrection Jesus makes it possible for all of us to look forward to a resurrection in which in our own bodies we will see God in the flesh. Jesus spent his days preaching, healing, and forgiving the sins of people who both deserved and did not deserve their sufferings. It didn’t matter. He was here to bring a new era of freedom in which every sinner could be a saint, in which every unrighteous man could be made a righteous man, and in which every depressed man could have hope.

Life can depress us, literally, it can press us down. Sometimes the weights that we are under are placed upon us and sometimes we place those burdens upon ourselves. Jesus came to lift those burdens. In exchange, he gives us a lighter, more fitting load and gives us the grace and power we need to carry it. Just as he does in the Gospel today, he is seeking us out, going through every town and village, eager to find us, to heal our hearts, to forgive our sins, and to give us his righteousness. When we surrender to him, our sufferings become His sufferings. He becomes our Redeemer and he even redeems our sufferings. He makes them powerful. When we pray through our sufferings, they become the most potent prayers on earth and in heaven for they are directly linked to the heart of Jesus Christ who is our God in the flesh. Let us find courage to rejoice in these sufferings and make use of them for all who need our prayers until we see him face to face.


Do you identify with Job? Have you found hope in depression? How? Please let us know by leaving a comment or sending us a message via our Contact page. If you like our content, please be sure to click “like” and share with someone you love.

The Courage to Seek Forgiveness

In my last post, I talked about teaching our children how to ask for forgiveness. Today, I want to take it up a level. More important than guiding our children through the motions of seeking forgiveness from others, is demonstrating the behavior ourselves. Seems obvious, right? I find, however, that no matter how much I agree with “actions speak louder than words” and reject “do as I say not as I do”, when it comes to humbling myself and seeking forgiveness, I often confront a greater counter-force to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Truth be told, I would rather others simply sensed my interior knowledge of having done something wrong or offensive. I especially want those who know and love me to grant the benefit of the doubt, namely that I regret my bad behavior without having to mention it. If we could all just go on without acting hurt or angry because of what I did, that would be great. I expect many people feel the same way whether they know it or not. This attitude, however, demands too much of the offended party and compounds the injustice of the original injury. I am no more able to demand a healing from the doctor without a willingness to undergo a treatment than to expect the healing of my relationships without the willingness to ask for forgiveness and offer reparation.

As I advised before, I make it a point to use the words “Please forgive me for . . .” and name the offense. I am now open to a response and any emotion the offended has to share with me. I’ve earned it (presuming the response is proportional to the offense). If the person is a fellow Christian, I have hope that s/he will meet my request with mercy and grace, but that does not mean I am off the hook for the damages. Not only do I have an investment to make in repairing the relationship, I may have to repair physical property, too, depending on the offense. As we read in our catechism: Penance requires . . . the sinner to endure all things willingly, be contrite of heart, confess with the lips, and practice complete humility and fruitful satisfaction (1450).

Indeed, this formula imitates the Sacrament of Reconciliation intentionally. The elements of which go back to the old testament where both verbal confession and reparation are part of the healing process (cf. Numbers 5). Though forgiveness should never be dependent on the reparation, offering something of ourselves demonstrates our commitment to the healing of the relationship and our earnestness. Penance is our participation in reparation and should be expected, though the price for our sins has been fully paid by Christ. (More on this here.)

In some cases, both parties have given offense. One may have started the rift, but the other widened it in a backlash. Some may think the initial victim has the moral high ground despite also becoming an offender, but I would turn to Jesus’ words in Matthew 5: [W]hen you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. (vv. 23-24, NRSVCE) Jesus makes no mention of who “started it”. The command is to reconcile; therefore, it’s always your turn to go first no matter who made the first offense.* Prayerfully, when you ask the other for forgiveness, the other will reciprocate.


* I believe I first heard this explanation from Dr. David Jeremiah on his radio show “Turning Point”.

I’m interested in hearing about your thoughts and experiences with reconciliation and asking forgiveness. Leave a comment below or leave a note on our contact page. Be sure to click “like” if you enjoyed this post and share it with others. Thank you.

Who Wants to Be Human?

Lately, I’ve been disappointed in humanity. In particular, I’m disturbed by what’s happening to us politically. Something has gone terribly wrong and it seems to me that, every four years, we are getting larger and larger doses of ugliness and our elections portray less and less humanity. Were I an angel or an alien, I would seriously wonder who would even want to be human.

Our sorry state of political affairs is only a part of the many woes we have caused. As one rears its head, six others seen to rise with it. Dwelling on them is like a maelstrom that can suck us in and down with those around us. I know this is not our entire reality. I know there is so much good we do, but the water’s awfully murky right now, so today, I desperately need to focus on the One who, regardless of the indictments against us, wanted to be human.

This weekend, celebrating Christ the King Sunday, we read Jesus’ description of his second coming: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him.” Son of Man is the title Christ preferred. Centuries before, the prophet Daniel prophesies, “As I watched, thrones were set up and the Ancient One took his throne [and] I saw one like a son of man coming on the clouds of heaven . . . . [N]ations and peoples of every language serve him [and] his kingship shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:9-14).

There is no doubt that Christ was indicating to his audience that he was the fulfillment of this prophecy. What does this tell me? God had a plan and has a plan. A plan that was woven into the fabric of time from before the beginning.

There is nothing new under the sun. Men and women were no less evil in the years after the Fall from grace, in the time of Daniel, or that of Christ than they are today; and yet, knowing how absolutely awful we could be, knowing the worst of the worst about each and every one of us, God said from all eternity, “I WANT TO BE HUMAN!”

Why?

Because God never intended humanity to be what we made it. He intended it to be what HE made it: PERFECT; and he still intends it to be perfect, even if he respects our free will. As the Son of Man, Christ provides us the very model of humanity. He was the Template in eternity by which and for whom God made humans and all of creation in the first place. We are not most human when we sin; we are most human when we imitate Christ.

The Son of Man, then, is our only hope of knowing and advancing human perfection. That he is God means the work of human perfection is possible, for all good begins with God. That he is Man means God invites man be part of the perfection process. That he is God-Man means, despite foreknowing all the events of human history would be corrupted, God created anyway; and despite foreknowing all our immorality, injustice, and depravity, God still said, “I want to be human.”

As Christians, the temptation to pull away from the rest of the world is strong. When fallen humanity is at its worst, however, God invites us to be our human best, to even more fervently manifest what it really means to be human, to know and more genuinely follow the Son of Man with all of his perfections. The world needs us to be human – to want to be human. It’s not easy, it’s a sacrifice, and it’s heroic. It’s what he wanted – to be human. I want to be human, too.


What are your thoughts on the current state of humanity? How has the your experience of the best and worst of humanity affected you? Let me know by adding a comments below or send us a message on our contact page. Let us know you enjoy our content by clicking “like”, then share with friends and family.

One Moment More

This month marks the fifth anniversary of my mother’s passing. My father had passed six years earlier. For many, the death of a grandparent is the first grief inducing event of it’s kind. As I mentioned in my earlier post, my experience of grandparents was not like others. Though I had mourned the loss of my grandmother, my Aunt Ann, Ellen’s grandparents, and other relatives whom I loved, I cannot say I experienced the same level of grief in my life as when my parents died.

The severance of my earthly relationship with my parents blessed me with an elevation of subconscious memory to consciousness, as though a movie reel turned on in my mind. I began replaying clip after clip of our lives together. I saw scenes of a younger me in which I was just too young, selfish, ignorant, or foolish to understand what was going on or how my words and actions impacted my parents and family. The older me was able to look back on those moments with a new understanding of myself and my parents.

In some ways, this reflection added to my grief. In others, I felt like I knew and respected my parents even more. Much of what they had suffered for love of me, I was suffering for the love of my own family. Many times I spoke to my parents as I watched those reels. I asked them, “Please forgive me.” I told them, “I understand now. I love you. I miss you.” I still speak to them today and how I long to have had more time with them in the flesh.

Very shortly after my father and mother died, there were events that brought me to tears in the middle of the work day. For my father, it was the gift of a tree from my colleagues, a weeping cherry, which I planted in his memory. He was quite fond of the cherry tree in his own front yard, so I planted one in mine. For my mother, I encountered a song, “One Moment More” by Mindy Smith. Though I don’t listen to country music, I tripped over this song on a Spotify channel I was listening to.

I think it struck me pretty hard because I had missed an opportunity to speak to my mom on the night before she died. She called me on the feast day of Saint Gregory the Great and left me a message. She said that she called to wish me a “happy feast day” (a custom among Catholics) and to tell me, “You are my ‘Gregory the Great’.” I didn’t call her back right away, and when I remembered, it was late. She didn’t stay up late anymore, so I decided not to bother her that night. I wish I had. The next day, the moment was gone and she passed.

The good news: As a Christian, I know my relationship with my parents persists in and through the person of Jesus Christ, who incorporated us into His Body, the Church. I have faith that as members of that Mystical Body, my parents hear me and, though I cannot hear them, they respond. For a time we are physically separated, but the promises of Christ give me assurance and hope that our relationship continues. Though I do not take for granted the graces of heaven, I trust that He who began a good work in me with be faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6). I am eager for that day. I have many moments I want to redeem.


Do you have memories of parents and grandparents like mine? I’d like to read about them in the comments. If you liked this post, click like and share this content with your friends and family.

My Favorite Person

God created us in relationship. From the day we’re conceived, we live in relationship. Until we’re born, our most direct relationship aside for our creator is with our mother. Though there are other relationships indirectly, with our father, siblings, grandparents, doctors, etc., our relationship with our mother takes priority. When we’re born, we enter into a seemingly endless sequence of relationships, all of differing degrees. Some we give greater priority and, as we grow, we have our favorites: a favorite cousin, a best friend, we get along better with one sibling than another – and we tell them in one way or another, “you’re my favorite”.

Inevitably, we find ourselves with some fellow Christians, perhaps playing a question-answer game, in which we’re asked about our best friend. As others name some childhood friend or relative, there’s always that one person who trumps the list by naming “Jesus”. We laugh or groan a little, but according to the diagram, yes Jesus should be our best friend, right? Among Christians, it really should be implied, that’s why others don’t name him, right? We hope.

That’s the point of the diagram above which depicts this “priority of relationships”, and though it doesn’t capture all the nuances of our relationships, we get the idea. Yes, God must be the #1 priority of our lives, but I would warn against making the circle around our relationship with God a boundary independent of the relationships that surround it. In Sacred Scripture, Jesus inextricably links the two greatest commandments to love God and to love your neighbor. As 1 John 4:20 tells us, you cannot love God whom you have not seen if you do not love your brother whom you have seen. The apostle James adds that our words of love must be accompanied by action (James 2:16). We not only demonstrate our love of God through faith, church, worship, prayer, and Bible reading (to name a few), but through our love of neighbor. Such love must be expressed in word and action. Every parent with more than one child grasps what God is telling us because discord among children hurts us as parents. We likely have told (or will tell) our children something similar, “If you love me, you will be kind to your sister.” Perhaps someone can design a graphic that better captures this part of the relationship reality, where love of God is first and central, but also encompassing all other loves.

Which brings me to my favorite person (in the non-divine category). There’s a little routine I have with Ellen. I’d like to say I stick to it every day, but every now and then I fall out of it. Eventually, it comes to me again and I tell her, “You’re my favorite person.” I’d like to think I show it on most days, but that’s something she and others will have to confirm by observation.


What little things do you say to those you love. What actions are meaningful to them? Let me know in the comments below. Let us know you like this content by clicking like, then share with friends and family.

Honoring Our Children

I remember when I had that list of things my parents did that I said I would never do to my kids. Yeah, well, what goes around comes around, right?

Our children and their spouses have different parenting styles from us and each other, partly because of who they are, partly because of who their children are, and partly because of who we are. One might say the basics should be the same and I might agree to some degree, but going about the basics of feeding or nap time, e.g, can play out quite differently than I think they should. How do I react to that? Are choices they make a commentary on or rejection of how we raised or children?

Honoring our children as parents posed new challenges for me. Last year, my daughter spent a few weeks with us after the birth of her daughter. Our tolerances for her daughter’s nap time fussing were indeed different. I might think, “If she would do this, then she’d save herself aggravation.” That’s partly (mostly?) an opinion and perhaps a weakness of novice grandparenting. Watching my child experience a common frustration with her own child was hard. As a father, I found it harder to shelve my years of indisputable sagacity (*cough*) and not offer a remedy. (I failed.) Though difficult in the moment, my daughter was committed to her ways which were indeed full of love and neglected nothing for my granddaughter. I remember taking care of our granddaughter and committing to do things the way my daughter would, but not without some internal reflection and personal admonition. I needed her to know she could trust me and I dare not let my pride change this baby’s experience of parenting in an intrusive, unexpected way. That would be harmful.

When our children are visiting, sometimes (continuing with my example) our grandchild isn’t falling asleep, or won’t eat, I am tempted to think I offer an objective third-person perspective. It would be shallow to say it’s because they’re novice parents, but I see that my desire to help sometimes comes from a sense of having superior knowledge. Although I do have more experience, my son and daughter and their spouses may tell you, “Dad doesn’t know my child like I do.” The reality is there’s not always a simple answer. I may try something and it will work, once. Try it again, it doesn’t. Realizing such difficulties are often the result of a different environment or some confusion on the part of my grandchild should be enough to prevent me from thinking I could provide an easy solution; nonetheless, it’s hard to watch your children and grandchildren endure the common growing pains of being a family. My job is to avoid making it more painful, so I have to take my cues from them.

To better honor my children, I have to continue moving beyond the functional cause-and-effect logic that betrays the greater complexity of our humanness. I had draw on a beautiful truth which I had meditated and preached on a number of times before. We often say a child is an unrepeatable gift, but more than that, a child is a unique encounter from which a unique, unrepeatable relationship develops. No other person can have the relationship we have with each of our children or they have with each of theirs. These singularities are part of the mystery of being made Imago Dei, in the image of God; therefore, when we encounter another person, we encounter all the potential and actual God-likeness that is bound up in them. When we enter into relationship with them, we open ourselves up to God’s marvelous work in their lives such that we might see God in a new way, which is wonderful blessing, but one that comes with some friction. The wonder and the blessing grow even more profound when we invite others into the relationship, as will the friction. That friction is what moves us forward and remains a necessary part of a growing relationship.

As I once vowed, I will not be an interfering grandparent who doesn’t respect my children’s wishes. I, therefore, have come to respect that special and unique intimacy my children have with their children as much as I wanted my own relationship with them to be respected. Truly, to witness it is a privilege. For them to invite me into it is a humbling honor.


What do you find wonderful about the gift of relationship? How have you honored others in your family? Please let us know in the comments below. If you like what your reading, please click “like” and share.