Monthly Archives: February 2015

6th Sunday of the Year – Suffering: Part II


Study:  Reflect on wounded relationships in your life.  What needs to be done to bring them healing?

Pray:  Ask the Lord for the grace to bring healing to the relationships in your life, especially where suffering has caused misunderstanding or fear has led to doubt and uncertainty.

Serve:  Are there people in your life that are struggling in their relationships?  How can you be a bridge that fosters unity and reconciliation?

6th Sunday of the Year Readings

Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast

Last week I focused on the personal nature of suffering.  When we are in pain, when we hurt, we can easily focus on ourselves.  This is not necessarily a bad thing; suffering can help us confront reality and strive for healing and wholeness.  In our suffering we are aware of blessings that we may have taken for granted – our sight can become sharper as we realize the gifts that have been lavished upon us.

There is another dimension of suffering, however.  Suffering commonly affects relationships; when one person suffers, it is often the case that others suffer as well.  Consider the following:

  • Physical suffering can keep us from human touch/contact
  • Intellectual distress can cause us to lash out in doubt and misunderstanding
  • Emotional anguish can prevent us from connecting with others because of fear and anger
  • Spiritual suffering can obscure our values and beliefs with God and others

There are countless examples, but the point is clear – the pain and anguish a person suffers can directly affect relationships with God and one another.  Suffering can become an obstacle that blocks us from the very persons who can bring healing and relief.  Often the greatest wound from suffering is isolation: in our weakness we withdraw from the very people who can help us the most.

The 1st Reading, Responsorial Psalm, and Gospel today reveal both the obstacles of suffering and the bridges that God makes possible through healing grace.  In the face of suffering the Lord comes, not just to bring healing to a person, but healing to the relationships among persons.  God longs not only to renew our lives but the lives around us as well.  Where suffering brings isolation the Lord brings unity – drawing us together in reconciliation and love.

This communal aspect of suffering thus begs two questions for our consideration:

  1. Is suffering affecting relationships in my life right now?
  2. How can I invite the Lord to bring healing/reconciliation?

When the Jesus healed the leper in the Gospel today, he did more than give the man back his health – he gave back his relationships as well.  The man (formerly cut off from human society) is now restored to his family, his friendships, and his participation in the community.  His life has been restored.

As we look to our own encounters with suffering we keep an eye to the ways in which our relationships are harmed/healed.  May we call upon the grace of Christ to touch our lives, and bless the lives of those around us.

Reconciliation – Catholic Inspiration

Three Great Things

The Sacrament of Reconciliation, which also goes by the names of Confession or Penance, is a powerful treasure.  Yet there are many misconceptions, many fears, and many questions that surround this great gift to the Church.  Sometimes I think that folks would rather have a dental root canal than walk into a confessional…

If it has been some time since you have gone to Confession, do not fear!  This incredible Sacrament continues to transform hearts and change lives; the following presentation dispels some of the myths and answers many of the common questions that are frequently asked.

This sacrament has four components:

  • Contrition – sometimes called repentance, shows we are sorry
  • Confession – where we admit what we have done
  • Reparation – where we undertake a penance as an outward sign we want to make things right
  • Absolution – where the priest, speaking on God’s behalf, extends God’s grace and forgiveness

This sacrament will touch our hearts and change our lives!  Confession is not only an experience of forgiveness, but it is a direct encounter with God’s grace – a profound and intense path that leads to the love of Jesus Christ.

This 45 minute presentation was given to the RCIA class on March 16, 2014.  These remarks address a wide range of practical issues that are frequently asked and are meant to help us all understand how to embrace the great sacrament of Confession, especially if we are a little hazy about the last time we stepped into a confessional.

Fr. Andrew’s Reconciliation Podcast

5th Sunday of the Year – Suffering: Part I

Jesus healing

Study:  Reflect on moments of sickness and healing.  Where did you see God’s hand at work in your life?

Pray:  Is there something in your heart that is keeping you from being healed?  Ask the Lord for the grace to remove the obstacles that prevent the saving touch of Jesus.

Serve:  Who in your life is struggling with suffering right now?  How can you help support them in their need?

5th Sunday of the Year Readings

Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast

Maybe you’re different, but I find it ridiculously easy to take my health for granted.  I can find myself in patterns of thought where I just assume that my body will work exactly the way it is suppose to, without hindrance, mishap, or breakdown – and you know what happens when you assume…

Let’s face it: suffering stinks.

It took parish priesthood to teach me how precious is the gift of life, and that includes the gift of health.  I make routine visits to the hospitals, say Mass at the nursing homes, and anoint people frequently at church for the surgeries, procedures, tests, and treatments that are part of our battle for healing.  All of us know – either personally or through loved ones – the challenges of suffering.

Some might ask, “Why does God allow this to happen?  Wouldn’t a loving God keep everyone healthy and happy?”  Admittedly when we see people who, through no fault of their own, endure horrible pain and illness we rightfully want to know why; at least, it is one of my Top Ten questions to ask the Almighty.  And while we do not get our answers in this life, we can acknowledge that suffering is part of human experience; it is something that – in greater and lesser ways – we will all encounter in our journey through life.

We see an authentic expression of suffering in the words of Job and the crowd who came to Jesus.  Job’s words echo the cry of many who lose hope in the face of ongoing physical, mental, and spiritual anguish; the press of the crowds around Jesus underscores our deep desire to find healing and relief.

And in the midst of the reality of human suffering, we encounter Jesus at the heart of our experience.  The Lord does not avoid human misery; rather, he reaches out to touch and bless it.  It is this encounter with Jesus – healing body and soul, preaching Good News to the poor in spirit, and casting out evil wherever it is present – that renews lives and fosters hope.

God seeks our healing:

  • In sound bodies (Body)
  • In clear thinking (Mind)
  • In right relationships (Heart)
  • In spiritual harmony (Soul)

So, what needs to be healed in our lives today?  What in our lives – Body, Mind, Heart, and Soul – needs to be touched and blessed by Christ?  God knows our need, may we come to the Lord and seek the one who longs for us to be made whole.