Print

  • Christ the King of Universe - B - 2014 Open or Close

    Jesus Christ King of Universe

    Every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we say: “Thy Kingdom come.” Jesus taught us these words. And when we truly pray them with our hearts they give us divine strength. Every true Christian desires more than anything to be a part of God’s Kingdom. As true disciples we never grow tired of dreaming for the return of Jesus our King. We don’t fear the day of his return because it will be the day when he will destroy death forever. Through Jesus we have the hope the Resurrection from dead! That is why we as Christians don’t just live for the pleasure, power, and fun that the world offers. There is another life, another world, that Jesus will give us when he returns. Thy Kingdom come!

    But when will his Kingdom come? We do not know exactly. But each year we get closer and closer and so each year the Church ends Ordinary Time with the celebration of the great Feast Day, Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. This helps keep us ready when he comes at the end of time. Perhaps when he does come, whether it is next year or a thousand years from now, it will be at the end of Ordinary Time when all his faithful are celebrating and looking for his return. But no matter when it is, he will definitely return. As Catholics we believe this with all our hearts! That’s why we come to Mass every Sunday, longing/desiring for his return, waiting with great anticipation to receive our inheritance that has been prepared for us since the foundation of the world.

    Are you ready for his return? If he were to come today would you be ready? Many have grown tired of waiting and returned to just living for worldly things. They give up on the promise of the Resurrection from the dead. 2000 years seems like a long time but compared to eternity, it is a blink of the eye. So we can’t grow tired but we must continue to live our life working for the Kingdom, preparing for the return of our King. Our salvation will depend not on saying that we are Christian, but on being a Christian through our actions, through our works. In the Gospel, Jesus makes it clear what these works look like: Feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming strangers, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, visiting those in prison. We call them the Corporal (or Bodily) Works of Mercy. All these we do because Jesus says: “Whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.”

    These works are the sign of a true Christian. A Christian does not just work for himself or for the demands of the kingdom of this world but for the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, the needs of the poor, the sick, the immigrant and the imprisoned, become opportunities for us to serve Christ our King. And we don’t have to go to a foreign country to do this, unless God calls you there. But for most there is plenty of corporal works of mercy to do in your own town, perhaps even in your own family.

    And this work is a joy to do because we work for Jesus, and he is different than the kings of the world. His power is not land and castles but love and mercy. He rules by laying down his life for his friends. He governs us not from an ivory tower but, as Psalm 23 so beautifully describes it, by walking with us as our shepherd. He doesn’t strike us when we fall into sin but picks us up and puts us on his shoulders. And he leads us to restful waters and refreshes our souls through the sacrament of Baptism and the Divine Mercy of Confession. As we trust his voice, his words of truth, He guides us in right paths. And he spreads a table before us to feed us with a Heavenly meal of his Body and Blood in the Eucharist. And he promises us that we will dwell in the house of the Lord, which is the Kingdom of Heaven. Heaven is a real place and Jesus really is returning as he promised to reward his sheep who live a life of loving obedience to their shepherd King.

    But for those who disobey God Jesus calls goats whom he will separate from the sheep. Goats are those who refuse to love God and neighbor through a life of corporal works of mercy. They are too busy or lazy to worry about the needs of others. They spend so much time and money caring for themselves that to the world they have and an appearance of being sleek and strong. Some of these goats may think they are part of Christ’s flock – they may even say they are Christian. But when Christ the King returns he will say to them “Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” So Heaven and Hell are real places and we have this live to decide which place we want to live for eternity. True Christians humbly admit that they deserve Hell, but because they have experienced Christ’s loving mercy, forgiveness and healing, they have changed the way they live and now seek to be a source of mercy, forgiveness and healing for others. They no longer live for themselves but to help the least of these.

    So on this last Sunday of Ordinary Time, let us think about the last day of our life and think about our final judgment. Ask yourself if you allow Jesus to be your shepherd to guide you to right paths, to heal you of your spiritual wounds in the Confessional and set you free from the prison of sin, to feed your spiritual hunger with his Body and Blood in the Eucharist so that you may have the divine strength to return his favor by feeding the poor, clothing the naked and welcoming the stranger. Ask yourself if you pray daily to your Lord and King? Do you spend each Sunday as a day set aside to prepare to welcome his return in glory? He will return as he promised. May we all live our life for Christ the King so that in the end we will not be condemned but hear him say to us: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

    Father Timothy Gallagher

    11-21-14

  • 1st Sunday of Advent - B - 2014 Open or Close

    1st SUNDAY of ADVENT

    Theme: Like in the days of Noah so will be the coming of the Son of Man

    We begin Advent once again, a new year of worship of the Lord and preparing for his return. Advent means “to come” and so we once again have this time to prepare for the Lord’s coming. When will this take place? Jesus says: “you must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” This isn’t to scare us but to prepare us. Much of our lives are spent going: Going here, going there, doing this and that. It is a very active life. My Now we have a season that invites us to pause in our activity, to take a break from constant doing and take on a spirit of waiting, of joyful expectation for the coming of the Lord. The world wants to use this time to be more active. But the Church invites us not to follow the trends of the world that exhaust us and prevents us from experiencing the spiritual renewal that this season offers us. It is not that being active is bad. But every year we as Catholics, as the Body of Christ, have a special time of pre-activity so that we can return to our activity and have a reason and purpose for them. So we need to have a goal. Otherwise, our activity will become a distraction. How many times do we find ourselves so busy with things that we become cranky or mad. Sometimes we don’t even know why we are doing what we are doing and lose motivation. That’s when temptation becomes an easy alternative to follow because sinful pleasure helps us to avoid thinking about what life is all about. So we use this time of Advent to reset our course, to reestablish a clear vision for our activities this year. To make following Jesus Christ as our purpose in life. Christ gives us that clear vision. He came into our world to show us the way. He left our world to prepare us a place in Heaven. And he will return again to take us there. So our focus in life as Christians is to prepare for the return of Jesus, The Coming, Adventus.

    How do we prepare? How do we get ready for the coming of the Lord? We quiet our lives. We foster silence in our minds and our hearts. We silence the words of the world so that we can hear the Word of God. To listen to his word in the Bible (which means opening the bible and doing this activity called “reading”).   We also can fast, not only food but fast from the many activities, fast from electronics, television, internet, from the pleasurable things in life, in order to focus on Jesus, to spend more time in prayer, and mediate on the gift of eternal life. Instead of watching T.V. as a family you can pray the Rosary or read from the Bible as a family. You can go together to confession to cleanse your soul and prepare it for the Coming of the Lord.

    Jesus wants us to be ready. He doesn’t want us to be distracted by the pleasures of life. Pleasures are not bad unless they become the only things we live for. Jesus makes this clear in the Gospel when he talks about the great flood. People were eating and drinking, spending all their time pre-occupied with the pleasures of marital love…not bad things, but they lived them in excess, so much so, that they couldn’t hear God’s word. And so they were lost in the flood. Isn’t that the description of our world today? How many don’t come to church anymore? How many are just living for the pleasures of life without God? They are not preparing for the return of Jesus.

    St. Paul speaks about those who live this life as if this life was all there is: He describes how people live in orgies and drunkenness, in promiscuity and lust, in rivalry and jealousy. These people don’t have a game plan! They don’t have a goal I life! They cannot see they great gift of eternal life in heaven. It is like speaking to a young couple and telling them to wait because God has bigger a better plans for them. But they want the pleasure so much they don’t listen and then suffer the consequences.   But we need to live differently. St. Paul says: “For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed;
    the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light;

    Yes, once Christ is your life, it makes life more challenging. It makes it feel sometimes like we are climbing a mountain. Look how many people sacrifice many things for glory on earth, for money, for fame. But these only last for this life. The mountain that we are climbing has everlasting life in Heaven as its goal. Isaiah the Prophet says: “Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob.” So the climb is hard but the view from the top of this mountain is glorious and in Heaven we will be happy forever! So it is worth the climb. Certainly the pleasures of the world feel great for a time and that is why so many people live for them. The mountains of lust, drunkenness, power, and jealously are false mountains and people always fall off them into ruin. So we are climbing the true mountain, the Mountain of the Lord.

    So now that we have our goal in mind let us use this time wisely and listen to the words of Jesus not with fear but with excitement when he says to us: “So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” May this time of Advent be a joy-filled time and prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord. Amen.

    Father Timothy Gallagher

    11-30-2014

  • 2nd Sunday of Advent - B - 2014 Open or Close

    2nd SUNDAY OF ADVENT 2014

    John the Baptist

    Each Advent the Church gives us John the Baptist who was sent to prepare the world for the first coming of Christ. John is not the best representative of God in worldly standards. The world wants to be comforted with nice things and soothing words. John is poor, wears camel hair, eats bugs, he’s celibate and doesn’t take a wife, and he challenges people with strong words to turn away from sin and live in complete obedient to God’s word. He comforts those who are truly looking for God and not just the pleasures of life. Therefore, his presence and words were accepted more by the poor, the lonely, the broken hearted. Those who needed hope. Those he looked for a savior. John was so effective because he was so authentic. He consecrated his life to the Lord through poverty, chastity and obedience. We see many who continue this way of life today in the Church by embracing the Consecrated Life. Last Sunday I told you that the Holy Father proclaimed this new Liturgical Year a year for Consecrated Life. Those who live their life as consecrated men and women continue to do what John did, except now they are preparing the world for the Second Coming of Christ. Like John the Baptist their radical way of life grabs our attention and keeps us alert.

    John preached repentance and God’s forgiveness and people came to him in great numbers and confessed their sins to him. Christians still follow this act of repentance and confession today. Last Monday many of you came to the Penance Service much like the crowds who went out to see John in the Gospel. The sacrament of Confession makes our souls pure and clean like the day of our baptism. It is how we experience the Lord’s kindness and the renewal of our salvation. It is how God comforts us and speaks his tender words of mercy to us. That is why confessing our sins prepares us more than anything for the coming of the Lord. Advent is a great time to do it.

    Christ’s coming will come quickly and so we must be ready. St. Peter, our first pope, says in his letter to the Church that while waiting for Christ’s return we should make every effort to be found without stain or defilement, and at peace in his sight. Confession is certainly helps us to follow Peter’s advice. There are many others. I listed 10 Advent Resolutions in the bulletin from my homily last week that might be helpful to use. To many the day of the Lord seems like a fairy tale - that it will never happen. But St. Peter said “The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” He’s giving us extra time to get ready. to repent of our sins, to live a Christian life. But when he does come St. Peter says he will come unexpected like a thief and everything “will be destroyed by fire and the earth and all its deeds will be made manifest.” These words don’t sound comforting but they will be if we follow them and are ready in the end by manifesting our deeds now. We should take comfort that God wants us to be prepared. So we have to stay alert and not get caught off guard.

    St. Peter’s description of the Second Coming of Jesus reminded me of an experience I had in the Army. I was trained on the M1-Abrahm Tanks and we used what is called “simulators” which are basically very advanced computer games that simulate battles. Well, I had my chance as the gunner in the tank. I remember being very nervous. I looked intensely through my scope looking for the enemy on the horizon. Thirty minutes passed; 45 minutes; an hour passed. The simulators were like big tin cans. It was hot and stuffy and so I begin to get sleepy. Finally, I thought I’d take a little doze, rationalizing that there must be some sort of glitch in the computer program that caused a delay. And certainly someone else would be alert. Well, it was a trick, and as I was beginning to have peaceful dreams, I heard a cannon in my earphone and an explosion. My heart raced 100 miles per hour and I looked at the battlefield through my lens and saw 10 enemy tanks blazing right toward me. I tried to squeeze off a round while at the same time use the radio to warn the other tanks in my platoon, but I couldn’t do either because suddenly my screen went black. It was over. I was dead. I was so mad. I couldn’t believe I let that happen. How could I be so stupid? And that was the only chance I got. Thankfully it was just training and not the real thing but I did learn a lesson.

    I think many today are doing like I did in that training exercise. They are not preparing for the end and the coming of the Lord. They perhaps interpret his long delay as a glitch in the Gospel, to the point that many no longer believe that it’s true. This Advent let us renew our faith and live expecting his return. We only have a short time to prepare. “A thousand years is like a day.” Let’s take advantage of today. Let’s pay attention to the John the Baptist’s of our day, the successor of St. Peter, Pope Francis, to those who have consecrated their lives to God as religious men and women in order to prepare themselves and the World for the Lord’s return. Let us conduct ourselves “in holiness and devotion, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God.” Advent means “coming” and so let us not be afraid but be comforted with the hope of salvation at the Second Coming by humbly asking for Christ’s mercy now. Let us be like humble sheep that obediently follow the Shepherd who leads his flock and gathers his lambs into his arms, leading us home to paradise. Amen.

    12-07-2015

  • Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary - B - 2014 Open or Close

    The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

    December 8th 2014

    The Holy Scripture today describes the miraculous conception of Son of God. Jesus is conceived in the womb of his mother by the power of the Holy Spirit. But today we celebrate another miraculous conception: one that is not revealed through Sacred Scripture but trough Sacred Tradition: The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Scripture and Tradition make up the fullness Faith that Jesus revealed to us. But even though, you want read the words Immaculate Conception in the Bible, Sacred Scripture complements this teaching that Mary was conceived without sin when the Angel Gabriel uses the words: “Hail, Full of Grace.” No human conceived in the womb could be full of grace since the fall from grace of Adam and Eve.

    Prior to the Fall, Adam and Eve were full of grace, they were immaculately conceived in the mind of God and created holy, pure, and without stain or fault. But they lost their immaculate state when they chose to reject God’s will. Therefore, every person conceived after the Fall inherited original sin.

    However, this chain of sin was broken when Mary was conceived in the womb of her mother. God did this in order to prepare for the coming of the sinless one, the New Adam, the Son of God. Mary, therefore, is the New Eve. Through Mary’s Immaculate Conception God created a new order of grace, a new beginning for the human race. Prior to this moment in history, all corruption, all destruction, all sin and suffering could be traced back to the original sin of Adam and Eve. But now in the New Order of Grace, all goodness, holiness and hope can be traced back to the one moment that we celebrate today. It is sort of like the scientists who trace the beginning of creation back to the Bing Bang that put everything into motion. Mary’s Immaculate Conception is a big bang, a grace bomb that explodes into the creation of a new order, a new race that God wants to fill with grace. From Mary’s overflowing grace all creation receives a new beginning.

    Of course, Mary is not the savior. Jesus is the cause of Mary’s sinless state. Even before he came to the world, God applied the merits of his Passion to her Conception in order to redeem her and preserve her whole and undefiled by original sin. He did this to prepare a way for his coming into the world. “Nothing is impossible with God.” That is why Mary is his most beautiful and perfect masterpiece.   So great is the Immaculate Conception that the Creator himself humbled himself and enters into the world as a man through her.

    All of this is a great mystery. We may not feel that we can comprehend it, much like St. Bernadette when Mary appeared to her in Lourdes, France and said “I am the Immaculate Conception,” St. Bernadette said that she had no idea what that meant but she just started repeating it over and over in her mind and heart until faith matured it to more.

    So today let us contemplate this great mystery of the Immaculate Conception and even if we do not understand it fully let us celebrate it with all our hear and thank God for this great gift. And let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to help us to become like her, filled with God’s grace so that we too may become immaculate.

    O Mary, Conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee. Amen.

    Father Timothy Gallagher

    12-8-14

  • 3rd Sunday of Advent - B - 2014 Open or Close

    3rd Sunday of Advent 2014

    Gaudette

    Today’s readings fill us with joy as we enter into the third Sunday of Advent, which is known as Gaudete or Rejoicing Sunday. You can feel it in your spirit that something is different, and if you are not afraid of it and allow this spirit to grow inside you, you may find yourself even smiling, singing, and rejoicing! That is because it is the Holy Spirit is preparing our spirits for the celebration of Christmas. And by cooperating with this Spirit and not rejecting it we can “rejoice always” as St. Paul tells in the second reading. We experience a similar feeling when we approach big events in our life, like winning a prize, or celebrating a birthday, visiting a loved one, or like when a bride who prepares to give herself for the first time to her bridegroom in the sacrament of marriage. But the joy that comes from the Holy Spirit is something even greater: it is a grace from Heaven that makes us repeat with the words of Isaiah “I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul!” (Is 61:10) This is the spirit that we want to grow in this Advent so that we can fully receive the joy of Christmas.

    In the Gospel, John joyfully announces the coming of the Christ, the Messiah. What motivated him? John was filled with the Holy Spirit, and, therefore, filled with joy. John is a great example for us. He had a clear understanding and conviction of who he was. He accepted that he was chosen by God to give testimony to the Light of the World. And he had a clear understanding of who he was not. And so he rejected anything contrary to his role as the voice preparing the way for the coming of the Lord. John teaches us to not be afraid to know and fully accept that we are Christians. To not be afraid to be inspired by our faith even if no one in our home, school or work seems to care. Our joy shouldn’t be limited to what people do or don’t do around us, because our joy comes from the Lord. St. Paul says to the Thessalonians: “Do not quench the Spirit.” In other words, don’t be a Grinch or a Scrooge. Allow the joy of the Lord’s coming to be expressed in your words, in your demeanor, in your treatment of others, in the treatment of yourself. Help prepare the way of the Lord not prevent it.

    Let us become models of joy for a world full of sadness, anger, lust, and darkness. People seek joy in passing pleasures, in things, and in other people and are often left unfulfilled. But only God can give us lasting joy. But it takes cooperation on our part. We have to learn to pray for and cooperate with the Holy Spirit and reject what is not from the Holy Spirit. St. Paul says: “Test everything; retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil.” This is called the discernment of spirits. It is what St. Ignatius of Loyola the founder of the Jesuits promoted. We have to discern if we are being guided simply by our own spirit, God’s Spirit, or the evil spirit. This discernment is very necessary because there are certain things, certain decisions, activities or even people that give us joyful feelings but are not from God and can even be from the evil one.

    Evil robs us of the true joy of a holy life and being preserved blameless for the coming of the Lord. No joy on earth is worth losing the joy of Heaven. That’s why we have to “pray without ceasing” as St. Paul said. “God what is your will in this? Lord, give me your Spirit.” Do you pray without ceasing? Do you seek to know God’s will and to be inspired by his Spirit and not just your own? Prayer is the key to the Christian life and the only way we can receive true joy.

    Last Tuesday, I had the joy of getting together with all the priests of the Archdiocese of Atlanta to listen to a presentation from Archbishop Gregory on the pope’s letter, Evangelii Gaudium, the Joy of the Gospel. Pope Francis is a Jesuit and wants to teach us how to discern the spirits so that we can learn to test everything and retain what is good and refrain from what is bad. Our pope wants us to express evangelical joy to the world. We cannot do that unless we know the Lord Jesus and are inspired by His Holy Spirit.

    Often times in life we have to learn from experience before we discover authentic joy. It is not uncommon to experience a spirit of sadness and darkness in your soul. But unless God is convicting us of a sin that we need to confess or an injustice that we need to correct, that sort of dark spirit is usually from the enemy who wants to rob us of authentic joy. So we have to turn to the Lord Jesus and place ourselves in his presence through prayer, to ask him to give us the Holy Spirit that inspired John the Baptist. The gift of the Spirit helps us to discern what is from God and what is not and to be joyful even in trials or darkness, when it seems like there is no reason to be joyful. Essentially, this is the joy of knowing that out of love Christ came to our world and that out of love He is coming again.

    Mary, of course, is the best model of joy for us to learn from. She was the closest to Christ. She did not quench the Spirit but allowed her heart to sing: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my Savior!” Last week we joined Mary’s joyful spirit in a special way by celebrating her Immaculate Conception and also remembering her appearances to Juan Diego in Mexico during Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrations. And so we can feel in our hearts the same joy that was in hers. Mary helps us to cooperate with the Holy Spirit which is the spirit of Joy.

    And so today, allow the Spirit of Joy that inspired John the Baptist and the Blessed Virgin Mary to fill you. Don’t reject the Spirit out of sadness from worldly disappointments or being embarrassed about being a Christian. Instead, announce the Good News of Christ’s coming with your life and Rejoice in the Lord always!

    Father Timothy Gallagher

    12-11-14


  • Fest Our Lady of the Guadalupe - B - 2014 Open or Close

    Our Lady of Guadalupe 2014

    Why do we give so much attention to Our Lady of Guadalupe? Who is she? Why do we give her flowers and candles and pray to her? Who is the mysterious woman who appeared to Juan Diego in Mexico on the hill Tepeyac? When she appeared to Juan Diego she said: “I desire you to know who I am?” Then she said: “I am the ever-virgin Mary, Mother of the true God.” She is Mary! That is why we sing to her and bless her and cry out to her that we love her. But is this attention and affection too much? By showing her this devotion do we go against the Word of God? Some say we should not honor her or bless her or sing to her with devotion. We should only do that to God. But what does the Bible, which is the Word of God, say? We hear in the Gospel of Saint Elizabeth’s reaction when she saw Mary: She was “filled with the Holy Spirit and cried out in a loud voice and said “!Bendita tú entre las mujeres y bendito el fruto de tu vientre!” We do the same when we are close to the Virgin: We sing and pray and shout with joy and bless this little lady, not because she is equal with God but because she brings to us God. When we come close to her, like Elizabeth, we are filled with the Holy Spirit and we cry out in love and devotion: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” We even dance in her presence just like King David did when he found the Arc of the Covenant. He knew that through the Arc of the Covenant he was in God’s presence. Mary is the Arc of the New Covenant and so when we are in her presence we know we are in the presence of God.

    Certainly, all who love Mary have our own image of what she looked like. We hear Mary described in the Gospel and we can imagine her appearance was simple and humble but very beautiful, not from make-up or the latest Jewish fashions, but because she is pure and holy – because she reflects the beauty of God. On The tilma of Juan Diego we can see what Mary really looks like! We can gaze on her beautiful face, which is full of noble humility. We see her head bowed down in the presence of God. We see her hands folded in prayer as she looks down upon us and intercedes for us. We see the black belt around her waist as a symbol that she is pregnant with Jesus. But how do we know that the image on the Tilma is the Mary of the Bible? Well, we hear from the Book of Revelation “Se abrió el templo de Dios en el cielo y dentro de él se vio el arca de la alianza. Apareció entonces…una figura prodigiosa; una mujer envuelta por el sol, con la luna bajo sus pies y con una corona de doce estrellas en la cabeza. Estaba encinta y a punto de dar a luz….” Who is this woman? She is Mary. She is Our Lady of Guadalupe.

    In New York there is a statue called Lady of Liberty. It represents an idea of hope, of freedom, of peace for the poor and the downcast that come to this land. It is very inspirational and more than four million people visit it every year. Well, the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe represents something more than an idea, it represents a real person, Mary, the Mother of the Savior of the World. Therefore, she is a true source of hope, freedom and peace for us who are poor and downcast and not only people from Mexico but from all the Americas and from the whole world. She is Mexican, but she is also American. But more, she is Christian, and the Mother of all Christians. That is why each year more than 12 million people from around the world visit the Basilica to gaze upon her image.

    How we love to look at this miraculous image of a little woman knowing that we are looking at the Mother of God! But why did she give us this image of herself? It is because as she said to Juan Diego, “I desire you to know who I am.” Who is Our Lady of Guadalupe?   She is the one who is in the presence of God. She is not God but she is his Mother. And she wants to be our mother, too; to see that her greatness is her humility; to realize that her power comes from prayer. To believe that she really loves us and is with us at all times. How much more do we believe this when we see her face to face as Our Lady of Guadalupe.

    12-12-2014


  • 4th Sunday of Advent - B - 2014 Open or Close

    4th SUNDAY OF ADVENT 2014

    King David, St. Elizabeth and The Blessed Virgin Mary help us to follow God’s Plan

    We are just a few days from Christmas and many people are busy making plans for different things and activities. Perhaps planning gifts, parties, dinners, and visits to families and friends. It’s the most busiest time of the year! It is part of life: Making plans, following inspirations, doing what we want to do and pursuing happiness. What plans do you have for your life? What do you want to do? Where are you going? What are you going to be? What are you going to do for yourself, for others? It is good to have a plan, otherwise, nothing gets done. But as important as our plans are, this last Sunday of Advent we are asked to reflect and meditate on God’s plan for each one of us, as individuals, and for the whole world. This is important because we can live our whole life spending all our time, energy, and resources following our own plan but miss out on God’s plan.

    The readings today give us three examples of people who had there own plans but changed them to follow God’s plan: King David, St. Elizabeth, and the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the end their obedience leads them to be a part of God’s greater blessing for themselves and for the whole world. In the first reading we hear about King David. It was a time of peace in Israel and David had extra time on his hands. And so, like many guys, he decided that he needed to build something. And it was a noble idea – to construct a house, a temple, for the Arc of the Old Testament so that future generations would have a place of worship, and at the same time remember their King. So you can detect that David is concerned about his legacy, too. But we hear that God had other plans, much greater plans. God himself would construct a house for His Dwelling and would raise up an heir. God said of this heir: “I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.” And then he said: “Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever.” Now who is God speaking of and what kingdom does he describe? Well, we know the answer: God is speaking about his Son, Jesus, who would be born out of the family line of David and would come and establish his everlasting Kingdom. And Mary would be the Temple that God would use.

    Now what if David would have not followed God’s plan? Well, he would have maybe built his temple but then it would have lasted only a short while and eventually would have fallen down. Had he not have cooperated with God there would be no great promise passed down to future generations but no one would have known his descendent. Thankfully David said “Yes” to God.

    The second person who is an example of following God’s plan is St. Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary. Elizabeth and her husband were highly respected as members of the priestly class of Jews, and had a plan to grow their family, except they had no children because Elizabeth was barren. Despite her inability to have children, however, she remained faithful to God. Perhaps others would have grown bitter and abandoned hope, used it as an excuse to give up on marriage and turn away from God. But she remained faithful to God and to her marriage. And eventually God did bless her and made her a part His great plan, even though she had to wait many years. We hear in the Gospel: “And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age [she] who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Had Elizabeth given up, she would have continued to feel disgraced and there would be no John the Baptist to prepare the way for the Messiah, the Savior of the World. So thanks be to God Elizabeth said “Yes.”

    The third and best example that we have of one who was faithful to God’s plan is the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary was a young woman, with her own plans and desires for life. She was not planning to be a mother, much less, the Mother of the Messiah, the Son of God. But God had other plans. Was this plan of God easy for Mary to follow? No. She had natural fears of wondering how this could be. But the angel said to her: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God….The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” We shouldn’t be afraid of God’s plan because he’ll provide the grace from on High for us. How did Mary respond to God? Well, she could have remained afraid and just not believed God could do it, or thought that she was unworthy to be a part of God’s plan. She could have just not listened and put earphones in her ears and turned up the volume on her I-phone. Or she could have just said “no” and life would have been a lot more normal and easier for her. But had she not followed God’s plan then not only would she not be blessed among women but the Savior would not have come and we would not have Christmas, we wouldn’t sing “Joy to the World” because the world would be hopeless. Thankfully, Mary said “yes:” “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” She did not just think of herself but considered herself as God’s servant and allowed her life to be a part of His greater design to help countless other people.

    God has a plan for everybody young and old, rich and poor, man and woman, important and unimportant. Like the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Elizabeth, and King David we have our own ideas of how we will live our life, of what we will do, where we will go. Like King David, it is natural and good to think about what our legacy will be: Will I make a difference? What will I be remembered for? Certainly, we should pursue goals and dreams, make plans along the way and follow them with this in mind. But experience shows that life doesn’t always go as planned. We may sacrifice much and not have our dreams come true. Like Elizabeth we will face many disappointments and be tempted to abandon God. But sometimes God allows disappointments in following our own plan so that we may be more open to His plan. Like David we might have to sacrifice some of our own desires. Like Mary, we’ll face fears when it seems that God’s plan is not what we want or that it is too much for us to take. We fear being unhappy, lonely, missing out on all the good things in life. Yes, following God’s plan will be hard sometimes, but we do not want to put limits on God because as the Angel Gabriel said “nothing is impossible for God.” He will give us a power beyond our human strength, the power of the Holy Spirit. He will give us understanding to accept his will and make us part of something greater than we dreamed of. He will make us happy beyond anything we could have planned or imagined in this life and give us a legacy that will endure forever.

    What is God’s plan for your life? You can’t know unless you ask him, unless you have an openness in your heart to his will and not just your own or somebody else’s plan for your life: Your father, mother, boyfriend or girlfriend or what the world says you have to do. What does God want for you? We may or may not discover God’s plan right away. For Mary, it was made known early on, at the age of 15. Therefore, young people, God has a plan for your life! He may let you know very early what is. Perhaps it is becoming a priest or nun. “Oh, no, father, I couldn’t do that!” But don’t be afraid my young friends…nothing is impossible for God. For David he discovered God’s plan during the middle of his life. Parents, those of you in your “middle ages” God has a plan for you and your family to be holy! For Elizabeth it was in her later years that God’s plan was made known. You who are grandparents, don’t retire from listening to God and following his plan to serve the Church with your prayers. Mary, Elizabeth and David were prepared to hear and follow God’s plan with the obedience of faith. And thus it made it possible for the world to receive its Savior. So we have to have faith and be open to God’s greater plan. And the great thing about following God’s plan is that it is not only best for us, but for the whole world.

    Each year the Church gives us this time of Advent to help us to grow in amazement of how God unfolded his plan to bring His Son into the world at Christmas and how he chose individuals to be a part of his marvelous work. It is also a time recall that Jesus will return and that we are called to be a part of the plan to welcome God’s Son back at the end of time. If we live our whole life and miss being a part of this great plan of salvation, then all our plans, our sacrifices, our efforts were in vain. So let us not be unwilling to adjust our plans to the bigger plan of God with the obedience of faith like King David, Saint Elizabeth, and the Blessed Virgin Mary and bring joy to the world, to our families, and to each one of us who says “Yes” to God. Amen.  

    - Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    12-19-14


  • Christmas Eve - B - 2014 Open or Close

    CHRISTMAS EVE 2014

    Tonight on this eve of Christmas, God’s favor rests upon us because we are blessed like the shepherds in the Gospel to be the first ones to hear and celebrate the birth of Jesus. And so we joined the angels in Heaven to sing “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people of good will.” But why this special attention to a baby born in a barn? Who is he? He is the long awaited Messiah, the deliverer of Israel. He is the Lord the Son of God. He is the Savior born to save the world. But does our world need a savior? Do we need God to help us? Some would say “no, we can save ourselves through politics, through money, through power, through war.” These always fall short of bringing true peace. So we who walk in the darkness of this lawless world see the Light of Christ as our hope and salvation. God’s grace has opened our eyes and we recognize our own human limits to save the world, even to save ourselves.

    Yes, our world needs a savior. Each one of us needs a savior - Someone who will give us the grace to love and forgive, “to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly and devoutly in this age” as we await the promise of a new age of living in God’s glory. And that is what we celebrate tonight: “For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.” Christ “gave himself to us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good.” Christ was born among us so that we could be born again that we may no longer live for ourselves but for God who teaches us to do good and gives us the grace to do it.

    So we know we need a Savior. We have prepared for this moment all Advent and now we can receive him into our homes and into our hearts. But many do not have Christ in their lives because they do not recognize the time of his visitation. When does Christ come to us? How do we know he is near? Well, let us learn from how he first came to the world: His mother Mary and foster-father Joseph were forced by the government from their hometown of Nazareth to walk 70 miles during the wintertime to Bethlehem. They were displaced from the comfort of their home and their routine of life away from their family and friends. They became vulnerable migrants who suffered much. Then after arriving in Bethlehem, there was no place in the city hotels. They were rejected. Even though they were in the line of David and were the most royal couple who ever existed on earth they found themselves poor and homeless.

    The message for us this Christmas is that Christ comes to us when we most need him - when we recognize that we need a savior. Those who live a life of ease and comfort and take care of themselves do not need a savior. It is when we suffer difficulties and problems…isolation from family, loneliness, injustice, financial ruin, feelings of hopelessness and rejection that Christ is born among us. It is in trials that God says to us “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy…for today…a savior is born for you who is Christ and Lord!”

    It is only when we feel broken, poor and empty handed that God fills our hands with what we truly need. It is only when we are empty of the things of the world that we are able to receive Christ into our arms and hold our salvation in our hands and allow his love and grace to enter into our lives, into our homes, into our marriages, into our hearts.

    May you and your family and all whom you love receive Christ anew this Christmas.

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    12-22-14


  • The Holy Family - B - 2014 Open or Close

    2nd Sunday of Christmas 2014

    The Holy Family JMJ

    We continue to celebrate the Great Feast of the Birthday of Jesus all the way until January 11th when the wisemen arrive on the Epiphany. One of the greatest gifts about Christmas is that it brings families together. Today is the Feast Day of a very special family, The Holy Family, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. We can say that they are the model family, not because they didn’t have any face common-life challenges, financial difficulties, problems finding a place to live or facing rejection by neighbors, miscommunication, but that through the difficulties they bonded together in a deep relationship with God. They worked together, each playing their supporting part, like a team, to keep the family together. Joseph had the carpenter business that supported the family and Mary had the home to care for. They both had to communicate on how to promote the wellbeing of their son, what things they afford or not, which in-laws they were going to celebrate Christmas with this year. Jesus had to do his part to: Clean up his room, wash the clothes and dishes with his mom, help his dad in the shop, join the family for daily prayer and to go to the temple to worship each Sabbath. It was not an easy life but their love, respect, support, communication, and above all their faith and prayer kept them united.

    Now anyone who grows up in a family knows that it is not easy. It’s often hard. There was six of us in our three bedroom farmhouse. My mom and dad had their room, the three boys shared a room, and the three girls shared a room…and had first access to the bathroom which I still protest as an injustice until this day. My parents were not the most perfect parents, and us kids, well we were very far from the most perfect kids. There was a lot of screaming and fighting, a lot of blaming each other for messy rooms and missing things. But we some how by God’s grace managed to make it. Despite all the chaos, there were many moments of fun, love, joy and inspiration. Indeed most of my memories of my family are good ones. One thing that I’m convinced made all the difference is that we prayed together as a family and my dad made sure we went together to Mass every Sunday as a family as the Lord desires. It wasn’t that my family was perfect…far from it. But each week we would go and visit our perfect God in church and he would love us, forgive us, strengthen us and then send us back to try again. This formed a relationship with God that continues with all my brothers and sisters today. We still are a mess, some of us more than others. But we still allow God to clean us up over and over again.

    Perhaps your family is not perfect either. But it is through the trials and imperfections of life that we learn how weak we are and how much we need God. God only requires that we come to him once a week, to present ourselves to him in the temple, in the Church at Holy Mass, to give him our faults and failures, our needs and desires, our hopes and dreams.   But we can come more often if we want, and many do! They go to Mass even during the week, some every day! Not because they are holy but because they need God more.

    Do you need God more? Does your family need God more? Are coming to our Good God to be in his presence at least once a week? There are so many challenges against the family these days, so many attacks from evil that is causing so many families to break apart. More than ever we need to present ourselves to God each week. God cannot bless us if we do not show up to be blessed. I am convinced that if my dad did not take us as a family to Church every Sunday all of us kids would be behind bars somewhere. We grew up in very chaotic times and things in our country and our world seem to be getting crazier and crazier. We need divine help!

    Again we look to the Holy Family for an example. Today in the Gospel they, out of obedience, brought their newborn son into the temple and presented him to God. When they did this they received a great blessing: Through the prophet Simeon and the prophetess Anna the Lord gave them Good News. Had they not been obedient, had they said “We are too busy today” or “nobody will know if we skip out on this silly ceremony” they would not have be blessed by God with his word. Parents, I know it takes effort and it is a sacrifice and a challenge. But if you love your spouse, if your love your kids, if you love your family, do what is best for them…be obedient to the demands of your Faith: Come and give yourself to the Lord each week in Mass. God wants to speak to you and your children with his words of wisdom to encourage you, to inspire you, and to let you know his plans for your life. He wants to use the prophetic voice of others to build you up, to praise your children, and to give you truth so that you will be prepared to face the trials of life. Yes he can speak to us anywhere and everywhere including in our homes, but he wills for us to come to him in his temple. Why? Because he is God and we are not. He is the source of life. He is our savior. We need to come to him - especially at Christmas. You can tell which families really love Jesus if they come to Mass and celebrate his birthday at Christmas. Less and less people come to Mass, even on Christmas. They stay in their homes. How very sad. How very offensive to God. There is a family of seven in our parish. The mom’s mother died on Christmas eve. The family did not use that as an excuse but came to Mass that night to welcome the Savior of the World, the one who gives us the promise of life over death.

    When we obediently come each Sunday and Holy Day it means that we truly love the Lord and desire to leave the comforts or our home and our regular things of life to be with him. Ultimately, we are telling him that we look forward to leaving our regular life on earth to enter into his dwelling place in Heaven when our end comes. Do you need God? Do you need to come to him? I know I do. My mom and dad knew our family needed him more than anything: More than New shoes, braces, even more than cable T.V. and I-phones.

    Yes it takes discipline and obedience to come Sunday after Sunday but we do that with other things we think are important, going to school and work, going grocery shopping or feeding the pets. These things are priorities in our life. Let us be like the Holy Family and not forget to make God the priority of our life. Therefore, pray together as a family each day, forgive each other even a thousand times over! Help one another: Perhaps not just wait for your turn to wash the dishes or take out the garbage. Do things not just out of obligation but out of love. Children, be obedient to your parents. You are not always going to agree with them and they are not always going to be right. But most are doing the best they can and they love you. Love them back by obeying them. Turn off your electronic games and computers for awhile and help your brother or sister, help mom in the house and help dad turn off the T.V. so that he can help mom in the house (pause for laugh).

    And remember that we as a parish are a family. We all have our role and we need to support one anther. I am the spiritual father, by no means perfect, but it is my God-given role to be the shepherd. Please pray for me and try to respect me and listen to me. My deepest desire is that you come to know the Lord Jesus and the power of his Holy Spirit in your lives; that you will live in obedience to God and make him the priority over all other relationships and activities; and that when your life is over you will go to be with God in Heaven. For the times I have not gotten that message across with love and mercy I am sorry. I hope I can do a better job as your spiritual father this year. May Jesus, Mary, and Joseph inspire all of us to be a holy, healthy and happy family of God. Amen.

    Father Timothy J Gallagher

    12-26-14

  • The Holy Mother of God - B - 2015 Open or Close

    Mother of God 2015

    Today we honor God in the one he chose to bless among all women to be his mother. Mary was the chosen one and when she accepted this plan she became the Mother of God. I wrote in the bulletin last week a brief theological explanation of this title. It speaks to who Jesus is...he is God. Therefore, the mother of Jesus is the mother of God. It does not mean she is God. It does not mean she made God or is equal to him. But through what we call the Incarnation, God took on human flesh through the Blessed Virgin Mary and was born from her. She is truly God's Mother. Mary was created by God but through a miracle she gave birth to God, the creator.  We cannot make sense of this without faith. We cannot understand it with our natural mind...it is a miracle of grace.

    Like Joseph and Mary we should be amazed when hear about the things of God. We should like Mary ponder these things in our hearts:  God made himself one of us. He humbled himself and was born of a woman. He called her "Mother." He made himself completely dependent on her... for his food, for his comfort, for his safety, for his very life. He allow himself to be a little baby who was held in her arms.  If God did this how much more should we?  Shouldn't we give ourselves completely to her as little children?  The Mother of God is here to care for us, to comfort us, to protect us and to keep us alive in her Son Jesus Christ. May we not be afraid to trust her.

    As we begin a new year, let this be our resolution: To know, love and trust the Mother of God more. With her help, this will be the best year of our life.

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    12-31-14


  • The Epiphany of the Lord - B - 2015 Open or Close

    The Epiphany of the Lord.

  • The Baptism of the Lord - B - 2015 Open or Close

    The Baptism of the Lord.

  • 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - B - 2015 Open or Close

    2nd SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

    Falling the Call of Jesus and Pro-Life

    We begin once again the season in the Church called Ordinary Time – it is an expression that means God has blessed or ordained time. We have been inspired by the season of Christmas and enjoyed the time off but now it is time to get to work, to do the work of disciples. We hear in the Gospel Jesus call his first disciples. As Christian disciples, Jesus calls us to follow him and share his mission of spreading the Gospel which is basically the Good News about his life, death, and resurrection. We are called both as individuals and as a community, as one body, to follow this call. Do you realize this call of Jesus in your life? Do you remember a moment when you recognized him in your life, not just as a story, or an idea, but as true person, as a friend, as your savoir? Perhaps it was at First Holy Communion, or Confirmation. Perhaps it was through prayer, through the example of another Christian, a homily, or from a story from the Gospel.

    We hear from today’s Gospel how the first disciples remembered their first encounter with Jesus - they even remembered the time of day: “About four in the afternoon.” Andrew was so excited he went and told his brother Simon. That is a sign that someone truly believes in Jesus, when they remember a specific event, an exact moment of encountering the Lord; when they are so inspired that they start inviting others to follow him. Do you remember a time in your life when you started following Jesus more closely? If you haven’t yet had an experience of him calling you, turn to him and learn to hear his voice. He is calling you.

    It is not unusual that we cannot hear him at first. In the first reading Samuel was a young man who did not recognize the voice of the Lord at first because he did not really know the Lord. God was calling but Samuel did not recognize his voice. He went to the temple like a good Jew but he did not have a relationship with the Lord that allowed him hear God speak to his heart. God is always calling, but we don’t often hear him. We are distracted with other sounds, computer gadgets, other voices, our own thoughts, and anxieties. We have to spend time in prayer, listening in silence, in order to hear God speak to our hearts. This does not come natural to us. We have to be taught. Parents, grandparents, godparents, uncles and aunts, help teach the youth to hear and follow God by your words and example. Before turning on the computer or T.V. in the morning, teach them to open up the Bible and read a few lines from the Word of God, to quietly listen for his voice.         So many youth don’t know how to follow Jesus because they don’t have any good adult examples to follow. They go to church but they don’t hear the Lord. No one has taught them how to listen and recognize his voice.

    Now, you do not have to be a perfect disciple in order to be a good example. Just encourage the youth to live their faith and point them toward God. Pray with them. Spend time in quiet reflection. Teach them not to be afraid to respond to God’s calling. Young Samuel’s teacher was Eli who was a leader in the Jewish community. He was not a very good leader, but he did give Samuel some good advice. He taught him how to discern the Lord’s voice and how to answer his call. He told him to respond: “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” Parents, catechists, and every Christian adult here in this temple, your role is so very important, so very powerful, not simply for helping our youth find a good job, but more importantly, helping them discover their purpose, the plan God has for their life. If you don’t influence our youth, they will follow other influences, other voices. Perhaps God is calling some of our young men or women to live a life consecrated to God as a priest, or a religious sister or brother, just like Samuel. Help them to hear and respond to this calling to share in Christ’s mission.

    It seems like it is impossible for anyone to follow this call. Our youth are taught through music, through movies, through school, through the internet to give more attention to carnal desires. So we have to teach them to treat their bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit as St. Paul says in the second reading. Nobody can realize their calling, if they are not treating their bodies and those of others with dignity and respect. The calling of the world teaches our youth to treat their body as a temple of lust. It even teaches them to say “This is my body, I can do with it what I want!” St. Paul says the opposite of this way of thinking: He says “You are not your own. For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.” As human beings, especially as Christians, we cannot just do what ever we want with our bodies, with tattoos, piercings, drinking, drugs, sex, pornography. St. Paul says “the body is not for immorality.” A lot of youth cannot hear God’s call to purity because these things speak so loudly. How can they resist these desires of the flesh if they were never taught God’s plan?

    There is a man who will give a chastity talk in Atlanta the last weekend of this month and all teens from the Archdiocese are invited. Chastity is teaching people to treat their own body with dignity and preserve the gift of intimacy and virginity to give away only after vows are made in the sacrament of marriage. Parents, if you want your teen daughter to learn how to wait until marriage and avoid pregnancy outside of marriage, teach them chastity. Allow them to go to this talk. If you want your sons to learn how to respect women and not become addicted to pornography, teach them chastity. Send them to this chastity talk. Chastity is pure love. It is treating your body as the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is the standard of Christian love that true disciples of Christ follow. Are you a true disciple of Christ?

    Our youth are taught a false freedom with the mentality “This is my body.” And one of the consequences of this lie is abortion. This Thursday is the 42nd anniversary of legalized abortion in the U.S. that has led to over 50 million abortions. There are many voices including the medical field who play on the fears and vulnerabilities of others, especially of women who are in crisis pregnancies. Last week we had a family in our parish who buried their little baby. He had two precious days of life after he was born. But the doctor did not want to let him live and told the mother it would be better to abort. The baby’s life had no worth in his mind. But the parents followed not the voice of the doctor but the voice of God. And because of this they got to love their son, to speak to him and get to know him, to hold him and pray with him. The sisters got to see and spend time with their little brother. His short life brought a lot of love into their family. He was baptized in the hospital, and so now we are sure that this little child is a son of God and is celebrating his birthday into Heaven. Just think what the family would have lost if they would have followed the bad advice of the hospital. Women don’t ever let anyone, spouse, parent, boyfriend or even a doctor scare you or bully you into an abortion. Life is precious and sacred and a gift from God no matter how healthy or sick, short or long. God would never call anyone to give up the life of a child. This Thursday is a day of prayer and fasting for a greater respect for life and an end to abortion.

    So let us all learn to listen and follow the voice of God. Let us teach our youth to hear and follow God’s will. Let us encourage them not to be afraid to ask Jesus what he wants them to do, to be like Samuel and to respond to God’s calling for their life. Let us pray that more of them are opened to the consecrated life in the priesthood and religious life. Let us teach our youth to respect their bodies and the bodies of others, including the unborn, as temples of the Holy Spirit. Let us all help one another to follow Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and gives us meaning and purpose in life. Amen.

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    1-16-15

  • 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - B - 2015 Open or Close

    3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

    Repent for the Kingdom of God is at Hand

    All of the readings today send the message to us that God calls us to repentance, that is, to change our life from following a life of sin, selfishness, and self-indulgence, to following a path of grace, of goodness, of Godliness. Jesus calls us to do this. To lay down our old way of life to be disciples, to be a part of his team. Next Sunday two teams will compete in the Super Bowl. Whether or not you like football, everyone watches the Super Bowl. I happen to like football, a lot. I played in high school and I always look forward to the annual backyard football game with my family each Thanksgiving. It is amazing to see those professional players and how dedicated they are to the sport and how they play as a team. They have one goal in mind: winning. And this gives them the motivation to sacrifice almost everything else to gain that goal. They work together and play their very best down after down, game after game, because they know they have only a limited time and opportunity to succeed. I think these are the reasons why they are inspiring to watch.

    Who are the professional Christian players in the Church, the spiritual athletes that have sacrificed almost everything to follow Jesus’ call? They are those who have followed the Consecrated Life as priests and religious. And they don’t succeed by being individuals but become a part of a spiritual team through various communities in order to better compete in winning the game of life and gaining Heaven. The Church is calling us to cheer them on this year by celebrating a Year of Consecrated Life, and so it is a time for us to appreciate them more. Jesus calls all of us to follow him, to repent of our old sinful way of life and follow him in the way of grace. But then he calls others to follow him more completely, to consecrate, or give themselves completely over to Christ.

    Everyone who has been baptized and confirmed is consecrated to Christ, but these men and women take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience to live like Christ lived. They are like the modern-day Jonahs who God sends to Nineveh to motivate people to repentance so that they would not be destroyed. They are like Moses who interceded for his people. They are like those first disciples in the Gospel who dropped their nets and completely left their old way of life to follow Jesus who says: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is a hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

    However, Jesus wants some to stay back, to remain in their boats, to keep tending the nets, to keep working on the necessities and living their normal lives. All Christians are called to share the Good News, but many from their normal place in life. But those he calls to live the Consecrated Life are like the professional players. Their radical way of life attracts the regular everyday Christian and inspires them to do better and to work for the Kingdom of God. For the next several weeks we will hear from St. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians as he tries to motivate those Christians to live a life detached from the things of the world and to live as if it were all coming to end very soon. He says, “Time is running out” which is basically repeating what Jesus said in the Gospel: “This is the time of fulfillment.” If the football team played as if they had all the time in the world and did not dedicate themselves to excellence and to winning, well, they would lose. So it is in our desire to win Heaven. We have to live as if it is being fulfilled right now because time is short.

    But two thousand years later, some say Paul, and therefore Jesus, was wrong in his assessment of how short the time would be. But if you compare two thousand years to infinity, that time is very short. And if you compare the span of our own life, which can end at any moment, to eternity, you can appreciate more St. Paul’s spiritual understanding of time. Our time on earth, therefore, compared to our time in eternity is very short. We must make it count and not take one moment for granted. St. Paul therefore makes some bold statements: “From now on, let those having wives act as not having them, those weeping as not weeping, those rejoicing as not rejoicing, those buying as not owning, those using the world as not using it fully.” What does he mean by this? Are we to take him seriously? The answer is: Yes.

    We are not to cling too tightly to anything in this life because “the world in its present form is passing away.” This takes change on our part, repentance, going from living one way to another. So how does this apply to marriage? Well, in movies you hear lines like “She or he is my life, my happiness, my everything.” St. Paul is reminding us that no person is our “everything,” only God. Of course, it is good to get married, but it won’t bring you complete happiness. That only comes in the next life when we make to Heaven. What about not crying? He is saying that if something has happened to make us sad (failing a test, a break-up of a relationship, or the death of a loved one) don’t weep as if it were the end of the world or there is no hope. We have the hope of a world without tears in Heaven.

    What about not rejoicing? Are we not to be happy here in the world? His point is that if life is always easy and lived for just fun as if there was no end, we should be aware because there is an end that when it comes we will be surprised how quickly it came. So we can have joy but also be serious and sober. And for the stuff we buy, we really don’t own it because there is nothing on earth that we can take with us to Heaven. In fact, the more we buy, the more we are weighed down. And finally, we should use this world but not think we can find our fulfillment in it. Our fulfillment comes from God’s grace. And so all are called to follow the teachings of St. Paul in a spiritual sense.

    But some are called to follow his words more literally: To live without a wife (or husband), to own nothing in life, to not use the world fully but give themselves more fully to God in the Consecrated Life. These become a sign to the world that it is possible to renounce everything in this life, yet still live, and not just live, but to be content and have a meaningful and even happy life. They know time is short and so they live life with one goal in mind: winning eternal life. Our world needs this radical sign. Christians need these men and women as examples to follow so they don’t cling too tightly to the things of the world, so that they can practice detachment, and be inspired to live a life of prayer and penance and see each Sunday as a special day to celebrate.

    So as we prepare to celebrate Christ’s victory over sin and death in the Eucharist let us thank God for those who live the Consecrated Life. Even more than the Super Bowl teams they should be applauded and cheered on because they are the real champions of the world. Amen.


  • 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time - B - 2015 Open or Close

    4th Sunday Ordinary Time

    Jesus cast out an unclean spirit

    In the Gospel we have a pretty scary episode, something that Hollywood movies are made of: Jesus performs an exorcism on a man possessed by an unclean spirit, a demon. So this episode reveals something that we as Catholics have no doubt about: The Devil is real. He wants to try to enter into us and own us. But it reveals something greater: God’s Kingdom is real and it has truly come through the person of Jesus Christ who wants to reign in our hearts through love. In his Kingdom not only is evil defeated but a new and higher form of love is introduced to the world through a life of celibacy as St. Paul explains to the Corinthians in the second reading. Evil knows no love, certainly not sacrificial love, so let us first examine the encounter Jesus has with the Devil. Satan is a fallen angel and he has many other fallen angels working for him called demons. They are unclean spirits that want to possess our souls and make our lives miserable on earth and eventually take us down with them to Hell. This is the reason why Jesus came to our world, to do battle with the Devil and to save us from his demons. St. Mark makes this clear in his Gospel by making this exorcism Jesus’ first recorded miracle. And it is Good News! The power of Jesus over evil. Now as this Good News began to spread and Christianity grew throughout the world, possessions became less and less common. But now they are on the rise because Nations are becoming less and less Christian, and so it’s easier for the unclean spirits to do their dirty work. And so the Church is having to train more and more exorcists, which are priests who have that special authority and training to perform the Rite of Exorcism. I have a priest friend in Illinois who is an exorcist. They do very important work for the Church. Through the power of Jesus they help souls who are possessed or disturbed by unclean spirits.

    Now an exorcism is not always like Hollywood portrays it, most often it is not. And possessions are still rare, but they are on the rise because people are opening themselves up to more to unclean spirits. Atheism is on the rise. People use ouiji boards, magic, Santa Muerte, horror movies, pornography, drugs. The power of television and internet are so easily abused and can be mediums of evil instead of good. These can allow some unclean spirits to enter into souls. But even if they don’t posses us, they can influence us or even rule us and direct our actions through temptation. The classical way they tempt us is through the Seven Deadly Sins: Pride, Avarice, Greed, Envy, Sloth, Gluttony and Lust. These are like seven unclean spirits that want to turn us away from God. So we have to recognize them and turn away from them. We have to recognize the environments where they most likely are to occur and avoid these occasions of sin. You’ll probably see an example of all seven deadly sins during the Super Bowl advertisements. So we have to be prepared for battle. When the commercial of the half-naked model comes on trying to sell you a hamburger or a man in his Calvin Klien underwear promoting underarm deodorant, then turn it off, change the channel, especially if you have children watching. So many young minds and hearts are exposed to these things now that they get used to them. And that is what Satan wants, for us to get used to him, to become comfortable with unclean spirits and harden our hearts to the Holy Spirit. So we have to be prepared everyday for battle.

    The important message from this episode in the Gospel is that Jesus has authority to cast out the unclean spirits that attack us. He claimed us as his own at baptism when the priest prays a prayer of exorcism over the child, usually an infant. Why? Because in each new soul is the mark of original sin inherited from Adam and Eve after they fell to the temptation of Satan. This unclean mark is cast out when the Light of Christ enters the soul through the power of the Holy Spirit. So all of us have been cleansed and filled with a clean spirit, the Holy Spirit. And we have to work to keep it clean. We have to pray always. There are many forms of prayer. There is a tradition to burn votive candles to saints so that they may pray for us during the time we are not praying. Tomorrow is the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple and it is also known as the Candle Mass when you can bring your votive candles to church to be blessed. These and other sacramentals and prayers are true ways to obtain grace from God and protection from evil.

    So today’s Gospel and the fact of evil possessions in the world should not scare us but encourage us that Christ has authority over evil. He wants to possess us with his Holy Spirit, to give us a pure heart. So “if today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” As Christians, there is no temptation we face that we cannot overcome through the power of Christ. Christ gives us the power to do things beyond our human capacity if we listen to him. We have to form a habit of following his voice and not the unclean spirits.

    As we celebrate this year of Consecrated Life, we can look to those who have dedicated their lives to following the Lord’s voice in the celibate life. This is that higher love that St. Paul speaks of in his Letter to the Corinthians. Bu is this possible in our day and age? How can anyone give up marriage? Well, marriage is a beautiful gift. It is a sacrament. But it does take work and that is why grace is given to make it work. But God is calling some to a life of greater freedom, of a higher form of love. That is why St. Paul encourages the youth of Corinth to consider the celibate life. He says: “An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord….And unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord so that she may be holy in both body and spirit.” Of course, you don’t have to be a nun or a monk to be holy in body and spirit. All have the grace of Jesus available to them through the sacraments to grow in holiness. But his point is that it can be easier in the Consecrated Life because it is a life fully dedicated to the Lord. They dedicate their lives to holiness and become lights in the world. Therefore, it is possible. We need them now more than ever because they are one of the Church’s greatest weapons against the wave of unclean spirits that is spreading throughout our world.

    So weather it is the Church proclaiming the Kingdom of God by helping souls through exorcisms or being a light in the darkness through those who live the Consecrated Life, or through simply lighting a votive candle for someone in need, we see that the power of Christ is at work. Christ shows us that he defeats evil, that he rules our lives with love and freedom, and redeems us from sin and death when we allow him to enter our hearts. So let us approach him in the Eucharist and allow him to strengthen us for the battle and to make us holy in body and spirit. Amen.

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    1-30-15


  • 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time - B - 2015 Open or Close

    5th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME 2015

    Simon’s mother in law healed

    We hear how active Jesus is in today’s Gospel. He is very busy with preaching the Gospel, curing the sick, and casting out demons. He moved from one town to the next to continue this work of evangelization. But all of his work was grounded in prayer. St. Mark tells us: “Rising very early before down, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.” Pray and work. That sums up the life that Jesus lived. His prayer kept him united to his Father in mind and heart and kept him focused on doing his Father’s will: preaching, curing the sick, and casting out the Devil. And so that is the life the Church promotes. It is the life every Christian should imitate: Work and pray. We have heard the saying “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Well, the Church promotes the wisdom “All work and no pray makes Jack lost.” We have to allow prayer to be our first and last thing we do every day. Then we can do the work of God, of preaching the Good News, healing the sick, casting out evil. This is the work that matters the most.

    In the Gospel Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law. Wednesday we’ll celebrate a healing Mass on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Lourdes. Mary taught Bernadette how to pray and work. She directed St. Bernadette to look for a stream of water where there was none. When Bernadette dug at the ground a little water came out, then a little more, and finally a spring of water came out. Today this spring of water continues to flow and it has brought healing and strength to millions of people. It is a great work of love that was a fruit of St. Bernadette’s prayer to Mary. This Wednesday I’ll use some water from that spring in Lourdes to bless those in need of healing. We all need healing. Sometimes life is a burden especially when we face physical, mental, psychological or even spiritual illness. We have all probably felt like Job to some degree who in the first reading says “Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?” But Jesus comes to heal us with his love. Then when we experience his healing we want to serve him and help him to help others. When Simon’s mother-in-law was cured she immediately began to serve Jesus and the disciples.

    St. Paul experienced the power of Christ in his life and so dedicated his life to the work of evangelization, to spreading the Good News of Jesus to a world in need of healing. He said “I have become all things to all, to save at least some.” He lived a life of prayer and work. He said “All this I do for the sake of the Gospel.” These words of St. Paul are the theme of Archbishop Gregory’s Annual Appeal. It is a time to support the many different ministries in our Archdiocese: Evangelization ministries that take the Good News of Jesus to every home, Healing ministries like hospital chaplains and cancer homes, and spiritual counseling and therapy that help people conquer their personal demons. It also supports those men who are preparing for the priesthood and women who have consecrated their lives to the Lord. This Sunday is a World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life. We have many religious brothers and sisters in our dioceses who also do all this for the sake of the Gospel. This is a great opportunity to pray for them and support them in their work for the Gospel.

    Today let us pray and support the work of the Gospel in our Archdiocese so that many may receive the power of Christ’s healing. Amen.

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    2-5-15


  • 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time - B - 2015 Open or Close

    6th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2015

    Healing of the Leper

    This past summer we heard much about the Ebola out-break and how people were quarantined in their own towns to try to contain this very infectious disease. It certainly caused a lot of fear. The fear associated with Ebola gives us a sense of what people in biblical times felt about Leprosy. Those who had it were isolated into leper colonies and everyone was to avoid them. And unlike today, there was no cure for it. The First Reading from the Book of Leviticus describes how lepers should be isolated and put outside the camp so as to prevent its spread. Therefore, it was a shameful place to be. There was leper colonies in the time of Jesus, as we hear in today’s Gospel. But Jesus breaks the Levitical laws when moved by compassion he touches and heals the leper. He teaches us how not to be afraid of those whom the world rejects and to reach out to them with love.

    And Christians have been following this way of Jesus ever since. It was a Christian missionary medical team that first started fighting the Ebola epidemic in Africa last year. We are familiar with St. Francis of Assisi who would treat lepers like Christ. Early on in his conversion he passed by lepers to avoid them. Of course, he felt sorry for them and sent money to help them, but he was repulsed by them and wouldn’t come near them or even look at them. But when he heard the Gospel story of how Christ embraced the leper, he prayed and then forced himself to return to a leper he tried to simply pass by. He not only spoke to the man with compassion but he touched him and embraced him. He eventually began to live among the lepers and serve them. That which he most feared actually became a great source of healing and peace for his soul.

    One of the latest American saints, St. Marianne Cope, was canonized for her work with lepers. Inspired by St. Francis, she went and served a leper colony in Hawaii back in the early 1900’s. Even though leprosy is much less common these days, we now have Pope Francis who teaches us to reach out to those in need, those who are isolated and rejected by society. It is not easy work. It naturally repulses us. Some people we treat like they have leprosy: the poor, the sick, the elderly. We feel sorry for them and want to help them as long as they keep their distance. As long they stay isolated from us so that we don’t have to see them. But it is in overcoming our fears and embracing them and serving them that we become true Christians.

    Therefore, the Gospel story of the man with leprosy represents something more than a disease. It represents the effect that sin has on us. We can look perfectly healthy on the outside but be unclean on the inside. And it is the people that make us uncomfortable or whom we ignore or neglect that exposes this interior ugliness. Yet, Jesus came not to condemn sinners but to heal us and save us. The Season of Lent that begins this Ash Wednesday is a season of purifying ourselves from sin, which is the leprosy of the soul. Sin can make us feel unclean, unworthy of God. But then we can look to Jesus. He has the power to heal us IF we have the faith and humility of the leper in the Gospel who kneeled in the presence of Jesus and begged for healing. That’s what we do when we go to confession. We have confession every Saturday and almost every day of the week. We will have a Penance Service on the first Monday of Lent.

    We are all sinners in need of forgiveness, in need of healing. Some people recognize that and others do not, or others just don’t care. Again, Pope Francis is a great example to imitate. On his very first interview as pope when asked the question: “Who are you?” He responded “I am a sinner.” In other words, “I am unclean.” But then he goes on to say “I am a sinner who the Lord has looked upon [with mercy].” Even though he is the pope, he knows he is not perfect and needs the healing power of Jesus.

    I imagine the feelings the pope expressed are similar to what the leper had when the Lord looked upon him with mercy. And even though he was healed of his leprosy, he still had human imperfections. He still didn’t follow Jesus perfectly. Jesus told him to go to the priest to authenticate the healing, but instead the man went about telling everyone else, and this made it impossible for Jesus to work in public. So the man did not become a perfect Christian all at once. He still needed to grow in faith. But it was a good start!

    And it is the same with us. We don’t need perfect faith. We just need to humbly recognize that we are sinners; to be like the leper and kneel in the presence of Jesus and say to him “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Have you ever done that? Do you need to do that? The leper knew that Jesus was his only hope. Do you feel that way about Jesus? Do you believe he can heal you of your sin? Sin is the leprosy of the soul. It is a spiritual infection that is easily spread.

    So we don’t need to laugh it off as if it isn’t serious or is no big deal. Our world laughs at sin today. But we don’t need to go to the other extreme either and think that we are unworthy of God. Yes, sin is ugly and it puts us outside of the camp, outside of God’s holiness, and makes us ashamed. But we are not without hope because of the compassion of God in the person of Jesus Christ. We hear that after the leper makes his humble request, “Moved with pity [Jesus] stretched out his hand, touched [the leper], and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” So let us make a good start, a clean start, this Lent by allowing Jesus to look upon us with mercy and to heal us with his loving touch. Amen.

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    2-13-15


  • Ash Wednesday - B - 2015 Open or Close

    ASH WEDNESDAY

    February 18, 2015

    We begin Lent with a call to penance, a time to offer sacrifices for our sins so as to turn back to God. Today is also the feast day of St. Bernadette, although we want celebrate it and instead wait to celebrate her in April. Bernadette lived a life of prayer, fasting, and giving alms to the poor. She tried to keep them hidden from others so she gives a great example of the three traditional practices that we use in this season. We inherited these penitential practices from the Jews, our elder brethren in the faith. Certainly, as Christians, we don't just do these spiritual exercises only during Lent but throughout the year. But we use them more intensively during this time. And to make sure we don't lose their significance or do them in vain and thus waist the grace that we gain through them, Jesus explains how we are to go about praying, fasting, and giving alms. He says we should do them in secret, we should keep them private, and not go and tell everyone about it. Otherwise it is hypocritical because we are doing something to impress others and not to please God. Certainly, we may tell one or two others what we are doing so that we can have someone to encourage us and keep us accountable. The main person we should do it for is our heavenly Father who sees what is hidden and will repay us.

    Another way we waist the grace of Lent is if we do not pray, fast, or give alms and simply make no effort to do anything extra in our spiritual life during these 40 days. Then we are taking for granted the life that Jesus offered for us. We need to remember that we sacrifice to get closer to Jesus because money, food and time spent doing other things will not save us. The other day I was talking to one of our teens and I asked what she might sacrifice for Lent. She told me what she was doing, and it was a good sacrifice. Then she said "But I could never give up my Smartphone!" I agreed that it would be hard. Many of us have an addiction to them. But then I said, "Do you think you could do it just one day a week, like on Fridays, the day when Jesus sacrificed his whole life for you?" She thought and said "Yes, I could do it for Jesus." We don't want to do something too small but we don't want to do something too big. But I think all of us could be a lot more generous and consistent if we offer our Lenten sacrifices to Jesus.

    We are all in this together, offering our extra time in prayer hidden in our rooms, sacrificing the comfort of food, abstaining from meat on Fridays without gloominess, and giving to the poor more than just pennies and nickels. And we offer it to our Heavenly Father through Jesus. So we do it with love. We have nothing of or own really. Everything we have is a gift from God: our money, our home, our food, our ability to think and talk, our time, our very life! We are only dust and to dust we shall return. If we hold on to money too tightly, or enjoy food too much, or use our time each day only to serve our own needs, then we are forgetting about the things that matter the most, the things that will last: love of neighbor, justice for the oppressed, and mercy for the poor. These are the things that Jesus taught. These are the things we gain when we pray, fast, and give alms.

    So I encourage everyone to make your personal plan for Lent and write it down: What will you do to pray more each day, what will you to deny your body so that your spirit will be strengthen, and what will you give more, not just in alms, but in patience and attention and respect for the least among us. We don't fast to lose a few pounds, although this would be a healthy benefit, or to pray to let others think we are better Catholics, although we will become better Catholics. We don't let our right hand know what the left hand is giving away because we know we cannot out give God. Let’s ask St. Bernadette to inspire us to do all our sacrifices this Lent for God who sees in secret and will repay us for our penance and sacrifices. Amen

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    2-17-15


  • 1st Sunday of Lent - B - 2015 Open or Close

    First Sunday of Lent.

    February 22, 2015

    This past Wednesday we began Lent with ashes on our foreheads as an act of penance or repentance. We hear in the Gospel how Jesus preached about repentance, that is, turning away from sin. Jesus preached this message after he was driven by the Spirit out into the desert to fast and pray for forty days. And so we celebrate Lent for 40 days. If you were one of the 200/300 people here on Wednesday you heard me preach about what we do in Lent: The three spiritual exercises of prayer, fasting and giving alms. Today I want to focus more on why we do them: We do them in order to repent, to make a return to the Lord and renew our relationship with him. The stronger our relationship with the Lord, the better we can fight the temptations of Satan.

    In the Gospel, Satan tempted Jesus so to prevent him from doing God’s Will. So when we pray, fast, and give alms we disarm Satan who continues to tempt us. We learn to say “no” to things of the flesh (selfishness, pleasure, envy and greed) so that we can say “yes” to the things of the Spirit (self-sacrifice, forgiveness, telling the truth, being confident of God’s love). Temptation is so powerful because our love for God is so weak. And that is why repentance is needed. Going to confession is so important and a good thing to do especially during Lent. We have a Penance Service this Monday with several guest priests here to hear your confessions, an excellent way to follow the command of Jesus to “repent and believe in the Gospel.”

    Lent is all about removing those things that weaken or break our covenant relationship with God. A covenant is a permanent bond between two people that cannot be broken, unless one person sins and turns his back on the other. That is what Adam and Eve did to God. But we hear from Genesis how God restored his Covenant relationship with mankind through Noah. Eight people were saved through water in the Great Flood, Noah and his Family and he put a rainbow in the sky as a sign of this new beginning. St. Peter, our first pope, tells us in the second reading that the water of the Flood “prefigured baptism, which saves you now.” Many Christians believe baptism is only a symbol of salvation but the Bible makes it clear that actually saves us by washing away sin and making a new relationship, a new covenant, with God. This makes sense because the Old Covenant began with Noah when water destroyed sinful mankind and washed the earth of sin. Now The New Covenant with God begins with water that saves mankind by washing away the sin.

    What a great gift! But like with Noah, many ignored Jesus and did not believe him when he said “This is the time of fulfillment.” Many don’t believe him today. Many ignore his good news. Many ignore the signs of the times. And that is why we need this time of repentance, not only for us but for the whole world. Jesus wants us to always live as if “the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Lent helps us to recognize this. God promised he wouldn’t destroy the world again with water, but we see the world that is trying to destroy itself through sin: Christians being beheaded in the Middle-East; Christians being persecuted for their faith here in our own country; we see the symbol that God used to mark his covenant of love with Noah now mocked and used as a banner for a lifestyle that breaks God’s loving covenant and God’s beautiful plan for men and women. God’s plan of love takes our cooperation for it to work. What would have happened to the species of birds or any other animal if Noah took two males and not a male and female on the ark as God commanded? We’d have very few animals now. God wants to bless the human race but when we reject God’s plan in nature it leads to the end of life.

    Our world no longer respects God’s covenant plan for marriage. The relationship between man and woman is no longer seen as a permanent bond that leads to family life. Love is reduced to pleasure. We see the evidence of this in the entertainment that we watch. The most popular movie in America right now is a sex movie that mock’s pure love and puts out the message that everything is grey, there is no right or wrong. The main character’s name in this movie is Christian, as a way of mocking Christ. These few examples should open our ears even more to the words of Christ: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” Let us not be like those people who did not listen to Noah and were drowned in the Flood.  In our world many people are drowning is false loves that in the end leaves them sad and unfulfilled.

    The Good News is that God loves us, and he wants us to have a permanent bond of love with him that not even death can break. But we have to learn to love him in return. So we pray, fast, and give alms, and not just for our own personal sins, but to repent for those of the whole world. It is a time to follow Jesus who loves us so much that he died for our sins and rose from the dead to show us the power of true love. Lent gives us an opportunity to show God that we love him more than anything, a time to die to our sins, so that we may rise with Christ on Easter. Amen.

  • 2nd Sunday of Lent - B - 2015 Open or Close

    2nd Sunday of Lent 2015

    Transfiguration Isaac is a type of Jesus

    I hope everyone enjoyed the snow this passed week that transfigured Cedartown into brilliant white, and it was really beautiful, a sort of lift in our spirits. In today’s Gospel the disciples see Jesus Transfigured and his clothes became dazzling white giving them a glimmer of Jesus’ Divinity which lifted their spirits. It occurred 40 days before his Passion and death as a sneak peak of the Resurrection. Lent is all about a journey toward Easter when we celebrate Christ’s rising from the dead. Jesus came to die for us. One of the most famous and frequently quoted passages from the Bible is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus is the Son of God, and gave up his life to save us from eternal death.

    But how do we know for sure that Jesus is the Son of God? Well, because God told us. We hear at the Transfiguration of Jesus a voice was heard from the cloud saying: “This is my beloved Son.” The voice is God the Father. We can imagine God is like any proud dad at a sports event who can’t help to point out his son on the field and say “Hey, that’s my boy!” God the Father loves nobody more than his Son. Yet, for love of us The Father allowed his Son to be sacrificed for our sins. And that is why he wants us to know his Son, Jesus. Not just because he’s a proud Dad but because he wants us to believe that Jesus is the one to save us with his death and resurrection.  If that doesn’t stir your heart to faith and bring tears to your eyes then there is something very wrong with your soul. God really does love the world that much, he really loves each one of you that much that he sacrificed his own son to pay for our sins.

    Can you imagine how hard it was for the Father to see his only Son suffer as he offered him in sacrifice? In the first reading Abraham was asked by God to offer up his only son, Isaac, as a sacrifice. Abraham loved his son more than anything. Isaac, if you remember, was the result of a miraculous birth because Abraham’s wife was advanced in years and unable to have children. So now to sacrifice him would be devastating because there would be no future for him! But God asked this to test Abraham’s faith, to see if Abraham loved God more than anything. And so Abraham laid his son on the altar and took the knife and was about to offer up his life when God stopped him. Abraham passed the test. And Isaac willingly cooperated and did not resist his father’s will. And as a result God blessed Abraham through Isaac with descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore.

    We see in this dramatic event between Abraham and his only son Isaac a foreshadowing of God the Father and his only Son, Jesus. We know the birth of Jesus also was miraculous. God the Father laid his son Jesus down on the altar of the Cross and offer him as a holocaust. And Jesus willingly cooperated with his Father’s plan. Except this time, the angel did not hold back the hand of death but allowed it. So John 3:16 is very true. God truly gave us his Son. The only thing more difficult than sacrificing your own life is sacrificing the life of the one you love more than anything. But that is exactly what God has done for us. Do we realize this?

    This is perfect sacrifice of Jesus should inspire our sacrifices of prayer, fasting, and alms giving during Lent. We shouldn’t be afraid of losing anything in our sacrifices. It is a test to see if we really have faith, if we really love God. We need this test because we tend to love things more than God. A big test would be that when Lent ends, if you continue to offer sacrifice to God. For example, if you continue to give up some time on the internet to pray more. I know someone who gave up Coke once for Lent several years ago and hasn’t had one since. And you thought Abraham’s test was tough. Imagine giving up Coke! Certainly, the special sacrifices that we make during Lent can be ended when Easter comes. I know I usually put on lots of weight during Easter. But we should still be able to be free from attachment to those things and perhaps still give them up from time to time, as a test. Lent is about testing us but also about freeing us from the attachment of things so that we can spend more time attaching ourselves to love of God in prayer, reading the Bible, serving the poor. It is about breaking old habits and addictions and forming new virtues of love and service. Again we will not lose anything when we offer it to God but gain so much more.

    The main thing we want to sacrifice is the sin in our lives so that we gain a new heart. Some of you got to do that this past Monday at our Penance Service. If you haven’t gone to confession yet, you still have over a month before Easter so there is still time. Confession is wonderful sacrifice to offer to God. We die to our old way of life. We sacrifice our pride and anger, our envy and greed, our lust and laziness, our gluttony and other sins that keep us from loving God with all our heart. It is hard to let go of these sins because we are so in love with them. It may even feel like we are sacrificing part of us.

    It feels like we are dying. But when we are truly sorry and confess with a contrite heart we are truly forgiven and experience the power of the Resurrection. And so yes we gain much more than we lose: God’s Amazing Grace. St. Paul says “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?”

    It is true. God has given us everything we need in his Son, Jesus. And Jesus gives us the Resurrection from the Dead. It doesn’t mean it is easy to follow God’s command and sacrifice certain things in our life. It would have been easier for Abraham to say no to God and do his own will. But he would have missed out on the fulfillment of the promise. So he believed in God more than his own self. He loved God more than his own self. He loved God more than his own son. He trusted God that even if the only hope for his future generation died, that God still would keep his promise, he would provide, even if it meant raising his son from the dead. That is the type of trust we have to have in God. We should never compromise our faith even if it seems that it puts us at a disadvantage for our future or seems impossible to follow. So many say, “It is too hard to be Christian all the time.” And so they give up on the promise God offers them.

    So when we face temptations to compromise or quit our faith, we can look to Abraham for an example. We can look to Jesus who was faithful to his Father and through his faithfulness gained countless decedents more numerous than the stars and has gained for us a share in his Easter Resurrection. So as we continue this sacrificial season of Lent, let us continue to focus on the promise of Divine Life in Heaven where we will all glimmer with a light that is brighter than snow and not only hear God’s voice speak to us but see him face to face as we join those who were with Jesus on the mountain: Moses and Elijah, James, John and Peter and say with them “Lord, it is good that we are here.” Amen.

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    2-26-15


  • 3th Sunday of Lent - B - 2015 Open or Close

    Third Sunday of Lent.

  • 4th Sunday of Lent - B - 2015 Open or Close

    Fourth Sunday of Lent.

  • 5th Sunday of Lent - B - 2015 Open or Close

    5th Sunday of Lent 2015

    Whoever hates his life in this world gains eternal life

    We are approaching the Holiest time of the Year. Next Sunday is Passion Sunday, also known as Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week which in ends in the death of Jesus. And so we hear today in the Gospel, Jesus indicating the kind of death he would die: “When I am lifted up, I will draw everyone to myself.” Of course, he is talking about the Cross. The Cross brings salvation to the whole world. But this means Jesus has to suffer. He has to die, and in his humanity he is stressed out about it. Jesus is God but we know that he is fully man. So we see at this moment he is struggling with obedience because it means losing his life. But in his struggle he gives a model to follow in our struggles, doubts, and temptations. Jesus says: “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.” This doesn’t mean we hater ourselves or hurt ourselves. Our bodies are sacred. But it means we don’t just live for the pleasure of the flesh like the teach on T.V. and in the movies. As Christians we know that we are not just body but we are soul and that it is meant to live forever. And so we have to lose our old life. We have stop living like this is the only life but live for Heaven. Yes, it is hard to not live life like you are your own God. It is hard to give back to God your time, to pray, to fast, to give alms to the poor. It is hard to keep holy the Lord’s day and avoid work and go to Mass every Sunday. It is hard to follow God’s laws on marriage and be faithful. It is easier to indulge yourself and just live for the pleasures of life. Yes, we should try to live healthy and long lives here on earth but knowing that we have to die to sin if we are to gain eternal life. So Jesus is a model of obedience for us. Are you being obedient to God?

    When he faces his on end and the natural stress of it, what does Jesus immediately do? Does he read the horoscopes or consult a medium to get good luck? Does he complain that it is unfair or take some sort of drug or alcohol to hide his suffering? No! Jesus turns to his Father in prayer. The intimate presence of the Father gives the Son courage to enter into his sacrifice, to be obedient, not just out of duty, but out of Love. And so that is what we should do also when faced with difficulties - weather it is problems at work, tension in the home, temptations to sin, fear of certain people, or simply facing the challenges of being a Christian. So we, too, must pray. In prayer, we are strengthened by God to have courage despite the sacrifice and to be obedient despite the suffering. God the Father loves us.  If you were one of those in the Gospel today that heard the voice come down from Heaven, would you believe or reject in unbelief? God is speaking to you right now. He is your Father. Let him encourage you today, and let us obey him out of love.

    We need God’s love. Just like children need the love of their father here on earth. The love of a father for his sons and daughters is so important. We just celebrated the Feast of St. Joseph this past Thursday. Joseph is a model spouse in that he always knew that his wife, Mary, was right. He is also a model father. He loved his son and encouraged him, even though, he did not always understand him because his Son thought he was God. Of course, Jesus really is God, but the point is that, fathers, you are not always going to understand your children. They often may not appreciate you or respect you and think that they are God and can do anything they want. But, fathers, be patient with your children. Be present in their lives. Talk to them. Show interest in their activities. Play with them. Pray with them. And above all, love them. Using St. Joseph as a model of fathers, Pope Francis, who celebrated his second year as pope this past week on the feast day of St. Joseph, said that fathers should “waist time with their children…..” If all your kids do is play video games, then play games with. Come down to their level as Christ came down to our level to show us true concern and attention. But take them outside in nature. Take them to the park. Go to their sporting events. Support your children in this life that is so hard. There are so many challenges at their schools, so much pressure to be cool, to be popular, to have a boyfriend or girlfriend, to have material things. You may not feel you can do anything, but what they need the most is your time. It may not seem like your attention is doing any good and so it is easy just to ignore them. It may seem like you are just wasting time. But it will make a difference when they are faced with stressful moments, when they are tempted to follow the ruler of this world. Let them hear your voice of love and encouragement like God the Father did with his Son today in the Gospel. Don’t oppress them and be over-protective, but also don’t neglect them. It will not be so much that fear that saves them but love. So ask God to create in you a clean heart this Lent so that you may know the joy of salvation and share that joy with your children.

    And children, be obedient to your parents just like Jesus was obedient to his Father, even though it was hard. You want the freedom to do what you want to do, to do what makes you happy, but first you have to learn obedience. Why? Because Satan, the ruler of this world, is there to lead you down the wrong path with false freedom and short-term happiness. Yes it feels hard to not have all the fun that your friends are having: “There parents let them do everything.” But Jesus had to be obedient. We hear in the Second Reading from Hebrews: “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” So grow in obedience and know that ultimately you are being obedient to God. Don’t just settle for the happiness of the world, of parties, of drugs, money, pleasure or popularity. These make you happy for only a short while. Jesus wants much more for you. So when facing challenges of living your faith, of going to Mass on Sundays, of being obedient to the precept of going to Confession at least once a year, or struggling to obey the commandment of forgiveness especially if someone has hurt you, know that he is with you and that he is the source of eternal happiness if you obey him.

    Let us use these last days of Lent to pray more so that we hear God’s loving voice; to fast more to overcome our hunger for sin, and to give alms generously to the poor so that we may die to love of money and learn to love as God loves us. Let us not just live for this life but for Heaven. Lent helps us to learn how to hate the things that we hold on to too tightly, even to hate our own life (our sinful life: pride, anger, selfishness), but at the same time remembering what Jesus said: “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.” Amen.


  • Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord - B - 2015 Open or Close

    Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

    March 29, 2015

    We begin the holiest time of the year today and relive the Passion of Jesus. We began in a joyful way first welcoming Jesus with palms but we soon found ourselves part of a drama where we became involved with the crowd that condemned him to death. What caused such a dramatic shift? Why did we change so quickly form welcoming to condemning Jesus? It is because what we hear Jesus say in today’s Gospel: “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” So the Lord exposes our sin so that we can’t repent and be saved. But we do not like to be exposed, like Adam and Eve who hid from God. If we remove God from the picture we can just continue to live our lives without change. But because he loves us and wants us to be authentic Jesus tells us that we have false gods, that we are greedy, that we are envious, full of pride and are hypocritical, and that is why we hide from and reject him. It was true in biblical times and it is true in our day. Sometimes we welcome the word of the Lord but because we are weak in faith, we reject it when it makes us feel uncomfortable. We would rather do what is popular, what is easy, and so like the disciples in the Gospel we join the crowd in rejecting Jesus. So in the end it was we who crucified Jesus. It was our sins that put him to death.

    But Jesus came to die for our sins so that we may be saved. And once we look upon him on the Cross our faith is restored and we move unbelief to belief and say with the centurion guard: “Clearly this man was the Son of God!” So let us allow these holy days to restore our faith. If you haven’t gone to Confession, take the opportunity in the Holy Week to become holy through the mercy of Jesus in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Come to all the services if possible. Holy Tuesday I’ll join the bishop and all the priest of archdiocese at the Cathedral of Christ the King for the chrism mass where we will renew our priestly vows and the bishop will bless the holy oils used throughout the year. This Holy Thursday evening we’ll start the Paschal Triduum, the three holiest days of the year, and we’ll celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper when Jesus instituted the priesthood and gave us the greatest gift ever: His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. On Good Friday we’ll fast and abstain from meat and at 3:00, the hour of Christ’s death, we’ll pray the Seven Last words of Jesus and then begin our Divine Mercy Novena at the church. At 6:00 we’ll start at the church with the live Stations of the Cross and go to the prayer hall to celebrate the Veneration of the Holy Cross. Holy Saturday we’ll continue to pray and if possible we’ll continue to fast and abstain from meat until we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus on the Easter Vigil and welcome new members into the Church. If is a very full week that is meant to fill us with the saving grace that Jesus won for us in his Passion and death so that we may share fully in his Resurrection.


  • Holy Thursday of the Lord's Supper - B - 2015 Open or Close

    Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper

    April 2, 2015

    Today we celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and remember the two great gifts that Jesus gave us: The Holy Priesthood and the Holy Eucharist. Jesus chose his 12 apostles as his first priests. So the priesthood and the Eucharist go together. You cannot have one without the other. Priests are ordained to do what Christ did in a specific way: First he taught them how to humbly wash each other’s feet, to support and sever one another. He also gave them the power to offer the Eucharist to Church. What is the Eucharist? St. Paul clarifies what it is by repeating the words of Jesus: the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” St. Paul goes on to say “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.” Jesus gave us his Body and Blood when the disciples celebrated the Passover of the LORD, a time when they recalled their salvation from slavery in Egypt. We heard this described by Moses in the first reading: Every home that put the blood of the lamb on the wood the doorposts would have the Angel of Death pass over them and not strike them down in death. In addition, every house was to “partake of the lamb....eat its roasted flesh with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.” Jesus fulfills this for us. He is the sacrificial lamb whose blood on the wood of the Cross causes the Angel of Eternal Death to pass over us. He gave us the Mass to proclaim his death which gives us life. But like the Israelites, we too, must eat the flesh of the sacrificial Lamb. We must eat his body and drink his Blood in order to be saved. The word “Eucharist” come from the Greek word for “Thanks.” At the Last Supper Jesus took bread and “gave thanks.” So we thank God for the Eucharist and the priesthood that gives us the Eucharist. In the Eucharist we have the Body and Blood of Jesus. That is what we celebrate tonight. Jesus has invited us to share in this saving meal. And we are invited to follow him now the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world back into a world that rejects him. And so we too will be rejected. He is leading us to share with him his passion and his death. That is why we need to be strengthened by something beyond our own flesh and blood. We need his Body and Blood in us. And when we do this we proclaim his death that gives us life and the promise of a share in his resurrection from the dead. In the Gospel Jesus says: “Do you realize what I have done for you?” He says this after washing their feet. It is a lesson from the Lord that humility is needed to be a priest. A priest needs to be humble like Christ to serve others and teach them to wash one another’s feet. This Holy Thursday let us realize what Jesus has done for us and thank him for the priesthood and for His Body and Blood. Amen.

  • The Easter Vigil - B - 2015 Open or Close

    The Easter Vigil.

  • Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord - B - 2015 Open or Close

    Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord.

  • 2nd Sunday of Easter "Divine Mercy" - B - 2015 Open or Close

    2nd Sunday of Easter 2015

    Divine Mercy Sunday

    On this Second Sunday of Easter known as Divine Mercy Sunday we are invited to contemplate the great mercy of Jesus who came to the world to forgive us our sins. Jesus preached repentance of sin. He told us to follow the Good News of love of God and neighbor. And because he loved us so much he died to pay for our sins and win for us the grace of salvation. But death could not destroy him and so he rose from the dead and now offers us this amazing grace. In today’s Gospel the Risen Lord appears to the disciples and shows him the wounds in hands and feet and the wound in his side. Can you imagine how they felt; how joy filled their hearts? But in the end it wasn’t just that Jesus was the Son of God who conquered death that filled them with joy. It was that he forgave their sins. This is the greatest act of love, ever.

    Jesus came to earth on a Mission of Mercy to forgive us our sins and to turn us back to God.   Therefore, all the works of Jesus can be summed up in one word: Mercy. Certainly, God is love and Jesus did it all out of love. But Mercy is love taken to the extreme. God did not have to do anything when we lived in sin, yet instead of abandoning us, he gave us everything, he gave us his own Son. Jesus is the Divine Mercy of God who is here to forgive us. But how easily we forget this message. And so we have to be reminded.

    In the 1930’s a Polish nun, Sr. Faustina Kowalska begin to experience appearances of Jesus who wanted her to remind the world of his Merciful Love. He wanted her to have an image painted of his Divine Mercy with the words “Jesus I trust in You.” And so she had an artist paint what she described in her visions. It is an image of the Lord as he appeared to the apostles in today’s Gospel. He told her that he wanted the second Sunday of Easter to be Divine Mercy Sunday. She wrote her experience down in a Diary called Divine Mercy in My Soul. After her death in 1938 the Diary was suppressed and the message almost lost until 1978 when providentially a polish cardinal became Pope John Paul II. He was very familiar with Faustina because he was from her town in Poland and knew of her writings. In the jubilee year of 2000 he proclaimed her a saint and made the second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday.

    The message from St. Faustina’s Diary is nothing new but serves as a reminder and brings greater emphasis to God’s Divine Mercy for us. Jesus wishes that Christians remember the hour of his death, 3 o’clock, as the Hour of Mercy, and if possible to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet asking for whatever need they have. (The chaplet is a prayer Jesus gave St. Faustina that we’ll pray at the end of Mass today.) Jesus wants us to immerse ourselves in his Divine Mercy that flows from his wounded heart as to streams of light: The Red is the grace of the Eucharist. The White is the grace of forgiveness of sins that comes from Baptism and Confession.

    For us to receive his mercy we have to acknowledge our sinfulness. We have to admit that we are sinners who need God’s forgiveness. We have to believe there is no sin too big or too small that he won’t forgive if we are truly sorry. And then we need those sins washed away, first by baptism and then by the Sacrament of Confession. Everyone believes in Baptism but many don’t believe in Confession, in the power of a priest to forgive sins. But this power is what Jesus gave the first priest in when he appeared to them in the Upper Room: In the Gospel Jesus breathed on the disciples and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Now priests have the power to forgive sins because Jesus gave it to them and so Jesus wants us to receive his mercy by going to Confession. Just like in the image of Divine Mercy there are two streams of light which represent the two sources of grace for the forgiveness of sins, there should be two lines of people in the Church: One for people to receive the grace of the Body and Blood of Jesus and the other to receive his merciful forgiveness in Reconciliation. Our world needs the mercy of Jesus. We need the mercy of Jesus. We need to trust Jesus and the way he wants us to receive his Mercy: Through the sacrament of Holy Communion and through the sacraments of Baptism and Confession.

    It isn’t a very complex plan. Even children can understand it because it is as simple as A, B, C. A: Ask for his mercy. B: Be merciful to others. C: Completely trust in Jesus. Simple yet so powerful. Pope Francis just recently announced that the Church will celebrate a Jubilee Year of Mercy starting on December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This is something very extraordinary. And it is all to help us receive God’s mercy. All we have to do is believe. There was one man in today’s Gospel who said “I will not believe.” We all know him: Doubting Thomas. But Jesus doesn’t reject him but appears again to him and tells Thomas to look at his wounds and touch them with his hands “and do not be unbelieving but believe.” Jesus repeats these words to us today. Do we have believing or unbelieving hearts? Do we believe that when we go to confession and go to Holy Communion we actually touch his wounds that are no longer the source of death but the source of life because from them flow his saving grace, his Divine Mercy?

    St. John Paul II said in his letter “Dives in Misericordia” (“Rich in Mercy”): “God is more interested in our future than our past. He wants each one of us to become the ‘best version’ of our self (which) requires conversion.” This is what happened when the Apostle Thomas encountered to the Mercy of Jesus: He had a conversion of heart and now he is St. Thomas. Today let us trust in the power of the Water and Blood that flows from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of mercy for us so that we too can convert and become saints.


  • 3rd Sunday of Easter - B - 2015 Open or Close

    3rd Sunday of Easter 2015

    Peace be with you

    As we continue to celebrate 50 days of Easter we hear once again the account of Jesus appearing to the disciples after he rose from the dead. How did they act when they saw him? Were they happy to see him? No. They were afraid of him. They thought he was a ghost. That is a symbol of the type of faith we have. We say we are Christian. We say we believe in Jesus but when we are faced with certain things of our faith, certain challenges that test if we really believe in the Resurrection from the dead, we quickly become afraid. What things are you afraid of in Christian walk?

    We can’t just say we believe unless we have experienced the power of Jesus’ Resurrection and have a conversion of heart. Otherwise, we remain afraid of Jesus and his ways. The main way we overcome our fears is to embrace them. If I am afraid of heights I need force myself to go higher. If I am afraid to admit my sins I need to go to Confession. It is the main way we repent. Peter said in the first reading: “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.” St. John says in the second reading, “Those who say, “I know him,” but do not keep his commandments are liars, and the truth is not in them.” We can’t keep living some of the commandments some of the time and sometime not: going to Mass some Sunday’s and skipping the others, praying some days and not others, being chaste sometimes and other times being impure. This is living a double life – it is like being half alive and half dead. Jesus wants us to be fully alive in our faith in him.

    It is true that even after we have a conversion of heart, we will continue to struggle with sin over and over again. That is why St. John also says: “If anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins.” Therefore, it is a great gift to receive Christ’s forgiveness and peace over and over again. And the main way we do this is in confession. Confession helps us continue to grow in conversion so that we eventually are not afraid of Christ or afraid of living our Christian faith at school, at work, when we are in the privacy of our homes or in public around other people. This is Christ’s plan for us: His plan to make us holy.

    Many of our children are preparing for their First Holy Communion. But first they must prepare for their First Holy Confession. Parents, it your job to encourage your children to not be afraid of Jesus like the apostles were in the Upper Room, but tell that going to Confession is a great gift. Teach your children how to go to Confession by going often yourself. They should see that the Confession line is just as long as the communion line. So help prepare them: Teach them how to pray their Act of Contrition, and why they do penance. Help them to look forward to it because it is when they will hear Jesus say to them “Peace be with you.” Jesus came to give us his peace but we have to allow him to forgive us ours sins first. Then we can have his peace and share it with others.

    We do this at Mass when we share The Sign of Peace. It is so important! It isn’t a time to say “hello”, “How are you doing” “Good to see you.” These sayings are good and nice and we should use them in our everyday lives. But in the context of Mass when we say “Peace be with you” we are not sharing a simple handshake with one another but the very same Peace that Christ gave his Apostles in the Upper Room. So we should do it with respect and reverence. It is not a time to kiss your sweat heart, to take a break and talk and catch up on the news with your neighbor. If anything it is a time of even greater solemnity because it is an act of sharing Christ’s Peace: His love, his courage, and his forgiveness with your neighbor. And tt is not necessary to go around the whole place or wave at someone on the other side of the sanctuary. In fact the Church teaches that we should just reverently and lovingly share a solemn sign of peace to those around us and then focus our attention back on the altar because what comes right after the sign of peace during the Mass? The breaking of the Bread!

    This is a very important part of the Mass that we risk missing if we are distracted. In the breaking of the Bread, Christ is truly present with us! We heard in the first line of the today’s Gospel when the two disciples returned from the Road to Emmaus, they described “how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.” That is why during the Breaking of the Bread we all begin to sing together: “Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world have mercy on us.” After we repeat it, we end by saying “Grant us peace! So we want to be ready because in the Mass the same Risen Jesus who appeared to the disciples is with us and he comes to forgive us our sins and grant us peace. This is Christ’s peace plan for us. Let us not be afraid to receive it and share it with others. Amen.

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    4-18-15


  • 4th Sunday of Easter - B - 2015 Open or Close

    4th Sunday of Easter 2015

    The Good Shepherd Vocation Sunday Marriage

    Today Jesus tells us to listen to him like sheep hearing the voice of their shepherd. Jesus is the “good shepherd” who calls us each by name to follow him. He even laid down his life for us in order to protect us from the devil and save us from entering into the fires of Hell. All we have to do is learn to hear his voice and trust in him as we prayed on Divine Mercy Sunday: “Jesus I Trust in You.” Jesus calls all of us to follow him and in a special way he calls some to be priests, religious brothers, and religious sisters. Since we are in the Year of Consecrated Life proclaimed by Pope Francis, we should help our youth to be open to the calling of the Good Shepherd to follow him in the consecrated life. And today the Church celebrates World Day of Prayer for Vocations. We pray for an increase in vocations to the Priesthood and Consecrated Life. Please read the letter in the bulletin from Pope Francis on promoting Vocations and don’t be afraid to answer the call!

    These are special callings and I invite all of you to pray each day this week with your family for an increase in those who become priests, nuns, monks, religious, and other forms of the Consecrated Life. But I want to speak today about another vocation, without which we would have no other vocations, either Christian or secular. It is the vocation of marriage. I want to preach about this today because of the growing confusion about what marriage is. Last week I spent some time with one of catechesis classes and the kids were studying the sacraments and they asked about the sacrament of marriage and who can marry.   So when our youth have confusion we have to help them have clarity. This week the Supreme Court will begin hearing cases on same sex marriage that may lead them to change the marriage laws of our country, much like when the court redefined the laws that protected the life of a baby in the womb and said that abortion is legal. It was a terrible mistake and our country and world has not been the same since.

    It is important to realize that Marriage is true no matter if we change our laws because it is something natural that has been part of the human race since the beginning, like green is to grass or feathers on birds. By design, the biology of a man complements the biology of a woman and they form a relationship that keeps the human race alive. Our human laws recognize this natural law and so protect this reality, much like our human laws that protect wildlife and other natural things. We know that the natural law flows from the Divine Law. Jesus, who with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, created the world and therefore created marriage between one man and one woman, and now has elevated marriage to the level of a sacrament so that the couple can receive supernatural grace to make two into one flesh. The grace builds on our nature.

    But now there is a wolf that is approaching to destroy marriage by changing its definition to something other than between one man and one woman. Because of this evil threat we need to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd who speaks clearly through His Word in the Bible, the teaching of his Church, the Catholic Church, and through the leader of Church, the Pope. Marriage is created by God for uniting one man and one woman whose love produces more humans. All of us came into existence from the love shared between one man and one woman, our parents. It is a simple and beautiful plan that even children understand.

    Now we don’t condemn those who suffer from same sex attraction even though we know that that attraction is wrong because it cannot produce life. Sex is created by God for the unity of man and woman and the creation of life. No other combination works no matter what feelings are involved. Sometimes human feelings are very strong but very wrong. A student can feel strongly that he gave the right answers on a test but later finds out that he failed the test because he gave the wrong answers. The truth and not our feelings are the basis of laws. Our feelings, no matter how strong, cannot change what is true. 2 + 2 cannot equal 5. A cat and a dog may like each other a whole lot but they aren’t going to produce anymore animal life together. So we have to respect nature even if our feelings want to go against it. If a man and man who have strong feelings for one another are allowed to marry, why not three men, or 15 men, or a brother and a sister, or a sister and a sister? Of course we would say no to these because they go against nature.

    So what do we do with people with same sex attractions? Well, what do we do with people who are attracted to eating too much or smoking too much, or pornography? What do we do with anyone who has a disordered attraction? We love and befriend them and if possible help them to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and experience his pure love and receive his grace that has helped us control our own disorder attractions, no matter what they are. It is not necessarily sinful to have disordered attractions. It is part of our fallen human condition. We are all inclined to sin in one form or another. But it is wrong to act on this inclination. And that’s the whole reason Jesus came to our world, to restore order, to give us back our dignity that the devil stole from us so that we are no longer slaves to our feelings and disordered attractions but live in truth.

    It is always harder to follow the truth but we cannot reject God and his design just because it is hard to follow, or now that it is the popular thing to do. To do so would be to reject the foundation of the human race. When the Jews in the Bible rejected Jesus they rejected the cornerstone of their religion. In their pride they felt very strongly that they were doing the right thing, but their feelings were wrong, and the Jewish religion all but collapsed. Our society today faces a similar situation: Marriage between one man and one woman is the foundation stone of civilization. It is what brings new life into the world to keep the human race going. And it provides the most stable environment for children. But now, for the first time in the history of the human race, marriage between man and woman is being rejected by the modern-day builders of society. And so therefore, our civilization will eventually collapse, not overnight but over time, unless we turn the tide.

    So we have our work cut out for us. We have to have courage and do what is right and trust in the Lord as we prayed in the Psalm today: “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.” Parents, godparents, grandparents, don’t let public schools or television or the internet, the Supreme Court or even the President of the United States tell your children something different than what the voice of the Good Shepherd is saying. Jesus reminds us that we are God’s children and are loved and blessed by our Heavenly Father. Marriage should remain a blessing from God and not become a curse to our world. Through marriage, all other life and all other vocations come. So let’s keep it as a sacred act of love between one man and one woman. Remember, the wolf wants to catch your children and scatter them in a world that does not know God. Jesus wants to save them. Teach them to recognize and follow the voice of the Good Shepherd. Amen.

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    4-23-15


  • 5th Sunday of Easter - B - 2015 Open or Close

    5th Sunday of Easter May 3rd 2015

    I am the Vine and you are the Branches.

    Last Sunday we heard how close Jesus is to us as the Good Shepherd in order to protect our life. Today’s Gospel from our Lord helps us to realize that Jesus is the very source of our life. Jesus rose from the dead to give us life. Jesus is in Heaven now but we are still connected with him on earth through the power of the Holy Spirit. But we also have a physical connection to Jesus. He is like a vine planted in an orchard. We are the branches of that vine. As branches we just don’t hang there and do nothing. The vine nourishes the branches in order to produce fruit that gives life to others. So Jesus is describing a true physical connection. This physical connection comes through the sacraments that we celebrate. They are visible signs of invisible grace. The sacraments fill us with grace which is like the sweetness of ripe fruit.

    What is the fruit that Jesus speaks of? It is a life of charity, of good works, of loving God and neighbor. Our works of charity feed the world around us with the sweetness of God’s love. If a person says he is a Christian but is not being a source of charity, then they need to be pruned by God’s word so that they don’t become dead branches. We know what Jesus said in the Gospel about dead branches: “People will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.” So doing works of charity is not just a nice thing to do or optional to do if we have time. It is a matter of salvation. Many Christians believe that we are saved by faith alone and that once saved always saved. But Jesus teaches something different than this belief. In the Gospel he tells his disciples (Christians) that those who do not remain connected to the vine and bear fruit are cut off and thrown in the fire, which represents Hell. We don’t like to think about that and sometimes we are embarrassed when the topic is brought up. But Jesus loves us so much that he wants to tell us the truth. We cannot just say we are Christians or say we are good people with our words. St. John says in the second reading: “Children let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.” So we have to stay connected to the Jesus not just in words but in action.

    How do we stay connected? First and foremost through a life of prayer, going to Mass every Sunday, remaining in a state of grace through sacramental confession. We have to believe that our relationship with Jesus is not just a private spiritual thing but a true physical and intimate connection that takes our cooperation. The sacrament that gives us this physical connection more than any other is Holy Communion. It is when we receive the very Body and Blood of Jesus. Several of our children are preparing to receive Jesus for the first time this month. In Holy Communion Jesus loves us not just in a spiritual way but a physical way. Ultimately, this physical communion is what Jesus wants us to do to remain connected to the Him, The Vine, so that we can be fruitful and share in his resurrection both soul and body.

    So all that Christ teaches and what the Church continues to promote is this plan that Jesus has to fill us with his grace so that we may grow and bear fruit. Some of you might have planted fruit trees in your yard and can’t wait for them to produce fruit. My dad has all kinds of fruit bearing plants: Fig tree, blue berries, apple trees. I remember when they were first planted and now they’re huge. We’ve picked so much fruit from them over the years. It is like a family that grows to the point that they have to move to a new home. The Christian family is probably the greatest symbol in the world of Christ’s words about a fruitful vine. The fruitfulness (fertility) of a couple is how God grows his vineyard, his family. Many in the world question why the Church has certain teachings, for example, against contraception or sterilization, or same sex marriage. The simple answer is these go against God’s design for fruitfulness.

    Of course, it takes sacrifice to be fruitful and multiply, but we cannot be afraid. Think what would happen if a priest would say: “I’m not going to baptize anymore children.” That would mean our parish would stop bearing the fruit of more children of God and would stop growing. If we stop growing we risk becoming a withered branch. We must remain attached to the vine and we do that by bearing fruit. Fruitfulness brings life, it gives us a future and ultimately gives glory to God. Jesus said: “By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit.” This isn’t always going to make us wealthier in money or popularity or make life easy. But if we are faithful we will be given not just all that we need but all that we want. Jesus said “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.” If we are truly are disciples we will want to grow in holiness and bear much fruit. Certainly our parish has been fruitful and has been growing, and now it is time to ask God for what we want for our growing parish family. And it will be done for us as long as we remain in Jesus and his words remain in us. This is not my promise but it is a promise from our Lord who in the end is most concerned about our salvation.

    In the end what saves us is our faith that leads us to sacrifice our own desires to do works of charity and to produce much fruit, like Jesus who out of love sacrificed his life for others. Someone can ask: “Well, are we saved by faith or by works?” The answer is neither one nor the other but both! We have to have faith in Jesus that he is the source of grace just like a vine is the source of nourishment to the branches. But then the branches have to bear fruit in order to be of worth, in order to avoid being cut off. My dad’s apple trees every once in a while has to have some limbs cut off because they are dead. We don’t want to be like those dead limbs. We want to stay vibrant and alive and be a source of life and love for others.

    But we do need help in order to remain in Jesus. In this month of May, we turned to Mary in a special way. She helps us stay connected to the Vine of Jesus because nobody was more connected to Him than she, and no one was more fruitful. Remember Elizabeth’s words to Mary at the Visitation: “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” These are the same words that we say when we pray the Rosary. Because Mary was obedient to God and stayed connected to his Will she bore the greatest fruit that anyone could give: She bore the Son of God. I invite all of you in this Month of Mary to pray the Rosary and mediate on the fruit of her womb, so that each of us, our families, and our parish may remain united to Divine Vine of Jesus and bear much fruit. Amen.

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    4-30-15


  • 6th Sunday of Easter - B - 2015 Open or Close

    6th Sunday of Easter 2015

    “Let us love one another”

    My brothers and sisters, we hear the words in the Gospel today: “It was not you who chose me but I who chose you.” All of us are here today because God has chosen us to be here. Why? The simple answer is because he loves us. God is love! And he loves each and every one of us in a very personal and intimate way. You can think of a man and a woman who have been married for years and they know each other well, their different personalities, their favorite food, or music. They know their right nostril is smaller than their left, they know their fears, and many other things about one another, including the many irritating things. But despite all these, they love one another. Therefore, love is a choice, and we are so grateful that God has chosen to love us. He now wants us to choose to love one another. And that is not always easy to do. In fact it is very hard.

    We can easily say in romantic love: “I love you,” I love your eyes” or “I love the sound of your voice” or “I love this or that physical feature about you.” And these are beautiful things. But true love goes beyond physical features or good feelings. It is something spiritual that is able to see the heart. And therefore, true love comes from God. God loves everyone: Christians and non-Christians, Jews, Muslims, black, white, North Americans, Latin Americans. He loves the rich and poor. He loves those at your work or school that no one else loves or befriends. He loves those who suffer from addiction, divorce, or neglect. He loves those who may feel no one else loves them. He loves those who struggle from same-sex attraction, pornography or those who have been hurt or abused by false love. Our world promotes a lot of false love these days. It is very popular now to promote unnatural attractions as good and it is done under the guise of “love.” But in reality it is hateful because it hurts those who follow it. Perhaps the only thing more evil is those who make fun of people who struggle with disordered attractions.

    All of us have imperfect love and so we need God’s love if we are to love one another. God loves us all with a warm and pure love that has the power to heal us and give us joy. His love is perfect. But often we are too afraid to receive it because we think it’s too good to be true. So we settle for lesser love and even impure love which is false love. But when we do receive his perfect love and try to share it with others, it perfects us and purifies us. Do you believe that God loves you? God loves us so much that he gives us the greatest gift ever, his own Son. Therefore his love is something very real and personal.

    In Jesus, we see the image of perfect love. He teaches us what true love is and is not. He tells us that something can look like love or even feel like love, but if it goes against the commands of God then it is not true love. It is like fools gold. That is why Jesus said, “Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love.” Therefore, we know something is false love when it tempts us to break the commandments of love Jesus gave us, for example, if it goes against the order of nature (same sex relationships), or if it is unable to bear the fruit of life (contraception) or does not grow and improve the human race (abortion). To follow these we have to break the commands of God. True love always helps us to follow the commands of God and helps grow us closer to him as we grow closer in love with others. Are there things in your life that go against true love?

    Again, only Jesus can give us true love. Our world says the greatest love is pleasure and the greatest pleasure is sexual love, and so you should be free to share it with anyone. But Jesus says that the greatest love is friendship. He says: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Therefore, true love requires sacrifice. Jesus goes on and says: “I have called you friends.” Jesus wants to be our friend more than he wants to be our God. A friend truly wants what is best for the other person. And that is why Jesus is our best friend. He loved us so much that he sacrificed his life for us. Are you are true friend of Jesus? Are you being a true friend to others? A couple needs to learn true friendship before they can know true love. You know a true sign that a guy’s love for a girl is authentic is that he will wait until marriage to have relations with her because that is sacrificial love. He wants what is best for her because they have a true friendship. So we are talking about true love. A love that is from God. This is the love that saves us and fills us with joy – not a partial joy, but a complete joy that comes from the Holy Spirit.

    Probably the greatest symbol of God’s love for his children is a mother’s love for her child: It is a tender, nourishing love. Above all it is sacrificial. What mother would not give her own life for her child, whether that child is still in the womb, or is only one year old, or is 30 years old. I read in the news about a pregnant mom who developed cancer and refused the chemotherapy in order to preserve the life her child. The baby was born healthy but the mom died soon after. That’s true love – sacrificial love. A mother’s love not only gives life but encourages children to make good choices with their life. She doesn’t enable them in bad life-style choices. Therefore, sometimes her love has to be strict and remind her children what is right and wrong. She sometimes has to command her children to love one another, much like Christ says in the Gospel: “This I command you: love one another.” This is because love isn’t always easy. So we thank all mothers who have taught us true love: To love God and to love one another as true friends, even when it is hard to do.

    In this month of May, we look to Mother Mary as a model of love. A true mother always gives love. Mary our Mother gives us the greatest love. She gives us Jesus. After mass we will give Mary a crown and ask her to help us to always remain in the love of her Son, Jesus, who is our best friend. Amen.

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    5-8-15

  • 7th Sunday of Easter - The Ascension of the Lord - B - 2015 Open or Close

    7th Sunday of Easter 2015

    The Ascension of the Lord (First Holy Communion)

    Today we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus back to Heaven. He lived for 33 years among us in order to show us the way home. And when he finished his mission here on Earth, he returned home to his Father. Jesus is The Way. Early Christians would refer to themselves as those who follow The Way. You remember the fairy tale about the brother and sister who used bread crumbs to find their way back home. And so as we celebrate this great event, it is good for us to remember and to meditate upon the life of Jesus on earth, a life lived completely for us so that he can show us the way home. He came to us in littleness, was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He hid his divinity and was born into poverty in a stable in Bethlehem on Christmas, and because of jealousy was almost killed by an evil king. He grew up in simplicity, learning carpentry from his foster-father, Joseph, and lived a regular life like any man. Then he was baptized by John and began his public ministry of calling people to follow the way of love and forgiveness. He healed people, cast out demons. He even raised people from the dead.

    Many people followed him with great devotion. Many rejected him with great hatred. The religious leaders of his own people were jealous of him and so lied to make him a criminal, and ultimately the Roman authorities crucified him and killed him. And Jesus allowed it in order to take on the sins of the world. He died to save us from the punishment of being eternally separated from God. But then he rose from the dead on Easter and for 40 days appeared to his disciples. He told them what to do to spread the Good News of God’s love and forgiveness of sins. He said: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” And then, before their eyes, he “was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God.”

    Jesus is in Heaven now, but he promised that he would be with us always, until the end of the world, to show us the way back home. How does Jesus fulfill this promise? First, through the power of the Holy Spirit. At Baptism the Holy Spirit comes into our souls and we become children of God. Then at Confirmation we receive a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit like at the time of Pentecost which we’ll celebrate next Sunday. The Holy Spirit in our souls inspires us and keeps us united with Jesus, like the love that keeps two people united even though they are far apart. But we cannot be inspired by the Holy Spirit unless we pray. So prayer is the second way that Jesus remains with us. When we pray with our hearts we are in the presence of God and Jesus is with us. His Spirit helps us and strengthens us and then we can ask for anything we want.

    A third way Jesus fulfills his promise to be with us always is through Holy Communion. Through a miracle of God, Jesus changes bread into his Body and wine into his Blood. Why? So that we can receive him and be with him and he can be with us. He loves us that much. He uses Divine Bread to lead us home. It is a very special privilege that we have. That is why we have to prepare for Holy Communion: we have to pray. We have to go to confession and cleanse our souls. We have to fast at least one hour before. But the main thing we have to do is to love God with our whole heart and to look forward with joy to receiving the greatest gift of his love for us: Jesus in Holy Communion.

    Jesus promised to be with us to the end so that we may have the courage to persevere in faith that he made it possible for us to go all the way to Heaven. If we live too much for this world, and all the good things we can get here, then we are not going to want to go to Heaven. If we start saying, “I don’t want to go to Mass this Sunday because I’m too tired or I want to go to this event” or many other excuses, then we cannot receive Jesus’ promise. So the goal of the Christian life is to return Jesus’ promise and promise to him that you will remain faithful to the end of your life, that you’ll pray every day to be strengthened by the Holy Spirit, go to Mass every Sunday to listen to God’s word and to receive His Body and Blood in Holy Communion, to go to Confession and ask forgiveness for your sins and that you will forgive others, love others, and help others, especially, those who are lonely and poor and sick. So today let us say: “Jesus I will love you until the end.”

    It is natural that parents who love their children would want what is best for them. So parents, thank you for loving your children. They don’t always appreciate your love because they don’t always appreciate what is best for them. But even though it is hard you help them. You clothe them each day, you send them to school to help them learn, you feed them with good food to keep them healthy, and do many other things for them. I encourage you also to want what is best for their soul, what is best for their eternity, even when they don’t appreciate it now. Clothe them in holiness, teach them to pray and read the Bible, bring them to Mass every Sunday, feed them with the Body and Blood of Jesus in Holy Communion, and do many other things so that they can grow in the knowledge of the son of God, and be mature Christians, men and women of God who have the brightest future possible, a share in the Heavenly Kingdom.

    Today we celebrate Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven and now he is there preparing a place for us there. So let us live a life of holiness and make Heaven our goal of life on earth. Because one day Jesus will return as he promised. And we want to be ready for that day. And we will be ready because Jesus promised to remain with us to the end. Let us remain with him every day here in this life through prayer, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and by coming to Mass every Sunday to receive his Body and Blood in Holy Communion. Amen.

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    5-15-15


  • Pentecost Sunday - B - 2015 Open or Close

    Pentecost Sunday 2015

                                                                                                                                                                                                                           We hear from the Word of God that “When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together.” Like those first disciples we are all gathered in one place today as we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost which gave birth to the Church. And it is a testament to the power of the Holy Spirit that, despite many attacks against the Church throughout the centuries and despite errors and abuses of some of its members, the Church is still vibrant and continues to spread to every Cotenant in the world. It is the biggest most diverse institution in the history of the world, and it helps more people than all other government and charity organizations combined. And this true not because of the power of man but because of the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Holy trinity. Before he ascended into Heaven Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit as an Advocate or a helper. And our world has been helped a lot. Millions have been saved and given the hope of eternal life. Countless people have benefited throughout the centuries from Catholic schools, hospitals, charities, and religious orders.

    And the Holy Spirit is still alive and well and is here to help you and me. We can pray to the Holy Spirit to receive help to live our Christian life, to strengthen us and console us in times of difficulty. Have you ever felt angry when someone hurt you or sad when something bad has happened. Sometimes we turn to things in the world to comfort us like music or comfort food or television. And they help us to some degree. But as believers we are invited to turn to something even more helpful. We can turn to a Person, a Divine Person, The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is to our souls what light is to our eyes or sound is to our ears. Our eyes were made to see but it is impossible without light. Our ears were made to hear but it is impossible without sound waves. Our soul was made to love but it is impossible unless it is filled with the Holy Spirit. And so we have to make time to rest in His presence, to be still and quiet and let him calm our spirits. Listen to Him. Let him help you. The Holy Spirit will help you with small things or large things, things that you thought impossible for you to do. This is true because the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ. And therefore it is the Spirit of Love.

    And now the Spirit has come to inspire us and to give us a passion for God and his works and to proclaim his truth. Jesus says that the Holy Spirit is the “Spirit of truth that will guide you to all truth.” This truth is true for everyone. As Catholics we are called to listen and learn this truth and then testify to the truth. And the truth unites everyone who follows it. This unity is so important in our world that is filled with confusion on so many things, fundamental things, that used to be clear, like Marriage, human dignity, respect for life, remaining faithful to God. It is common in our world today to think that there is no truth. What is true for you may not be true for me. The most important thing for many is their own opinions or feelings. This lie leads to division. We know that Satan is the spirit of lies who guides us away from truth into the way of falsehood. He causes division and we can see that he is at work. I don’t remember a time when our world seems to be divided over so many different issues. Our culture promotes the spirit of individualism to a point that it develops into racial division, gender inequality, class warfare, and many other divisions as people live for their own purposes.

    But the Holy Spirit unites us by inspiring us with gifts that build unity. When Jesus was on Earth he was always praying to his Father in Heaven. Therefore, he was always united to his Father in mind, heart, and spirit. That uniting force between the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit. And now Jesus gives us that power. He says in today’s Gospel: “Everything that the Father has is mine…He will take from what is mine and declared it to you.” Jesus gives us everything that he and the Father has: He gives us his very Spirit. We have the Holy Spirit in us through baptism and confirmation. But we have to believe in this power and call upon this power. That is why we prayed today “Come Holy Spirit!” Praying to the Holy Spirit is like plugging our smart phone into a power cord. We come alive again. We are inspired with divine power. We have Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety, and Fear of the Lord. These are the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit that empower us to do what Jesus did. So we use these many gifts to build up the one body of Christ.

    Today, we ask the Holy Spirit to inspire us with His Gifts so that we may be united in God’s truth and be set on fire with his Divine Love. We ask him to give us the courage to be the hands and feet, the heart and mind of Christ who build up his Church and spreads the Joy of the Gospel in our homes, our work, our schools, and our town, for the Glory of God. “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.” Amen.

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    5-21-15

  • Holy Trinity Sunday - B - 2015 Open or Close

    HOLY TRINITY SUNDAY 2015

    Jesus gives us a great promise of being with us always until the end of the age. This is because of the power of the Holy Spirit that gives us a share of the Divine Life of God. We celebrated the coming of the Holy Spirit last Sunday on Pentecost. The Spirit keeps us connected to Jesus just like Jesus was never separated from his Father because they shared the same Spirit. It is an eternal union of love between the Father and the Son and their union of love is the Holy Spirit. Today the Church celebrates the Most Holy Trinity which is a celebration of this great mystery of love between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe in One God who is Three Divine Persons. That is why we call God The Holy Trinity. Each time we pray the Creed in Mass we express our belief in the Holy Trinity. It is a great mystery that we could not know unless God revealed it to us. But because he has revealed it to us through Jesus Christ, we can believe it with our whole hearts and have no doubts. Doubt is the evidence that we lack a life in the Spirit. But when the Spirit of God is in us, we believe.

    Belief in the Holy Trinity is what makes us Christian, like the belief in One God was what made distinguished the Israelites. We still share with the Jews the belief in One God. Through Moses and other prophets, they had the great privilege of receiving the revelation that the One true God loved them and created them. This was a very important revelation because the many pagan religions around them believed in several gods. They invoked these gods through prayer and religious practices and were even able to gain supernatural power from them. However, what they were invoking were not gods but demons. Some of these pagan practices exist even today. When people use Ouija boards, palm reading, or the latest trend is to play “Charlie, Charlie,” they certainly can be affected by a spiritual power, even if they are using these things as games. But these are evil powers that can bring much darkness into their lives. The power of these spirits is based on fear which can enslave a soul. So God revealed himself to the Jews as the One true God so that they would worship and pray to him alone. This revelation gave them freedom from fear and the power of love over evil and made them the people of God.

    Through Jesus, the God of love revealed himself to the world in a new and more complete way. He is still the One true God of the Jews but now we can know him fully as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is Three Divine Persons. Jesus is the Son of God who has always existed but became a man, and out of love he died for us to save us from false gods and evil spirits. After his Resurrection and Ascension he gave us the Holy Spirit. With the power of the Holy Spirit we can now know God in a very personal and intimate way. We can see God in the same way Jesus sees him with the eyes of our heart. And we can speak to him with the same words Jesus uses to speak with him. Through prayer we can cry out “Abba” which is the Aramaic word Jesus used to call God “Father” or “Dad.” Do you speak to God as a child speaks to his father? Do you pray to him from your heart and call him “Dad” like Jesus did?

    This paternal relationship with God is possible because through baptism we become God’s adopted children. We become the new People of God. We become a part of a Heavenly Family and share in the Divine Life of the Holy Trinity. We are truly children of God who have been given a promise to share in a great inheritance of the Glory of Heaven. We see people on T.V. who were born into privilege and live in big homes even royal castles. We who have been born again have a much greater promise of living in the Heavenly Kingdom. There we will live in a union of love forever with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We are given this promise at our baptism. Jesus’ last command to the disciples, his very last words before ascending into heaven were: “Go…and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” When we express faith in the Holy Trinity and are baptized, we receive the saving grace of a new birth. Do we realize how blessed we are to be chosen by God to be his own? Do we appreciate the great privilege it is to be God’s children and to know him personally as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

    Just like we can take our personal relationships for granted down here on earth, we can take our relationship with the Holy Trinity for granted. Sometimes those closest to us, our brothers, our parents, our friends, are the easiest to neglect and our relationship with them starts falling apart, especially in difficult times. But God allows these hard times to be a test for true relationships. It is true that after persevering through the sufferings of life that we often grow stronger in our relationships. True relationships take effort, sacrifice, and perseverance. Each day we have to intentionally renew them and not take them for granted. It is true for our relationships with one another and with our relationship with God. St. Paul said: “We are children of God…heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” If we believe that God is our Father and that Jesus is truly our brother and that we have divine power through the Holy Spirit, even if we get made fun of for being Christian or have to suffer for Christ in this life, we will endure it until we receive our inheritance of heavenly glory.

    On this last day of May dedicated to the Mary, the Mother of God, let us ask her to help us to remember that we are adopted children of God and are part of a Divine Family of Love. She helps her children to have faith and be grateful that the Lord has chosen us to be his own. In the Rosary after each decade, we pray a special prayer called the “Glory be” which invokes the Holy Trinity. Nobody is closer to the Holy Trinity than Mary. And so with Mary let us pray with all our heart over and over again today and every day until the end of the age: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.” Amen.

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    5-29-15


  • Corpus Christi - B - 2015 Open or Close

    Corpus Christi 2015

    Today we celebrate the Feast Day of Corpus Christi: The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Jesus gave us the great gift of the Eucharist at the Last Supper when the Jews celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The unleavened bread reminded the Jews of their salvation from Egypt when they used the bread to go on their journey to the Promised Land and also of the bread from heaven that God provided them in the dessert. Jesus used this custom to give the disciples and us the Unleavened Bread of the Eucharist which his true Body and Blood. The Gospel says that “while they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said “Take it; this is my body.” That is why today at Mass we continue to take unleavened bread and the priest says the blessing over, breaks it, and repeats the words of Jesus: “Take it; this is my Body.” It really is the living Body of Jesus in the miracle of the Eucharist. In fact, when you receive the Eucharistic host at Mass you receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. This is hard to believe but it is true. That is why we must grow more and more in our faith and devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist. We have to adore Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. We have adoration here in the church every Friday. You can come and adore him.  

    Yesterday thousands of people gathered at the Georgia Congress Center for the 20th Annual Eucharistic Congress. The day started off with a Eucharistic Procession where Jesus in the unleavened bread of the Eucharist was carried in a special container called a monstrance so that everyone could see Him and worship Him, and sing praise to him. It was a beautiful event and very appropriate because we believe that the Eucharist really is the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. When we are in the presence of the Eucharist we are in the presence of the Son of God. Therefore, we should act the same way we would act as if Christ was standing before us as a man. So when we enter the sanctuary and are in his presence in the tabernacle, we should show great reverence, respect and joy. At Mass when we receive Him in Holy Communion, we have to prepare ourselves: We fast, we ask forgiveness for our sins, we pray, and then we approach him with great awe and wonder. The Church teaches the best and more traditional way to receive Holy Communion is on your tongue, but the Church also allows you to receive in your hands, raising them up like an altar.

    But the most important part of Holy Communion is that you believe with your heart that it is Jesus and you receive him in love because he loves us so much. And that is ultimately what the Eucharist is: The greatest gift of love. When you love someone you do not want to take anything from that person but you want to give them everything. Jesus gives us everything: His Body and Blood, his Soul and Divinity. He gave his disciples this gift not in the beginning but at the Last Supper to strengthen them. He waited to the very end to give it them. He saved the best for last. It is like a couple who love each other and they get engaged but they wait until they are married until they give their bodies one to another. That is the sign of true and authentic love. Young people today learn to do the opposite. Jesus in the Eucharist shows true love, sacrificial love.

    And that is the second reason for the great gift of the Eucharist. Jesus sacrificed his life to save us. He poured out his Blood so that we can get a blood transfusion that cures us of sin and death and puts in a permanent bond with him. In the Old Testament, we hear that Moses sacrificed an animal and sprinkled the blood on the people to atone or pay for their sins and make a covenant between them and God. Why blood? Because blood is the life-source of something. And so God used the blood of animals as a symbol to restore the life of the people and restore their relationship with him. So blood represents this covenant bond with God. In the Gospel we hear that “[Jesus] took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, [and] said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.” So the wine at Mass really does become the Blood of Christ. And His Blood is not a symbol but is a reality the cleanses us from sin and brings us into a new and everlasting covenant with God. That is why we should come and receive the Body and Blood of Jesus every Sunday and renew this covenant, renew our promises. He gives us his Body and Blood so that we can give ourselves more completely to others. This is love in action.

    Pope Francis said at the Corpus Christi celebration in Rome: “Let us ask ourselves then this evening, worshiping Christ really present in the Eucharist: do I let myself be transformed by Him? Do I let the Lord who gives himself to me, guide me to come out more and more from behind my little fence, to go out and not be afraid to give, to share, to love him and others?” I pray that today we can answer “yes” to our holy father. I pray that we appreciate more the great gift of Body and Blood of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and grow in love and devotion of Jesus in The Holy Eucharist who loves us so much and wants us to love others. Amen.

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher     6-5-15

  • 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time - B - 2015 Open or Close

    11th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2015

    The silent growth of God’s Kingdom

    Jesus was always using nature to describe spiritual things on earth and helping people think of the things of Heaven. This is isn’t as surprise because we know God created nature and its cycle of growth and so we really can learn much about God through what happens in nature. We are well into Spring and garden plants are growing and we are looking forward to the fresh fruits and vegetables. The Church enters Ordinary Time and changes from white to green which represents a period of growth, a springtime of life. The sign of a healthy life is that it grows: This is true in nature as seen with those who have gardens; this is true with the human person as seen with children who grow up, get married and have a family; and this is true with the Kingdom of God which is seen in a growing Church. The power of growth is the power of God. We really take it for granted but it is true. And so we need to respect God’s plan for creation and his power to grow it. Pope Francis is about to put out a papal letter explaining how we must respect and protect nature and the environment and not manipulate or destroy it. This is true with plants and animals and most especially true with the human person. If we don’t respect the smallest of creatures, the birds and the bees, how will we respect the large creatures, men and women. That is why things that go against fertility and against life are going against God. So we must appreciate God’s design for life and cooperate with it through a life of faith.

    As Christians we recognize by faith that our life is a gift and by God’s grace we become like plants that not only grow but produce fruit of good works. This is the power of the Holy Spirit working through us. This is how the Kingdom of God grows in the world. And at the end Jesus says that God will harvest the earth to collect the grain when it is ripe. This ripened grain is our good works. So we must be prepared for this harvest. We cannot just live our life without God or eat the fruit of the land to satisfy our own pleasures without thinking of others. This is a consumer mentality. “How much can I get to fill me up?” Our world teaches us to live life for ourselves, for our own consumption: More food, faster internet, greater pleasure. Certainly we should enjoy the fruit of our labors but we should not be consumed by them. We should live for the kingdom of God which is not of this world. This is what our faith tells us.

    St. Paul describes it this way: “We walk by faith and not by sight….Therefore, we aspire to please [God] whether we are at home or away. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Cor 5:7). It is true, what we do in this life matters in how we will spend eternity. That is why it is so important to cooperate with nature and not destroy it; to cooperate with God’s design and not manipulate it for personal gain. Our world teaches us our body is something that we can manipulate but St. Paul teaches that our body is a beautiful gift from God and a part of nature that can’t be polluted. In the news a man who was an Olympic athlete has changed his body and has tried to become a woman. How do we as Christians react? We do not laugh. We should probably cry. We pray for that man and all who support his actions as “good.” It is an opportunity to teach our kids the difference between good and evil. We teach our kids that it is bad to reject what God has given you and to manipulate your body. But we teach them also to pray for those who do not belong to God’s Kingdom and live just for this world so that they, too, may learn to walk by faith and not by sight. Yes, it is true, image and appearance are most important to our world. But what is most important to God is our souls. What we do to the body affects our souls. If we do not teach our kids this truth then they will come to believe what the media is proclaiming as “good news.” But it is false news. It is an evil that goes against God’s design for fruitfulness and life.

    Again, the sign that something is healthy is that it grows and produces fruit. Our lives are like seeds scattered by the hand of God and his love grows us over time. This is a silent and gentle process. And God is very patient with us as we grow. We here at St. Bernadette can appreciate this blessing from God as we have grown throughout the years. We have been the smallest of communities but slowly over time we have grown. I think it is appropriate to compare us to the words we heard in the first reading from Ezekiel: “I, the Lord, bring low the high tree [and] lift high the lowly tree, wither up the green tree, and make the withered tree bloom.” “It shall put forth branches and bear fruit, and become a majestic cedar.” “As I, the Lord, have spoken, so will I do.” Perhaps this prophecy of majestic cedars is for us here in Cedartown. I truly believe God has blessed us and grown us. And now we are planning to respond to this growth. I want to thank all parishioners who have prayed and participated in our planning process. Most of you are supportive of building a new place on the property that we own on Evergreen Lane.

    I will send a letter to Archbishop Gregory this week seeking his assistance to support our growing family and our desire to build a new church. Please continue to pray for our parish, that we may continue to grow and bear fruit for the Kingdom of God so that we, our kids and our grandkids, and all who are seeking God, may continue to come and rest in the branches of this great tree that he has grown here in Cedartown and so be prepared for the great harvest that is to come at the end of time when we shall enter into the kingdom of God. Amen.

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    6-13-15


  • 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time - B - 2015 Open or Close

    14th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2015

    A prophet is not accepted in his hometown

    Jesus came into the synagogue and preached to the people he grew up with. But instead of accepting him and listening to his prophetic words, they rejected him. They would not listen to him. In doing do they rebelled against God and the Spirit could not enter them. We cannot really blame them. Would you believe someone who was so familiar to you? Sometimes we get so familiar with people or with the Church or the teachers and preachers of the faith that we no longer listen to them. Today’s Gospel is like what is happening in our world; it is rebelling against God and is no longer listening to him. Perhaps we have come to the point that we take for granted that we are One Nation under God and no longer live that way. When our society believes our freedom gives us the right to do what is wrong then we are on the way to destruction. But when men rebel against God, out of love sends prophets, not to condemn but to call men back to a right relationship with him and one another so that they won’t suffer destruction. But who are those prophets that God sends to call men back to him? You and me. We might not feel qualified or strong enough to be prophets but as St. Paul said “when I am weak, then I am strong” after Jesus said “power is made perfect in weakness.”

    As Christians we are in a time when we need to be prophetic especially in the wake of the decision of the Supreme Court offers that legalized same sex marriage. First we need to call men back to God’s design for marriage. We do this even when we know we’ll face rejection and persecution. Our motive is love. And we want to protect authentic marriage between a male and female. The birds and the bees follow this design so we humans need to continue to follow this way of nature created. So we want to protect the environment, the water the air, and not destroy it. Human sexuality is a part of this delicate eco system. It is not just a religious point of view but a part of the natural way of life on our planet. Our Archbishop, Wilton Gregory, sent a letter last week stating that the Supreme Court’s decision “does not change the biological differences between male and female human beings. It does not change the Catholic Church’s teaching regarding the Sacrament of Matrimony, which beautifully joins a man and woman in a loving union that is permanent in commitment and open to God’s blessing of precious new life.” Second it is a time for us to show respect and compassion to those who suffer from same sex attraction. Many of them have felt rejected by our society in years past and even unwelcome in our Church. But all who seek God are welcome. In his letter Archbishop Gregory also says we need to show respect and dignity to those who disagree with us. We all need the love of God to help us overcome our disorders and sins.

    However, respect for all doesn’t mean we accept the bad decision from the Supreme Court. The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Kurtz, said that the court’s decision was a “tragic error.” We know the Court is made of human beings who can make human errors. This is not the first time the court has been wrong. Back in 1973 the court declared abortion, which takes the life of an unborn baby, was legal. Abortion was supposed to help our country and give freedom to women, even though the Church warned that it would do the opposite. Now that we have seen its damaging effects on society, how abortion not only ends the life of a baby but actually hurts the mother both physically and psychologically, people are beginning to change their minds and hearts to see that it is wrong. And because of the constant prophetic voice of the Catholic Church and other Christians and people of good will reminding us of the rights of the unborn and the need to protect vulnerable mothers, it seems that abortion may come to an end in our time.

    Perhaps in the future the same thing will happen in our country over same-sex marriage after decades have passed and we finally learn the negative effects it has on human lives. So we must persevere out of faithfulness to God and love of neighbor and continue to be a prophetic voice in our world. We must use this time to be brave and be humble, to speak up but be patient, and to always, as Archbishop Gregory says, show respect, even to those who disagree with God’s design and plan for marriage. It is part of our prophetic mission.

    All Christians share in this prophetic mission of Jesus. In next Sunday’s Gospel we will hear Jesus sending out the apostle’s to preach, to heal and to cast out demons. That is our role as Christians to evangelize the world around us. Our world needs this prophetic witness now more than ever. And you don’t have to stand on a street corner and shout at people. You prophesy by how you live your Christian life: How you keep Sunday as the Lord’s Day, how you help the poor and care for the environment, how you give witness to authentic holy matrimony and remain faithful to your spouse, how you treat others with love and respect even if they live lifestyles that go against God. Your Christian witness becomes a powerful prophetic “voice” in our society. Yes you will be laughed at and mocked and persecuted like St. Paul, like Jesus in today’s Gospel. Nobody likes that. But we cannot call ourselves Christian if we don’t witness to Christ. And if you do not speak the truth to our rebellious nation who will?

    Yesterday, we celebrated Independence Day and we thank God for the freedom we have in this country. We closed out the Fortnight for Freedom where we prayed for two weeks for religious freedom and the right to conscientious objection to things that go against our beliefs. This is very important for us Catholics because we know that at the beginning of our country it was illegal to be Catholic. Catholics had to hide in homes and barns to celebrate Mass. Over time religious freedom became a part of the fabric of our Nation and Catholics gained acceptance in society. But now our religious freedom is once again threatened by the Supreme Court’s decision. They will tell us that we can be Christians as long as we accept certain even if we believe they go against our faith. But we cannot things that are wrong simply to gain acceptance by the popular culture. Nobody likes rejection but, as we see with Jesus, sometimes a prophet is not accepted in his hometown, and sometimes we as prophetic people will not be accepted in our homes, towns, or country. But we are Christians and so we are a prophetic people who belong to God who has chosen us for this time. So do not be afraid. God is with us if we keep our focus on him as we prayed today in the Psalm: “Our eyes on the LORD, our God, till he have pity on us.”

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    7-3-15

  • 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time - B - 2015 Open or Close

    16th Sunday Ordinary Time 2015

    Resting with the Goods Shepherd on Sunday

    Each Sunday we come and listen to Jesus teach us. We are like sheep who need a shepherd because we get lost and confused so easily especially as the world around us rejects the good and follows evil. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who guides us in life, teaches us to listen and follow his voice in order to protect us from evil and give us peace. Like sheep, when we feel safe we have a sense of calm and peace. That is why we trust Jesus and like the crowds in the Gospel we want to be near him. One thing that makes us Christians unique is how we take one day each week to be near Jesus and to rest with him. Sunday for us is a day of rest. It is a day where Jesus invites us like he did the apostles in the Gospel: “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile.” That is why for us, going to Mass on Sunday is not just a rule or an obligation but it is a joy. It is an anticipation of that final rest in the peace of Heaven. We get to feel that peace a little bit once a week here on earth on the Lord’s Day, when we gather together like a flock, to be with our Good Shepherd at Mass.

    Heaven is our destiny! It is an eternal Sunday! It is our home. It is what we live life for here on earth. And so each Sunday we renew our hope in going to our heavenly home. This belief gives us hope and gives us joy even when we face difficulties on earth. And life does get difficult. We face challenges in our life: At work, school, at home. We get very busy in life and have many problems that may fill us with anxiety. We get fatigued and tired of trying to do good and avoid evil. It is hard to live the Christian life. And we need to rest. Certainly, we do this at home in front of the T.V. We also turn to sin, alcohol, drugs, lust as a way of rest. But the rest that we truly need is for our souls. And so we can only get this spiritual rest from Jesus as we come into his presence every Sunday, primarily during the liturgy where the Lord speaks to us his words of comfort and encouragement through the scriptures and feeds us with his Body and Blood in the Eucharist.

    But Sunday is much more than the one hour we spend at Mass. It is a whole day of rest. It is not just a rule of the Church not to work on Sunday, it is a command of God. And why? Primarily, it is to recall and celebrate the day of Christ’s Resurrection. Jesus rose on the third day, which is a Sunday. But also God simply wants us to spend time with him and he looks forward to spending time with us. So we should stop worldly activity in order to allow time to rest in the Lord. And this takes discipline. We sometimes want to catch up on the work we didn’t do in the past week, the grocery shopping, washing the car, cutting the grass, cleaning the house, etc. So we must try to avoid these temptations and keep this day holy and sacred, and truly rest…spend time reading the scriptures, watching a spiritual movie, going outside in nature, spend time in prayer, enjoy time with family, visit neighbors, call home to mom or dad, visit someone in the hospital or nursing home.

    I remember in my parents’ home the whole family gathered together each Sunday just to hang out. Of course, someone had to do the cooking and washing the dishes, so there is always some necessary work. But this type of work is a work of charity when you do something for love. So we don’t want to be legalistic about not working on Sunday. We should engage in spiritual exercises, works of charity, that give our souls rest and fill others with Christ’s peace. Therefore, Sunday is a very special time when we gather with Jesus and with one another and rest, relax, enjoy one another, and are renewed in spirit. God made this day for us, this day of rest, this day where he defeated death and offers us the hope of eternal life.

    Many people, even Christians, get so caught up in this life, get so busy or distracted, that Sunday becomes just like any other day of the week. But if we allow Sunday to lose its significance then we stop living our life for Heaven and live only for this life here on earth. That is why so many become lost, like sheep without a shepherd. We get confused about what is right or wrong. We follow different voices and not the voice of the Good Shepherd. That is why you see so many Catholics who don’t follow the Church’s teachings on marriage, contraception, confession, and many other things. This week the Church is promoting NFP. It seems strange to our world now but it is the way God designed human love. Following God does make us different but in a good way. His way grows us in health, happiness, and holiness. Let us learn about his ways and not get lost in the confusion and corruption of the world. But when we get lost, Jesus is there to call us back to himself as we heard in the Gospel: When he got off the boat “and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd.” So let us recommit ourselves to making Sunday a day that we give our whole attention to the Lord and rest awhile with him so that he can teach us many things, calm our anxieties with his peace, and renew our hope in the promise of our eternal rest with him in Heaven. Amen.

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher 7-17-15

  • 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time - B - 2015 Open or Close

    17th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2015

    Feeding of the 5000

    The miracle that Jesus performs in today’s Gospel gives us many lessons to follow in our Christian life. First it shows how compassionate Jesus is to the basic needs of those who follow him. As human beings we get hungry and we need to be fed. We cannot live without our daily bread. There is a lot of fear in our world about over population of people as the reasons for poverty. It’s o.k. to have a lot of animals, but we cannot have too many people. Many in our world don’t have their daily bread not because of too many people but because of corrupt governments. God told Adam and Eve in the beginning to be fruitful and multiply and fill the face of the earth and God provides. So Jesus was not at all worried about the size of the crowd in the Gospel, although the apostles were worried because it seemed impossible to care for thousands of people. But because they followed Jesus, all were provided with more than enough to feed them. The size of the crowd was not too big for God, but led him to perform an even greater miracle for them. The lesson is that when we are faithful to Jesus and we begin to follow him, we are going to face material difficulties because money and things are no longer the main priority in our life. Our priority is being faithful to God. But God gives us something that money cannot buy: love, courage, peace, and the promise of eternal life, as well as our basic needs.

    This lesson is so important in all aspects of our life, especially when it comes to marriage and family. We see that the bigger the family the more Jesus can show his power to provide for them. The world says you can’t have much more than one or two children. But if we have faith we know that God will provide, even for large families. Many of you grew up in large families. None of you starved. You may have had to eat simple food and wear handmade clothing or your older brother’s clothing. But God provided. Our Father in Heaven always provides for his family here on earth. He won’t make us rich. He won’t give us fancy things. But he will provide more than what is sufficient for us, like he did with the large crowd in the Gospel.

    In September the Holy Father Pope Francis will be coming to Philadelphia to have the World Meeting of Families. He is coming to meet with bishops, lay people, and people from other religions to talk about the challenges that families face today, and how we can better promote the family. It is perfect timing because the family, which is the basic building block of society, is in a crisis because of many things like immorality, divorce, difficulty finding work, and the latest attack on the family with the redefinition of marriage by the Supreme Court. Our society no longer values having a family as it did before. We have taken it for granted, but now we have to remind ourselves and our world of the importance of family life: That all families start when one man and one woman come together in a permanent commitment of love and freely share sacred vows to be faithful to one another forever and to be fruitful in order to bring children into the world.

    Having children is not only the beautiful plan of God but it is simply the natural result of marriage. Marriage is a life changing commitment, it is a great sacrifice, but there is great joy in it. I thank all parents who sacrificed much for marriage and family. Pope Francis reminds us of how parents have to use responsibility with how many children they have, but they should not wonder if God will provide for them. So they should not be afraid to be generous in bringing new life into the world. What happens is that in larger families, the older children begin to help care for the younger children so that the whole burden doesn’t fall on the parents. They start working together as a family, like the disciples who helped Jesus distribute the loaves and fishes to the crowds. And the Church, of course, is the extended family that will support and help as well. God will feed his children if we trust in him, even if it takes a miracle. He is capable.

    In the first reading we hear of a man who struggled to believe that there would be enough to eat for the large crowd of 100 men, and so the man was reluctant to share what little bread he had with the crowd. But the man of God, the Prophet Elisha, told him to share the bread, and by God, there was enough for everyone, and there was even some left-overs. The same thing happened in the Gospel but with a much larger crowd, 5000 men, and a much greater prophet, Jesus Christ. The lesson is the bigger the need the bigger God provides and that with Jesus we will never be wanting and will even have more than we need. We hear: “When they had had their fill [Jesus] said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over so that nothing will be wasted.” There was more than enough for everyone. God doesn’t want us to waist things. Often we take the blessings of God and we become greedy and wasteful. We through away a lot in our culture. We have to do better at giving things away to those in need. These are some of the main points in Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si.” God doesn’t want us to be greedy but to share, even if we have only a little. It wasn’t that the man in first reading was wrong to think there wasn’t sufficient food or the disciples of Christ were wrong. There was a large crowd and there was not enough food to feed them. But they were thinking as men and not as God. We need to recognize our dependence on God. This is when we learn to have faith that he will provide. And the thing that God wants to ultimately provide for us is something much more than our basic needs, it is eternal life. If we cannot trust God in giving us our daily bread, how can we trust him with giving us eternal life? We have to have faith.

    What needs do you face in your life? Do you have faith that God can provide them? Let us not put limits on what God can provide for us. No matter how big a need it is, God is big enough to provide it. Why? Because we follow his Son, Jesus. We are his disciples.

    At St. Bernadette we have a big need but we only have a few resources. We are like the little boy in the Gospel who had only a few loaves and fishes. Most people would say “I only have a little so I’ll keep it to myself.” But the boy offered what little he had to Jesus and Jesus blessed it and fed the multitudes. It is another lesson for us not to be selfish or use excuses like “I hardly have enough for myself so I cannot tithe or give to the church.” When we give even the little we have, we are giving to Jesus who blesses it, increases it, and distributes it to nourish the whole community. And he involves us in that work of distribution, of sharing God’s blessings with others. That is how God makes us one…one body of Christ, one family of God.

    Do you see how important it is not to be afraid to sacrifice material things for God’s will? As we trust in his providence he blesses and uses what we have to bless other others and bonds us together as one family. We have to have this mentality if we are going to restore family life and save our society from ruin. We have to believe this if we are to grow our community here at St. Bernadette and build a new church home for our family. We cannot hold on to our material things. God is waiting to bless us if we have the faith of the little boy in the Gospel and give to him what little we have. Amen.

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    7-25-15


  • Vigil Mass of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary 2015 Open or Close

    Vigil Mass of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary 2015

    Tonight we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Church teaches that Mary was assumed into Heaven, that is, God brought her up into Heaven when her life came to an end here on earth. But it was not just her soul that went to Heaven but the Church teaches that her body was also brought up into Heaven. So Mary is now in Heaven with both her body and soul with Jesus. As Christians, we believe that all who die in a state of grace, that is, in friendship with God, will go to Heaven: First, their soul immediately after death, and then, at the end of time, our bodies will be resurrected from the dead and brought up into Heaven. So the Assumption of Mary is very different from the normal way of dying. The sting of death is the result of sin. That is why we die. Thanks be to God we have victory over death through our Lord Jesus Christ. But with Mary who was preserved from sin at the moment of her conception in the womb of her mother, she never sinned and so she did not suffer a death like other sinners. Her death was more falling asleep. And then Jesus brought her body and soul into Heaven to be fully united with him.

    The Protestants don’t believe in the Assumption because they think Mary was sinner just like everyone else. But we Catholics believe that Mary was Blessed among all woman as St. Elizabeth said at the Visitation. Why? Because she carried God inside of her! Therefore, she God kept her pure from sin, not because she was special in herself, but because made her perfect so that his Son would dwell inside her. We heard in the first reading in the Old Testament when King David brought the Arc of the Lord into the camp, there was a big celebration, singing, and rejoicing. They didn’t worship the Arc but the presence of God inside the Arc. Where there Arc was, there was the Lord. Mary is the New Arc of the Lord; the Arc of the New Testament. Where there is Mary there is the Lord. And where there is the Lord there is Mary. The two are not separated. We don’t worship Mary but we celebrate her and know that she brings us into the presence of the Lord. When Mary was brought into Heaven there was much celebration, singing, and rejoicing!

    But Mary is blessed not just because she is the Arc of the Lord, not only because she carried Jesus in her
    womb or nursed him at her breast, but because she was the first Christian. She was the first to say “yes” to Jesus. She was the first to hear the word of God and observe it, not partially, or half way, but she followed it completely, with her whole heart and soul, with her whole life. Tonight let us contemplate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary body and soul into Heaven. Let us celebrate, sing, and rejoice! And let us live a Christian life, not only hearing the word of God but, like Mary, observing it with our whole life, so that at the end of time we may be, like Mary, fully united with Jesus both body and soul in Heaven.

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    8-14-15


  • 20th Sunday In Ordinary Time - B - 2015 Open or Close

    20th Sunday Ordinary Time 2015

    The Jew quarreled how is this possible

    We continue today to listen from Jesus’ sermon that he is the Bread of Life and hear once again those profound words, “the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” As children we accepted these words of Jesus as good news and we received him in our First Holy Communion with great joy believing that we were really were receiving Jesus. But as we grow older, we don’t always grow wiser and things aren’t so simple. We begin to question and perhaps even to doubt.

    In the Gospel we hear how the Jews were question and quarreling among themselves about the shocking words of Jesus. They could not understand his teaching. It was too much for them to digest, you might say. They thought what he was saying about eating flesh went against their religion, against the Holy Scriptures and so they asked “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” But what Jesus says is really a fulfillment of their religion, and the Old Testament Scriptures are actually a preparation for the full meal deal that Christ was giving them. In the first reading from Proverbs we hear “Wisdom has dressed her meat, mixed her wine, yes, she has spread her table” so that everyone may eat and grow wise in understanding. A meal can’t make you wiser unless it has divine power. So it is an allusion to Living Bread of the Eucharist.

    But the Jews lacked the wisdom to hear and understand and so they doubted the Lord. And so Jesus clarifies his words to remove their confusion. But in his explanation he does not say, “O.k, o.k., guys I’m only speaking symbolically.” Rather he speaks even more dramatically and says, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” Jesus is very clear that he wants them to take his words literally and not symbolically.

    In other parts of the Gospel Jesus does use symbolic language when he says: “I am the Gate” or “I am the way” or “I am the Good Shepherd.” He is not really a gate or a road or a man who keeps sheep. These are symbols of his role. But when he says “the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” he is not speaking speaking symbolically but literally. That is why in his explanation to the Jews he repeats himself over and over again, like a teacher trying to get her students to understand a difficult concept, or a mom trying to get her point across to her hard headed kids.

    So Jesus repeats himself and each time he uses stronger and stronger words to get his point across. He says, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life...My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him….the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.”

    We must admit with our adult mind these words are hard to believe. That is why so many Catholics when they become adults stop coming to Mass. They simply stop believing. But it also hard to believe that God loves us despite the evil days we live in, or that God became man to save us, or that as a man he rose from the dead. But that is what Jesus did. So yes it is hard to believe that Jesus gives us his flesh and blood to eat and drink. And some might say “It doesn’t make since to me” and walk away. And next week we’ll hear in the Gospel that many of the disciples, many of the first Christians, did turn away from Jesus because of the teaching of his true presence in the Eucharist. Many Christians today still do not believe his words.

    So to believe we need to be humble and simple, like we were when we were little children. In many ways we were wiser then. True wisdom isn’t always knowing more or understanding the exact details of things. So today let us simply believe Jesus and approach the table that he has set for us, let us see with the eyes of faith the meat that he dressed for us and the wine he has mixed and hear him call out “Let whoever is simple turn in here….Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed! Forsake foolishness that you may live.”

    In the end it is not just an option that we choose to believe or not. It is what Jesus gives us to save us, to help us to live in this life and to live for ever in Heaven. He wants our souls and bodies to rise from the dead, but that cannot happen unless we unite our soul and flesh with his soul and flesh hear on Earth. Yesterday, we celebrated the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary body and soul into Heaven. Jesus received his flesh from Mary and so now she is reunited with him fully in Heaven. So this great mystery teaches us that we must be fully united with the flesh of Christ here on Earth if we want to be fully united with him up there. And that happens when we receive His Body and Blood in the Mass.

    And He does make it easier for us to eat his flesh drink his blood by giving it to us in the form of bread and wine. Certainly it is a mystery beyond our understanding that we accept by faith but the Church tries to help us understand by calling the act of turning the bread into the flesh of Christ “Transubstantiation.” Through the power of God the substance of the bread is transformed into the Body of Christ. It keeps the appearance of bread but it is now transformed into divine substance, the very flesh of Christ.

    That is why Jesus says at the end, “Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” We are not eating regular bread but bread transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Jesus. So today let us taste and see the goodness of the Lord in the bread and wine turned into his flesh and blood in the Eucharist. And let us be filled with his Spirit and his divine life. Amen.

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    8-15-15


  • 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - B - 2015 Open or Close

    It is good to be back from my travels last week to Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Indiana.  I followed most of the road rules along the way, although, I may have gone over the speed limit a little bit.  Some states you can do that a little more than others.  In Virginia they enforce the speed limit more so you got to be careful there.  But it is true that it is better when everyone follows the traffic laws because it keeps everyone safe.  But it is not the law that saves us.  It is our cooperation with law.  We are a nation of laws, rules and regulations that are useful to bring order.  But Jesus tells us that what matters most is our hearts and that even if we seem to be doing things right on the outside we can be impure on the inside. 

    We live in a sinful world and part of the Christian life is avoiding the corruption of the sinful world.  But the main part of the Christian life is having a heart that is full of love for God and neighbor.  This love doesn’t separate us from others but gives us the power to draw close to them, no matter how bad they are.  For many of the Jewish leaders in the time of Jesus, there was an emphasis on remaining separated from the world around them, the pagan or unclean world.  In their minds even touching something or someone who was not Jewish made them impure.  And so washing things was a symbolic act of purification.  And so they developed a system of purification rituals.  In mass the priest still uses this Jewish symbolic act of purification by washing his hands before he offers the bread and wine, and asks God to purify him and cleanse him from all sin.  But for the Jewish leaders in the time of Jesus, these purification acts had become very legalistic and they focused on them so much that they forgot the more important matters of the heart.  Jesus brings us back to the truth and helps us to understand that it is not the things outside of us that defile us but he says “From within people, from their hearts,” comes things that defile…evil thoughts, unchastity, adultery, greed, licentiousness, envy, arrogance, etc.

    The point that Jesus is trying to help us learn is that we have to have a conversion of heart.  Food, therefore, cannot corrupt our hearts.  Sin corrupts our hearts.  Sin is turning away from love of God for the love pleasure or things, or our own will.  God has created our hearts for love.  Our hearts are the most beautiful part of who we are.  But we can allow sin to corrupt us.  So we must recognize the sin in our heart.  But then we need to recognize that there is no sin that Jesus cannot forgive.  He is full of mercy.  He wants to purify us if we ask for it.  That is why going to Confession is such a powerful way of allowing Jesus to forgive us.  In confession we are not just going through a symbolic act of purification.  We confess our sins Jesus and he actually removes the guilt of our sin and cleanses our hearts.  That is why we should go often.

    Like the Pharisees, we try to distract ourselves with all sorts of things.  We give so much attention to keeping human laws that we neglect the law of love.  We keep our house and yard clean but not our souls.  We follow our human traditions with that cannot purify our hearts and we just give lip service to the words of God.  As Catholics, we have a lot of traditions, for example, to abstain from meat on Fridays.  We do this not because meat is bad but because it is good and very tasty!  But it is a tradition that does not save us.  That is why the Church says that if we do eat meat on Fridays then we can do some other form of penance or sacrifice instead, like give up sweets or television, or spend extra time reading the Bible.  The reason we sacrifice is to increase our love of God who satisfies our hunger for love, and the money we save can be given to those in need.  But if we forget the reason for our sacrifices then we are just going through the motions and then soon we stop going through the motions. What is missing is a change of heart.

    We are a religious people and that is a very good thing when we allow our religion to change our hearts and not just go through the motions.  All the external things we do, using holy water, doing the sign of the Cross, genuflecting in front of Jesus in the tabernacle, should be a reflection of the love of God we have in our heart.  But if we think doing these things automatically makes us good Catholics yet we do nothing to stop over-criticizing others, or we continue to think we are better than people of different color or languages or get upset when we don’t get our favorite food, or if we keep watching immoral programs and give into lust, pride and jealousy, then we risk becoming Pharisees who were more concerned about outward appearance than interior conversion.  Our religion is much more than outward appearance, memorizing prayers or coming to church and hearing God’s word.  It is responding to God’s word.  It is praying to him with your heart.  Jesus wants to bless us, he does not want to make our life harder.  He wants to make our life better.  I mean (for example) he says we can eat anything we want, even bacon!  I love bacon.  I cannot imagine not eating it!  But he wants us to love him more than bacon or any other food or pleasure.  He wants our religion to be all about him.

    So we have to avoid legalism or being superstitious.  Certainly, it is good to have statues of Mary and votive candles and recite prayers but these do not purify our hearts unless they are a reflection of our need for God’s mercy and forgiveness, unless we are going to confession and to mass to be with the Lord.  How can a candle or statue do anything if you are living in sin, if you are having sex before marriage, or stealing, or all the other things Jesus said corrupts our hearts?  We have to clean our hearts.  It is important that we keep our homes clean and neat, that we decorate them, and keep the lawn maintained; it is important that the church be beautiful with flowers and candles and linens. But if we do these things while neglecting the poor, or failing to adjust our laws to help immigrants, or do nothing to stop harming the natural environment with excess waist, then our priorities are all wrong.  Like the Jews in the days of Jesus we are missing the main point of our religion, and there will be hell to pay.  St. James says in the second reading “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this:  to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”  Our religion is about a relation of love with God and neighbor.

    There are great examples to follow in the Church, especially as we celebrate the Year of Consecrated life.  The Franciscan brothers that I visited last week in Indiana give a good example:  They have a beautiful sanctuary to the honor the Lord with all kinds of beautiful statues of Mary and the Saints.  But they also live very simply, eat simple food, sleep on the floor, do not use air-conditioning.  And above these they go to confession often and spend much of their time helping the poor in their neighborhood.  Like them we should not reduce our religion down to just going through the motions and then think we are all good.  We want to be doers of the word of God and not just hearers.  We don’t want to put man’s laws over God’s law of the heart which is the law of love.  

    Of course, human laws have their place and serve an important role, so this is not an excuse to break the speed limit and drive as fast as you want, especially if you are in Virginia.  And it is not to say that since food can’t defile us we can eat anything we want without concern for our physical health.  But we do want to recognize that true religion is not following a bunch of rules but it is falling in love with a person who loves us and has the power to save us.  And so moved with love we ask Jesus to have mercy on us, to purify us from the sins that defile us, and to make us true Christians who freely love God and neighbor with our words and actions. Amen. 

  • 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - B - 2015 Open or Close

    23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time 2015

    Ephphatha, Be opened

    One of the greatest natural gifts we have and one that we so easily take for granted is our ability to hear and our capacity to speak. Our capacity to hear allows us to experience all the sounds of creation. I especially enjoy going outside at night when all the noise pollution is quieted and you can enjoy listening to all the beautiful sounds. But the purpose of our hearing isn’t just personal but it allows us to listen to one another and to grow in relationship with one another. And the gift of speech enhances our relationships by allowing us to share stories, sing songs, tell jokes, or simply say “I love you.” Therefore, hearing and speaking are great blessings and life is much more difficult if you don’t have them. We can understand why the people brought the deaf and dumb man to Jesus for healing. And Jesus performs a great miracle saying “Ephphatha, Be opened!”

    Jesus wants to open all of our ears to better hear his words. Sadly, our world is deaf to God. We cannot hear God speak his words of truth and love to us. We cannot speak clearly about his truth and justice. We have a spiritual speech impediment that prevents us from talking about his love to one another. Of course, our hearing and speaking is fine when comes to the things of the world: Sports programs, popular music, the media. We hear a lot of things from movies, the internet or the latest gossip and repeat them with much detail. But when it comes to the things about our faith, the words of Jesus, or the teachings of the Church, our hearing doesn’t work very well. If we try to explain it to others our tongue gets tied. We can quote lines from movies or lyrics from popular songs but can hardly say one verse from the Bible. We can name every player from our favorite team but can hardly name any of the 12 apostles.

    We need to have Jesus open our ears. He has come to heal our spiritual deafness so that we may hear his words. He wants to open our mouths so that we praise him with our words and help others to hear the Good News of God’s love. God’s word inspires us, empowers us, and encourages us. But if we don’t hear it then we cannot follow it and we cannot speak his truth to others. So first we have to recognize our need for this healing. This makes a big difference because there are some who are Christian because parents, grandparents, or a spouse tell them that have to be. Others are Christian because they have experienced the healing touch of Jesus in their own lives.

    And so you can tell the difference in their actions. There are those Catholics that when you are around them you get a sense of peace and joy. They love to share their faith. Others are still afraid of expressing their faith, of going to confession, of praying in front of others, of committing to going to Mass every Sunday. “That’s too much, that’s too close, that’s too personal.” We hear in the first reading from the Isaiah the Prophet: “Thus says the Lord: Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication, with divine recompense, he come to save you.” Do we need Jesus to save us? Are we afraid of him or do we truly believe he loves us? He wants to get to close to us, to touch us and heal us if we allow him. Yes it is very personal but there is no other way to be Christian.

    A sign of Christian authenticity that gives proof that we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is that we admit that we are Christians: We are not afraid if others know we are Christians. We can talk about the truths of our faith. We are not embarrassed to speak about God. I think of the clerk in Kentucky who was recently jailed for upholding her belief of marriage between one man and one woman. It is true, we find it easy to talk to others about all kinds of worldly things: Sports, news, popular trends. But are we able to mention God in our conversations, and not in a joking way but a joyful way? Are we able to uphold the Christian values of chastity, virginity and marriage and not see them as silly things to laugh at? Do we try to bring others to Jesus so that he can touch them and heal them?  

    Another sign that reveals if we are truly Christian or not is how we treat others, especially those who are poor. Some people are given special treatment, especially rich and powerful people, even in the Church. Some people, even Christians, think money gives them more importance. St. James tells us in the second reading that we as Christians should see that rich and poor alike need to be healed and saved by Jesus. Jesus, himself, gave special attention to the poor and needy and was very comfortable being around them. The poor found Christ’s message of salvation easier to hear and understand. His words are less threatening to them because, for one thing, what do they have to lose? Nothing, because they have nothing. They need God. They need his promise of love and blessing. The idea of Heaven, a place of complete happiness with streets paved with gold, sounds much more appealing to them. But the more we have the easier it is to look down on others in need and the harder it is to look up and recognize our own need for God.

    In the Gospel Jesus sees the need of the deaf man and takes him away from the crowd and physically touches him to heal him. Jesus wants to heal all of us of our deepest wounds and worst sins. He wants to provide our greatest need: Love. But how many of us are afraid of letting Jesus get too close to us, too personal? We can easily say that we are Christian but does our words express our relationship with the Lord? Do people see Christ in how we treat others, especially the poor? Today, do not be afraid to allow Jesus to open your ears with his truth so that you may know how much he loves you. Do not be afraid to allow Jesus to touch your tongue with the Eucharist so that he can heal you and give you the capacity to speak to others about the wonderful things God has done. We are all born for this purpose.

    Tuesday is the birthday of Mary who was not afraid of God’s plan for her life or to sing his praises to others. The Nativity of Mary is like a mini-Christmas because her birth leads to the birth of the one Isaiah the prophet says clears the ears of the deaf and allows the tongue of the mute to sing. The birth of Mary leads to the birth of God. To honor Mary, therefore, honors Jesus and is a sign of true Christian faith. I hope you celebrate Mary’s birthday by singing songs to her, praying the Rosary with your family, and enjoying some cake and ice cream! May Mary help us to hear the word of God and not be afraid to share it with others. Amen.

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    9-4-15


  • 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time - B - 2015 Open or Close

    24th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2015

    To be save we must have faith in Jesus and work to carry our Cross

    In the Gospel Jesus tells us what we must do to be saved: We must deny ourselves take up our cross and follow him. On Monday the Church celebrates the great feast day of the Exultation of the Cross. We know that the Cross is the cause of our salvation. Jesus embraced the Cross and carried it to Calvary and died for our sins. Jesus sacrificed his life for us. This is the Good News! But we must do more than only believe in it, we must share the Cross of Christ. As human beings, we naturally reject suffering. But Jesus tells his disciples “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” This is the salvation Jesus offers us but it is not easy to accept the way of the cross. Peter tried to stop Jesus from carrying the Cross. He saw it as a defeat. But Jesus turns his back to Peter and says “get behind me Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Those are strong words. But we do the same thing when we think we can be Christian without the Cross; when we try to follow our own way and not the way of Christ. Our own way looks to avoid conflict, difficulty, and rejection. We want to preserve our life, not lose it. But if we are going to follow Jesus, sometimes we are going to face hardships, temptations, and sufferings. We’ll have to sacrifice certain things, even good things, to follow Christ. Sometimes we are not going to understand and agree with all that God wants us to do. But when we have faith, pick up our Cross and follow Jesus, he walks with us in our trials.

    But it is hard work. And it is the only way of salvation. So in order be saved we have to have faith that Jesus is not just a man but the Messiah, the Anointed One. But also we must act on that faith and put it to work. There are some Christians who say we are saved by faith alone. But we hear St. James in the second reading say: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” The answer is no. We have to have faith and works, works of love and self-sacrifice, in order to gain the grace of salvation. We can think that grace is like a coin. Faith and works are like the two sides of that coin. You cannot enjoy the full value of the coin unless you have both sides.

    Two Sundays ago, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees who made up a bunch of purification rules for everyone to follow. They thought these works purified them and made them holy. But the works St. James is speaking of are not man made works but the corporal works of mercy, which are the very works of Christ: Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, helping the homeless. Faith is important but it is not the only thing. As humans we can sometimes focus too much on one thing, even a good thing, that we forget the other. Faith is a good thing but we need to put it into action. This means denying ourselves, picking up our cross daily and doing good for others.

    Now on the other hand, if we just try to do good things but we neglect our faith in Christ, then we are missing the fullness of his saving grace. There was a recent study of two groups of people: The first group was those who dedicated their life to physical health through diet and exercise. The second group did nothing special for their health. The surprising results were that the second group outlived the first. Perhaps the first group focused too much on one thing. Maybe they were too concerned about preserving their own life through personal health they missed out truly living life. Personal health is important but not the only thing. We need spiritual health, too. Think of a sports game: Some may think the game is all about offense and scoring points. But without a good defense you are not going to win the game. You have to have both offense and defense. It is not either or but both and.

    And so it is with the game of life. The goal is to win salvation, to gain eternal life. And Jesus is the only one that can give us the victory. We cannot win on our own just by being a good person who tries to do good things. We need the grace of Jesus. So we have to have faith that Jesus is the Messiah, like Peter in the Gospel. But then we cannot deny the Cross when the Christian life gets hard, when we face persecution and rejection by others. Think again of the clerk in Kentucky who was arrested because she followed her faith in Jesus despite the media and many others condemning her. She could have just said her faith was a private thing. Satan is always inviting to take an easier way. Faith is powerful and can save only if put it into practice. It isn’t magic. It brings us into a loving relationship with Jesus. In this relationship we share in the life of Jesus, in his joys, his works, and in his sufferings. But we are also promised a share in his Resurrection.

    So, yes, we have to carry our cross. And the cross comes in many forms. It may be something physical or spiritual. It may be an illness or injury. It might be a persecution like the woman in Kentucky. For those who are single, it may come in the form of loneliness and feeling tempted to follow the crowd who thinks life is a party. It may mean facing rejection at school or work for your Christian beliefs. In married life, the cross comes in the form of self-sacrifice, denying yourself for love of the other and for the family. Those who do not want to get married but live together are avoiding the cross, perhaps trying to save themselves from the difficulties of a permanent relationship. But they are really hurting one another. The cross may be a sacrifice of personal time and money to come to Mass every Sunday or to serve the needs of the Church (catechists, cleaning around the church, coral group.) The cross may come in the form of helping the poor, the unborn, the elderly and the immigrant, even those who are illegal. The cross may come in the form of a sin or temptation that you have to fight every day. The easier way would be to give up and give in, and many people do. The harder way is to go to confession, pick up the cross each day and try to follow Jesus again.

    Jesus wants to save us but we have to follow him with our whole life. We have to deny ourselves, deny our sins, deny our selfishness and fears and take up our cross and follow him. We cannot look to try to preserve our own life if we want to save it. Jesus says: “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.” .

    Pope Francis is coming to America next week. Please follow his words and not just what the media says about him. He is a great example of someone who has both faith and works. And Pope Francis is a big fan of Mary. (Today was the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary.) Tuesday we will celebrate Our Lady of Sorrows. Mary certainly carried her cross. In her heart she carried all the sorrows of her Son. But now she shares with him in the Resurrection. May Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, help us to have faith in her Son even when we face rejection and do his works by taking up our cross and following him every day of our lives.

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    09-11-15

  • 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time - B - 2015 Open or Close

    25th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2015

    The First shall be Last and de Servant of All

    Last week in the Gospel we heard Jesus tell his disciples about his suffering and death but then telling them that he would rise from the dead. But they did not understand him. This week we hear Jesus tell them a second time that he would be killed but then three days after his death he would rise. Jesus was giving them a profound revelation of life over death but their minds could not even go there. Their idea of the Messiah was a man who would come restore their Nation of Israel to greatness and set up an earthly throne like in the time of King David. That is why they were arguing who was the greatest because they had visions of power and glory on earth not in Heaven. Jesus’ throne of glory would be in heaven, but only after he sits on his throne of glory on earth which is the Cross. His greatness would not come from being rich and powerful but from serving the lowly and poor. His glory would not come from fighting a war just to save the Jews but would come from suffering and laying down his life to save the world.

    As Christians we need to be reminded that the true power and glory of Jesus comes from humility and service, and that glory is not in this world but the next. Like the disciples in the Gospel we believe in Jesus and say we follow him but we, too, can miss the point and think more about having success in this life based on the level of wealth and comfort that others have. Instead of looking to serve the poor and needy we are led by jealousy and selfish ambition to have all the nice things in life. We are led by our passions and desires to fill our life with the things we want instead of giving our life to help others get what they need.

    Christ changed the world because he introduced a new way of living where we are invited to stop focusing on fighting our way to the top but to use that energy to help those who are trampled upon at the bottom. “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” He wants us to know that the last in this world will be the first in Heaven. It is good to want to be first, to want to be the best, to achieve greatness. But because of our fallen nature and sinful hearts this desire to be number one is out of envy or selfishness not from godliness. Instead of trying to be the first in line at the grocery store, or to get something free, we should strive to be the first to forgive others, to live pure lives, to show mercy. Pope Francis will surely remind us of this way of Christ when he comes to America this Thursday. He will first have a Mass and canonize a new American saint who came on a mission from Mexico and started many missions in California. His name is Junipero Serra. You have heard of San Francisco and San Diego, California. Well, these big cities started off as little Catholic missions set up by Junipero Serra where he focused on serving the poor Indians. Junipero Serra set up many other missions in California and spent his life laboring for the poor and needy. California exists today because of his efforts. That is what makes the Catholic Church the greatest institution in the world. We look to build up society not by investing in the rich and powerful but in the poor and needy.

    So we have to be reminded by Jesus just like the disciples in the Gospel of what we are all about: becoming the last and the servant of all. Our greatness is measured by our service to the least among us. That is why Jesus took a child into his arms and told his disciples that whoever receives a child in his name receives God. Children are a blessing from God not a burden. Why? Because they help us to love and serve, and therefore, they help us to be in God’s presence. I remember a movie named “Three Men and a baby.” I don’t think it was the most moral movie but it showed you how a baby changed these men’s lives who were living sinfully and selfishly. Children do bring out the best in us. Sadly, our society wants less children because you can become more rich and powerful without them. Marriage is less about family and more about individuals. Because of jealousy many want to change the meaning of marriage where children are optional and not one of the main reasons for marriage. In our society’s selfish ambition, family life is now seen as a threat against our drive to satisfy our thirst to be first. And that is why the family is in crisis. But if the family falls apart because of everyone wants to live by their selfish passions, then eventually society falls apart as St. James says in the second reading: “Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice.”

    And so the main reason why Pope Francis is coming to America is not just to speak to the powerful leaders of our country, the president and congress and successful business people. He is coming to be a part of the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia to help find ways to better protect and promote marriage and the family and to encourage Christians to help keep families together especially the poor, the immigrant and those who suffer abuse. We will be judged in the end on how we treated the least among us. So let us also take the children and all those in need into our arms and welcome God among us.

    I want to mention also that today is Catechetical Sunday. The catechists sacrifice their time each week to serve our children and teach them the Catholic faith. The children are the least among us and we need to teach them through words but mainly through our own practice of the faith, going to Mass every Sunday, going to confession when we sin, praying, and being a people of peace. The more our children know their faith the better their life will be, the more peace they’ll have, the more love will they have. May God reward us to the degree that we help our children understand that Jesus gives us this love and peace by dying on the Cross but then rising again to save us and to give us the grace not only to live for ourselves but that we may live to serve others. Amen.  

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    9-18-15


  • 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time - B - 2015 Open or Close

    27th Sunday Ordinary Time 2015

    There is no divorce - Respect Life

    It is good to back from the World Meeting of Families with Pope Francis in Philadelphia. Even though there was hundreds of thousands of people there, when the Holy Father spoke to us we all felt like one big family. And that is the main reason Pope Francis came to America to build up the family. We know that a healthy family starts with a healthy marriage. And marriage that is from God is a permanent bond of love between one man and one woman that is so strong Jesus said: “They are no longer two but one flesh.” And the fruit of this union of love produces new life. Therefore, marriage is a beautiful part of nature that keeps the human race alive on this planet. And the sacrament of marriage, holy matrimony, gives a grace to make the couple holy so they may help one another and their children enter into eternal life in Heaven. So marriage is like a new creation, it is like creating a new sun. And the family is like a new solar system. In other words, once God creates something it is permanent. With a solar system, even if some of the planets start to go out of orbit or the sun does not shine as brightly as before, they still exist. So it is with marriage and family that goes through times of turmoil and chaos yet still remains until the end.

    This is so very, very important to understand in our world today where more and more people, even Christians, no longer see marriage as something permanent that God creates. But Jesus made it clear in today’s Gospel when he said: “What God has joined together, no human being must separate.” We simply don’t have the authority to do it. It would be like someone saying that the sun does not exist anymore or telling two brothers “You are no longer brothers.” And so despite the media and the popular culture pressuring the Church to change and get with the times, there is no such thing as divorce for Christians, and that is why we as Catholics cannot divorce and remarry.

    Now it is true that many people, even Christians, suffer from divorce. Therefore, it is so very, very important to understand that God loves them and does not abandon them. Many still participate in the life of the Church even when their spouse divorces them. They remain faithful to their vows even when their partner breaks his or her vows. I know a young woman in this situation who continues to raise her four kids, one who is severely handicapped, and many others who despite their divorce continue to live the Christian life. They are truly heroes of the Christian life. They imitate Christ as described by the letter of Hebrews in the second reading: “For it was fitting that he…in bringing many children to glory, should make the leader to their salvation perfect through suffering.” Sometimes, many times, people suffer for true love, to remain faithful, and to lead their family to salvation.

    Now the Church is here to help those who have suffered a failed relationship to seek an annulment so that they can be free to marry and receive the other sacraments. It is important to know that annulments are not Catholic divorce. It is a declaration after a time of investigation of the facts that says the marriage never existed as a sacrament from the very first moment. So the couple had the appearance of a sacramental marriage but something made their vows invalid, like one did not want permanence, or one felt forced into it, or had a mental problem or addiction prior to their vows, or one was not open to life or wanted to artificially prevent children. In these cases, the grace of the sacrament doesn’t take and God doesn’t put them together, even if they so “I do” when they exchanged the marriage vows.

    And so the Church does not have the authority to declare a divorce, but she does have the authority to say that a marriage never took place in the beginning, and so after the annulment the persons involved are free to enter a true marriage for the first time. And since so many are seeking annulments now, it sometimes takes a long time for a diocese to process these cases. And that is why Pope Francis has recently shortened the process for some cases that have clear evidence with the goal helping people have peace.

    Marriage is a great gift from God but more and more in our world do not know what it is or have their own definition or re-definition of marriage, and that is a big reason for so many annulments today. And that is why when someone wants to get married in the Church, they should not rush into but take their time to prepare. Marriage preparation takes a least six months – to meet with the priest, go on a retreat, to learn exactly what are the vows for a holy matrimony , learn about Natural Family Planning to appreciate the responsibility of cooperating with God’s plan for family life. Again we are not the Creator. We can manipulate creation but we cannot change it or redefine it. So marriage is not true marriage unless it is permanent and open to new life.

    October is Respect Life Month. The Church teaches that all human life is sacred and has equal dignity no matter if a person struggles with addictions, is homeless, or is an illegal immigrant, is on death row, is old or sick, or if that person is unborn. Life is a gift that begins at the first moment in the womb or our mothers. Children are the sign of God’s presence and that is why Jesus loved them so much and said in the Gospel: “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them.” Artificial contraception and worse, abortion, prevent children from coming into the world and therefore goes against the sacredness of life. All life deserves respect no matter what stage it is in.

    Pope Francis has helped us to appreciate the sacredness of all living creatures on Earth with his papal letter (encyclical) “Laudato Si.” The title is from the words of St. Francis whose feast day is today. St. Francis said “Laudato Si mi Signore!” translated “Praise to you my Lord” for all created things, for brother son, sister moon, mother earth, and for all creatures. He knew God created everything and so everything reflects God’s glory. That is why Pope Francis says the planet is our common home and we have to stop polluting it and abusing it because this disrespects God’s gift of life, most especially family life.

    In Philadelphia last week Pope Francis said the family is the greatest act of love from our Heavenly Father. It was a blessing being there with so many people and getting to pray and celebrate mass with the pope. Our group also used it as an opportunity to go into the streets and pray with people, visit the homeless, and give people books on the pope’s new encyclical. We also gave away a lot of Rosaries which would the Holy Father very happy since he has a great devotion to Mary as did St. Francis of Assisi. This month of October is also the month of the Rosary and Wednesday is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. So let us pray the Rosary for a greater care of the earth, for renewal of marriage, and for a greater respect for life from its natural beginning to its natural end. Amen.

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    10/3/15


  • 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time - B - 2015 Open or Close

    28th Sunday Ordinary Time 2015

    The Rich Man and the call of Jesus

    I want to begin today by thanking you for being here. You are my spiritual family that the Lord has rewarded me with when I gave up the possibility of my own family to be a priest. So I count is a great privilege to be your spiritual father and your brother in the Lord. And it encourages me to see you here Sunday after Sunday, striving to follow Jesus. It is not easy. In fact it is becoming harder and harder to live the Christian life in our world. So I want to encourage you to keep it up. You are doing the right thing. Yes it does seem impossible to live the Christian life which is a call to perfection: Perfect love, perfect peace, perfect forgiveness. We recognize our own weakness and with the disciples in the Gospel we too think “Who can be saved?” So we have to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus believing that with God “all things are possible.”

    God helps us to take our focus off our own weakness and put it on his strength. He helps us to lessen our love of things in this world so we can give our love to Jesus. Many see the Christian life as taking away all of our fun in this life. But it is an invitation to gain what everyone in the world is looking for, meaning, purpose, and ultimately, love. We all want to be loved. We can never keep all the commandments to be saved. But we can have a personal relationship with the Lord. And that is how it is possible for us to be saved, when we fall in love with Jesus. We hear in the Gospel that Jesus looked at the rich man and “loved him.” After this Jesus said give up your riches and “follow me.” You could see the man’s struggle, he felt that it was impossible to give up his wealth, but Jesus was inviting him to be rich beyond his wildest dreams: Rich in the wisdom and knowledge of God. This is the wealth the Christ wants to share with you and me!

    Many people don’t understand why Catholics live and believe what they do: You can’t get divorced, you can’t use contraception, you can’t have sex outside of marriage, you have to go to Mass every Sunday, you have to pray, and tithe, and go to Confession. Many see these demands and turn away sad from the Catholic Church. And they do seem impossible to live in our day and age. But the reason we live them or strive to live them is not because we are stronger or better than anyone, it is because we have fallen in love with Jesus who looks at us with love and promises us a share in his Kingdom, that is, a share in eternal life.

    Love is our motivation. It is what inspires us and gives us the strength to do things we could not imagine we could do before. There are men that have sacrificed all for the love of a woman. There are women that have sacrificed all for a man. It is the kind of love that builds relationships that last forever. It is what happens in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Married love sacrifices all other loves for the exclusive love of another. That is why marriage is forever. And that is the type of love God wants to give us, a love that lasts forever. This does seem impossible for human beings, but with God’s grace all things are possible.  

    Sadly, more and more people are afraid of this level of committed love. More and more couples just decide to live with one another instead of truly loving one another in Holy Matrimony. They are like the rich man in the Gospel – they are afraid to sacrifice their own life for another. They are afraid of the cost of true love. But we don’t start living life until we begin to sacrifice our life for others. This is the difference between the worldly life and the Christian life. It is the difference between those who live just for this world and those who live for the Kingdom of Heaven. It is the difference between being saved and being lost. In the Gospel it says that the “rich man’s face fell and he went away sad.” Why? Because he stopped looking up to Jesus and so he stopped receiving and being inspired by his love. Hell is full of sad souls who were afraid to commit their lives to true love, the love that only Jesus can give us.

    It is important to clarify that even though Jesus said it is hard for rich people to go to Heaven, being rich is not evil. In fact, there are those who are wealthy through honest hard work or through inheritance who are quite virtuous people. It is the attachment to wealth that is harmful to the soul as St. Paul said in his letter to Timothy: “The love of money is the root of all evil.” Pope Francis has made this clear in his encyclical “Laudato Si.” It is clear that Capitalism is not evil like Communism. It is the abuse of Capitalism based on greed that is evil. Those who are angry at the Pope for his view on Capitalism are like the rich man in the Gospel who could not handle the truth. The Church teaches that material goods are entrusted to us by God not for our own personal advantage but for the privilege of using them for the good of others. That is the whole spirit behind tithing. God’s providence in your life allows you to provide for others: The poor, your favorite charities, and the needs of our parish. Some are able to give 10% or more, others less.

    In this Year of the Consecrated Life we celebrate those who have given up everything, money, home, and even marriage and family, to follow Jesus. We pray that more young people will not be afraid to answer the call to be priests, religious and all the other forms of consecrated life. Jesus calls us all to follow him in one form or another. And it does cost us, but we gain so much more. Let Jesus inspire you today. Go and kneel before him and ask him what you must do to inherit eternal life. Do not be afraid to ask him what is God’s plan for your life. Yes he will put high demands on us weather young or old, rich or poor, and these demands will feel humanly impossible to follow. But when we feel that the demands of the Christian life are too much, then we have to lift up our heads to heaven and not take our eyes off the loving gaze of Jesus. We do this every time we come to Mass. We do this every time we pray, especially praying the Rosary and meditating on the life of Christ. We do it when we come to Eucharistic Adoration or read his words in the Bible. We do these things when we come to believe that Jesus is the God of Love and that he loves us more than anything and is asking us to follow him. So let us not make the mistake of the rich man and turn away sad, but let us believe that following Jesus is worth it because it is the difference between eternal sadness without him and eternal happiness with him in his Kingdom. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus who always gazes upon with love. Amen.

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    10-09-15


  • 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time - B - 2015 Open or Close

    29th Sunday Ordinary Time 2015

    I came to serve not to be served

    What is true greatness? That is the challenge that Jesus puts to us today. The world has one view. Jesus has another. And we must admit that, like the disciples, it is hard to understand Jesus unless we stick with him through the difficult times until he opens up our mind with the Holy Spirit. We may think Jesus doesn’t want us to strive to be great, or think it is better to fail a test rather than pass it, or that we should not try to be great at our job or school or even in public office. But Jesus is not saying we shouldn’t be great. It is part of our nature to strive for excellence, to achieve a lot, to want to be the greatest at whatever we do. But Jesus wants us to refocus us away from just being great for our own sake and seek a higher greatness, to do great things for God. He wants us to be great in sacrificing our time, talent, and treasure not to advance ourselves but to serve the needs of others, to support the parish and community; to become great prayer warriors, great at forgiving one another, and helping the poor. He wants us to be great human beings who recognize that life is a great gift to be lived in doing great service to others.

    True greatness in worldly standards is based on competition: “I’m the greatest, everyone look at me.” Look at my job, I’m most important. Look my house or car, it is the greatest in the neighborhood. I’ve got the greatest clothes. Look at how great I am, I do so many great things, I help so many people out. Many companies use greatness as advertisement: “This product will make your life great!” “Our great company has helped so many people.” But their goal is to use greatness for their own glory and for getting more money. It is different from someone who works for greatness because they want to do great things for others. Think of St. John Paul II who became a great pope because he used his position of authority to help so many. He used his great intellect to write many works to clarify Church teaching and support the family. He used his great courage to bring human dignity to the lowliest: the unborn the sick and the elderly, and even those on death row. So like Pope St. John Paul the Great, we as Christian should try to be great, but not so that others will think we are great, but because we want to be the best for God and do great things for his Glory.

    In the Gospel, James and John asked Jesus: “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” They were thinking of their own personal glory. We must admit that we also seek this type of fame. But Jesus told them they did not know what they were asking because they were asking to share in his Cross, which was his thrown of glory on earth. It is just the opposite of what our world teaches: Seek Glory for yourself, look for the attention and admiration of everyone. It is like becoming gods that everyone worships on T.V. and the internet and on the front page of the news. And so many people enjoy the thrill of following this human glory. But it is vain. It quickly passes. The rock stars and sports stars of today are forgotten tomorrow. The movie stars on the front page today are hardly mentioned on the back page tomorrow. So Jesus helps us to seek not the passing human glory of the world but everlasting glory through his Cross.

    Anyone who sees The Cross has to admit that it is the last place we would want to be, but it is the greatest form of human glory ever. This usually doesn’t make sense until the glories of life fail to give us happiness, until we fall from glory and suffer from brokenness, loneliness and sinfulness. Then we see the Cross as something glorious. Then we can look to Jesus as our hero because he became the suffering servant described in the first reading. Isaiah the prophet says: “He gives his life as an offering for sin…through his suffering, my servant shall justify many and their guilt he shall bear.” So it is becoming lowly servants who like Christ offer our lives in service to others that is truly great in God’s eyes. And it is those who live this life of service that will attain true and lasting glory in Heaven.

    But still it is natural for us to admire sports stars, movie stars, and rock stars. No doubt they are talented and work hard to obtain their high positions, and we admire them as they inspire us to achieve excellence. And sometimes there are those that use their glory to help the poor. But we should look with more admiration at Jesus on the Cross and try to imitate him. Because as great as the stars of the world are, they are not gods who can give us power. Jesus is God who has the power to save us. He has the power to make us truly great through his grace. And The Cross is his thrown of grace that we can approach to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help for all our needs, forgiveness for all our sins and support for all of our trials in life.

    So Jesus wants us not to try to become stars but saints and we do this by Christian service. Saints are the true heroes in our life. They rarely get the headlines but they show us how we should live. So we should strive to be great, that is, great saints. And don’t have to do anything great, just small acts of service with great love as Mother Teresa said. Although you will not get any attention here on earth, in Heaven you’ll make front page news. You can imagine St. Peter opening up the Sunday Heavenly Times and reading: Mom dresses kids for school every day and tells them that God loves them! Dad plays sports with son and teaches him about the goal of life! Husband says I love you to his wife by washing the dishes! Children show love to parents by obediently cleaning their rooms without being asked! Family prays Rosary at home instead of watching popular T.V. show! Being a great husband is simply loving your wife and being faithful to her in good times and bad. Being a great mom is simply caring for your children and teaching them the faith. Being a great single adult is guarding your purity and using your freedom to help others. These are the acts of glory that God sees and that are celebrated in Heaven. These acts of service truly make us the greatest.

    Again we should strive for greatness. We should ask God to help us to be the best version of ourselves but we should look less to the front page of the news and more to the Face of Christ. Every day we should meditate on the Glory of his Cross, on how he gave his life for ours. Then every small act, every hidden act, can be great if we do it for God. Every inconvenience and every suffering we experience can be offered to God. The Cross helps us to be truly great by sacrificing our life in service to one another.

    I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone who serves from their heart here at St. Bernadette in so many ways: As lectors, servers at the altar, sacristans, clean the sanctuary and church, those who tithe so generously to pay for our bills, salaries, maintenance and allow us to carry out the mission of Evangelization here in Cedartown. Thank you to Parents who teach your kids the faith at home and bring your family to mass every Sunday. Thank you to those who visit and pray for the sick and lonely in our parish, serve as catechists, help the youth group, support retreats and prayer groups, men’s groups and women’s groups, those who maintain the grounds, and all the other hidden acts of service that only God sees. You are our heroes. You imitate Christ who “did not come to be served but to serve.” May God reward your service with a share in his peace here on earth and with his glory in Heaven. Amen.

  • 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time - B - 2015 Open or Close

    30th Sunday Ordinary Time 2015

    The Blind Man Timaeus – Jesus son of David have pity on me

    “What do you want me to do for you?” This is the question that Jesus asks of the blind man, Timaeus in today’s Gospel. It is the same question that we heard him ask of James and John in last week’s Gospel. And there is a great lesson for us to learn when we compare the different responses: The sons of Zebedde, you recall, said to Jesus that they wanted to sit at his right and left when he came into his glory. In other words, they envisioned the honor, authority, and power that they might achieve. Yet they were blind to the fact that they were actually asking to share in Christ’s suffering and death, which have to occur before his Kingdom comes in glory. Now the son of Timaeus in today’s Gospel doesn’t have visions of glory. He simply says to Jesus “I want to see.” He isn’t looking to be greater than anyone; he only wants Jesus to restore his dignity.

    Although blind, once Timaeus heard the voice of Jesus he began to see him with the eyes of faith. He recognized him as the son of David, that is, the Messiah, the Savior. And his faith is what saved him. Faith helps us to see things we could not before. We see creation as a beautiful gift of God. We see hardships as opportunities to seek God’s help. We see the dignity of every person, especially the most vulnerable, the unborn, the immigrant, those who are sick, blind and lame, those who have terminal illness. They aren’t an inconvenience or someone to ignore. How many people passed up the begging blind man in the Gospel because they were looking out for their own interests? How many told him to be quiet? Do we discourage others in their Christian walk or do we encourage them? We should instead be like the ones in the Gospel who eventually help Timaeus saying, “Take courage, get up, Jesus is calling you.”

    All of us are looking for something in life. We all want dignity. We want respect. We need to be encouraged and loved. But we all have a level of blindness. Since we cannot see God’s face we look for satisfaction solely in the things of the world: Money, power, pleasure. These often blind us to the deeper needs in our souls that only God can give us. Timaeus teaches us that before we can see God, we have to first learn to hear his voice. Then we must recognize what we truly need from him: Not fame or power, not glory or honor. We need his pity, we need his mercy, we need his forgiveness, we need his healing for our spiritual blindness. And then moved by faith that Jesus is the Savior, we come to him in prayer telling him what we want him to do for us.

    Again Timaeus is a model for how we should pray. Did he come to Jesus slowly or hesitantly? No, he “sprang up, and came to him” immediately with complete confidence. Why don’t we get immediately results in our pray life? Well, it could be that we don’t fully believe that Jesus can handle our problems. We don’t cry out to him. We are hesitant or we give up too soon. We get discouraged. But Timaeus didn’t stop. He kept calling out: “Jesus, have pity on me!” He persevered although many were rebuking him and telling him to stop calling out to Jesus. Are we like Timaeus and see our own need for divine intervention in our life? That is the biggest blindness in the world: Those who do not see their need for God or for his healing in their life.

    In high school I used to squint at the chalk board because I couldn’t see that well. One day the teacher asked me: “Are you blind? Why are you squinting so much?” Of course, I was too embarrassed to admit I needed glasses. I didn’t think it would fit my image of being cool. How immature and sad, right? Eventually, I had to get them once I started getting over my vanity. We do this in our spiritual walk. We think we don’t need Jesus that much. We are too cool for Jesus. We are embarrassed of him, right? We don’t want to live our Catholic faith too much. What would others think? How immature and sad it is to live this way.

    Like my struggles in embracing my need for glasses, as a young adult I struggled with my Catholic faith: I lived it more privately than openly and was even embarrassed about it sometimes. I tried to live it partially, not fully, you know, picking and choosing what I wanted to believe, what suited my personal religious views in order to make my own way. I prayed off and on but I gave up easily. It wasn’t until I felt very unfulfilled that I began to beg Jesus: Have pity on me! Help me. Show me what to do. Help me to see your way. And with a little help (a lot of help) from the Rosary, Jesus opened my eyes and by a miracle of his grace I went back to confession after a 10 years absence and began to follow Jesus, not on my own way but on his way.

    There are many who see in life, but they are walking around like blind people; they have no direction. That was my life. I wasn’t a “bad man”, a robber or a murderer. I was just blind and needed Jesus to heal me. And he did once I stopped being afraid of him; once I came to see my own need for him and begged him to help me. There is nothing that moves the heart of Jesus more than someone begging. If you are too proud to beg then you haven’t reached the point that you need Jesus in your life. So once I admitted that I was blind He opened my eyes and I could see things in a different light. I saw that the Catholic Church wasn’t just one choice among many like ordering from a McDonalds’ menu, but it is THE Church the Jesus himself founded, and the pope was the successor of Peter. I came to see that Mary wasn’t someone that took my attention off Jesus but the best person to help me give my full attention to him. All the moral teachings of the Church on the sanctity of life and relationship issues became clear to me. The priesthood wasn’t just this weird lifestyle for guys who couldn’t get a girlfriend, but it was the manliest thing a guy could ever do because it is a very share in the life and priesthood of Jesus Christ. Jesus helped me and continues to help me to see what God made me for. Today is Priesthood Sunday and we give thanks to God for the priesthood.  

    Today is also World Youth Day. To you youth, don’t be afraid to hear the voice of Jesus and ask him to have pity on you. Do not be afraid to jump up and follow him even if those at your school or your friends discourage you. Jesus doesn’t want to take anything away from you but your weakness and sins, your fears, and your anxiety. Put your faith in him. He wants you to see what God made you for. Some he will call to guard your purity and virginity until marriage. But others he will call to follow him even more closely. Some of you young men he will call to be a priest like himself. For some of you young women, he will call you to be a religious sister. I know you may not think it is possible. I certainly did not see it was possible for me. But it is impossible for a blind man to receive his sight, but it happened. Let us not put any limits on what the Lord can do in our lives.

    Life is a great gift but it is hard. And I say it to everyone here who struggles with some sort of difficulty, spiritual blindness, doubt, an addiction, a bad relationship, a problem at work or at home, facing an illness or suffering from depression or loneliness: “Take courage, get up, Jesus is calling you.” And He asks what he wants to ask you the same question he asked Timaeus, the blind man: “What do you want me to do for you?” What do you want Jesus to do for your life, for your family? Let us not hesitate but be prepared to answer him full of faith so he can help us to see and follow his plan for our life. Amen.

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    10-25-15


  • All Saints - Sunday November 1 - B - 2015 Open or Close

    All Saints Day Sunday November 1st 2015

    Today we celebrate All Saints Day and remember those who lived the blessed life, the life of Christian virtue here on earth, and now reign with God in Heaven. They are men and women, young and old, poor and rich, from all races, all nations, all united in the love of God and neighbor through the Blood of Christ. They are saints because they washed their robes in the Blood of the Lamb, that is, they were baptized and received sanctifying grace which washed away their sins and made them children of God. They grew in grace through the sacraments and lived a life of good works. They weren’t immune to difficulties but they were so focused on God’s love that hardship, trials, and persecutions became blessings for them because it made them grow even closer to God and trust in his providence. And this bond of love with God became so strong that they persevered in faith until the end and died a holy death, in the state of grace. So the saints are models for us to inspire us. I think of St. Bernadette a little girl who became a great saint because she believed in God’s love. St. Maria Goretti at the age of 11 suffered death rather than give up her virginity. St. Pius X, the patron of our Archdiocese, wanted children to receive Jesus in Holy Communion.

    We think that the saints, well, were saints, and that it is impossible for us to be like them. But we can be saints too, if we come to know the love God has for us; if we are no longer afraid of God. Our sin makes us afraid of God, like Adam and Eve who hid from God in the Garden of Eden. We have inherited that fear because we think God wants to rob us of our fun and freedom to do what we want. It used to be the other way around: In the beginning we were afraid of sin because it hurts our relationship with God. So to become a saint we have to trust in God’s love for us, like children who know the love of their parents. Our love of God has to be so personal that we call him “Father.” St. John says in the second reading: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.” The saints had confidence that they were children of God and so they loved Him and called him “Father” just like Jesus did. They spoke to God like children speak to their parents.

    God loves us so much but like any parent, he doesn’t love our inclination to do wrong, our sinfulness. That is why St. John also says: “Everyone who has this hope based on [God] makes himself pure, as he is pure.” So we have to have pure hearts: “Blessed are the pure of heart; for they shall see God.” We have to allow God to remove our sins and help to do right. But he doesn’t do that magically or automatically. We have to want forgiveness and ask for it. So going to Confession is a big part of becoming a saint. And we should go less out of fear and more out of love. If we sin a lot, like we all do, we should go to confession a lot. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation we confess our sins to Jesus and he forgives us because he is merciful. God’s love comes to us in the form of Mercy. Jesus is the Divine Mercy of God. So we have to ask for this mercy if we are to receive it. In the end that is what makes a saint, those whose sinfulness led them to receive the mercy of God in the person of Christ Jesus. And once we have received the blessing of his mercy, we want to share it with others: “Blessed are the merciful; for they will obtain mercy.”

    Pope Francis wants us to know God’s mercy. He proclaimed a Year of Mercy that starts this December and he is encouraging every Catholic to go to Confession. He said in an interview: “I am a sinner who God has looked upon with mercy.” That is why he goes to confession every two weeks: First because he is a sinner. Second because he wants to be a saint.

    Do you want to be a saint? Do you think you can be a saint? The goal of the Christian life is to become a saint, to get to Heaven. But we must not live for the false blessing of the life of sin but live the life of grace which helps us to grow in the virtues of faith, hope, and love. This is the blessed life. The saints lived a blessed life, not in the eyes of the world that wants the blessings of wealth, popularity, power, and pleasure. The saints lived everyday lives as mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. Therefore, the family is the best place to become a saint. Through holy matrimony a man and women are given the grace to help one another so that surrounded by their children, they are not alone but face the trials of life together. In the family we learn the virtue of Love. And what does that look like? Patience, forgiveness, sharing, and praying together. In the family we learn to comfort one another when we mourn, we learn to be peace makers when we fight, we learn to strengthen one another when we face persecution at school or work. Our families become like saint making factories! The world says families are old fashion, not necessary, and take away from what life is all about. The wisdom of the world is: “Make it on your own!” God says “It is not good for man to be alone.” So it is in married life and family life where saints are made. But some he calls to an even greater level of union with his love and service to others to help them grow in holiness. These are priests and consecrated men and women called by God.

    But no matter who we are (married or single), what we are (a CEO or a stay at home mom), or where we are (in a big city or just here in Cedartown), God calls all of us to be saints, to be a part of the Heavenly Family by living a life of faith, hope, and love here on earth. You don’t have to be perfect, you only have to believe in God’s perfect love for you. Today we look to Heaven and through the eyes of faith we see the great multitude of our heavenly brothers and sisters who look down to help us here on earth:

    “After this I had a vision of a great multitude,
    which no one could count,
    from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
    They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,
    wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.
    They cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne,
    and from the Lamb…Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving,
    honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” - Rev 7

    Let us ask all the saints in Heaven to help us to become saints here on earth.

    - Father Timothy J. Gallagher 11-1-15

  • Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe - B - 2015 Open or Close

    34th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2015

    Jesus Christ King of the Universe

    We come to the end of our Liturgical Year, the Last Sunday of Ordinary Time, which prepares us to welcome Jesus Christ as King of the Universe when he comes again. Certainly, this is a preparation for the end of our own life when stand before his majesty. But it is more a preparation for the end of time when Jesus will return in all his glory. The Bible, which we believe is the Word of God, tells us that this is a true event. The last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation, describes the climatic end of all things when Christ returns: “Behold, he is coming amid the clouds, and every eye will see him.” Are you ready to see the Lord?

    As Christians our whole life is a preparation for this last day. And so the goal of life is to follow Jesus as the King of our life and to allow his words, his truth, to guide us. Jesus said in the Gospel: “For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." Are we listening to his voice? We do this by listening to his voice through the words in the Bible, which are the words of Christ, through the teachings of the Church, which are the teachings of Christ, through prayer, which is communication with Christ, and through the study of the Faith, which is knowledge of Christ. Our faith requires that we study it, otherwise we won’t know it. We cannot survive as Christians with only the things we learned in religious education back when we were 10 years old. We cannot testify to the truth unless we know it. There are so many Catholics today who say they are Christian but their actions say something very different, in the way they speak, act or dress; in the way they spend their money, judge others, vote for those who promote abortion, or reject immigration, or are not open to helping refugees or the poor. Their actions reveal their source of truth. But if Christ reigns in our hearts, we will be a testimony to his truth, we will witness to others that Christ is King of our life. Do you testify to the truth of Christ?

    Again it easy to say we are Christian but to testify to the truth, to give witness to it, is something much more. And to be a witness for truth of Christ we don’t have to walk around asking people “Are you saved? Is Jesus the King of your life?” God himself will give us the opportunity to testify to the truth. Usually, these opportunities come in the form of the trials we face in everyday life: Like an illness, or loss of a job, a difficult marriage, an unplanned pregnancy, or even a death of a loved one. The events are occasions when our faith comes alive and we put our hope in God. It is not when everything is going smooth but during times of chaos when everything seems to be falling apart that we give witness to who is the Lord of our life and reveal what we really believe is true.

    Our world is in chaos and many people are looking for answers, looking for truth. For example, most scientists say the climate is changing and this will bring affect the planet for the worse. Poverty continues to be a plague upon the poor. Our world seems to be slowly falling into another world war. There are solutions being offered by many voices, many experts. Some come from a liberal agenda and others from a conservative agenda, both of which may have some level of truth through political action. And it is very important for Christians to be involved with politics and listen to the different voices. But as Christians, the main voice we should be listening to is the voice of Christ and following his truth. As a Church our expertise does not come from the left or right but we offer Christ as the solution to our world’s problems: His truth, love, peace, justice, his example of sacrifice. We offer a great respect for creation because it belongs to God as Pope Francis has explained in his letter “Laudato Si.” The Holy Father encourages people to praise God for creation and to help the world to be a better place by respecting and protecting the environment more, with ultimate focus on the truth of the need to promote human dignity, especially the poor and vulnerable. The answers we offer to the chaos of the world come from our love of God and his creation.

    But we also offer a perspective that is out of this world that goes beyond this life! We live our lives not holding on to tightly to this life or the things of this world because we know it is all passing. We do not seek to build up our kingdom here on earth because our kingdom is not of this world. As Jesus said: “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over.” Jesus was speaking to Pilot, a man that represented the king of the world, Cesar, who used violence and war to set up his kingdom on earth. Jesus, the King of the Universe, could have easily defeated him by using evil against him. We see a lot of evil in the world: Fighting over land, money, natural resources, and over religion and ideologies. How do we face these threats? We cannot allow evil people to tempt us into becoming evil people to defeat them. That is how the Evil One reigns in our hearts draws us into his kingdom. He uses fear, pride, envy, greed, lust, and many forms of temptation. So how do we fight this enemy? How do we defeat evil? As Christians we offer the weapons of love. We reach out in peace. We offer forgiveness. We seek to serve and not to be served. We offer the world Christ so that he may reign in their hearts. Does that make us weak in the eyes of the world? Yes. Does it make us look like we are losing instead of winning? Yes. Does it make us vulnerable to being defeated by our enemy? Yes. But we remember again that our King is Christ and we belong to his Kingdom which doesn’t belong to this world. If we want to live in that kingdom, as much as we love, care for, and fight to protect our kingdom here below, we have to be willing to let go if comes to the point that the only option is that we become evil to preserve it.

    Jesus taught us this lesson in the Gospel today. He spoke the words about his Kingdom to Pilate right before his Crucifixion and death. Nobody wants to die. Not even Jesus. Jesus could have saved his life by evil means but he gave up his life. And he teaches us that if we give up our integrity and dignity or sacrifice the truth of our faith to defeat our enemy, then we die a worse death, a spiritual death, and that is the greatest evil. But if we sacrifice material things, money, power, pleasure, home or land to stay true to God, then even if we lose our life here on earth, we will gain eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven and be ready to welcome the King of the Universe when he returns. Amen.

    Father Timothy J. Gallagher

    11-20-15


St. Bernadette Roman Catholic Church
101 South College Street
Cedartown, GA 30125
(770) 748-1517
Wednesday the 22nd - Joomla Templates. © All Rights Reserved