Sunday, November 30, 2014

Homily for First Sunday of Advent - Year B

Deacon Jerry Franzen - Cathedral 11/30/14
Is 63: 16b-17, 19b; 64: 2-7 1 Cor 1: 3-9       Mk 13: 33-37

*Once upon a time there was a teenage girl named Belinda.
She thought that she might be interested in a boy named Randolph,
a nice boy, a smart boy, a respectful boy, a good Catholic boy
AND a good dancer.
Do you know how many teenage boys are good dancers?
Randolph hadn't paid any attention to Belinda,
but she didn't care, because she wasn't really sure
that she wanted to let on that she might like him.
Eventually, Randolph called her.
He tried to reach her every evening for a week,
but she didn't answer when he called,
and she didn't return his calls.

Belinda's mother asked, "Why don't you call that nice boy back;
he's so polite and respectful?"
Apparently Mom had been taking the messages;
This must have been prior to the invention
of cell phones, text messaging and voice mail.
You know, there really was such a time!
"He's a creep." Belinda insisted. "He's BORING."
Some do consider nice people to be BORING.
"I hear he's a good dancer and very sweet." her mother said.
"BORING.", argued Belinda.
Of course Belinda had every intention of calling him back,
but she didn't want to appear too eager, because
HE really hadn't paid any other attention to her for months.
Finally on a Saturday afternoon,
she called him back and HE wasn't in.
She tried again on Sunday afternoon, and he still wasn't in.
Furious, she tried again on Sunday evening, and he answered.
"Randolph, I hear you have been calling me,"
Belinda said in a snippy tone of voice.
"I'm sorry you didn't call me back sooner, Belinda.", he said sadly.
"I was going to invite you to the Christmas Dance.
But I figured you didn't want to go, so I asked someone else."

"I'm a total space cadet, I blew it" admitted Belinda.
"Maybe some other time," replied Randolph.
You never know when Mr. Right is going to call
with an invitation to a Christmas Dance.


Today's reading from the prophet Isaiah is a lament of the Israelites.
They had spent time away from their homeland in exile,
and away from God among the pagans and their idols.
Now that they were returning to their homeland,
they asked God why he had let them "wander from His ways,"
and "harden their hearts" against Him.
They longed for the God who tore open the heavens
and caused the mountains to quake,
the God who did "awesome" things,
greater than those "from of old."

They wanted their God back among them,
AND how nice it would be
if God would find them "doing right."
But, they sensed that God would be angry with them as sinners.
Their sins had made them unclean like polluted rags,
they were like withered leaves carried away
by the winds of guilt.
None of them had called upon God's name,
no one had rushed to cling to Him.
Had he hidden his face from them, let them stew in their guilt?      Abandoned them?
But, whether God had turned his face from them,
whether they could see God's face, wasn't important.
They knew something more important;
that they were in God's hands - like the clay of the potter.
God was there to take care of them, if they returned to Him


Like the Israelites, we too wander from the ways of the Lord. 
Our wandering usually shows up
as our lack of respect and love for another.
If we find support for our sinfulness, it will be easier to continue.
Our hearts will grow harder.
We may not respond to someone's need for help,
and instead focus on the laziness of others.
We wander farther and our hearts get even harder.
We might use another person
for our own satisfaction or advancement.
After all, according to prevailing attitudes our needs for money,
 power and physical satisfaction certainly come first.
We wander farther from the ways of the Lord.

This is what Belinda was doing to Randolph,
trying to build herself up at his expense
by making him continue to phone her.
After all, he was BORING.
We must ask ourselves, "Just how hard have our hearts become?
Are they so hard that God is BORING,
that there is no need to return his call.”
Advent is a yearly reminder for us to check ourselves,
to touch our hearts to see how hard they are becoming.
Have we been hearing that call but not answering like Belinda?
Is God too BORING for us to return the call?
Have we not heard a call from God in a while?
He calls every day, every minute.
Maybe it's time for us to give him a call, to seek the Lord.

If we have not heard from God in a while,
it is not because God has turned His face from us.
We have turned from God.
It may be time for us to remake the connection,
To turn to God in prayer:
- prayer that gives thanks for all that God provides for us,
- prayer that asks that our needs be fulfilled,
- prayer that listens, listens with the heart.

And Mark tells us to "Be watchful, be alert"-
to keep an open heart that seizes the opportunities
for God, through Christ, to be more fully in our lives,
a heart that is ready to help to build the Kingdom of God
as it explodes into our lives.
Be watchful for opportunities to build the Kingdom of God’s love,
brought here to earth by the birth of Jesus.
We can build the kingdom of God's sweeping love in many ways:
our helping a confused child,
our comforting a sick friend,
our consoling a discouraged spouse,
our listening to a troublesome person on the phone,
our satisfying a demand that seems unfair,
but will lead to much good with little sacrifice on our part.

"Be watchful, be alert."
You never know when Mr. Right is going to call
with an invitation to a Christmas Dance.
Be alert!
The Advent season reminds us that God is always calling
with His invitation to the Christmas event.


You may have seen information
in recent Bulletins about "Come Home."
"Come Home" is the Cathedral’s attempt
to reach out to inactive Catholics,
those who, for a variety of reasons,
have left the practices of the Catholic faith
and are not members of another religion.
They may consider God to be BORING
or the practice of the Catholic faith to be BORING.
They may be angry with God
or angry with someone or something about the Church.
They may feel rejected by the Church. 
Through "Come Home,"
a series of the first three Tuesday evenings in December,
we hope to meet with inactive Catholics
and to listen to their stories.

With the grace of God,
we hope to overcome their boredom,
their anger or whatever the problem might be
and to invite them back to the Church,
to help them to put in that return call
to invite God back into their lives through the Church.
We will need your help in bringing these people back.
If you know of someone who is an inactive Catholic,
invite them to come to meet with the “Come Home” team
led by Sr. Barbara, our pastoral associate,
on THIS Tuesday evening at the Parish Offices.
For now, we ask that you pray for the success of this effort
and pray that God will inspire you
to lead just one inactive Catholic to the “Come Home” team.
More information on “Come Home”can be found in the Bulletin.

*Story taken in 1999 from website of Andrew Greeley:

Monday, November 3, 2014

HOMILY Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed

By Deacon Jerry Franzen – Cathedral  11/02/2014
Wisdom 3:1–9   1 Thessalonians 4:13–18      John 17:24-26

The following was found written on a tombstone:

          "Remember me as you pass by.
           As you are now, so once was I.
           As I am now, one day you'll be.
           So stop and say a prayer for me."  

That little poem reminds us of two things about All Souls Day:      Today is a call to pray for our deceased loved ones
AND a reminder of our continuing relationship with those,
who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith.


The Church has always taught
that it is good and wonderful to pray for the deceased.
As we heard in the first reading, we pray that,
“Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
because God tried them
and found them worthy of himself.”
We pray that they had presented themselves
“as sacrificial offerings” during their lives
and that God has taken “them to himself.”
We pray in joy that
some are with the saints in the heavenly kingdom.
They too are saints, though they may not have been formally
proclaimed as such by the Church.
We believe that they can help us by interceding for us.
May we not forget that those loved ones who helped us in life,
who are now with God in heaven, can continue to help us.

We pray also for those souls in purgatory,
that somehow our prayers for them
will aid in their movement to heaven. 
We can’t understand exactly how God
receives our prayers of petition.
We certainly can’t be so arrogant as to think
that our prayers change God’s plan.
But, in faith, we know that God hears our prayers
and answers them.
It’s just that God is not on our time frame;
there is no past, present or future for God.
God is eternal and all knowing.
He has known forever the substance of our prayers.
He has already answered our prayers according to His will
with the answer that He knows is best for us.
Our prayers have been answered before we offer them.

While our prayers don’t change God, they must change us.
We pray that the souls in purgatory
soon will be in the everlasting peace of God’s presence.
Our remembrance of our deceased beloved ones
through our prayers for them serves to remind us
that we must not allow our grief to continue,
that we must have hope,
for there is that great hope that
they are with God, or soon will be,
AND that we will some day also be with them.


My father died in 1982.
Certainly, I wish he were still here bodily.
But he is with me often,
whenever I am assisting at the altar,
because he was an altar server and a choir member                                   when he was young.
He is with me whenever I water or prune a houseplant,
because he was an avid grower of houseplants.
He is with me whenever I work in the yard or paint a wall.
He was with me whenever I taught students how soap is made,
because I watched him make soap, when I was young.

Today (11/2) is the anniversary of my mother’s death in 2007.
I especially remember my parents whenever I say the rosary,
because we said it together at the kitchen table
on many evenings after dinner.
They are with me when I play with my grandchildren,
because I remember their playing with my children.
I keep in communion with them this way.
This communication serves to remind me of my mortality,
not that I should fear my mortality,
but that through this communication
I must know that if I accept God’s love
as they did,
my death will be conquered.

In the gospel, Jesus’ teaching was a clear description
of His mission for conquering that death.
God the Father gave Jesus the responsibility
of the salvation of all souls.
Jesus will not reject anyone who comes to Him,
even the greatest sinner, because Jesus’ mission
was the salvation of ALL souls.
It is the will of the Father that we all should be with Him.
Jesus emphasized that this meant everybody who came to Him,
and that all of these would be glorified in His final coming.

Those who we remember today
responded to the love of Jesus and believed in Him.
They were welcomed by Jesus in heaven,
or will soon be welcomed,
and we have the hope of joining them “on the last day.”



Today we celebrate the feast of All Souls,
all those who have departed this earth.
On Wednesday, at a 10:00 AM Mass
we will place special emphasis on those
whose funerals were in this parish,
since last year at this time.

Each of us has relatives and friends who have died.
I pray that the Lord comfort you
as you continue to deal with your loss.
We are all reminded today of those special friends
and loved ones who have gone before us.
May we celebrate our continuing communion with them,
and praise God for revealing to us his love through them.

If you make a couple of changes in that little poem
I included at the beginning, you get the following:

           "Remember those who have passed your way.
           As you are now, so once were they.
           As they are now, one day you'll be,
           Together with God for all eternity"