Showing posts from December, 2019

Sunday Homily - December 22, 2019 - How to Write a Christmas Letter

The Apostle Paul Icon I. Ever since I can remember,  one of the essential things that my family did every Christmas season   was send Christmas cards. And not just any Christmas cards.  No, they were homemade Christmas cards.   Cards that had a little paragraph about how our family was doing    and what all we had been up to in the previous year. Mom always headed up the effort to make sure that all of our extended family  stayed up to date on what all the Harris's were up to.   And when I moved off to college,    I became responsible for writing my little paragraph of my life     and what all I did that previous year. And, you know, it was an exercise that some years was easy  and some years was much harder. Because, you know, when you write a Christmas card  you only have a certain amount of space on the card,   and so you have to pick and choose what kinds of things you share. Often the easiest things to share with family and friends  are the big

Sunday Homily - Dec. 15, 2019 - Doubt and Faith

Jesus Christ Appears to St. Thomas the Apostle  Icon Isaiah 35:1-10 Psalm 146:4-9 James 5:7-10 Matthew 11:2-11 I. Doubt is very taboo in our culture.  Isn't it? There are many many examples that one could give to this fact,  but there was a recent play that illustrates this taboo of doubt very effectively. And it is the play titled Doubt: A Parable.   This play, written by John Patrick Shanley in 2004,   went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play. And, as you might guess from the title of the play,  doubt plays a huge role. The plot goes thus: The play is set in the fictional St. Nicholas Church School  in New York during the fall of 1964.   Father Flynn, a beloved and social justice oriented parish priest,    is in the pulpit speaking of the importance of uncertainty. He states, "Doubt can be a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty." And then we meet Fr. Flynn's polar opposite: the scho

Sunday Homily - December 8th, 2019 - "Repent from your Addiction!"

John the Baptist Icon Isaiah 11:1-10 Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19 Romans 15:4-13 Matthew 3:1-12 I. A beloved colleague once told a story about his struggle with alcoholism. Travis* had started drinking in high school,  and his struggle worsened as he entered into college.  [*name changed for confidentiality] He was a regular at the parties at his university,  staying up far too late,   getting drunk and sleeping in until noon.    His freshman semester was easy,     and he was smart enough that he stayed up to date on his school homework      and took late classes in the afternoon so that he wasn't missing class. However, during his second semester,  things got worse.   He began missing class assignments,    showing up to class late,     hungover,      and unable to remember the lectures. And thus started the negative feedback loop  that comes with any addiction.   The repercussions in his life began to build up,    and so he turned to the only solac

Sunday Homily - December 1st, 2019 - Listen Up!

Christus Pantokrator ("Christ the Almighty") Icon First Sunday of Advent    Isaiah 2:1-5    Psalm 122    Romans 13:11-14    Matthew 24:36-44   I. Spiritual directors are amazing. One of my friends is a spiritual director,  and she told me a story about a recent person that she had in direction. She sat down with this person,  and began to listen. The spiritual direction session lasted for a significant period of time,  about an hour. And as the session was closing,  the person said to my friend,   "Oh my goodness, this was the best thing I've done in a long time.     You have been so helpful to me!" And, as she is recounting the event,  my friend begins to laugh. So I'm like, "So, what did you end up saying to them?" And she finishes her laughter,  she says, "Well, Mark, that's just the thing!   I didn't say a single word!" This person came to see my friend,  and spoke, talked, confess