On this page, you will find homilies preached by the priests who celebrate the English Mass in our church. Homilies will usually be posted a few hours after Sunday Mass.Homily 24 November 2013: The Solemnity of Christ the King, Year C

The Solemnity of Christ the King

Reading I: 2 Samuel 5:1-3
Responsorial: Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
Reading II: Colossians 1:12-20
Gospel: Luke 23:35-43

If we accept the Big Bang theory of the expansion of the universe, it will never explain anything to us about the Person of Christ, or reveal to us details about the inner life of God the Creator. Because of their research and study, many scientists have come to the conclusion that God exists. But the nature of the Triune God and knowledge of the inner life of the Trinity is only available to us through God’s revelation.

The fullness of God’s revelation is Jesus Christ. It is only because of Christ and his Good News that we know that God is not unitary or alone, not a mere entity or supernatural substance, but a Communion of Persons. God’s nature is shared by divine Persons: the Person of the Father, the Person of the Son and the Person of the Holy Spirit. And therefore we can exclaim:

What an astonishing mystery! There is one Father of the universe, one Logos of the universe,
and also one Holy Spirit, everywhere one and the same” (CCC 813).

Moreover thanks to revelation we know that the whole of creation, which flows from the inner life of the Trinity, is achieved, expressed, and fulfilled in the figure of Christ, so that Christ recapitulates in himself the entire reality of the world, and even its history. This truth was beautifully expressed in today’s second reading when we heard that Christ “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col 1:15-17).

Christ is “before all things, and in him all things hold together.” What does this mean? Saint Bonaventure, the great Franciscan theologian of the thirteenth century, explained that from eternity, Christ stands at the centre of divine life — the centre of the Trinity — and because of the Incarnation, Christ is at the centre of all reality: “In Him are brought together the extremes of material reality and finite spirit; but also the extremes of finite spirit and Absolute Spirit”.

When we speak of Christ as the central Person of the Trinity and the centre of the universe, we are speaking specifically of Christ on the Cross. In the mystery of Christ’s Cross and Resurrection, the mystery of the universe – and the mystery of each of our lives – becomes meaningful. In the Cross, Christ reveals the redemptive power of suffering. In his death and resurrection, he reveals that this world is not all; that there is something more after our physical death, and that we will have a new kind of life in our resurrected bodies. This mysterious renewal will transform humanity and the world. Sacred Scripture calls it a “‘new heavens and a new earth.’ It will be the definitive realization of God’s plan to bring under a single head ‘all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth’” (CCC 1043). Furthermore, “After the universal judgment, the righteous will reign for ever with Christ, glorified in body and soul. The universe itself will be renewed” (CCC 1042). All of this is revealed by Christ through his Incarnation, death and Resurrection. No scientific study could reveal it.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, today we conclude the Year of Faith. More than a year ago we were invited to spend the year going more deeply into Scripture, the Catechism and the Documents of the Second Vatican Council. How have you responded to this invitation? Is your faith deeper now than it was one year ago? Have you made an effort to learn more about Christ, His Church, and your place in God’s plan?

In today’s Gospel we read about the so-called ‘Good Thief’ who proclaimed his faith in Jesus, defending Christ’s innocence. For that reason, he was promised that he would see Christ in Paradise that very day. However, we must not take the Good Thief as a model of a Christian life, and expect that we will have a chance to make a death-bed conversion after a life of ignoring Christ and his message. Jesus warned that we may not know the day or the hour when we will face him for our judgement; we could die without any warning, with no time to make our peace with God.

If you did not make any effort to deepen your relationship with God, to read and study during the Year of Faith, it is still not too late. Unless the roof of the church falls on our heads in the next few minutes, there is still time to open the Bible, the Catechism and the Documents of the Church Councils and embark anew on your journey of faith. Everything is available online, for free. The only condition is whether you have the will to make the effort.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 17 November 2013: The Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Malachi 3:19-20a
Responsorial: Psalm 98:5-6, 7-8, 9
Reading II: 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12
Gospel: Luke 21:5-19

Fr Andrzej Kulczycki, OFM Conv.

Homily 10 November 2013: The Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: 2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14
Responsorial: Psalm 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15
Reading II: 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5
Gospel: Luke 20:27-38

The decorations that you can see in the church today remind us of the one-hundredth anniversary of the consecration of this church. Probably no one who was present at the consecration ceremony in nineteen-thirteen could have imagined that less than a century later Mass would be celebrated in English in this church. Gathered here today, we should be grateful to all of those people who made sacrifices of their time, money, energy and talents to build this church. We should also keep in mind those people who, at the end of the Second World War,  undertook to restore this church, despite the fact that it was 70% destroyed and most people thought it would be better to tear it down. In fact, this whole neighborhood had been a battleground, and after the War it was virtually a wasteland. Now, this neighborhood is densely populated and has the tallest building in Wroclaw. We can look back and see that the decision to build this church and to restore it after the War was providential.

Before the statue of St Anthony in the church, you can see photos of the priests and brothers who dedicated their lives to rebuilding the church and building up the parish community. Something that we don’t see is photos of the hundreds or thousands of lay people who in one way or another contributed to making the parish what it is today. As we celebrate one hundred years since the consecration of the church, we have to remember all of them in our prayers.

As we reflect on the history of this parish, it is obvious that when we speak of the church, it is not only as a building where we worship, but as a community, a parish family. People who come to the church also come together with one another, becoming a real, living church as a community. The people are more important than the building. I think that you will agree with me that an architecturally beautiful church, if it is empty or converted to a museum, has lost the essence of what makes it beautiful. Many of you may have seen churches that were closed and finally sold because there was no community of the faithful to keep the church open. It is a common problem in Europe and in North America. If Polish culture continues to degenerate and Poles continue to turn away from their faith, the closure of churches will happen here as well.

If you look at the pictures of this church, devastated at the end of the War, you may ask yourself, ‘How did people who were so poor, and living in such terrible conditions, find the will and determination to rebuild this church from the rubble?’ Today, we are materially much better off; building materials are readily available and construction processes are streamlined. But instead of building more churches and parish communities, parish communities are dying for lack of support and churches are being closed. What has happened to us?

Many people just aren’t interested in coming here to worship God, to receive the sacraments, and to be part of the parish community, because they have lost their faith. How does this happen? Because of sin. It’s not war or oppression or some other external conditions that cause the decline of Christian communities. It is something internal: sin. Sin separates us from God and from other people. When sin becomes more important than God, people don’t want to go to church and hear that they have to repent and return to Christ.

When the churches are empty, we can see that emptiness reflected in society – in the empty lives of people devoted to materialism and hedonism; in the empty homes of couples who choose not to marry or not to have children. It is not only the church buildings that are closed or torn down; it is the very culture – which was built on Christianity – that is destroyed. The moral fabric that holds society together falls apart, and in its place we have confusion, suspicion and fear. 

Sin and sin alone is responsible for the degradation of our society. 

In the second reading, Saint Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, ‘We are confident of you in the Lord, that what we instruct you, you are doing, and will continue to do.’ Paul is reminding us that we must remain firm in the faith that we received from our parents and grandparents, and which ultimately we receive from the Church, the mystical Body of Christ.

The first reading gives us an example of being steadfast, persevering to the end. Despite being whipped, tortured and threatened with death, the seven sons and their mother did not transgress God’s law. Many of you may remember a time when shops were closed on Sundays. Nevertheless, we managed to organize our lives in such a way that we could do everything we needed to do in six days. Today most shops and shopping centers are open on Sundays. Nobody is threatening Christians, saying, ‘Go shopping on Sunday or you will die.’ But even though there are many more shops nowadays, and we can shop online and have everything delivered to our homes, thousands of Christians freely choose to go shopping on Sunday instead of going to church. They break the Lord’s commandment in a way that is socially acceptable. In a similar way, Christians break other commandments. At the beginning, they may feel guilty about it or know that it is wrong. But as it becomes habitual, gradually they fall away from church, and everything that they do becomes tainted by sin. 

Saint Paul reminded the Thessalonians that ‘not all have faith.’ It is certainly the same case today, since we have lost our Christian roots in society, and it is the people who do not have faith who are creating the social conditions we live in. Like the Thessalonians, we have to pray for God’s grace, that he will ‘encourage [our] hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word’ and ‘guard [us] from the evil one.’

Dear brothers and sisters, the church is not only a place for worship; it is the place where we can experience who we are – children of God, one family. Imagine the alternative. Imagine our culture, our lives, without the Church in them. What alternative is left? The world, the flesh and the devil. 

As we celebrate the parish’s anniversary today, remember that the fate of this building and this community, our society and culture, depend on us. Let us live in such a way that one hundred years from now, no one will be able to say that we were the reason that this church building was closed; that we were the reason this faith community disappeared. In one hundred years, let them look back and be inspired, strengthened and encouraged by our faith.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 3 November 2013: The Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Wisdom 11:22-12:2
Responsorial: Psalm 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14
Reading II:  2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2
Gospel: Luke 19:1-10

There will be no homily this Sunday because it is the first Sunday of the Month and we will have Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the end of Mass.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 27 October 2013: The Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18
Responsorial: Psalm 34:2-3, 17-18, 19, 23
Reading II: 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
Gospel: Luke 18:9-14

Dear in Brothers and Sisters:

In today’s Gospel, Jesus accused some Jews of breaking the Law. We know that He made this accusation very often. St. Paul was an educated Jew who realized that faith in Christ as the Messiah set the Jews free from the necessity of strictly adhering to a rigid legal code. He criticized Jews who prided themselves on following the letter of the law, but whose hearts were far from God.

St Paul understood that “The LORD is a God of justice, who knows no favorites” (Sir, 35, 12), and that “The one who serves God willingly is heard; his petition reaches the heavens….” This means that no one can assume that just because he belongs to the Chosen People, he is automatically righteous in the sight of God.

In his Letter to the Romans Paul wrote very openly that many of Jews in fact abuse the law: “Now if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast of God and know his will and are able to discern what is important since you are instructed from the law, and if you are confident that you are a guide for the blind and a light for those in darkness, that you are a trainer of the foolish and teacher of the simple, because in the law you have the formulation of knowledge and truth— then you who teach another, are you failing to teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who forbid adultery, do you commit adultery? You who detest idols, do you rob temples? You who boast of the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?” (Romans 2:18-23). And therefore, as he points out “Because of you the name of God is reviled among the Gentiles” (Romans 2:24).

Dear brothers and sisters, if we sometimes have the feeling that God does not hear and answer our prayers, then maybe it is because we are similar to the Pharisee in today’s Gospel who was convinced of his “own righteousness and despised everyone else” (Luke 18:9).

As Catholics in possession of the fullness of revealed truth, we could also very easily come to the conclusion that we are somehow superior to those who follow other religions or faith traditions, such as Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, or Hindus.

Even if we don’t think that way as Catholics, many of us may be tempted to speak to God in the same words as the Pharisee: “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity – greedy, dishonest, adulterous” – like my neighbour, my co-worker, my husband, my wife, my boss, the president. “I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income”. I always participate in Sunday Mass; I pray the Rosary every day, go on a pilgrimage every year, and so on.

It is easy to become like the Pharisee, thinking that we are righteous because we fulfil our religious duties or do even more than the bare minimum that our faith requires of us. At the same time, however, we don’t like to acknowledge, “I am a sinner. I have a hard heart toward my neighbor. I am not open to the needs of others.” It does not occur to us that perhaps instead of all our pious devotions, it would be better to begin by saying, “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”

Please pause to consider this for a moment: in your prayers do you ask God for something? Do you thank God for something? Do you perhaps praise God for his goodness? Now, how often does your prayer consist only in this: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner”, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner”, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”

Jesus teaches us today: I tell you, the one who prays like the tax collector goes home justified, not the self-righteous; “for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

There is no better way to know who we really are and our true position before God than to say this simple prayer: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner”. I invite you to add this short formula to your daily prayers: “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”

When we say, “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner” we will be saying the truth about ourselves, and as Jesus taught us, the truth will make us free. Praying, “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner,” roots us in profound humility and guarantees that our prayer will be heard. As Sirach reminds us, “The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds; it does not rest till it reaches its goal” because “the Lord hears the cry of the poor”.

Amen

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 20 October 2013: The Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Exodus 17:8-13
Responsorial: Psalm 121:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
Reading II: 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2
Gospel: Luke 18:1-8

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the text from St. Paul’s Letter to Timothy today, we heard these words:

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

“All Scripture is useful for teaching.” But not only for teaching. In the Bible and only in the Bible can everyone find definitive and complete answers to the questions: “Who am I?” and “Why do I exist?”

Further, Paul tells us that “All Scripture is useful for refutation.” This means that Scripture can help us refute the opinions of those who try to persuade us nowadays that what God forbids, governments may allow. No doubt all of you have heard about the sins of priests and even bishops; about their abuses, sexual scandals and other dreadful deeds done by some individuals in the hierarchy of the Church. Not always, but sadly, quite often, these allegations of wrong-doing are true. But we must never judge an organization, by the deeds of people who fail to live up to the standards of that organization.

The Church preserves the teachings of the Scriptures — that it is a great evil to harm an innocent child, for example. The fact that some members of the Church – even priests and bishops – have failed to live up to the teachings of the Church, does not nullify those teachings. It is ironic that the same media that attack the Church because of the homosexual acts of some priests at the same time glorify and praise homosexuality in everybody else. The aim of the media is to turn people away from the Church, by implying that the sinful actions of a few members of the Church discredit the entire Church, her teachings and all her good works for two millennia.

Interestingly, when a high-profile journalist is convicted of a crime, the media never conclude that we should stop watching the news or reading newspapers. When a politician or medical doctor is convicted of a crime, the media does not conclude that politics as such, or modern medicine should be rejected completely. When we think of it this way, we see that their aim, of blaming the entire Church or Christianity as a whole for the actions of a few, is hypocritical.

If we reject the authority of Scripture, preserved and taught for 2,000 years by the Church, who will be left to define what is good and what is bad? Which parliament, which international organisation or which army? We have to remember that the Holy Catholic Church is the refuge of sinners in need of a Savior. Nobody is without sin, including the popes, bishops and priests. Nevertheless our faith is based not on the personal character of a pope, bishop or priest. It is built on and rooted in Christ, Christ who alone is without sin.

Saint Paul also reminds us that “All Scripture is…useful…for correction.” We often hear today about “tolerance.” By “tolerance,” people usually mean “willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own.” Common sense should tell us that there are some things that cannot and must not be tolerated. Thomas Mann, a twentieth-century German novelist, and outspoken opponent of the Nazi regime, expressed this truth when he wrote that “Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil.”

If you search the Scriptures, you will not find the word “tolerance.” Scripture does not call us to be tolerant. On the contrary, you will find that throughout salvation history, God is constantly correcting his people when they act against natural law or violate their covenant relationship with him. “Correction” means to make people “free from error; to make people act in accordance with fact or truth.” God corrects us when we err, when we are not living in accordance with reality and truth about who we are and who God is. In the same passage of Second Timothy, Paul urges us: “proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand….” In short, we are called to be correct ourselves and to correct others according to the teachings of Scripture.

“All Scripture is inspired for training in righteousness,” says Saint Paul. If we are taught by God’s word; if we rely on Scripture to refute what is false, and if we accept correction according to the precepts in Scripture, by these means we will be trained in righteousness; we will become morally upright.

All around us we see signs of decadence and immorality. Individuals and societies have lost their moral compass. Without the guidance of Scriptures, people don’t know where to turn for truth; they don’t know how to discern between that which leads to life, and that which will destroy them. Christians are called to be the salt of the earth. But even Christians often don’t know what the Bible says about what is good and what is evil. When we lose sight of what is allowed and what is forbidden by God, we will surely stumble and fall into sin.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, what we have to give to all mankind is the truth of God’s word — that is Christ, who is the Logos, the Word made flesh. What we have to give to all mankind is our lives transformed by Christ. In his message for World Mission Sunday, the Holy Father invites us to proclaim the Good News by our lifestyle. This is how we are to be the salt of the earth. When we live by the wisdom of Scripture; when we live upright lives, we show unbelievers that the truth of Christianity does not lie in the actions of those who betray Christ and his teachings, but in those who strive daily to live up to them.

In the Gospel today, Jesus asked, “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Scripture tells us that faith comes from hearing the word of God. But if the Word is not proclaimed, how can anyone believe in it? Therefore it is up to us to proclaim the Word of God every day by our lives, for the fruits of our missionary work in the world will determine whether Jesus will find faith on earth when he comes again.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 13 October 2013: The Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: 2 Kings 5:14-17
Responsorial: Psalm 98:1, 2-3, 3-4
Reading II: 2 Timothy 2:8-13
Gospel: Luke 17:11-19

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

In today’s Gospel, ten were healed, and yet only one returned to give thanks: a Samaritan. Jesus was surprised at the ingratitude of the other nine. He asked the crowd, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Jesus wanted to teach his followers the importance and necessity of gratitude.

If a person is grateful, it shows two things. First, it shows a high level of human and spiritual development. Secondly, when we are grateful to others, it indicates that we are happy to be in a relationship with the other person; we appreciate the value of the other person and what he has to offer. When people are not grateful, it closes off their relationships with other people.

Very few people feel a need to thank God for all of his gifts. However, gratitude is necessary if we want to progress in our spiritual life, in our relationship and closeness to God.

The first Christians understood this perfectly. They called their sacred liturgy “Eucharist,” which is the Greek word for “Thanksgiving.” They approached the altar to offer thanks to God, as part of a community that knew the value of giving thanks.A joyful atmosphere prevailed in the Thanksgiving of the first Christians. There was much peace and happiness among them. Christians of the first generation astonished the world with their optimism. They were optimistic because they worked constantly to master the art of thanksgiving. They were full of joy because they saw the world and everything in it as a gift.

Saint Francis of Assisi was a master of the art of thanksgiving: even if he had nothing, he was joyful because he had God. God filled his heart; he had no need of anything else.

The art of thanksgiving has to be practiced if we want to master it. Every day there are dozens of situations in which we should say “thank you”. Do not be afraid to say “thank you,” especially to your loved ones. When someone sees that others appreciate his effort and work, he is willing to do even more good. At the same time, one who knows how to give thanks will not be content with mere words. He will try to repay kindness with kindness.

In today’s Gospel, only one person in ten returned to God to give thanks for his gifts. It is no wonder that today the proportion is similar.

In the coming week, let us try to give thanks to others several times each day, and at the end of each day, let us give thanks to the Lord for the abundant gifts we have received from Him.

Fr Andrzej Kulczycki, OFM Conv.

Homily 6 October 2013: The Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4
Responsorial: Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
Reading II: 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14
Gospel: Luke 17:5-10

Because it is the first Sunday of the month, in lieu of a homily, we will have Eucharistic adoration at the end of Mass. We will pray especially for the Holy Father’s intentions.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 29 September 2013: The Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Amos 6:1a, 4-7
Responsorial: Psalm 146:7, 8-9, 9-10
Reading II: 1 Timothy 6:11-16
Gospel: Luke 16:19-31

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

In today’s first reading, the prophet Amos reproaches people who live in luxury, “lying on beds of ivory”, eating “lambs taken from the flock”, drinking “wine from bowls” and anointing “themselves with the best oils.” All of us who know something about his life, will agree that this description does not apply to Saint Francis of Assisi, whose solemnity we celebrate this coming Friday. Since Friday is a working day for most of you, and you may not be able to come to Mass and celebrate this solemnity with us, I have decided today to preach a little bit about the founder of our order.

It is not easy for most people to get to know the real St Francis, because so many pious legends have grown up around him. Another problem is that people try to simplify Francis, putting him into different ‘boxes’ that suit their own purposes: Francis the animal-lover; Francis the nature-lover; Francis the poor man; Francis the poet and musician; Francis the peace-maker, and so on. More informed people know St Francis as a mystic, a stigmatic, a preacher, a missionary, a prophet and a master of spiritual life. Few people recognize him as a great theologian and philosopher; indeed Francis called himself a simple and ignorant man.

Nevertheless, we can say that Francis is a great theologian. In a sermon preached on the Feast of St Francis in 1255 – twenty-nine years after Francis died – St Bonaventure explained why St Francis was a teacher like none other. When we think of a theologian, we probably think of someone who writes learned treatises or gives lectures at a university. St Bonaventure explained that Francis’s qualifications as a theologian were quite different because he received knowledge of God directly from God.

St Bonaventure explained that Francis “taught what he himself had learned without error because of the truth of God’s revelation.” And furthermore, Francis learned the truth directly from God. Saint Bonaventure, who was a child while Francis was still living, explained that Francis had very little education – only enough to carry on his father’s business. He did not go to university, and he had no formal teaching in Scripture. So how did he preach and write with such profound knowledge of God? According to St Bonaventure, “the Lord himself chose to teach” St Francis in the same way that the Lord himself taught St Paul. Francis “taught what he himself had learned without error because of the truth of God’s revelation….” (Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, volume II, The Founder; Bonaventure: “The Morning Sermon of Saint Francis: Preached at Paris, October 4, 1255.” [New City Press, New York, 2000], pp. 508-516, pp. 509-512)

I can give you one example of the teaching of St Francis. There is a story about a Dominican preacher who was a spiritual man and a Doctor of Sacred theology. This wise theologian was troubled because according to the prophet Ezekiel, if you see a person doing something wicked, and you don’t reproach him for it, you are responsible for his soul. And yet, this Dominican priest saw many people who lived in mortal sin, but he did not confront all of them with their sins. He asked Francis, “Will I then be held accountable for their souls?”

Francis replied that he understood the passage from Ezekiel to “that a servant of God should be burning with life and holiness so brightly, that by the light of his example and the tongue of his conduct, he will rebuke all the wicked. In that way…the brightness of his life and the fragrance of his reputation will proclaim their wickedness to all of them.”

In this way the simple, uneducated Francis was able to show the wise Dominican preacher an understanding of God’s word that is higher than the Dominican could imagine. The wise preacher concluded that the theology of Francis “held aloft by purity and contemplation, is a soaring eagle, while [his own learning] crawls on its belly on the ground.” (Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, volume II, The Founder; “The Assisi Compilation,” 36. [New City Press, New York, 2000], p. 141.)

Saint Francis did not leave behind any sermon or treatise about the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, which we read in today’s Gospel. But it seems to me that Francis sums up the lesson of this parable both by the example of his life, and by one simple sentence in the Admonitions he gave to his brothers: “Blessed is that brother who would love his brother as much when he is ill and not able to assist him, as he loves him when he is well and able to assist him.”

Some of the writings of St Francis in English

Writings of Francis in a downloadable pdf book

A website with comprehensive information about St Francis, St Clare and their writings, as well as the history of the Franciscans and much, much more.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 22 September 2013: The Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Amos 8:4-7
Responsorial: Psalm 113:1-2, 4-6, 7-8
Reading II: 1 Timothy 2: 1-8
Gospel: Luke 16:1-13

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

By God’s Providence, two days ago Pope Francis gave a homily in the House of St Martha about the dangers of wanting to be rich. In speaking about the power of money, the Holy Father spoke forcefully about the theme of today’s Gospel: the question of how we use money and conduct business.

The Holy Father said, “Jesus told us clearly and definitively, that we cannot serve two masters; you cannot serve both God and money. It just doesn’t work. There is something about the attitude of love towards money that takes us away from God”.

He went on to explain further: “Money corrupts. There is no way out. If you choose this path of money in the end you will become corrupt. Money seduces you, and makes you slowly slip into perdition. And that is why Jesus is so determined: You cannot serve both God and money, you cannot: either one or the other. And this is not communism, this is pure Gospel. These things are the words of Jesus”.

The Holy Father’s teaching is unequivocal: for those who love money, money becomes an idol of worship.

“And that is why Jesus tells us: You cannot serve both the idol of money and the living God. Either one or the other.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Jesus Himself did not carry money. But He knows that money will always exist in our world. He also knows the danger of trusting in money. And that is why he teaches us that we must trust in God and not in money.

Today’s first reading from the prophet Amos was written almost two thousand, eight hundred years ago. How little things have changed! Almost three millennia ago the prophet condemned those who cheat in trade, who buy and sell human beings like merchandise — people whose whole aim in life was making financial profit. Does this not describe our contemporary financial culture as well? The prophet warned such people: “the LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Never will I forget a thing they have done!”

“The Lord has sworn… Never will I forget…!” This means that our misuse and abuse of money – and the evil effects it brings – will never be forgotten by God. This warning should make us ask ourselves: How do we dispose of our material goods? The Lord reminds us that “the person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones”.

Using the example of a rich man and his steward I wish turn your attention to an important fact connected with the question of debtors and owners.

The example used by Jesus in today’s Gospel relies on a very simple economic reality: there is one rich man who owns much property; one steward and many debtors. The steward and the debtors do business with the owner of property. Today, as you know, our economic system is not so simple. Almost every nation has huge debts. As citizens, we have to pay these debts, even though we did not personally incur these debts and we may not even understand or know what we are paying for.

The problems of international debt are difficult for the average person to understand. What we do know is that when governments and banks try to resolve these problems, real people are hurt: factories close and people are put out of jobs and suffer. Wars are fought over oil and other natural resources when debtor nations cannot pay.

You and I may not be able to understand all the nuances of international finance. But when we look at the results of international economics, it is easy to see that our economic system is run by people who serve mammon, not God. For them, money is more important than the lives of human beings and our natural environment.

Dear brothers and sisters, remember what Scripture tells us, that four our sake, the Lord Jesus Christ ‘became poor although he was rich, so that by His poverty you might become rich’ (2 Cor 8:9). This explains our vocation: to become rich as God is rich; rich in love, because God is love. Unlike gold and silver, which can decay, love never ends.

What do you live for? For God and his love? Or for financial gain? Which would be a worse crisis for you: financial poverty, or the loss of your faith?

Think about the lesson of today’s Gospel, and remember that one day the Lord will ask us “’What is this I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship;’” and “Never will I forget a thing they have done!”

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 15 September 2013: The Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14
Responsorial: Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 17, 19
Reading II: 1 Timothy 1:12-17
Gospel: Luke 15:1-32

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

If someone famous or important comes to a city, many people will go and listen to him speak. It’s normal, because it may be the only opportunity for them to see or meet a famous person. When Jesus arrived in a place, everyone wanted to hear him: sinners and tax-collectors as well as Pharisees and scribes.

But the Pharisees were not happy about this. They condemned Jesus because he was willing to let sinners and tax-collectors be close to him and he spoke to them and even ate meals with them. Why? Because tax-collectors collected money from the Jews and gave it to their enemies, the Romans. The Pharisees considered other people to be sinners because those people did not observe every rule in the law of Moses.

The Pharisees and scribes could not understand why Jesus, the famous teacher, would allow sinners and traitors to come close to him. Why would he talk to them and even go to their homes and eat with them?

Jesus knew what was in their hearts. He told them two parables to remind the Pharisees about who God really is. The Pharisees could only think of God in terms of righteousness and justice. For them, God was someone who rejected and punished anyone who did any wrong thing.

But Jesus wanted them to know that God is not only a just judge. God is also merciful.

Jesus described two situations that everyone can understand. Two people lost something that was very precious to them, and they stopped everything they were doing and searched until they found what they had lost. All of us understand this experience. Jesus wants to show us that when we sin, and we are separated from Him, he does not reject us. To him, each human being is a treasure. Each sinner is a lost treasure. Christ seeks each sinner and will not rest until he finds us, and brings us back into community and friendship with him and his heavenly Father.

Jesus also connects our human experience with the reality of heaven. When we find something we lost, we tell our friends and our family; we rejoice that we have found our lost treasure. And so it is in heaven, where there is great joy among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

Brothers and sisters, to Jesus, you are the most precious treasure. To not fear his judgement, but rely on his mercy. To free us from our sins and to give us new life and salvation he died on the Cross. To him be praise and glory forever. Amen.

Fr Andrzej Kulczycki, OFM Conv.

Homily 8 September 2013: The Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Wisdom 9:13-18b
Responsorial: Psalm 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14-17
Reading II: Philemon 9-10, 12-17
Gospel: Luke 14:25-33

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Today, as you heard in the Gospel, Christ said to us: “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” This is the kind of speech that causes many modern people to say, “This is a hard saying. Who can listen to it?” How is it possible that Christ could require us to hate our own parents? Is it not written in the commandments, “Honor your father and your mother”? Didn’t Christ teach us even to love our enemies? How could he encourage us to hate our closest relatives? Isn’t it a contradiction? We also know that Christ said that we have to love one another, because we will show that we are his disciples, if we love one another. But now he is saying that if we don’t hate the people closest to us, we cannot be his disciples. How can we resolve this apparent contradiction?

First of all we have to realize that Jesus’s audience was first-century Jews, who had a different way of thinking than we do now. So we have to enter into their logic in order to understand what they would have understood from Jesus’s teaching in today’s Gospel. For them, “to hate” meant to “to love less than” something or someone else. It does not completely exclude love. We can see this sense when we read Matthew’s version of today’s teaching. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Mt 10:37). In other words, Jesus gives us a clear alternative: If you want to follow Him, you have to choose Him above other people, and love Him more than anyone else.

This truth is explained by Jesus in other words: “No one can serve two masters” (Lk 6:13). So we are faced with a serious choice. We have to be like the man who considered building a tower, or the king who was thinking of going to war. In both cases, they were thinking of undertaking a serious business, and they had to consider whether they were really able to commit to it. Did they have what it takes? Jesus tells us that in a similar way, when we want to be His disciples, we have to be willing to renounce our possessions and take up the cross. Do we really have what it takes to be a disciple of Christ?

Renouncing our possessions doesn’t mean we have to live a primitive life, with no possessions at all. It means that we love our possessions less than Christ; that we are not so attached to our possessions that we feel like we can’t live without them, or we would lose our faith if we lost our possessions or even if we lost our father or mother, spouse and children, brothers and sisters. St Augustine expressed this beautifully when he addressed God saying, “a man loves You so much the less if, besides You, he also loves something else which he does not love for Your sake” (Confessions X, 29).

In today’s Gospel, Jesus used the example of a man who wants to build a tower or go to war – men who are preoccupied with things that will gain them recognition or power in this world. But if we are disciples of Christ, we recognize that everything that in the world does not really belong to us. It is only here for our temporary use. We do not live for the sake of the material world, but to build the Kingdom of God. And the Kingdom of God can only be built with love.

When we look at the situation in Syria, we can see that worldly powers calculate in cold blood whether they can win a war, without caring that they are destroying the lives of ordinary, peaceful citizens. In Syria, some 8 million people have been displaced, including two million children. Nobody knows how many of those children are orphans with no one to care for them and no homes to go to.

Last night, during the vigil prayer for peace, the Holy Father explained how situations like this come about:

“[W]e let ourselves be guided by idols, by selfishness, by our own interests, and this attitude persists. We have perfected our weapons, our conscience has fallen asleep, and we have sharpened our ideas to justify ourselves. As if it were normal, we continue to sow destruction, pain, death! Violence and war lead only to death, they speak of death! Violence and war are the language of death!”

If we want to change the world we have to choose Christ and his teaching as the only rule and foundation of our thoughts, words and actions, even though this also means that we have chosen the Cross of Christ.

In a few short words, Pope Francis explained how the Cross of Christ is the antidote for the destruction, pain and death that is sown by the sins of men:

“My Christian faith urges me to look to the Cross. How I wish that all men and women of good will would look to the Cross if only for a moment! There, we can see God’s reply: violence is not answered with violence, death is not answered with the language of death. In the silence of the Cross, the uproar of weapons ceases and the language of reconciliation, forgiveness, dialogue, and peace is spoken.”

The Holy Father is reminding us of what Christ taught us two thousand years ago, and which we have to remember in every generation — in this generation: he who lives by the sword dies by the sword; when we sow death, we reap death. History has shown us this for thousands of years. So we must learn the lessons of history and of the Gospel: if we want a culture of life, we must defend life; if we want to build a civilization of love, we must love our neighbors as ourselves. The first step is our fundamental choice: to love Jesus more than we love the material world; to take up our cross and follow Him.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 1 September 2013: The Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29
Responsorial: Psalm 68:4-5, 6-7, 10-11
Reading II: Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24a
Gospel: Luke 14:1, 7-14

There will be no homily this Sunday because it is the first Sunday of the Month and we will have Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the end of Mass.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 25 August 2013: The Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Isaiah 66:18-21
Responsorial: Psalm 117:1, 2
Reading II: Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13
Gospel: Luke 13:22-30

Probably if Jesus were walking the earth today, he would hear accusations about his anti-Semitism. Why? Mostly because he referred to the Jews sometimes as ‘evil-doers’ or, as we find in other places, “You brood of vipers!’ You hypocrites! You white-washed tombs!’ Or: ‘You belong to your father, the Devil.’ None of these terms allow us to call Jesus anti-Semitic. Of course, Jesus does not criticize any nation as such. He criticized only people’s immoral lives.

In today’s gospel, Jesus accuses the Jews directly. But he was not only criticizing them. He was criticizing everyone who does not fulfil God’s law. Everyone who does not live according to natural law could hear Jesus say: “I don’t know you! I don’t know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evil-doers!”

It is important to realize that Jesus could one day address these words to us, especially if what we are most concerned with, is our image, with trying to look good in the eyes of other people. We know from experience that many people – especially Poles – met Blessed Pope John Paul the Second, often more than once. But we know that many of those people only wanted to meet him so they could boast that they had met someone famous. It’s obvious that most of the people who met the Pope – especially powerful and influential people – were not changed by the encounter. They didn’t hear his message and try to implement the wisdom of his social encyclicals or live by his moral teaching.

We can imagine that if those people met John Paul again in the heavenly kingdom, they might remind him that they had known him on earth – they had shared a meal or heard him speak or attended a papal Mass. And he might reply somewhat like Jesus spoke in today’s gospel: “I don’t know where you are from!” Or, in other words, ‘You never really knew me, because you didn’t understand and accept my teaching.”

The same thing could happen to us when we are face-to-face with God after our death. Jesus warned: many will say, “We ate and drank in your company, and you taught in our streets.” Today, we hear Jesus teaching in church when we listen to the Scriptures and the homily. Today, we do not simply eat in his company, but we eat Him; we receive Him in His Body and Blood in communion. But if this encounter with Christ in his word and in the Eucharist does not change our lives, then even we might one day hear him say, ‘I do not know where you are from!’

We have to remember that in our relationship to God, the main thing is not seeing him or hearing him speak, but fulfilling his teaching, even though it may be very demanding.

When God’s demands seem to us to be a hard discipline, it is mostly not because God’s teaching is so very difficult, but because we don’t really know what is best for us. We do not believe that what God reveals and what he commands is our true good. Instead, we listen to the voices that tell us that true happiness lies in what is contrary to God’s commandments, and we choose to live according to the wisdom of the world, instead of the wisdom of the One who created both us and the world.

When I was a child, it was a criminal offense to use or deal in drugs. Today, we can legally buy soft drugs. Therefore many people come to the logical conclusion, that if the government allows something, it must be good for us. This same logic can be applied to abortion, euthanasia, in vitro fertilization, homosexuality, and so on. All of these things are clearly bad for people, and against the natural law. But because they have been made legal, people suppose they are good. However, a change in legal status does not change the true, God-given nature of people and things and His moral rules.

We have to realise that anything that people do, that is contrary to natural law and God’s revelation, cannot and will not benefit them.

Statistics show, for example, that people who use drugs have a life expectancy of about forty years. And of course society has to pay for all the problems associated with a person who is dependent on drugs. In a similar way, all of society suffers from the consequences of the abuse of alcohol. And it’s impossible to calculate the damage that war causes — to the environment, to property, persons, societies and souls. Also it is evident that a nation that aborts most of its children is a nation that will die out.

When we consider the results of immorality, it is obvious that individuals and societies do not benefit from immoral behaviour. On the contrary, because of immorality, we suffer loss at every level of life. But tragically, we are not willing to change this situation through our own personal conversion. This is why when people turn away from God and choose a hedonistic lifestyle, they are become defensive, angry or even belligerent, when they hear the Church preaching God’s law.

For such a person, hearing God’s commandments is painful. But it is not painful because God’s discipline is harsh punishment, but because of the sinner’s hardness of heart. The second reading is worth meditating on. It teaches us that discipline is a sign of fatherly love: a loving Father disciplines his child, because he wants what is best for his child. As the author of Hebrews explained, “At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.”

Dear Brothers and Sisters, we are disciples of Christ. We should expect and even rejoice in God’s discipline. Discipline is the means of being conformed to Christ. If we do not feel God’s discipline, we have to ask ourselves who Christ is for us, and how we are progressing in following Christ as his disciples. When you experience His discipline, do not fear or resist it, but “strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet,” so that you may be healed of everything that separates you from your loving Father in heaven.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 18 August 2013: The Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10
Responsorial: Psalm 40:2, 3, 4, 18
Reading II: Hebrews 12:1-4
Gospel: Luke 12:49-53

Dear Sisters and Brothers, do you think it’s really true what Jesus said about himself in today’s Gospel – that he came to cause division? He said He did not come to bring peace. Does that mean that Christ is the cause of war?

Immediately before he said those things, Jesus said that he came to set the world on fire. We have to understand that he was speaking of the fire of love.

If someone is not open to Christ and His love; if he doesn’t choose Christ and His teaching, he will almost automatically be an enemy of Christ, according to Jesus’s own words: “Whoever is not with me is against me; and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Luke 11:23). This means that each person’s decision, to be with Christ or against Him, is the real cause of division. To be for or against Christ is not at the same level as having different tastes or interests or political views. History shows that those who are contrary to Christ often actively fight against Christ – against His Church, His moral teaching, and against individual Christians who follow Him. But Christ did not send out Christians to fight with His enemies; nor has it ever been the official policy of the Church to attack, kill or try to force the conversion of the enemies of Christ. On the contrary, the missionary work of the Church has always been to benefit everyone – believers and unbelievers, as well as open enemies of Christianity. We only need to look at the work of Catholic charities, hospitals and schools in countries that are predominantly Muslim or pagan to see the Church acting on the command to “love your neighbour.” They make no division between serving Christians and non-Christians, because Love makes no divisions.

The author of the Letter to the Hebrews explained that Christ was opposed by sinners – it is sinners who put him to death. So again we see that Christ does not instigate division; division arises when Christ’s love is opposed. And His love is opposed by sinners.

This does not mean, as some people like to propose, that the way to create peace and avoid division is simply to remove Christ and Christianity from the world, from our social and political life. We’ve all heard the old lie that religion is the cause of all wars and injustice, and therefore we have to remove all religion from the world. The same people like to say that sin doesn’t really exist, that it’s just an old-fashioned, out-of-date invention of religion. We don’t see a mass movement of such people trying to rid the world of injustice and evil, because they don’t acknowledge the true root of injustice and evil, which is personal sin.

Looking at Christ we know that He ultimately triumphed over sinners. Like Christ, Jeremiah was persecuted because he told people the truth. Jerusalem was surrounded by enemies, and Jeremiah warned the king to make a peace treaty or Jerusalem would be destroyed. Instead of listening to him, Jeremiah’s opponents ignored his advice and even tried to kill him. In fact, Jeremiah was right, and Jerusalem was destroyed and all the people were taken into captivity in Babylon. The examples of Jeremiah and Jesus show us that the truth cannot be decided by what the majority believe, or want us to believe.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, as long as we remain in Christ and choose Him and His Love, we will face opposition from sinners and from those who want to lead us into sin. In this case, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews tells us how we are to live: “persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.” We must be careful, and not assume that we are safe, that we are “good Christians”, because none of us has been tested even to the point of shedding our blood.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 15 August 2013: The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven

The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven

Reading I: Revelation 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab
Responsorial: Psalm 45:10, 11, 12, 16
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 15:20-27
Gospel: Luke 1:39-56

If someone wanted to teach me about my own mother, I would say, “Excuse me, but I know her better than you.” Thanks to the unique and unrepeatable relationship and love which bonds a mother and child, a child always knows his mother better than other people do.

Dear brothers and sisters, if I call you brothers and sisters, this does not only mean that we have the same Father in heaven, who created us, redeemed us, and called us to new life through baptism. We are also sons and daughters in Christ, who is the Son. And we are spouses of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, we are brothers and sisters because Jesus gave us his Mother as the mother of each of us and of all humankind.

Our relationship with our natural mothers involves intimacy, trust and communication over many years. Our relationship with our Heavenly Mother requires the same kind of contact. When we hear about other people’s relationship with Mary, it can tell us something about Mary, but it cannot replace our own relationship with her. This means that everyone has to try to find his or her own personal relationship with our Blessed Mother, which will be unique and special.

As you know, getting to know someone involves thinking about that person, spending time with her, and interacting with her. If we wish to know who Mary is, the first and main source is the New Testament, especially the Gospels.

Today we heard that Mary is, on the one hand, a “lowly servant” as she called herself, but on the other hand, she is “a woman clothed with the sun.” Another way to get to know her is to meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary, which are drawn from events in the Gospels and from tradition.

It’s an interesting fact that Pope John Paul prayed all the mysteries of the rosary every day. Pope Francis prays the Rosary in the same way. And as you know, the Pope is one of the hardest-working and busiest people in the world. If they could find the time for the rosary, we can all find the time.

The third way of getting to know Mary is asking her for what we need, because she really is the best and most powerful advocate in presenting our requests to her Son.

Mary, the Mother of God

We know that our devotion to Mary doesn’t make her into someone who is separate or independent of her Son. On the contrary, Mary is the one who is closest to Christ. And as we have seen in many icons and paintings, Mary is usually shown holding Christ in her arms, with Christ as the focal point. We always have to remember the theological truth that there is no Christ without Mary, and no Mary without Christ. Therefore the devotion given to Christ honors Mary, and devotion to Mary glorifies Christ.

Today we can add that by meditating about the mystery of the life of Mary or praying through her intercession, we can draw closer to Christ, because his Mother, Mary, knows her Son most intimately. Growing closer to Mary automatically leads us to Christ.

Today’s solemnity invites us to raise our eyes to heaven where today Mary is crowned as Queen of the Angels and Queen of Heaven and Earth. In raising our thoughts to heaven in this way, in contemplation we are raised up to heaven with Mary. It is that easy to be in heaven spiritually. Keeping our thoughts focused on heaven helps us when we are burdened or suffer in this world. And the best way to keep our thoughts raised up to heaven is to pray the Rosary daily.

On this Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into heaven, it is fitting to conclude with a prayer of Blessed Pope John Paul the Second:

Mary, Woman clothed with the sun, help us to fix our gaze on Christ amid the problems of everyday life.

Help us not to be afraid of following him to the very end, even when the cross seems unbearably heavy. Make us understand that this alone is the way which leads to the heights of eternal salvation.

And from heaven, where you shine forth as Queen and Mother of Mercy, watch over each one of your children.

Guide them to love, adore and serve Jesus, the blessed fruit of your womb, O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 11 August 2013: The Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Wisdom 18:6-9
Responsorial: Psalm 33:1, 12, 18-19, 20-22
Reading II: Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19
Gospel: Luke 12:32-48

I’d like to begin by telling you a true story. It happened in a mission country. A man who was converting to the Catholic Church had attended three or four catechism lessons. At the end of a lesson about the Holy Mass, he asked the priest, “Father, if I ask for a Mass to be said for the intention of guaranteeing my salvation, and if I donate ten thousand dollars, would that guarantee that I will be saved?” The priest answered, ‘I cannot guarantee you, but we can try.’

It’s natural for us to want to be sure about our future. At least it’s better if we are thinking about our final destiny than if we never think about our life, what we are doing and where we are headed.

Often, people try to ensure their salvation in a purely negative way. They have read in the scriptures that Jesus said that to attain eternal life, we must “fulfil the commandments.” They think it is enough to focus on not doing certain things: not committing adultery, not stealing, not lying, not disrespecting their parents, and so on. Such people might think, “I’m a good person; I never killed anyone or robbed a bank or cheated on my spouse.”

However, avoiding sin is not all there is to it. The “negative” approach has to be combined with what we can call a “positive” approach. That is, hearing what God is saying to us and fulfilling what God wants from us. This means that we have to listen attentively to what God is saying to us through the Scriptures, what he is teaching us through the voice of the Church, and what he is saying to us through the promptings of his Spirit.

We’re used to greeting the Blessed Virgin in the same words: “Hail Mary… blessed art thou among women.” But we may not pause to consider that we have this beautiful greeting only because St Elizabeth was prompted by the Holy Spirit to greet her cousin in this way. Because Elizabeth responded to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, for two thousand years we have had the words to fulfil Mary’s prophecy that all generations would call her blessed.

We can think of countless examples in the history of the Church of people who followed the promptings of the Holy Spirit and brought new enthusiasm, fresh teaching, and new movements that invigorated the Church and even changed the world. Imagine how the world was changed by people like St Francis, Mother Teresa, or John Paul II. All of these people would be quick to say that their great achievements did not begin with them, but with God (cf. CCC 918).

Today’s Gospel makes it clear that we must not excuse ourselves by saying we don’t know what God’s will is. We heard in the Gospel, “That servant who knew his master’s will, but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly” (Luke 12:48). The Scriptures are showing that we must know what God’s will is and then do his will.

We also heard in today’s Gospel, that we should “be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks” (Luke 12:36). This means that we have to be vigilant, be alert, listening and ready to do whatever God asks of us when he speaks to our hearts.

Usually in the confessional, priests only hear people confessing that they have broken a commandment. It’s very rare for people to confess that they heard the voice of God in their hearts, prompting them to do the right thing, and they refused to listen. For instance, they knew that they should visit a sick or elderly person, but they delayed. Perhaps only when someone dies do they realize that it is too late, and now they feel sorrow and remorse. Or someone has a vocation to religious life and refuses to pursue it. Try to imagine the consequences if Karol Wojtyła or your own parents had refused their vocations. So we must must be vigilant and listen.

St Paul wrote to Timothy that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1Tm 2:4). The Catechism explains that this means that God wills for us all to be saved through knowledge of the truth, because salvation is only found in truth. That is why “[t]hose who obey the prompting of the Spirit of truth are already on the way of salvation” (CCC 851).

If we want to understand what it means to obey the promptings of the Spirit of truth, we can meditate on the life of the Virgin Mary. In her life, Mary completely adhered “to the Father’s will, to his Son’s redemptive work, and to every prompting of the Holy Spirit.” She is “the Church’s model of faith and charity” (CCC 967). Think about how her life was a constant “Yes” to God, and the profound consequences that her “Yes” had in salvation history.

If we remain vigilant; if are ready and willing to obey divine inspiration and follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit immediately and without delay or excuses, then we are firmly on the way of salvation.

When you examine your conscience every evening, and especially before confession, please ask yourself if you have acted on the inspiration of the Spirit, and whether you responded promptly and willingly.

And even if the Holy Spirit prompts you to “sell your belongings and give alms,” don’t worry – he probably won’t ask you to donate $10,000 for one Mass.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 4 August 2013: The Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23
Responsorial: Psalm 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, 17
Reading II: Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11
Gospel: Luke 12:13-21

Because of Adoration at the end of Mass, there was no homily this Sunday.

Homily 28 July 2013: The Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Genesis 18:20-32
Responsorial: Psalm 138:1-2, 2-3, 6-7, 7-8
Reading II: Colossians 2:12-14
Gospel: Luke 11:1-13

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

In the Liturgy of the Word last Sunday, the stories about Abraham and Mary taught us that before we start to ask what we want from God, we have to be attentive to what He wants from us. I also pointed out that very often in our prayer we try to use God as a means to an end, to achieve our own goals thanks to His help.

After hearing today’s readings, someone might ask, “Father, is it really so bad to ask God to give us what we want?” After all, the Catechism teaches that “The vocabulary of supplication in the New Testament is rich in shades of meaning: ask, beseech, plead, invoke, entreat, cry out, even ‘struggle in prayer.’ Its most usual form, because the most spontaneous, is petition: by prayer of petition we express awareness of our relationship with God. We are creatures who are not our own beginning, not the masters of adversity, not our own last end” (CCC 2629).

Of course we cannot say that it is inappropriate to ask, to invoke, and even to “struggle in prayer” as Abraham did. Christ himself taught “us to pray just as John taught his disciples”. The Lord has given us the most beautiful prayer, which I hope we all make our own every day. Nevertheless, the Catechism stresses very clearly that “In prayer, the faithful God’s initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response” (CCC 2567), and that “Christian petition is centered [and must be centered] on the desire and search for the Kingdom to come”. Because there is a hierarchy of petitions “we pray first for the Kingdom, then for what is necessary to welcome it and cooperate with its coming” (CCC 2632).

The problem of prayer of petition lies then not in the petition as such, but in the object of the petition and in our will. Is what we are asking for, connected first of all with the Kingdom of God? Further, in our prayers of petition, are we thinking about and focused on God? Or are we focused on ourselves and something that we need for ourselves?

We have to be honest and we have to admit how we react when we receive something we want – not only when we were children, but now, as adults. When we receive what we want, immediately all our attention is focused on what we have received; we look at what we have, which was given to us by someone who loves us, but our happiness is focused on the thing, and we forget the benefactor who gave it to us.

This tendency to focus on the gift, not the giver, is reflected in our relationship to God. Our prayers of petition often follow this pattern: First, we are in trouble. We believe that the way out of our trouble depends on whether we get some particular thing. Next, because we cannot get that thing and solve our problem alone, we ask God for help in getting what we need to follow our plan and resolve our problem. God hears our pleas and gives us what we asked for. In response, because we are pious people, we offer God beautiful thanks for what we have received. But in the end, we are pleased with ourselves, because using what God provided, we carried out our plan and achieved our will. God only played a role in fulfilling our plan.

It is clear that this way of approaching prayer is not an encounter with a personal God; it is not an expression of seeking the Kingdom of God. It is rather an expression of thinking about ourselves and of using God for our purposes. It is also a reason why it seems that God does not answer our prayers, or that He takes a long time to answer our prayers when we pray with this kind of attitude.

So when we pray, we have always to keep in mind that our prayer is a response to God’s initiative; we pray because God first makes our prayer possible. This is why we have to pray on God’s terms: we have to pray for those things that make the Kingdom of God present on earth. Ultimately, this means we ought to pray through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit and for His gifts.

Remember that Christ himself said, “If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11:13).

Saint Paul taught the Thessalonians to “Pray constantly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and he exhorted the community at Ephesus in a similar way: “With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones” (Ephesians 6:18). The fourth-century monk Evagrius Ponticus summarized the teaching of Scripture: “we have not been commanded to work, to keep watch and to fast constantly, but it has been laid down that we are to pray without ceasing” (Pract. 49: PG 40, 1245C; cf. CCC 2742).

Brothers and sisters, let us pray in the Holy Spirit — and pray without ceasing — for the fulfilment of God’s will.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 21 July 2013: The Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Genesis 18:1-10a
Responsorial: Psalm 15:2-3, 3-4, 5
Reading II: Colossians 1:24-28
Gospel: Luke 10:38-42

Today’s Gospel tells story of Martha, who said: “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me”. Martha’s words reveal that she tried to use Jesus to get some help from her sister: “Tell her to help me”. It is also a story about ourselves, about how we pray and how we see the presence of Christ in our lives. Very often, simply speaking, we try to ‘use’ Christ as a means to an end.

Of course, it is natural that everyone who has some need can and even should ask our heavenly Father, or Christ our Redeemer, or the Holy Spirit, our Advocate, for some help, for who can say that he does not need anything from God? But, looking at the examples of Abraham and Mary, we see a different approach to God. First they welcome God into their homes, into their lives, and then they let Him to do what he wishes, what he wants or what he allows them to do. Their behaviour teaches us that before we start to ask what we want from God, we have to be attentive to what He wants from us.

Look once again at the example of Abraham. When he “saw three men standing nearby…, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them; and bowing to the ground, he said: ‘Sir, if I may ask you this favor, please do not go on past your servant. Let some water be brought, that you may bathe your feet, and then rest yourselves under the tree. Now that you have come this close to your servant, let me bring you a little food, that you may refresh yourselves; and afterward you may go on your way.” The men replied, “Very well, do as you have said.” Similarly, when Jesus entered the house Martha and Mary, after welcoming Him, Mary “sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak”. But in contrast, Martha interrupted to ask Him; “Tell her to help me”. Instead of hearing Christ and focussing all her attention on her Guest, Martha felt burdened with service.

Christ admonished Martha: “There is need of only one thing,” and that one thing is hearing Christ himself and obeying His command.

The Liturgy of the Word from last Sunday taught us that the 10 commandments “are ‘not too mysterious and remote for [us]. They are ‘not up in the sky, that [we] should say ‘Who will go up in the sky to get [them] for us and tell us of [them] that we may carry [them] out?’ Nor [are they] across the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea to get [them] for us and tell us of [them], that we may carry [them] out?’ No, [they are] very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts….” God’s commandments are very near, because they are deep in our hearts, and therefore we know what is true and what is right.

Today’s second reading explains to us something more, another very deep truth, the truth about Christ among us and in us. Paul teaches that this “mystery [was] hidden from ages and from generations past. But now it has been manifested to his holy ones, to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; it is Christ in you, the hope for glory”.

In other words, for those who believe in Christ, He himself is living in them as their “hope for glory”. This truth changes everything. It means that in our ordinary lives we see and hear Christ coming to us in our neighbours. Therefore, when we welcome them, we welcome Christ, as did Abraham and Mary. When we welcome Christ in our brothers and sisters, we need to let Him and them express their needs to us. As Christ said, “Whoever welcomes one child…in my name, welcomes me” (Mk 9: 37).

Of course it is not always the case that a brother or sister who enters into our life can be indentified with the person of Christ, especially when a loved one does or says something contrary to the 10 commandments. If someone’s words or actions oppose what Christ taught, we should not consider their desires to be something that God wants from us. We can discern the presence of Christ in our midst by testing everything against his clear teaching, remembering what He said to his Apostles: “whoever is not against us is for us” (Mk 9: 40).

We must always be alert to the presence of Christ in our lives and open to what he is asking of us. We must also always be on guard against those people and attitudes that are contrary to Christ and threaten our relationship to him. This is not just the case in our day-to-day personal lives and relationships, but also in what is going on in our culture.

Perhaps you heard that recently the English Parliament passed the “Same-sex couples Act”, which fundamentally alters the meaning of marriage. It means now that in England, “marriage has…become an institution in which openness to children, and with it the responsibility on fathers and mothers to remain together to care for children born into their family unit, are no longer central.” This is an example of a situation that is clearly opposed to the teaching of God.

In light of today’s Gospel, how does such a situation challenge Christians? Like Mary, we have come here today because we have chosen “the better part.” We have “sat beside the Lord at his feet, listening to him speak.” We know his law. It is now time to ask ourselves, in our personal lives and in our public lives as Christians, what Christ wants us to do.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 14 July 2013: The Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Deuteronomy 30:10-14
Responsorial: Psalm 19:8, 9, 10, 11
Reading II: Colossians 1:15-20
Gospel: Luke 10:25-37

Probably you have heard a Christian say that we are not obliged to obey all the rules that you find in the Old Testament, but that does not mean that we are not obliged to follow the Ten Commandments both in the letter and in the spirit.

The commandments are summed up in today’s Gospel: love God and love your neighbor. These commandments were not revoked by Christ; on the contrary, he confirmed them, saying, ‘Do this and you will live.’

Later in Luke’s Gospel, an official asked Jesus what he must do to attain eternal life. Jesus reminds him of the commandments: do not commit adultery; do not kill; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor your father and mother (cf. Luke 18:18-20). Jesus makes it clear that following the commandments was, still is and always will be necessary for everyone who wishes to be saved.

We know that in today’s world God’s commandments often are viewed as being null and void. It’s legal to kill our children, the sick and the dying. Legally protected prostitution gives a government sanction to adultery. On the other hand, people who try to live by God’s commandments are often villified as stupid, haters, fanatics or even immoral, because their morality contradicts corrupt society. Moreover, many people are killed because of their fidelity to Christ’s teaching. In 2012 more than one hundred thousand people were killed for their Christian faith.

In St Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he reminds us that in Christ ‘all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible….’ Since the whole universe exists for Christ, who is the Son of the living God, God’s commandments are not open for debate. It’s natural for man-made laws to change as conditions change. But that doesn’t mean we can change every kind of law. Whenever man has tried to overturn God’s moral laws, tragedy and catastrophe have followed.

In his letter to the Romans, St Paul describes what happens to people who substitute their own ideas of what is good instead of following God’s laws: ‘they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened. While claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of an image of mortal man, or of birds, or of four-legg-ed animals or of snakes. Therefore, God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts for the mutual degradation of their bodies. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever…. Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity’ (Rom 1:21b-27).

Dear Brothers and Sisters, I assume you know that natural laws are not subject to the decisions of any government body. No government tries to change the laws governing how electrons behave, or the laws of physics that govern the rotation of the earth, or the speed of light, or the law of gravity. If they could change such laws, chaos and disaster would follow. Nevertheless, claiming to be wise, many modern governments make laws that attempt to change the nature of man, overthrowing the God’s natural laws for moral behavior, and doing so has led to exactly the kind of moral degradation and social disorder that St Paul spoke about two thousand years ago.

Today’s first reading teaches us that the commandments are not only proclaimed and promulgated by God from above, but are also written on our hearts. God’s commands are ‘not too mysterious and remote for [us]. They are ‘not up in the sky, that [we] should say ‘Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it that we may carry it out?’ Nor is it across the sea, that ou should say, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts…’ (Dt. 30:11-14).

Deep in our hearts, we know what is true; we know what is right. We know what it means to truly love God and our neighbor. Most of you will have a holiday sometime soon. Please use this opportunity to take some time to be quiet and listen to the voice of your heart.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 7 July 2013: The Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

The Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Isaiah 66:10-14c
Responsorial: Psalm 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20
Reading II: Galatians 6:14-18
Gospel: Luke 10:1-12, 17-20

There will not be a homily this Sunday.
Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 30 June 2013: The Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: 1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21
Responsorial: Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11
Reading II: Galatians 5:1, 13-18
Gospel: Luke 9:51-62

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In my reflection today, I would like to focus especially on St Paul’s epistle to the Galatians.

As the basis of our present reflection I would like to take the second reading of the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Galatians. You remember how the reading begins:

“For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Saint Paul’s theme here is freedom and slavery. He tells us that Christ set us free. But if he set us free, what made us slaves? The Gospel of St John helps us to understand. John records what Jesus taught: ‘Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin’ (Jn 8:34). These are the words of the Lord himself, so believers can have no doubt: anyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.

St Paul also wrote on this theme to the Romans: “We know that our old self was crucified with [Christ], so… that we might no longer be in slavery to sin” (Rom 6:6); “sin is not to have any power over you, since you are not under the law but under grace” (Rom 6:14).

So, on the one hand, John says that anyone who sins is a slave to sin; but Saint Paul says that we have been set free from slavery to sin. How can both of these things be true?

Freedom or slavery depends on us, and on the choices that we make. True freedom comes when we choose to do good in our lives. Slavery comes when we deliberately choose to do evil.

That sounds simple. But we all know it is not so simple. In our hearts, we want to be good and loving people. But so often we fail! For example, we promise ourselves that we will be patient and kind, and then we get impatient or frustrated and we say something hasty and hurt another person’s feelings. Then we regret it and feel terrible. This is our human condition: we want to do good, but we do something bad.

In today’s Gospel, we could see a few examples of people who wanted to choose to follow Jesus, but they were not fully committed; they had other things they wanted to do before following him. But our true freedom comes when we commit to following Jesus with our whole minds, hearts and wills. If we do this, we will not become perfect saints in one day. But as we follow Jesus, we will be guided by the Holy Spirit, and more and more we will learn to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Brothers and Sisters, let us commit ourselves again today, to use our freedom to choose always God, who is Love. Amen.

Fr. Andrzej Kulczycki, OFM Conv.

Homily 23 June 2013: The Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Zechariah 12:10-11; 13:1
Responsorial: Psalm 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9
Reading II: Galatians 3:26-29
Gospel: Luke 9:18-24

Brothers and Sisters!

Jesus asked the apostles at Caesarea Philippi: “Who do the crowds say that I am?” He seems to be taking a survey. They replied that some people thought he was John the Baptist; others thought he was Elijah, and still others thought that he was one of the prophets who had risen from the dead.

But Jesus didn’t stop at finding out what people were saying about him. He had a different goal. He presses the point, and asks his closest followers, “Who do you say that I am?

The second question surprised the Apostles. The first time, when Jesus asked, “Who do the crowds say that I am?’ the Gospel notes that “they answered”. But now, there is silence from the group. We can imagine them looking at each other, not sure how to answer. Only one person answers: Simon Peter replies, “The Christ of God.”

To answer the first question, it was enough for the Apostles to listen to what other people were saying. But to answer the second question, “Who do you say that I am?” one has to look into oneself and listen to the voice of one’s heart.

Peter’s response was, “The Christ of God.” He had received this revelation from the heavenly Father. Peter’s answer was the first clear statement of the true identity of Jesus of Nazareth. It was the first public profession of faith in Christ: Jesus is not just a prophet, but the Son of God.

The life of the Church, the Family of God, is built on faith in the Christ of God, and without this faith, there would be no life in the Church.

Today’s Gospel challenges us present here to answer the question, “Who do you say that I am?” Is Jesus for you the Messiah, your Lord and Savior? Do you understand and feel the words you repeat so often: “I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son, born of the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father, through him all things were made.”

Do you believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, who “for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man”?

Do you believe one Lord, Jesus Christ, who “was crucified under Pontius Pilate…suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day”?

Do you believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, who “ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father” and who “will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead” and whose “kingdom will have no end”?

To believe all of these things, and feel them in your heart, to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, is to enter onto the way of salvation. But that it will not be a way without the Cross, without suffering. Christ himself says, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Dear Brothers and Sisters! Your presence at this Holy Mass is a sign that Christ occupies an important place in your heart. But I want to ask you, Does Jesus occupy the most important place in your heart? Do you remember the words of Saint James? “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:16). Let daily prayer, scripture reading, and most importantly love of God and acts of charity be the most beautiful testimony to the fact that you are disciples of Christ.

Fr. Andrzej Kulczycki, OFM Conv.

Homily 16 June 2013: The Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: 2 Samuel 12:7-10,13
Responsorial: Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 7, 11
Reading II: Galatians 2:16, 19-21
Gospel: Luke 7:36-8:3

I’m sure that the story we have just heard stimulates our imaginations. We see Jesus coming into the Pharisee’s house. We can imagine the pleasure and pride of the Pharisee: the famous teacher was in his house! They are having a meal, talking – and then suddenly this woman appears. The whole town knows about her… “Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair….”

Brothers and sisters, we are moved by the woman’s humility. We are astonished by the generosity of Christ. But maybe our thoughts are like those of the Pharisee, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him….” After all, the woman was a public sinner, and a particular kind of sinner. According to the law of Moses, the touch of such a person made one unclean. And here she is, kissing the feet of Jesus! If he knew who and what sort of woman this was…!

The Pharisee was not a bad man. He probably fasted regularly, prayed, made donations to the temple. He must have thought himself to be a good man. But his treatment of Jesus, his guest, shows an attitude of superiority: he didn’t observe the rules of good hospitality. He didn’t greet Jesus with a kiss, didn’t offer him water to make the ritual ablutions. Maybe it was not a sign of contempt, but just ignorance.

The woman knew her sinfulness. It’s hard to live with such a sin, and it is even harder to admit it. But she could admit it. She took a risk. She approached Jesus because she wanted forgiveness. She longed to hear a healing word from the One whom she had heard, never condemns. Her trust and her love were greater than her fear.

To soften the Pharisee’s hardness of heart, Jesus asked him to comment on the story of two debtors: One was forgiven a small debt; the other was forgiven a very great debt. Which of the two debtors would be more grateful? Which one would have more love or the one who had forgiven him?

The Pharisee was a clever man. He knew how the world works. Of course, if someone is forgiven a great debt, he will love more.

God forgives the sins of man. It is an act of grace, because we cannot do anything to merit this forgiveness, we can only humbly ask for it. Someone with the Pharisee’s attitude is convinced of his own sinlessness. He cannot ask for or accept forgiveness or be grateful for it. He persists in the false notion that he doesn’t need forgiveness.

But the sinful woman had no illusions. She knew that as long as she held onto her sin, she would not have real peace and joy. She knew that only the forgiveness of Jesus could restore the peace and joy that she longed for in her heart. And she was not disappointed, because the love of Christ never fails.

My brothers and sisters, let the words of today’s Gospel encourage us to open our hearts to the merciful love of God. Do not be afraid of the sacrament of reconciliation. As Jesus showed us in the Gospel, He isn’t interested in our sins, but waits for us to show him our faith and our love.

Fr. Andrzej Kulczycki, OFM Conv.

Homily 9 June 2013: The Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: 1 Kings 17:17-24
Responsorial: Psalm 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11, 12, 13
Reading II: Galatians 1:11-19
Gospel: Luke 7:11-17

I still remember the strong impression made on me when I was a child, by the funeral processions that I used to watch going through my small town. Whenever a funeral passed by, people would stop and watch, say a prayer, ask who had died, and sometimes even join the procession to the cemetary. Seeing the processions reminded everyone, even a small child, that death comes to us all. Today, especially in the big cities in most western countries, you don’t see funeral processions. The process of dying, preparing the body for burial, and disposing of the body has been sanitized, taken over by professionals, and is no longer something we think of as part of the natural rhythms of life. Moreover, thanks to the ministrations of funeral directors, the dead are made to look more beautiful and healthy than they were in life. I remember a funeral Mass in which a woman’s son couldn’t even recognize his deceased mother because the funeral prepartions had made her more glamourous and attractive than she had ever been when she was alive.

Today’s Gospel shows us the meeting of Jesus with a funeral procession, and His encounter with the mother of the young man who died. Jesus didn’t ignore or avoid the grieving mother. “He was moved with pity for her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.'” This was not the first time Jesus had encountered human death. We know a great deal about the death of Jesus’s friend Lazarus. John’s Gospel notes that when Jesus reached the tomb of Lazarus, He wept. Then Jesus said, “Lazarus, come out!” and Lazarus, returned to life, came out of the tomb at the command of Jesus. This event should remind us that God created everything by the power of his Word, and then by the power of His Word, Jesus who is the Word raised His friend from the dead. The raising of Lazarus and the raising of the young man in today’s Gospel show us that Jesus has power over death, and He really is the Messiah; the Son of God, anointed by the Holy Spirit.

The first reading is similar to the Gospel, but with a significant and important difference. It was not Elijah who raised the widow’s son from the dead. He knew that only God had power over life and death. So Elijah prayed to God and God returned the child’s life breath to him, and he revived.

Today there are many theories about how life arose on this planet; theories about how life developed; theories about what happens to us after death. Many of these theories supplant previous theories that turned out to be wrong. Nobody really knows the answers. And even if we did know the answers, none of those questions addresses the issue of the meaning of our lives. Why does life exist at all? What is its purpose? Is physical death the end, or is there something else?

But Jesus says clearly and boldly: I am the Life; I am the Resurrection. Whoever believes in Me will not die, but will have eternal life. Moreover, from the very beginning Jesus made no secret of the fact that His followers would suffer. If Jesus was persecuted, His followers would be persecuted, too. And whoever wanted to follow Hhim, could expect to follow Him on the way of the Cross. In His love and mercy, Jesus freely faced death as a sacrifice for us, an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Because of His death, the heavenly kingdom was opened to us.

In His person, and in His teaching, the mystery of our dignity and vocation as human persons is revealed. Death ceased to be the tragic ending to human life, and is now understood as our passing over to eternal life. The Eucharist is both a memorial of the death and resurrection of Christ and the means by which we can be raised to eternal life. As Jesus said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day” (John 6:54).

Jesus predicted His own death on the Cross. But it wasn’t the end. Because He was raised up on the Cross, He was able to draw all men to Himself. There is a paradox here: Through Christ’s death, all our questions about the meaning of life are resolved, because the salvific work of Christ’s death is completed in the Resurrection. Now we can understand why Saint Paul quoted the prophet Hosea referring to Jesus: “Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:54-55).

When He redeemed us by the Cross, Jesus showed us that our lives are sacred; they are of infinite value to the Creator. But nowadays, we don’t hear much about the “sanctity of human life” in philosophical or political discussions. Instead, we hear about the “quality of life,” which only refers to our material existence, our bodies and the happiness or pleasure we can get in this world.

Focusing on the “quality of life” has given us a culture of death. If someone is old, ill or handicapped; or if a child might grow up in less than ideal conditions, that person’s “quality of life” is considered to be poor, and it might be better for that person to be dead. Sometimes we hear that if there were just fewer human beings on the planet, everyone else’s quality of life would be much better. In other words, for us to have good lives, we must have more and more death. This is a diabolical perversion of the Gospel message, in which Jesus tells us that “a thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10, emphasis added).

The way Jesus was tortured and killed shows us the depths of cruelty that human beings can sink to when they reject Christ’s love. But we don’t have to sink as low as the ones who put Jesus to death. We can be like the people who stood and watched; who knew He was innocent and said nothing; or who were His close friends, but ran away and abandoned Him the moment they faced the Cross. In the face of the Cross and of Christ crucified, we see the sinners that we really are, but we also see what we are invited to and what we are destined for – self-sacrificing love, triumph over death and eternal life.

Remember that you cannot be like Jesus, live like Jesus and love like Jesus, unless you look at Him, and contemplate Him – that is, if you don’t have time for prayer. You cannot follow Jesus if you don’t hear Jesus – that is, if you don’t read His words which are recorded for you in the Bible. Saint Paul teaches us that “the gospel preached by [him was] not of human origin.” It came to him “through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” When Paul heeded the word of God, it completely changed his life, as we read in the second reading today. Like Paul, if we hear, contemplate, and act upon the word of God, we too will be apostles.

It was easy for Paul to understand what Jesus revealed to him, because he knew the Scriptures well. It is also easy for us to go deeply into the Scriptures because of all the resources available to us in print and online. To get you started, simply pick up the Bulletin and look at the back page, where you will find some websites you can go to, to get started or to go deeper into your relationship with the Word of God every day.

Please don’t say, “I will start tomorrow.” Start today.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 2 June 2013: The Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: 1 Kings 8:41-43
Responsorial: Psalm 117:1, 2
Reading II: Galatians 1:1-2, 6-10
Gospel: Luke 7:1-10

In the tenth century before Christ, Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem, and prayed that any foreigner who entered the temple to pray would be heard by God. As we heard in today’s Gospel, ten centuries later, the situation was rather different. A Roman centurion, a foreigner and a pagan, built a synagogue for the Jews, but according to Jewish law, he was forbidden to enter the synagogue to pray. It’s probably because of that prohibition that the centurion didn’t go to Jesus personally to ask for his help: he knew that it was forbidden for Jews to have direct contact with ritually unclean people, pagans like himself.

In today’s Gospel, we see how Jesus transcends these divisions among people. As the eternal temple of God, he transcends time and space, and so he didn’t even have to go to the centurion’s slave to heal him.

If we look at this centurion closely, we can say a few things about him: he had great authority over one hundred soldiers, and was also responsible for them and their well-being. He built a synagogue for the Jews, so he probably believed in the one, true God of the Jews. And his faith in Jesus – whom he calls ‘Lord’ – was very likely rooted in this belief in one God. The centurion had absolute authority over his soldiers and his slave, but his great concern for the health of his slave shows us that he was a good man. How many people with similar power over their employees today, have such humility before God and personal concern for the well-being of those under their authority?

In this story, Jesus was amazed not because a pagan had built a temple or was concerned about his slave, but by the centurion’s faith in him: ‘Not even in Israel,’ Jesus exclaims, ‘have I found such faith.’ This incident has a clear lesson to teach, that Jesus himself is salvation, and he is available to everyone who approaches him in faith.

Paul’s letter to the Galatians echoes the lesson we read in today’s Gospel. Like Jesus, who was not restricted by Jewish laws about ritual purity, Paul asserts forcefully that ‘a person is not justified by works of the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ; even we have believed in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified’ (Gal 2:16).

Despite being a pagan, the centurion was able to approach Jesus in faith because he had seen and heard and come to know something about God from the Jews. And this is the case for everyone who comes to faith: we come to faith through other people who teach us or show us an example, who witness to us somehow as believers. Saint Paul summed this up by writing that ‘faith comes from hearing’ (Romans 10:17). And Paul would know, since he was the most active missionary of the time, travelling far and wide to announce the Good News of Christ’s salvation.

Salvation depends on faith, faith in Jesus. But to come to faith, first you have to hear about Jesus. And we are all called to announce the Good News of Christ’s salvation to others, so that we can fulfil the prayer of Solomon ‘that all the peoples of the earth man know [God’s] name’ (1 Kings 8:43).

We have to realize that the salvation which Jesus brings, permeates every aspect of our daily lives, and is not only about our future in heaven. The Second Vatican Council addressed this reality in the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity. This decree explains that while Christ’s redemptive work is ‘essentially concerned with the salvation of men,’ it also includes ‘the renewal of the whole temporal order,’ that is, the world we live in. ‘[T]he mission of the Church is not only to bring the message and grace of Christ to men, but also to penetrate and perfect the temporal order with the spirit of the Gospel.’ This mission of the Church belongs in a particular way to lay people, who are both in the Church and in the world. God ‘intends to raise up the whole world again in Christ and to make a new creation, initially on earth, and completely on the last day.’ As both ‘believer and citizen,’ (AA, 5) every lay person is called to ‘manifest Christ’s message by words and deeds and to communicate his grace to the world’ (AA, 6).

You’ve problably heard a big noise in the secular press about two points Pope Francis made recently in a homily. He said quite simply that doing good is part of human nature, since God is good and we are all made in the image and likeness of God. Therefore, everyone can do good, even an atheist. He also said that Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross redeemed mankind. Neither of these remarks is anything new to Christians.

Many people misunderstood these remarks because they confused ‘redemption’ – which Christ accomplished on the Cross – with ‘salvation.’ ‘Salvation’ is something that happens when we cooperate with God’s grace throughout our lives. As St Paul wrote, ‘work out your salvation with fear and trembling’ (Philippians 2:12). He also warned that we can lose our salvation if we do not remain with Christ: “See then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off” (Romans 11:22).

Our salvation depends on our belief in Christ, a belief that comes to us through hearing the Gospel preached by the Church, and through being incorporated into the Body of Christ in the Church. ‘For Christ Himself “by stressing in express language the necessity of faith and baptism (cf. Mark 16:16; John 3:5), at the same time confirmed the necessity of the Church, into which men enter by baptism, as by a door. Therefore those men cannot be saved, who – though aware that God, through Jesus Christ, founded the Church as something necessary – still do not wish to enter into it, or to persevere in it”’ (Ad Gentes, 7).

The media distortion of Pope Francis’s remarks about atheists shows us that what the Second Vatican Council taught in the early 1960s is even more true today: that the media can be used to ‘spread and support the Kingdom of God’ but also that ‘men can employ [the] media contrary to the plan of the Creator and to their own loss’ (Decree on the Media of Social Communications, 2). It is not only possible for the Church to use the media to spread the Gospel, it is necessary. The Catholic Church ‘was founded by Christ our Lord to bear salvation to all men and thus is obliged to preach the Gospel… [thus] it [is] one of its duties to announce the Good News of salvation…with the help of the media….’ (IM, 3).

The Internet is arguably the most powerful form of media in our time. How active are you in using this great tool for evangelization? Do you subscribe to Catholic websites? Do you take advantage of the Internet to oppose anti-Christian initiatives you read about online? Do you defend the Catholic faith when it is attacked in the media? If faith comes through hearing, are you listening to things that build up your faith? And are you speaking out through the Internet to announce the Faith to others?

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 26 May 2013: The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Year C

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Reading I: Proverbs 8:22-31
Responsorial: Psalm 8:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Reading II: Romans 5:1-5
Gospel: John 16:12-15

What do you think of when you hear the word “Trinity”? Perhaps you think first of Jesus, and get a picture of him in your mind. Then maybe you think of “God” or “the Father,” and you might get a picture of an old man in your mind. Probably you think last about the Holy Spirit, and have no picture at all, or just a symbol, like a dove. You know that God is one, and yet you form three pictures or get three separate ideas in your mind when you think of the Trinity.

This simple example shows us how difficult is to express what we mean by the Most Holy Trinity.

The mystery of the Holy Trinity demands that whenever we talk or think about or pray to God, the Holy Trinity, we have to keep in mind that while each Person of the Trinity is unique, and cannot be confused with the other Persons, at the same time the three Persons of the Trinity are Persons-in-Communion; they are always in community with one another, and they are always for one another. They are never separate; they are never for themselves alone. “The Three [Persons] share life with each other in complete mutuality” (Denis Edwards: Breath of Life: A Theology of the Creator Spirit).

It’s important for us always to remember this about the Trinity, because the Trinity is our own goal. We are supposed to participate in the communion of the Holy Trinity. As the Catechism teaches, “The ultimate end of the whole divine economy is the entry of God’s creatures into the perfect unity of the Blessed Trinity” (CCC 260).

Everything that exists is ‘the common work of the three divine Persons’ of the Holy Trinity. Perhaps one of the reasons we tend to think about the Trinity as three different and even isolated persons, is because each divine Person in the Holy Trinity “performs the common work of God according to his unique personal property.” Following from the New Testament, the Church confesses ‘one God and Father, from whom all things are, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and one Holy Spirit in whom all things are.’ It is above all the divine missions of the Son’s Incarnation and the gift of the Holy Spirit that show forth the properties of the divine Persons” (CCC 258). So it is because of what we see or experience – the Incarnation of Christ, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit among us – that we can somehow forget that the when we speak of the Trinity, we are speaking of one God.

We should remember the formula “the Trinity in unity and unity in Trinity” whenever we pray to God, talk about God and especially if we try to explain the Trinitarian Mystery that we know and believe as Christians.

One problem we may have with explaining or thinking about the Trinity is that the word “trinity” is not found in the Bible. But this does not mean that the reality of the Holy Trinity is not found in scripture. Jesus never used the word “Trinity,” but he spoke often of the Father and the Spirit as real persons who are in him and with him and about himself being in the Father and in the Spirit. Speaking in prayer to His Father, Jesus said, “Everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine” (John 17:10). In this way, he expressed the unity of Father and of Son. Speaking to his disciples, he said, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father is in me, or else believe because of the works themselveds” (John 14:10-11). There are many other places in scripture where we could find evidence of the unity of the Father, the Son and the Spirit.

Even though we can explain in careful theological terms, what the Trinity is, nevertheless “the mystery of Christ taken as a whole demands faith, since it is faith that adequately introduces man into the reality of the revealed mystery. The ‘guiding into all the truth’ is therefore acheived in faith and through faith: and this is the work of the Spirit of truth and the result of his action in man.” (Dominum et Vivificantem, 6, quoted in “The Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth,” Pope John Paul II, General Audience, May 17, 1989). It is therefore worthwhile on this Solemnity of the Holy Trinity to contemplate the Trinity, and examine your belief in the Trinity. Is it still on the level of a child making pictures in his head? Or can you go deeper into this mystery?

There is one last point I want to touch on. It is evident to everyone that we live in a state of relationship to other people, to our environment and to the whole cosmos. When we believe that God is a Trinity of Persons living in communion, it is not difficult to understand that we who are made in God’s image and likeness live in a state of constant and undeniable relationality with others.

Perhaps it is so easy for us to break our relationships with other people and live in isolation from others and enmity with them, because we don’t have deep enough faith in the reality of the relationships that exist in the Trinity. If we lose faith in the Trinity, or don’t have a strong faith in the Trinity and try to go deeply into this mystery, we risk risk the destruction of our personal relationships and the bonds that hold us together as a society.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 19 May 2013: The Solemnity of Pentecost, Year C

The Solemnity of Pentecost

Reading I: Acts 2:1-11
Responsorial: Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34
Reading II: 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13
Gospel: John 20:19-23

We can’t see air, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Each breath tells us that air exists. Moreover, without air, we would not exist. Depending on the circumstances, a person can only survive a few days without water; a few weeks without food; and only a few minutes without air. Life-giving breath is essential. This example gives us some insight into the vital, life-giving role and the mystery of the Holy Spirit.

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost, which reminds us of who the Holy Spirit is, and what his role is, in the life of the Church and in human history. If as believers we come to church today, gathering in the name of Jesus; and if we can pray to Him, it is due to the power of the Holy Spirit. As Saint Paul taught, “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 12:3).

The new life of the Holy Spirit, which enables us to call God “Father” began with our baptism. The Catechism teaches that “Baptism gives us the grace of new birth in God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Spirit.” By the Spirit, we are “led to the Word…the Son, and the Son presents [us] to the Father…. [I]t is impossible to see God’s Son without the Spirit, and no one can approach the Father without the Son…and the knowledge of God’s Son is obtained through the Holy Spirit” (CCC 683).

In other words, “to be in touch with Christ, we must first have been touched by the Holy Spirit. He comes to meet us and kindles faith in us” (CCC 683).

We must remember that when we speak of the Holy Spirit, at the same time we are talking about the Holy Trinity – we cannot separate the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is “consubstantial with the Father and the Son”, as we say in the creed. That is, he shares the same substance as the Father and the Son.

Scripture shows us the intimate relationship between the Father, Son and Spirit. For example, at Christ’s conception, the Father sent the Holy Spirit “to sanctify the womb of the Virgin Mary and divinely fecundate it, causing her to conceive the eternal Son of the Father” (CCC 485).

The eternal Son of the Father is the Christ, which means the “anointed one.” This anointing has Trinitarian significance, as St Iranaeus explained. He said that the name “Christ” implies three things: “he who anointed” – that is, the Father; “he who was anointed” – that is, the Son; and “the very anointing with which he was anointed” – the Spirit. (CCC 438; emphasis added).

Again we see the intimate relationship of the Trinity at the baptism of Christ in the Jordan. We see the Holy Spirit descending, and we hear the voice of God the Father identifying Christ as his beloved Son (Mt 3:13-17) at the beginning of Christ’s ministry. “Christ’s whole work is in fact a joint mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit” (CCC 727).

Throughout his ministry, little by little Jesus revealed the working of the Holy Spirit. For example, “in his teaching of the multitudes…when he reveal[ed] that his own flesh will be food for the life of the world. He also allude[d] to the Spirit in speaking to Nicodemus, to the Samaritan woman, and to those who [took] part in the feast of Tabernacles. To his disciples he [spoke] openly of the Spirit in connection with prayer and with the witness they [would] have to bear” (CCC 728).

When the hour for his glorification came, Jesus promised the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of truth, the other Paraclete, was given by the Father in answer to Jesus’s prayer and was sent by the Father in Jesus’s name. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would come and we would know him; that he would be with us forever and remain with us. The Spirit teaches us everything, reminds us of all that Christ said to us, and bears witness to him. The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth and glorifies Christ. The Holy Spirit will “prove the world wrong about sin, righteousness, and judgement” (CCC 729).

When Jesus’s last hour arrived, “he commend[ed] his spirit into the Father’s hands” and after the Resurrection, he gave “the Holy Spirit by ‘breathing’ on his disciples”. From that moment, the mission of Christ and the Spirit became the Mission of the Church. In Jesus’s words, “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you” (cf. CCC 730).

Christ’s life and mission were a joint work of the Son and the Holy Spirit. Jesus breathed on his disciples, leaving them with the Holy Spirit to guide the Church. Thus the Church, a communion living the faith of the Apostles, is where we know the Holy Spirit in many ways:

— in the Scriptures he inspired;
— in the Tradition, to which the Church Fathers are…witnesses;
— in the Church’s Magisterium, which [the Holy Spirit] assists;
— in the sacramental liturgy, through its words and symbols, in which the Holy Spirit puts us into communion with Christ;
— in prayer, wherein [the Holy Spirit] intercedes for us;
— in the charisms and ministries by which the Church is built up;
— in the signs of apostolic and missionary life;
— in the witness of saints through whom [the Holy Spirit] manifests his holiness and continues the work of salvation” [CCC 688].

On this Solemnity of Pentecost, it is good to ask ourselves how we are receptive to the Holy Spirit moving in our lives.

— Do we read the Holy Bible, looking for meaning which comes from His inspiration?
— Are we growing in our faith by learning more about the teachings of the Fathers of the Church, and the Church’s Magisterium?
— How are we preparing to participate in the Holy Eucharist, which is the source and summit of our spiritual life?
— Do you ask the Holy Spirit to inspire your prayer, so that you are not just praying for a “wish-list” of material necessities?
— Are you open to the gifts and charisms of others, through whom the Holy Spirit might be inviting you to do better?

On this Solemnity of Pentecost, it is good to ask ourselves how we are receptive to the Holy Spirit moving in our lives.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 12 May 2013: The Solemnity of the Ascension, Year C

The Solemnity of the Ascension

Reading I: Acts 1:1-11
Responsorial: Psalm 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9
Reading II: Ephesians 1:17-23
Gospel: Luke 24:46-53

Somebody once said that communism is the long road to capitalism. Now the people living in eastern Europe have reached the end of that road; they have arrived at a capitalist system, and most former communist countries belong to the European Union. Of course, it is evident that this change in economic system has not solved all of our problems; it has simply introduced new and sometimes worse problems.

This situation raises some serious questions. Where are we going? What do we wish to achieve, and why? Is it really a good system when the poor are exploited by the rich and when things are valued more than human life? Do we have a better society when questions of morality are decided by whatever is politically expedient? Can you think of anyone who publicly addresses these vital questions? More important, do you ever question your own participation in building the current system? Do you think about the social consequences of the work you do, beyond just earning a salary?

As Christians, we have to think about these questions in light of God’s revelation. The Bible teaches us that the world was established from non-existence into existence by God. If you don’t believe that God created the cosmos, then you would have to believe that the material universe has always existed, eternally, with no beginning. If everything has always existed, without being caused by God, then in effect, it means that the material universe is itself divine – there is nothing higher than the universe. But since as material beings we have a beginning and an end, we would come to the conclusion that our existence is meaningless: we are just particles of dust in a vast universe. With such a view of human life, a concept like self-sacrifice makes no sense. Love becomes nothing more than a chemical reaction or biological urges.

From the Bible we know that as human beings, we are not the final product of evolution, but we are created by God in his image and likeness. Jesus Christ, who as the Son of God became man, gave us an example of how we can and ought to live, and explained why we have trouble following his example. It is because we succumb to temptations that come from the devil. When we go along with those temptations, our choices produce moral degradation, social disharmony and destruction of the natural environment.

Jesus, who rose from the dead and whose ascension into heaven we celebrate today, shows us our destiny. As the first who was raised from the dead, Jesus shows us what our bodies will be like at our resurrection. His bodily ascension shows us that we, too, will have resurrected bodies in heaven. We won’t be disembodied spirits, but our real selves, the same people we are now, with our new bodies.

In our daily life, therefore, we need to live for others as Jesus did, in this way perfecting ourselves, developing our abilities, and conforming ourselves as much as we can to Christ. This is a brief summary of what the Bible teaches us about man’s beginning, the meaning of his life and actions, and his destiny.

As you see, unlike an economic system like capitalism, in the Bible and the life of Christ we can find the answers to the questions of who we are, where we are going, and what we should try to achieve. From history, we know that those who live according to Christ’s teaching built a humane culture on a foundation of beauty, truth, justice and right reason.

If we constantly hear about war, human trafficking, and violations of the natural law, it means that we have failed to bear witness to Christ, his teaching and commandments. We have listened to the devil in the form of the repeated dictum that religion is fine in private life, but we must not bring it into the public sphere. That logic is as absurd as saying that you are only a mother when you are with your children, but when your children are in school, you are no longer a mother; or that you are a husband only when your wife is around, but that if you are on a business trip, you are no longer married. Our faith informs and forms us on the deepest level; we cannot be a Christian in private, and a non-Christian in public.

Dear Brothers and Sisters: If we believe that everything exists because of God, then there is only one reality, and it belongs to, depends on, and is ruled by God. As Saint Paul taught the Ephesians, Christ is ‘far above every principality, authority, power and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come’ (Eph 1:21). This is why we have to live according to God’s rules in his reality. We can’t split ourselves into two people and live in parallel universes – one in which we are Christians and one in which we are not. Any time we try to live apart from God’s rules, we can only destroy ourselves and our society, which are meant to exist in harmony with those rules. So if you see and hear something that is contrary to natural law, to your conscience, to God’s commandments, you have to speak up and say ‘No!’

The Feast of the Ascension shows us where we are going and invites us to revise our thinking about reality. We have to ask if we are living only to fulfill our earthly, material desires, or if we live with a desire to get to heaven. Do we follow the logic of this world, or the law of God? Do you think that you are so perfect that there’s no room for improvement? Do you think you are perfectly prepared to leave this world and enter into heaven?

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 5 May 2013: Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year C

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Reading I: Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
Responsorial: Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
Reading II: Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23
Gospel: John 14:23-29

Today’s first reading describes not only dissension among the first generation of Christians, but also shows us how their disagreements were resolved and teach us how we should resolve our problems connected to the Faith.

The first principle to keep in mind is that the Apostles, the elders or priests in charge, are the ones who make the final decision whenever there is disagreement. Another principle is that we have to discuss our problems personally, face-to-face; not everything can be discussed fruitfully by e-mail. Finally, when we hear a decision or declaration from the Holy See in answer to our question or problem, we have to accept that as coming both from God and his appointed human representatives. As we read in the Acts of the Apostles today, the first Christian elders issued their judgement in these words: ‘It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us.’ When we receive the decisions of our Church leaders as coming from the Holy Spirit through them, our problems with the faith will disappear.

Contemporary thought does not have room for any truth that could be revealed by an unseen reality like God. It is difficult for the modern world to accept what Saint Paul wrote to the Galatians: “Now I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel preached by me is not of human origin. For I did not receive it from a human being, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal 1:11-12) Instead, a materialistic, ‘scientific’ approach reduces everything to physical causes and effects. Futhermore, according to postmodern ideology, one person’s idea or opinion is just as good and valid as another’s; there is no absolute truth, no one who can be trusted or relied upon as being more authoritative than anyone else. To such a mentality, the idea that we can accept a decision of the Church as having the authority of the Holy Spirit becomes absurd. Ultimately, we have what Pope Benedict called a ‘dictatorship of relativism,’ which threatens the foundation of our society, a society built upon the transcendent truths of God.

Today’s Gospel offers the antidote to this bleak and meaningless ideology. Jesus revealed to us that God who is One and who is a Trinity of persons is always present and always working in this world. As He said: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (Jn 14:23). This means that if we deeply love Christ, then the Father through the Spirit who is our Advocate “will teach [us] everything and remind [us] of all that [Jesus] told [us]” (Jn 14:23). Jesus encourages us: “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (Jn 14:27) because together with the Father and Advocate He will bring peace to our hearts and will answer to our questions.

Today’s readings make it clear that we can live untroubled and free from doubts. If we are troubled by doubts, the problem lies in this: many Christians do not really love Christ, do not expect from Him some answer in their difficulties or they do not accept the God-given teaching authority of the bishops and the Pope.

Another problem is that people are not willing to search out the answers to their questions. They assume that ‘I don’t know’ means that nobody knows. As we saw in today’s readings, the Church began answering questions and resolving difficulties with the Faith two thousand years ago, so it is unlikely that we have questions that no one has ever asked or answered before.

Search the authoritative teachings of the Church; read the homilies, speeches, encyclicals, exhortations, letters, and messages of the popes; study the documents of the congregations of the Holy See, and you will find the answers to the questions you are asking God.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, do you ever read these precious documents of the Church? Do you believe that God chose this way to provide you with the answers you need? In today’s psalm we heard these words: “May God have pity on us and bless us; may he let his face shine upon us. So may your way be known upon earth”. God’s face is always shining upon us; he has pity and blesses us, but very often we do not recognise His face and we do not believe that He is with us with His peace. Are you open and willing to hear God, who wishes to come to you and make his dwelling with you?

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 28 April 2013: Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Reading I: Acts 14:21-27
Responsorial: Psalm 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13
Reading II: Revelation 21:1-5a
Gospel: John 13:31-33a, 34-35

Can you imagine your workplace without you? Or do you think that if you weren’t at work, everything would fall apart? I think a reasonable person knows, that even if he or she was not here, the world would still carry on.

What if you are a father or a mother? How could your family carry on without you? Or can you imagine how you would cope if you were completely alone, without any relationships with others? These are difficult questions, but you would probably agree that if you were gone, your family would simply have to cope without you, and if you were alone, you would survive somehow. I think you would also agree that no one would like to be in such a situation.

Could you imagine yourself and your family living in the kind of world described in today’s reading from the Book of Revelation, in which there is no sea? Without the sea, there is no evaporation, no rain, no snow, no seasons. Moreover, in this future new world, as John describes it a little later, there will be no sun and no moon – only the light of God. So there will be no day and no night; none of the natural rhythms we are used to. Also, there will be no tears, no death, or mourning or pain.

Probably not even the most imaginative science fiction film could convincingly depict a world without seasons, days, nights, water, sun, vegetation and without any evil or suffering.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, this world, in which all things will be made new, actually awaits us. Are you living as though this life and this world depends on you, your work, the things you have to do? Or are you living in anticipation of the promised new world which is to come?

We can see from history that whenever people are promised heaven on earth, or some perfect society in this world, it always fails and leaves people miserable. We have to keep in mind that everything that we see around us and the activities we engage in every day are not the ulitmate reality. This world will pass away. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have to be engaged with this world. We are aware that there have been philosophies that taught that material reality is contemptible or worthless. From the Gospel, however, we know that Christ never despised or rejected this world. We know that he healed the sick, fed the hungry, and even made wine out of water so people could celebrate and enjoy themselves. In fact, that was his first miracle. He treated everyone with respect and cared for them. This same respect and care for persons is carried on by the Church.

In 1984 Pope John Paul II and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Antioch signed a joint declaration in which they explained the importance of the time we are living in now:

“Through [Christ] during the time between Pentecost and the Second Coming, the period which is also the last phase of time, it is given to man to experience the new creation, the kingdom of God, the transforming ferment (Mt 13:33) already present in our midst.”

Can you imagine what this world would be like without the Church, without priests, without the sacraments? What would the Western world be like without all the contributions of Christian culture? Our legal systems, hospitals, universities, our artistic and scientific traditions would not exist apart from the influence of the Church. So even though we know we are destined for another world, at the same time, we know – and the history of the Church proves – that we are also supposed to follow Christ’s example of making the world a better place while we are still here. Clearly, the more we try to live in the light of the Gospel, the better will be the world we live in. At the same time, through the sacraments, we get a foretaste of the new world that is to come. But this is only possible as long as we have priests.

In the first reading today, we heard that Paul and Barnabas “appointed elders for them in each church.” Elders in the original Greek is presbyteros which is where we get the word “priest” in English. Having left the people in the care of priests who could sustain them in their faith, only then were Paul and Barnabas free to leave their communities and move on to new mission territory. In each community the priests and the people could begin to build a new civilization of love.

Today more and more we see how so-called ‘post-Christian’ civilization is degenerating into barbarism. Dear Brothers and Sisters, if you don’t wish to be contaminated by this degeneration of our culture, you have to realize that it will be impossible to turn back the tide without the office of the priesthood. Without the priesthood, there would be no faithful transmission of Christ’s Word and there would be no sacraments. And without the Word and sacraments, we cannot enter into the life of Christ, be transformed into him, and transform society according to his example.

Last Sunday, because of our anniversary Mass, I didn’t mention in the announcements that this past week was dedicated to praying for priestly and religious vocations. But we are not limited to praying for priests and new vocations only during one week of the year. On the contrary, if you are conscious of the role and mission of priests, you will pray for us more frequently. How often do you pray for your priests, and for more vocations?

Remember that this world will pass away, and then the only things that will have value will be what we have done with love. Jesus said to his Apostles, ‘As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.’ This is how all will know that you are my disciples….” He also said that ‘What you do for one of the least of these my brothers, you do for me.’ So when you treat your priests with love, when you recognize them as your brothers who are human and need your support and prayers, you are showing your love for Christ, and showing to all that you are his disciples.

I assure you that we priests are remembering you in our prayers every day. I hope that you are not so busy, so occupied by your daily activities, that you cannot find a few moments every day to pray for us as well.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 21 April 2013: Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Reading I: Acts 13:14, 43-52
Responsorial: Psalm 100:1-2, 3, 5
Reading II: Revelation 7:9, 14b-17
Gospel: John 10:27-30

Come into his presence with songs of joy!

There is a very special reason for the joy of the Church Universal: the resurrection of Jesus Christ, remembered always, but especially in these days in the liturgy. As it was in the beginning: “the converts were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:52). When the good news of the Lord was preached: “It made the gentiles very happy to hear this and they gave thanks to the Lord for his message” (Acts 13:48). Joy and the removal of sadness are the result of being Christian: “and God will wipe away all tears from their eyes” (Rev 21:4). Yes, this liturgical season reminds us that the good news is really good.

Another special reason for joy in our community, a smaller one, but still important: The 6th anniversary of the Holy Mass in this Pastoral Center in the English language.

Come into his presence – indeed – with songs of joy!”

The new life opened to us in Christ is not a remote theoretical possibility: it becomes accessible in communities of living faith, where we know each other, where we worship together: in our parishes, in this Pastoral Center. Here we can touch in practice what Christianity is all about.

By the “Word of God” that Paul and Barnabas preach in today’s First Reading, a new covenant people is being born, a people who glorify the God of Israel as the Father of them all.

For all generations the Church remains faithful to the grace of God given to the Apostles, and continues their saving work. “There was a huge number, impossible for anyone to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language; they were standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands” (Rev 7:9).

This is the final promise and the final victory that we call eternal salvation.

It is realized though through something very personal, an exchange of hearts that the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls “a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God” (CCC 2558). And the Bible describes it as an encounter of hearts: “The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me” (Jn 10:27).

Yes, the Church is the “great multitude” that John sees in his vision today. But these are not anonymous “social masses”. These are persons: each one wanted by God, seen by God, called by Him and loved by Him. Through the Church, the peoples of every land hear the Shepherd’s voice, and follow Him: people from every nation, race, tribe and language.

Just four weeks ago we experienced the powerful liturgy of Easter Sunday with an emphasis on new life gained through the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus. This new life is expressed in the growth of the Church through the new believers who became members of our Church through Baptism.

In some parts of the Catholic Church this growth is quite spectacular: in the last year the Roman Catholic Church in South Korea baptized one hundred thousand adult persons, as well as thirty thousand infants from Catholic families. That means that in an average big Korean parish there are hundreds and hundreds of converts to the Church every year.

People come to experience what Christianity is all about: Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Jesus tenderly carrying a white lamb on his shoulders and surrounded by numerous sheep was painted on the walls of the catacombs in Rome. Why? To communicate who Jesus was, why He came, and what it all meant.

Even when sin causes us to wander and stray, the Good Shepherd is there to come to our rescue. Jesus searches for us and brings us back, carrying us safely home to the fold of His Church.

However, the relationship has to be two-way. We as the sheep have to choose to belong to Jesus and His flock. That means we each have to make a personal commitment for life to follow Jesus and listen to His voice.

Jesus will not or cannot save people against their will. But if we do choose to listen to Jesus’s voice and follow Him and remain faithful, Jesus promises to give us eternal life. To follow Jesus does not mean we can be guaranteed an easy life here on earth.

In the Catholic Christian community we find mutual support, encouragement, and companionship. We cannot belong to Jesus without also belonging to His flock. The privilege of belonging is not something that is offered to a chosen few, but to everyone.

Pastors of the Church, priests, are our shepherds. But we all have responsibilities toward each other because it has pleased God to save us and make us holy, not merely as individuals without any mutual bonds, but by forming us into a single community, the Body of Christ.

So every Catholic may in some way participate in the role of the good shepherd.

First of all, the parents. It is their privilege and duty to teach and guide their children, to care for them, to love them, and teach them about their faith. Parents need to realize that Christ, the Good Shepherd, wants to live and act within them for the sake of their children.

Next are our teachers and all who care for the young. Young people desperately need upstanding role-models, good shepherds who will help them grow up to make good moral choices.

Those who cannot provide active help to others but who dedicate themselves to prayer for those in need are also good shepherds.

We ourselves are good shepherds by our faithfulness to Sunday Mass and our prayer life, by our active involvement in the parish to support the young, by protecting and helping one another, and by our charitable speech.

Today is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. All vocations, whether they be to the married life, life as a single person, or to the priesthood or religious life, they all are very important in God’s plan.

What seems so often overlooked is the richness and the deep spirituality of the vocation to religious life. The religious life includes religious priests, religious brothers and religious sisters.

On this World Day of Prayer for Vocations, let us pray earnestly for vocations for more priests and sisters to become our much-needed good shepherds of God’s flock, so that many more people could experience the truth of this invocation: “Come into his presence with songs of joy!” — so that the converts could be “filled with joy and the Holy Spirit”; so that the gentiles could be made happy to hear the good news.

Amen.

Bishop Andrzej Siemieniewski

Homily 14 April 2013: Third Sunday of Easter, Year C

Third Sunday of Easter

Reading I: Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41
Responsorial: Psalm 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13
Reading II: Revelation 5:11-14
Gospel: John 21:1-19

When we break a traffic law, it’s reasonable to worry that we’ll be caught and have to pay a fine. Also, if someone evades taxes, he’ll naturally fear being found out and punished. In other words, when we break a man-made law, we feel guilty and dread the consequences. But it’s far more important not to break the laws of God. Today’s first reading reminds of this hierarchy of laws. First, we have to hear and obey what God commands. We also have to obey legitimate authorities in the world, but only when their demands do not contradict what God requires of us. In the case of a direct conflict between the authority of God and the authority of men, we have to follow the rule expressed by St Peter: “We must obey God rather than men.”

Consider what would have happened if Peter and the other apostles had obeyed the commands of the Jewish authorities — Christianity would have been crushed in its infancy. The apostles’ disobedience to their Jewish leaders was not a rebellion or a call to arms against the existing order. On the contrary, they were obeying God’s command to build new bonds between people, to call people to be merciful, and to invite everyone to live together in God’s family.

It is strange that the ancient world was so corrupt, so perverse, and so ideologically warped that they preferred the world to remain that way, rather than to allow the Apostles to preach a gospel of love, peace and brotherhood.

We are all aware that the contemporary world is also deeply immersed in what is objectively bad. We know well how public opinion and government laws promote and sanction what is objectively evil. In the face of modern corruption, perversity and warped ideologies, as Christians we have to respond as the Apostles did, and say, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Notice that the Apostles were beaten for refusing to be silent about Jesus. They came away from their punishment “rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.” They knew that the truth was on their side; they knew that they had nothing to be ashamed of; they knew that the Holy Spirit witnessed to the truth of their words; and they knew that no power on earth could stop the power of God working through them as long as they obeyed God instead of men.

Of course the Apostles were not always so strong and courageous in their witness to Christ. In the Gospel we heard that Peter and the others, even though they’d already met the risen Lord, were still living in fear. They didn’t know what to do, so they went back to their original work: being fishermen. ‘Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We also will come with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.’ It’s very likely that Peter could not forget how he had denied Christ. He must have doubted that Jesus could forgive or trust him again. But we know that he wasn’t thinking straight. Jesus didn’t confront Peter with his denials or blame him. Jesus had predicted in advance that Peter would deny him; it was not a shock or surprise to him. Jesus’s reaction was different from what Peter must have expected. The Gospel shows us that Jesus didn’t condemn Peter, but on the contrary, he gave Peter the chance to recant his three denials by asking him three times, “Do you love me?” and accepting Peter’s affirmative response.

Jesus’s three questions – “Do you love me?” – and Peter’s three responses – “You know I love you” – teach us that no matter how bad our sin, or how deep our guilt, God’s love, and our response to God’s love, can change everything. We could do as the Apostles did, and build God’s Kingdom on earth.

Jesus also knows our sins before we commit them. And similarly, he asks us, in the midst of our guilt and shame, “Do you love me?” This means that we shouldn’t be obsessed and depressed about our sins, our failings, about how bad we have been. That’s the kind of thinking that led Judas to despair and suicide. We have to look at Jesus, who is always waiting for us, especially in the sacrament of reconciliation, where he is always ready to say, “I do not condemn you. Go and sin no more. Go and build my heavenly kingdom here, on earth, here in your life.”

God’s plan is irrevocable. Jesus had called Peter to be a fisher of men, not a fisherman. Peter’s failings and denials did not change God’s plan. That’s why Jesus emphatically reminded Peter of his mission: “Feed my lambs. Tend my sheep. Feed my sheep.” Comparing Peter’s timidity and self-doubt in today’s Gospel with his boldness and strength in the first reading, we see how Peter grew into full acceptance of God’s will. The Gospel also shows us that the process of Peter’s maturation would continue until he was so transformed into Christ that he laid down his life as meekly as Jesus himself did: ‘“Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.’

We could suppose that even as he faced of death, Peter was able to rejoice, knowing that he was able to suffer for the sake of Christ. This is an example for us. If Peter fully realized his vocation despite his many weaknesses, we too can fulfill what God has called us to do with our lives. The most important thing is not to fear because of the times we have denied Christ, fallen from grace, and sinned. If we turn to Jesus, he always shows us his mercy and gives us the grace we need to be faithful to his will for us. And then we will be able to rejoice with the psalmist, saying,

I will extol you, O LORD, for you drew me clear
and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.
You changed my mourning into dancing;
O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 7 April 2013: Divine Mercy Sunday, Year C

Divine Mercy Sunday

Reading I: Acts 5:12-16
Responsorial: Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
Reading II: Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19
Gospel: John 20:19-31

In 2000, Pope John Paul II, now venerated as bless-ed, instituted the Feast of Divine Mercy to be celebrated for on the Second Sunday of Easter. The feast of Divine Mercy originated with the apparitions of Christ to a Polish nun called Sr. Faustina. Maria Faustyna Kowalska was born in Poland in 1905. When she was twenty years old she entered the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. Seven year later, in her cell in the convent, our Lord who appeared to her with rays radiating from His heart. He told Sister Faustina: “Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus I trust in You. I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and throughout the world” (Diary, 47).

I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over its enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I myself will defend it as My own glory” (Diary, 48).

It was probably the first time in Christian history that Jesus requested a painting of himself. In Sister Faustina’s Diary we read why Jesus made His request. He told Faustina, “…I sent prophets wielding thunderbolts to My people. Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My Merciful Heart” (Diary, 1588).

Jesus explained the significance of the image of Divine Mercy: “Not in the beauty of the color, nor of the brush, lies the greatness of this image, but in My grace” (Diary, 313). “I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy. That vessel is this image with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You” (Diary, 327).

The image of the Divine Mercy is thus a vessel, not the source; a reminder, not the reality. The reality is the merciful fountain of grace flowing from the pierced Heart of Christ on the Cross.

It is worth emphasizing that Jesus promised that those who go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, will receive not only forgiveness of their sins, but the total remission of all temporal punishment for their sins. It is like a second baptism, all sin and punishment is wiped out. Confession which was made during the week beforehand is also acceptable. Our attitude should be one of total trust in Jesus’s Divine Mercy.

My daughter,” Jesus said to Faustina, “tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Everything that exists has come forth from the very depths of My most tender mercy. Every soul in its relation to Me will contemplate My love and mercy throughout eternity. The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy” (Diary, 699).

The graces we can receive when we approach the Divine Mercy of God are inconceivably great. But true devotion to Divine Mercy does not mean just receiving something for ourselves; it means being transformed by Divine Mercy. Jesus told Saint Faustina:

My daughter, if I demand through you that people revere My mercy, …I [also] demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or absolve yourself from it… (Diary, 742).

Dear brothers and sisters, let me finish this homily with a prayer from the second day of the Novena before Divine Mercy Sunday: “Most Merciful Jesus, from whom comes all that is good, increase Your grace in us, that we may perform worthy works of mercy, and that all who see us may glorify the Father of Mercy who is in heaven” (Diary, 1213). Amen.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 31 March 2013: Easter Sunday of the Lord's Resurrection, Year C

Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection

Reading I: Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Responsorial: Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
Reading II: Colossians 3:1-4
Gospel: Luke 24:13-35

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

We priests are always happy to see more people in Mass on Easter than we usually see on Sunday. But those who come to Mass especially for Easter should remember that every Sunday is a celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection: we celebrate Easter every week. This beautiful truth is reflected in various languages in which the word for ‘Sunday’ is ‘Resurrection’. The Polish word ‘niedziela’ does not seem to be connected with the Resurrection because it means ‘not work’ – nie dziełać. Of course, the reason we do not work on Sunday is because it is the memorial of Christ’s Resurrection. But it’s not the name that we give the day that makes us Christian. Our faith comes from hearing, from living in community, and from participating in the Eucharist.

Today’s Gospel shows how the resurrected Savior reveals himself by accompanying us: he accompanies us on our journey; he engages us in conversation; and he remains with us at the table.

In the first two ways Christ remains hidden from our sight; only in the third way – in the Eucharist – are we able to see Christ in his resurrected body, which is present to us under the species of bread and wine.

Notice that the disciples who were walking along the road were talking about all the things that had happened recently – that is, things that were related to Christ. They were talking about those things because they were uppermost in their minds; and they were thinking about those things because they loved Christ. They were doing what we read about in the second reading: seeking ‘what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God’ (cf. Col 3:1). Their hearts and minds and words were focused on Christ; they were travelling together amicably. Thus they were worthy to have Christ as a companion, and he became present among them and accompanied them. We see here the truth of Christ’s words when he said, ‘Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst’ (Matthew 18:20). In another place he said, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word and my Father will love him. And we will come to him’ (John 14:23).

After Jesus became present to the disciples, he listened to what they were saying, and then he spoke to them. They didn’t recognize him when they looked at him, or when he revealed himself to them by explaining all the scriptures that pertained to himself. It was only after they recognized him in the breaking of the bread that they reflected on how their hearts were burning within them when he spoke to them along the way.

If we really want to experience the resurrected Christ, we must take our example from these disciples: they were walking in the dark, so to speak, because there was much that they didn’t understand about Christ’s death and the reports of his resurrection. But they were seeking answers; they were focused on Christ. In a similar way, if we focus our minds and hearts on questions of truth, beauty, justice, freedom, and goodness, Christ will reveal his wisdom to us, often through another person whom we meet on our way. He does not have to reveal himself through the pope or a bishop or a priest – it can be an ordinary, simple person you meet in the course of your daily life. And if you keep close to Christ, you may be the one who reveals his wisdom to someone else.

The two disciples on the road to Emmaus were journeying amicably together, and Jesus became present to them. They were discussing him, and he revealed himself to them through the scriptures. But the ultimate union with him came when he ‘took bread, said the blessing, broke it and gave it to them. With that, their eyes were opened and they recognized him.’ But it was more than mere visual recognition; it was an unmediated union with Christ in the Eucharist. And this is the most perfect encounter we can have with the Resurrected Christ on Easter and in every Mass.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, as soon as the two disciples realized that they had met with the Risen Christ, ‘they set out at once’ walking back to Jerusalem to share the good news with the Eleven and other believers. The witness of these first disciples was the beginning of a new civilization, the building of the Kingdom of God on earth. As Christians, we are called to follow their example: our encounter with Christ should be shared with everyone we meet as we journey through our days. It is now our turn to announce the good news to a world darkened by sin and neo-paganism. We must not be afraid to speak up about our faith, publicly, whenever we are asked or expected to do something contrary to the Gospel.

We must not be afraid to be counter-cultural, but remember that Christ is walking with us, and will remain with us, strengthening us in every encounter with him in the Eucharist.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 24 March 2013: Palm Sunday of Our Lord's Passion, Year C

Palm Sunday of Our Lord’s Passion

Reading I: Isaiah 50:4-7
Responsorial: Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
Reading II: Philippians 2:6-11
Gospel: Luke 22:14–23:56

When we buy a plane ticket, we know our destination. When we get a job, we know what our duties and salary will be. In most situations, we ask questions and get information so we have a good idea what to expect. Nevertheless, not many people could give a thoughtful answer to the questions, ‘What is the purpose of my life? Why do I exist?’

We cannot answer that we exist only for the sake of fulfilling our duties at work. Some people are too ill to work. Others may be well qualified, but cannot find work. How can we explain the meaning of those people’s lives, if work and career are what give meaning to our lives? Then there are those occupations which don’t contribute to the good of others, such as being a prostitute, drug dealer, thief or a contract killer. Some occupations probably shouldn’t even exist, such a gossip columnist, or public relations jobs that have the aim of selling people things they don’t need and can’t afford. The world would be a better place without these and many other pointless or harmful occupations.

How can we tell if the work we are devoting our life to is worthwhile or not? I propose that the basis for making the distinction is Jesus Christ. Because only Jesus gives the answer to the most fundamental questions: ‘Why does the world exist? Who am I? and What is the purpose of my life?’

Jesus explained that everything exists because of love; that we are made to love and be loved; and that the purpose of our lives is to be united with God and others in love eternally.

Jesus showed us that real love means living our lives in service to others, even to the point of sacrificing our lives for them. The Gospel of the Passion of Christ, which we read today, shows us that Jesus didn’t just talk about this kind of love, but lived it out, offering himself in love for us.

If we look at history, we can see the kind of culture that was created by people who believed what Jesus taught about the meaning of life. They built a culture in which the dignity of each person was affirmed; in which diverse people could find personal happiness and social fulfillment; a culture based on the transcendent values of truth, goodness and beauty, and thus producing art and science of unsurpassed excellence.

Think about the voices you hear in everyday life, telling you what is important: some political program; the economy; material comfort; entertainment; physical health or beauty; keeping up to date with the latest fashions and technology. But there is no historical evidence to show that a culture built on these values was just, peaceful, or brought true happiness to everyone.

When we think about the materialistic values of contemporary culture, how many people would die to defend the truth, beauty and goodness of those values? Nobody. It’s because none of those values are what people really want. What people really want is true love. Only one who truly loves is willing to lay down his life for his beloved.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, seeing Christ, who carried his cross and offered his life for us, we have to ask ourselves today: Is everything that I do motivated by love for Christ and for others? Or is it motivated by a selfish desire to use people and things for my own pleasure and profit? If you really believe that nothing is more important than Christ, do not fear the cross and even crucifixion, because the cross is the sign of perfect, self-sacrificing love, and there is no way to be closer to Christ, than through the cross.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 17 March 2013: Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C

Fifth Sunday in Lent

Reading I: Isaiah 43:16-21
Responsorial: Psalm 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6
Reading II: Philippians 3:8-14
Gospel: John 8:1-11

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

I hope that you have listened to today’s readings with close and lively attention. Especially today’s Gospel touches human hearts: the meeting of our Savior with the woman caught in adultery. This story shows us the difference between the divine and human ways of thinking about sin. Probably no other story in the Bible shows the difference more clearly. This story contains a kind of summary and synopsis of the whole Gospel, the Good News of the forgiveness and love of God. 

What is the lesson we take from this Gospel? Simply this: Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.

People like to correct the sins of others. We do it all the time. If we took one percent of the energy we spend correcting others, and used it to correct our own faults, we would have been saints long ago. This is true, first, because no one knows our sins as well as we know them; second, because no one else has as much influence on us as we have on ourselves; and third, because we don’t trust other people nearly as much as we trust ourselves. So each of us has the ideal conditions to correct our own faults! 

So why do we prefer to focus on the sins of other people? We do this primarily to avoid rooting out our own sins. We condemn others in order to make ourselves look better.

Christ’s approach to sin is different. Is he less sensitive to evil? Is in indifferent or indulgent toward sin? No, certainly not! But Christ does hate hypocrisy, because it closes man off from the way to conversion. Christ hates the sin, because he loves the sinner.

Were the Pharisees pained by the sin of the adulterous woman? Were they suffering on her account? By no means! There is no regret, no sorrow in their tone, because a sister has fallen. There is only malicious satisfaction in having exposed her sin, and a desire for vengeance. Their animosity is not directed against the sin, but against the woman who sinned.

Only Christ showed the woman compassion. He alone, out of love, was willing to pay the price for her sin. Only he cared about the true good of the woman, telling her: Go, and sin no more. 

If we want to learn love, this kind of love, we must repent and turn away from our sins. And when we learn this love and repent for our sins, we can atone for the sins of others.

Fr. Andrzej Kulczycki, OFM Conv.

Homily 10 March 2013: Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C

Fourth Sunday in Lent

Reading I: Joshua 5:9a, 10-12
Reading II: 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
Responsorial: Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
Gospel: Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

Brothers and Sisters,

Today’s Gospel reminds us of God who loves and waits, as well as man, endowed with freedom, who often prefers to choose his own path.

The younger son did not attack his father. He did not hit him; he did not create a scene. He left the house quietly. And yet he deeply wounded his father. He betrayed his father’s trust. He preferred freedom and adventure in the world to filial love and closeness with his father.

The father loved his son. He respected the freedom of his son, even though he knew that his son was not using his freedom properly. He believed, however, that his son would listen to the voice of his heart and return.

The Father was not mistaken. His son behaved foolishly; he squandered his inheritance, but he returned to his home. He was wise enough to know where to go, in order to save his life. He knew that at home he would find the loving heart of his father. Although he had lost everything else, he had not lost his real treasure, which was his father’s heart. He returned poorer, but wiser. He had learned what you can lose when you choose your own path. He knew the difference between having a loving father and having to feed someone else’s pigs.

Every sinner who feels the need to return to God experiences the same thing as the Prodigal Son. He discovers that all the gifts he has received from God can be lost, but you can never lose God’s love for you.

Conversion is an act of wisdom, a wisdom that knows which direction you should take so as not to die in the world. This wisdom reveals the indestructible love of God, which is patient and forgiving.

The older son didn’t know how to forgive his brother. He felt sorry for himself. He resented his brother for what he did. He also resented his father’s good heart and quickness to forgive.

It takes a big heart and true love to be able to accept another person who suffers misfortune through his own fault, but turns and asks for forgiveness. But the older son didn’t have a big heart. His egoism made it impossible for him to accept and understand his father’s joy.

In Lent many prodigal sons return to the Father. Let us pray for those who are experiencing grievous difficulties because their choices have taken them far from God. Let’s not be like the older son, who was resentful because his sinful brother had reconciled with their father. May Lent be for us a time of reconciliation both with God and with our brothers.

Fr. Andrzej Kulczycki, OFM Conv.

Homily 3 March 2013: Third Sunday in Lent, Year C

Third Sunday in Lent

Reading I: Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15
Responsorial: Psalm 103: 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8, 11
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12
Gospel: Luke 13:1-9

Dear Brothers and Sisters, 

Welcome again, each of you, to today’s celebration of the third Sunday of Lent. Because it is the first Sunday of the month, we will have adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, so the homily will be brief.

I’d like to focus on the Parable of the Fig Tree, which we heard in the gospel. At the proper time, a man who had planted a fig tree, went looking for fruit on it. And what did he find? Nothing. This happened for three years in a row. And after three years, he said to his gardener, “Cut it down.” The orchard owner was at the end of his patience. And so he said, “Cut it down.” 

The gardener replied, “Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.” It is interesting that the gardener didn’t ask that the fruit tree be left in the orchard forever, but only for one more year. He wanted to do everything possible to help the tree bear fruit. But if the tree did not give fruit, the gardener would cut it down.

Each of us is like the fig tree planted by the Lord and called by him to bear fruit – the fruit of love.

And it is so important to live our lives with love: in our families, in our schools, in our places of work, in our communities – because love is the reason for human life. God will judge us based on how we have loved.

And so remember what Jesus said: I was hungry, and you fed me; thirsty and you gave me drink; sick and imprisoned and you visited me; naked and you clothed me.

Everything that you have done for these the least of my brethren, you have done for me. And what you have not done for these least of my brethren, you have not done for me. 

So, Brothers and Sisters, as we journey through Lent, let our days be filled with the fruits of love.

Amen.

Fr. Andrzej Kulczycki, OFM Conv.

Homily 24 February 2013: Second Sunday in Lent, Year C

Second Sunday in Lent

Reading I: Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18
Responsorial: Psalm 27:1, 7-8, 8-9, 13-14
Reading II: Philippians 3:17-4:1
Gospel: Luke 9:28b-36

Dear Brothers and Sisters, welcome to our celebration today. It is the second Sunday of Lent. I hope each of you is having a good experience in your Lenten spiritual exercises. And I suppose that you that you have realized that it is easy to decide to make sacrifices or do spiritual exercises, but not so easy to carry them out.

A man once asked me, “What are these Lenten spiritual exercises for? Why should we pray more? Why should we give up something for Lent?” I thought for a little bit, and I saw that a long explanation would be pointless. So I answered him, “Do you believe in God? Do you love him? If you believe in God and love him, you could look at the crucifix and you would understand why it’s good to fast and pray more during Lent.”

Brothers and sisters, the first reading reminds us of the history of Abraham, who is called the Father of All Believers. We read that “The Lord God took Abram outside and said to him, ‘Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can. Just so,’ he added, ‘shall your descendants be.’”

I’d like to explain that at that moment, Abraham was an old man; his wife Sarah was past the age of child-bearing; and now Abraham was hearing that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. And, as you remember, “Abram put his faith in the LORD.” Abraham believed in the Lord and loved him. I’m sure that you remember another test of Abraham’s faith, when the Lord asked Abraham to offer his only son Isaac. He agreed to do it. Why? Because Abraham believed in the Lord and loved him.

And now the Gospel. Jesus chose three of the Apostles and took them up the mountain. The choice of Apostles is interesting: Peter, John and James. Starting with the last, James was a close relative of Jesus, and the first leader of the Christian community in Jerusalem. John was beloved disciple of Jesus. From the Cross, Jesus gave his mother to John, and offered John to Mary as her son. He was the author of one of the Gospels, letters, and the book of Revelation. He was the last Apostle to die. And Peter was the first to identify Jesus as the Messiah. Peter defended Jesus when the guards came to arrest him in the garden. This same Peter who was so sure about his faith – who said that even if everyone abandons you, I will not abandon you – he denied Jesus three times. Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” “Do you love me more than these others?” and he told Peter, “Tend my flock; feed my sheep.” “To you I give the keys of the kingdom.”

Brothers and sisters, when we understand who the people were that Jesus took up the mountain, we can understand the meaning of what happened on the mountain. The transfiguration of Jesus, witnessed by these key Apostles, was an important event for the Church, because it strengthened their faith, so they would not lose hope when Jesus was crucified and died. It was a preparation for that difficult challenge to their faith. Of course, there were many moments of preparation during the three years they spent with Jesus, but this was the most impressive. And of course for them, it was not only important what they saw, but what they heard: “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”

For us, living two thousand years after these events; for us, who experience difficult moments in our life, and in our faith; for us, who know that Jesus not only suffered and died, but also rose and sent the Holy Spirit; it is still important to hear and take deep into our hearts, the words of the Heavenly Father: “This is my chosen Son; listen to him,” so that our faith will be invigorated by Jesus, by his word and his blessing.

Fr. Andrzej Kulczycki, OFM Conv.

Homily 17 February 2013: First Sunday in Lent, Year C

First Sunday in Lent

Reading I: Deuteronomy 26:4-10
Responsorial: Psalm 91:1-2, 10-11, 12-13, 14-15
Reading II: Romans 10:8-13
Gospel: Luke 4:1-13

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

When I met Leonid, a Russian musician, in St Petersburg, he somewhat shamefacedly confided that he had once won a prize for his comprehensive knowledge of communist history and laws in his country. But when communism collapsed, he realized how worthless that knowledge was. Leonid’s experience is the opposite of what the second reading tells us about putting our faith in God: “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.”

Recently, during a home visit, I met a former general who spent many years in the Polish Army, building military bases and training and indoctrinating soldiers during communist times. And now he is an adviser for those who are now dismantling everything that he spent his life building up. Of course, he is not happy to do this, since he is destroying his life’s work. He feels somehow cheated, because what he believed was worthwhile turned out to be pointless.

I have met many men and women who told me how they were betrayed by their wives and husbands. I suppose that everyone, or almost everyone here, can think of times when you were cheated or betrayed by someone you trusted, even including family members.

But I wonder if any of you can tell me about a time when you have been cheated or betrayed by Jesus? Maybe you feel like you were betrayed by Jesus because you were faithful to his teaching or did what he called you to do, and you experienced grief and pain as a result. But didn’t Jesus promise the cross and suffering in this world, to those who follow his way?

In today’s second reading, St. Paul declares that “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Salvation is something that we will experience mostly in the next life, if we are faithful to Jesus’s teaching to the end of this life. What Jesus expects from us now is believe what he taught and proclaim it to others with our lives and words. St. Paul tells us that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” And it is true. Nobody can deny it.

As you know, in our life today, more and more evidently, speaking about Jesus, practicing your faith publicly, or speaking freely about Christian teaching is restricted or forbidden either by law or rules and regulations that inhibit the freedom of people of faith. When the Church has faced legitimate criticism for how she has presented the truths of the faith, the Church has responded with reasonable arguments or adjustments to how she speaks about the faith. But on the other hand, when people want to abolish religion or attack the Church, they cannot give an adequate or truthful explanation of why it is a good thing to get rid of Christianity. They cannot prove or give any evidence that if religion disappears, humanity will be better off and all of our problems will be solved. From history we know that many pagan civilizations, including the most developed, eventually collapsed. We saw in the last century the bitter and deadly fruits of atheistic systems, as well as their downfall. And yet we are supposed to believe that – contrary to all evidence – Christianity is the source of all our problems.

When we as Christians see that something threatens or attacks our faith, we can come together to solve the problem ourselves. We can create our own schools, our own hospitals, our own insurance companies and investment firms so that we are not dependent on governments and other institutions that are hostile to our faith. If we don’t approve of what we see on television and in films, or we can’t find decent books or websites to read, we can support and encourage the work of Catholic artists. It does not mean it will be easy: there is no salvation apart from the cross. But it will be possible, and if we put our lives in God’s hands, then as the psalmist says, ‘He will be with us in our distress; he will deliver us and glorify us.’

Maybe as a penitential practice for this Lent, think about how you can defend the faith when it is attacked or correct false ideas about Catholicism when you hear them. Is there any way you can get together with other Catholics to defend the faith, for example through the Internet? This is an easy penance: thinking does not hurt.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 10 February 2013: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Reading I: Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8
Responsorial: Psalm 138:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 7-8
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Gospel: Luke 5:1-11

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

At the beginning, I’d like to direct your attention to the Gospel that we just heard. This story about St Peter’s miraculous catch of fish is well-known. We can easily imagine Peter and the other fishermen, who had been fishing all night without catching anything. We can imagine how tired and disappointed they were: all their work had gained them nothing. Such a long, hard night’s effort, and nothing to show for it! And then Jesus commanded Simon to “put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” This simple command which Jesus gave to Peter might have been taken as a joke. What was the point of telling professional fishermen, who had already worked all night and caught nothing, to try again? Maybe for the fishermen, it was a joke.

But Jesus knew what he was doing.

And now Peter, after a whole night’s fishing, despite his tiredness and disappointment, didn’t argue with Jesus. He didn’t ask, ‘What are you talking about? He simply said, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.”

Many think that Peter’s response shows his obedience to Christ. But I think that Peter had a different way to show how pointless Jesus’s command was.

I think he decided to lower his nets again, to show the crowd that Jesus’s preaching may be beautiful, but it doesn’t have much relevance to real life. So he lowered his nets into the water, confident that when he raised them again, the crowd would see empty nets.

But we know how the story ends. Peter had to call his partners in the other boat to help him raise the nets because they were beginning to tear from the huge catch of fish.

So now Peter knew that Jesus wasn’t joking when he told him to try again. His whole attitude changed: “he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, ‘Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.’” Jesus had demolished Peter’s lack of faith. 

And now we know that Jesus isn’t joking when he tells us to try again when our efforts have been fruitless. Jesus tells us, “Try again, with hope.”

Now I’d like to turn to the second reading, from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians. At the beginning of this reading, we heard, “I am reminding you, brothers and sisters, of the Gospel I preached to you, which you indeed received and in which you should also stand.

Through it you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I handed on to you as of the first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures.”

I’d like to stress that Paul was reminding the Corinthians that what he preached to them wasn’t something he invented, but something he received. It was the Good News, the Gospel about Christ who died for our sins and was raised on the third day. The faith which Paul received, he shared many different people.

That was two thousand years ago. Today it is very important to understand that the faith which we have in our hearts, the faith which brings us to Holy Mass this afternoon, is a gift we have received. We received it from our parents or maybe other believers, who, by their testimony, kindled the spark of faith in our hearts.

And now we carry this faith in our hearts and in our hands, and we should know that we are called to share this gift of faith with other people. We must share it, so that the Good News about the loving God, our Father, who sent his only Son to die for our sins, will live in the hearts of others.

At the end of this reflection, Let us pray: Jesus our Savior, always be close to us, and speak in the silence of our hearts. Give us great faith and trust in your words, so that we can live with You and for You. And help us to share our faith in You our Savior and Lord. Amen

Fr. Andrzej Kulczycki, OFM Conv.

Homily 3 February 2013: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19
Responsorial: Psalm 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15-17
Reading II: I Corinthians 12:31–13:13
Gospel: Luke 4:21-30

[Because it is the first Sunday of the month, and we have adoration of the Blessed Sacrament after Mass, the homily is shorter than usual.]

As we heard in the Gospel, the Jews were angry because Jesus showed them their sins and the sins of their ancestors. “They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.” Today many societies want to expel Jesus and his teaching because it doesn’t conform to politically correct standards.

As we know, the Jews didn’t solve their political problems by expelling Jesus and declaring, “We have no king but Caesar!” And we can’t solve our political and personal problems today, by rejecting Christ as our Messiah.

In your private and public life, do you really follow the teaching of Jesus? Or do you conform to political correctness? Do you love Him with a love that does not seek its own interest?

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 27 January 2013: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Nehemiah 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10
Responsorial: Psalm 19:8, 9, 10, 15
Reading II: 1 Cor 12:12-30
Gospel: Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21

It could seem strange to us that when the Jews heard Ezra reading the Book of the Law, the people cried. It might also strike us as strange that Nehemiah did not exhort the people to conversion. Instead, he invited them to rejoice: “Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks, and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared; for today is holy to our LORD. Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength!”

We know that after returning from Assyrian slavery, the Israelites needed to re-think their relationship with God: they were taken away into slavery in the first place because they had been disobedient to God, broken their covenant with Him. It was therefore appropriate for them to weep when they heard the Law of God proclaimed to them, because it made them acknowledge the difference between the goodness of God’s law and the reality of their behavior.

We also see that the Jews who gathered in the synagogue during the time of Jesus listened attentively when he read aloud and commented on the prophecy of Isaiah, proclaiming that the words of the prophets had been fulfilled in himself: ‘Today, this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.’

Participating in today’s liturgy, we can rejoice because it is truly the day of the Lord, and we are coming here to listen to his voice, and to be intimately united with him in the mystery of his Body and Blood, when we receive communion. On the other hand, we could also weep because only a few people are interested in hearing God’s Word. Yesterday I spoke with a priest from St Henry’s parish, and he said that only thirteen percent of the people registered in his parish participate in Sunday Mass. In our parish, it is about twenty percent. The average is about the same in all the parishes in Wroclaw. You see that most people are not interested in hearing God’s word, hearing Jesus and obeying Him.

When I am visiting in homes in the parish, often I see a Bible displayed on the table, but judging from its pristine condition, it has rarely been opened. And this is among those parishioners who are willing to open their doors, because only about fifty percent welcome the priest into their homes. This shows us that there is a significant lack of interest in exploring God’s Word or going deeply into Scripture. In this period of home visits, we notice that most of the people we visit are watching TV, and we have to ask them to turn down or turn off the television so we can focus on our prayer. For me it is obvious that ordinary people are far more influenced by what they see on TV than they are by God’s Word.

We can stress that really only Christ, only Jesus, is the Savior of every person and all of humanity. Jesus confirmed what Isaiah prophesied, that Jesus himself is the one who would bring the good news: glad tidings for the poor, liberty for captives, and freedom for the oppressed. It naturally follows that if a person listens to bad news on television for many hours of the day, that person’s perception of reality will be distorted. He will become suspicious of others and have a pessimistic view of life and the world. The opposite effect can be expected in a person who immerses himself in the Good News of the Bible. In addition, when we are very familiar with God’s Word, we are much better able to judge the truth or falseness of what we hear in the media, and not be misled by it.

This doesn’t mean that we should ignore all media. It means that we have to choose what we listen to, read and watch. St. Paul pointed out that every person has been given different gifts. One of the gifts we’ve been given is our Catholic Faith. If our faith is part of who we are, it is very strange if we never seek out news and information for Catholics. But there is another important point to add here. Television programming tries to appeal to everyone; it is like McDonald’s food for the brain. We need to be discriminating in what we watch, and when it comes to our Catholic faith, we need to choose reliable Catholic media to get our information and nourish our faith.

It is also possible to hear God’s Word using the Internet, and it is really very interesting, in my experience, to listen to someone reading the Bible while you go about ordinary daily chores around the house.

We have to remember that we are responsible for preaching the Good News to others, so it is necessary for us to know it well ourselves.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 20 January 2013: Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Isaiah 62:1-5
Responsorial: Psalm 96:1-2, 2-3, 7-8, 9-10
Reading II:  1 Corinthians 12:4-11
Gospel:  John 2:1-11

During today’s catechesis, I mentioned the battle to redefine the family as a union of homosexuals. You may have heard that this past week a million people protested so-called same-sex ‘marriage’ in France. In this context, it is significant that Jesus performed his first miracle at a wedding reception. The young married couple might have been embarrassed in front of their guests, but to save them embarrassment and give them a joyful start on their life together, Jesus changed water into wine. If we focus on the miracle only, we may miss the fact that Jesus was at the marriage of a heterosexual couple, celebrating the union of their lives. By accepting the young couple’s invitation to witness and celebrate their marriage, Jesus confirmed God’s original plan that men and women should come together as one body, to ‘increase and multiply and fill the earth.’

The miracle in Cana also shows us the importance of the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, and how much the happiness of each of us depends on others. If the servants had said, ‘We’re not going to fill these jugs with water; they need wine, not water,’ Jesus would have had no water to work with. Only because of the obedience and cooperation of the servants could Jesus perform his miracle. This shows us that many things in other people’s lives depend on us, and we depend on others. We receive life from others, and we can only act because of others. Everyone knows that without the help of others, we could not even speak or understand language.

In our second reading today, Saint Paul explained that everyone is given different gifts, such as healing, mighty deeds, prophecy, the discernment of spirits, and speaking in tongues. He reminds us that these gifts come through the Holy Spirit for the benefit of everyone. Our gifts do not exist and are not to be used for selfish ends, but in the service of others. Many current ideologies assert that because of our individual freedom and our human rights, we can do anything we like and can demand everything we want: the aim of life is to satisfy our appetites and enjoy ourselves regardless of the needs or rights of others. Consequently, people slowly lose sight of the evangelical teaching of Jesus, who said that we must do for others what we would like them to do for us; and that the gifts we have been given must be shared with others. Jesus taught us to pray by saying, ‘Our Father,’ not ‘My Father.’ This means that we have to be one with other people – one community, one family – because in fact, we are brothers and sisters, and we should serve each other with the gifts we have received.

But this is not just a matter of ‘being nice’ or helping other people. It also means being courageous and speaking out in defence of others who are victims of injustice. Isaiah gives us the example, when he says, ‘I will not be silent; for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her vindication shines forth like the dawn and her victory like a burning torch.’ We have to act, we cannot be silent, when the new Jerusalem – the Church, our brothers and sisters in Christ – are under attack. When today we hear that the Church is ‘desolate’ or ‘forsaken’, that it is out of date, falling apart and dying, we have to remember that Jesus said, ‘I am with you always, even to the end of the world,’ and that the ‘gates of hell will not prevail against’ his Church. In such times, we can take the advice of Saint Paul to Timothy, and ‘stir into flame the gift of God,’ ‘for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather of power and love and self-control’ (2 Tim 1:6-7).

Dear Brothers and Sisters! How do you use your gifts in the service of others? Do you allow Jesus to act through you, to turn the ‘water’ of everyday life into the ‘wine’ of joy and gladness in the lives of others?

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 13 January 2013: The Baptism of our Lord

The Baptism of Our Lord

Reading I: Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7
Responsorial: Psalm 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10
Reading II: Acts 10:34-38
Gospel: Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

We are living in a time of crisis. There is no need to enumerate all the crises of our times. We hear the so-called experts proposing solutions every day. Many hundreds of years before Christ, the Jewish people were also living in a time of crisis. They were living under slavery to foreign powers. Through the prophet Isaiah, God promised the Jews that a Messiah would come and ‘bring forth justice to the nations’. The Messiah would be quiet and gentle, ‘not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. A bruised reed he [would] not break, and a smoldering wick he [would] not quench’. His law would not be upheld through military force, but by the power of truth.

From the Gospel, we can see the simple way Christ was proclaimed as the Messiah. He stood among sinners in the queue waiting for the Baptism of John. He did not present himself for Baptism because he needed to convert and repent, but to be publicly pointed out by John as the Lamb of God, the long-awaited Messiah, whom the Father in heaven publicly confirmed by the voice saying, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’

Of course, the Baptism which Jesus accepted is quite different from the Baptism he commanded for his followers. The Baptism instituted by the Son of God has sacramental power to make us children of His heavenly Father. In Baptism, we become sons and daughters in the Son, and we are filled with the same Holy Spirit.

Like the Jews of that time, and like everyone since then, we have to hear Jesus because he is the beloved Son of God. St Luke, who probably wrote the Acts of the Apostles, calls Jesus, ‘Lord of all,’ which means he is the Lord of all crises. It seems that the reason we can’t resolve the crises in the world today is that we listen to many voices, but we do not heed the voice of God and follow his teachings and admonitions. Luke also stresses that Jesus ‘went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil’. Today we often hear that the devil does not exist, and that there is no such thing as objective evil, but we cannot resolve the many problems that face our society if we reject the existence of the devil. His influence is real. The first letter of Peter warns us that the ‘Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour’ (1 Pt 5:8).

When Jesus stood among sinners, waiting for Baptism, he showed us that he was ready to take onto himself all of the sins of mankind. This means that sins are real, and that the consequences of sin – the crises of our lives and of the world – can be resolved by following Jesus in his teaching and his example. We know that devils feared Jesus and fled before him; when he commanded them to be gone, they obeyed. By freeing people from demons and sin, he showed that our lives can be renewed if we are free and not living in slavery to the devil.

The quality of our life is reflected in the crises in our lives. Some of our crises are brought about or made worse by our own behavior. When crises are beyond our control, they will seem less devastating to us if we are closely following Jesus on the way of the Cross.

By our personal Baptism we became a new creation, and we can live as Jesus taught. So before we turn to some so-called experts to help us with our crises, we have to ask ourselves how much responsibility we bear for our situation, by not living according to the dignity we received at Baptism, when we became adopted sons and daughters of God.

Let us ask ourselves, then, every day: Can God look down and say about me, ‘You are my beloved child; with you I am well pleased’?

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 6 January 2013: The Epiphany of our Lord

The Epiphany of Our Lord

Reading I: Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7
Responsorial: Psalm 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10
Reading II: Acts 10:34-38
Gospel: Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

In Pope Benedict’s latest book, he points out two kinds of Magi in the New Testament.  The first are today’s Magi – the Three Kings who came to find Jesus.  The second is a magician, a false Jewish prophet named Bar-Jesus, whom Paul condemned as being a “son of the devil, [the] enemy of all that is right, full of every sort of deceit and fraud.” (cf. Acts 13:6-10).

There’s a clear distinction between the Magi we read about on Epiphany and the Magician condemned by Paul.  The first Magi probably belonged to the Persian priestly caste.  Today we might classify them with anyone who belongs to another religion or follows another philosophy in a genuine desire to find the truth, and who will ultimately find the Truth in Christ, as the Magi did at Bethlehem.

Bar-Jesus the Magician was not seeking the truth – he was a false prophet.  In today’s terms, he can be classified among those who want to turn other people away from the truth. They are enemies of Christ, of true knowledge and true religion.  Paul was right in calling such people “sons of the devil,” because they are the tool of demons.

These two types – the Magi and the Magician – show us that a real search for truth will never result in finding something that is opposed to God or faith.  The Magi show us that when we seek knowledge through our reason, and combine it with what we receive by faith, we will finally arrive at a complete picture of reality.  This will give us a sense of joy and meaning in our life – in a word, happiness.  If we do not accept through faith that Jesus is the centre of the universe, is the savior of humankind, the beginning and the end of everything, then we will never have a fully integrated view of the world or a sense of personal fulfillment and meaning in our lives.

From history, we can see that most people who refuse to accept Jesus, end up opposed to him, trying to attack faith and the Church. Such people are often associated with worldly powers: those who control commerce; the defense industry; and those who plan the genocide of less powerful nations.  They seek to turn people away from Christ by proclaiming that religion – specifically Christianity – is the cause of all war; of social inequalities, poverty, hatred and division.  They do not belong to the Church of Christ, but to the devil. John the Evangelist explains this in his first letter, where he wrote that “every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God. This is the spirit of the antichrist that…in fact is already in the world” (1 John 4:3).

These people justify themselves by claiming that their ideas are scientific, but it is a science of materialism, that reduces the human person to a thing. In this materialistic ideology, there is no room for God.  The opponents of Christ claim they want to build a better world, based on science, without what they call the ‘harmful’ effects of religion.  But if they were truly scientific, they would acknowledge that we have the capacity to feed the world no matter how large the population becomes.  They would know that the true answer to the problem of disease is to use science to cure people, not to kill them. This is what Christ did – he fed the hungry and healed the sick.  The Church carries out that mission still.

When we compare the works of the Church and the work of worldly powers, we can see with St John that  “the children of God and the children of the devil are made plain; no one who fails to act in righteousness belongs to God” (1 John 3:10).  Like John, we should not be afraid to say plainly that those who oppose Christ belong to the antichrist; they have the spirit of the devil.

The less people seek the truth; the less people seek God; the fewer people who accept God as he revealed himself in Christ, the closer we come to a world in which the light of Christ is darkened, and we live in blindness. We will not be ruled by truly wise men, but by fools who are enslaved to a materialistic pseudo-philosophy.  In this pseudo-philosophy, which rejects the sovereignty of God, man’s highest dignity rests in being able to decide matters of life and death.  If he is suffering, his dignity will be preserved through euthanasia.  He is free to kill his own child through abortion or infanticide.  In the materialistic view of the world, man’s ultimate dignity is reached through suicide.

When the first pagan Magi met Christ, it changed their whole lives.  In a similar way, the Revelation of Christ changed the course of history.  All the great institutions of Western Civilization – universities; hospitals; concepts of charity and justice; the basis of our legal and government systems; the flourishing of the arts in the West – would not exist without Christianity.  If modern Christians do not testify to the truth of Christ and his Gospel, we risk returning to the darkness of paganism; and our civilization could return to the barbarism of the pre-Christian past.

We must not be afraid of the new Herods, who want to eliminate Christ from public life and private belief.  Christians are under great pressure to deny or compromise their beliefs today.  But we should remember the first Magi: when they saw Jesus, they obeyed their consciences, not Herod.  And no harm came to them – they returned safely home.  We should not be afraid to follow their example when secular laws go against our Christian consciences.

We remember Herod today as an evil man who opposed the truth, and tried to kill the truth – but Herod failed and died.  There have been many Herods since then; and sadly, many millions of people have followed them to failure and to death.  It is no wonder that Jesus could ask, ‘When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?’ (Luke 18:8).

But there is room for hope when we compare the legacy of Herod to the legacy of Christ.  Who follows Herod today?  No one.  And yet there are more than a billion Catholics in the world today.  The odds are on the side of God, not the Herods of the world.

Are you going along with the Herods of this world, or are you truly a disciple of Christ? When you face the Son of Man, will he find faith in you?

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 1 January 2013: Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God

Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God

Reading I: Numbers 6:22-27
Responsorial: Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
Reading II: Galatians 4:4-7
Gospel: Luke 2:16-21

Dear brothers and sisters!

At the beginning, I would like to say that I can’t find the words to express the great joy of this beautiful day, the first day of the new year, 2013. It is a day which offers us many opportunities for reflection.

One thing we can reflect on is the mystery of time, a great gift which each of us holds in our hands. It is a unique and unrepeatable gift that each of us received at a certain moment. And now we participate in this great mystery of life. Time is measured by events and by clocks, but sometimes the clocks work wrong and can stop. Some people might conclude that because clocks stop, they can stop time and be always young and beautiful. But it’s only an illusion, because time which our Creator has allotted to us is measured by every beat of our hearts. So our time, our life, your life, moves on.

Today we start a new period in the time of our life. We start a new year. We begin it with joy and hope. And I hope none of us is starting with a hangover!

This new year is like a new chapter in the book of our lives. Day by day, we will write each page through the events that await us.

So we ask the Lord to hold our hands and guide us through the days ahead. Because we want to write a happy book; we want to live a happy new year.

Today the Church shows us the Holy Mother of Jesus, like a star that can guide us through the year we begin today. Mary points us to the way to have a good day, a good year, to lead a good life. This way is Jesus. Her faith, her hope, and her love of God, is a beautiful example for us. She shows us how to create a good relationship with God and with other people; relationships based on faith, hope and love.

So brothers and sisters, at the beginning of this new year, I wish that this new chapter in your lives will be filled with good and happy events. I pray that the light of the holiness of Mary, Mother of God, will help all of us, day by day, be closer to Jesus, her son and our Savior until we meet Him at the end of time.

And in closing, I want to remind you of a favorite expression of Blessed Pope John Paul the Second: “Time is passing; eternity is waiting.” Don’t put off until tomorrow the love you can share today.

I wish you a good new year.

Fr. Andrzej Kulczycki, OFM Conv.

Homily 30 December 2012: Feast of the Holy Family

The Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Reading I: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14
Responsorial: Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
Reading II: Colossians 3:12-21
Gospel: Luke 2:41-52

Today is the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  On this day, the readings for the Mass focus on marriage and family. Church meditates on the meaning of family, especially the significant fact that although God could have come into the world in any way he wished, he wished to come into the world by forming a family.

It is clear from history and pre-history that the family is a natural human relationship, beginning with one man and one woman.  The Church has always seen the family as a domestic church and the foundation of every society: when marriage and family are weak, a culture is in crisis.  Pope Benedict the Sixteenth recently called the modern crisis of the family a “crisis that threatens” society “to its foundations – especially in the western world” (Benedict XVI, Christmas Greetings to the Roman Curia, 21 December 2012).

The current breakdown of marriage and family life in the West can be traced to the same philosophical ideas that produced the violent and bloody French Revolutions in the eighteenth century; to materialistic ideologies like fascism and communism; and to contemporary liberalism. Relativism is modern thought teaches that there is no such thing as objective good or evil; it is up to each individual to define what is good or bad according to his own experience and opinions. In such philosophies, there is no place for God and His commandments, for transcendental thinking, or even for natural morality. Instead, modern man is full of doubts about the worth and validity of marriage and family. Instead of taking it for granted that men and women grow up, marry, and have children, modern man is invited to question this fundamental relationship that shapes and defines us as human persons:

“Can one bind oneself for a lifetime? Does this correspond to man’s nature? Does it not contradict his freedom and the scope of his self-realization? Does man become himself by living for himself alone and only entering into relationships with others when he can break them off again at any time? Is lifelong commitment antithetical to freedom? Is commitment…worth suffering for?” (Pope Benedict XVI, ibid.)

In his Christmas Greetings to the Roman Curia this year, Pope Benedict explained that a false understanding of freedom and self-realization, along with a desire to escape suffering, leads modern man to refuse to make any commitment.  As a result, he “remains closed in on himself and keeps his ‘I’ ultimately for himself, without really rising above it.”  But the Pope explains further that it is “only in self-giving” that man really finds himself; “only by opening himself to the other, to others, to children, to the family”, and “only by letting himself be changed through suffering” can a man really “discover the breadth of his humanity”.  This means that it is through our relationships to others – especially those relationships that require us somehow to “lose” ourselves for the sake of others – that we discover everything we can be; that we fully develop and realize ourselves as human beings.  When a society rejects the fundamental relationships of marriage and family, “essential elements of the experience of being human are lost”; society loses the full and true concept of what it means to be mother, father, and child (cf. Pope Benedict XVI, ibid.)

Our celebration of the Feast of the Holy Family reminds us that the family as such is God’s own invention – he made mankind to be in family.  Not even the Son of God could come into the world in any other way but through a family. When Jesus came into the world as a child, and submitted himself to the authority of human parents, He confirmed that the family — father, mother, children — is the natural and normal context in which we develop as human persons.

It is true that family relationships are not always easy; they are not always without friction and tension.  Very often, this is the case because we do not want to follow the example of the Holy Family.  In the second reading, St. Paul tells us how to have family relationships like the relationships among Jesus, Mary and Joseph:

“Wives, be subordinate to your husbands, as is proper in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and avoid any bitterness toward them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord.  Fathers, do not provoke your children, so they may not become discouraged” (Col 3:18-21).

Imagine how our families would be transformed if husbands and wives followed Paul’s advice, putting on, “as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another; if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection” (Col 3: 12-14).

It’s hard to imagine a generation gap causing problems in a family if parents lived by this rule, and if children followed the wisdom of Sirach:  “My son, take care of your father when he is old grieve him not as long as he lives. Even if his mind fail, be considerate of him” (Sir 3: 12-13).

If there is friction or tension in your family today, I invite you to return to today’s scriptures, and meditate on them, keeping them in your heart.  As mother, father and child, how can you model your relationships on those of the Holy Family?

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 25 December 2012: Christmas Day

Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)

Reading I: Isaiah 52:7-10
Responsorial: Psalm 98:1, 2-3, 3-4, 5-6.
Reading II: Hebrews 1:1-6
Gospel: John 1:1-18

Two days ago I asked in my homily what Christmas means to you. Is it a time for parties, rich food, leisure time and listening to songs like Jingle Bells, which doesn’t even mention Christ or Christmas? Is it a time when you do a lot of shopping, send season’s greetings, decorate the house and exchange gifts? From all of these examples show how many things we associate with this holy Christian feast which in fact have little or nothing to do with the event we commemorate today. It seems as if someone unknown, maybe so-called “Big Brother”, was consciously trying to replace the baby Jesus with a snowman, and the Wise Men with reindeer.

Indeed we have to ask ourselves what Christmas really means. Simply speaking, the Incarnation and the birth of the child Jesus is the mystery of God’s Son becoming man and entering into human history. The Son of God, who is without beginning, is eternally begotten of the Father, who loves the Son in the Holy Spirit. And by the same Holy Spirit, in womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Son assumed human nature and was born. This does not mean that one of the divine Persons exchanged his divine nature for human nature. This means that in Christ, human nature is inseparably united with divine nature. The Son of God, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe; who is the refulgence of the glory of God, now became visible as a small child.

From the Gospels, especially Luke and Matthew, we know that the majority of the Jews of that time, were oblivious to what was happening in their midst. As St John said, “He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.”

When we compare how Christmas customs have evolved and become so far removed from a commemoration of the birth of Christ, who is looking for our faith, we see a similarity with people of those times. We are so wrapped up in details of the season that we miss the main event: Christ as our Savior and brother, one of us and yet unique; totally similar and totally different. We have to realize that the dream of humanity of having direct contact with God actually happened, but in a very unusual way. Christ did not come into the world with pomp and fanfare; but in poverty, heralded by angels. Only a few people knew about it, and not all accepted him, but “to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God” as St John tells us.

To this day, Christ is waiting for those who will accept him. Because he joined his nature to ours, he made it possible for us to become participants of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). This means that Christmas does not invite us to participate in eating, drinking and making merry, but to participate in the very nature of Christ, which has the power to transform our lives by tasting what God really is.

Christ is waiting and we see his glory in the sacramental signs. Therefore, let us “adore the Lord. For today a great light has come upon the earth.”

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 23 December 2012: 4th Sunday in Advent

23 December 2012: Fourth Sunday in Advent

Reading I:  Micah 5:1-4a
Responsorial: Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
Reading II: Hebrews 10:5-10
Gospel: Luke 1:39-45

When Elizabeth said to Mary, ‘Blessed are you among women,’ she said truth. When later her son John the Baptist pointed to Jesus, saying: ‘Behold the Lamb of God’, he told the truth.

But when people read the Mayan calendar and prophesied the end of the world, they prophesied falsely. No doubt some people succeeded in using this false prophecy as an opportunity to make money. And I don’t even want to ask how many Catholics believed that someone could predict the end of the world.

Why are so many people so easily fooled by such fairy tales? I think that this can happen for two reasons: the first is a lack of basic knowledge about how the world works; and the second is a lack of knowledge that comes from little or no religious education.

Probably those who spend hours watching movies and reading articles about the end of the world would have learned more about it if they had asked real scientists and consulted scripture to find what Christ said when he described his second coming. But unfortunately, the vast majority of people who now live in the world can be classified as ignorant of scientific or religious truths.

Today’s liturgy shows us very clearly that the Old Testament prophecies about the coming of the Messiah actually came true. When the Magi came from the east to inquire about the newborn Jewish king, the chief priests and scribes consulted the book of Micah to find the prophecies saying that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.

But we also know that when the chief priests and scribes found the prophecy, they did not themselves go forth to greet their newborn King. Instead, Herod sent his henchmen out to kill all the boys under the age of two, who were living in that area.

These events clearly show the two ways the world responds to Christ and the Kingdom He established on earth. Welcoming the coming of Christ with great joy, like the Magi; or taking Christmas for granted, as old news or even as unwelcome news, like the temple leaders an Herod.

Looking at this example, we can ask how many people really think about the meaning and importance of the approaching holy day of Christmas? How many are asking what it means that God became man? Or ‘Who is the blessed fruit of Mary’s womb in my life?’

How many are only thinking of this holy season as a time for recreation, trips, gifts and a great opportunity to make money?

Just as in the past, most people are so absorbed in their own affairs that they have no time to search for the truth. They are not interested in thinking about the end of this world, because they’ve heard too much speculation about that already. They aren’t interested in a savior because their lives are comfortable and they have no sense of needing to be saved from anything.

The Gospel shows us that the people who accepted the revelation about the immanent coming of the Messiah were those like St Joseph, Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah – simple people who were holy and blameless in the sight of God – and the Blessed Virgin, who is called Blessed by Elizabeth precisely because she believed what God had told her.

I wonder how we can classify the members of this parish in comparison to Elizabeth, Zechariah, Joseph and Mary? We know that only 25% of the people living in this parish regularly come to Mass, and yet certainly almost all of them will celebrate Christmas in some way. If they do not practice their Christian faith, what are they celebrating? What does Christmas mean to them?

And what does Christmas mean to you? Is it a time of carols, good food, and parties with friends and relatives? Do you go to confession? Are you really happy that God became Man, was born for you and opened up for you the possibility of being his friend?

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 16 December 2012: 3rd Sunday in Advent

16 December 2012: Third Sunday in Advent

Reading I:  Zephaniah 3:14-18a
Responsorial Psalm: Isaiah 12:2-3, 4, 5-6
Reading II: Philippians 4:4-7
Gospel: Luke 3:10-18

Dear Brothers and Sisters! Welcome again each of you to our celebration of the third Sunday of Advent.

Today’s readings touch us on two points. The first one is the calling of the Lord to rejoice. In the first reading from Zephanaiah, the Lord said to Israel: “Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!” And then the prophet explained the cause of their joy: “The LORD has removed the judgment against you he has turned away your enemies….” For the people of Israel, who were living with the fear of the enemies around them —the Babylonians — these words were like “light in the darkness.”

The second point touched on today is the calling of Saint John the Baptist, who was proclaiming to everyone that the Lord is near. He was proclaiming like a voice crying in the wilderness. And it is interesting that he proclaimed his message to everyone, but not everyone listened and took his words to heart. Notice that in the Gospel, not everyone approached John the Baptist and asked him what to do. Only crowds of simple people, soldiers and tax-collectors approached him asking for counsel and enlightenment, saying, “Teacher, what should we do?” and accepting baptism from him.

We can ask why the scribes and Pharisees were not among those who went to John? Why wasn’t the social elite of the time among those who went to hear John preach? Why?

Maybe they were too timid, too cowardly, too afraid of Sejnt John? Or maybe they were convinced that they were so holy, so perfect, so good, that they didn’t think they needed to change anything in their lives. Maybe their hearts were like stone – hard and cold.

Dear brothers and sisters, the voice of Saint John resounds also in our days: Prepare the way of the Lord! Don’t be hard-hearted; don’t be closed. Don’t be like stone. Don’t imagine yourself so saintly, so perfect, so holy. Acknowledge your smallness, your weakness, your sinfulness. And go to Saint John, asking, “Teacher, what should I do to prepare my heart to meet the Saviour who comes and is near?”

And be sure that Saint John will not counsel you to do something big and heroic. He will tell you, “If you have more than you need, share with those who have nothing.” “If you are in business, do not charge more than is fair.” “If you are in power, do not practice extortion, or falsely accuse anyone.” “If you are employed, work honestly and be satisfied with your wages.” “If you are a student, be hard-working and honest in your studies.” “If you are called to marriage, prepare yourself for the sacrament by living chastely.” “If you are a child, be obedient to your parents and your teachers.” “If you are married, be faithful, be patient, and charitable to one another.” “If you are a priest, spend more time before the Blessed Sacrament and pray your breviary with more attention.”

And then, Jesus will come. And then at the door of Your heart our Savior will appear. And you will feel no fear, no anxiety, no cowardice – but joy, the only true joy – you will experience in your heart! because the Child Jesus will be born in your heart and will become the Lord of your life!

Let us finish our short reflection with a prayer:

“O Jesus our Savior, help us to prepare our hearts to meet you. Help us acknowledge our sins. Help us make a good examination of conscience and make a good confession so with a pure and clean heart we can celebrate the joy of Christmas. Amen.”

Fr. Andrzej Kulczycki, OFM Conv.

Homily 9 December 2012: 2nd Sunday in Advent

9 December 2012: Second Sunday in Advent

Reading I: Baruch 5:1-9
Responsorial: Psalm 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6
Reading II: Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11
Gospel: Luke 3:1-6

During our catechesis before Mass, I mentioned that faith comes by the grace of God.  This means that He prepares us to understand and to choose what He reveals to us.  Similarly, we receive eyes and ears to recognise the beauty of the world around us, and from this we can come to the conclusion that God is good and beautiful. Saint Paul’s prayer for the Philippians was that their “love [might] increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value….”  When he says, “to discern what is of value,” it means to discern what is best.  He wanted them to see more clearly and understand more deeply what is best and to choose it.

St Paul’s teaching means that we cannot treat our relationship to God or the practice of our faith as a passive fulfilment of God’s commandments; that is, just not doing forbidden things.  If that is the case, then we are like slaves: God commands, and we obey, and our minds and hearts are not involved.  However, the real reason we cannot do what God forbids, is that sin blinds us to being able to see what is good or what is best for us. When Christ first invited people to follow Him, He did not explain to them what would happen next, or what their future would be with Him, except that it would include carrying the cross.  They accompanied Him because they loved Him.

Similarly, Christ invites us today.  He invites us not only to avoid evil, but to do what is best.  And these two things are connected, because in fact, those who live in slavery to sin cannot see and choose what is good, what is best. The mission of John the Baptist consisted in this: inviting people to conversion, to show them that their style of life was not good, to accept their own sinfulness. He proclaimed, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths….”  We know that a number of people accepted his call and changed their lives.  The first Apostles – John, Andrew and Peter – belonged to the company of John the Baptist.

The Church today, following this example, teaches what is wrong, what is sin, and what we need to reject. Unfortunately, we live in a time when many people do not accept the existence of the natural law. Or they don’t believe in or accept the existence of God. And consequently, they don’t believe in the reality of sin. Therefore, the teaching of the Church is often criticized, rejected or ignored. From this perspective, the position of our generation is worse than that of John the Baptist, because they accepted his call to repentance.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, we have to accept our sinfulness and reject what is wrong with us.  But we must not stop at that point. Being free from the slavery of sin is only the first step which allows us to try to see and to hear what is the best and follow it. If you never have this experience of realising what is best and following it, it may mean that you are still bound by sin, and are not completely free.

If you find that you disagree with a teaching of Christ or of the Church, it is important to stop and examine yourself, to understand what it is in you that makes you think this way.  It is impossible for us as human beings to find something bad or unacceptable in Christ’s teaching.  If we oppose His teaching, it means there is something wrong with us, not with God’s teaching.

Because it was the beginning of Advent, last Sunday I invited you to decide to make a positive change in your spiritual and personal life.  But in fact, we have to do this daily, just as we always have to eat, drink and sleep.  And therefore John’s invitation is always open, and demands that we prepare the way of the Lord by making our lives a straight path.  If we do this, then as we heard in today’s psalm, we will realise the great things God has done for us, and find our joy in them.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

Homily 2 December 2012: 1st Sunday in Advent

2 December 2012: First Sunday in Advent

Reading I: Jeremiah 33:14-16
Responsorial: Psalm 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14
Reading II: 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2
Gospel: Luke 21:25-28, 34-36

As you know, the first Sunday of Advent is also the beginning of a new liturgical year.  Usually, at the beginning of a new year, we make some plans or resolutions for how we will go into the future.

Not many things in the wider world really depend on us.  But how we organize our lives – our time, our actions and our resources – depends greatly on our free will.  I would suggest that the best place to make a serious life decision would be in church, especially during the Mass.  After all, the most significant and profound events in our lives take place in the church.  It is here that we are baptized, married, ordained; it is here that our sins are forgiven; it is here that we are commended to God when we die.

Therefore, I would now like to help you make a decision connected with the new Church year.  I will pose a few questions, and I invite you to answer these questions in the silence of your hearts.

In the second reading, we were urged to conduct ourselves to please God even more than we are already doing now.  So ask yourself now: In your practical, day-to-day life, what can you do to become even better?  In your spiritual life, how can you improve?

In the Gospel, Jesus said, “Be vigilant at all times and pray.”  How can you add more prayer time to your life?

For instance, can you devote a half hour every day to reading the Scriptures, the documents of the Church, biographies of the saints, or other good books?  Or could you go to Church for a short period of adoration?  Could you watch a good Catholic film or listen to some lectures or other presentations that would build up your faith?  Perhaps you could set aside 15 minutes just to sit in silence and do nothing but think about the purpose of your life.

Also in today’s Gospel Jesus urged us to “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life….”  Remember that Advent is a time when we make voluntary sacrifices to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ.  So what food or drink or other bodily indulgence can you give up this Advent, in order to practice greater self-discipline and become more spiritually vigilant?

Maybe one of the reasons that we only grow very slowly in our spiritual life is because we don’t make concrete decisions to improve.  Perhaps we think of religion as being something purely spiritual, and far removed from our daily, physical life and habits.

If you can’t think of something to change in your life right now, during this homily, at least make this decision: Decide now that you will not leave the Church today, until you have made a concrete commitment to making a positive change in your life during this Advent.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.