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Homily for Palm Sunday, April 2, 2023, Year A

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Fr. Charles Irvin Diocese of Lansing ( Click here for Sunday’s readings ) Blood is life-giving; it is the essential element in sustaining us in life. Babies the womb receive oxygen and nutrients from their mothers’ blood. When natural disasters occur the Red Cross appeals for blood donors. During surgeries it sustains patients in life. In many cultures the bonding of people is sealed in rituals that mingle blood. In all cultures blood has a deeply religious significance. When God brought the Hebrew people out of their slavery in Egypt, the blood of sacrificed lambs marked their homes, and they were spared the punishment that fell upon their Egyptian captors. Later, on Mt. Sinai, when God bound Himself to His people, Moses offered animal sacrifices and then took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we

Homily for the 5th Sunday in Lent, March 26, 2023, Year A

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Fr. Charles Irvin Diocese of Lansing ( Click here for Sunday’s readings ) All of us, I am sure, have read recent accounts about the decline of interest in religion among Americans. A recent survey reports that 20% of Americans have no religious affiliations at all and feel no need of God or belief in God. It seems they feel that they are self-sufficient; God is not necessary. So why are we here? Our motives are many and mixed. Some are here in their need seeking God’s help. Some are here seeking God’s forgiveness, others out of love of God, others out of thanksgiving for all that God has done for them. Some are here simply out of a sense of duty and others out of mere habit. All of us are looking forward to everlasting life with God in heaven. In the opening prayer of today’s Mass, we heard the words: “Help us to embrace the world that you have given us, that we may transform the darkness of its pain into the life and joy of Easter.” In the first reading from the prophet

Homily for the 4th Sunday in Lent, (Laetare Sunday), March 19, 2023, Year A

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Fr. Charles Irvin Diocese of Lansing ( Click here for Sunday’s readings ) We have all heard the phrase “Seeing is believing.” The idea comes, I suppose, from skeptical people who won’t believe anything is real or anything is true unless and until they see it for themselves. In today’s Gospel account the phrase “Seeing is believing” is paradoxically both proved and disproved. It is proved by the blind man eventually seeing Jesus and acknowledging that indeed Jesus is “from God.” The blind man recognized Jesus for who He is. The Pharisees, on the other hand, men who were sighted, did not or would not see Jesus for who He is. The blind man could see, the sighted Pharisees were blind. Seeing, they would not believe. In this Gospel account Jesus gives us some additional clues as to who He really is. You will recall that in the Book of Genesis we find God creating us from “the slime of the earth.” Here we find slimy mud formed from Jesus’ saliva bringing light into the blin

Homily for the 3rd Sunday in Lent, March 12, 2023, Year A

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Fr. Charles Irvin Diocese of Lansing ( Click here for Sunday’s readings ) If you’ve heard the soundtrack for the Broadway show Les Misérables you may remember a song sung by Fantine that is a lament. She sings a sad song to her lost youth, her lost innocence, her lost beauty. It reflects a song many of us have in our hearts as she sings: "I had a dream that life would be So different than the hell I’m living, So different now than what it seemed, Now life has killed the dream I dreamed."  Once upon a time, way back in my early twenties, my heart was full of a song like that. I thought I wanted to die, my life would never be happy again. What causes us to sing a song like that, to be filled with despair? What murders our dreams? And what, perhaps, is killing your dreams – or the dreams of someone you know and love? The first reading in today’s Mass, the reading from the Jewish Testament’s Book of Exodus, presents us with a whole tribe of people feeling that

Homily for the 2nd Sunday in Lent, March 5, 2023, Year A

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Fr. Charles Irvin Diocese of Lansing ( Click here for Sunday’s readings ) God asked Abraham to leave his land, take everything and everyone with him and move to a new land. Later God asked Moses to take the Hebrews from Egypt into a promised new land. And Jesus? Well, He too had to leave Joseph and Mary back in Nazareth and begin his mission out on the road. Jesus once remarked: “The foxes have their dens and the birds of the air their nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” And when He was crucified and died, He didn’t even have a tomb of His own. One of the hardest things I face as a priest is not having my own home, a place I can call my own. My only home is the Church. My only family is all of you… along with all of the other members of Christ’s family throughout the world. Many people today experience homelessness. Lots of people, even young kids, live out in the streets. Many members of gangs belong to gangs because they are looking for family, fo

Homily for the 1st Sunday in Lent, February 26, 2023, Year A

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Fr. Charles Irvin Diocese of Lansing ( Click here for Sunday’s readings ) “And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” I have often pondered over the meaning of those final words in the Lord’s Prayer, and I want to pay some attention to them with you today. Throughout the centuries there has been any number of translations of the original Hebrew words that Jesus used when He taught the Lord’s Prayer. For instance, most of the original translations did not say “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Instead, the phrase was translated as, “And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”  By the way, as an aside, just when or why the word “trespass” was substituted for the word “sin” is unknown to me. As for the phrase “but deliver us from evil” other ancient translations render it as: “And deliver us from the time of trial.” Still others render it “deliver us from the time of testing.” That being the cas

Ash Wednesday | 2023

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February 22, 2023  "Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return." On Ash Wednesday, Catholics receive ashes in the shape of a cross traced on the forehead. The rite evokes Saint Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians: "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (1 Corinthians 15: 21 - 22) Adam’s sin condemned man to sin and death. But the instrument of our salvation, the cross, reminds us that in Christ, man is redeemed, and the gates of heaven are opened. The original injunction conferring ashes: "Remember, O man, that dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return," contrasts with the words of the Nicene Creed concerning the Incarnation: "For us men and for our salvation, he [Jesus] came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit, he was born of the Virgin Mary and became man." In becoming man, Christ assumed our iniquities: offering