These homilies were preached at St. Vincent Ferrer Church in New York City in 2012 and 2013.
I propose the following themes for reflection when listening to any of these homilies.
Envision a beautiful meeting of two mothers in heaven. A woman named Mary introduces herself to another woman. Mary shares that she has a son and his name is Jesus. The other woman shares that she has a son whose name is Judas. This illustrates the quality of a forgiving love of which heaven is all about.
As you reflect on these homilies, bring to mind the dialogue of two disciples who encountered a stranger on the way to Emmaus. When they stopped for the evening, the stranger revealed Himself to be Jesus in the breaking of the bread. And they said to one another, "Were not our hearts burning when he spoke to us?"
A reflection for this collection of homilies is from a sermon our blessed Lord preached not on a mountain top but on a cross when he told the good thief, "This day you will be with me in Paradise." To be anywhere with Jesus, on a mountain top or on a cross, is to be in Paradise.
A dialog took place between Our Blessed Lord and the woman condemned as an adulteress. He asked, "Is there anyone here to condemn you?" And she said "No one." Jesus said, "Neither do I." Jesus everyday reminds us he has won for us both pardon and peace.
Each time we celebrate the Eucharist, Jesus asks us to receive Him in memory of His love, His pardon, and His peace. May the Eucharist be for us, each time we let Jesus into our hearts, a sign of His love and care for all of the circumstances in our lives.
Our Blessed Lord told Mary and Martha at the time of Lazarus' death, "You will see your brother again." That blessed assurance is a promise to us that we will see those we love again. Death will never separate us eternally from God or from our loved ones.
Remember the words of Jesus, "Whenever you accept one of these you accept me. Whenever you refuse one of these, you refuse me." These are the broken down, broken of heart, of body, of spirit. In all of the circumstances of our lives, we are never refused by Him and His love for us.
At the resurrection of Lazarus, Jesus cried out Lazarus' name and freed him from the darkness of a tomb. When we walk with him, he is always setting us free from the darkness this world can inflict.
We are reminded at this Christmas season that whenever we look at the stable we are not looking at the face of an infant child. We are looking at the face of God who had a birth once so that we could always experience a second birth that gives us the opportunity to discover God in our lifetime.
Holy Week began for Our Lord with a process of triumph and victory. That week ended not in triumph or victory but a cruel death. To walk with Jesus either in triumph or suffering is to know the promise of the Resurrection and that no defeat can keep us from the power of God in our lifetime.
In the gospel on the Feast of the Epiphany the wise men are advised in a dream to go home by a different route. Jesus is always encouraging us to go home by a different route — the way of love and faith and hope and trust in Him.
On Ash Wednesday we are signed by the sign of the cross, a cross that sets us free from death and darkness as we prepare during these forty days for a Sunday we call Easter.