Are you being called to become a priest or brother?
Click here, and discover what it means to become a preacher of truth!
Western Dominican Province
5890 Birch Court
Oakland, CA 94618-1626
Our Ministries need your assistance
Simple, Safe, Secure
Donations made easy
Please visit our
Welcome to our preaching blog. Here you will find homilies and reflections by friars of the Western Dominican Province from 1999 forward. We hope you enjoy the variety of preaching!
5/6/2013 by fr. Dismas Sayre, OP
Esta homilía cabe bien con el capítulo 3, parte 18 del documento de 2o Concilio Vaticano, Lumen Gentium. La historia de Marcus Grohdi viene de epriest. Si hay errores, son míos. -fr. Dismas, OP
La mayoría de ustedes saben que sí, soy sacerdote, y además pertenezco a una orden religiosa, la orden dominica. Y mientras los sacerdotes diocesanos estudian en un seminario y luego se ordenan para servir en una diócesis, nosotros los dominicos estudiamos en un seminario, claro, pero encima de eso nos educamos y entrenamos en las costumbres, maneras y tradiciones de nuestra orden. Por ejemplo, una diferencia entre los sacerdotes religiosos como yo y los sacerdotes diocesanos es que nosotros nos dedicamos por un año o dos a una inmersión intensiva en la orden, un periodo de discernimiento que se llama el noviciado. Si uno quisiera compararlo a algo secular, podría decir que el noviciado es un noviazgo en la orden, antes de hacer nuestros votos religiosos perpetuos en ella. -more-
A Homily by Fr. Michael Fones, OP
Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 5, 2013
Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Ps 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8; Rev 21:10-14, 22-23; Jn 14:23-29
A homily by Fr. Timothy Conlan, OP
preached in the parish of St. Paul the Apostle
in Rabinal, Baja Verapaz
Juan 21, 1-19 3 Domingo de Pascua 2013 Año C
Hoy el evangelio es largo y trata de la tercera vez que Jesús apareció a los apóstoles después la resurrección. Se parece que ellos estaban regresando a la vida que tuvieron antes, como si hubieran olvidado de Jesús, o no sabían que tuvieran que hacer después su muerte. Es como una mujer que ha vivido muchos años con su esposo, quien fue encargada de todas las cosas de dirigir la familia, y cuando el muera de repente, la mujer no tiene idea como seguir llevando su vida porque todo dependía del esposo, y poco a poco tiene que reinventar su propia vida. E igual cuando muera la esposa.
A homily by Fr. Timothy Conlan, OP
preached in the parish of St. Paul the Apostle
in Rabinal, Baja Verapaz
Juan 20, 19-31 2 domingo de Pascua Año C 2013
Este domingo estamos todavía celebrando la resurrección de Jesús porque la iglesia quiere ayudarnos a captar la grandeza de este misterio. Nuestra fe en la resurrección de Jesús es la creencia más importante de la fe cristiana, pero como todos los misterios de la fe, algunos van a interpretarla en una manera equivocada y por eso tenemos que tener claridad sobre que significa la resurrección de Jesús para nosotros.
A homily by Fr. Timothy Conlan, OP
preached in the parish of St. Paul the Apostle
in Rabinal, Baja Verapaz
Lucas 4 v21-30 4 Dom del año C 2007
Hoy en el evangelio vemos que Jesús fue a presentarse en la celebración de la palabra de Dios en su aldea o pueblo de Nazaret, para anunciar que el mismo vino para cumplir con las promeses de los profetas sobre el Mesías, el que iba a liberar el pueblo de Israel de la esclavitud de todo tipo. Después su anuncio ellos maravillaron de su sabiduría y aceptaron su enseñanza pero cuando el lanzó unas críticas sobre sus actitudes ellos lo rechazaron.
Homilía 4th domigo de Pascua
4/22/2013 by fr. Dismas Sayre, OP
Aquí tienen la homilía que prediqué el fin de semana pasado.
Es una entrega inicial para celebrar este Año de la Fe.
¿Por qué estoy aquí, hablándoles a ustedes? Quiero decir, ¿por qué estoy comunicándome con ustedes usando un idioma, una lengua? ¿Por qué se comunica una persona cualquiera a otra? ¿Por qué existen los idiomas? ¿Por qué no nos quedamos satisfechos en eructarnos, uno a otro, a través de la hoguera, mientras comíamos fieras?
Juan 20, 1-9
Pascual año C
En el evangelio hoy vemos como los discípulos de Jesús fueron enfrentados con una novedad que todavía la iglesia está tratando entender y aplicar a su vida. María Magdalena, una de los más fieles seguidores de Jesús fue a ver el sepulcro temprano en la mañana de domingo y vio que la piedra era removida y ni sabía que fue la razón o si el cuerpo de Jesús estaba o no, pero creía que alguien lo robó, tal vez porque no quería que sus discipulos lo escondió y despues inventaron cuentos. Los apóstoles, Pedro y Juan, corrieron y no encontraron el cuerpo de Jesús, sino solo encontraron los lienzos puestos en el suelo y el sudario que había estado sobre la cabeza de Jesús, puesto no con los lienzos en el suelo, sino doblado en sitio aparte.
Todos estos detalles significan a ellos que no fue robado sino que algo diferente pasó. Y el escritor, el evangelista, Juan, dijo que él vio y creyó. Entonces ellos sabían que Jesús ha prometido que iba a resucitar y esto fue su esperanza, y por eso cuando Juan vio estos signos puso su fe en el Señor. Y después en otras partes de los evangelios el Señor apareció vivo para confirmar la fe de la iglesia. Pero la fe de la iglesia es esto de Juan. Sin ver a Jesús, creyó. Y esto es la fe de nosotros hoy en día, pero tenemos la confirmación de los otros evangelios y testigos.
Pero en que creyeron? Esto es el gran problema de nosotros de hoy también. Que realmente es de creer?
Homily for Easter Day
Fr. Reginald Martin, OP
March 31, 2013
If you joined the Dominican community for morning prayer yesterday you heard a brief poem about how, when our first parents sinned by eating from the tree “whose reward was death and hell,” God looked about for another tree – the cross, “the ruin wrought by first tree to dispel.”
Human history began in a garden and today we find ourselves in a garden again. At the beginning of our history, a tree was the sign of our defeat. At Easter a tree becomes the sign of our deliverance, the sign of the cross.
You’ve heard me say this before: signs are interesting things. They don’t mean much in themselves; in fact, their only purpose is to invite us to believe something else. The example I like to use is a stop sign. They don’t force us to stop; they simply remind us that we may not be happy with the results if we don’t.
In today’s gospel Mary Magdalene, Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved are presented with a sign: the empty tomb. We have the advantage of knowing how this story ends, so we know what conclusion we ought to draw from this evidence. But “remember,” John tells us, “they did not yet understand the Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.” So what we have in this morning’s gospel is three different responses to the equivocal sign of Jesus’ absence.
Mary Magdalene sees the empty tomb and draws the very logical conclusion that someone must have taken him away. Later on, Mary Magdalene will emerge as a hero in this story. She will be the first to meet Jesus, and she will announce the good news of the resurrection to the other disciples. Mary Magdalen is the evangelist to the evangelists, and we who worship in this chapel of the Order of Preachers must never forget that this also makes her the preacher to the preachers. She draws the wrong conclusion about the empty tomb, but in fairness I think we need to point out that she saw less of the sign than either Peter and the other disciple.
John tells us that they actually went into the tomb, and there they saw the cloths that Jesus was wrapped in, and the separate cloth that had been over his face, folded in a place by itself. These are not insignificant details – seeing the cloths folded told them that the empty tomb wasn’t the sign of a grave robbery. But it didn’t prove anything. The empty tomb told them what hadn’t happened, but it didn’t tell them what had. The sign baffled Mary Magdalene, so Peter and the other disciple had a try at deciphering it.
Peter’s is a very puzzling response. We’re used to his jumping to the wrong conclusion, but today – for once – he draws no conclusion at all. He simply stands there, dumbfounded. John fills the gospel with all sorts of little, telling details, and Peter presents a wonderful picture of our human nature, especially in contrast to the other disciple. John says that Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb, but the other disciple ran on ahead. Over and over in the gospel, Peter shows us the limitations of our unaided humanity. In spite of all his good will, Peter is wearing out. On Thursday night he was strong enough to cut off the ear of the high priest’s slave, but today he’s not strong enough to outrun the disciple whom Jesus loved. And even when he goes into the tomb, he just doesn’t get it.
The other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, takes a look around and believes. Christ’s love gives this disciple the strength to outrun Peter, and the wisdom to interpret the true meaning of the empty tomb. Christ’s love doesn’t change the facts of our world, but it gives us new eyes with which to see them. Three individuals looked at the same evidence today and only the one for whom Jesus had a special affection interpreted the sign correctly. The sign isn’t the point, it’s what Christ’s love enables us to see that makes all difference.
If, like me, you have reached a certain age, you may recall that spring in 1980, while those of us in the northwest, at least, waited anxiously for Mount St. Helens to erupt. A friend attended the Easter Vigil at St. Martin’s Abbey that year, and he said he overheard one of the monks lamenting, “If only the mountain had erupted tonight we would have known Christ is truly risen.”
Thirty-three years later, I’m still not certain what the two events have to do with one another, but that strikes me as the sort of thing Peter might have said: “Lord, belief is so much easier when Nature presents some unmistakable sign of your power; like when the Red Sea opens and your people cross dry-shod to the other side.” Well, maybe. It seems to me that vision enlightened by love can see a great deal more. One poet has told us that the world is charged every day with the grandeur of God, and the meanest bush is aflame with God’s glory. “The wise,” she said, “take off their shoes as Moses did. The rest sit back and eat blackberries.”
In 1974, when I was ordained, my parents gave me a trip to Europe. I went with Fr. Anthony Patalano, and we ended up in Rome, of course. One day, while Anthony was writing postcards, some friends took me to the Russian monastery. We went into the dining room and saw an incredibly old monk. My friend said: “I came up behind him the other day and watched him spooning honey and look at it fall back into the dish. He was mumbling something to himself, and when I came closer I finally figured out he was saying: “...and there are some who say there is no God.”
The sign isn’t really the important thing; it’s what God’s love allows us to see that really matters. When Mount St. Helens finally erupted, few of us saw this a sign of God’s power, but there was an old monk in Rome who found Him every day in a dish of honey.
Last night, at the Easter Vigil, the service could not have simpler or less dramatic – some water, the same words we recite every Sunday when we profess our faith. There was no earthquake, but the water we blessed reminded us that nothing is ever going to be quite the same again. The Jesus whom Catherine of Siena describes as “crazed with love” has not only taken on our flesh, but offered it up. On the cross. For our salvation. In just a moment we will profess our faith once more, and be sprinkled with the same water we used last night. These signs will invite us to remember that we are a new creation.
The gospel today is very unusual. For one thing, Jesus isn’t in it. It doesn’t tell us what happened and then challenge us to determine the event’s meaning. It presents us with a few signs that something happened and then challenges us to determine the event that led up to them. What the disciples saw on that first Easter is little different from any other sign we encounter every day. The empty tomb doesn’t compel our belief, it doesn’t even prove anything. It simply extends an invitation.
-- Fr. Reginald Martin, OP
Homily for Easter, 2013
Fr. Bryan Kromholtz, OP
Luke 24:1-2; Psalm 118(117): 1-2, 16-17, 22-23
Today, when we celebrate the rising of Christ, like the first women at the tomb, even we, with the benefit of hindsight, may “puzzle over” how to understand it, and what it means.
The disciples all had a difficult time making sense of the signs of the resurrection. The women at the empty tomb are only one example; they needed to be reminded by the two men in dazzling clothes: “Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day.” Yes, it is true, when they were reminded, they remembered his words. But why was this so difficult for them? Did they not see this coming? Indeed, why were the disciples always so slow to believe this?
Let us look again at who the women find at the tomb: “two men in dazzling garments.” These “men” are really angels; later in Luke’s Gospel, this is stated explicitly (Luke 24:23). It is worth noting that all four Gospels have an angel or angels at Jesus’ empty tomb; for Matthew and Mark, there is a single figure, while for Luke and John, there are two of them. And in the first three Gospels, it is given to the angelic figure or figures to proclaim first that Jesus is risen.
Why do angels have this task, this honor? In the Old Testament, Angels act are mediators of a sort, declaring messages to God’s people, relaying his words and announcing his actions for them, and sometimes carrying out his will. But if Jesus Christ is the Mediator of the New and Everlasting Covenant, what is left for angels to do after the coming of Christ?
If we take the New Testament as an indication of the angels’ role, it is clear. With the coming of Christ, the angels henceforth serve Christ and witness to Christ’s mediation. They announce the One who has now become the true and final Mediator. Angels appear particularly when Jesus Christ comes to earth and when he is about to depart from it – that is, those moments in which there is a mysterious linking between heaven and earth. So, the angel Gabriel appears at the Annunciation, proclaiming God’s new initiative, the Son of God would be born of Mary; and angels are shown rejoicing at the Birth of our Lord. They are also there to announce the Resurrection and at the Ascension, announcing that Jesus would return again. At these moments, then, the presence of angels and their words announce the mediation of Christ between our God and ourselves, those ways in which heaven and earth meet in Christ.
That the angels announce the resurrection of Christ, indeed, announcing his arrival, resurrection, and future return, is a sign of the greatness of what God has done in Christ. Those who were the mediators bow to the One who is the One true Mediator. For many Fathers of the Church (including Origen, John Chrysostom, and Hilary) this just shows that the mediation of angels was not sufficient to save humanity. Only if the flesh was assumed by God could the flesh be redeemed. The Word became Incarnate because the angels could only give us messages, or carry out the will of God externally. They could not save us. So, in the resurrection of Jesus, we are in the presence of a mystery that is greater even than the mediation of the angels. In rising, Jesus has fulfilled all the promises God made to Israel, and through himself has begun the Kingdom of God that he had announced during his life.
Jesus’ resurrection is not merely one man’s return to life, as was the case for Lazarus or for others that Jesus had brought back from the dead. How could all this be clear to the disciples just a few short days after they had seen Jesus beaten and killed? It is no wonder that they are bewildered, because they are witnessing something that is completely beyond their previous experience. All of us have seen things that are new to us; we make sense of them be comparing them with what we already know. But none of us has seen heaven and earth united in one man as was the case with the risen Jesus. And before he made himself seen and known to them, the disciples had not been granted such an experience, either.
The women, then, are right to have puzzled over why the tomb was empty. It is understandable that the disciples were slow to believe, to discount the story as non-sense. Even when Jesus appeared to the disciples, they had to be convinced that he had truly risen.
Even with the gift of the Holy Spirit, with the benefit of hindsight, we ought to wonder at what has happened. Jesus’ resurrection is not the case of merely a miraculous medical cure. The day may come, after all, when someone clinically dead for over 24 hours could be brought back to life, by some work of medicine. This is plausible, on the face of it. But in such a case, we would not be talking about someone rising never to die again. And, certainly, such a revived person would not be considered a source of life for others. That kind of resurrection has happened only in Christ.
Let us remain, then, within this moment of wonder, to recall this mystery of faith that we proclaim. Let us not wonder that so many do not believe, will not believe, that this is true. After all, it is the heart of our belief. We can confess that Jesus Christ is Lord only if we confess that he is risen. His resurrection confirms and enlightens all the rest of what we believe. Jesus’ resurrection affirms that his death was not in vain. It affirms that it was truly the Son of God who took on humanity; and it affirms that he took on humanity for good – not merely as a way to send us a message, but to draw us to himself forever.
When we proclaim this mystery, we are to have the greatest reverence for it. Believing in the resurrection of Jesus does not mean that we have all the answers, but that the divine mystery has been opened to us in a new way. This is a gift: the gift of believing that Jesus Christ is Lord of Heaven and Earth, of Life and Death – that death has no more power over him. This is indeed a gift, a mysterious, wonderful gift of God’s mercy. Just as with the first disciples, this is revealed to us only as a gift of faith. In the risen Jesus himself, “God’s mercy endures forever,” as our Psalm says. “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. By the Lord has this been done. It is wonderful in our eyes.” (Ps 118:1, 22-23)
Homily for the Easter Vigil
March 30, 2013
Tradition suggests that the garden where God exercised his infinite creativity was located in what we now call Iraq. If pictures in the newspaper are to be trusted, the land of Eden has suffered a great deal under the gardeners who came after Adam, but the author of the Book of Genesis is very clear that everything God created there in the beginning was very good. So good, the Book of Genesis also records, that when our First Parents were driven from the garden because of their sin, angels with swords of fire guarded the entrance so that they might not return.
When I was pastor in Seattle, one our catechumens remarked that humankind’s most noble aspirations and least noble defects are “hard wired” into our consciousness, which suggests that although the weaponry may have grown more sophisticated in the millennia since the Fall, the armaments we can see in Baghdad today – and the continued threat of weapons we cannot see – mean not only that each generation falls anew, but that a return to the garden God originally created for our nourishment and delight is as elusive a goal for us as it was for Adam and Eve.
Until tonight, in another garden, where an angel tells women who come to mourn, that the swords of fire have been extinguished and the pride and disobedience of the Old Adam have been expiated by the humility and surrender of the New. Human life began in a garden. This evening, in another garden, by a tortuous journey of slavery, exile, promise and deliverance, humanity comes home.
History does not relate how many generations separated our First Parents from Abraham, but once we encounter that ancestor time becomes a little easier to calculate. From Abraham to Isaac, one generation. From Isaac to Joseph and his brothers, two generations. From the enslavement of our ancestors in Egypt until Moses, twenty-one generations. Four hundred thirty years to hunger and thirst for the sky, the stars, the sand and the seashore that God created good in the beginning and promised to restore to Abraham – “because you obeyed my command.”
Hard wired or not, God’s children, captive in Egypt, longed for the freedom promised Abraham and his descendents. Our unredeemed, sinful selves represent them in our midst this evening, and the waters of the Red Sea that saved our ancestors from slavery to human tyrants are a sign of the water of Baptism that has freed us from our slavery to sin.
Two generations in the desert were long enough to bore our ancestors with the reality of stars and sand, and after five generations in the Promised Land, they set their sights on political might and Empire. Those dreams flourished for a generation or two, and then they began to unravel, until eventually our ancestors found themselves back in the land of Eden – but this time as slaves and exiles, and – sadly – no closer to the garden.
“How is it, Israel,” the prophet Baruch asks, that you are in the land of your foes, grown old in a foreign land, defiled with the dead, [and] accounted with those destined for the netherworld? You have forsaken the fountain of Wisdom! Had you walked in the way of God, you would have dwelt in enduring peace.
These words move us because the horror of exile is one of those fears hard-wired into our collective humanity. The Israelites endured physical exile, and the pain of being locked out of the heaven of one’s home is still a reality for millions throughout the world. But one hundred thirteen generations after the Babylonian Captivity, the words of an old song remind us, “when you’re not feeling holy, your loneliness says that you’ve sinned.” Our loneliness says that we’ve sinned. We don’t even have to leave home. Think about it!
Whether it’s Adam and Eve or you and I, to forsake the fountain of Wisdom is to find ourselves in exile to sin. Until tonight, when another font calls us back with the promise of restoration and reconciliation won by obedience – on a cross.
The Scripture is a document of contradictions, and those contradictions are nowhere more evident than this evening. It is we, generation after generation, who have earned the sentence of exile by our abandoning God’s path, and yet God treats us as if he had abandoned us. “The Lord calls you back,” the prophet Isaiah tells us
Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, a wife married in youth and then cast off…
It would be hard to find terms less endearing or flattering, but God’s love is so contradictory that he is willing to take on the shameful image of a selfish and ungrateful spouse, if only it will call us back.
Yesterday, as the executioners were preparing to nail Jesus to the cross, he said, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.” I remember one of my Dominican brother’s preaching on these words and remarking that Jesus forgave the soldiers before they had nailed him to the cross, so Christ’s love not only forgives and excuses, it operates even before we have sinned.
St. John Chrysostom tells us this is a wonderful example of Jesus’ folly – not only willing to forgive us, but even willing to find excuses for our sin. A thousand years later, St. Catherine of Siena put it another way. She addressed Jesus and said, “O crazed with love! It did not suffice for you to take flesh, but you also wished to die!”
One of the early Church writers, considering what we turned our backs on in the Garden, asked
Why do you value yourself so little when you are worth so much in God’s eyes? Why do you seek the matter from which you came and not the meaning of your existence? …For you the light drives back the darkness that surrounds you… for you the heavens shine with the light of sun, moon, and stars.
Last night Brother Ambrose preached a captivating homily on the oppositions we find in the Scripture. We saw one of them this evening, at the beginning of our worship, as we witnessed the power of light dispel darkness, a reminder of the first day of creation, and – if there were any doubt – remind us of Christ’s ability to penetrate the darkness of sin with the warmth, the brightness and the safety of his love.
Throughout human history, St. Bede tells us, night has followed day, because when we sin we turn away from the light and embrace darkness. But in tonight’s gospel day follows night: three women come to the garden as dawn is breaking, and an angel tells us that the long night of sin is over.
If we are willing to embrace the light, and seek the fountain of Wisdom. The choice is ours. We can look in the mirror and see the Christ who died and rose for us, or we can see nothing more than an empty grave. What stands between the two is the cross, and what unites us to the cross is the water of baptism.
One hundred fifty generations ago water gave us new birth when it destroyed our enemies at the Red Sea. Tonight we hear a call to come back to the water, and that water which was so powerful in the past tells us what we can expect from the water of baptism. In our tiny bowl it hasn't the majesty of the Red Sea, perhaps, but it has all its potential. We can measure its volume, but we cannot contain its power.
This water wiped out four centuries of slavery, and the prophet Ezekiel suggests that a single drop washes away a lifetime of sin. But it demands one perfectly terrifying thing in return: that we surrender to its power. This water extinguishes the angel’s sword and restores us to life in Christ, but only if we allow it to unite us with Christ in death. Our new life is free, but it isn't cheap. We buy it at the cost of our old one.
-- By Fr. Reginald Martin, OP