Monday, May 23, 2016

Corpus Christi Sunday - May 29, 2016

Corpus Christi

May 29, 2016

The Life of a Grape


            Imagine if grapes could talk and had thoughts and feelings like the rest of us. A grape, growing on a vine, must surely know that someday it will be picked and made into some delicious product like raisins or grape jelly – or if it’s very lucky, wine. If grapes could think, they might wonder what they’re going to become – end up on someone’s toast as a Welch’s product, perhaps. But I also wonder if they’re afraid of getting smushed, though, because for a grape to be enjoyed, it must be destroyed. Either WE chew it, or we squish it for juice, or make it into pulp for jam. Do you think a grape fears its impending doom?

            But consider this, too – some grapes, some fortunate few grapes, will have the opportunity to turn into the Blood of Jesus. Could you imagine the grapes vying for the honor? Some lucky grapes know that as they meet their death in the wine press, their very grape blood – er, juice – will be made into the wine that fills the chalice at Mass. Such fortunate fruits! Their death brings about the salvation of souls! By being willing to give up their juice, they literally become the Blood of Jesus Christ! It is the highest honor that a grape could have!

            But luckily grapes can’t think and feel – which is good because then they might scream when we ate them! However, you and I can think and feel – and much like the grapes, we too can consider our end. At some point, you and I will also die, like the grapes. And it is possible for us to become the Body of Christ, much like the grapes became the Blood of Christ!

            In fact, that is the whole point of our life – to become like Jesus. St. Theresa of Avila once observed that, now that Jesus is in Heaven, “Christ has no body on earth but yours, no feet but yours, no hands but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion is to look out on the earth; yours are the feet by which He is to go about doing good; yours are the hands by which He is to bless us now.” Jesus ascended into Heaven because now it’s our turn, to live and love like Christ on this earth today.

            And this is why He gave us His Body and Blood. When I eat a sandwich, I turn the sandwich into my body – it gives me energy for my cells, nutrients to heal me, vitamins and minerals. But when I eat the Eucharist, He turns me into Him. Our body starts to become more like His body; our thoughts become more like His thoughts, our actions more like His actions. We start to love like Him, serve like Him, think like Him, see the world like Him. In a sense, He begins to live through us – we become the Body of Christ in the world today.

            But back to the grape analogy – what does a grape have to do to become the Blood of Christ? It must give up its life. What must we do to become the Body of Christ? We must give up our sins, our prejudices, our grudges, our hatreds. We must die to the pleasures of this world. If we do not give these up, we cannot be remade into the Body of Christ!

            The vast majority of people never realize this great dignity, to become like Jesus! Just like most grapes end up in a boring Welch’s bottle and not in a chalice at Mass, most people end up living boring lives all about themselves and their pleasures, instead of becoming transformed into the living Body of Jesus!

            Have you ever met someone who you’ve said, “Wow, I felt like I could see Jesus when I looked at him!” (And not just because they had long hair and a beard!). I’ve met several people who reflected Christ’s love so intensely that you could almost see the light of Christ shining through their eyes and the words of Christ coming from their mouth. That should be what all of us aspire to! And we do that by repenting of our sins, and receiving God’s grace in the Eucharist.

            After all, a grape has no choice as to whether it becomes a raisin or the Blood of Christ. We do have a choice as to whether we become just an ordinary person or another Christ on this earth. All of us, without exception, are created to become the Body of Christ – by staying connected to Him in the Eucharist and then letting Him live and love through us.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Trinity Sunday - May 22, 2016

Homily for Trinity Sunday

May 22, 2016

Unity in Diversity


            Growing up, my mom was usually the cook, except on rare occasions. Whenever my dad cooked, watch out – it was casserole time. He would merely open the refrigerator and pull out anything and everything that could possibly go into a casserole, throw it together with brown gravy, and that’s what we would have for dinner. Meatloaf, pork chops, old chicken, vegetables, rice, pasta – all of it into one pot, covered in brown gravy, and dinner was done. I suppose gravy covers a multitude of sins, because no matter what he put into the casserole, it all tasted the same!

            Cooking is a perfect example of unity in diversity. All sorts of different foods, blended together in the right amounts, makes a delicious dish. How boring it would be if all of our food was the same! But at the same time, if you put the wrong things together it doesn’t work either – if you’ve ever been to the Big E fair in Massachusetts, they have a burger that is served on a bun of donuts. An odd combination if ever there was one. Diversity needs an overarching unity!

            This is one of the lessons that we draw from the mystery of the Trinity. The Trinity is diverse – three distinct Persons (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), all of Whom have their unique and irreplaceable roles – the Father is the Source of all being, the Son took flesh to redeem us, and the Spirit dwells in our souls through grace. But these three different Persons are united – they are all one God, and when one Person acts, He does so in union with the other two Persons.

            We live in a culture that worships diversity. College brochures are always touting their “diverse” student body; employees of many companies have to undergo “diversity training”; people recently criticized the Oscars for not being “diverse” enough. And certainly, God loves diversity! Look at the many different species of plants and animals; the different landscapes from desert to mountain to rainforest; the wide range of languages and cultures and races in the world. God loves to create a wide variety of things!

            But diversity, in itself, is not a virtue unless there is also unity. Just like cooking – throwing a lot of different ingredients together makes no sense unless you know what you’re trying to cook. Diversity by itself is meaningless.

            What is it that unites the diversity of creation? All of the different things in creation glorify God in different ways. Birds by singing and building nests, bees by making honey, trees by providing shade and wood. All of creation is united in fulfilling its purpose of glorifying God.

But then what is it that unites us human beings, as diverse as we are? Love. Human beings alone were created out of love, created for love, and find our fulfillment in love. We were created by a loving act of God, created to know and love Him in this life while also loving our neighbor, and find our fulfillment in pure Love in Heaven. Love is the “brown gravy” that unites all of the different elements in the dish!

A few years ago I hiked “El Camino” – the 500-mile ancient pilgrimage route through northern Spain to the bones of St. James at Santiago de Compostella. While hiking for 33 days, we met people from all across the world, and I went to Mass in six different languages! What united us was our common love for Jesus Christ. Another time I had the privilege of being in Rome for a gathering with about 800,000 people from across the world. As we prayed together, I really felt the universality of the Church – the Church was diversity in unity, because we were united in a single purpose – to love and serve the Lord, and through Him, to love our neighbor.

The Trinity is the exemplar of diversity in unity. All three Persons in the Trinity work perfectly together, while remaining distinct. Humanity is called to that same diversity-in-unity – we celebrate the uniqueness that God has given us while realizing that we are united because we have the same origin (the love of God), the same challenge (to love God and our neighbor) and the same destiny (the enjoyment of everlasting Love in Heaven).

Friday, May 13, 2016

Pentecost Sunday - May 15, 2016

Homily for Pentecost

May 15, 2016

Confirmed in the Spirit


            My brother is a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and just this past week he graduated from college seminary and is now going to study in Rome for the next five years. They have a tradition at his college seminary that on the last day of college, they hold a special Mass called the “Donning of the Clerics” Mass where all of the graduating seniors are allowed to wear the black-and-white uniform of a priest (called “clerics”). For them it is quite an exciting time! It’s one step closer to being able to live out their vocation of priesthood.

            Every profession has a training period. Before a man becomes a major league ballplayer, he has to spend some time in the minor leagues. But everyone in the minors longs to be in the majors! I certainly remember having a burning desire to become a priest while I was in seminary! If you are being trained to be a cop or an IT professional or a psychologist, you have to endure training – not always pleasant – for the joy of actually fulfilling your role. The training period is necessary, but we always ache to have it end and get started on the mission.

            At Pentecost, the Apostles’ training period ends. For three years they had trained under Jesus Christ Himself – learning how to think like Him, love like Him, have a passion for the conversion of souls like Him, how to pray like Him…and now, as they receive the Holy Spirit, it’s as if they are given their commission, they have graduated from school, they have been released to fulfill the mission that Christ has entrusted to them – not with their own power or strength or talents, but in the power of the Holy Spirit.

            Pentecost is often called the “Birthday of the Church” because it was this day that the Apostles went from being a fearful band of hunted men to fearless evangelists, filled with faith and the Spirit. The Church, founded on these fearless Apostles, started its mission of going out and making disciples of all nations on Pentecost Sunday. They needed the gifts of the Holy Spirit – gifts like courage, and the gift of tongues – to be effective!

            But where does that leave you and me? Well, we have been filled with the Holy Spirit as well…twice, as a matter of fact. We were first filled with the Holy Spirit at our Baptism – the birthday of our own discipleship. But as good as it is to be a disciple – a follower of Christ – all of us are called to more than that. We are also called to be Apostles, to go out and bring the world to Christ and Christ to the world. For this new mission, we need a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit – which we receive at Confirmation.

            It’s like this – at Baptism, we receive the Holy Spirit for our own holiness and salvation, so we can belong to Christ. But at Confirmation, we receive the Holy Spirit for others’ holiness and salvation, so that we can bring all those around us to Christ. Baptism is for us, Confirmation is for others.

            So, if you have been confirmed, then you have been given a mission. The Holy Spirit gives people special gifts called charisms – a gift or talent that is to be used for the building-up of the Kingdom of God, to bring souls to Christ. There are many varieties of gifts: St. Paul mentions such gifts as teaching, administration, wisdom, great faith, healing, speaking in different languages. Some people have the gift of praying for others (called intercessory prayer), some people have the gift of working with the poor. Some people have the gift of wealth, which is given to them by God so that they can be generous with it. Some people have a gift with youth or the elderly or those with mental illness. Some people have the gift of a sense of humor, or are natural leaders, or are good at being the behind-the-scenes person. Some people have a gift of music or some other technical skill like carpentry or auto mechanics. All of these are gifts given to us, not just so we can make a living, but ultimately so that they can be used to bring souls to Jesus Christ.

            So, what is your gift? I’m quite sure everyone here who is open to the Spirit has a gift they can use for the building-up of the Kingdom. At the end of our lives, we will have to give an account before God of how well we have used these charisms. Have we served our neighbor, loved God, or supported the Church through our charism? Or have we wasted it on ourselves or ignored it? It’s not too late!

            Some amazing things happen when people offer their gifts and charisms to the Lord. There was a priest in Baltimore who was praying for a person to help him build a music program. He kept praying and praying that the right person would come along, and on Easter Sunday, a visitor stopped him after Mass and said, “Father, my family and I just moved from Texas, where we were worship leaders at our former church. We would love to serve here in leading music if you’d like.” He was overjoyed and welcomed him immediately. But after the man left, the priest was filled with doubt, because there wasn’t any money in the budget to hire him as a music director. He went back into the church to pray about it – and after the next Mass, another man stopped the priest and said, “Father, my family and I have been very blessed financially, and we believe this church deserves good music. We would like to pay for a full-time music director.” The priest was floored – God raised up the people who had the gifts!

            Other gifts lead to serve in other ways. When five-year-old Hannah Taylor from Winnipeg, Canada saw a homeless man eating out of a dumpster, she was so shocked that she started painting old baby food containers like ladybugs and going around to local businesses asking for spare change for the poor. By the time she was ten years old, she had raised over a half-million dollars towards ending homelessness. Now 18, Hannah Taylor and the Ladybug Foundation have raised three million dollars, and helped thousands on the streets through food, clothing, and shelter. She had a real gift and passion for working with the poor – a true charism of the Holy Spirit!

            God has given every confirmed Catholic enough charisms to make the Church the most dynamic, living, powerful force for good in the world. The question is, why aren’t we using those charisms we have been given? If you’re Confirmed, then it’s up to you to take up Christ’s mission. What is your charism – and how can you use it to bring about the Kingdom of God here on earth?

Saturday, May 7, 2016

First Communion Homily 2016

First Communion Homily 2016

Beauty From Within


            A while back I was spending some days in prayer in a house run by some nuns. It was a beautiful place, and the nuns themselves were so wonderful and kind. One nun, in particular, was strikingly beautiful – rosy cheeks, twinkling eyes, always with a smile on her lips. After a few days I asked her what her name was. “Sister Felicity,” she replied. I said, “That’s such a perfect name for you, because Felicity means happiness, and you have such a happy face.”

            “I wouldn’t know,” she said.

“What do you mean, you wouldn’t know?”

“I haven’t seen my face in fifteen years.”

            I was shocked. “Fifteen years?”

            She looked embarrassed. “I don’t have a mirror in my room or bathroom.”

            Here was this woman, so beautiful – and she had no idea that she was radiant. Her beauty didn’t come from spending hours in front of the mirror, using expensive creams, or wearing nice clothes. She simply loved Jesus deeply – and that made her beautiful.

            Some of you have showed me your really nice clothes this morning. And you all do look great! New suit or dress, white gloves, combing your hair – you all really put a lot into looking good for this special occasion. But that’s not where your true beauty comes from. True beauty comes from Jesus living within a pure soul. And today, your pure souls are about to receive Jesus Christ in the Eucharist!

            Think about it – if you have joy, if you have peace, if you know that you are loved, then you will show it on your face. It will be obvious to everyone around you. And Jesus is the only one who can offer true joy, lasting peace, and infinite love.

            Seek to make your soul beautiful, then, to be a fit dwelling place for the King of Kings. When we have a guest coming over to our house, we always clean up – we vacuum the floor, we make our beds, we take out the trash. Likewise, we should always keep our souls clean and pure, free from sin, so that every time we receive Jesus as a guest in Holy Communion, He will find a warm welcome and a place that He can live, in our souls.

            And when He comes to live in your soul in Holy Communion, He brings those gifts of love, peace, and joy. If you ever feel alone, think of the Eucharist – Jesus is with you. If you ever feel unloved, think of the Eucharist – Jesus desperately wants to love you, so He remains with us in Holy Communion. If you ever feel sad, think of the Eucharist – Jesus brings joy to all those who receive Him. If you ever feel hopeless, think of the Eucharist – Jesus is our hope for everlasting life.

            One final saint story for you all! Blessed Imelda Lambertini, as a young girl, was abandoned by her mother, who put her in a basket as a baby on the steps of a local convent of nuns. So as a young girl, she was raised by these holy women. She had an overwhelming desire to receive Holy Communion, although the nuns told her she had to be older to receive Jesus. Finally one day, when she was about ten years old, she was in the back of Mass praying, hungering for the Eucharist. As the priest was giving out the Eucharist, one of the Hosts rose up on its own and flew through the air until it hovered over Imelda’s head. The priest was so amazed that he decided to give her Communion! She received Communion with great joy and closed her eyes to pray to Jesus, now present within her.

            Well, Mass ended and time passed, and everyone went on their business. Three hours, then four hours went by, and the nuns didn’t know where she was. They looked all over – finally, they found her in the church, still kneeling with eyes closed and a smile on her face. They went to go rouse her from her prayers, but as they shook her, they found that she had died of joy upon receiving her first Holy Communion!

            I certainly hope that none of you die of joy when you receive First Communion…but I do pray that you have the same hunger for Jesus that Blessed Imelda had. Receive Him often with a pure soul – and you will find all of the happiness that you are looking for.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Seventh Sunday of Easter - May 8, 2016

Homily for Seventh Sunday of Easter

May 8, 2016



            Right after St. Francis of Assisi turned his life over to Jesus Christ, he was filled with a crazy desire to be a martyr (to die for his faith). He loved Jesus so much that he wanted to give his life to the Lord, even to the point of shedding his blood – but at the same time he wanted to spread the Gospel to the entire world. So to accomplish both desires at once, he traveled to Egypt to meet with the Muslim leader, Sultan Malik, to speak about Jesus Christ. This was during the Crusades – that long, protracted war between Christians and Muslims – so Francis knew that this quest of his was probably a death sentence.

            He was immediately captured and beaten by the Sultan’s guards, who dragged him before the Sultan. The Sultan demanded to know why this Christian was walking, unarmed, through his land. Francis began to explain the story of Jesus – how He is the Savior, how He lived and died for our sins but was raised again, and how faith in Him is necessary for salvation. Then, he waited for the Sultan to give the death sentence.

            Except, it didn’t happen! The Sultan was so impressed by Francis’ evident holiness – and the fact that he came in peace, in the midst of a war – that he let him go and actually gave him a bunch of gifts (which Francis promptly gave to the poor). So Francis never became a martyr!

            Many of the saints had a powerful desire for martyrdom. St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Isaac Jogues…all of them had a burning desire to give their lives to Christ. St. Maximilian Kolbe was actually quite cheerful about it – as a Polish priest who spoke out against Nazism, he was arrested and put into Auschwitz. But as Fr. Kolbe and his brother priests were being arrested, he said with a smile, “Look! We’re going on a trip, and it has already been paid for! What good luck!”

            Is this sadism? Is this heroism? No, it is a soul in love – so in love with Jesus Christ that they would do anything to be one with Him. The saints wanted to imitate Jesus so closely that they were willing to die for Him, just as He died for them.

            Today’s first reading speaks about the first martyr, St. Stephen. Stephen trusted that if he gave up his life, he would receive it back – notice the last line does not say that he died, but that he “fell asleep” – as Christians are confident that we will rise again with Christ in glory.

            Most of us, however, are not called to actually die for Jesus Christ. But that’s okay, because there are two types of martyrdom. There is red martyrdom – shedding one’s blood for Christ, and there is white martyrdom – suffering for Jesus, but not dying for him.

            And white martyrdom takes many forms! The wife who cares for her husband is suffering a white martyrdom if she unites her suffering to Jesus’ Cross. The kid who gets bullied for bringing a Bible to school is going through a white martyrdom. The cancer patient, if she unites her chemotherapy to Christ’s Cross, undergoes a type of white martyrdom.

            One time when I was a seminarian we took a youth group trip to this river where we all went swimming. One kid named Stephen jumped in and badly sliced open his foot. It was such a deep cut – and it had a rock stuck in it – that we knew we had to do some first aid. I grabbed the first aid kit and found the bottle of rubbing alcohol, but before pouring it on his foot I said, “Okay, this is going to hurt like the blazes, but I don’t want you to waste this suffering. Remember what Christ went through for you, and offer this pain back to him.” Then we poured on the alcohol – although he offered it up, he still screamed pretty loudly! (I only found out later that you really shouldn’t pour rubbing alcohol directly on cuts…)

            But the point is, the martyrs knew that they were going to die at some point – we all are. They merely wanted to die for the right reason – for Jesus Christ. Likewise, all of us suffer throughout life – but if we suffer well, for love of Christ, uniting our pain to His cross, and offering it up for the salvation of souls, then we are participating in a white martyrdom. And white martyrdom can form in us the heart of a saint.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Homily for Ascension Thursday - May 5, 2016

Ascension Thursday

May 5, 2016

Rock Star Everywhere


            Last September, Pope Francis visited the United States. We had a few parishioners go down to NYC to see if they could catch a glimpse of him. They waited for hours and hours in Central Park to see him. I think he looked about a half-inch tall from their distance, but how exciting it was for them to see the Pope!

            Wouldn’t it be even better to actually meet him? If I got to shake the Pope’s hand, I don’t think I’d ever wash my hand again. And maybe to get his autograph? I once saw a baseball with Pope John Paul II’s autograph on it. It was about four thousand dollars – and who knows if it was authentic? I’m not sure St. JPII even knew what a baseball was for – it’s not a real popular sport in Poland, unfortunately.

            But these things are rare and precious because there is only one Pope and he lives halfway across the world. So, it’s exciting to see him, or to meet him, or to take a picture with him. What a gift that would be!

            Jesus Christ knew that if He continued to live on earth, in the flesh, encountering Him would also be a rare occurrence. Imagine if Jesus was still alive – we would have to travel to Jerusalem to see Him, there would always be HUGE crowds around Him, and could you imagine the amount of security and secret service Jesus would need! (Although, being God and unable to die again after the Resurrection, He might be able to dispense with the security). But who could afford more than one or two trips to see Jesus in their lifetime? It would indeed be a rare occurrence.

            But Jesus knew that He wanted to be closer to us. He didn’t want us to see Him once or twice in our lifetime – no, He wanted to be more available than that. In addition, He wanted to be more than just our friend – He wanted to literally dwell in our souls.

            Some of you may have grown up using the Baltimore Catechism. If you did, you’ll remember the question, “Where is God?” The answer: “God is everywhere.” God is not constrained by space or time – but WE are, and so we need to encounter Jesus through very physical, temporal means.

            Jesus wanted us to love Him, so He gave us the Sacraments – particularly the Eucharist – as the way in which we can encounter Him. For this reason, He ascended into Heaven. If He had stayed on earth, He would not have been able to be present in every tabernacle in the world. If He had stayed on earth, we would not be able to receive Him in the Eucharist, because Jesus would have been limited to one specific location in the world.

            Even if I am best friends with the Pope, he still doesn’t dwell in my soul. If Jesus were still alive and walking around on this earth, it would be impossible for him to dwell in my soul also. His physical presence ascended into Heaven so He could leave us His sacramental presence. It’s a true presence – Jesus Christ is truly here in the Eucharist, 100% - but it is different because it allows every single person to receive the entire Christ as if Christ was here for you alone.

            And so for this reason, Jesus ascended into Heaven. He wanted to dwell, not just in Jerusalem, but in every human heart and in every tabernacle throughout the world. Thank goodness we don’t have to travel halfway around the world, wait in long lines and huge crowds, and fight through security to meet Jesus! All we have to do is ask Him to enter our hearts and receive Him in Holy Communion. It’s the same Jesus Who walked this earth and ascended into Heaven, truly present now in every Catholic church throughout the world.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Homily for the Sixth Sunday of Easter - May 1, 2016

Sixth Sunday of Easter

May 1, 2016

Signs of Discipleship


            A close reading of the Gospels reveals that there are four different groups of people mentioned by the Evangelists. The first group of people is referred to (especially in John’s Gospel) as the world. “The World” refers to people who do not care about Jesus, either because they have never heard of Him, or they have heard of Him and rejected Him, or they’re too wrapped up in their concerns of money and power and pleasure to love Him. The second group is referred to as the crowd. “The Crowd” is people who like to hang out near Jesus. They benefitted from His miracles, they heard His parables, but they did not yet make a choice to follow Him. They often left Him when the going got tough. Closer to Jesus, there is a third group: the disciples. These are the people who followed Him. Jesus explained His parables in a deeper way to them. They accepted even His tough teachings. The closest group, however, is the apostles. These were the chosen Twelve Whom Jesus gave the mission of building the Church.

            As I was teaching this to my confirmation class last month, we were discussing the difference between the crowd and the disciples. Among the people who come to church – even among us – there are both sets of people: the crowd, and the disciples. One of the kids asked me how we know if we’re a part of the crowd or if we’re a disciple. That got me thinking – what are the characteristics that make a disciple different from someone who just hangs around Jesus? Not all churchgoers are disciples – what sets disciples apart?

            Today’s readings, I think, show three signs of discipleship. These three characteristics are part of every disciple’s life.

            First, a disciple learns and grows in their relationship with God. Today’s first reading featured one of the biggest debates in early Christianity – was Christianity just a part of Judaism, or was it a separate religion? In other words, did you have to become Jewish – and obey all of the Jewish laws like circumcision and dietary laws - before you became Christian? The Apostles convened the first council – the Council of Jerusalem – to discuss this issue. Through the Holy Spirit, they concluded that Jesus had done away with the Jewish laws, so they did not need to follow the Jewish laws in order to be followers of Christ. The Apostles sent a letter to all of the churches, instructing them on how to be good Christians – and the disciples heeded their words and learned from them! They grew in their understanding of Christ and in their identity as Catholics.

            So, do you learn and grow in your Faith? When is the last time you studied Scripture or read a book about the Faith? Have you ever taken a class – even as an adult – about the Faith (which are offered all across the diocese and even here in our parish)? So many of us stopped our religious education in eighth grade, but as an adult we face adult questions about the world – we can’t approach the world with an eighth-grade understanding of our Faith! A disciple is one who learns and grows in their relationship with God.

            Second characteristic: a disciple lives a life of worship. Today’s second reading speaks about the glories of Heaven – and how there will be no churches or temples in Heaven, because we will see God face-to-face and worship Him for eternity.

            So, do you live a life of worship? Is the Mass the most important event of your week, or is it something to “squeeze in” if you have the time? Are you constantly checking your phone, wondering when the homily will be over so you can leave? Or do you hunger for Jesus Christ, longing to be united to Him in the Eucharist? Do you have a vibrant life of daily prayer?

            Third characteristic: a disciple seeks to live like Jesus. Jesus said in the Gospel today, “Whoever loves Me will keep My word.” Disciples aren’t perfect, but they make an effort to conform their lives to Jesus. They don’t just want to be “a decent person” but holy – like Christ. They see their flaws and sins, and repent of them daily, asking the Lord for grace to overcome them, so that Christ may live through them. They strive to reflect the Lord’s love in everything they do. Disciples especially try to live a life of service following after the Master, Who came to serve, and not to be served.

            It seems to me that these are the three characteristics of disciples: they learn and grow in their relationship with God, they live a life of worship, and they seek to live like Jesus. I recognize that not everyone here today is yet a disciple. But I pray that you may become one. Merely going to church – as good as that is – does not mean that you are a disciple. Rather, seek to cultivate these three attitudes in your life – and we can merit the title “disciple of Jesus”!