For today’s homily, please play the video below:
by Howard Hain
When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”
Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord.
When is it that we break-fast?
Perhaps it is at morning Mass, when the long night of daily winter is slowly burned away by “the dawn from on high”.
Perhaps it is there, at the altar of our Lord, at the breakfast table of our one united body, that we come to see the Crucified Christ truly risen and waiting for us, “standing on the shore”.
We take so much for granted, so much we just assume is already prepared, without giving much thought to just how much goes into each meal. But we are in good company, Peter and the rest of the apostles, like us, come to a meal already in progress.
And just as Jesus called the apostles to a new morning meal, He calls each one of us each new day to a meal prepared ahead of time—in fact it was ordained a long, long time ago—for even upon those hot coals which the apostles approached two millennia ago, fish were already waiting.
It is to this ongoing meal that He asks all apostles to bring their fish, their most recent catch—to add to the fire—to the feast ever being prepared for those still yet to come.
The Fisher of Men, who calls others to become fishers as well, asks His disciples to contribute not only their earthly catch but the eternal offering of themselves.
But who is it that we find already lying upon the charcoal fire, upon the table of the Lord, waiting for us each morning as we approach the altar with our daily catch?
Is it not all those who have walked in faith before us? Is it not the communion of saints, the cloud of witnesses, the community of believers? Is it not those who pray in silence this very day for the conversion of sinners, the salvation of souls, the release of those in purgatory, the return to a unified Church?
Is it not those who suffer each and every day for the sake of Christ?
We will never really know exactly who, at least not while we walk within these “earthen vessels” we call bodies—not while we continue our pilgrimage through this valley of tears and wage our military-like mission against the powers of darkness.
We will never know while here on earth just how many fish are laid upon the fiery altar each new day, just how many join Jesus in His one perfect offering, just how many “share in his glory” because they “share in his suffering”.
But God does know, and he orchestrates it all. He knows exactly how many, and who. He misses not a tear, not a moan, not the slightest prick of a pin. He knows each and every one of His silent, unknown martyrs—those whose suffering “completes” what is “lacking in Christ’s afflictions”.
The Mystery. The Love. The Wisdom of the Cross. The Grandeur of God’s Salvific Plan. Praise be to God. Praise be to Christ Crucified and Risen. Praise be to the Holy Spirit: “O font of life! O fire of love!”
Let us then join the breakfast feast.
And let us not only eat but add to the meal.
Let us offer up all our “prayers, works and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world…”
And let us dare to wonder with true childlike joy and adoration. Let us wonder who it is that is already laid upon those ancient coals as the apostles approach that gloriously simple meal on the shining shore of a most placid sea.
Is the fish already in place Jesus Himself? Jesus who is priest and sacrifice and altar?
Yes. Of course it is Him.
But perhaps it is someone else too.
Perhaps among that first batch of fish is also the first follower of Christ: the first to surrender all “possessions”, the first to pick up the cross daily, the first to follow Jesus through the completion of His Passion.
Yes, perhaps it is Mary, His mother, His first disciple…our mother and the queen of all apostles. And perhaps it is also that “upright” man whom Jesus Himself saw as a father, the “righteous” Joseph who suffered so much in the name of Jesus. Perhaps that first batch contains all three: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, that most blessed of families—The Holy Trinity “made flesh”—The One Triune God dwelling in a humble hut in a little town named Nazareth.
In that sense, perhaps that first batch of fish is also you and me, your family and mine—and perhaps then “our” little “sacrifice” is already being offered up, right here in each of our “humble” homes and within the boundary lines of our own “Nazareths”.
Perhaps that first batch is waiting to be joined to all other offerings, to be joined together with all the other individuals and families that are called to be a “living sacrifice”.
Perhaps that first batch is within each one of us and is longing to be united to the one true sacrifice—the sacrifice of God’s crucified love, eternally offered upon the white-hot coals of God’s infinite charity.
Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne. The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with burning coals from the altar, and hurled it down to the earth…
by Howard Hain
In spiritual matters, weight training principles often apply:
Without sufficient resistance, strength won’t increase.
Resistance is then not only something to be tolerated, it’s to be seen as necessary, as something desirable:
Without proper resistance, real growth won’t take place.
In fact, the more resistance the better, as long as we maintain good positioning and form, eat and drink properly, and get enough off-time and rest.
In spiritual terms, these conditions easily translate: 1) Stay close to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and receive the Body and Blood of Christ with a grateful heart; 2) Remain in the Word of God and actively do the will of the Father; 3) Live a life of mental prayer—residing continually in “your inner room”—where we encounter the Divine Presence and lovingly adore the One True Source of all existence.
Let us then not be fools and seek shortcuts. Let us put aside all fads and worldly ways. Let us instead properly train, keeping in sight, and practice, the very basics:
To build strength, we need resistance.
Accept resistance then in every form—obstacles, roadblocks, annoyances, ridicule, mockery, difficulties, delays…
Accept it all as if directly delivered to you from the personal-training hand of God.
Accept it willingly, thankfully, even joyfully, as if weight added to the bar—as part of perfectly planned resistance—individually and specifically designed to increase moral strength and spiritual stature.
“Pray, brothers and sisters,
that my sacrifice and yours
may be acceptable to God,
the almighty Father.”
Tall and handsome.
Big and powerful.
Profound and exciting.
A great adventure starring a great hero.
Doing the dishes.
Just the right combination of hot and cold.
Mostly hot of course.
And the cold, that splash of sobriety is so we don’t get burned.
“In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ crucified, I commence the dishes…”
The sponge is important.
It need be clean and effective.
For how can one wash with something dirty?
And yet, even the best is hardly perfect.
After a single use it’s bound to show signs of deterioration.
So you add more soap and hope for the best.
“Our Father, who art in heaven…”
The circular motion of water, upon and around each dish.
Turn, turn, turn…
Rinse, rinse, rinse…
Like the axis of the earth.
The equator slightly tilting back and forth.
Side to side, to ensure proper runoff.
Such a delicate balance.
Then put aside to dry.
Sunlight works best.
“Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee…”
The drain cannot be ignored.
The little netting, catching all sorts of iniquities.
Now very clean hands.
Cleansed thru humility.
The dignity of work.
To grab what has been left below.
The rejected, the unwanted, the forgotten food.
A Eucharistic portion.
Not washed into the drain.
Yet separated from what is considered clean.
“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
I find two towels work the best.
One, somewhat clean, to wipe down the faucets and the edge of the sink.
The other to dry shriveled-up hands.
And to be hung, upon the little bar.
The one that crosses the oven door.
Awaiting the warmth.
The warmth that bakes our daily bread.
“May the Body of Christ keep me safe for eternal life.”
It is all really very simple.
Short and simple.
He died. We live.
We die. He lives.
One dirty dish at a time.
One Eucharistic encounter at a time.
“Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.”
“Thanks be to God.”
If you grew up in the Tri-State Region, commonly known as the greater New York City area, you know the sound of “1010 WINS”, the radio station that reaches millions living in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, especially those sitting in traffic.
“Traffic and Transit on the Ones”
Every ten minutes, “on the ones” as they say, comes the coveted traffic report, including mass transit (train and subway) updates, and of course all the action one needs to know about the “bridges and tunnels”.
What a nightmare commuting can be.
Stop and Go.
“YOU GIVE US 22 MINUTES, WE’LL GIVE YOU THE WORLD”
That’s what we hear, while sitting in our cars, or as we get prepared to sit in our cars—or perhaps board buses, trains and/or subway cars.
Twenty-two minutes, that’s all they need, and we’ve got it all: breaking international news, politics, weather, sports, culture, and of course, traffic and transit “on the ones”.
Of course those twenty-two minutes give us everything we need, except relief. Thanks to them we are now very well-informed people sitting in traffic, as opposed to complete and utter ignoramuses actively stuck behind Greyhounds.
“Top and Bottom of the Hour. The Beginning and the End.”
There’s another great news agency constancy at work in the Tri-State Area. Its broadcast begins at the top and the bottom of the hour. But there’s only one message. The news is always good. And it always leaves one relieved.
New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are filled with parishes. Most established by the immigrants of their time. And today they march on:
The Liturgy—The Great Prayer of God’s Church—won’t be stopped.
Day in, day out.
It is always the hour.
“YOU GIVE IT 22 MINUTES, IT’LL GIVE YOU MORE THAN THE WORLD”
The Lord be with you.
—And with your spirit.
Lift up your hearts.
—We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
—It is right and just.
(The beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer, The Order of Mass)
The next right thing.
Sometimes it is just that simple.
In fact, it is always that simple.
But to silly people like us, simple is not good enough.
It’s not complex enough.
Not sophisticated enough.
Not civilized enough.
Not cultured enough.
Not smart enough.
“Simple” lacks “nuance” and “subtlety”.
“Simple” contains nothing of the triune god of highly-refined society: arrogance, ambition, and ambiguity.
“Simple” is simply not good enough for you and me.
But it is for God.
He is simply great.
He is “right and just.”
Let’s simply be like Him.
Believe the next right thing.
Hope the next right thing.
Love the next right thing.
For the next right “thing” is God Himself.
For God is Good.
And He is Love.
Let us love then.
One step at a time.
One breath at a time.
One charitable conception, thought, and decision at a time.
Let us be like God.
Let us be amazingly simple.
Let us be simply amazing.
— “It is right and just.”
It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God, through Christ our Lord.
(Common Preface I, Eucharistic Prayer, The Order of Mass)
Lord God, how is it You fit in such small spaces?
The Creator of all, the Maker of all things, He who knows every hair on every head—how is it Lord You fit in such small spaces?
The Light of Light, the King of Kings—the Heaven, the Earth, and all their Glory—how is it Lord You fit in such small spaces?
How is it Father that You fit in a cradle?
How is it Lamb of God that You fit in a host?
How is it Author of Life that You fit in a word?
How is it my Lord and my God You fit in such small spaces?