Mission Impossible – Fr. Dennis’ Homily for May 28, 2017

Portrait of Father Dennis DirkxOne of my favorite TV shows was “Mission Impossible.”  The program always started with the description of the mission and its goal.  The sender of the mission always asked if the person would accept the mission.  I was impressed by the sender’s question because it gave the opportunity to say “yes” or “no.”  It respected the freedom of the team and the risk that they would encounter if they said “yes.”  It would be nice if we had more of respecting the freedom of others in today’s  world.

Like the apostles Jesus has invited us to embrace the Mission.  Jesus respected their freedom to say “yes” or “no” to his invitation.  He also respects our freedom to take up His Mission or to set it aside, although He is hoping that we would embrace it.  No press on His part, but Jesus realizes the efforts of others give credibility to the Mission.  The Mission is found at the conclusion of Matthew’s Gospel.  “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

We are not alone in fulfilling the Mission.  He has given us the Holy Spirit who will guide us and He promised to be with us as we go forth carrying it to the ends of the earth.  Jesus’ Mission is not a mission impossible.  It is very “do-able.”  He knew when handing over the Mission to the apostles that they were not faultless human beings.  He promised to be with them until the end of the age.  We read in St. Mark’s Gospel, 16:20, “They went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.”  Jesus knows that we too are sinful people but He also knows that once we let the Spirit in great things happen.  It is amazing that even with our sinfulness the Spirit can accomplish much through us not in spite of our sinfulness, but with it.

We are living in a post-Christian-era in which we believing disciples are fast becoming a minority.  Our times are not too different from the time of the apostles.  They brought the message to an unbelieving world.  He will work with us and confirm our work with accompanying signs.

The Mission is entrusted to us and we are asked to carry it forth into a global community.  His mission can be summed up in three short statements for us to remember.  Love God!  Love Others! Make Disciples!  Feast of the Ascension asks us to reflect upon how we have embraced His Mission in the past year. How do you know you are loving God?  What signs has the Lord given you to affirm that you are on the right track?  Have you opened your heart up to allow your love to touch others?  What signs has the Lord given you to affirm you?  Have you in the past year led others to make a commitment to be a disciple?  What affirming signs has the Lord given you?

The angels asked the apostles, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?”  The angels were simply asking the apostles where their focus was.  It had to be upon the Mission and the Spirit who would work with them in the world  We too need to remember that He is in the world waiting to confirm our work with accompanying signs.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Dennis

 

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“Golde, Do You Love Me?” – Fr. Dennis’ Homily for May 21, 2017

Portrait of Father Dennis DirkxIn the musical, Fiddler on the Roof, Tevya asked his wife, “Golde, do you love me?” The musical conveys this question in a number of ways—it seems to be the core question of the story. Golde, who for the past 25 years has been washing, cooking, bearing children and standing beside her husband utters the most thoughtful answer, “I suppose I do.”

This is the question Jesus is asking of us today, “Do you love me?” In John’s gospel, this is the first time Jesus spoke about the disciple’s love for Him. The question penetrates the very heart of each one of us. It is a question that requires an honest, straightforward answer. Either we love Him or we don’t. There cannot be any gray area in our response to His question. “Do you love me?” He asks. He is speaking from His heart to our hearts. “Do you love me?” Let the question sink deep into your consciousness and pass through your heart to that place where only you abide. It is here where the question comes to settle—face-to-face in naked truth, He asks, “Do you love me?”

There is in this gospel something more than meets the eye; therefore, before you answer Him there are four things you must consider in all seriousness. First, are you willing to keep His commandments? Remember, in John’s gospel Jesus gives only one commandment, “Love one another, as I have loved you.” It sums up the totality of the Ten Commandments. Second, are you willing to believe what He believes? He spells this out pretty clearly in all four of the gospels. He befriended the marginalized, the outcasts, and the forgotten people because He saw the image of His Father in them and knew that the Father loved them as the Father loves the Son. Knowing Him among these doesn’t put you on the left, but on the side of the gospel. Third, are you willing to live as He lived? This asks you what is most important in your life—what are the priorities? Fourth, are you willing to trust Him, because He tells us today, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” Do you trust Him?

He stands before you gazing into your eyes waiting for your answer. He recognizes the Father’s image within you and knows the depth of the Father’s love for you because He knows the depth of His own love for you. He waits and waits. How can you ever say “no”? How can you be so slow in speaking your “yes”?

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Dennis

 

Preparing A Place – Fr. Peter Patrick’s Homily for May 14, 2017

A Jewish proverb says, “God could not be everywhere, so God made mothers!” When I was growing up, when in my fears, worries, frustrations and thinking I reached my end, my mother was always there to give me assurance. Today we celebrate our mothers, the living and those who have gone before us; these are special people in our lives.

Erma Bombeck, in her book Motherhood, wrote, “I suppose every child remembers some special virtues their mother has, some pieces of wisdom that has saved them from disaster or a word that made the path infinitely easier. I love my mother for all the times she said absolutely nothing.”

In today’s gospel, Jesus is giving his disciples the same assurance as he was about to leave them. That’s the same assurance mothers give to their troubled children. Jesus said, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. I am going to prepare a place for you.” Jesus’ words are very comforting when we think of death, whether is our own that of a loved one. Today’s gospel comes from Jesus’ discourse at the Last Supper. He knew how traumatic it would be for his disciples when he was gone, and told them not to let their hearts be troubled.

The assurance is that he is going to prepare a place; but we must not forget that we are preparing the place too, by our good deeds. The life we are living today should be a reflection of the life to come. Jesus is the builder; our work is to give him the materials to build that house. Our good deeds or our virtues are the materials. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, let us ask ourselves every day: what kind of materials are we giving Jesus to build with?

Although sometimes we don’t do God’s will, or rather give him the right materials, he still loves us as his children. As Early Riney puts it, “A mother’s love is like God’s love; God loves us because it is God’s nature to love, and because we are God’s children.”

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers and all those who are mother figures, may your heart’s desire be granted! We love you! For those who have gone before us, may their souls continue resting in eternal peace!

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Peter Patrick

 

A Day to Remember – Fr. Dennis’ Homily for May 7, 2017

Portrait of Father Dennis DirkxIt will be sixty-five years ago next month that I received my First Holy Communion. I still have my little prayer book I received that day. A few of the pages are falling out, but it is a sign the book was used well. I also have my First communion rosary although; the beads show sign of wear. After supper we always knelt down in the kitchen to say the family rosary. It was a daily event in the Dirkx house. If you were a guest, we would invite you to pray with us. I also found among my memorabilia my St. Christopher medal that announced to the world that, “I am a Catholic, in case of an accident kindly notify a priest.” Among these memories of that day there was the little white bowtie I wore and the green scapular. It was an important day for me to receive Jesus for the very first time, but each time since has been more important.

Eucharist is about love. God the Father has loved us so much that He gave us the Body and Blood of His Son as our food for our journey. Now, from time to time I consult my wisdom people. If you do not have any people to go to for insight and wisdom,
I would encourage you to get some. I asked my wisdom people, “What’s love?”

Terri, who is four, told me, “Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.” Love doesn’t have to speak many words; it just has to surround you. I am sure you know what Terri is talking about. Bobby who is seven told me, “Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.” Bobby is right. How often we adults, because of our busy-ness, miss love, for we haven’t taken time to listen. Nikka who is six told me, “If you want to learn to love better you should start with a friend who you hate.” May be we should put this up in the halls of Congress. She makes a lot of sense to me.

When we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus, He is telling us that He loves us and the Father loves us, and the Holy Spirit opens us to this love. Jesus is also teaching us another important lesson for us to remember. Not only am I receiving the Eucharist, but all these other brothers and sisters of mine are also receiving Him. I asked one of the recent first communicants, “Where does Jesus go after we receive Him?” He told me, “He goes into our hearts.” If He is in your heart, and He is in my heart, that means I must remember that you are the living tabernacle of our Lord. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. realized this when he said, “The person who hates you most has some good in him; even the nation that hates you most has some good in it; even the race that hates you most has some good in it. And when you come to the point that you look in the face of every man (and woman) and see deep down within him (or her) what religion calls “the Image of God,” you begin to love him (or her) in spite of everything. No matter what he (or she) does, you see God’s image there.” This is what my wisdom people saw—Terri, Bobby and Nikka—because children see what is most important.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Dennis