Tag Archives: Homilies of Father Rob Waller

Name the Beast; Notice the Angels

25 Feb

Mark seems to be “fasting” from words. There are two sentences in two verses: 

“The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert,

and he remained in the desert for forty days,

tempted by Satan.

He was among wild beasts,

and the angels ministered to him.”

The beasts indicate struggle. The angels imply victory.

For 40 days there is Lent. There will be beasts. There will be angels.

Name your struggles. Notice your angels.

at station #5 and #12

23 Jan

In honor of our partnership with the Holy Land, our St. Andrew Welcome Connection – the committee of parishioners who welcome new parishioners – gives to every new member an olive wood rosary. In our partnership and in our prayer we hope to help the Christians in the Holy Land, so that they will know that they do not carry their cross all by themselves.

This message is with the rosary:

This rosary was made by the Rosary Makers of St. Andrew Parish using olivewood beads from the Holy Land.  The beads were shaped by Palestinian hands in and around Bethlehem.  The knots tied in the cord were made by the hands of a member of St. Andrew who lives in or around Milford.  This rosary is a symbol of the partnership between the Christians of St. Andrew Parish in Milford and the Christians of Annunciation Parish in Beit Jala, Palestine.

We hope that every time you use this rosary, you say a prayer for our Christian brothers and sisters in Beit Jala.

“We notice around your church the Stations of the Cross…You are at station number 12 – you are being crucified with Christ.  We are at station number 5 – we can be Simon of Cyrene for you to help you carry your cross” (from a homily given by Father Rob Waller at Annunciation Church, Beit Jala, Palestine, July 18, 2005).

“Stay with me”

15 Jan

The “Invitation to Communion” has previously been the topic of a homily in church and a post on this blog. But its beauty astounded us again today, as we heard an extraordinary scripture passage at Mass. 

“Behold, the Lamb of God.”

“What are you looking for?”

“Where do you stay?

“Come, and you will see.” 

As Jesus walks by, there is an acclamation by John the Baptist: “Behold the Lamb of God.” Two of John’s disciples follow Jesus.  One is Andrew. The other is not named, which leaves room for you to be the other disciple.  

There is an acclamation: “Behold the Lamb of God.” Something stirs within them. They approach Jesus. He asks them a question. They ask their own, “Where do you stay?” In response Jesus offers them an invitation – “Come …” – and gives them a promise – “… and you will see.”  And they stay with him that day.  

Acclamation, question, invitation, promise – and communion. 

At Mass we hear the acclamation, “Behold the Lamb of God.”  When you hear that, something stirs within you. As you walk up the aisle toward the altar for communion, Jesus asks you what you are looking for. You approach him with your question or your wonderment, whatever question or wonderment you have about yourself or about life. Jesus gives you an invitation, “Come. Come to me in the consecrated bread and wine.” And he makes you a promise, “You will see.” You will get an answer. It might not be clear now. It may take some time. But he does promise, “Stay with me. You will see. There will come the time when all your questions are answered, when you will wonder no more. Stay with me. You will see.” Then the most extraordinary of things happens. We receive communion, or better, we are received into communion.  

He asks us to stay with him, and he asks to stay with us. It is communion – “holy” communion.

The Line to See Jesus

22 Dec

At his first coming at Bethlehem, shepherds and kings stood in line to adore him.

In Galilee, the sick and the unworthy stood in line to see Jesus, hoping that he would touch them with some healing or some hope.

At his second coming, all the nations will stand in line before his throne, and every head will bow, and every knee will bend, and every tongue will proclaim, “Jesus Christ is Lord.”

Where is the line to see Jesus now?

Think of a line in which you have stood or in which you have seen others stand. Allow one “standing in line” to come to mind. (Go ahead. I will wait.)

Is it a line in which you can see Jesus?

Last Sunday there was a line of people standing in the sanctuary of our parish church to take a tag off the “Giving Tree.” A line to see Jesus?

Sometime this week those people will stand in a line of another kind, as they purchase the gifts? A line in which to see Jesus?

Next Sunday they will stand in line again in church, as they bring their wrapped offerings and lay them at the altar. A line to see Jesus?

And after the last Mass, after all the gifts are sorted according to family units, there will be another line at church: people standing in line to receive the gifts and take them home, so that they and their children will celebrate Christmas with a gift. A line in which to see Jesus?

At the end of the homily on Sunday, I asked all present at Mass: What is the next line in which you will stand? All of you, together, standing in line? Before leaving this church building? In about 12 minutes? Right after the priest holds up the consecrated bread and wine? Right after that “Behold the Lamb of God. Behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the Supper of the Lamb? Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed” – right after that invitation and preparation?

“The next line in which we will stand is the communion line. As at Bethlehem, we stand in line to adore him. As in Galilee, we stand in line, humble and in need, hoping and confident that he will touch us with some healing or hope. We stand in line, as one day we will stand in line before his throne. In the communion line our heads will bow, our knees will bend, and our tongues will proclaim, with all the others, that Jesus Christ is Lord!”

The Body of Christ.  Amen.

The Blood of Christ.  Amen.

Sirens of Hope

12 Dec

In a 911 emergency call there is that assuring, “Help is on the way.” It is followed almost all the time by, “Hurry! Please hurry!” – and another reassuring, “Help is on the way.”

It is actually just a matter of minutes, but for the one waiting for the help and the one on the way to help, it seems like forever. The one coming sounds the siren, to clear the way, to straighten the path. For the one waiting, the siren is the sound of hope. The louder it gets, the better.

In the corners of the sanctuary, and from the ambo and on the altar in between, we find hope and help.

Out in Brown County, there is a mission called, “Hope Emergency,” run by two of the Ursulines of Brown County, who live in our parish and worship with on Sundays. On the days before Thanksgiving, their Hope Emergency fed 503 families, that is, over a thousand people. The Sisters and the volunteers heard over and over again, “We don’t know what we would do without Hope.” Is that an Advent theme, or not? With the wrapped gifts that you brought to church with you today, you provide something for over 700 people. The gifts go out in many directions. Some of those gifts go to Hope Emergency. On the days before Christmas, the Sisters will hear, “Without you there would be no food on our table. Without you, we would not have Christmas.

In the Scriptures, Isaiah and John the Baptist are the sirens. Isaiah sirens: Hope is coming (in the Messiah). In John the Baptist the siren gets louder and louder: Hope has arrived (in Christ). Isaiah and John are the sirens, the sounds of hope, the voices crying out in the desert, clearing the way for help and hope. Christ is Hope. In Christ, hope has come, hope comes now, and hope will come again. 

With the prophet and the Baptist in the Scriptures, with the pink candle and the rose vestment of Gaudete Sunday, with the wrapped gifts piled in the sanctuary, and most especially and most lastingly and most lavishly, with the divine gifts consecrated on the altar, we keep hope.  Help is on the way. Hope is here.

We make this three-fold proclamation of God’s mercy:

Lord Jesus Christ, without you we would not have Christmas.

Lord Jesus Christ, without you we have no sacrifice on the altar; we have no food on the table.

Lord Jesus Christ, without you we are without hope.

But with you …..

the Great Promise in which Now We Dare to Hope.

26 Nov

Moments ago at the end of Saturday morning Mass, November 26, we closed the book on the English words that we have used to pray at Mass for the last forty years – and the only words that I have used at the altar since my ordination thirty-six and a half years ago. There is sadness in the parting. But we do not grieve as those who have no hope. This evening, with the first Mass of the First Sunday of Advent, we begin anew with the updated English translation.

For a while we will need to focus on the words of the text and the notes of the chant. For a while it will be difficult to “pray,” but in a while the new words and notes will speak to our hearts.

Perhaps, when you hear new words, you will hear a new word from God, meant especially for you. Perhaps, in speaking new words, you will approach God in a fresh way.

As the prophet Isaiah suggests, perhaps the Lord, who is the potter, is forming us, the clay, into a new vessel.

That is an image that is suited to a lot of life. The clay does not know what it is becoming, only that it is in the hands of the potter. While the clay is feeling the spinning about that is taking place on the potter’s wheel, the clay also feels the warmth of the hands of the one who is forming it.

For many people at Mass this weekend, the adjustment in the words of Mass is far from being the biggest adjustment that they are making in life at this moment. There are bigger things in life that throw us off balance, and that cause us to be disoriented, and that make it difficult for us to pray. Compared to changes that you might be navigating in life, these changes in words at Mass are nothing.

And as I begin to think that my adjustments are bigger than anyone else who is at Mass this weekend – after all, every Eucharistic prayer is changed, and every prayer that I will pray from the chair will be a new prayer for the whole next year – as I begin to think that my adjustments are bigger than anyone else who is at Mass this weekend, I say to myself, “Wait a minute. God will give me the grace to make the changes I need to make. God will give you the grace to make the adjustments you need to make. That is true, not just for the changes in the Mass words today, but for all the adjustments that we ever need to make in life.”

In all things and at all times, in everything and in every way, the Lord is coming to us with newness of life and creating something new in us. As the Preface before the Eucharistic Prayer reminds us on this, the First Sunday of Advent, that is “the great promise in which now we dare to hope.”

Andrew, the Bride and the Centurion: Holy Communion

20 Nov

It is an invitation to communion.

We are Andrew. “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world.”

We are the bride. “Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.”

We are the centurion. “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

As we approach the altar for communion, we are Andrew. We are the bride. We are the centurion. It is an invitation to communion – holy communion!

Click here for today’s homily, Andrew, the Bride and the Centurion.”

No Storm Can Shake My …

27 Aug

Irene arrived at the beach in North Carolina today and, apparently, has been up to no good ever since. Ironically, the name of the Hurricane comes from a Greek word, Ειρήνη, meaning “peace.” Irene has not said, “Peace be with you,” to the people of North Carolina, and she does not bring peace to the hearts of those up the coast who are wondering whether she will visit them.

Is it easier for the people in the storm or for us who are away from the storm to believe that Jesus rides out every storm with us?

Our faith can be a rock or a stumbling block, depending on how we factor in suffering.

At the end of last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus gave St. Peter a star on his report card for “active participation” and “excellent comprehension.” Jesus had asked him a question, “Who do you say that I am?” Right after Peter answered, “You are the Christ who saves us,” Jesus said to him, “And you are the rock on which I will build my Church.”

In this Sunday’s Gospel, as Jesus starts to tell him about suffering, Peter blurts out, “God forbid that you would suffer.” This could be understood to extend to him and the other disciples, “God forbid that those of us who believe in you would ever suffer.” This is where Jesus gives St. Peter a checkmark on his report card for “needs improvement,” and calls him a stumbling block.

In verse 18 St. Peter and his faith are a rock. By verse 23 he is stumbling block.

Our faith can be a rock to which we cling (and to which other can cling) or a stumbling block over which we trip (and which can trip others up). It depends on what we believe about our suffering, and what we say to others about their suffering.

Two Hours before Mass

20 Aug

In every Mass we pray for three living human beings by name.

After calling forth a profession of faith from Simon Peter, Jesus said, “On this rock I will build my church.” He did not say, “On this rock you will build your church.” He said, “On this rock I will build my church.” It is the Lord’s church. He will build it. And He will protect it and preserve it.

In order to build, protect and preserve His church, Jesus entrusted to Peter, the chief apostle, and to his successors, the Popes, we believe, the keys to the kingdom, the power to loose and bind, and the authority to speak in matters of faith and morals.

It is the Lord’s church. He will take care of it.

Spiritual writers often mention a humble and humorous prayer that Pope John XXIII said when he was going to bed, no doubt feeling tired from the work of the day and overwhelmed by what remained to be done, “Well, Lord, it’s your church. You take care of it. I’m going to bed.”

With that same humility and trust, parents sending their children off to school, especially those sending their child off to college, pray a similar prayer, “Lord, I have taken care of your children that you have entrusted to me, trying my best to teach them by word, discipline and example. As I send them off, they will no longer be under my watchful eye, and will be out of the reach of my control, my influence and my protection. So, I give them back to you. They are your children. You take care of them.”

Oh, the three names, we mention at every Mass: Benedict, Dennis and Joseph. When we do that, we are reminding ourselves that we are a part of something bigger than us and our gathering, we are being grateful that the Lord is protecting and preserving His Church, and we are praying for our pope and our bishops who have a unique role and responsibility in the Lord’s church, of which we are a part. Perhaps our prayer for them, if nothing else, will help them sleep better.


Simon, You Rock!

19 Aug

The readings for Mass on Sunday, August 21, 2011 can be found here: 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Please help God help me. Read the Scriptures for this weekend. Suggest to me a thought from your mind, an emotion from your heart or an example from your life, so that I can speak to the people of St. Andrew something that might connect with their minds, hearts and lives. 

This is what I am thinking thus far …

As school begins for many students, we have Jesus quizzing the disciples. When he asks his question, Jesus finds out that some are saying that he is Jesus the Baptist or that he is Jesus the Prophet. Rightly, Peter says that he is Jesus the Christ. (BTW, Christ is not Jesus’ last name, like I am Rob Waller. He is Jesus the Christ, like me being Rob a Christian. He is the Christ. I am a Christian.) In saying that Jesus is the Christ, Peter got it right, well, almost. He knew that Jesus is the Christ, that is, Jesus is the Anointed One, Jesus is the Messiah, and for that answer the teacher gave him a star, “Simon, you rock!” Peter knew that Jesus was the Christ. He just didn’t know what it really meant. In next week’s Gospel, Peter says that it obviously means that Jesus will not have to suffer. Oops. He should have quit when he was rock. This week he gets a check mark for “participates well.” Next week he gets one for “needs improvement.” This week he is a rock. Next week, he is a stumbling block. Sounds like us, doesn’t it?

Now click on “comments” below, and tell me what stirs in you when read Isaiah, Psalms, Romans and Matthew.

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