The First Sunday in Advent November 30, 2014

The great Temple of Jerusalem is in ruins. The Babylonians wiped Jerusalem off the face of the earth and had taken most Israelites into slavery. Then the Persians did the same thing to the Babylonians permitting the Israelites to return to their homeland. Many did not, because the first ones to return sent word back that it was better to stay where they were than face the destruction and misery in the homeland. Here is the dilemma faced by the prophet whose words open this Advent Season and our new year of grace, praise, and thanksgiving. How is it possible to convince an entire generation to spend their lives rebuilding a new city and Temple? Most of the captives felt their lives were just fine the way they were. … more »

Solemnity of Christ the King November 23, 2014

 Ezekiel 34, 11-12  15-17 + Psalm 23 + 1 Corinthians 15, 20-26, 28 + Matthew 25, 31-46

 With the approach of this feast, I found myself humming a melody that is not found in any of the hymn books we use around the country, and it is not likely to find its way there any time soon. The closer time came to putting down some thoughts about this annual celebration of Christ the King the more dominant that song became in my mind. I am sure you all know what it is like to have some tune running in the background of your mind for hours or days at a time. That is what has been going on with me. The song comes from “The Lion King”, a classic tale that portrays themes of honor, loyalty, bravery, and most of all, love. … more »

The Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time November 16, 2014

Proverbs 31, 1-13. 19-20. 30-31 + Psalm 128 + 1 Thessalonians 5, 1-6 + Matthew 25, 14-30

The parable we have today comes in Matthew’s Gospel just before the beginning of the Passion. It is spoken to and directed to us, disciples of Jesus. For the leaders of the people, the Scribes and Pharisees, time is up. The focus for Jesus now is upon his own. This parable as we have it suffers from cultural and language conflicts. Just picking up these verses of Chapter 25 and hearing the words we have in English never begins to adequately set the scene.

The unfortunate use of the word “talent” sets us up for a shallow reading which results in a less than surprising and emphatic response. … more »

Fr John Vrana Funeral Homily November 2014

 

2 Kings 2, 1-16 + Ephesians 6: 10-25 + Luke 3, 1-6, 1-15

“Do not forget that the value and interest of life is not so much to do conspicuous things as to do ordinary things with the perception of their enormous value.Teildard Chardin

This simple idea and this profound wisdom guided much of John Vrana’s life as a child of God and as a priest. Those two identities were never opposed nor separate in John’s life. He was always a child of God. The curiosity, the interest, the delight, and the mischief of a child was always there. Never childish but always child like, John found interest and excitement in anything new and the simplest of things and ideas. … more »

The Dedication of St. John Lateran November 9, 2014

Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9, 12 + 1 Corinthians 3:9c-11, 16-17 + John 2:13-22

 There is no doubt in my mind that there are many who prefer to think that this day on the calendar of the church is all about an ancient basilica in Rome. While I have been there several times and would quickly name it as my favorite among the great Roman basilicas, the feast of November 9 on the Roman Church calendar asks more of me than memories and images of a big church building. It is a grand place that still has a 4th century baptistery I delight in seeing every time I can. There are precious relics of Peter and Paul above the great altar, and there is a simplicity that ignites the imagination of anyone who steps into that enormous space knowing that it holds the chair for the Diocese of Rome and was the scene of many significant councils in our history. … more »

The Solemnity of All Souls November 2, 2014

Wisdom 3, 1-9 + Psalm 42 + Romans 5, 5-11 + John 6, 37-40

Autumn comes now. The crops are in. Here in Oklahoma, the seed for the next harvest is in the ground. The days are short, and the nights are long and chilled. The breeze no longer refreshes as in the summer, and it will soon become the sharp cold winter wind we know too well. Halloween has come and gone. The laughter of the children and their delight in costumes and candy is stilled, and the temptation for all of us is to look back on picnics, the pool, vacations, and long lazy sunsets is strong. Saying good bye to all of that which we have enjoyed is not something we relish, but it is something we do. … more »