Homily Series

 

What’s a homily series?  It’s one message that develops over the course of several weeks.  It’s an opportunity for each of us to dive deeper into scripture without having to join a separate study or group.  We hope it is something worth inviting a friend to, worth inviting your children, your neighbors, or your parents to.

Church is not primarily a building or an organization, it is not a set of rules to subscribe to or a denomination.   Church is most fundamentally the people of God.  We are the church, and we need to function as the church.  We need to be the church.  What are the building blocks to being a church?  To being who we were made to be?

April 24 -  Defining the Relationship - Fifth Sunday of Easter

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Fr. Drees Homily

Fr. Steve's Homily

Jesus Christ is the foundation of our church, without him, the entire building crumbles.  Nothing our church does, offers, or hopes for will ever make any sense without a real relationship with Jesus.  No program can replace him, no goal or objective has weight without him, no teaching is more important than him.  While many know Jesus by reputation alone, we have to know him personally in order to be a church.  

The following reflection questions were crafted after hearing the weekend's homilies. They can be used for personal reflection or Small Group discussion.

  1. What's the difference between knowing someone by reputation, knowing about someone, and knowing someone personally?
  2. What is the process by which we get to know someone personally? 
  3. Do you know Jesus by reputation, about Jesus, or do you know Jesus personally? Explain. 
  4. What are the characteristics of someone who knows Jesus personally? Do you know anyone like that?
  5. What is one thing you could change about your week that would help you get to know Jesus personally? 

During the homily, we were invited to get to know Jesus by reading the readings, particularly the gospel, from this coming Sunday's Mass. Click the link below to find the scriptures for Sunday, May 1. 

May 1 - Developing the Relationship - Sixth Sunday of Easter

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Fr. Steve's Homily

“Whoever loves me will keep my word.”  A relationship with Jesus cannot be a passive thing.  Real love always leads to action.  We have to continually move from knowing about Jesus, to knowing Jesus.  

The following reflection questions were crafted after hearing the weekend's homilies. They can be used for personal reflection or Small Group discussion.

  1. Who are you closest to? Who knows you best? How often do you speak with them?
  2. What are the characteristics of a close relationship?
  3. What are the characteristics of the divine friendship that Jesus wants to have with you?
  4. How do we grow in divine friendship with Jesus?

In the homilies, our priests encouraged us to seek out an encounter with Jesus every day this next week. Here are three ways to do this:

  1. 10 minutes of silence.
  2. ACTS Prayer - Adoration, prayers of praise to God. Confession, seeking forgiveness for sins. Thanksgiving, offering thanks to God. Supplication, ask God for our needs.
  3. Morning Offering - start each day with this simple prayer offering the day to the Lord. http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/prayers/morning-offering.cfm

May 8 - Announcing the Relationship  - The Ascension of the Lord

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Fr. Steve's Homily

“You are witnesses of these things.”  What good is a witness if they aren’t able to share all they’ve seen?  In St. Matthew’s account of the Ascension, Jesus says, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”  This is the mission of being church.  How can we best do this?

The following reflection questions were crafted after hearing the weekend's homilies. They can be used for personal reflection or Small Group discussion.

  1. Who is the first person you tell, when you have good news?
  2. How have you celebrated the important relationships or people in your life? Parents? Spouse? Children? Friends?
  3. Do you know what God has done for you? If so, how have you announced it?
  4. What is God's will for you? 
  5. If you knew God's will for you, how would you respond? Would you do it? Explain. 
  6. What kind of person does God call to share the good news, share their faith?
  7. What is one way you are going to announce your relationship with God this week? 

 

 

February 28 - Not a Tyrant

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Father Drees' Homily

Father Steve's Homily

God is both the landowner and gardener.  The God of justice AND mercy. We sometimes fall into the false trap of equating God with a Tyrant, who punishes our mistakes.  This gives us a skewed vision of God that sometimes ignores free-will.  On the other hand, there’s a temptation to view God’s abundant forgiveness as permission to do anything.  So how do we reconcile these two extremes?

Reflection Questions for Part I - Not a Tyrant
The following reflection questions were crafted after hearing the weekend's homilies. They can be used for personal reflection or Small Group discussion.

  1. Who do you trust the most in your daily life?
  2. Name 3 behaviors of someone who trusts God?
  3. Why is it hard to trust God?
  4. When in your life have you trusted God the most? The least?
  5. What do you trust God with? What don’t you trust God with?
  6. Are you more likely to think of God as a Tyrant/Judge or Push Over? Why is either of these ways to think about God dangerous to our faith?

 

March 6 - No Strings Attached

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Fr. Drees Homily

Fr. Steve's Homily

Sometimes, when a story is extremely familiar to us, like the story of the prodigal son, we fail to really listen to it upon hearing it for the one-hundredth time. There’s a lot more to this story than a son who runs away and is later forgiven.

  1. How do we know that God is merciful?
  2. What are the attributes of the Merciful Father from the parable we heard in the gospel?
  3. When in your life have you needed mercy like the younger son? When in your life have you needed mercy like the older son?
  4. How do you know you’ve received mercy? 

March 13 - Neither Do I

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Fr. Drees Homily

Fr. Steve's Homily

In Christ’s mercy, sin is optional.  We are not condemned to repeat the same sins over and over (as if we were in quicksand)… we are, however, made new over and over.

Reflection Questions for Part 3

The following reflection questions were crafted after hearing the weekend's homilies. They can be used for personal reflection or Small Group discussion.How does the woman caught in adultery react when shown mercy?

  1. Why is trust an essential piece of being able to receive mercy? 
  2. What does trusting God have to do with receiving mercy from God?
  3. How does the woman react when Jesus shows her mercy in the gospel?
  4. What do we do when someone in our family shows us mercy?
  5. What is the best response to being shown mercy?
  6. What does Jesus invite the woman to do after she's been shown mercy?

mer·cy: ˈmərsē

from lat. misericordia
“sorrowful of heart”

-to relieve the misery (obstacles to happiness) of another

Part I: Receive Mercy - December 6

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Fr. Drees' Homily

Fr. Steve's Homily

What is mercy and do I need it? This first week of “The Door to Mercy,” we’ll define mercy, along with the characteristics of mercy. We will also take a look at why we need the mercy of God in our lives. Often times we find ourselves in difficult situations we simply cannot overcome on our own. Sometimes we’ve even caused these difficult situations and may not deserve to be removed from them, yet the mercy of God is not concerned with what we deserve.

Reflection Questions for Part I - Recieve Mercy
The following reflection questions were crafted after hearing the weekend's homilies. They can be used for personal reflection or Small Group discussion.

  • Describe a time when you were shown mercy.
  • If mercy is the removal of misery, is it hard to seek mercy if we don’t think we have any misery in our lives? Explain. 
  • What are your obstacles to complete and perfect happiness?
  • What do you need mercy for? What areas of your life bring you misery?
  • What is one thing you can do this week to receive God’s mercy?
  • What sins do you need to remove so that God can enter more deeply into your life? What things do you need to clear way so that the path is ready for God to come?

Part II: Give Mercy - December 13

Father Steve's Homily

Click for this week's scripture

The mercy given to us by God is a model for how we must show mercy to others. Do we seek to relieve the obstacles to happiness of others irregardless of what they might deserve? Do we recognize those members of our community who simply cannot overcome their obstacles by themselves?

Reflection Questions for Part II - Give Mercy
The following reflection questions were crafted after hearing the weekend's homilies. They can be used for personal reflection or Small Group discussion.

  • What are the outcomes of God showing us mercy? What happens when we receive God's mercy?
  • Who are we called to show mercy towards?
  • What does it look like to offer mercy to someone else?
  • Who needs mercy in your day to day life?
  • What is one way you can show mercy to someone else this week?

Part III: Mercy Embodied - December 20

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Father Drees Homily

Father Steve's Homily

Mercy has to be more than a concept. It has to be real to us, applicable to everyday life. Mercy can’t simply be an idea that makes us feel warm and fuzzy. The way we know mercy, receive mercy, and show mercy can change our lives. It has to be real.

 
This series is about what we absolutely need to hold on to and what is worth letting go of that we might gain something better. It’s about the necessary risks of life and the rewards that are worth the risks.

Part I - The Cloak

October 25

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Fr. Drees' Homily

Fr. Steve's Homily

Today’s Gospel is the foundation of all three parts of “Safe and Secure.” Bartimaeus, a blind man, calls out to Jesus from his own darkness, and when he hears the voice of Jesus calling him, Bartimaeus throws aside his cloak to come to Jesus and receive his sight. The basis for this series is Bartimaeus’ cloak, his safety and security (also his likely source of income as a beggar), which he throws off in order gain something even better, his sight.

Reflection Questions for Part I - The Cloak
The following reflection questions were crafted after hearing the weekend's homilies. They can be used for personal reflection or Small Group discussion.

  1. What makes you feel safe? When do you feel safe?
  2. Who makes you feel safe? Why?
  3. Have you ever sacrificed something good for something great? Explain.
  4. Have you ever risked something with hope that something good will come of it? Explain.
  5. What is your highest value? What is most important to you in your life? 

 

Part II - Happiness

November 1 - Feast of All Saints

Click for this week's scripture

Safe & Secure Interview Nov 1 from Holy Name of Jesus on Vimeo.

Click to hear Fr. Steve's Homily

Click to hear Fr. Drees' Homily

What’s worth more than our safety and security? Happiness? Family? Holiness? Justice? Heaven? This week is the Feast of All Saints, we highlight the lives of those who sacrificed parts of their safety and security and reflect on what they gained in return.

Reflection Questions for Part II - Happiness
The following reflection questions were crafted after hearing the weekend's homilies. They can be used for personal reflection or Small Group discussion.

  • In whom do you find safety and security?
  • When have feelings of safety and security been shaken in your life?
  • When you have a moment of shaken security or safety how do you respond? Do you escape the feeling through busyness? Do you use some pleasure or entertainment to distract yourself? Do you turn to God? Explain.
  • How is the safety and security you find in a relationship with God different than earthly safety and security?
  • The Saints demonstrate that giving up earthly safety and security is an essential part of following Jesus. How does their example invite you to follow Jesus?
  • Do you have a personal relationship with God? Do you find safety and security in that relationship? Why or why not?

 

Part III - Given

Click for this week's scripture

[video - when available]

[audio - when available]

In today’s Gospel, a poor widow gives only a couple cents to the treasury, outdoing the generosity others who gave large sums. “She, from her poverty, has contributed all she had,
her whole livelihood”

This final week is a look at Intentional Christian Generosity, how is the poor widow in today’s Gospel a model for today’s Catholics? And how can we get practical about our generosity?

 

This first series centers around Jesus’ question “Who do you say that I am?”  We often hear phrases such as, “What gives God the right to…”, or “My God would never” which begs the question, do we really have a sayin who God is and what He does?  Over the course of this series, Jesus tells his disciples some things they just don’t want to hear, and Jesus responds to a number of questions with answers people don’t like.  Is ‘Who do you say that I am,” being changed to “Who do you want me to be?”

Part I - You are the Christ

September 13
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Listen to Father Drees' Homily

Listen to Father Steve's Homily

We often hear phrases such as, “What gives God the right to…”, or “My God would never” which begs the question, do we really have a say in who God is and what He does? Over the course of this series, Jesus tells his disciples some things they just don’t want to hear, and Jesus responds to a number of questions with answers people don’t like. Is ‘Who do you say that I am,” being changed to “Who do you want me to be?”

A few years ago, we ran across this Piers Morgan clip when working on a youth retreat.  While the topics of Pope Benedict’s retirement and AIDS in Africa had nothing to do with the retreat, the way Penn Jillette, author of Everyday is an Atheist Holiday, explains the logical conclusions of believing in an all-powerful God intrigued us.  Despite the fact that Jillette does not believe in the existence of God, his conclusions aresimilar to logic that guided St. Thomas Aquinas and others.  What do you think?  Do we have a say in who God is and what God does?

Reflection Questions for Part I
The following reflection questions were crafted after hearing the weekend's homilies. They can be used for personal reflection or Small Group discussion. 

  1. Have you ever heard someone say, "I can't believe in a God who…"?  What were the circumstances? What were they getting at by this statement?
  2. In the Gospel, Jesus asks his disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" How would you answer this question today? Why is that your answer?
  3. If your good friend said to you, "I can't believe in a God who would allow such pain and suffering in the world." How would you respond? What did you hear in the homily this weekend that would help you respond?
  4. In the Gospel, Peter had trouble accepting that Jesus would have to suffer on his and all humankind's behalf. What does it mean to accept Jesus' suffering on our behalf? Have you accepted Jesus' suffering for your redemption? Explain. How would accepting Jesus' gift of suffering on the cross change our daily lives?
  5. How do we discover what God is really like? What is 1 thing you can do this week to learn about who God is?

Part II - I don’t want to hear it

September 20
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Listen to Father Drees' Homily

Listen to Father Steve's Homily

Jesus tells his disciples that He is going to die. Isn’t this the last thing a friend would want to hear? The disciples don’t want to hear it, they don’t understand it, and they were afraid to question him. How often dowe ignore things we don’t want to hear?

Is it possible to always be on the same page with a God who is wiser than we are?

Reflection Questions for Part II
The following reflection questions were crafted after hearing the weekend's homilies. They can be used for personal reflection or Small Group discussion. 

    1. How does the world define greatness? How does God define greatness? What makes it hard to accept God's definition over the world's?
    2. The disciples "didn't understand," but were afraid to ask. Were they afraid of asking Jesus, or were they afraid of what his answer might be? Have you ever hesitated to ask God a question because you didn't want to hear the answer? Explain. 
    3. What is our reaction when God gives us an answer we don't want to hear or struggle to believe? What do we do when we don't agree with God? Explain. 
    4. How do we seek answers to our questions about life, faith, and God? Name 1 thing you will do this week to seek an answer to one of your big questions. (Scripture, Catechism, ask our Priests/HNOJ staff.)
    5. What is the benefit of listening to God? Why is it good for us to ask him our questions, accept his answers, and live like his children? 
    6. If God's greatness is choosing humility and putting others first, what would it look like if you sought God's definition of greatness this week? Make a plan to do 1 "great" thing this week for someone else.

    Part III - Why this matters

    September 27
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    Listen to Father Drees' Homily

    Listen to Father Steve's Homily

    What happens when we fail to answer Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” Many people embrace Jesus as God, others completely reject Him, but quite a few of us don’t answer the question at all. Why do we have to answer this question? And do we have to do it now? How does my answer to “Who do you say that I am?” change how my spouse, children, and others respond to Jesus.

    Reflection Questions for Part III
    The following reflection questions were crafted after hearing the weekend's homilies. They can be used for personal reflection or Small Group discussion.

    1. Am I building the Church like St. Francis? How often do I speak to others about my faith?
    2. Am I willing to go outside of my comfort zone, if it were to help someone else know Jesus Christ? Explain.
    3. Why is sin “scandalous” by the Biblical definition of scandal? Why do you think Jesus so strongly speaks about sin and scandal in the gospel this week?
    4. Who, in my life, is a stepping-stone to following Jesus? Who is sometimes a stumbling block to following Jesus for me?
    5. What “stumbling block behavior” could I remove from my life so that I could follow Jesus more completely? What is one thing I could do this week to cut it out?
    6. When am I a stumbling block for others in following Jesus? When do I help others follow Jesus? 

    Part IV - Not getting the answer I want (1/2)

    October 4
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    Listen to Father Drees' Homily

    What is Jesus trying to get at when He talks about marriage? Does He even understand the struggle and pain of going through a divorce? Does Jesus consider the implications His answers have on real people?

    This week Jesus is asked about divorce and remarriage. The Pharisees are trying to entrap Jesus, to turn the crowds against Him. How do we answer, “Who do you say that I am?” when it comes to tough issues? How do we follow a God whose answers sometimes feel disconnected from modern life?

    Reflection Questions for Part IV
    The following reflection questions were crafted after hearing the weekend's homilies. They can be used for personal reflection or Small Group discussion.

    1. What are the "Three A's" that Fr. Drees preached about God? What do they have to do with our lives? (Didn't hear Fr. Drees preach? Listen by clicking link to a recording of his homily found above.)
    2. Can you give an example of someone who followed God even though it was difficult or looked down upon by the world? 
    3. Do you believe that God always has your best interests at heart? How does your answer influence how you respond to Jesus' teachings?
    4. How can an adult have childlike faith? Practically, what does childlike faith look like for you?
    5. Do you feel like God is author of your life and your most significant relationships? Is God your primary advisor when it comes to making major life/relationship decisions? 
    6. What does family and marriage have to do with discipleship? How do families help make disciples of Jesus Christ?
     

    Part V - Not getting the answer I want (2/2)

    October 11
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    Listen to Father Drees' Homily

    Listen to Father Steve's Homily

    This series wraps up with a final decision. If our answer to “Who do you say that I am?” is You are the Christ, the Holy One of God it will require our lives to revolve around a relationship with Jesus. We can no longer ‘fit God in’ to the empty parts of our schedule. God will have to set the schedule. In today’s Gospel Jesus’ answer to “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” is more than the young man is willing to give.

    Reflection Questions for Part V
    The following reflection questions were crafted after hearing the weekend's homilies. They can be used for personal reflection or Small Group discussion.

    1. What (who) is perfect Christian Wisdom? How do we seek wisdom as Catholic Christians?
    2. Why does Jesus invite us to follow him?
    3. In the gospel, the man goes away sad because he desires his possessions more than following Jesus. What is the hardest thing for you to let go of in order to follow Jesus? Why?
    4. Does God need worship? If not, why does he ask us to do it?
    5. What is the purpose of worship for us at HNOJ?

    Here at the end of this homily series we are faced with these questions:

    1. Do I want to follow Jesus Christ more closely than I do right now?
    2. What is holding us back?
    3. What has the greatest gravitational pull on my heart?
    4. How do I live a life where God is our most important thing?
    5. This series was named "God: Who does he think he is?" But the real question is "God: Who do I think he is?"