Recent Homilies and Reflections

March 18, 2018 Dead Man Walking Homily: In many of our nation’s maximum security prisons there are inmates currently on death row and awaiting execution. In times past, they each were derisively referred to as a “dead man walking”. As the condemned man walks from his prison cell to a place of execution, the guards would alert the other inmates that a ‘dead man walking’ is on his final journey in his mortal life. All appeals for a pardon have been exhausted. The judge shows no mercy. Not surprisingly, civil rights activists took offense at the condescending phrase, and demanded that it never be uttered again.

The 12th chapter of John’s gospel marks a decisive turning point in the life of Christ. His public ministry is at an end. He must now face death. One could say that he is a “dead man walking”, an innocent man who will be unjustly condemned to death.

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified”, declares Jesus. (Jn. 12:23) Our Blessed Lord speaks of his “hour” from the very beginning of the gospel. Recall the words of Jesus at the wedding feast of Cana, “My hour has not yet come”. (Jn. 2:4) On the night before his death, Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, thy hour has come”. (Jn.17:1) The Evangelist present the “hour” as the high point of his life. It is the mystery of his glorification and his obedience to his Father’s will. On the cross, Jesus will draw all men to Himself. (Jn.12:32) Unlike the other gospel portraits, the cross in not an instrument of grotesque suffering; it is the throne of a king. On the day of his death, Jesus is enthroned. He reigns from the cross as a king. By his saving death comes new life. “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat, but if it dies it produces much fruit”. (Jn.12:24)

One can certainly appreciate why the Church honors the holy martyrs on their respective feast days. They are recalled, not so much for the way they lived their Christian life, but the circumstances surrounding their deaths. An early Church Father, Tertullian, was undoubtedly prescient in writing the words, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church”. The twentieth century saw more Christians surrender their life in death than any other previous century in the history of the church.

In the film, “Dead Man Walking”, a religious sister befriends a convicted criminal on death row. He had raped and murdered a young woman. Initially, he showed no remorse for his evil deed. The sister wanted the condemned man to acknowledge the gravity of his crime and to beg forgiveness from the woman’s grieving and angry father. As the movie reaches a stunning climax, the condemned man acknowledges his guilt and begs forgiveness from the father, who had, heretofore, rejected any show of mercy. He suddenly undergoes a startling transformation. He prays for the condemned man about to be executed for a capital offense.

As Jesus had extended his mercy from the cross, so too does a grieving father who unexpectedly lost his precious daughter. Only by death comes new life!



March 11, 2018 Lifting Up Homily: One of the most recognizable symbols of the medical profession is the image of a serpent wrapped around a staff or pole. This tradition dates back to the time of Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, who, in turn, was inspired by the Greek mythology of his time. It should be noted that in ancient Greece the serpent was a sign of healing. For us who live in the twenty-first century, it may strike us as odd. Perhaps we are reminded in the well known story of the serpent tempting Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

In the biblical Torah, there is a reference to a serpent in the Book of Numbers that is mounted on a pole. When anyone gazed upon the bronze serpent after offending the Lord he recovered his health.

On no fewer than three occasions in John’s gospel is there a reference to the death of Jesus as a “lifting up”. In a more literal sense, it means Jesus being physically lifted up from the ground on the cross; on a much deeper level of meaning, it points to Jesus’ enthronement. He is lifted up on the cross, where he is the source of saving life for those who believe in Him. We read in today’s gospel, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life”. (Jn.3:14) The image of the Divine physician extending his power of healing from the cross is powerful indeed.

In his reflections on this gospel reading, the retired Pontiff, Benedict XVI writes, “So far, then, as it lies with the physician he has come to heal the sick. He, who does not observe the orders of the physician, destroys himself”. In order to be saved, that is to say, to have one’s health restored, one must first acknowledge his sickness.

One could say that the so-called “good thief” who died alongside Jesus on the cross was the first to experience the saving power of Christ. He gazed intently upon the crucified Christ, expressed in his dying words his belief in Him as his personal savior and, as a reward, is promised Paradise.

To have life, we must raise our eyes to the crucified Christ. In John’s gospel, the crucifixion is not a stumbling block for believers. It is God’s Eternal Word giving himself in love for the world.

A rather disturbing trend has arisen in recent years concerning the removal of crucifixes in public places. Recently, officials of the Belgian Red Cross ordered their employees to remove all crucifixes from their offices. The employees were curtly informed that the Red Cross is now a secular organization. Too many would find the image of Christ on the cross as offensive in our modern world.

At the Catholic University of America, Muslim students filed a lawsuit demanding that the crucifix be removed from all classrooms. They argued that the presence of the crucifix impeded them in their desire to pray.

Georgetown University, a Jesuit University in our nation’s capital, removed crucifixes from their offices and classrooms years ago in order to show their sensitivity to those who are not of the faith.

How sad!

The lifting up of Jesus is a sign that challenges all his followers to imitate the love that is clearly on display in his total self-giving for the sake of others.

In Protestant, Evangelical circles, there is a popular hymn that speaks simply, though eloquently, of the mystery of Christ being lifted up on the cross. The title is “Love Lifted Me”. The words are worth noting.

“I was sinking deep in sin

far from a peaceful shore.

Very deeply stained within

Sinking to rise no more

But the Master of the sea

heard my despairing cry.

From the waves lifted me,

Now safe am I.

Love lifted me, Love lifted me

When nothing else could help

Love lifted me.”



March 4, 2018 Cleansing The Temple Homily: Until recently, while driving north on route 787, I could always count on seeing an impressive and inspiring sight: a lovely church steeple off in the distance, on the Western side of the roadway. And then one day it simply vanished. Much to the chagrin of the native people one of the landmarks of the city of Watervliet, St. Patrick’s Church, had been demolished. I was deeply saddened. But my sadness was a mere trifle in comparison to the grief experienced by the longstanding members of the parish, who were in mourning at the loss of their church which had been constructed over one hundred years earlier. In its place is now a shopping center. Yes, a shopping center!

In Germany’s largest diocese, Trier, the number of parishes will be drastically reduced by eighty percent in the next two years. The numbers are telling: from 172 parishes to only 35 in 2020. The massive decline of church membership is often cited as the main reason for the unprecedented pastoral plan.

In many parts of Western Europe once magnificent churches have been sold and later converted into art studios, restaurants, bars and discotheques. Huge shopping centers are now replacing churches and temples where people gather together.

From the standpoint of faith, this is an ominous trend that shows no sign of letting up. Does faith matter anymore?

In today’s gospel, we are given John’s account of the cleansing of the temple. For the Jews, the Temple, one of the architectural marvels of the ancient world, is the sign of the presence of God. It is in the Temple that God instructs his people and receives their worship. Surely, it is not without significance that the first place Jesus visits when he goes to the holy city of Jerusalem is the Temple, the house of his Father. In John’s account Jesus is in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, a solemn feast commemorating the liberation of the Jews from their long bondage in Egypt. The destruction of the Temple in the year seventy of the Christian era was a devastating blow to the Jewish people .Even today, a two thousand year old tradition is observed at a Jewish wedding. The groom breaks glass under his foot to commemorate one of the most tragic events in the history of the Jews.

What does Our Lord find upon entering the court of the Gentiles in the Temple? People selling cattle, sheep and doves. His Father’s House has been converted into a place of commerce. Animals for sacrifice were sold at unjust prices and the poor were exploited for selfish gain. Making an idol of money in the sacred place infuriated Jesus. Zeal for His Father’s house consumed Him. And his righteous zeal will eventually consume him to the point that it will lead him to the cross.

Jesus boldly speaks of his body as a Temple because God is present in Him. So, too, are members of his Church. We are God’s building, declares St. Paul. We are called to be the dwelling place of God Himself. At a time when churches are closing and fewer people are engaged in worship, it is all the more important that we reflect in our own lives the invisible presence of the Christ who lives.

The French Canadian writer, Jean Vanier, tells the remarkable story of Etty Hillsaum, a young Jewish woman who was gassed by the Nazis in Auschwitz. This extraordinary woman of faith had a deep sense of the value of each person as the ’house’ of God. She has left behind a beautiful letter that she wrote to the Lord.

“And I promise you, my God, that I shall try to find a home and a roof for you in as many houses as possible. There are so many empty houses, where I will bring you in as a guest of honor”

In Hasidic Jewish folklore, a question is asked. “Where does God reside? The answer, “Where he is invited to enter”. Such wisdom must not be ignored in our secular culture. God seeks a home. May he find one in our churches and in the life of the baptized who proudly proclaim Him as Lord and Savior!



Homily Archive Page


Comments are closed.

Follow Us!

Follow Us! Follow Us!


Albany Catholic Digital Library

Catholic Answers

Catholics Come Home

Catholic Exchange


Patriotic Rosary

Join us for the Patriotic Rosary every Thursday evening at 6pm in the Rectory.

Daily Scripture Readings

US Conference of Catholic Bishops Daily Scripture Readings Daily readings, audio files and reflections on scripture as well as other resources to broaden and deepen your faith!

The Evangelist On-line

The EvangelistWeekly reflections on faith, Catholicism and following Jesus!

Bishop Scharfenberger's Column


The Catholic Community of Sacred Heart welcomes all people to join in our celebration of Gods love. Through prayer, education, and caring for others, we strive to serve the needs of Gods people, thereby gaining a richer understanding of the gospel message.

Mass Schedule

Saturday Vigil 4:00 pm Sunday 8:30 am & 10:30 am Weekday 9:00am


Saturday: 3:00pm or by appointment (Call 274-1363)


Please call the Rectory (274-1363) weekdays for information and scheduled dates.


Please call the Rectory (274-1363) weekdays for an appointment at least six months in advance of wedding.

Hospital Visits

If you, or a loved one is admitted to the hospital, it is important that you identify yourself to the hospital as a member of Sacred Heart Parish or contact the Rectory (274-1363) to inform us of your hospitalization.

Recent Posts