The Top 10 Homilies of 2014
Last year's podcast "album" was called Search Party. It was meant to focus our attention on the lost sheep who had wandered away from God. The album artwork showed four sheep and one was straying. Each homily had a little featured image that was a sheep on a colored background that matched the liturgical color of Mass. I'll probably never again give that much attention to podcast artwork! As I reflected back on the past year I felt that a few homilies stood out above the rest. Without further ado, here are what I consider to be the best of 2014.
The Crooked Yardstick continues to be a challenge in my life and I also continue to struggle with the nightly examen. I could listen to this homily every month and still get something out of it.
This is a great homily for the Advent season, as we often forget to give something to Jesus. He wants nothing more than our hearts, but too often we give our hearts to all kinds of busyness and forget God and His people. We can never tire of putting in the work to be welcoming, especially when it means welcoming Our Savior.
This was a great idea but the homily should have been shorter and more direct. It's another message that I need to hear every month. Trying to live a full life without being burdened by it has been a constant challenge for me and a frequent theme in homilies.
This homily changed my view of funerals and caskets. I wish everyone could see the world as a collapsing mine and realize all the Saints and Angels working to prepare us to be brought out into the light at the end of the tunnel.
This was the most downloaded homily of 2014 with 224 downloads. Unfortunately, it's hard to remember the three pieces of advice after you've heard the homily: Let Him Lead, Lift with the Lord, and Labor with Love. In retrospect, I used a lot of extra examples here beyond what I really needed to make the point.
This homily wasn't recorded live because I didn't actually give a homily that weekend. I thought this homily up while on a youth retreat, and delivered it in front of a microphone on Monday. This was the second most downloaded homily at 128 downloads. I think the question is essential to our journey of faith. So many fail to accept Christ as their "one-and-only" and are really still "dating", having never made a real commitment to one particular God.
I find such comfort in the idea that we can look and listen for God's presence all the time, especially in the midst of life's storms. The little illustration I throw in here about the eye color was used against me. The very next week after I gave this homily, someone asked me about a friend: "Father, how long have you known so-and-so?" "I don't know, 6 or 7 years, I said." "OK, What color are his eyes?" I couldn't remember. I felt embarrassed, but then incredibly proud -- they were listening! Sometimes I am the one who needs to hear the message the most. I have tried to live this idea and it has totally changed my relationship with people.
Personally, I think Roger Goodell (the NFL Commissioner) made a big mistake by making himself the final disciplinarian of the NFL; a three-judge panel would have been a better choice. But it makes for a stellar illustration of our moral teachings. People always resist the idea that Jesus might expect something out of us. He expects much because he loves much, and he knows what we are truly capable of. Society has lost a sense of the gracious manners that are necessary to speak the truth in love.
I think this was one of the best homilies I have ever given. It was one where I barely had time to prepare but God dropped into my lap experiences that fit perfectly with the Gospel message. Like other homilies this year, say too much and cloud the central point: we all need a Savior, and prostitutes, prisoners and arsonists admit this more readily than priests and "good people." This was also one of the least downloaded homilies all year; Proof that "most popular" doesn't mean the best. Maybe it needed a catchier title?
If you were counting that makes 9 homilies. What do you think should be #10? Good preaching is about changing minds and hearts; you should be different after you hear a good homily. Many of the homilies I chose for this list are ones that impacted me most deeply. Have you been touched or changed by listening each week? Add a comment here or use my Contact Form and I'll include your feedback in this post. Thanks for listening.
There were 12 homilies in 2014 with 100+ downloads: