I recently wrote out my first Sermon Series called Public Faith for my parish. This is what the homilies were supposed to be about as they tracked nicely with the Easter Season readings of The Acts of the Apostles at that time. And yes, I stole many ideas from Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.
Sermon Series //Public Faith
April 24: Crucial Faith
For these 3 weeks till Pentecost we will be asking one question at all of the Masses every Sunday: Are you willing to pass beyond mere attendance and have a Public Faith?
This is the first part of our four part series to open up what Public Faith is and why it can change your life, your relationships and our city. The first stage is Crucial Faith, where putting faith in Christ Jesus changes your life, and goes beyond mere attendance.
1- God has no grandchildren: He will be your Father or He is nothing to you. A crucial faith means that you know that God is real and that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for you. His death was to liberate you from your sin, not to make it OK for you to sin. It means career, success, beauty, power, pleasure, wealth, even marriage and children are all after your relationship with God through Christ Jesus.
2- This means that the Christian life is not earned but is received. You cannot purchase Heaven with good works. It’s too high a gift! It was purchased at the price of God’s death and resurrection. How could we earn that? So that means we need to put aside the slave’s mentality of avoiding punishments and the mercenary’s mentality of trying to earn our way into Heaven. We need to embrace our sonship or daughterhood in Christ. Jesus Christ took your sin, your mess, and made it his own so that his life, his Spirit, could become yours. It is the marvelous exchange that is given only through living Faith.
3- Faith is real and can be living or dead. A dead faith is one that keeps God on Sundays, confined to the Church grounds. A dead faith is one that puts personal comfort over the needs of one’s neighbors. A Living Faith is one that is personally connected to God. It loves Jesus Christ with one’s whole heart and follows him. A living faith is nourished on Sundays, but is lived every other day of the week. A Living Faith is the only faith that saves. Christ wants more than believers, he wants followers, people who are intentionally his disciples and are not afraid to show their faith publicly.
We encourage every parishioner to log on to our parish’s website and view our PUBLICFAITH page for additional resources, videos, talks, and Discussion questions for your friends, spouse, children or Community Group.
Sermon Series //Public Faith
May 01: Vital Faith
For these 2 weeks till Pentecost we will be asking one question at all of the Masses every Sunday: Are you willing to pass beyond mere attendance and have a Public Faith?
This is the second part of our four part series to open up what Public Faith is and why it can change your life, your relationships and our city. The first stage is Crucial Faith, where putting faith in Christ Jesus changes your life, going beyond attendance. The second stage is Vital Faith, where the grace of Christ reaches out to your most important relationships, giving you passion, purpose and a Public Home, called the Church.
1. That vital relationship with Christ changes and improves all other relationships. Why? Because you are no longer self-centered, but Christ-centered, and Christ wants each one of them to know His saving mercy. If you had the cure to cancer, would you hide it and tell no one or would you share it? Yet you have the cure to despair, to darkness, to sin, and we keep that private! Atheists have frequently commented that their Catholic friends must hate them if they never try to convince them that God is real. Atheists see our lack of Public Faith as a lack of love for them and of passion for the Gospel. To them, it means we really don’t believe.
2. View your life in categories of relationships: Hobbies and associations, family, friends, neighbors, and work/school. These relationships helped to define us and give us purpose and meaning in life, but they are not enough to give Ultimate Purpose. A vital faith wants those relations to encounter Christ, but not in a fake or aggressive way. Remember, the Gospel kills arrogance and pride, but should also kill fear and intimidation. Start praying for these most important relationships. Engage with them in Christ-like humility. Put others first by serving them. This Vital Faith will give those same relationships purpose by connecting them to eternal life in God.
3. The Church is the home of your Public Faith. Jesus Christ did not start something vague called Christianity, but something Public and Visible called the Church. He founded it on St. Peter and the Apostles as the 12 foundation stones of the Church. It is a Public Institution, though sometimes we may wish it weren’t, not a me-and-Jesus private affair. A private faith is a Spiritless faith. It is a Churchless faith, even though you might be in the building. The very picture of Christianity without the Spirit, a private Christianity kept behind locked doors, would be the Apostles in the Upper Room before Pentecost. They didn’t have a living faith, but a dead one. They were consumed by fear of the Public’s rejection of their association to the Crucified Christ. But after Pentecost, they went from fearful to fierce, from private to Public.
This series is meant to prepare you for Pentecost, when the Church herself went Public. This Public Faith is crucial for your own life, vital to the relationships that matter most, and radiates outward through love and service to the neighborhoods, schools and workplaces of this City. Please head to our PUBLIC FAITH webpage to read the Scripture Reflection for next week, watch video and hear audio resources on what this looks like, and find additional information for discussion and study.
Sermon Series //Public Faith
May 08: Outward Faith
For this last week till Pentecost we will be asking one question at all of the Masses every Sunday: Are you willing to pass beyond mere attendance and have a Public Faith?
This is the third part of our four part series to open up what Public Faith is and why it can change your life, your relationships and our city. We talked about how Crucial this living faith is to our own life, how Vital his grace is to our most important relationships, and now we examine the Outward look of true faith in Christ.
1. Disciples must be public witnesses to the Risen Christ by the Power of the Holy Spirit. All of the readings so far are preparing us for Pentecost, for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Right before his Ascension he declares our mission, regardless of whether or not we are clergy or laity: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses… to the ends of the Earth.” The Pentecost moment changed everything for them, for it gave them the ability to overcome their fear of being Public Witnesses for Christ. So too, this same Spirit can overcome all of your fears, doubts, worries and anxieties to become his witnesses to the ends of the Earth.
2. The Ascension of Christ is the feast day of his Lordship over all Creation. “God mounts his throne to shouts of joy; a blare of trumpets for the Lord.” This gives us the commission to spread our faith to all the nations. We need to plant a Church on every country’s soil and every person’s heart. We need to bring our personal sins to the Lord, but also work to uproot cultural and structural sins and instruments of oppression in the world. Christ is King and He wants a Kingdom filled with people who hunger and thirst for justice and who are peacemakers. Jesus mounts his divine throne, empowering us through his Holy Spirit to transform our streets, schools, neighborhoods, culture and city to bring justice to the powerless, and give a voice to the voiceless, making the world more fraternal.
3. The work of the Gospel is the saving of souls AND the works of peace and justice. This American political division between the Left and the Right destroys the Gospel’s power to bring about a just society. We can often get squeamish about Social Justice because it interferes with our American political ideologies. Yet those labels of “Left” and “Right” are only 200 years old, which the Gospel is 2,000 years old. So why are we letting our modern politicking redefine our Catholic faith? God loves the poor and your salvation hinges on your love of the poor. “What you did not do for the least of my brothers, you did not do for me.” Our Public Faith is outward facing because Jesus is the Lord of all. Our mission is to break down the dividing walls of hostility and bring reconciliation. That’s what Jesus did! Doing works of Justice, serving the poor and oppressed, presents the Bride of Christ in an attractive way to those who have no faith. This outward faith extends the Church’s credibility and overcomes their hesitancy or hostility to the Gospel.
Next week will conclude our Sermon Series on Public Faith on the Feast of Pentecost. We will be doing something powerful that we want to invite you to attend, called The Vigil. On the eve of Pentecost, Saturday, May 14, we will gather after the 5PM Mass for one purpose only: to beg Christ for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon our parish and city. The Feast of the Ascension declares Christ’s glory, Pentecost spreads that glory to all the nations. If you are hesitant about having a Public Faith, come and pray with us. As always, check the website out for Prayers, Discussion Questions, Study Guides, Homilies, Talks and Videos about growing in your Public Faith.
Sermon Series //Public Faith
May 15: Manifest Faith
Here at Pentecost we will call upon the Holy Spirit to awaken stir up into flame all those who are willing to pass beyond mere attendance and have a Public Faith!
This final part of our series looks at the most important part of Public Faith: the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to those who believe. A Public Faith is one that is crucial to the individual, vital to his/her relationships, and outward facing bring his Lordship, justice and peace into the world.
1. The Holy Spirit’s gifts are only manifested in a person with living faith. Not having a living faith in Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord, means that the gifts, charisms and virtues given to you by virtue of your baptism are doing nothing. Your faith has atrophied, which is why we need the Spirit to renew our hearts and lives! A living faith fully declares Jesus is Lord and that you give him absolute control of your life by your total adherence to Jesus. Your primary identity isn’t dad, employee, spouse, athlete, student, whatever. Your primary identity is as a disciple of Jesus Christ. The Spirit moves in the hearts of the faithful!
2. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are poured out for the sake of advancing the Kingdom. These “Different kinds of spiritual gifts”- things like healing, patience, prophecy, speaking in tongues, service, administration, leadership, intercessory prayer, evangelization, discernment of spirits, are all given to build up the Body of Christ. “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” You have these gifts, but for many of you, they lie dormant and do no one any good. They’re dead because they’re private. A Public Faith is motivated to manifest these spiritual gifts in order to spread the Kingdom.
3. The Church suffers when her members don’t use their gifts. These charism and graces are special gifts for the upbuilding of the Church, but when we let fear and pride prevent our faith from going Public, we render our actions unable to be blessed. Only when we step out in bold faith, do we start seeing the movement of God in big ways. Following Christ through a personal, total, and lifelong commitment unleashes God’s blessings in our lives and in the community. This is where we get to ask the Spirit: “What do you want for me? What do you want for my marriage, my parish, my friendships, my finances, my work? How can I join my life to Your mission?!” This is where the Christian faith gets extremely exciting and life-giving. This is how the Sacraments come alive. But your faith must be living, must be real, and must be Public for the Spirit to work in and through you.
This is the day the Catholic Church went public. This is the Feast of the birthday of the Church, when the Apostles were no longer consumed by fear and instead preached the Gospel in the demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit. Their Public Faith made it possible for you to have faith today. These Apostles gave their very lives in the most public and complete witness of all. The very word martyr means witness. The invitation remains for you now. Will you, at this Mass, surrender your life to Christ and let his Holy Spirit into your hearts? Will you ask the Holy Spirit to stir up the gift of faith within you, given to you by Baptism, and lead to give glory to the Risen Lord?
If you have never done this, we would like for you to stand up and pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to fall upon you right now. We’re going to spend about two minutes in prayer for you. For those who have done this before, we are going to ask you to start interceding for them now. Just pray, “Come, Holy Spirit” to yourself while we pray a prayer of blessing upon you now.