Fr. Michael Byron's Homily Blog


MIRACLES ABOUND

October 13, 2019
Three times in the past two days I have been to visit the homes of parishioners of ours who are dying from cancer. Two of them are younger than I am. And three times I have witnessed a miracle at their home—a miracle that I—and I’m sure many of you—hav...

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WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?

October 06, 2019
I have a few neurotic habits in my life, and one of them is called Sudoku. As many on our parish staff will attest, no work day in my office can begin before the daily Sudoku puzzle in the newspaper has been vanquished. And like the crossword puzzles, to which I also attend e...

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EVERY NAME, EVERY STORY

September 29, 2019
Here is the story of Mateo, at least as I briefly got to know him. Mateo is a Roman Catholic deacon, catechist, father of several children, and the de facto leader of a very remote Christian community in the high mountains of extreme southern Mexico, in the state of Chiapas. ...

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WHO WILL BE OUR JUDGE

September 22, 2019
It is they who appear to be last and least in this world who are going to save the rest of us from ourselves. That’s the gospel, as it has always and ever been, but we still work very, very hard to understand it—and to believe it. In the end, it will be the poor w...

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THE GOD EVER SEEKING

September 15, 2019
So I lost my checkbook about four months ago. This was fairly alarming, because there’s a lot of damage that could be done by a criminal who has access to my name, address, and bank account number. I looked in all of the usual places and found nothing. After a few da...

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I AM NOT IN CONTROL—AT LEAST NOT ALWAYS

September 08, 2019
When I am moving around in a car, I am almost always alone—and I am almost always the one who is driving.  I notice that because of the few times when that isn’t the case.  I become aware that I am often very uncomfortable being a passenger in someone el...

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CONSIDER THE FURNITURE

September 01, 2019
The arrangement of the furniture in a room can be a powerful silent statement about who is more important and who is less—at least in their own imagination.  When I was a newly-ordained priest I was serving in a parish not far from here.  We had a permanent dea...

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LET JESUS SURPRISE US

August 18, 2019
Many years ago an author named Stephen Prothero wrote a book titled, American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon. Prothero is a professor of religion at Boston University, and the book is alternately scholarly, whimsical, and even funny. It attempts to render a h...

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IT’S UP TO US

August 11, 2019
One of the great rewards of travel to foreign lands is that it teaches you so much about what people assume in various human behaviors.  I can think of at least three examples immediately. Many years ago I was on a vacation trip to Scotland, and I and my companion had ...

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WE ARE NOT IN CONTROL

August 04, 2019
One summer when I was in the seminary I lived at a parish in NE Minneapolis with a pastor who was in charge of the Worship Office of the Archdiocese.  Among other things his job meant that he was responsible for organizing and executing funeral Masses when priests died.&n...

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LOVE IS IN THE ORDINARY

July 21, 2019
This past week I attended an excellent performance of the Bob Fosse Musical titled “Pippin” at a local theater.  I enjoy that show mostly for the music, but the story line has something important to communicate also.  The title character, Pippin, is a y...

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IT'S ALL ABOUT MERCY

July 14, 2019
Knowing the right answer is not the same as doing the right thing.  One has to do with theoretical learning.  The other has to do with actual human beings.  And throughout the history of religion—our own as well as others—we have failed miserably to get...

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TRUSTING LIKE THE FARMER

July 07, 2019
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve had to make a few round trips to Rochester, MN for meetings.  If you know that stretch of Hwy 52 then you are aware of how much verdant farmland there is along the way.  What was so striking this year though is how far behind...

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BE TRUE TO THE ONE TASK

June 30, 2019
I’m sure that the word “multi-task” did not exist 50 years ago in common speech.  For a whole lot of reasons, “multi-tasking” was simply not possible for most people before that.  (I guess the big exception to that would be parenting).&n...

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REVERENCE FOR THE BODY OF CHRIST

June 23, 2019
I’m sure that many of you saw the headline on the front page of yesterday’s Star Tribune, titled, “Migrant Children living in filth at overcrowded facility.”  I’m sorry to bring such depressing and unvarnished news this morning, but here’s...

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GOD WANTS TO PLAY WITH ME

June 16, 2019
I believe in my great grandmother, Martha Burns Byron.  I have visited her grave on several occasions at St. Mary’s Cemetery in south Minneapolis, where she’s been for 80 or 90 years now.  I believe in her as a kind of concept, a name, an article of histo...

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LIVE THE STORY

June 04, 2019
Don’t forget your story.  But don’t be a slave to your story. All of us are here in worship today because of a very specific story.  Some of us are here because this is where our family has been rooted all our lives.  That’s the story. ...

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“I DON’T KNOW” IS OK

May 26, 2019
I attended a funeral on Friday at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church for a man who grew up here at Pax Christi, was a college classmate of mine, was an extraordinary athlete and adventurer in addition to being an excellent family man and human being, and who died suddenly fro...

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IT IS NECESSARY

May 19, 2019
I am often aware that I live one of the most easy Catholic lives of anybody that I know.  And the reason is simple: I spend almost all day, every day, being among people who are, more or less, just like me.  They are people who take faith in God for granted.  ...

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TOO MUCH NOISE

May 12, 2019
I know something like this has happened to you.  Last week I met up with my aunt who is also my godmother, at a coffee shop not far from here.  I hadn’t seen her for a few years, and it was a chance just to catch up and tell life stories and laugh and enjoy a ...

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YOUTH RESTORED

May 05, 2019
Yesterday at the retreat at which our young people were preparing for 1st Eucharist I invited them to figure out how old I am, by telling them how many years it’s been since I received that sacrament for the first time too.  It didn’t take them long to get it e...

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WE FIND CHRIST TOGETHER

April 28, 2019
Most of us, when we hear the word “pilgrimage” in a religious conversation, think of a journey to a particular place—maybe a town like Assisi, or a shrine like Fatima, or an experience like the Camino Real in Spain.  But it wasn’t until I was study...

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GOD IN SPITE OF IT ALL

April 21, 2019
“Then the other disciple also went in, …and he saw and believed.”  Saw what?  Believed what?  A dead body that wasn’t there.  A story of grave robbers having taken him away—a story that wasn’t true.  Fake news&mdash...

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HOLY THURSDAY

April 18, 2019
We have made the gospel of Jesus Christ far too complicated over the course of the years and the centuries.  And the pastors and theologians have been the more significant part of the problem in all that.  I count myself among both.  This evening’s gospel ...

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NOT FOR BABY

April 14, 2019
About 20 years ago I was living and going to school in Cambridge, MA.  Among other things, that city is known for many book stores.  And I used to spend a fair amount of time browsing through them.  I have no idea why, but one day I happened upon a slender volume o...

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TIME FOR A CHECKUP

April 07, 2019
Somewhere over the course of the past decade or so I have entered a phase of life in which I’ve become vaguely aware that I am fearful of going to the doctor’s office for my annual physical.  It’s not because I’m unwell—at least I don’t th...

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WISDOM FOM AMY-JILL LEVINE

March 31, 2019
Amy-Jill Levine is a Jewish Scripture Scholar who has done a great deal of study and writing on New Testament Christian Themes. She is funny and breezy in her style. She teaches at a place called Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, TN, where she describes herself as...

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BEING WITH ‘I AM’

March 24, 2019
I came across a marvelous poem this week in, of all places, the St. John’s University alumni magazine.  It was embedded within an article that was written by a man named Gabriel Flynn whom I do not know.  The article was a tribute to his father, who has been ...

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REMEMBER

March 17, 2019
I presume that most of us are people who pray, at least now and then.  We’re doing so right now, and hopefully that carries over in to a pattern of personal prayer beyond this building—something more personal.  So it may be helpful to pose the question&mdash...

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WHO ARE YOU?

March 11, 2019
There’s been a commercial running on TV for a few years now that I have found kind of weird and mildly irritating.  It’s for a company that will take your DNA sample and test it and then report back to you just exactly who you are.  There are a few diff...

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TWO IMPORTANT QUESTIONS

March 06, 2019
Why do we keep doing this?  Why, year after year, do we keep coming back for ashes, for the remembering, for the recommitment?  Not a one of us is required to be here today, according to the rules of the church (if that is your motivator).  And yet we keep coming.&...

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HOW MIGHT ONE TEACH?

March 03, 2019
I know that many among us here at Pax are teachers of one kind or another. I’ve also known the rewards and challenges of being a full time teacher of religion and theology for about half of my adult life. I don’t think that there could be a more satisfying way to sp...

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MERCY: EVERYWHERE AND ALWAYS

February 24, 2019
This month the archdiocese circulated a draft of a proposed revision of the employee handbook for everyone who works in local Catholic parishes and schools.  It’s basically a policy manual for how people are to conduct themselves in the workplace, not unlike those u...

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DO LIKE SUE

February 17, 2019
I spent yesterday morning at the funeral of an amazing woman.  When I first met Sue at my former parish she had already been living with cancer for more than two years.  She died at 65.  Throughout my six years there the disease kept coming back, and every time it ...

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NEITHER TOO LOW NOR TOO HIGH

February 10, 2019
Mythology is a wonderful way to examine the deep truths of our human existence—and the mystery of it all—through the telling of dramatic stories.  When I was in high school I didn’t believe that life was very mysterious at all, so when I was made to take a ...

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OUR MYSTERIOUS, BIG GOD

February 04, 2019
There is nothing more dreadful than the person who thinks she/he has got religion.  We all spend our lives in the sincere search for holiness and for God, and we are absolutely right to do that, but who is more off-putting than the one who thinks of him/herself as having bee...

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TODAY IS THE DAY

January 28, 2019
This coming week will mark an important milestone for me since becoming pastor here at Pax seven months ago.  I will be observing the 2,000th deleted email on my computer in the office.  And that doesn’t include the phone calls, texts, messages on my cell phone, e...

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OUR EXTRAVAGANT GOD

January 20, 2019
I have hosted some parties in my life—including large ones—but I have never heard of drinking on the scale that the gospel of the John describes.  At the wedding feast in Cana, Jesus provides something between 150 and 180 gallons of wine—and this was after ...

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THE RISKS OF BAPTISM

January 13, 2019
In the ritual prayers for the baptism of children in the Catholic Church, one of the first questions that is asked of the parents is, “Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?”  And their required response is, “We do.” And here I am stea...

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THE STORY IS NOT A MISTAKE

January 06, 2019
King Herod was a crazy man.  By all historical accounts he was mentally unstable, grandiose in his lust for power, ruthless in putting down his enemies—real or perceived—and perpetually paranoid about his grasp on control.  But he was also a Jew.&nb...

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A CHRISTMAS STORY

December 25, 2018
Perhaps the most compelling Christmas story of this past year was one that all of us listened to together last July. And by all together I mean millions of people from every part of the world. It was the story of Tham Luang, and if you don’t remember that tale by name, I&...

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A VOCATION TO BE FAITHFUL

December 23, 2018
Since it’s still Advent and not yet Christmas I think I can get away with sharing a story that is depressing and heartbreaking and sad. So here is goes… A few months ago I was one of a few of the Pax Christi people who participated in a retreat experience at St. Jo...

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LIFE WITH THE SAINTS

December 16, 2018
One of the best parts of being in full-time church ministry is that I regularly get to mingle with Saints.  I know that we’re all Saints in virtue of our baptism, but here I’m thinking of these people who astonish me with their faith, their generosity, their kind...

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GOD IS UP TO SOMETHING NEW

December 09, 2018
And there they all were, and it didn’t matter. Tiberius Caesar was on his throne in Rome. Pontius Pilate was in his palace in Jerusalem. Herod was living lavishly and savagely in his many mansions in Palestine.  The high priests were firmly in control of all thing...

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OUR CALLS ARE IMPORTANT

December 02, 2018
“Your call is very important to us; please stay on the line and you will be helped by our first available representative.” Is there any more irritating sentence in the world to hear than that one?  It’s a pre-recorded robo-voice that you only encounter w...

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CHRIST HOLDS ALL THE ACES

November 25, 2018
Although I am not a tremendously good card player, I have played enough to know that the value of what you are holding in your hand depends entirely on which game you are playing.  The very same cards can mean something completely different in various situations. There ar...

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AN ASTONISHING HOPE

November 18, 2018
My Grandma Byron died 30 years ago today.  I remember it as a sad day, but not too much.  She was almost 90 years old and had been suffering from the effects of dementia for about a decade.  She had long since lost her ability to speak coherently, or to recognize a...

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WHAT WILL YOU GIVE?

November 11, 2018
Like many of you, I’m sure, I do most of my charitable giving for the year during the last weeks of December, to be sure I get a tax advantage.  Let’s think about that for a moment:  When I give is in part conditioned by what I stand to benefit from. That...

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WE REMEMBER EACH NAME

November 04, 2018
On the day of my Father’s funeral several years ago, among the many who came to the liturgy was Archbishop Flynn, who had known and befriended my parents.  I was the presider and the preacher that day, but he asked before Mass if he could say a few words to the people ...

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AREN’T OUR SAINTS JUST THE BEST?!

October 28, 2018
I think the very best thing about “my job” is the endless parade of holy, inspiring people whom I have the honor to meet and to serve all the time.  One of them is named Mary and she lives in Bloomington.  She turns 95 years old this month, and I first met h...

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HOW GREAT ARE YOU READY TO BE?

October 21, 2018
People of a certain age—like me—will recognize to whom the title “The Greatest” once referred in American popular culture.  He used that description to speak about himself: “I’m the greatest.”  It was the world heavyweight champ...

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ON BEING KNOWN…

October 14, 2018
When I was a student at St. John’s University 40 years ago, every fall as part of the football homecoming weekend celebrations the students put on a campus-wide talent show.  It drew a large crowd and it featured all kinds of acts, whether vocal, or instrumental or mag...

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JESUS WILL BE JUST FINE

September 30, 2018
One of my enduringly favorite quotes during the time of my graduate studies came off the cuff one day in class from the professor, who was a well-known Jesuit priest and scholar and writer on the liturgical life of the church.  I no longer remember the conversation that set ...

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CAN YOU ASK THE QUESTION?

September 23, 2018
“…and they were afraid to question him…and they were afraid to question him.” These are the disciples with their beloved friend and teacher, Jesus.  Why—or about what—would they be afraid to question him?  What is too scary to ...

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FOR LOVE OF A LOSING TEAM

September 16, 2018
In the parish from which I recently came, one of the most prominent, faithful, generous and good families was headed by a man whose career is in marketing and sales for the MN Twins.  So I always had to be careful about making disparaging remarks about the team while in chur...

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WHAT KIND OF NEWS?

September 09, 2018
We live in an age, of course, in which the category of “fake news” is recently and frequently invoked by people who aren’t happy with what the content of the news actually is.  The idea is that if you can only discredit the bearer of the news, then the news...

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SUMMONED TO BE AS BIG AS GOD

September 02, 2018
What do you notice?  And what do you question?  Aren’t these two of the most revealing things that can be asked of ourselves, and others?  This past week I was traveling to the funeral of a friend and I stayed in a fairly high-end hotel, just because I felt l...

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WE WILL REMAIN, LORD…EVEN NOW

August 26, 2018
This coming week I will be traveling to Montana for the funeral liturgy of my oldest, closest friend.  Matt and I met in the 1st grade in our Catholic school, and for more than 50 years we have been right there for one another—a rare, precious gift.  We vacationed...

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FLESH AND BLOOD! REALLY?

August 19, 2018
What do homemade chocolate chip cookies and a bucket of KFC original recipe chicken have in common?  Other than the fact that they are two of the most delicious and unhealthy foods that one could eat…. I’ll spare you the suspense.  The answer is that the...

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THE FOOD IS JUST THE BEGINNING

August 05, 2018
On Friday morning we celebrated the funeral Mass here for Jean Cullen, age 90, who was a long-time part of the Friendship Village community.  During the preparation process for that liturgy the children gathered together to speak about her life.  They were so sorrowful,...

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IT’S ABOUT GOD, NOT THE GUIDE

July 22, 2018
When I was in high school I was turned on to a roving Christian evangelist named Bill Gothard, who was at the time traveling around the country with his multiple-day seminar called Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts.  The leader of the bible study group at my Catholic parish...

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LET US CONSIDER THE ALBATROSS

July 14, 2018
If you ever have occasion to stop in my office here at church you will see one of the most ambiguous of my possessions.  I have been much more aware of it this month because I have had to move it from St. Paul to Eden Prairie…together with everything else I own. ...

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IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MISSION

July 08, 2018
“A prophet is not without honor, except in his native place.”  If Jesus’ words are true, then this weekend should pretty much be my high water mark among you here at Pax.  Most of you don’t know me, and I am presuming to stand here before you as ...

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