Saturday, December 19, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Today if I could crawl into your little heads,
I think I would find thoughts like;
I can’t wait until these exams are finished.
I can’t wait until I have nothing due.
I can’t wait until I can sleep as long as I want and then roll over and sleep some more.
I can’t wait for my mother’s cooking.
I can’t wait t see my friends.
I can’t wait to be with my family.
I can’t wait to be in my own room.
I can’t wait to be home.
Today is the third Sunday of Advent.
Today we lit the pink candle.
It is usually called Gaudete Sunday, or the Sunday of Joy
Try preaching about joy to a church filled with students facing a week of final exams.
I would rather call today “I can’t wait Sunday”
Or “expectation Sunday.”
In the Gospel we heard that upon listening to John the Baptist everyone was filled with expectation.
They couldn’t wait for the Messiah and neither can we
They couldn’t wait for freedom and neither can we
They longed for the joy which we would enjoy with his coming and so do we.
You see when we have faith, when we choose to believe,
it is impossible to live our lives without expectation
and it is impossible to live our lives without joy.
If there is no joy in our lives
if there is no expectation we have to ask ourselves what have I forgotten?
Where has my hope gone?
Or maybe, where has my faith gone ?
When you have faith,
life giving faith,
it is impossible not to be filled with hope.
The two go hand in hand.
When you have faith…
It is impossible not to think or dream about the next beautiful possibility that God who loves us will send our way.
Now your exams are the most important thing on your mind. Maybe some of you have papers to write…
Next you will be worried about comps and if you graduate.
Next you will be worried about who your spouse will be,
some of you are already worried about that.
Next you will be worried about where you will work and if you boss likes you.
Next you will be worried about your kids and how many friends they have.
Next you will be worried about your job and who is getting ahead of you.
Next you will be worried about what college your kid can get into and how you will pay for it.
As the aches and pains of life creep up on you,
you will worry about your health and the health of those you love.
Someday you will be worried about your 401 K
I would venture to say that very few of you here even know what a 401k is.
Trust me, Someday you will worry about it.
Life will always be filled with worries..
And sometimes there will be challenge after challenge after challenge,
but “I can’t wait Sunday” reminds us to be filled with expectation and hope
To be honest
I can’t wait till all of you go home, especially the kid you gave me the flu.
And I know
that I won’t be able to wait until all of you come back.
Get your work done.
And don’t complain that you have too much to do,
You’ve had the whole semester and
you had lots of fun so suck it up.
No matter where you are in life
Be filled with hope
Be filled with expectation and
Be filled with joy
That was the message of The prophet Zepheniah in the first reading
That was the message of Gospel.
And that is the message of “I can’t wait Sunday.”
Saturday, December 05, 2009
In the first reading from the Book of the Prophet Baruch,
God gives hope and healing to his people,
He gives hope and healing to his people who mourn.
They mourn the loss of their children,
They mourn the loss of their families, and their friends
They watched with unspeakable sadness as those whom they loved were marched off into exile by the Babylonians.
Can you imagine seeing your family, being marched away?
Can you imagine how it felt having little hope of ever seeing them again?
The people in the first reading mourn the destruction of their city,
the loss of the temple,
and they especially mourn the loss of their relationship with God.
Even though Baruch probably wrote 400 years after the Babylonian exile.
He calls it to mind to give hope to his own people. They too faced terrible persecutions.
His message is simple.
God gave hope to His people during the Babylonian exile,
and God will give you hope.
All hope comes from God.
And so in the first reading the Prophet tells the people of Jerusalem to go to heights and look to the East and the West.
He wants them to see the return of those who were taken away.
He wants them to see the power and mercy of God.
He wants us all to know that those who were lead into exile were “remembered by God”
He never forgot them.
He never stopped loving them.
God’s love is so great that He even lowers the mountains and
fills in the valleys
to make their journey home easier.
He wants to make it easy for them to come home.
He wants to make it easy for everyone to come home.
In the Gospel, Luke situates the ministry of John in a specific time and place.
He sets the date of John’s ministry according to the reign of the Roman Emperor
He announces that John’s ministry is taking place in Galilee
And he announces the religious leaders of the time.
Luke wants us to know that John was a real person.
He wants us to know that he was not a pious legend but a real person.
John lived at a specific moment in time, and at specific place on earth just like me and just like you.
What is John’s message ?
it is simply this..
He challenges us to Prepare the way of the Lord…
Just like God prepared the way for the return of the exiles to Jerusalem
We have too prepare the way for God to come in our lives.
We must level the mountains of pride which make it so difficult for us to really love God and our neighbor.
We must fill in the valleys of our weakness and selfishness.
We must make the path to our heart straight by living thought filled, reflective and holy lives.
What does all of this have to do with us?
Like the people of Jerusalem all of us have been in very desperate straits.
All of us have had moments when we were tempted to lose hope.
And all of us have had to acknowledge that our weaknesses and our sins have often been the source of our despair.
The first reading reminds us that God’s love is greater than our sin or brokenness.
It reminds us that God’s love is greater than our infidelity.
The Prophet Baruch reminds us that God’s mercy is beyond limits.
With God there is always hope.
The Gospel clearly tells us that we must prepare a way in our hearts for God.
Just like God prepared for the return of His people
We must prepare for the coming of our savior.
Like God we must lower the mountains and fill in the valleys.
Our hearts are filled with so many things
Mountain of distractions.
Mountains of worries and concerns
Mountains of desires
We believe in mountains of false promises
Who among us doesn’t have Mountains of stubbornness and pride
We must level those mountains.
We must fill in the valleys of laziness .
We must Fill in those valleys of bad habits which we just don’t want to give up.
And what about those valleys of bitterness and anger when we refuse to forgive?
We have to fill in those valleys so that God can come.
We must make straight the pathways to our heart by living thought filled and thoughtful lives.
So often we wander around life being pulled in this direction or that direction.
So often we place ourselves under the influence of whatever catches our eye and the pathways of our life are crooked indeed.
The readings today remind us that
Advent is a time of preparation.
It is a time of expectation.
It is a time of hope.
Advent demands an active response from us
We are half way there… next week we light the pink candle.
We all know that the closer we get to Christmas the less time we will have.
If we haven’t carved out a little more space or time in our life for God during this advent it is not too late to do so.
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.”
Friday, November 20, 2009
In the first reading from the Book of the Prophet Daniel we read about a powerful figure who Daniel calls the Son of Man.
The Son of Man will arrive on a cloud to judge the world.
He will do so with power and majesty.
The scripture goes on to say that He has,
and power and that
all peoples, and all nations, will serve Him.
Throughout the scriptures Jesus often referred to Himself as the Son of Man.
The picture painted in today’s Gospel however is very different.
In the Gospel we hear a conversation between Jesus and Pilate.
At first it appears that Pilate is the powerful one and that Jesus is simply a broken and betrayed man.
If you listen carefully however, everything is not as it seems.
You see Pilate is afraid.
He lives in constant fear of insurrection, rebellion and the intrigue of the Jews.
He is hated by the people he rules, and they are always up to something.
On the hand the emperor in Rome cares only about the taxes he receives.
Caesar cares nothing about Pilate and expects him to efficiently govern the rebellious Jews and support the empire.
Failure is not an option.
Pilate is under pressure from both sides. He is always caught in the middle.
As he talks to Jesus it is clear that he he is trying to figure out just who this man is.
Pilate wonders, why the leaders of the Jews hate him so much?
Why would they turn him a Jew over to me for judgment?
Is this some kind of a trap?
What kind of threat does he pose to them and what kind of threat does this Jesus of Nazareth pose to me?
Behind the façade of his authority and power Pilate is afraid, he is filled with fear.
In the end he will hand “The King of the Jews” over to be executed not because Jesus did anything wrong, but because he is afraid of the crowd
and afraid of the priests
and afraid of Caesar.
Pilate is afraid of everyone.
He is even afraid of Jesus.
It is a terrible thing to live your life in fear.
Jesus on the other hand is calm.
He seems in control of the conversation.
He knows that he has to face the cross.
For a long time he had battled the temptation to flee the cross but now he has chosen it.
From that moment of truth he experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was able to face the cross without fear.
Jesus was able to face the cross because he loved and trusted the Father.
Jesus was able to face the cross because of his love for all of us.
Pilate who appears “powerful” is weak and afraid.
Jesus “who appears weak” is strong.
The Church gives us the feast of Christ the King because she wants us to reflect on the type of King that Jesus really was and the role he should play in our lives.
I found this on the internet and it helped me reflect on the Kingship of Christ I hope it helps you.
-Kings are usually born in a palace, places of privilege, but our King was born in a stable.
-While most kings spent all of their time building up wealth, Jesus our King owned nothing at all.
-Kings are usually surrounded by servants; Jesus chose to be a servant.
-Instead of riding into town on a big white horse surrounded by soldiers, Jesus our King rode into town on the back of a donkey.
-Jesus was the friend of regular people, working class people, fishermen and carpenters.
-He is the friend of the lowly, the poor and even the friend of sinners.
- Kings usually only associate with important people
-Our King’s crown was not gold or silver.
It was not a symbol of power studded with precious jewels.
-Instead they crowned Him with thorns.
His crown was a sign of his willingness to suffer for love.
-Instead of robes and jewels he wore a cloak and tunic
-He was powerful but also powerless
-Our King’s throne was not an ornate symbol of his power instead he ruled from the cross.
-Like many good Kings, Jesus gave his life for his people; unlike any other king death had no power over him.
On this feast of Christ the King it is important to ask ourselves;
What does Jesus our King ask from us?
How should a disciple of Christ the King live?
Here are just a few examples…
-Love you enemy, do good to those who persecute you,
-If someone wants your shirt give him your coat as well.
-Feed the hunger, clothe the naked, heal the sick, visit prisoners.
-Whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers you do to me.
-Forgive not 7 times but rather 70x70 times.
-Lend to those who cannot pay you back.
-You are the light of the world.
-Take this all of you and eat.
-Do this in memory of me.
Put so simply Christian discipleship sounds so radical.
If we really lived that way the world would be such a different place.
To truly follow Christ the King is radical and it takes courage.
Today we all have to ask ourselves…
What guides and motivates our life?
The fear of Pilate..
The hate of the Jewish leaders…
Or the courage and love of Christ our king…
A very important question indeed.
Friday, November 13, 2009
In the passage from Gospel of Mark which we heard today,
Jesus is no longer preaching to crowds.
He is not walking along the dusty roads of Gallilee with his disciples.
He is not healing the sick.
He is already in Jerusalem and his time is pretty much being spent with his closest disciples.
He knows that his time on earth draws to an end.
It is almost as if they are huddled together talking and listening to each other.
In the near term He predicts the destruction of Jerusalem and eventually the destruction of the Temple itself.
These would have been terrifying events for Jews the early Christians.
Can you imagine how terrifying if would be for us to look over Washington and see the Capital building burning or the Shrine in ruins from the attack of an invading army?
In the long term,
Jesus is speaking to everyone of us about trials and tribulations that all of us will face.
He is speaking about the end of time
and the inevitable judgment that every human being will eventually endure.
In the very next chapter, Chapter 14,
He will celebrate the Passover together with his closest friends and give them and the Church the incredible gift of the Eucharist.
With the Eucharist Jesus shows us that no matter what happens no matter what difficulties we face we will never, we can never face them alone he is with us always.
In Chapter 14 he will also be abandoned by his closest friends and be betrayed by a kiss, terrible things indeed.
There is an intensity when he talks.
It is as if he is trying to make sure that he says everything he needs to say.
He knows that in the lives of his disciples, our lives, and the lives of every human being there will be difficult moments, very difficult moments.
He knows that some may lose hope and lose faith.
He speaks about these things to give us something to hold on to.
He warns us in advance so that we can and need to read the signs of the times and be ready.
You know there is a fig tree out in front of Salve Regina Hall, in August it has wonderful big red figs, that are really sweet and moist.
If you went over there in the dead of winter and bent one of the small branches it would break
but if you go towards the end of March and bend the very same branch it bends… and summer is on its way.
Jesus wants us so desperately to read the signs of the times.
Jesus does not want us taken by surprise;
he doesn’t want us shocked
he doesn’t want us overcome by fear, doubt or despair.
By warning us about the struggles that we will face.
He helps us to be prepared to face them with less fear and apprehension.
So what does this have to do with all of us.
For those of you who are young and seem to have the world by the tail…
you are strong,
you are healthy the future seems of very bright
and it is…
Today’s readings remind us that bad things can happen and bad things will happen and that all of us will face difficult moments.
The great sin of youth is presumption.
Those who are young always presume that they have lots time
They sadly presume that they can begin to work on holiness tomorrow or the next day.
These readings challenge us to favoid the sin of presumption.
They remind us that we will be judged by how we lived and how much we loved.
When you are young it is so hard to remember that this life is not all that there is
When you are young it is so hard to remember that even now we should be preparing to face eternity.
In a history of the Order I read that that some of the friars in times past used to place a human skull on their desk or in their rooms to remind them every day of their mortality.
For our times and culture that would be a pretty morbid practice, it may even be against the law.
Yet, every morning when the friars would get up and see that skull they would face the reality that they know neither the day or the hour..
It reminded them that judgment and death awaited them.
The sight of that skull challenged maybe even scared them to live and love that day as best as they could.
Today’s readings are kind of like that skull they remind anyone who takes them seriously that Tempus Fugit… time is flying…
For those who are older these readings help us understand that the sign of the times may include sickness and weakness and the aches and pains of everyday life.
The signs of the times may even include the illness or death of a dear loved one…
The signs of the times may be reminder that our time on earth is coming to an end
The sin of old age is to get lost in self pity and allow ourselves to be overcome by pain
The readings challenge us not be lost in our discomfort and illnesses or our trials and tribulations because we know that they are coming.
Rather when the signs of the times are clear it is important to cram and cram hard for the final final of finals.
Today’s readings remind us that no matter what the world faces
or for that matter what we face personally God’s word will not pass away.
God’s word and God’s promises will last forever
No matter how desperate things get …. everything that Jesus said
and everything Jesus did is true.
He promises his followers eternal life
and the trials and tribulations and struggles of life
no matter how big cannot take away that promise.
The other night I stopped in a Renew group from Conaty I believe, and one of the students asked me Fr. Bob “what would you do if you read the signs of the times and knew the world was going to end in 15 minutes? What would you do?”
On this Sunday that is a very important and appropriate question indeed. And so I pass it on to you..
“What would you do if you knew the world was going to end in 15 minutes. What would you do?”
Remember we know neither the day or the hour….
All of us have to ask ourselves every single day
Are we ready?
Sunday, November 08, 2009
Today’s readings… present us with a variety of people and there is an important lesson to learn from each one of them.
The first people we meet are the Prophet Elijah, a widow and her son.
God has always sent prophets to his people.
Mother Theresa with all her doubts was a prophet.
John Paul II was a prophet.
Nelson Mandela was a prophet.
Mahatma Gandhi was a prophet.
Dorothy Day was a prophet.
The CUA Graduates who work at Simple House or do long term service are prophetic.
Our students who tutor in the DC public and charter schools are prophetic.
Our lives are filled with prophets.
Because God loves us he always sends us prophets and teachers to help us on our way home to Him.
And every age has its own way of getting lost so God sends prophets to every age.
In the first reading from the 1st Book of Kings,
Elijah asks a poor widow to make him a little bread.
He makes his request to a person who is in the most desperate of straits.
She and her son have nothing to eat because of a famine
but because of her goodness,
and because she refused to turn away a person in need,
and because she dared to trust the words of Elijah,
God gave her beautiful prophecy to hold onto.
'The jar of flour will not go empty,
nor the jug of oil run dry,
until the day when the LORD sends rain upon the earth”
and they didn’t.
She and her son were spared starvation because they listened and heard and trusted the Prophet.
What the Elijah asked her seemed to fly in the face of reason,
but she dared to believe and she and her son were saved.
Elijah was called to prophesy he was called to speak the words of God to His people and he said yes.
He was a prophet for his age and all ages… no easy task indeed.
Because of his prophetic voice he was hated and his life was frequently in danger.
The scribes were not bad people.
They studied the law and they loved the Lord so much that they dedicated themselves in service of the Law.
According to the law a scribe was not allowed to demand payment for his services.
But because they were often generous with their time,
and because they cared about people,
The scribes were often loved and respected.
Many people gave them gifts and showed them special signs of respect.
Sadly, some of the scribes became used to the respect that others had earned,
so much so that they came to expect places of honor in the synagogues and at table.
They came to expect to be noticed, and recognized.
And while they couldn’t get formally paid for their work they began to expect gifts for their services.
What was their sin?
Simply put the love and service that so many scribes had given was no longer free.
Their love was not free… it came with strings attached.
Their good works were not motivated by a care and concern for others but rather they were motivated by greed and self interest.
Jesus warned his disciples not to imitate the Scribes and the Pharisees
Jesus was sure to point out the failings of the Scribes to his disciples because he wanted to make sure that they and we did not become like them.
Jesus loved freely.
Jesus loved without expecting anything in return, and Jesus wanted all of us to do the same.
Finally we meet the widow in the temple.
I read in a commentary that the word widow in Hebrew is derived from the root word “Alem” which means unable to speak.
A widow in the time of Jesus was the poorest of the poor.
She had no rights,
no rights to property
no rights to inheritance or just compensation.
She was dependent on everyone.
Indeed, she was even unable to speak for herself
or defend herself.
As Jesus sat watching the pilgrims in the temple.
near the Woman’s court there she was…
Maybe her poverty could be discerned from her clothing, maybe it couldn’t,
but when she entered the temple, she made an act of complete trust.
She gave all that she had, she gave everything she had to live on.
Even though it was a tiny about… Jesus noted that she gave the most of anyone.
We really don’t know what else happened to her, we don’t know anything more about her.
Jesus did not follow her, he didn’t give her money, he didn’t give her food, or heal her.
She simply moved on in the crowd and disappeared,
and her absolute trust in God’s providence has inspired and challenged everyone who ever heard of her story to do the same.
Knowing Jesus and knowing God’s providence we can only assume that she was OK that somehow in God’s took care of this little poor woman who completely trusted in Him.
What does all of this have to do with us?
The prophet, the widow and her son, the scribes, and the widow in the temple each offer us important lessons about discipleship.
The widow and her son teach us the importance of hospitality and generosity.
The widow was recklessly generous.
She risked not only her life but the life of her son and because of her generosity
she and her son were saved while many others died in the famine.
She dared to listen to a prophet, a prophet who’s request made no sense whatsoever.
Her example calls all of us to be generous,
her example, calls us to be attentive to the prophets who God sends our way.
Are we willing to listen.
Do we listen to the prophets of our time?
Are we attentive to the prophetic call of the Church?
The example of the Prophet Elijah calls us to ask ourselves if we have accepted God’s call to live humble prophetic lives.
To be prophets, in our homes, on our campus, in our parishes and at our places of work.
Have our lives helped others be better people? Have we brought them closer to God or farther away ?
Through the sad example of the scribes Jesus reminds his disciples that our good works must be free and our love must be free just like God’s love is free.
When we do good we must never expect something in return,
places of honor, or moments of recognition, or payment, should never and can never be a condition or motivation for our service and our sacrifices.
This lesson is so counter cultural today.
So many of us are conditioned to ask… What’s in it for me ?
Finally the widow in the temple teaches us that in our good works, and in our discipleship we are called to absolute trust in God’s love and God’s providence.
Jesus pointed out the widow because she trusted.. and in doing so he calls us to do the same.
So often it seems that our good efforts are doomed to fail
So often it seems that love doesn’t make any sense
So often is seems that this person or that person isn’t worthy of our love and our sacrifices.
Today the scriptures challenge us,
each of us must look into our hearts and ask ourselves…
How generous am I?
How obedient am I to God reckless call to love for free
How much do I trust… the widow trusted completely in God’s love and Gods providence her example calls us to do the same.
Lots to think about… have a great week.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Today is the Feast of All Saints and the Church calls us to reflect on two simple important facts.
Our destiny, our ultimate happiness, and our joy is to be united with God.
If you are in this chapel right now I hope you have the consolation of knowing that this is not all there is.
I hope you know that God longs for you to live in his presence.
God longs to be united with you forever.
The second point is just as important as the first put simply there are many roads home.
All roads home go through Christ but there are still many ways home.
One day I was discussing happiness with a group of kids in the Pryz.
We all ventured opinions on it… I began…
Happiness is a tub of Chocolate Ice Cream with granola and or cherrios mixed in.
Happiness is a big baked potato smothered in butter and seasoned with a generous portion of salt.
Happiness is a perpetual Caribbean Cruise
To push my buttons one student ventured…
Happiness is that comfortable feeling a glass of beer can provide.
I added for those who are 21.
Happiness is working hard and being rewarded for your work.
Happiness is finding a note on your car after a long day from someone special to you.
All of these things bring a smile to a person’s face.
Yet all of these things are but a shadow of real happiness.
They are like a flash in a pan.
Yes, they satisfy and they can please a person but they don’t ever last long.
They are a tease, a moment, a glimpse of what is to come.
It’s as if someone opens a door and give you a quick glance at what happiness feels like.
Holy Ones real happiness can be found only in the presence of God,
and yes that is our destiny.
We were created to live and be in love with God forever.
Today the Church proposes the beatitudes as a meditation on how we can find true happiness.
A person who is happy a person who is peace filled is blessed.
At first glance the beatitudes seem contradictory.
How can one possibly find happiness in poverty, hunger, mourning, and persecution?
How can someone who is poor or in need be happy?
How can someone who mourns be happy?
How can someone who is persecuted be happy?
Think about it…
Poverty of spirit allows us to see God as the greatest treasure possible?
Poverty allows a person to empty themselves of all that distracts them and concentrate on God and their brothers and sisters.
When a person hungers for the spirit of righteousness they are really trying to conform their lives to God's Word and God’s Spirit.
When we hunger for God and the knowledge of God
He will not hesitate in providing it.
Sorrow and mourning over a wasted life or our sins and weaknesses can lead to repentance and a joyful freedom from the burden of guilt.
God reveals to a person with a humble heart the true source of abundant life and happiness.
In the Gospels Jesus promises his disciples that the joys of heaven will more than compensate for the troubles and hardships they can expect in this world.
St. Thomas Aquinas said: No one can live without joy.
That is why a person deprived of spiritual joy goes after carnal pleasures or cheap imitations.
Yes, the Feast of All Saints…. Reminds us of our destiny all of the Saints are in heaven and that’s where we all want to go.
But this important feast also provides us with good examples of the many ways to get there.
Fr. Brad who used to be stationed here and I used to fight over how to go the Beltway.
He liked New Hampshire Ave.
I liked Riggs Road
Both ways get you there.
I hated the signals on New Hampshire there are 47 signals from here to the beltway
He hated Riggs road because it is too narrow and windy
However they both go to the same place and help you get home…
Today on the Feast of all Saints the Saints the Church remind us that there are many ways to get to heaven.
Every age, every generation, has given new heroes who showed us the way.
St. Ignatius of Antioch, would rather stand up to lions than bow before the statue of a pagan god.
St. Francis of Assisi gave away everything he had because he knew that all it did was get in the way.
St. Joan of Arc, a strong young girl listened to the voice of the Lord and refused to deny His presence in her life. Her faithfulness cost her her life.
St. Thomas More would not or could not permit anyone or any legal nicety to alter his conscience.
St. Catherine of Siena taught kings and popes about the presence of the Lord among them and their responsibility to be Christian leaders.
St. Theresa of Liseaux sent flowers to God with her daily sacrifices of love.
There are thousands of saints.
Some of you know saints who have proceeded us to Home.
Each one of them shows another way to God
Each one of them had a gift they refused to surrender
Each one of them was would not compromise when it came to following God’s will no matter what the cost.
Let us never forget that our destiny is to be with God
Let us remember that we are not the first on this journey home.
There are many wonderful examples of people who have arrived.
Their example can show us the way on our journey.
Saints of God
Come to our aid
Saturday, October 24, 2009
May the peace of Christ Reign in our hearts.
As we know at this point in his ministry Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.
In Jerusalem he would institute the Eucharist,
he would be deserted by his friends,
and he would face the agony of the cross for our sins.
With this passage in the Gospel of Mark the journey is almost over.
Jericho is about 15 miles from Jerusalem, less than a ½ day’s journey.
He had travelled for so long.
He had preached to so many.
Along the way, moved by compassion, he healed people over and over again.
By now Jesus was famous as word spread that he was passing through a town often a crowd would gather.
When Jesus entered Jericho that seems to be what happened.
It was probably a crowd like the one that would greet him as he entered Jerusalem.
There were probably people in both crowds who would later call for his execution yet Jesus walked on.
Bartimaeus was a blind man he was forced to live by begging.
He knew that something different was happening that day but he didn’t know what.
Maybe he heard a different excitement in the crowd.
Maybe he could feel the vibration of the crowd’s feet as they passed by.
Bartimaeus had very few chances for a better life.
His future was not bright.
Unless there was a miracle he would probably spend the rest of his life begging on that road to Jerusalem.
When he asked what was going on and was told that Jesus was passing by his reaction shows
that he had heard of Jesus of Nazareth and believed in him.
He knew that he had a chance to be made whole.
It was a chance he had to take and could not squander.
He knew he had to seize the moment this incredible moment of grace.
He wasn’t sure exactly where Jesus was in the passing crowd, so he just started shouting, shouting as loud as he could in the hope of being in heard over the crowd.
“Son of David had mercy on me” “Son of David have mercy on me”
He yelled it over and over again.
By choosing those words he proclaimed to everyone who heard him that he believed that Jesus was the Messiah.
He publicly bet all his hopes on Jesus, he went completely in as they say in poker.
That was no small risk, remember he depended on the good will of the people of Jericho and many of the religious leaders did not believe Jesus.
Bartimaeus made so much desperate noise that the people around him yelled at him to be quiet, yet he persisted… he knew he had no other choice.
Bartimaeus knew that once Jesus was gone there would not be another chance to be healed.
His blindness, his weakness would not permit him to follow Jesus into Jerusalem.
When Jesus heard his shouts,
when Jesus heard this poor blind man’s bold proclamation of faith, he and all his followers stopped.
He called to him and without hesitation Bartimaeus jumped up and threw off his cloak.
His cloak kept him warm,
he probably hid his food in it.
It served as his bed and his blanket as he faced the night’s cold.
It was probably one of his most valuable possessions but it was hard to run with so he threw it away.
He knew that he couldn’t let anything hold him back from meeting Jesus
He was willing to take the risk of losing this valuable possession for the chance to be healed, for the chance to see.
And when Jesus asked him what he needed, he knew right away.
There was only one thing he could possibly ask for.
He didn’t ask for riches or influence or power.
He didn’t ask for vengeance on all those who had tormented him as he begged along the road side..
He asked to see.
He asked to see so he could leave behind his life of dependency.
He asked to see so that he could have a chance to make his contribution in life.
He asked to see so that he could continue to follow Jesus as he went to Jerusalem.
If we were Bartimaeus here are some questions for us to ponder…
Would we have even noticed that Jesus was passing by or would we have been lost in our own problems and concerns?
How many times has Jesus walked by in our lives ?
How many times have we missed him?
Would we have persisted in our faith if people yelled at us to shut up?
Are we willing to publicly place all our hope in Jesus like Bartimaeus did?
If we were Bartimaeus would we have been willing to leave the security of our cloak or our possessions to run up to Christ.
If Jesus walked by today what would or what should we leave behind?
If Jesus came right now and asked us what do you want me to do for you?
Would we ask for the right thing ?
Would we know what to ask for?
Think about it if Jesus was here right now what would you ask for?
And once we received our wish would we go our separate way or would we remain faithful?
Would we follow Jesus even to Jerusalem and even to the cross?
The Gospels are filled with examples of people who dared to believe.
The example of Bartimaeus the blind man along the road in Jericho challenges us to do the same.
Are we brave enough to seize the moment like Bartimaeus.
I guess that’s the question of the week or maybe even most important question of our life.
Friday, October 16, 2009
As we talked his children left the room and became involved in a very loud discussion in the hallway about who would get what when their Dad died.
It was heart wrenching to hear.
I shut the door but the damage was done.
All of us have heard people say inappropriate things
All or most of us have said inappropriate things….
It is so important to remember that words are powerful and once they are spoken there is no way to take them back.
How do we respond when something inappropriate is said ?
What do we say ?
How do we act ?
Do we make fun of the person who speaks out of turn? How do we respond, how should we respond ?
In today's Gospel Jesus responded with love and perseverance.
The passage we heard today follows the third and final prediction of Jesus’ Passion and death on the cross.
Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem to face the cross
As they journeyed to Jerusalem Jesus had just finished pouring out his heart and soul to his closest friends.
He needed James and John to help him carry the terrible burden he would face in Jerusalem.
James and John and Peter were his inner circle (We don’t know where Peter was)
When Jesus finished James and John respond in the most inappropriate way.
They expressed no concern for Jesus and the cross he faced.
They promised no fidelity to their dear friend.
It is almost as if they weren’t listening at all.
When he was finished they directed the conversation toward their own needs and their own wants.
Can you imagine if you poured out your heart to someone and even told them that you were going to die and they began to ask you for favors?
Or if you told some one that you were going to suffer and they responded, “listen before you suffer can you do this for us?”
It’s hard to fathom how anyone could be so self-absorbed but that seems to be exactly the case when it comes to James and John.
Some biblical scholars believe that Matthew was so ashamed of James and John and the inappropriateness of their comments that in his narrative he puts those words on the mouth of their mother in the hope of not making the apostles look so bad.
What does Jesus do?
What does Jesus say in response to their request.
Rather than yell or take offense he draws them in more deeply into the mystery of his passion and death.
He asks them if they will be willing to suffer like he will suffer
“can you drink from the cup that I will drink?” he asks them.
And he does not promise them places of honor but rather He makes them understand that following Him will not lead them to riches and treasures and power and influence.
Rather, when we choose to follow Jesus sooner or later it has to lead to the cross because that’s where Jesus walks and that’s where Jesus goes.
Jesus also used their faux pax to teach them and the other apostles about greatness…
Greatness is not being able to sit at the right or the left of leaders or “important people”.
Greatness is not being first in line but rather being last.
Greatness is not about having people do what you want them to do.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.
For the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."
There are a number of things for each of us to consider here.
How do we act when people are inappropriate?
How do we act with people who just don’t get it?
As painful as it must have been Jesus to hear them worry about themselves when he needed them to support Him Jesus did not shun James and John.
He did not strike out at them.
He forgave them and he walked with them.
Do we walk with people?
Are we willing to work with them even when they don’t get it and they should?
Jesus did not throw up his hands in frustration he remained faithful.
How often have we just walked away from difficult people and difficult situations?
How often have we taken the easy way out and simply not confronted people who were inappropriate especially when the loving thing would have been to place ourselves at their service.
To help them understand how they should have responded appropriately instead of washing out hands of them.
So many people have never been loved enough to have someone correct them.
The Gospel also challenges us to examine what we consider greatness to be.
Sadly James and John wanted power and influence.
The other disciples wanted the same thing.
They were just angry because James and John got to Jesus first.
We should not leave this chapel today without examining our goals in life.
What are we working for ?
Do we want to serve or to be served ?
A good indication of where we are headed can be found in how we answer questions like…
How much is service a part of our lives now ?
How much of our time is spent thinking about ourselves ?
You know as I reflected on this Gospel I thought .
If a person graduates from CUA and never went on a food run or never took part in a service initiative or mission trip,
or never participated in project which benefited others…
Then we failed you and you and you failed yourself.
What a different world it would be is we all placed ourselves at the service of each others.
That’s what Jesus did… and that’ why he was on his way to Jerusalem to face the cross.
Would we do the same ?
Friday, October 09, 2009
Wisdom is the ability to understand our lives in the way that God would have us understand them.
When I was a young newly ordained priest I received a call from my Provincial.
When I answered the phone my heart skipped a beat because Provincials, just like bosses, never or rarely call just to say hello.
It usually means that you messed something up or that they want a favor.
Fortunately it was the later and I was assigned to substitute for a hospital chaplain.
My third day there I was called to the emergency room to anoint a man who had a heart attack.
I was told that it was not critical and to come when I could.
When I arrived the nurse was walking down the hall and said he’s over there.
I entered the room I found a man in his late 50's sitting up right on an examination table.
When I greeted him he did not respond in fact he didn't seem to be breathing.
I quickly anointed him and then I found the nurse and begged her to check on him. She looked at me as if I was crazy and slowly walked into the room.
Suddenly people came running from all over the ER and through God's grace this man was given a second chance.
The next 2 weeks I had the privilege of visiting him everyday and all I did was listen.
He had 2 houses and a boat
His kids were demanding and distant
The workers of his company always wanting more
His wife was angry that he was never home
He worried constantly about finding new work for his company.
I have 18 workers and their families to worry about .. that is a lot of mouths to feed.
He was filled with anger and hurt and didn't feel appreciated and so he held on very tightly to his possessions... he thought they would give him comfort.
The young man in the gospel was a good person.
The Lord looked on him with Love.
His desire for virtue was not just a fad he was going through.
He had tried to observe the God's law for years and was looking for the next step.
He did not come face to face with Jesus by chance but probably sought him out.
What do I need to do to inherit everlasting life he asked with a gleam in his eye?
He was filled with hope and so sincere, yet like the man in the hospital he held on so very tightly to his possessions..
He was afraid to let go and when Jesus suggested he sell all he have and give to the poor he went away sad.
You see he trusted is riches, he trusted his possessions more than he trusted Jesus.
A couple of years later a gentleman came up to me later in a shopping mall.
Do you remember me Father I'm your ER miracle.
In our conversation I came to find out that he had already had a second heart attack.
"I'm trying to let go Father it is just so hard."
Both the young man in the Gospel and the man in the hospital lacked wisdom.
They just couldn't seem to evaluate their choices in the light of what God wanted from them and what God wanted from them.
They had just stopped discerning and in a very real way became possessed by their possessions.
Did the Man own the houses and the business and the boat or did they own him?
Did the rich young man in the Gospel own his possession or did they own him?
Life just doesn't happen
Holiness just doesn't happen
Happiness just doesn't happen
All of us need the wisdom of God to make good life choices.
All of us need the courage to follow it.
Those of you who are still in college need wisdom to choose a major, that will use your God given talents, be fulfilling and contribute to the well being of others.
No small task indeed and that's why you drive the registrar crazy changing majors.
Those of you who are young need wisdom in choosing relationships, which bring out the best in you and enable you to experience the beauty of being in Love with someone.
Those of you who are about to graduate from college need the wisdom of God to know what you should be working for, what really is important.
Those of you who are parents need to examine yourselves continually adapting and changing your plans as your family changes and adapts.
All us need to continually evaluate our goals, dreams and yes even our possessions so that we can know what we need to hold onto and what we can let go of.
What is holding us back
What keeps us from being happy
What is keeping us from growing closer to our family and close to God
Why haven't we made more progress spiritually?
As the book of wisdom says
"I prayed, I pleaded and the spirit of wisdom came to me.
And all good things together came to me in her company"
Lord grant us the gift of Wisdom as we journey home to you.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
He was lost in contemplation, meditating on his own sins, the suffering of Christ and how much he was loved by God.
And slowly but surely a strange desire grew in his heart.
He longed to suffer in some small way like Christ suffered.
He longed in some small way to experience the wounds of Christ.
He longed in some small way to help Christ carry the cross.
He had finally fallen in love with God and this desire to suffer was motivated by his love.
Suddenly while lost in prayer Francis received an incredible gift a 6 winged angel appeared to him and in his hands and in his feet and in his side appeared the wounds of Christ.
They were not a figment of his imagination.
They could be seen and touched by others.
At times they hurt like the wounds of Christ and bled like the wounds of Christ.
Many believe that the stigmata was God’s final approbation of Francis, his life, his dreams and his brotherhood.
The stigmata was God’s final stamp of approval of the little man from Assisi who had tried so hard to imitate Christ that many called him an “alter Christus” or like another Christ.
You know when I would explain this to the exhausted pilgrims who would come to the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi on their tours many would turn away or roll their eyes. Some would come right out and say… “That’s weird” or “Too weird for me.”
They could understand poverty and the importance of placing one’s trust in God.
They could understand the importance of not being owned by our possessions.
They could understand the importance of purifying their love through the virtue of chastity and the importance of trying to love without seeking anything in return.
They could understand obedience and how all of us are called to surrender our wills to God and to God’s plan for us.
But the Stigmata was just too much for them to take so I tried to show them how much suffering love is already been a part of all of our lives.
How about our parents who would get up in the middle of the night when we were sick? (suffering love indeed)
You know I always had whatever I needed as a child not necessarily what I wanted but I always had whatever I needed often at great sacrifice to my parents. (Suffering Love)
Anyone in love,
anyone who loves,
anyone who has ever loved is willing to suffer.
Many years ago a kid in my office who was being sent home.
I spent three days trying to convince him to call home.
When he did his father lost it and there was lots of screaming and yelling.
When the kid got home there was more yelling and fighting and they even shoved each other. It was horrible.
The next day the kid was sleeping
And all of a sudden the dad was standing there dressed in running clothes
This was not a very common site.
The kid could not remember the last time his Dad ran.
He said to his son get up we are going to run.
There was no explanation.
Rather than fight again the kid surrendered.
At first it was easy but then the kid noticed that his Dad was getting winded.
It started to bother the son when he looked over at his Dad and saw he “sucking air”.
After a while the young man began to worry about his father.
Not much farther the kid looked over and his Dad was covered in sweat
They ran on and ran on and ran on.
Finally when they came to the bottom of a huge hill the son just could not let his Dad run anymore.
He grabbed his father and said why are we doing this?
It took a minute for his Dad to speak.
When he caught his breath he said
“I was horrible to you last night, we were horrible to each other”
I couldn’t sleep last night.
I had to figure out a way that I could convince you that I loved you.
I knew the only way I could prove it to you was to suffer for you.
So I was going to keep running until you stopped me or I fell over.
The Dad continued…
”We are going to come home.
We are going to get you evaluated to see if you have a drug problem.
You are going to get a job and pay the family back for the tuition you lost. “
And we are going to face all of this together.
I’m your Father, you are my son and I should have never lost my temper.
I will never speak to you like that again.
When you hear the story like… it’s easy to understand how St. Francis love God and why St. Francis longed to suffer for Christ.
May all of us like St. Francis fall in love with God
May all of us spurred on by our love for God love each other more and more.
May the redemptive power of a love willing to suffer change our hearts.
May it change our families,
change our country
change our church
and may it change the world.
Happy Feast of St. Francis.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Last night I stopped over at A Simple House on T Street NW, There is a community there which includes three CUA Alumni. As the name implies it is a simple little community of good people trying to live the Gospel as best as they can. To be honest I’m kind of ashamed that it has taken me so long to get there.
Here is what I noticed….
As the name implies they live simply… They try to remove from their lives, or not invite into their lives, those things which get in the way of living the Gospel. Recently when one of the houses was broken into the perpetrators probably had a hard time finding something that they wanted to steal. I guess it’s one of the benefits of living simply.
They are normal people… I’ve known them since they were freshmen.. They are normal.. they are just like us. Sometimes we tend to excuse ourselves from the Gospel call to service and holiness by saying oh “those people are holy, they are different” The residents of A Simple House are like you and me and for a while God has called them to live their lives in community with each other and those in need and they said yes...
They genuinely love the people they serve. All over the house there are photos scotch taped to the walls, Pictures of families, of little kids of moments of community. Each photo shows a person they have had the privilege to know. The people of A Simple House’s community seem to be touched by the lives of the people they serve as much as much or more as they are of service to them. (Does that make sense?) In other words… as often is the case with the Gospel, they seem to get as much or more as they give… in their service to the people in DC.
Sadly our culture always seems to put a treadmill of busyness and worries and challenges before us and says run. Most of us do… I know I have run on that treadmill for years sometimes its so hard to get off. Then out of the blue God sends you an invitation to anOpen House at A Simple House and gently invites you to look again at what is important. That’s what happened to me last night.
Thanks Bianca Laura and Ryan… thanks for a great night… Proud of you … always have been. Erin great meeting you and I’m proud of you too.
PS. Click on their logo and it will take you to their website. They can explain their call and their dream a lot better than I can.
Friday, September 25, 2009
I’ve been walking a lot of lately and one day while I was walking from CUA to the National Cathedral along Porter Street I spied a group of children up ahead in a very lively discussion.
The discussion was heated and it seemed to be about some game they were playing certainly something important to them. It was a mixture with English and Spanish.
As I approached I thought I would just walk by but all of a sudden… one of the kids yelled “Mr. they aren’t being fair.” which led to a similar shout from the opposing side.
I didn’t know what to say and found myself in the middle of these kids fighting about something I didn’t understand.
The kids were clearly frustrated and their sentences all began with they…
They did this
They did that
They, they, they..
Thank God a woman with a baby came along and stepped in and the kids began to listen to her and ignore me because she obviously was a much more qualified arbiter.
She spoke in English and Spanish.
As I walked on I thought we are so quick to join groups and to label ourselves “us and them”
The kids were simply arguing about a game.. and probably when things were decided they went back to playing..
Thanks God kids don’t usually hold grudges, that little trick is somehow learned later on in life.
When adults label others
When adults begin sentences with “they”…
We often segregate ourselves from “them” or refuse to let “them” or “those people” be a part of our lives..
We refuse to recognize and good in “Them”
Once a person is labeled as part of Them it is really hard for many to open the door of their heart to “them” again.
When children begin every sentence with They….
it can be harmless when adults begin every sentence with they… it can be catastrophic.
Lumping people together with labels like
or bad or whatever
Is one of the saddest things a human being can do.
Yet that’s exactly what the disciples did in today’s Gospel..
They saw people they didn’t know
They saw people who were not from their group
not a part of their circle of friends
expelling demons and they judged them or labeled them.
They didn’t consider that demons were indeed being expelled or good was being done
They didn’t see that “the others” were actually helping people.
Instead they judged that they were some how infringing on their turf.
They thought we are the disciples of Jesus, Only we are allowed to do good for others in his name..
Jesus … used it as another teaching moment in his final crash course on his way to Jerusalem.
He called on his disciples not to be scandalized by the good deeds of others but rather
to judge everyone not by the arbitrary groups we establish
but by the fruits of their lives.
In other words we should judge people by how they live and what they accomplish
And so the first message we need to take away from this Gospel is simply that.
We should rejoice in the good that others do rather than be jealous or envious because they are different than us.
In other words should not allow ourselves to be scandalized easily by the deeds of others.
The second message is in the same vein.
Jesus uses this occasion to teach the disciplies that It is of paramount importance that we do not scandalize others.
It is so important for us not to be a stumbling block which makes it harder for others believe in God and to live good lives.
The words of Jesus should not be taken lightly… and when I think about them seriously sometimes they frighten me.
"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea.”
So how do you keep from scandalizing others ?
Jesus resorts to hyperbole to make his point when he says… If it caused you to sin cut it off or rip it out.
If the disciples took him literally it would have been really easy to tell his disciples from the non believers because every single one of them or us would have been missing some body part.
People would have been able to say… “Oh there’s a Christian and there’s another one…”
because all of us would have been bandaged up from head to toe.
What Jesus is saying is simply this..
We always have to strive to identify those things which things which hold us back and remove them from our lives.
And sometimes letting go of our pride
letting go of our anger or rage,
letting go resentfullness
letting go of our possessions or
letting go of our spiritual laziness or sloth
letting go of whatever
may seem as hard as cutting away a piece of ourselves, It may seem as hard as cutting off our hand or plucking out our eye.
Yet if we want to avoid ever giving scandal
and live good lives
live holy lives
Sometimes, actually almost always
its demands what might seem to be radical surgery or some kind of spiritual amputation.
Let us be slow to judge others or lump them in to groups… rather let us recognize their works and rejoice in their good deeds…
Let us examine our lives carefully, prayerfully, thoughtfully
and be quick to take from our lives those things which separate us from God and each other
Even if sometimes it seems that doing so will demand radical surgery on our personality and our lives
How we love your word oh lord.. help us understand how to put it into practice.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Someone Sent Me this… and who knows why I am posting it on my blog? For some reason it just seems useful.
A lady got up very early one morning and went outside to pickup the Sunday paper, she noticed someone had prayed red paint all around the sides of the neighbors brand new beige truck. She went over and woke him up and gave him the bad news. He was, of course extremely upset.
And they stood there trying to figure out what could be done about the problem. They decided there wasn't much recourse but to wait until Monday, since nothing was open. Just then another neighbor came out of his house, surveyed the situation and immediately went to get hisWD-40 out and cleaned the red paint off with it. Guess What! It cleaned up that paint without harming the original paint on the truck! I'm impressed!!
W ater Displacement #40. The product began from a search for A rust preventative solvent and de greaser to protect Missile parts. WD-40 was created in 1953 by three Technicians at the San Diego Rocket Chemical Company. Its name comes from the project that was to find a'water displacement' compound. They were successful with the fortieth formulation, thus WD-40. The Corvair Company bought it in bulk to protect their atlas missile parts.
Ken East (one of the original founders) says there is nothing in WD-40 that would hurt you...' IT IS MADE FROM FISH OIL' . When you read the 'shower door' part, try it. It's the first thing that has ever cleaned that spotty shower door. If yours is plastic, it works just as well as glass. It is a miracle! Then try it on your stovetop.. It is now shinier than it has ever been before.
1) Protects silver from tarnishing.
2) Removes road tar and grime from cars.
3) Cleans and lubricates guitar strings.
4) Gives floors that `just-waxed` sheen without making it slippery.
5) Keeps flies off cows.
6) Restores and cleans chalkboards.
7) Removes lipstick stains.
8) Loosens stubborn zippers.
9) Untangles jewelry chains.
10) Removes stains from stainless steel sinks.
11) Removes dirt and grime from the barbecue grill.
12) Keeps ceramic/terra cotta garden pots from oxidizing.
13) Removes tomato stains from clothing.
14) Keeps glass shower doors free of water spots.
15) Camouflages scratches in ceramic and marble floors.
16) Keeps scissors working smoothly.
17) Lubricates noisy door hinges on v ehicles and doors in homes
18) It removes black scuff marks from the kitchen floor! Open some windows if you have a lot of marks.
19) Bug guts will eat away the finish on your car. Removed quickly, with WD-40!
20) Gives a children's play gym slide a shine for a super fast slide.
21) Lubricates gear shift on lawn mowers..
22) Rids kids rocking chairs and swings of squeaky noises.
23) Lubricates tracks in sticking home windows and makes them easier to open.
24) Spraying an umbrella stem makes it easier to open and close.
25) Restores and cleans padded leather dashboards in vehicles, well as vinyl bumpers.
26) Restores and cleans roof racks on vehicles.
27 ) Lubricates and stops squeaks in electric fans.
28) Lubricates wheel sprockets on tricycles, wagons, and bicycles for easy handling.
29) Lubricates fan belts on washers and dryers and keeps them running smoothly.
30) Keeps rust from forming on saws and saw blades, and other tools.
31) Remove s splattered grease on stove.
32) Keeps bathroom mirror from fogging.
33) Lubricates prosthetic limbs.
34) Keeps pigeons off the balcony (they hate the smell).
35) Removes all traces of duct tape.
36) Folks even spray it on their arms, hands, and knees to relieve arthritis pain
37) Florida 's favorite use 'Cleans and removes love bugs from grills and bumpers.'
38) Protects the Statue of Liberty from the elements.
39) WD-40 attracts fish. Spray a LITTLE on live bait or lures and you will be catching the big one in no time.
40) Ant bites. It takes the sting away immediately and stops the itch.
41) WD-40 is great for removing crayon from walls. Spray on the mark and wipe with a clean rag.
42) If you've washed and dried a tube of lipstick with a load of laundry, saturate the lipstick spots with WD-40 and Presto! Lipstick is gone!
43) If you spray WD-40 on the distributor cap, it will displace the moisture and allow the car to start.
Keep a can of WD-40 in your kitchen cabinet. It is good for oven burns or any other type of burn. It takes the burned feeling away and heals with NO scarring.
Remember, the basic ingredient is FISH OIL
Friday, September 18, 2009
May the peace of Christ reign in our hearts
In today’s Gospel Jesus has left the north and has begun his journey towards Jerusalem.
He knows that with each step forward he is in greater danger and there is also something else very difficult in this passage.
In this his second warning about his death Jesus hints at betrayal “The Son of Man will be handed over…It would appear that Jesus understands the struggle going on in the heart of Judas..
By speaking clearly about it he seems to be trying to help Judas see the error of his way.
Notice that he no longer waits for crowds to form or gather around him in fact from this passage it almost seems that he does not want the crowds
One could venture to guess that Jesus knows that his main task he is to concentrate on the training of the apostles.
Jesus is fully aware that if the message, the good news is to last it has to be written on the hearts of his closest followers.
A crash course is needed
Yes this passage paints a pretty intense picture.
The next paragraph helps us understand just how important this crash course really is.
While they were walking Jesus heard them arguing among themselves on who would be the greatest…
He didn’t stop them he let them keep talking
He knew he could turn it into a teaching moment later
Their discussion on who would be the greatest teaches us so much about how much they understood the kingdom of God and time was short.
1. It teaches us that they are in denial about the sacrifices, suffering and death which Jesus and eventually all of them will face
2. It shows that they are still dreaming of worldly power and prestige maybe even wealth
3. It helps us understand that their primary motivation is still self-seeking
4. Finally their silence when confronted about their discussion shows that in their hearts of hearts they knew what was right and what was wrong.
Jesus took their visions of grandeur and self interest very seriously
He sat down… and he called them around him
This was a signal to all of them that Jesus considered what he was going to say very seriously
And he challenged them to move from a ambition to rule to an ambition to service and power.
And with the example of a little child reminds them that service to the weak, the poor, those without influence those who can do little for themselves is what their ambition should be directed toward.
So much to think about so much for us to ponder today..
Why are we here…?
Why are we in this beautiful Church?
Why do we give God space in our crowded lives?
Are we here so that we can pass that test we didn’t prepare for?
Are we here so that we seem holy to others?
Or because if we don’t come we fear that God will punish us ?
In other words is our motivation like that of the apostles in today’s Gospel
Is our presence here fundamentally self seeking and self interested here?
Are we in denial about what it takes to be an apostle of Christ?
Are we in denial like the apostles who just can’t accept that being a follower of Christ entails sacrifice and suffering?
Do we continue to delude ourselves into thinking that some way we can avoid our cross whatever it may be, even though Jesus himself did not avoid the cross but rather embrassed it.?
Finally do we accept the fact that being of service to others… is an essential component in our life of faith.?
Can you imagine what world would be like if we all took to heart the call to service in today’s Gospel ?
Let us realize that the gift of the Gospel has been given to us and it is up to us to share it.
Just like Jesus needed the apostles to carry on his message, God needs our generations to continue to move hearts bring the message to those in need
Let us remind ourselves that just like Jesus needed the time to give the apostles a crash course…
We need time to develop and deepen our faith so that we may answer the Gospel’s call to service
One hour a week at Mass is not enough
Let us continually search our minds our hearts our actions our desires so that our motives for following Christ may be pure and holy not self seeking or selfish in any way
Finally every night let’s exam our day and see how much we have placed ourselves at the service of others and the Gospel ?
And if most of our efforts have been directed towards our own self interests let’s promise to do better.
We need to do better.
Whoever receives the poor, the helpless, those who just don’t get it,
Whoever receives the socially awkward, those who can’t fend for themselves.
Whoever receives those who can’t possibly repay an act of kindness.
Those who are hopelessly entwined in self-interest.
If we receive these In the Name Jesus
We Receive him…
We have a lot of work to do