Friday, October 30, 2009

The Feast of All Saint - 2009

image Reading 1
Responsorial Psalm
Reading 2

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

30th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year - B

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

29th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year B October 18, 2009

Once when I was working in a Hospital a man was given bad news about his prognosis.

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 ?

Frustrated ?
Angry ?
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

28th Sunday Ordinary Time – Year B - 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.