Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas 2010

One of my earliest memories of Christmas, besides waiting as the top of the stairs to hear Grandma Susie say goodbye to Santa, was of our family Manger Scene.

I remember it vividly
It was made up of 16 plaster statues
There were Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,
3 Shepherds two of whom were kneeling,
3 kings one was kneeling and one led a camel,
There was an angel who we called Gloria.
She was dressed in blue and held a sash with her name.

There was a cow without a tail,
and a donkey without an ear.

Finally there were three little sheep who used to ride with baby Jesus in coal car of my train which was under the tree.
The figures were pretty bumped up from 2 boys and 4 grandchildren.
And it is still in my mom’s house
We’ve had it for 61 years.

I can remember as a little boy laying on the floor of the living room and peering into the stable and rearranging the figures and telling myself the story over and over again.
As banged up as that little Manger scene was it taught me many important lessons.
Here is some of what I learned.

Jesus Our Lord and
Jesus our Savior and Jesus our Brother was born in a stable…

He was born in a stable that
we might understand that a simple life can be a good life.

He was born in the stable that
We might understand that we don’t need every new gadget.

We don’t need every modern convenience.
We don’t need huge houses impossible to clean and pay for.

The stable reminds us all that
sometimes we work so hard for things that rust and rot away that
and we miss the things and the moments which really are important.

As we look into the stable and gaze upon the manger…
let us remember that a simple life can be a good life indeed.

Jesus was…
Wrapped in swaddling clothes and
laid in a Manger on a bed of straw.

The manger held the food for the animals
It shape also made a perfect bed for Jesus.

But as I grew up I came to understand that there was a special symbolism here.
For Jesus and Jesus alone is indeed our Heavenly food only he can satisfy our hunger.
Every time we gaze on the manger
it is important to remember that

we will only ever be satisfied
when we eat the Bread of Life and drink the cup of salvation.

Only God
God’s will and purpose
Only God’s Love can  fill us up and satisfy us

Every other “satisfaction” is an illusion…
Our souls will not rest until they rest in God both on earth and in heaven.

The manger also taught me that
Upon Him a star shown bright
For God wanted to make sure that everyone could find him
and that everyone knew that they were loved.

The star was a indeed a beacon of hope to a world quite frequently lonely and broken.
It is impossible to hide a bright light in the sky.
It is impossible not to notice a bright shining star.

Why the Star
The message of the star and the message of the Gospel are clear

The star shown in the sky so that all of humanity in every age might find God’s Son and be saved.
Indeed they came
They came from the east bearing gifts
They came from the neighboring fields
They came from the heavens themselves

The Son of God was greeted by both shepherds and kings
The rich and the poor
The powerful and the weak
The famous and the not so famous
The healthy and the sick
The loud and the shy
The lowly and the great

And all of creation was filled with joy at the sight of a God who became a baby
In these frenetic days of family and friends
In these days of gifts food, and drink

Pray God that we learn the lessons of the Manger well
•    A Simple life is a good life
•    Only God can satisfy our deepest hungers
•    The star shines on everyone as does God’s Love
•    All are welcome

Best wishes for a most blessed Christmas and a happy and holy new Year

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The 4th Sunday of Advent - Year C – 2010

May the Peace of Christ Reign in our Hearts
As we get closer to Christmas there is so much to do…
If you are organized you've probably gotten a lot of it done

But then there are the rest of us.

I’m sure I’m forgetting something but here goes..
Christmas lists
Christmas baking
Christmas cards
Christmas trees
buying or climbing into the attic to get is.

One Friary keeps all of their trees in the bell tower with a big bag over it.

Christmas decorating no offence but I think we have the best looking house on the block… oops were the only house on the block (Fr. Michael’s Handiwork)
Wrapping and delivering Christmas present
Christmas shopping
Christmas meal planning
Christmas food runs to Stop and Shop or Stews

If you need to work on patience in your life… go and try to keep from screaming when the lady in front of you picked a ham with no price label at Stews ?
Getting your hair done Christmas
Christmas packing (if you are traveling)
Christmas house cleaning
I’m sure there’s more

Preparation Preparation Preparation
There is so much to do

Sad to say I have one more thing to add to our list.
When Fr. Raymond and I came here the Attic in the friary was filled stuff there was so much stuff up there.
There was even stuff up there from friars long gone home to God and other places…

I got a good pair of shoes from the attic who know who they belonged to.

I even found Fr. Herbert’s High School Yearbook. 
Finally one day with the help of our volunteers we got a construction dumpster and loaded it up with junk...
It had to be done.
The stuff would not go away by itself.

Just like we cleaned the attic
Before Christmas each of us has to clean out the stable of our heart hence the signs on the doors.

We have to remove any trace of anger or resentment especially towards family member that we will see over the break.
We have to forgive them that’s what God does for us.

We have to remove our gossip and our laziness
We have to get rid of our greed and our lack of fidelity.

We have to remove from our hearts the selfishness that keeps us from giving God His rightful place in our lives.
We have to get rid of all of the lies and exaggerations we have told.
We have to remove everything which keeps us from being the Men and Women that God would have us be.
And it's not enough for us to say
I'm gonna do better....
we’ve all done that before… I know I do that everyday

Part of the healing process is to force ourselves to say I'm sorry.
Saying I'm sorry if very very important indeed.
So important that God even gives us

A special sacrament where we can express our sorrow and know that we are forgiven.

Yep there’s one more thing to do before Christmas
One more thing to add to the list.

Our Parish Christmas Confessions will be held on Tuesday starting at 7:00 PM.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

3rd Sunday of Advent 2010 - Year A

John the Baptism was a real person.
He is not a myth or a story.
He lived and breathed and laughed and cried like you and me.

He was a holy man, a passionate man,
There is no doubt that he knew of his miraculous birth,
and from when he was a little boy knew that he that God had a special plan for him.

When we hear of John again years later
He has become an itinerant preacher calling people to repentance.

If you read the accounts in the Gospels it becomes clear that he was not calm or gentle in his ministry.
He was driven a desperate man.
He was hard on the people and he was hard on himself.
He lived in the dessert in the poorest of poor conditions because
material things and comforts did not mean anything to him.

He was a man on a mission.
John was all these things because he was sure without a shadow of a doubt that when the Messiah came so would God's judgment.

The Gospel today is difficult to understand
The scholars I've read look at it in two different ways.

The first one is simply this.

To many it appears that John is having doubts in prison.

Maybe, just maybe prison was taking its toll.
John had expected that the Messiah would come in a triumphant manner and judge the world.

That's why John was so desperate to get people to change their lives
He was convinced time was short.
And when all of these thing didn’t happen as he expected maybe he just wasn’t sure anymore about Jesus.

Maybe he had doubts,
and so it follows that he sent ijs trusted friends to talk to Jesus and find out what was going on.

“Are you the one who is to come or should we wait for someone?” he asked

Another interpretation of this passage goes like this.

John really had no doubts at all.
He knew the answer to his question before he asked it.

John sent his disciples to Jesus so that they would get to know him
and follow him.

Remember John's famous saying.
“I must decrease he must increase.”

Sending his disciples to Jesus was just another way for him to decrease.

Scholars who follow this line of thought see John’s sending of his disciples as his last act of love and surrender to Jesus the Messiah.

So we have one passage but two really different interpretations.
Both of teach us something.

The first is simply this...

We should not be afraid of doubt.

Doubt will come to our marriages and relationships.
Doubt will come to our jobs.
Sometimes we will doubt our children or our ability as parents.
Most of us at some point in our lives will doubt ourselves.
Doubt is part of our human condition.

Maybe John was doubting… so what.
Maybe we have our doubts... so what.

If John’s questions was indeed and expression of doubt,
then it is important for us see how he handled it
and to listen to Jesus’ response.

Jesus did not get angry or upset that John was doubting.
He did not send his disciples back with a correction or rebuke

Rather he tried to use his good deeds to help John find consolation.
Jesus wanted John to find consolation as he suffered in prison.

When we have doubts God does not get angry with us but rather he wants to find a way to help us understand.

He wants us to find consolation.

The lesson for us is simple…
It’s ok to doubt.

Doubt may be the next step to a deeper faith

What’s important is that we follow John’s example and seek to understand.

If John was really not doubting at all but rather surrendering his dearest friends and followers to Jesus.
Then there is also a very important lesson for us indeed.

Love and sacrifice go hand in hand.

If John was sending his disciples to Jesus he did so because he loved them,
if John was sending his disciples to Jesus he did so because knew it would be best for them
John also knew that without them he would be more alone

He knew that he would be more at the mercy of his jailers and King Herod.

Yet love called John to sacrifice even his last remaining followers and that is what he did.
The Lesson here is simple Love and sacrifice often go hand in hand.

Holy Ones...

Let us imitate John the Baptist
When doubt is a part of our lives let's not wallow in it but
rather let's do everything we can to find the answers we need.

When love calls let us not be afraid to answer no matter what the cost

God Bless You All !!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

1st Sunday of Advents–Year 2010


May the peace of Christ reign in our hearts.

Today once more, we begin the season of Advent.
The first candle is lit on the Advent Wreath

There are 4 weeks until Christmas.

With Black Friday
The secular preparations have begun in earnest and yes there is lots to get done.

On the first Sunday of Advent
It is fitting that all of us ask ourselves…

Are we ready?
Are we ready to be the people God wants us to be
Are we ready to make room for the Lord Jesus in our lives and in our hearts.
Are we more ready today than we were last year on the first Sunday of Advent?

You know when I was a kid on St. Paul Court… in Cheektowaga NY
when we were playing hide and seek… we used to yell

Ready of not here I come.
Today the Church says ready or not here He comes…

Have we made a place for God in our lives?
Have we let go of the vices that hold us back from giving our lives to Christ and sharing our lives with each other?
Are we ready to love like God loves?

For the little ones here in this Church this may be their 5th or 6th or 18th Advent.
For me its number 55
Some of you even have more Advents under your belt.
As we look back over the years and all the opportunities we’ve had to prepare a place in our heart for Christ…

How much progress have we made?
Has our resolution to become a better person,
a holy person
been as flimsy as our resolution to try and lose weight.

Today’s readings.. give us a lot of options to help us prepare a better place in our lives and in our heart for God.

The first readings speaks of turning from violence

Have we turned our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hook ?

I don’t think many people here in this church are physically violent
at least I hope not….
this is still an area where we may need to improve.
Even angry thoughts, and bitter words cannot be a part of a Christians’ life.

In the second reading
St. Paul gives us a veritable list of things which we may have to change
just to name a few..

All of these things get in the way of allowing Christ into our hearts.

When our heart is filled with lust or jealousy there is simply no room for others and no room for Christ.

All of these things hold us back and make it harder for us to love our neighbor.

When the people during Noah’s time saw him build the ark and thought he was crazy. They simply dismissed him.
As he and his sons labored on the ark they did not see a clear sign for them to change their hearts.

They lulled themselves into a kind of spiritual haze or complacency as they lived their lives “business as usual”
By the time Noah got into the ark it was too late for them to build an ark of their own or make the necessary changes in their lives.

Advent is here…

Let’s us not take this wonderful opportunity for conversion for granted

Ready or not here he comes…


Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Feast of Christ the King (Revised) 2010

May the peace of Christ reign in our hearts

Today the last Sunday of the year the Church celebrates we celebrate the feast of Christ the King…

Christ the King who laid down his life for each one of us.

Christ the King whose simplicity of life teaches us what’s really important.

Christ the King who generously and wantonly gives mercy to anyone who asks it.

I never find it easy preaching on this feast day..

We have a hard time understanding Kings in the United States..

A King was the protector of his people.

A good King would even lay down his life for his People

A King ruled over his Kingdom his word was law and if he was a good king a fair king, a holy king, then everyone flourished in his kingdom.

A King was also the ultimate Judge the provider of Justice…

It was he who punished and he who granted mercy.

A King protects

A King rules

A King judges

It is indeed appropriate that we celebrate the feast of Christ our King.

If we read the Gospel carefully there were two types of people in the crowd at the crucifixion.

Those who attacked Jesus were mostly the religious leaders of his time

They taunted and ridiculed the Jesus mercilessly.

They looked on his crucifixion as a complete victory and they looked on Jesus as a fraud and a failure.

For a while it seemed like he would be a threat to them.
For a while they were concerned about the number of people following him.

Now as he hung on the cross their position of power and prestige were secure.

There were others in the crowd

They had the courage not to go along with the majority.

They stood at the foot of the cross in silence and in prayer.

What does the passage say to us?
What are we supposed to learn from it?

I propose to you three thoughts.

I believe the first lesson is this….

We should never try and fit the message of Christ into our culture or world view.

That was the tragedy of the religious leaders of his time.

Jesus didn’t fit their mold or expectations so they dismissed him.

As followers of Christ it is our job, rather our sacred mission, to bring our world to Christ

NOT water down or change the Gospel so that it is more acceptable to the world.

This is a mistake that many people make.

So often people say to me “come on father get with the times… nobody believes that anymore”

The times may change but the teaching of Christ doesn’t.

People who think this way seem to think that the truths of the Gospel are dependent on cultures and times and fads and even majority rule.

It’s as if they feel that we should vote on what we believe or not.

In season and out of season at any cost we must remain faithful to the Gospel of Christ the King.

Nations come and go, cultures change,
what people think changes like the wind,

but the Truths of the Gospel remain the same.

The second point which we need to consider is this.

This Gospel should cause us all to ask ourselves if Jesus were crucified today where would be in the crowd which side would we be on ?

Would we join with the vocal abusive majority or would we have the courage to stand in reverent silence.

Do we have the courage to stand up for the truth of the Gospel or do we follow the crowd?

Are we leaders or followers at work or in our communities.

Finally the Gospel today challenges us to hope

To hope in all circumstance

That is what the good thief did

There is no question that the men who hung on either side of Jesus were guilty as charged.

They were only facing justice.

They deserved what they got.

Yet one was saved and one was not.

Despite a life of horrendously wrong choices

Despite a life of hurting others

Despite a life of selfish self-seeking and arrogantly putting his wants and needs before others

The repentant thief had the courage to say I’m sorry

He admitted he was  guilty

then he said  I’m sorry…

And that’s exactly how we are supposed to ask for forgiveness.

Admit that we are wrong and say I’m sorry

If we do that God’s mercy can always be ours.

There is no limit to God’s Mercy

And because he dared to hope and ask forgiveness

The repentant their heard these words

“Today you will be with me in paradise”

Holy ones

Let us be faithful to the Gospel in season and out of season

Let us be willing to stand up for the truth as leaders not followers

Let us be men and women who seek God’s forgiveness and show mercy to others.


Friday, November 19, 2010

The Feast of Christ the King

The Feast of Christ the King

May the peace of Christ reign in our hearts

Today the last Sunday of the year the Church celebrates we celebrate the feast of Christ the King…

Christ the King who laid down his life for each one of us.

Christ the King whose simplicity of life teaches us what’s really important.

Christ the King who generously and wantonly gives mercy to anyone who asks it.

If we read the Gospel carefully there were two types of people in the crowd at the crucifixion.
There are those who are silent and those who were virulent in their attacks on Jesus.

The second group was mostly the religious leaders of his time  and they taunted and ridiculed the Jesus mercilessly.

They looked on his crucifixion as a complete victory and they looked on Jesus as a fraud and a failure.

For a while it seemed like he would be a threat to them.

For a while they were concerned about the number of people following him.

Now as he hung on the cross their position of power and prestige were secure.

There were others in the crowd

They had the courage not to go along with the majority
They stood at the foot of the cross in silence and in prayer.

What does the passage say to us?
What are we supposed to learn from it?
I propose to you three thoughts.

The first is this

We should never try and fit the message of Christ into our culture or world view.

That was the tragedy of the religious leaders of his time.

Jesus didn’t fit their mold or expectations so they dismissed him.

As followers of Christ it is our job, rather our sacred mission, to bring our world to Christ not water down or change the Gospel so that it is more acceptable to the world.

This is a mistake that many people make.

So often people say to me “come on father get with the times… nobody believes that anymore”

People who think this way seem to think that the truths of the Gospel are dependent on cultures and times and fads and even majority rule.

It’s as if they feel that we should vote on what we believe or not.

In season and out of season at any cost we must remain faithful to the Gospel of Christ the King.

Nations come and go, cultures change, what people think changes like the wind, but the Truths of the Gospel remain the same.

The second point which we need to consider is this.

This Gospel should cause us all to ask ourselves if Jesus were crucified today where would be in the crowd which side would we be on ?

Would we join with the vocal abusive majority or would we have the courage to stand in reverent silence.

Do we have the courage to stand up for the truth or do we follow the crowd?

Finally the Gospel today challenges us to hope
To hope in all circumstance
To hope without ever giving into despair

There could not be a more drastic circumstance than dying on a cross

There is no question that the both of the thieves were guilty as charged.
They were only facing justice.
They deserved what they got.

Yet one was saved and one was not.
One gave up on himself and the other took one last chance

Despite a life of horrendously wrong choices
Despite a life of hurting others
Despite a life of selfish self-seeking and arrogantly putting his wants and needs before others

The repentant thief found allowed himself to hope in God’s mercy
He allowed himself to be loved by God.

And because he dared to hope and ask forgiveness
The repentant their heard these words

“Today you will be with me in paradise”

Holy ones

Let us follow the example of Christ the King
Let us be faithful to the Gospel in season and out of season
Let us be willing to stand up for the truth
Let us be men and women who proclaim God’s loving mercy
Let us be merciful to each other….


Sunday, November 07, 2010

From the Bulletin This Week

A Few Simple Words.....
Here at St. Paul we’ve been thinking a lot about numbers this week. Last week was the end of the October Count, which is taken up all over the country. The results have already been sent to the Archdiocese. This year our average church attendance reached
2,098. That is a 6% increase over last year, and last year there was a 10% increase. The fact that our parish is still growing is also reflected in the number of students participating in our Religious Education Program. Our final number this year is 960. Our religious education students are taught by 82 volunteer religious education
teachers and staffed by 3 part-time staff members. This year each of our students will receive 26 hours of religious instruction. That means our religious education program is providing 24,960 hours of instruction to the young people of our parish. That’s a number to
be proud of for sure.

I was also impressed by how seriously the parents of our religious education students take their responsibilities. This week we held a workshop for the parents of our students who will be receiving First Reconciliation and Communion this year. Out of 93 families, all but
17 attended one of the sessions. We will be sending the 17 families, who were unable to attend, a link so that they can watch the presentation on-line. Numbers, numbers, numbers… The Kingdom of God is not about numbers, but it is important for every  pastor to understand them and understand what they mean for the
pastoral life of the Parish.

Speaking of numbers, this year, to date, we have had 62 funerals. On All Soul’s Day we invited all of the families of our beloved deceased (those buried from our Church) for a memorial Mass. The Bereavement Committee and Sr. Ellen did a great job of organizing the Mass and refreshments that followed. Many of the
people who attended commented on how much they appreciated the Mass and the effort our parish made in reaching out to them. I  was surprised by the number that attended. We almost ran out of the Eucharist. I was also moved by how many from each family
attended. This is a wonderful tradition at St. Paul and a beautiful way for us to support the members of our parish who have preceded us home to God. It gave me a chance to catch up with  and check up on some of the families I met when I presided at the funerals of their loved ones.

One area where our numbers are slightly down is in our
Thanksgiving food collection. Because of your generosity we are usually able to provide 30 needy families from the area with a whole week’s worth of groceries and a gift certificate to buy anything they are missing for their Thanksgiving meal. The Social Action Committee wants to make sure that everyone knows that you can still bring donations of food until November 12th. If you are able, please drop off your food donation in the downstairs hallway of the Church. That will save our maintenance staff from having to
move it every day. If you are unable to make it down the stairs, please leave it in the vestibule next to the wall so that no one trips on it.

Here are some numbers for you. Me, Four Teachers –Three Teacher’s aids, one Principal, a School Counselor, a few parents, and 112 beautiful little children from Pre-K to – Third Grade. All of
us were at Mass. When I walked out of the sacristy I wasn’t sure the Pre-K kids were standing until I saw that they were indeed standing - they just couldn’t see over the pews. I was pretty nervous about the Mass. Could they handle sitting still so long? Did they know they could take over whenever they wanted? The
Mass was beautiful, just beautiful. They were very well behaved and all 112 came up for a blessing because none of them have received communion yet. Would that we could all be so innocent and sincere. As I write this, Matthew 18:2-3 comes to mind. “He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, Amen, I say to
you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Something to think about for sure.

Finally, the gospel this week also speaks about numbers. The poor woman in the Gospel had seven husbands and they all died. The Sadducees probably made up the story to illustrate their difficulty in believing in eternal life. No one could have been that bad a cook. We who have been blessed with the gift of faith know that this life is not all there is. We know that by his death and resurrection Jesus conquered death and, therefore, our life on earth is just a prelude to life everlasting with God. I knew a very old Italian priest who
used to say whenever he was faced by a problem or a difficulty… “It’s no big deal when I think of everlasting life.” It sounds better in Italian. This week when life throws us a curve ball, let’s try and fix our eyes on the prize (the prize of eternal life, that is); and when we
do so, our everyday problems and difficulties will not seem so daunting.

Thanks for taking the time to read all of this…
Fr. Robert

32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C - 2010

Reading 1
Responsorial Psalm
Reading 2

This week two simple, or two important thoughts come to mind.

In the First reading,
The young men and their mother were not willing to compromise or renounce their faith and they suffered greatly for it.

I found myself asking..

How strong is my faith?
Is it strong enough to die for ?
I hope so…

Look at all those Catholics who died in the Cathedral of Bagdad recently.

They knew the dangers and yet they went to Church…
If it was dangerous for me to come to this Church would I come ?

You know the history of the Church is filled with people who died rather than renounce their faith.

And the history of the church is filled with people who just loved even the unlovable.

How strong is our faith?
How strong is our love for God?

Jesus said,
Greater love than this no one has than to give their life for a friend.

Sometimes we are called to give our lives in one blaze of glory like a martyr.

Other times God asks us to be martyrs but in a different way.

Sometimes God asks us to lay down our lives over and over and over again day in and day out.

Caring for a loved one who is ill…
Putting up with a long term illness
or maybe forgiving someone over and over and over again.

No matter how we lay our lives down
In a moment or day in and day out

That’s how Jesus loved and that’s how we are called to love.

The second thought comes from the Gospel.
The Sadducees were not bad people.

They were the priests of the temple, the religious leaders of their time

They lived thoughtful and sacrificial lives…and yet they failed to recognized the Messiah for whom they had waited for with great expectation.

How is that possible?
What a tragedy.

The Sadducees missed the Messiah because they had closed their hearts to anything new.

They had fixed in their minds how the Messiah would come and how he would act.

And when Jesus didn’t fit the mold they refused to even consider him.

In their pride fullness they felt that they had all of the answers.

Are we set in our ways?
Do we think we have all the answers?
Are we open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit?

It  is a great temptation for those who have a lot of life experience,to close their hearts to anything new…

Are we willing to reconsider..and open our hearts more and more to God’s love and God’s prompting?

If we remain open to God’s spirit
if we are willing to listen anew to God’s prompting He will take us on the great adventure of faith.

Are we willing to accept the surprises that God is willing to send our way day in and day out ?

Sadly, tragically the Sadducees were not …

May our love and our faith be strong
And may we always keep an open heart

Lots to think about.

Friday, October 29, 2010

31st Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C 2010

May the peace of Christ reign in our hearts,

He was wealthy and powerful.
As long as he paid the Romans what they asked he could extort anything he wanted from those who came to pay their taxes.

It was no wonder that people hated him.

And he did all of this without fear because he was backed up by the Roman army, the most powerful force in the world.

It seemed to many that Zacchaeus was in the best of all positions, but obviously he didn’t feel that way.

Something was wrong, something was missing.

Maybe the tears of the poor he extorted had softened his heart.

If Zacchaeus had been satisfied with his life he wouldn’t have cared that Jesus was passing though his town and he would not have gone to extraordinary lengths to encounter him.

Zacchaeus was so desperate for a different life that he even humbled himself and climbed a tree just to get a glimpse of what that life might become.

Can you imagine a rich powerful man being forced to climb a tree?

Power, influence and especially wealth, Zacchaeus had all of these things but he was not happy.

The average American house has almost doubled in size since 1950s.

Those of us who are older remember how it was to have one bathroom.

No one would think of building a new house with one bathroom.

In 1960 2% of households had three cars or more cars in

In 2008 19% had three cars or more.

And even though we are in a difficult place financially at the moment,

we have more toys, and more gadgets,
w e have more bathrooms,
we have more activities,
we have more space to live in,
we have granite kitchen tops,
we have more vacations in more exotic places,
we have more and more and more and more,
and yet so many people struggle to be happy.

I would venture to say that both as a country,and as individuals many of us find ourselves in a situation just like Zacchaeus.

Many of us long for something different,
maybe it is a peace filled life, or a more secure life.
Maybe it is a life with more time especially with those we love.
Maybe it is a holier life.

What we have does not satisfy.
Just watch the adds on TV it is so clear that we are not happy as a nation…

You know many in the world look to us with envy and they dream of coming here just like many envied Zacchaeus.

The Gospel today dares us to dream of a better life.

The Gospel today encourages us all to look for something more like Zacchaeus.

He dared to hope for a better life and so must we.

To find that better life and to find salvation Zacchaeus had to be willing to overcome many obstacles.

He couldn’t get to the front of the crowd because everyone hated him and would not let him pass.

He couldn’t see Jesus because he was too short.

He did not let these obstacles get in the way

He climbed the tree.

If we want a different life, 
a more peace filled life,
a more fulfilling life,
a holier life,
a happier life we have to be willing to overcome the obstacles which hold us back.

Maybe we have placed too much trust in material things.

Maybe we bought such a big house that it owns us rather the us owning it.

Maybe we just work too much at the expense of our relationships.

Maybe we hold on too tightly to our lives rather than being willing to give them to others.

Isn’t that what love is giving your life away.

Maybe we are afraid to get off the road we are on even though we know it is taking us to a place we are no longer sure we want to go.

Once Zacchaeus met Jesus he let go of his old life
Once Zacchaeus met Jesus he made amends.
He repaid everyone he defrauded.

Once Zacchaeus met Jesus he didn’t look back.
What do we have to let go of…

The answer will be different for all of us.
If we like Zacchaeus dare to dream of a different life.

..we must find a way to meet Jesus Christ, and when he sees us trying to find him he will say, “come down from that tree I’m going to stay in your house today.”


Saturday, October 23, 2010

30th Sunday of Ordinary Time –Year C- 2010

They both were  sinners.
One went through the motion of following the rules but tragically he had an arrogant and prideful heart.

The other one fell or jumped into sin over and over again and he knew it.

The first didn’t really ask God for anything… he just told God how great he was.

The second couldn’t even raise his eyes to heaven, all he did was repeat over and over again “have mercy on me a sinner.”


Only the second man was saved,

the man who simply went through the motions of following God’s law was not.

The moral of the story is simple.

We all have to be humble.

A proud and arrogant and self-righteous person with hardened heart cannot be saved.

He cannot be saved because he or she doesn’t even know that they need God’s love or God’s mercy.

This week I went to  Buffalo to visit my 86 year old mother for 2 days.

As I travelled back from home this week, I kept reflecting on humility.

I always try to dress clerically when I travel because in my own little way I am trying to heal all harm that a very small minority of my brother priests have done to the good name of the priesthood.

Nowadays when you dress clerically some people ignore you,
some people are actually hostile,
and some people are kind.

On occasion someone wants to talk or go to confession  because they know they will never see you again.  I’ve heard lots of confessions in airports.

It doesn’t really matter how they act I have no control over that.

What matters to me is how I act.

I try to smile
I try to be solicitous
and I try to be humble.

You know I’ve come to be convinced that  the Gospel would be received so much better if the Church as a whole were more  humble.

We can never stop proclaiming the truths revealed to us by God, and we can’t ever presume to water them down, 
but if we and some of the leaders of our Church proclaimed God’s truths more humbly I believe that there would be a lot more people in the pews.

Catholics all over the world have to be more humble proclaimers of the Word.

Our parish has to be humble in its dealings with our town and fellow citizens.

And all of us are who have been given the gift of faith are called  to live it humbly especially with our friends and in our families.

One was proud and one was humble which one are we ?

Friday, October 15, 2010

29th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C - 2010

May the peace of Christ Reign in our Hearts,

Today’s Gospel speaks about prayer and two essential characteristics of prayer.

Obviously God hears every prayer.
There is no prayer that God does not hear.

It is impossible for us to live out of range of God.

God  knows all, God sees all, God hears all.

Try as we might (and all of us try),
there is no God free zone in our lives
nor can their ever be a God free zone in our lives.

In this parable as he teaches us about prayer
Jesus give us the example of a widow,
the poorest of the poor and the weakest of the weak.

Jesus reminds us that like the widow in the story we are called to pray constantly and not grow weary.

All of us  must strive to live in a state of constant prayer.

The unjust judge says that the widow’s petition was answered because she would not give up.

If even an unjust judge will answer a petitioner
if they ask long enough and hard enough… much more will God who is not an unjust judge
but a loving father answer our prayers.

So you see the first characteristic of prayer is constancy.  We must pray always.

Our lives must become prayer.

The widow’s example also gives us another characteristic of prayer and that is trust.

She trusted that eventually her petition would be answered.

Like her we have to learn to trust.

We have to learn to trust.

We have to learn to trust the very God who gives us life
and gives us breath,
and gives us the ability and privilege to love.

No only must our prayer be constant,
but we  also have to have complete trust that it will be answered in the best possible way no matter what.

Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking that we know more than God.

Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking that our prayer was not answered because it was not answered in the way we desired.

In other words we really don’t trust God.

Dear friends each and every prayer we offer should end something like this…

“Father  I think this is what I need, and this is what I ask, but I know and I trust that
you know best and you love me.

Father your will be done.Your will be done O God.

That’s how Jesus finished his most fervent prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane and that is how we need to finish our prayers each and every one.

If you look at the first reading the message is the same.

As long as Moses kept his hands in the air the battle with Amalek  went well.

Whenever he gave up, whenever his prayer was not constant things went poorly.

Finally it was only with the assistance of Aaron and Hur that Moses was able to keep his hands up and remain in prayer.

We all know that it is not easy to hold  our arms in the air for long periods of time.

And we all know that it is not easy to pray constantly and trust constantly that our prayer will be answered.

So you see holy ones.

The last message of today's readings is simply this.

Like Moses needed Aaron and Hur to sustain his prayer during battle, we need each other, and we need the Church to sustain ourselves in our prayer.

If our prayer is constant,
and If we trust God completely,
then when the Son of Man comes he will indeed find faith on the earth.

He will find our faith.



Friday, October 08, 2010

28th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C - 2010

May the Peace of Christ Reign in our Hearts,

Today the first reading and the Gospel talk about the same experience.

They both speak of the journey to a faith that can save.

Both the Samaritan and Naaman came to a new found faith.

They are both different people at the end of their stories.

In both readings both Naaman and the Samaritan Leper realize that they needed to be healed .

They also realize that only God can do it.

So Naaman travels a long way to see the Prophet Elisa.

And the Samaritan and the other lepers in his company reach out to Jesus who many considered a prophet.

They went to these holy men to ask God for help.

Their encounter with Elisa the Prophet and Jesus was less then memorable.

Elisa quite matter of factly said go wash in the river and closed the door.

Jesus simply told them to go to Jerusalem show themselves to the priests.

Neither invoked God,
or uttered a prayer
or touched
or medicated the lesions
or offered any kind of sacrifice.

Next both Naaman and the Samaritan had to trust that God would hear and answer their prayer.

In other words they had to do what they were told even if it didn’t make sense.

If you know the story Naaman needed some convincing to go and wash in the river but he finally went.

When they were healed both Naaman and the Samaritan made a profession of faith.

Naaman returned to Elisa and declared his faith in the God of Israel.

The Samaritan returned to Jesus and prostrated himself before Him and thanked Him.

Jesus to him, “your faith has saved you.”


What an incredible statement… not only was he healed physically but more importantly he was brought to faith.

Jesus lamented that the others even though they were healed did not come to faith.

They failed to realize that God had given them an incredible gift.

Let’s look at those four moments a little closer

First we must know we are in need of God and are dependent on him.

Second we must ask His help.

Third we must trust He will give it.

Finally we must thank him for the gift received.

What do these four steps have to do with us?

Holy ones…

Lots of people today simply don’t turn to God.

Many are lost in despair believing that no one can help them or they don’t realize how ill they really.

So many of us are in denial about how ill we really are spiritually or physically.

So many of us comfort ourselves with thoughts like,
I’m not perfect but I’m not as bad as him or her… they’re a mess.

If Naaman or the Samaritan had not felt they were ill they would never sought to be healed.

One the of the first steps in sobriety is for a person to realize that they are powerless,over their addiction.

Those in AA know only when you realize that you are powerless can you really turn to God your higher power.

To be brought to faith we have to be humble enough to be willing to ask for help.

This is so essential.

Think about it…
If the lepers and Naaman had not sought out help from God there is no indication that they would have been healed.

It is so clear from the first reading and the Gospel that we must open the door to our hearts for God to come in.

So many of us refuse to ask for help.

So many of us let our pride get in the way of being healed.

The second step is also crucial

Both Naaman and the Samaritan had to trust that their prayers would be answered.

The stories make it clear that trust is essential.

Naaman had to wash himself in the river.

The Samaritan had to start off toward Jerusalem to show himself to the priest

Faith, healing, God’s loving providence demand a response from us.

May people never feel God’s presence in their lives because they never really seek it out.

Finally a careful reading of the scriptures reveals that 11 people were healed that day but only two were brought to faith only two were saved body and soul.

Naaman and the Samaritan were saved because they believe and they returned to thank God for his blessing.

Quite frankly many of us pray a lot when times get tough.

But few of us remember to be thankful or recognize God’s presence in our lives  when times are good or when our health is restored.

You know here at St. Paul’s we have the October count for the Archdiocese.

At Catholic University we had the December count for the Board of Trustees.

And it usually showed that around 50% of the students who identified themselves as Catholic went to Mass on Sunday.

Sometimes however it would jump to 52% or 53% and I could never figure out why… until one year I realized the closer the count was to final exams the higher the number.

I’m sure there were often prayers at that Mass like Oh God help me fit a whole semester into 10 days… Please… my parents are gonna be very upset with me.

Yes today the scriptures reminds us that

We must know we are in need of God and are dependent on him.

We must be willing to ask His help.

We must trust he loves us and will provide for us.

And we must thank him for the gifts received recognizing His loving providence

Only then  will we ever hear the

“Stand up and go your faith has saved you…”


Thursday, September 30, 2010

27th Sunday of Ordinary Time –Year C- 2010

mustard_seed Once when I was a boy ( I know centuries ago) our scout troop was sent to camp out under the stars so that we could earn The Order Of The Arrow.

There were no leaders with us they stayed at the base camp.

It was really cold out and damp and we were trying to build a fire.

Rashly we used up all of our matches and the fire was only a few smoldering embers.

We were all disgusted because we were afraid we would be sleeping in the cold without the benefit of a fire.

When all the big mouth kids, myself included, gave up this quiet kid went over to what was supposed to be our fire.

As we all complained and blamed each other, he very slowly and gently built the few tiny embers left into a big fire.

It took time, skill, a lot of persistence and patience. He was a hero.

Faith is a gift from God. God gives it freely and in the end God gives the possibility of faith to every human being because God loves all of us and God longs for all of us to be saved.

Over and over again in our life we experience little moments of faith little epiphanies or glimpses of God.

If left alone they will slowly fade away like the embers of a fire.

But if patiently fanned, fed and nurtured those little experiences of faith, many the size of a mustard seed, can grow into a raging fire which can sustain us in the dark and cold of the night. 

When a person says I have no faith,
Or when my own faith seems weak,
I usually ask myself how I or we have nurtured our faith today?

How can we expect to have a life of faith when we don’t meditate on the Word of God?

How can we expect to live a life of faith if we are not fed at the table of the Lord?

How can we expect the consolation of faith if we don’t notice our brothers and sisters in need?

I realize I am preaching to the choir you are here in the pews trying to live your faith.

But the point is still valid for all of us… myself included.

If we want to be sustained by our faith we have to patiently, lovingly, nurture it like that young man who built a raging fire from a few embers ready to go out.

Looking at the question of faith from an different angle sometimes we have  to remind ourselves that God uses us to bring others to faith.

Or in other words sometimes we are the embers.

Our compassionate forgiveness…
our random unexpected acts of kindness…
our good example…
Can all bring a person to faith….

One day I went to celebrate Mass at 9:00 PM in St. Vincent’s Chapel

There was a whole row of gumbas there.

I only recognized one of them, the others I had never seen before.

I greeted them all warmly and told them I was happy to see them.

After Mass I started talking to them and asked them what brought them to Mass.

They told me they that last weekend they had gone to the Jersey Shore to party and that is just what they did.

When they came to the next morning one of them was missing.
His stuff was there be he was gone.

They started looking for him and became concerned so they started to drive around…

They found him walking on a highway.. And when they asked him where he was going he said…

I have to go to Mass I never miss.

They were stunned… a couple even went with him the rest went back to bed.

When I saw them they had come to Mass the following Sunday because one of them said..

He’s a good kid and he obviously he knows something that we don’t know.

I never saw a most of them again

But one of those kids  became a regular and never missed mass again.

The example of young man who was walking to mass was like the mustard seed.

All of us have the chance to share our faith in simple loving humble, non preachy ways
Non- Preachy ways…

What was that saying of St. Francis
Preach the Gospel always use words only when necessary.

The world would be a better place if we all did.
Jesus made an important point today..

Even the tiniest amount of faith the size of a mustard seed.
Can change the world…

The disciple wanted more faith… do we ?

Friday, September 24, 2010

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C 2010

walk by wtextMay the peace of Christ reign in our heart…

Today’s Gospel passage is a study in contrasts and Jesus goes out of his way to make it so. 


The rich man eats sumptuously, and dresses extravagantly.
It is obvious that he has everything he needs and everything he wants.
He is comfortable and satisfied.
For him Life is good.

Lazarus the poor man is so weak he simply lies in the street and he can’t even push away the dogs when they lick his wounds.

He is so hungry that he would have gladly eaten anything, even the scraps that fell from the rich man table.

They are both children of God in radically different places.

We really don’t know much more about them.

Jesus doesn’t give us much more detail because it really doesn’t matter.

We don’t know if Lazarus was lazy or just down on his luck.
We don’t’ know if he was smart or not smart.
We don’t know if he was addicted or not addicted.
We don’t know if his poverty was his fault or not.
We don’t know…. and like I said it really doesn’t matter.

All we really know is that he was poor and that he made it to heaven.

The rich man is not mean.
He doesn’t treat Lazarus disrespectfully.
He doesn’t kick him or taunt him when he passes by.
He even seems to have a twinge of compassion for others, because even in hell, he is worried about his brothers. 

Plain and simply put the rich man just didn’t seem to notice Lazarus.

You see he had grown so comfortable that he became self absorbed.

In fact, he had grown so self centered that he didn’t have any feeling for the poor or those in need, even those in desperate straits like Lazarus.

The rich man had squandered away or lost his human ability to feel for others, to pity others, to have compassion on others.

In the eyes of the rich man,
the poor,
those less fortunate,
those who just couldn’t seem to get their act together,
just didn’t matter they were invisible.

How sad, how tragic it is when a heart goes cold.
How sad indeed!

The rich man’s sin is a sin of omission,
and yet it is a serious sin, a sin that cost him eternal life.

He did not notice, and he did not act.

You know sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking that the only time we sin is when we do something wrong.

So often we forget that we also sin when we fail to do something good.
Yes sin isn’t only something we do but also something we fail to do.

Very few people confess sins of omission.

You see, we sin when we fail to do what love calls us to do.
We sin when we don’t notice and we don’t act.

At the beginning of this mass we prayed the Confiteor or the “I confess prayer”

Please repeat it with me…

I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have sinned through my own fault
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done,
and in what I have failed to do;

We have prayed those words over and over again…

May their meaning sink into our hearts
May they change us and transform us…

May they transform our parish, and our town, our state, and our nation.

Loving our neighbor is not optional.

Being compassionate to those in need, anyone  in need, is not an option for a follower of Christ.

May our hearts never grow cold.
May we never lose out ability to feel for others,
to be kind to others and merciful to others no matter what.

May the needs of the poor and the weak always pull at our heart strings and call us to service.

May the Gospel this week call us to examine ourselves,
and ask ourselves…

What have I done  for poor, and the outcast, the lonely, and the sick?

Am I able to look beyond my own world my own interests, my own concerns…

…Lest someday we stand before God and say I’m sorry Lord I simply didn’t notice.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

25th Sunday of Ordinary Time -Year C– 2010

The Gospel today is simple.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is stark in its simplicity.

Jesus does not mince words when he says..

“No servant can serve two masters. 
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other. “

After hearing those simple words all of us should be moved, to ask ourselves, “who do we love and who do we hate?”

Is God really our Master?
Do we follow His will?
Day in and day out do we try to realize God’s will in our lives?
Do we trust His Word?
Are we true disciples ?

Do we love God or are we going through the motions?

Are we simply dipping our big toe into the pool of faith or have we thrown ourselves into our faith as real love would have us do?

There can be nothing ½ way about being a Catholic because there can be nothing ½ way about love.

You either do or you don’t.

These are indeed fundamental questions and the fact that Jesus challenges us in the scriptures today means that he wants us to reflect on them.

You know, I have know very few people in my life who have openly and thoughtfully and deliberately rejected God.

Rather quite frequently their or our apostasy has been made up of hundreds or maybe even thousand of little compromises.

When we compromise our faith over and over again after a while God’s will
and God’s word
and God’s love can only seem a distant memory.

It should be no surprise that sometimes people who go to Church every week… and priests who celebrate Mass ever day find themselves in similar situations.

Let’s all reflect on the challenges of the today’s Gospel.
Let’s all strive to give God more and more and more of our lives.

May God be our true Master and may we all fall in love with Him.


Today is an important day in the life of our Parish.
Today is the day that when we bless and commission our Catechists for the coming school year.

Theirs is an awesome responsibility, they deserve our respect, our prayers and are gratitude.

We all know that being a Catholic today means going against the tide or swimming against the cultural stream.

And that goes double for the man or woman who volunteers to teach our faith.

To all heroes who will serve as our Parish Catechists this year…

I say Thank You from the bottom of my heart.

May the Lord who has begun great things in you bring them to fulfillment.


Friday, September 10, 2010

24th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C - 2010


May the peace of Christ reign in our hearts.

Recently I read a book by Cardinal Francis George the Archbishop of Chicago. It was a collection of the talks he has given around the country. Many of them were way above my head, but I persevered because at the time the book cost $26.75 and I didn’t want to waste my money.

As is usually the case my perseverance paid off because in the midst of these very philosophical discussions I found one phrase which really struck me…

That simple sentence made the book worthwhile and this is what he said..

“The world permits everything and forgives nothing
God and the Church do not permit everything but forgive everything”

There is so much truth in that sentence.
The world indeed does indeed seem to permit everything but if things go awry or the sin becomes public or the media picks it up, the world refuses to forgive.

A person who sins in the world view is never the same.
He or she is marked for life.

We can all remember famous personalities who fell from grace in the world and were consigned to the ash heap of life.

Mercy, forgiveness, compassion, even rehabilitation, are not values that the world shares with those who follow Christ.

Instead retribution, vengeance, revenge always seem to hold sway.

From today’s Gospel it becomes clear that vengeance, or retribution or even anger cannot be a part of a Christian’s life.

According the world’s values the young man in the story of the prodigal son deserved everything the father could dish out to him.

He sinned in every imaginable way.

The Prodigal Son himself expected only to be welcomed home as a slave.

Instead he received from his Father radical and some would say reckless mercy and forgiveness.

The first two passages in the Gospel about the finding the lost sheep and finding the lost coin teach us that not only does God forgive everything,
but Jesus expects us to take the first step.

Notice it was the shepherd who looked for the sheep not vice versa.

Like God we have to seek out the lost sheep even if it’s the sheep’s fault that it was loss.
(Who doesn’t have a lost sheep in their family?)
If you don’t tell me your secret.

Catholics  are called to search  for the lost coin or the  lost soul even when it takes a lot of effort.

Holy ones…
We Catholics have to be known as men and woman of forgiveness.

When Terry Anderson who was a hostage in Lebanon for years was freed one of the first questions he was asked was if he could ever forgive his captors. After years of unjust confinement he said

“…. I’m Catholic and we forgive.”

You know when I was a little boy there was an exaggerated legalism.
You were always worried that you were sinning.

And so in the hippie days the pendulum swung in the other direction. There are some former hippies in this congregation… We’re getting old.

In the hippie days it became fashionable to rewrite God’s law,

and say things like oh that’s not a sin even when it was .

We cannot rewrite God’s law,
rather we need to be a people who proclaim God’s mercy.

We need to say yes you made a mistake..
Yes you sinned…
but God loves you and God longs to forgive you.

In a world so broken and afraid we need to proclaim by our word and  especially by our good example that,

Forgiveness can be ours for the asking no matter what.

In our own lives we need to imitate God’s example and be radical in our willingness to forgive.

You know when Pope John Paul was shot… and almost lost his life one of the first things he did when he was fully recovered was to go to the prison and pardon the man who tried to kill him

This is what Pope John Paul said as he emerged from the cell,

“What we talked about will have to remain a secret between him and me, the Pope said. I spoke to him as brother whom I have pardoned, and who has my complete trust."

Holy ones I know its hard so very hard to let go of resentment and bitterness.

For some reason we convince ourselves that bitterness and resentment give us comfort

They don’t…

Until we forgive like the Prodigal Son’s Father

Until we forgive with reckless abandon like God forgives us over and over again.

We will never be whole
We will always be the victim
We will never be free.

As Catholics let us teach the world how to forgive.

Challenging words indeed..

How we love Your Word Oh Lord.

Friday, September 03, 2010

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C - 2010

May the peace of Christ Reign in our hearts…

In today’s homily I want to talk briefly about two things.

The first is this, today’s Gospel gives us the perfect occasion to reflect on how Catholics read the bible.
If I were to say to you,
”I am so hungry I could eat a horse. “

What would you think?

Would you think you would see me running across a field with a knife and a fork in my hand chasing a horse ?

No you would understand that I was really hungry.
If I said to you I waited in line for centuries at the DMV
You might think that I really waited in line for millions of years at the DMV,
but probably you would think that I waited a long time.

Because we are from the same culture and understand each other it was easy for you to see that what I intended to say and the literal meaning of the words I spoke were different.
Catholics read the bible trying to understand the intention of the writer what was the message the evangelist was trying to convey ?
Many fundamentalists read and understand the bible according to literal meaning of the words.
The Book of Genesis says the world was created in seven days.

We have archeological data that says  it took million of years.

Catholic trying to understand the intention of the author tend to think that the 7 days are referring to a process which was always guided by God but may have taken millions of years
Many Fundamentalists say the bible says 7 days so it is 7 days period.
That’s like thinking that I really was going to catch a horse and eat it with a knife and  fork.
There are moments when Jesus and  others in the scriptures intended to use the literal meaning of the words to be the meaning of the message.
For example when he said “Take this all of you and eat this is my body”
We know that Jesus intended  the literal meaning of the words because there are other places in the Gospel where he refers those very special words in a literal sense.
The reason I bring this up is that In today’s Gospel Jesus says
"If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
Jesus does not want us to hate our family.
He does cannot intend the literal meaning of the words, like I wasn’t going to really eat a horse.
The ten commandments say honor your father and mother.

Hhow can you hate them and honor them at the same time? 

Jesus uses the word hate to make the point that discipleship should even come before our family.

Summing up my first thought then…
When Catholics read the  bible we ask ourselves what was author trying to say to us. What did he intend the us to understand what is the message ?
When many fundamentalist read the bible they say it says seven so it means seven.
He said hate so He means hate. Etc.

Obviously we and fundamentalists look at the Bible in very different lights.

The second point I want to make is this.
Jesus makes it clear in this gospel that the cost of discipleship is great.

Yes if we love ourselves more than God you won’t be free to be his disciple.
If we can’t accept the cross in our lives we can’t be his disciples.

Therefore a willingness to suffer for love is part and parcel of being a disciple.

If we love our possessions  more than God we can’t be his disciples…
The message of the Gospel is clear… discipleship is very demanding and if we only go half way we aren’t really disciples.
Discipleship is an all or nothing proposition. We already have enough “catholics” in quotes who just go through the motions.
Brothers and sisters the best way a husband can love his wife or a wife love her husband is to love God first and be holy.
The best parents are those who love God and follow God’s will and because they do so can love their children like God loves them.
The best way for me to be your priest is for me to be a holy priest a priest who wants to conform my life completely to God’s will.
Simply put the Gospel is asking us today are we really willing to pay the cost of discipleship ?

That’s a lot to think about.  Amen..

Friday, August 27, 2010

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time –Year C – 2010

When Jesus went to the Pharisee’s house for a meal he observed how the guests were all trying to sit at the head of the table.
Each one felt they deserved a place of honor.
Each one felt that they deserved be recognized as someone special, in fact more special  than the others present.

You see some of the guests either thought too highly of themselves or to little of the others.

Sadly our world and our time are also filled with people who think too highly of themselves or fail to recognized the good in others.
Ego and pride are still very real problems almost 2000 years after Jesus.

With all that mankind has accomplished we have yet to free ourselves from ourselves.

Sadly, it almost seems that things have gotten worse in this regard.
How often do we and others begin our sentences with words like:
I want
I think
I deserve
Give me
I come first?

And if we don’t say them how often do we think them?
So much of the violence and pain present in our society today is rooted in ego and pride.
Quite often a marriage fails when one or both of the spouses try place themselves first, at the head of the table, or convince themselves that the other is no longer serving their needs.
And when someone steals something they somehow convince themselves that they deserve to possess what they steal more than the rightful owner.
In other words they place themselves at the head of the table.
One time a young man simply spoke to a young woman he saw in the hall of his DC public school.
He wasn’t aware that she was dating someone already and when her boyfriend found out was outraged.
He felt that he had been dissed or disrespected.

He felt that his “offender” had placed his own interests ahead of him at the table of life.

Tragically the young boyfriend was so overcome by rage and hurt that he took out a gun and killed his the young man who had simply spoken to his girlfriend.
What a tragedy what a horrible tragedy  two precious young lives lost because of ego and pride.
How often to we see jockeying for power and position at work?
Instead of  doing their job to the best of their ability so that their work may be recognized…
…people use office politics to place themselves at the head of the table before their co-workers.
This pridefullness, this feeling of entitlement, this placing oneself at the head of the table before others, is not limited to individuals or even small groups of people.
Every war starts because some country feels itself more deserving to sit at the head of the table of the world than their neighbor.
Holy ones every sin is rooted in pride or ego.
We sin when we think that our well being, and our will, and our desires are somehow more important that God’s will and God’s law.
In other words when we sin we dare to place ourselves at the head of the table even in place of God.
The only cure to all of this pain and destruction caused by putting oneself ahead of others and God is humility.
There is a lot of confusion when it comes to being humble.
Being humble does not mean feeling bad about yourself.
Being humble does not mean having low self esteem.
Being humble does not mean we deny our God given gifts.

We are humble when we realize that we don’t have to be first in line.

We are humble when we don’t have to have the most possessions or the biggest or fanciest house..

We are humble when we recognize the wonderful gifts that others possess.

We are humble when we realize that all we have
our families,
our friends,
our talents,
our dreams,
and even our very next breath are gifts wonderful gifts from God.

Being humbled means that we realize that we and those at the table with us are loved equally by God and precious in His sight.
In God’s eyes we are all at the head of the table.
Jesus did not place himself at the head of the table.
He did not come in power and might but rather chose to be born at the very end of the table in the tiny little backwater town of Bethlehem where there was no room in the Inn.

If God had placed himself at the head of the table of creation he never would have forgiven us or paid the price of our sin by dying on the cross.
Yes indeed
Our families
our neighborhoods
our parish

our town and villages
our cities and our countries
even our world would be such better places

If we remembered the important lesson of today’s Gospel and lived humble lives.
For Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

This week let us all pray for the gift of humility.