Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas 2011 Lessons from the Manger




May the peace of Christ reign in our hearts.

OK I admit it in 8th grade I was smitten with Susan Asbell.

Susan if you somehow left Buffalo and are here in Connecticut. I’m sorry to embarrass you.

Yes I was smitten by her
completely smitten
and I did everything I could to simply to be close to her.

She was my first love...and it was wonderful.

You know the Manger scene teaches us so much.
about God and so much about ourselves.

We learn for example that we are indeed God’s first love.

We learn that God is smitten with us,
so smitten in fact that he couldn’t stay away.

The birth of Jesus shows us just how far God
the all powerful creator of the universe
will go to be near to us…

Bethlehem teaches us that God is close.
God is always close.

God could have come into the world in any manner He wished.
He could have come as a mighty King,
He could have just appeared on a cloud,
He could have announced his coming with claps of thunder and flashes of lightning,
but instead He chose to humble Himself and be born to a poor couple in a manger,
surrounded by animals, shepherds and kings.

You see the manger proves that God’s ultimate goal is simply to be loved by us.

Fear and force can rarely open a human heart.

Humble love,
gentle humble love almost always does.

God so desires a place in our hearts that
He came among us in the most humble and simply of ways.

By being born in a manger...
God teaches us that it is ok to have less.

By being born in a manger God tries to teach us that
the materialism and consumerism that drives our economy
and pushes us to seek more more better better newer newer
should not be where we place our hope.

In the long run the things we have are just not that important
if we all understood that lesson from the manger
We would be happier and holier.

And from the Christmas story we learn an important lesson from Mary and Joseph.

Mary and Joseph stood by each other and loved each other and supported each other even though they were in desperate straights.

In our current economy when so many marriages and so many families are strained because of material things
this is an important lesson indeed.

And when Jesus was born in the manger
tradition has it that there came
Simple shepherds from the fields
and distant kings from the east.

They all came to pay him homage and they were all welcomed at the Manger.

The presence of the shepherds and Kings teaches us that God’s message
and God’s love is for everyone,

the rich and the poor,
the noble and the less than noble,
the healthy and strong,
those sick and weak,
good or bad,
addicted or not addicted,
legal or illegal,
no matter what race,
no matter what faith,
no matter what country.
God even loves the people who drive us crazy.
All are welcome at the Manger
and all  have a place in God’s heart.

And so holy ones,
No matter what the new year may bring.

May we learn these simple lessons of the Manger well.
Let us never forget that God is close to us.
Let us walk humbly and be gentle with each other.
Let us try to live simply
Let us stand by those we love no matter what challenge comes our way.

Finally, let us share a genuine concern for everyone no matter who they are or
where they come from
or what they have
or have not done.

The Gospel tells us that on that beautiful night in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago.

All of creation  was so moved by the humble love of God that  “suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly hosts with the angel, praising God and singing:

"Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to people of good will."

May that same song spring from our hearts as we contemplate the beauty of the Manger

Thank you God for loving us so much !!!

Good people of St. Paul Church

May you have most blessed and Merry Christmas.


Friday, December 16, 2011

4th Sunday of Advent Year B - 2011

May the Peace of Christ reign in our heart.

Once during graduation at WCSU a plane flew over with pulling a sign which read Gretchen will you marry me?
Everyone started pointing and waving and cheering. The whole place when nuts…

When the President of the University who was speaking noticed that no one was paying attention to him and everyone was pointing up and yelling he looked up and read the sign.

Then to get try and get everyone’s attention again he asked the crowd… “Well Gretchen what is your answer?”

This woman a few rows ahead of me jumped up and started yelling Yes Yes Yes I will marry you and every one was cheering

Then all of a sudden there was a stir in the crowd because they noticed that on the other side of the graduates there another woman  yelling at the top of her lungs “yes yes yes I love you I will marry you. “

When the two women noticed each other they didn’t know what to do, neither was sure the message was meant for her awkward awkward awkward….

Wonder boy the groom to ge didn’t figure there might be two Gretchens in the crowd both expecting a proposal.

I don’t know how the story ended.

What was obvious from the start when they were asked the big question both responded exuberantly to love’s call.

In a sense in today’s Gospel Mary was also asked the big question and after a moment of doubt she was exuberant in her response to God’s call

“Behold the handmaid of the Lord”, she said

“Be it done unto me according to your will.”

Today’s Gospel relates a real historical event.

And to make sure we understand that it is not a parable or teaching story with a message, the Evangelist situates it in history by giving us the concrete details about the encounter.

He made sure we knew the name of the Angel Gabriel,
the town where it happened Nazareth of Galilee,and the name of the person he spoke to… Mary.

This is the first time we hear her name.

Tradition tells us that Mary was poor.

She was young.

And she was a woman.

And in her times all of these things made it exceptionally doubtful that she would or could ever really amount to anything or make a difference in the world.

Yet it was her yes to God that changed the world.

It is important to note that Mary response was a reasoned response.

She just didn’t say yes blindly. She was confident enough to questions the Angel. How can this be for I do not know man?

And when the Angel answered her question and when she understood Her yes was immediate and exuberant like the Gretchens

And all of this just goes to show us that frequently God doesn’t use things we consider important or people that we consider important to accomplish his plan for our salvation.

Never forget

God’s plan didn’t stop with Mary’s yes

God’s plan continues to transform the world he loves so much and every human being has a role to play in the salvation of the world.

All of us are called to say yes to love as wholeheartedly as Mary.

If you are young

Listen carefully to God’s voice in your heart

God believes in you and so do we.

I am sure that all of us agree that our young people face a much more complicated and difficult world than we did.

They will face so many more challenges

Young adults don’t be afraid you are up to anything that our culture can throw your way.

When God calls you… say yes like Mary… and your life will never be the same…

If you are a woman all I can say is that you’ve come a long way baby since the time of Mary.

Being a woman is no longer a sign of weakness.

I know most of you work and are full time Moms and have a multitude of things to do .

Sometimes I can’t believe how much you have on your plates but when God calls continue to say yes…

And help your families to do the same.  Think about it how many families practice their faith because their mom or their wife encouraged them… lots and lots and lots.

When it comes to holiness I think they often have us beat Gentlemen.

If you are poor and God calls say yes…

Never think for a second that how much you have in the bank, or how much your mortgage is or how much you make really matters to God.

No matter what your financial circumstances you have a role to play in God’s plan.

If we think about it all of us have been called to love and sacrifice over and over and over again in our lives.

And sometimes it has been frightening or daunting, and if we are troubled or afraid when God call  remember what the Angel said to Mary,

“Do not be afraid you have found favor with God”

Now God doesn’t usually put a plane in the sky to call you to love but you never know

he does however call and it is important for all of us to listen especially during this lasts week of Advent lest we miss our special role in God’s plan be it big or small

May all of us Like Mary say yes to God whenever love calls

The God and the world counted on her yes and they count on our yes too.


Friday, December 09, 2011

The 3rd Sunday of Advent – Year B – 2011

The other day I was in Bed Bath and Beyond and there were lots of people shopping.

All of a sudden I found myself in the middle of a scene.

Evidently this lady was looking at something and then she put it down and looked at something else.

When she turned around to pick it up again it was in the hands of another lady and there were no more on the shelf.

A huge discussion with lots of angry words ensued over a plastic cup for a coffee maker.

That’s mine…. no it’s mine I saw it first…. you put it down

The women  got so angry

Remember getting gas during the power failure.

I saw a man wait for 45 minutes just like me and inadvertently pull in the wrong lane.

He had his wife’s car and he forgot where her gas tank was.

When he tried to get in the right line so he could fill up people thought he was cutting in line.

What a mess, more angry words.

You know that storm brought out the best and worst in us.

In the CVS I saw a woman go off the deep end when her daughter asked for gum.

I was so embarrassed for the woman who lost it
and it let me tell you she really lost it.

Everyone in the store could hear and everyone in the store was uncomfortable.

Living in the presence of anger and bitterness is never easy.

Sometimes I hear from married couples who are so frustrated.

She drives me crazy he drives me crazy.

I thought he would change.

Ladies take a look love them as they are because what you see is what you get and what you got.

The other day I was exhausted and fed, up worried about a multitude of things, and I allowed those darn seeds of resentment or anger to take root in my heart.

Sometimes we play the one bad conversation over and over in our mind and forget all the good ones…

Dumb Dumb Dumb

You know when you think about it being angry is a choice and being angry is the easy choice.

We can chose to be angry or chose to not be angry.

St. Paul reminds us in the second reading that
God wants and needs more from us.

Show me in the Gospel where it says be bitter.

Show me in the Gospel where it says be resentful

Yet quite frequently we hold on to our resentments for dear life.

We refuse to let go of our hard feeling for fear that someone will get the best of us.

I’ve known families siblings etc. who have been angry at each other for years…


Never forget…. your family is your family is your family let it go…

To combat our propensity to be angry and bitter

In the second reading St. Paul calls to root our lives in prayer

Pray without ceasing he says.

Sounds good but how do you do it?

I believe that praying without ceasing is more than string of Hail Marys.

Praying without ceasing is simply making ourselves constantly aware of God’s place in our lives day in and day out. 24/7 as the kids say.

When we live in the presence of God our lives becomes a prayer.

Prayer allows us to put things in perspective and sort out what is really important.

Living in the presence of God allows us to see things as God would have us see them and deal with them as God would have us deal with them.

All of us need to weed out anger and bitterness from our lives.

In this angry frightened world of ours;

in this world where the fuse is just very short

and so easy to light,

we need to live peace filled lives.

We  need to forgive, live, and love like God would have us forgive live and love.

When we can accomplish this in our lives,
then l
ike John the Baptist we can be a voice in the wilderness calling the world to be peace filled lives.

And  only when we live peace filled
joyful lives in the presence of God we will

  • bring glad tidings to the poor,
  • heal the brokenhearted,
  • proclaim liberty to the captives,
  • and release to the prisoners,

You get the point….

This is Guadete AKA Joyful Sunday one of the two Sundays in the year when the priest gets to wear a vestment that looks like a bottle of Pepto-Bismol.

Today the Church reminds us that with God it is so very possible to live  happy, peace filled, even joyful lives free from anger or bitterness.

And when we do we  like John the Baptist we will  Prepare the way of the Lord

No matter what challenges life throws our way.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

1st Sunday of Advent Year B - 2011

This Sunday’s Readings

1st Sunday in AdventMay the Peace of Christ reign in our hearts.

With this 1st  Sunday of Advent we begin many things anew.

We begin a new translation of the Mass.

It is a translation which sounds a little foreign and maybe even awkward the first couple times you hear it.

However, it is a translation which the scholars tell us is much more faithful to the text of the Mass said all over the world.

It will be hard for us to keep it all straight for a while but sooner or later the old translation will fade in our minds and all we will know and love will be this new translation.

As you all know the first Sunday of Advent marks the beginning of the new Church Year.

The  page in our lives for this next Church year is blank.

While we have been created in the image and likeness of God,
and while God gave us the ability to understand and choose,
the best possible choice for a follower of Christ is to allow God to shape mold our lives.

As the Gospel pointed out we are at our best when we realize that we are the clay and God is the potter.

We are at our best when we allow God to mold us and shape our lives according to His will and His plan.

You know being a pregnant teenager never figured into Mary’s plan to be sure.

I am sure that  Mary’s pregnancy never figured into Joseph’s plan either but that’s what God needed and so they surrendered their will to God.

You know Elizabeth and Zachariah were childless and alone.

Having John the Baptist was great joy for them but if they had had their way they would have had John the Baptist when they were young.  

God had other plans. Elizabeth’s pregnancy even at an advanced age helped Mary accept God’s will in her life,  for as the Angel Gabriel said “nothing is impossible with God.”

You know John the Baptist was a courageous holy man.
From his childhood he desired to do God’s will.

The scholars tell us however, that there is a good chance that as he took his step into manhood he probably envisioned himself more as a zealot a kind of guerrilla warrior sent to drive out the Romans by force than a humble itinerant preacher.

Once he opened his heart to God’s will he ended up living in the desert and calling people to repentance through baptism.

In his youth he would have longed to die in battle,
instead he died in prison.

His head was presented on a silver platter as a gift to a girl who knew how to dance and her evil mother.

John’s words “He must increase I must decrease” haunt anyone who has ever heard them and understood them.

They could only have been uttered by a man who surrendered everything to God.

You know even Jesus... slowly came to understand God’s will in His life.

The Gospel of Luke  tells us  that “he grew in wisdom, understanding and love of the Lord.”

One day probably early in his life he must have realized that he had special relationship with God.

Some say at his baptism he understood that he was called to be the Messiah and accepted this call.

And then with the temptation in the desert he figured out just what kind of Messiah his father was calling him to be....

What is God’s plan for us this year ?
What does God have in store with us?
What challenges will we face?
What blessing will we receive ?

A wonderful Italian lady from New York and a dear friend always used to always say to me.

”Fr. Robert if you want to make God laugh tell him your plans.”

This new Church Year

Let us ask ourselves
Where do we fit into God’s loving plan for humanity?

Will be we be ready and attentive when he calls or will we have grow complacent.

Pray God let us be attentive and let us surrender ourselves to God’s will and God’s plan.

Friday, November 04, 2011

32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A - 2011

This Sunday's Readings

This week I have a few questions for all of us to ponder...

How many of you have had a crazy week ?

How many of you got frustrated ?
How many of you lost power ?

Don’t worry I'm not going to ask those who didn’t lose power to raise their hands.

One lady told me...
“Father I almost feel guilty because I never lost power”,

I heard of another lady who pretended she didn’t have electricity because everyone else in her office lost theirs and they were upset.

How many of you still don’t have power?

How many of you received a call from one our High School Kids checking up on you?

We have great kids here in Berlin.. As I wrote in the bulletin Tuesday two of our High School Kids made 573 calls... they called and checked on every household with some one 80 or older....incredible.

How many of you just want life to get back to normal ?

I have come to understand in my own life that when things get tough, when some or many of my comforts are stripped away, when life throws me a challenge or 2 or 10, I really see what I’m made of.

And I think that this rings true for everyone.

When life throws us a challenge we really see what we are all made of... as individuals, as a family, as a parish, and even as a town or state.

When life throws us a challenge or challenges we learn how well we really are prepared to carry them.

The Gospel today tells us the story of the 10 Bridesmaids or virgins... five were prepared for the arrival of the groom even if he came late and five were not prepared...

And when the moment of crisis came and they were running out of oil the five foolish or unprepared bridesmaids were not able to get their act together soon enough to be admitted into the wedding.

The difficult circumstances that many of us have faced this week and how we reacted to them should give us pause.

It’s important that we reflect on this week and see how well we were prepared.

All of us should ask ourselves if were we prepared with the supplies we needed to weather the storm, (no pun intended,) and how could we have been better prepared.

But even more important this past week should cause us all to stop and ask ourselves....
How did we respond personally to this crisis?

Were we calm or did we get testy when some of our conveniences were taken away... ?

By the way the
conveniences we lost were things that many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world may not even regularly enjoy.

Perhaps the most important question we need to ask ourselves is this...

Were we completely self absorbed or were we able to think beyond ourselves and our own problems during the storm?

During this week of sacrifice and difficulties did we think of others ?

Did we call anyone or walk down the street and check on anyone ?

When we got our lights back or if we never lost them did we welcome anyone into our home?

Did we send warm food to anyone without a gas stove?

Did we look after anyone who was not a member of our family ?

If we failed to do even one of these things then not only weren’t we prepared physically for the storm but most importantly we were not prepared spiritually.

If we failed to do any of these good deeds it means that like the foolish virgins or bridesmaids we were not prepared to answer when love called.

You know I’m ashamed to say if something happened and I needed to run a mile right now I would probably fall flat on my face or die of heart attack.

I am not prepared to run even a mile, as much as I would want to run it I just wouldn’t be able.

But if I started running a little ever day
(easier said then done)..

If I walked then ran and walked then ran slowly but surely I could probably get up to a mile or more...

It’s the same way with the practice of virtue...

Like I can’t expect to run a mile today
We just can’t expect to be generous all of a sudden if you don’t practice being generous every day of your life.

If we don’t practice being generous then when when the storms hit,
when the wires fall,
when we are left in the dark and cold and someone needs us we won’t even be able to respond with a generous heart.

Like the foolish virgins we will not be prepared...

Fear not... 

A very wise man told me never waste a good crisis

Let us all make this past storm a moment of grace,

if we need to be better prepared with supplies and if we need our hearts to be more  practiced in generosity let’s begin  now

For we all know that someday in the not too distant future love will call gain and we will be better prepared to respond with a generous heart.

While we have time
Let us do good.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

30th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A - 2011

Today’s Readings   

shema2_englishYou know as friars we live in and work in community.

As itinerant men we move from community to community and every friary we live in is different because we live with different people.

Some friaries are neat and spic and span some friaries let’s just say have that celibate man lived in look.

Ladies like when you leave for a couple of days… and come and look at your home.

One friary I lived in had a million rules…

There everything had it place.
When I arrived I had to learn how to load the dishwasher in the correct way, where the television remote had to be placed, how the cushions on the couch were to be fixed when you got up.

And I learned to never to kick off your shoes in the living room and leave them there.

Once I kicked off my shoes in the living room and went to bed the next day I got up and I couldn’t remember where my shoes were.

I had the early Mass and searched high and low…

Finally I had to wear my slippers to Mass.

After searching all morning I asked the guardian of the house, Have you seen my shoes I can’t find them anywhere?

He said to me “hmmm

I think I saw them in the front closet behind the vacuum cleaner.”

Needless to say I got the message and learned another rule.

He was a man who lived by rules.

Rules Rules Rules….

It wasn’t bad for me to live in that house.

I think it was harder on them than it was on me.

Obviously I needed more structure and that Guardian was more than happy to provide what I needed.

When I was transferred to a different friary…

I started asking about all of the rules of the house.

The guardian looked at me and said…

Say your prayers, do your work, and love our people.”

That was a much more comfortable place to live and I would say a much more productive generous and holy friary.

We still lived comfortably and the house wasn’t a mess and we didn’t need a million little rules everyone just chipped in.

In the law which governed the common life of the Israelites and their relationship with God there were over 613 laws

There was a whole class of people needed to interpret the laws and how to live them.

They were called the Pharisees, we call them lawyers today and we need them just as much as the people of Jesus’ time.

If you go to the town of Berlin’s website there is a whole list of ordinances governing everything in Town from garbage, to proper disposal of tree limbs, to animals, to taxes and walking on the street, to portable classrooms and portable bathrooms, the list goes on and on

Berlin has 193 pages of town ordinances

I started to count the laws in the State of Connecticut but gave up

I didn’t even bother to google federal law….

In today’s Gospel Jesus sums all of those laws into two.

"You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your mind.

You shall love your neighbor as yourself. “

When you think about it every single law that was ever written is rooted in these two simple phrases…

If we love God we give Him His rightful place in our lives.

If we love our neighbor we will always try and act in his/her best interest.

If we loved our neighbor we won’t put up huge ugly fences between our properties.

If we loved out neighbor we would help them out if they fell on bad times.

If we love our neighbor we would properly dispose of our garbage.

If we loved our neighbor we would not block their driveways when we come to church… hint hint…

If we love our neighbor we would contribute to the common good by sharing our resources in the form of taxes or assistance.

If we loved our neighbors all over the world there would be better relationships between nationalities, and religions and races.

If we love our neighbor we will live within our means and not take more than we really need.

I was recently in Seattle and there were protests called Occupy Seattle..

One afternoon I sat there a long time listening to all of the speeches and reading the signs. Some of them you can’t repeat in Church.

The main point of the protest or the main frustration was simply that the protestors felt that some people and or corporations seemed to be taking so much more than they really needed or deserved.

There was a lot of frustration and anger there and a lot of weirdness too… It was a great place to watch and pray for people.

If we love God I mean really loved God

a lot of what we do,

and what we want,

and what we feel we need,

would change and change radically.

If we loved our God and our neighbor we would go beyond the letter of the law or the bare minimum.

Love always gives more.

If we really loved our neighbor we wouldn’t need the pages and pages of laws and ordinances our society has found it necessary to write and enforce.

If the first thing we asked ourselves was “what is love calling me to do?”


our families
our towns
our state
our country
and our world would be such better places.

And our lives would be so much richer

Pie in the sky you say…

Jesus said…

"You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your mind.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself. “

According to Him we really only need two rules.

Let’s take him at his word.


Friday, October 07, 2011

28th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A 2011

Sunday’s Readings

banquet_table_in_HeavenBoth this week and last week we heard Jesus reach out to the religious leaders of his time with an almost desperate voice, a desperate love.

He saw where they were headed
(he sees where some of us are headed)

He knew how much they were entrenched in their sin
and he longed to call them to conversion.

He loved them.
(Sometimes you yell the most at the kid you love the most)

Last week the religious leaders of his time were represented as the unfaithful tenants in God’s vineyard.

They were the ones who refused to listen to the prophets and even killed the Son.

This week the religious leaders they were the invited guests to the wedding banquet.

It was the custom of the time to send runners out with invitations Informing the invited that there would be a wedding feast soon and to get prepared.

When the meal was ready (no microwaves back then)
the runners would return to bring back the guests.

The guests (the Jewish people and religious leaders of his time) knew that they were invited.

They knew they were the chosen people.
They knew that it was a special occasion
and theirs was a privileged place.

They knew that had even received several invitations
God had invited them to fellowship over and over again in their history.

Yet somehow and they refused.
They were busy.
They were otherwise concerned
one went to his business, another his farm,
some even beat up those bringing the invitation.

The guests were being invited into happiness
Into joy.

They were being invited into friendship and fellowship with God.
What kept them away?
Why did they refuse ?

The answer is probably different for each of them.

Some were too focused in the moment
they were probably overwhelmed by what was happening at that moment in their lives.
(That happens to all of us some time)

Some just were not interested
They were betting on themselves
they thought that they had a good life already
they didn’t believe that the banquet would be better.

Because of their hardened hearts they lost their chance.
Because of their refusal of God’s love
they did not enjoy the banquet of the Lord.

So the king invited a whole other group of guests
People who never thought they would get an invitation.

They were the outcasts
the religiously incorrect
the sinners, the broken ones
those burdened with addictions,
the bandits, the prostitutes, you get the picture.

He invited people who never thought they had a chance
when they received the invitation which they never expected
they responded.

They responded with a conversion of heart.

They did their best to leave their sad pasts behind them.

They trusted the king and they came.
They dared to hope for more.

They dared to hope for a better life a holier life.
And they even came properly attired For the feast
They came dressed with the desire to live virtuously.

Sadly one man tried come without this change of heart
He entered the banquet without being clothed in virtue
or even the desire of virtue.

He wanted the benefits of the Heavenly banquet without being willing to pay the price.

The King even approached him and asked him why he was not properly attired.

Probably in the hope that he could reason with the man
give him one more chance.

Sadly the man was not ready to change
He was not ready to even try to be
the person that God created him to be
And he was thrown out back into his sadness

The Word of God transcends time

The Word of God was not only addressed to the Jewish people at that sad moment in history

The Word of God is also addressed to us.

We are the guests.
We are the invited.
We are the chosen ones.
We who have the gift of faith.

We have to ask ourselves…Which one of these characters in the this parable are we?

Which one?
All of us have been invited.

Have we accepted the invitation
or are we too busy?

You know the drill you find yourself thinking
I have so much to do.
so much is calling for my attention.

How many of us have found ourselves saying thing like
I want holiness
I want to life a virtuous life, a good life
but I don’t have time now.
(That’s what St. Augustine wanted.)

How many of us trust ourselves our world and our riches
more than God.

How many of us kind of say Yes I’ll come to the banquet but when I’m old and when I don’t have any better options.

Yes Today in this Scripture God speaks to us

God speaks to each one of us
with a kind of desperate voice
a desperate love.

He longs for us to enjoy the heavenly banquet.
Pray God we all say yes.



Friday, September 30, 2011

27th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A - 2011

This Sunday’s Readings

May the peace of Christ reign in our hearts.

In this Gospel there is lots of symbolism
and so we really have to be thoughtful when we try to understand its meaning.

The vineyard…symbolizes creation, or the world.
The vineyard also symbolizes our life.

Like the landowner gives the vineyard to the tenants to bear fruit.

God gives us our life to bear fruit.

Not just what we produced with our work
but who we become.

The Grapes and wild grapes…
are the fruit of our labor,
the work of our hands.

The Landowner is God…
God who gives us everything we need.

Like the vineyard described in the parable is beautiful
God gives us a wonderful world, a beautiful vineyard
a place which is capable of providing for us abundantly, richly.

God like the landowner wants to enjoy the work of our hands.

God wants to be proud of us.

God wants to rejoice in our successes and is very patient with us.

He is so desperate for us to live as we should
that he repeatedly sends
servants or prophets to encourage us and guide us on our journey.

The patience and perseverance of God is astounding.

Remember that powerfully tragic line in the parable,
“but the tenants seized the servants and one they beat,
another they killed, and a third they stoned.”

The landowner does not give up on the tenants
Even when they are steeped in sin and violence.

He forgives all these horrible offenses
and sends his Son his own flesh and blood to
help these evil tenants change their ways.

Moved by jealousy and anger and incredible greed the tenants kill his son.

Just like the religious leaders of Jesus’ time killed God’s Son.

And only after that does the landowner take his revenge.

As you can see this parable is intense.
Jesus was speaking to the religious leaders of his time
because he loved them even with all their sins.

With this parable He showed them who they were and where they were headed.

He didn’t sugar coat.
They had done horrible things.
Motivated by greed and
a lust for power they
killed the Messiah.

We all know that roughly 40 years after Jesus’ death
in a terrible war of destruction,
the Romans destroyed all that was dear to the Israel ju

st like the landowner put the evil tenants to death.

But because the scriptures are the word of God
They not only speak to the people of his time…
they speak to us.

The parables are like mirrors where God shows us who we are and who we ought to be.

Here are some questions for us the tenants of the vineyard.

God has given us the vineyard of our lives what are we doing with this incredible gift

Is the fruit of our lives, or our grapes, bountiful or wild?

Are we taking care of the vineyard?

Are we caring for it so future generations can enjoy it and benefit from it?

Are we sharing the vineyard’s, abundance fairly?

Do all of our brothers and sisters have the ability to share in its resources?

Is our first impluse to think of ourselves or others?

Do we think we know it all like the tenants?

Do we listen to the prophets and teachers that God
repeatedly sends us over and over and over again or
do  we persecute them or marginalize them, ignore them make fun of them?

These are really important questions.
We are in a difficult economic crisis.

It seems that many in our country are also motivated by greed.

What place does greed have in our lives?

Are we working for only ourselves like the tenants or are we living the generous holy lives that God calls us to live ?

This parable is as powerful today as it was when it was proclaimed over 2000 years ago.

Let us look in the mirror that Jesus holds up for us in this parable and let us see who we are.

Let us listen and learn.

Friday, September 16, 2011

25th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A - 2011

This Sunday’s Readings


Today’s Gospel passage includes a story which we have all heard many times.

Let’s look at 3 different symbols in the story and see how they relate to us.

The vineyard owner represents God,
God who is desperate for the harvest.

The Vineyard Owner was worried about his grapes.

God is worried about our souls.

He is so worried that He will do anything except take away our freedom to bring us home to Him in heaven.

God is so desperate that he sends his foreman out into the market place over and over and over again until the last moment of the day to find workers for his harvest.

Like the vineyard owner God is recklessly generous.

It doesn’t matter if we’ve worked for God’s Kingdom from our youth or if we
seek him in the last moments of our lives,
our reward is the same everlasting life with Him in heaven.

The workers are us.
Some of us are hard workers, some of us are not.
Some of us have worked for a long time, some of us have not.

Like the workers who waited all day in the hope that they would get at least some work so that they could feed their families,
all of us want a good life and want to take care of those we love.

Sometimes, like the workers in the vineyard we become jealous of what others have, even though God gives us all or want we need.

With all of our faults we are still loved by God and needed by him.

The work of the harvest is saving souls,
our soul and the souls of others.

Sadly, lots people mistakenly believe that their work
or their purpose here on earth is to amass as much as they can for themselves and those they love.

We all know people who drive themselves just about crazy trying to do just that.

The scripture we heard a couple of weeks ago rings so true
“What profit a man to gain the whole world and in the process loose his soul?”

We need to remind ourselves over and over again that our work and our purpose is to find our way home to God and to bring as many people as we can with us.

If we were able to write that very important truth on our hearts lot of what we do and how we do it would change.

God needs workers.
God needs us to bring in his harvest.
Our purpose and our mission is God’s work,
not worldly success.

The reward for our work is great everlasting life.

If we are not ready or willing or able to do God’s work,
God will not give up on us.

Rather, He sends his foremen to the Marketplace of our lives over and over again,
until our very last breath to seek our help in his most important work.

Thanks be to God…

Let us be about God’s work… the harvest is great the workers are few. AMEN

Friday, September 09, 2011

24th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A - 2011

Sept 11Today (Tomorrow) is September 11th. 11 years ago it was just another day.

10 Years ago the date September. 11th took on a whole new meaning and our lives changed.

We all remember where we were when it happened.

On 9/11 I was in Washington DC and as looked South west in the sky I say the smoke from the Pentagon rising in the sky.

The whole university of 6000 pretty frightened young people and faculty gathered in the National Shrine for Mass. Some were afraid to come in thinking that a terrorist might mistake the dome of the Shrine with the Capital Building dome.

We had all night confessions and Eucharistic Adoration. They were very well attended.

At that Mass Cardinal McCarrick said something that has remained with me since that fateful day.

He begged the whole university not to let hate win.

You see hate wins and evil wins when they cause us to hate or do evil.

Think about it when someone treats us in a hateful and evil way and we respond in kind, then evil wins and love loses.

Your Boss has a bad day at home. He comes to the office and he is not him/herself they start chewing out the people that work for them, including you.

You have a miserable day and awful day and you go home and your kid runs up to you and asks you to play with them. Or your wife asks you a question.

You are still hurting from the experience at work and your respond poorly.

And sometimes that the chain of hurt or hate or anger or bitterness goes on and on and on and on.

Whenever we respond to evil with evil or anger with anger or hate with hate.

Evil wins.

If the last person in the last row of church hit the person next to them and that person hit the person next to them and that person next to them etc.

The hurt which began in one heart would be now written on many hearts.

In situations like this the Gospel calls us to respond to hate and anger and resentment in a radical way.

As followers of Christ we can’t let any hurt or anything evil take root in our hearts.

And when we are hurt we have to respond with love not 1 time not 7 times not  times but 77 times… in other words forever.

Followers of Jesus must never ever respond to evil with evil, or hurt with hurt, or anger with anger.. we are called to respond to evil with love.

We don’t have to be sucker and just allow ourselves to be repeatedly hurt. We can remove ourselves from hurtful situations however we can’t respond to evil with evil.

I know its hard.
I know it may even seem impossible,
but that’s what Jesus did and that we he calls us to do.

“Love your enemies do good to those who persecute you” Mt 5:44

“Father forgive them they don’t know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

Has no one condemned you then I do not condemn you John 8:10

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone John 8:6

Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. Mt 18:22

If anyone here thinks that it easy being a follower of Christ…

If anyone here thinks that it is easy to be Catholic…

Then they haven’t read the instruction manual.

The only place that we can stop hate or anger is in our heart.

The only place we can prevent another Sept 11th is in our hearts.

There are two other announcements.RM.indd

As many of you know the First Sunday of Advent this year we and the whole English speaking Catholic world will begin using a new translation of the Mass.

Archbishop Mansell asked that we use this Sunday to begin to prepare you for the change.

The first translation after the VCII was done 40 years ago and was never intended to be the final translation.

We all know that there are several translations of the Bible, some are translated in a literal way and others offer a generalized translation.

This new translation was requested by Blessed John Paul II in 2000 and it remains much more faithful to the original Latin Text.

It is so important to remember that this is a new translation not a new Mass. And the new words which we use to pray can push us on to a greater appreciation and reverence for the Mass.

In the Bulletin for the next several weeks we will provide additional inserts to help you understand the meaning of the changes and help you renew your appreciation of the Mass.

There will also be a lot of resources on our parish website. Including some great videos explaining the changes. On the first Sunday of Advent you will find pew cards in the pews to help us learn what to say.

Change is never easy but the promise of this new translation of the mass is that we will be able to enter more deeply into the mystery of our Faith and the Mystery of God’s love for the World.

Once again this year we will be starting up our RCIA Program. This is the program the church uses to welcome people into our community. If you or anyone you know is interested in becoming a Catholic please visit our website for more information. Last year 7 very fine people became members of our Church. All are welcome we look forward to hearing from you.

God Bless You All

Friday, September 02, 2011

23 Sunday of Ordinary Time Year–A 2011

This Sunday's Readings

Love is the most noble things a human being can do.
With love there is often joy and we all know that with love there are also tears and sacrifices.

Love supports,
love surrenders, love heals,
love forgives,
love encourages,
love exhorts
love gives life.

Today’s Gospel teaches us about an essential characteristic of love which many of us would prefer to forget or put aside.

Jesus reminds us today that when our love is real,
when we love like God loves
we must also care enough to humbly correct or challenge those we know and love.
We all understand this when it comes to our children.

What parent would let a little child play around a stove with boiling water on it and not correct them?

What parent would let a little kid run into the street and not stop them and correct them?

However this type of love is just so hard when our kids get older,
or with our friends, our peers and our families.

Quite often in these situations when we see a person making a bad choice we chose to remain silent.

We don’t say a word.
We cop out with phrases like…
“It’s none of my business.”
“I’m no Saint”
“Who am I to say anything?”

Sometimes we know something is going on in a marriage.

Sometimes we know that a person is stealing from the job or

we know that a person is becoming more and more dependent on alcohol or some other substance

but  we prefer to stay quiet, removed and safe from the situation.

We simply don’t want to get involved in the mess sometimes.
Even when the mess is someone that we love.

Then when disaster hits that person’s life we may even say something like…
“I saw that coming for a while.”
“I knew that marriage was going to end.”
“I knew that he or she was a DUI waiting to happen.”

I knew said nothing

Why are we so hesitant to love like Jesus calls us to love?

Maybe we are loath to say anything because we don’t’ have our own house in order.

Often we sit back and watch our friends and our loves ones paddle a canoe over the falls because we are so afraid that we don’t know what to say or how to say it.

I understand all of these excuses I’ve used them myself.

Jesus wants more from us
And Jesus and our loved ones need more from us.

In today’s Gospel He gives us some pointers on how to love someone enough to correct or challenge them.

The first point he makes is simply this.
Don’t remain silent….

If we see someone living contrary to the gospel,
or if we are hurt or upset by someone,
then love does not permit us to look the other way.

Jesus does not want us to humiliate someone.
Whenever something is wrong our first obligation is to address it privately,
confidentially, humbly.

Maybe we could say something like
“I love you so much I can’t keep quiet anymore.”

If a one on one conversation doesn’t work love does not let us off the hook.

Jesus would then find others who are worried and concern and bring them into the discussion

Once again this type of intervention should be done humbly and quietly.

If the person sinning continues to refuse to see the error of their ways
then Jesus once again tells us to try again and widens the circle a little more asking us to even involve the church in an attempt to save them from themselves.

Finally when all else fails Jesus says treat them like you would as a tax collector or a gentile.”

At first glance this seems to indicate that we should distance ourselves from the person we are concerned about.

The Jews of Jesus’ time looked on gentiles and tax collectors with distain.

It is important to remember however that Jesus did not.
He loved sinners and tax collectors and prostitutes.

Jesus was a friend to them even before they changed even if they never changed he loved them.

Holy ones let’s write this on our hearts.

Love real love cannot remain silent when a brother or a sister is headed in the wrong direction

Love cannot remain silent when someone is hurting themselves or others or not following God’s law.

Love always corrects and challenges in a humble way.

Love never permits us to give up even when a person refuses see the error of their ways.

Love must be persistent and patient with a person who sins.

Love endures

Lord take away our fear

and please help us love always.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A – 2011

When you love someone you want what is best for them.
Quite frequently you spend a lot of your time trying to figure out just how to help them find what that is.
Some people give complete freedom to their children or loved ones and step back ready to help them pick up the pieces when or if things go bad.
Some people hold their loved one on a very tight rein and do everything in their power to keep them from miss-stepping.
Some plead and some scold, some scare and some inspire their loved ones to do the right thing.
It should come as no surprise to us that throughout his life the humanity of Jesus struggled to figure out how to love the world and bring us all to God.
After his Baptism in the Jordan,
Jesus was tempted in the desert.

The Devil tried to convince him to relate to the world in three different ways:
He tried to convince Jesus to use big displays of power to scare us into being good.
He he tried to convince Jesus to buy our love or bribe us by giving us everything thing we could ever dream of. (Turn these stones into bread)
Finally he tried to convince Jesus to simply compromise and lower his standards
You see the Devil was desperate to keep Jesus from using suffering love to save the world.
Jesus’ sharp response to Peter in today’s Gospel shows that he continued to struggle with the same temptations he experienced in the desert.
When Peter tried to convince Jesus not to carry the cross and not to choose suffering love, it was as if Jesus found himself back in the desert facing off with Satan find the same temptations.
Hence his harsh rebuke to Peter “Get behind me Satan”
And just before he was arrested we see Jesus being tempted in the Garden of Gethsemane once again to avoid death on the cross once again.
With his passion and His death Jesus chose suffering love to redeem the world and bring us all to God.
His examples should inspire us all to do the same.
Holy Ones..
We all know that you can scare a person into being good for a while
We all know that you can bribe a person into being good for a while
You can make tons and tons of rules and laws in a vain attempt to make people do good.
I was a college chaplain for 20 years and I learned that you can make all the rules you want in a Residence Hall/dormitory but unless you change the hearts of the kids who live in there things can go very bad very quickly.
Jesus knew that the only way you can change a human heart is to love a person unconditionally and be willing to suffer for them.
In fact I would venture to say the only real way you can know if you love someone or are loved by them is ask yourself the following questions.
Am I willing to carry their cross and suffer for them ?

Would they be willing to carry my cross and suffer for me?

Then Jesus said to his disciples,

"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life"

As Hurricane Irene comes our way
Stay Dry
And Stay Safe
Look out for your neighbor

Friday, August 19, 2011

21st Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A - 2011

But you who do you say that I am?
tiny light
But you, who do you say that I am?

Holy Ones…
This is one of the most fundamental questions a human being has to answer.
If we believe that Jesus was just a good man or pious legend
then how he lived and what he said doesn’t really matter.
If we like Peter profess that Jesus is the Messiah,
the very Son of God,
then our lives will never and can never be the same.
Everything changes.
First of all we realize that this is not all there is…
This life, whatever challenges it presents, and everything that happens here is but a moment in eternity.
It’s all just a moment just a moment…
Second when we say Jesus is the Messiah or Jesus is Lord
we realize that our life has been given to us to give away.
It follows that we should spend our lives giving rather than receiving,
letting go rather that holding on.
That’s what Jesus did and that’s what we are called to do.
Third when we understand who Jesus really is then
God’s will and God’s law and God’s plan matter.
What written in the Bible matters, the age long tradition Church matters.
If we believe that Jesus is Lord then our lives have to be guided and directed by God’s Word and Gods’ truth every single day.
Finally if we believe that Jesus is Lord
If we can say that from the depths of our heart …
Then No matter where we find ourselves
No matter what happens
No matter how dark life seems,
there is always a light in the distance.
Even if is only a pin point of light
If we as imperfect as we are would not leave the ones we love in the darkness of despair.
How much more will God who loves us never leave us alone in the dark.
There will always that tiny glimmer of hope which orients us.
There is always a tiny light
which show us where we should put our next step
and guides us home.
I admit of late my eyes have grown strained looking that pin hole of hope.
You all know it someone said to me Fr. Robert the Bags under your eyes even have bags.
I admit it and that’s no surprise to you.
However, the other night sitting right over there in that pew I found that tiny light
in the Presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ
If your eyes are strained looking for it I encourage you to come do the same.
Just come here and sit.
Sit as if you are in the presence of the person who has loves you the most in your life.
You can pour out your life or sit in silence
You can cry or smile…
Hope will come… I promise.
Some beautiful parents have written me and asked me not to communicate explicitly about our current situation at Mass.
They want to be able to communicate with their children as they see fit.
I am so grateful for your insight.
And I hope this homily and these words have not violated your wish.
Please know that you are in our hearts every day.
Fr. Raymond and I pray for you every day..
We’ve done so for a long time.
Our whole Franciscan Province is praying for this parish.
It’s rare that a morning or an evening should pass without receiving a text message an email or a call from one to the friars, our brothers promising prayers and thoughts.
We have a veritable army all over the country and world praying with us.
We are not alone. We are so far from being alone.
And Fr. Raymond and I are so grateful for and humbled by your prayers, love, concern, and your support… I can’t tell you how much it has meant and continues to mean to us.
Jesus said to them, "But you who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter said in reply,
"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus said to him in reply,
"Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you,
but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
The gates of our weakness shall not prevail
The gates of our sinfulness shall not prevail
The gates of our psychological problems and all the baggage we drag around shall not prevail.
The gates of our anger and bitterness and shame shall not prevail.
Nothing shall and nothing can prevail against God’s Love and the work of God’s Kingdom.
We have a beautiful school to get ready and there are children to educate
There is a huge Religious Ed Program to get up and running
By the way as always we need teachers so come on and jump in the trenches
our kids need us more than ever.
There are senior citizens who are lonely
The sick need the comfort of the sacraments and an ear willing to listen
There are Marriages to prepare for and weddings to celebrate
There is a ton food to collect so many depend on us for food.
There is a Parish Picnic to prepare, and Italian and Polish Nights to plan not to mention the Berlin Fair to get ready for.
We have baptisms galore coming up and we need to find ways to support our young families many work so hard are really tired.
The list goes on and on and on.
Dearest Friends of St. Paul Church
More than ever let us be about God’s work,
humbly, mercifully and lovingly.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

20th Sunday of Ordinary Time–Year A - 2011

Today’s Readings

CanaaniteWomanTouchMay the peace of Christ Reign in our hearts.

Today we heard the story of the Canaanite woman.

It is a touching story of faith and perseverance.

I'm convinced that Jesus knew the woman in the Gospel before she came.

He knew how much she loved her daughter.

He knew that she was not an Israelite even though she saluted him as the Son of David.

He knew that she had come understand that He could help her and that he would help her.

He knew that in the end he would indeed grant her request.
And somehow the woman knew all of these things too.
In some incredible way God had gifted her with a strong faith.

She approached him ….courageously and respectfully.
She was not deterred when he did not respond to her.
She did not let His reaction to her or seemingly harsh words deter her in any way.

And because of her faith in Him
and because of the love that she had for her daughter Jesus granted her request.

We read about her story in the Gospel because God wants us to understand how much power this kind of faith has.

The story of the Canaanite woman should cause us all to stop and reflect on the quality and depth of our own faith.

When we pray do we really believe that God hears our prayer?

If we don’t receive what we requested do we have the depth of faith to understand that the answer was simply no.

I have to be honest as I look back over my life I am grateful that God has not given me everything I prayed for.

In the heat of the moment I’ve asked for some ridiculous things.

There is also so another important lesson in this Gospel story.

The Cannanites were hated by the Jews, they were non-believers, the Jews considered them the scum of the earth yet by granting the woman’s request Jesus teaches us that no one, no human being, no matter what, is beyond God’s love.

Nationality / Race / Gender / Sexual Orientation / Personal Sinfulness / Religious belief or practice or lack there of / nothing nothing at all can separate us from the love of God.

The people of Jesus’ time were shocked that he granted the woman’s her request like they were shocked that she would even dare to ask.

Jesus’ disciples really did consider her and her people no better than a dog yet Jesus love her and granted her request.

What should we take home… from this Gospel
What should we ponder as we go about our lives…

First of all we should realize that faith isn’t just a feel good feeling, rather the stronger our faith the more it can change our values change our choices and change our lives.

I think that this Gospel passage also  teaches us that we never really know how much we are loved or how much we love until the going gets tough.

When love and life is easy, when love does not find itself challenged we never really know how strong it is.

Think about it only when there has been a problem or a challenge in your marriage or with your kids or in your family did you understand how strong your love was and how much love costs.

The woman was willing to do anything because she loved her daughter so much.

God gave her the power to beseech Jesus and his followers over and over agan. She never gave up even when she was ignored… that’s how strong her love was.

Finally if Jesus was even willing to heal the daughter of the Cannanite woman a sworn enemies of the Jews we have to work hard to transcend our prejudices, and our resentments.

His healing of the Canaanite woman’s daughter proved that no one should be excluded from our love our mercy and our forgiveness.

So holy ones…
As we go about our lives… let us ask ourselves…

Are our faith and our love as strong as the faith and love of the Canaanite woman ?

She never gave up on her daughter and she refused to give up on God’s love.

Have we ?


Friday, August 05, 2011

19th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year–A 2011

PeterwalkingonwaterThe Gospel today paints an incredible scene.

St. Peter steps out of a boat in rough seas and begins to walk on the water.

How could it have happened?
What gave Peter a simple fisherman the courage to step out on the water in the midst of a storm?

The answer is simple.
It was his Faith, he believed in Jesus
Peter believed that Jesus even had the power to make him walk on water.

We all know that as he walked toward Jesus
Peter began to be afraid and he began to doubt.
Once he took his eyes off our Lord he began to sink.

There so much to learn from this simple story.
The message is simple but daunting.

As followers of Christ we can do incredible things
if we have faith.

As followers of Christ we should expect to do incredible things if we have faith.

Throughout the history of the Church very ordinary people like you and me have done extraordinary things.

Some have feed the hungry
Some have cared for the sick
I know a woman who cared for her handicapped Son her whole life. Even when she was in her 70s and he was 50 she took care of him with a strong loving faith.

She never wavered
She would be the first to tell you that her love and her faith gave her an incredible stamina.

I know a man whose wife developed MS in her 30s and he still takes care of her and their two children along with working a full time job.

He is an ordinary man like you or me.
He never expected to face such a challenge but he too was called to step out of the boat and surrender some of his dreams for love and he has..

He is hero in my book, and with all that he does he never misses Mass, never.

I know another man who divorced his wife when she got MS because he felt her illness was simply too big a burden for him carry.

Over the centuries ordinary people at great risk have practiced their faith and attended Mass or celebrated Mass even when it was a capital offense.

How many of us would be here today in these pews if it meant risking our lives.

There have even ordinary people who have accepted death rather than renounce Christ.

The blood of Martyrs is the seed of the Church

Ordinary people, People like you and me have stepped out of the boat and into the sea no matter how rough it was over and over again.

Ordinary people like you and me have stepped out of the boat of their comfortable lives and made a huge difference in every age.

It’s kind of obvious isn’t it…

After hearing today’s Gospel all of us should be asking ourselves what extraordinary thing is God calling us to do?

What extraordinary thing does God need us to do?

When life throws a challenge our way even a daunting challenge,
an overwhelming challenge,
When life throws us an extraordinary challenge if we keep our eyes of faith fixed on Jesus
He will never let us sink

And even if we falter for a moment…
Jesus will pull us back into the boat

Peter didn’t drown when he was afraid
He didn’t drown when he doubted and neither will we.

He lived on to do incredible things with his life
And he eventually even gave his life rather than renounce his faith.

The world would be a very sad place if no one ever took a risk or got out of the boat for someone in need.


19th Sunday of Ordinary Time–Year A 2011

PeterwalkingonwaterThe Gospel today paints an incredible scene.

St. Peter steps out of a boat in rough seas and begins to walk on the water.

How could it have happened?
What gave Peter a simple fisherman the courage to step out on the water in the midst of a storm?

The answer is simple.
It was his Faith, he believed in Jesus
Peter believed that Jesus even had the power to make him walk on water.

We all know that as he walked toward Jesus
Peter began to be afraid and he began to doubt.
Once he took his eyes off our Lord he began to sink.

There so much to learn from this simple story.
The message is simple but daunting.

As followers of Christ we can do incredible things
if we have faith.

As followers of Christ we should expect to do incredible things if we have faith.

Throughout the history of the Church very ordinary people like you and me have done extraordinary things.

Some have feed the hungry
Some have cared for the sick
I know a woman who cared for her handicapped Son her whole life. Even when she was in her 70s and he was 50 she took care of him with a strong loving faith.

She never wavered
She would be the first to tell you that her love and her faith gave her an incredible stamina.

I know a man whose wife developed MS in her 30s and he still takes care of her and their two children along with working a full time job.

He is an ordinary man like you or me.
He never expected to face such a challenge but he too was called to step out of the boat and surrender some of his dreams for love and he has..

He is hero in my book, and with all that he does he never misses Mass, never.

I know another man who divorced his wife when she got MS because he felt her illness was simply too big a burden for him carry.

Over the centuries ordinary people at great risk have practiced their faith and attended Mass or celebrated Mass even when it was a capital offense.

How many of us would be here today in these pews if it meant risking our lives.

There have even ordinary people who have accepted death rather than renounce Christ.

The blood of Martyrs is the seed of the Church

Ordinary people, People like you and me have stepped out of the boat and into the sea no matter how rough it was over and over again.

Ordinary people like you and me have stepped out of the boat of their comfortable lives and made a huge difference in every age.

It’s kind of obvious isn’t it…

After hearing today’s Gospel all of us should be asking ourselves what extraordinary thing is God calling us to do?

What extraordinary thing does God need us to do?

When life throws a challenge our way even a daunting challenge,
an overwhelming challenge,
When life throws us an extraordinary challenge if we keep our eyes of faith fixed on Jesus
He will never let us sink

And even if we falter  for a moment…
Jesus will pull us back into the boat

Peter didn’t drown when he was afraid
He didn’t drown when he  doubted and neither will we.

He lived on to do incredible things with his life
And he eventually even gave his life rather than renounce his faith.

The world would be a very sad place if no one ever took a risk or got out of the boat for someone in need.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A - 2011

You know when we fall in love
when we really fall in love it's as if our whole being changes.

We move from thinking about ourselves
to thinking about the one or ones we love.

Suddenly we have the ability to make incredible sacrifices.

We find within ourselves the power to forgive any offense
even when we really hurt.

We all know that you can love someone and forgive them but still be perturbed or disappointed with them.

When we love we willingly go without so that we can give to those we care about and we harbor no ill will because of our sacrifice.

Don't get me wrong love is not all rosy.
Love is certainly not easy

We all know that.

You know it's not easy being married.
I know that it is not easy being a celibate priest.

Every life has its ups and downs.

You know that bringing children into the world is filled with joys and filled with challenges.

I know that being the Pastor of a beautiful parish like St. Paul's is filled with joys and filled with challenges.

Yes there is a very high price to pay when we love.
If we find love too easy we might not be loving at all.

Yet without a doubt love permits us to do super human things,
holy things.

When we are able to love we conform ourselves more closely to the image and likeness of God.

We become more and more like Him.

The Gospel today reminds us that our commitment to God and God's Kingdom,
have to be as strong as our commitment to those we love.

In other words when the man discovered God and God's Kingdom he went and sold everything he had to purchase the treasure he had found.

If our faith does not demand from us the same level of sacrifice there is something wrong.

It is not easy to be a Catholic
It is not easy to follow Christ

It is fool hardy or naive to think that just as Christ's life led him to the  cross somehow and our lives can avoid that same sacrifice.

But even with the high price that our love of God and God's Kingdom demands many of us can't even conceive our lives without our faith.

It is indeed like a treasure buried in a field

Its value is beyond measure
and it is worth every sacrifice.

So Holy ones everyday let's try to let go of what we have
and what we want so that we too can purchase the treasure in the field and deepen our relationship with God and each other..

The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 

Let us go and do the same with our fear.