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.