Saturday, December 28, 2013

Feast of the Holy Family - 2013

They didn’t have an easy life.

When they were engaged she became pregnant and he knew it wasn’t his child.

For a while they were both very anxious because he planned to quietly call off the wedding.

When they finally worked things out they were forced to make a long journey.

When they finally arrived at their destination she gave birth to the baby.

When they presented their new born baby in the temple they were so poor they did not have the money for a goat or a lamb the usual offering for a first born son.

They could only offer two pigeons which he probably had to catch.

At the presentation one of the priests made a troubling prophecy about the child and about Mary which bothered them both.

Finally when they thought things were going to be ok three men from the east came looking for their son.

They brought him gifts and a warning that the child was in grave danger.

So just when they had gotten settled they had to flee for their lives to Egypt a strange and foreign land.

When the people who sought to kill thier child were dead they returned home.

Finally after all of that confusion and fleeing and fear they thought everything was going well.

Then when he was 12 their son disappeared

They searched from him for 3 days and were besides themselves. Losing a child for three days can be a life changing event.

Finally found him, he didn’t seem to understand why they were so upset.

We don’t know the when it happened or how it happened but at some point the father died leaving the son and him mother alone with their extended family.

Fast forward 20 years, when it became clear that God was calling the son to a special mission it was necessary for him to leave his mother in the care of relatives and follow God’s call.

There were towns and places where he became famous and was accepted and there were towns and places where the people wanted to kill him.

He was often gone from home for a long time which grieved and concerned his mother who worried about him.

Finally he was arrested by the religious leaders of his time tortured and sentenced to death.

His mother stood by him till the end as he died on the cross.

And indeed the sword of grief pierced his Mother’s heart.

You know sometimes we think that Saints have easy lives after all they are holy.

We fail to recognize that we quite often things don’t go well for saints either.

There is not a family in this parish that doesn’t have problems.

There is not a family in this parish which doesn’t wish that things could be different for someone they love.

You all know that my little narrative was about the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph when you think about it they lived very difficult lives but they managed to remain saints.

Today the Church calls us to ask ourselves

How did they face all their challenges and still remain the holy family and how can we do the same?

I would propose to you three things that we need to imitate.

It should be obvious that they constantly tried to discern God’s will in their lives.

Before they settled on a course of action they prayed and asked themselves what is the right thing to do?

What does God want me to do ?

Once they figured out what God wanted them to do they tried to follow it to the fullest even when it was inconvenient or discouraging.

Finally throughout their lives they did their best to trust

Trust God even when they were fleeing to Egypt

Trust God even when Joseph passed away

Trust God even when Jesus and Mary understood that he had to leave home

Trust God even when Jesus had to face the horror of the Cross.

Yes today the Church calls us to meditate on the Holy Family and do everything in our power to follow their good example no matter what life throws our way.

May our prayer for ourselves and our loved ones be

Jesus Mary and Joseph Help us live good holy generous lives

Help us and our loved ones become holy families.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas 2013

One of my earliest memories of Christmas, is of our family Manger Scene.

It was like a book which drew me into the mystery of Christmas.

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 she was dressed in blue and she had a white sash with her name written on it.

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 when my Mother and Dad weren’t looking.

The figures were pretty bumped up from 2 boys and 4 grandchildren.

When were breaking up my Mom’s house I was so grateful and relieved that my nephew said he wanted the manger scene.

It's been in the family almost 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 was born in a stable so that we might understand that a simple life can also be a good life.
He was born in the stable so that we might understand that we don’t need every new gadget and every new fad or convenience.

The stable teaches us that we don’t need huge houses impossible to clean and pay for.

The stable reminds us that sometimes we work too hard for things that rust and rot away.

This year as we look into the stable and gaze upon the manger… let us remember that simple can be good.

In the manger Jesus was…
Wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid 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.
We all have hungers.
We hunger for something
The manger teaches us that Jesus and Jesus alone can satisfy our hunger.
Every time we gaze on the manger
it is important to remember that

Only God
Only God’s Love can fill us up
Every other “satisfaction” no matter what it is temporary.

Jesus so wonderfully present in the Eucharist can satisfy our hunger.
When you look at a Christmas scene you always see a star.
our star at home was an old Christmas tree light and a pice of tin foil
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
A beacon of hope in 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 in every age and every circumstance might find God’s Son and feel God’s love.

Indeed over the centuries many have come guided by the light of faith

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
Sinners and Saints.

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
• God’s love is for everyone no matter what no matter what
Thank you, each and every one of you for being here tonight

Thank you giving a little bit of you time on these busy days to come and celebrate they mystery of God’s love.
From Deacon Carmen, the friars, our parish and our school’s staffs
Merry Christmas and a happy and Holy New Year


Love you Mom

Sunday, December 22, 2013

4th Sunday of Advent Year A - 2013

Nowadays when you hear the word Fiat you think of the those little cars that drive off a cliff in Italy and drive out of the water in Brooklyn.

However fiat means a lot more than a car’s name.

We all know the story of the Annunciation when the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and informed her that she would have a child through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Mary’s response to the Angel was simply "Fiat."

Let it be done

With her fiat Mary overcame her confusion and her fears and said yes to God’s request or God’s plan. 

And by her fiat Mary gave Jesus, the very Son of God, to each one of us.

But Mary’s was not the only yes that God needed for His plan.

Today the Church asks us to reflect on St. Joseph and his fiat or his yes.

God also needed Joseph’s yes because without his support, and protection and guidance, Mary would not have been able to go it alone.

Joseph’s yes was just as difficult as Mary’s.
We don’t know how Joseph found about about Mary’s pregnancy.
We don’t know if she told him and tried to explain her encounter with the Angel or not.
We don’t know if he found out from someone else.
We don’t know if the families had a meeting to discuss the situation. 

We do know however he found out, that it did not give him peace.
He was confused and hurt.
He must have been worried about what people would think.
He must have been concerned that they would think the baby was his out of wedlock.
He must have been concerned about Mary and how she would take care of a baby without him. 
From everything we know about St. Joseph we know that he loved Mary and was willing to sacrifice anything for her.

He wanted to do the right things and so he decided to divorce Mary quietly and not subject her to the brutality of the law.

In other words Joseph got it wrong… his plan was not what God needed him to do. 

So once again God sent the Angel Gabriel to Joseph in a dream to give him comfort and show him what God need him to do.

From the moment he woke Joseph lived his fiat, his yes.
He took Mary into his home protecting her, providing for her and caring for her and her child without fear or reserve. 

It should be a comfort to us that both Mary and Joseph found it difficult to follow God’s plan.

Like Mary and Joseph God needs our yes God needs our fiat.

We too are asked to bring Christ Jesus into the world.
Like St. Joseph we have lots of worries and concerns.
What will people think ?
I’m to busy ?
What about what I want ?

I’ve forgiven enough already why does God want me to forgive again ?
I”m not worthy.

Yet like Mary and like Joseph God has a plan for each of our lives and all of us are an essential piece in the puzzle of God’s Divine plan.

Without our fiat
Without our yes to God’s plan
The world will be a little poorer our.

Our families will be a little poorer

Without our personal yes something that God needs to get done will not be done

Let us live thoughtful reflective lives.

Let us discern our place in God’s loving plan and no matter what worries or fears or concerns that we may have us let us say yes with open generous hearts just like Mary and like Joseph.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Third Sunday of Advent Year - A 2013

You know as I drove back and forth to Buffalo last year I found the best way to pass the time was to listen to books on CD’s.

And as I drove along the New York State Thruway (its a very boring drive) my emotions would change with the book I was listening to.

Sometimes I was afraid, other times I was relieved, other times I was nervous trying to figure out how the story would end. As I listened to the books I lived in the moment.

Many times we live our lives in the very same way. We become obsessed with the moment we are living and lose site of the long term.

When things are going well at the moment we are happy, but when we face a challenge or a difficulty sometimes we let it consume us.

It’s so easy for us to forget that this moment is not all that life has to offer.

When we are lost in the present, or better yet consumed by the present, we forget that what really matters is how the book or our lif) ends.

Today’s readings try to bring this truth home to us.

They try and remind that sometimes it is important to take a long view of life..

In the first reading the Prophet Isaiah proclaims

“Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication; with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.”

Isaiah was writing to a very disheartened people who were living in exile.

He wanted his contemporaries and us to remember that no matter what we are living in the present in the end God is faithful and he will come to save us.

In fact in 70 years the Jews were indeed allowed and encouraged to return home and live in peace.

In the Gospel we find John in prison.

Some say the he had expected that Jesus would lead a violent political revolution and John wanted to know when the revolt was starting.

Some say that John never really lost faith but that he sent his disciples to Jesus so that they could get to know Him, believe Him and follow Him.

Whatever the case may be John never forgot the end of the Story. He remembered to look at the big picture and he knew that his time had ended and that Jesus’ time had begun.

While in prison John did not lose heart or compromise on the truth.

He did not make a deal with Herod for his release.

He remembered God’s promise and he trusted that even if he was suffering now that God would be faithful

When we stop and think.

when we look at our world and our lives through the eyes of faith we know that in the end good wins and evil loses.

Many times we’re not sure how it will happen but we know how the story ends.

When we look at our lives through the eyes of faith

We know that salvation is ours for the asking no matter what trial we are facing at the moment.

And so good people let us take to heart the words of James in the second reading.

Let us be patient in good times and let us be patient in difficult times.

The simple phrase “This too shall pass” can help us to remember the end of the story.

And let us be filled with a deep abiding peace which can only come from trusting God who will always be faithful no matter what mess we may find ourselves in.

Today is Guaudete Sunday or Joyful Sunday.

One the 3rd Sunday of Advent the Church calls us to be joyful in anticipation of our Lord’s coming.

Only when we patiently trust in God can our heart be filled with peace and Joy.

Pope Francis recently wrote,

The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.

Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.

Let’s not get lost in the present moment

Let us always look to the future

Let us remember that God is faithful

Let us patiently wait on the Lord

And if we can do all of these things let us be filled with the peace and even Joy which faith can give us.


Saturday, December 07, 2013

2nd Sunday of Advent Year– A 2013

2nd Sunday of Advent - Year A - 2013

I’m not sure if you know this but before I came to St. Paul I spent a month living and praying in a trappist Monastery.

Trappists are a very strict religious community dedicated to a life of prayer and contemplation.

They don't’ talk.
They don’t eat meat,
and they get up at 2 AM pray and study.

Some of you are probably wondering to yourselves…

Fr. Robert what were you thinking ?

It was a wonderful experience but I have to admit I was not perfect at it.

Beside talking when I wasn’t supposed to after three weeks of vegetables one day I got into my car drove into town and bought a double cheeseburger with bacon.

Of course I felt bad so when I told the Abbot what I had done he smiled and said I guess you were made to be a Franciscan not a Trappist.

Along a pond at the monastery there was this very long beautiful row of trees they were in a perfect row equally spaced all the same size. It was very impressive.

One day I asked the guest master about the trees and he responded

A shoot shall blossom from the stump of Jesse

I didn’t understand what he was talking about so he went on to explain.

Many years ago that was a beautiful big old tree which the monks enjoyed.

It was very large and gave lots of shade. There was a bench underneath it and it was a great place sit in the shade and look over the valley and pray.

Then one year after an ice storm they had to cut it down.

Everyone of them was sad because they loved the tree and they loved that spot..

After it was cut down one of the monk cut several of the branches and placed them in the ground as fence posts.

To their surprise after a few months everyone of the posts began to sprout and with a lot of trimming and care that whole row of trees grew from the fence posts cut from the old tree.

A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse

Everyone of us has had dark  moments, moments when hope or even the possibility of hope seems far away.

Maybe you've endured the pain of a broken marriage or the death of a loved one.

Maybe you’ve run into financial troubles or lost your home a lot of people have.

Maybe you’ve become estranged with a family member or your kid is really struggling and can’t seem to find happiness.

Maybe your family has moved away and you live alone and are lonely waiting for someone to call..

Maybe you just can’t forgive someone and move on.

The list goes on and on and on…

Yes sometimes life seems like a dead stump.

In the first reading the Prophet Isaiah is describing the terrible time in which he lived.

During his youth Israel was affluent but then fell to the Assyrians. Many of the Israelites were taken away in exile.

In other words it went from a flourishing tree to what appeared to be a dead stump.

Judah the northern kingdom later became the pawn of foreign powers.

And even with all the compromises they had made with their neighbors

they too had fallen on very hard times.

All appeared lost there seemed to be no reason to hope.

Yet the prophet Isaiah refused to give up and under God’s inspiration he dared to prophesied that even though the stump of  Israel and Judah seemed dead a shoot would sprout  and life would return.

Many say this simple phrase was prophecy of the Messiah which would be fulfilled in Jesus

Isaiah’s prophecy called his contemporaries to hope, hope in God and God’s love

Pope Benedict once wrote

Hope is more than just the belief that things will get better.

Hope is the conviction that we are loved and cherished by God

And If we  understand that we are  loved and cherished by God even for one moment, our lives will never be the same.

No matter what challenge we face no matter how dead the tree seems.

The readings on this second Sunday of Advent call us to hope

Hope without ceasing

Dear Friends

If we are loved by God..
What can touch us ?
What can harm us ?
What should we fear ?
What can we fear ?

Even in our darkest moments let us dare to hope that  shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Christ the King 2013 - Year C

We really don’t know that much about him.
We know that he lived during the time of Jesus.
Some say that he was a zealot trying to overthrow the Roman occupiers,
others say that he was a crook,
others say that he was a murderer.

Whatever he was we know that he was guilty and that whatever his crime was it the Romans felt that he merited death.

History has given him many names the most common is the “good thief” but others have called him St. Didimus. We know he is a Saint because from the cross Jesus promised him salvation.

Yes he was guilty as charged and from his place of torture he admitted it.

But deep within his heart was a tiny seed of repentance and faith.

We don’t know how it was planted or nurtured but it was there,
and this man’s faith gave him the capacity to to recognized Jesus as the Messiah as a King with a Kingdom, admit his own guilt,  and ask for mercy.

“Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
With those simple words, with that tiny moment of contrition the Good thief was given the promise of salvation.”

No matter what his crimes were Jesus knew that the the good thief recognized that Jesus was God and admitted his guilt and asked forgiveness.

Jesus’ promise was both simple and profound “This day you will be with me in paradise”

God’s mercy and God’s love for each and everyone whether we are guilty or innocent is amazing.

Quite frankly it is often beyond our comprehension.

Once when I was at a local nursing home. A woman said to me,
“I’ve lived a horrible life I’ve made too many mistakes to count.
I’ve hurt so many of the people I love and I have a terminal illness.The Doctor says I am going to die in a couple of months. What should I do, what can I do?”

I told her to ask for the sacrament of the sick and all of her sins would be forgiven.
She looked me right in the eye and said is God that reckless with his mercy ?

She died two weeks later completely reconciled with God.

The story of the Good thief proves that God is indeed reckless with his mercy.
God is reckless with his mercy and God is reckless with his love

The Feast of Christ the King is relatively new to the Church it was started in 1925 by Pope Pius XI.

In 1970  the Anglicans, Lutherans, and many other Protestants as well as by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. All accepted it as a feast

Pius the XI instituted the feast Christ the King because he believed the world was becoming more and more secular and more and more violent and more and more materialistic.

He saw the world drifting from God.

He felt that many were simply forgetting or even worse ignoring God’s place in their lives and refusing to accept that God made us and we belong to him.

Pious the XI believed that the first world war, the rise of communism and the exaggerated materialism of the West all were conspiring  to squeeze God from our lives and with the Feast of Christ the King he sought to remind the world who we are and Who God is.

Let’s ask ourselves

  • To we recognized God’s primary place in our lives, or do we think that we are the masters of our own destiny?
  • To we remember that every moment of our lives is a gift from God, or do we think that somehow we are entitled to the gift of life?
  • Do we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and our King, are we willing to serve Him and follow his plan?

The Feast of Christ the King is important because every year it places all of these questions before our heart and before our mind.

At the last possible moment the good thief recognized God’s rightful place in his life.

Do we ?


Saturday, November 16, 2013

33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C

capitalbuildingYou know when I lived in Washington people would often come to visit and one of the first things we would do is get on the Metro or the Subway and go to see the sites.

Everyone wanted to see the Capitol Building, the White House, all of the monuments, and the war memorials.

Quite frequently our visitors would remark how beautiful Washington was and what a great country we have.

They were almost always taken in by the grandeur of the Lincoln Memorial or the beautiful reflection of the Jefferson Memorial on the tidal basin on a calm crisp night.

That’s pretty much what was happening in today’s Gospel.

Some of the Jew were looking at the Temple the center of Judaism and complimenting themselves on how beautiful it was and how great their nation was.

During the time of Jesus, life was ok in Israel, while not prosperous, it was at the center of trading routes and people were able to make ends meet.

Its rulers accommodated the Romans who occupied their country and the ruling class became quite rich from their accommodation.

The normal people were being pulled  between their rulers and religious leaders who were comfortable with the status quo and the Zealots who wanted the Romans driven out by armed insurrection.

Both sides viewed their position as God’s will.

In the end the Zealots would win over the country and in 40 short years after Jesus death they would start an insurrection or war with the Romans that would lead to disaster.

One historian states over a million Jews were killed by the Romans and  the beautiful Temple was be destroyed.

The Jewish people who remained were driven from their land and spread out all over the world.

Jesus knew what was coming

He knew that Jerusalem was headed for destruction.

He knew that the faith of his early Jewish followers would be shaken when it happened.

He knew that they would face persecution.

He knew all these things, and he warned both the people of his time and he warns us that a life of faith is not always going to be easy to live.

No one who has ever read the Gospel can say that Jesus didn’t warn us about the cost of discipleship.

There are so many similarities between our current situation and that of the Israel during the time of Jesus.

Like Israel during the time of Jesus, our country is indeed becoming more and more polarized.

We are polarized on key fundamental issues like the economy and health care, marriage and immigration the list goes on and on.

We are becoming so polarized in fact that sometimes it almost seems that our government has stopped functioning. We all remember the shutdown.

During the time of Jesus the simple people were caught in the middle of the two main factions, the zealots and the accommodators and were persecuted by both.
Right now so many of us feel like we are caught in the middle differing world views.

With the fall of Jerusalem the Jewish people and the followers of Jesus suffered religious persecution.

Right now  I believe that our religious beliefs and our religious freedom are slowly being pushed aside by a culture which is growing more and more secular and has less and less room for God.

Try and say Merry Christmas in public and see the reaction.

Fr. Raymond lamented that he went to a card store and could not find one religious Christmas Card.

You know I have this little trick when I go into any store that sells computers. I pull up our parish website and walk away in the hope that someone will see. it

Once I went to a computer store and tried to pull up our parish website on I could not.

When I questioned one of the associates he said that they block all religious sites like they block pornography because they don't’ want to offend anyone.

Personally I believe that in the future it will be more difficult for our children to practice their faith.

I also believe that religious indifference or even persecution will grow more and more prevalent.

In the light of all these things today’s Gospel reminds us to not waiver in our commitment to God and not to lose hope or faith.

We all know how the story ends, good wins and evil loses.

Let us remain steadfast in our beliefs and true to our faith not matter what the cost.

For Jesus warned us about all of these things before they happened and challenged us not to let them shake our faith.

Let us always be true to God’s word

Let us love the world even when it persecutes or marginalizes us.

Let us never forget the poor and open hearts and our resources to those in need.

For Jesus said “by your perseverance you will secure your lives."

Saturday, October 05, 2013

27th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C - 2013

The Kingdom of God is not about numbers.

But every Pastor should know all about the numbers of his parish.

He should know how many families and how many children and how many senior citizens he has in his parish

He should know how much money the parish has in the bank.

He should know the budget and the profit and loss statement like the back of his hand.

He should know how many Catholic families regularly attend Mass.

This week you’ll see the ushers counting because we are starting our yearly October count and it will tell us and the Archbishops’ office a lot about our parish.

When I was at Catholic U we had a November count just like we have an October count here. You would be surprised at how many young people go to Mass in College.

In fact at Catholic U 49% of the Catholic Students went to Mass each Sunday.

Here at St. Paul’s only 22% of the 11000 registered go to Mass each Sunday which is the average for this part of the country… We’ve got work to do.

One time at 9:00 PM Mass the biggest Mass on most college campuses I saw a group of four young men who I hadn’t seen before.

They were there sitting in a row and after they came for a couple of weeks I approached them and asked how they started coming back to Mass and they told me their story

One long weekend they decided to take a road trip to Ocean City Maryland and go [artying… They said they had a great time and when they got back to their motel in the wee hours of the morning they quickly fell asleep.

When they finally opened their eyes Sunday Afternoon one of them was gone.

His stuff was there but he wasn’t.

They went to the beach looked all around and couldn’t find him.

They tried his cell but when they called it started ringing on the table. Wherever he was he didn’t take it with him.

Finally in desperation they spread out and started walking all over town. Two of them got in the car and started driving up and down the Coastal Hwy looking for him.

Finally they spotted him walking about 5 miles from their motel they pulled over and confronted him.

“Dude where have you been ?“ They asked him.

He responded, I went to Mass, I always go to Mass.

Every time my Grandfather sees me, whenever he came to my games, he always said  “if you are there for God  God be there for you.”

They continued their celebrating and that phrase “If you are there for God God will be there for you” stuck in their heads and there were several conversations about faith.

They resolved to go to Mass together on Sundays.

Eventually 1 of the four dropped out of the “Mass Club” as they called themselves but the following year the remaining three joined a bible study in their dorm and in their Junior year all three of them went on mission trips to serve the poor in Latin America.

All that good came from that one little experience.

You know most seeds are tiny, some of them are hard to find and hard to pick up. Look at the seeds for a maple tree. They are really small but they grow into big trees which can pull up your sidewalk and wreck you pipes.

Nature reminds us that there is so much power and potential in the tiniest of seeds.

That simple phrase “ If you are there for God God will be there for you” and the witness of that kid who got up even after a night of partying to go to Mass was like a seed.

It was a tiny seed which bore great fruit.

Every day we plant seeds

Most of them are tiny….

We plant them with  little acts of kindness

and tiny acts of faith.

Quite frequently we never know if they even germinate or bear fruit.

Who knew that those simple words of a loving grandfather would bring three boys to faith and maybe even their future families to faith?

Let us live generous lives

Let us sow good seeds of faith,

We don’t have to make big grand gestures,

simple acts of faith

gentle prayers,

unexpected acts of kindness,

all of these thing can bear tremendous fruit.

Even though he made fun of my beard when I met him in the seminary. I loved Pope John Paul I cried like a baby when he died.

Pope Benedict was a quiet introverted man who did the best he could to shepherd the Church.

When he was elected many people thought he was going to be some kind of enforcer but instead he turned out to be a gentle loving pastor.

And when he just couldn’t handle it anymore he put the interests of the Church above his own interests and resigned.

Now Pope Francis is calling  all of us to live more simple authentic lives of faith.

He’s trying to help us get rid of all of the unnecessary extras which the our Church and it’s leadership has accumulated over the years.

He is calling us back to sow simple small seeds of compassion and kindness.

While he not changing our teaching he is challenging us to change the way we share it.

Love first,

Forgive first,

then teach and inspire

His beautiful simple example is taking the world by storm and even the most skeptical are impressed with his humble example.

Let us all follow in his example and sow the seed of faith, with gentle acts of love and compassion

For remember as Jesus said

"If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,

you could say to this mulberry tree,

'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

Tiny acts of love, compassion and kindness are powerful indeed.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C 2013

May the peace of Christ reign in our heart…

In Today’s Gospel
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 didn’t have paper towels back then and they didn’t have silverware so they would eat with their hands and the rich used chunks of bread to wipe their hands clean.

They are both children of God in radically different places.
We really don’t know much more about them. /
There were always scraps of food and bread around the table of a rich person.

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.

Actually there are really only two things that we know about him.

He was poor and he was a good man because he made it into heaven
sadly being poor by itself is not a ticket into heaven.

Rich or poor to get into heaven you have to good person a loving person.

The rich man is not mean.
He doesn’t treat Lazarus disrespectfully.
He doesn’t kick him or taunt him when he passes by.  

So what is is sin?
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 feelings for the poor or those in need, even those in desperate straits like Lazarus.

The rich man had squandered away or lost the 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 it was like they were invisible.

How sad, how tragic it is when a heart goes so cold that they no longer have compassion.

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 just did not notice Lazarus, and he did not act.

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

So often we forget that we also sin when we fail to do something good.
It is so important for us to remember that
we sin when we fail to do what love calls us to do.

We sin when we don’t notice or just don’t care about others.

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 something we do when it’s convenient.

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 our 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 heartstrings and call us to service.

The Gospel this week calls 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.