Archive for October, 2017

Love God/Love Others! 10-29-2017

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

A true story:
An eight-year-old boy had a young sister who was dying of
leukemia. His parents explained to him that she needed a blood
transfusion and that his blood was probably compatible. They asked if
they could test his blood. Sure, he said. The results showed that his
blood would be a good match. Then they asked if he would give his
sister a pint of his blood, that it could be her only chance of living. He
said he would have to think about it overnight.
The next day he went to his parents and said he was willing to
donate his blood to his sister. So they took him to the hospital where he
was put on a gurney beside his sister. Both of them were hooked up to
IVs. A nurse withdrew a pint of blood from the boy, which was then put
into the girl’s IV. The boy lay on his gurney in silence while the blood
was dripped into his sister. The doctor came over to see how he was
doing. The boy opened his eyes and asked, “How soon until I start to
die?”
Every word of the gospel comes down to love. Love that is simple
enough to articulate but so demanding that we shy away from it. The
mystery of God’s love is that the Supreme Being should love creation so
completely and so selflessly – and all God seeks in return is that such
love be shared by people throughout creation. The brother, in our true
story, thinking that giving his blood would mean that he would die,
nonetheless he is willing to give his life to his sister so that she might
live; in his generosity he models the great love and compassion of the
God who spares nothing to bring us to God’s heart. My prayer on this
Sunday is that everyone of us here will seek to follow as best we can one
day at a time the great commandment of the gospel: to love with the
same selfless compassion, care and completeness of God.
It may not be our call to minister to the most unwanted, like lepers
and AIDS victims, war refugees, and immigrants, or alcoholics and drug
addicts, but it is our call to balance in some suitable way, the vertical
dimension of our relationship with other people in mutual service.
The praise we give to God with our lips must be followed up by
using those same lips to talk to someone who is lonely, to encourage
someone who is disheartened, or to cheer up someone who is sad.
The prayer we say with our hands must be followed up by using
those same hands to hug our children, or spouse, or parents, to prepare a
meal for our family, or to do some housework for a shut-in neighbor.
I close with this image that will be right before you every time you
walk into this church. May the cross formed by the intersection of a
vertical beam with a horizontal one remind us to love God with our
whole being and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Give To God What is God’s! 10-22-2017

Sunday, October 22nd, 2017

A man walked into a rooftop bar and ordered a drink. The man
next to him began a conversation about the unique wind currents in the
area. The first man said he didn’t understand what was so special about
the wind there, so the other said, “Let me show you.” With that he went
to the window, jumped out, did a spin in mid-air, and then came back in.
“See how great the currents are! You can do the same thing.”
After a few more drinks and much prodding, the first man decided
to test the wind currents. He went to the window, jumped out, and
dropped like a rock. The bartender looked at the other man and said,
“Superman, you’re really mean when you’re drunk.
Most of us are neither mean nor a drunk – I hope – but is that
enough? Is just staying out of trouble and avoiding nastiness enough to
make a life? It’s a start, but it’s not nearly enough. So what is enough?
Jesus gave us a clue in today’s gospel. His enemies were trying to
entrap him into an offense. But he just brushed them off, “Give to
Caesar what is Caesar’s.” And then he returned to his core message, but give to God what is God’s.”
So, what do we have that is God’s? Very simply, our life. But how
do we give that back to God? By becoming nuns or priests or martyrs or
missionaries in darkest Africa, or perhaps throwing ourselves on a live
grenade to save our friends? For most of us that is not what God wants.
What God does want from all of us is for us to learn to use our life the
way God uses life: by helping those who need help and giving life to
those who need life. So how do we begin? The key is by being alert and
paying attention to one another, and developing the deeply ingrained
habit of asking ourselves: How’s he doing? What does she need? Is he
OK? How can I help her?
Most of the time most of what people really need is within our
power to give. For example, some of us are getting a little forgetful, and
what we need is just a little reassurance – and a little patience. And for
all of us there are those days when nothing is right. Most times a friend
is all that’s needed to lift the fog.
And think about the times someone has been very bad, and needs
to say so, but doesn’t know how. A dose of encouragement from an understanding friend will light the way and draw him out of the dark. At
any given moment most of what is needed by the people right around us
is within our power to give. And better yet, all we have to handle – all
we have to give – is one moment at a time: If we take care of the
minutes, God will take care of the days – and the years.
God has given us the gifts of life, and the power to give life to one
another – in many shapes and sizes – every day. We can be real
supermen and real wonder women if we learn how to give our gift, if we
learn to pay attention to one another, see what is needed, and give what
is needed – one moment at a time. From such humble stuff the kingdom
of God is made.

The Pig & The Chicken 10-15-2017

Sunday, October 15th, 2017

Huey Long was a very colorful Louisiana politician who had hopes
of running for the presidency in 1936. He began as an unschooled farm
boy and ended up in the governor’s mansion, one of the most popular
politicians in the history of the state. Long was born in the central part
of Louisiana, and when he first campaigned for governor he was given
some advice about the voters in the New Orleans area. “South Louisiana
is different from the northern part of the state,” he was told. “We have a
lot of Catholic voters down here.”
Long nodded knowingly and went out to make his speech. It
began, “When I was a boy, I’d get up at six every morning, hitch our old
horse up to the buggy, and take my Catholic grandparents to Mass. I’d
bring them home and then I’d take my Baptist grandparents to church.”
The speech was a rousing success. Afterwards, a New Orleans
political boss said, “Huey, you’ve been holding out on us. We didn’t
know you had Catholic grandparents.”
Huey looked at him slyly and said, “We didn’t even have a horse.”
Don’t let anyone mislead you. Around the banquet table of God
there won’t be Baptists, or Catholics, or Methodists. There won’t even
be a head table reserved for the very saintly. There will only be sinners
for whom Christ died. Everyone is invited, that’s the good news. Here’s
the bad. You see, the RSVP requires commitment and a serious effort to
change.
This invitation of Jesus – to each one of us – is freely given – no
pressure – no strings. Some of us will accept and some won’t – too busy
– too risky. There are a lot of excuses. The man in the gospel accepted
Christ’s invitation, but that was all. No enthusiasm after that, no serious
effort to change – to draw closer to Jesus Christ.
Like myself, some of us here were baptized, made First
Communion, were ordained or married, but also some of us have made
no serious effort to deepen our personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Being in relationship with Jesus Christ means a lot more than a bumper
sticker on our car, “I Love Jesus” or a St. Christopher’s medal around
our neck or a Catholic badge, saying I am proud to be a Catholic.
Being in a relationship with Jesus Christ may require us to change
our lifestyle. Forgive someone who hurt us, stop cheating on our family
or in school. We may be challenged to readjust our priorities, let go of
some bad habit or certain friends that gets us in trouble.
Lord, help us remember often that we are all invited to be part of
your life, your church. May we have the courage to accept the
invitation, the strength to change and grow, the faith and trust that you
are by our side through it all, and the wisdom to make a commitment to
You – Source of Life (no matter how many times we have no said, “no
thanks,” before, we can say, “yes,” now.
I leave you with this:
The story is told of a pig and a chicken who are walking past
Saint Angela’s Church one Sunday morning…
Says the chicken to the pig, “You know, over the years, those
people in there have been very nice to us. I think we ought to do
something nice for them.” The pig replies, “Good idea, what do you
have in mind?” “I think we ought to have a big banquet,” says the chicken.
“I’m all for that,” says the pig. “But what shall we serve them to
eat?”
“Bacon and eggs,” says the chicken. Not on your life says the pig.
“For you, that’s just a contribution. For me, it’s a total commitment.
RSVP – to Jesus Christ – It’s never too late.