Archive for the ‘16th Sunday’ Category

The Eyes of Jesus 7-22-2018

Sunday, July 22nd, 2018

A few months ago I watched the movie Forrest Gump for about the 10th time. I was really touched by the character played by Tom Hanks. I believe Forrest Gump could teach us a lot about relating to each other.
This unique person was able to see past all stereotypes and labels we lay on people. He was able to bypass all the games people play. In his own goofy way – he saw goodness, beauty, potential in each person he met. He had a special gift.
I believe Jesus saw people in a special way – I wonder, I just wonder – – if we looked at people today with eyes of Jesus, what would we see?
I. For one thing, I am sure we would see some invisible burdens.
Most people do not carry their heartaches in plain view. They bear them quietly, but they are there nonetheless. The couple in the car just ahead, maybe a father and mother, who are worried about their son. The woman in the super market may be concerned about her health, anxiously awaiting the doctor’s report. That elderly man may have recently lost his wife, a constant companion for more than fifty years. I do not recall who said it, but it is a wise word of instruction; “Be kind to each person you meet, because everyone is having a hard time.” Listen to this little poem:
“Pray don’t find fault with the man who limps and stumbles along the road, unless you have worn the shoes he wears or struggled beneath his load. There may be tacks in his shoes that hurt, though hidden away from view, and the load he bears placed on your back might cause you to stumble, too.”

II. He would also see some extenuating circumstances.
The critics of Jesus often thought he was too lenient in his attitude toward sinners. He came to the defense of a woman caught in adultery. How could he do that, when the Law of Moses clearly states that she should be stoned. He showed compassion toward a prostitute, who bathed his feet with tears and dried them with her hair. They wondered why he would allow a woman like that to touch him. He said to a dying thief, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” How could he say such a thing?” What right did a crucified felon have to a place in paradise? The difference between Jesus and his critics was a matter of insight. They saw nothing but the failure. He saw the pain and the problems that played a part in that failure.
When a marriage ends in divorce, it would be easy for you and me to be harshly critical. But before doing that, we would be wise to pause and consider. How much do we know about what has taken place in that home across the years? Could there be a long established pattern of abuse, totally unknown to the outside world? When we witness a breakdown of character that leads to public shame, it is easy for you and me to sit in judgment. But once again, we would be wise to pause and consider. No event in life is complete within itself. There is a story behind it. Knowing that story would not excuse the offense, but it well might cause us to judge less severely.

III. One final thought – looking at people through the eyes of Christ, we would see unrealized possibilities.
That is our characteristic attitude toward children. We look at little ones and think of all the things they might become. Jesus had that attitude toward people of all ages. He looked at a rugged fisherman, and saw in him the making of a spiritual rock.
Someone has said; “Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.” Our Lord would heartily agree with that. “He saw a vast crowd, and he pitied them.” If we would look at people through his eyes, beyond all of their burdens and failures, we would see unrealized possibilities.
Let me leave you with this prayer:
Almighty God,

We, who have never known what it means not to have things we desire, need to feel the poverty and hunger and despair among
our fellow men and women.

We, who have felt nothing but the surge of youthful vitality in our body, need to understand what it means to be ill and unable to care for our self.

We, who have never stood alone in the crowd as odd or unacceptable need to sense what it means to be judged and rejected by the color of our skin or sexual orientation.

We, who have never experienced the desperation of a dependence on drug or drink, need to realize the hell of an addiction.

We, who have never really suffered or sacrificed or died, pray that we may become painfully aware of our brother’s and sister’s great need and that we may ache until we have reached out with honest help and compassion.

AMEN

The Magic Seed? 7-23-2017

Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

There was once a woman whose only son died. In her grief, she went to a holy man and said, “What prayers, what magical incantations do you have to bring my son back to life?”
Instead of sending her away or reasoning with her, he said to her, “Fetch me a mustard seed from a home that has never known sorrow. We will use it to drive the sorrow out of your life.”
The women set off at once in search of the magical mustard seed. She came first to a splendid mansion, knocked at the door and said, “I am looking for a home that has never known sorrow. Is this such a place? It is very important to me.”
They told her, “You’ve certainly come to the wrong place,” and began to describe all the tragic things that had recently befallen them.
The women said to herself, “Who is better able to help these unfortunate people than I, who have had misfortune of my own?” She stayed to comfort them, and then went on in her search for a home that had never known sorrow.
But wherever she turned, in hovels and in palaces, she found one tale after another of sadness and misfortune. Ultimately, she became so involved in ministering to other people’s grief that she forgot about her quest for the magical mustard seed, never realizing that her small gestures of care, and concern and compassion, had in fact, driven the sorrow out of her life.

Lord, we spend so much energy frantically searching for that magical elixir, that magical cure to take away our grief, our loneliness, the hurting parts of our life that need fixing. Help us remember today, this week, that one small gesture on our part, a smile, a handshake, a hug, a phone call, a short visit, a few encouraging words….is the best medicine to bring about real healing for ourselves and for others. Amen

Three Minutes a Day 7-17-2016

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

One night a father came to a parent-teacher conference in a Chicago high school. During a talk with one of his son’s teachers, the father broke down and began to cry. After he regained his composure, the father apologized, saying, “My son no longer lives with me.” “But I still love him, and I want to know how he’s doing in school.” The father then told the teacher how his wife and four children left him that afternoon. He was a building contractor and sometimes worked 16 hours a day. Naturally, he saw a little of his family, and they slowly grew farther and farther apart. Then the father said something sad. He said: “I wanted to buy my wife and kids all those things I had dreamed of giving them.” “But in the process I got so involved in working that I forgot about what they needed most; a father who was around at nights to give them love and support.”
This story and our gospel today illustrates the same point. We can get so involved in what we are doing that we forget why we are doing it. We can get so involved in living that we forget the purpose of living. We can get so involved in pursuing the things money can buy that we forget about the things money can’t buy. It’s this kind of mistake that Martha made in today’s gospel. She got so involved in cooking a meal for Jesus that she forgot why Jesus had come. He didn’t come for a free meal. He came to be with friends. You and I live in a very fast-paced world. It’s so easy to lose our balance. It’s so easy to lose our perspective; it’s so easy to get our priorities mixed up. It’s so easy to lose sight of what we are doing and why we are doing it.
During the World War II, a young soldier was stationed on the island of Saipan in the South Pacific. He said that during this time he and his friends used to go for swims in a secluded spot, just off the steep cliffs of the island. It was a lovely place surrounded by rocks. When they arrived, the water was so clear they could see fish ten feet below the surface. After they had swam for an hour, however the water became so clouded with sand, churned up from the bottom, that they couldn’t see a foot below the surface. But the next day when they returned for another swim the sand had settled. The water was crystal clear again. Our mind is like that water. It too can get so clouded up from the turmoil of everyday living that it’s hard for us to see clearly. We lose sight of everything; our perspective gets clouded; our priorities get confused; our balance gets destroyed. What we need to do when this happens is to pause and let the murky waters of the mind become clear again.
We need to do what Mary did in today’s gospel. We need to sit at the feet of Jesus in quiet prayer. We need to let him teach us what is important and what is not. How do we do this? Practically, let me share with you a simple method of prayer. Each night before falling asleep, we take three minutes to do three things. During the first minute, we pause and do a mental replay of our day. We pick out the day’s high point, something we are happy about, like getting a letter from an old friend. Then, we speak to Jesus about it very sincerely. Finally, we conclude by giving thanks to Jesus for the letter and the friend. During the second minute, we do a second mental replay or our day. Only this time we pick out the low point in it, something we’re sorry about, like yelling at a parent, a spouse, or a child. We speak to Jesus about this weakness and ask him to forgive us and to heal us. Finally, during the third minute, we look ahead to tomorrow, to a critical point. We think of some difficult thing we must do, like talking to a parent, a spouse, or a child about a problem that has arisen. We speak to Jesus about it and ask his light and his strength in handling it. No matter how busy we are, three (3) minutes a day can put us in touch with life and in touch with Jesus.
I close with a prayer for us busy people; Lord, Keep us from getting so involved in life that we forget why you gave us life. Keep us from getting so involved in living that we forget the purpose of living. Keep us from getting so involved in pursuing the things money can buy that we forget about the things money can’t buy.