Archive for the ‘17th Sunday’ Category

LEFTOVERS? 7-29-2018

Sunday, July 29th, 2018

This scene takes place right after the Gospel we just read.
“!USE YOUR IMAGINATION!”
Peter stayed behind to help with the cleanup. Somehow, he always seemed to be one of the last ones. Those who folded the chairs and swept the floors after the gatherings were over.
But today he did not mind it. He wanted some of the leftovers and this is one way of taking some without being noticed. So, he put a small piece of the bread into his brown paper bag and headed home. And he could not wait to get home!
As soon as he did, he ran to the bread box, took a small piece of bread out of the bag and placed it next to the half loaf in the box. He was tired from the long day, so he went to bed.
Early next morning, he awoke before the alarm. He was excited; he went to the kitchen to check the bread box to see if it had worked. He opened the lid. There it was, the same half loaf and his leftover piece, just as he had left them the night before. Maybe it was too early to expect anything, so he thought he would wait another day and another night.
The same wake-up time the next morning he again hurried to the bread box. He felt an even deeper feeling of disappointment when once more he saw only the half-loaf and the now-getting-dried-out-leftover-piece. Maybe this bread wasn’t as magic as he thought. Maybe it didn’t multiply other loaves of bread. Or, maybe only Jesus could make the whole thing work!
So as not to suffer any further disappointment, he was going to get rid of the leftover piece. He went outside to give it to the birds, but before he could break it and scatter it, an old man in shabby clothes came up to him and asked for a bite to eat. He gave him the dried-up bread.
The next day Peter heard a knock on the door. It was the same old gent. Was he looking for another handout, Peter wondered? No, the man smiled and thanked Peter for his kindness. The man said that Peter’s generous gift from the day before would keep his family fed for the winter!
Finally, Peter had discovered the bread’s magic in giving it away!
A small piece of dried up bread:
“The Magic – Giving It Away!”

Press Box Time 7-30-2017

Sunday, July 30th, 2017

I always wondered why our high school football coach would always disappear in the middle of the third quarter. I remember during my first game on the varsity squad, I looked up from the sidelines (where I spent most of my time) and noticed that he was gone. (It was a lot quieter). I couldn’t figure out what had happened. I was afraid the other team had kidnapped him. Or maybe he had gotten sick on his chewing tobacco. So I asked a senior “sideliner”. (They know everything).
“Where’s the coach?” I asked, thinking I was the only one to notice his absence, which made me feel important.
“In the press box”, he answered.
“Getting coffee”? I asked.
“No, getting perspective”.
Getting perspective – now that makes sense, doesn’t it? There’s no way a coach can really keep up with the game from the sidelines. Everyone yelling advice. Parents complaining. Players screaming. Cheerleaders cheering. Sometimes you’ve got to get away from the game to see it.
That story reminds me; occasionally we need to try that on ourselves, too. How vital it is that we keep a finger on the pulse of our own lives. How critical are those times of self-examination and evaluation. Yet it’s hard to evaluate ourselves while we’re in the middle of the game: schedules pressing, phones ringing, children crying, and bills to be paid.
Max’s story offers us a suggestion. Take some press-box time. Take some time (at least half a day) and get away from everything and everyone.
Take your Bible and a notebook and get a press-box view of your life. Are you as in tune with God as you need to be? How is your relationship with your mate, your children, a good friend? Our parables this Sunday ask us a few press-box questions. What do you value as important in your life? Are you investing your energy in things that will last? Perhaps some decisions need to be made. Spend much time in prayer. Meditate on God’s Word. Be quiet. Fast for the day.
Now, I’m not talking about a get-away-from-it-all day where you shop, play tennis, go to a movie, and relax in the sun (although such times are needed, too). I’m suggesting an intense, soul-searching day spent in reverence before God and in candid honesty with yourself. Write down your life story. Reread God’s story. Recommit your heart to your Maker.
I might mention that a day like this won’t just happen. It must be made. You’ll never wake up and just happen to have a free day on your hands. You’ll have to pull out the calendar, elbow out a time in the schedule, and take it. Be stubborn with it. You need the time. Your family needs you to take this time. As our story of the coach reminds us, getting some press-box perspective could change the whole ball game. I would like to add, getting some press-box perspective could change our whole lives!

Lord, Teach Us to Pray 7-24-2016

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

I’ve had a very rough week this week and I have found myself spending extra time in prayer. The Gospel this Sunday triggered some things about prayer that I had not thought about for a while, and I would briefly like to share them with you.
The first thing is that it is important that when we pray we must be honest and completely open with God; we must use real words that express how we feel and what is going on in our lives. Our relationship with God should be one place where we can let it all hang out – no safe and appropriate roles to play – no masks to hide behind.

The second thing I was reminded about through the Gospel was that when I say I am too busy to pray (which I do at times), I may really be saying I am afraid to pray. Also, if I am so busy with what I want from God, I may miss what God really has to give me.
The third thing is, if we are to take prayer seriously we must dispel from our minds the notion that it is some kind of magic. Prayer is not an “Aladdin’s Lamp” which, if properly rubbed, will grant our every wish.
A student, rather lazily inclined, noticed that a classmate always recited her Spanish lessons well. One day he asked her, “How is it that you always recite your lessons so perfectly?”
“Before I study,” she told him, “I always pray that I may remember my lessons and repeat them well.”
“Do you?” asked the boy, somewhat surprised. “So that’s her secret method,” he thought. “Well, then, I’ll pray too.”
That night he prayed up a storm, recalling as many prayers as he could remember. However, the next day he could not even repeat one phrase of the lesson. Quite perplexed he looked for his friend, and, finding her, confronted her for being deceitful.
“I prayed,” he told her, “but I could not repeat a single phrase from yesterday’s homework.”
“Perhaps,” she told him, “you took no pains to learn the lesson!”
“Of course not,” said the boy. “I didn’t study at all. I had no reason to study. You told me to pray that I might remember the lesson.”
“There’s your problem,” she said, “I told you I prayed before, not instead of, studying.”
I close with a final thought on prayer: A friend of mine used to drop by his Church every evening around 5 PM, for an hour of meditation before supper. Every evening he noticed the same old man sitting in one of the back pews. The man was always there when he arrived and still there when he left. It began to haunt him.
One evening curiosity got the better of him and he approached the man, greeted him, and hoped he wasn’t praying: “I have seen you here for several months now, and I really admire your constant devotion. But I was wondering . . . I notice that you are always just sitting here quietly, never using a prayer book, Bible, or rosary . . . still obviously praying…I just wondered, when you pray to God, what do you say; what do you talk about . . . ?
The old man looked up at my friend calmly and gently: “I don’t talk to God; God talks to me.”
A lot of people think prayer (or meditation or religion or spirituality) is supposed to be like Alka Seltzers in a glass of water: non-stop, bubbly, effervescent, supernatural excitement. Wrong! Sometimes, maybe. But most of the time prayer is like any love relationship: it involves a lot of giving and listening. It’s like learning to talk: first, you have to listen, in the sure peace of God’s presence.