Archive for the ‘23rd Sunday’ Category

Let It Go 9-10-2017

Saturday, September 9th, 2017

All of us at times get hurt by other people. The question is, how
do we react when we are wronged, especially be someone we love,
someone very close to us. I see three pretty common reactions. I have
done them all.
A. I call it the Clam Reaction. We clam up. We refuse to discuss
it. We give the other person the cold, icy treatment. Our body language
gives it away–our arms wrapped around us. Anything wrong? No!
Psychologist’s call this passive hostility. When a person finally lets
things out there is, many times, an awful explosion. This explosion goes
B. The “Grumble and Complain” reaction. We grumble, we
complain. We gossip about the injustice that has been done to us, to
everyone else except the person involved. We bask in the sympathy we
milk out of people. We tell them what awful things that awful old so and
so did to a wonderful person like me.
C.. The Blow the Person Away Reaction. We demolish the other
person. We launch a frontal attack. How he/she wronged us and we let
everyone know that when it comes to hurting another human being, we
are number 1. We show the other person we can be more unjust,
bigoted, inflexible and hostile than they were to us.
I think our gospel today offers us an alternative reaction:
Someone wrongs us. Go to that person. Talk with them. Point out the
fault. Deal with it. Keep it between the two of you.
If that doesn’t work, call in someone with some wisdom and sensitivity
and let them help, if that relationship is important, we don’t want to lose
If that doesn’t work, stop thinking about it. Let it go. Stop giving
it power over us, to destroy, to mess up your life. Sounds simple..hard to
do, oh yes.
I close with a real life example of what I am talking about.
One day a seven year old was riding in the back seat of the family
car. He was sitting between his older brother and sister. His mother was
On this day the mother was feeling especially distraught over
recently being abandoned by their father. Suddenly in a fit of anger she
spun around and slapped the seven year old across the face. “And you, I
never wanted you. The only reason I had you was to keep your father.
But then he left anyway.”
The scene branded itself on the boy’s memory. Over the years his
mother reinforced her feelings toward him by constantly finding fault
with him. Years later the son was able to tell his counselor, “I can’t tell
you how many times in the last twenty-three years I relived that
experience. Probably thousands.”
He continued, “but recently I put myself in my mother’s shoes.
Here she was, a high school graduate with no skills, no job, no money
and a family to support. I realized how lonely and depressed she must
have felt.
“I thought of the anger and the pain that must have been there.
And I thought of how much I reminded her of the failure of her young
hopes. And so one day I decided to visit her and talk to her. I told her
that I understood her feelings and that I loved her just the same.
“She broke down and we wept in each other’s arms for what
seemed like hours. It was the beginning of a new life for me, for her—
for both of us.”
Let it go! Sounds simple, hard to do, oh yes, but oh so healthy. Lord
help us.

Pedal 9-4-2016

Sunday, September 4th, 2016

When we start talking about being disciples of Jesus we usually hear stories about super stars. Some time ago the Christopher News Notes carried three stories of three regular people, each answering the call of discipleship.

The first story concerned a youth minister in California. He built an extra hour or two into his weekly shopping schedule to talk with his young flock at the town’s mall. When asked about his “mall ministry,” the youth minister said:

“Jesus went where the people were, and that’s where I must go, too. The kids are at the mall, so that’s where I must go.”

The second story concerned a woman in Minneapolis. She ran a downtown shelter for the city’s homeless and abandoned. When asked about her “shelter ministry,” she said:

“I’m simply trying to do what Jesus said to do. He said we should love everyone, especially those most in need.”

The third and final story concerned a group of Harvard law students who were getting ready to graduate. To court them a group of the nation’s most prestigious law firms invited the students to a lavish banquet in a plush downtown hotel.

After receiving the invitation, the students made this request to the law firms: “Could you hold the banquet in a more modest hotel and serve a more modest meal?”

When asked about this unusual request, the students simply said, “We’d like the money saved to be given to the poor.”

These three stories illustrate the first point that Jesus makes in today’s gospel. He says:

“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

These words are not to be taken literally yet these words of Jesus are a provocative way of saying three things:

  1. That our priority in life must be to Jesus and to his work of completing God’s kingdom on earth.
  2. That as followers of Jesus, our responsibility extends beyond our flesh-and-blood family to the entire human family.
  3. That if we want to follow Jesus, we must follow him not only into church on Sunday morning but also into the marketplace of our lives on Monday morning.

They are people who realize that they are going to make only a microscopic dent in the problems of our world. But they are also people who realize that the worse evil is to do nothing because they can only do little. They are people who have committed themselves to Jesus and to his work, and are living it out.

They are people whose commitment makes us ask ourselves,

  1. What are the top three priorities in my life right now and are they in the right order?
  2. What am I doing for Jesus right now?

Let’s close with a poem. Perhaps you are familiar with it. It sums up the message and the invitation of today’s liturgy. It compares our commitment to Jesus and to his work to two people riding on a tandem bicycle. The poem goes something like this:

“At first, I sat in front; Jesus in the rear. I couldn’t see him, but I knew he was there. I could feel his help when the road got steep.

“Then, one day, Jesus changed seats with me. Suddenly everything went topsy-turvy. When I was in control, the ride was predictable – even boring. But when Jesus took over, it got wild! I could hardly hold on. ‘This is madness!’ I cried out. But Jesus just smiled – and said, ‘Pedal!’

“And so I learned to shut up and pedal – and trust my bike companion. Oh, there are still times when I get scared and I’m ready to give up. But then Jesus turns around, touches my hand, smiles, and says, ‘Pedal!’”

I’m so blessed that over these past 40 years I have done some pedaling with so many of you.