Archive for the ‘30th Sunday’ Category

Mike and the Beggar 10-28-2018

Thursday, October 25th, 2018

A few years ago a father and mother sent this open letter to the parents and students of a high school in a southern city.

Dear Teens & Parents:
We buried our son Thursday. He got into bed Tuesday night and very deliberately took his own life.
Mike was bright, handsome, witty, shy and with ease did well in school. His phone rang constantly and his friends were in and out of the house all the time. The Coroner’s report showed no drugs.
In reality Mike had lots of friends. Each individual, however, has their own perception of reality. Sunday night, Mike got drunk and we had a long talk, and for the first time we realized that our rosy perception of the state of his life wasn’t his. He was very sad. He felt his friends didn’t care about him – even though we know they DID.
We believe you all can help God make this world a happier place to live. Somewhere between the ages of 20 and 35, people begin to feel secure enough to tell their friends “I love you” or “I’m glad you’re my friend”. Please be brave, because at your age it is a scary, chancy thing to say; but please tell your friends that they are your friends and you do care. This is most important because a person can feel most alone when surrounded by people.
There are also some in your school who truly have no friends. Their phone never rings and friends never come over. Please make friends with them. They are really lonely. If Mike felt such despair when he had friends, just imagine the sadness and loneliness those teenagers must feel and endure.
God put each of us on earth to do good and bring joy. Please help make Mike’s death bring love and joy to the world in a concrete manner.
Growing up is very hard and there is so much each of you must sort out for yourself. Your parents and family are there, but your peers are so important too. Please, please open your hearts and tell your friends how much they mean to you. – Love to you all.
The letter was signed by Mike’s mother and father.
It took a lot of love and courage for Mike’s parents to write that letter. That’s what makes it so beautiful. That’s what makes it so powerful. That’s what makes it a letter that every young person and parent should read.
I think it’s especially appropriate for us to read it today, because the blind beggar in today’s gospel might well have been about Mike’s age.
Like Mike, he was trying to reach out to Jesus as best he knew how. And like Mike, he sought help from those around him.
But like young Mike, instead of getting help from those around him, the blind beggar got just the opposite. Instead of getting support from the crowd, he got abuse and outright rejection.
Today’s gospel says that when the beggar called out to Jesus, “Son of David! Have mercy on me!” many people yelled at him and told him to keep quiet.
In other words, instead of taking the beggar by the hand and leading him to Jesus, they took him by the neck and shoved him farther away from Jesus.
Only one person came to the beggar’s aid. And who was that person? It was none other than Jesus himself. When Jesus heard the people shouting at the beggar, he stopped and asked that the beggar be brought to him. Only then did the people change. Only then did they help the unfortunate man.
Today’s gospel prompts us to ask ourselves, how many Mike’s and how many blind beggars are there in today’s world?
How many of these Mike’s and how many of these blind beggars are trying to reach out to Jesus?
How many of these Mike’s and how many of these blind beggars are being treated the way the people treated the blind beggar in today’s gospel?
How many of us, perhaps even without realizing it, are discouraging these Mike’s and these blind beggars?
Even more to the point, today’s Gospel invites us to ask ourselves, who are the Mike’s and the blind beggars in our own lives and what are we doing to help?

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.

Your Halo is on too Tight 10-23-2016

Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

I would like to do a little replay of this Gospel to understand it better. I would like the people on the right side of the church to be sinners and the people on the left side to be Pharisees. I am going to tell a story, the gospel story again, using different words. When I ask you to stand, one side at a time, please stand.
One time Jesus told this story about those who considered themselves better than anyone else and were always comparing themselves. One time two people came to the church to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other was a public sinner. The Pharisee came to the front of the church, genuflected and then prayed to God this way (will everyone on this side of the church please stand today in this play you are the Pharisees). The Pharisees prayed in this way, “O Lord I give you thanks that I am not like everyone else. I give you thanks that I am a Catholic, that I come to Mass on Sunday, and that I am better than others. I give you thanks that I am a registered member and I am better than others. Especially I give you thanks that I am better than those sinners on the other side of the church. (Now look at those sinners on the other side of the church.) Pharisees please sit down.
Time for the sinners to pray (will everyone on this side of the church please stand), without even raising their eyes to heaven they said, “Lord have mercy on me, a sinner.” Jesus said, “It is a shame, but the Pharisees return to their homes without grace while the sinners return to their homes full of God’s mercy.” Please be seated.
A question for us is, what was the sin of the Pharisees? There are probably good people, they are involved in the church, they go to meetings, they abstain from serious sin, but they do one thing that is very wrong. The sin they committed is that they compared themselves to others.
In a large family sorrows and heartbreak come when the children begin comparing themselves to one another. One says, “I am better than the rest of my brothers and sisters.” Or one says, “I am not as good as my brothers and sisters.” God loves and respects each one of us. God does not compare people one to another, and in the parable today Jesus asks us not to compare ourselves. Problems come when religion says, “my religion is better. I am better than you are because I belong to this religion.”
On my hand there are five fingers. Each finger is a different shape.
Each finger has different strengths. Each finger has a different size. My thumb is stronger than my little finger. One of my fingers is longer than the others, yet every finger is important on my hand. What foolishness, if my fingers have a fight amongst themselves, comparing themselves to each other and trying to decide who is better or who is worse. All of them are needed. We are all fingers on God’s hand. God needs each one of us. Each person has gifts and weaknesses. Some of the fingers on God’s hands are full of sins and troubles. Some of the fingers on God’s hands might have diseases, but each finger is important and God loves each finger equally.
We are all supposed to fit together. Let us respect each other, let us accept each other and let us not give in to the temptation of comparing ourselves to one another.
I close with this story about a person who thought he was better than anyone else.
A modern-day, self-righteous, self-appointed saint went to the doctor for a check-up. “I’m not feeling very well these day,” he said. “Please examine me thoroughly, and tell me what’s wrong.” Whereupon, the doctor began with a few questions…
“Do you drink a lot?”
“No, I never touch the stuff. I’m a teetotaler, and proud of it.”
“Do you smoke?”
“No. I’ve never gone near tobacco, and I’m proud of it.”
“What about your sleeping habits?”
“I go to bed early. While others are out carousing late at night, I’m in bed by 10:30, and I’m proud of it.”
“Well, what is your complaint at this time?”
“I have terrible pains in my head.”
“Aha! That’s your trouble. Your halo is on too tight!”