Archive for the ‘32nd Sunday’ Category

Thanks Givers 11-11-2018

Monday, November 12th, 2018

Two years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a remarkable woman was born in New York City. Her name was Elizabeth Bayley.
At the age of 20 she married a businessman named William Seton. Neither she nor William was Catholic. In time the couple had five children.
Then tragedy struck: William contracted tuberculosis.
William moved his family to Italy, hoping that the climate would help him. But his illness was terminal. He died a few years later.
With the help of a generous Italian family, the Setons moved back to the United States. The goodness of that Italian family led the young widow to investigate the Catholic Church. Two years later she became a Catholic.
Elizabeth’s relatives and friends were shocked. They virtually disowned her, and she was forced to get a teaching job to support her five children. To make a long story short, when the children came of age, Elizabeth became religious and founded the American branch of the Sisters of Charity. It was this order that pioneered the great Catholic school system in America.
Elizabeth once told a friend, “I’d like to retire from the turmoil of the world and lead a simple life of prayer, but God wants me to do something else, and I must always choose God’s will over my own.”
Elizabeth died at the age of 46. In her lifetime she wasn’t a mystic. She wasn’t a martyr. She was simply a widow who gave what she had to God. She was simply a single parent who turned a tremendous tragedy in her life – the loss of her husband and the rejection of her family – into a spectacular gift to God and to the Church.
How fitting it was, then, that in 1975 Elizabeth Seton was canonized the first American-born saint.
The story of this generous widow fits in beautifully with today’s Scripture readings. For two of those readings are also about generous widows.
The first reading concerns a widow who shared with the prophet Elijah all the food she had to live on. The gospel reading concerns a widow who gave to the Temple of Jerusalem all the money she had to live on.
Like Elizabeth Seton, each of these two widows gave with the same generous heart. Each had a perfectly legitimate reason to excuse herself from giving, but each refused to exercise that excuse.
Like Elizabeth Seton, each knew that the important thing was not what she had to give but the love with which she gave it.
Each knew that what counted in God’s eyes is not the size of the gift but the size of the giver’s heart.
Someone once said that there are three kinds of givers: grudge givers, duty givers, and thanks givers.
Grudge givers say, “I hate to give.” Duty givers say, “I ought to give.” Thanks givers say, “I want to give.”
In other words grudge givers give reluctantly and with a certain feeling of resentment.
Duty givers give reluctantly too, but with a certain feeling of obligation.
Thanks givers, on the other hand, give from the heart, without any feeling of resentment or obligation. The three widows are beautiful examples of thanks givers.
They gave under no pressure.
They gave under no obligation.
They gave from the heart.
The stories of the three widows invite us to ask ourselves how we give.
Do we give grudgingly because we have to – because we will be embarrassed or thought less of it if we don’t give?
Do we give dutifully because we feel obligated or required to do so?
Or do we give thankfully because our love and our faith tell us to give – just as the love and the faith of the widows told them to give?
Listen with me –
Let’s close with a brief meditation on God’s own generosity in giving to us:
We ask for a flower, and God gives us a bouquet.
We ask for leaf, and God gives us a tree.
We ask for a drop of water, and god gives us and ocean.
We ask for a grain of sand, and god gives us a beach.

We ask for a blade of wheat, and God gives us a wheat field.
We ask for something to eat, and we are given God’s own Life.
With God what counts the most – is not the size of the gift, but the size of the giver’s heart.

Ya Buts 11-12-2017

Sunday, November 12th, 2017

This gospel reminds me of two special stories.
The first story:
There is a town that has four separate neighborhoods. The first neighborhood is called, “Yabuts.” The people who live there think they know what needs to be done. As a matter of fact, they talk about it quite convincingly – up to a point. When told they have an opportunity for something, the conversation goes something like this: “Ya, but…” The “Yabuts” have the answer. It just happens to be the wrong answer.
The next neighborhood is known as the “Gunnados.” Now they are some of the best-intentioned folks you could ever meet. They really understand what needs to be done, and they would have done it, if they had only followed through. They study everything that is required very carefully, and just as an opportunity drifts past them, they realize what they were “gunnado.” If only they had done what they were “gunnado.”
Another neighborhood is known as the “Wishawoodas.” These people have an excellent perspective on life – hindsight. They say, “I ‘wishawooda’ this, or ‘wishawooda’ that…” They know everything that should be done, only it’s after the fact.
The last neighborhood is known as the “Gladidids.” They are a truly special group of people. The “Wishawoodas” drive by the “Gladidids” homes and admire them. The “Gunnados” want to join them, but just cannot quite get around to it. The “Yabuts” could have been “Gladidids,” but destiny just did not smile on them. The “Gladidids” are pleased that they are disciplined enough to do what they know they should do instead of always doing what they wanted to do.
These are the four neighborhoods. In which neighborhood do you live? In which one would you rather live? 1) Yabuts 2) Gunnados 3) Wishawoodas 4) Gladidids.
The second story:
There is an ancient story about three demons who were arguing over the best way to destroy the Christian mission in the world. The first demon says, “Let’s tell all the Christians there is no heaven. Take away the reward incentive and the mission will collapse.” The second demon says, “Let’s tell all the Christians there is no hell. Take away the fear of punishment and the mission will collapse.” The third demon says, “There is one better way. Let’s tell all the Christians that there is no hurry” and all three immediately say, “That’s it! All we have to do is tell them there’s no hurry and the whole Christian enterprise will collapse.”
Some things can’t be put off to the last minute- the foolish bridesmaids needed to be reminded of this. We are reminded – happy is the person who takes to heart this message and does something about it today.

Worshiping at our own altars 11-6-2016

Sunday, November 6th, 2016

A writer had a dream in which she visited hell.
To her surprise, this hell had no infinite fire or bottomless burning chasms of tormented souls. It was not like the hell she had pictured at all; in fact, it was rather “church-like.” She was led through some dark passages lined with the doors to many cells. Each cell she passed was identical. The central piece of furniture in each cell was an altar and before each

altar knelt a sickly, weak, greenish-gray, ghostly figure in intense prayer and adoration.
“But whom are they worshipping?” the visitor asked her guide.
“Themselves,” was the reply. “This is pure self-worship. In their worship of their own beings, in placing their hopes and dependence on themselves and their own dreams alone, they are feeding on themselves and exhausting their own spirits. That is why they look so sickly and emaciated.”
The writer was appalled and saddened by row upon row of cells, small prisons for their pathetic, non-communicating inmates, who were doomed to spend eternity in solitary confinement, themselves their first, last and only object of worship.
God, as revealed by Christ, is not the vengeful Judge or cosmic Tyrant who takes cruel delight in our failures; the God taught by Jesus in our Gospel is the God of life, a God whose limitless love put us and all of creation in motion. God will love us for all eternity – but there always exists the possibility that we will refuse that love. That refusal to accept God’s love, the refusal to respond to God’s love, is precisely the meaning of hell. Hell is not a place where God puts us – it’s a place where we put ourselves. But to become “children of the God of life” is to dismantle the hells we create and set in their places the justice, peace and forgiveness that are the building stones of the kingdom of God.
Worshiping at our own altars. Lord have mercy!