Archive for the ‘Cycle B’ 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.

A Conversation 11-4-2018

Sunday, November 4th, 2018

One day God and Jesus were having a conversation with each other…:
Jesus: “You know our book has been out a long time and we have never made any revisions. Don’t you think we ought to consider some?”
God: “I’ve been rather pleased with it; why change a good thing?”
Jesus: “Well, we are in the age of computers and satellites. Lots of things have happened since Moses and the commandments and my sermon on the mountain. I’m not sure we’re communicating with people the way we ought in this modern era.”
God: “What would you suggest? Starting over?”
Jesus: “No, just modernizing. People don’t read a lot anymore. They’re TV watchers. The Bible scares them because it’s quite wordy,”
God: “Are you trying to tell me we ought to condense it?”
Jesus: “Reader’s Digest tried that already, but that didn’t help our readership.”
God asked: “Well, what’s the solution then?”
Jesus: “Brevity.”
God: “You mean like commercials?”
Jesus: ‘Yes, but not as boring as commercials. People stopped watching commercials with the invention of remote control. They just switch channels.”
God: “How brief can we get?”
Jesus: “‘Love God’ and ‘Love your neighbor.’”
God: “Then what?”
Jesus: “Rent advertising space and time.”
God: “That’s too expensive.”
Jesus: “Then re-do nature. Print the message on every cloud and on every leaf.”
God: “That’s too time consuming. We’d have to re-do it with every change of season.”
Jesus: “Print it on the hands of every newborn, ‘Love God’ on the right and ‘Love neighbor’ on the left. They go Hand in Hand; you can’t have one without the other.”
God: “I already did something like that, but I wrote it on their hearts.”
Jesus: “How were people supposed to read it hidden there?”
God: “I guess I was a little naïve, I didn’t expect it to remain hidden. I thought it would be quite obvious in the way people loved me and one another.”

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?