Archive for the ‘Ordinary Time’ Category

If You Love Enough 1-20-2019

Sunday, January 20th, 2019

I had the privilege to be part of some weekends called Engaged Encounters. On these weekends two married couples would share a great deal about their married life with about thirty engaged couples. I listened and learned a lot from these married couples. I was impressed with how hard they worked at staying married.
On this weekend when we read about the marriage feast at Cana, I would like to share with you two brief stories about two married couples that also really touched me.
She fought bravely and valiantly, he always at her side. But after eight years, cancer took her life. After the funeral, he was cleaning out the drawer near her bed and found a piece of paper she had written. It was a sort of love note. It looked a little like a schoolgirl’s daydream note about the boy in the next row. Except that this note was written by the mother of seven children, a woman who had been battling for her life until the end. It was also a wonderful prescription for holding a marriage together. This is how her note to her husband began. Loved. Cared. Worried. Helped me when I was sick. Forgave me a lot of things. Stood by me. Always complimentary. Provided everything I ever needed. Warmth. Humor. Kindness. Thoughtfulness. Always there when I needed you. And the last thing she wrote sums up all the other. Good friend. He folded the paper and placed it in his wallet. Sometime later he was talking to a friend about her. He showed him the paper. The friend, a much younger man, was deeply moved by the note. The friend asked, “How do you stick by someone through 38 years of marriage, let alone the sickness too?” “How do I know I’d have what it takes to stand by a wife if she got sick?” And he replied simply and quietly. “You will.” “If you love enough, you will.”
A strong self-reliant ranch owner, who did not very often express his emotions outwardly, had to rush his wife to the hospital. A ruptured appendix. The ensuing operation was successful, but the woman’s’ condition deteriorated. Despite the blood transfusions and intensive care, she continued to lose strength. The doctors were puzzled because by all medical standards she should have been recovering. They finally were convinced of the reason for her deterioration. She was not trying to get well. The surgeon, an old family friend, went to her and said. “I would think you would want to be strong for John.” She replied weakly. “John is so strong he doesn’t need anybody.” When the doctor told the husband what she had said, he immediately went into his wife’s room, took her hand in his and said. “You’ve got to get well!” Without opening her eyes, she asked, “Why?” He said, “because I need you.” The nurse who was monitoring the blood transfusion said she noticed an immediate change in the pulse beat and the blood pressure. Then the patient opened her eyes and said, “John, that’s the first time you ever said that to me.” Two weeks later she was home. The doctor commenting on the case said it wasn’t the blood transfusion, but what went with it that made the difference between life and death for that woman.
In closing, I would like to ask any married couple present here to stand. I would like to thank you for the hard work you put into your Sacrament of Marriage and I would like to offer you a special prayer of Blessing for you both. God, you have called woman and man to become “one flesh.” What a great sign of your love for us. Send your spirit, O God, upon those today who passionately proclaim their love for each other. May they always remember that the energy and power source of their relationship lies in fidelity and commitment to you. May they inspire all of us to pledge ourselves more deeply to our own promises, and our own vows to live in love. May these two lovers dance to the music of Christ. Amen.

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.”