The Secret of Greatness 10-21-2018

October 20th, 2018

We see on T.V. many special award shows, the Emmy’s, the Grammy’s, the Oscar’s, the Espy’s, you can name more of them. Our Gospel challenges us to reflect on a different kind of awards presentation. Our show is entitled – The Secret of Greatness.
When Doug Meland and his wife moved into a village of Brazil’s Fulnio Indians, he was referred to as “the white man,” an uncomplimentary term. Other white men had exploited the villagers, burned their homes, and robbed their lands. But after the missionaries learned the language and began to help people with medicine and in other ways, they began to call Doug, “the good white man.” And when the Melands began adopting the customs of the people, the Fulnio spoke of Doug as the “white Indian.”
Then one day, as Doug was washing the dirty, blood-caked foot of an injured boy, he heard a bystander say, “Who ever heard of a white man washing an Indian’s foot? Certainly this man is from God.” From that day, whenever Doug entered an Indian home, it would be announced, “Here comes the man God sent us.”
The Secret of Greatness.
Eighty-year-old Clara Hale has served as foster mother to over 500 babies born to drug-addicted mothers. She cares for them until their own mothers can do so. These babies enter life with a drug dependency themselves. That makes “Mama” Hale’s job harder. “When a baby is crying for a drug,” she says, “all I can do is hold it close and say to it, ‘I love you, and God loves you, and your mama loves you. Your mama just needs a little more time.’”
The Secret of Greatness.
John Penne is a retired businessman. He and his wife developed cancer at the same time. His wife died, but John lived; and his cancer went into remission.
While driving back and forth from the hospital for regular treatment, John noticed the number of sick people waiting at the hospital’s bus stop.

Sometimes the weather was bitter cold and these people, many of them elderly, were obviously in pain. John went to the local chapter of the American Cancer Society and said, “Give me a car and a little gas money, and I’ll volunteer my days driving these unfortunate people home.”
For ten years now, John has donated his time doing just that.
The Secret of Greatness.
After graduating from Georgetown University, Anne Donahue volunteered a year of her life to work at Covenant House in New York City.
Every night at ten o’clock Anne and another volunteer put gallons of hot chocolate and bags of sandwiches into the Covenant House van.
For the next couple of hours, the familiar van with a dove painted on its door tours the city’s juvenile prostitution areas.
Anne explains the reason behind the tour. “We’re out there because we know that a lot of kids haven’t tried Covenant House yet. About two-thirds have never heard of us.”

Anne goes on to say that they accomplish something else, too. They show kids that somebody truly cares, that somebody’s out there who’s not interested in buying or selling them. After her first year as a volunteer, Anne said: “I was very depressed. What kind of God would let kids suffer so much? … Finally it got to me…God’s not going to come down and show us his love. We have to let God’s love work through us.”
The Secret of Greatness.
In reading a review of this unique awards presentation — a certain reviewer – by the name of Jesus had this to say:
“To the winners — Well Done — Good and Faithful Servant”
I wonder, what will Jesus say to us?

Lord, What Must We Do? 10-14-2018

October 13th, 2018

I. Let me tell you a little more about the young man in the Gospel story.
This young man who came to Jesus was no teenager. He was a successful young businessman—a sales rep for his company living in a large all-brick home in one of the fashionable subdivisions on the growing edge of town, one with underground utilities, a neighborhood pool and tennis courts. In his garage are a two-year-old Jeep Cherokee and a new Lexus. He’s proud of his attractive wife and two active children. But still he’s searching.
He is well-schooled in manners and morality. When Jesus tells him to keep the commandments, “Do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steel…” he answers that he has kept the commandments from his youth. He has everything going for him. He is smart, he is responsible, and he is on his way up in the world. Why, then, does he feel so empty? Maybe he should start his own business, try skydiving, and learn karate. He isn’t sure what he needs. But he needs something. His heart is a shell. He feels restless, unfulfilled, as if it is all a meaningless game. Maybe this itinerant teacher could give him the answer, What must I do?” asks the young man with great earnestness, “to inherit eternal life?”
This young man is being challenged by Jesus to do some serious soul searching. To ask some very hard questions about his life and what fills his life. What gives him meaning?
This Gospel is about Priorities.
II. A. What or Who is at the Center of our lives?
What or Who is first and foremost in our lives?
What or Who ranks number one in our value system?
What or Who do we turn to in our quest for fulfillment, our search for happiness, or desire for peace of mind and heart and soul?
What or Who?
B. For the man in the Gospel, money was the answer to most of these questions. And that is why he went away so sad.
C. What would I answer? What would you answer? I guess because I am a priest you would expect my answer to be God. Sometimes it is, sometime it isn’t. When it isn’t, there is that empty feeling inside me—just like this young man I introduced you to, had in his heart.
III. I don’t think that Jesus meant that money—possessions were evil in themselves. Rightly used, money and things can be a blessing. But when they give us a false sense of security, they become dangerous. When our possessions possess us—we are headed for trouble.
Some few years ago, the world mourned the death of Mother Teresa. She had devoted most of her life to helping the poorest of the poor. The people of Calcutta called her “the Saint of the Gutters.” Money meant nothing to Mother Teresa except a chance to help. A pope once gave her a nearly new Lincoln Continental. She never got in it. Instead, she sold it and used the money to start a leper colony in West Bengal. In 1970, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. That included a large amount of money. She gave every penny of it to feed the poor.
Fr. Andrew Greely wrote an article about Mother Teresa for Newsweek magazine. He told of riding in a cab with her one hot day in June. The ride lasted an hour. And the two of them just chatted about various things. Looking back on that hour, his most vivid memory is the radiance and glow of Mother Teresa. He said: “She was the happiest human being I had ever met.” Who says you can’t buy happiness? It all depends on how you spend the money.
A question for this week: Who or What is the Center of our lives? Who or What?

Divorce 10-7-2018

October 6th, 2018

I. Our Gospel speaks very bluntly about Divorce (Easy to skip over it) – I am going to try to share with you a few points of reflection that have helped me understand the scripture better.
A. It is very important to hear these words of Jesus in their historical context and not as applied directly to anyone’s present day situation. These words do not apply to all people who have ever had a marriage fail –it was the Pharisees that raised the issue of divorce in order to trick Jesus – to get him in trouble.
1. You see many of the people were already married when they became followers of Jesus. In some cases a husband or a wife became a follower of Jesus while their spouse did not. Somewhat misguided some of the followers of Jesus felt compelled to get away from their non-Christian partner – so they divorced them. This became a scandal in the Church, people divorcing otherwise devoted partners over religion and feeling righteous about it. Now, apply the words of Jesus to the situation and you get something different from what we thought we were hearing. I hear it now as a challenge to misguided piety – a self-righteous attitude – Jesus says is has to STOP!
II. There will always be a gap between the ideals of following Christ and our everyday human reality. There is Tension!
A. What do we do about it?
1. Do we throw out the ideal that the marriage commitment is forever especially when it gets too hard – too difficult? I think Jesus’s answer would be NO.
2. On the other hand, do we treat people who get divorced like dirt, like second class citizens? I think the answer of Jesus would again be NO.
We try our best each day, as Pope Francis says, to offer compassion, support, and create an environment where all people feel like they belong, even when we do not get to the ideal.

I want to thank you. Those of you that have struggled and battled to stay married, to keep the different commitments you have made. I look at all you go through. I hear your stories. You inspire me to keep striving towards the ideal in the midst of my human weakness.
I want to apologize to any of you that have gone through a divorce as a couple or as a family, if our Church or any Church person has treated you rude or has slammed the door in your face.
For those of you who have experienced a divorce, and have kept your commitment to Christ and the Church, I sincerely thank you. You have not given up on God and the Church, even if you felt that the Church & God may have given up on you.
I close:
Hear this, the door is open, you are welcome here. I extend to you a personal invitation and ask you to pass this invitation on to others. Let’s sit down and talk. It’s time to heal. We sing about it – Our God is a God of Second Chances. We must together try to make that message come alive in this place in this time.