Give To God What is God’s! 10-18-2020

October 18th, 2020

A man walked into a rooftop bar and ordered a drink. The man
next to him began a conversation about the unique wind currents in the
area. The first man said he didn’t understand what was so special about
the wind there, so the other said, “Let me show you.” With that he went
to the window, jumped out, did a spin in mid-air, and then came back in.
“See how great the currents are! You can do the same thing.”
After a few more drinks and much prodding, the first man decided
to test the wind currents. He went to the window, jumped out, and
dropped like a rock. The bartender looked at the other man and said,
“Superman, you’re really mean when you’re drunk.
Most of us are neither mean nor a drunk – I hope – but is that
enough? Is just staying out of trouble and avoiding nastiness enough to
make a life? It’s a start, but it’s not nearly enough. So what is enough?
Jesus gave us a clue in today’s gospel. His enemies were trying to
entrap him into an offense. But he just brushed them off, “Give to
Caesar what is Caesar’s.” And then he returned to his core message, but give to God what is God’s.”
So, what do we have that is God’s? Very simply, our life. But
how do we give that back to God? By becoming nuns or priests or
martyrs or missionaries in darkest Africa, or perhaps throwing ourselves
on a live grenade to save our friends? For most of us that is not what
God wants. What God does want from all of us is for us to learn to use
our life the way God uses life: by helping those who need help and
giving life to those who need life. So how do we begin? The key is by
being alert and paying attention to one another, and developing the
deeply ingrained habit of asking ourselves: How’s he doing? What does
she need? Is he OK? How can I help her?
Most of the time most of what people really need is within our
power to give. For example, some of us are getting a little forgetful, and
what we need is just a little reassurance – and a little patience. And for
all of us there are those days when nothing is right. Most times a friend
is all that’s needed to lift the fog. And think about the times someone has been very bad, and needs
to say so, but doesn’t know how. A dose of encouragement from an understanding friend will light the way and draw him out of the dark. At
any given moment most of what is needed by the people right around us
is within our power to give. And better yet, all we have to handle – all
we have to give – is one moment at a time: If we take care of the
minutes, God will take care of the days – and the years.
God has given us the gifts of life, and the power to give life to one
another – in many shapes and sizes – every day. We can be real
supermen and real wonder women if we learn how to give our gift, if we
learn to pay attention to one another, see what is needed, and give what
is needed – one moment at a time. From such humble stuff the kingdom
of God is made.

The Pig & The Chicken 10-11-2020

October 7th, 2020

Huey Long was a very colorful Louisiana politician who had hopes
of running for the presidency in 1936. He began as an unschooled farm
boy and ended up in the governor’s mansion, one of the most popular
politicians in the history of the state. Long was born in the central part
of Louisiana, and when he first campaigned for governor he was given
some advice about the voters in the New Orleans area. “South Louisiana
is different from the northern part of the state,” he was told. “We have a
lot of Catholic voters down here.”
Long nodded knowingly and went out to make his speech. It
began, “When I was a boy, I’d get up at six every morning, hitch our old
horse up to the buggy, and take my Catholic grandparents to Mass. I’d
bring them home and then I’d take my Baptist grandparents to church.”
The speech was a rousing success. Afterwards, a New Orleans
political boss said, “Huey, you’ve been holding out on us. We didn’t
know you had Catholic grandparents.”
Huey looked at him slyly and said, “We didn’t even have a horse.” Don’t let anyone mislead you. Around the banquet table of God
there won’t be Baptists, or Catholics, or Methodists. There won’t even
be a head table reserved for the very saintly. There will only be sinners
for whom Christ died. Everyone is invited, that’s the good news.
Here’s the bad. You see, the RSVP requires commitment and a serious
effort to change.
This invitation of Jesus – to each one of us – is freely given – no
pressure – no strings. Some of us will accept and some won’t – too busy
– too risky. There are a lot of excuses. The man in the gospel accepted
Christ’s invitation, but that was all. No enthusiasm after that, no serious
effort to change – to draw closer to Jesus Christ.
Like myself, some of us here were baptized, made First
Communion, were ordained or married, but also some of us have made
no serious effort to deepen our personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Being in relationship with Jesus Christ means a lot more than a bumper
sticker on our car, “I Love Jesus” or a St. Christopher’s medal around
our neck or a Catholic badge, saying I am proud to be a Catholic. Being in a relationship with Jesus Christ may require us to change our lifestyle. Forgive someone who hurt us, stop cheating on our family
or in school. We may be challenged to readjust our priorities, let go of
some bad habit or certain friends that gets us in trouble.
Lord, help us remember often that we are all invited to be part of
your life, your church. May we have the courage to accept the
invitation, the strength to change and grow, the faith and trust that you
are by our side through it all, and the wisdom to make a commitment to
You – Source of Life (no matter how many times we have no said, “no
thanks,” before, we can say, “yes,” now.
I leave you with this:
The story is told of a pig and a chicken who are walking past San
Carlos Cathedral one Sunday morning…
Says the chicken to the pig, “You know, over the years, those
people in there have been very nice to us. I think we ought to do
something nice for them.” The pig replies, “Good idea, what do you
have in mind?” “I think we ought to have a big banquet,” says the chicken.
“I’m all for that,” says the pig. “But what shall we serve them to
eat?”
“Bacon and eggs,” says the chicken. Not on your life says the pig.
“For you, that’s just a contribution. For me, it’s a total commitment.
RSVP – to Jesus Christ – It’s never too late.

The Way To Peace 10-4-2020

October 4th, 2020

St. Paul urges the Philippians not to be anxious. He tells them,
“There is no need to worry”. This may seem an unreal piece of advice.
There is no way to avoid all worry. Good and sincere people are naturally
worried about many things. It is part of the burden they carry precisely
because they are people who care, who care about loved ones, and many
other things.
But Paul is not talking about normal concerns. He is talking about
anxiety. Nothing is more debilitating or fruitless than anxiety. Of itself it
does nothing to solve our problems. Rather, the opposite is the case. By
dissipating our energy, anxiety weakens us and makes it more difficult for
us to find a solution to our problems.
The root of anxiety is lack of trust – lack of trust in oneself, in others,
and especially in God. Hence, the first piece of advice Paul gives the
Philippians is to pray. They must learn to commit their cares to the Lord:
‘If there is anything you need, pray for it.’
He is not suggesting that prayer should take the place of action. Nor
is he implying that their prayers will always be answered. What, then, does prayer do? Prayer implies a willingness to do what we can, and then
to leave things in the hands of God. To accept what happens then as his
will, even though we may not understand it.
Then Paul tells his readers to think positively. People who are over
anxious tend to think very negatively. They imagine the worst scenario.
This is disastrous. We must concentrate on the good, not on the bad.
Many people devour the newspapers every day. It’s hard to read the
newspapers these days without coming away depressed, so full are they of
bad news. Instead of filling our minds with all kinds of trash, Paul says,
‘Fill your minds with everything that is true, everything that is noble,
everything that is good and pure, everything that we love and honor,
everything that can be thought virtuous and worthy of praise’. The power
of positive thinking is well known.
However, it is not just a question of thinking nice thoughts. We must
try to do these things. Thoughts alone will not suffice. We must pursue
goodness in our actions. Paul says, ‘Keep doing the things you have
learned from me’. In Jesus’ parable of the vineyard a lot of ugly things happened. But
evil does not have the last say. In the end good triumphs. This shows us that there is only one way to overcome evil, and that is with good. Jesus
didn’t answer evil with more evil. He triumphed over evil by good.
If we do what we can, and put our trust in God, then Paul assures us
that ‘the peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand,
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus’.
Peace comes, not from having an easy and tranquil life. We can have
peace even in the midst of struggle and turmoil provided we are on the side
of right. Then the God of peace will be with us