Archive for July, 2019

Lord, Teach Us to Pray 7-28-2019

Sunday, July 28th, 2019

I’ve had a very rough week this week and I have found myself
spending extra time in prayer. The Gospel this Sunday triggered some
things about prayer that I had not thought about for a while, and I would
briefly like to share them with you.
The first thing is that it is important that when we pray we must be
honest and completely open with God; we must use real words that
express how we feel and what is going on in our lives. Our relationship
with God should be one place where we can let it all hang out – no safe
and appropriate roles to play – no masks to hide behind.

The second thing I was reminded about through the Gospel was
that when I say I am too busy to pray (which I do at times), I may really
be saying I am afraid to pray. Also, if I am so busy with what I want
from God, I may miss what God really has to give me.
*Person in hospital – his brother has just died – yells & screams at
the Cross – God is big enough to handle it.*
The third thing is, if we are to take prayer seriously we must dispel
from our minds the notion that it is some kind of magic. Prayer is not an
“Aladdin’s Lamp” which, if properly rubbed, will grant our every wish.
A student, rather lazily inclined, noticed that a classmate always
recited her Spanish lessons well. One day he asked her, “How is it that
you always recite your lessons so perfectly?”
“Before I study,” she told him, “I always pray that I may remember my
lessons and repeat them well.”
“Do you?” asked the boy, somewhat surprised. “So that’s her secret
method,” he thought. “Well, then, I’ll pray too.”
That night he prayed up a storm, recalling as many prayers as he could
remember. However, the next day he could not even repeat one phrase
of the lesson. Quite perplexed he looked for his friend, and, finding her,
confronted her for being deceitful.
“I prayed,” he told her, “but I could not repeat a single phrase from
yesterday’s homework.”
“Perhaps,” she told him, “you took no pains to learn the lesson!”
“Of course not,” said the boy. “I didn’t study at all. I had no reason to
study. You told me to pray that I might remember the lesson.”
“There’s your problem,” she said, “I told you I prayed before, not
instead of, studying.”
I close with a final thought on prayer: A friend of mine used to
drop by his Church every evening around 5 PM, for an hour of
meditation before supper. Every evening he noticed the same old man
sitting in one of the back pews. The man was always there when he
arrived and still there when he left. It began to haunt him.
One evening curiosity got the better of him and he approached the man,
greeted him, and hoped he wasn’t praying: “I have seen you here for
several months now, and I really admire your constant devotion. But I
was wondering . . . I notice that you are always just sitting here quietly,
never using a prayer book, Bible, or rosary . . . still obviously praying…I
just wondered, when you pray to God, what do you say; what do you
talk about . . . ?
The old man looked up at my friend calmly and gently: “I don’t talk to
God; God talks to me.”
A lot of people think prayer (or meditation or religion or spirituality) is
supposed to be like Alka Seltzers in a glass of water: non-stop, bubbly,
effervescent, supernatural excitement. Wrong! Sometimes, maybe. But
most of the time prayer is like any love relationship: it involves a lot of
giving and listening. It’s like learning to talk: first, you have to listen, in
the sure peace of God’s presence.

Three Minutes a Day 7-21-2019

Sunday, July 21st, 2019

One night a father came to a parent-teacher conference in a
Chicago high school. During a talk with one of his son’s teachers, the
father broke down and began to cry. After he regained his composure,
the father apologized, saying, “My son no longer lives with me.” “But I
still love him, and I want to know how he’s doing in school.” The father
then told the teacher how his wife and four children left him that
afternoon. He was a building contractor and sometimes worked 16 hours
a day. Naturally, he saw a little of his family, and they slowly grew
farther and farther apart. Then the father said something sad. He said: “I
wanted to buy my wife and kids all those things I had dreamed of giving
them.” “But in the process I got so involved in working that I forgot
about what they needed most; a father who was around at nights to give
them love and support.”
This story and our gospel today illustrates the same point. We can
get so involved in what we are doing that we forget why we are doing it.
We can get so involved in living that we forget the purpose of living. We
can get so involved in pursuing the things money can buy that we forget
about the things money can’t buy. It’s this kind of mistake that Martha
made in today’s gospel. She got so involved in cooking a meal for Jesus
that she forgot why Jesus had come. He didn’t come for a free meal. He
came to be with friends. You and I live in a very fast-paced world. It’s so
easy to lose our balance. It’s so easy to lose our perspective; it’s so easy
to get our priorities mixed up. It’s so easy to lose sight of what we are
doing and why we are doing it.
During the World War II, a young soldier was stationed on the
island of Saipan in the South Pacific. He said that during this time he
and his friends used to go for swims in a secluded spot, just off the steep
cliffs of the island. It was a lovely place surrounded by rocks. When they
arrived, the water was so clear they could see fish ten feet below the
surface. After they had swam for an hour, however the water became so
clouded with sand, churned up from the bottom, that they couldn’t see a
foot below the surface. But the next day when they returned for another
swim the sand had settled. The water was crystal clear again. Our mind
is like that water. It too can get so clouded up from the turmoil of
everyday living that it’s hard for us to see clearly. We lose sight of
everything; our perspective gets clouded; our priorities get confused; our
balance gets destroyed. What we need to do when this happens is to
pause and let the murky waters of the mind become clear again.
We need to do what Mary did in today’s gospel. We need to sit at
the feet of Jesus in quiet prayer. We need to let him teach us what is
important and what is not. How do we do this? Practically, let me share
with you a simple method of prayer. Each night before falling asleep, we
take three minutes to do three things. During the first minute, we pause
and do a mental replay of our day. We pick out the day’s high point,
something we are happy about, like getting a letter from an old friend.
Then, we speak to Jesus about it very sincerely. Finally, we conclude by
giving thanks to Jesus for the letter and the friend. During the second
minute, we do a second mental replay or our day. Only this time we pick
out the low point in it, something we’re sorry about, like yelling at a
parent, a spouse, or a child. We speak to Jesus about this weakness and
ask him to forgive us and to heal us. Finally, during the third minute, we
look ahead to tomorrow, to a critical point. We think of some difficult
thing we must do, like talking to a parent, a spouse, or a child about a
problem that has arisen. We speak to Jesus about it and ask his light and
his strength in handling it. No matter how busy we are, three (3) minutes
a day can put us in touch with life and in touch with Jesus.
I close with a prayer for us busy people; Lord, Keep us from
getting so involved in life that we forget why you gave us life. Keep us
from getting so involved in living that we forget the purpose of living.
Keep us from getting so involved in pursuing the things money can buy
that we forget about the things money can’t buy.

The Good Samaritan 7-14-2019

Sunday, July 14th, 2019
The Priest
“Ah, Yaweh, the Temple! What a glorious weekend it was! I can’t wait
to tell my wife and neighbors tonight. Praise you! Thank you for
choosing me as your priest, unworthy as I am! I felt so humble within
the awesome splendor of your temple! And when the high priest, Ol’
Annas, went into the Holy of Holies, oh, I almost swooned for I felt my
very soul being drawn within that inner sanctuary…to be one with you!!
Uh oh, what’s that on the roadside? Looks like a body…It is a body!
That’s the third one I’ve seen this year on this road. Poor soul! Curse
those thieves, Yahweh, they not only rob a man but murder him as well!
Hmmm, maybe I should go over to that ditch and see? NO! If that Levite
sees me too near that body, he’ll report me. Then I’ll be unable ever
again to share in the temple services. I hope that the other stranger
coming up the road doesn’t think I am calloused and cowardly. I am a
priest, I am simply following the law. How come, then Yaweh, I don’t
feel justified….”

The Levite
As he turned to the form on the road, he immediately noticed that there
was a Samaritan not far behind him. “I know what’s going on”, he
thought, “because it happened to friends of mine on this very same
road.” The body is a plant. A perfectly healthy man who is to draw me
to the side of the road and attack me. Then with the help of the
Samaritan, they will rob me, strip me, and leave me half dead. “Praise
the Holy name for the glance over my shoulder and the wisdom that
Yahweh gave me for protection! This day, life has been spared in
Israel.” He hurried quickly along the road and even as he continued he
noticed the Samaritan stop to speak with his accomplice lying at the side of
the road:
The Samaritan
“Oh, poor man. What in the world has happened to him? Have people just
passed him by all day? There are lots of people who travel this path, and no
one has stopped to help him. I’d better stop to see what I can do for him.
What a mess he is in: bleeding, bruises, black eyes, and he has been robbed!
I’d better do something with him, I just can’t leave him here. I know what it
is like to be neglected, to be left for dead, that is how people treat me so
much of the time. I can see why people neglect me, I am a Samaritan, but
why have they neglected this poor man. What is happening to people? I have
really felt that neglect, and I know how terrible it is to be left for dead. I am
not going to let that happen to him. I will clean and dress his wounds, put him
on my donkey and take him to the Inn down the road. I am not a rich man,
but I have a little money. That should take care of him for a day or so. I can’t
believe that people just pass him over. Maybe they should be in the position
of desertion and aloneness once in a while, so they really know that it means
to be down and out.” People are just too concerned about what others are
going to think if they do something out of the ordinary.”
The Unfortunate Victim
“What’s happening to me?” I was walking along, minding my own business
and now this: abandoned, rejected, left to die. Why don’t these people help
me? Oh! They’re coming over (priest & Levite)… Now they’re leaving!
They were only curious, not really interested or concerned. Death would be
better than just lying here in pain, watching people pass me by. Wait, who is
this guy (Samaritan). Is he going to be like the others and treat me like I don’t
exist? Wait, he is bending over! He must be up to something. I don’t trust
him! He is helping me. Oh, how different life looks.”