Archive for October, 2019

Your Halo is on too Tight 10-27-2019

Sunday, October 27th, 2019

I would like to do a little replay of this Gospel to understand it
better. I would like the people on the right side of the church to be
sinners and the people on the left side to be Pharisees. I am going to
tell a story, the gospel story again, using different words. When I ask
you to stand, one side at a time, please stand.
One time Jesus told this story about those who considered
themselves better than anyone else and were always comparing
themselves. One time two people came to the church to pray. One
was a Pharisee and the other was a public sinner. The Pharisee came
to the front of the church, genuflected and then prayed to God this
way (will everyone on this side of the church please stand today in
this play you are the Pharisees). The Pharisees prayed in this way, “O
Lord I give you thanks that I am not like everyone else. I give you
thanks that I am a Catholic, that I come to Mass on Sunday, and that I
am better than others. I give you thanks that I am a registered member and I am better than others. Especially I give you thanks that
I am better than those sinners on the other side of the church. (Now
look at those sinners on the other side of the church.) Pharisees
please sit down.
Time for the sinners to pray (will everyone on this side of the
church please stand), without even raising their eyes to heaven they
said, “Lord have mercy on me, a sinner.” Jesus said, “It is a shame,
but the Pharisees return to their homes without grace while the
sinners return to their homes full of God’s mercy.” Please be seated.
A question for us is, what was the sin of the Pharisees? There are
probably good people, they are involved in the church, they go to
meetings, they abstain from serious sin, but they do one thing that is
very wrong. The sin they committed is that they compared
themselves to others.
In a large family sorrows and heartbreak come when the children begin comparing themselves to one another. One says, “I am better
than the rest of my brothers and sisters.” Or one says, “I am not as
good as my brothers and sisters.” God loves and respects each one of us. God does not compare people one to another, and in the parable
today Jesus asks us not to compare ourselves. Problems come when
religion says, “my religion is better. I am better than you are because
I belong to this religion.”
On my hand there are five fingers. Each finger is a different shape.
Each finger has different strengths. Each finger has a different size.
My thumb is stronger than my little finger. One of my fingers is
longer than the others, yet every finger is important on my hand.
What foolishness, if my fingers have a fight amongst themselves,
comparing themselves to each other and trying to decide who is better
or who is worse. All of them are needed. We are all fingers on God’s
hand. God needs each one of us. Each person has gifts and
weaknesses. Some of the fingers on God’s hands are full of sins and
troubles. Some of the fingers on God’s hands might have diseases,
but each finger is important and God loves each finger equally.
We are all supposed to fit together. Let us respect each other, let
us accept each other and let us not give in to the temptation of comparing ourselves to one another.
I close with this story about a person who thought he was better than
anyone else.
A modern-day, self-righteous, self-appointed saint went to the
doctor for a check-up. “I’m not feeling very well these day,” he said.
“Please examine me thoroughly, and tell me what’s wrong.”
Whereupon, the doctor began with a few questions…
“Do you drink a lot?”“No, I never touch the stuff. I’m a teetotaler, and proud of it.”
“Do you smoke?”
“No. I’ve never gone near tobacco, and I’m proud of it.”
“What about your sleeping habits?”
“I go to bed early. While others are out carousing late at night, I’m
in bed by 10:30, and I’m proud of it.”
“Well, what is your complaint at this time?” “I have terrible pains in my head.”
“Aha! That’s your trouble. Your halo is on too tight!”

What Church is Really About! 10-20-2019

Sunday, October 20th, 2019

Many times for me the first reading in our Mass is hard to
understand. The images, the language, the symbols are often very
foreign to me; today is different. We can’t allow this powerful image in
the Old Testament to be missed.
It is an image that should be put on a stained glass window in
every church. To me it is one of the most powerful images of what
CHURCH is really about.
Let’s create a stained glass window of our own today – I need
some of you to help (Call one person to be Moses). Visualize with me –
“Moses” with his arms held out in prayer: praying for his friends, things
go well as long as he is praying. But he becomes weary, tired,
discouraged, fatigued. His arms start to drop and his friends jump in
(Bring up 2 more people). Aaron and Hur support his arms. They hold
them up for him, so he can keep going.
Being CHURCH to me is not just buildings, not just dogma’s and
doctrines. Being CHURCH is both giving and receiving support and
encouragement. When we go through tragedies, crises, family problems, sickness,
death. When we get very discouraged because of the struggles and
storms of life: we need to hold each other up (Call 3 or 4 other people
up to help – different ages – a kid or two). We need to stand with each
other. We are all at times in our lives, like Moses, too weak to do it all
by ourselves, but we can get by with a little help from our friends.
Maybe it was a time you faced the death of a loved one and found
support in family or friends who came to comfort you and who took care
of a thousand little tasks for you. Maybe it was time when your child
was seriously ill and your spouse or a friend seemed like a pillar of
strength you could lean on. Maybe it was a time your marriage was in
trouble and a good friend gave you a shoulder to cry on, along with a
few gentle words of helpful advice. Maybe it was a time you had a
broken heart from breaking up with someone special, and your mother
or father couldn’t take away the hurt but reminded you that you were
still loved deeply. Maybe it was a time when you were out of work or
didn’t get a promotion or had flubbed a big project, and somebody took
the time to let you know they had confidence in you and were there for you. Maybe it was a time when you were depressed and lonely and a
friend made the effort to call and brighten your day.
Let me close with this:
If we believe we are truly the Body of Christ, The Church, then we
belong to one another. We need each other and have responsibility for
one another. Please remember the image of Moses this week.
Remember this image of CHURCH before you, and then go look for
someone who could use a supportive, encouraging arm to hold on to.
Maybe the place to start is to look in our own families FIRST, or right
outside those doors! The mass never ends – it must be lived

A Grateful People 10-13-2019

Sunday, October 13th, 2019

There was once a stone cutter who was very happy with his life and
work. He had a wonderful family whom he loved; he made a good
living cutting and preparing stone for beautiful buildings.
Then one day he delivered a piece of stone to a merchant. The
merchant owned many lavish possessions. The stone cutter began to
feel he was missing out on something in his life. “I wish I were a
merchant with such fine things,” the stone cutter thought to himself.
Amazingly, the stone cutter’s wish came to be. Suddenly he was a
merchant who wore fancy clothes and lived in a beautiful home. His
shop was filled with ornate trinkets and fine goods. The onetime
stone cutter thought that life couldn’t get any better – until he saw the
prince passing through town.
Then he began thinking that to be of noble birth would be much
better than being a simple merchant. And so it came to be: He found
himself dressed in royal garb, sitting atop a fine stallion, parading
through the village. But under the hot sun and heavy clothing, he
grew weary and cranky.The stone cutter-merchant-prince thought that if he were the sun, he could have a profound effect on the entire universe. So he became the sun. And it was wonderful – until a cloud blocked his rays from
getting to the land.
So he wished he could be a cloud to bring rain to water the earth.
And so he became a cloud. He found himself looming over a desolate
mountain valley. He showered the area day and night, creating lakes
and rivers. In time, springs of life began to sprout up on the
landscape. But the mountain itself remained immovable and
unchanged. It was solid and more powerful than his cloud.
So the cloud wanted, instead to be the mountain. And so he
became the mountain. For a while the mountain was happy to be
such a powerful presence – until a young stone cutter came along and
began to chisel away at him.
And the mountain wished to be a stone cutter again.
Some of us never know that moment of realization experienced by
the grateful leper: we never realize how much we have received from
God. Instead, we whine about what we do not have; we are mired in
disappointment because they have more than me. We become
cynical, distrustful, isolated and self-absorbed. As the Samaritan
leper discovers, as the stone cutter eventually comes to understand,
each one of us has been given much by God, and realizing those gifts,
that spirit of gratitude, is the beginning of faith.
Rabbi Herald S. Kushner writing in his latest book, The Lord is
My Shepherd: Healing Wisdom of the 23rd Psalm, reminds us that
gratitude is a conscious and intentional perspective of looking at our
lives and our world.
“Each night as I prepare for bed, I put drops in my eyes to fend off
the threat of glaucoma that would rob me of my sight and take from
me the pleasure of reading. Each morning at breakfast, I take a pill to
control by blood pressure, and each evening at dinner I take another
to lower my cholesterol level. But instead of lamenting the ailments
that come with growing older, instead of wishing that I were as young
and fit as I once was, I take my medicine with a prayer of thanks that
modern science has found ways to help me cope with these ailments.
I think of all my ancestors who didn’t live long enough to develop the
complications of old age, and did not have pills to take when they
did.” Gratitude is a conscious and intentional perspective of looking at
our lives and our world. Gratitude is the beginning of faith. Let us be
a grateful people