Archive for August, 2020

Easy Does It? 8-30-2020

Sunday, August 30th, 2020

A young man, eager to make it to the top, went to a “success in
business” seminar taught by a wealthy tycoon. “What’s the reason for
your phenomenal success?” he asked.
Back came the answer, in a gravelly voice: “Hard work!”
“Uh, well, what’s the second reason?”
It’s natural to find the easy way to do things. Book stores sell
thousands of “easy” books. Spanish Made Easy, Five Easy Steps to a
Better Vocabulary, Easy Does It, Eat What You Want and Lose Weight.
Looking for the easy way may be natural, but today Our Lord warns us
that about really important things, the easy way isn’t the best way. The
easy way isn’t always the right way.
Perhaps the harshest words that ever came out of the mouth of Jesus
were aimed at his friend for counseling him to take the easy way. The
scripture says Jesus turned on Peter, turning on someone…what a
phrase, and said, in new Testamentese: “Simon, get the blank out of here. Your advice of taking the easy way, avoiding the cross,
eliminating pain at any cost, is a dangerous temptation that might make
me fall. I don’t need people around me that only judge by the world’s
standards. The easy way is not always the right way.”
Many of you here with some years experience know that what Jesus
says is true! Success in life requires a willingness to resist the lure of the
easy way. A sound body requires that you exercise, eat the right foods,
and conquer bad habits. A sound mind requires that you read, that you
observe, that you continually learn, instead of resting on a handful of pet
convictions handed down from grandma and grandpa and never
expanded or enlarged. A sound marriage requires that each partner goes
into it with the understanding that marriage is not a 50/50 proposition,
but a 70/30 one, in which both partners give 70. A sound family means
that we will take the time to be sensitive to the needs of our children,
that we provide not only for their physical needs, but their emotional and
spiritual needs as well. Such goals require sacrifice, they require
perseverance…Every one of us knows that the path to personal success is the path of self denial. And why should we do this unnatural thing, take the hard way, pick the cross, say no to our inclination to ease.
Because our Lord has loved us the hard way, the godly way, the right
way; no one who looks on that cross would ever complain when God
asks us to sometimes take the hard way. After all, Jesus did not come to
make life easy. Jesus came to make human beings great People of Faith!

Blessed Are You 8-23-2020

Sunday, August 23rd, 2020

They were surrounding him. They were simple people:
his disciples, fishermen, people who did not think very much
of themselves. People nobody thought very much of.
Nobody ever asked their opinions. Nobody ever paid much
attention to what they thought or felt. The people who
mattered looked down on them. They smelled of fish. The
smell came out of their hair and out of their clothing.
And now Jesus whom they had followed as their model,
whom they had imitated like children, whom they were
surprised to be allowed to follow, asked them, “What name
would you give me? Who do you people say that I am?”
They could not believe their ears. It was impossible that
he was asking for their opinion. That is why they started
telling him what the scribes, the priests, the Pharisees, the
political leaders, and the important ones were saying. They answered, “They say, those other ones say that you are John
the Baptizer, others say Jeremiah, others Elijah, and again
others, one of the prophets.”
Then he said, “But you, who do you say I am?” They
looked at one another. Was he really going to pay attention
to what they thought? Again they looked at one another.
They nudged Peter, who was obviously their leader, and he
said, “I know who you are, we know who you are. You are
the Messiah, you are the Son of the Living God.”
And then Jesus said something strange. He said, “Peter,
how blessed you are because you do not say that of yourself.
What you said came from God, God in you.”
What Jesus said of Peter, he also said to us. I pray that we
believe that Jesus is the Messiah. I pray that we believe that
Jesus is the Son of God. I hope that is the reason we come
together today. That same God who was in Peter must be in us. We are
charged with God’s spirit. We are full of the Son’s spirit.
God is in us.
A lot of us have the bad habit of thinking of ourselves as
totally negative, as non-participants in so many affairs, as in
a sense, good-for-nothing. Just like the early disciples
thought of themselves.
Others are important – others are leading the world. We
forget the good in us – we forget God in us. We overlook our
potential – our dignity.
I read about an African Bishop, who was described as a
contemporary saint by TIME magazine. He was from
Tanzania. Bishop Christopher said we need two types of
confessional boxes in our churches, some at the right side and
some at the left side. In the left ones, you confess your sins,
getting as a penance to go to the right side with the obligation
to confess honestly the good you did, the good in you, the God in you. That is what Jesus said of Peter. Blessed are you, Peter. God is with you. That is what I say to you. God
is with you – in you. Don’t forget it! Live like you believe
it. Blessed are you!

It’s Not Easy On The Outside… 8-16-2020

Sunday, August 16th, 2020

Joe had done his time. After ten years, he left the prison and
stepped out into the real world, the free world. His cell mate and
buddies on the inside envied Joe, of course, but were happy for
him and wished him well as he went home.
But before long, Joe was back behind bars, not for another
crime but for a “technical violation” of his release—he flunked a
drug test. When he saw Joe again, his old cell mate “gritted” at
him—a sign of disapproval and disappointment in prison-speak.
How could Joe mess up the chance to get out of this place?! To
guys still on the inside, to come back to prison was the worst
crime imaginable. Joe explained what had happened and his
friend uttered a noncommittal grunt. That’s when Joe’s face crumpled in despair. “I was just so
damn lonely out there,” he said with a sigh. “I had a good job; I
was doing fine. But there was no one to talk to. Dude, all I know
is prison; I didn’t know what to say to those people out there.
So, I started hanging out with the old crowd. At least they could
understand where I was coming from. And then one thing led to
another…” The cell mate grunted. Yeah, he understood.
Christ calls us to make places in our society, in our
communities, in our hearts for the Joes in our midst: those souls
struggling to make something of their lives, who are trying to
put the pieces of their broken selves back together despite the
ostracism, rejection and ridicule they encounter.
The Canaanite woman in today’s Gospel is just such a soul: She
was despised by the Jewish community because of her race, ridiculed as a “dog” by the “righteous” who mistakenly found some sense of superiority in her inferiority. Jesus’ compassion
for her and his healing of her daughter breaks down the wall
between Gentile and Jew; the prophet’s vision of a single human
family, bound by what is good and just, begins to be realized
(today’s first reading). May our eyes and spirits be open to see
every man, woman and child as God sees them: as God’s
beloved children, brothers and sisters to one another, all made in
the image of God, all embraced within the heart of God.