Archive for January, 2021

Leave Us Alone 1-31-2021

Sunday, January 31st, 2021

As Jesus was preaching in the synagogue at Capernaum, a
poor crazy man created a scene. He cried out, “What do you want
with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?” In
effect what the man was saying was, “Leave me alone! I’m no
good. I’m evil. I’m not worthy of love or care.”
It’s a cry we hear more than once in the Gospel from people
who believed they were possessed by devils. “Don’t meddle with
us. Leave us alone. Don’t try to change us”. They recognized that
change is painful. Whether they were actually possessed by devils
we do not know. But what we do know is that they were sick,
broken, isolated, unloved people, who had no dignity and whose
self-worth was nil.
There are many such people in our world today – in our
prisons, in our psychiatric hospitals, and on the street. Any of us
can be caught in some desperate situation. At least the man in the
synagogue didn’t try to hide how he was. He came to Jesus. Jesus wasn’t put off by his desperate cry. In the cry, “Leave me alone!”
Jesus heard a cry for help. And he cured him. People find it hard
to admit that they can’t manage their problems. Pride tells them: I
should be able to handle my own problems. Recognition that there
is a problem is the first step towards rehabilitation. The
acknowledgement of our weakness and need would open the way
to recovery. It’s the courageous ones that ask for help.
Psychologists tell us that sometimes people don’t really want
to be cured. Why is this? Because a cure can be painful – it
involves a process which requires a lot of change, and all change is
painful. The idea of recovery can even be terrifying.
Often we are afraid to talk about something that is hurting us.
We keep it locked up inside us where it festers. We may not say,
“Leave me alone”, but that is what it amounts to: “You wouldn’t
know, you couldn’t possibly understand.” Unvoiced suffering is
more harrowing than suffering that cries aloud.
Shortly after the birth of her son a young mother discovered that he was blind. She called her family together and said, “I don’t want my child to know that he is blind.” She insisted that from
that point on everyone should avoid using words such as ‘light’,
‘color’, and ‘sight’. The child grew up believing that he was like
everyone else until one day a strange girl jumped over the garden
wall and used all the forbidden words.
The story symbolizes much of our behavior. Many of us
seek to hide what is strange and painful, and to act as if things are
normal. We act as if we had no problems, no abnormalities, no
pains, no wounds, and no failures. The urge to hide is very
powerful, and can be more harmful than what it tries to conceal.
I close, when we have the courage to face our problems, new
creative energies became available to us. Fear, shame, and guilt
often make us stay in isolation. It is by showing our wounds, by
allowing ourselves to touch and be touched that we are healed. It
is in our brokenness, our woundedness, that God the Holy can heal
us – if we give God a chance. Will we give God a chance?

The Cloak of Religion, The Heart of Christ 1-24-2021

Sunday, January 24th, 2021

Everyone likes to be around a success story. Some of these
disciples mentioned, Peter, Andrew, James, John: became very
successful apostles for Christ’s mission. They were not perfect,
but the Lord asked them to do a lot of good to build up the
Kingdom of God.
One of the early disciples was not very successful. No one
wanted to be around him. Very few books were written about him,
“Judas, the Traitor”. I really believe there is something we can
learn from Judas.
I’ve wondered at times what kind of man this Judas was.
What he looked like, how he acted, who his friends were. I guess
I’ve stereotyped him. I’ve always pictured him as a wiry, beady-
eyed, sly, wormy fellow, pointed beard and all. I’ve pictured him
as estranged from the other apostles. Friendless. Distant.
Undoubtedly he was a traitor and a weasel. Probably the result of
a broken home. A juvenile delinquent in his youth No, I think we’ve got Judas pegged wrong. Perhaps, he was
just the opposite. Instead of sly and wiry, maybe he was robust
and jovial. Rather than quiet and introverted, he could have been
outgoing and well-meaning. I don’t know.
But for all the things we don’t know about Judas, there is one
thing we know for sure. He had no relationship with Jesus. He
had seen Jesus but did not know Him. He had heard Jesus, but he
did not understand Him. He had a religion but no relationship.
As Satan worked his way around the table in the upper room,
he needed a special kind of man to betray our Lord. He needed a
man who had seen Jesus but who did not know Him. He needed a
man who know the actions of Jesus but missed out on the mission
of Jesus. Judas was the man.
We learn a timeless lesson from the betrayer. Satan’s best
tools of destruction are not from outside the church; they are
within the church. A church will never die from immorality in Hollywood or the corruption in Washington. But it will die from
corrosion within. From those who bear the name of Jesus but never met Him and from those who have religion but no
relationship. Judas bore the cloak of religion, but he never knew
the heart of Christ.
I close with this: Calling ourselves a Christian; calling
ourselves a Catholic Church, Catholic School, is a Big Waste of
Time; unless first we know the Heart of Christ, and unless we have
a growing alive relationship with Jesus Christ.
The choice is ours;
1. The Cloak of Religion
2. The Heart of Christ.
I pray we choose wisely

Behold God is in Our Midst 1-17-2021

Sunday, January 17th, 2021

The character of John the Baptist is someone we usually meet
around Christmas but over the last two weeks he has played a major role
in launching Jesus on his three-year mission. Some scholars say John
the Baptist’s role was to point people to Jesus… “Look! There’s the
Lamb of God…Look! God is in our midst.” Pointing people to Jesus
and then getting out of the way and letting Jesus work in people’s lives.
I believe that this Sunday reminds us that as baptized Christians it
is our role to point people to Jesus and to get out of the way like John the
Baptist. We may do this in very different ways than John the Baptist,
but we need to do it each in our own way.
An eight-year old boy is facing surgery. He asks his doctor,
“What’s it like to die?” Neither the doctor nor anyone else on the
medical staff can answer this question directly – but one hospital
employee can. She isn’t a doctor or nurse or child psychologist. She
cleans the floors. One night the boy asks her, “Are you afraid of
dying?” She puts down her mop, looks up from the floor and replies “Yes, I am, but I do something about it.” She talks to the boy as an
equal, not as a superior. She tells him that she believes in God and finds
comfort in the words of Jesus. The two talk for a long time. She has put
the boy at peace simply by listening to him. Behold, the Lamb of God…
A high school student is struggling with his algebra homework.
The frustration builds and the teenager slams the book shut. His father
comes into the kitchen and asks if he can help, but the teenager says,
“They didn’t even have algebra in your day.” Defeated and angry, the
boy goes off to bed. At 4:00 A.M., his dad shakes his son awake and
sits him back down at the kitchen table. The father, who works two jobs
as a janitor and a chauffeur, sat up all night to read the algebra book
from cover to cover. He worked the problems through until he
understood them enough to be able to explain them to his son. With his
dad tutoring him, the student finally grasps the equations and completes
his homework. That night, a father taught his son much more than
algebra. Behold, the Lamb of God…
Within a month, she had lost both her father and her mother. It was something neither she nor her husband knew how to deal with. She was devastated; getting through the days was often more than she could
handle. He thought he might be able to lessen the blow by being a more
attentive spouse or more romantic husband. He felt more and more
inadequate at not being able to do something to alleviate her grief. Then
the night came for them to see the musical Wicked. The tickets had been
bought months before. The two lead sang a song that always reminded
her of her mother. That’s when he realized his role: to be there to hold
her hand, to have Kleenex at the ready, to let her know he would be
there when the music ended and the lights came back on. Behold, the
Lamb of God…
I close…
In every act of selfless generosity and humble compassion, the
Lamb of God walks in our midst. Everyone of us – of every profession
and age group, possessing every talent, skill and ability – has been
called, as the Baptizer was called, to point to the Christ, the Lamb of
God, dwelling among us and walking with us in our doubts, our hurts,
our fears. John declared his witness in preaching and baptizing at the Jordan; our witness can be declared in less vocal but no less effective vehicles: in our compassion for others, in our uncompromising moral
and ethical convictions, in our everyday sense of joy and peace.
Behold, God is in our midst! Amen.