Archive for the ‘13th Sunday’ Category

The 4 th of July 2023 7-2-2023

Friday, June 30th, 2023

As we prepare to celebrate the 4th of July. I began to reflect over
the last 4 or 5 months how many people I listen to who told me story
after story of being overwhelmed, overwhelmed by bombings and
vicious terrorist acts overseas and in this USA, by senseless school
shootings, cars being used as weapons of destruction, chemical attacks
on innocent babies.
I began to reflect on when I felt like this before. It was after
September 11, 2001. What I wrote then, needs to be spoken today.
When the first crews of firefighters and police raced to the World
Trade Center on that horrible day September 11, 2001, they had no idea
of the enormity of what they were about to see. In those first few hours,
not one rescue worker could find the words to describe the devastation.
When asked by news reporters what it was like, all anyone could say
was, “It was hell…I have seen hell…I have been to hell”.
And we wondered then and continue to wonder today: How could
God create such a hell? How could God allow such a hell to even exist?
The answer is perhaps too simple to grasp. The reality is that God
does not create these hells, then or today. Human beings do. Our
hatreds and self-centeredness form the foundation of hell’s walls; our
fears and angers are its gates. Hell can perhaps best be described as
where God is not: When we allow the worst of our human nature to
triumph, when we have torn down and dismantled the compassion and
justice of God, we have created a new hell.
And the breadth and width of the hells we create can be breathtaking.
So where do we go to escape these hells? Is God’s heaven out of our
grasp and beyond our vision?
In the wake of the September 11 bombings, Rabbi Harold S. Kushner
was asked some questions. He was the author of the acclaimed When
Bad Things Happen to Good People. He responded:
“Where was God? I have to believe that God was at the side of the
victims, hurting and grieving with them so that they would not be facing
death alone. I have to believe that God was at the side of the firefighters
and rescue workers, inspiring them to risk their own lives in an effort to
save others. I don’t believe that God was on the side of the terrorists, no
matter how fervently they may have invoked God’s name as they set
their fiendish plan in motion.
Why didn’t God stop them? Because, at the very outset of the human
experiment, God gave us the free will to choose between good and evil.
Without that free will, humans could be obedient but could not be
We believe that God is not the God of the dead but the God of the
living. God is not placated by the destruction of sinners but rejoices in
the return of the prodigal. God does not condemn us to hell; God wishes
all of us to be saved. God will love us for all eternity, but there always
exists the possibility that we will refuse that love. That rejection and the
refusal to respond to such love are precisely the meaning of hell. Hell is
not a place where God puts us—it’s a place where we put ourselves.
Christ comes to show us how to dismantle the hells we create and set in
their places the justice, peace and forgiveness that are the building
stones of the kingdom of the Father.

Finding Joy in Sobriety 6-26-2012

Sunday, June 19th, 2022

How could anyone who has struggles with alcoholism stay sober
for a dozen years and suddenly go on a bender? Yet it happens again
and again. A recovering alcoholic, who has all but destroyed his or her
life once already, sets off again down the same path of self-destruction.
For a long time, the medical community could not understand how this
could happen. But after many years of study, psychiatrists discovered
how. Those who move from abstaining to the joy of sobriety seldom
return to drinking. But until they make the transition from struggling to
abstain to embracing sobriety, they are vulnerable.
We tend to think of faith as a series of passive “thou shalt not’s,” a
list of things we promise to avoid to stay on God’s good side. But true
discipleship is a matter of “thou SHALL,” actively and intentionally
embracing the justice, peace, compassion and forgiveness of the Gospel.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls those who would be his disciples not to
look back with regret or fear to what we leave undone but to look
forward to the possibilities we have to create and build the reign of God
in our own time and place.

Saving the World at Dunkin’ Donuts… 6-27-2021

Sunday, June 27th, 2021

A true story, recounted in the weekly “Metropolitan Diary” column of
The New York Times:
In Dunkin’ Donuts this morning an old lady wearing a tattered cap
started speaking to no one in particular.
“I can’t sleep at night. I have pains in my chest all the time. My leg
hurts and my children do not love me”.
People waiting in line hid in their cell phones, looked away or stared
straight ahead. We have all done it!
“I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to turn. My husband
died two years ago on the 27th.”
Everyone pretended she wasn’t there. The girls behind the counter
took the next customers. The line inched forward.
At a side table, a beautiful young woman with matching purple scarf
and hat looked at the old woman and said, simply, “Honey, please sit
down with me and tell me your story.”
It’s possible, you see, for one person to save the world or at least part of it.
Life can be so much easier and peaceful when we have nothing to do
with others—don’t get involved, walk away, mind your own business,
are much safer approaches to life. But in today’s Gospel, Jesus is not
afraid to wade into the messiness of life in order to transform, heal and
restore. In the two miracles we hear today, Jesus ignores custom and
taboo in a way that modern readers may miss: In taking the dead girl by
the hand, in allowing the sick woman to touch him, Jesus became
ritually unclean and not permitted to enter the synagogue or temple. But
to respond compassionately to the plight of these families becomes more
important, more sacred, than  the “safety” of convention and tradition.
May we imitate that same compassion of the healing Christ, risking our
own sense of comfort and satisfaction in order to bring that love into the
lives of others.
You see, it’s possible for one person to save the world, or at least one
small part of it!