Archive for the ‘13th Sunday’ Category

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!

Time Out 6-28-2020

Sunday, June 28th, 2020

A professor of religion at a small college was growing more and
more concerned about her students. Some were taking five courses
while working full-time jobs and caring for small children. Others were
trying to keep their scholarships along with their commitments to their
sports teams, the school newspaper, the choral and theater groups on
campus. A few still lived at home, where their families depended on
their help. Despite their constant state of exhaustion, they refused to
slow down or give an inch. They were immersed in a culture in which a
B+ was a sign of failure.
So, when the course came to the section on meditation, the
professor struck on an idea. Rather than assign a research paper on the
topic of meditation, the professor assigned her students to actually do it,
to meditate—not once, but at least three times for at least 20 minutes.
Their assignment was to stop and give themselves fully to the practice,
to resist the urge to give up and get busy with something “useful”. They were then to write about what they discovered about meditation—and
about themselves.
Most students admitted in their papers that meditation was the
hardest thing they had ever done. “This is just plain stupid”, one student
wrote. “It’s basically vegging out and I’d rather do it my way, watching
television with a beer”.
Another reported what happened when she felt the wind in the
trees blowing across the hairs of her skin: “When I stopped to notice
this, it gave me chills. Then I began to cry. I cannot explain it, but I did.
I believe I was in shock that I do not notice and appreciate the little
things in life that are absolutely wonderful”.
One student, a hunter, did his meditation in a deer stand and
confessed that he went temporarily insane. “For one crazy moment, I
thought I was the deer. I thought I was the forest, the sky, the sun
coming through the leaves. Man, was that weird.”
The professor assured her students that what they experienced was
not unusual, that it was, in fact, very Biblical. She writes of the assignment: “I don’t know if I convinced them, but they did look more rested.
Now if I could only convince them to repeat this act of resistance on a
regular basis—to stop running for a few moments each day, to stop
answering all the sirens long enough to hit the bottom they never hit,
feel the wind they never feel, sense the union they never sense….Their
only hope is to remember how alive they felt, for 20 minutes at least,
and to want that as much as they want the customary rewards of their
busy lives”.
Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel, which strike us at first reading as
cold and heartless, are an invitation not to walk away from life but to
embrace life’s essence to the full. We can become so absorbed with
building a career that we fail to develop our full potential and talents as a
human being; we can become so obsessed with creating and maintaining
a lifestyle that we do not live a life worth living. Christ calls all who
would be his disciples to “lose” life’s obsessive, meaningless and petty
pursuits in order to “find” a life fully human and alive in hope and joy.