Archive for the ‘16th Sunday’ Category

The Magic Seed? 7-23-2023

Friday, July 21st, 2023

There was once a woman whose only son died. In her grief, she
went to a holy man and said, “What prayers, what magical incantations
do you have to bring my son back to life?”
Instead of sending her away or reasoning with her, he said to her,
“Fetch me a mustard seed from a home that has never known sorrow.
We will use it to drive the sorrow out of your life.”
The women set off at once in search of the magical mustard seed.
She came first to a splendid mansion, knocked at the door and said, “I
am looking for a home that has never known sorrow. Is this such a
place? It is very important to me.”
They told her, “You’ve certainly come to the wrong place,” and
began to describe all the tragic things that had recently befallen them.
The women said to herself, “Who is better able to help these
unfortunate people than I, who have had misfortune of my own?” She
stayed to comfort them, and then went on in her search for a home that
had never known sorrow.
But wherever she turned, in hovels and in palaces, she found one
tale after another of sadness and misfortune. Ultimately, she became so
involved in ministering to other people’s grief that she forgot about her
quest for the magical mustard seed, never realizing that her small
gestures of care, and concern and compassion, had in fact, driven the
sorrow out of her life.
A grieving woman’s small gesture of outreach gave life and hope
to herself – gave her what she was looking for.
Well traveled, Larry Brown, was once the coach of the San
Antonio Spurs, the local professional basketball team. Coach Brown
recently spent an afternoon at a local men’s store, signing autographs.
He was scheduled to spend two hours, but ended up spending three.
Pencil-and-pad-toting kids besieged the place, asking him questions and
shaking his hand.
When he was finally able to slip out, he climbed into his car, only
to notice a touching sight. A late-arriving youngster pedaled up, jumped
off his bike, and ran to the window to see if the coach was still in the
store. When he saw he wasn’t, he turned slowly and sadly, walked over
to his bike, and began to ride off.
Coach Brown turned off the ignition, climbed out of the car, and
walked over to the boy. They chatted a few minutes, went next door to a
drugstore, sat down at a table, and had a soft drink.
No reporters were near. No cameras were on. As far as these two
knew, no one knew. I’m sure Larry Brown had other things to do that
afternoon. No doubt he had other appointments to keep. But it’s
doubtful that anything he might have done that afternoon was more
important than what he did.
In a world of big-bucked, high-glossed professional sports, it did
me good to hear of one coach who is still a coach at heart.
Larry Brown was the yeast that raised this young boy up, that
added flavor and zest to a little boy’s life.
Lord, we spend so much energy frantically searching
for that magical elixir, that magical cure to take away
our grief, our loneliness, the hurting parts of our life
that need fixing. Help us remember today, this week,
always, that one small gesture on our part, a smile, a
handshake, a hug, a phone call, a short visit, a listening
ear, a few encouraging words….is the best medicine to
bring about real healing for ourselves and for others.

Three Minutes a Day 7-17-2022

Wednesday, July 13th, 2022

One night a father came to a parent-teacher conference in a
Chicago high school. During a talk with one of his son’s teachers, the
father broke down and began to cry. After he regained his composure,
the father apologized, saying, “My son no longer lives with me.” “But I
still love him, and I want to know how he’s doing in school.” The father
then told the teacher how his wife and four children left him that
afternoon. He was a building contractor and sometimes worked 16 hours
a day. Naturally, he saw a little of his family, and they slowly grew
farther and farther apart. Then the father said something sad. He said: “I
wanted to buy my wife and kids all those things I had dreamed of giving
them.” “But in the process I got so involved in working that I forgot
about what they needed most; a father who was around at nights to give
them love and support.”
This story and our gospel today illustrates the same point. We can
get so involved in what we are doing that we forget why we are doing it.
We can get so involved in living that we forget the purpose of living. We
can get so involved in pursuing the things money can buy that we forget
about the things money can’t buy. It’s this kind of mistake that Martha
made in today’s gospel. She got so involved in cooking a meal for Jesus
that she forgot why Jesus had come. He didn’t come for a free meal. He
came to be with friends. You and I live in a very fast-paced world. It’s so
easy to lose our balance. It’s so easy to lose our perspective; it’s so easy
to get our priorities mixed up. It’s so easy to lose sight of what we are
doing and why we are doing it.
During the World War II, a young soldier was stationed on the
island of Saipan in the South Pacific. He said that during this time he
and his friends used to go for swims in a secluded spot, just off the steep
cliffs of the island. It was a lovely place surrounded by rocks. When they
arrived, the water was so clear they could see fish ten feet below the
surface. After they had swam for an hour, however the water became so
clouded with sand, churned up from the bottom, that they couldn’t see a
foot below the surface. But the next day when they returned for another
swim the sand had settled. The water was crystal clear again. Our mind
is like that water. It too can get so clouded up from the turmoil of
everyday living that it’s hard for us to see clearly. We lose sight of
everything; our perspective gets clouded; our priorities get confused; our
balance gets destroyed. What we need to do when this happens is to
pause and let the murky waters of the mind become clear again.
We need to do what Mary did in today’s gospel. We need to sit at
the feet of Jesus in quiet prayer. We need to let him teach us what is
important and what is not. How do we do this? Practically, let me share
with you a simple method of prayer. Each night before falling asleep, we
take three minutes to do three things. During the first minute, we pause
and do a mental replay of our day. We pick out the day’s high point,
something we are happy about, like getting a letter from an old friend.
Then, we speak to Jesus about it very sincerely. Finally, we conclude by
giving thanks to Jesus for the letter and the friend. During the second
minute, we do a second mental replay or our day. Only this time we pick
out the low point in it, something we’re sorry about, like yelling at a
parent, a spouse, or a child. We speak to Jesus about this weakness and
ask him to forgive us and to heal us. Finally, during the third minute, we
look ahead to tomorrow, to a critical point. We think of some difficult
thing we must do, like talking to a parent, a spouse, or a child about a
problem that has arisen. We speak to Jesus about it and ask his light and
his strength in handling it. No matter how busy we are, three (3) minutes
a day can put us in touch with life and in touch with Jesus.
I close with a prayer for us busy people; Lord, Keep us from
getting so involved in life that we forget why you gave us life. Keep us
from getting so involved in living that we forget the purpose of living.
Keep us from getting so involved in pursuing the things money can buy
that we forget about the things money can’t buy.

The Eyes of Jesus 7-18-2021

Sunday, July 18th, 2021

A few months ago I watched the movie Forrest Gump for about the
10th time. I was really touched by the character played by Tom Hanks. I
believe Forrest Gump could teach us a lot about relating to each other.
This unique person was able to see past all stereotypes and labels
we lay on people. He was able to bypass all the games people play. In
his own goofy way – he saw goodness, beauty, potential in each person
he met. He had a special gift.
I believe Jesus saw people in a special way – I wonder, I just
wonder – – if we looked at people today with eyes of Jesus, what would
we see?
I. For one thing, I am sure we would see some invisible burdens.
Most people do not carry their heartaches in plain view.
They bear them quietly, but they are there nonetheless. The
couple in the car just ahead, maybe a father and mother, who are
worried about their son. The woman in the super market may be
concerned about her health, anxiously awaiting the doctor’s report That elderly man may have recently lost his wife, a constant
companion for more than fifty years. I do not recall who said it,
but it is a wise word of instruction; “Be kind to each person you
meet, because everyone is having a hard time.” Listen to this
little poem:
“Pray don’t find fault with the man who limps and stumbles along
the road, unless you have worn the shoes he wears or struggled beneath
his load. There may be tacks in his shoes that hurt, though hidden away
from view, and the load he bears placed on your back might cause you to
stumble, too.”
II. He would also see some extenuating circumstances.
The critics of Jesus often thought he was too lenient in his attitude toward sinners. He came to the defense of a woman caught in adultery.
How could he do that, when the Law of Moses clearly states that she
should be stoned. He showed compassion toward a prostitute, who
bathed his feet with tears and dried them with her hair. They wondered
why he would allow a woman like that to touch him. He said to a dying
thief, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” How could he say such a thing?” What right did a crucified felon have to a place in paradise?
The difference between Jesus and his critics was a matter of insight.
They saw nothing but the failure. He saw the pain and the problems that
played a part in that failure.
When a marriage ends in divorce, it would be easy for you and me
to be harshly critical. But before doing that, we would be wise to pause
and consider. How much do we know about what has taken place in that
home across the years? Could there be a long established pattern of
abuse, totally unknown to the outside world? When we witness a
breakdown of character that leads to public shame, it is easy for you and
me to sit in judgment. But once again, we would be wise to pause and
consider. No event in life is complete within itself. There is a story
behind it. Knowing that story would not excuse the offense, but it well
might cause us to judge less severely.
III. One final thought – looking at people through the eyes of Christ, we would see unrealized possibilities. That is our characteristic attitude toward children. We look at little
ones and think of all the things they might become. Jesus had that
attitude toward people of all ages. He looked at a rugged fisherman,
and saw in him the making of a spiritual rock.
Someone has said; “Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a
future.” Our Lord would heartily agree with that. “He saw a vast
crowd, and he pitied them.” If we would look at people through his
eyes, beyond all of their burdens and failures, we would see
unrealized possibilities.
Let me leave you with this prayer:
Almighty God,
We, who have never known what it means not to have things we
desire, need to feel the poverty and hunger and despair among
our fellow men and women.
We, who have felt nothing but the surge of youthful vitality in our
body, need to understand what it means to be ill and unable to care
for our self.We, who have never stood alone in the crowd as odd or
unacceptable need to sense what it means to be judged and rejected
by the color of our skin or sexual orientation.
We, who have never experienced the desperation of a dependence
on drug or drink, need to realize the hell of an addiction.
We, who have never really suffered or sacrificed or died, pray that
we may become painfully aware of our brother’s and sister’s great
need and that we may ache until we have reached out with honest
help and compassion.