Archive for the ‘17th Sunday’ Category

Pierced Hearts 12-27-20

Saturday, December 26th, 2020

He was the light of their lives – but that light darkened for a time.
His addiction “pierced” the lives of his entire family. But with patience
and sacrifice, they got their son help and managed to heal the wound that
cut their family so deeply. Today him mom and dad are part of a group
of other parents who have gone through the same nightmare and offer
support and counsel to families living through it now. Because of them,
many hearts are “revealed”.
Some “piercings” are harder to heal: For three summers, she
volunteered for two weeks to serve as a counselor for a camp for city
children at risk. Then came the phone call that “pierced” their hearts.
The night before she was to come home, she and a group went out for
pizza. Two in the group were hurt but survived the crash, but their
daughter lost too much blood. Now her mom and dad and brother have
formed a foundation for the camp program in her name. Their daughter
and sister’s light continues to shine.

Every parent’s heart is “pierced” as they suffer with and for their
children: illnesses, disappointments, break-ups, and stumbles. The roads
our daughters and sons travel from infancy to childhood, from teen to
adulthood, can be hard to negotiate and treacherous – and Mom and
Dad’s hearts are “pierced” every step of the way. Parenthood requires
patience, wisdom and generosity that many first-time mothers and
fathers especially don’t believe they possess – but they discover over
time that their love makes them better moms and dads than they
imagined. They come to realize God’s grace in their Nazareth.
Today’s Feast of the Holy Family reminds us that being a family is
a journey of changes and challenges – what Simeon calls “piercings” in
today’s Gospel – and that it’s the love of our spouses and children and
brothers and sisters that enables us to negotiate and survive those
“piercings”, to learn from those challenges, to move on from those
difficult situations wiser and more loving. Our belonging to a family

means that every one of us – parent and child – reflects for one another

the selfless, limitless and unconditional love of Christ, both in good

times and bad. The Holy Family is a model for our own families as we

struggle together to adapt and change and cope with the many tensions
and crises that challenge the stability, peace and unity that are the joys of
being a family.

Treasure? 7-26-20

Sunday, July 26th, 2020

I would like to share with you two short stories to help
break open our gospel parables.
There was this poor tailor who lived in Krakow. He
was a very pious man. One night he had a dream in which a
voice said to him, “If you go to Prague and dig beneath a
certain tree behind the emperor’s castle, you will find a great
treasure.”
Since the poor man placed great trust in dreams, he set
out the very next day for Prague. However, when he got
there he found the castle was guarded. Unable to get across
the bridge, he lived under it for a while. While there he
became friends with the captain of the guard. One day he
shared his story with him. He said,
“I had a dream that if I got into the castle grounds, and
went to a certain tree and dug there, I would find a treasure.” “You’re a very foolish man,” said the captain. “You
shouldn’t believe that sort of thing. I have dreams myself.
Once I dreamed that over in Krakow there lived a poor but
wise tailor, not unlike yourself. I dreamt that if I went to his
house, and dug behind his stove, I would find a treasure there
that somebody had buried a long time ago. Of course, I
dismissed it as foolishness.”
The tailor thanked him, went back home, dug behind
his own hearth and found the treasure.
We will never be happy unless we find the treasure that
God has hidden in our own field. That is, until we have
found the treasure of our own worth as God’s children.
The painter, Vincent Van Gogh, suffered a lot from ill
health. Consequently he often had to call on the services of
doctors. But he scarcely had any money to pay the doctors.
On one occasion, after a certain doctor had taken care of him and nursed him back to health, Vincent wanted to
show his gratitude in his own way. He painted the doctor’s portrait and made him a present of it. However, the doctor
didn’t think much of the painting. He accepted it alright but
put it in his attic. There it took the place of a broken
windowpane, serving the purpose of keeping out the drafts.
The doctor threw away a treasure. Today, Van Gogh’s
paintings are almost beyond price.
In his love for us God has given each of us a great
treasure – the treasure of our divine dignity as children. Let
us be careful lest we throw it away.
Whoever has ears ought to hear!

Lord, Teach Us to Pray 7-28-2019

Sunday, July 28th, 2019

I’ve had a very rough week this week and I have found myself
spending extra time in prayer. The Gospel this Sunday triggered some
things about prayer that I had not thought about for a while, and I would
briefly like to share them with you.
The first thing is that it is important that when we pray we must be
honest and completely open with God; we must use real words that
express how we feel and what is going on in our lives. Our relationship
with God should be one place where we can let it all hang out – no safe
and appropriate roles to play – no masks to hide behind.

The second thing I was reminded about through the Gospel was
that when I say I am too busy to pray (which I do at times), I may really
be saying I am afraid to pray. Also, if I am so busy with what I want
from God, I may miss what God really has to give me.
*Person in hospital – his brother has just died – yells & screams at
the Cross – God is big enough to handle it.*
The third thing is, if we are to take prayer seriously we must dispel
from our minds the notion that it is some kind of magic. Prayer is not an
“Aladdin’s Lamp” which, if properly rubbed, will grant our every wish.
A student, rather lazily inclined, noticed that a classmate always
recited her Spanish lessons well. One day he asked her, “How is it that
you always recite your lessons so perfectly?”
“Before I study,” she told him, “I always pray that I may remember my
lessons and repeat them well.”
“Do you?” asked the boy, somewhat surprised. “So that’s her secret
method,” he thought. “Well, then, I’ll pray too.”
That night he prayed up a storm, recalling as many prayers as he could
remember. However, the next day he could not even repeat one phrase
of the lesson. Quite perplexed he looked for his friend, and, finding her,
confronted her for being deceitful.
“I prayed,” he told her, “but I could not repeat a single phrase from
yesterday’s homework.”
“Perhaps,” she told him, “you took no pains to learn the lesson!”
“Of course not,” said the boy. “I didn’t study at all. I had no reason to
study. You told me to pray that I might remember the lesson.”
“There’s your problem,” she said, “I told you I prayed before, not
instead of, studying.”
I close with a final thought on prayer: A friend of mine used to
drop by his Church every evening around 5 PM, for an hour of
meditation before supper. Every evening he noticed the same old man
sitting in one of the back pews. The man was always there when he
arrived and still there when he left. It began to haunt him.
One evening curiosity got the better of him and he approached the man,
greeted him, and hoped he wasn’t praying: “I have seen you here for
several months now, and I really admire your constant devotion. But I
was wondering . . . I notice that you are always just sitting here quietly,
never using a prayer book, Bible, or rosary . . . still obviously praying…I
just wondered, when you pray to God, what do you say; what do you
talk about . . . ?
The old man looked up at my friend calmly and gently: “I don’t talk to
God; God talks to me.”
A lot of people think prayer (or meditation or religion or spirituality) is
supposed to be like Alka Seltzers in a glass of water: non-stop, bubbly,
effervescent, supernatural excitement. Wrong! Sometimes, maybe. But
most of the time prayer is like any love relationship: it involves a lot of
giving and listening. It’s like learning to talk: first, you have to listen, in
the sure peace of God’s presence.