Archive for the ‘17th Sunday’ Category

Press Box Time 7-30-2023

Friday, July 28th, 2023

I always wondered why our high school football coach would
always disappear in the middle of the third quarter. I remember during
my first game on the varsity squad, I looked up from the sidelines
(where I spent most of my time) and noticed that he was gone. (It was a
lot quieter). I couldn’t figure out what had happened. I was afraid the
other team had kidnapped him. Or maybe he had gotten sick on his
chewing tobacco. So I asked a senior “sideliner”. (They know
“Where’s the coach?” I asked, thinking I was the only one to
notice his absence, which made me feel important.
“In the press box”, he answered.
“Getting coffee”? I asked.
“No, getting perspective”.
Getting perspective – now that makes sense, doesn’t it? There’s no
way a coach can really keep up with the game from the sidelines.
Everyone yelling advice. Parents complaining. Players screaming.
Cheerleaders cheering. Sometimes you’ve got to get away from the
game to see it.
That story reminds me; occasionally we need to try that on
ourselves, too. How vital it is that we keep a finger on the pulse of our
own lives. How critical are those times of self-examination and
evaluation. Yet it’s hard to evaluate ourselves while we’re in the middle
of the game: schedules pressing, phones ringing, children crying, and
bills to be paid.
Max’s story offers us a suggestion. Take some press-box time.
Take some time (at least half a day) and get away from everything and
Take your Bible and a notebook and get a press-box view of your
life. Are you as in tune with God as you need to be? How is your
relationship with your mate, your children, a good friend? Our parables
this Sunday ask us a few press-box questions. What do you value as
important in your life? Are you investing your energy in things that will
last? Perhaps some decisions need to be made. Spend much time in
prayer. Meditate on God’s Word. Be quiet. Fast for the day.
Now, I’m not talking about a get-away-from-it-all day where you
shop, play tennis, go to a movie, and relax in the sun (although such
times are needed, too). I’m suggesting an intense, soul-searching day
spent in reverence before God and in candid honesty with yourself.
Write down your life story. Reread God’s story. Recommit your heart
to your Maker.
I might mention that a day like this won’t just happen. It must be
made. You’ll never wake up and just happen to have a free day on your
hands. You’ll have to pull out the calendar, elbow out a time in the
schedule, and take it. Be stubborn with it. You need the time. Your
family needs you to take this time. As our story of the coach reminds us,
getting some press-box perspective could change the whole ball game. I
would like to add, getting some press-box perspective could change our
whole lives!

Lord, Teach Us to Pray 7-24-2022

Wednesday, July 13th, 2022

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.

LEFTOVERS? 7-25-2021

Sunday, July 25th, 2021

This scene takes place right after the Gospel we just read.
Peter stayed behind to help with the cleanup. Somehow, he always
seemed to be one of the last ones. Those who folded the chairs and
swept the floors after the gatherings were over.
But today he did not mind it. He wanted some of the leftovers and
this is one way of taking some without being noticed. So, he put a small
piece of the bread into his brown paper bag and headed home. And he
could not wait to get home!
As soon as he did, he ran to the bread box, took a small piece of
bread out of the bag and placed it next to the half loaf in the box. He
was tired from the long day, so he went to bed.
Early next morning, he awoke before the alarm. He was excited;
he went to the kitchen to check the bread box to see if it had worked. He
opened the lid. There it was, the same half loaf and his leftover piece,
just as he had left them the night before. Maybe it was too early to expect anything, so he thought he would wait another day and another
The same wake-up time the next morning he again hurried to the
bread box. He felt an even deeper feeling of disappointment when once
more he saw only the half-loaf and the now-getting-dried-out-leftover-
piece. Maybe this bread wasn’t as magic as he thought. Maybe it didn’t
multiply other loaves of bread. Or, maybe only Jesus could make the
whole thing work!
So as not to suffer any further disappointment, he was going to get
rid of the leftover piece. He went outside to give it to the birds, but
before he could break it and scatter it, an old man in shabby clothes
came up to him and asked for a bite to eat. He gave him the dried-up
The next day Peter heard a knock on the door. It was the same old
gent. Was he looking for another handout, Peter wondered? No, the
man smiled and thanked Peter for his kindness. The man said that
Peter’s generous gift from the day before would keep his family fed for
the winter! Finally, Peter had discovered the bread’s magic in giving it away!
A small piece of dried up bread:
“The Magic – Giving It Away!”