Archive for the ‘19th Sunday’ Category

Have Faith 8-7-2022

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2022

It was an hour you did not expect. In fact, it was in the middle of a
dream that you are led to a huge hall, like a place for medieval banquets.
All along the beautiful carved panel walls are…large oil paintings of
your ancestors.
“Wow”, you say. I had no idea anyone like this was in my
“Take a look at your grandfather, Abraham”, whispers your
companion. “What a man! When God told him to travel, he didn’t even
wait to be told where. He packed up everything he owned, and the
people he loved…and just started walking. He knew God would tell him
where he was supposed to arrive when the time came. He didn’t need to
know details. He had faith.
“And blow a kiss to your grandmother Sarah. (point) No children
for the first sixty years of marriage, with a womb as dry as the Sahara.
God asked her to open her brittle body one last time to your grandfather,
because there’d be a surprise. Nine months later she was nursing a
beautiful baby boy.
You look down the hall, and there are hundreds of paintings of
other ancestors in faith. Noah, Samson, David, Samuel from the Old
Testament, Mother Mary, Peter, Paul, Martha, Mary of Bethany…from
the New, followed by Francis, Clare, Benedict, Elizabeth Seaton,
Mother Teresa, and on and on.
Your companion sighs. “Yes, you come from quite a family.
They had their sins, their problems, every kind of physical or emotional
or spiritual ailment you could think of…but they were people of faith.
They all lived by the conviction that somehow things would turn out.
They didn’t cave in. They trusted God. They trusted life…even when
things looked impossible.”
Your companion’s voice grows louder. “You come from good
people—the best—and now it’s your turn to live by faith. It’s your turn
to trust God and live according to God’s direction even when it appears
unworkable, irrational, nonsensical, unrealistic or even impossible.
Good lives, holy lives, always appear like that at times.”
You start to stutter. “I…I don’t know if I’m up to it.”
Your companion smiles, “You may not be up to it. But God is.
God will help you. God always does. Faith is confident assurance
regarding God’s promise.”
You look into the eyes of this companion and realize it is, and
always has been, Jesus.
He pats you on the back. “Do not be afraid any longer. Don’t let
fear rule your life. Have faith – the conviction that no matter what – in
this life or the next – things will work out.


Sunday, August 8th, 2021

As I read through the Scriptures – each week – certain words,
phrases – just seem to pop out at me and cause me to wrestle with
them and see how they speak to my everyday life.
A. An example of this came in the Second Reading of Paul to
the Ephesians, “Be Imitators of God.”
How can I do that I thought? I started thinking about people in
my life experience that had impressed me by the way they were
trying to imitate this Compassionate God that we talk so much
I have a very powerful memory of some people of faith just like
those of us here, putting flesh and blood, hands and eyes, a heart
on the Compassion of God. Some years back, I had the opportunity to attend a convention near
Stanford University on Parish Life Today. A lot of people from 4 or 5
different states – very practical workshops on various aspects of Parish
Ministry. I chose to attend one workshop entitled, “Ministering to Persons
with AIDS and their Loved Ones.” The speaker was Fr. Tony Maguire,
at that time the pastor of Most Holy Redeemer in San Francisco’s Castro
District, the heart of the gay community.
The description of the workshop went like this:
How a parish of “gays and gray” became a healing presence to a
community ravaged by AIDS? This was done by means of growth in
prayer, (liturgical, personal, devotional) and by developing service
programs inspired by unconditional love and by opening the parish to
the real needs of local community.
Fr. Maguire began to explain how all this took place. A. The parish leadership began to realize there was a problem.
Many young gay men dying all around them. What was the
parish doing to minister to these people, children of God. The
leadership believed all people deserve to die with dignity and their families. They reframed an old church practice called the
40 hour devotion and prayed for healing. What they found was
that the more they prayed as a parish – the more their hearts
become open – more sensitive.
C. What happened next was a process of education. Through
lectures by doctors, nurses and psychologists they started
dealing with the prejudices – phobias – questions/fears people
had. This was a very slow process – which is ongoing. What
all this did was to build some bridges of understanding between
D. They developed and trained working groups, 60 home care
volunteers, (regular people like you and me), who made personal visits to people who were dying of AIDS. They
brought them to Church, gave them attention, and listened to
them. 80 support volunteers sent letters, cards, and hot meals to
the families.
Maria Sorentino, an 80 year old Italian Nonna had been in the
parish for 50 years; her ministry, hugging people in wheel chairs. When someone would question her she would say “MA!” They are
people – just like me and you.
E. Fr. Maguire made it very clear that there were limits to the
parish’s involvement. There was a clear moral line, anything
and everything was not okay. That line however never got in
the way of compassion.
Some real miracles began taking place; — people became more
open to the Church that they had been away from for years. They
experienced a more compassionate and hopeful and sensitive
church. Grieving parents found a place where they could come and express
themselves. One lady said, “I come here each week from San Jose,
(50 miles away) to find the support I need to cope with my son who is
dying of AIDS. I can’t say anything in my own parish.
F. Fr. Maguire ended his presentation by quoting a male prostitute
who was dying of AIDS, whom the parish was ministering to:
–“In this death bed – I have finally found human love that I
spent so long looking for. In this death bed through these people, I have finally found my God.”
Be imitators of God – Be compassionate, love one another. It does
not say love one another (if) they are healthy – young – good looking
– get good grades – agree with your moral standards – live like we
think they should live.
It simply says: LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Thank you people of Most Holy Redeemer for being
Imitators of God.
Thank you people of San Carlos for also being Imitators of
with support and care of people around them.
B. The first thing the parish began to do was to pray – the petitions
at Mass often mentioned the names of people with AIDS and

God Stretching 8-9-2020

Sunday, August 9th, 2020

Probably the most famous picture of God ever painted was done on
the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. Michelangelo did it, and
I’ll bet most of you have seen pictures of it at one time or another. Is
it a picture of God resting on a heavenly throne? No. Does it show
God relaxing on a cloud? No.
The painting shows God in a very painful position. Off to one side
of the ceiling is Adam, just created out of mud. His hand and finger
are reaching weakly toward God.
And God? God is stretching his finger, his arm, his body–God’s
whole being towards Adam.
God stretched totally, in a most uncomfortable and painful way.
Ribs on one side are crunching together. Bones on the other side are
pulling apart. God’s muscles are straining. God’s eyes are intent.
God is stretching and stretching. It is the faith of Michelangelo and the faith of our church, that this
is the permanent posture of God.
God is stretching…God’s whole heart, whole mind, whole will, and
whole love stretching toward all of us, to every sinner.
God is not reaching. Reaching is simple. Effortless. Someone
reaches for a cup of coffee in the morning. God is stretching
This is how the people in the New Testament knew that Jesus was
God. He does what God does. He stretches. When Peter was wet and
drowning, today’s Gospel says, Jesus stretched out his hand
Jesus was always stretching out his hands…to the blind, to the deaf,
to the paralyzed, to the sinners, to the poor, to the lepers, to everyone.
Finally, he allowed his out-stretched hands to be nailed to the
cross…to show us that’s how his hands and arms always are…
stretching out in love to us.
In ancient times, if you were a beggar in a crowd, and you were starving and the King and Queen were traveling by and saw you, they would hold out their golden scepter…what joy you would feel. You
would receive a coin for bread.
But in Jesus we see that God stretches out to us not a scepter but
the bruised and battered body of his own son, on a cross.
I close with this. How do we know that we’re the real church?
How do we know if we’re really following Jesus? The answer is
simple. The church is true to itself when, like Jesus… it stretches.
Stretches towards the poor…stretches towards the people with aids…
stretches towards the jobless…stretches towards the depressed and the
sick…stretches towards families in pain. This is the test, to see if
we’re the church and if we’re Christians. There should always be an
element of discomfort, or its not true stretching.
Remember this…Stretching is inconvenient, uncomfortable, costly,
and painful. And yet, we’re never more like God, and never more like
Jesus, as when we’re stretching…Lord help us.