Archive for the ‘5th Sunday’ Category

Death before Birthday Cake 3-21-2021

Saturday, March 20th, 2021

In a Peanuts episode, Linus enters to find his older and perpetually crabby
sister Lucy crying bitterly.
“Mom promised me a birthday party and now she says I can’t have one,” Lucy
wails.
Linus, in his quiet, wise way, offers this advice: “You’re not using the right
strategy. Why not go up to Mom and say to her, ‘I’m sorry, dear mother, I admit I
have been bad. You were right to cancel my party. But from now on I will try to
be good.”
Lucy thinks about it. She prepares her speech for her mother. Then she
thinks about it some more. Finally, in the last panel, the stubborn Lucy cries, “I’d
rather die!”
Lucy cannot bring herself to embrace the faith of the Gospel grain of wheat.
To transform our lives in order to become the people we are meant to be begins by
dying to our own self-centeredness and obtuseness to the needs of others. Today’s
Gospel asks us what values and purposes do we want to center our lives on in
order to make them what we pray they will be; what we are willing to let “die” in
our lives in order that what we seek in the depths of our hearts “to live” might
grow and blossom; what we will put aside and bury in order that the justice and
peace of God may be established here and now. Jesus readily acknowledges that
such change is hard; the struggle to change is, in its own way, an experience of
dying—but such transformation can be an experience of resurrection, as well. The
Gospel of the grain of wheat is Christ’s assurance of the great things we can do and the powerful works we can accomplish by dying to self and rising to the love
and compassion of Jesus, the Servant Redeemer

Demons 2-7-2021

Saturday, February 6th, 2021

At the crack of dawn while the village slept, they made their way to the
place where Jesus was visiting. Some came with paper bags on their heads. Others
had on phony noses and fake mustaches. Yes, some of the men even came
disguised in women’s dresses while some of the women had shoulder pads on
under their sweaters and wore trousers so they’d look like men. Each had come
alone because no one wanted anyone to know the reason for the visit. So, what a
surprise it was to discover themselves in the courtyard of the home where Jesus
was staying.
“Oh no!” One man gasped as he took the paper bag off his head and looked
at the woman sitting across from him as she removed her beehive wig. “You mean
you have a demon too?” “But you’re my wife!” ”
And you’re my husband! You never told me you had a demon?” She
exclaimed.
The man next to her took off his fake beard and stared in disbelief at his wife
sitting across from him as she took off her fake beard as well. Together they asked,
“Have we both got demons?” And together they answered, “I guess we do.” All over the room people who had come in various sizes and disguises had
surprises as they bumped into neighbors, friends, relatives, and associates. Over
and over they found themselves saying, “You have to be kidding!” “You have a
demon too?” Well I never would have guessed it. How many times had we eaten
together and not once did we suspect one another of having a demon.
Without knowing they would all be together, they had come intending to
have Jesus expel their demons. As they waited in awkward silence for Jesus to
appear, one lady spoke up. “Since now we know we all have demons, we might as
well talk about them more openly to one another. After all, we have time. He can’t
really take off our demons all at once.”
So, as they sat there waiting, gradually they began to describe the demons
that possessed them. One potbellied man started out very quietly as he looked
straight forward above the head of the woman across from him. He said he thought
his demon was the suicidal thoughts that came into his head from time to time. He
hadn’t wanted to tell anyone he had that demon because he was afraid they would
think he was crazy.
A woman in floral patterned house dress checked to see if the man who had
just spoken had finished and then she cleared her throat. “I get so depressed. I don’t feel like talking or walking. I just want to sleep all the time, and when I’m not sleeping, I eat donuts. So depression and overeating are my demons but I wouldn’t
tell anyone because I’m afraid people would think I was really off the wall.”
“I get depressed too,” a young boy chimed in. “It is good to know someone
else feels that way,” he said with relief. “I’m afraid to tell my friends because they’d
think I was a wimp.”
“Well, I have to be strong so my family can lean on me and I don’t feel very
strong a lot of time,” a huge man with big hands and muscular arms and legs said
softly. “My weakness is my demon and I’d be afraid to tell the other fellas that.”
At first, the conversation stopped and started, lapsing into long silences, but
as one, then two, then three villagers spoke up, more and more people wanted to
speak. Husbands and wives shard their demons with one another: fathers and sons,
mothers and sons, brothers and sisters. As one revealed his or her demons and the
fear of speaking about them due to what others might think, everyone else listened
with an understanding heart. Their understanding arose from having many of the
same demons and fears themselves.
As they spoke, they gradually readjusted their chairs so they could see and
hear one another more clearly. The potbellied man said, “I’m not as afraid as I was.
I don’t feel so anxious. I wonder if my demon has fallen asleep. And the woman who ate so many donuts said, “I’m not as afraid as I was
either. I think my demon must have gone out to lunch.”
“My demon must have gone with yours,” added the man with the big
muscles. From all over the circle others talked about how they were less fearful.
Then the door opened and there in the archway stood: the one for whom they
had been waiting. He had a warm smile on his face and they all smiled back,
expecting him to call them one by one. But he did not. He surprised them by telling
them they could go home because they had already been exorcised. Their demons
had been expelled and sent on their way.
“How can that be?” Was he kidding them?
He motioned them to be quiet as he said, “Think back for a moment about
what had just happened. Many of you have known one another for years. In some
instances you have shared the same bed, the same office or table or playing field.
Yet, you were unaware that each of you had your own special demon. And why
was that? Because of your own fear of admitting what you were going through.
And that is the real demon! That is the demon which had paralyzed and cut you off
from one another. That is the reason the demon has controlled you and had you in his power. The exorcism I have to offer, you have already experienced because you have come together and listened to one another as you have never done before.
Your demon no longer controls you.”
Then he told them that he had lots of work to do that day. They could all go,
and as they left they could drop their disguises in the waste basket near the door.
After all, they no longer had any need of disguises. Their demons had gone.

Living Tabernacles 5-10-2020

Sunday, May 10th, 2020

As I read the second reading today, some words stay with me.
“You too” (that means all of us). You too – are living stones built as an
edifice of spirit.
These words reminded me that we are the church – not this
fantastic building that many of you and others worked so hard to create.
This building is a very special place for the church to gather. We are
very different people, with different backgrounds, talents, personalities,
life experiences, and cultures. We are the church. Words we have heard
before. Fairly simple words, but they need to be said over and over
again. They need to be believed and lived.
I have been in some beautiful churches and cathedrals and have
found many of them cold and lifeless. I have been in a parish church
that was an old barn (their church building had burned down). In that
barn there was life, spirit, energy, variety and warmth. There was real
church because of the people – the living stones. When we come to this building that houses us the church – most of
us get very reverent. We genuflect, bow to the Blessed Sacrament in the
Tabernacle as a sign of our respect. I believe this is a good thing to do.
It is part of who we are. But my question to all of us as church
tonight/today is this.
How reverent are we, how respectful are we to the living
tabernacles right next to us? This tabernacle is made of some type of
metal. It holds for us Catholics the Eucharistic Presence of Jesus. I
believe and respect that, but I also believe that every human being is a
living flesh and blood container of God – a human tabernacle.
That person in our family that we find very difficult right now (you
know that person) has God in them. That person that drives everyone
crazy at school or work has God in them.
That person, who is homeless, who is from another country and
taking some of our jobs, who is dying of AIDS, whose values are totally
opposite of mine, has God living in them How respectful? How reverent are we to these living tabernacles –
these containers of God – that we rub elbows with everyday. A little
respect, a little reverence, can do some pretty powerful things.
A businessman in a hurry plunked down a dollar into the cup of a
man selling flowers and rapidly went his way. Half a block down the
street, he turned around and made his way back to the poor flower seller.
“I’m sorry,” he said picking out his favorite flower. “In my haste I
failed to make my purchase. After all, you are a businessman just like
myself. Your flowers are fairly priced and of good quality. I trust you
won’t be upset with my forgetting to pick out my purchase.” With that
he smiled and quickly went on his way again.
A few weeks later, while at lunch, a neatly dressed, handsome man
approached the businessman’s table and introduced himself. “I’m sure
you don’t remember me, and I don’t even know your name, but your
face I will never forget. You are the man who inspired me to make
something of myself. I was a vagrant selling flowers on a street corner
until you gave me back my self-respect and a sense of dignity. Now I believe I am a businessman, too.” A little respect, a little reverence for the living tabernacles all
around us can do some pretty powerful things