Archive for the ‘Cycle B’ Category

Transfiguration – A Big Word 2-25-24

Friday, February 23rd, 2024

Michelle and her mother had made the trip to the hospital
many times. For the past two years the five-year-old had been receiving
treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia – and the treatments had
been a success. But today’s mission was to remove the port used to
inject medications and draw blood.
As they waited, Michelle wrapped her arms around herself and
began to rock. Soon Dr. Jardine, the anesthesiologist, entered the room.
He asked Michelle’s mother some questions, while little Michelle
anxiously rocked faster and faster.
As Dr. Jardine was scribbling notes, he watched Michelle try to
rock away her fears. Dr. Jardine put down his pen and sat down on the
bed next to the frightened little girl. “Say, Michelle, would you rather
have gas, with no needles? I’ll let you pick your favorite flavor.”
Michelle nodded and stopped rocking. She chose the bubble-gum
flavor. Dr. Jardine then asked her what her favorite bedtime story was.
After placing the bubble-gum mask on her face, Dr. Jardine leaned down
and whispered. “Once there were three bears: Papa Bear, Mama Bear
and a beautiful small bear named Michelle.” And the little girl drifted
off with a smile and transformed the last, dreaded procedure into a
gentle triumph.
The figure of the transfigured Christ on Mount Tabor calls us to the
Lenten work of transfiguration – to transform the fear, sadness and
despair around us into the compassion, forgiveness and hope of Easter.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said that “God places us in the world as
God’s fellow workers – agents of transfiguration. We work with God so
that injustice is transfigured into justice, so that there will be more
compassion and caring, so that there will be more laughter and joy, so
that there will be more togetherness in God’s world.”
A group of computer salesmen from Milwaukee went to a regional
sales convention in Chicago. They assured their wives that they would
be home in plenty of time for dinner. But with one thing or another the
meeting ran overtime so the men had to race to the station. As they ran
through the terminal, one man inadvertently kicked over a table
supporting a basket of apples. Without stopping, they all reached the
train and boarded it with a sigh of relief. All but one. He paused. He
waved goodbye to his companions and returned to the terminal. The
ten-year-old boy selling apples was blind.
The salesman gathered up the apples and noticed that several of
them were bruised. He reached into his wallet and said to the boy,
“Here, please take this ten dollars for the damage we did. I hope it
didn’t spoil your day.” As he started to walk away the bewildered boy
called after him, “Are you Jesus?” He stopped in his tracks. And he
wondered.
The work of Lent is to transform the fear, sadness, and despair
around us into the compassion, forgiveness and hope of Easter.
“Lord, there is a lot of work left to be done. Please help us to do
our part now.” Amen.


First Sunday of Lent 2-18-24

Tuesday, February 13th, 2024

On T.V. today, we see a lot of political debates. Reporters
usually interview the winners and losers. To the losers, the
reporters often ask very blunt and often irritating questions.
I would like to take you to one of those interviews—except
the participants are not politicians.
They are Jesus and the Devil. The Devil, like in the gospel,
has just lost very badly in his debate with Jesus over such things as
power, prestige, values. I believe it would go like this—let’s
listen:
“Mr. Devil – How are you feeling after the debate?”
“Terrible, lousy – how would you feel if you just got your _____
kicked by Jesus?
“Do you plan on a rematch — A second debate?”
“You can count on it, but next time, I am going to develop a
new strategy, a new plan of attack! I’ll tell you one thing, Mr.
Reporter, the next time I won’t be wearing a red outfit with horns
and a tail. That outfit is too obvious. I must come up with some
new outfits, with some new temptations, and remember this—you
can count on one thing—I am not going away!” shouted the Devil.
Till the day we die, we are going to be tempted to do or say
things that hurt ourselves—hurt others—and damage our
relationship with God. We are going to wrestle on a regular basis
with how to keep things like food, work, relationships, sex, money,
computers, sports, the list goes on—how do I keep them in a
healthy perspective and not abuse them, not allow them to get out
of balance.
In these areas of our life and in many others, we are gong to
be under attack. We are in a Giant Tug of War with Mr. Devil.
It’s OK to tell little lies, your wife will never find out.
Cheating in school doesn’t hurt anyone. You don’t need God, look
out for number 1. Church is for hypocrites—you’re a virgin—
everyone does it—a couple of pills won’t hurt at all—come on—
just one drink. “A Tug of War”.
The Good News is that we are not in this “Tug of War”
alone. Our God has said over and over—I am with you. It won’t
be easy, but no matter how dark it gets—you are not alone. I want
to be your partner!
In closing, I have one final and very important point to make.
What happens when we blow it, when we give into
temptations that get us into trouble, cause us to sin, leave us with a
lot of guilt?
Do we pretend like it’s no big deal? I hope not.
Do we beat ourselves up over and over again with tons of
unhealthy guilt? I hope not.
Or, do we take responsibility for our actions—stop blaming
other people, sincerely ask for forgiveness and healing and move
on trusting in a God of second chances? A God who says, start
over – try again. I hope so.
“I am not going away”, proclaims the Devil.
“I am with you always, through it all”, shouts the Lord of
Hope. “Don’t forget, we will win the battle together—Believe it!”


GOD’s Absolute Love 2-11-2024

Monday, January 29th, 2024

I remember some years ago Bishop Fulton had a prime time
TV show opposite Milton Berle every Wednesday night. One
night he told about his visit to an African leper colony. He had
brought along a supply of little silver crucifixes so he would have
something special to give to each of the 500 lepers in the camp.
The first leper he met had only the stumps of his left arm. And his
right arm and hand were covered with ugly, open sores. Sheen
took one of the little crucifixes, held it a few inches above the
leper’s hand, and then let it drop into his palm.
In a flash, he was struck by what he’d done. “All at once”,
he said, “I realized there were 501 lepers in the camp, and the most
leprous of them all was myself. I had given a crucifix—the
symbol of God’s absolute love for all of us—but then I had pulled
back and closed my eyes to what the symbol implied for me. So I
looked again very hard at that little crucifix, and I knew what I had
to do. I pressed by hand to the leper’s hand with the symbol of love between us,                and then I proceeded to do that for all of the remaining 499 lepers”! None of us, thank God, are lepers. But there’s not one of us,
if we are honest, whose heart hasn’t been wounded or even broken
many times, not one of us who doesn’t need healing. So it is to all
of us that Jesus is speaking by his actions in Sunday’s gospel. In
stretching out his hand, touching that leper and healing him, Jesus
is telling us—once again—that God does love us all no matter how
damaged or broken we are. He’s telling us that no matter how bad
we have been, our God will always be there for us, always be
waiting for us to open our hearts so God can heal us.
That’s the first half of Jesus’ message, but there’s more. In
addition to what God wants to do for us, there’s the matter of what
God wants us to do for one another. And it turns out to be exactly
the same thing; we are to become healers too, healers of one
another. That sounds wonderful, but how do ordinary, wounded
people like us become healers? Very simply by remembering how our own wounds feel and remembering what we need when we are broken. What we would like, of course, is a quick fix for our
wounds, but what we need is a friend who will reach out just as
Jesus did, take us by the hand, when our hand isn’t looking so
good, and walk through the darkness with us and not let go of us
halfway! If that is what we need as we try to walk through our hurts
and losses, it is also exactly what our brothers and sisters need.
And it is something each of us can give.
Here is a real life example of what I am talking about.
Some years ago, an old man collapsed on a busy street corner
in downtown Brooklyn. Within minutes an ambulance rushed him
to Kings County Hospital. There he kept calling his son.
A nurse found a dog-eared letter in the man’s wallet. From it
she learned that his son was a marine stationed in North Carolina.
That night an anxious marine showed up at the hospital.
Immediately, the nurse took him to the old man’s bedside.
The man was heavily sedated. And so the nurse had to tell him several times, “Your son is here! Your son is here!” Finally, the old man opened his eyes. He could barely make
out his son, but he recognized his marine uniform. At that point,
the son took his father’s hand and held it lovingly.
For the rest of that night, the marine sat at the man’s bedside.
Occasionally, he patted the man’s hand and spoke to him tenderly.
Several times the nurse urged the marine to take a break and
get something to eat or drink. But he refused. Toward dawn, the old man died.
When the nurse extended her sympathy to the young man, the
marine said, “Who was that man?”
“Wasn’t he your father?” the nurse asked.
“No, he wasn’t”, said the marine. “I never saw him before in
my life”.
“Why didn’t you say something?” said the nurse.
“I would have”, said the marine, “but I could see that he was
too sick to realize I wasn’t his son. I could also see that he was
slipping fast and needed a son. So, I decided to become that son”. Ordinary—wounded people can do things like this marine
did for the old man. Extend a hand of friendship and help someone
walk through the darkness to a new day.
Jesus did it—this marine did—we are asked to do the same.
Lord Help Us!