Archive for the ‘Ordinary Time’ Category

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
immediately.
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.

You do NOT have nothing 8-2-2020

Sunday, August 2nd, 2020

One morning, before Mass starts, you’re sitting quietly in your
bench, and you find yourself praying, “O God, please help the young
couple next door. Their baby is not doing well and they’re back and
forth from the hospital several times a day.
“If you listen attentively, you might well hear God reply: “Why
don’t you do something to help them?
“I’d like to, but I have nothing”.
But you hear God counter: “You have a great recipe for beef tips.
Make a batch and take it over to them some afternoon. They’d welcome
it. You do NOT have nothing”.
During the pastor’s annual parish financial report, you sigh to
yourself, “Tell me about it, Father. Money’s tight all over”.
And, in that quiet, barely audible voice in your heart, you hear
God: “So why don’t you lend a hand?”
“I don’t know anything about church work. I have nothing to
contribute”. But God persists: “You have a talent and love of gardening – get a
group together to clean up the church yard and fix up the landscaping.
You have an hour during the week – volunteer to help in the parish
office. You get along great with kids – give that hour to help a teacher in
the religious education program. You do NOT have nothing”.
Watching the news or reading the newspaper one evening, you can
barely hide your disgust at the state of things.
But there’s that voice: “So what are you going to do about it?”
“Hey, God, I don’t do politics. I have nothing – no interest, no
patience, and no competence in these issues”.
But God admonishes: “You DO have an interest and a stake in
this–for you and your children and your neighbors. This is your
community; this is your country. These matters affect you deeply — and
the world I gave you. You can learn about these issues. You can ask
questions. You can become an informed and an aware voter. You do
NOT have nothing”. When confronted by his disciples with the need to feed the crowds,
Jesus first challenges them to give something from what they have.
With more truth than they realize, the disciples confess, “We have
nothing”. But they manage to scrape together a few pieces of bread and
fish – and with that, Jesus works the miracle. God can take our meager
offerings and transform them into bread. In much the same way, Jesus
challenges us to give of our “nothing” with faith that God can transform
our “scraps” into powerful manifestations of his loving presence in our
midst.
I close,
Let Jesus work the miracles.
Let us not be afraid to give whatever we have

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!