Archive for the ‘Ordinary Time’ Category

Forgiven, Forgotten, Forever 9-17-2023

Thursday, September 14th, 2023

When I was doing research for this homily on forgiveness I came
across a very interesting story about Abraham Lincoln.
When Mr. Lincoln was campaigning for the presidency, one of his
arch-enemies was a man named Edwin Stanton. For some reason
Stanton hated Lincoln. He used every ounce of his energy to degrade
Lincoln in the eyes of the public. So deep-rooted was Stanton’s hate for
Lincoln that he uttered unkind words about his physical appearance, and
sought to embarrass him at every point. But in spite of this, Lincoln was
elected the sixteenth president of the United States of America.
Then came the period when Lincoln had to select his cabinet,
which would consist of the persons who would be his most intimate
associates in implementing his programs. He started choosing men here
and there for the various positions.
The day finally came for Lincoln to select the all-important post of
Secretary of War. Can you imagine whom Lincoln chose to fill this
post? None other than the man named Stanton. There was an immediate
uproar in the president’s inner circle when the news began to spread.
Advisor after advisor was heard saying, “Mr. President, you are making
a mistake. Do you know this man Stanton? Are you familiar with all the
ugly things he said about you? He is your enemy. He will seek to
sabotage your programs. Have you thought this through, Mr. President??
Mr. Lincoln’s answer was terse and to the point: “Yes, I know Mr.
Stanton. I am aware of all the terrible things he has said about me. But
after looking over the nation, I find he is the best man for the job.” So
Stanton became Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War and rendered an
invaluable service to his nation and his president.
Not many years later Lincoln was assassinated. Many laudable
things were said about him. But of all the great statements made about
Abraham Lincoln, the words of Stanton remain among the greatest.
Standing near the dead body of the man he once hated, Stanton referred
to him as one of the greatest men who ever lived and said, “He now
belongs to the ages.”
If Lincoln had hated Stanton both men would have gone to their
graves as bitter enemies. But through the power of forgiveness Lincoln
transformed an enemy into a friend. One simple act of forgiveness can
change people’s lives. Are there any Stanton’s in your life right now?
Some years ago, a pastor in Boston was being harassed by a
woman in his congregation. She started false rumors about him. She
wrote vicious letters about him to his bishop and others. She initiated
petitions to have him removed. After several months of this, the woman
moved to another city and not long afterward was converted to Christ.
Part of the process of her conversion was to realize the terrible wrong
she had done and all the pain and suffering she had inflicted on her
pastor in Boston. Consequently, she wrote him a long letter explaining
what had happened to her and how deeply she regretted what she had
done to him. The pastor immediately sent her a telegram with three
words on it: Forgiven, Forgotten, Forever.
Is there someone we/you/me need to say those words to and mean
them? Forgiven, Forgotten, Forever or do we want to live life like that
trapped rattlesnake filled with resentment and bitterness and bite
ourselves to death! I hope not.

The Killing Silence 9-10-2023

Saturday, September 9th, 2023

The silence is deafening.
Family members and friends must tiptoe around them. Spouses,
parents, children are held hostage by the silence. Not in our family, we
insist. Better to hold our tongues than set them off, we fear. It may be
alcoholism, drug addition, physical abuse that tears the family apart; or a
misunderstanding or conflict over finances, a divorce, a child’s rejection
of the family’s culture or values that creates a tension that represses the
family dynamic. It’s a silence that kills.
A student is struggling in school and doesn’t know how to ask for
help or is afraid to seek out a teacher for fear of being labeled.
A youngster is the target of bullying. He or she is miserable but is too
scared to say anything to an adult.
The project is failing; the business is going down the drain. The
company has many savvy, experienced people who know what to do –
but nothing is said, no one is consulted. This is a tough market – and
any appearance of trouble or vulnerability will sink everything.
The surviving spouse is lost. The grief is more than he or she can
bear. But they don’t want to be a burden – the children have enough
going on in their lives. So the widow or widower becomes more and
more isolated.
Regardless of the cause or circumstances, fear is the controlling
Say nothing – it will just make things worse.
He won’t hear it.
She’ll never change her mind.
You’ll only get hurt.
Please, I can do this on my own. I’m fine.
And so, there is silence.
Silence – while hearts scream in agony and spirits shrivel and die.
Jesus challenges us in today’s Gospel not to tolerate the dysfunction
in our lives or allow our judgements and disappointments to isolate us
from others, but to confront those problems, misunderstandings and
issues that divide us, grieve us, and embitter us. More challenging still,
Jesus says, is to face those situations in which our demands and
expectations are the cause of such turmoil and then managing to put
aside those wants and needs of ours that are exacting such a heavy cost
from those we love. Christ calls us to the hard work of reconciliation, to
be committed to seeking solutions not out of indignation or self-
righteousness but out of a commitment to imitate and bring into our lives
the great love and mercy of God.

Easy Does It? 9-3-2023

Friday, September 1st, 2023

A young man, eager to make it to the top, went to a “success in
business” seminar taught by a wealthy tycoon. “What’s the reason for
your phenomenal success?” he asked.
Back came the answer, in a gravelly voice: “Hard work!”
“Uh, well, what’s the second reason?”
It’s natural to find the easy way to do things. Book stores sell
thousands of “easy” books. Spanish Made Easy, Five Easy Steps to a
Better Vocabulary, Easy Does It, Eat What You Want and Lose Weight.
Looking for the easy way may be natural, but today Our Lord warns us
that about really important things, the easy way isn’t the best way. The
easy way isn’t always the right way.
Perhaps the harshest words that ever came out of the mouth of Jesus
were aimed at his friend for counseling him to take the easy way. The
scripture says Jesus turned on Peter, turning on someone…what a
phrase, and said, in new Testamentese: “Simon, get the blank out of
here. Your advice of taking the easy way, avoiding the cross,
eliminating pain at any cost, is a dangerous temptation that might make
me fall. I don’t need people around me that only judge by the world’s
standards. The easy way is not always the right way.”
Many of you here with some years experience know that what Jesus
says is true! Success in life requires a willingness to resist the lure of the
easy way. A sound body requires that you exercise, eat the right foods,
and conquer bad habits. A sound mind requires that you read, that you
observe, that you continually learn, instead of resting on a handful of pet
convictions handed down from grandma and grandpa and never
expanded or enlarged. A sound marriage requires that each partner goes
into it with the understanding that marriage is not a 50/50 proposition,
but a 70/30 one, in which both partners give 70. A sound family means
that we will take the time to be sensitive to the needs of our children,
that we provide not only for their physical needs, but their emotional and
spiritual needs as well. Such goals require sacrifice, they require
perseverance…Every one of us knows that the path to personal success
is the path of self denial. And why should we do this unnatural thing,
take the hard way, pick the cross, say no to our inclination to ease.
Because our Lord has loved us the hard way, the godly way, the right
way; no one who looks on that cross would ever complain when God
asks us to sometimes take the hard way. After all, Jesus did not come to
make life easy. Jesus came to make human beings great People of Faith!