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Breaking Down Barriers 3-12-2023

Thursday, March 2nd, 2023

I. The Gospel story points us to one of the main works of Jesus
– something we are called to do-
Breaking down barriers that divided the human family.
Some of these barriers are very real today.
II. First Barrier – was a Racial Barrier.
This woman was a Samaritan – Samaritans were
regarded as an inferior race; scum of the earth. Jews had
no respect for them; only distrust.
Jesus walked right through the Barrier like it did not
exist. He saw a person made in the image of God.
Centuries of History said they were adversaries. But
Jesus paid no attention.
She was a Human being hurting and needing some
That’s all He saw!
III. The Second Barrier – was a Social Barrier.
He was talking to a woman – they could not believe it.
This was an extremely male dominated society. Women
were definitely 2nd
class citizens and worse.
To Jesus – Each and every person was important. He
shared some of his deepest spiritual insights with women;
this woman was important to Him.
IV. The Third & Final Barrier – was the Barrier of Religion
People were fighting over where the proper place of
worship was supposed to be. My mountain versus your
mountain; my temple is better than yours.
A Religious Tug a War!
This battle was not bringing people closer together. Jesus
emphasized that no one has exclusive claim to God – God
cannot be contained in one place or controlled by a group
of people. We cannot box up God in any one set of
With Jesus the important thing was not where or so much
how you worship. But does worship connect to our
V. In Closing –
If we really want to follow Jesus – if we want to be the
church, we need to ask ourselves some hard questions
regarding these barriers that Jesus tried so hard to break
1. Do we label people – this or that because of their
nationality or skin color. Because they speak a
different language. Because they are not like us –
labels that prevent us from getting to know them as
human beings.
2. A good question for us to ask as Church – Do we still
treat women as second-class citizens?
3. Do we use our religious beliefs as a club to beat up
other religions?
4. What barriers do we need to break down right now in
our families, in this parish that are dividing us?
May our prayer this week – be this:
Lord, give us the courage to look at what divides us and the
strength to do something about these Barriers with your help.

Lord, Teach Us to Pray 7-24-2022

Wednesday, July 13th, 2022

I’ve had a very rough week this week and I have found myself
spending extra time in prayer. The Gospel this Sunday triggered some
things about prayer that I had not thought about for a while, and I would
briefly like to share them with you.
The first thing is that it is important that when we pray we must be
honest and completely open with God; we must use real words that
express how we feel and what is going on in our lives. Our relationship
with God should be one place where we can let it all hang out – no safe
and appropriate roles to play – no masks to hide behind.

The second thing I was reminded about through the Gospel was
that when I say I am too busy to pray (which I do at times), I may really
be saying I am afraid to pray. Also, if I am so busy with what I want
from God, I may miss what God really has to give me.
*Person in hospital – his brother has just died – yells & screams at
the Cross – God is big enough to handle it.*
The third thing is, if we are to take prayer seriously we must dispel
from our minds the notion that it is some kind of magic. Prayer is not an
“Aladdin’s Lamp” which, if properly rubbed, will grant our every wish.
A student, rather lazily inclined, noticed that a classmate always
recited her Spanish lessons well. One day he asked her, “How is it that
you always recite your lessons so perfectly?”
“Before I study,” she told him, “I always pray that I may remember my
lessons and repeat them well.”
“Do you?” asked the boy, somewhat surprised. “So that’s her secret
method,” he thought. “Well, then, I’ll pray too.”
That night he prayed up a storm, recalling as many prayers as he could
remember. However, the next day he could not even repeat one phrase
of the lesson. Quite perplexed he looked for his friend, and, finding her,
confronted her for being deceitful.
“I prayed,” he told her, “but I could not repeat a single phrase from
yesterday’s homework.”
“Perhaps,” she told him, “you took no pains to learn the lesson!”
“Of course not,” said the boy. “I didn’t study at all. I had no reason to
study. You told me to pray that I might remember the lesson.”
“There’s your problem,” she said, “I told you I prayed before, not
instead of, studying.”
I close with a final thought on prayer: A friend of mine used to
drop by his Church every evening around 5 PM, for an hour of
meditation before supper. Every evening he noticed the same old man
sitting in one of the back pews. The man was always there when he
arrived and still there when he left. It began to haunt him.
One evening curiosity got the better of him and he approached the man,
greeted him, and hoped he wasn’t praying: “I have seen you here for
several months now, and I really admire your constant devotion. But I
was wondering . . . I notice that you are always just sitting here quietly,
never using a prayer book, Bible, or rosary . . . still obviously praying…I
just wondered, when you pray to God, what do you say; what do you
talk about . . . ?
The old man looked up at my friend calmly and gently: “I don’t talk to
God; God talks to me.”
A lot of people think prayer (or meditation or religion or spirituality) is
supposed to be like Alka Seltzers in a glass of water: non-stop, bubbly,
effervescent, supernatural excitement. Wrong! Sometimes, maybe. But
most of the time prayer is like any love relationship: it involves a lot of
giving and listening. It’s like learning to talk: first, you have to listen, in
the sure peace of God’s presence.

Three Minutes a Day 7-17-2022

Wednesday, July 13th, 2022

One night a father came to a parent-teacher conference in a
Chicago high school. During a talk with one of his son’s teachers, the
father broke down and began to cry. After he regained his composure,
the father apologized, saying, “My son no longer lives with me.” “But I
still love him, and I want to know how he’s doing in school.” The father
then told the teacher how his wife and four children left him that
afternoon. He was a building contractor and sometimes worked 16 hours
a day. Naturally, he saw a little of his family, and they slowly grew
farther and farther apart. Then the father said something sad. He said: “I
wanted to buy my wife and kids all those things I had dreamed of giving
them.” “But in the process I got so involved in working that I forgot
about what they needed most; a father who was around at nights to give
them love and support.”
This story and our gospel today illustrates the same point. We can
get so involved in what we are doing that we forget why we are doing it.
We can get so involved in living that we forget the purpose of living. We
can get so involved in pursuing the things money can buy that we forget
about the things money can’t buy. It’s this kind of mistake that Martha
made in today’s gospel. She got so involved in cooking a meal for Jesus
that she forgot why Jesus had come. He didn’t come for a free meal. He
came to be with friends. You and I live in a very fast-paced world. It’s so
easy to lose our balance. It’s so easy to lose our perspective; it’s so easy
to get our priorities mixed up. It’s so easy to lose sight of what we are
doing and why we are doing it.
During the World War II, a young soldier was stationed on the
island of Saipan in the South Pacific. He said that during this time he
and his friends used to go for swims in a secluded spot, just off the steep
cliffs of the island. It was a lovely place surrounded by rocks. When they
arrived, the water was so clear they could see fish ten feet below the
surface. After they had swam for an hour, however the water became so
clouded with sand, churned up from the bottom, that they couldn’t see a
foot below the surface. But the next day when they returned for another
swim the sand had settled. The water was crystal clear again. Our mind
is like that water. It too can get so clouded up from the turmoil of
everyday living that it’s hard for us to see clearly. We lose sight of
everything; our perspective gets clouded; our priorities get confused; our
balance gets destroyed. What we need to do when this happens is to
pause and let the murky waters of the mind become clear again.
We need to do what Mary did in today’s gospel. We need to sit at
the feet of Jesus in quiet prayer. We need to let him teach us what is
important and what is not. How do we do this? Practically, let me share
with you a simple method of prayer. Each night before falling asleep, we
take three minutes to do three things. During the first minute, we pause
and do a mental replay of our day. We pick out the day’s high point,
something we are happy about, like getting a letter from an old friend.
Then, we speak to Jesus about it very sincerely. Finally, we conclude by
giving thanks to Jesus for the letter and the friend. During the second
minute, we do a second mental replay or our day. Only this time we pick
out the low point in it, something we’re sorry about, like yelling at a
parent, a spouse, or a child. We speak to Jesus about this weakness and
ask him to forgive us and to heal us. Finally, during the third minute, we
look ahead to tomorrow, to a critical point. We think of some difficult
thing we must do, like talking to a parent, a spouse, or a child about a
problem that has arisen. We speak to Jesus about it and ask his light and
his strength in handling it. No matter how busy we are, three (3) minutes
a day can put us in touch with life and in touch with Jesus.
I close with a prayer for us busy people; Lord, Keep us from
getting so involved in life that we forget why you gave us life. Keep us
from getting so involved in living that we forget the purpose of living.
Keep us from getting so involved in pursuing the things money can buy
that we forget about the things money can’t buy.