Thursday, December 28, 2017

Overheard at Christmas Mass

"For those of you that are disappointed that you didn't get a present you really wanted ... don't worry about it ... IT ISN'T YOUR BIRTHDAY!"

I hope you all had a very Blessed Christmas!  Sending you my prayers for a very Holy, Peaceful 2018!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Running Towards Him and Taking it Slow

Hi Everyone ... my apologies for not posting for a bit.  Thank you all for your well wishes during this time.  

I witnessed two different actions at Mass this month that really made me think.

The first action happened right before the Readings.  The church I was at has a practice of calling up all the kids in attendance before the first Reading.  The priest gives one of the children a big book of readings, and that child leads the procession out of the church and to the classrooms where they learn the Gospel in their own terms.  Now, normally, the children are reluctant to be the "book carrier".  For one, it calls attention to them, and they are usually quite shy.  Second, the book is rather large for them and, I imagine, not the easiest thing to carry a decent distance.

But on this day, a lad who looked to be all of 5 years old, came sprinting to the priest to grab the book ... and then proudly held it high over his head as he attempted to proceed back down the aisle.  (He didn't make it far before he had to get some assistance carrying it, but it was definitely an A for effort!)

That action had an immediate impact on me.  What if we all "raced to God's word" as quickly as that little boy did??

The second action that gave me pause was at a different church the following week.  I don't know about churches near you, but when most of our priests perform the Consecration, they hold the body and blood up in the air for about three to five seconds.   Ten at the most. The priest that was residing over this particular Mass held each in the air for a full sixty seconds!

I must admit, relative to the normal actions, those sixty seconds felt like ten minutes.  And what felt a bit awkward at first, turned into something quite beautiful.  

I wondered to myself ... shouldn't we always take an extra minute or two to fully reflect on that most beautiful part of Mass?

God Bless all of you. 


Monday, July 24, 2017

Overheard: Wheat, Weeds ... and Cookies?

This week's Gospel reading included the Parable about the Wheat and Weeds.

At the end of the parable, of course, the harvesters collect the weeds and tie them together to be burned, and the wheat is put into the barn.  

The distinction is quite obvious to the harvesters. But note that the slaves are instructed not to try and pull the weeds out themselves.

Perhaps there is a message in there that we are not try and determine who is "good" and who is "evil".  God is the only one that can, and He allows them to remain until He comes again.  

As I reflected on that, I realized that we constantly try and label people as "good" or "evil" ... "right" or "wrong".  But how often do we really know?  How often do people change?  How often should we be holding up a mirror instead?

It reminded me of the Cookie Thief Poem, attributed to Valerie Cox:

A woman was waiting at an airport one night,
With several long hours before her flight.
She hunted for a book in the airport shop,
Bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop.
She was engrossed in her book, but happened to see,
That the man beside her, as bold as could be,
Grabbed a cookie or two from the bag between,
Which she tried to ignore, to avoid a scene.
She read, munched cookies, and watched the clock,
As the gutsy “cookie thief” diminished her stock.
She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by,
Thinking, “If I wasn’t so nice, I’d blacken his eye!”
With each cookie she took, he took one too.
When only one was left, she wondered what he’d do.
With a smile on his face and a nervous laugh,
He took the last cookie and broke it in half.
He offered her half, as he ate the other.
She snatched it from him and thought, “Oh brother,
This guy has some nerve, and he’s also rude,
Why, he didn’t even show any gratitude!”
She had never known when she had been so galled,
And sighed with relief when her flight was called.
She gathered her belongings and headed for the gate,
Refusing to look back at the “thieving ingrate.”
She boarded the plane and sank in her seat,
Then sought her book, which was almost complete.
As she reached in her baggage, she gasped with surprise.
There was her bag of cookies in front of her eyes!
“If mine are here,” she moaned with despair,
“Then the others were his and he tried to share!”
Too late to apologize, she realized with grief,
That she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief!

Hmmm ... all of a sudden I am hungry for some cookies.  

(Remember, no judging me!)

God Bless you.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

It's All Greek to Me, Part II

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever.       - John 14:16

I learned something new recently about this encouraging statement by our Savior.  

When I have read this passage before, I have always interpreted it as God was going to send us a different Entity.  Meaning, Jesus was there at that moment He was speaking to the disciples, and then God was going to send the Holy Spirit .... Someone very different than Jesus.  Why else would he say "another"?

That interpretation was in conflict with my belief in the Trinity, of course, and so there was a bit of an irreconcilable difference in my head.  

Until I learned a little Greek, that is! 

The English language has multiple definitions for another.  For example, a restaurant might tell you "Sorry, we are booked this evening ... please come back another day."  In that scenario another means a completely different day.  In contrast, one might say "That was delicious, I'll have another piece of that cake, please!"  In that scenario, another means more of the same.

Well, the Greek language uses two different words.  Allos, meaning the same kind, and heteros, meaning a different kind.  

The Greek word used in John's passage above is allos.  Thus, Jesus is telling his disciples the Lord is sending another Helper just like him. The Third Person in the Trinity!

God Bless you, and prayers that the Holy Spirit continues to strengthen us.

Monday, April 17, 2017

He Bows His Head, as if to Kiss You

A Glorious and Blessed Easter to all of you!

I came across this wonderful reflection from St Augustine of Hippo about St John's Passion, and wanted to share.  I can assure you I will not look at the cross the same way again!
As they were looking on, so we too gaze on his wounds as he hangs. We see his blood as he dies. We see the price offered by the redeemer, touch the scars of his resurrection. 
He bows his head, as if to kiss you.  His heart is made bare open, as it were, in love to you. His arms are extended that he may embrace you. His whole body is displayed for your redemption.
Ponder how great these things are.
Let all this be rightly weighed in your mind: as he was once fixed to the cross in every part of his body for you, so he may now be fixed in every part of your soul.
Ponder how great these things are, indeed.

God Bless you!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Looking at Lazaruz Through A Different Lens

When I get to a Gospel reading that I have heard many, many times - especially one that has a pretty clear message like today's Lazarus story - I try and find a new perspective.  

I usually look at the Lazarus story as a microcosm of our larger Faith story.  Jesus raises a man from the dead, much like He will be raised from the dead shortly thereafter.   His Apostles and other followers start to believe even more after watching the unthinkable happen right before their eyes... much like millions more will over the centuries that follow. Jesus talks about walking in the Light - a metaphor for all of us to follow the path that He illuminates for us.

And so on and so forth. 

Today I looked at this passage through a different lens - time.  

One of the things that struck me today was that both Martha and Mary say the same thing to Jesus ... basically that "if only You had been here our brother would be alive".  

In their view of the world, Jesus was not there when they wanted Him to be.  He was "late" by their clock.  Likewise the near-term outcome was not what they wanted either.  In their all-too-human plan, Jesus is with them when Lazarus falls ill and prevents him from dying. 

(On a side note, twice in this reading John tells us that Jesus was "perturbed".  That word really struck me.)

Jesus knew that not only were they going to get the outcome they wanted, but because it happened on HIS time, and not theirs, there would be an even greater good. They - like us - were thinking much too myopically.

In God's plan, this was a moment in time that could not only bring those present closer to Him, but one that would resonate for eternity.  

I hope you are having a Blessed Lent.


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Serving Two Masters: A Sports Analogy

In today's Gospel, Jesus tells us we cannot serve two masters.  

We must love one and hate the other.

This can be hard to explain or understand in a world that is not so easily seen in black and white.

One analogy that I came across tries to explain this in sporting terms ...

Let's say you live in Chicago.  You have two baseball teams you can root for ... the American League White Sox, or the National League Cubs.  (This analogy works for many cities and sports by the way... in England, for example, you could have Manchester United vs Manchester City in soccer/football).  

Some fans will tell you that you can root for both hometown teams, especially since, in the baseball example, they are from different leagues.  They argue that they can watch both teams compete, and root for them against whoever they are playing.  This would sort of equate to us saying we can serve both our material lives and God equally at the same time.  

On the flip side, some fans will argue you absolutely positively cannot root for both teams.  You must choose one, or the other, and throw all of your passion, loyalty and love behind that one team. 

Let's go back to that first example, though - the fan that says they can root for both teams.  This might be true for most of the season.  But what if the White Sox and Cubs both made it to the World Series and had to play each other?  (Or when Man U and City play each other for the Manchester Cup?)  Wouldn't that fan then have to ultimately choose one?  To love one and thus hate the other?  And what about when the two teams are playing a game at the same time?  How does the fan choose which team to watch?  He/she either chooses one, or splits his/her attention ... and thus does not give their entire self to one or the other.

While this analogy is not perfect, I think it does help explain that when we think we can serve both masters (read: root for both teams), we end up, at best, only giving a piece of ourselves.  

And we all know that God deserves all of us.  Not just a piece!

We need to be more like the fan that knows this is not possible, and chooses one team to serve for with all of his/her self.  

God Bless you.