Sunday, August 29, 2021

Homily for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

From the Gospel of Mark:

When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands. So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?”

It’s never a good idea to test Jesus.  His response to them was one we need to hear too. Jesus’ message this morning is that it’s unhealthy to fixate on some minor issue and miss the more important one. The Pharisees were focusing on the wrong thing. And Jesus got upset:

“Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written:  These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts. You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”

Jesus was not criticizing or rejecting the Jewish law or even Jewish tradition. Jesus was a good Jew.  He followed the law and loved it. He probably washed his hands before he ate. His point here is not to criticize the law but to remind his hearers that there are more important issues. 

Many people in Jesus' time thought that religion was all about observing rituals, which they thought were pleasing to God. Not to observe them was to sin. In short, observing rituals became identified with being religious. 

Jesus made it clear that religion isn't something you do at certain times on certain days.   It's not saying specific prayers or performing certain rituals. It’s a thing of the heart. It’s a thing of the heart called love — love of God and love of neighbor. Today’s Scripture readings invite us to look into our hearts and to ask ourselves to what extent the words of Jesus in today’s gospel reading apply to us: 

“These people honor me with their words, but their heart is far away from me." 

They invite us to look into our own heart and ask ourselves to what extent the words of James in today’s second reading apply to us: 

“Do not deceive yourselves by just listening to his word; instead, put it into practice. Be doers of the word and not hearers only.

We must never forget that Jesus uses our hands, feet, voice, and heart to touch people in our day. That’s what matters - what is in our hearts - and what we do about it.

We are being asked today:                                                             

  • Do we focus on the things that are not that important and ignore what is essential? 
  • Do we judge people on how they look instead of who they are?

Here is a question he put on my heart today for me:

  •  Do we get upset about trivial things - like someone taking a knee at a sporting event during the National Anthem but ignore the significant issue of racial justice in our country?        
  • Are we attentive to the words we say in church but are deaf to the cry of the poor? 

Jesus is telling us today; it's unhealthy when we fixate on – some minor issue – and miss the more important one. This is what has Jesus upset in today's gospel. We are all in need of some “open-heart” surgery. Let us learn not to give our energy and attention to minor things but rather focus on the heart of the matter. Let us promise God not to criticize someone like the Pharisees did that day, before we explore what is on their heart. 

My grandmother always had a saying that seems to fit every situation today she might have said to us:

 "Don't judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes."

Friday, August 27, 2021

It's good to remind ourselves what it is we Catholic Christians believe.

We believe that there is one God, eternally existent who has revealed Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

(Deuteronomy 6:4, Luke 3:22)

We believe the Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, are inspired by God and are the revelation of God to man. 

(2 Timothy 3:15-17, 1 Peter 1:21)

We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father where He intercedes for us, in His present rule as Head of the Church, and in His personal return in power and glory. 

(Matthew 1:23, Luke 1:31)

We believe the sacraments are “efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us” 

In other words, a sacrament is a sacred and visible sign that is instituted by Jesus to give us grace, an undeserved gift from God. 

(CCC 1131) (CCC 1084). 

We believe Christ was present at the inception of all of the sacraments, which He instituted 2,000 years ago. Christ is also present every time each sacrament is celebrated. 

The Catholic Church has all of the seven sacraments instituted by Christ, which include Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that “the seven sacraments touch all the stages and all important moments of the Christian life” 

(CCC 1210).

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Monday, August 23, 2021

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Merciful Jesus, you are my guide,

the joy of my heart, 

 the author of my hope, 

and the object of my love. 

I come seeking refreshment and peace. 

Show me your mercy, 

relieve my fears and anxieties, 

and grant me a quiet mind and an expectant heart, 

that by the assurance of your presence 

I may learn to abide in you, 

who is my Lord and my God. 


Monday, August 16, 2021

 G.K. Chesterton:


Chesterton did not mean that the goal in our endeavors is to aim for mediocrity, 

but rather that we should not let the fear of mediocrity 

keep us from doing something worthy:

“The line, “if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly,” is not an excuse for poor efforts. It is perhaps an excuse for poor results. But our society is plagued by wanting good results with no efforts (or rather, with someone else’s efforts). We hire someone else to work for us, to play for us (that is, to entertain us), to think for us, and to raise our children for us. We have left “the things worth doing” to others, on the poor excuse that others might be able to do them better.”

— American Chesterton Society

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

 We live by the conviction 

that acts of goodness 

reflect the hidden light of His holiness.

His light is above our minds 

but not beyond our will.

It is within our power 

to mirror his unending love in deeds of kindness, 

like brooks that hold the sky.


                                                                Abraham Joshua Heschel

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Take my Son.....

A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art..

When the Vietnam-conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.

About a month later, just before Christmas, There was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands.

He said, 'Sir, you don't know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly. He often talked about you, and your love for art. 'The young man held out this package. 'I know this isn't much. I'm not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.'

The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture.. 'Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It's a gift.'

The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected.

The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection.

On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. 'We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?'

There was silence...

Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, 'We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one.' But the auctioneer persisted. 'Will somebody bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100, $200.

Another voice angrily. 'We didn't come to see this painting.  We came to see the Van Gogh's, the Rembrandts. Get on with the Real bids!' 

But still the auctioneer continued. 'The son! The son! Who'll take the son?'

Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. 'I'll give $10 for the painting..' Being a poor man, it was all he could afford.

'We have $10, who will bid $20?' 'Give it to him for $10. Let's see the masters.' The crowd was becoming angry. They didn't want the picture of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections.

The auctioneer pounded the gavel.. 'Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!' A man sitting on the second row shouted, 'Now let's get on with the collection!' The auctioneer laid down his gavel.  'I'm sorry, the auction is over.'

'What about the paintings?' 'I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will... I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets everything!'

God gave His son over 2,000 years ago to die on the Cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message today is:

'The Son, the Son, who'll take the Son?'

Because, you see, whoever takes the Son gets everything!