Have you noticed how other people, maybe even you, are constantly late and keep people waiting? Have you noticed other people, maybe even you, who are on time or ready even a little early? People who are constantly late are either unintentionally or intentionally expressing that other people and their time do not matter. “You can simply wait for me as if you and your time are not of value” is often the un-thought thought. We called these folks “thoughtless or obtuse.” We all are late at some point and may have a valid excuse such as sudden responsibilities, un-planned traffic due to an accident, children, “others,” or whatever as an excuse. Some people always seem to take advantage of a real or vague excuse and are always late. Some folks excuse themselves by saying “Well, I am always late.” They do not understand that being chronically late is a serious flaw because, in fact, it expresses their lack of valuing others. We have now begun the season of Advent. We know this is called the Season of Waiting. This waiting, however, is different.READ MORE
Our Feast day today of Christ our King, which ends the Church year for us, is meant to bring our attention and focus back to Jesus Christ. Throughout the year as we retell the story of Jesus Christ in the scriptures at Mass, we may at times drift off to other matters of faith. This Sunday is to put an exclamation point after the word “Jesus” for us so that we may remember who we are and whom we follow.
Our Catholic Tradition is very old and is richly filled with many customs and pieties which can at times lead people away from the centrality of our faith in the Triune God who is Father, Son, and Spirit with the Son as our Savior and Redeemer. Too often we can at times allow ourselves to get involved with exotica or “shiny things or vestments” and get distracted from the basics of our faith. We have a purpose, meaning, and power because of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Folks often prefer to get distracted from the essentials of our faith because it is actually easier. Some folks like to get caught up in the theoretical but not real scholas-tic theology, the Tridentine Ritual, private revelation, or even with some object that may look like a possible image of Jesus or Mary (of whom we have no actual pictures and do not know what either looked like). It appears that people like distractions because it takes away their responsibility for what matters in faith. We now end the church year by putting into perspective what we are supposed to be about. We are Christians in the Roman Catholic Way of Life. We are followers of Jesus Christ.READ MORE
Our church often adopts processes, dynamics, and terms from the business world to help us understand, improve, and maintain our various combination functions. We are advised at meetings that our talks, homilies, written articles, letters, bulletin pieces, and social media pages should always be “on message” and “on task”. I often say that when giving a homily, it should take off, then fly purposely and directly and then come into land at its destination. Too often bishops, priests, deacons, vowed religious, and laypeople wander around in their sermons, homilies, or talks without clear purpose or message and also never seem to end the main thought of their talk; it just simply never lands until it crashes. Homilies, talks, speeches, etc. should con-tribute greatly to our faith development. We need our public speakers to be people who have a vision and understanding of our faith and are willing to share it clearly and directly with us. Too often homilies and talks are just loaded up with everything but the sacristy sink! Too much is in fact usually too much. Often the less said is more said well.READ MORE
Advertisers often try to engage our attention by using words like “quick”, “fast”, “convenient”, “prepared”, “saves time”, or similar words. We are encouraged to buy many things so that we have more “free time” to pursue what interests us to be our “better self”, which usually means less than what it says. We are to use all sorts of products to give us all the time necessary for ourselves. Things are to help us be a better person. How we are better usually has to do with looks or physique or something similar. It does not have to do with our inner qualities. Rarely does all this “new time” have to do with the meaning or purpose of our life.
The reading from Wisdom; our first reading, is the most recent of all the Old Testament Books. It was composed in Egypt, not Israel, about a half-century before the birth of Jesus Christ; it is the “newest” Old Testament book. It was written in Alexandria, Egypt somewhere between 50 and 30 B.C. The author is a Jewish scholar and philosopher who writes from the perspective of his minority faith to a majority of Greek culture in a nonJewish country. In this book the author makes Wisdom to be a personified attribute of God. He tells his readers and listeners that Lady Wisdom that is the object of concern for the seeker is readily available. He clearly says that the person who loves, seeks, and watches for Wisdom will find her right nearby. Bear in mind this “Wisdom” is actually God because God is not hidden or elusive or even deceptive or tricky. Wisdom— that is, God— wants to be found; God in the image of Wisdom is open to the seeker.READ MORE
This weekend our Sunday Mass pivots to a very important feast, the Feast of all Saints. Liturgists in our church tradition who plan out the vision and priorities of how our Church calendar of worship will be on Sundays always have a very hard time deviating from the strict values that a Sunday is a Sunday and a feast day basically is always less than Sunday, the great Feast of the Resurrection. I am very glad that occasionally common sense breaks through this rigid vision and we do celebrate certain marvelous feasts on Sunday. For us this year this feast day is a graced reminder of how wonderful our God cares for us through this Pandemic. This feast day is a day of hope, light, and grace among us, not only in times past but right now today, and also in the future. Our Church leaders choose to share with us a vision of the inner heart of people and their daily lives. Indeed we know that it is impossible to name all the official saints of our Church for in just the last thirty years alone, the list is beyond the limits of our knowledge.READ MORE
We all as humans share common feelings, such as joy, happiness, sadness, or emptiness. We do not always experience the same events that others do, but the commonality of what joy or sadness or any feeling means or feels like lets us relate to another person in their feelings. We do not have to experience exactly what someone else has experienced to be able to empathize with the feelings people are experiencing or have experienced. We like to think that our personal feelings are singular, whereas in reality they are only singular to us, but in common with the human heart of others.
Our first reading from Exodus notes how God reminds the Israelite people that they were once outsiders. He reminds them of their time in Egypt. He tells them that they know how it feels to be foreigners in a strange land, and therefore they should do nothing against the disadvantaged. That remembrance of those common human feelings should impel them to be careful and respectful in how they treat others who are seen as outsiders.READ MORE
Sometimes after I finish speaking with someone, I later think if only I had said this or that. Or other times: Why did I not think of that answer yesterday when I was talking? Often I realize that I should have said something more or different. One priest, I know always said, Do not ask me a question when I am standing, I cannot understand or give a good answer. I think as I live a life that this response makes more and more sense to me. In the Gospel passages, Jesus is about the only one who has a corrector good answer or comment when he is asked a question or needs to say something. The rest of the characters in the gospel stories seem to be stymied at times or give incorrect answers.
All through the many, many chapters of the Prophet Isaiah we discover the true greatness of God. We are reminded that not only did God create us and know us intimately, but also this great God of ours is so unbelievably incomprehensible that his glory is greater than anything we know. This means that all the “greatness” we know in this world, whether it be super-wealthy, awesome power, or international fame, could only be accomplished through God’s authority. Thus Paul writes to the Thessalonians that God has created them for great things and that God has the power to transform their lives.READ MORE
In the sacred scripture this weekend we are to reflect upon images of banquets (sometimes called dinner parties) and celebrations to come to some meaning and understanding of our relationship with God. The prophet Isaiah in his passage writes that all people, not just the selected and chosen ones, will be invited to a special banquet. It appears that this title “banquet” is inadequate in describing the special celebration that was planned. Isaiah is reminding us that when we remember all of the joy and fun found at the best party we’ve ever been to, we still only have a slight glimpse of the day God has planned. This day, this celebration will be the end of all the hurt, suffering, and sadness we have ever known. This great celebration is in honor of salvation, the victory over death.READ MORE
Our first reading this weekend, which comes from the Old Testament from the Book of Isaiah, is a poem or song composed by the prophet about his friend, a vineyard keeper. This composition contains a lot of symbols and has great meaning. The storyline is about his friend, the vineyard keeper, and what can happen. We do not learn right away, but ultimately we discover that this vineyard keeper is God. What happens in the vineyard is important to hear and understand as it has great meaning. His friend the keeper had to first decide what field to use and also to make sure that it was free from rocks and stones and ready for planting. He then had to plant the vines, and in addition, he constructed a vat and tower. The story tells us that he did everything right as a farmer, but that crop did not come out the way it should have. Wild grapes resulted, not finely cultured and luscious grapes. This keeper became really angry and decided to just let it all go back to seed and lay fallow. The field and vineyard would be as it would be.READ MORE
There is an important message for all of us that applies to our entire life in this weekend’s scripture. We are being advised to not live in the past with any of its negative ways, but to live in the present in a changed and healthy way. Clinging to the past with any of its wrongs or flaws limits us and ultimately can destroy our very being. The courage or valor to change what was wrong to what is right is essential to living a healthy and faithful Christian life. Our scripture this weekend encourages us to change and grow as we need to in life.
The prophet Ezekiel who spoke the message of God during the Babylonian Exile clearly informed the Jewish people that they were responsible for their own actions. He blatantly told them they had failed to accept these responsibilities and always tried to blame their separation from God on other people, namely on their ancestors. They always had excuses for their behavior and never failed to blame their problems on the sinfulness of the many generations before them. Ezekiel boldly challenged them to live in the present time of their lives and take responsibility for their own actions now and also to do what they knew was right regardless of past events.READ MORE
There are many themes in this weekend’s scripture and one of them is that life does not work out equally for everyone. Life is not distributed to everyone in equal parts at the same time. We are all proud believers in egalitarianism for one and all, yet we know that in many ways life rolls ours differently for each person. There is in life some randomness if badness that is not the result of malfeasance or sin takes place. And more importantly, there is some randomness of goodness in our lives that we cannot justify or explain. It is very difficult in life to sort through the many complaints people have. We are biased by our personal histories and so is the complainer. We tend to remember our negatives and nurse them along in our lives and often miss seeing or valuing the many good things that we have. We often carry resentments and grudges quite tightly to our hearts and very rarely carry gratitude and appreciation in the same way. The larger theme of this weekend is how we see life.READ MORE
Our first reading this weekend is a fitting foundation for the Gospel of this Sunday. This passage from the Book of Sirach is a strong platform on which an understanding of our Gospel selection can be built. Sirach was a sacred book that was composed roughly 200 years before the time of Jesus. It was the son of Sirach who wrote this book in an attempt to help the Jews of then live in peace and harmony in the world of their day. He had much to tell them. He told them to let go of anger, as many of them held on tightly to this negative emotion. To them, anger seemed valuable, even when it was not. More importantly, he tells them our sins will be forgiven if we forgive others and, as importantly, we must show mercy in order to receive it.
In our Gospel passage, the Lord Jesus shows this great wisdom of Sirach when his follower Peter asks how often we need to forgive someone who has hurt us. In the story told by Jesus, we learn the king forgave the enormous debt of his servant, but the servant demanded payment and punishment when a fellow slave could not pay what he owed. Clearly we are to be like the king.READ MORE
Nostalgia exists for everyone shortly after we start to create and reflect upon our memories. We all remember “the good old days” when we were young(er) and things were different. We remember them as better or as worse than they were. Memory is an emotional intellectual activity when we think about our past. Memorizing the time's table or historical information or data” is different. All generations and cohorts of ages of people think about their past with the same sense of subjective nostalgia. This nostalgic memory influences how and what we think in the presence of ourselves and what we think of others.
The Old Testament prophet Ezekiel and the Gospel writer Matthew tell us that we are obligated to speak up when we see something or someone doing or going wrong. Ezekiel is quite bold and tells that if we fail to correct the person, that person’s fate is considerably our fault. I would say that is a rather great responsibility for most of us. I suspect this is an exaggeration because we cannot control someone else’s free will decision. As we know, many people will never listen and to try to speak to them does far more harm than good. Matthew says the same thing. We are to go directly to the person if something is not right. And he says if that does not work, there is still more to be done according to Matthew’s passage.READ MORE