There’s an envelope here. Let’s take a look: And the winner is… …. It says, “Stop the steal,” Who counts the votes? Stop the steal: It demands a recount. I can’t argue with that. Frank O’Loughlin is not a prophet. On my best days, I’m a plagiarist. By the Grace of God, I hope to sometimes be a plagiarist of the Word of God. I know what a prophet is supposed to be. I read and loved Abraham Heschel; Plagiarized him constantly for homilies. If you were in a parish with me, you have a copy of Walter Brueggeman’s Prophetic Imagination. Stop the steal. What I am is an Irish Catholic. Irish Catholic, the very definition of ordinary. No WASP here. Not white, Not Anglo, No Protestant individualism. You remember how James Joyce defined Catholic, “Here comes everybody.” Whether upper or lower case C, Catholic, everybody, pluralist. In Florida we learn to say, “Y’all.” Cut me some slack, I’m in trouble if you think I’m being sectarian or nationalist. I’m no prophet, merely product of a culture, Catholic and Irish. Proud, for example, to say, “I’m Irish, not white.” When we were little schoolboys, our teachers had the wisdom to ridicule the notion of whiteness: “White, what can that mean? Take a gander at that pink mug of yours in the mirror; where is that famous white?” It isn’t that I don’t believe in prophecy I wholly believe in prophetic community, to our attending to each other’s voices in community. On Saturday the Wall Street Journal celebrated a catechism teacher, Stephen Colbert, as the adult Mister Rogers. One of our own. Listen to him.
I am of an era of peace activists. I belonged to the movements. None has had more depth and staying power than Pax Christi of the Cathedral parish. Community and culture. Never mere individual idealists. We were the parish, reading the Gospel together, receiving Communion, animated by a spirited quest for God, even reckless in pursuit of a world renewed. The Bible Girls praying for more, not less, demanding mission Barbara and Beth, liberationists in the Megan mode Phyllis and Sandy, instigators of the kingdom of peace and hope the poet Nancy, our ambassador to Haiti and to Heaven. Have you forgiven the Irish bit? I’m not promoting nationalism, but community and culture. May I plagiarize once more? This will be a reading from the gospel according to Bruce Springsteen. Describing the vocation he shares with the kids from the Dublin community, the rockers Bono and U2, he says “You want the sky to split open and God to pour out.” Does that sound like the yearning of your Pax Christi culture? About U2, Springsteen says, “Their search for God intact, laying claim not only to this world, but the next. There is a deeply held faith in the work you’re doing And its power to change the world. Before James Brown, there was Jesus. We are not ironists, we are creations of the heart and of the earth and of the Stations of the Cross. Here we are Lord, this mess in your image. Bono brought his personal faith into the real world. You find the spirituality as home, as quest. How do you find God, unless He’s in Your heart?” Within the heart and culture of your Peace community. As the Peace Activists invited me to their three-day retreat and credited me with the formation we have given each other through many years, I realized that day one was on the anniversary of the My Lai massacre. The second was the birthday of Wilfred Owen. The third was the anniversary of George Bush’s unleashing of fire and brimstone on Baghdad. And each day Putin was getting away with ravishing the Ukraine. What to say at such a date?
Mary Carter Warren brought substantial studies to nourish hope and purpose. John Frank cultivator of our beginnings and Johnny Zokovitch seeding our next generation. Father Fred, resilient graced priesthood. Sandy’s light touch direction infused a spirit of glad joy in being together among lifelong witnesses to grace and mercy. And I talked about war. A great horror of modern warfare is the calculated destruction of spirits, of culture, identity, heart and soul. American psychologists developed techniques in the war against Vietnamese nationalism which were reproduced in the war against the Maya. A European human rights study described the strategy in Guatemala as “Creating a Devastation and calling it a Peace.” Americans remember it as “We had to destroy the village to save it.” Not only were villages ravaged and massacred, but such survivors as emerged were gathered at other sites, ‘Development Poles,’ where all marks of identity were erased and a new National Security identity was offered on streets named for warriors. The Maya have twenty seven languages and many dialects. These were suppressed in the new villages. Religious expression was replaced with Southern US preaching, now called Evangelicals. But the most striking affront to the Mayan civilization was the prohibition of the people’s traditional clothing. The Maya had not only had a multiplicity of ancient cultural features evidenced in their myriad languages but every community had its own very clearly individual dress. To grasp the sacred civilization one has to imagine how the thread was first invented, a craft taught from grandmother to granddaughter, perhaps 500 years ago. The dyes that could be produced from local leaves and berries were created and the weaves and patterns that became representative of the community and culture emerged. Sticks and stones and guns and bombs, we have learned, do not win wars against such civilizations. The spirit that sustains the victims’ humanity must be undermined. At their Lake Worth Center, when Mayan women have seen the huipils, they have been carried away, recalling the grandmothers whom they saw weave and wear huipils in those very patterns. See the crafts, and weep with me for the sins of war. Lord bless the prophetic culture of your Pax Christi community.
Regarding the one without the proper wedding garment…
because everyone is not wealthy the tradition is to provide. Wedding garments are provided at the door for those without wedding garments (not unlike a fancy restaurant providing jackets for male diners).
The man refused the wedding garment. That is the not spoken truth (the not revealed).
He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence (Mt 22:12).
Greetings on this the Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent Readings: Dn 3:25, 34-43; PS 25:4-5ab, 6 and 7bc, 8-9; Mt 18:21-35 Notes: OK a twist on a commercial word: PayPal. Continue our prayers for the liberation of Ukraine from this evil of war. They are unjustly condemned. Let us help them find prayer.
(reminder: these reflections are marginally helpful unless one reads the readings of the day. It is the sacred scripture that make this midrash of any additive value. You can find the daily reading calendar here: https://bible.usccb.org/readings/calendar)
From the burning flames, a plea for divine intervention.
Jeremiah asked the Lord for deliverance and justice (revenge in a less charitable reading of it). But he stopped short and said instead “in the time of your anger“.
The Martyrdom of a Mother and Her Seven Sons (2nd Maccabees) brings us the mother: Most admirable and worthy of everlasting remembrance was the mother who, seeing her seven sons perish in a single day, bore it courageously because of her hope in the Lord.
The last son, obedient to God and his mother, said to Antiochus: But you, who have contrived every kind of evil for the Hebrews, will not escape the hands of God.
Jeremiah – presumed to be martyred later.
Martyrdom of a Mother and Her Seven Sons – martyred.
Hananiah, Azariah, Mishael – saved from the flames.
All lives put to the test. All trusting in the Lord even unto death. All, in varying degrees, putting the question of vengeance to the Lord and his decision. All a part of a progressive elaboration of divine mercy.
Pointing us toward the final answer, mercy in Jesus.
Jesus, moves us to forgive not seven times, but every time. As he did on the cross.
This is impossible without prayer. Prayer for ourselves and our tormentors (or at the least ignoring the tormentor).
51 Then these three in the furnace with one voice sang, glorifying and blessing God.
First reading I can image in Ukraine this prayer of Azariah is most heartfelt.
But with contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received; As though it were burnt offerings of rams and bullocks, or thousands of fat lambs, So let our sacrifice be in your presence today as we follow you unreservedly; for those who trust in you cannot be put to shame. And now we follow you with our whole heart, we fear you and we pray to you. Do not let us be put to shame, but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy. Deliver us by your wonders, and bring glory to your name, O Lord.
Responsorial Psalm Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Verse Before the Gospel Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart; for I am gracious and merciful.
Gospel Portion Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
Greetings on this the Monday of the Third Week of Lent Readings: 2 Kgs 5:1-15ab; PS 42:2, 3; 43:3, 4; Lk 4:24-30 Notes: In our first reading and the gospel portion they share a common theme.
Just trust the Lord.
What the Lord asks of us is simple really:
to act justly.
to trust the Lord.
Naaman got it, after some prompting.
First reading But his servants came up and reasoned with him. “My father,” they said, “if the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary, would you not have done it? All the more now, since he said to you, ‘Wash and be clean,’ should you do as he said.” So Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times at the word of the man of God. His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
Responsorial Psalm Athirst is my soul for the living God. When shall I go and behold the face of God?
We really do thirst for the Lord and to be in relationship with him. Trust he feels the same way.
Verse Before Gospel I hope in the LORD, I trust in his word; with him there is kindness and plenteous redemption.
Gospel Portion Jesus uses the example of two foreigners trusting the Lord.
Elisha’s military commander.
His purpose is to call out all of us who know something about him but really refuse to actually know him.
How do we know we are distant from the Lord?
Easily aroused to anger is a big sign of distance.
The idea of foreigners being close to the Lord instead of who ‘own’ the Lord enrages.
Do we sometimes do the same?
When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away.
How do you feel when the Lord helps your enemy, your foreigner?
Saturday was a full day teen lent retreat. Beautiful. We have wonderful teenagers more than 40 attending. After a 20 minute presentation (which contained hints to most of the jeopardy questions) we gave out prizes for the best answers. A lot of fun!
Theme: Be Holy as I am Holy.
Summary of my presentation
Define Fast: discussion.
Fast has many meanings but today I will focus on the one I think you need to hear more distinctly than the others.
Fast – go rapidly. Yes, but not a Lent concept really.
Fast – refrain from unholy things and actions. This is the most common use of the word but I propose the least valuable. Yes, we must AVOID sin and we should work at not doing them but this is the over worked concept of fasting. We’ll have confession later today.
Fast – recognize the natural and supernatural good in our life and share them with others.
The third one is my focus today.
Starting with the question: Which describes God better?
God is not evil.
God is good.
I hope you picked number 2. We can train ourselves to consider the holiness of God (mercy and lovingkindness) and by extension the holiness in us as well. The potential of holiness is the focus not the existence of privation. We know we are sinners. We should know we are called to be like God – Holy.
Altitude and Attitude – short skit on pilot conversing with control tower. Attitude is the slope of rise or decline in flight-speak. Had some fun with air traffic control asking the pilot who declared an in-flight emergency, “what is your attitude?”
“Well, I’m grumpy a lot. And a little scared”
Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving
An integrated approach. A cell phone is not inherently evil. Actually it is quite naturally good. If your little sister likes the song “ABC 123 Why don’t you dance with me?”
In prayer you discovered the natural good.
In fasting you share with her the YouTube video of the song, and dance with her.
In almsgiving you take the natural and super natural good you have and be Holy.
Greetings on this the Third Sunday of Lent Year C Readings: Ex 3:1-8a, 13-15; Ps 103: 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8, 11; 1 Cor 10:1-6, 10-12; Lk 13:1-9 Notes: We have a visiting priest, Fr Steve Olds from the seminary. Fr. Olds will be our retreat master for the next three days (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday). I will post summaries for a shared benefit.
He will be the homilist today.
I hope your Lent is going well.
First reading God said, “Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.
Holy is the Lord. Moses is asked to remove his sandals before approaching.
It is important to note my readers that the Lord is always approachable. Moses, being uncircumcised, was in grave danger by law. But not so by divine love.
On the journey, at a place where they spent the night, the LORD came upon Moses and sought to put him to death. But Zipporah took a piece of flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and, touching his feet, she said, “Surely you are a spouse of blood to me.” So God let Moses alone. At that time she said, “A spouse of blood,” in regard to the circumcision (Ex 4:24-26).
But in love and mercy, just remove your sandals – that would be enough.
Responsorial Psalm The Lord is kind and merciful.
Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all my being, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.
Second reading These things happened as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil things, as they did. Do not grumble as some of them did, and suffered death by the destroyer. These things happened to them as an example, and they have been written down as a warning to us, upon whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall.
Verse Before Gospel Repent, says the Lord; the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Gospel Portion When we speak to God we are on Holy Ground.
A place of truth, refreshment and peace.
Depending on the state of our person we may know to be joyful, reverent, holy. Depending we may be angry, resentful, demanding. Pre-judging how people are with God is always risky business. Jesus clearly states we have no idea. Galileans mistreated in blood or by accident are just people. Some approach God, others we are aren’t so sure. But its not about us anyway.
There are a lot of ways to approach the Holy Ground of God.
Be at peace most of all. Speak your truth as you know it.
The Lord is kind and merciful.
As long as you try and communicate remember the gardener: I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future.
Hint: as long as you have breath, stand on the Holy Ground listen and be heard.
Maybe a good practice is to bow one’s head or speak in whispers. Or whatever sign you choose to acknowledge the holiness before which you stand. It is enough.
Greetings on this the Thursday of the Second Week of Lent Readings: Jer 17:5-10; PS 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6; Lk 16:19-31 Notes: Appeals to reason, logic, sympathy and commonality sometimes are not enough.
A very tragic outcome indeed for the rich man in today’s gospel portion.
In life, he gave not even a drop of water. In torment, he asks for the same.
Maybe, we can change how we operate?
The highest aspirations a human can have is to be in communion with the Divine. Faith, hope and charity are the apex of human decisions and are the first three commandments.
One God, one alone – faith, he will rescue us as he did in the Exodus.
Trust, not in vain – hope, not vanity nor superficiality but genuine expectation.
Charity – to rest in the Sabbath love, to be a participant in giving Sabbath love.
First reading Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the LORD.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD.
Responsorial Psalm Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Blessed the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked Nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent, But delights in the law of the LORD and meditates on his law day and night.
Verse Before Gospel Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance.
Gospel Portion The verse before the gospel is a perfect setting to read the gospel portion today.
How many promises have we kept?
How many good things have we done with a generous heart?
In the parable today, Jesus uses a story of the rich man contrast to describe generosity and its benefit to benefactor and receiver alike. Such is the effects of goodness of the Lord.
Everyone’s life is better.
and the contrast.
How hardened we can become!
Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.’”
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? (Jn 14:2).
I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you (Jn 14:25-26).
And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe (Jn 14:29).
I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you (Jn 16:4).
I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world (Jn 16:33).