Saturday, October 15, 2011
Friday, October 14, 2011
IN THE PRESENT
Quote for Today - October 14, 2011
"The miracles of the church seem to me to rest not so much upon faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from afar off, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there about us always."
Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop, 1927
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
AND INSIDE STORIES
The title of my homily for this 26th Tuesday in Ordinary Time is, “Intersections and Inside Stories.”
I’m just back from a great vacation. 28 of us were on a Mediterannean cruise.
Most mornings we’d get off the boat and get into a bus - and head for some famous destination. Because I had a camera - most of the time I was offered the window seat. I took a lot of pictures - but most pictures were taken with my eyes.
At corners and red lights I could see lots of morning people heading to work. Who is this person with the mustache or this gal with the mini-skirt at the intersection? What is there inside story? I’d see beggars and business men - moms and dads - many men and many women on buses, cars as well as on motorcycles. Who are these people? What is their inside story? What’s going on in their lives?
One day two of us went to Corinth - where they think today’s first reading of Paul to the Romans was written. There we saw ruins and rubble - big archeological digs. We saw lots of statues. Who was this person whose face still remains on a piece of marble - 2000 years later? I’d stand there are intersections - trying not to tie up people behind me - but I’d find myself wondering who were these people I’m intersecting with? What was their inside story?
In today’s first reading Paul says the invisible God and God’s attributes and story are right there in our midst every day. Do we go inside God and ask what were you thinking when you made us - as well as gnats and mosquitoes, the milky way - and millions and billions of people.
Today’s gospel has Jesus being invited to a dinner to the home of a Pharisee and they are judging Jesus for not washing his hands before eating - and Jesus goes after them for cleaning the outside of the dish but not being aware of their inside story - which could be R rated.
Jesus went inside people. He dug into their inside story - so they would know themselves better - and then become better people.
What’s my inside story? What’s inside the chalice or cup called me? Answers to these questions are primary reflection. It’s the stuff for prayer.
Getting out of my high chair in the bus and just judging people from a distance is not right. We have to meet each other at the intersections of their lives. That’s called communion and community.
Meeting God at our intersections - talking to and then about God’s inner story and our inner story. Now that’s prayer. That’s being in communion with God.
CONCLUSION: BELOW THE SURFACE
Unfortunately, we stay outside on the surface.
I was listening to Kojo Nnamdi yesterday on NPR radio on my way back here from saying the 12:10 Mass at St. John Neumann. He was talking with a man named Harold Ross about how people judge people by height and name and color and age and weight.
Someone mentioned two guys named Cable and Judge from the University of Florida. They who did a study that indicated that an inch of height is worth more than $800 a year in salary for men.
Someone mentioned that a law firm was hiring and the person hiring said she had bias about this gal just out of law school because she was stunningly beautiful - therefore she can’t be that smart. They hired her and she was that smart.
When we meet each other in the intersections of life - we need to go inside and hear the inside story on each other. Now that can be a great trip with great vistas and views.
Monday, October 10, 2011
DON’T KILL THE STORY
The title of my homily for this 28 Sunday in Ordinary Time A is: “Don’t Kill The Story.” And the story is the story of Jesus, the story of the kingdom, the reason why Jesus came. Don’t kill it. “Don’t kill the story!”
I would like to get across what I want to get across this morning by using two common experiences: 1) Invitation: receiving an invitation and 2) Killing a story or a joke.
We’ve all had both experiences: receiving invitations to a dinner, a movie, a wedding, a jubilee, etc. We’ve all heard someone tell a story or a joke and told it perfectly and then the next day or next month hearing someone tell the same story of joke and kill it. “Don’t kill the story!”
Today’s first and third readings both have the theme of invitation. All are invited to the banquet. All are invited to the mountain. All are invited to a great feast!
We all have received invitations all our life: to attend birthdays for two year olds to 50th anniversaries. So we know what an invitation is.
DON’T KILL THE STORY
George Mc Cauley is the only commentator on today’s gospel who comes right out and says that Matthew killed Jesus’ story. He says that Matthew added a second parable and it ends with a bit of a sour taste. A guy is tossed out into the night where he can wail and grind his teeth because he didn’t have the proper garment.
In all fairness, the liturgists might be covering up for Matthew by giving us an option today. You can read either the long or the short form. I read the long form. The short form leaves out the second parable, the account of the guy without the proper garment.
However, Matthew still kills the story by adding the stuff about killing the servants, etc.
The Gospel of Thomas seems to tell the story the way Jesus probably told the story. A man sends our dinner invitations to 4 friends. All 4 don’t accept the invitation. When the man hears that all said they couldn’t come he says to his servant, “The heck with them. Go out to the road” and bring in anyone you can find. End of story.
Matthew embellishes the story for his own reasons. He brings in the history of salvation. He brings in the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70. He brings in his nuance that mere attendance or presence in the community is not enough. We have to do something. He might even be reflecting on Isaiah 61:10 where it talks about wearing the “robe of righteousness.”
In Emory Griffin’s book, The Mind Changers, he gives two good examples on how to invite persons into the Christian community. The first way kills the story.
In his chapter on “Resistance to Persuasion” he mentions a book by Joe Bayly’s entitled, The Gospel Blimp. “It’s the tale of two families who want to reach their neighbors for Christ, so they buy a blimp to tow banners and drop tracts over their homes. The story is a clever parody of impersonal methods of evangelism - a classic study of how not to do it.” That’s the way to kill the story.
He also gives the way to tell the story. It’s by being the story in person. The way is to be the story. Action speaks louder than words. Be Christian and you will change the world and others might join. Others might see us as an invitation on how to live life.
In chapter four of his book, entitled “Resistance to Persuasion” he writes, “I recently met a girl who accepted the faith after overhearing Christians talk to each other about the Lord. She’d often heard the gospel, but always figured that Christians were a bunch of phonies. She reacted violently at any mention of the name of Jesus Christ. Then she came to stay in the home of her aunt and uncle for a month during the summer. Many nights she lay awake overhearing them talk about their love of God and desire to serve him. Their obvious sincerity won her over. Imagine their surprise - and of course their joy - when she announced at the end of her stay that she wanted to be a Christian like them. It would’ve been a different story if they’d been constantly angling to convince her. Overt witness would have scared her off.” (p. 46)
I conce heard Dominic Maruca tell the story about a guy who did not join the Jesuits because he did not see joyful people in the Jesuits. Well, I have met joyful Jesuits. I had a Jesuit spiritual direction once whose name was Jim Gladstone. And he was a glad guy - a happy person.
I’m sure some people don't get married because they saw married people cheating or stressed out or not happy. I’m sure people have not been Christians because they did not see Joyful Christians.
Don’t kill the story!
I am a Redemptorist. I hope people see us Redemptorists as men who invite others to follow the Redeemer - to follow Christ. I hope some people seriously consider the idea of becoming a religious - becoming a Redemptorist - because they see us living Religious Life to the full. Hopefully people see us glad that we decided to live life as a Christian as a Redemptiorist.
Notice I put that living life - a happy joyful life - being a full human being first.
I’m sure people will join or not join us based on our joyfulness.
Hopefully we don't kill the story.
Now obviously all this does not mean we toss the cross out the window and spend our lives singing, "Joyful, Joyful, Joyful We Adore You.
In fact, the cross is very connected to joy. I think that when we as religious and as Redemptorists live with one another and joyfully, then we will experience both the cross and joy.
I think Paul in this second reading provides this balance when he speaks in very practical language. The first and third readings are speaking in ideals and in story telling language. Paul says, “I am experienced in being brought low, yet I know what it is to have an abundance. I have learned how to cope with every circumstance - how to eat well or go hungry, to be well provided for or do without. In him who is the source of my strength I have strength for everything.”
What we are then is the best invitation for Christianity, for religious life, for the Redemptorists, and we might even add for being a human being.
In this homily, I'm stressing that we don't kill the story of Christ - by being unhappy campers.
God’s plan is that all are invited to the banquet, to the mountain. And it’s only when we remove all the barriers, that we realize the dream of living life to the full.