Saturday, January 28, 2012



The title of my homily for this 3rd Saturday in Ordinary Time is, “Impact: That Man Is You!”

Last night after reading the readings for today the theme of “Impact” hit me.

Last night I reflected upon the question: “What have been the things that impacted me - those moments and memories, experiences and peoples who have impacted my life - changed me - got me to reconsider realities?”

It’s a good question. It’s worth reflecting upon. Answers will come - but not all the answers. There are things that had an impact upon us - but we forgot all about them

Then sometimes, something triggers a recall. Then we say, “Oh that’s where I got that thought or idea from. How many times has that hit us?


The title of my homily is, “Impact: That Man Is You?”

The second part of that statement is what hit me last night, namely, “That Man Is You!” It’s a statement made by Nathan to David in today’s first reading. That’s the translation I was used to. The New American Bible as you heard today put it this way, “You are the man!”

It’s the title of a book by Louis Evely that came out in 1964 - and it had a great impact on people’s lives. I noticed in doing some research on this book last night - that his book is on many lists of people’s best books.

In one issue of U.S. Catholic magazine, people were asked to respond to this question: “What book had the greatest spiritual influence on your life?” Some people said it was, “That Man Is You,” by Louis Evely.

I also noticed a request sent in to another magazine: “What book would you recommend and why for my younger sister who now has interest in religion in her life?” Some recommended, “That Man Is You” by Louis Evely,

You know the whole story - part of which is in today’s first reading. David steals another man’s wife - Bathsheba. Nathan comes to him and tells him a parable. A poor man had nothing - nothing but a tiny little sheep. His neighbor was a rich man - who had a guest coming - so instead of taking from his own flock to come up with a meal for his visitor - he steals the poor man’s sheep.

David takes the bite. He says, “Who is this man who did such a thing? It’s not fair.”

Nathan the Prophet says, “That man is you.”

That statement - that story - taught me the power of parables and stories, movies and plays, as well as the power of books.


Thinking about that last night - I realized that book taught me the great message: every story in the Bible has me in mind. Every story is about me. That man is you. That woman is you. That story is your story!”

I am the Magi and the Shepherds. I am all the characters in the Good Samaritan story. I’m the Good Thief and the Bad Thief. I’m the lost coin and the lost sheep. I’m Adam and Eve. I’m Moses and David. It am the Woman at the Well. I’m a disciple of Jesus - in the boat - as we heard in today’s gospel - and I’m trying to get to the other side and I’m facing a storm - and I need faith.

I’m doubting Thomas and I’m Thomas Aquinas - whose feast day is today - January 28th.

This message of seeing ourselves in every story is exactly what Shakespeare and the great movie makers knew. I’m Bogart and Bergman in Casablanca. I’m Jimmy Stewart in It’s A Wonderful Life.

I am the person on the bridge in the famous 1893 painting by Edvard Munch - called “The Scream”. Everyone has deep screams inside their being. What are they?

Then I remembered an article I wrote for Priest magazine - a long, long time ago. The article was on my favorite 10 books. I wondered if I had Louis Evely’s book on my list. Yep, it was # 9.


Surprise I noticed in the things I was reading last night mention of a story by a French playwright, Jean Anouilh. He told the story about the line of folks on their way up to the Pearly Gates. As I read that I said, “Oh no!” I was humbled because I realized where I got my idea for a sermon on just that - a sermon that I enjoyed giving. Surprise, it wasn’t my idea in the first place.


Realizing that I’m someone who has picked up stuff from all over, it’s no wonder I like the line in Ulysses, the poem by Tennyson, “I am part of all that I have met.”

This humbles me. It also leads to gratitude for all those who impacted my life.


January  28,  2012

Quote for Today

"We are the strings in the concert of God's joy."

Jakob Boehme [1575-1624] German Mystic

Friday, January 27, 2012


January  27, 2012

Quote for Today

"The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated."

William James [1842-1910]

Question: By midnight tonight, who are the 3 people you'll tell or show signs that you appreciate them?

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Quote for Today - January  26,  2012

"Conversion may occur in an instant,  but the process of coming from sinfulness into a new life can be a long and arduous journey."

Charles Colson

Painting on Top: The Conversion of St. Paul [1600-1601] by Caravaggio (1571-1610) - which like Caravaggio's other painting of Paul's conversion can be found in Rome - this one in the Odescalchi Balbi Collectionl



The title of my homily is, “Different Schools of Thought.”


I would think that all of us would take time - from time to time - to ask questions like the following, “Where am I coming from?” “Why do I think the way I think?” “Why do people think differently than the way I think? and vice versa?”


I would think that all of us would take time - from time to time - to look at our own history - to write our autobiography - to tell our story to each other - to see our time line - how we have grown - how we have decayed - how we have recovered - how we are different from the way we were. [1]

I would think that all of us would take time - from time to time - to ponder who formed us - who got us to think the way we think?

I would think that all of us would take time - from time to time - to look at moments in our life - where we changed our opinions - the way we think, etc. Was it people who changed us? If we changed, was it gradual, unnoticed, unconscious, or what have you?

I would think that all of us would take time - from time to time - to look at moments in our life - where we changed because we heard an opinion or an understanding - and we said to ourselves, “I don’t agree with that.” How many takes on issues have we figured out on our own - based on our reasoning - and listening - our inner development of thought - based on perceived consequences - even when we see that our opinion is in the minority?

I would think that all of us would take time - from time to time - and recall the times we fell flat on our face - fell off our high horse - hit bottom - and realized we were deaf, dumb and blind - and we needed to get on to get ourselves straightened out - to get on the Straight and Narrow - so we can see further and wider - than the way we are seeing now.

I would think we all need or have had Paul like conversions.


Today is the feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul - January 25th.

The first reading tells us of the dramatic change in the life of Saul - moving from being someone who persecuted Christians - to being a follower of Christ. [Cf. Acts of the Apostles 22: 3-16]

It was an eye closing experience - to an eye opening experience.

We find Paul’s change being described in his letters as well as Luke’s Acts of the Apostles. [2]


If we read the scriptures, we discover that King Saul was different that King David. If we read the scriptures we find out that Paul was different than Peter - and Thomas different than Peter - and the same person, Saul was different than the person he became - Paul.

If we read the scriptures carefully, we can see that Mathew, Mark, Luke and John were all different - and some say that they are 4 schools of thought.

Today’s first reading mentions a character named Gamaliel - that Paul was trained by him - and Gamaliel was from the School of Hillel which was milder than the School of Shammai. Yet Paul (when he was Saul) was very strict - when it comes to the Law.


I was lucky to be trained before, during and after Vatican II. It gave our class at times an understanding of those older and those younger than us.

I was lucky to have parents who were immigrants - as well as reflectively quiet - especially my dad. I often saw my dad quietly reading and praying. My sister Mary - in our Sunday afternoon - weekly phone call - has often said my mom was ahead of her times. Did I get a liberal streak from her? I don’t know.

There are questions we all have about our parents - our teachers - our experiences - as well as our background.

While studying theology in our major seminary from 1962-1966 our text books presented a theological dogma or teaching. Then it gave various opinions and schools of thought on various dogmas and issues.

We heard the great teaching of Vatican II - that a person’s conscience is king and queen of that person - but they need to have an informed conscience. [3]

I have read from time to time that Pope Benedict had a different background and take on different things than John Paul II - and John Paul I was different than John Paul II, etc. etc. etc.

Well, isn’t that true for all of us? Do people who grew up in a parish that had Franciscans have a different take on spirituality and thought than someone who grew up in a parish that had Jesuits or Benedictines? If someone went to church that had diocesan priests - would the place where those priests went to the major seminary - end up giving them different attitudes on preaching content and style?

As priest I think about the individual professors we had - what they were off on - how they saw life and God - having an impact on me.

Once upon a time I was asked to go with a group of people on a four hour bus ride to a spiritual retreat center for a weekend. The priest who was supposed to go with the group couldn’t make it. One of the leaders - as soon as we got started - asked if she could put a CD of Father John Corapi on the VCR. People agreed. I had heard of him - but never listened to him. He preached a long sermon - or talk. Then the lady asked if she could put another talk on - then a third talk. As I sat there listening I realized how different he was to other priests I had heard - as well as myself. He was clear and strong - but when I got to the retreat house I felt like I was in a room and the person in the next room had loud music on for 3 ½ hours - or hammering or drilling. On the way back - after getting into the bus - after a weekend of prayer, quiet, walking, some talks - the same lady asked if she could put Father John Corapi on the VCR - for the ride back - people said, “No!”

That experience and a zillion other experiences reaffirmed the obvious to me: we are different! We are all different people.

I keep in mind the saying, “The greatest sin is our inability to accept the otherness of other people.”

I watched the State of the Union last evening and the guy with the clicker or remote or was switching back and forth between Fox and CNBC and CNN - and all three channels had commentators giving their take on President Barak Obama’s talk. Once more I saw the great differences in perceptions - agendas - takes.

I jokingly thought to myself, “Did they all hear and watch the same talk?”


The title of my homily was, “Different Schools of Thought.”

I love it that the Christian God is a Trinity of Persons - 3 divine persons.

I love it that Jesus chose a variety of persons - and as we heard in today’s gospel - he sent the 11 into the world to proclaim he Good News to all.


Painting on top: The Conversion of St. Paul on the Road to Damasascus, 1601. It can be found in the church of Santa Maria Del Popolo, Rome.

[1] Cf. Paul Tournier, The Person Reborn, Harper and Row, Publishers, Translated by Edwin Hudson, 1966; Jack Mezirow and Associates, Fostering Critical Reflection in Adulthood, A Guide to Transformative and Emancipatory Learning, Jossey-Bas Publishers, San Francisco, Oxford, 1990

[2] We find autobiography and biography of Paul in 2 Corinthians 11 to 13: 10; 1 Corinthians 9: 1-27; Acts of the Apostles 9: 1-22; and in lots of other places in the New Testament

[3] Cf. Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, Chapter 4, 41. Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part 3, Article 6, Moral Conscience.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Quote for Today - January 25, 2013

"Concealed grudges are dangerous in friendships."


Tuesday, January 24, 2012



The title of my homily is, “Keep Calm! The Example of St. Francis De Sales.”

Today, January 24, is the feast of St. Francis de Sales [1567-1622].


A priest I used to talk to for Spiritual Direction while in our major seminary, Father Freddy Prenatt, liked St. Francis de Sales.

He stressed the virtue and practice of “Keep calm!” He liked to say that St. Francis de Sales stressed “Con calme!” - doing life with calmness. “Con calme!” He would add that St. Francis de Sales stressed, “Omnia suave”. Translation: “All things sweetly!” “Do all things sweetly.”

I could end right there. That’s a good sermon idea: work on keeping calm. Work on doing all things sweetly. Nice and easy!


I aim for two pages - 14 pica - in these homilies for weekday masses - so let me flesh this out a tiny bit more?

Is keeping calm - being calm - a virtue? Is it something one can work on? Are some people more calm and some people more volatile - simply by nature. Can you watch a child and see a whole life?

Someone with passion is valuable at times. Someone who is calm is valuable at times.

Does the person who is calm - better too calm - need a little more passion in their life? Doesn’t Yeats - William Butler Yeats- in his poem, The Second Coming say something about all this - when we writes about the world falling apart - because the center cannot hold? Then he says, “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.”


I read a bit last night about St. Francis de Sales.

It was interesting to read that this man who pushed for keeping calm - and doing all things sweetly - had a fierce temper - and had big struggles with anger. He admitted that it took him 20 years to overcome his temper.

This surprised people - but it seems that his solution was to zip his mouth - step back - hold off a responses - let things sit - give things time. If one does that, one can learn patience.

He got to know St. Vincent de Paul who said that he never met a kinder main in his life.

Is it where we are in the birth order - what are parents are like - that makes us what we’re like and become. He was the oldest of 12. He had a very definite - a very strong father. His father had big plans for him - including the woman he was to marry. His father got very angry with him when he announced he was going to go for the priesthood.

Was that the reason St. Alphonsus liked his writings - because he too was the oldest in his family - and his father was furious with his decision to stop being a lawyer to become a priest?

Both he and Alphonsus went through a serious depression. For Francis it was the fear of dying and going to hell. For Alphonsus it was that at times - he could be scrupulous - but it was also the loss of a big law case.


That’s enough. This morning I’m suggesting that we look at the issue of keeping calm - taking one’s time - building one’s life - not on fear - but on the love of God. I noticed that Alphonsus spotted that in Francis de Sales writings - and both said to build one’s life on just that - loving and being loved - God and each other.


Quote for Today - January  24,  2012

"The drones make more noise and are in a greater hurry than the bees, but they do no make the honey."

St. Francis de Sales [1567-1622] Introduction to the Devout Life, Part III, Chapter 10.

Monday, January 23, 2012


[The following is a reflection for our St. Mary's High School Right to Life Mass - before we headed on buses to Washington D.C. The readings were the readings of the day - January 23, 2012 - 3rd Monday in Ordinary Time.]

What does it mean to have a right to life attitude?

It means to pinch oneself every once and a while - and realize I’m here in this place in this time - enjoying the gift of breath and life - on sunny days, grey days, high energy days and slowly moving - I’m dead tired days.

What does it mean to have a right to life attitude?

It means to realize I am made in the image and likeness of God - and this means to be a creator - and a lover - a friend - and a servant.

What does it mean to have a right to life attitude?

It means the last sentence in today’s First Reading fits each of us more and more - by the grace of God - and because we buy the grace of God: “David grew steadily more powerful for the Lord of Hosts was with him.”

What does it mean to have a right to life attitude?

It means that the Psalm Response for today’s liturgy is part of our outlook and our inner look, “My faithfulness and mercy shall be with him or her” - because we’re trying to walk hand in Hand with the Lord.

What does it mean to have a right to life attitude?

It means that the words in today’s gospel hits us and we’re all working not to become a house divided - but to become more and more a house on a strong foundation - with the Lord in the center of our life and home.”

What does it mean to have a right to life attitude?

It means that the words of the Mass, “This is my body …. this is my blood - I’m giving my life for you” is our way of seeing and doing life as well.

What does it mean to have a right to life attitude?

It means that I notice a spider and a paper bug or mite and a fly and an ant crawling on the sidewalk or wall - and to realize I started small - egg and seed - and look at me now.

What does it mean to have a right to life attitude?

It means I give up my time for others. A lady I know got on a plane this morning at BWI and is on her way to Jamaica right now to clean teeth this whole week in a small alcove inside a Catholic Church - that serves as a dental clinic all year long - and the alcoves of that church - with their statues - and now care for living people all year long - serving the folks on the area - and this dental hygienist does this in Cumberland, Maryland area one week a year as well - and one week in her parish as well. That’s 3 weeks of extra help - besides here regular life.

What does it mean to have a right to life attitude?

It means to wince yesterday when reading the book review in the Washington Post of a biography of Heinrich Himmler - who was in on the killing of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of people - in the 1930’s and the first part of the 1940’s - till he killed himself by taking a pill of cyanide poison which the Nazi high command had on hand in case they were caught.

What does it mean to have a right to life attitude?

It means to be against and to speak up when one sees bullying - picking on others with verbal attacks - making fun of others - and the picking on and funny comments are not cute verbal fun between friends - but it’s nasty comments to hurt another - in order to feel better or bigger about oneself - at the expense of another.

What does it mean to have a right to life attitude?

It means to be against abortion - to cry because a future kid, a future singer, dancer, student, friend, scientist, mom, dad, has been destroyed - but to have a deep love and concern for the person who has been in on the abortion - because we’re dealing with human life here.

What does it mean to have a right to life attitude?

It means to live life to the full - in the service of others - discovering and developing one’s talents - working with others to make each other’s day - and to make the world better each day by my presence in it.

What does it mean to have a right to life attitude?

It means to enjoy the gift of life - to be grateful to God and one’s mom and dad for the gift of life - and be grateful for all the people in one’s life - known and unknown - realizing we all need each other - from the truck driver to the truck maker - from the pipe and platform welder to the rig operator in the Gulf of Mexico - and on and on and on - in all the different the streets and avenues, paths and roads of life.

What does it mean to have a right to life attitude?

It means to listen to the person next to me - not interrupting them - trying to hear what they have to say - what they are excited at - or angry at - not answering one’s cell phone when another is talking with me face to face.

What does it mean to have a right to life attitude?

It means taking time to see as Jesus said - the birds of the air and the flowers of the field - buying bird feeders at Home Depot - and clearing out dumps to plant trees and flowers.

What does it mean to have a right to life attitude?

It means to be against Capital Punishment - to hope that murderers and criminals can get rehabilitated - or if someone is dangerous - that they are put in a safe place so they won’t hurt others.

What does it mean to have a right to life attitude?

It means to take the time to play with younger brothers and sisters - to thank one’s parents for the food they buy for us - appreciating and thanking them for their work - knowing the time it takes to make a pay check, to shop, to prepare meals, to keep a house and cars in good maintenance.

What does it mean to have a right to life attitude?

It means to take time with older folks - especially those who find it difficult to get out - or those who need home care - or assisted living or nursing home care.

What does it mean to have a right to life attitude?
It means to laugh and to sing and have fun - and to run - to play and to give others a chance to participate - whether it’s tag football - or Monopoly or chess or Boggle or charades or Wii.

What does it mean to have a right to life attitude?

It means to learn others languages - like Espanol - or Creole - a language that Father Joe learned and loved - during his 17 years of work as a Redemptorist in St. Lucia and Dominica.

What does it mean to have a right to life attitude?

It means to learn the nuances, the inner understandings, the hopes, the dreams, of our mom and dad, brothers and sisters, teachers, friends, by taking time while driving or being with them - to get their take on life and what’s happening in our family and in our circles.

What does it mean to have a right to life attitude?

It means having a concern for the water and the look and feel of creation - as well as the sidewalks and parking lots - not dumping on them - not marring another’s walls with graffiti - leaving the bathroom stall we use in the highway rest area or the Burger King Bathroom cleaner than when we walked into it.

What does it mean to have a right to life attitude?

It means respect for all peoples - all religions - all ways of life - even when we disagree with aspects of other’s take on life.

What does it mean to have a right to life attitude?

It means noticing and affirming other’s positive and good stuff and not just pointing out their mistakes and miscues.

What does it mean to have a right to life attitude?

It means to be thankful, to be Eucharist, at this moment, in this place, right now. Amen.


Quote for Today - January 23,  2012

"All keys hang not on one person's key ring."


Question: Who are the key persons you hang onto and what keys do they have that you don't?

Sunday, January 22, 2012



Today’s first reading features a section of The Book of Jonah - and having read that I came up with the theme and the title for his homily, “Reluctance and The Book of Jonah.”

Today’s first reading triggered the memory of reading a book many, many years ago entitled, “Jonah: The Reluctant Prophet.” It might have been written by Alexander Jones - but I couldn’t trace it down on the Internet.

In doing that search yesterday, I noticed that when preachers preach on Jonah, the word “reluctance” often shows up.


Think about reluctance.

What to say and what not to say or when to say something to another? Choosing a career path? Marriage? Children? Switching jobs?  Kids dating so and so? Another’s drinking patterns? Suggesting to another to bathe more or brush their teeth? Kids living together - and not being married? Moving? When to put a house on the market?

Reluctance means hesitation, stopping to consider, delaying, going slowly because one has some doubts or wonderings or fear about going in a certain direction. Reluctance indicates resisting, holding back or holding off, or see sawing a “yes’ or a “no”, being moderate, or to put oneself in neutral, or even in park, or reverse - and maybe go another way or direction.

Reluctance…. That’s Jonah’s middle name.

So Jonah has been labeled the reluctant prophet.

When was the last time you felt reluctance? What was going on?


The Book of Jonah is a very short book or scroll in the Jewish Bible. As you know, the original texts didn’t have chapter and verses indicated in the text. In our texts, it’s 4 chapters and 48 verses all together. It can be read calmly in less than 10 minutes. When told as a story, I would think 7 minutes would be the max.

It’s found in the Jewish Bible with the prophets. It was found in the Dead Sea Scrolls discovery. It has been a part of Israel’s body of thought. It’s read in its entirety at the afternoon service in Jewish synagogues on Yon Kippur - the Day of Repentance.

It’s a parable, a story, an imaginative tale, with an interesting theme: reaching out to the non-Jews - which is rarely a theme or a message in the Jewish Bible. It’s also a journey into the mind of God - and those who take that journey by reading this book, can have it come home to them that God is a God of mercy and forgiveness and second chances.


We know the story.

A man named Jonah is called by God to preach the message of repentance - change - conversion - to the people in the city of Nineveh in Assyria.

Jonah does not want to do this. It’s different. It’s difficult. It’s dangerous. So Jonah is reluctant - scared - filled with hesitation. He just doesn’t want to do this.

So he heads for the docks to get in a boat to get as far away from this call by God. He finds a boat that is about to set sail for Tarshish. Some say that means Spain. It doesn’t make much difference - it’s a tale. The boat sets sail when the tide is going out - and no sooner are they out to sea that a big storm comes up.

The crew say that someone on board is the problem. Finally they say it’s Jonah and they toss him overboard and the storm stops.

A big fish swallows Jonah and he’s inside this fish for 3 days and 3 nights.

Jonah is praying - praying big time.

This is a big fish story. Jonah repents and the fish dumps him on a beach. Once more God asks Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach conversion.

This time he says, “Yes” to God. He goes to Nineveh and preaches, “You have 40 days to repent - otherwise God is going to destroy your city.”

Surprise. They repent and the city is not destroyed.

Message and moral of the story: When God calls you to do something, do it, otherwise expect trouble.

Message: God calls not just the Jews to salvation.

Message: the Ninevites repented and Israel isn’t repenting.

Message: we can say, “No” to God - but we can also change - our mind and say, “Yes”.


I assume that the team that put together today’s readings had in mind thinking about that what Mark presents first. Mark’s theme is Jesus calling people to follow him. This is the year of Mark and we’ll go through his Gospel this year in Ordinary Time. Having today’s gospel in place, they took a reading from The Book of Jonah because like the gospel, it’s a calling story. It’s also at the water. Both readings present calls to preach.

The second reading often doesn’t fit in, but today’s 2nd reading does. The folks are expecting the end of the world - and Jonah is preaching the end of it all for these folks if they don’t repent.


Let me talk about Herman Melville’s famous book, Moby Dick. There is a scene early on in the book that describes a sermon in a church. Melville is putting on paper background material before the Pequod - Captain Ahab’s boat - and the crew set sail in search of whales - especially Moby Dick.

Father Mapple is in the pulpit - an odd pulpit - that is designed as ship. Behind the preacher is a sea scene. He had to climb a rope ladder to get up into the pulpit. I checked this out by finding scenes on Moby Dick movies - on YouTube.

Rumors are that Father Mapple used to be a sailor - and in his sermon - which is long - he talks about, “When God calls, you better listen. When God tells us what he wants of us, we better do it.”

Father Mapple says that Jonah’s sin was disobedience. He would not listen to God.

To flesh out, to spell out that message, he tells the story of Jonah. This is a logical choice - because the main character in the book won’t listen to God or others. Moreover the big fish in the Jonah story was described as the whale. And Captain Ahab ends up being killed by a whale.

The Jewish scriptures don’t say it’s a whale in the Jonah story. It simply tells the reader,  it’s a big fish.

Father Mapple in his sermon on Jonah says that God calls us - God gives us a mission - God gives us our destiny and we better follow it.


A message for us today is to sit here in this church and ask God is He sending us a message. If God is, what is that message? If we grasp and get that message, are we following it? Or are we reluctant?

I have thought about that question - God’s will, God’s plan, God’s hope for me - much of my life.

I don’t know how to say that - other than that way - but I suspect - I assume - that everyone of us - has wondered about this question all our lives.

If for starters, God has a plan, a wanting, a will, a hope for me, how specific is it.

In reflecting upon all this for this homily, a key division of thought that hit me was:  looking backwards and looking forwards.

At the age of 72, looking back at my life, I down deep say to myself and to God, “This made sense - being who I am, what I chose, what I’ve done, what’s happened in my life so far.”

I’ve learned that this hits us from time to time - especially at moments in life - when one is experiencing a blessing.

For example, seeing a grandkid getting baptized or seeing one’s kids in a play or sitting in the stands and seeing one of our kids playing a great game or graduating - and feeling great gratitude..

That’s looking backwards.

What about moving forwards? What about my future? What’s next?

This is where reluctance shows up over and over again - whether to retire - or move to South Carolina - whether to take a job in Washington State or Washington D.C.

Where the issue of reluctance shows up for me on a regular basis is the question of what to preach upon.

Before I start working on a sermon, I say a prayer. I sometimes say, “God help me to come up with something that will help at least one person here.”

Then I read the readings - and listen to what pops up.

I hear themes and issues. Ideas hit me. Then I ask, “Is that what folks need today?”

When I hear myself saying, “Uh oh!” I’m often at a reluctance moment.

Here is where the question and the idea of reluctance comes up.

The clock is ticking. I have to come up with a homily.

Take the issue of abortion. 3 or 4 people said I have to preach about abortion this weekend - because tomorrow is the day we have the March for Life in Washington D.C. and to peacefully demonstrate that we think the Roe Vs. Wade decision - was wrong.

I’m against abortion - but I feel reluctance at times about preaching about it - because I realize a bunch of things come with it. I rather use the words, “Pro Life” - because I want to stress being pro life for the whole of life.

I realize this issue is used to get votes. I realize there are people in church who have experienced the pain of abortion in their lives or in their families.

When abortion is brought up in sermons, I realize people feel squirm - feel deep emotions - hear various, "What about ....?"- and these questions or issues are  jumping up and down in their brain - like on a trampoline. The word "abortion" brings with it “baggage” and even to stay that - hits buttons. It brings with it questions about the Catholic Church - and women’s issues -and men's issues - and men doing all the talking. It brings with it at times, “Capital Punishment”, “Child abuse by priests,” etc. It brings with it the strategy issue. What is the best way to end abortion, cut down on abortion, and what have you?

Talking about something is different than doing something about something - to make things better. That's why I always liked Pope Paul VI words, "Want peace. Work for justice." That's why I like the slogan, "Action speaks louder than words."

As priest, I remember being at a talk when I first got here on abortion. A speaker - a priest - came to St. John Neumann and said “There should be something said about abortion in every homily - and you should tell your priests that.” I raised my hand and said in the Q. and A. period,  “I am a priest and I disagree that a priest has to say something about abortion in every homily.”



The title of my homily is, “Reluctance and The Book of Jonah.”

I said that the Book of Jonah brings up for me the issue of “Reluctance.”

I said that one area is to look backwards. In reminiscing, sometimes we realize that an experience, a decision, a moment or moments, in my life now makes sense. Thank you God.

I also said that the area of looking forwards brings with it feelings of reluctance at times. Having heard today’s readings - words from today’s pulpit - personal prayers while being here  in this church today, is there a calling to do something in my life? How specific does God get? Is it volunteering? Is it moving? Is it confrontation? Is if forgiveness?

And I dare say, I believe it’s right there - in the reluctance - where we will discover God’s deepest calls to us.

Quote for Today - January  21, 2012

"Every one can master a grief but he that has it."

Shakespeare [1564-1616]

Question: What's the one grief, one regret, one hurt, one resentment, you can't shake?