Saturday, April 21, 2012


April  21, 2012

Quote for Today

"Be aware of apathy - 
               like pessimism,
                        it's catching."


Friday, April 20, 2012


April  20,  2012

Quote for Today

"God is infinite fun."

Mary O'Hara


Questions: Would you describe God as "Infinite Fun"?  When was the last time you laughed and it was a God experience? What is the funniest animal God came up with?  Who is the funniest person you know? Would anyone describe you as "A funny person"? Who was Mary O'Hara and what was the context or circumstances of her making the comment above? Is there a scripture text that would underline that quote that "God is infinite fun"?

Thursday, April 19, 2012


April  19,  2012

Quote for Today

"You can tell you are on the right way - it's usually uphill."


On top, You Tube: Olivia Broadfield, "It's A Long Way" - from the Beatles song: "The Long and Winding Road."

Want a scripture text? Try John 14: 6a, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life."

Want a morning prayer? Here are the Lyrics to the You Tube song above:

"Woke up this morning
Singing an old Beatles song
We're not that strong my Lord
You know we ain't that strong
I hear my voice
Among the others
Through the break of day
Hey brothers
Say brothers
It's a long... way
It's a long... way
It's a long
And winding road
(It's a long way)
It's a long
And winding road
(It's a long way)"

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


April  17,  2012

Quote for Today

"Lord Illingworth: The Book of Life begins with a man and a woman in a garden.

"Mrs. Allonby: It ends with Revelations."

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde [1854-1900] in the play, A Woman of No Importance [1893], Act 1.

Painting on top: Couple in a Garden [1872-73] by Paul Cezanne [1839-1906]

Questions: Looking at your life - where you came from and where you are now - what have you learned? What have been your revelations? When are you going to write your Memoirs? Here's a quote from me that I'd love to see make it in a book of quotations: "People are fascinated by 'Revelations' from some mystic in some far away place - and they never stop to read their own revelations."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012



The title of my homily for this Second Tuesday after Easter is, “The Wind Blows Where It Wills.” John 3:8a


Where does that mysterious saying of Jesus blow or push you to:  like wind blowing leaves in a spring storm or dry fallen leaves on a November sidewalk?

What are your memories of this mysterious reality - wind - invisible wind - silent and gentle sometimes - whistling and wonderful at other times - and sometimes devastating and destructive? You’re out in the bay and the wind is perfect and your sails are full; you’re at home and a wind storm comes - knocks down a 101 trees and you’re without electricity for 2 and half days.

The wind blows where it wills.

Better not quote that to the folks in Tornado Alley in the Lower Mid-west - USA - especially these days - or wherever there is dry brush - electricity storms - and  worries about forest fires.

The wind blows where it wills.


In the First  Book of Kings 19: 11 there is the famous scene when Elijah the prophet is running for his life and hides in a cave and he has a God experience - and God is not in the fire or the storm or the earthquake - but God is in the gentle breeze.

How many people have had the same experience sitting alone on a back porch with a cup of coffee in the morning or a cup of tea at night - or a nice drink - and there is God in the cool of the morning or the cool of evening?

The wind blows where it wills.

I love to picture Jesus’ face when he went into the mountains or to deserted places and experienced the love of God his Father. When he told Nicodemus - as we heard in today’s gospel - that “The wind blows where it wills” - was it those experiences that backgrounded that comment - or was it out on the Lake of Galilee and a storm came up? How often did he climb the mountains in northern Israel by himself or with friends - before he started his public life? Did he pause to feel the wind? Did he pause to study the beauty that surrounded him? He told us to spot the birds of the air? Talk about awareness of air and wind - learn a lesson from the birds - flying well before Orville and Wilbur.


Next Sunday - April 22 -  in 175 countries around the world, it’s Earth Day. I didn’t have time to check if they were mostly countries in the Northern Hemisphere - where it’s Spring. Last Sunday, April 15,  till this coming Sunday, April 22. it’s Earth Week in many places.

Question: what are we doing to make our space - the place of our footprints - beautiful? I try to pick up paper and dumped and dropped cups and cans in our parking lot. Annapolis certainly is beautiful - most of the year - but especially in the Spring. Praise God - but are we already in summer?

Yesterday, a lady who lost her husband recently told me that the family spotted an Eagle on the way back from the cemetery - and the family saw that as a sign - because her husband loved life and creation.  Then last night on NBC evening news Brian Williams spoke in the final segment - the good news - that eagles in America are being spotted in many places - the pollution in the air has been reduced and their eggs are making it.

Next Sunday up in Annapolis Towne Centre - in front of Gordon Biersch Restaurant - between 2 and 4:30 PM,  there is going to be an Earth Day Celebration and service with various ministers, rabbi, priest, etc. who will give some reflections and earthy prayers, etc.

Being of Irish background I might use some of those wonderful Irish blessings, which mention the wind. May we have the “Deep peace of the flowing of the air” or “May the breeze tussle your hair, Colleen” or “ “May the wind always be at your back”. Or I might change that last one to a prayer for earth day: Earth, waters, wind, may we always have your back -  because if we don’t -  we might not have you back.”

May the wind be always with us. Amen.


April  17,  2012

Quote for Today

"Surprised by joy - impatient as the wind."

William Wordsworth [1770-1850] in Surprised by Joy [1815] stanza 1

Monday, April 16, 2012



The title of my homily for this Second Monday after Easter is, “Born Again.”

The word appears here in today’s gospel reading from John 3: 1-8.

It’s a rare phrase in the English translations of our Bible. How many times it appears in the English scriptures - maybe 4 - maybe 3 times - maybe only 1 - or none -  depends on the translation from the Greek that we use. I didn’t find it in English translations of the Jewish or Hebrew Scriptures - but like so many things - theologians will point out that there are glimpses - good glimpses of this theme in the Jewish Scriptures.

For starters I’m saying that “born again” is rare phrase in the scriptures. Yet I’ve noticed it’s a big theme in Evangelical Christian theology and life - here in the United States.

It’s interesting that The New American Bible - the one we use for our readings - uses the phrase “born again.” We heard it today. That’s why I got interested in it for this homily.  In our NAB  translation Jesus does not use it. He says “born from above” as in "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless one is born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God." But Nicodemus says it twice in the next sentence, "How can a man once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother's womb and be born again, can he?"

The key Greek word is “ANOTHEN.” Scholars say it can mean “from above” or “again.”  Moreover, it seems that scholars also say it would be better here to use, “from above.” The King James Version - KJV -uses "born again" in John 3:3.  It’s interesting that the RSV* - The Revised Standard Version - a mainly Protestant translation - uses “from above” and the NAB - The New American Bible, the Catholic translation and the JB, The Jerusalem Bible, also Catholic,  uses, “born again” when Nicodemus uses the phrase.

I like what one scholar said: John is trying to point out all through his gospel how people take things one way and Jesus takes them another way - and when they get his way of thinking, they change. So that’s the key to keep in mind.

So “born again” is rare - and can be translated that way or not.


Yet here in the United States - amongst many Evangelical Groups - it’s a main phrase in their thinking. I’ve been asked and I’m sure you’ve been asked at various times, “Are you born again?” Or “Are you a Born Again Christian?”

This morning I spent about two hours on this. I am not satisfied with my grasp of what’s going on when Evangelicals use this phrase big time. I’m sure those of you who are converts or who have been part of some prayer groups or movements, you know very well what the phrase means.


Up till now I’m sort of sorting things out with what I’ve said till. Let me try to be practical and present  5 “first draft” things hit me this morning? What hits you this afternoon?

1) People can be ministers, priests, deacons, lectors, what have you in Church and they might never have had a specific Christ experience - or a born again experience. So we can be baptized as babies or teens or adults, and we still might not have consciously - oftentimes emotionally - given ourselves over to Christ as the Lord of our life.

2) Some use this as a put down on Infant Baptism - because like Nicodemus you need to be older to accept Christ in Baptism. How old - how young - does a person need to be to be reborn again? [Check out the "Born Again" baptismal pictures on the You Tube video on the top of this homily]

3) Some stress the date of their personal “born again” moment. It’s like a birthday - or a wedding day. Then some sort of imply:  if you don’t have such a specific, particular moment, when you accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior,  something is lacking.

4) Many point out what is stressed in the difference between a wedding and a marriage. We’ve all heard the saying, “A wedding is a day; a marriage is a lifetime.” Well, a baptism or a “born again” experience is a moment; a lifetime is where one must grow and develop. Don't just talk the talk; walk the walk.

5) What I didn’t see much of in my reading about "being Born Again" - [I only spent 2 hours on this today] - was the lack of stress on many rebirths - or being born again and then again and then again. If there is any thing they stress in AA or any 12 step program, it’s that life is a one day at a time process - and to grow one needs to take a step at a time and if you slip - then start again, and again, and again.


*RSV - said by many to be the best scripture translation.

April  16,  2012

Quote for Today

"There are two ways to slide easily through life: to believe everything or to doubt everything; both ways save us from thinking."

Alfred Korzybski [1879-1950]

Check out Alfred Korzybski - Polish-American scientist and philosopher. Here is a paragraph from Wikipedia on him: "Korzybski thought that people do not have access to direct knowledge of reality; rather they have access to perceptions and to a set of beliefs which human society has confused with direct knowledge of reality. Korzybski is remembered as the author of the dictum: 'The map is not the territory.'"

The picture on top I found on line. It's a picture of Alfred Korzybski in his Chicago officer in 1944. The tiny sign on the left hand bottom corner on the blackboard reads,
"When a private at Randolph Field comes to a noncom with a complaint, he is handed a mourning-bordered card which says: 'Your trials and tribulations have broken my heart. They are unique. I have never heard of anything like them before. As proof of my sympathy, I give you this card which entitles you to one hour of condolence.'"

Sunday, April 15, 2012


My name is Thomas - but I have been nicknamed or dubbed - “Doubting Thomas.” There was a reason for the nickname. I tend to doubt. Yes - that’s me - no doubt about it.

I’m a twin - and maybe you’re my twin too - that is, if you’re a doubter as well.

Now, it takes all kinds of folks - to make this world work. We need those who are sure, who have lots of faith, but I also believe doubters have a place in life’s schemes and life’s scenes. Being a doubter, I’m aware that’s a self-serving comment. However,  at times I inwardly thought  that those who were so sure of themselves, would be better off, if they had a doubt every once and a while. And I’m  sure when I voice my doubts, some wished I would be quiet and accept with faith and good will someone else’s word for some understandings about life. So when it comes to faith - and what we hope for, I’m one of those who tends to have doubts.

Hey you heard the saying, “What would Jesus do?”  Well, after all, Jesus picked me. Did he have any doubts about me - or any of us - including Judas? I would think so. At least, I know, I would. As I looked around at those of us he picked, to be honest, I had my doubts - especially why he picked me.

When Jesus said he was going to leave us - that he was going to go prepare a place for us - when he said, “There are many rooms in my Father’s house or mansion” - when he said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,” John in his gospel gives me credit for saying out loud, “Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” I don’t remember saying that, but I thanked John  for giving me  the credit. To be honest, I might have said, “Jesus I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Thinking about all this - and this was long afterwards, I’d like to think that Jesus picked me because I wasn’t scared to bring up questions others were not asking.

Hey, it’s important to voice one’s doubts when everyone agrees or everyone seems to be so sure of themselves. I think it’s important to be able to say in any given situation, “Wait a minute!” or “What about?” “What are the consequences?” or “Can you explain that again. I’m missing something?”

Hey! What happened to all those people whom Jesus fed? Where were they when Jesus was caught and crucified? I listened to Jesus and I listened very carefully. If I heard him correctly, he knew that miracle and food followers - could be shallow followers. They were not there for faith - but for food and miracles.

On Palm Sunday they are praising Jesus - by Friday they are screaming, “Crucify him!”

So if you want to know why I have doubts, there it is, my take on people - including myself.

So have some doubts - or think about whether my way is a good way to do life. Or do doubters have any choice - if their nature is to doubt? I wonder about that too. Why are we the way we are? Where do our peculiarities and particularities come from?

And when you’re a doubter or a questioner, expect comments and criticism. My skin is not that tough - so it hurt a bit  to hear comments made about me the whole week after the other apostles and disciples in the Upper Room claimed to have seen Jesus risen after his death.

I wanted to put my hand in the place in his hands where there were nail marks - and poke my finger into his side. Then I would believe.

It’s a tough week after someone dies. It’s a tough week after one’s plans and hopes were crucified and crushed that day on the cross.

I left a lot to follow Jesus. I was slowly realizing he was the Way, the Truth and the Life - but I wasn’t there yet. I was wondering if he was my Lord and my God  - but I wasn’t there yet - and then he’s killed - and that made me feel rather empty.

Peter and Andrew, James and John, knew about fishing all night and catching nothing. Fishermen need to be dreamers - but they better be realists as well. Coming home with empty nets and an empty boat is not a pretty sight - especially when they have families to feed - especially when one sees the buyers on the beach - and one has nothing to sell them.  They just want to get past disappointed faces - get some sleep - and try again that night.

So that’s a bit of my story and what I was thinking that following Sunday when Jesus did appear again in the Upper Room. This time I was there. He singled me out. He asked me to put my fingers into the nail holes and into his side. I did. I did and I believed - and I shouted out, “My Lord and my God.” Then he gave a new beatitude, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Good beatitude - but I’m here for all those who need some seeing - in order to believe. In fact, I wish Jesus would have given another new beatitude, “Blessed are those who doubt, because when they believe, it’s much deeper!”

Yet, I have some doubts about that. So when I get to heaven - and because of Jesus I believe there is one - but sometimes, I have my doubts - sorry to say that in public, but if you know me by now, I’m honest. So when I get to heaven, I’m going to ask Jesus - or his Father -  if I can stand at a side gate. Peter - the one who was always so sure of himself - he can have the main spot at the main Pearly Gates. Just give a small side gate.  I’ll wait for all those doubters who didn’t believe there was even a heaven. And I’ll welcome them into paradise - letting them slip in a side gate.

Now, that sounds a bit flippant and something off the books, so you might have some doubts whether I can pull this off, but you can be sure that’s one of the first things I’m going to try to do when I get to see Jesus again. He owes me for being a set up to pronounce his new beatitude.

And I know some have got the name of this Sunday changed to “Divine Mercy Sunday” - when it had been called, “Doubting Thomas Sunday” for centuries, for the longest time. Time will tell which one lasts.

Mercy or forgiveness that leads to Peace certainly is a key message to always remember - but let me repeat. There are a lot of people who are doubters - and I doubt that will ever change. And they need to hear about someone like me: Doubting Thomas. Here I am at your service. I made it. You can make it too.


The painting on top is by Caravaggio and the story above is my attempt to reflect upon the gospel for this Second Sunday after Easter gospel: John 20: 19-31. Last week, Easter Sunday, I preached about faith. I believe that this Sunday after Easter, also called "Doubting Thomas Sunday" was here for a deep purpose: there are people who have doubts!


April  15,  2012

Quote for Today

"I respect faith but doubt is what gets you an education."

Wilson Mizner