Saturday, July 14, 2012


Quote for Today  July 14, 2012

Memory: "A hidden cord that is touched when we listen to our friend's original stories."

Cynic's Cyclopeaedia


Can you bite your tongue when listening to another - and really hear their memory without jumping in with your stories at other's first breath or pause?

Can you hear another's story and calmly ask the other some questions that further clarifies or enhances their story or memory?

Friday, July 13, 2012


Quote for Today - July 13,  2012

Scapegoat: "Someone who has to be there when things go wrong."

Eugene E. Brussell


When was the last time you saw scapegoating taking place right in front of your ears?

Have you ever been the scapegoat - the one being blamed for a mess-up?

Have you ever accused another for doing something you knew they didn't do - or it might have even been your fault?

Do you ever spot this going on in political advertisements?

Have you ever spotted this in kids - in the playground or at school or at home?

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Quote for Today - July 12, 2012

"Lyndon [President Lyndon B. Johnson] has a clock inside him with an alarm that tells him at least once an  hour to chew somebody out."

Anonymous friend of L.B.J.


Are you like Lyndon B. Johnson or are you like the person who has the alarm that calls you to compliment  at least one person every hour?

Why would anyone approach a complainer or a fault finder - sensing they would then be on that person's radar screen?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Quote for Today - July 11,  2012

"A reformer is one who insists upon his conscience being your guide."



Do you have anyone who is always on your case?

Do you have anyone who is always correcting You?

Do you have anyone who wants to reform you?

Do you have anyone who is a "religious nut" - whom you try to avoid at all costs?



The title of my homily is, “Sow the Wind, Reap the Whirlwind.”

It’s from our first reading for today. It’s Hosea 8:7.

“Sow the Wind, Reap the Whirlwind.”

I have heard that saying from time to time, but I never took the time to think about it.  

A question:  can I put in words, just what the proverb is getting at? 

So that’s what I decided to do last night for this short  homily this morning - for the 14th Tuesday in Ordinary Time.


I assume that this saying from Hosea means: there are consequences. I assume it means: don’t mess with Mother Nature.  I assume it means: think before you speak or before you leap. I assume it means: Don’t go there! I assume it means: Don’t open Pandora’s Box.

Proverbs  11: 29 has a similar  message,  “He that troubles his own house shall inherit the wind.”


Last week during the wind storm, someone opened our back door. In flew 1,000 old leaves that must have been desirous of  a new location. Once inside they flew everywhere till the door was closed. 

Have we ever had one of those portable window screens rattling because it was really windy outside. We think: remove the screen and then close the window. So we open the window a bit and the wind rushes in - and things go flying.

If you get a dog, who’s going to feed her or him - who’s going to take him or her out to do his duty?  What are you going to do when vacation time comes?

If I buy a sailboat, then ….

If you send in a check for a religious charity, expect a whirlwind of mail.

If I make a suggestion, guess who’s going to be asked to carry it out?

A man called up his neighbor at 3 AM and yells into the phone, “Your dog is driving us crazy. We can’t sleep.” Then he slams down the phone. The next morning at 3 AM the neighbor who got the call the night before calls the person who called the night before and says, “I don’t have a dog.” He then gently hangs up.

Drink or take drugs and then drive - or drive with a cell phone in hand - be ready for possible problems ahead.

Haven’t we all been at a gathering - for coffee - or a family picnic - and someone brings something up and we scream inwardly, “Don’t go there!” Sure enough someone goes there. “Sow the wind; reap the whirlwind.”


One of the images of God in the scriptures is the wind. It’s invisible - but we see the trees shake. We see the balloon fill up. Then we hear it pop - but we don’t see what was in it. Then we do see  the red, blue, yellow pieces of the burst balloon fall to the ground.

In the Old Testament the invisible God is pictured as a Gentle Breeze. We know what that feels like on a hot day. We’ve seen images of what a tornado or hurricane can do to a house. We know what the winds do with fire in the forest. 

In the gospel of John, Jesus talks about the Holy Spirit as wind.

We pray, “Come Holy Spirit!” when we want light, insight, help in making the right decisions.

We’re told to breathe - and breathe - deeply - when we  might be in panic mode.

In today’s gospel, we meet someone with a demon. We can relate to this person, because we all have our personal demons. When they cause inner storms, it's then we need to ask Jesus to suck them out of us - and then pray that Jesus breathe fresh air and new life into us.

When in doubt, pause, catch your breath and breathe.

When in doubt, pause, hesitate, talk to a third party - before storming out of the room to go and tell someone off - who has been driving us crazy.  Otherwise, things might get even worse. As the saying goes, “Sow the wind; reap the whirlwind.”


Sometimes shut mouths, shut windows, shut doors, prevent howls and horror shows.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Quote for Today  July 10,  2012

"The dead! Why can't the dead die!

Eugene O'Neill [1888-1953], Morning Becomes Electra [1931], The Haunted - Act. IV


Who are your loved ones whom you are still mourning?

What was your toughest death?

Why is it that some people take longer than others to be able to make peace with their death?


Monday, July 9, 2012



The title of my homily or reflection for today is, “Three Women and Four Kinds of Prayer.”

We only know the name of the first woman. It’s Gomer - the wife of Hosea the prophet - whose oracles or utterings we have this week as our first readings. The second woman is the young girl in today’s gospel who was very sick and thought to have died - whose father was an official who came to Jesus to come and see and heal his daughter. The third woman is the woman with the bleeding problems who wants to sneak up and just touch the tassel of Jesus’ cloak  so that she would be healed.

THE  9-1-1  GOD

Our God is a 9-1-1 God - no doubt about that. 

We call 9-1-1 for one reason: Help.

We pray for various reasons - one of which is “Help!”

In fact, I think the main prayer in life is the one word prayer, “Help!”

If someone doesn’t know how to pray, I simply say, “Can you say, ‘Help!’”

In the famous book, The Cloud of Unknowing, the writer says a person in a burning building doesn’t need to be told what to say. They simple scream out the window, “Help!”

Sometimes I want to say to people, “Put down your prayer books - stop saying all those prayers and simply scream, “Help!”


In today’s first reading from the prophet Hosea we have the early part of that book of the Bible and he kept asking God for two things: “Help my wife and help me to forgive my wife.”  She was a temple prostitute and kept going back to it.

In today’s gospel - as already mentioned - the official comes to Jesus and says, “Help!”

In today’s gospel - as already mentioned - the woman with the bleeding problems - simply reached out to touch Jesus for help!


If you heard it once, you’ve heard it 400 times: there are 4 types of prayer: Petition, Thanksgiving, Contrition and Adoration.

I like to translate or convert those 4 words to 4 simpler words: Help, Thanks, Sorry and Wow.

The only one of those 4 words that does not seem to fit is the last word, “wow”. So to make it fit, I would add that the wow is a Wow to the one who wowed us.

I like to add that if we can’t say those 4 words each day to each other in many of life’s situations, then we’re missing something when it comes to having a prayer life.

I base that statement on the First Letter of  John, where the writer says, if can’t love each other, whom we can see, how can we love God whom we cannot see.

So if we can’t talk to each other, whom we can see, how can we talk to God, whom we cannot see and hear.

So practice saying to each other those 4 words: Help, Thanks, Sorry and Wow.

Then you’ll find yourself praying.


Quote for Today - July 9, 2012

             Most Important Words

Five most important words: I am proud of you.

Four most important words: What is you opinion?

Three most important words: If you please

Two Most important words: Thank you.

The least important: I.

This day.

Sunday, July 8, 2012



The title of my homily for this 14 Sunday in Ordinary Time [B] is, “Isn’t He The Carpenter?”

That’s a question in today’s gospel. It’s worded a tiny bit differently in the text we used today: “Is he not the carpenter?” I prefer the conversational sound of, “Isn’t he the carpenter?”

The scene in today’s gospel is one we all know: coming back home. So Jesus comes back home. Don’t we all from time to time?

While there, the Sabbath day arrives. So Jesus goes to the local synagogue and begins to teach.  I assume his mother was with him. Was Joseph still alive? Here was a native son! The village was watching.

Surprise - he’s an outstanding teacher. They are amazed and astonished.

Then they do something that happens many times. They don’t accept him. They reject him. After all when he was here, he was just a carpenter.

Was the reason for the rejection jealousy?  Or was it the content of his talk?  Was the down deep reason: they didn’t want to change the changes inside themselves that Jesus called to be changed? Dying to self is difficult. 

So they try to put him down with the comment, “Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?”

Literalists like to use that to say Jesus wasn’t an only child. They won’t accept this was common village language in the Mediterranean Basin. Hey brothers and sisters, we’re all brothers and sisters.

And Jesus knowing the Jewish history of prophets like Ezekiel whom we heard in today’s first reading, said, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”

So once more he leaves his home town of Nazareth and heads elsewhere.


What was it like for you when you came home the first time - like after that first semester in college or the military or what or where have you?

What was it like for you to come home for the first time - after your marriage - or with kids?  How did your mom and dad and family accept your style - your way of raising your children?

What was it like for you when your kids came home for the first time or some significant time - after they left home?

What was it like to meet old classmates, old friends, if you ever attended a class reunion?

What was it like to go back home again?


Reflecting on this I remembered the classic book by Thomas Wolfe about all this.  He had a few books published before he died at the age of 37 in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins  - never recovering from an operation to save him from miliary tuberculosis of the brain.  

After Wolfe’s death, Edward Aswell of Harper and Row edited and pulled together a 700 page plus autobiographical novel - of something Thomas Wolfe was working on and the book was published as, “You Can’t Go Home Again.

In it he talks about an imaginary small home town and the main character comes home and finds it suffocating.

As I thought about all this, that’s one more classic I have to put on my “To Be Read Bucket List” before I kick the bucket.


The title of my homily is, “Isn’t He the Carpenter?”

What Jesus does is walk into people’s lives.

On the Sabbath he walks into the synagogue of our minds and challenges us in the gospel readings.

Do we do what the folks in his home town in today’s gospel do?  “Great stuff Jesus, but we've heard it all before. We’re Christians. We’re used to you, Jesus." And so we walk  away without him or vice versa.

Or are we like those folks in the other towns who accepted him and whose lives have changed?

That’s the great life choice that is at the heart of the gospels. It’s the key message of this homily. The Gospel of John in it’s prologue puts it very clearly.
“He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him.
He came to what was his own,
but his own people did not accept him.
But to those who did accept him.
But to those who did accept him
he gave power 
to become children of God,
to those who believe in his name….” [John 1:10-12]

Jesus is a carpenter.  That’s what hit me when I read today’s gospel. I thought the text said, “Isn’t he Joseph’s son?” Nope - that’s in another take on this story [Cf. Matthew 13:55].  Mark says Jesus was a carpenter.


I was talking to someone the other day and he used the words deconstruction and reconstruction - abut his life.

I’ve often noticed the phrase “deconstruction” when reading philosophers like Jacques Derrida. I get a bit of what he’s saying - and then again at other times - I don’t get what he’s talking about. [1]

So when I read that word carpenter in today’s gospel, I thought that maybe deconstruction  is  very, very simple.

We build our house - our lives - with how to do life - learning  from our families, our education, our church, our friendships, our decisions.

Then we hit a stage where some of us say, “Something’s wrong!” or “Something’s missing. I’m dissatisfied.” 

Sometimes this happens dramatically from a broken relationship, a divorce, alcoholism, the loss of a job, a death, what have you. We admit: our house, our life is a disaster.

Second stage: deconstruction. We have to knock it all down or get a bulldozer and then remove all the debris. We stand there and look  the structure and skeleton - the content and the stuff of our life.

Third stage: reconstruction.

Here is where Jesus shows up on our street as a carpenter and says, “Need any help! I’m Jesus the carpenter!”


I could end here, but as I was looking at some quotes from Thomas Wolfe’s book, You Can’t Go Home Again, I thought two of them might be relevant here.

The first step is to go back home in your mind and look at your home - look at your life - look at where you have come from and where you are right now.

It might be like the feeling these folks out west in Colorado and elsewhere have when they come home to their house. It’s destroyed and burnt to the ground. Talk about destruction. What next?

Thomas Wolfe in his book, You Can’t Go Home Again,  asks the question this way. He asks the question about what changes and what doesn’t change in one’s life.

Yes some things can be burnt or destroyed or fall apart - but there are some things that don’t change.

That would be another key question to ponder this week: what changes in life and what remains in life?

This was triggered when I found a very well written passage that begins on page 40 of the Signet Edition of Thomas Wolfe's, You Can't Go Home Again (1940). It goes like this: “Some things will never change. Some things will always be the same. Lean down your ear upon the earth and listen.

“The voice of forest water in the night, a woman's laughter in the dark, the clean, hard rattle of raked gravel, the cricketing stitch of midday in hot meadows, the delicate web of children's voices in bright air--these things will never change.

“The glitter of sunlight on roughened water, the glory of the stars, the innocence of morning, the smell of the sea in harbors, the feathery blur and smoky buddings of young boughs, and something there that comes and goes and never can be captured, the thorn of spring, the sharp and tongueless cry--these things will always be the same.

“All things belonging to the earth will never change--the leaf, the blade, the flower, the wind that cries and sleeps and wakes again, the trees whose stiff arms clash and tremble in the dark, and the dust of lovers long since buried in the earth--all things proceeding from the earth to seasons, all things that lapse and change and come again upon the earth--these things will always be the same, for they come up from the earth that never changes, they go back into the earth that lasts forever. Only the earth endures, but it endures forever.

“The tarantula, the adder, and the asp will also never change. Pain and death will always be the same. But under the pavements trembling like a pulse, under the buildings trembling like a cry, under the waste of time, under the hoof of the beast above the broken bones of cities, there will be something growing like a flower, something bursting from the earth again, forever deathless, faithful, coming into life again like April.”


Jesus Christ the Risen One is forever Rising - forever here. That is our belief. He was crucified - died - was buried - destroyed like a house in a fire or an earthquake or the World Trade Center Towers - but our belief, part of our life Credo is that he rose again.

We believe Jesus the Carpenter is here today. As Paul tells us in today’s second reading, “My grace is sufficient for you…”

As someone says in Thomas Wolfe’s book, You Can’t Go Home Again, “I have to see a thing a thousand times before I see it once.”

How many times do we have to come to Mass till we realize Jesus the Carpenter is right here, right now, ready to help us reconstruct and raise the rest of our lives. Amen.


[1]  Jacques Derrida, A Derrida Reader, edited by Peggy Kumaf, [New York: Columbia University Press, 1991].


Quote for Today  July 8,  2012

“But why had he always felt so strongly the magnetic pull of home, why had he thought so much about it and remembered it with such blazing accuracy, if it did not matter, and if this little town, and the immortal hills around it, was not the only home he had on earth? He did not know. All that he knew was that the years flow by like water, and that one day men come home again.”  

Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again 

Painting on top: Early Sunday Morning [1930] by Edward Hopper, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.


Do you have a memory of the feelings and surprises you thought and felt when you went back home again after leaving that place many years ago? Ask another this question and see if they ask you your memories as well.

Did places feel so much smaller?

Compare the difference between someone who grew up in one place their whole early life with someone whose family moved a lot - because of being in the military or because of job shifts.