Saturday, October 6, 2012


Quote for Today  October 6, 2012

"Better to be kind at home than burn incense in a far place."

Chinese Proverb

Question: Is there a comparable proverb for lighting a candle in a church or going to Mass or saying a rosary?

Friday, October 5, 2012


What would it be like to go to confession to a Saint? Would I be nervous, anxious, scared? Would a Saint see right through me – knowing more about me than I know about myself – seeing my embarrassing behaviors and hidden prejudices? But would I also come out confession whispering, “Phew!” – having received a sacrament – having received a breath of fresh air –  having received the gift and grace that God forgives me? And in time for some sins, can I forgive myself?

What would it be like if there was a holy priest here at St. Mary’s, Annapolis, who had a great reputation as a saint – the “go to” priest for confession? What would people walking or driving down Duke of Gloucester Street think, if they saw a single line of people all the way up from the bridge over Spa Creek heading into church?

Such a priest was stationed here at St. Mary’s way back in the 1860’s. His name was Father Francis Xavier Seelos. In the literature about Father Seelos, writers keep saying lots of people wanted to go to confession to him – here at St. Mary’s, as well as in Pittsburgh, in Baltimore, Cumberland, Detroit, New Orleans, and in the many places where he preached parish missions.

As to long confession lines at St. Mary’s to get to Father Seelos, I was disappointed because I didn’t find any writer saying exactly that - especially  because I did read about  long lines of people wanting to go to confession to him in several other places where he was stationed.

Listen to what the Annals of the Baltimore Province of the Redemptorists from 1867 say about Father Seelos when he was stationed in New Orleans, his last assignment. “Here, as in all other places where he had been, he soon became a universal favorite. Germans, English, French, Creoles, negroes, mulattoes, all admired and loved F. Seelos. Though he was by no means a great proficient in English, and still less so in French, there were hundreds of highly educated Creoles and Americans who came miles, and stood for hours before his confessional, in order to have the happiness to make a general confession to him. And we all remarked that whoever went to him once, would never afterwards go to any other director. It was a common belief among the people that he could read the secrets of the heart.” (p. 317, Vol. 5)

It was at St. Philomena’s Parish in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1845-1854), that Seelos’ reputation as a great confessor began. It was his second assignment as a Redemptorist. Perhaps it was because he was stationed with a future Saint – John Neumann – whom he went to confession to – that he knew what it was like to go to confession to a saint.

Francis Xavier Seelos was a creative preacher, but it seems to me, he loved being in the wooden confession box more than the wooden pulpit. But he was not wooden. He was warm and compassionate. Being a Redemptorist, he knew our motto and vision statement, “Copiosa Apud Eum Redemptio.” With Christ there is copious or fullness of redemption.

In Father Carl Hoegerl and Alicia Von Stamwitz’s book, A Life of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, they mention a sermon by Father Seelos where he says: “I here publicly give you permission to bring it up to me in the confessional and to call me a liar, if you come to confession and don’t find me receiving you in all mildness.” In other words, you might be filled with fear and trembling, but I promise peace (p. 49) – and if you don’t experience that, yell, “Liar!”

It was great to read that, because being good confessors is supposed to be a key trait of Redemptorists. Our founder, St. Alphonsus de Liguori, not only has the honorary titles of Doctor of Prayer and Patron Saint of Moral Theologians, he also has the title of Patron Saint of Confessors. He wrote a whole book for priests on how to be a good confessor. He wanted Redemptorists to bring Christ’s redeeming love to folks – and one key way was to experience God’s forgiveness in the sacrament of reconciliation – still usually called “confession”.

So when people went to confession to Father Francis Xavier Seelos here at St. Mary’s, they were going to confession to a wonderful and warm saint.

Whenever I sit in a confessional at St. Mary’s, I think about all the Redemptorist priests who heard confessions here in Annapolis for the past 150 years. I say to myself: Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos heard confessions in this very church – well not in these boxes – but in this church. I read in Robert L. Worden’s book which just came out, “St. Mary’s Church in Annapolis, Maryland: A Sesquicentennial History, 1853-2003” (pp. 125-126) that the present confessionals were constructed in 1914. Henry Robert, our sacristan, took me outside the church and pointed out how the outside walls of our church on the prayer garden side or the street side protrude where the present confessionals are.

Sometimes when I see people lined up to go to confession, I reflect about how going to confession has helped me all through my life. I begin by thinking about going to confession as a kid in the Redemptorist Parish of OLPH, Brooklyn.  I’d tell the usual kid stuff – “distobeying”, lying, stealing, fighting with my brother – and at times probably made up some stuff to make it sound good. In time, I didn’t have to make things up – graduating to sins of pride and laziness, etc.

I also remember what happened one Saturday afternoon when I was a kid. It was back in the 1950’s, when Catholics went to confession a lot more than today. Every Saturday eight confession boxes were in operation in our big parish. That afternoon every priest had a line except for one confession box. The light was on – meaning there was a priest in there - but nobody was going to him. I didn’t know why, but I guess I had a kid’s intuition: don’t go near the lion’s den. Then a man came into church – stood in the back for a moment – measured the lines – and perhaps because he was in a rush – headed for the confession box that had no line. Wrong move. Suddenly, everyone in the church smiled as well as being shocked, because they heard quite clearly the priest in the “forbidden box” yelling at the guy who thought he was making a great move.

“Woo! Uh oh! O no!” And I must have said to myself, “If I ever become a priest, I’ll never do that.” It was the same thing I said about a grouch on our block. We’d be playing stickball on the street. There weren’t that many cars back then – hey it was just after World War II and New York City had great public transportation – so our street was not that busy. The black macadam street was our “Field of Dreams”. Sewer covers in the center of the street were home plate and second base; two trees were first and third base. It was great, until a ball went into the grouch’s front yard. That was a “No! No!” The rule was: don’t get caught by the grouch trying to retrieve a Spalding – that wonderful red bouncy ball every kid loved in the 1950’s. And when the grouch grouched, I’m sure everyone said, “When I grow up, I won’t yell at kids who hit a ball into my yard.”

Was Francis Xavier Seelos yelled at – or did he hear the stories every priest hears about someone leaving the Catholic Church because some priest yelled at them? I don’t know, but I do know, he loved hearing confessions.

In fact, when he was semi-conscious, dying of yellow fever in New Orleans at the age of 48, he thought the Redemptorist priests and brothers around his bed were there to go to confession, and he would start with the confession prayers.

Confession is good for the soul. The sacrament or reconciliation is a great gift. It’s a chance to name our sins, to confess them, and hopefully in time to get beyond them.

Fritz Kunkel once described the purpose of confession as: “To bring to light the unknown, the unconscious darkness, and the underdeveloped creativity of our deeper layers.” Certainly people who receive the sacrament of reconciliation down through the years have had this experience. It begins with the call and need for confession – the call to sit and pray in a church for a while, and then to stand on line with other sinners – to articulate one’s sins – the roots of which are deep – and often need a lifetime of weeding from the garden of our soul.

Jesus was off on helping people discover forgiveness and healing. And he tells us to forgive seventy times seven times. He also said, “Let him without sin cast the first stone.”

Hopefully, all of us have had wonderful experiences in the sacrament of confession – experiencing Christ and his forgiveness seventy times seven times – and if any of us have experienced some rock throwing from a priest, that we can forgive him and get beyond that horror.

Everyone knows the priests here at St. Mary’s are not saints. Hopefully everyone who goes to confession here will taste a bit of the joy and “Good News” people who went confession to Father Francis Xavier Seelos experienced. He’s has not been canonized a Saint yet, but he is half-way there, being beatified on April 9, 2000. Hopefully the priests here, keep moving forward one step at a time – as a result of the example the long line of great Redemptorists who have gone before them. 

[From Moorings, Father Andy Costello]



The title of my homily is, “Sit Down With Blessed Seelos.”

Today is the feast of Blessed Francis X. Seelos - a former pastor of this parish - one step away from being named a saint in our church.

When you have a chance - when you are at St. Mary’s Church - if nobody is around - head for the Marian Garden and sit down by yourself on the Seelos Bench - with Blessed F.X. Seelos.


It’s just a statue - a nice one at that - but do what I see lots of people doing: they sit down next to Blessed Seelos.

What to talk about - what to pray about?  Here are 4 suggestions:


The first step thing to do is to make a good confession.

I’ve read 3 lives of Seelos and one of the things that stand out is that people loved to go to him for confession. They said he could read minds. I don’t know about that - but he had great insight into people - and people loved to go to him.

I wrote an article for Moorings about Seelos and Confession and I don’t know if I put it on my blog - but I’ll check that out today - if I have some time.

Sometimes when I see someone in St. Mary’s Prayer Garden sitting on the Seelos Bench by themselves next to the bronze statue of Seelos, I walk by and say, “He hears confessions.”

Sit there and make a good confession to him of your life - where you’ve gone right and where you’ve gone wrong and ask his blessings in prayer.

And from time to time, go to confession in the box or confession room. Hopefully you get a good confessor.


As you probably know Francis X. Seelos was known for his sense of humor - trying to get people to laugh. Life can be funny - and if you don’t have a funny bone, get a transplant. Sit next to Seelos and rib him - elbow him - laugh with him.  Sit rib to rib and ask God for that funny bone. Hey God took Adam’s rib out of him and made Eve - and that’s always been a great story - with lots of humor.


Seelos came to America because while in school he read about the Redemptorists working in America. We came here in 1832. Redemptorists wrote letters and visited seminarians and schools in Austria and Germany and begged young men to become priests, to become Redemptorists, to come and serve the church of America.

Next week, next Thursday, October 11th, the pope is beginning a year of faith for our church. It’s going to go longer than a year - till November 24, 2013. It’s the 50th Anniversary of the great council of the last century, the Second Vatican Council. It’s the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the church. So the pope is asking all dioceses, all parishes, all Catholic Schools to work and pray for an increase in one’s faith.

So sit on the Seelos bench and pray the simple prayer in the Gospel of John when Thomas prayed, “Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief.”


Blessed Seelos came from Germany to America. He was stationed in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cumberland, Annapolis, Detroit, and New Orleans. He was willing to go to where he could help the most.

He not only had to adjust to different places, he also had to adjust to different folks. Some Redemptorists thought he was too easy going - so they didn’t want him in charge of students. He said, “No problem. There is plenty of work to do everywhere.”


So that's 4 suggestions for a good conversation with Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos. I'll be looking to see you sitting next to him on the Seelos bench in our very unique Marian Garden. 


Quote for Today - Oct. 5,  2012

"God cannot be solemn, or he would not have blessed man with the incalculable gift of laughter."

Sydney Harris

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Quote for Today  - October 4,  2012

"The repercussion of one person living in stubborn gladness are incalculable."

Martha Beck, O Magazine,  p. 67, September 2011

St. Francis of Assisi - Today is his feast day. He lived from around 1181 to 1226. His repercussions are still felt today. I'm never heard him described as glad - but I also never heard him described as not glad. As i reflect upon his life that's the theme that hits me: gladness. Joy to the world the Lord has come - once more to me - and I share that joy to the world. This does not mean that someone is glad about suffering - and suffering came to Francis - but underneath it all I sense and see in Francis of Assisi a stubbornness - a gladness - a joy - a peach - in both seeing the cross and seeing the birds of the air. "Oh how they sing!"

Picture on top: a fragment of a fresco in the lower part of the basilica of St. Francis in Assisi.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012



The title of my homily or thoughts for this 26th  is, “The Problem of Job: To Be Continued.”

The first reading for today and this week - all 6 days - Monday till Saturday is from the Book of Job.

We have a reading from Job on two Sundays, the 5th and 12th Sundays - in Ordinary Time, Year B - and we can have Job in two other readings - one from the Mass for those Suffering Famine or Hunger - which we rarely hear and one from funeral Masses - a reading that is often picked - Job 19: 23 to 27a - and you might be familiar with that from a family funeral. That’s the text that has the message
“I know my Vindicator or Redeemer or Avenger lives
and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust;
Whom I myself shall see:
my own eyes, not another’s, shall behold him;
And from my flesh I shall see God;
my inmost being is consumed with longing.”

That’s it. That’s all we hear from Job in the readings here at Mass - and the 6 readings from this week are every other year - and some of those 6 are bumped because of feast days - like this week.

So a  bottom line message would be to read sometime in our lifetime the Book of Job.


As you know the Book of Job presents the problem of suffering - a problem that is part of every life - more or less.

The title of my homily is: “The Problem of Job: To Be Continued.”

I gave it that title because sometimes we grasp answers to the problem of suffering and sometimes we don’t.

Suffering - knocks on our door - and we don’t want to answer that door.

The Book of Job has speeches, debates, comments, and questions: They are all about how we humans deal with death and suffering.

Like Job - each of us has to open our own door - and face those messengers and messages that are the Bad News. If Gospel comes from the old English word, “Godspell” - “Good News” -  Job deals with “Badspells” - “Bad News”.

Down through the centuries folks have sat with Job and talked to God about “Badspells” in life.

The Book of Job invites us - tells us - it’s okay to scream at God - yell at God, “How come” God?   Some of the Psalms as well as the movie and play, “Fiddler on the Room” tell us the same thing.

We might not get answers, but we get permission to yell - scream - and say, “God I got doubts about you!” or "Why do I have these torments!" or what have you?

The Book of Job also gives us lines - prayers - screams to make - like, “I know that my Vindicator lives” [Job 19:25] “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” [Job 13:15].

The Book of Job tells of one person’s sufferings - but then it’s put on stage - and developed - so it can deal with everyone’s sufferings. Scholars voice different opinions where the Book of Job comes from. I like the opinion that it was an ancient document from well before 1000 years before Christ - from another mid-East culture - that Israelite writers took and developed it - to help folks deal with the bad things that happen to people good and bad.


Put reading the Book of Job or reading it again on your bucket list because “suffering: to be continued.”


Notes: Picture on top - Job and His Daughters [1800] by William Blake [1757-1827]; picture in the middle, Job's Tormentors [1793] - also by William Blake.


Quote for Today - October 3,  2012

"Everyone carries an enemy in their own heart."

Danish Proverb


Name your's right now and down through the years?

Have any of them become non-enemies?

Isn't it a bummer?

Jesus had enemies - so did he practice what he preached about how to deal with one's enemies?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012



The title of my homily is, “Guardian Angels.”

Today - October 2nd - we celebrate their feast.

Last night in preparing this homily I did some homework - some reading up - on “angels” and “Guardian Angels”.  What’s your read on angels?


For starters angels are very much part of our Sacred Scriptures. We hear of them in all kinds of stories and situations in both Testaments.

Some angels have names - most don’t.

Some angels of God are destroying angels - wiping out enemies.

Some angels come to earth to help - to lead - to stand by - to camp themselves around folks to protect people. They are also pictured as part of the upper heavens giving praise to God - all the time - and when we pray we enter into their ongoing praise and music to God.  

They are part of the Hosanna singing “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts.”

So they are very much part of our scriptures as well as our tradition.

We also find them mentioned in Islam, Mormonism, and various other religions.

In our Bible one of their key roles  - besides guarding and protecting us, is that they are messengers.

They are usually pictured with wings - because they seem to fly everywhere and flutter over someone - and then give them a message.


Here in this church they are holding holy water in the back of the church as you come in. There are images of angels up here around the tabernacle and on the edge of the old altar. We see them  in the stained glass windows - in the OLPH picture - up near the ceiling -. Evidently they can fly.


Where are you with angels? Are they part of your spirituality? Are they part of your spiritual practices and prayers?

What are your wonderings about angels?

What are your questions about angels: good and bad angels?

What was the angel movement from about 10 or was it 15 years ago - when there were so many angels for sale - in all kinds of shapes and forms? It certainly was a money maker.  I received two little angels named “Andrew” - and I keep them on a book shelf - gathering dust - along with another tiny angel without a name. This chubby cheeked creature has a little card saying, “I’m Angel Cheeks, your Guardian Angel. I will be there when nobody else is, to care, kiss away tears and bring smiles on rainy days. And always - to be a very best friend. Because everybody needs somebody … That’s Me!”   Made in China.

If I was an artist, I thought of this last night, how would I sculpt or paint an angel? Answer: I’m not sure. Would I paint a ray of light, a hand on a shoulder, a bug in an ear, a push in the back, an index finger to the face?  That question gave me an understanding why artists often picture them as humans - but with wings.

I wonder why Protestantism rejected the Catholic practices about angels? The literature against Catholics said that they worshiped angels - along with Mary and the saints - and that’s idolatry. Catholics responded with a no. We just ask for their help, because we need all the help we can get. I was surprised about the Protestant attack on angels - because they are very scriptural.

As I read up on this last night I spotted some strange stories like in the middle ages relic savers would have objects like a branch from the burning bush of Moses and a feather off the wing of Gabriel the archangel. Boccaccio [1313-1375] told the story of a Friar who walked around saying he too had one of the feathers that dropped of the Angel Gabriel when he dropped into the bedroom of the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation.

That kind of stuff didn’t help Catholicism. And I agree with the criticism of the recent angel period that was non-denominational. Angel were being sold as these chubby faced clean feathered images. The criticism was that they might give you a feeling of the sacred - or the holy -  but there was no challenge - like that of dealing with a real person.


As to one’s Guardian Angel what I think would be helpful is to ask one’s Guardian Angel for guidance and to guard us from all harm.

I also think what would help is not to picture them as a tiny feathery creature - like a cherubic faced doll in a white dress - hovering over our right shoulder. Would it be better to imagine one’s angel as a voice - an inner voice?  Even that is tangible - and sensible. At this point, I think a good image for one’s Guardian Angel would be a voice that challenges us with messages each day on how to be a better Christian - a messenger like Gabriel who came to Mary and called her to  bring Christ into our world. So too us. Amen.

Quote for Today - October 2, 2012

“Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.”

G. K. Chesterton [1874-1936]

Monday, October 1, 2012



The title of my sermon for this October 1st feast day of St. Therese of Lisieux is, “Obituary and Legacy.”

This is a topic I’ve been interested in for years now.

I first heard about legacy while driving on a Sunday morning somewhere. I was listening to a  program on the car radio. A speaker said something like, “The big deal is making one’s will. I think the big deal should be: putting together one’s legacy.”

That hit me. Ever since I heard that radio program I have pushed In sermons from time to time the value of pulling together what we would like as our legacy. It’s something I think about from time to time. Better I think we all think about this without calling it thinking about our legacy. It’s what folks do in what Erikson calls the 8th Stage of human psychosocial development. That stage is called: “Wisdom: Ego Integrity vs. Despair - [Late Adulthood, 65-death].”

An obituary is usually written after our death and by someone else. However, I’ve met folks who have everything arranged for their death - including their obituary. A legacy takes a lot of time and reflection and homework than an obituary.


This theme of “Obituary and Legacy” hit me again today on this feast of the Little Flower: St. Therese of Lisieux.

Ida Gorres, in her book, The Hidden Face, The Life of Therese of Lisieux has the following opening paragraph to her book: “The cult of St. Therese of Lisieux has a history unequalled in recent centuries. This young nun who was born in 1873, and entered a convent at fifteen, died at twenty-four of galloping consumption. Never, in this short span of life, did she do anything that even attracted attention. The general estimate of her among the nuns of the convent community, with whom she had lived in close association for nine years, is expressed in a well-known anecdote: from the window of her sickroom Therese, during the last months of her suffering, heard one nun say to another: ‘Sister Therese will die soon; what will our Mother Prioress be able to write in her obituary notice? She entered our convent, lived and died - there really is no more to say.’”

And yes her obituary was brief and minimal. In time her legacy was heard all around the world - with a wide, wide world following and impact. Her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, was translated into many languages. Between 1898 and 1923 the autobiography sold 700, 675 copies and 2 ½ million copies of an abridged copy were sold - just in her own language alone: French.

Love, having the simplicity of a child, putting everything into God’s hands, could sum up her legacy. Better read her book - The Story of A Soul. Read Ida Gorres book, The Hidden Face, as well.


Right now most of us could write  ¾ of our obituary. Right now, some of us could pull together the first paragraphs of our legacy.

Legacy is autobiography for starters.

Legacy includes details and memories - but especially learnings from our experiences.

Legacy includes our dreams, our learnings, our hopes, what we perceive as our accomplishments.

But what about mistakes - even disasters in our story? Instead of despair - which is the opposite side of Ego-Integrity as mentioned in Erikson’s 8th Stage of Psychosocial Development, the Christian knows about forgiveness. They know Jesus’ parable of going into the garden at the last hour. They know they story of Jesus forgiving the thief on the cross. The Catholic might know the story of St. Therese of Lisieux praying for the conversion Henri Pranzini in 1887. He had brutally murdered two women and a child. He showed no remorse - but Therese kept praying - and she read in the paper that he grabbed a crucifix and kissed it three times before his death by the guillotine.

The title of my homily is, “Obituary and Legacy”. I’m stressing: write one’s  legacy. Use paper or computer. Maybe it too will go viral after we go. Let those who find it after we die find out who we were and what we were about.

[Picture on top: Therese Martin aged 15]

Quote for Today - October 1,  2012 - Feast of the Little Flower

"You make me think 
of a little child 
that is learning to stand 
but does not yet know 
how to walk. 
In his desire 
to reach 
the top of the stairs 
to find his mother, 
he lifts his little foot 
to climb the first step. 
It is all in vain, 
 and at each renewed effort he falls. 
Well, be this little child: 
through the practice of all the virtues, 
always lift your little foot 
to mount the staircase of holiness, 
but do not imagine 
that you will be able to go up 
even the first step! 
No, but the good God 
does not demand more from you 
than good will. 
From the top of the stairs, 
He looks at you with love. 
Soon, won over by your useless efforts, 
He will come down Himself 
and, taking you in His arms, 
He will carry you up.... 
But if you stop lifting your little foot, 
He will leave you 
a long time on the ground." 

St. Therese of Lisieux [ 1873-1897] in Counsels and Reminiscences


Just do it.

A journey of a thousands miles starts with  that first step.

Discover 12 Step Programs.

Step up to  the plate.

The first step is the most important step.

Sunday, September 30, 2012



The title of my homily for this 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, B, is, “Jealousy and Envy!”

They are two demons - two nasties - two energies - that can de-energize or drain us.

Today’s readings triggered for me this theme of “Jealousy and Envy.”

Looking at “Jealousy and Envy” can be like taking a shovel or a crowbar to force ourselves to look at what’s underneath our exterior - looking at out motives and what we think and talk to ourselves about - especially about stuff and others. It could be like looking under a rock that covers some yucky hidden stuff underneath. We have all opened up a napkin or a garbage bag and uncovered or discovered “ooooh” and ugly underneath.

Yet who wants on a beautiful Sunday to look at worms and ugly crawly things like jealousy and envy?


We know what jealous and envy are. We use the words all the time - but how do we put what they are into words?

Jealousy has to do with not wanting to lose what we have and envy is wanting what we don’t have and someone else has it.

Jealousy has to do with me and my stuff. Envy has to do with you and your stuff.

Jealousy has to do with what I have. Envy has to do with what you have.

However, the two words are mixed up or combined at times - because both are often happening at the same time. In fact, in Buddhism both are combined perhaps for that reason. The Sanskrit word that is used is, “IRSHYA”.

The Sanskrit word, “IRSHYA” means being or becoming upset or agitated because compared to ourselves we see others who are rich or talented. Then we notice they are noticed or praised.

We’d like some of that - and at the same time we’re worried about losing what we already have. 

So if you mix up these words - “Jealousy and Envy” or intertwine them - you’re not the only one. Most people do - and most people in their gut know what jealous and envy are all about - because they get us in the gut.

I still like the classic distinction of the difference between these two demons.

Jealousy: I’m worried about losing what I have.

Envy: I want what I don’t have and that itches and scratches my soul.


Today’s second reading from James is marbled with the sin of jealousy - the holding onto - the me, me, me of possessions - and how they can possess us. It’s the last of 5 tough readings from James. He has some strong words about becoming fat with stuff - riches - wealth - treasure - position -  how they can devour us - as well as how unfair wages for those who work for us - can kill - not just us - but them. James uses the word “murder.”

In today’s first reading and gospel we get into the sin of envy. In the first reading a young man comes to Moses to complain that two men, with the great names of Eldad and Medad, are prophesying in the camp. Joshua - an aide to Moses’ since he was young - complains. I can hear him expecting Moses to agree with him and complain as well.  Moses answers, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets! Would that the Lord might bestow his spirit on them all!”

Moses named it. Joshua seems to have been scared to lose some of his prestige and power - being close to Moses. Surprise!  Moses is bigger than Joshua - and is not worried about being overshadowed.

The same sort of situation happens in today’s gospel reading. John complains to Jesus that he saw someone driving out demons in Jesus’ name. He says that we tried to stop him because he does not follow us.

Jesus basically says, “Cool it. Celebrate that others are doing good deeds.”

Jesus is often trying to get his disciples to see that first place is not the goal [unless you’re the Orioles]. The goal is making sure kids are not being hurt - people are getting cups of water - and we’re not putting our lives into the garbage dump with sins of eye, hand or foot - envy, lust, stealing or walking to places that can destroy us. Gehenna was the name of this ugly big garbage dump off one of the hills in Jerusalem - that was constantly on fire.

When it comes to jealousy, church goers and followers of Jesus are not immune. Ever since we were in the seminary we heard that jealousy is a priest’s disease.  We also heard that envy is as well.


Then as we experience life we discover jealousy and envy infiltrate everyone’s life more or else.


The priest or bishop is on the pedestal and everyone is praising them. Then the priest - bishop scandal hits the Church and priests and bishops and all the pedestals are empty because of pedophilia.  And in the meanwhile - which can take a lifetime - those who were abused feel like they were tossed out to sea with a great millstone around their neck for the rest of their lives.

The husband hates to dance - but gets angry at the wedding because his wife who loves to dance - is dancing with so and so.

The little girl or boy is the only child. Surprise mom and dad bring home another child and the oldest - even though very young  - now no longer has undivided attention - and surprise what he or she does to the new comer.

The old time secretary - who runs the show - sees the boss explaining things to the new young “thing” and comments start to fly.


Daddy likes my sister more than me and I’m envious of the praise she gets.

The teacher gives so and so A’s and attention every day.

So and so is a better athlete than me - and has brains - and looks - and I wish I’d have a tiny bit of that.

So and so has the expensive car and house and pool and vacations and then there’s poor, poor me.


Jesus knew about jealousy and envy first hand.

Why did the Pharisees want him killed? One answer: Jesus cut into their appearance on center stage in synagogues and market place.

Why did the Pharisees want Jesus killed?  One answer: They saw the crowds following Jesus - and they wanted to see people’s faces and not their backs.

Jesus knew that wanting the whole world can destroy a person’s soul - let alone the meal on his or her plate.

A cartoon in a British magazine, Punch, shows two men eating and one is signaling the waiter to take away his plate.  The caption below goes: “The envious man, who sends away his mutton because the person next to him is eating venison.”

Jesus knew that stuff happens every day and every day in can ruin us - and we miss the bread and the wine and enjoying seeing the birds of the air and the flowers of the field and a husband who has put on 25 pounds in his pot.


As I was thinking about this last night I remembered the movie Amadeus - that was the hot movie back in 1984.

Once upon a time there were two musicians - Salieri and Mozart.

And Salieri is in an insane asylum - having wanted to kill Mozart - and killing himself inwardly in the process and a young priest comes to hear his confession and we hear it all.

Mozart was a wild man - risqué and frivolous - and whatever music he touched turned to gold. Salieri was the pious person - and everything he created was work, work, work and paper.

In one scene Mozart hears one of Salieri’s pieces that he worked and worked over. Mozart upon hearing it once, replays it exactly. Then he starts to improvise and it becomes The  Marriage of Figaro. Such talent in another kills Salieri, He wants murder Mozart and steal Mozart’s Requiem and play it at his funeral. Instead he goes crazy with envy.

How many lives has this same thing happened?

In this homily I went under the skin and looked at “Jealousy and Envy” which all need to confess eats us up.


Jesus help us with all of this,
because we can certainly mess
ourselves up with all of this. Amen.

[Painting on top: "Jealousy" found it on the internet - but don't know yet who painted it.]


Quote for Today  September 30,  2012

"The vulture who explores our inmost liver, and drags out our heart and nerves, is not the bird of whom our poets talk, but those diseases of our soul, envy and wantonness."

Petronius [died a.d. 66], Fragments, Number 1