Saturday, November 24, 2012


This is the third variation of this video that I have seen. 

Each variation has the same impact - even when you know the ending.

To watch, just hit the http line right below this line!



The title of my homily for this 33 Saturday in Ordinary Time is, “The Top Five Messages of Christianity!”


Last night as I read today’s gospel [Luke 20:27-40] what hit me was this: The Resurrection is a key Christian teaching.

Based on today’s gospel, different people in Judaism didn’t believe in life after death. We heard the opening words in today’s gospel from Luke, “Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection….”

Luke sets the stage with the Sadducees coming to Jesus to challenge him about the resurrection. Then they hit him with a funny - but they were deadly serious - example or imaginary story about the woman who had married 7 brothers and all died without giving her children. “If there is a resurrection, who will be her husband in the afterlife, if there is one?” That was one of their ways of challenging Jesus on his message that there is Resurrection.

As I began to think about that I realized and remembered the difficulty at the time of a funeral in coming up with Jewish Scriptures that talk about resurrection after death. There are texts - as we hear in today’s gospel - that were used by those who taught there was life after death. Do I say based on the fewness of those texts, the resurrection was not a central teaching in Judaism? On the other hand it’s easy to prove that the Resurrection is central to Christianity - based on the number of times this theme appears in the New Testament.

Next I wondered if the Resurrection was the # 1 Christian teaching. It’s certainly central, but is it the # 1 teaching - as Paul might be indicating in 1 Corinthians 15 - when he basically says if Christ did not rise from the dead, the whole enterprise is a house of cards - that falls.


However, as I thought about that, I concluded for the time being, I couldn’t say for sure that the Resurrection is our #1 teaching. Could I say it is one of the top 10 Christian teachings or beliefs? Then I asked: could I say it is one of the top 5? How about one of the top 3?

Next I concluded that would be a practical question for a Saturday morning homily.

I would frame the question this way. If someone came up to us and said, “You’re a Christian. What would you say are the top 5 beliefs in Christianity?”


The first step would be to make a tentative list and then pick out the top five. It’s call the “Brainstorming Step.”

So that’s the homework I gave myself last night. I suggest you try it.

For starters I would write down:
·        the Trinity,
·        Forgiveness,
·        the Resurrection,
·        Jesus is Lord,
·        the Eucharist, Salvation,
·        Love one another.

Then it hit me that using the number 5 would be a smart step. By making it 5, I would be forced to think. I would be forced to talk to others about this. I would be forced to understand better the five I picked and those I didn’t. It also hit me to wonder if anyone else did listed the key Christian teachings or beliefs.


My top 5 are:
·        The Trinity,
·        The Scriptures,
·        The Eucharist,
·        Forgiveness and
·        Caring for One Another.

Surprise! At first I had the Resurrection - but that bumped out - one of my other beliefs.

It would  be six on my list. That’s on first thought. I have to keep on  reflecting on this question. I have to wonder: “How would our everyday life be if we didn’t know and didn’t believe in life after death?”  I have to wonder about that. Perhaps - as I reflect upon the repercussions of not believing in the resurrection - I’d put that up in the top 3.

Time and reflection with tell.

In the meanwhile I pray the old prayer that was dropped from the Mass: “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.”


Quote for Today, November 24, 2012

"To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of years, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be."

Rachel Carson, Foreword, Under the Sea-Wind, 1941

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Quote for Today - November 23,  2012

"Some people have just enough religion to make them uncomfortable."

John Wesley

Quote for Today - November 22, 2012

"Three things for which thanks are due: an invitation, a gift and a warning."

Welsh Proverb

Quote for Today - November 21, 2012

"We have been dosing our people with religion when what they need is not that but the living God."

Frederick D. Maurice

Quote for Today - November 20, 2012

"Let your religion be less a theory and more of a love affair."

Gilbert K. Chesterton [1874-1936]


November 19, 2012  Quote for Today

"There is a great deal of unmapped country within us." 

George Eliot



The title of my homily for this 33 Sunday in Ordinary Time B is, “Patience.”

To be honest these readings at the end of the Church Year are tricky. They are sort of all the same. Then they show up again in Advent -which is just around the corner.  So I don’t look forward to the end of the year readings. However, I like the Advent readings. To me that’s strange. So I have to be patient with these readings. What to preach on?  I began working on a few different themes - but then said, “They are not too practical.”

Then the theme of “Patience” hit me. That’s practical. We all want more patience - yet what does one say about patience other than saying, “Be patient!” and “Learn how to be patient”?


Maybe for starters it would be helpful to list situations that call for patience.

Restaurants:  there’s waiting to get a table. Then there’s wanting the waitress or waiter when we want the waiter or waitress.

Church: there’s those long or meaningless sermons or people who won’t move in or babies crying or slow priests or an extra verse in a hymn that puts over the edge.

Doctors offices: it’s now 25 minutes after our scheduled time and then it’s 35 minutes - then 40 minutes - and we’re still waiting….

Phone calls for information or to buy something: a fake voice puts us on hold and we don’t like the music and then the voice says, “We thank you for waiting” and the music starts again. Then the phone suddenly goes dead. Do we redial or just give up?

Politics: there’s those we don’t agree with. Then there’s politics in church. There’s bumper stickers - or road signs. Or it starts too early or every conversation becomes politics or what have you. "Help!" we yell inwardly.

Kids: they are who not growing up or showing up or they are  throwing up and we are inwardly screaming, “Why are so and so’s kids so perfect and ours are so messed up?” She’s dating a jerk. He’s not going to church. She’s not studying and we’re paying for an expensive school. He’s on drugs or drinking too much. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

Old People: they are too slow in step or in driving. They won’t give up their license. They are too demanding - or other members of the family won’t or don’t pitch in with regards be the care of aging parents or other family members - and we want a break.


I know Christ threw the money changers out of the temple and got totally frustrated with the Pharisees and the Scribes. So he wasn’t always patient.

Yet one of the things that hit me about Jesus was his patience with his disciples - including Peter, including Judas - including me.

A nuance that hits me comes from my experience with a priest I know who has a great musical ear as well as the ability to play the piano - etc. I have a tin ear - can’t sing - lasted on the trombone for 2 weeks - so when someone is off key, it doesn’t bother me. It drives him nuts when he hears crummy singing or music that is off key. He’s also a  type A driver - so the rush hour is not the best time for him to drive - even if he has music playing in his car.

Reflecting on that, it hit me that people who have talents, have a difficult time with those less talented. Those who are smart have to be patient with those who are dumb - much more than I have to deal with dummies.

It would be the same with sports, art, cooking, etc. The more the talent, the more that person has to be patient with anyone weak in one's area of expertise.

Go figure.

So I figure, Jesus - with his mind - and sensibilities - had to be very patient with his disciples when they were slow on the uptake.


One way to become more patient is to watch other people and notice how they deal with the stuff of everyday life.

Comparisons can crush. Comparisons can also teach.

I was once visiting a niece as she was feeding her first baby with a spoon out of a baby food jar. I was just sitting there in the kitchen talking with her. She was making the experience a wonderful funny game with her baby. She would fake it with the spoon putting it over here and then over there. It became a game to get that ugly looking food off that baby spoon into the kids tummy. The kid would start laughing and laughing and loving this moment with his mummy.

Her husband came home from work during this. She asked him to finish feeding the baby, so she could turn to pull supper together for the 3 of us. Well, he was all business and wanted the kid to lick the spoon - eat the food - and finish the jar - immediately. A pleasure became a job. The kid wanted fun. The father didn't. So the baby started to scream.The father - he must have had a tough day or a tough drive home - didn’t want any tears. Just eat the food - just lick the spoon.

I said nothing and wondered what kind of a father I would have been like.


These end of the year readings give us evidence of a dilemma in the Early Church. At first they thought the end of the world was about to happen. It wasn’t.  It didn’t. So slowly different folks had to figure out what Jesus meant - as well as get back to work.

Today’s gospel has as its last sentence, “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, not the Son, but only the Father.”

The readings tell us it took a lot of time and patience to come up with a decision about when the end would happen.

If we know the history of the world, we know from time to time people predicted that the end would be coming.

The one we’re waiting for this year is next month, December 21, 2012.  Some folks are saying the Mayan Calendar is saying that’s when the end of the world is going to happen.

If you’re into these kinds of predictions, don’t start buying and doing your Christmas cards and Christmas shopping till December 22nd.


Besides watching others and learning from them, here are 3 more ways to develop the gift of patience:

1) Pray for it.

2) Learn how to do other things while waiting. I remember hearing a priest psychiatrist in a workshop tell us about a heart specialist who tells patients to go into a bank and get on the longest line. Then when almost to the front, get off that line, and then go to the back and get on another line. While on the line do things like trying to recall as many of your high school senior class that you can remember - or as many of your high school teachers as possible.

3) When antsy, when angry, put yourself in the shoes of the person you’re antsy or angry with - for example a waiter or a waitress. Of if you’re a waiter or waitress, put yourself in the shoes of your customers and serve them well.


Let me give a few quotes - in case they help you - because you’re the type that wants substance not fluff in a sermon.

“Better to be patient on the road than a patient in the hospital.”

“The end never justifies the meanness.”

“Investigate mistakes only when you are calm.”

“Patience is accepting a difficult situation without giving God a deadline to remove it.”

“Be patient and you will have patient children.” Is that true?

“The herb patience does not grow in everyone’s garden.” [How about mine?]

‘Who has patience sees his revenge.” Italian proverb

“Patience: a minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue.” Ambrose Bierce

“I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.” Margaret Thatcher

“Look at a stone cutter hammering away at a rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in tow, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.” Jacob Riis. Ben Franklin said it much simpler: “Little strokes fell great oaks.”


Today’s gospel tells us to learn a lesson from the fig tree.

To learn patience plant a tree. Learn from the experience. Trees are notoriously slow. Watering helps. Time helps. They learn to deal with seasons. And I’ve noticed, trees don’t have mouths! They just stand there.


Quote for Today - November 18, 2012

"Have you seen a room from which faith has gone? ...  Like a marriage from which love has gone .... And patience, patience everywhere like a fog."

Graham Green [1904-1991], The Potting Shed [1957]