Saturday, April 13, 2013


Quote for Today - April 13, 2013

"There's a wideness in God's mercy
Like the wideness of the sea;
There is a kindness in His justice
Which is more than liberty."

Father Frederick William Faber [1814 - 1863]


Here is the whole piece by Father Faber - a convert from Anglicanism and into the Catholic Priesthood.

Notice verse 6 - where you can see the Redemptorist Motto: Copiosa Apud Eum Redemptio - from Psalm 130

O  O  O  O  O  O  O


1. There's a wideness in God's mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea;
There's a kindness in His justice,
Which is more than liberty.

2. There is no place where earth's sorrows
Are more felt than up in Heaven;
There is no place where earth's failings
Have such kindly judgment given.

3. There is welcome for the sinner,
And more graces for the good;
There is mercy with the Savior;
There is healing in His blood.

4. There is grace enough for thousands
Of new worlds as great as this;
There is room for fresh creations
In that upper home of bliss.

5. For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of our mind;
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.

6. There is plentiful redemption
In the blood that has been shed;
There is joy for all the members
In the sorrows of the Head.

7. 'Tis not all we owe to Jesus;
It is something more than all;
Greater good because of evil,
Larger mercy through the fall.

8. If our love were but more simple,
We should take Him at His word;
And our lives would be all sunshine
In the sweetness of our Lord.

9. Souls of men! why will ye scatter
Like a crowd of frightened sheep?
Foolish hearts! why will ye wander
From a love so true and deep?

10. It is God: His love looks mighty,
But is mightier than it seems;
'Tis our Father: and His fondness
Goes far out beyond our dreams.

11. But we make His love too narrow
By false limits of our own;
And we magnify His strictness
With a zeal He will not own.

12. Was there ever kinder shepherd
Half so gentle, half so sweet,
As the Savior who would have us
Come and gather at His feet?

Lyrics: Frederick William Faber
Music: Lizzie Shove Tourjée

Friday, April 12, 2013


Quote for Today - April 12,  2013

"The French scholar and Christian,
Frederick Ozanam, 
once said that if God has,
as of course He Has,
some mysteries 
yet unrevealed to us,
no doubt they are secrets of mercy."

Susan L. Emery, The Inner Life of the Soul, 1903

Thursday, April 11, 2013



The title of my homily is, “You Won’t Find a Ruler or a Measuring Cup in God’s Kitchen or Top Drawer.”

I was intrigued by a sentence - as well as a word - in today’s gospel - - that I don’t remember ever noticing before. That’s the beauty of being able to reflect and read and preach on the daily readings.

The sentence is in John 3: 34b, “He does not ration his gift of the Spirit.”

Using the full text,  John 3:34 says, “He” - namely Jesus - the one God the Father sent “does not ration his gift of the Spirit.”

The word “ration” hit me. I did a little bit of research on the text - and my guess was right:  it’s rare - very rare. Raymond Brown, the Sulpician, who was a world famous authority on the scriptures - and especially The Gospel of John - said this in the only place the thought can be found in Greek literature. That’s quite a statement. But he says that it can be found a bit in the Jewish writings of the prophets - where God is said to portion out his Spirit.  Ray Brown wonders if the author of John is making that contrast. [1]

So that’s a profound message: God does not give just glasses of cold water. God gives waterfalls and oceans of water. God doesn’t just give bits of the Holy Spirit - God gives unlimited gifts of the Spirit - God doesn’t just send gentle breezes, God sends wind that shakes houses and shakes lives.

Any takers?


The Greek word in the text is “metron.”  It’s first meaning would be “measure”. The text is saying that in Jesus the Spirit was not rationed. It was just poured out on Jesus and Jesus poured that love out on people - without limit - without measurement - without ration.

Our text is a bit creative - translating “metron” into English by the word “ration”.  Other English translations use the word “measure.”

Now even though the word “ration” or “measure” or “metron” is only found here in John 3:34b, the theme of the overabundance and overflowing - and the beyond measure love of God - is a Bible theme.

I love that the Redemptorist motto is “Copiosa apud eum redemptio” - With him there is fullness, copious, unlimited forgiveness - buy back by God redemption.” We Redemptorists forget this at times - but it’s always there to challenge us - which mottos are supposed to do.

Jesus preached this theme big time in his great parables - like the Prodigal Son and the Lost Sheep - and you can enter the vineyard at the last hour. Jesus preached this from the cross - forgiving those who killed him.

The Risen Lord Jesus broke through locked doors and locked minds to share forgiveness and peace and resurrection to his stuck in what they had done disciples.

St. Paul preached this theme when he talked about the unfathomable, inscrutable riches of Christ. [Cf. Ephesians 3:8.]


When you stand under the shower, make it a morning or a night prayer - being washed - and having the Spirit of God baptizing and rebaptizing you each morning or each night. Take a rosary and use the 59 beads to simply say, “More, More, More,” on each bead. It’s a 1 minute rosary or “Thanks, Thanks, Thanks”, on each bead and feel God without measure - without a measuring cup - pouring his love on you. Amen. 


[1] Raymond E. Brown, The Anchor Bible, The Gospel According to John, I-XII, Vol 29, page 158

Quote for Today - April 11, 2013

"We may imitate the Deity
in all his moral attributes,
but mercy is the only one
in which we can pretend
to equal him.  - We cannot,
indeed, give like God,
but surely we may forgive

like him."

Laurence Sterne [1713-1768]

Picture: A synagogue in Budapest

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Quote for Today - April 10, 2013

"Among the attributes of God,
although they are all equal,
mercy shines with even
more brilliancy than justice."

Miguel de Cervantes [1547-1616]

Tuesday, April 9, 2013



The title of my homily for this Tuesday in the Second Week of Easter is, “Born Again!”

That idea, that image, that theme, comes from this 3rd chapter of the Gospel of John - when Jesus tells Nicodemus, “You must be born again from above.”

And Nicodemus - like many of the main characters in the Gospel of John thinks literally. He doesn’t get the poetry and thinking patterns of Jesus. To him water is water. Wind is wind. And birth is your birthday - once.


And Nicodemus - here in the 3rd Chapter of John changes.  For him it's a process. In 7:50 we hear him speaking up for Jesus. In 19:39 he comes with Joseph of Arimathea who asked Pilate if they could remove the body of Jesus after his death. Like many of these main characters in the gospel of John, Nicodemus changes. He is reborn. It happens to the Samaritan Woman in Chapter 4. It happens to the cripple in Chapter 5. It happens to the Bread in Chapter 6. It begins to happen to the guards in Chapter 7. It happens to the men who want to stone the woman caught in adultery in Chapter 8. It happens to the blind man in Chapter 9. It doesn’t happen to the Jews who want to stone Jesus to death on the feast of the dedication in Chapter 10. It happens to Lazarus in Chapter 11.

Jesus is all about calling people to change - to be reborn. Just as water can change and become wine - and wine can change and become the Blood of Jesus -  just as wheat can change and  become flour and then can become bread and then bread can change and become the Body of Christ, so too we can change.


Jesus came and called people to change - to conversion -  to become brand new - to be born again.

When was the last time I have changed: how I see life, how I see another, how I see family members, how I see myself? When was the last time I changed? 

It should be happening every other day - like watching the winds shake the trees - like watching the trees come back to life in the spring - so too we should see ourselves shaking at times - budding at times - growing at times - becoming new a lot of times.

Last night I was talking to a couple at dinner and I said how stupid I thought the Russians were when it comes to tourism. I said they could make a lot more money if they didn't appear to look so cold and Stoic with their faces at  the customs and passport checking in places when we went to St. Petersburg in Russia. The husband said, “I said the same thing to some Russians once and they said to me, ‘Do you know how tough your custom agents are when we come into America?”

I thought for a moment and then said, “I never thought of it that way before. Thank you!”

Will I ever make my first statement again? I hope not. Time will tell.

We’ve all heard the saying that a cat has nine lives?

How about human beings?

I once heard a talk on Frank Sinatra. The speaker was saying that Frank Sinatra had 4 lives. Critics said he was finished when he broke up his marriage with Nancy to marry Ava Gardner for her third marriage. He was a national hero at that point. The bobby soxers swooned over him. When he fell in love with Ava,  he disappointed his fan base. However, it wasn’t his end - nor hers. The speaker told us that Sinatra had 3 more lives after that.

I always like to quote Glenn Close, as Iris Gaines, the old girl friend of Roy Hobbs - Robert Redford - in the movie, The Natural - how we all have 2 lives. 

Roy Hobbs said to Iris, “My life didn’t turn out the way I expected.”

Iris says, "You know, I believe we have two lives."

Roy says, "How ... what do you mean?"

Iris says, "The life we learn with and the life we live with after that."

Think about that one.

A relative once said to me, “You’ve changed in this new assignment." 

It wasn’t here. 

I was intrigued by that comment and asked, “How so?” 

“Well, you seem so different.”  

I couldn’t get a specific - so I didn’t find that comment too helpful. 

I would hope each birthday, each job, each assignment, each experience, can find us wiser or more experienced. So that comment was heard - and even though it wasn't specific, it got me thinking.


The Gospel of John keeps challenging us to growth - to new life. I love John 10:10b where Jesus says, “I have come that you might have life and that you live it to the full.”

Am I?

I think one practice would be to see ourselves as each character in the Gospel of John. Picture the Gospel of John as a mirror and see ourselves as Nicodemus, or the cripple,  or any of the characters in his story and then ask Jesus for help to be reborn into the image and likeness of God. Amen.


Quote for Today - April 9, 2013

"If mercy were a sin, I believe I could not keep from committing it."

St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153),  Life and Works of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, ed. by J. Mabillson

Drawing by some kid in St. Mary's Annapolis Elementary School



The title of my homily is, “Thy Will Be Done.”

When I read over the readings for the feast of the Annunciation - which was moved to today - because of Holy Week, - the phrase and prayer that I heard was, “Thy Will Be Done.”

The Psalm response we said was, “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.”

The first reading from Isaiah is about asking the Lord for a sign - wanting to know what’s what, what does God want?  And Ahaz says stop wearying the Lord with requests - needing signs. Then he gives the great sign, the great quote, from Isaiah 7:14:
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:
the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us!”  

Today’s second reading from Hebrews has the person praying saying two times loud and clear: “Behold, I come to do your will.”

And the gospel has Mary saying at the Annunciation that she is willing to be the Lord’s servant - the Lord’s handmaid.

So that’s why the title of my homily is, “Thy Will Be Done.”


If we listen to each other we use the word “will” all day long.

·        “I will do it?”
·        “Will you do me a favor?”
·        “Well, who do you think will do this?”
·        “I will try to get there by 3 PM.”

So what “will” means is very clear and very basic.

But what “will” means is sometimes not so clear.

Sometimes we don’t know what the other wants.  Don’t we say with some people, “Give me a clue please - just what you want me to do?”

And when it comes to God - what God’s will is - is often very tricky and very unclear.

Yet we pray in every Our Father, “Thy will be done - on earth as it is in heaven.”

I suggest you do some thinking about “will” - and I think it will bring good results.

I suggest you do some good thinking and reflecting on what “God’s will” means - and it will bring good results.


There are answers. Here are two: science and scriptures.

Most basic is science. Scientific reasoning teaches the message: do good and good things happen. Do bad things and bad things happen.  Not all the time - but in the long room, obviously yes. Sometimes someone makes it to 97 and they report that they smoked their entire life. However, in general I sense that smokers live 10 years less than non-smokers. If someone disagrees with that, it ain’t worth arguing about. Common sense days if you mess with Mother Nature - expect damaged earth and bodies. Drive while drunk, expect accidents. Don’t exercise - expect weaker health.

Second answer: scriptures. As Christians we read and hear the scriptures and we get good answers to what God’s will is.  So when we say, “Thy will be done!” we can mean it to say: I will try to be like Jesus and Mary. Live a live like theirs and I’ll be doing God’s will. I love the simple text in Mark. It was under a painting of Jesus in a retreat house where I was stationed: “He went around doing good.”

Monday, April 8, 2013


Quote for Today - April 8,  2013

"Mercy to human beings
is more acceptable
than bathing at 
the sixty-eight places of pilgrimage,
and than all alms offered there."

Arjan - who died in 1606) in M.A. Macauliffe in The Sikh Religion

Sunday, April 7, 2013



The title of my homily is, “Intent.”

When I sat down and read the readings for today - I found it interesting that the word “intent” hit me.

Intent.    I N T E N T   [Spell it out.]   Intent.

I don’t think I use that word in conversations - but maybe I use it in my brain - in the sense that sometimes - I’m trying to figure out someone else’s intent.

Why did she say that? Why did he do that?



While driving along alone - sometimes I hear on C-Span radio -  U.S. Supreme Court cases and I now remember hearing the different justices using the word “intent” quite a bit.

For example someone might say, “I don’t believe that’s the intent of the Second Amendment - which is part of the Bill of Rights - the first 10 Amendments - the right to Keep and Bear Arms.”  Or lately I’ve been hearing that DNA has become more important than fingerprints - in police investigations. Would that fit under the intent of the Fourth Amendment - part of our Bill of Rights to be protected against unreasonable search and seizures?


If you’ve even been on jury duty and you’re deciding a case - you sit there tying to figure out the intent of someone else.

Someone is sick or just lost a loved one - and we go to the card section of a store looking for a card that says just what we want it to say. It has to match our intent - whether we use that word or not.

Enough of that. What’s he getting at? What’s his intent in this sermon?


Well it hit me: why not use the intent question when it comes to reading the scriptures?

We just heard 3 readings - 3 different readings - as we do each Sunday - or 2 on each weekday. Why not ask: what’s the intent of this specific reading? Why did someone choose this particular text for this particular Sunday? 

Now with my new word,  I’ll ask: What was their intent?

In a way, it’s good that we don’t know, because that might limit homilies. If it’s left as unsure, then a lot more possibilities can be looked at. The jury is still out.

It’s like going to the movies with 3 other people and we’re having something to eat afterwards - and we’re talking about the movie and someone says, “Hey it sounds like we went to 4 different movies.”

I can also ask why did Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, the Acts of the Apostles or the Book of Revelation or any book or letter, put a particular story or comment into their story?  What was their intent?


At the end of today's gospel from John he actually spells out why he put in his gospel what he put in his gospel. He says, "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name." Now that might be clearest statement of intent in the whole Bible. [Cf. John 20:30]

Looking at today’s gospel from John we hear the story of the disciples in the Upper Room after Jesus died.  Why did John add the detail that the doors were locked? Does that give a hint of his intent? He seems to indicate his motive or intent was the apostle’s fear of the Jews. They too could be rounded up and killed like Jesus.

Or was his intent that like Thomas - we’re allowed to have doubts - but blessed are those who believe even if they don’t see - if they don’t put their hands into the cuts and holes in Jesus’ hands? Up until the last  quarter of the last century, this Sunday was called Doubting Thomas Sunday.

Or was his intent mercy - divine mercy and forgiveness - that our God is a forgiving God with unlimited divine mercy? So since John Paul II, St. Faustina and EWTN, this Sunday is called Divine Mercy Sunday as well.


In the meanwhile I look at the statue of Jesus as Divine Mercy with rays of colored light shining out of the center of his chest - and wonder: what is meaning of this? Now I might use the word, “intent”.

For years I’ve been wondering if it arose out of the forgetting of the image of Jesus with his Sacred Heart - seen outside his chest - as in the statue of Jesus here in our sanctuary. Did one die and the other statue rise? 

Intent?  What happened here?

Are both of them telling us the great message that it’s God’s intent that we know that he loves us - so he sent his Son to show us that and tell us that?

And we need to be reminded of that love - so writers from the very beginning put that message into words - so  artists from the very beginning of our Church - sculpted that message into images and statues - like the Good Shepherd - and the great ikons of Jesus in the Eastern Churches whose eyes seem to look right into us or through us at times - and the great message of the sacred heart we find in the messages of St. Gertrude and St. Bonaventure, then St. Marguerite Marie Alacoque and St. John Eudes - with the 12 Promises of Jesus - and the visions and the medals of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary that millions have worn - and promoted by the Jesuits and so many.

Intent? Is the bottom line simply:  God loves us?

Question: have we experienced that love and mercy yet? Have we heard that love and mercy yet?


Then it hit me. This sermon, this message can be popcorn compared to a steak or salmon or crab cake dinner - until we move it into our chest, into our heart, into ourselves?

There we are in our upper room - in our brain - in our being - and we keep that door locked - for fear of this or fear of that.

What would it be like if Jesus breaks through our thickness and says, “Peace!”

What would it be like if Jesus breaks through our walls and tells us who he really is - what his intent is?

It’s peace. It’s mercy. It’s forgiveness. It’s realization. It’s then being sent.

This is his intent - and a lot more.

Okay - and many of us are like Thomas - and we have doubts.

I sense that the intent of John in today’s gospel is saying, “You too. You who have doubts. Jesus is bringing you peace and forgiveness as well.”

You too are being sent.

And so many of us are not looking at Jesus and his mercy and his forgiveness - but only at our mistakes and our feeling of not being forgiven. We still haven’t heard his word from the cross: “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.”


How many times have we gone to the doctor and the lady at the desk hands us a piece of paper - with tiny print - and tells us to check the boxes?

And we say out loud, “Okay” and inwardly, “Oh no!”

It hit me last night - while preparing this - wouldn’t it be great to have a great check list of intents?

Wouldn’t it be great to have a great check list of life motivations?

I remembered Abraham Maslow's 1943 triangle of the 5 levels of human needs - what people want. It starts with Physical Needs: food, shelter, sex, sleep. It moves up to Safety Needs - protection, job security, money. It moves up to Social Needs - belonging, family, society, intimacy. It moves up to Esteem Needs - achievements, respect, status, etc. It moves up to Self Actualization - personal growth and on and on and on.

Maslow has been criticized - as being too narrow and too one culture. What about the poor? Can’t they have some of the higher needs fulfilled - even though they are still poor? Others have made the triangle have 8 levels - moving transcendence and God into the picture a bit more and what have you?


That’s his piece of paper. That’s other’s list of intents?

What would mine look like? That’s your homework for this week?

Jot down what makes you tick.  Jot down what do you want. What makes you run. What do you get out of the bed in the morning for - besides the bathroom?  I have to say that because that’s what all those over 65 say every time to that question?

Write down your list and then put a circle around your top intent - or top 3 intents? Check them off. To prime the pump. Write down all the intents and motivations that you can come up with?


_____ Comfort.
_____ Control.
_____ To be loved.
_____ To love and be loved.
_____ Thy will be done.
_____ My will be done.
_____ To go out the door in the morning, easy drive, good work, stock market up, my teams are over 500, catch a smile or a chat or two that are life giving, to have a great spouse and family to come home to.
_____ To know what’s what, how things work, what’s going on around here.
_____ To be known.
_____ To have money in my wallet, gas in my tank and a great spouse and family to come home to,
_____ To not go it alone - but to be with another and others.
_____ To be right
_____ To be right and others to see that I’m right and they are wrong
_____ Life, liberty and a chance to pursue happiness,
_____ To have a bucket and to have my bucket list and to have a chance to check off, did that one, next, before I kick the bucket.
_____ Good food,
_____ Good movies and TV,
_____ Good games
_____ To not be controlled
_____ To forgive
_____ To be forgiven - as in trespasses as in sins,
_____ To have my daily bread -
_____ To help all have their daily bread,
_____ To do my fair share of the work,
_____ Assurance, blessed assurance,
_____ To get to heaven
_____ To avoid hell, here and hereafter,
_____ To know that I was here - I contributed - or to be known that I was here and I contributed.
_____ That others hear a great eulogy - when I die -  that I did loved and made a difference.
_____ To heal and be healed.
_____ To be appreciated.
_____ To be missed.


Quote for Today - April 7, 2013

"Mercy is not ordinarily held to consist in pronouncing judgment on what has happened to others,  but in relieving their necessities; in giving aid to the poor, not in inquiring how good they are."

St. Ambrose, De Nabuthe, VIII, 40, 395