Saturday, May 4, 2013


Quote for Today - May 4,  2013

"There's nothing so sad as a 55-year old orphan."

Ella Grasso, on her parents' deaths. Boston Globe, November 10, 1984

Friday, May 3, 2013


Quote for Today - May 3,  2013

"If you prepare for old age, old age comes sooner."


Question: Agree or disagree?


The title of my homily for this feast of St. Philip and St. James is, “Introducers!”

I’m only going to look at Philip - not James - sorry to any James here. I want to look at Philip’s place in the gospels - and it’s not that much of a picture of him. I like to see him as “The introducer!”


I have lots of weddings and one of my favorite questions is, “How did you two meet?”

And often in the description of how a couple discovered each other I hear the word “introduced”.  My best friend introduced us to each other. Or a cousin or a co-worker. Nice. I’ve heard a couple of times the story when a  guy said his girl friend introduced us to each other - and I dropped her - when I saw this one. Ouch! Maybe.


If we look at our life, we  can come up with people who introduced us to Tupperware, The Green Turtle, Bridge, Tennis, NCIS, Ball Room Dancing, or what have you.

If we look at the story of our life, we can come up with who introduced us to friends.



Good playwrights and good story tellers know how to use people to introduce other people or new situations into a story - small part people who bring about a change in the direction of the plot.

So in the Gospel of John that we heard today, we see Philip playing the role of middle man - the go to man - who brings people to Jesus. [Cf. John 14:6-14]

In the first chapter of John, we read about Philip introducing Nathaniel to Jesus.

In  the twelfth chapter of John, some Greeks want to meet Jesus - so they go to Philip who is the guy to go to - to have an audience with Jesus.

I’m sure those who know the present pope get calls from strangers to see if they can get an introduction to meet the pope.

And in today’s fourteenth chapter of John, Philip wants an introduction from Jesus to meet Got the Father. The Gospel of John uses Philip’s question to Jesus to see the Father - to have Jesus tell Philip a  basic or key message that he gave us: “See me, see the Father!”


Our job as Christians is to introduce people to Christ.

How many people have become Catholic because of the good example of their spouse?

Question: how many people have we introduced to Christ - and Christ introduced them to the Father because of us?

My prayer at every wedding and every funeral is that someone here will be introduced to Christ, to religion, to God the Father, because of being at that wedding or funeral. This might be the only time they are in church this year.

Tomorrow we have First Communion at St. John Neumann - 2  different Masses - as well as in many, many, many churches across the world. I am aware that there is someone here who hasn’t been going to church for the first time in a long time. I pray that they will be introduced or reintroduced to Jesus Christ.


As priest I hear horror stories - about priests. Someone told me they went to the first communion of a grandson and the priest announced with full firmness of voice from the pulpit: if you haven’t gone to confession in the past year, don’t even think of coming to communion today.  I remember one priest giving a talk on Birth Control at a First Communion Mass.  Recently, someone asked me a question about baptism: “Can a child who was conceived by artificial insemination be baptized?”  I said, “Of course!” Then the person who asked me the question,  said that a priest told my niece that her kid could not be baptized.  I would hope there is a lot more to the story than that. So I don’t know the rest of  the story. I figured something is missing in the story.  I figure some people at a wedding or a funeral or a baptism or a First Communion - who have dropped out - might have dropped out because of a hurt. As priest, I’ve heard lots of stories about priests who pushed people away from God and church and the sacraments.

My hope and prayer is always that we priests - and all Catholics - that we be introducers of people to God and Christ.

You’ve all heard the quote from St. Francis of Assisi. I’m still not sure if it’s true, but in a way who cares: “Preach the gospel, sometimes use words.”


The title of my homily is, “Introducers.”

Philip introduced people to Jesus - and Jesus will introduce us to God the Father.

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life - as we heard in today’s gospel from John.

A twist in the story is the presentation of God by introducers or those who people look to for Christian example. I’ve heard various people tell me about their God - and as I heard their take on God, I have had to bite my lip - and my tongue - because the God they were introduced to is not my God.

Who is your God?  Who is Our Father?

Jesus tells us in today’s gospel that he is the way the truth and the life.

Jesus is the way to the Father. Jesus shows us the truth called God.  Jesus gives us the life that is God.

When people introduce me to a God who they think planned a baby’[s death - when I hear people think God’s maps out another’s life and puts horror stories in the script - when people introduce me to a vengeful  God - I say, “That’s not my God.. Then I introduce them to Luke 15 - and say, “Read all three parables and read them carefully.” 



Top: The Apostle Philip by Durer, c. 1516

Middle: Apostle Philip by Ducio c. 1301

Last: The Apostle Philip by El Greco c. 1612

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Quote for Today - May 2, 2013

"If you plant melons, you will reap melons; if you sow beans, you will reap beans."

Chinese Proverb

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Quote for Today - May 1, 2013

"I subscribe to the theory that a good review makes you feel good for seven minutes, and a bad review makes you feel miserable for seven years."

Mary Gordan, New York Times, March 9, 2007, page A. 21

Tuesday, April 30, 2013



The title of my homily for this 5th Tuesday of Easter is, “Different Kinds of Peace.”

I don’t know about you - but these after Easter readings can get quite repetitive or broken "recordish".

We hear Jesus telling us over and over and over again to love one another and how he’s trying to do his  Father’s will and commandment to love.

And I’m sure you noticed the first reader having to sail through the waters of  some tricky words in the Acts of the Apostles. This morning we heard about Paul and Barnabas going to Derbe,  Iconium, Lystra, Pamphilia, Pisidia, Perga, Attalia and Antioch. All aboard! [Cf. Acts 14: 19-28]

So like you I listen to the readings over and over again for something to hit or to challenge me.

In today’s gospel the word “peace” showed up. Like the word “love” it too is often found in these after Easter readings. Today, I heard Jesus saying to his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” [Cf. John 14:27]

Then  there was a tiny twist. Jesus talks about peace and adds the nuance, ”Not as the world gives do I give it to you.”

I said to myself, “Explore that!” I asked: “Do different people have different takes on what the word ‘peace’ entails?” I wondered if I had a clear take on what Jesus means by peace - giving or creating or working towards peace.

Time was ticking, so I decided that attempts at answering those questions could be enough for a short Tuesday morning homily.

With that as a long introduction, once more the title of my homily is: “Different Kinds of Peace.”


In the Jewish scriptures - “Shalom”  was a greeting on the street and on the road - which one made to one’s neighbor. It meant health, no debts, family members are not fighting each other. It meant rain and good crops. It meant no foreign armies or wild beasts were lurking on one’s property or in the neighborhood. It meant one’s family is feeling God’s blessings - and everyone is keeping the covenant with God - that is, being right with God and neighbor. It’s a prayer: “Please  God - may that peace be flowing like a river into your family and your land.”

In the New Testament “Shalom” meant all those same things. Then as Christ’s words made more and more impact and sense -  as Christian thought  developed - “Shalom” also meant union with Christ and seeing oneself as a member of the whole Body of Christ in community. As Christian theology developed more,  it was seen as the plan and the hope and the vision of Christ for his kingdom to come - on earth as it is in heaven - as we pray in the Our Father. In time the Greek ideal of peace - meaning good order and harmony - also came into the message and greeting  of “Peace”.


My original question stayed there: what type of peace would be different from the type of peace Jesus envisioned?

Is there anyone who thinks they will feel peace if they had tons of money and tons of success?

Is there anyone who thinks they will be at peace if we have bigger and better guns and bombs and greater gigantic walls protecting us  - so no trouble can come in?

Does anyone think we’ll have peace without making sure everyone  gets a place at the table - gets a voice and a vote - gets a piece of the action - and a piece of the pie? So does anyone think we’ll have peace without having to  be concerned with our brothers and sisters - especially those in need.


After all that, I realized I still don’t get exactly what kind of peace Jesus is pronouncing and promoting - but I hope I’m a bit closer each day.

I know that it's stopping the rock throwing - verbal and stone - and use those rocks to build steps and bridges to each other.[1]

I get that peacemaking is work. It’s crucifixion at times. It’s dying to self. Yet, it remains illusive - so I suppose that’s why we keep on wishing one another  “Shalom” -  “Peace” - when we meet and greet each other - and then we try to see what we can do to be peacemakers - to be instruments of the Lord’s peace this day. Amen!



[1] Cf. Today's first reading where they stone Paul to death to shut him up - Acts 14:19


Quote for Today - April 30, 2013

"Better cabbage in peace than sugar with grumbling."

Old Greek Saying

Monday, April 29, 2013


Quote for Today

"I've lived in good climate, and it bores the hell out of me. I like weather rather than climate."

John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley [1962]

Sunday, April 28, 2013

7 C’S:


The title of my homily for this 5 Sunday of Easter C is, “7 C’s: Make One of Them Comparisons.”

Have you ever noticed that words beginning with “C” often appear when talking about spirituality and religion?

For example: “Conversion, Change, Challenge, Care, Concerns, Community, Choice, Christ, Communion, Contrast, Comparisons.”

The title of my homily is, “7 C’s: Make One of Them Comparisons.”


Today’s readings offer great contrast, great change and great comparisons.

In today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles we have the closing message that the door of faith is now opened to the Gentiles. Tremendous new life lay on the other side of that door.

When the Apostles and followers of Christ were communicating with the Jews - there was conflict and controversy. When the door opened to the outside world - to the Gentiles - things changed. We’re hearing now in the Acts of the Apostles - this post gospel writing - about what happened next - we see the door open to the whole world. The Gospel moves out of Jerusalem, out of  Israel and into the whole Mediterranean world and beyond - and eventually to us.

The door has opened.

Today’s second reading from the Book of Revelation offers with great imagination and energy - a contrast between the old and the new.

Being a product of the 1960’s I hear Bob Dylan’s song, “The Times They Are A Changin” in this second reading.

The last sentence in this reading we heard today has, “The One who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.” The first sentence has, “Then I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth.”

Sandwiched in between those two sentences we have the great image of a wedding, a new marriage, between heaven and earth - God with us. We have the great contrast between the old city, the old Jerusalem, and the New Jerusalem - and the heavens opening up.

Here comes new life…. Here comes the Bride …. Sin and death are gone…. divorced from us….  The Great Divorce that Adam and Eve caused - their Original Sin that got us thrown out of paradise - is ended. The New is here. That’s the Good News that Christ proclaimed.

Powerful language - powerful images - powerful possibilities - powerful contrasts and comparisons.

And today’s gospel begins with a scene from the Last Supper. Judas leaves the room and then everything changes in comparison.  Now the Son of Man can be glorified. There is a world of difference between a room filled with Judas and a room without Judas.


The title of my homily is, “7 C’s: Make One of Them Comparisons.”

Think about the power of comparisons!

Think about the power comparisons play in our thinking processes.  

Think about the power of comparisons - how they can overwhelm us - wham us - push us - manipulate us - mess our minds up -  to do things we might not want to do.

We have all heard the saying, “Comparisons are odious.”

We’ve all heard the saying, “Comparisons can crush!”

We have all heard the saying that comparisons can lead to happiness as well as to feeling miserable.

Sometimes we secretly rejoice when the rich and the famous - the other - fails and falls - we feel better about ourselves in comparison. It’s the stuff that sells and populates  and peoples People Magazine.

Comparisons can also get us to rush to do something new - to try to be different - sometimes to be stupid or overspend - because we want  to shut up inner comparisons and complaints we’ve been talking to ourselves about ever since we were kids.

Think about our life.  Are we comparing ourselves to someone else?

Are we comparing our bodies, our flab, out love handles, our house, our cars, our jobs, our vacations, our salary, our wrinkles, our age, with others?

I’m saying here to listen to our inner voices: comparisons have tremendous power. Do we want to give it that much power in area A, B, and C?

Parents want their kids to be different than they are.

Kids want their parents to be like so and so’s parents.

Parents compare themselves to other parents.

Adults compare the care and energy and effort and cost they have to put out for aging parents or siblings or children - sometimes comparing all they are doing compared to what their brothers and sisters are doing - or compare themselves to other people - often without crossing their threshold and knowing what they are going through.

I like that image of the door in today’s second reading.

Write the word “comparison” in ball point pen on your hand - and think about all this, this week,

Use contrast - use comparison - and construct the rooms - the mindsets we’re living in - and then construct - imagine - a changed room - a rearranged life - and then make choices to change. Ask Christ to come into our rooms, into our homes, into our mind set and here him say to us, “Peace.” Then work with him towards change and conversion - one step at a time - not wanting another to change - but to change ourselves and then see how the rest of the room - the rest of our lives change - step by step - a day at a time - because we have changed.

I like that image at the beginning of today’s gospel. Things change when Judas leaves the room.

I like to ask from the pulpit: “What happens when I walk into a room? What happens when I walk out the door? Do people say, ‘Phew. Finally. Now we can relax.’”

I remember hearing how hurt a priest felt when he walked down the aisle and heard, “Oh no not him again!” We’re lucky is this parish - you can avoid us - if you want.

Comparisons are powerful….

Let’s use that image to go deeper.

Think of the Judas we are to ourselves - in our upper room - this complaining self - this stealing self - screaming inwardly all the time how things are going - wanting my picture to be the picture of how life works. See ourselves selling ourselves out for 30 pieces of silver or whatever. See ourselves crucifying the Christ within us.

Give that Judas his or her walking papers and start living the Gospel life.

Contrast, compare, ourselves in those two modes.

Chose life.  Choose Christ.

Comparisons can crush - but see that comparisons can also get us to rush - slowly - to new life - to have new order in our life.


It’s Spring …. It’s Earth Month …. Last Monday was Earth Day …. the call is to clean up our environment.

We’ve been told to talk about the environment from the pulpit. I gave a whole sermon on that last week….

Let me throw in a few comments in my ending…..

It’s easy to complain about the other person’s garden - yard - house. It’s easy to complain about the other person’s habits.

I’m pushing for looking and working on self….

I hate it when I see people dump on Annapolis - but I found out I can’t do much about it. But I can pick up stuff people dump on St. Mary’s Parking lot or Newman Street across from the front of our church - leading down to Compromise Street. I can make that compromise in my mind and do what I can do.

I can challenge those who make fun of those concerned about our earth - by saying, “I’m a tree hugger. I like trees - spring, summer, fall and winter.  I like clean water. I am glad that smokers are not blowing smoke in my face - and people who don’t smoke I think get 10 more years of life than those who don’t.

The title of my homily is, “7 C’s: Make One of Them Comparisons.”

Compare yourself to the self you are called to be. Then open that door and work with Jesus and say, “Behold I make all things new!”


Quote for Today - April 28,  2013

"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal  and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike."

John Muir, The Yosemite, 1912