Saturday, June 22, 2013



The title of my homily for this 11th Saturday in Ordinary Time is, “Worry, Worry, Trouble, Trouble.”

I noticed in today’s gospel the word “worry” - that Jesus is telling his disciples to cut down on the worry. Stop worrying about what you are to eat. Stop worrying about what you are to wear.”


I remember being on a high school retreat this year and the kids were singing some song that had the words, “worry, worry, worry, trouble, trouble, trouble”  in it,

So I typed in the Google Search engine box on my computer the words, “Song: Worry, Worry” and sure enough there was the song. It brought back the memory of hearing 40 kids - mostly teenage girls singing - with heart and with gestures, “Worry, Worry, Worry”  and then the song continued with the words, “Trouble, Trouble, Trouble.” And I discovered last night what the kids were singing along to - a song - “Trouble” by Ray Lamontagne which has  those words, “Worry, Worry, Worry…. Trouble, Trouble, Trouble.”

I wondered on the retreat and I wondered last night: do teens like the song because they can relate to the human condition of worrying - and we all have our troubles?  My conclusion: nope, they don’t have enough worries yet and enough troubles yet. They have them - but I think they liked the song because or its beat and rhythms and  it’s easy to act out and do drama and gesture with it.  But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe a lot of them have big troubles that I am not aware of.

In a way it doesn’t make a big difference between teenagers and adults, when it comes to troubles, because in the long run, worry, worry, trouble, trouble - is a reality and a song that echoes and sounds in every person. In fact I found 4 other songs with the same theme of worry, worry and trouble trouble.

So for a short homily thought for today: on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the worst, how worrisome am I?

Ooops! What hit me next was this:  that question should draw a blank. It should draw a further more specific question like “Worried about what?”

Jesus challenges us on worries about food, drink, clothing - are good for starters.

Next could come relationships - and the future - and money and retirement, jobs, medical care and medical costs.

Next, I would assume that advertisements and political speech plays and spins on basic worries.


Well, in today’s gospel - still part of the Sermon on the Mount - Jesus gives three good basic strong messages that challenge us when we become worrisome or somewhat worried:

1) Deal with today,  today.  Don’t get stuck in tomorrow.  Jesus puts it this way at the end of today’s gospel: “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”  Easier said than done.  AA puts it well with its simple message of a day at a time; a step at a time. Don’t be in Baltimore when you’re just getting on Route 97 at Annapolis. We can often get ahead of ourselves and as a result,  we can miss the gift of the present - and that’s why it’s called the Present - as we’ve heard people put it..

2) Trust in what you got now and not what you don’t have now. Check out the birds of the air and the flowers of the fields. They seem to be doing fine. They are ours: like the sun the moon and stars, the earth and the waters. Trust in the Providence of God.

3) Get priorities straight. Try to live in the Kingdom - that’s the space that Jesus calls us to  be alive in. It’s much more important than living in America or Maryland or Annapolis. Or take what St. Paul is saying in today’s first reading. Some people want to live in Bragsville. Paul talks about himself in the third person - but he’s saying, “Look you who brag about being in the know - or having a great spiritual life - or even for having revelations - I had supersonic revelations - being brought up to the third heaven - but what I’ll brag about is my weaknesses. I have a thorn in my side that’s driving me crazy. Down through the history of the church people have made that thorn a problem with lust or anger or pride or what have you. Other scholars say it’s these folks in Corinth who are driving him nuts - being on his back. He has his priorities straight, so he ends up saying that he boasts of his weaknesses, he’s content with his weaknesses, because when he is weak, he’s strong - because it’s then that he relies on Jesus. Many people have hung onto the  words he said he received from the Lord: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” 

Quote for Today - June 22, 2013

"Attitudes towards troubles
often cause more trouble
than the trouble."


Friday, June 21, 2013



The title of my homily for this 11th Friday in Ordinary Time is, “Listening to a Washing Machine.”

I vaguely remembered and then looked up on line a comedy skit by Bob Newhart - where this family would put their father’s toupee into one of those front end washing machines - the one with the window. Then the members of the family would sit there and laugh as they watched it swish around in the water. Thought: was this the family of the person who invented the TV?

The title of my homily is, “Listening to a Washing Machine.”

I have never pulled up a chair and sat there and listened to a washing machine or a dish washer - but I’ve heard them after loading them or checking to see if they were finished.

The sounds vary. The sounds shift. The sounds are of tumble and switch.

The title of my homily is, “Listening to a Washing Machine.”

That’s the strange thought that hit me when I read today’s readings - especially today’s first reading from 2nd Corinthians.


As you know St. Paul dominates the New Testament.

We have his letters and we have a lot about him in The Acts of the Apostles.

He was the educated one. As far as we know the others weren’t as educated. Some were fishermen - knowing the waters of Galilee - sometimes knowing when and where to fish - and how to mend nets.

In today’s first reading from 2nd Corinthians  11: 18, 21-30 - we hear Paul arguing with some group - and he was in the habit of arguing.  And he pulls out all the stops. In today's reading he’s like a parent  - when a kid tells how hard a time he’s going through. Well St. Paul says,  “You think you have it rough? I was in prison a bunch of times. I was beaten and almost killed.  Five times at the hands of the Jews I received forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods,  once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked.” And he goes on and on like that.

That’s where I began hearing the sounds - like that of a washing machine - churning and shifting, swishing water and swirling clothes in the deep!

Then the machine finally stops. We open it up and everything is clean. The spaghetti sauce and melted cheese are off the plates and silverware or shirt or skirt or table cloth.

In today’s gospel  - Matthew 6: 19-23 - Jesus tells us more about life. In the long run the stuff that is not important has rotted and decayed. Time steals or another robs what can be taken. We wrinkle and wither, sag and leak - in time.

What remains is our heart. What’s in our heart?  

That’s what Jesus wants us to look at. It’s what remains - not what is lost. Better: we need to look at what we treasure. We better make sure we have what’s important and what’s right.

Jesus then switches from the heart to the eye.

Basic. Basic. Basic. That’s Jesus.

When we get our heart right, we can look each other in the eye.

When we can look each other in the eye, we can see that our heart is right.

I know that when I procrastinate and put things off, I want to hide - lest I see someone who is expecting me to finish something I promised I’d get to - or get done.


In the meanwhile, it’s important that we not only observe life, but that we learn from life.

Once more, the title of my homily is, “Listening to a Washing Machine.” 

Obviously, we're never going to sit there and listen to a washing machine. But if we did,  we could follow its stops and starts. We could follow its cycles.

In the meanwhile, what we could do, is this. We could sit there and look at the cycles of your life. We could make our list - like St. Paul did in today’s first reading. We could see when our heart was right - when our eye was right - when we were living in the light - as well as those times we were chasing after what doesn’t last - when we were living in the dark.

It’s then we could ask Jesus for a thorough washing - a rebaptism - a recleansing - and then a restarting - again and again and again. 

Quote for Today - June 21, 2013

"The art of obtaining money from the rich and votes from the poor on the pretext of  protecting each from the other."

Oscar Ameringer - from page 4 of Golden Treasury of the Familiar, ed.ited by Ralph L. Woods,  1983

Question: What do they say of preachers? Smile!

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Quote for Today - June 20, 2013

"A sermon is not an argument - 
 a sermon is a piece of bread."


Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Quote for Today  - June 19, 2013

"It's not the most intellectual job in the world, but I do have to know the letters."

Vanna White

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

MATTHEW 5: 43-48 


The title of my homily for this 11th Tuesday in Ordinary time is, “A New Take on Matthew 5: 43-48.

As you know we’re going through the Sermon on the Mountain once more this year around this time. The first reading switches every other year, but the Gospels are the same.

In this section of the Sermon,  Jesus deals with how we deal with those folks we don’t like - those folks we get angry or agita with - those folks we feel we want to get even with - or what have you.


Yesterday Jesus urged no retaliation - like the old law of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.  Rather he urges that we go to the other extreme and stop the wars and the in fighting - by turning the other cheek - going the extra mile. End the law suits. Today Jesus tells us to love our enemies - and those people we hate.

The obvious reason is because that’s how we can change things. That’s how we stop family and neighbor fights - by swallowing that venom inside our mouths - inside our cheeks.

Then last night - as I read today’s gospel -  I got a new take on Mathew 5: 43-48.

It’s not profound - but it hit me in a way I hadn’t thought about before - and this is over the 48th time I’ve gone through this reading at least.

What hit me was that Jesus ends today’s gospel by talking about how God the Father is. God is perfect. Here Jesus is asking us to love our enemies and the one’s we hate to be with or those who hate us. What about God loving his enemies and those who hate him?

What about all those people who die - and most of their lives they ignored God, were indifferent to him, cursed God, didn’t want to know God - or lived a life of me, me, me, and then they die and God welcomes them with great love and shocks them with his love and his embrace.

Now that’s a different take on a basic religious attitude and thought.

Now one can get texts like Matthew 25 when we end up at the end in heaven or hell as a sheep or a goat depending on whether we helped our brother and our sister or Luke 16 when poor Lazarus ends up in bosom of Abraham and the rich man lands in the bosom of fire.

There are those texts. There is also evidence at times that God might be different than what we expect. There is evidence that some of those who have been good - who kept all the rules - are going to be furious when they spot this forgiving God.  Hey not fair. Some are going to be like the older brother of the prodigal son. Some are like those who worked all day long in the vineyard  - and they only get as much as those who jumped into the vineyard the last hour. Not fair. Not fair. Not fair. Some are going to be like the Good Thief stealing heaven at the last hour - and others aren’t going to like it.

But the Father - as Jesus puts it is perfect - so maybe that’s a glimpse of what perfection is - and Jesus wants us to have that  love and embrace for all - even the ones we consider God and life’s enemies.


Now this is my new wondering. Obviously, I need to pray and think more about it.  

Last night as I read this gospel story - that’s what hit me. What hits you?  I would think some of us are we here because we feel, we rather not take chances. We rather go through life and end up life with the spirit of love. Then our children and others will catch it in us - and want to know where we got this spirit and they might want some.  I don’t know, but it’s worth pondering and praying over.

Of course A is better than B - but maybe we need to learn both and deal with both. Amen.

Quote for Today - June 18, 2013

"It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend."


Question: Is this our experience?

Monday, June 17, 2013



The title of my homily  for this 11th Monday in Ordinary Time is, “Turning The Other Cheek.”

We know this message from the Sermon on the Mount very well.

It  - along with many of the messages of Jesus from the Sermon the Mount - are part of our lives.

Evidently - even if people don’t accept Jesus as God - they accept his messages about how to do life.


Today’s short gospel - Matthew 5: 38-42 - deals with anger, wanting to strike back - revenge - retaliation - being hurt - and going in the opposite direction - the direction of peace and bridge building.

How many times have we wanted to get back at someone who has hurt us - someone whom we think has done us wrong?

How many times have we stood on a long line and someone sneaks in ahead of us and we want to scream - but we swallow our spit or venom?

How many times have we been on Route 50 and someone takes the exit ramp road and then at the last, last, last, second - shoots back into the right lane of Route 50 heading for the Bay Bridge. If we play by the rules we want to beep and yell “Hey. Not fair. I hope you get a ticket!”

How many times have we been talking to someone - maybe even listening to them - and they start looking elsewhere - even waving to someone else - totally ignoring us - and we feel “Anger! What am I chopped liver!”

How many times have we been trying to sleep and someone is cutting their grass at 6 AM on a Saturday morning - or playing loud rock music at midnight on a Tuesday evening?


I wonder what triggered Jesus to think about all this. I wonder what did Jesus see. Did he see someone who was slapped in the face? Did he then see escalation - and in the end someone has a broken nose or face or arm - a scene that started with a wrong word or slur - or comment about someone’s family.

I wonder if Jesus saw someone turn the other cheek - go the extra mile - give someone their overcoat - when the other was going to sue them over their suit.


Certainly Jesus practiced what he preached.

He was nitpicked to death - long before he was put to death on the cross.

Certainly he went the extra mile when someone interrupted him because they had a sick daughter, son or servant.


If you saw the movie, Gandhi, you saw how he a Hindu, practiced Jesus’ way of non-violence - how he was beaten, thrown off a train, but non-violence eventually turned the minds of those who wanted status quo apartheid - in both South Africa and India.

I didn’t protest the war in Vietnam, but I think the protesters, did at some point help to end that war - sooner than it would have ended.

Most of us hope the silent protest against abortion - will put an end to abortion.

Most of us also have opportunities every day - to go the extra mile - turn the other cheek - not try to get back when dissed, dismissed or denigrated by another.


1) Sometimes we realize the genius of Jesus - the plan of Jesus  in all this. We stop screaming - and our temper tantrums - in the car when we are filled with road rage - and we realize our spouse and our kids in the car are more relaxed as well. We didn’t say the wrong thing back at someone who has wronged us - and that night we say to God. “Thanks for keeping me calm when I became furious when so and so did that and that this morning.”

2) Sometimes we realize we were wrong - after the fact - and it's a good thing we didn’t attack back - because it's only then we realize we were wrong. The example I use for myself happened New Jersey.  It was a Saturday afternoon. I was on my way to preach a parish mission in a small parish there. I couldn’t find the church. I pulled into a gas station - got out - and asked an attendant - if he know where St. Such and Such Church was.  He told me to go back the road I had just taken - 6 lights - make a left - then make the next left - and go 5 lights and you’ll find the church. I did it. There it was. But as I got out of the car I could see in the distance - to my left - over the trees - the gas station I was just at asking for directions. I got angry and wanted to get back in the car - drive to the gas station and say to the guy. “Why didn’t you send me to the next light, make a right, go to the next light and make another right? Good thing I didn’t because that evening I went out for a short walk and surprise - there was a canal at the end of the street - and one couldn’t have driven over that water - without a bridge.


Quote for Today - June 17, 2013

"There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in."

Graham Green [1904-1991] in The Power and the Glory [1940] chapter 1.

Question: What was that moment for me?

Sunday, June 16, 2013



The title of my homily for this 11 Sunday in Ordinary Time, C, is, “Forgiveness and Understanding.”

That’s an obvious theme that today’s readings challenge us to think and reflect on.

“Forgiveness and Understanding.”

When I die, will they say at the edge of my casket, “He was an understanding person. He was a forgiving person.”?

I hope so.  Does everyone hope so?


When I think about forgiveness, I think the greatest influence on me has been Nathaniel Hawthorne.

His book - which was also a movie, The Scarlet Letter - makes real for me the story in the gospel of John of The Woman Caught in Adultery. Jesus gets all those men to drop their rocks and move on when he says, “Let the person here without sin cast the first stone.” [Cf. John 8: 1-11]

That story has saved a lot of people a lot of times. Drop the rocks - those made of looks and gossip and behind the back or hand talk.

Hawthorne’s book, The Marble Faun - the title here in the United States and Transformation in England - also gets into Hawthorne’s exploration into how sin can educate us - and move us to more understanding. He presents Hilda - severe - critical - holy, holy, Hilda - and her mind struggles with Miriam the sinner.

Psychology may of come of age in the 20th century - but Shakespeare and novelists - along with our scriptures - dealt with the evil and sin within the human mind and heart long before then.

Hawthorne was certainly off on the educational power of sin.

Herman Melville’s book Moby Dick was not just about whale catching.

Life is not just about Ravens or the Redskins, Coors or Bud Light, Ruby Tuesdays or TGIF’s, 6 figures or 5 figures, Fox or NBC, weekdays or weekends, Mini Coopers or Fords, college tuition or lacrosse - or what have you?


I think life is about understanding life.

I think we spend a lot of our life trying to understand our life - what makes my kids tick and what makes my spouse tick and what makes my boss tick and what makes the pastor or the politician tick. We seem to be always analyzing. We are trying to understand a whole series of people - on depending whether I’m caught in traffic - at a meeting - at Mass - or at a moment when someone says to me, “Happy Father’s Day”.

A lady told me yesterday that she gave her dad a Mother’s Day card once - as well as a Father’s Day card the next month - because he was both.

On Wednesday afternoon - around 3 PM -  this past week I was with Deacon Leroy Moore as we stood at the bed of a dad dying. He was surrounded by his kids - and their spouses. It brought me back to the bed of my father in Maimomedes Hospital in Brooklyn a week after Father’s Day - 1970. We were all there with our mom when he died. And I assume these kids will be doing what I’ve been doing the past 40 years - growing in an understanding of a wonderful dad - having done a lot of talking and reminiscing about him with my two sisters as well as my brother when he was alive. At 4 PM - an hour later I was at the same identical scene - another dad - another family of kids and their spouses around the death bed of their dad.

Go figure.

I think we spend most of our mind time - trying to figure out people.

I think we need to be urged to spend more time - trying to figure out ourselves - how we are - how we treat one another.

Understanding - to stand under - to step  back - to watch - to learn.

One of life’s questions is: What do we learn from the most? Good or evil? Does a bad mistake we learn from become a good mistake?  

I remember 7 retreats I was part of - one every July in  Olivet College, Michigan - AA retreats. I got a phone call asking if I would help. They asked me thinking I was someone else - a priest who was  an alcoholic.  As a little kid I noticed the anxiety and the anguish about an uncle who was a heavy drinker. Then and there I decided never to drink and I haven't.  Yet my schedule was open and I said "Yes!" If there is any great classroom to get an education in understanding, it’s an AA meeting - and especially and AA retreat.

Well this one priest - who will remain anonymous of course - who while giving his life AA talk - his "drunkalog" - as some call it - moved me really deeply for life. He told all of us that he did some really damaging things to himself - and others. I remember sitting there and saying to myself, “If I ever really mess myself up, this would be the first person I would call upon for help.”

Translation: he would understand.

He had been there. Done that. Learned from that.

How many parents have we heard say the same thing? "I understand my kids. Been there. Done that." 

But don't tell them that - till the right time.

How many parents have asked themselves when their kids are messing up: "Do I speak up, do I intervene, do I let them learn the hard way, fall on their face?"


Is the great teacher of understanding: mistakes, sin, evil, stupidity?


Today’s first reading from 2 Samuel tells some of the story of David - who really messed up - especially when he stole another man's wife - and then when he got her pregnant, he had Uriah killed.  And the scriptures tell the story about how Nathan the prophet challenged him on this - and how David finally understood there are consequences to our behavior - to our sins. He finally understood. How well, I don’t know. [Cf. 2 Samuel 12: 1-25; Psalm 51.]

I often wonder if David was a slow learner - because his son Solomon when asked by God - with the famous question: "One wish. I give you one wish." 

Well Solomon said, “Okay, I want an understanding heart.” [Cf. 1 Kings 3: 5-9.]

How many sons have become an understanding father - because their father was not understanding?

How many sons have become an understanding father - because they made some dumb moves in growing up.

Today’s second reading from  Galatians says we can’t manipulate justification by our behavior - or keeping the rules - but by a person. In our case, it’s Jesus Christ. [Cf. Galatians 2: 16-, 19-21.]

And in today’s gospel - Luke 7:36- 8:3 -  we have one of the great gospel stories about forgiveness. There are many. Forgiveness is a central theme of Jesus. Jesus forces the Pharisee to at least hear that the one who is forgiven the most, learns the most about forgiveness. Or at least they can - because we know about the man who was forgiven a big debt - and went out and wouldn’t forgive someone who owed him hardly anything. [Cf. Matthew 18: 21-35.]

The Pharisee had the chance to hear that he didn’t wash Jesus’ feet when Jesus came off the dusty roads to his house - but this woman - whom he labeled a sinner - washed Jesus feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. She then kissed his feet and anointed them with ointment.


The title of my homily is, “Forgiveness and Understanding.” 

Life: Go, learn, and practice these gifts. 

Then when we're in our casket - listen to all those who  are saying, "There is one thing I noticed. He - or she - really had the gifts of forgiveness and understanding." 

Quote for Today - June 16,  2013

“That was how I would remember my father. There was never a place he walked that was not the better for his having passed. For every tree he cut down he planted two.” Jubal Sackett,  in A Trail of Memories, a book by Louis  L’Amour p. 27