Saturday, July 6, 2013


Quote for Today - July 6,  2013

"I want no more than to speak simply, 
to  be granted that grace ...
and it's time to say our few words
because tomorrow the soul sets sail."

George Seferis [1900-1971] 

An Old Man of the River Bank [1942]

Question:  If you want to say one thing before you die, what is it?

Friday, July 5, 2013


Quote for Today - July 5,  2013

"There's no such thing as old age; there is only sorrow."

Edith Wharton [1862-1937], A Backward Glance [1934], A First Word.

Thursday, July 4, 2013


Quote for the Day -  July 4, 2013


"A superficial freedom to wander  aimlessly here or there, to taste this or that, to make a choice of distractions (in Pascal's sense) is simply a sham. It claims to be a freedom of 'choice' when it has evaded the basic task of discovering who it is that chooses."

Thomas Merton [1915-1968], Love and Living, 1979

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Quote for Today - July 3, 2013

"A committee should consist of three men, two of whom are absent."

Herbert Beerbohm Tree.

Comment: This quote was in the bridge column in the Annapolis Capital - which often has great quotes. So it's from "Win At Bridge," by Philip Alder, Annapolis Capital, Monday, July 1, 2013, page B7. It describes Herbert Beerbohm  Tree this way: "an English actor and theater manager who died in 1917...."

Tuesday, July 2, 2013



The title of my homily for this 13 Tuesday in Ordinary Time  is, “Don’t Look Back!”

When I read today’s first reading, I heard - loud and clear - that simple imperative command: “Don’t Look Back!”

I would guess many  homilies for today’s readings  will stress that theme - because it’s worth thinking about - and we’ve heard it 100 times.

Okay, some preachers will go with the gospel and stress having faith in Jesus - to be able to ride out the storms of life.


I’m sure every other year when we have this first reading from Genesis, I think about this story of  Lot’s wife - who looked backwards and as a result she was turned into a pillar of salt.

I read somewhere that there are pillars of salt in various desert areas that look like people - and I’m sure this story came out of someone’s imagination - as well as life experience - and like the other great stories in Genesis, this story has one of life’s great messages: Don’t get stuck in the past.

I’ve been in several car situations when a back seat driver started giving orders to the driver - not to worry about the person who is on your back - or on your tail. Don’t look back and let him get you antsy and angry. Pay attention to the traffic in front of you.

We can get stuck in the rear view mirror - in the past - and as a result it effects our present moments as well as our future.


Before I came to Annapolis, I spent 8 ½ years preaching parish missions - mostly in Ohio. I’ll never forget the woman a pastor and an associate in some parish - asked me to visit in a nursing home. It wasn’t confession. In fact, I wish it could have been that - and Christ would forgiver her of something she had done I guess in her life.  She was stuck in a tape recording - she was going to hell. She said that 50 times in a 30 minute visit. I tried to tell her God does not have a pitchfork and when we die, he pitchforks lots of folks into hell. That night at supper they asked how I did. I said, “No luck!” They said: Sorry it looks like nothing can help her. Woo. I wished when she got her dementia big time, she got stuck on a forgiving and loving God - instead of an angry God.

So it’s lots of people - not just Lot’s wife - who look back  - and keep looking back - and they get stuck in their past - especially past mistakes.

Today’s gospel has folks in a boat and they are filled with fear - and they don’t trust in Jesus. It takes faith to accept forgiveness and move on to the future.

When we make a mistake - say or do the wrong thing - we can get stuck in our mistake. It  can affect our ability to listen - to be aware of what’s going on in the present moment.

We’ve all heard Satchel Paige’s comment: “Don’t look back. Something may be gaining on you.”  It’s from his book, How to Keep Young  [1953].

Don Baylor, another baseball player - and then a manager, said,  “In baseball you can’t let losing carry over to the next day. You’ve got to flip the page.”


At coffee breaks, at cocktail parties, as well as hors d’oeuvres time, people tend to walk away from those who are old story tellers - especially if we’ve heard the stories 1,000 times - or they are exaggerations.

While at the same time, there are of course story tellers who are interesting.

And of course it’s important to be in touch with our past.  After all, these very scriptures are filled with stories - and they give us a common memory. Aren’t we here at Mass - doing all this - in memory of Jesus?

However, the Lot’s wife’s story give us the warning or not getting stuck in our memories - instead of living our lives forwards. 

Quote for Today - July 2, 2013

“The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past.” 

William Faulkner  [1897-1962]

Monday, July 1, 2013



The title of my homily for this 13th Monday in Ordinary Time is, “Let The Dead Bury Their Dead.”

In yesterday’s gospel, we had Luke’s version of this same saying and scene we have in today’s gospel from Matthew.

At least 5 people - if not 7 people - made comments to me about this text. That means they heard it. Some thought it was too tough. Some wondered why it was okay in yesterday’s first reading for Elisha to go home and kiss his parents goodbye and then come follow Elijah - and then Jesus seems to be saying the opposite.

On Saturday morning, one of the men of the parish who visits our jail on Jennifer Road read the readings for yesterday with some of the Catholic prisoners and what hit a few of the men was,  “Jesus is too harsh!”

I read several commentators on the text and most say they are not sure just what Jesus was saying, other than saying, “Stop putting excuses in the way of following me. Drop everything and start following me - and start living and proclaiming the kingdom.”

It could also be a local saying - or everyday proverb - that everyone would get. You don’t have to be knitting of sewing - for someone who is putting off going to the doctor - or fixing a leak in their house - to hear, “A stitch in time saves nine.”

It doesn’t have to be raining - for someone to hear the saying when they are having lots of troubles, “It’s raining cats and dogs.”


I noticed in marriage preparation literature - folks talking about not letting one’s family get in the way of one’s marriage.

Couples might mess up their relationship - when one is spending all their time with their parents or sister or brother - to the neglect of one’s own spouse.

Couples with children - better not neglect each other - by not noticing the other - just the kids.

Balance, awareness, communication - along with dedication are called for.


A woman once said to me that she had a choice when her husband died - to jump into the grave with him - and pull the grass over her - or mourn, cry, and get moving again.

Any of you who have had a long sickness in the family - know how draining that can be.

This week - 150 years ago - 11,000 died at Gettysburg. I have to read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address again with today’s gospel in mind.

Being a priest - I’m aware how much closeness to one’s family - especially when a parent is sick - is a factor. It’s also difficult when one is far from home. It adds to the difficulty factor when one is an only child. Being a priest one hears the stress and the anger at times when one person in the family feels they are doing everything for an aging parent and the other brothers and sisters are doing nothing.

It’s often not simple - but very complex.

Of course it is human to bury one’s parents and mourn one’s dead. Hey Jesus said in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

So when Jesus says something tough - like “Let the dead bury their dead”  - we need to know there are other sayings of Jesus to look at.


When Jesus died - there was Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus - asking and showing up to bury him. Most of his disciples were buried - as if dead - in the Upper Room. So Jesus had someone to bury him. Then the women went to the tomb - so the gospels are very aware of the human need to bury the dead - and hang around tombstones. [Cf. John 19: 38 to 20: 29]

We have to balance all that with the need to not get buried by death - but to come to live with Resurrection and hope - for living life to the full now and in the hereafter - not in some tomb.


Quote for Today - July 1, 2013

"Humans plan. God laughs."

Anonymous Jewish Saying

Sunday, June 30, 2013



The title of my homily is, “The Furies.”  F  U  R  I  E  S. “The Furies.”

I don’t think it’s a normal term we use - but my hope is that as a result of this homily - we will to say to ourselves - and maybe at times to those we’re very close to, “Right now I have a case of The Furies.”

Translation: I’m furious. I’m discombobulated. I’m all shook up. I’m antsy and I’m angry. I’m in a “Uh oh!” situation and state. So I just want you to know that. Okay?  Could you give me some time and give me some space. Let me do some walking right now?”  


We hope the other will step back and say, “Okay!”


I noticed in today’s gospel and today’s second reading the word, “consumed” and I was going to make that the title of my homily.

I also noticed in today’s first reading that Elisha - the future prophet - before setting off to follow and take Elijah the prophet’s place,  - he  slaughters his 12 oxen, burns the wooden yoke harness as fire wood to cook the oxen - and then feeds his people with the meat. It must have been an enormous cook out.

I prayed, “Come Holy Spirit  - Divine Fire - Inspire me to come up with a theme to preach on that will help and feed us this week.”

I focused on the English word, “consume.” Next I checked out in my Greek New Testament - the original language of these New Testament writings - what Greek word does that word “consume” translate.  I found out it’s “analisko.” I noticed that the same Greek word is used in both today’s gospel from Luke and today’s Letter to the Galatians from Paul.  It literally means what burns us up, what destroys us, what eats us up, what consumes us. What “analiskos-es” us. It’s a negative term - more than a positive one.

So that’s where the title and theme of my homily comes from: The Furies - as in “furious” - or “fiery” -  or “What burns us up?” or “What’s consuming us?”  - or even “What’s destroying us?”


Psychology didn’t just start in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

To be human is to have fire, passion, emotions, drives, energies - the Furies.  This has always been part of people - down through the ages. We get emotional about religion and politics, taxes and someone jumps into a taxi ahead of us, sports and relationships - and the neighbor who is learning how to play the piano or drums.

All the religions, the great playwrights, philosophers, deal with our inner life - our hearts and minds - our feelings - out thinkings  - what makes us tick - what gives us life and what destroys us.

We’ll all pot belly stoves - consuming something - making that fire go and grow and glow - stoking it and feeding it - winter, summer, spring and fall.

What are we throwing in our fire?  What’s giving us energy? What’s making us angry? What’s make us joyful? What are our desires? What are our fires? What do we get hot and bothered about?

 The Greeks - as well as the Romans - talked about The Furies - the 3 Furies. It’s interesting that they saw them as feminine - the 3 sisters: Allecto, Tisiphone and Magaera - Anger, Vengeance and Jealousy.

It’s an ancient way of understanding inside stuff - inside stories - the inner life. It’s a way of looking at anger and vengeance and jealousy. If we do wrong - there will be a price to pay. Guilt - and get back - will always try to get us back. There is always punishment. There is always pay back as we play back our sins - and selfishness - our me me isms. The scales of justice - being held by a blindfolded woman statue - stands not just in court houses - but inside the court house of our brain. It  is a reality. Rich, poor, old, young, all people regardless of who we are - have to deal with consequences - and aftermath - and the aftereffects of injustice - when we haven’t played fair.

Life tries to balance itself out.

 Fortunately, the Greeks and Romans also talked about the 3 Graces. They are also feminine, They are the 3 sisters: Beauty, Charm and Goodness.

So what’s the state of our soul?  What’s in our bottom drawer? What’s in our closet? What’s cooking - what’s burning in our pot belly stove? What are our 3 main furies and our 3 main saving graces?


Joy to the world: Christ has come. We don’t have to journey alone.

Christ and being a member of his body can be our Saving Grace.

In today’s gospel,  Jesus and his disciples are heading for Jerusalem. Jesus is heading for his destiny in Jerusalem - to face the big boys - to face ultimate evil - which he does on the cross.

On the way - as we heard in today’s gospel - they stop in a Samaritan village.  They are snubbed. They are not welcomed. They are looked down upon. There’s not one good Samaritan in their midst.

James and John become furious and they want Jesus to burn down the town. And by the way, their nicknames were “Boanerges” - which some translate as “Sons of Thunder” and others as “All bark, no Bite.” So they could be hot heads - or noisy complainers.

Jesus calms them down and he practices what he preaches and they head for another town. Luke doesn’t say that they shook the dust off their feet of that town, but that’s what Jesus preached. Move on. Move on.

Walk away from trouble - anger. Don’t just count to 10. Take a thousand steps away from wanting to scream at someone or punch them out.

Years ago I remember asking a fire chief in New York City what the number one cause of fires in New York City was. His quick - without hesitation - answer was: cheating on another man’s wife or woman. The hurt man torches the other man’s apartment or house.


In today’s second reading from Galatians, Paul challenges his listeners to look at one’s life and ask if we are living by the Spirit or by the Flesh. It’s our choice.

I was wondering - but I’m not sure - if I could see the two Greek choices of living by The Furies or by The Graces - in this context of Paul’s contrast: Flesh vs. Spirit.  Maybe. Maybe not.

I better stick with Paul and say we can live by the Spirit or we can live each day by the Flesh.

One brings freedom; the other brings slavery.

It’s our choice.

If we live by the Flesh - we bite and devour one another - and Paul says beware - be aware  - this can consume us. The desires of the flesh can do that.

Greed, envy, griping, always gratifying our flesh - can grind us down - and empty us.

Paul tells the Galatians - and us - Christ has set us free - if we love our neighbor as ourselves - if we live by the Spirit - we can have the yoke of slavery removed from us - and we can be set free. When this happens, we don’t need any laws.  The Holy Spirit  will guide us.

That’s vintage St. Paul.


So that’s my homily. When we have a case of the furies, it’s good to be aware -  we have the choice to live by the Spirit or the Flesh. We have the power of choice. We can choose to be graceful or furious.

We are like a furnace or a pot belly stove. We can feed the fire - with good stuff - to be passionate about loving one another and making this a better world and family  and work space and neighborhood to be alive in or we can be slaves to our passions - our furies - and end up being burnt out and nasty, ugly people.

In the meanwhile as we heard in today’s gospel, Jesus calls us to bury our skeletons - skip the excuses - put our hands to the plow - stop looking backwards - and be part of his dream of proclaiming and making his Kingdom come here and hereafter. Amen.

Quote for June 30, 2013

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

G.K. Chesterton [1874-1938]

Painting on top: Last supper painting from the Mafa People in Cameroon