Saturday, July 13, 2013


Quote for Today - July 13, 2013

"To burn always 
with this hard gem-like flame.
To maintain this ecstasy, 
is success in life."

Walter Pater [1839-1894] in The Renaissance [1873], Conclusion

Friday, July 12, 2013


Quote for the Day - July 12,  2013

"The entire population of the universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others."

John Andrew Holmes

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Quote for Today  - July 11,  2013

"'Stay,' is a charming word in a friend's vocabulary."

Louisa May Alcott  [1832-1888]

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Quote for Today - July 10, 2013

"It is much more difficult to judge oneself than to judge others."  

Antoine de Saint-Exupere [1900-1944] in  The Little Prince [1943] Chapter 10

Question: Was Jesus getting at this with his many comments about judging others?  For example, Matthew 7:1; Luke 6:37; Luke 12: 14?

Monday, July 8, 2013


Quote for Today - July 9, 2013

"I detest that one who hides one thing in the depth of his heart and speaks forth another."

Homer [c. 700 B.C.] in the Iliad 

Quote for Today - July  8, 2013

"A hypocrite is a person who ... but who isn't?"

Don Marquis, quoted by Frederick B. Wilcox in A Little Book of Aphorisms

Sunday, July 7, 2013



The title of my homily for this 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, is, “What’s the Plan?”

My homily is the question - more than the answer.


In today’s gospel from Luke 10: 1-12, 17-20, we have this interesting incident of the 72 others whom Jesus appointed. It’s the only place in the Gospels where we hear about this particular plan of Jesus to send 72 people - 2 by 2, ahead of him - to places where he planned to visit.

Questions hit me as I read that.

How did he pick the 72? Did Jesus have a meeting? Did he line up the 72? Did he do the pairing? Did they get sort of  a packet that listed the points they were to cover - when they visited different towns - and different homes in a town? I don’t think so. I picture them telling folks about Jesus - that he was coming soon to their town - and this is what he told us and this is what he’ll do for you.

What’s the plan?

In today’s gospel we hear Jesus give an entrance strategy. Enter a town. Find peaceful people there. Say to them, “Peace to this household…. If they greet you and invite you into their homes - stay there. Eat and drink what they offer. Don’t switch homes. Cure the sick. Tell the people that the Kingdom of God is at hand for you.”

Except for that last part - curing and proclaiming the Kingdom of God - it sounds like the Navy Academy’s Sponsor Family program for the Middies.

In today’s gospel we also hear Jesus give an exit strategy. If that town rejects you, “Shake the dust of that town off your feet and move on.”  Then there is the scary message: if they reject you it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than on that town.

I also found that an intriguing comment - because just Sunday in this same  gospel from Luke, he chides James and John for wanting to call down fire from heaven to burn down a Samaritan town for not welcoming them.

Well, the 72 went 2 by 2 and did that. Then they came back rejoicing. They told  Jesus how well it went. Jesus said he saw Satan, serpents and scorpions destroyed as a result of their mission.  Then he added, “Do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”


So when I read all this, I heard the “What’s The Plan?” question.

How many times do we hear that question in our lifetime?

Fourth of July just happened. How many times were we asked, “What’s your plan for the Fourth of July?”

It’s summer time. How many times were we asked, “Are you going anywhere this summer?”

It’s the weekend. “What’s your plan?”

Today: any plans?

A kid comes finishes college - comes home - is just sitting around. A parent asks,  “What’s your plan?”

One’s life: what’s the plan?


My life plan was to become a priest and go to Brazil. A priest from our parish in Brooklyn N.Y. came into our grammar school classroom when we were kids - told us about his work in Brazil. It sounded great and exciting. Then he asked if anyone here wants to be a priest when they grow up - and go to  Brazil. I raised my hand.  What did I know?

Great plan - it worked so many times in the past.

Years later I read an autobiography of Father Andrew Greeley - who died at the end of May. He wrote about that same thing happening to him in the 3rd grade or so. Then he added: “I never took down my hand.”

Most of those whom I went to the seminary with, left, but they tried it - but some of us - this has been our life.

I’m sure all of us here sat in classrooms, churches, stadiums, saw the Blue Angels, remember them, and said, “When I grow up I’m going to be a ________.” Fill in the blank.

And you know the saying, “Life is what happens when we are making other plans.”

I remember giving a nuns’ retreat one summer to some nuns in Cleveland. One evening we were sitting around in the dining room. This nun with a beer in hand told us her story. She was originally from Ireland. She said that her order sent two nuns every year to Ireland. They would go to different towns and ask the heads of schools: “What gals here would make great nuns?”  Then they would talk to the school kids - with those girls in mind - and in sight.

Then she paused: “Well, that’s how I got here. That’s me.” She told the story of going with her dad by train to Cork. They checked in her suitcase at the boat. There was still  3 hours till boarding. So the  - two of them went to a pub across the street and had a great lunch together - plus her first beer. They clinked their glasses. Then she said she was off to Texas and a new life.

She added, “It has been good” but  then with tears in her eyes she said, “That was the last time I saw my dad.”  Pause: “Then she said that has been the story of so many of us.” Pause: “Then with a great smile: “and it has been a wonderful life.”

That moment triggered for me stories about my dad. He too was from Ireland. My mom told he wrote love letters to her for ten years when she was in Boston and he was in New York. The last letter said, “If you don’t marry me I’m going to become an Irish Christian Brother.” It worked. Thank God she finally said, “Yes!”  otherwise - fill in the blank. He had 3 sisters who joined the Sisters of Mercy in Portland, Maine - and that was their life. Two died very early. I never met them - but I went with my dad as a teenager to their graves - along with his sister, Sister Mary Patrick who lived up in Maine and served as a sister of Mercy for over 50 years.  I also remember going there with my mom and my sister Peggy who is a nun - years later - after my dad had died - to visit the graves of all 3 sisters.

What’s the plan?

What has been the plan of your life?

School? Work? Marriage? Family? See your kids get schooling, work, marriage, family?  Seeing your kids having kids and on and on and on.

What’s the plan?

Isn’t  it the message we heard in today’s first reading from Isaiah 66: 10-14 - to find our Jerusalem - our dream city, our dream place, our dream situation, and suck fully the milk of that abundant breast? Isn’t it that place where our heart will rejoice and our bodies flourish like the grass as Isaiah describes all this in the first reading.

Isn’t it also the reality we hear in today’s second reading from Paul’s Letter to the Galatians 6: 14-18? Isn’t life Christ? Isn’t our plan  to experience in our being his peace and his mercy - to bring about new creations in our life - even though it means at times that we bear the marks of Jesus on our body in a long life of service to each other?


I once heard a talk by John Shea, who like Father Andrew Greeley, was a priest from Chicago. Both did a lot of writing. He said that he had heard a talk by Greg Pierce who said that the two key issues in life were work and relationships. Pierce said: that’s where people spend their lives. Then he added something like, “And you preachers rarely focus on those two areas in your homilies.”

Having heard that I had a plan. Those are the two big areas I have focused on in the past 15 years. I never got to Brazil, but I got to get into a lot of lives in my lifetime.

Like everyone, I wonder if I have made a difference with my life. I don’t say that to get cookies. I say that and all this that you look into your life today - and ask yourself: “What’s my plan?”

What’s my life work?

And whom am I doing it with. Most people get married - and go two by two - and we enter the lives and homes of lots of people.

What’s our plan? What’s our life work?

We didn’t get a packet from Jesus what to say - except to bring peace and care and curing for each other - and help folks with their snakes and scorpions - and then move on - not with dust on our feet - in some grave - but with the marks of Christ on our lives and resurrection in the air. 

Quote for Today -  July 7,  2013

"Work: The significance of the individual."

Jean Paul Sartre [1905-1980]