Saturday, September 28, 2013

I - IT, O GOD!

Quote for Today - September 28, 2013

"One of the silliest of all discussions is the question whether God is personal - it would be more useful to inquire whether ice is frozen."

Austin Farrer, Saving Belief, Hodder and Stoughton 1964


How do you take the quote above and where does it take you?

If you haven't read Martin Buber's book, I And Thou, yet, get thee to a book store or the library.  [I and Thou, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York,1958.] In my copy of Buber's book, I wrote the following just inside the front cover, "Martin Buber's doctrine may perhaps be summarized in this sentence: 'I-thou can only be uttered with the whole of our being; I-it can never be uttered with the whole of our being.'"  from Sven Stolpe, Dag Hammarskjold, A Spiritual Portrait, (New York: Scribner's, 1966) p, 44

Friday, September 27, 2013


Quote for Today - September 27, 2013

"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents."

Howard Phillips Lovecraft [1890-1937], The Call of Cthulhu [1928], chapter 1

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Quote for Today - September 26, 2013

"Behind the glimmering cheerfulness of Bach there hangs a black thread."

Mary Oliver, page 88, in Long Life, Essays and Other Writings, Da Capo Press, 2004

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


[The following is  a  poetic type reflection on a word - “Dust” - from today’s gospel - Luke 9:1-6 - for this 25th Tuesday in Ordinary Time.]

 I am always moved by the Ash Wednesday words, “Remember you are dust and into dust you shall return.” [1]

I am moved by T. S. Eliot’s  words, “I will show you fear in a handful of dust.” Those words are worth pondering. It’s in his long 1922 poetic piece called, The Waste Land. [2]

I think about the words in today’s gospel - Luke 9: 1-6 -  “Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.”

I love it that people - when they are going to have guests - they dust their  house….

I’ve lived in many places - and in many states - and I’ve often wondered why there seems to be much more dust in some places - some rooms - than in other.

I like reading the poetry of Mary Oliver - who seems to be very, very, very interested in little things - well not as tiny as specks of dust - but almost as tiny. Reading her poems I can picture her stopping to see everything along her way - to hear every bird within earshot - to name them - to spot the ugly face of a snapping turtle - or to see
           “in the deep water
            the eye of a trout
            under a shelf of stone
            not moving.” [3]

Her friends tell her she has to see Yosemite and The Bay of Fundy and The Brooks Range - and she smiles and says, “Oh yes - sometime.” I laughed at that because I’m going to see the Bay of Fundy in 2 weeks. [4] In the meanwhile she keeps taking her little walks around her neighborhood and close by woods and water and inlets - and she lets in all the tiny gifts of creation around her.

Then at the end of a poem entitled, “By The Wild-Haired Corn” she writes,
           “I grow soft in my speech
            and soft in my thoughts,
            and I remember how everything 
            will be everything else,
            by and by.” [5]

Is there only so much stuff - so much skin - so much tissue - so much earth - so much dust - and it all makes up this world of ours - and does star dust slowly fall onto our planet and make us more?

I don’t believe in re-incarnation - but I do believe the corn we eat or the calf’s liver - is made up of earth - plants - that grew tall because it took in nutrients from the soil - growing onwards and upwards - becoming corn - or plant that a calf munched  - corn or pods or what have you - and then it too goes through a process of life and death - like us.

Remember you are dust and into dust you shall return.

And just as dust settles slowly and silently - in the night and in the day - sometimes we can see lots of dust floating in our living room - when the blinds are a certain way - and the light is coming into the room  a certain way - and it’s dust, dust everywhere - moving without air traffic controllers.

Poets like Mary Oliver and Isaiah and Jesus help us see we’re all coming and going.

And in the gospel for today - Jesus sort of says - there’s good dust and bad dust.

The good dust is the great visits - great meals - great times  - in various places - that have settled down on our soul - the memories that we have eaten - and experienced - hopefully on a day like today -As Tennyson says in his poem, Ulysses, “I am part of all that I have met.”

We are part of all we have me - we are our good times and our bad, our sickness and our health. We are what we have eaten. If I eat up good books, good music, good God, good food, good people around the table, they become us. We become our family, our spouse, our neighbors and our friends. We begin to sound like each other - taking on a Boston or a South Carolina accent without even knowing it. We can finish each other’s sentences as they say.

We are also the bad vibes - the bad conversations - the poison venting that can ruin a meal or a meeting or a moment. 

That’s the bad dust - that can settle on us - and Jesus says, “Shake that dust off your feet,” and get moving.

And we know how much a bad word - bad news - BadSpell - as opposed to Gospel - good news - can settle down on our brain - our memory. We can still get agita or indigestion from  a nasty comment a sister made at us in 1977. It still sits there in our craw like dust in the crevice of a piece of wooden furniture that we just can seem to dust away. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

Jesus! It would be nice if we could simply shake that  anger from our throat - that dust from that house, that town, that experience - that rejected us -  and move onto better towns and better tables.

Right now in our church we are celebrating the good news coming out of the mouth of Pope Francis. Some of his sounds are resounding like church bells calling people home. I’ve heard about 5 times now - someone telling me about a neighbor or a son or a daughter - who said, “Hey, with this new pope, maybe I’ll take another look at the Catholic church.”  

After years of bad news about abuse by priests on the little ones - after years of bad news about bishops and popes, “Why didn’t they do something better about all this?” - after hearing over and over again stuff on abortion, gays, politicians, from the pulpit and the diocesan Catholic papers - people are hearing a new sound - Gospel Sounds - about less pomp and more circumstances with the poor, less meetings on how to meet people and more actual meetings with  live  people - that we work up a sweat - even smell like a sheep - in other words - to come up with less shrill sounds and more sweet sounds of “Welcome!” [6]

In the meanwhile, let’s have less worry about the dust and more with the readjust in our life for more laughter, love and joy.

In the meanwhile, let’s enjoy the time we have left  - instead of fearing the time we have left. Once more, as T. S. Eliot put it, “I’ll show you fear in a handful of dust.”  Instead let’s show our world handfuls of faith and hope and love -  as well as handfuls of laughter - even though our skin is flaking - we're losing our hair and we're losing height - and time. Amen.


[1] From Genesis 2:7 - and used in the Ash Wednesday Liturgy

[2] T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land, New York, Horace Liveright, 1922

[3] Mary Oliver, Long Life, Essays and Other Writings, Da Capo Press, 2005, page 100.

[4] Idem, page 91.

[5] Idem. page 95.

[6] Pope Francis recently said: "We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible.''
"The teaching of the Church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the Church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.''
I remember sitting at a meeting when a priest speaker said to those present, “Tell your priests that they must say something in every homily about abortion.” In the Question and Answer period after his talk I waited a while and stood up and said: “This is a statement - not a question - ‘I disagree with your comment about telling people to tell their priests that they should say something about abortion in every homily.’”  Silence!  Then he said to his credit, “Well you’re entitled to your opinion.”  And I said, “Thank you.” Silence - for a while.


Quote for Today - September 25, 2013

"Human kind cannot bear very much reality."

T.S. Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral [1935]  This comment is also found in Four Quartets, Burnt Norton, pt. 1

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


[The title of my  thoughts  for this morning is, “Interconnected”. It will simply be some poetic mumblings  coming off a comment Jesus made in today’s gospel. Here’s the gospel  again. It’s short. “The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd. He was told, ‘Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you.’ He said to them in reply, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it’”.]

Interconnected. We’re interconnected - yes we are - whether we know it or not - whether we like it or not - whether we choose it or not. We’re interconnected. Yes we are.

Nobody is to be seen as an outsider - once we get inside what Jesus is about. Nobody is unable to be joined because of the crowd. Jesus came for communion - connections - intercommunion. Jesus - the Word from God - came to create a new language - new understandings - new meanings of old words: brother, sister, mother, father. We’re all in this together. We’re interconnected. Yes we are.

Your car breaks down on Route 97. One result: I’m late in picking up the kids. That gets them nervous - because they are wondering where I am. That gets those minding our kids nervous - and we’ll be catching that antsy energy in the car when we’re all together heading home in the same direction. We’re interconnected. Yes we are.

Our fingerprints intermingle on the two dozen or so doors and doorknobs we’ll open and close today  Our morning coffee is from Brazil or Columbia - processed in Seattle - and served us in Annapolis - and sometimes someone else picks up our left on a ledge empty coffee cup and tosses it into a garbage bag made as a petroleum product from Venezuela or Oklahoma or now North Dakota or Nigeria.  We’re interconnected.

Our DNA goes way back, way, way, way back. How far back?,  I don’t know how this stuff works, but they tell me our DNA can tell us how close we are and far apart we are - and it’s not based on color of skin or accent or language - but on cells and twists and turns of our genetic coding - in the mix called me - in the mix called “we” - us. Yet the bottom line still is: we’re interconnected. Yes we are.

The songs we play come down from sounds and melodies from  thousands of different songs - that would be very, very difficult to unravel - but at a wedding - that little kid 2 foot tall in tuxedo - dancing to the music with his grandmother - next to the bride and groom - along with aunts and uncles - and best friends from way back - from all over the place - they are all interconnected - on the dance floor called earth.  Yes we are.

So as e.e. cummings put it, “be of a love a little more careful than anything.” We can say the same of everyone and everything - be of love a little more careful of words and water, air and earth - and all the billions of us in this plane or train. Hey sometimes life feels like a crowded subway car in the rush hour and sometimes it’s a sweet scene of seeing rolling hills from a big  train car window. Sometimes it all depends on how we see it. Everything on the planet has come down to us as gift - but sometimes we don’t accept all as gift and we toss and mess up our space - our place - our planet  - because of sin or self or inconsideration - not thinking of the next guy or gal or generation - so be of stuff, and people and words and thoughts and interactions - a little more careful than anything. Hey! Our dust - our clay - our earth - called our body - is surrounded  by present and past dust of the dust of folks from thousands of years ago - and  the air we’re breathing was once in the lungs of  Mussolini or Cleopatra or who knows whom from  a long time ago - maybe even Jesus. Who knows?  Stuff - air, water, earth, veggies - all  have a long recycling life. We’re interconnected. Yes we are.

So we are our brother and our sister’s keeper and we are my brother and mother and father and sister to each other - so why in the world don’t people realize we’re all together on this big long communion line - sharing not just bread and wine - but when sacrificing and serving -  becoming Jesus - along with all else that is good - words and song and music and water and air and earth in so many forms - in so many ways and waves - and this makes us brother and sister and mother and father and one with each other - so why can’t we hear these words of Jesus we heard today and act on them? Amen. 

Quote for Today - September 24, 2013

"We are rooted to the air through our lungs and to the soil through our stomachs. We are walking trees and floating plants."

John Burroughs, "The Grist of the Gods," Leaf and Tendril, 1908

Monday, September 23, 2013



The title of my homily for this 25th Monday in Ordinary Time is, “What Does A Lamp That Is Lit, Signify?”

It’s a question that hit me after reading today’s gospel - and Jesus’ words about lighting a lamp.


To the practical person - the realist - a lamp that is lit is there to give light. The dentist and the dental hygienist need light to see back teeth and behind our teeth. A lit lamp helps us not to stub our toes when we go to the bathroom at 2 in the morning.

To the romantic - the heart person - a lamp is put on to let another know they are welcome. I’m sure the romantic loved the invention of the 3 click lamp and bulbs - so as to have the right look and the right light setting in the dining room and living room - for ambiance.

The title of my homily is, “What Does A Lamp That Is Lit, Signify?”


One of my favorite books on parables is by Joachim Jeremias. My copy of his book, The Parables of Jesus, is well worn and has tape on it. This morning I reached for his book and looked up  what he had to say about the lamp that is lit that Jesus talks about in today’s gospel. [1]

His first comment was, “Unfortunately we do not know what meaning Jesus gave to the simile of the Lamp whose Place is on the Lamp-stand….” [p.120]

His second comment was that this image, simile, parable, is found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and also in the Gospel of Thomas.  

His third comment is that there seems to be 3 meanings:

1) The Christian is to be that light.
2) The Gospel, the Word, is a lamp, a light, that gives us light.
3) There is an inner light, an inner lamp.  Keep it lit.

No wonder Joachim Jeremias says, we’re not sure what Jesus meant when he used this image.

Joachim Jeremias also adds that we now know from research that Palestinian homes in the time of Jesus were different than the homes of Christians in Greek towns - or places outside of Palestine. There were no basements in most homes in Palestine. Some homes in the places where Jesus was had a small entrance way - but most didn’t, Here in Luke’s gospel for today, it would seem to be something being preached in some place outside of Palestine.


So to be practical - and romantic - using both our heart and our head - perhaps the best way to use today’s gospel is to use it in the 3 different ways Joachim Jeremias says we find this image in the gospels.

First of all: To be light to our world. This is the call for all Christians. To be a lamp for others, the lamp has to be lit. We see this stress in Matthew 5:15.

Secondly: it would be wise from time to time to sit in a comfortable chair in the evening.  A warm lamp is on. Next to that chair or by our bed is a Bible that we open up for a night light. We sit there and ask God that we read something that enlightens us, gives us insights, challenges us, gives us clear directions. This is seeing the Word as light - a road map - a source of inspiration. We find this image in Mark 4:22 and Thomas 33B. (Confer footnote 2 below.)

Third and last: to close our eyes - and picture a lamp lit in our inside room. Use one’s imagination. Picture in our soul - a single candle  - sitting on a round table. Is it lit? Do we see the Light of Christ like a burning candle - a bright candle - burning in our soul? Check out Luke 11:34. I would also add some theology from John. Hear Christ saying, “I am the Light of the World.”  Hear Christ also say that the darkness will not overcome the light  (John 1:4-5; John 8:12)


[1] Joachim Jeremias, The Parables of Jesus, Scribner Studies in Biblical Interpretation, Revised Edition,  New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1963

 [2]  The Gospel According to Thomas, Coptic Text  Established and Translated by A. Guillaumont, H. -Ch. Puech, G. Quispel, W. Till and +Yassah ‘Abd Al Masih,  New York, Harper and Brothers, 1959. Logion 33 goes reads: “Jesus said: What thou shalt hear in thine ear (and) in the other ear, that preach from your housetops; for no one lights a lamp and puts it under a bushel, nor does he put it in a hidden place, but he sets it on the lampstand so that all who come in and go out may see its light.”


Quote for Today - September 23, 2013

"But the establishment is made up of little men, very frightened."

Bella Abzug, May 5, 1971, in Mel Ziegler, Bella! 1972


What was that all about? Has that been your experience? If true, what are they frightened about? What was the most intriguing Q and A session you've ever been at?

Sunday, September 22, 2013


[This is a homily  story  for our Teen Mass. It's  for this  25th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C - and it's a reflection bouncing off Jesus' Parable about the dishonest steward - Luke 16: 1-13]

It all started in Little League.

He was good with statistics - and spread sheets - and with his computer - so the coach asked him to keep statistics for the team for the year.

The first time he changed the numbers was from 5 games earlier. “Who would remember that?” he thought. He had struck out 3 times in that game  - and he didn’t like it. He changed it to 2 strike outs. That other strike out he changed to an infield out.

Nobody noticed it - so a week later he changed the results of a game from two weeks earlier from a ground ball out  he had made to a single. Nobody noticed that either.

His average crept up slowly. He was smart. He was clever. He was not that good a hitter - but he had become a .247 hitter - just by a slight change here and a slight change there. Nobody noticed what he was doing.

At home his older sister Ruth got a dollar more a week in allowance than he did. He didn’t think this was fair. So  if he saw his father’s wallet or his mother’s purse just sitting there he would steal a dollar from it. He’d say to himself, “Fair is fair! After all Ruth is getting a dollar more a week than me. That just isn’t fair.” As far as he knew, he never got caught…..

In school, he wasn’t the best in the class in spelling - but he was good. He envied Judy - as well as Jason - both always did better than he did in spelling. So he kept tiny pieces of paper with big words on them - under his watch - words the teacher told them to memorize. Then  whenever there was a spelling quiz, he would slip the tiny papers out from under his watch out when the teacher wasn’t looking.

He found himself doing the same thing - using little pieces of paper - to cheat in social studies and math as well. He never got caught.

He said to himself that he was  good - maybe the best in the class - in cheating - but then he thought, “There are no marks for who is the best cheater. Bummer….”

He did this all the way through - early school - middle school - and high school.

At restaurants in his senior year in high school - as well as in college - he came up with a neat trick. Whenever he and his friends were walking out through a restaurant - he would always go last from their table heading towards the front of the restaurant - letting his friends go ahead of him. If he spotted on a table on the way out a tip of a few dollar bills that a waiter or waitress hadn’t picked up yet - he would stop at that table and pick up a plate and move it to the edge of the table  as if he were helping the waitress or waiter. Meanwhile, he would cup a dollar bill from the few dollar bill tip that was still sitting there.

In college he was very clever in getting class papers on line - plagiarizing - and then changing words and word patterns - and no professor ever caught on. 

For his college degree - he went for accounting - knowing that he was good with numbers - all his life.

He got a job right after college as an accountant. The company he worked for did audits - check ups on the books and bills and  receipts of small companies - and he was good - very good - in spotting when anyone else was cheating.

He was in a parking lot once - and spotted a car - in a handicap parking spot. The side  window was open. There was a handicap thing on the dashboard. It should have  hung on the car rear view mirror. He looked both ways - thinking to himself - I always wanted one of these - and he ended up taking it and then using it for years. Whenever he used it - he would get out of his car and walk with a fake limp into a store or a movie or the mall.

When he used it with friends - they would kid him - and he’d say, “You always have to have an edge!”

He started dating a wonderful girl. Just when they were about to get serious, she sensed something was hidden about him. She stepped back - and started to notice he was always cautious and sneaky - like with his handicap sign.  She finally said to him, “What would happen if there were 3 handicap spots and only one was open and you took it and a  truly handicapped person couldn’t park? How would you feel about that?”

He said, “Come on, everybody tries to get an edge. It’s the name of the game.” 

So she backed back - and started seeing him less and less. In fact, she started seeing someone else - without telling him. When he found out, he was angry and said, “You are cheating on me!”  

She walked away - red faced - silent - and furious. Three days later she left him a voice message - knowing when he wouldn’t be able to pick up his phone telling him: “That’s it. We wouldn’t work together. Sorry!”

He was devastated. This was the first time he felt the impact of being on the other side of being cheating.

He went to church - Mass - from time to time - but always snook out ahead of every one else before the end of the Mass. He’d smile - getting out ahead even of those who snook out early - because he was in the handicap section of the church parking lot.

Something inside him itched. Something inside him made him feel uneasy - and uncomfortable with life. In general, he found himself unable to look people in the eye.

He met another gal - fell in love and in time got married. They had 3 kids. Years later he caught his daughter stealing from his wallet. And when he confronted her, she said, “Well you’ve been cheating with your handicap parking sign all these years.”

That got him thinking - but just a tiny bit.

Then it hit him big time - his cheating patterns. It was a Sunday - the every 3 years - when Catholics hear at mass the story about the man who was cheating on his boss and got caught - and would lose his job - so he changed the numbers on how much different folks owed his boss.

When it came time to fire him his boss said, “I’m firing you - but I have to admit - you are sharp when it comes to  knowing how people operate. Why don’t you use your talents to be an honest person?”

That day he stayed in church till the final verse of the final hymn and that day was the last time he ever cheated - tossing away his handicap sign and not parking there any more.

Inside his heart and mind - after that Sunday - he felt better inside himself - and his wife and family noticed the change - even more.


[For the sake of  transparency I’m preaching this sermon to myself for starters….]


The title of my homily  for this 25 Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C - is, “What a Waste!”

I better spell our waste. WASTE   not   WAIST.


This week - while driving - or waiting on some line - or when alone - or with your spouse or family or friends, come up five instances when someone might say, “What a waste!”

Here are a quick five I came up with last night:

A gigantic and expensive meal is put together and it rains or snows or nobody shows and the food is thrown out. Someone says, “What a waste!”

An athlete - an obvious first round pick - gets addicted to heroin - and ends up homeless - on the streets - and someone says, “What a waste!”

I heard this about a priest. It wasn’t me. The guy was handsome - smart - great priest - and someone said of him becoming a priest, “What a waste!”

I heard the same thing about a nun once. Gorgeous. Thin. What a waist! W A I S T. Talented. Great high school teacher. And someone seeing her and being told she was a nun, the person said, “What a waste!”

A man is managing several stores for this other guy - and is very successful at it - and he starts dipping into his boss’ funds - hears he’s about to get fired - calls up some of his contacts - and contracts - and gives them sweet deals - with the idea - after he loses his job - they will hire him. And his boss says, “You’re smart. You’re talented. You’re gifted. You’re fired. But what a waste!”


I’m assuming that fifth example sounds familiar - that you recognize it’s a variation on today’s gospel. The conniving steward is a sharp guy - but he’s dishonest - and loses his job. And the rich man - his boss -  is shaking his head and basically saying, “What a waste!”

Jesus in today’s gospel is challenging all of us to look at our lives and our families and our jobs - and our thoughts - and our morality - and our values.

Jesus in today’s gospel is also challenging us to look at ourselves and ask: am I honest or dishonest with my wealth - and by wealth - I mean my skills, my gifts and my talents.

A quote I once read - but can’t find again   - has always challenged me. I think it was Ted Roethke, the poet, who said it. It goes something like this: “Oh the lies I have told my energies.”

I have been interested in writing ever since the 8th grade in grammar school - and from time to time - I get going with that talent - but “Oh the lies I have told my energies.”

Lies and laziness can lay waste to a lot of our energies.  I’m sure you’ve heard from time to time that we only use something like 10% of our brain.  I don’t know if that’s true - and how that’s measured - but whenever we hear it - I’m sure we say, “Yeah, that’s right. I got  to get moving. I got to get such and such a thing done or cleaned up or finished.” “Oh the lies I have told my energies.”

Jesus in this gospel tells us how difficult it is to be divided - how tricky it is to serve two masters. We either hate one and love the other or we’re devoted to one and we despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon. A good translation for mammon is “stuff”.

Hopefully anyone who  is cheating on his or her spouse or company or government or time with one’s kids - feels it. Hopefully anyone who is cheating on themselves - down deep - knows it. There’s hope when we feel divided - when we feel the pulls and the “Uh oh’s” inside us,  when we’re cheating others or when we’re wasting our lives - our time - our talents - on the wrong things.


The mirror metaphor has always been a great metaphor - because we have mirrors in our bathrooms, bedrooms, cars, etc.

It’s always smart to look in the mirror - not just to see spinach or caraway seeds stuck between our teeth - but to look into our eye - and check in on ourselves with honesty questions.

It’s always smart to take a pad or iPad - and type in or jot down our job description and expectations and hopes which we have for ourselves - as well as  taking and making an honest inventory of our wealth - that is, our talents - our calls to be the best we can be.

Some people have a pad by the side of their bed to jot down their dreams from the middle of the night!

It’s good to jot down our day dreams - our hopes - those “some day I’m going to’s”.

How many people do we know who can paint or play the guitar or piano or banjo or violin - and the only instrument they play is the TV remote?

We point a finger at them and say or think: “You’re wasting your time and your life on meaningless pursuits.”  Then we lie to ourselves and say, “If I could play the banjo or if I could paint, I’d be in a band or painting on Saturday or Sunday afternoons.”

In the meanwhile we know the old saying, “Every time we point one finger towards another - three fingers are pointing back at us”

What are those 3 gifts and talents we have - that are sitting in a box in our brain. So it’s good to look at what I’m doing with my gifts and my talents and my skills. It’s good to know  my failures and weaknesses. It’s good when we admit at least to ourselves  when and where I am lazy - where I’m being dishonest with my energies.

The one skill I keep telling myself - when I look into myself - is to work on the skill of getting things done in between getting things done. I can have an appointment from 1 to 2 and then another from 3 to 4. It’s the skill of learning how to get going on that  2 to 3 time slot that I am lazy at. That’s a skill I keep saying, “I’m going to get going on that - and get doing those things I know I got to get done - but without being too compulsive.”


Today’s first reading is from the prophet Amos. I don’t know if he had a brother named Andy. He’s a shepherd. Well, we hear from him today and next Sunday in the first reading.

Amos challenges us not just to get going with our gifts - whether it’s playing the banjo or bridge - or paint or writing poetry - or taking care of sheep - but on not being a waste with our lives.

He sees what all of us see every day - the good, the bad, and the ugly - out there. Jesus will challenge us to also see in here - inside ourselves as well - the good, the bad and the ugly.

Amos must have done a lot of talking and thinking with God out there in the hills while caring for his sheep. It’s called prayer. He must have got in touch with what he didn’t like was happening in town - in the marketplace. People fixed scales and manipulated money - and cheated the poor or anyone they could steal from in selling grain or wheat or what have you.

And he spoke up. That makes him a prophet. That’s one of those calls we all are given in our baptism - when the deacon or priest anoints us in the Baptismal ceremony as prophet, priest and king or queen. That’s us.

Now nobody likes whistle blowers or people who when they walk into a room, everybody goes, “Oh no not her again!”

As we’re learning from our new pope, action speaks louder than words - but of course, words sometimes work, but we can be prophets by living life to the full - with deep concern for all.

Others will pick up on us. Okay, sometimes we’ll be crucified - and sometimes we have to crucify ourselves if we want to live life to the full - as Jesus calls us to.


How to conclude this. I’m not sure.

I know that Erik Erikson says that the 8th Stage of life is the Meaning stage - when we are pulling together our life - to see if it makes sense. He says some people get there and go into despair.

I would assume what they are doing is looking at their life and making a final judgment and saying, “What a waste!”

I would assume some go into death with a great fear that God is going to say the same thing at a final judgment: “What a waste!”  Matthew 25: 31-46 has that powerful scene of the end of the world being a separation of the sheep from the goats - can certainly lead to that way of thinking and worrying. Luke 15 - last Sunday’s gospel - certainly leans towards a God who doesn’t voice those big time eternal punishment threats - but welcomes us into the banquet - no matter what.

I would assume in the meanwhile, if we have been lying to our energies much of our lives,  there’s always time to head for the vineyards - to get to work - to get going - even if it’s the last hour.

Ooops: How do we make this practical?  

4 minutes is all it takes.

Two minutes in the morning: what do I want to do today? A daily log on paper or some kind of gadget can give creditability to self - not others  - or if you’re married - make your plans  for your day with your spouse - and then at the end of the day - to look at the list. Then answer the question: Was today a waste or a wow! And I’m not talking about all work and no play - that can lead to craziness - but to living a giving, a balanced, and gracious life each day.  Amen.

Quote for Today - September 22, 2013

"A heap of broken images, 
              where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, 

              the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone 

              no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under 

              the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something 

             different from either
Your shadow at morning 

            striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening 

           rising to meet you;
I will show you fear 

           in a handful of dust.” 

T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land