Saturday, December 7, 2013


Quote for Today - December 7, 2013 - Saturday

"Dealing in generalities is the death of prayer."

J.H. Evans

QUESTION: Can't we say the same of meetings and many conversations? Ooops! That's not specific.

Friday, December 6, 2013


Quote for Today - Friday - December 6, 2013

"Faith begins as an experiment and ends as an experience."

William Ralph Inge

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


December 5, 2013 - Thursday  - Quote For Today

"Very often a change of self is needed more than a change of scene."

Arthur Christopher Benson [1862-1925]

December 4, 2013 - Wednesday - Quote For Today

"Real unselfishness consists in sharing the interests of others."

George Santayana [1863-1952]


The title of my homily is, “The Kingdom of God Advents Within.”

Advent is a time for Jesus to come to us in a new way.

Each advent, each Christmas, hopefully, Christ is born anew in us in richer and better ways.


Don’t you love today’s first reading – Isaiah 11:1-10?

Don’t you love the painting, “The Peaceable Kingdom” by Edward Hicks?

When I go to see my sister Mary at Doylestown, Pennsylvania, I have often gone to the Michener Art Museum there and they have one of the 61 renditions of The Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks.

Edward Hicks was a Quaker and had deep religious interests – two special interests were Peace and the Inner Light.

He saw good stuff in people – the light of Christ shining in them. He also saw Quakers in division at times with one another – the city with the rural, simplicity versus stuff,, etc. If he heard Isaiah and Jesus correctly, the call is to be peaceful.

We have within us the lamb and the wolf, the calf and the lion, the cow and the bear. We can be catty or calm, bearish and gentle, lone wolfish or gentle as a lamb. The choice is always ours.

Edward Hicks, a coach painter, turned painter, turned farmer, turned back to painter, preached with his picture – figured things out with his painting.

We look at the scene and we see ourselves. It’s a mirror. Is there peace in my belly? Is there peace in my heart? Is there peace in my mind? Is the Kingdom of God within?

During Advent - in preparation for Christmas - we bring out the lights - and we light up our homes - inside and out.  During Advent - in preparation for Christmas we shop for gifts to give each other for Christmas. During Advent - in preparation for Christmas we set up the manger - along with Mary and Joseph and the animals - the shepherds - and the kings.  Why not step back and wonder how I’m making all these motions real - not just in symbol - but in reality - that we be light, gift, and manger to receive Christ the Lord!

Edward Hicks paints a child with the animals and the people of his day – hopefully working for peace – making the kingdom of God arrive not only in our homes, but in our hearts.


The revelation – the message of today’s gospel – is that we are the lucky ones – the blessed ones – for being given these revelations from God about the Son.

Listen again to how today’s gospel ends: Turning to the disciples in private he said, 
              “Blessed are the eyes 
                that see what you see.
                For I say to you, 

                many prophets and kings 
                desired to see 
                what you see, 
                but did not see it, 
                and to hear what you hear, 
                but did not hear it.”

Edward Hicks made Isaiah and the gospel very personal, very real, very relevant – when he showed faces of people in his paintings. Some people seem to grow  and glow in peace. The light of Christ shines in their faces. Other people are like some of the animals in later pictures - animals whose claws that have gotten sharper – and more dangerous looking.

We can change as we get older. Hopefully, we change for the better and not the worse  – that is,  becoming more cynical and cruel. Hopefully, more and more of the light of Christ advents into us and we vent the light of Christ out from us more and more.


Obviously, more light, more peace, the advent of the kingdom, is one of  the key messages of Advent. Amen.


Painting on top: 

Edward Hicks [1780-1849] - The Peaceable Kingdom, c. 1837 - at the Mercer Museum - The Michenor - Doylestown, Pa. 

December 3, 2013 - Tuesday - Quote for Today

"When I was young, I said to God, 'God, tell me the mystery of the universe.'

"But God answered, 'That knowledge is reserved for  me alone.'

"So I said, 'God, tell me the mystery of the peanut.'

"Then God said, 'Well, George, that's more nearly your size.'

"And he told me."

George Washington Carver [1864-1943]

Question: If God said to you - "I'll tell you about one mystery - what would be your quest?"

Monday, December 2, 2013



The title of my homily for this First Monday in Advent  is, “Branches! Signs of Hope!

Every once and a while  - while walking - I’ve spotted small branches - branching out of sawed down tree. I stop and think to myself: “Interesting!” or “Wow!” or “There’s always signs of hope around.”


If you read the words - better - if you look at the images - slide shows of verbal pictures -  in the book of the Prophet Isaiah - you’ll spot great signs of hope.

The wolf is the guest of the lamb ….  The cow and the bear become neighbors …. Weak knees become stronger …. The lame leap like a stag…. Buds blossom …. Deserts bloom ….  Roads appear …. Crooked ways become straight ….  - Branches appear on stumps.

In today’s first reading from Isaiah 4: 2-6 - we have the image of the branch - one of these wonderful images from Isaiah. They hang like ornaments on the evergreen tree called Advent. Spot them and you spot hope.

Isaiah promises for survivors that they will find fruit - the fruit being honor and splendor - after a time of suffering in Jerusalem. There will be shelter and protection on Mount Zion -  like finding a shade tree on a hot day - or place to duck into in a storm - when it’s raining and pouring.


Jesus spots hope in the words and sentiments of a centurion - whom Jesus says has more faith than those of his own people. He says to Jesus, “Just give me your word and that’s enough for my servant to be healed.”


The title of my homily is, “Branches! Signs of Hope.”

Is that our call?

Aren’t we who are local branches on the tree called Christianity, called Church, called Christ - called to branch out to others - to give others words and signs of hope?


Take some time to look at our own life.

Who have been examples of hope for us?

What have been the signs of hope we have spotted.

Two people stopped to tell me after Sunday Masses yesterday that their spouses got good news - that the cancer is in remission for one and cut out for the other. A lady with gray scraggily hair on her head - after losing it all from chemotherapy said, “Look at my hair! It’s come back and it’s not going to be gray for long!”

People who have lost a loved one often tell me about something that happens that gives them a smile on their face and hope in their brain: the sky is different - something falls off a book shelf - a bird is on the branch of a backyard tree - and for some reason this helps them say that it’s okay now. “It’s okay now!”

My brother told me once that he missed Sunday morning Mass so he went to another church for a Sunday evening Mass. The place was at a distance. He sat down.  Sometime during the Mass spotted one of his daughters in front of him - all by herself - at that same Mass.

Surprise. He said it was quite a surprise.


We are people who are often looking for signs of hope - some sign that branches out of nowhere - or somewhere - where there has been hurt or disaster.

And praise God when we get these signs.

And praise God when we are these signs of hope for others. Amen.


December 2, 2013 - Monday - Quote for Today

"I really feel sorry for people who think things like soap dishes or mirrors or Coke bottles are ugly, because they are surrounded by things like that all day long, and it must make them miserable."

Robert Rauschenberg [1925-2008]

Title of art object above: Rare Ceramic Sculpture

Sunday, December 1, 2013

“UH OH!"


The title of my homily is, “Judgment Day: The Deep Down Uh Oh!”

The gist of my homily is that we all have “Uh oh!” judgment moments. They are feelings that bubble up from time to time from up out of our gut - from our deep down inner self. Without knowing it, our subconscious is working on and wondering about our past. We are moving around memories and moments - like peas on a plate - with our fork. We wondering about our life: what we’re doing or not doing - or what we did with this gift of life that we’ve been given.


We start the season of Advent this Sunday. 

One of the major themes that Advent triggers is not just the first coming of Christ - Christmas - the tree, Bethlehem, the Stable, the giving of gifts - the singing of the great hymns, Silent  Night and Adeste Fidelis -  but it’s also a call to look at the Second Coming of Christ. Compared to Christmas - the First Coming of Christ - this Second Coming is something we are not that familiar with.

If we read and listen to the Advent Readings - as well as the readings at the end of the Church Year - we hear the big fear of the Early Christians - that Christ was coming - and coming soon - and the world was about to end - and there would then be the Great Judgment.

But when? Was it soon and very soon or later and later?

Surprise! Like some sermons - the ending wasn’t happening!

Surprise! Because it wasn’t happening,  they had to rethink the message they thought they got from Christ.

Fortunately,  some rethought that message before the Scriptures were closed  - and so we have their comments in the New Testament as well.

And  a key re-thinking message is that of the delay. We hear about delays in the parables about the Bridegroom or a King or the Owner of a vineyard - all of whom are coming for judgment or wanting to see a return on their coins or vineyard.

Each story has the message of not knowing when he’s going to show  - like a thief in the night. Each story stays there’s going to be a delay and we don’t know when he’s coming - or when the show is going to end.

So we have the key, key words in Matthew 24:36: “But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.”

Yet in the history of the world there have been many predictors of the End Times.  It’s now 2013. The curtain hasn't closed yet.  After hearing so many false predictions, we can assume we don’t know when the world is going to end.

The evening news the other night talked about the ISON comet that was going by our planet this late November. [Cf. morning of October 8, 2013 above picture of ISON]  It was described as a giant snowball - made up of frozen gases, rocks and dust, several miles in diameter.  It said it wasn’t going to hit our precious planet - the earth. It was described as a baby comet  - that is,  an object with a photometric age less than four comet years. I have no idea how long a comet year is - but then the news report said in contrast that our solar system is 4.6 billion years old. 

That was then. I've also read that we have billions and billions of years to come. So who knows when this earth will end. Maybe we'll be smashed by some unknown mass that roars into us - from out of nowhere - in some unknown future - and that's it for good old planet earth? Hey you never know what’s next.


That’s the object called the earth and the stuff in space. They have a long shelf life so far and it seems a long shelf life to come. What about this subject called me? How long am I going to last?

So my first  however is that I sense that there is in each person a worry - a deep down worry - that my end - my crash - my death - could suddenly hit me - like today. Hey, you never know.

So we kiss each other when we go out the door or the other goes out the door.  So we hold onto the arm rest  of some chairs more than other chairs: like that of a plane or in a doctor’s office.

And my  second however, is that I sense that in each person there is also a worry, a deep down “Uh oh!” worry - that God is a big time judge.

These two worries - these two thoughts - these two uh oh feelings - hit us from time to time - but for most not at Christmas time. Christmas time is “Joy to the World” time. It’s the Lord has Come time - and the Lord is a tiny baby in a manger - not a finger pointing Judge from on high.

Yet the end of the world and Second Coming - and the Judgment - and the Reckoning  themes - are part of the Advent Season. 


By the way that's the Genesis of this homily! 

We heard it loud and clear in today’s readings - with references to the Great Flood in Noah’s time. Those people were not ready. Those people were partying. “… the flood came and carried them all away.”  We heard Jesus say to us in today's gospel that when the Son of Man comes: “Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left.”

Then there are the big time warning signals. Every tornado, hurricane, typhoon, tsunami,  terror bombing, plane or helicopter crash - sends this same message.  Those are uh oh moments.

When those messages appear on our news reports,  the judgment messenger wakes up in our subconscious - and rubbing its eyes and wearing pajamas, it walks into our kitchen or our living room and says, “It’s uh oh! time. Look  at your time and your life!”

The scriptures back up this reality big time. Read the 3 parables in Matthew 25 from time to time - especially the 3rd Parable - that at the end of the world - we will be all led before the Son of Man and we will be sorted out. We will be judged to be either a sheep or a goat - depending on whether we cared for others  - whether we reached out and helped our neighbor in need.


Here are two quotes from two existentialist philosophers.

The first is from Albert Camus [1913-1960]. It’s found in his book: The Fall  [La Chute] [1956] : “I shall tell you a great secret, my friend. Do not wait for the last judgment. It  takes place every day.” 

The second is from  Franz Kafka [1884-1924]. It’s found in his Letters. Quote in Max Brod:  “Our own concept of time makes it possible for us to speak of the Day of Judgment by that name; in reality it is a summary court in perpetual session.”

Existential thinkers often think about the angst and agita in the middle of daily living - those feelings at funerals or when our kids go off the deep end or when we hear of cancer or even when we see all those people crunching outside the big stores on Black Thanksgiving Evening or now Gray Friday - ready to run in and grab a shopping cart.

We wonder: "What's that all about?"

We hear the song, “What’s it all about, Alfie? Is it only for a moment that we live?”


We begin thinking about what am I shopping for? What am I looking for? What do I want?  How many more shopping days do I have till I drop?

Is this world a gigantic store - with its many aisles -and so much to choose?

Is every person walking around with a shopping cart - and every once and a while we go to the check out counter - and we find out how much what I’m shopping for and buying costs.

I remember a priest telling the story about how he was visiting his sister and he felt guilty doing nothing - just sitting around - so he said, “Can I do anything to help?”

She said, “Could you run down to the supermarket and get a few things for me?”

He said, “Gladly.”

It was 9 items. He gets them all and puts them in the shopping cart - and on the way to the check out counter he adds two more items.

He sees only one person at the 10 items or less check out counter. He’s about to put his 11 items on the counter when the check out person looks at them and says, “You have one item too many. You have to go to the other check out counter.”

He bites his tongue. He stops. He walks out the store as is - and goes to another store.

Could we do that with our life?

What’s in our wallet?  What’s in our shopping cart?

How much does what we have gathered cost us or is going to cost us?

Obviously we have in our shopping cart people - spouse - family - children - relationships.

And we have a lot more. I just lost 2 family members so a quote from Eugene O’Neill - the American playwright grabbed me: “The dead! Why can’t the dead die!”

Are we carrying stuff that's making our cart too heavy to push? 

It could be deaths or disasters - regrets or resentments - you name it.

What’s in our shopping cart. What’s in our heart?


Obviously, any time is a good time to judge our contents - what we’re carrying - thinking about - worrying about.

Obviously, Advent and Christmas time is a good time for judgment - even though it’s the big Christmas rush time.

In fact sometimes the best time for judgment and change is the time of the biggest rush and crush of life and time.

Isn’t that what Paul is saying in today’s second reading from Romans. "Now is the time - now is the hour to wake up - now is the time to throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Now is the time to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the desires of the flesh."

That reading - that passage in Paul’s Letter to the Romans -  changed Augustine’s life when he read it in a garden once - and like that priest in the supermarket - he just upped out of the life he was leaving - left everything he was shopping for - and started a new life elsewhere.

Today’s first reading from Isaiah also tells us about change. What can I change in my life? What can I melt down? What weapons do I have to take out of my shopping cart?

Well,  I can melt down gossip words and make my words - words of love. I can melt down my wasted time - and use my time to make another’s day - each day -  by presence, presence, presence - not just presents, presents, presents.

Uh oh. It’s time to end.


Quote for Today - December 1, 2013 - Sunday

"The greater the ignorance the greater the dogmatism."

Sir William Osler [1849-1919] Montreal Medical Journal September 1902, page 696