Saturday, September 6, 2014


Poem for Today - September 6, 2014


Pasture, stone wall, and steeple,
What most perturbs the mind:
The heard-rending homely people,
Or the horrible beautiful kind?

 © Louise Bogan

With a Lark,
by Vincent  
Van Gogh

Friday, September 5, 2014



The title, topic, and theme of my homily for this 22   Friday in Ordinary Time  is, “Comparisons.”

A life skill we all need is, “How To Deal With Comparisons.”

It’s a life skill we need as little kids – when a brother or sister or another gets a bigger piece of cake – or a corner piece of cake with more frosting.

It’s a life skill we all need as little old people when we’re shrinking or have more wrinkles or health problems than others.

It’s a life skill we need when others are talking about their wonderful kids or grandkids – their successes, their salaries, their status in life – and our kids – well, a few of them we consider unmentionable.

Comparisons…. Comparisons …. Comparisons ….

And then there’s death…. Sometimes they are a blessing compared to other’s; sometimes they feel like a curse.

God help me learn to deal with comparisons.


Today’s gospel- Luke 5: 33-39 - has the scribes – they’re the ones with the education – and the Pharisees – they’re the picky, picky religious perfect ones. Today they are about to nit pick on Jesus. They are comparing John the Baptist’s disciples and their disciples to his disciples. They are sliding in the innuendo that Jesus disciples are having too good a time in life – and they don’t fast and pray enough.

Comparisons…. Comparisons …. Comparisons….

So Jesus throws them a comparison right back into their talk and thinking patterns, “Can you make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?”

Translation: Lighten up turkeys. Lighten up! Celebrate!

Then he says, “Okay there will be days when it’s time to fast – when the bridegroom is gone – but not now, turkeys.”

Picture a sweet wedding celebration on a Saturday in September. Then picture people showing up with Ash Wednesday ashes on. It doesn't compute. 

Then Jesus compares old cloth and new cloth – old wine and new wine – old wine skins and new wine skins.

The new is the new and the old is the old.

Sometimes one is better than the other.

Think turkeys, think.

Comparisons …. Comparisons ….  Comparison ….

I once heard a series of talks by a well-known Catholic speaker. He kept saying in talk after talk after talk that life is a battle. Every day we got to wake up and enter the battlefield.

I finally raised my hand. I asked him,  “Do you really see every day as a battle?”

He answered, “Everyday!”

So I said, “I don’t agree with you. I don’t agree with your metaphor, your comparison - and how you see life.”

I think of Father Al Rush – an old priest I used to work with – who often said, “Andy, I don’t think God wants life to be as tough, tough, tough – rough, rough, rough – as some people make it.”


Comparisons can crush. 

Comparisons can cut. 

Comparisons can also be creative.

The house next door can have a great lawn – and a good paint job – and some nice Japanese Maple Trees and hedges and flowers – and my place can be a mess. If my neighbor’s property gets me to do some yard work – getting me and my  lawns - front and back – in better shape – along with my tummy – great.

If it gets me complaining – tearing him or her or them down – then not so great.

Comparisons can crush. 

Comparisons can cut.

A priest once told me that he was standing in the back of the church – ready to proceed down the aisle for the Mass. The Cantor and Singer welcomes everyone. Then she asked everyone to silence all electronic devices. Then she said, “Our celebrant is __________” At that, hearing the priest’s name, someone said rather loud, “Oh no!”

How’s that for a comparison that cut and crushed.


Last night at St. John Neumann there was a service for peace.

Some lady afterwards said, “Where was everybody? How come the kids weren’t here? How come their parents weren’t here?”

I said, “Jesus said, ‘Feed the sheep. Don’t count the sheep!'”

I didn’t go much further in our at the back on the way out of church conversation – but I wondered if that was her life – always comparing what is with what isn’t. Does this cause her regular agita of the soul.

Envy is wanting what the other person has: looks, car, kids, spouse, beautiful skin, clothes, property, you name it. Underneath envy is comparisons.  Comparing myself to what another has. I want that.

It’s at the underneath of war – and world problems.

It’s at the underneath of why there is a lack of peace.

Jealousy is wanting to hold on to, protect, what I have and not wanting to lose it to another.  At the bottom of that is also comparisons. 

Envy and jealousy and comparisons – all have to be put on the table for discussion when it comes to war and peace.


Comparisons can crush and they can be creative.

In the meanwhile: the question – Am I a happy camper?

I think that’s a key life question: “Am I a happy camper?”

Be who you is, because if you be who you ain't, then you ain't who you is.

Be where you is, because if you be where you’re not, then you’re not where you is.

And one last  great secret of happiness from Thornton Wilder.

Haven’t we gone out to supper with others, who don’t enjoy their meal because our meal – on our plate looks better.

Well a character in Thornton Wilder’s play, The Skin of our Teeth, 1942, Act 1, says a line I love, “My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it’s on your plate that’s my philosophy.”

It’s also my theology.

Poem For Today - September 5, 2014


Help, I need somebody,
Help, not just anybody,
Help, you know I need someone,

When I was younger
so much younger than today
I never needed
anybody's help in any way
But now these days are gone.
I'm not so self-assured
Now I find I've changed my mind
and opened up the doors

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being 'round.
Help me get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me?

And now my life has changed in oh so many ways
My independence seems to vanish in the haze
But every now and then I feel so insecure
I know that I just need you like I've never done before

When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody's help in anyway.
But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured,
Now I find I've changed my mind, I've opened up the doors.

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being 'round.
Help me get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me?
Help me,
Help me,
Ooooooo. "Help!"

© John Lennon wrote
this song, but it’s
credited to Lennon-



The title of my reflection for this evening "Prayer Service for Peace" is, “Having An Impulse for Peace.”

My take on this evening is that we are here to take an hour to be peaceful – to be with each other and pray – to sing – to hope - for peace.

I’m assuming all peacemaking – like all politics – remembering what Tip O’Neill famously said: “All politics is local politics” – I want to say, “All peacemaking is local peacemaking.”  That means working to be peaceful with family, neighbors, and the folks one is with in local traffic and one’s own workplace. 

Better: I’ll go a step further and say, “All local peacemaking is inner self peace making.” As the song we’re going to sing at the end of our service tonight goes, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”

I’m also assuming that the impulse for this evening is that the world – right  now - seems rather antsy and angry – with too much agita and aggression.

Antsy – angry – agitated – aggressive – all words beginning with A.

I’m sure we could also move to words beginning with the letter B: belligerence - bullying – battles - bombs – and we could move to C and D and all the way to Z.

I don’t know about you – but I’m nervous around zealots.

The Letter “P ”also has it’s words: peace, prayer, pause, presence.

We’re assuming that tonight we’re not the only ones in sacred places – being peaceful and praying for peace in our world – aware of each other.

Ferguson – Ukraine – Iraq – Syria – Lybia – Somalia -  déjà vu and déjà vu after déjà vu – over and over again.

It’s 2014. We're 100 years after the start of World War I – in which 10 million military people and 7 million civilians were killed – and the seeds for World War II were planted.

It’s 2014.  200 years ago – in December  - the day before Christmas - of that year - the War of 1812 ended – after 2 ½ years of fighting. And unfortunately  –  the Battle of New Orleans was fought in January of 1815 – because news of  the Treaty of Ghent had not reached  the British in the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana nor Andrew Jackson yet.

It’s 2014 – 150 years after the 4th year of the United States Civil War.

That’s world news – that’s old news….

I’m sitting there watching the 10 o’clock evening news out of Philadelphia with my sister, my brother-in-law and their son Gerard. At 10 PM Gerard says, “What are watching this for?”

I’m sure he wanted a baseball game instead.

He went on, “Why are we watching this? The first three stories are going to be 3 murders in Philadelphia and Camden, then a fire, and then another murder or a robbery.”

Sure enough. That night it was 4 murders and 2 fires.

I never forgot that observation by my nephew Gerard.

It must be the easy way to do the evening news: because it seems that’s the same formula for the 10 o’clock evening news out of Baltimore each night as well.

I have never watched the 10 PM news in Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas or L.A. – yet I assume that’s the evening news there too.

What’s it like to watch the local evening news in Bogota or Barcelona, Mumbai or Moscow?

Do those who watch World News have the same “uh!” and “Oh no!” feelings all over the world?

Lately the lead stories on the 6:30 or 7 PM World News – seem to have more news  about non-peaceful moments – and so we gather here tonight.


The committee that met to pray and prepare for this meeting tonight  provided some talking points about peace – and gave them to me. Thank you. May every group and organization do the same.


The title of my thoughts for this evening is: “The Impulse for Peace.”

I noticed on the program that one of the action steps for after this meeting – after this get together – is that people make a One Minute Prayer for Peace Every Day at Noon.

That’s doable. I’ll try that.

That’s workable. I’ll practice that.

I know somewhere along the line – amongst other things – in the morning after I wake up – and get out of bed – I pull the blinds in my room – look out to see what kind of a day it is – and I do 74 – extended arm lifting exercises. 74 is my age. I started doing that when I was 33 or 34 – with 33 arm things – and each year on my birthday I add one more. It works. It has become second nature.

Somewhere along the line I also found myself standing there in the dark before getting into bed at night – stretching out my arms. I then say the Our Father out loud. Then I do 3 genuflections – one to the Father, one to the Son, and one to the Holy Spirit. I thank them for a good day. That’s been going on for some 40 years or so.

[Gesture showing muscles] If you too want muscles like I have, there's the secret.

Years and years ago an old man – on the Tennessee Border -  probably younger than I am now – told me that every morning – when he wakes up – he keeps his eyes closed – and wiggles his toes. If they wiggle, he told me, he says to God, “Thank You God for another day of life.”

So now tonight – September 4, 2014 – someone is going to suggest every day at noon from now on to say a One Minute Prayer for Peace. Who knows, maybe 50 years from now – all of you – well some of us – will still be doing that – starting tomorrow at noon?

Since the title of my thoughts for this evening is: “The Impulse for Peace”, may I suggest beginning this way: take your pulse. [Gesture] Catch your pulse – pulsing – pulsing – pulsing. Thank God you’re alive. That’s one of things they check when it looks like we’re leaving this life.

Then after saying, “Thank You God that I’m alive” or however you want to word it, ask the Lord for impulses for peace.

Each noon time monitor what your day has been like so far?  What have been your impulses: antsy – anger – agitation – aggression.

Or peace, prayer, pause, presence to the people we’re with?


I noticed in the “Talking Points About Peace” that the committee came up with  – there is mention of 3 Types of People.”

I always like People Typing Tests – because they get me to think. Which one am I? Jesus offered at least 7 people typing in his parables.[1]

This 3 Types of People When It Comes to Peace labels them this way: Peace-Breakers, Peace-Fakers, and Peace-Makers.

Right now put your thumb on your pulse and listen to your heart: which of these three impulses is more you?

The Peace-Breakers confront, cause agita, division, disagreements. They are manipulative, witch hunt, gossip, slander, are opinionated, and judgmental. They tear down – cause friction, and are mouthy. Thank God none of us here tonight are like that.  I love that old saying, “There are two types of people, ‘Those who cause happiness wherever they go and those who cause happiness whenever they go.”

The Peace-Fakers want harmony, peace at all costs, no violence, no hostility, but avoid allowing interpersonal or international relationships. They won’t or don’t want to deal with justice issues – the deeper issues – and so they come up with a counterfeit peace. I was trying to remember the peace diagram I heard in some talk – some years ago. For peace, everyone needs to be in on a piece of the action, get a piece of the pie, so as to have peace of mind. I think there were two more pieces to that – but I only  remember 2 pieces: the giving everyone a piece of the pie and everyone a piece of the action. In other words, if we don’t get everything out on the table – we’ll end up having a nice peaceful looking pond – but lurking in that water are lots of sharks and alligators.

The Peace Makers are the good gals and good guys. They are the peace makers that Jesus said they are blessed. The info the committee game me said that they respect, think before they speak, and don’t have the outcome all figured out before we begin to be with each other.   They also experience the cross – the great symbol here in this church. We all want it this way – and surprise someone right there across from us at the table – wants it another way.  Life is loaded with cross purposes. Sometimes peace makers are crucified. Look at Christ. Case in point.

So when we take our pulse each day – at noon – take also a pulse on what our predominating impulses are flowing through our blood that day – that moment. Then pause and pray.

Some days – let’s be honest – we’re peace breakers. Some days we are peace fakers. To be honest, some days I just don’t have the time right now – to sit down and talk with so and so – and some days – hopefully – most days – we can be blessed peace makers.


And in that one minute at noon each day – to smile – because we’re not in this alone. We’re with each other as we are tonight. Amen.


[This was a talk I gave last night - at a Prayer Service for Peace -  September 4, 2014 at St. John Neumann Church, Annapolis, Maryland.]


[1] Let me see how many I can find: 

  • Fasting: Gloomy or Clean Faced Matthew 6:16-18;
  • Narrow Gate or Wide Gate? Matthew 7:13-14
  • House on Rock or House on Sand? Matthew 7:24-27;
  • Good Tree - Bad Tree Matthew 12:33-37;
  • Parable of Sower - 4 types? Matthew 13: 1-9
  • Wheat or Weed? Matthew 13: 24-30-Matthew 13: 36-43;
  • Workers in the Vineyard? Different Hours? Matthew 20: 1-16
  • Two Sons - Yes or No? Matthew 21: 28-28-32;
  • Faithful or Unfaithful Servant? Matthew 24: 45-51;
  • Wise Virgin or Foolish Virgin? Matthew 25: 1-13; 
  • Three Servants  Given Talents According to Ability - Matthew 25: 14-30;
  • Sheep or Goat? Matthew 25: 31-46;
  • Good Samaritan? Which of the 4 Characters am I? Luke 10:29-37;
  • Martha or Mary? Luke 10: 38-42;
  • Regular Sheep or Lost Sheep? Luke 15: 1-7;
  • Prodigal Son, Older Brother or Father Luke 15: 11-32;
  • Rich Man or Lazarus? Luke 16: 19-31;
  • 10 Men Healed of Leprosy? Luke 17: 11-19;
  • Pharisee or Tax Collector? Luke 18: 9-14;

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Poem - September 4, 2014


When you are gone, I lie upon your bed
And you are there, dark as the light of stars,
Closer than measurements of heart, and loud
With the silences of all our daily years;

And then the door key, lights in the living room,
The slamming wood, the briefcase on the floor,
The way you say, "Where's everyone? I'm home" -
And do not know how far you are.

© Robert Hutchinson,
pp. 690-691 in
The New Yorker 
Book of Poems1974

Painting: Room 
in New York, 1932
 by Edward Hopper

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Poem for Today - September 3, 2014


In Italy, where this sort of thing can occur,
I had a vision once—though you understand
It was nothing at all like Dante's, or the visions of saints,
And perhaps not a vision at all. I was with some friends,
Picking my way through a warm, sunlit piazza
In the early morning. A clear fretwork of shadows
From huge umbrellas littered the pavement and made
A sort of lucent shallows in which was moored
A small nayy of carts. Books, coins, old maps,
Cheap landscapes, and ugly religious prints
Were all on sale. The colors and noise,
Like the flying hands, were gestures of exultation,
So that even the bargaining
Rose to the ear like a voluble godliness.
And then, when it happened, the noises suddenly stopped,
And it got darker; pushcarts and people dissolved,
And even the great Farnese Palace itself
Was gone, for all its marble; in its place
Was a hill, mole-colored and bare. It was very cold,
Close to freezing, with a promise of snow.
The trees were like old ironwork gathered for scrap
Outside a factory wall. There was no wind,
And the only sound for a while was the little click
Of ice as it broke in the mud under my feet.

I saw a piece of ribbon snagged on a hedge,
But no other sign of life. And then I heard
What seemed the crack of a rifle. A hunter, I guessed;
At least I was not alone. But just after that
Came the soft and papery crash
Of a great branch somewhere unseen falling to earth.

And that was all, except for the cold and silence
That promised to last forever, like the hill.

Then fingers came through, and prices, and I was restored
To the sunlight and my friends. But for more than a week
I was scared by the plain bitterness of what I had seen.
All this happened about ten years ago,
And it hasn't troubled me since, but at last, today,
I remembered that hill; it lies just to the left
Of the road north of Poughkeepsie, and, as a boy,
I stood before it for hours in wintertime.

© Anthony Hecht,
Pages 295-296,
The New Yorker
Book of Poems,
Selected by the 

Editors of The 
New Yorker,

Morrow Quill
New York, 1974

Tuesday, September 2, 2014



The title of my homily for this 22 Tuesday in Ordinary Time is, “Having the Mind of Christ.”


Today’s 2 readings present a few good questions – starting with the one we heard at the end of today’s first reading from 1st Corinthians 2: 10b-16. Paul asks: “Who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to counsel him?”

Listen carefully to people. People are telling God what to do all the time. They are screaming and streaming to God counsel – and they get angry with God - when God doesn’t follow their advice – in war and in peace.

Listen carefully to people – especially ourselves. I have a question: is the most basic inner scream, “My will be done – on earth as it is in heaven?”

I sense we say the Our Father a zillion times – but still say inwardly – and down deep: “My will be done! The way I see things is the way things ought to be.”

Today’s gospel – Luke 4: 31-37 - has as its main character -  a strange screaming man in a synagogue in Capernaum. Luke describes him as a man with the spirit of any unclean demon.  He asks Jesus two questions – both of which ask: “Why are you here?”  He asks that question this way: “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?’

Then he yells, “I know who you are – the Holy One of God!”

Today’s readings are asking life’s basic questions: who, what and why?


We all want to know whom another is – especially those around us.

At times we want to know who God is.

At times we say, “I don’t even know who I am at times.”

Paul is saying in the first reading that there are two types of people: the pneuma people – those who live by the Spirit – and those who live only by the psuche – those who live just by natural life – as does anything that is alive, dogs, cats, gnats and hippos.

So we have a choice: to live a low life or to live a high life.

That scares me – because at times I am eating too many pretzels – being too lazy – thinking only of myself – hiding from work and others.

I know I have to pray: “Come Holy Spirit.”

I know I have to say that more than my inner sounds, inner complaints, inner gossip, inner gripe sessions.

Too often I’m muttering grumbling sounds: “Uummmm!” Or “Aaarg!” Or “Crud” or “Crap” or worse whining’s.

Not enough….  I have to listen to Christ. Not enough…. I have to have the Clean Spirit of God wake up in me and I have to say what this man in today’s gospel says, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?” Then he says something we often forget because we’re living a low level of life. He says, “I know who you are–the Holy One of God!”


Paul – at the end of today’s first reading answers his own question about who knows the mind of God. It’s us.  “But we have the mind of Christ.”

I don’t know about you, but as already indicated in this sermon, I hesitate saying that – or praying for that.

I do pray that I be like this strange ranger in today’s gospel – who said, “I know who you are – the Holy One of God.” 
I want to know that Jesus is the holy one of God.

Luke said this character in that synagogue in Capernaum was filled with an unclean spirit.

So I suspect - when our unclean spirits mutter inner complaints and sometimes obscenities about life and others and sometimes ourselves – they can lead me to say, “At least my rumblings and grumblings know I need You Oh God  and I need Your Spirit, so that I can lead a higher life having the mind of Christ.”


Poem for Today - September 2, 2014


This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

© Jelaluddin Rumi,

translation by 
Coleman Barks

Monday, September 1, 2014


Poem for Today - September 1, 2014


Lowering Your Standards for Food Stamps

Words fall out of my coat pocket,
soak in bleach water. I touch everyone’s
dirty dollars. Maslow’s got everything on me.
Fourteen hours on my feet. No breaks.
No smokes or lunch. Blank-eyed movements:
trash bags, coffee burner, fingers numb.
I am hourly protestations and false smiles.
The clock clicks its slow slowing.
Faces blur in a stream of  hurried soccer games,
sunlight, and church certainty. I have no
poem to carry, no material illusions.
Cola spilled on hands, so sticky fingered,
I’m far from poems. I’d write of politicians,
refineries, and a border’s barbed wire,
but I am unlearning America’s languages
with a mop. In a summer-hot red
polyester top, I sell lotto tickets. Cars wait for gas
billowing black. Killing time has new meaning.
A jackhammer breaks apart a life. The slow globe
spirals, and at night black space has me dizzy.
Visionaries off their meds and wacked out
meth heads sing to me. A panicky fear of robbery
and humiliation drips with my sweat.
Words some say are weeping twilight and sunrise.
I am drawn to dramas, the couple arguing, the man
headbutting his wife in the parking lot.
911: no metered aubade, and nobody but
myself to blame.

© Cheryl Luna
Poetry Magazine
Photo: Workers 
at Lunch Time, 

Sunday, August 31, 2014



The title of my homily is, “The Way of the Cross.”

The cross is a theme we reflect upon during Lent – but here it is in today’s readings – especially today’s gospel.

So a few thoughts on the cross for a homily for this 22nd Sunday in Ordinary time.


What triggered – and what thoughts – did Jesus have – for him to come up with his teachings and thoughts about the crosses of life?

Did he see men hanging from crosses – dying a slow execution - along the roads he traveled on in Galilee? The Romans used that form of warning and execution in the land of Palestine which they occupied.

I assume it would be like a little kid seeing a head severed from a body in Iraq or Syria today – and stuck on a pole. How will that atrocity effect the whole future of that kid?

People had more kids in Jesus’ day than today – and the death rate for kids was much, much  higher that today – except for the very poor places on our planet.

As a kid - did Jesus ask Mary and Joseph, “What’s going on next door? Why does everyone look so sad? 

Bruce Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh in their book, Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels state:  “Infant mortality rates sometimes reached 30 percent. Another 30 percent of live births were dead by age six, and 60 percent were gone by age sixteen. Children always suffered first from famine, war, disease, and dislocation, and in some areas or eras few would have lived to adulthood with both parents alive.”

What were his thoughts about other kids with blindness - or crutches  - or deafness – or leprosy – or without parents – or who lost various brothers and sisters?

When did Joseph die?

Then when he got involved with teaching and preaching and speaking out – he experienced attacks and envy and jealousy and the loneliness that comes with being and seeing differently.  Did he see what every teacher and preacher sees: the yawns and the looking elsewhere – the obvious silent rejections – the boredom or non-interest.

Did he have a similar experience that Jeremiah had – the thoughts he had in today’s first reading. Jeremiah is called by God to speak out – but when he did – he experience what prophets experience: Rejection! Did Jesus yell to the Father, “Why did you do this to me?” Rejection hurts. Did he then have second thoughts –like Jeremiah had - that God’s will for the world was like a fire burning in his heart – imprisoned in his bones – even though he grew weary of it at times and felt he couldn’t endure it.

Hopefully God becomes hot – burning within us – in our bones – that we have fiery moments with the Spirit of God. 

Please God we hold onto those memories – those moments  – when we find ourselves  experience the Way of the Cross.

Then Jesus  was arrested that night – after betrayal by someone he personally chose. Judas betrayed him. Did he notice Peter denying him or was Jesus so turned inwards from all this pain – that he didn’t notice Peter at the moment.

Then the crowning with thorns – the beating – the being made fun of – the mock trial – the crowd that screamed praise for him just a week earlier – some were now in the crowd screaming for his death.

Then came the way of the cross to Calvary – the falls, the sights, the tears from his mother and others.

Then the hanging on the cross for a few hours – with just his mother, a few disciples and faithful women friends  - all down below.

Based on his comments to Peter in today’s gospel Jesus saw this happening long before it happened,

Based on today’s gospel Jesus knew crosses, Based on today’s gospel Jesus knew the secret of life – is denying self – dying to self – so others can live.

Living is giving. Giving is living.

Jesus taught us the meaning of life – when each of us Christians – realize Jesus gave us the secret of life at the last supper and at each Mass –when he says – when we say to our world, “This is body…. This is my blood…. I’m giving my life to you today.

Based on the gospels we know Jesus learned the meaning of the unwritten gospel of creation: seeds need to come out of their pods and bags – be planted in the earth. They must die in order to start growing in the soil. They must be cut and then crushed to become wheat flour. They must be cooked and burnt in the oven to become bread. Seed, wheat, flour, bread – preach the gospel of selflessness.

So too grapes – growing out there in the burning heat of day or the cold night air – and then are crushed to become wine – to bring a smile to a face – a toast at a dinner table or a wedding banquet.

Jesus knew mother’s felt great pain in bearing and birthing a baby – and then that was just the beginning.

Jesus knew the next layer of life – and from life’s experiences.

Forgiveness is central.  People do a lot of things without  a clue to the what and they of what they do.

So he was able to say from the cross: “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.”

How many people have learned that lesson – from others who were with them in their mistakes and sins and dumb doings? I know that message has helped me live with and learn from other priests.

So he was able to say from the cross: “When hanging in pain – whether it’s on a cross or in a bed of pain – seeing – spotting others – forgetting self – thinking of others – takes some of the pain away. So he said on the cross: “ “Woman behold your son!” and to John, his beloved friend, “Behold your mother.”


By reflecting on the cross, we get why it became the Christian symbol.

By reflecting on the cross, we see the tiny cross at the head of each rosary – and the gigantic cross in the front of this church and the one gigantic cross in the back of St. Mary’s Church.

The way of the cross is the way of life. 


Our churches can be cluttered with statues and stuff – but it seems every church has a set of The Stations of the Cross on their walls.

I have never heard of bishops and chanceries getting involved in details for stations of the cross – when churches are being built. I have seen them do so for where tabernacles are and what have you – but I’ve never seen edicts and jumping in when it comes to the Stations of the Cross on the Walls.

Yet they only began to be developed since the 1300’s up to the 1500’s years of our church’s history.

Why not get paper and pencil and draw your 14 stations of the cross of your life: deaths and disasters, falls, many falls, times you had people crying for you, times you were stripped of a title or an image people had of you. Were you ever nailed to a cross – to an obligation – to taking care of an aging parent or brother or sister – because nobody else was willing.

14 stations, 15, stations, 8 stations, 11 stations – everyone has some hanging on the walls of their lives.

I was there at the death of my dad, mom, brother, sister, nephew – and so many others. I saw a man once shoot himself in the mouth – in a cemetery – standing under a statue of Mary.  And I was the only one there. Woo. It has always given me pause. It has given me understanding – when as priest I’ve had to be there for a suicide. Ugh. It has gotten me to say what Jesus said on the cross: Father forgive him for he does not know what he was doing.

I have heard Jesus say from the Cross, “Hang in there!” and I’ve wondered if that’s the origin of that life saying.

I hear the Passion Account of Jesus’ last days and the various characters in the drama….

I have been Pilate, Simon, Mary, Judas, the Good Thief and Bad.

I have been like Peter in today’s gospel. At time I don’t want this side of life to happen to anyone – including myself. And I have heard Jesus say to me when I’m thinking this way, “Get behind me Satan. You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings.”

Of course, I’m thinking as any human would think.  I don’t want hurt or horror – but hurt and horror are part of life – more or less – and so I need to hear Paul tell me in today’s second reading – to learn how to change my mind – change my thinking – and think as Christ thinks, as God thinks.


Two things to do this week as homework.

First: Make sure you have a crucifix somewhere on some wall or some desk or book shelf in your life. Pick it up – dust it off – kiss it and say, “Help!”

Second: Take a look around any Catholic Church you’re in and study the 14 stations of the cross. A woman once told me she does this and discovered which station was her key station – and that’s where she sits under every time she comes to Mass. Wouldn’t that confuse a priest saying Mass or anyone else – when they came into a church and everyone was sitting in the side aisles – under their station of the cross?