Saturday, November 15, 2014

CHRIST - THE WHOLE 
LOAF  OF  BREAD 

Poem for Today  November 15, 2014




BALLAD  OF THE BREAD  MAN

Mary stood in the kitchen
Baking a loaf of bread.
An angel flew in through the window.
‘We’ve a job for you,’ he said.
‘God in his big gold heaven
Sitting in his big blue chair,
Wanted a mother for his little son.
Suddenly saw you there.’
Mary shook and trembled,
‘It isn’t true what you say.’
‘Don’t say that,’ said the angel.
‘The baby’s on its way.’
Joseph was in the workshop
Planing a piece of wood.
‘The old man’s past it,’ the neighbours said.
‘That girl’s been up to no good.’
‘And who was that elegant fellow,’
They said. ‘in the shiny gear?’
The things they said about Gabriel
Were hardly fit to hear.
Mary never answered,
Mary never replied.
She kept the information,
Like the baby, safe inside.
It was the election winter.
They went to vote in town.
When Mary found her time had come
The hotels let her down.
The baby was born in an annex
Next to the local pub.
At midnight, a delegation
Turned up from the Farmers’ Club.
They talked about an explosion
That made a hole in the sky,
Said they’d been sent to the Lamb and Flag
To see God come down from on high.
A few days later a bishop
And a five-star general were seen
With the head of an African country
In a bullet-proof limousine.
‘We’ve come,’ they said ‘with tokens
For the little boy to choose.’
Told the tale about war and peace
In the television news.
After them came the soldiers
With rifle and bombs and gun,
Looking for enemies of the state.
The family had packed up and gone.
When they got back to the village
The neighbours said, to a man,
‘That boy will never be one of us,
Though he does what he blessed well can.’
He went round to all the people
A paper crown on his head.
Here is some bread from my father.
Take, eat, he said.
Nobody seemed very hungry.
Nobody seemed to care.
Nobody saw the God in himself
Quietly standing there.
He finished up in the papers,
He came to a very bad end.
He was charged with bringing the living to life.
No man was that prisoner’s friend.
There’s only one kind of punishment
To fit that kind of crime.
They rigged a trial and shot him dead.
They were only just in time.
They lifted the young man by the leg,
Thy lifted him by the arm,
They locked him in a cathedral
In case he came to harm.
They stored him safe as water
Under seven rocks.
One Sunday morning he burst out
Like a jack-in-the-box.
Through the town he went walking.
He showed them the holes in his head.
Now do you want any loaves? he cried.
‘Not today’ they said.


© Charles Causley



SCULPTOR

Wheat, flour, dough,
table, pan, bowl, hands,
the struggle to sculpt,
to carve, to mold, to form,
to try to grab and grasp
the formless energy
of the universe, called God,
better: Bread, 
God easy eating bread,
not a God who stands there
on a pedestal - posing as
a rock stone statue, but our God –
Delicious - Divine - Daily Bread,
cut crushed wheat,
becoming flour, kneaded and baked,
slowly rising, slowly sending
forth the sweet smell of bread,
to all – to all in the house -
coming under doors – through windows ….
Come – take – eat - taste - be in
communion with one another.



© Andy Costello, Reflections 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

WRITING POEMS

Poem for Friday, November 14, 2014




WHAT THE CHAIRMAN TOLD TOM


Poetry? It’s a hobby.
I run model trains.
Mr Shaw there breeds pigeons.
It’s not work. You dont sweat.
Nobody pays for it.
You could advertise soap.
Art, that’s opera; or repertory —
The Desert Song.
Nancy was in the chorus.
But to ask for twelve pounds a week —
married, aren’t you? —
you’ve got a nerve.
How could I look a bus conductor
in the face
if I paid you twelve pounds?
Who says it’s poetry, anyhow?
My ten year old
can do it and rhyme.
I get three thousand and expenses,
a car, vouchers,
but I’m an accountant.
They do what I tell them,
my company.
What do you do?
Nasty little words, nasty long words,
it’s unhealthy.
I want to wash when I meet a poet.
They’re Reds, addicts,
all delinquents.
What you write is rot.
Mr Hines says so, and he’s a schoolteacher,
he ought to know.
Go and find 
work.

© Basil Bunting,

From Complete Poems,
Ed. Richard Caddel

Bloodaxe Books, 2000

THE SNAIL 
KEEPS MOVING FORWARD

Poem for Thursday November 13, 2014



CONSIDERING THE SNAIL

The snail pushes through a green
night, for the grass is heavy
with water and meets over
the bright path he makes, where rain
has darkened the earth’s dark. He
moves in a wood of desire,
pale antlers barely stirring
as he hunts. I cannot tell
what power is at work, drenched there
with purpose, knowing nothing.
What is a snail’s fury? All
I think is that if later
I parted the blades above
the tunnel and saw the thin
trail of broken white across
litter, I would never have
imagined the slow passion
to that deliberate progress.


©  Thom Gunn




A PRAYER


An old priest got a  phone call from a high school kid, “Hello!”

“Father I need a prayer?”

“Okay. How about the Our Father?”

“No!”

“Okay. How about the Hail Mary?”

“No!”

[Pause]

“Okay, how about the word, ‘Sorry?’”

“No, that’s not what I need right now.”

“Okay, how about the word, ‘Thanks!’”

“Good, but that’s not what I need right now.”

[Pause]

Old priest: “I’m thinking.” Then old priest says, “Okay, just say, ‘Help!’”

[Pause]

High school kid: “Good….  In fact, Father, perfect. Now how many times should I say this prayer?”

“Once, twice, three times – as many times as you need to say it.”

“Good. Now how do I say this prayer.”

“What? Just say it, just pray it, the same way you go up to your parents and you say, “Help.” Or “Sorry”  or “Thanks.”

“Okay, Father,  sorry to bother you. Thanks for the help.”



© Andy Costello, Reflections 2014

A  GRANDFATHER - 
WHO WAS A  TEACHER 



It’s morning. It’s on the road. A first year high school kid says to his grandfather who drives him back and forth to high school each day, “Grandpa why do I have to go to school every day?”

“Hey, I don’t mind driving you back and forth to school every day. Your mom has to get into work early – and your dad is back in Iraq.”

“Grandpa, I just find school so boring – boring - boring. I’m not a starter on any of our teams and we never win anyway. I hate sitting there in a classroom day after day after day – and I’m not the type who makes the National Honor Society and all that.”

[Fast forward]

It’s afternoon. It’s on the road. That same grandson – says to his grandfather, “Hey! Where we going?”

“You’ll see.”

Ten minutes later they are on the edge of the city turning into a garbage dump.




“Hey! Why are we turning in here?”

“You’ll see.”

“Oooh. It’s ugly in here.”

They stop the car and his grandpa says, “Get the hammer, the big screwdriver and the crowbar I have waiting for you in the trunk.”

“What’s a crowbar?”

“You’ll see.”

His grandfather pops the trunk.”

“The crowbar is right there next to the hammer and the big screw driver.”

Grandpa says, “Follow me.”

They sludge their way through the garbage till they get to an old computer in a pile of old junk.

“Grab that computer,” his grandfather says, “and bring it over here.”

The kid does it.

“Now take the hammer and the screwdriver and crowbar and open up the computer till you see its guts.”

The kid can’t do it.

The grandfather takes the screwdriver – forces it into an edge – hammers the top of the screwdriver – and then takes the crowbar and opens up the computer.

“Wow the kid says, ‘I can see its guts.’”

The grandfather stands there.

“Grandpa what are you trying to teach me here?”

“Look at all these wires inside the works here. This is not spaghetti. This stuff just didn’t happen to come together and bingo we have a computer.  Someone had to go to school to put all this together. Someone had to create all these electronic games I see you playing all the time.”

[Silence]

“Good,” said grandpa, “I can tell by your face you got it.”

“Now let’s get home – so you can do your homework.  And watch out where you’re walking – I just cleaned the rugs in my car after I dropped you off this morning.”

[Silence]

The kid was quiet all the way home.

“Grandpa, one question, I gotta ask: How did you know about that garbage dump?”



“I used to work there.”

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2014
MARANATHA!

November 12, 2014  Wednesday



THE  SECOND  COMING   (1920)


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it 

Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?



© William Butler Yeats


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

OBSERVATIONS FROM
THE DINNER TABLE



INTRODUCTION

The title of my homily for this 32 Tuesday in Ordinary Time is, “Observations From The Dinner Table.”

Jesus didn’t just learn lessons from the birds of the air and the flowers of the fields. It seems he learned a lot from the dinner table as well.

Questions: What have we observed from watching people eating – serving – being served – talking – listening – being - doing? What have we learned about how we see ourselves and how we see each other while eating?

FIRST JESUS

At meals Jesus had his feet washed by a sinful woman – even though the Pharisees went, “OOOOh! Don’t you realize who this lady is?  You don’t do this.” Then he told the Pharisee whose house he was in: “You don’t get it. I came into your house and you didn’t provide or take care of the traditional foot washing. There are dusty roads out there. Yet this woman washed my feet and dried them with her hair.”

At the Last Supper Jesus washed feet.

While traveling and people came to see him, Jesus made sure they got enough to eat.

Jesus saw people trying to get the best seat at tables – so as to impress others.

Jesus could see through people and see what was eating them as they ate.

Jesus saw how some people made religious dietary laws – and keeping them  - more important than the meal itself and the people around the table.

Jesus saw people eating and drinking and dressing well – and not seeing the poor at their door – starving to death.

In today’s gospel Jesus stresses the importance of being a servant. Serve and  when you’re serving, put on your apron and serve those around you.

NEXT ME AND YOU

What have I learned while at table?

I love to tell the story about a week I had in Mansfield, Ohio. We were preaching a parish mission at this parish. The pastor suggested we go over to the parish hall for lunch each day. It was more than a lunch. It was a feast – cloth napkins – good china and silverware – and great food.

5 churches in town took a week at a time on a rotating basis - to provide a meal for the poor. I was there the week of the Catholic church’s turn. I noticed that they decided to do it with style. They provided a sit down dinner with parishioners as waiters and waitresses - taking orders – there were options - and then bringing the meals on individual plates to those there for dinner. I sat next to one guy who told me he loves this place over the other 4 places – because “We’re treated like royalty here. I feel human! What great respect! Best restaurant in town.”

What I learned that week was not in church – but in that parish hall!

What have we learned in life from observations at the dinner table?

I was on a weeklong workshop once – and I was seated with strangers for lunch around this big round table. I spotted strawberry jam – on the other side of the table. Instead of asking for someone to pass the strawberry jam – I stood up and reached across the table and took the strawberry jam. A lady on the other side of the table said, “You can always ask, you know.”

From that observation I learned that I prefer to be independent – to not depend on others – to do it myself.  I learned that I much rather give than ask for help. Upon further reflection I thought I better get used to having other people on the planet and on the table help me. Otherwise I’m going to be a basket case when I’m in our nursing home. From that experience, I learned if I can ask for help, I’m letting go of control – and letting others do what I like to do: serve.

One last observation: I worked in a retreat house once and every year we’d go out for a Christmas dinner in a good restaurant.  I began to notice that one of our retreat house waitresses would be a royal pain you know where – with whoever the  waitress was that we got in that restaurant. She would be rude and rough – pushy and picky. “Take this back!” “This knife has soap spots on it. I was surprised at this. I was talking the next day about this and someone said, “Oh that’s her. She always does that – to make up for the times she has to take grief from waiting on people at our retreat house.”

I learned that some people treat waitresses and waiters with little respect and love – and not as human beings. Some people do to others what they don’t like being done to them – the Golden Rule in reverse.

CONCLUSION

One of Jesus’ titles was “Teacher”.  One of our titles is, “Disciples.”


Life is a classroom. We can get a lifetime education – in degrees – if we simply look around at ourselves and others while we eat – as well as how we drive – how we park – how we are at doorways and thresholds, how we treat one another in the everyday moments of life. Amen. 
WORLD WAR I 

Poem for Today - Tuesday - Martin 11, 2014


IN  FLANDERS  FIELDS 

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.




 © John McRae

Monday, November 10, 2014

FORGIVENESS!  
BUT  WHY  THE  
MULBERRY TREE? 



INTRODUCTION

The title of my homily for this 32 Monday in Ordinary Time is, “Forgiveness! But Why the Mulberry Tree?”

I noticed in today’s gospel – Luke 17: 1-6 -  the issue of forgiveness – the issue of bad example  to little ones – as well as  the image of a mustard seed and a mulberry tree

RECENTLY

Recently – like in the past three months – I’ve run into – or heard about 7 stories where people were refusing to talk to each other – refusing to forgive one another – or what have you.

Husbands and wives, kids with parents, parents with kids, brothers with brothers or sisters or vice versa – or what have you.

Silence in these stories is not golden – it’s poison – it’s rust – it’s vinegar.

BAD EXAMPLE

For starters, it seems that folks don’t see the consequence of their silence – their non-forgiveness.

Today’s gospel talks about the impact of evil – sin – horror stories – on little ones. 

Does anyone ever stop to think – what little kids are picking up – when their parents won’t talk to each other – or to their parents – or their brothers and sisters?

Don’t their realize history repeats itself?

The sin of silence – the sin of non-forgiveness – is a boomerang. It will come back again and again.  Little kids pick up on the little scenes of family silence or screams – and like seeds they slowly grow into trees.

Those who use silence and distance as a weapon - expect the same thing to happen to you some day.

Jesus loved kids.  He said, “Let the little kids come to me. Don’t stop them. They will bring us into the Kingdom of God.”

Jesus also talked about evil examples in today’s gospel , “It would be better for someone if a millstone were put around their neck and they be thrown into the sea instead of causing one of these little ones to sin.”

So enough with these family feuds and silence wars.

Next time someone comes to me and tells me about silence in the family - I have a homily to hand them.


CAUTION

Before I came to Annapolis, I preached parish missions out of St. Gerard’s Parish, Lima Ohio.

Every Wednesday night on a parish mission we had a reconciliation service with the theme: reconciliation and forgiveness.

Many times someone would come to me and say, “I tried to talk to my brother – and every time I tried – things got worse."

So I would add the cautionary remark: “Okay, sometimes you have to let sleeping dogs lie.”


Sometimes we have to live that lie. Bummer. 

Prudence is also a virtue. Sometimes we have to settle for the lesser of two evils. Bummer.

UNDERNEATH

Whenever there is a frozen wall of ice between people who won't forgive the other, I know there is a lot more going on – than what hits the ear  - or the mind.

As I was taught in Pastoral Counseling courses: “The presenting problem is never the problem.”

When hearing the story, at first it sounds like something the size of a mustard seed – but when we start to listen – we find out it’s the size of a mulberry tree.

There’s all that underneath stuff – the roots beneath the mulberry tree – the stuff we can’t see that upholds the hurting tree.

FORGIVENESS

Today’s gospel has Jesus saying, “If your brother or sister sins, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. And if they wrong you seven times in one day and return to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry’, you should forgive them.”

Easy to say, Jesus. Difficult to do, Jesus.

Yet Jesus did just that – forgave and forgave – and preached and preached about that.

Jesus just didn’t notice the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, fig trees, mustard trees,  and mulberry trees, wheat and weeds. He must have seen a lot of family fights and frictions – synagogue sniping of one group against another group.

I say that because if there is one constant drum beat of a message from Jesus, it’s forgiveness.

Forgive 70 times 7 times.

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Turn the other cheek.

Go the extra mile.

I’ve heard in sermons from time to time – as well as read in books – someone saying, “Forgiveness is the main message of Christianity.”

I preached just last week on a message someone once said and I’ve been wondering about it for some 40 years now: “The greatest sin is our inability to accept our otherness.”

Men and women, parents and children, worker with worker, neighbor with neighbor – get bent out of shape and can’t accept that the other is different – in noise, ways they sound, look, speak, do, smell, and live.

COMMUNION

I noticed in the Synod on the Family that recently took place in Rome that the question of going to communion came up again. Why can’t the divorced and remarried without annulments, and others not receive communion? Often the one who needs communion the most - is the person in a broken relationship.  Isn’t it the one who needs Jesus the most.

Why can’t they simply be forgiven and brought into communion?  I realize and know that many simply do just that – following their conscience and asking the Lord Jesus for forgiveness and mercy seven times and 70 times.

I want to say at times to those who refuse to talk to and be in communion with family members and others – how could you go to communion – which is union – communion – with the body of Christ – member with member – other with other – brother with brother – sister with sister – each other with each other.

Go first and be reconciled with your brother and sister and then come and offer your gifts at the table – and then come and receive communion – Christ at and from the table.

CONCLUSION

Forgiveness I get. Difficult. Obviously.

The mulberry tree. I don’t know why Jesus singled out a mulberry tree. I know they are big – and have a great root system – but after that I don’t know why the mulberry tree.

Was it the tree Judas hung himself on – and Jesus could sense him on another hill on another tree hanging himself – because he couldn’t forgive himself? I don’t know. It would have been great if he came to the tree of the cross and heard Jesus’ words, “Father forgive him – for he didn’t know what he was doing.”

I wince when I hear someone say, “Judas is in hell.”



Hey, Jesus turned the other cheek – went the extra mile – and told everyone he ever saw, “Forgive one another as I have forgiven you. Love one another as I have loved you. Amen.”
SHAKESPEARE  
SONNETIZING  LIFE

Poem for Monday - November 10, 2014



SONNET 73


That time of year thou may'st in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day,
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by-and-by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consum'd with that which it was nourish'd by.
        This thou perceivest, which makes thy love               more strong,
        To love that well which thou must leave ere               long.

William Shakespeare

Sunday, November 9, 2014

CONSEQUENCES:  
NOVEMBER  9TH 

INTRODUCTION

The title of my homily is, “Consequences: November 9th.”

I am planning on talking about 3 things that happened on November 9th.:

·       November 9th, 324;
·       November 9th, 1732;
·       November 9th, 1989.

I will be giving some history. Relax it’s only 5 pages – 14 pica – Arial font – and you can watch me as I turn my pages.

CONSEQUENCES

Notice the first word in my title, “consequences” – the word just before the words November 9th.

There are consequences! That’s one of life’s biggest lessons.

This day – November 9th, 2014 – things are going to happen that will change lives. People will be conceived, born, say something, do something, die, and lives will be changed.

Working with our high school kids from time to time – I notice in articles about teenagers – that the frontal part of their brains – isn’t completely formed yet – and as a result – they often don’t get the reality of consequences.

NOVEMBER 9, 324

This day – November 9, 324 – the church of Christ our Savior was dedicated in Rome by Pope Saint Silvester [314-335].  It was the pope’s church – his residence – his headquarters in Rome – and to this day on paper it’s considered more important than St. Peter’s which didn’t come till 1626. In reality when people think Rome and the pope, they think St. Peter’s not this church of Christ our Savior or St. John Lateran’s.

This Church we’re celebrating today has a long history. In 313 Constantine had given a palace – the Laterini Palace to his predecessor – Pope Melchiades [3111-314]. It was Constantine’s wife’s palace – I hope she didn’t mind. This was to be the place called St. John Lateran.

Just before this time Constantine and his co-emperor in Constantinople had given the church the freedom to come up out from the underground and to exist freely and publically.

Consequences…. One reality ends and another reality begins. If it isn’t one thing, it’s another thing. The Church had to deal with problems from without – now they had to deal with problems from within.

In Northern Africa there were a group of Christians that ended up being called the Donatists – after a guy name Donatus. They were the rigorists. The Church had to struggle openly about the issue of priests, bishops and Christians who renounced their faith in the Diocletian persecution of the church right before Constantine. One had to give up one’s prayer books and make an oath to pagan gods – otherwise you’re a dead man – as Judge Chamberlain Haller says to Vinny in the movie, My Cousin Vinny.

Then when the church come up from the underground – what about those priests, bishops and regular Christians who wanted to come back?

Constantine “called a special council  of some 130 bishops in Arles in August 314 to hear another appeal from the Donatists, who were contesting the consecration of Caecilian as bishop of Carthage” on this very issue. [Cf. page 57 in Lives of the Popes, by Richard P. McBrien.

Regular meetings were held at the pope’s house – the former Laterini palace on these kinds of issues.  The Donatists said that Masses said by these priests and bishops where not true masses. Rome said, “Forgiveness is called for.”  The forgiveness was a long term forgiveness process – but many came back to the church. Priests and bishops functioned once again – without having to be re-ordained.

The Donatists lasted in those parts of North Africa to the arrival of Islam.

So what else is new? I assume that the Church – and most religions will have the purists and those who allow flaws – those who are strict and severe and those who are more relaxed and “liberal”.

The church just met in Rome – in a Synod on the Family. Using broad strokes, the same basic issues are going on in our Church. 

As I see it – and for the sake of transparency – this is my opinion – I assume that there are many on the other side of the spectrum. I assume that this issue will always be around in religious and life circles.

It seems to me that Pope Francis and others want to reach out with mercy and not rigorism – to all those folks who have left our church – and went underground because of broken marriages, birth control, this and that. I don’t know this for a fact, but I had read several articles about the last pope which said that he wanted a stricter – more lean – I won’t add mean - Catholic church – where everyone is much more serious about our faith.

There are consequences for both positions. Some folks are like the forgiving father in the Prodigal Son story; some folks are like the older brother in the Prodigal Son story – who won’t go in and have communion at the banquet of the Prodigal Son who went underground – to the pigs for a while.

Either way there are consequences.

NOVEMBER 9, 1732

Let me move on now to a second November 9th happening.

A lawyer named Alphonsus de Ligouri in Naples Italy met in a place called Scala, Italy, up in the hills just above Amalfi this day – November 9, 1732.

He had been a lawyer in Naples. Then he quit being a lawyer – perhaps because he lost a case involving a land deal. He either made a mistake – or more likely, there was a bribe in favor of the other side. He quit – hit the pits – and then decided to become a priest. He did. Then as priest he worked his butt off – got sick – was told to go down the Amalfi Coast for rest and recovery. If you’ve ever been there – you’d say: “Good move.”

While there - someone told him there were a lot of goat herders and migrants up in the hills that no priests  cared about. There were lots and lots of priests enjoying a comfortable life for themselves in the big city of Naples. Alphonsus goes up into the hills and finds them – along with lots of people in small places in the hills that nobody cared about.

When he gets home – after his recovery he gets together with some priest friends and decides to form a new congregation of priests and brothers to serve the neglected.

They met at Scala, Italy, November 9, 1732. Since it was the feast we’re celebrating today – the dedication of the church of Our Savior in Rome – they decided on calling this new group: The Congregation of Christ our Savior.

We Redemptorists started that day. Today is our birthday.

It took years and lots of effort to get approved as a new congregation in the Church.  In 1749, when were finally approved, they had found out there already was a congregation by that name – so they switched our name to Christ the Redeemer.

We Redemptorists celebrate our foundation day today – November 9th.

NOVEMBER 9, 1989

My third and last November 9th is November 9th, 1989.

This day in 1989 – the Berlin wall opened up and then came down.

All kinds of decisions brought about the wall going up in the first place in the 1960’s and then the opening up and tearing down in 1989.

Mikhail S. Gorbachev in Moscow made some openings – in atmosphere and outlook from Soviet Union.

When this so called, “Glastnost” blew into East German,  the hardliners there didn’t know what to do. The people did. They got  a breath of fresh air and started marching and protesting. A series of mistakes and statements were made by the East German dictators and more fresh air seemed to appear. Someone announced that travel restrictions to the west would be lessened.

There was an article in The New York Times on Thursday by a historian, Mary Elise Sarotte, entitled “How The Fall of the Berlin Wall Really Happened.” It talks about what happened that evening – November 9th, 1989. Listen to this one short excerpt:

When one of the regime’s most loyal subordinates, a Stasi officer named Harald J├Ąger who was working the Nov. 9 night shift at a crucial checkpoint in the Berlin Wall, repeatedly phoned his superiors with accurate reports of swelling crowds, they did not trust or believe him. They called him a delusional coward. Insulted, furious and frightened, he decided to let the crowds out, starting a chain reaction that swept across all of the checkpoints that night.”
That was key. The gate was opened. The wall came down.

Check Google for all this – as well as the papers today. There should be a lot about this 25th Anniversary of the coming down of the Berlin Wall.

CONCLUSION

The title of my homily is, Consequences, November 9th.”

Today – November 9th, things will happen that we don’t know about now till next year or 25 years from now.

My prayer is twofold – that we keep on putting walls up – walls that form homes and churches, hospitals and shelters – and walls come down – in families – in churches – in religions – and all discover we’re all one family, one body – created in the image and likeness of God.



BERLIN  WALL


:Poem for Today - Sunday - November 9, 2015



BERLIN  WALL  PEDDLERS


History on sale
One chunk for only twenty dollars

Look at this one
it's full of bullet holes
this one is stained with deserters' blood

and see these two dark holes
they were burned by an anxious gaze
the remains of cold war on this one
still make you tremble
and what we have here
are the dancing footprints of the youth
and the shouting and clapping
when a heavy chain tore it down

Our supply is abundant
after the Berlin Wall
we'll tear down the walls
between
the rich and the poor
the fortunate and the unfortunate
the oppressors and the oppressed

and of course we always have
the inexhaustible walls
between the hearts
of indifference



© William Marr 
William Marr was an engineer by profession, working nearly thirty years at the Argonne National Laboratory.  He now devotes himself to creating poetry and art.