Sunday, September 26, 2021

Temptation. Foot. Hand, Eye (2021-09-26, Sunday-26)


__ Click / Watch Video: Sun. 7:30 am Mass, Sept. 26 ___

 Homily – Sept.  26, 2021  /  26th Sunday (Year B)

       Psalm ___ ●   + Mark 9:38-48 

Title:  Foot. Hand. Eye.  / Motivation. Generation. Imagination

 [__01_] [IDEAL DAY

Imagine you have an ideal day a perfect day planned for yourself, which would allow you to do what you ACTIVITIES want, and when you want, and with whom you want for a 24-hours span.  

This past Thursday, I had such an ideal day ahead of me. And I'm blessed and fortunate to say that nothing was standing in my way, and nothing did stand in my way. For this 2021 reunion I had with some old friends, we were outside most of the day on a beautiful day. And then we had a meal together. We talked into the night about old times. In fact, we told the same stories that we told last year at this time.

And I expect we are going to do the whole thing again next year with some of the exact same stories. I’m I'm going to mark my calendar and save the date.

This ideal day was a very good day.  Have you noticed that when you have such an ideal day, a perfect day, certain things either go a little bit more smoothly or you just make them go a bit more smoothly.  Because on my “ideal” day, I am less worried about minor details … as long as I get to my destination.

I think this also relates to the Gospel message about our response to this Jesus our Lord wants to reach our final destination with him.

[__02_]      [3 ASPECTS]   I would like to touch on 3 aspects of an ideal – or perfect – as they relate to the Gospel.  These are:

(1) What “MOTIVATES” me on an IDEAL day?

(2) What do I “GENERATE” on ideal day?

(3)  What is myIMAGINATION” on ideal day?



I’d like to connect each of these to the 3 warnings about SIN / TEMPTATION in the Gospel, in other words to the FOOT  -- HAND – EYE in the Gospel.


[__03_]      Have you heard this Gospel before?  Have you heard this and perceived this as an outdated / ancient statement of some ancient code of law in a far-off culture, or a galaxy far far away …  that this is no longer applicable to our modern sensibility.


[__04_]      [DISCLAIMER]   I believe we can and should be careful about what Jesus is saying. There are people in our community – or family – who struggle with terrible temptations, self-harm, self-mutilation, harming themselves.

And this is not of the gospel, the gospel is not endorsing self harm or self-mutilation or cutting in any way.


[__05_]      [DEFENSE / OBEDIENCE] Nevertheless, using language related to the FOOT – the HAND – they EYE – He is urging us to meet the “OFFENSES” of temptation and sinfulness with a spiritual “DEFENSES” that are proportional to the offense coming against us.


Jesus Himself gives us the example of a “PROPORTIONAL” response to sinfulness in that he does become a person both human and divine, and as such a person he is perfect in his obedience to our Heavenly Father.

So…just as we have been -  in our own sinfulness – disobedient to God ..he is obedient. So, even before there was the cross as a punishment imposed by Pontius Pilate, he was already willing to carry for and serve a much higher divine authority.

He is giving us a model to follow so that we will not just be  selectively “on guard / defense” when it’s convenient but that will be “sacrificially” defensive when it is difficult.

Jesus teaches us about these temptations – referring to the FOOT – HAND – EYE –  so that we can be on guard against temptation.


[__06_]       [FEET / MOTIVATED] 

1st the FEET. And being ‘motivated’ motivation. One of the memories of my ideal day was I was really motivated to get out of bed in the morning, I woke up earlier, like a full hour earlier than I normally wake up because I was going to have a perfect day. My feet were motivated. My feet were moving. Because I was going to do what I wanted to do.

the next day, 24 hours later, not so much.

           How did I feel the very next day? Was I similarly motivated? I must admit: No !

I am I am more motivated when I get to do what I want to do when things go my way. I am attached to that. I don’t have to be … but allow myself to be. So, that is part of my sinfulness.

I am so much more motivated when things are going my way. I sometimes have to do things that I don't want to do or see people that I don't want to see.

But, on such I day, I could be praying – should be praying – the 119th psalm:  “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

But, sometimes, it is quite the opposite… the motivation does not come from God but comes from elsewhere.  Do I – do you – walk with hang out with people – online or in person – who are not genuinely not This happens to both young people and grown-up’s who may give in to peer pressure.

Have you ever given into peer pressure? Have you allowed this to be draw you to walk or go someplace?

There are people that we hang out with who are not good for us. And sometimes we're called to take a stand against them to stand up to them with our feet. That's hard to do.

It means we're cutting ourselves off from not only a person but also a “MOTIVATION”

Jesus is saying it's better for us to find our way into heaven without our feet. In other words, it's better for us to find our way into heaven without our motivations without all our personal motivations than to go to hell with all of our motivations.


[__07_]        [HANDS / GENERATED]     2nd. Hands. What is generated.

 Jesus says better for us to enter into heaven, free of all the things we have generated by our hands.

I myself can be very proud of what I generate by my hands. I can dig with my hands, I can send text messages with my hands.  I can even send emails to other people – who work on the parish staff and team and work here…and ask them to do things. I can be very “proud” and connected to what my hands can do.

My desire to generate and to do often overwhelms my inclination to give thanks to God.

I fail to render unto God what belongs to God, I render what belongs to me.

And I fail to recognize what God has generated, I fail to give thanks to God for my talents. I don’t even give thanks to Caesar. I want it all ! And while God doesn't want to remove my hands, actually, he just wants me to give thanks for the work of his hands. And this is difficult because I want to give credit to myself, but it will heal me and help me to stand up to temptation, when I'm not so focused on what I generate, when I will cut off my connection to my hands.

[__08_]       [EYE / IMAGINATION] 

          The eye equals imagination. That is, the eye represents what we gave at, what we look at.

Each of us has a gaze each of us has a vision of the world and sometimes we see the world in ways that can lead us into sinfulness can lead us into sins of greediness, vanity, lustfulness.

What am I looking at? I'm not suggesting that you would disfigure your eye, but we can all be changed for the better by turning our gaze away, or making a concerted effort to turn our gaze away from things that may seem to possess us.

Do an excessive imagination about things I want to buy? Or own? Do those things possess me?

Do I have an excessive imagination about even my own desire for wealth? Does that possess me?

Do I have an excessive imagination about my opinions? do those opinions possess me?

The eye – the imagination – also a place where the OFFENSE of temptation is strong because of our many electronic devices – phones, tablets, computers…wi-fi everywhere.

To you, young adults, teenagers especially. You are at a tender age where you will receive many images and impressions which can inform or form – even deform – your imagination.

Yes, the Gospel is your DEFENSE …but your own family can also be your DEFENSE.

I implore you to disconnect yourself from your devices, your tablets, your phones, your computer completely – every night.

Putting your phone on airplane mode for a few hours at night is not enough. It is a proportional response to the temptations of all the indecent images, all the things that are roaming around the internet, right now. It is not a proportional response because you can easily swipe in and out of airplane mode.

What is the proportional response?  It is the removal of your phone for several hours, for all of your night time and sleeping hours. The proportional response to the temptation would be to turn your phone over to your mother or your father or your grandparents or to some grown up for the entire night. This is the proportional response to temptation that will help you to get a good night's sleep. That's what you need. That's what we all need.

Friends, this is the gospel. And Jesus is simply giving us these messages, not as an ancient code of law that doesn't apply anymore, but as a message that can apply to us in our own general understanding of what do we generate? What am I attached to? What is motivating me? Is it really the things of God that motivate me? And what am I imagining because sometimes my imagination can lead me into temptation.

We come to church to pray so that our hearts may be at rest and at peace. But, our hearts are not at peace if that peace is determined by my personal “generation” or productivity …or by my personal motiviation.

Our hearts will be at peace with a new sense of imagination and the image of God in the Gospel. As St. Augustine wrote – about the sure defense which is ours – “our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”  (Confessions, ch. 1)


Sunday, September 19, 2021

Rescue. Ranking. Reset (2021-09-19, Sunday - 25)


Homily –  Sept.  19, 2021  /  25th Sunday (Year B)  ● Wisdom 2:12, 17-20  ●   Psalm ___ ● James 3:16 – 4:3  ●  + Mark 9:30-37 

Title:  Rescue. Ranking. Reset.

__ Click / Watch Video: Sun. 7:30 am Mass, Sept. 19 ___

[__01_]      What made a big impression on me from a family beach vacation to LBI (Long Beach Island), NJ we took in 1976 was that the house we were staying at was very close to the beach and sand.  

We had not rented the house, but another family invited us over for a few days and we were able to see the beach and waves from their front door. It was great.  The location made an impression.

          I also remember there was a small black and white TV (remember those ?)  on which we watched the Summer Olympics in Montreal. It was 1976.  The Olympics made an impression

          Those were pleasant impressions and details. But I truly would have forgotten all of them – not remembered any of these – if there had not been another impressive event for our family that week.

          One day, accidentally and inadvertently, someone got lost. My younger brother – age 4 – was separated from our group on the beach and we did not notice he was missing for a little while…

          Then, the panic started on our secton. There was a full-on search with lifeguards whistling and running … beach patrols on the sand. It was like a cross between Baywatch and Law & Order.

          My parents were frantic, of course, but also determined and searching and calling out for my brother. My brother himself did not know he was lost… he just kept walking… and someone in the crowd realized he was lost  and then learned that there was a search and he was returned to my parents. The whole “Baywatch” episode took – officially - about 25 minutes with no commercials. But, it is so memorable to me, such a big impression, it could have gone on for hours, if not days.

          For years, my mother would not even talk about it.  We were just glad it was over.

          This was a long time ago, 1976 and the big tech innovation at that time would have been if you had cable TV. That would have been the pinnacle of technology.   If Google, Facebook, Instagram, et cetera had existed, we would had have put it on social media and given the LBI lifeguards 5.0 stars with a rave review for the rescue!

          The rescue overshadowed every other detail of importance, although by seeing the “priority” of the rescue, I was also able to see other things in proper context, as part of the environment.

[__02_]      Of course, I do not always see the proper context. And neither do the disciples in this Gospel reading which I would like to reflect on as follows:  [][][]

1st. Prediction of Jesus’ Rescue

2nd  Promotion of the Disciples’ Review or Ranking (Reviewers = “the disciples” are self-promoting)

3rd.  Priority which is Reset.


[__02_]      1st. the Redeemer – Jesus – is predicting a rescue. In the Gospel this is also referred to as the RANSOM he pays for our lives, by giving up his own life.

          “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for the many.”  (Matthew 20:28)

          What we read is: [Mark 9:30-31] “[Jesus] was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death he will rise.”  But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him.” 

In the letter to the Romans this is written by Paul as … ,

(Romans 5:8-11) “God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. 

The disciples don't comprehend this because they have no definition or category, no file drawer or category in which to store or save a messiah or king who will be crucified and pay the ransom that way, i.e., for …[This prediction is contrary to the disciples’ mindset. There is a higher ransom value because Jesus’s sacrifice gives our lives an eternal value. We are not conquered by sin, by death.

Jesus does something – sacrificially – that is surprising to them. Why would Jesus pay a ransom to rescue to “other people” which might include ]  tax collectors, prostitutes, even Pharisees whom they don’t know personally.

The disciples were grasping why Jesus is paying the ransom – for themselves and their sins --  but not getting how this applies to others.

They're even afraid to ask any questions. Sometimes, those who are weak and vulnerable – needing a ransom - are afraid to ask questions.

The disciples do not recognize this weakness in themselves – quite yet.   When somebody doesn't ask any questions, that’s a problem.

My brother – age 4 and lost on the beach – also would not have asked any questions.  The disciples don’t ask questions, but they don’t recognize the problem yet.


[__03_]        2nd. What are the disciples reviewing and promoting?

          If you went shopping for something recently, did you read the reviews, as to what was being promoted or criticized?

We are surrounded– especially online – by reviews – in the media, in the Star-Ledger newspaper, on AMZN, Facebook, Instagram, Google… or in your e-mail in-box. There is a review waiting for you to open and read.

Reviewers talk and debate. And the disciples are really good at talking and debating. Peter was really good at talking last Sunday's gospel saying you are the Christ. That was the first time the Redeemer predicted His sacrifice. And Peter said, Great, you're the Christ, you're the Messiah. Peter gives Jesus a very positive review!  5 stars!  ☺☺☺☺☺

But Peter is not so good at listening to what Jesus says next, about the RANSOM being paid by suffering.

[Mark 9:33-34] “once inside the house, [Jesus] began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest.

In order for the disciples to compute and calculate who is the greatest, I imagine they would have to be computing and calculating and number-crunching who is the least.

There is a danger in applying this product-review mentality to our relationships and even to ourselves.

That is, do I strive for greatness – which is a good thing on its own – only in light of seeing others “fall behind”. Do I simply try to get ahead of others…. Or do I strive for what is truly good?

It seems that the diciples’ strategy is to find peace – daresay “salvation” – in their own superiority rather than in the sacrifice of Jesus’ life for them.   In short, the disciples are not paying the ransom. Jesus is.

the attainment of greatness or aspiration of excellence – even a positive review -  is good. It’s good …as long it is does not become “god” or an idol.

[__04_]    3rd. The Priority which is being Reset.

Jesus presses [RESET], in response to all this talk about superiority.

This is the [RESET]:

Jesus said,  “If anyone wishes to be first of all, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all. Taking a child, he placed the child in their midst…” (Mark 9:35)

Why is the child the Gospel solution to the diciples’  “self-promotion” and to my “self-promotion”?

What does the child signfify?

          The message is not that everyone must have his or own child, or that everyone must be  a parent.

          Yet, we are called to welcome Jesus into our lives with the heart of a mother or father.

The child signfiies God’s word and God’s grace because the child:



[POTENTIAL] The child – who is full of potential and energy – calls us to this, focus on BOTH what is “now” and “next”  (i.e., future).

          This is also a message for us to consider when we consider our call to forgive those who trespass against us.

To forgive another person – from the heart – requires that we consider “POTENTIAL” as more important than any past harm, of not holding on to what has gone before and thus – RESETTING our priorities and really saying …the LAST SHALL BE FIRST !

          Where does God's Word figure in my calling to forgive someone?

It seems to me that forgiveness calls me not to condescend by my own power, but rather to conceive of and to perceive of the good in another person…if it is hard to see this potential, then we can ask God to help us to see… so that the last shall be first.


          Children need protection.

How many parents – witnessing the illness or suffering would instantly change places with the child, to alleviate the suffering?

          They would pay such a ransom in a heartbeat to shelter, to protect their young person.

          Jesus pays such a ransom for us.

          Coming among us as a child, first, he also reminds us that a child is capable – not by any intentional action but simply by the child’s mere presence of “potential energy”

reminds us that new life is a potential to be protected.  This also includes lives not yet born, a life that is potential, full and needs protection.

          The symbol of the child reminds us of our need to welcome  God’s mercy and grace as our true potential. Also, just as a child needs the protection of “structure”, “consistency” we need prayer and church and private reflection to allow the seeds of God’s word to be planted, nourished and flourish in us.

          It is good that we are here to listen to God’s word and pray… this is our protection, our shelter from the storm …or from other “channels” that may make us think that our personal superiority is all that matters.

          Jesus traded places with us in the same way a parent would with a child.

          Jesus died for you, not to make you superior to others, but to make you know that you are more important than you may realize.

In this “context”, Jesus’ greatness is our greatness. 

Jesus our Lord has made it is priority to pay the ransom for our sins. We are called to follow him, not just as a public act of “reviewing” him or promoting him, but as an intimate choice of welcoming him and knowing him as our Savior and Lord.  

This is what makes you great.  [__fin_]      

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Password. Prediction. Perspective (9/11) (2021-09-12 Sunday-24)


Sept.  12, 2021  /  24th Sunday (Year B)  ● Isaiah 50:4c-9a   ●   Psalm __ ● James 2:14-18  ●  + Mark 8:27-35 

__ Click to Watch Video: Sat.5:30 pm Mass, Sat. Sept. 11, 2021 ___

Title:  Person. Prediction. Perspective

[__00_]      What’s your password?

I get it, understand, if you feel uncomfortable telling me your password.

          Because a password not only reveals something about “who you are” but also about “what you do”. It is both an identifier and a purpose.

          “What’s your password?”  is also not such an easy question because you may have more than ONE – as the average person –  you would have 75 passwords to remember in our complex, digital online world for access to money, banking, insurance, school, work….

          In the Gospel, we learn not only about the “password of Jesus” (who he is)  but also the “purpose of Jesus”. (what he’s doing)


[__01_]     To remember your password, sometimes you use – we use – hints or clues….

          There are clues leading up to Jesus’ 2-part “password question”

·         “Password” / Question Part 1

·         PREDICTION & Password Part 2

·        PERSPECTIVE of Jesus, for the disciples and us, Part 3

[__02__]    [Password Q.  1]

          This is the first clue:

Who do people say that I am?” (Mark 8:27)

          Jesus was asking for the “password”.. but they do not have it memorized. The disciples Google-search and come up with other “identities” based on previous national / spiritual heroes, based on “precedent”.

          Jesus is equated with 1 of the prophets, many of some of whom were known for their influential insider status – like a presidential national security adviser, one who has the passwords.

          They were expecting Jesus to be a “Moses version 2.0” who had unlocked them from Egypt ….    And, in fact, Jesus is going to unlock and rescue us from “places” – from our own places and occasions of sin. That liberation is first going to come – on the inside – by repenting of our sins and hearing the Gospel.

          Then, there is the 2nd clue, a more personal Q # 2:

Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29)

          Peter knows the password, at least part of the password: “You are the Messiah / the Christ.”  (Mark 8:29).

          Perhaps, we can also know this password– with Peter – “Jesus, you are the Christ, you are my personal savior…”  That ‘s  good.

          But, do we have preconceived notions of what Jesus as Christ and Savior is supposed to do / deliver?

          Peter comprehends the person of the Messiah, but contradicts the next part of the password, the “prediction.”



[__03_]   [PREDICTION.]

          What’s does Jesus predict in the next part of the password? This is “what he is doing…”

He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, by the chief priests and the scribes and be killed and rise after three days” (Mark 8:31)

          This “prediction” verse of Mark 8:31 is a really long password,  but some people have long passwords !

          Peter, on the other hand, cannot handle this PREDICTION and longer PASSWORD right now and does not want to release it or memorize it.

          And, because Peter refused the prediction, he is “rebuked” or “reprimanded.”

          How do you feel about being rebuked or reprimanded?

          Usually, I prefer to catch the error of my ways – first – and then correct it …before anyone else notices.

          My parents had me pegged/defined at a young age, pointing out to me that if I was upset or anxious, I would demonstrate this and wear my heart on my sleeve.

          And, I am well aware of my ability to examine or analyze a situation, to be introspective, to be introverted. This attitude, however, does not mean that I come to the right conclusions.

          And, also, do I recognize that my errors do not start in my actions but in my thoughts?  Sometimes, I miss this! Peter is reprimanded not for his actions – but for his “thinking”.

          I believe if you and I are attentive, that God will rebuke us, will reprimand us, sometimes through another person, sometimes in our consciences, in our thoughts.

          And, these rebukes – or reprimands - are not meant to diminish us, to put us down.

          Examples of rebuke. You and I could be “reprimanded” in my conscience or by others with messages such as .. slow down, focus, listen, be on time…  These may seem to be little things, but he who is faithful in small things is faithful in great things.

Also, sometimes, I am trying to do 75+ things, with 75+ passwords. FOCUS !

A rebuke is not an insult. Peter is not being bullied or “put down” but rather being “put right” or “put into line”. Do I have the ears to hear God’s rebuke and Word ?

          A rebuke is not a to-do list

I am an introvert and I want the to-do list. I want to know what to do. But, the rebuke and reprimand of God is reminding that that Holy Spirit is acting even before I do. As Jesus says to all of us, ”It  is not you choose me but I chose you.” (John 16: __?? Vine and branches?)

          So, before I go out and change the world or even change myself, I am called to examine my thoughts, my heart and let the Holy Spirit in, so that I can get out of God’s way + get out of my own way, to allow God to speak, to learn his password, his Word !.

           “The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12)


 [__04_]        So, there was the ….

-          “Password” / Question of Jesus

-          “Password / ”PREDICTION of Jesus


[__05_]       [PERSPECTIVE]

          Jesus invites us to have a new view, a new perspective.

          In many ways, I am inclined to ask the common question which is also a denial of sorts: “why me?”

          Jesus is prompting me to ask – why not me?

And saying to Peter, “why not you?”

Certainly, Peter thought the suffering was NOT necessary because Jesus Himself was the Messiah with the password with the capital M ! The Messiah is the password that will open doors !

And, I might say – of myself  that it’s not necessary for me to suffer inconvenience due to my own individuality and my own declaration of the right to my life, my liberty and my pursuit of happiness. That’s my memorized password.

Jesus has come among us not just to discipline us with a new action plan but to invite us into friendship with him, to share both our joys and sorrows with him.

Do we not celebrate and suffer – WITH OTHERS - because we do know that is necessary for our survival ? 

We are also called to join our joys and sufferings to God. This is a new perspective.

When we really love someone, we are often willing to endure great struggles for the benefit of the other –even if we are not really smiling through the inconveniences and discomfort – we hear the call in order to be close to supportive someone else. 

St. Paul  said this of his why he accepted suffering:  “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his suffering, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:8-11)”

Jesus summarizes his perspective, later in Mark ch. 8:

 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel* will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?”  (Mark 8:35-36)


[__08_]       [9 / 11]

Starting a few minutes before 9 am on September 11, 2001, we felt and saw the shocks and aftershocks of the terrorist attack at the World Trade Center (WTC) that also left us with an experience that reminds of a day of:

·        Perspective

·        Predictions of suffering

·        Personal remembrance

1st. The Perspective

From our neighborhood and locale, and actual visual vista and perspective from Mountain Avenue, Fairmount Terrace or Moore Terrace, from Eagle Rock Reservation, and many other places, we could see the destruction. Some of us lost loved ones on that day. From nearby sidewalks and houses – and certainly at Eagle Rock Reservation – the skyline was clearly visible in high-definition blue sky and smoke.

On September 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives in the worst terrorist attack in history, not just in the United States but in the world.

2nd. Prediction of Suffering

          And, if you went only by the initial PREDICTION, you might think the firefighters and police and first responders would not achieve much. If we had only gone by the prediction of what would happen if such a disaster were to happen, such as the collapse of the WTC Towers, North and South, because of planes crashing into them, these firefighters had limited resources.

They would have to travel so far go up with so much equipment.  The recording of one 911 dispatcher, within one minute of the first attack, is asking for  “every available ambulance, everything you've got, go to the World Trade Center now.”

3. Personal Remembrance

343 firefighters died in the line of duty on 9/11/01, the largest 1-day casualty count for the fire service ever. Most of the FF died after successfully evacuating citizen and after citizen from the WTC towers. When they rescued someone and got him or her to safety, the firefighters would rush back into the burning building to search for more survivors. When the Twin Towers collapsed, the South Tower at 9:59 a.m. and the North Tower at 10:28 a.m., there were still firefighters in the structures doing the job they were hired to do.

There were fire departments from around the tri-state area that rushed into help at Ground Zero that day and on the days to come. The West Orange Fire Department proudly served at the World Trade Center.

In the spirit of the gospel, they were emptying themselves humbled, obedient, even unto death.  They defended us with their courage with their love. That was their purpose. God’s purpose is also that we share in the Cross by taking up the cross.

We pray that God will bless those who died on 9/11, those who dug with shovels and hands for many months thereafter at Ground Zero, those who have died since 9/11 and that their deaths may also remind us that none of us is forgotten and none of us truly dies alone. This is also true of our daily “dying to self” and sacrifices that we are united to Christ and to each other.

 “None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.  For this is why Christ died and came to life, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.”  (Romans 14:7-9)