Sunday, November 29, 2020

Alertness for Advent (2020-11-29, Advent, 1st Sunday)

2020-11-29 _  Advent (1st)

  Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b, 64:2-7     Psalm  80 ●  1 Corinthians 1:3-9  ● + Mark 13:33-37 ●

Title:  Alertness.

[_01_]  The title is ALERTNESS for Advent.  Sometimes, getting someone’s attention is a very serious, very austere, very stern matter.

          Years ago,  a TV show about southern-California and “CalTech” young physicists called The Big Bang Theory had an episode about alertness or watchfulness.

          In this The Big Bang Theory episode, the character “Sheldon” interviewed another character to be his future roommate, to live in Sheldon’s apartment.

           “Sheldon” is the interviewer and Sheldon is very watchful, very alert, very protective of his space and suspicious of the new roommate.

Sheldon first quizzes his future prospective roommate [Sheldon] about his job and his science fiction character preferences before he allows him to enter [the apartment]. At this point, Sheldon's apartment is almost empty of furniture, having only two lawn chairs instead of a couch/chair and the TV is balanced on cinder blocks. Sheldon gives a series of interview questions to verify “goodness” … “worthiness”… and then gives him a tour, which includes showing him his future bedroom with the [ominous and lamenting] message words: "DIE SHELDON DIE" painted on a wall by the previous roommate, which Sheldon says he might want to repaint [over the words]. After working out seemingly countless pages of the roommate [contract] agreement, they move in together.

 

[_02_]  So.. Sheldon is bit too intense….. too alert….

          We can often laugh at people who are too intense or too tense or too serious. We may laugh at ourselves when we get this way

 

[_03_]   Is it possible to be both watchful and joyful at the same time?

          This Sunday begins Advent, a time of joyful watching or watchful joy.

          Jesus, however, seems quite serious – reminding us 5 times – in this short reading to “to be watchful, to be alert.”

 

[_04_]   I recently saw a lecture by a business school scholar/student  (Eric Tsytsilin, Stanford University Business School, Lecture: "Laughter: Serious Business")  whose hypothesis about business and life is that we live in a drought not of water or rainfall, but a drought of laughter.

          He quotes this statistic that a baby/infant laughs 400 x / day and an age 35-year-old adult laughs 15x / day.

[_05_     Jesus comes to share his parables and teaching with us and life with us not to order us around but to bring us joy.

          The parable today refers to the  menial and manual labor of taking care of someone else’s house and the need for the servants to be watchful, well…this is a metaphor for all of us. For the “house” symbolizes the gift of our own lives, our own family, the house which has been given to us by God.

          For we are all – by our lives – taking care of a house – our own bodies/lives/persons – that belongs first to God. We are his “roommates”.

There is a roommate agreement. He wants us to stay!

          Even when we take care of our own family, our own parents, or taking care of our own children, we are still taking care of people who belong to God.

          Jesus speaks of watchfulness today, what is that brings both joy and watchfulness, both joy and alertness. Consider what it means to take care of a child, to bring up a child requires both joy and watchfulness.

          Also, to love someone is to become like or similar to the other. This applies equally – especially – in the Gospel Good News to care of children:

          Jesus says:

          “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest”  (Luke 9:46-47; Mark 9:35-37)

 

[_06_]  In our own lives to make any real changes, any progress, we are called to both watchful and joyful.

          This was also the message of the parable of the Prodigal Son, of the merciful father who represents God, the father who is both watchful and joyful for his child to return.

 

[_07_   I encourage you in this Advent to pray intentionally and watch out for Jesus’ presence in your life, to ask him to savor the joys you have.

          Even to pray for more moments of laughter and to enjoy them when they happen.

          Watchfulness in our spiritual life can be a joyful pursuit of perfection.

 

[_08_   In the lecture by the business school student in which he quotes that babies laugh 400 x / day and adults laugh only 15 x / day, he gets the attention of the audience by putting up a video for them to watch.

          Depending on your internet YouTube watching habits, perhaps you have seen the video. It is in the “viral” at x > 107 million views

          The video shows an infant – named Micah -- of about 3 or 4 months old sitting on a couch, in a pretty good mood.

          Then, the baby Micah’s father tears up a piece of paper and the child giggles, smiles…. Another piece of paper is torn, the child laughs again. This goes on 7 or 8 more times, each to the greater glee and belly laughs of the child. It is an example that laughter is truly contagious.

          Also, laughter requires breath and breathing. As you know, when you are really laughing you have to stop and catch your breath … the child must do the same.

          But, what was being torn up? What was the paper?

It was not just a blank piece of paper but one of the many rejection letters which Micah’s father had received from potential employers.

So, even though Micah could not walk or talk … does not mean that we cannot learn something from him. Micah can experience true joy in an otherwise tragic situation.

which he had applied.

          In this case, tragedy became comedy and comedy, laughter. And, the laughter went far and wide: viral.

          107 million views.

          Look it up on YouTube: “Baby Laughing: The original” CLICK FOR VIDEO HERE.

          Laughter – joy – does not make us forget, it helps us to remember, to remember that he gave us life for us and became one of us, first as a child. Pure joy. 

And, Jesus wants you to be joyful and watchful and never forget his love for you this Advent, this new year.   [_fin_   

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Is Thanksgivng Still On? Yes. (Thanksgiving Day, 2020-11-26)

[_01_]  Is Thanksgiving still on? Is it happening this year? It’s not cancelled.

          I would like to suggest that it is still on, and that Thanksgiving as a holiday and observance is a whole lot older – been around chronologically a lot longer – than you and I…even older than the United States itself.

 [_02_]  As a country we came into existence as independent rebellious colonists in 1776, but Thanksgiving was being celebrated well before that, starting in the 1600’s  and with the first Pilgrims who arrived on the ship Mayflower in New England, ultimately landing at Plymouth in Massachusetts.

          The year was 1620.

          This year, then, of course is the 400th anniversary of the landing at Plymouth Rock. I missed that anniversary too with everything else going on.

          Perhaps, we can take comfort that Thanksgiving holiday is only disrupted this way, this completely, once every few hundred years…on – in this case – the quadricentennial.

 [_03_] Is Thanksgiving still on?  Is it more difficult to be grateful for what we have in 2020?

          Yes, it can be more difficult because we can very easily focus on what we do not have or who is missing in our lives due to being sick, due to dying…due to distance.

          We know very well what we are not thankful for and restrictions upon us due to the COVID pandemic.

[_04_] Is Thanksgiving still on, in a moment of tragedy, crisis, heartbreak?

[_04.01_]  In fact, some of the earliest celebrations of Thanksgiving were are times of great difficulty.

          An author (Melanie Kirkpatrick) wrote that that the earliest Thanksgiving holidays were, in fact, giving thanks for the end of, say, a severe drought, the improvement o the weather for planting..or daresay, the end of a bad illness or disease.

          Of course, we are not finished with the pandemic yet, but shall we not give thanks that we have made it this far, to give thanks especially for the essential workers – police, firefighters, medical workers physicians nurses and technicians, those who clean the hospitals, those who deliver and prepare our food – that through many essential workers – we have made this far through COVID 19, and also give thanks that a medical vaccine is on the horizon.

          Thanksgiving in a time of crisis. Yes, it is still on.

          The author’s report on U.S. Thanksgiving is that the holiday was established by and from the government, telling us we should pause and give thanks for good fortune.

          This was, in particular, the tone of President Abraham Lincoln

          Thanksgiving as we know it today, being on the 4th Thursday of November and being an annual celebration was established by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 in the midst of the Civil War.

          In July of 1863, the same year as the proclamation, the Battle of Gettysburg had been fought.

          And in November of 1863, shortly before Thanksgiving, President Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address reminding us that… after the battle and bloodshed and death and dying of the Civil War. Lincoln was speaking not just about the “battlefield” that had taken place in Gettysburg but that the whole country was a battlefield:

          in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — we cannot consecrate — we cannot hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. (Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863)

          It’s a coincidence, in 1863, the first official “fourth Thursday”…that was also November 26.    

          The Gettysburg Address was given exactly 1 week before on November 19.

 [_04.02_]   And, so, in is Thanksgiving Proclamation was not just about a “scheduled date” but the shared destiny of all of us:

          “I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe [declaring] the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens ....and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the  nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

          Is Thanksgiving still on?

          Thanksgiving in 1863 was not celebrated in a spirit of what had already been attained but what the country was still striving for. Perhaps, you and I can do the same.

          In our Christian Thanksgiving, our Holy Communion, Holy Eucharist,  we celebrate not because of what we already possess but because of who we are striving to emulate.

          In the Gospel, 1 leper returns, not only to give thanks for what he had obtained but also to follow Jesus and to strive for me, not to get more, but to give more.

          What you and I are striving for each day is that true greatness, a pursuit of greatness balanced also by HUMILITY and understanding that we are not God, but that in the smallest Thanksgiving celebration even for the person absolutely alone, is not abandoned for Jesus died for her also, for him as well and for you.

          Thanksgiving is still on.  [_fin_]  

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Intergenerational.International (2020-11-22, Sunday-34, Christ the King)

 2020-11-22 _  34 Sunday

● Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17 ● Psalm 23  ● 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28   ● ● + Matthew 25:31-46  ●

Title:  Catholic.Apostlic.J-C-King (2020-11-22, Sunday – 34)

[_01_] It just so happens that on this Sunday November 22nd – which is the feast of Jesus Christ the King –the– our Archbishop of Newark – Cardinal Tobin – will visit Our Lady of Lourdes to pray and speak with some of the priests of the Archdiocese, right here in our church.

          Lourdes was selected for this honor of this visit.  I am grateful to several parish faithful volunteers and our parish staff by whom I have been helped to welcome the priests and our archbishop, for this – his first visit – to Our Lady of Lourdes.

          While this visit will be in the late afternoon after all of the Masses are completed, I know the Cardinal will offer his blessing and prayers to you and for your, the people of God of Our Lady of Lourdes.

 

[_02_] As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (B16), the task of Cardinal Tobin continues the biblical tradition of the shepherd who cares for the flock. It challenges Cardinal Tobin to heed the voice of the Lord for responsibility, for unity and that unity extends to you and to me.  (Benedict XVI (J. Ratzinger), “Bishop and Church”, Dogma and Preaching, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011, p. 229)

          I was reminded of this unity many years ago when I was ordained a priest, the connection of the Archbishop of Newark to Our Lady of Lourdes.

          Just before I was ordained a priest, the evening before, the Archbishop of Newark at the time arrived at the seminary (at I.C.S, Seton Hall, South Orange) with several of his priests to meet with each of us to be ordained. The purpose was to meet with each of us and explain where each of us would be assigned geographically to a parish. It was all shrouded in mystery like the question on Final Jeopardy or the last present under the Christmas tree.

          I was handed a letter that read “Our Lady of Lourdes, West Orange.”

I had very little time to think about this because as soon as I walked out of the meeting, I encountered Monsignor Joe Petrillo who worked for the archbishop at the time and was also the pastor of Lourdes. So, the connection was clear from archbishop to pastor to priest and to you.

          I seem to recall that Father Joe (Monsignor Joe Petrillo) could not stop talking the whole evening. He was being very cordial and friendly. I knew, from the start, that we were very different. That difference was often a good thing. I learned a great deal from Monsignor Petrillo, whom so many of us remember fondly.

 

[_03_] The image of the shepherd is read, sung, and proclaimed in the 23rd psalm this Sunday.  The shepherd image was emphasized by Jesus who said that the Good Shepherd is one who would lay down his life for his sheep.

          B16 ∑ à we are all called to emulate and follow Jesus the Good Shepherd which means “the work of keeping the flock together [is a project that]  can please neither the wolves nor all of the sheep all of the time.” (Benedict XVI (J. Ratzinger), “Bishop and Church”, Dogma and Preaching, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011, p. 229)

 

[_04_]        I bring this up because the very idea of a bishop and archbishop because it very much concentrates and focuses us on what it means to be Catholic.

          In the Creed that we will say in a few moments – don’t stand yet for the Creed – we say that the church is one, holy, catholic and apostolic.

          We’ve got the words memorized, but I’d like to touch on the last two.

 

[_04.01_]           1st. “APOSTOLIC”.  This means that we are the church that continues the faith of the apostles, that a bishop is meant to be in unity not just with the last AB (archbishop), or the last 2 or 3 AB or the AB that I liked or you liked, but he is striving to be in unity with the true faith taught by Jesus to Peter and the apostles. To be apostolic means to be “inter-generational”, inter-generational”, to respect your elders, to respect the whole family.

          The church is not just here today but also because of yesterday and tomorrow.  (Benedict XVI (J. Ratzinger), “Bishop and Church”, Dogma and Preaching, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011, p. 230)

          We come to church to pray for our loved ones who have died, and to pray for our loved ones who have not been born and who will follow after us.

          With long-term view from the into the future, we take care of our church building, roof and the parking lot. I know what you’re thinking, “you are crazy, Ferry, for mentioning the parking lot again!”

          But, we do have a long-term view of our physical structures and we are also called to pray with a long-term vision. We are intergenerational.

 

[_04.02_] 2nd. “CATHOLIC”

There is also the word “Catholic” which does not simply mean kneeling down, or burning incense, or saying the Hail Mary.

“Catholic” in Greek means “universal”. Or, I’d like to say it means “international.”

To be Catholic means you are Catholic everywhere. I am also called to remember that I am a priest – everywhere – whether I am “recognized” or not.

          There is a Mass being celebrated right now – in this same style with the same words (perhaps in a different linguistic translation), but with the same readings, in a different time zone and continent – probably with a better homily ! – and in every place they are praying for … “Francis our Pope”…and for the local bishop. In our case, he is Joseph, our bishop.

         

[_05_]  Right now, we might fear both the world and church have troubles, anxieties, uncertainty, but it is the intergenerational and international nature of the Catholic church that will stabilize and ground the church.

          I believe it is also the international nature of our parish of you. We are people of every ethnic background, every continent, every socioeconomic level, every type of work, every family that makes our Lady of Lourdes truly Catholic.

          The AB may declare the parish Catholic. He visits because we are Catholic. You make the church Catholic by your faith and works.

 

[_06_]     Being both intergenerational and international in our faith reminds us that our real faith and confidence is in our Lord and Savior whom we meet when we

FEED THE HUNGRY

VISIT THE SICK

CLOTHE THE NAKED.

          It is very simple – in accord with Matthew 25 – to be a Christian means to be part of the flock with these actions which also have ethical implications not only in the way we treat total strangers but in the way we love and care for our own family.

          We’re called to recognize that Jesus is everywhere.

Because he has died for our sins and risen from the dead, he is the reason we are concerned spiritually not only for own generation and our own nation – in November 2020 – but that by following the Gospel, all generations and all nations will be blessed by God.

          To be apostolic and to be catholic, is not simply the calling of an AB or priest or religious sister or brother.

It is the task of every one of us. For by your prayers and your actions, you participate in the Eucharistic sacrifice on the altar. Remember these words that demonstrate your own intergenerational and international faith, the prayers of both the priest and you:

Pray, brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.

May the Lord accept the  sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our good  and the good of all his holy Church.

          Lord, Jesus Christ, King and Good Shepherd, Pray for Us !

 [_fin_]     

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Jeopardy / Daily Double (2020-11-15, Sunday-33)

2020-11-15 _  33 Sunday  ● Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31   ● Psalm 128  ● 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6  ●  ● + Matthew 25:14-30 

Title:  Daily Double 

 

[_01_] There is a very specific design feature or device that separates “Jeopardy” from other game shows or quiz shows on TV.

          Jeopardy is an American TV game show/quiz show. Perhaps, Jeopardy has been on your “radar screen” or TV screen, given that the famous host of Jeopardy – Alex Trebek – recently died.

          And, on Jeopardy, Alex gives a statement which is also the “answer” to a question. The players must respond in the form of a question.

          For example:  “This is the hometown of the NASA astronauts who are twin brothers, Mark Kelly an Scott Kelly.”

          You respond: “Where is West Orange, New Jersey.”

          For example: “He is the basketball NBA player with the most MVP awards.”

          And, you would say: “Who is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?” (Michael Jordan has 2nd most).

 

[_02_] So, the players on Jeopardy are given an “ANSWER” and they must respond with a question.

          Recently, I read that Jesus’ parables are not just symbolic stories with a symbolic message. While there are symbols, they are also puzzles to be solved.

 

[_03_] Jesuit Father James McPolin, S.J. wrote this about the parables:

“Jesus sometimes ends a parable with these words: ‘Let anyone with ears listen,’ meaning, ‘There you are. You’ve heard it. Now try to understand it.’ [Jesus ] He allows the people to discover the message. It is a vote of confidence in human beings. He thinks we have enough intelligence to discover from the things of life the meaning of the things of God. [Jesus] does not spoonfeed us.” (Source: CatholicIreland.Net)

If Alex Trebek were here, he would give this Jeopardy “statement”:  “Jesus used a method of teaching that challenged his listeners not only to absorb information but also to increase their desire to hear and know more.”

And, you would say: “What are the parables?”   And you win, say, $600. Good job!

 

[_04_] But, more important than money is that with the Gospel, something has been entrusted to you and to me.

          Let’s turn away from Alex Trebek to St. Paul who gives this “answer”:   “God proved his love for us [in this action] in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5:8)

          And, you would say,

“What is the Passion, Death and Resurrection?”

What is the atonement?

          Of course, this is not just about money.

 

[_05_] It is about our lives, our future.  Because if Christ died for us while we are still sinners, then we have value.

          It’s not about the money, but about the mercy.

          Knowing that mercy is the answer, what will I do – what will you do – with what has been entrusted to us?

          Now, that I have the answer, will I go and ask the questions of my life and what I may need to change or consider.

 

[_06_] Bishop Robert Barron reflected on this parable, saying that the talents given to the 3 servants are not so much monetary assets, nor are they personal capabilities, but the talents are a share in the mercy of God, a participation in divine love.

It is coincidental – even accidental – that “talent” had this ancient meaning as a monetary unit of measuring gold and – today “talent” has a modern meaning as personal aptitude or intelligence.

          But, the point is not that we “trade” or make money based on our talents. The talent signifies God’s mercy and this mercy is meant to be shared.

          The parable of the talents is a puzzle, like “Final Jeopardy”.

[][][]

          But, since mercy is always directed to another person, these talents are designed to be shared. In point of fact, they will ↑↑↑ increase in the measure they are given away.

(CatholicWorldReport.com, November 14, 2020  Link: https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2014/09/22/the-deeper-meaning-of-the-parable-of-the-talents/)

[_07_]    Consider what happens at the end of the Jeopardy game show. There are 3 contestants. And, there are 3 contestants in the parable.

[][][]

[_08_] At the end of a Jeopardy game show, there are 3 contestants, all of whom are challenged to answer the same question – or puzzle – and they are also asked to “risk” or “wager” some of the money they have accumulated.

          And, we are called to risk – to wager – God’s mercy.

          Mercy also means doing what we are called to do. Following the commandments is not just about doing what is mandatory, but also what is merciful.

          Considering the Christian view about the protection of life at all stages, what we must do to protect the life of an unborn child.  Yes, this is true, but it’s also based on mercy. So also, to preserve and protect the life of someone who is sick or dying.

          In the COVID-19 pandemic, we have also been blessed by the bravery, courage of 1st responders, police, firefighters, nurses, physicians who have followed their duty doing what is expected of them. But, this was not just a mandatory order but a call to mercy. Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy (Matthew 5:7)

 

[_09_]   Many years ago, I recall a family disagreement between my mother and me. Of course, it turned out that my mother was correct and I was wrong.

          On that summer day, I returned to the house to apologize – admit my fault. My mother was glad to see me but did not need a long statement of sorrow to patch things up.

          It just so happened that on that June summer day, there was World Cup Soccer on TV. While my mother is not a huge sports fan, she does like World Cup Soccer. We sat down and watched a game.

          To this day, I associate World Cup Soccer with that moment of mercy and connection, with the mercy that had increased in my account.

          Coincidentally, that happened about a week after I was ordained a priest and a week before I started my first assignment as a priest.

          So, I had to ask myself – am I going to be merciful in my life as a priest. I still have to ask myself this question.

 

[_10_]   Now, I will say that in that moment, I realized the mercy was being directed toward me. I was treated with mercy and entrusted with mercy.

          The “balance” in my account had increased.

          But it was not because I was so “talented” or “skilled” or “capable” that I had come up with the perfect apology.

          Mercy is not something we earn, but a gift we receive.

 

[_11_]    But, have we not – have I not – been forgiven of faults by people who disagreed with me, or thought I was wrong, or forgiven by those whom I did not know I had hurt or trespassed against.

          This is mercy in our account.

This is talent-monetary value we are called to risk each day.

[_12_]     Being merciful is not the same as being kind or agreeable or flexible.

          I have been shown mercy by those who told me what I did not want to hear.

          I have received God’s mercy by the blessing of others correcting me, telling me when I am wrong.

          I have experienced God’s mercy by the blessing of others encouraging me to try, to work, when I might want to give up.

          All of these things are spiritual risks, “daily doubles” we take each day.

          We are also called to support each other in acts of mercy. It’s not just an individual who is called to be identified as “merciful”, but so also a family, a married couple, friends who are called to support each other in acts of mercy.

          We are also not using our own money, but rather trading with God’s mercy in our account.

The “contestants” in the parable are able to double what they have.

          It has to do with our final hope of heaven, our destiny.

          And, it leads to – and challenges us – as we receive the Body and Blood which builds up and changes us.  This is the answer, but it’s not easy. But it is our destiny. It is about the answer of God’s love for us that enables us to ask questions and learn more.

          Spiritually, for the Christian disciple: this is jeopardy!   [_fin_]     

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Don't Freak Out. (2020-11-08, Sunday-32)

2020-11-08 _  32nd Sunday

● Wisdom 6:12-16    ● Psalm 63  ● 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 ● + Matthew 25:1-13 ●

 

Title:   Don’t Freak Out. 

 

[_01_]   Have you ever waited for someone to come to your room, to your apartment, to your home?

          PSE&G, cable company, or another service provider?

          In these situations, we’re often given a waiting time “window”: 45 minutes, 1 hour or 2 hours or so.

          And, on this past Wednesday morning, I was waiting for someone to come to Our Lady of Lourdes parish, because the asphalt-paving of our parking lot would soon be starting.

          The person was supposed to arrive within a one-hour, but after more than one hour, no one had arrived.

          The reason for the wait was that we were moving the large garbage disposal dumpsters that are in our parking lot and sit on the asphalt surface.

          We want to pave every square millimeter of the lot, so we had to move the dumpsters off the asphalt. The driver was coming to move them.

          Since he was later than I expected, I called the paving company and told them of the delay. I was concerned. They immediately said to me, this past Wednesday morning: “don’t freak out, Father Jim Ferry because we can also move them.”

          I was relieved to be told this by someone with experience and backup plan.

          They would move these large objects if the driver did not arrive.

 

[_02_]   The Gospel is about  waiting and being ready.

          When we are waiting for a result, a delivery, a medical test, for financial information, waiting for school, there is tendency to look at the clock or at the phone with some impatience, some critical attitude for the time.

          It was helpful that someone would tell me not to “give up the ship”, someone more experienced than I would tell me “don’t freak out”

         

[_03_]   [ JUSTICE. FAIRNESS. ]

          Will there be ever be justice?

In my everyday example – and in yours as well – we may feel “wronged” that there is injustice or unfairness in having to wait or enduring delays.

          Moreover, there is a saying, a wise saying, that “justice delayed is justice denied.”

          This applies to civil-rights examples, applies to someone who is wrongfully imprisoned, wrongfully jailed and punished. And, if that person spends one more minute, one more day, in jail, that is an injustice.

          Justice delayed is justice denied.

         

[_04_]   Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (B16) wrote that what we sometimes do is that we replace justice with another objective which is “progress”.   (Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi (Saved in Hope), 2007-11-30, n. 42)

          And, in this regard, the idea of God’s Last Judgement has faded into the background.

          And, in my own “waiting” example, I did not want justice, I wanted “progress”. I wanted something done.

          While B16 admits that in the face of suffering or injustice, protest will be predictable – and often necessary – we are called to remember that no human being has the final word on justice.

          You and I are not going to be judged by our neighbors, by the opposing political party, by the Supreme Court (NJ, U.S.A., et cetera)

          We are going to be judged by God. Don’t freak out. That’s Good News.

         

[_05_]   In this ancient Middle-Eastern example of the 10 bridesmaids/virgin, there was a wait, a delay.

          And, in the wait of the 10, it signifies the waiting all of us are called to do – to recall the need for readiness in waiting.

 

[_06_]   This Sunday, we also give thanks for our parish – it is our parish anniversary.

          We celebrate over 106 years of faith illuminated.

          For many decades the Sisters of Charity taught in our school and to this day, the Sisters of Charity in our convent continue to pray for you and your needs.

          Also, to this day, one of our sisters – Sister Jean – continues in education ministry as part of the Mount Carmel Guild Academy team, guiding and assisting student with special needs, many of whom are on the autistic spectrum.

          On this Founder’s Day, we also give thanks for all the deacons and priests and you – the people of God – of Lourdes.

 

[_07_]   From you, I have learned each day about the priesthood and my ministry and God’s love and mercy.

          For the parish is not only a place for the Archbishop to send me to work, but also a place for me to grow in holiness, sanctification. You assist me in this way.

          So, when you ask me to hear your confession, visit someone who is sick, or share the Gospel with you, you are helping me to be a priest.

          Thank you for your example, reminding me of the presence and person of Jesus.

 

[_08_]   In my own example of waiting for the driver to arrive, I tried to pass the time.

          The driver did arrive – a little bit later than I expected, but when he arrived he was so helpful, advising me on where to move these large objects.  The wait was worth it.

          I also learned that he has been driving this route, in early morning hours, coming to our parish and parish property for more than 30 years.

          In a sense, I was not just waiting for him. He was waiting for me.

          It also reminded me that I was not just waiting for a service to be performed, but also waiting for a person.

          We are not just waiting for “justice”, “salvation”,  “eternal happiness / joy”…but also waiting for a person: Jesus.

          He may arrive in humble circumstances, when we are not expecting Him.

 

[_09_]    The Gospel this Sunday is about a wedding. There was another famous wedding in the Gospel.   At another wedding – the wedding at Cana – when all seemed lost because there was no wine, our blessed mother, Mary, reminded the servants of Jesus’ plan for them. They were about ready to give up.

          The servants did not know what to do amidst the crisis. All seemed lost because the wine ran out. They were like the bridesmaids with no oil.

          We also live in a time of uncertainty, anxiety, scarcity but our time – in God’s time – has not run out. There is still time.

          As Mary said, “Do whatever he tells you.”

          Our Lady of Lourdes,  Pray for us.   [_fin_]