Sunday, January 6, 2019

Hide and Go Seek. Epiphany (2019-01-06)

January 6, 2019     [ 3 kings  / epiphany ]

 Isaiah 60:1-6 • Psalm  72   • Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6  • + Matthew 2:1-12  

Title:   Found. Epiphany

[_01_]   Hide-and-go-seek (H_+GS) is a game in which 1 player closes his/her eyes – and counts – often to 100 - while the other players hide. After counting to 100, the “seeker” then opens his eyes and tries to find those in hiding .. the last one to be found is  the winner of the round.
[_02_]   (H_+GS)  is mysterious. The Gospel today is mysterious as we read about 3 kings – or 3 wise men – bringing 3 gifts and while they did not count to 100…they traveled for hundreds of miles / kilometers … a great distance in search of … seeking Jesus the newborn king.
[_03_] Why do we play (H_+GS) ? We play in order to be the last one found. Jesus is the last person FOUND, the last one discovered in this Gospel.
            That is, there are – first – 3 KINGS – they are # 1, # 2, # 3 travelling on the road to Bethlehem. We found them. There are significant statues of the –to the RIGHT of the altar…
            Then, there is a fourth king – King # 4 is King Herod. He is famous, has a palace, a big house and everyone knows his name.
            But, the real king – is king # 5 – the fifth King – who is very well hidden. #5 = Jesus.  No one knows his name. Yet. The 3 Kings were not expecting to find him in Bethlehem. And, Herod is kicking himself for not figuring this out sooner. 
            Bethlehem is a good hiding place. It is a simple town, not many people. Thus, we sing, “O Little Town of Bethlehem how still we see thee lie… ”Whether in Bethlehem – or later I Nazareth, Jesus is remains pretty well hidden even as an adult. [1]
            He is in hiding today, when the 3 Kings arrive in the country and area of Bethlehem.
[_04_]    In (H_+GS), enthusiasm –love – are shown by hiding from the other person.
            This is also a message of Father Ronald Knox in a sermon about the Christmas and the birth of Jesus. Jesus appears to be in hiding, hard to find. And, the 3 Kings are the scientists of their time, they have something better than GPS satellites, they can read and measure by the stars on their own.
[_05_]   In this mysterious way, and the mystery of the Epiphany, I believe that God is not trying to get away from us…but he is showing us that he loves us.
            Sometimes, we love others even when we are in hiding.
            I’d like to give some specific experiences which you may also have. Consider that you are making a really nice Christmas gift for someone and you want the other person to be surprised. You might place the gift in a box that does not show the other person what is inside. They have to unwrap it in order to see.
            There are times, my brothers and sisters,  that we also have to take the time to understand, to listen, to un-wrap – to ask questions of other people in our lives.
            Think about this … when you are really troubled or unhappy about something..isn’t it nice when someone takes the time to ask you about what is bothering you. You are not really hiding …but you are allowing them to find you.
            Or, in another example – let’s say that someone experience some great joy in their lives. It is an act of Christian charity to ask another person about his or her joys. In other words, the other person wants to be asked.  You and I want to be asked about the joys of our lives.
            Jesus goes into hiding so that we will also ask – that we will ask directions – like the 3 Kings to find him.      [*** PAUSE***]
[_06_]    Jesus wants us to find him.
Here is an example I would like to share with you about how we – in my family – wanted someone to be found. It was not a game of (H_+GS).
            It was rather a surprise birthday party for my mother.
            There are many tricky things about a surprise party. There is the guest list, there is the date on the calendar, there is the cake, there might be gifts.
            But, the 1 thing that is really really hard to pull off … and it is key to the whole surprise – WHERE?
            Where is the surprise party to take place? LOCATION!
            The key is to find a location that everyone can gather at …and, moreover,  to get the guest of honor – my mother – to the party – to the restaurant without seeing all these people and their cars or shoes or coats.
            It is (H_+GS)  / major league baseball (H_+GS) .
            And, in the surprise party – like in the game (H_+GS) ,  you achieve your VICTORY … by making sure that one particular person is not found until the very end….this is the guest of honor, the birthday girl or birthday boy.
            And, after the surprise, everyone’s life is absolutely changed. Because everybody is in on the surprise, in on the joy.
            It is a team effort to pull off the surprise.
            And, it shows our love for the other person that we would go to such lengths to hide, to keep the plans of the party hidden for so long, for so many weeks or months ahead of time.
[_07_]   Yes, Jesus is in hiding in the Gospel. The seeking and finding of the newborn King of the Jews, the Messiah is an absolute shock to King Herod.
            Herod is scared, feels threatened.
[_08_]   Now, in a way, the presence of God – our awareness of God can also seem to be hidden.
            For example, while Christmas is celebrated very appropriately and joyously by the exchanging of gifts, and this signifies our gift of each other …. The best gifts we can give – ou love, our honesty, our integrity and our mercy – is not something you can see. Nevertheless it is there.
 [_09_]  It takes time to recall and remember where God is in my life, in good times and in bad, in summer or winter, in light or dark.
            For example, if we have a bad day, or someone said something we did not like to hear or want to hear, we might ask – God, where are you? So..rather than me hiding myself…I might go and try to discover where God is.
            I assure you – brothers and sisters – the Lord dwells in his Word, in the Church and he is always here to give you directions. If you are lost, come inside.  Stop in to church to pray and ask for these, as the 3 Kings did.
            This feast reminds us that God wants to be found. And we find him together.
[_10_]    At around 10:45 pm on Saturday evening, it was the night of my mother’s surprise birthday party. We were all leaving and my brother’s daughter – who was 8 years old at the time – had an exceptionally rockin’ time. Loved every minute of it and knew that this was so special that she and her family had traveled from California to be at the party.
            In the parking lot, she was getting into a very comfortable seat in a someone’s big car at the end of the night, she had her own surprise, her own discover to report …saying in front of my mother … “This was the best day of my entire life.”
            This was a surprise, a discovery. It also echoes our own Good News that is a joy – the best day – whenever we can find Jesus where he is – the best day of our lives. [_11_]     [_fin_]   

[1] Later when Jesus says is from Nazareth, the apostle Philip famously says, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Jesus remains hidden throughout his life.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

In Between. (2019-01-01, Mary Mother of God)

  January 1, 2019    [ mary mother of god ]

•  Numbers 6:22-27  • Psalm  67   • Galatians 4:4-7  • Luke 2:16-21  •

Title:   In Between. 2018-2019. Mary Mother of God.

[_01_]   In the wild, and in nature, we see that animals and birds spend a lot of their time searching for food – sometime called “foraging”. They are seeking and finding nourishment.
            And, in one report, I read that a bird might spend 75% of its time looking for food. This is not just in Rocky Mountains or at Eagle Rock Reservation..but right here.
            And, what we see – especially in birds – that they will travel miles and miles. They will fly miles and miles between looking for their next meal. Amazing and without GPS!
            Recently, on a Sunday morning, a flock of birds landed here at Our Lady of Lourdes. They were actually at the Grotto where there is the lawn and many trees and, I imagine, some berries and blossoms. There were hundreds, maybe thousands of birds. They were foraging, looking for food.
            And, typical of this location with many trees, in between the buildings.  And, typical of this season, between winter + spring.
            This is an in-between time of year. While the birds know that food is scarce, I imagine they have been here before.
[_02_]    In between.
            In between, we are in between – in time & chronology between 2018 and 2019. 
            You might say, hey it’s already 2019. The souvenirs say 2019 and soon the calendar will as well.
            But, mentally, at least for a while, I know that will be – accidentally writing “2018”  with my signature. Maybe I’ll even write 2017. It was a fast year.
            We are in balancing time between 2018 and 2019.   And, for many of us  - especially students and schoolchildren and parents – the new year feels more like a midpoint or a halftime show than an endpoint or the final whistle.
            We are balanced between AUTUMN + SPRING semesters, in between the nice outdoor weather  of AUTUMN and SPRING. We are in between our own walls because we might not be able to go out too much.
            We are in between.
[_03_]   So, for the blackbird and bluebirds and birds of our hemisphere, the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes is a habitat, an ecosystem, year in and year out.
            There is a Grotto, a cave also in which the Jesus is in the manger and resting.  It is his habitat, ecosystem. And, Mary – with Joseph – is in charge of protecting, sheltering him there. While nourishing and protecting, Mary is also attracting visitors. The shepherds are FLOCKING, they are arriving, landing.  And, by adoring and contemplating his presence, they are being fed.
            But, the shepherds – with their sheep – are also at an in-between, halftime – or point of change in their lives.
            They are not simply at the stable – to see Jesus – so they can go back to their old lives. They are also starting a new life.  They are in between.
            I believe our mothers – and Mary our Blessed Mother – can teach us about this “in between” state and about starting a new life.
            I’d like to touch on this in terms of our call to both GENTLENESS and to GOODNESS.
 [_04_]    1st .  “Our Gentleness.”    
            Mothers and women of faith have a great deal to share and teach their daughters and sons that real strength is not based on brute force or the overwhelming or the outrebounding of an opponent.
            Do not mothers teach us – their daughters and sons – that gentleness can be both firm and tender.
            [*** PAUSE ***]
            I recognize we live in a world in which it seems MIGHTY POWER =  RIGHT. And, in some battlefield scenarios this is the case.
            But, for those with eyes to see and ears to hear, I believe we can see in our mothers and women in a lour lives, the GENTLE yet FIRM ways in which they stand up for themselves and teach all of us about love of God and love of neighbor.
            Jesus himself demonstrates this gentleness in his willingness to lay down his life for us. Surely, the Blessed Mother also taught him this gentleness and strength.
 [_06_]  Our Blessed Mother teaches about GENTLENESS which is always a high calling, even if you feel like a lowly servant. 
            Mothers also teach us about GOODNESS.
[_07_]  2nd. GOODNESS.
            Mothers teach us about GOODNESS. Is GOODNESS desirable? I think we may need, spiritually and intentionally to press [Esc] to remind ourselves that we are called to is to be  “GOOD” rather than to be sold on what is PREMIUM, SUPREME, SUPER SIZED 5 STAR, LIMITED EDITION, et cetera.
            But, I suggest we are called to a simplicity and knowledge of goodness that our mothers know very well.
            When God creates the world in Genesis, he calls each of his creations “good” or “very good.”.
            And, in this regard “good” is sufficient. Good and goodness is our goal. Goodness is also binary.  Goodness is the balance in between.
            By analogy, isn’t it true that when someone forgives us of some trespass or evil we have done – really forgives us – they are not asking us to  change but simply to be who we really are?   Goodness is not something we discover via GPS, something we recover via G-O-D and God’s mercy.
[_08_]     What about these New Year’s resolutions?
            In our new year’s resolutions and sentiments what we often wish and express are the following – in our happy new year wishes – that we have a year free from illness, from pain, from trouble, that you may make plenty of money, that your tax bill will not be burdensome, that the Dow Jones Industrial Average will remain stable and the S&P 500 will not be too volatile.
            It’s good to pray for all of the above…but I suggest we can pray and strive for even more…and to pray + recall  that -- in between our joys and our sorrows that everything in our ecosystem and our experience, everything in heaven and earthy may help us to love God and love our neighbor a little bit more.  [_fin_]

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Survive. Sustain. (2018-12-30, Holy Family Sunday)

SUNDAY 30 December 2018    [ HOLY   FAMILY   SUNDAY ]

 Sirach 3:2-6,12-14  • Psalm  128 or Psalm 84   • Colossians 3:12-21  • Luke 2:41-52  

Title:   Holy Family Sunday: Surive, Sustain...

[_01_]  I need to hear something more than once for it to sink in, to understand, to comprehend. As Jesus says, “he who has ears, let him hear.”  (Matthew 11:15).
          I may need to hear something more than once, repeatedly.
          When I was preparing the December 30th Mass schedule, I asked Father _ to say 9:30 am Mass. He promptly responded that would be away. I thanked him for his note and did not write down what he told me.
          Then, I created the schedule and put it up in the sacristy with his name as the priest for 9:30 am on Sunday December 30.  He told me again that he would be away. I said thanks, and promptly forgot this as well.
          Finally, last Thursday, I emailed him to confirm that he would be here on Sunday December 30 at 9:30 am. He reminded me again.  My bad. Finally, it dawned on me. LISTEN. LISTEN.
          Sometimes, we have to hear things more than once. Repetition helps.
          As Jesus says, “he who has ears, let him hear.”  (Matthew 11:15).
[_02_]  The family is a place for us to have ears, to hear.
          What do we hear? What lessons are REPEATED for us in our families, in family life?
          And, when I say “family life”, I remind myself and all of us that we all have a family history and family experience that has made us the children of God, the young adults, the adults, the women and men we are.  And, our family history is a place of REPETITION.
 [_03_] First, SURVIVAL. This repetition teaches about SURVIVAL, about remaining alive. For a child to survive, to remain alive, he or she needs repeated – daresay constant connection and affection with the family and especially with his or her mother.  A very small child, as we understand, holds so tightly to his or mother that he does not even know the mother and child could have separate personalities or social security numbers.  It is true that this BONDING may take a little while to develop, but once it does develop, it teaches both the parent and the child that survival and intimacy are one and the same.  It takes repetition. Family life teaches us about survival and coming alive. We do not come alive – or survive - as individuals but in the family unit.
 [_04_]   2nd, SUSTAINING.  We are also SUSTAINED in the family, not simply sustained by our own individual efforts.
          I believe we are sustained – especially -- by the repetition of forgiveness.
          And, in the family unit – especially under the same roof – we can experience how beautiful and effective it is to forgive someone.
          It is relatively easy to withhold forgiveness to harbor a grudge against someone whom we see only occasionally … let’s say we are speaking of a co-worker we see a few times per month. On the other hand, is not true that the lessons we learn about forgiveness to many people – at home, at work, at school anywhere - who might trespass against us?
          In my own experience, I have found that I need not only my own will and my own energy to extend forgiveness but also God’s help. I need prayer, quiet time. I need repetition.
          There is s saying that time heals all wounds…but I have also found that it depends on what you are doing with that time.
          I can recall in certain instances, I have held tightly to a grudge because I was not yet ready to pray for the person, to forgive.
          In other instances, I can recall praying for someone, and then experiencing great calm.
          In one instance, I recall praying for someone, not seeing the person for about a month or so. And, when I did, the first though in my head was, “oh yeah, I was supposed to be mad at you.”  (Fortunately, I did not say this out loud.).
          Why had my anger subsided? It was not because of my own efforts, but because of God’s gift and grace.   And, in the interim, I had been praying for this person. I believe these prayers were examples of the necessary repetition we need in order to forgive others, to sustain ourselves with God’s mercy.
          And, through both the positive and negative, I have learned something of the EFFECTIVENESS and the DEFECTIVNESS of NON-FORGIVENESS.
          And, by “defective”, it does not mean that I was “defective”…but withholding the forgiveness was a defect, was a fault… and God can change this from “defect” to “effect”, when we allow him to work in our lives.
 [_05_]   We also need repetition to discover our true calling, our true selves in life.
          This applies to me, it applies even to the 12 year old Jesus, the Son of God.
          In this mysterious event at the Temple, Mary teaches us something about the need not only for speech but also for silence, for reflection, for prayer, especially when we are not sure what to say.
          Jesus offered an explanation, “did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  (Luke 2:49).
          Jesus is insisting that Mary must have known. And, in retrospect, it’s easy for us to say that Mary must have known. Did you not know? Didn’t the angel tell you?
          Well, yes, Mary – and also Joseph – were visited by angels.
          But, the angels did not give them a full text download with a timeline and a predefined list of mysteries.
          They may – in their hearts – have anticipated the difficulty of separation, some fore knowledge that Jesus would be, as Simeon says, the “fall and the rise of many in Israel.”
          Isn’t it true that we may also expect or anticipate difficulties or crises from time to time in marriage, in  family, at school, at work? But, when they happen, we still ask “why?”
          Mary asks “why” today.
          Mary has said – as so many parents would – all she possibly can under the circumstances. But, then, she is silent, still and surely her example – her interior life with God – teaches Jesus something about his own survival, his own bond with God as his Father, and his own need for confidence in God.
          Our Blessed Mother, Mary,  also needed to hear this Good News more than once.
          And, in this regard, Mary – together with Joseph– teaches us by their REPETITION –and repeated prayers -  to keep all these things, pondering them, reflecting on them in her heart.   [_fin_]

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Where Are You From? (2018-12-25, Christmas)

25 December 2018  Christmas -  Mass During Night
Isaiah 9:1-6  • Psalm 96 • Titus 2:11-14 • +Luke 2:1-14  •

Title:  Where are you from?

[__01__]       “Where … Where are you from?  Where are you from?”
            To answer this question, Father Joe Petrillo – our beloved pastor of Lourdes until 2013 – might have told this story. “Where are you from?” When he was about 23 years old, and in the 1970’s, and visiting in late summer a Catholic school where he would teach, he was in the parking lot of the school one day. He was new but recognized by someone as new and this person knew only his name, his last name and told Father Joe  … “oh, you are the new Italian teacher.”
            He did not mean you are teaching the Italian-language and idiom. He meant Father Joe was new  from Italy and of Italian descent. Imagine, he could mean and say all that and ANCESTRY.COM hadn’t even been invented yet!  That’s where you are from. Father Joe acknowledged proudly his Italian ancestry …but would not have answered this way.  He would have said, “I am an American.” That’s where he was from.
[__02__]       Where is Jesus from ?
            Well, Jesus is of of Nazareth, with Mary of Nazareth, Joseph of Nazareth.
            Nevertheless, Joseph & Mary recognize as every father and mother recognizes, that their child belongs not only to them, he is not just of their home, of their lives, but is meant to be of our lives. They have Jesus, in order to give him away to us.
            Where is Jesus from?  He is also of you and your home. Your town.
            Father Ronald Knox wrote that Joseph and Mary come to understand that that their child – Jesus - belongs not to them but to the whole human race.  He came to gave his life as a ransom for many. And, he came to live and be among us.
[__03__]      Recently, I was recognized …  This person knew where I was from. Nevertheless, he asked, just to be sure.
            Last Tuesday, I was at Seton Hall University, at the chapel. I was one of the few people in the chapel and sitting on a bench, on a pew.It was a little dark and hard to see faces.  Someone approached and started to speak. I heard but could not see …
            “Is that you?” “Jim, Jim Ferry is that you?”
            He knew where I was from, because we had been classmates.
He asked if I remembered him. Yes, Rich, I remember you – we were together every day for 3 years. Imagine if you might a high school, college, school classmate. The image/foto is still on my hard drive (mind). It’s in the archive of permanent long-term memory.
            Where are we from? Where we are from helps us to remember our common origin – as God’s children. We are from the same place, children of the same Heavenly Father.
[__04__]      Knowing we are from, tracing our origins, however, can also bring us closer together.
            It does not have to divide us.
            I’d like to give an example.
[__05__]      In 2005, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times newspaper was walking through downtown Los Angeles and noticed a musician living and playing Beethoven –beautifully – a violin on the street corner, a violin that had only 2 of 4 strings. It was apparent that this musician’s concert hall was the street corner or, frequently, the 2nd Street Tunnel. Imagine a violinist in the Lincoln Tunnel. That’s where this musician was.
            The reporter and musician develop a friendship which becomes a book and later a movie called “The Soloist”.  Jamie Foxx plays the part of the real-life musician, Nathaniel, Nathaniel Ayers.
            This is how it starts, on the street corner. After the reporter hears this Beethoven classical music being played:
          “That’s pretty good,” the reporter says ..and that he would like to come back later and to listen again to more Beethoven.
          Nathaniel says, “Oh, all right, he says APPRECIATIVELY  but with fear. [He is afraid] Nathaniel looks like a man who has learned to trust no one.”
          Back at the office, the reporter make a note on a yellow legal pad – the title for a future newspaper column “Violin Man”.
          It’s got potential. Who knows where it will go?
[__06__]      The violin man is Nathaniel and the reporter is named Steve Lopez. Both are from the same place. What I mean is that they both thrive and flourish on the street, out in the street.  But, for different reasons.
            Steve Lopez is an old-school reporter who is known to discover this subjects and stories by pounding the so-called pavement.  He is a model of journalism and reporting that he notes – with some sadness – seems to be fading away with so much technology and electronic media.
            In any case, Steve Lopez is of the street.
            But, Nathaniel – the musician he discovers – is also of the street, but for a different reason.
            Nathaniel suffers from serious paranoia, schizophrenia.  He is about 55 years old.   He seems to be just one of many homeless people in downtown Los Angeles. But, is that where is really from?
            It turns out  … 35 years earlier – in the 1970’s – Nathaniel had been a promising classical string bass student at Juilliard – the Juilliard School of Music, NYC – ambitious, charming, one of the very few African-American students at Juilliard in the 1970’s until Nathaniel gradually lost the ability to function and suffered a nervous mental breakdown.
            When he is re-discovered on the street and re-appreciated for his gifts, Nathaniel is alone, suspicious of everyone, and deeply troubled, but glimmers of that brilliance are still there. There is a glimmer of brilliance n all of us.
[__07__]      Through their friendship, Nathaniel starts to accept some of the psychological help and counseling he needs, and starts to accept violins and cellos that are sent – from all over the country and world - to the Los Angeles Times building.
            The story testifies to our belief that every one of us is from the same place. Also, the reporter recognizes – paradoxically – that this musician who has absolutely nothing is an important friend and part of his family.
            To this day, they spend usually – every Thanksgiving and Christmas together. They were certainly together last Christmas.
[__08__]       Where is Nathaniel from? Well, Nathaniel is from Juilliard and he plays the strings. And, he was there in the 1970’s. So, of course, who does he know personally? He knows Yo Yo Ma, one of the famous classical musicians in the world and the most famous living cellist.
            When Yo Yo Ma visits L.A. for a concert, he learns about the connection and promptly and gladly agrees to meet Nathaniel is in his dressing room     Going to the dressing room, Nathaniel REMEMBERED, he was in awe and said, “I remember your hands from [when we were together at] Juilliard. You’re an amazing player, Mr. Ma.”
            “First of all, I’m not Mr. Ma, I’m Yo-Yo.  Did you like it, I know you like Beethoven. I want to tell you what it means to meet you, to meet somebody who really, really loves music. We are brothers.”    
            The connection between Nathaniel and Yo Yo Ma is not just in their hands – but in their hearts. That’s where they are from.
            Our connections in love of God and neighbor is not in what we do but in who we are as children of God the Father.
 [__09_]      Where are you from? We are from the same place and need the same salvation and mercy and peacefulness. It is a question that comes from the dark, an invitation to be present to Jesus each day, as he asks, “is that you?” [_fin_]  

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Hands Full / Visitation / Lost Objects (2018-12-23, Advent)

December 23, 2018 (Advent- 4th week)

Micah 5:1-4a | Psalm 80 | Hebrews 10:5-10 | Luke 1:39-45

Title: Hands Full
[_01_]  Saint Anthony. Saint Anthony is naturally associated with objects. Objects that we want returned to us.
            Your headphones are lost. Your keys are lost. Your remote control is lost. Something is lost.
            We want the objects returned to us.
            We naturally associate Saint Anthony with the Lost & Found in heaven and on earth, universally.
            He knows where everything is.
            However, the reason that this tradition developed is because of his own prayer regarding an object that he lost.
            When he was in the monastery, when he was studying to be a priest. One of his brothers left the monastery and took a book that was precious to Anthony.
            So, he prayed that the book would be returned.  But, he was not just praying for the book to be returned but also for his brother to return. We can also pray for the intercession of Saint Anthony not only for objects – but also for relationships that might be lost or have lost their way.
            Anthony is really praying for his brother to return to the monaster.
[_01_]  This time of year, we associate objects with people, but not so much lost objects, but rather gifts – as objects.
            People bring gifts. Sometimes, we want to bring a gift when we go to visit someone.
            One friend of mine describes it this way – my mother taught me this ..when you go to someone’s house, you should be ringing the doorbell with your elbows. That is, your hand should be so full so loaded down with gifts, that you can only ring the door with your elbows.
            He should be invited over more often, as he would bring many gifts.
            This Sunday is the Gospel of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary  to Elizabeth. And, Elizabeth and Mary are associated with gifts, that is the gift of their children who they are carrying. Elizabeth is the mother of John the Baptist; Mary, the mother of Jesus. And, each of them has her hands full.
            They involved directly in the salvation of the whole world.  Elizabeth and Mary are mothers and they have their hands full.
[_02_]  The Gospel this Sunday is about the friendship and the perseverance of Mary and Elizabeth to be with each other to support each other.

[_03_] The other day, I happened to cross paths with an old classmate of mine. We had not seen each other for 15 years. I knew what he was doing that he was teaching at Seton Hall and in South Orange. But, still we had not visited or seen each other in 15 years.
            Unlike the episode of Mary and Elizabeth, this was not a planned encounter. We just happened to be in the same place at the same time.
            There was reminiscing, remembering … classes, teachers, people we know. We caught up in about 2 minutes the 15 years that we had missed.
            First there was reminiscing – but then there was also a need for help, for support.
            His car was in the shop, in the mechanic’s shop. He seemed to need money. He does not carry an ATM bank card.   What’s up with that? Even 15 years ago, I had an ATM card. You did too,  you had an ATM card 30 years ago,. He did not have one. I did not ask.

[_04_]   But – strangely – at least, this felt strange to me. I actually wanted to help him out.
            And, I seemingly, I had no reason. I see him once every 15 years. But, I wanted to help him out.
            I suggest this motivation was not because of my own patience (I am not very patient) …. Or my own generosity (I am not consistently generous….)
            It was because of 2 gifts.
            And, the gifts are suggested by Mary and Elizabeth.  And, the 2 gifts – which are not on any registry – are suggested by a parable of Jesus called the “The Friend at Midnight”. (Luke 11:5-8)
            In  this parable, Jesus rings the doorbell – teaching us about someone who arrives at the 11th hour, literally or not. And, the person brings 2 gifts: FRIENDSHIP and PERSEVERANCE.
            And, Mary brings perseverance as a gift to Elizabeth, and Elizabeth to Mary.
            Mary goes off road off the grid to the hill country.
            In this, seeing my old classmate – after 15 years – I was experiencing both. There was a friendship – and old friendship and there was his perseverance. His story of his car, the ATM card, the repair shop, the cold weather.
            So, I felt motivated by these 2 gifts…these 2 gifts which he – in a way – brought to me, carried to me, with his hands full.
            In the end, the book was returned to Saint Anthony. And, more importantly, his brother returned to the monastery. The brother was recovered too.
            Mary and Elizabeth also have their hands full, yet they are loving and supporting each other.   They are persevering. They are also friends I pray that this mystery of the visitation may also inspire us to seek their intercession and follow their example, whether we are the friend hearing the doorbell or ringing the doorbell.     [_fin_]