Sunday, November 4, 2018

Founder's Day: Waiting (2018-11-04, Sunday-31)

[__Founder's Day Mass,11:30 am]   4 November 2018    /  31st Sunday Ordinary Time, Year B

••   Deuteronomy 6:2-6  • Psalm 18   •• Hebrews 7:23-28 ••    + Mark 12:28b-34  ••

••       Title:   Waiting

[__01_]   This Sunday is Our Lady of Lourdes Founder’s Day, a solemn anniversary of our parish’s first Sunday Mass on November 8, 1914 at the original church at Cherry and Chestnut Streets.
          We also honor at this Mass – and in our luncheon reception to follow – our beloved pastor of 2001-2013, Monsignor Joe Petrillo, whose vision and vigilance were significant for Lourdes.  
          Just as Father Marnell had a vision and vigilance for the first Catholic family here, so did Monsignor Petrillo whose vision and vigilance were always on display in the Founder’s Day celebrations which he himself endeavored to get going together with Jack Healy and the Heritage Committee over the years.
          Monsignor Petrillo’s vision and vigilance were evident at Founder’s Day and at our Centennial in 2014 in which he played such an important role.
[*** PAUSE ***]

[__02_]   When I started here in 2006 as an associate to Monsignor Joe, and as a parish priest, I became aware of his vision and vigilance.
          He needed this, in particular because he was simultaneously pastor of Lourdes here in West Orange and an archdiocesan official in charge of assignments for priests for the Archbishop of Newark.
          One Saturday in 2006, we begin a series of weekly Saturday one-on-one meetings that started at 12 Noon and we would also have lunch together.
          ???I think he probably hoped these meetings would last for a few weeks or months and then taper off. He never complained  ??
          Being vigilant, Father Joe came to the table with courtesy and no assumptions. This was evident in early question to me, “Jim, would you like to be the director of liturgy, so that you would work with our music director, lectors, Eucharistic ministers, altar servers, sacristan…”
          I said YES, pressing [START].
But, later, I pressed [ ▌▌PAUSE] at least in my head thinking, “why did he even ask? Why did he not just tell me… who else was he going to get?”
          This was Father Joe’s vigilance and simplicity.
          He also came to the table with his enormous binder, 4 inches thick. Old school.  I thought he might have all the bulletins since November 8, 1914 in there. Not quite. But, when I had a question, he indexed through that bad boy like a human algorithm and came up with an answer.
          Who needs Google? Facebook?
          Father Joe was a search engine and social media all in one.
          Also, if I gave him something, he always had some place to put it. His alphabetical file system was something to behold.
[__03_]    In the Gospel this Sunday, Jesus is asked a question. He has no binder of all the sacred biblical writings in front of him but he does comprehend the commandments.
          Jesus is also vigilant. He asked, “which commandment of the law is the greatest?”
          And, Jesus speaks about the 3 loves to which we are called. These are love of God, love of neighbor, and love of self.

[__04_]    By love of self, we are called to remember that we are called to be SELF-GIVING and in order to give ourselves away, we are called to care for the gift of the person and self we are.
          Sometimes, I might neglect this love of self by simply comparing who I am to others.  Or, I might neglect this gift of self by being convinced that I must add something to my personality or to my competency.
          I suggest that even in the admission or sins, repentance and forgiveness, we are not changing who we are, we are becoming who we are.
Love of self. We love ourselves and our gifts so that we may share them.
[__05_]    Love of neighbor. To love our relatives and friends and family. We do this so that we can learn to love others. For is not the love of family and friends the basis for all good relationships more generally…?? more from John Henry Newman sermon ??
          We are called not just to shop locally, eat locally, but also to love locally. It prepares us to love globally. Love yourself. Love your neighbor.
[__06_]    Love of God. Love of God teaches us that love is not simply a series of good decisions but also an identity. God is Love. And this love transcends situations.
          This is what a commandment is – for example, the commandments about personal dignity, purification, honesty, integrity – commandments that caution us about taking the life of another, or severing a relationship in any adulterous way, or deception … these are commandments that also teach us how far-reaching love is, that love is not simply about those things that make us feel good, but that love will also call us to make great sacrifices and even to endure pain and suffering.  Consider how we may be called to love those who cause us pain  - this is also God’s love.
          Love  God with all of your heart, mind, strength.     

[__07_]    The commandments to love remind us of our call to be present, to be vigilant.  Father Joe as a friend, priest, teacher, guide tried to live this presence and vigilance.
          And, one significant – every day way – was his attitude toward waiting and delays.
          Let’s say that you – or I – were 5 or 10 or more minutes latte to see him. This happened more than a few times with me, because I run late.
          But, Father Joe was not going anywhere. He was both PUNCTUAL & patient, but he himself was rarely delayed or tardy, as they say in the Principal’s office and he was a school teacher and principal once.
          Father Joe was not delayed.  
          You were late … I was late. He was 12 to 22 minutes early. .
          And, when I would apologize or be contrite, he would either just smile or keep a completely straight face and then quote … “They serve who also stand and wait.” That was a personal motto of his. They serve – he serves – who also stand and wait. Beautiful. Vigilant
          Also, it was a statement of mercy toward the latecomer. He serves who stands and waits.
          One day, I was finally spurred to look up the reference. It was not in his binder. I needed Google.
          It is from a poem by John Milton, “When I consider how my my light is spent.”  (Sonnet 19)

When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
   And that one Talent which is death to hide
   Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
   My true account, lest he returning chide;
   “Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
   I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
   Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
   Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
   And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:
   They also serve who only stand and wait.”   (John Milton, Sonnet 19)

 [__08_]    Our Lady of Lourdes, our Blessed Mother also waits.
Our Lady of Lourdes, Pray for Us!

[__09_]     [__fin_]   

Love of Self + (2018-11-04, Sunday-31 @730am)

[__7:30 am Mass_]   4 November 2018    /  31st Sunday Ordinary Time, Year B

••   Deuteronomy 6:2-6  • Psalm 18   •• Hebrews 7:23-28 ••    + Mark 12:28b-34  ••

••       Title:   Love.

[__01_]   This is the Gospel passage, a discussion of LOVE, the commandments of LOVE, and CHARITY.
          How much do you love yourself?
          Several months ago, I found myself in the doctor’s office because I was not feeling well, and I feared I had some flu virus or something. Because it was JUNE – shortly after Memorial Day – I was told that – hey, anything is possible because there’s like 1,000+ different strains of the flu virus, but it was not really flu season – but mostly you just have a cold and you need to rest.
          Then this nice internal medicine doctor started to ask me questions about my diet, rest, sleep, exercise, etc.
          I.e., are you taking care of yourself?  Taking care of yourself?

[__02_]   In the Gospel this Sunday, Jesus speaks about 3 dimensions, 3 demonstrations of love …
·       Love of God
·       Love of neighbor
·       Love of self.
The last of which is “love of self”…it’s almost as though Jesus is mentioning it in passing… Is it important?
Does Jesus have time for “love of self”?  Do you have time for “love of self”?
     There seems to be something here..
     If love of self is an important metric, an important measurement, an important vital sign, then how do we practice, increase this … “love of self”?
[__03_]   For example, by taking time off, by taking a vacation. This is how I love myself. EXPEDIA.COM
          For example, by eating properly, I love myself. Become an AMAZON Prime member and you can obtain discounts at Whole Foods. Love yourself.
          These are some of the ways that we love – or treat ourselves – with care.
          There is another way, however, to look at this love of self which I’d like to consider apply to love of God and love of neighbor.

[__04_]    That is, how do I love – care for - some precious object or possession if I know this object was a gift from someone else?
          I will use a real OBJECT as an example.  Several years ago, I needed  car. My car had broken down and could not be repaired.
          My father was kind enough to pass down his car to me. Previously, he had passed it down to my brother and now I was the 4th owner of this vehicle. My father bought it used, he was the 2nd owner, my brother the 3rd and I was number 4.
          Even though this was officially registered and now my car, I was constantly on the watch for how my father regarded the care of “my car.”
          I put new tires on the car. He wanted to know how much they cost, though I had paid for them.
          I put a CD player in the car which it never had and my sister specifically thought this was an excellent idea… my father was OK with this. I think.
          Now about a year later, I realized that this car was really terrible in the snow, and I finally had to sell it so that I could drive in bad weather.   When it came time to sell the car, I put the advertisement on Craigslist and in the Star-Ledger.  I took the money and used it for the purchase of another car.
          But, my father was not directly involved in this selling transaction but  … to him I did report how much I had sold the car for.
[__05_]    Now, the car is just a car.
It’s just an object. It’s not your whole life.
          But, the car was a gift to be cared for.
          The way I cared for it said something about how I regarded my father.
          The way we care for our gifts, our talents, our time, says something about our love of God and our love of neighbor.
          If I care for my gifts, my talents, my time, it’s not just about me, really.
          It’s about how I can be a gift to others.  (quote John Paul II ??)
          It’s about not only how I love myself but also how I love God and neighbor.
[__06_]    Putting on our nametags, today, is a way for us to announce who we are to each other and loving ourselves, recognizing that each of us has a distinct identity.
          This is the gift of ourselves to others.
          Everything is about the gift of ourselves to others.

[__07_]   We have an election coming up. Voting in the election is about love of neighbor, love of self and love of God.
          The issues in the election, such as the sanctity of life.
          How do we regard law that should govern the sanctity of life or the care of children the care of a child who has not yet been born, the care of life of a person who may be dying?
          Who may be vulnerable.
Do we love this child, this person as a gift received and one whose identity and destiny is ultimately in God’s control, just as our identity and destiny is in God’s control?
          Do we regard this life as a gift to be cared for?
          A gift we do not own.
          This care says something not only about ourselves personally but our regard and love of neighbor and love of God.
          And, that love is meant to bring us together, these decisions about the sanctity of life – at all stages – are meant to unite us rather than to divide us.
          Just as the care of anyone’s life – who is vulnerable – brings the family together.
[__08_]   When we vote in an election, we are voting for people to have authority over us.
          But, this “authority” does not mean the person is better than we are …or that the person is the perfect candidate. There is no perfect candidate.
          Or, being in an authority position, leadership or authoritative position does not make us better than someone else.
          In other words, to believe in authority and to trust authority means that we also believe in equality. Legal authority and legal equality co-exist. In fact, they depend on each other.
          All of us are made in the image and likeness of God.
          “Winning” an elected office does not make the person who is governing better than the people governed.
          Leaders will still have flaws.
          “Winning” an election means that some responsibility has been entrusted to them.
          And, we are called to hold them accountable.  
          They are held accountable – in authority – because there is equality.
          We are blessed to live in the United States where there is both authority and equality.
          And, we preserve this authority and equality by voting in elections.
          I encourage you to vote in this election.
          I read this prayer share this prayer from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops ..

Lord God, as the election approaches,  we seek to better understand the issues and concerns that confront us in West Orange, in New Jersey, in the United States…  and how the Gospel compels us to respond as faithful citizens in our community. We ask for eyes that are free from blindness so that we might see each other as brothers and sisters, one and equal in dignity, especially those who are victims of abuse and violence, deceit and poverty. We ask for ears that will hear the cries of children unborn and those abandoned,
Men and women oppressed because of race or creed, religion or gender. We ask for minds and hearts that are open to hearing the voice of leaders who will bring us closer to your Kingdom.

We pray for discernment so that we may choose leaders who hear your Word, live your love, and keep in the ways of your truth as they follow in the steps of Jesus and his Apostles and guide us to your Kingdom of justice and peace. We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Sunday, October 28, 2018

Where Are You ? (2018-10-28, Sunday-30)

28 October 2018   /  30th Sunday Ordinary Time, Year B

•  Jeremiah 31:7-9  • Psalm 126 •Hebrews 5:1-6 •  + Mark 10:46-52 
••       Title:   Where Are You ? (Faith)

[__01_]   In the Gospel, Jesus said to the disciples – regarding Bartmaeus, the blind man, “Call him” which means, “Call him over…”
          And, by calling Bartimaeus, they – Jesus and Bartimaeus are connected. The call is a connection, a personal and also specific geographic connection in a particular place.
          By calling Bartimaeus, Jesus knew where he was. By Bartimaeus calling out – vocally  – to Jesus, Bartimaeus knew where Jesus was. It used to be that way for us.
[__02_]    At one time, when you or I called 973.325.0110, that is the number of the parish rectory-office, and someone answered, you knew that you were connected to someone at One Eagle Rock Avenue, West Orange, New Jersey 07052.
          Now, with call forwarding, mobile – cellular phones, it’s not so simple. It’s different.
          Someone observed to me recently that now we ask something on the phone that we never used to ask. We ask, “Where are you?”
          You called your sister, your mother– in 1985 – you knew where she was.   “Where are you?” meant ‘what room are you in?’ or ‘are you in the kitchen or upstairs?’
          Now, ‘where are you’  could mean: are you in New York or Colorado?
[__02_]   It used to be scientifically verifiable where a person was – where you or I were – based on the phone number.
          Now,  ‘where-are-you’ is an act of faith. You are trusting the other person is really going to tell you where he is, where she is.
          It’s like the VERIZON telephone advertisement in which the young college student is foolish enough to take a picture of himself  (a.k.a.,selfie) on the beach, a picture that has a date and time stamp and send it to his mother and father, but he’s supposed to be at his final exams.
          “Where are you?” The response is an act of faith.
[__04_]   It’s a question we might say to begin our prayers. “Where are you, Lord?   Where are you, Jesus … Where are you, God  …” in my life?
          Where are you in the difficulty or distress I have?
          On the other hand, in moments of great joy and celebration, we might also ask the same thing, giving thanks not for my own – your own – achievement and talent, but where were you, God – in helping me to reach this point?
[__05_]    Where are you? Where R U ?
          The disciples know exactly where Jesus is. They have been following him. They have been on this route. They know exactly where Jesus is and they are trying to protect him, like the Secret Service or like State Troopers.
          They are staying in lockstep with him and trying to keep people away from him.
          Jesus is given permission by his “handlers” to talk to some and not others. In the Gospel of next Sunday – notably – there is no objection because Jesus is being approached by a learned, distinguished scribe. The disciples – it seems do not usually – intervene when Jesus is approached by someone of importance or reputation.  The disciples are OK with the reputable folks.
          But, Bartimaues – he’s much simpler, less important.
          Ironically – the paradox – is that the disciples – who can see – are not really recognizing who Jesus is. Bartimaeus – who is blind – recognizes Jesus.

[__06_]    Bartimaeus is crying out in prayer, in petition, “where are you?”
          Or,  “where have you been?”
          Bartimaeus has positioned himself strategically on this Jerusalem-Jericho marathon route. It’s not quite a marathon, only 16.7 miles, but he is on that route and by his location, he finds Jesus because of where he is.

[__07_]      “Where are you?”  is a way to begin our prayer, to be in Jesus’ presence.
          The same question is asked by God to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden – “where are you?” After the eat from the Tree of Knowledge, God does not come after them with a threatening statement, but just the question “where are you”.
          He knows where they are, but asks anyway.
          And, this is a way for us to begin or continue our relationships, to ask the question – where are you?

[__08_]   ”Where are you?” is an act of faith, not simply if you are wondering where a family member or friend has gone …
          But it’s an act of faith to ask “where are you, God” … before I admit that I am wrong. In other words, I ask where is God, where is God’s mercy.
          It is an act of faith to admit that I am wrong, that I have a fault or sin to be forgiven, and an act of faith to admit that God is someplace nearby and will forgive me.
[__08.01_]    To admit that I am right…that is not an act of faith, that is scientifically verifiable. That’s my attempt at humor.

[__09_]    To admit I am wrong, is an act of faith.
          To give myself away, to give away some of my time, to surrender my talent or ability for the good of someone else, this is also an act of faith.
          And, this invites to ask – Where you, God this talent or ability that I am called to use, to serve, to help someone else? Where are you leading me?
[__10_]    Or, if someone tells us the truth or tells us something we do not want to hear, we might also ask – where are you?
          We might ask the other person – where are you coming from?
          But,  we might also ask in the silence of our own hearts, when we hear something we do not want to hear, “where are you?”
          And, if we are not sure if it is true, or if we think some it might be true or an invitation for us to change, we ask – where are you God – in this?
          So, I can draw closer to you each  day, as Bartimaeus does on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem.


Sunday, October 21, 2018

Loyalty. Rewarded (2018-10-21, Sunday-29)

21 October 2018   //  29th Sunday Ordinary Time, Year B

•Isaiah 53:10-11•Psalm 33•Hebrews 4:14-16 •+ Mark 10:35-45 

••       Title:   Loyalty. Rewarded

          You and I expect our loyalty to be recognized and rewarded.
          This is the logic of loyalty.
          And, it also works this way in the marketplace, in monetary and material things.
          For example, at one point in the history of AIRLINE TRAVEL, a new device was invented to get more people to buy more airline tickets and go further.
          This ‘device’ may makes us feel more comfortable and – in some cases – reduce the FEAR OF FLYING.
          What is this great device?
          It’s not on the plane exactly. It’s the frequent-flyer miles program that is also known as the LOYALTY program.
          So, if you fly, say, 6 or 7 times from New York to Florida or California you can receive - be rewarded - a free ticket – for your LOYALTY.
          At one point, in my flying history, I received an upgrade to 1st Class on a plane and felt particularly proud of myself because the NBA basketball star, Patrick Ewing formerly of the New York Knicks, was on the same flight, also in 1st Class.
          We did not sit together, but it was enough for me to tell family and friends about it. I was told to “get over it” because this was only a 32 minute flight from Newark to Washington DC, hardly long enough to enjoy anything in 1st Class.  Talk to us when you go to Europe or something.

[__02_WHAT-WHO? (J+J)…]  
          LOYALTY is a big deal, not only to Jesus, but also to James and John in the Gospel.
          The apostles – the 2 brothers and sons of Zebedee – have been travelling all these years with Jesus.
          And, recently they have come to understand – and keep track of 2 things –
1.    REWARD
          [REWARD] There is a reward being offered to the disciples, a reward described by Jesus in the Gospel – earlier in Mark Chapter 10  of last Sunday … “Amen, I say to you,  there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come."  (Mark 10: 29- 30)
          There is also an expiration date of which James and John are very aware.
          [EXPIRATION DATE] And, they are also looking at their calendars, recalling what Jesus said in Mark, Chapter 8.
          Regarding “expiration”,
the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days.”  (Mark 8: ___)
          And, if there is an EXPIRATION DATE for a reward, this motivates us right.  I don’t have any frequent flyer miles anymore…and, if I fly with Patrick Ewing today,  no one would care. I would have to tell you I was on the plane with Steph Curry or LeBron James.
          As a result, they want to collect their reward NOW.  They have been loyal. Now, they want to get paid.

[__03_WHAT-WHO? (tĂș y yo)…]  
          You and I also expect that LOYALTY will be rewarded, or will have a reward.
          But, in the reward in relationships is different than the reward at the United Airlines ticket counter.
          For example, the reward of being a mother, father, grandparent,
calls us to focus on a person(s) each of whom may require a different type of loyalty or affection.
          Nevertheless, this loyalty helps us to continue a journey, to remain committed to the journey.
          And, as we receive rewards – or rack up miles, spiritually – we are not simply called to bank them or hoard them, but to use them.

[__05_NOW WHAT]    I suggest this based on the writing of John Henry Newman about this Gospel in which he reminds us that all of us are called not to GUARANTEES of faith, but to the RISKS / VENTURES of faith. (Book IV, Sermon 20, “The Ventures of Faith”, Parochial & Plain Sermons).
               In the letter to the Hebrews also, we read that faith is a venture because it is the “realizing of things hoped for the warrant of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1).

[__06_]  For example, while we might say that ¨HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY¨  and that following God´s commandments are a safe boundary, does not such loyalty and truthfulness also call us to take risks?
          For example, to speak the truth – today about the sanctity of human life and how this calls us to regard not only  the life we can see around us, but also the life we cannot see, the child waiting to be born or the elderly person who may be very infirm.

          Loyalty is a risk. The truth is a risk.

          As another example of truth and loyalty being risky, consider that we are called to avoid condemnation or rash judgment.

          St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits wrote it this way, that when we avoid rash judgment – or condemnation – we are living in the truth, we are loyal to Christ and to the commandments of truthfulness in ¨Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness¨ --

          ¨ Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another's statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.¨  (St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, 22.)

          That´s loyalty. The journey of loyalty, of many miles, both risk and reward.         [__fin_]