Sunday, November 18, 2018

Life is Short (2018-11-18, Sunday-33)

November 18, 2018   /   All Souls- Bereavement Mass   /  •Daniel 12:1-3 • Psalm 16 • Hebrews 10:11-14, 18 • +Mark 13:24-32

[__01__]       Life is short.
Life is both short and sweet and something to be cherished protected, treasured.
            I learned this profession of faith that life is short from my grandmother and grandfather. While they also lived to an elderly age, life was short – to them.
            I say this because after my grandmother and grandfather arrived in the United States around 1920.
            Life was short and also simple to them.  They did not try to extend themselves – nor could they have – extended themselves with trips back to Ireland.  They did not travel back to Ireland. Well, there was 1 exceptional transatlantic journey which I would also like to refer to … in a few moments.
[__02__]        They knew that life was short, exciting – unpredictable – at times, but short.
            They treasured – gave thanks – for their lives here in the United States and did not search for itineraries. They stayed in touch. They wrote letters. They stayed here. Life is short.
[__03__]        When we perceive that some interval or hour is short, abbreviated or about to come to an end soon, we want to savor the time, protect the time, cherish the time.
            Isn’t this protecting and cherishing often the attitude of parents toward their children, toward the youth and young age of their children.
            Life and childhood are short.
[__04__]       But, knowing that life is short, we are also – always – every called to prepare for the next stage for what and who is coming next in our lives.
            The Lord in  Gospel communicates this brevity and his arrival in the Gospel today – that he is coming next in our lives that we are called to prepare ourselves to meet him…and that he – and his love are both now and next for us:
            “Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away.”  (Mark 13: ___)
            So, we are called not only to prepare for tomorrow, to prepare for guests on Thanksgiving Day and/or the long weekend, to prepare for the next snowstorm (I need snow tires!), but also to prepare ourselves in attitude to meet Jesus at the end of our lives.
            Life is short and we can prepare ourselves by praying not about how we are to live in the future, but how we are to live right now in the present. Life is short.  Whom I called to be charitable, to be faithful, to be forgiving?
            We are called to pray that we will have the great fortitude and good fortune to carry this out and to pray for our loved ones who have died, to pray and hope that we will be reunited with them.
[__05__]       In July of 1979, my family and I went to JFK, Kennedy Airport, to be with my grandmother & grandfather and uncle who were at the time flying back to Ireland, to the auld sod, to see their siblings, their nieces and nephews, who lived in northwestern Ireland, in Donegal.
            That journey to JFK was my first exposure to anything INTERNATIONAL. I’d been in an airport once before but that was DOMESTIC and it was Newark airport.
            Clearly, JFK and going overseas was a bigger deal, more regulations – passports – and being there hours and hours ahead of time, although compared to today, JFK in ’79 was less regulated than the beach badges at the Jersey Shore.
            But, there were rules and one of these rules – the reason we were there – was the special touch and tenderness of seeing someone off, of the send-off.
            We – on our own – had arrived at Kennedy Airport from from New Jersey, and my grandparents had arrived at Kennedy from the Bronx. We had not gone there to give them a ride (UBER or LYFT), just to see them off, to send them off.
            But also to remember that we would see them again  ….
            That is another rule of the send-off. THE REUNION.
[__06__]        We rejoice at the send off also with the expectation that we would see our loved ones again.
            I admit this is an imperfect analogy to the profound experience of separation when someone has passed from this world.
            Yet, we also grieve and celebrate the send off ritual of a Funeral Mass because we believe that we shall see our beloved mother or wife, husband or father, sister or brother – friend – again.
[__07__]      And, I know from my conversations with many of you how much devotion, effort, care respect you showed to your loved ones during their lives and during their time of need and, perhaps, infirmity.
            You demonstrated this respect for life because you know that you would see them again.
[__08__]       The send off is also a call to shelter, intimacy, togetherness. Life is short.  Jesus indicated and echoed this hope to his disciples in the Gospel of John Chapter 14: “In my Fathers house there are many mansions. If not, I would have told you: because I go and prepare a place for you. And if I shall go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself.”
            When the disciples first heard these words – at the Last Supper – at the “biblical send off of the Last Supper”, they did not quite understand it, they were growing into it. We are also growing into it.
[__09_]    Your presence – our presence – when someone dies - are needed not only for the person being sent, for the person being mourned… but also to prepare all of us for our
next place, our heavenly home, to visit that place in our prayers in church and at home, so that we may be sent, to continue our journey, to continue our life. Life may be short, but our hope of eternal life is long.

[__fin__]     

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Why? The gift. (2018-11-11. Sunday-32)

11 November 2018    /  32nd Sunday Ordinary Time, Year B

••   1 Kings 17:10-16  • Psalm 146   •• Hebrews 9:24-28 ••    + Mark 12:38-44  ••

••       Title:   Why? The gift.

[__01_]   Why? The gift.
          Several years ago, I prepared a guest list for a family party / celebration. Reconsidering the guest list sometime afterwards, I realized that I had been in the wrong, it was an oversight. An important guest has not been included, not been invited.

[__02_]   Seeking to correct the problem, I thought would help if I sent a Christmas gift to this family member, someone to whom I would normally not send such a gift.
          The gift was received gratefully.
          We are still speaking to each other.
          The gift was my “device” … my solution, something I came up with – more or less – on my own.
          So, the gift – in an everyday sense was my act of sorrow, my act of contrition, and I was able to engineer this on my own. And, good news, it worked.
          And, with small everyday errors or faults, we can do things on our own to correct a situation, to make amends for a fault, for a wrong
          I was able to do this because my offense was minor.  I did not have to part with or sacrifice very much. I also believed in my own solution that it would work. It was not an act of spiritual faith but more of a mental calculation.
[__03_]    It is not exactly clear – it is not explicitly stated – why the widow of the Temple sacrifices or gives so much, such a great percentage of what she has to the Temple offering.
          For example , we may read this when we are solicited for a gift …or we may be motivated to give when we know that our name will be a published showing my level. I want my peers to recognize me.
          Or, I may be told exactly what is the efficacy or effectiveness of my gift … For example, if I see that giving $25 to an organization will provide clean drinking water to a village for a week, but a $75 donation will provide it for a month, I may be motivated to increase my gift. Specifying benefits will often push a donor to the next level, especially if he sees that his money will stretch further at higher levels. (https://nonprofithub.org/fundraising/keys-setting-donor-levels-may-need-rethink/)
          What pushes this donor to the next level? This widow to such a high level of generosity?
          FAITH.     
[__04_]      So many have given sacrificially – and so many still do – give sacrificially to  Our Lady of Lourdes with time, money, energy, enthusiasm, prayers, catechesis – and have given large percentages of their goods.  These are acts of faith
          So, if you were to entrust – or donate something of great value to LOURDES, then this becomes of great value to LOURDES.
          Similarly, if a parent entrusts a child to teacher / school, the school must also value the child. It does not matter how many other children are in the school or how many other children are in the family. These are acts of faith.
          What pushes this woman at the Temple treasury to such a high level of generosity? She gives all that she has.
          FAITH. It is not that she wants to be recognized by her peers, by her equals, by her college or grad-school classmates, or by her neighbors. In fact, Jesus’ point is that no one is noticing her at all because everyone else is depositing large sums, large payments – they are getting noticed. They are wearing yellow wristbands, if that is still a thing…
          Only the Lord sees her gift.
          It is not that she donates because of the immediate efficacy or effectiveness. Surely, she knows, objectively – in pure monetary terms that her gift is small in magnitude.
          But, she knows her gift is valued.
          The widow makes the gift – in faith – with the faith and understanding that her salvation is not based on a peer review or a philanthropy report.
          Nor is your salvation or mine based on immediately verifiable results.
[__05_]    Yes, there are situations that I may be able to fix by making  a gift that is recognized, welcomed, published. I may even get a thank-you note. Those are good things.
          But, they are not meant to make me satisfied in stillness and complacency.
[__06_]       I may encounter – you may encounter – situations or relationships or difficult people or relationships in which we are called to …
·        LOVE our enemies
·        PRAY for those who persecute us
·        BEAR WRONGS patiently
·        PROTECT the dignity and sanctity of a person’s life
·        PROTECT the dignity and sanctity of a person’s reputation.
          These are situations that I might not be able to fix or solve – immediately.
          And, to receive mercy or to understand God’s mercy, we need prayers such as the Rosary to meditate on the mysteries of Christ’s life, the intercession of Jesus for those in need of his mercy, prayers such as the Divine Mercy chaplet which remind us that God’s mercy is not just for the legally knowledgeable / bar-admitted / scribe by for the whole world.
          In Sunday Mass, in our prayers and meditations, we are called to recognize that the solutions and reconciliations do not rest solely in ourselves but in God’s work in which we participate.
          Nevertheless, we are called to give, each day, 100 %.   [__fin_]       

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.
         
  

[__fin_]