Sunday, October 13, 2019

Peculiar. Prescribed. Proclaimed (10 Lepers) (2019-10-13, Sunday-28)


2019 October 13 /  28th Sunday
●● 2 Kings 5:14-17 ● Psalm 98 ●  2 Timothy 2:8-13 ● Luke 17:11-19 ●●
[__01__]   I’d like to reflect on what is peculiar about the moment in the Gospel …and what is prescribed in the mercy of Jesus …. And what is proclaimed in the message of gratitude.
          What is PECULIAR, what is PRESCRIBED, what is PROCLAIMED.
[__02__]    What was peculiar to me on the afternoon of August 26th was that I got a flat tire on my car – the front passenger side tire was punctured by some sharp metal in the parking lot. It was not the first flat tire I have ever had. But the peculiar moment was that I was in a new geographical place, out of town, visiting family in the state of Rhode Island.
The place was peculiar, strange.

[__03__]      What is normal and regular PRESCRIBED “mercy” (prescription = [Rx]) for such a driving difficulty?  Call AAA, call for roadside assistance or – if you are really high-tech, use the app. You do not have to call anyone.
          Pray also. Jesus, master, have pity on me.  (And – call family for moral support et cetera, et cetera). AAA was 90 minutes away.
          That is the usual way, my default.
          But, at this very moment – kind of out of the blue, I received a phone call from a friend.
          During the conversation which I answered …I was almost embarrassed to to admit to another ADULT  yes I am this vain – that I had tried but never successfully removed a flat tire and put on the spare tire in my life.
          And, my friend did not say … why don’t you call AAA – that was not the message of mercy.
          The message of mercy was, however, something I had never ever considered in the realm of physics and torque and how things turn.
          My friend says … new [Rx] for me and says – just put the wrench on the tire. Then step on the wrench… the lug nut will loosen … it will work, you will be on your way. It worked perfectly. The new [Rx] worked …and I was out of my peculiar predicament.
          The next day I drove to a repair shop and got a new tire.
          I thanked my friend both on the phone and later in person and proclaimed the good news.
          So, I was in a peculiar moment out of town, I got a prescription of mercy of what to do…and I proclaimed that message…

[__04__]      I’d like to reflect on this Gospel today in terms of what is [PECULIAR] about the moment … what is [PRESCRIBED]/ [Rx] in Jesus’ mercy  ..and what is [PROCLAIMED]  in the message of the 1 leper .. and then consider  how we might receive this as the Good News.
          What is peculiar about the moment is the geography. Jesus is in between – we read – in between Samaria and Galilee. He is neither completely inside nor fully outside the so-called beltway of Judaism.
          Here in this peculiar particular place, he meets 10 lepers who are crying out “have pity on us.”  No one wanted them, they were exiled, ostracized and imprisoned by this contagious disease.

[__05__]      What is [PRESCRIBED]/ [Rx] for the lepers…
          Is it the usual default ancient equivalent of “roadside assistance” where someone else is going to fix and heal the lepers…or should we just exile them, put them on an island …in quarantine?
          That’s what was usuall PRESCRIBED. 
But, Jesus prescribed something different for their healing and for our healing.
That is, Jesus does not just give them the CONVENIENCE of relief from pain, but also the COMMITMENT of  a relationship with their faith community, with the Temple, with the Church.
Look – one of our own corporal works of mercy is to visit the sick, take care of the sick.
And, when are sick – physically -  we are usually very aware of how the healing comes from outside of ourselves…that we are dependent.
And, when we do get a PRESCRIPTION of healing that works, we proclaim that message. We want to be in a relationship with such a physician, right?
          But, do we accept the same prescription and make the same proclamation about the healing of forgiveness.

          John Henry Newman – who will soon be canonized – observed that we usually give credit to the doctor even when we have to do things to get healed.
          John Henry Newman observed that while a patient is responsible for taking the medicine or doing the exercises, this does not make the work of the doctor any less significant, does it?
          We proclaim the good news about the doctor.
          My example of the flat tire is, of course, much less serious “diagnosis” and predicament, but I could not figure it on my own.

[__07__]     In the healing of souls and forgivness of our sins, we also need intervention from outside…
We might prefer to imagine the forgiveness is like our own immune system kicking in to fight a virus.
          All of us need to be prodded or encouraged – converted away from our sinful selves, away from our attachment to PRIDE or FEAR or INDIFFERENCE.
          But the prescription is that we need the love of God and love of neighbor – including the love of parents, teachers, friends – in order to be healed in this way.
          But, forgiveness and the sacrifice of Christ’s body and blood is a gift from outside, his life laid down for us. And, we PROCLAIM it each day: e.g., “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof but only say the word and my soul shall be healed… ”

[__08__]     What is peculiar about this moment for many who are here this Sunday at Mass is their allegiance and connection to Our Lady of Lourdes School. We welcome our school alumnae and alumni who are here to recall there time at 100 Valley Way and friends they made, and lessons learned…some of which involved books and paper.
         
[__09__]  To recall our school days, we recall that education and learning often prescribes …rules, guidelines and may even be recalled as austere or strict or not always fun.
          But, in all of this prescribing and prescription, is there not contained also some lessons that we could not teach ourselves that we could not have possibly learned on our own, and even both the moments when we felt either successful or unsuccessful at school, there were prescriptions of mercy from the sisters who taught us, from the teachers who taught us.. from many.
          And, that we needed the help of so many teachers, and a good school principal, and aides, and classmates and our parents, to take and receive the “medicine” / “homework” that was prescribed.
          And, now as alumni and alumnae we can give thanks for this education to proclaim it to others and to remember that in our own pursuit of wisdom and knowledge, it is not only our intelligence that counts or how fast we got it that mattered….  Or what percentile we were in… but but that we were together and remain together, persevering, that it is our faith that saved us.
          This is what we proclaim.  [__fin__]

Sunday, October 6, 2019

What is Certain, Sufficent, Service & "Almost Famous" (2019-10-06, Sunday-27)


2019 October 6 /  27th Sunday    ●● Habakkuk 1:2-3, 2:2-4 ● Psalm 95 ●  2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14 ● Luke 17:5-10 ●●

[__01__]    We are very  pleased to have  at this Solemn Mass for the Rosary Altar Society our concelebrant – Monsignor Sylvester Cronin, pastor of  St. James Church in Basking Ridge  - and an alumnus 1975  of Our Lady of Lourdes School.
          After Mass, Monsignor Cronin will be speaking at our Communion Breakfast after Mass.
          Considering the Gospel of today and also the importance of our Blessed Mother and our own mothers in our lives, I’d like to reflect on the Gospel with 3 ideas today:

1.     What is Certain
2.     What is Sufficient
3.     What is SERVICE?
[__02__]     1st. What is Certain.
The old saying of Benjamin Franklin was that the only 2 certain things in life were DEATH and TAXES, dying and being taxed.
          Jesus, in the few verses says that what is certain – life – is that there will be SCANDAL. And Scandal – like taxes – certainly gets our attention… before the start of today’s Gospel in verse 5 of Luke 17, we read Jesus’ words:  Things that cause sin – scandal – will surely occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.”  (Luke 17:1-2).
[__03__]     Now, of course, it is natural for us to associate scandal – or to be scandalized by – the behavior of people we may see on TV news, or by any institutional leader, or by a church leader, by a celebrity.
          But, Jesus is also cautioning us that we could – if we are not careful – also be the source of scandal or sin for others.

[__04__]      And, in today’s Gospel Jesus says that given the certainty of scandal … what we need is not our opinion or our analysis …but our faith in God’s love and mercy.
          This is part 2 – Jesus speask about what is SUFFICIENT…
          Jesus encouraged us – noting that we are all novices in knowledge of God’s ways, we are all beginners in the Biblical-thought … while we might have the Commandments memorized, we do not always remember to follow them.
          Jesus does not want us to be discouraged because we are not EXPERTS,  it is sufficient that we are simply starting out… sufficient that we start and re-start ourselves in the ways of the faith each day.   
          Our Rosary Altar Society gives us a beautiful example of this and reminder of devotion to the Lord, to the mysteries of his life in the Rosary.
          So, yes, there is the certainty of scandal in our lives…but do we not also try to restart each day with our focus on God and his ways including remembering that God is our Father and Mary our mother.       

[__05__]   In addition to speaking about what is CERTAIN and what is SUFFICIENT – Jesus speaks about what is SERVICE the significance of service.
          One commentator observed that is Jesus’ way of warning his disciples not to pose for the ancient equivalent of selfies…nor to seek places of honor for their service..but just to do what God wants them to do.

[__06__]    I would like to close with an example from a Hollywood movie of the year 2000, a movie called Almost Famous which is about to become a Broadway musical.
          I reflect on this because there is contained in it…
          The certainty of scandal, the sufficiency of starting out, the significance of service…and not least of all, the love of a mother for her son.
          Almost Famous is also the nearly true story of an actual music rock and and roll journalist in California in the 1970’s.
          The movie title – Almost Famous – is also kind of ironic because the movie was almost NOT VERY FAMOUS at all because very few people went to see it in the theater. It was not financially successful at least not at first…but the movie received 4 Oscar/Academy Awards nominations, including a win for Best Original Screenplay and other significant awards.
The famous critic Roger Ebert hailed it the best film of the year 2000 and top 10 movie for the decade.
         
[__07__]     I also bring this up because of the character of the mother – the mother played by Frances McDormand – who is so worried about her son being out on the road with rock and roll bands…and who is – at various times – in the movie calling up her son to find out if he is abusing alcohol or using drugs or getting into trouble in other ways.
          Her son is 15 years old travelling with rock and roll bands. Surely, there is the CERTAINTY OF SCANDAL…and she leaves messages at the front desk of hotels for him… written out by the hotel staff at the front desk with words like, “your mother called, don’t do drugs”
          So, in so many ways, the movie is not just about a young man on the road …it is about his mother who loves him and wants him to return home.
          Spoiler alert – the young William Miller does return home “almost famous” at the end of the movie.

[__08__]     But the character of the mother – Frances McDormand – reminds her son and us that we are all in kind of an “almost” state…. That we are all just starting out in life, that we all need just a little bit of faith to start out… that faith is called to grow however…
          In one scene in the movie… the mother finds herself on the phone with one of the rock and roll stars…towards whom she is scandalized and scared…   for her son… and she reminds this rock and roll guy that her son is just starting …and that it’s important for the rock and roll guy to get her son home safe…
And it is important we recognize whom we really serve…
          Do we serve what is good, do we serve what is Evil?

MOTHER: Hello?

ROCK STAR (Russell):  Look, you got a great kid here. There's nothing to worry about. We're taking good care of him. You should come to the [rock concert] show sometime.

MOTHER:  Hey, listen to me, mister … Your charm doesn't work on me. I'm onto you.  Oh, of course you like [my son]

ROCK STAR:  Well, yeah.

MOTHER:   [My son] worships you people. 
MOTHER:    He 's a smart, good-hearted   -year-old kid with infinite potential.   This is not some apron-wearing mother you're speaking to.               He's not ready for your world of compromised values...and diminished brain cells that you throw away like confetti.  Am I speaking to you clearly?

ROCK STAR:      - Yes, ma'am. - 

MOTHER: If you break his spirit...harm him in any way... keep him from his chosen profession, which is law...something you may not value, but I do...

MOTHER:  you will meet the voice at the other end of this telephone.  And it will not be pretty. Do we understand each other?  Now go do your best.
It's not too late for you to become a person of substance, Russell.
Please get my son home safely.

The Lord with his Blessed Mother just wants us to get home safely, safely to heaven, through our recognition…that scandal is certain…that is sufficient to start out with a little bit of faith and that above all we serve God, we worship God and none other. We will also meet Him one day.

Get home safe.

Our Lady of Lourdes, Pray for Us.    [__fin___]  

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Do you know me ? (2019-09-29, Sunday- 26)

• 2019 September 29 •  26th Sunday
Version 1 was originally for Sept. 8

•  Amos 6:1a, 4-7  •   Psalm  146  •1 Timothy 6:11-16 •  Luke 16:19 - 31 •           

Title:    Do you know me ?

[_01_]  “Do you know me?” 

E.g., those of you who are old enough to remember the phrase, “Do you know me?” will easily recall that it was an ADVERTISEMENT for the credit card American Express card that helped the famous people in those commercials buy a product or service or get something … – with the card and because they had the American Express card …
So – for example – let’s say the ad were running in 2019.   While in 2019,everyone knows what Amazon is and may also know that Jeff Bezos is the head of Amazon, they may not know what Jeff Bezos looks like. So, you would see Jeff Bezos in a store buying something and asking “do you know me” and then he reveals his or her name with the AmEx card.
          So -- we all have an identity worth remembering..and we all can be “known” even if we are not famous.
That brilliant TV ad campaign was so successful that dozens of big-name celebrities asked to be in the television ad.

[_02_]      The rich man of today’s example thinks – he thinks – that people know his name and that he is important and well-to-do. And in a monetary and material sense, he is well to do, he was well-to-do.
          But, it is also a caution to us.  about choosing and making choices and priorities.
          Last Sunday’s parable concluded with the words –“you cannot serve both God and mammon.”   And, “mammon” is an ancient Aramaic-language word for “riches.”
          So, the parable today is about what and who is important.
          I’d like to connect this idea of “do you know” or  “do you know me” to the idea of
..COURTESY… to COMMUNITY and to CHARITY…

[_03_]      1st. Courtesy.
          I have visited the offices/Archdiocesan offices by the Cathedral in Newark more than 100 times for various functions or meetings over the past 10 years or so. I am not saying I am important…I am just one of many who has been there.
          During those 100-plus visits, I have walked past the same 2 security guards at the reception desk well over 100 times.
          I have no idea what their names. If one of them were to ask me, “do you know me?” I would be ashamed to admit, No, I do not know you. I should know you.
          Fortunately, they have not asked and they very cordially smile with recognition because they do know my face … you know that way that someone recognizes you by face.
          It is a common courtesy and kindness to learn someone’s name.
Yet, this does not happen instantly. It may take a while to learn associate both names and persons, because we may not see people every day.
          Was Lazarus at the doorstep, at the door, every day? It seems so.
          That’s the end of my section on “courtesy” & knowing names. Now I’d like to touch on “community” & knowing names.

[_04_]   2nd. Community.
          There is a small community within this Gospel episode and example. They are 3 people, in order of appearance :  the rich man, Lazarus, Abraham.
          St. Jerome the ancient biblical scholar wrote that it is notable that the apparently prominent “Rich man” does not have a name. Jesus gives him no name. In some traditional commentary, you may hear him referred to as “Dives”…but that’s like calling him… “Moneybags” or “Richy Rich” or some other nickname. He has no real name.
          Lazarus, the poor beggar -- and he is definitely not an American Express cardholder –  he has a name.
          This is St. Jerome’s point that wealth and money do not give us an identity or relationships … and in the rich man’s case … his wealth separates him from community rather than tying him to the community.   What’s important to be in a community – learn some names.
          The rich man may have known the name of poor Lazarus during his life.
          So, our calling as Christians is not just about knowing names, but using them…. And allowing ourselves to know others and to be known by God in a community.
          We have touched on the courtesy of knowing names, and the community in which which we are called to know each other.
          I’d like to touch on the idea of charity.
[_05_]    3rd. Charity.
          Will I gan salvation and be perfectly right with God an with others simply because I know people’s names …or because other people know my name?
          No, there’s more to it than that. But, I certainly can get pulled into or pulled down by the idea that I must be liked and known.
I do not want to be forgotten.
          But, how do I treat those whose names I already know? Do I pray for them? Endeavor to know them? Endeavor to pray that God wil give them what they need?
          When I was a kid – maybe 13 years old – I recall beinig corrected for my boldness by my father who was displeased because I had failed to properly address my mother by name…and what was worse, my mother was in the room, right there. I had referred to my mother as “she” and was told you know ..you never refer to your mother  as “she”… it’s Mom or Mommy.
          I do notice that it’s really easy to fall out of the practice of calling others by name….especially if we are angry or upset or feeling indifferent.
          While the rich man evidently knew Lazarus’ name ..he certainly did not use it much except when he needed something..
          Here at Lourdes, I meet with engaged couples who are preparing for wedding/marriage and we have conversations in which they talk about themselves and also talk to me about their future spouse. I ask them – require them – not to refer to the other person as “she” or “he”. You must – in my presence – use other peron’s name.  And, I suggest it’s not just to make the other person feel good but also to remember that we are all named by God, even before we were born.
          I am grateful for those who have prayed for me – by name – those whom I do not know.
            And, if you can use the name of someone whom you may be upset with, or have a disagreement with…that’s not just courtesy or community. That’s charity. That’s true love. That’s God. Do you know Him?  [_fin_]    

Sunday, September 22, 2019

The Unjust Steward (2019-09-22, Sunday-25)

HML  • 2019 September 22 •  25th Sunday

• Amos 8:4-7  • Psalm 113 •1 Timothy 2:1-8 •  Luke 16:1-13              

[_01_]     The parable seems to indicate or implicate – it has a very strange implication –  that we can cheat and steal and be dishonest our way to success and to salvation. But, we cannot really cheat and steal our way to material success and comfort.
          What we encounter in the parable is a man with a really bad track record for financial management who has been caught red-handed by his boss for taking money. The old saying is that “his hand was caught in the cookie jar.”
          Boys and girls, if you parents ask you not to have an sweets or dessert before dinner and then you go secretly to find some cookies and then someone sees you… your hand is caught in the cookie jar.
          In the case of this parable, the cookie jar was full of money and this man is caught taking money from the jar.
          And, the man knows he is in trouble and cannot get another job.
          So, he decides because he is in charge of all the cookies and in charge of all the money for my boss and master, I shall give out some of the money to other people.
          It is a strange message and outcome because after all this fraud, the boss praises him for doing that.

[_02_]  In this ancient parable, Saint Bede (England) [Source: Catena Aurea, Luke, ch. 16] points out that the steward is manager of the farm, who is in charge of the cookie jar and all the money, he takes his name and reputation from the property farm. But the steward, or director of the household, is the overseer of money as well as products and fruits, and of every thing the master possesses.
          So, the steward has everything tied into the master – his name, his reputation, his money, his home …and he also has the power to “give out” the things his master possesses.
          It is a reminder that you and me about what is the source and origin of all our efforts and energies and favors we do for others.  We are called to remember that we do for others and give to others were gifts that we received from God… to be given away.
          John Paul II: we find ourselves by self-gift, by giving ourselves away.
          God gives us intelligence, honesty, forgiveness … and we are called to share these things with others.
          We are asked to share these things with others, that intelligence, that honesty, that forgiveness with others.
          Everything we have is a gift of God.The mercy we show towards others is not strictly from our own bank account or balance sheet of patience …but is really God’s mercy. So, we are running out of patience, feeling short or scarce on mercy, we might ask and pray for more from God, the source of all mercy.

[_03_]      The man in the parable is being praised for what he does to make connections. And, then to use those connections for good.  I’d like to use an example about gratitude and connections and giving back.
          Years ago, my father and mother went to visit my sister in California and while there they went to what my father told me was a famous golf course and restaurant on the golf course. It is called Torrey Pines in San Diego.
          My father said they went there for lunch because dinner was going to be way too expensive.
Then, he waited – fearfully – for the bill/check to come at the end of the meal for how expensive it was going to be.
          My father/mother /sister had never been to this restaurant before, had never been to this city before. At the end of the meal, the waiter informs him that the meal is complimentary – it was free, free of charge, it had been paid already. To this day, it remains a mystery and perhaps a mix-up that the meal was free. Maybe it was for someone else.
          Returning to NJ, my father called the restaurant again to find out what the deal is, figuring he is going to get a bill one way or another. It never came. We still do not know. He tried very hard to find out.

[_04_]       When we receive material things from other people, we know that we are supposed to say thank you, to send thank you notes, to acknowledge the gift.
          And, we do those things especially common courtesy for the big gifts.
          But what about the gifts we receive from God? Do we express the same gratitude, go to the same lengths and efforts to thank him, to express our gratitude, in good times and in bad times?
          Do we express gratitude, thankfulness for the little things that are done in our lives?
          We are good at giving thanks for the big bulky items.
          What about the little things of people being in time, making sacrifices for us?
          Do we go to the same length to seek them out and to seek out God’s presence in thanksgiving?

          My father loved telling the story about the free meal at Torrey Pines Golf Club I like telling the story about the gift giver we could not see but yet experienced … do I tell the story with the same enthusiasm to praise God up and down whom I cannot see with the same visibility but yet also experience?
[*** pause ***]
[_05_]       Also, we remember that mercy and forgiveness are hard projects to undertake.
          It is hard to forgive those who hurt us deeply. And, for this we need not only our own logic and intelligence, to forgive.
          But, we need God to intervene with his grace, with the precious blood and water of salvation.
          We need prayer, fasting, sacrifice to forgive others… it may take multiple “calls back” to find our way to Him as our source, and we can give credit to him for all the gifts that we receive. [_fin_

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Prodigal Son: How to Get Out of Debt (2019-09-15, Sunday-24)

• 2019 September 15 •  24th Sunday

• Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14   • Psalm 51    • 1 Timothy 1:12-17 •  Luke 15:1-32             

Title:    How to Get Out of Debt: Part 1,2

[_01_]   The Gospel of the Prodigal Son presents us with a young man with many difficulties, some of which are financial monetary difficulties.
          We could say he has many debts. He is in debt up to his eyeballs, beyond his eyeballs, in debt.
          In the Gospel and in God’s Word, “debt” is often compared to sin, or debt becomes a symbol of sin or sinfulness.
          In Luke’s translation of the Our Father we prayer, we read “forgive us our debts…”  rather than “forgive us our sins [or trespasses].”
So, how do we get out of debt? I think we all agree that LESS debt is good. I’m just using this as a metaphor – how to get out of debt, how to stay out of debt … the less money we owe to other people  or on our credit cards or to the bank, the better.
[_02_]     The Prodigal Son has a simple plan for how to get out of debt, and how to stay out of debt, but it only involves himself. It’s not a good plan.
The Prodigal Son goes bankrupt.
          First of all, in order to get out of debt or stay out of debt, you have to be willing – I have to be willing – to do something, to work, to drop some expensive habits.
          Let’s say Part 1 of Getting Out of Debt is to “Drop Some Expensive Habits”.
          The Prodigal Son has to drop some expensive habits in order to get out of debt.
          At first, the Prodigal Son is greedy and has the expensive habit of thinking only about himself.
          Sometimes, I have the expensive habit …of being too self-absorbed because I am so “busy.” This is not a good message to send to people around you. I will pay for this in the long run. It’s expensive.
          Pardon me as I give an example of this of myself. I am repeating an incident I told you about…but I think it illustrates how self-centeredness – on a moral level – keeps us in debt, or keeps us down…
          A few weeks ago, I walked out of Dunkin Donuts right down the street.  I was carrying stuff physically and mentally so self absorbed in my mind that I hardly noticed did not notice that someone had held the door for me.
          He gently whispered toward me – “thank you” – meaning that I should say “thank you.” But, even this did not register in my thick head immediately.
          That was expensive, that encounter … the coffee was cheap compared to the insult of me to the other. It was avoidable.
          He who is exalted will be humbled. 
The gentleman who kindly reminded me to say thank you … was also paying it forward, doing me a favor … I am in debt to him.
because I think about this a lot walking through doors now!
How to get out of debt … drop expensive habits.
[_03_]      I have found that I myself get stuck in “debt” or buried in debt – spiritually – when I am stubbornly resistant to change or selfishly expecting that things will always go my way.
          Don’t be self-absorbed. That’s an expensive habit.
          We are reminded that LOVE is meant to come first…

[_04_]     How to Get out of Debt, Part 2.
          This is credit-card payback 101. How to get out of debt? Make more than the minimum monthly payment !
          Now, the temptation for the Prodigal Son and the elder son…and for all of us who are in debt to our heavenly father or in debt to God is to do only the minimum, make the minimum monthly payment.
          But, the covenant with God is not a contract.  It’s a covenant in love, not a contract in law.
          I am grateful and inspired by you … who do more the minimum for your … children, for your parents, for your parish of Lourdes, for your neighbors, for your country. The 9/11 anniversary reminds us of those who did more than the minimum not only on 9/11/2001 but in days and months and years afterward.  
          Also, we do not know – looking at other people what their minimum monthly payments are.
          We gather in prayer to pray and support each other because do not know what each other’s debts are.
          Ours is relationship in a covenant of love, not just a contract.
A covenant binds persons together beyond the mere contractual agreement.
In a contract,  we may say what is the minimum I must do to keep up one side of the CONTRACT. However, a covenant is about “love” and what maximum I can do for the COVENANT.  Do you shop for a Christmas present for your beloved spouse or child based on the “minimum” you can give? Or the maximum?
[** pause **]
[_05_]     Doing more than the minimum also is the reality when we think about forgiveness of others.
          We know it is hard to forgive…and I’m not saying that “forgiveness” is the minimum…no forgiveness – forging another person, letting go of bitterness, that is more than the minimum monthly payment, but it GETS US OUT OF DEBT!
Jesus tells us to pray as he does and to ask God,  “forgive us our trespasses – forgive us our debts – as we forgive those who trespass against us… 
          And, to follow the example of the Father in the Prodigal Son parable who is not thinking of his sons only in material or monetary terms..but in terms of mercy and how is also making more than the minimum payment.
          The father is not just paying off remotely the credit card debt that was run up … and the father is not just seeing his son as a material object. In this regard, the lost son of the Prodigal Son touches us differently than the lost asset of the sheep or coin (looking for a person is different ..we don’t see people just in terms of money).
[_06_]               John Paul II wrote that the desperation of Prodigal Son is not just a material or monetary desperation where is financially overdrawn at Wells Fargo or Chase. The Prodigal Son is also desperate because he measures himself.
          The paradox for the Prodigal Son is that the focus on wealth got him into trouble. The knowledge that he is poor is going to get him out of trouble.That’s the paradox.
          “[The Prodigal Son] measures himself by the standard of the goods that he has lost, that he no longer "possesses," while the hired servants of his father's house "possess" them. These words express above all his attitude to material goods; nevertheless under their surface is concealed the tragedy of lost dignity, the awareness of squandered sonship. (John Paul II, Dives In Misericordia, n. 5)
          But..maybe he has not lost everything…because he is willing to drop his expensive habits and by repenting make more than the minimum payment:
          “It is at this point that he makes the decision: "I will arise and go to my father.”  (John Paul II, Dives In Misericordia, n. 5)
          This is how we get out of debt.   [_fin_]