Sunday, June 26, 2022

Intelligence (2022-06-26, Sunday-13)

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2022-06-26 –  ●● 1 Kings 19:16b-19-21 ●● Psalm 16 ●● Galatians 5:1, 13-18 ●● Luke 9:51-62 ●●

[_01_.extreme] Pope Francis has spoken about the need, in a true Christian context,  to be sure we do not leave anyone behind who is “out there” or “at the extreme” or easily ignored, or not part of regular society.

Pope Francis even took 12 Syrian refugees whom he encountered on a Greek island in the Medterraneaan back to back to Rome back to the Italian capital for resettlement.

[_02.Mars]     But nothing can match the Pope's EXTREME concern, kind of out there when he was speaking about who can and should be baptized, to receive the Sacrament of Baptism,

After all, did not Jesus Himself assist those who arrived from the extremes, those who might be overlooked.

Francis: “If, for example, tomorrow an expedition of Martians, people came from the planet Mars to Earth, and one of the Martians were to say, I want to be baptized, what would happen?” Well, according to the Pope, we should get that Martian some holy water and plunge him or her beneath the surface. The Pope was speaking I believe in an exaggerated hyperbolic way about God's concern for all of his creatures. I know you weren't expecting to hear of Martians.

Francis was not speaking dogmatically or officially about how to evangelize on other planets. But he is touching on something about our concern, and how deep our concern is for every life on this planet, in our own world, in our own ecosystem. What does it mean for you or I or anyone to possess intelligent life or to be worthy of being protected?

 [_03_.Chess, G.Kasparov]   

          What is an “intelligent living being” or “intelligent life”?

          What life is intelligent and therefore worthy of our concern.

          Here is an example. Often, we measure intelligence by what it can do, how it functions, or even how competitive it is.

In 1990’s, the very intelligent – very smart chess Grandmaster showed he could win in chess not only against human beings but also in competition with some very good computers.  That was in the mid-90’s. Then, in 1997, something changed. in Garry Kasparov lost a chess grandmaster match to the IBM Computer knowns as Deep Blue. “Deep Blue”, and since then computers have only become more powerful. For example, some of us have seen, perhaps, the IBM Computer “Watson” compete on Jeopardy. Watson is even faster than Deep Blue.

So – is “intelligence” only valuable if it helps us to compete, or compare ourselves to others?

[_05_. A.I.]    I read this in an article about AI and artificial intelligence. For decades, artificial intelligence has been advancing at breakneck speed. Computers can fly planes -- interpret X rays -- sift through forensic evidence – compose music – and win at Chess and at Jeopardy.

Does this mean intelligence can exist apart from a human person?

[_06_. Sanctity of Life]   

What is necessary to be “intelligent” or worthwhile?

Regarding the sanctity of life and the protection of life at all stages, from conception to natural death, for what does it mean to be human or to be alive?  What if, for example, the developing human being does not have “intelligence with sense & sensibility” as you and I do?

[_07_. 2-B I or not 2-B I]   

 What if the developing human being is not “sentient” or sensible? An argument is made these days by many pro lifers, that life should be protected in utero, the unborn person because the unborn child can feel pain, that's a good argument. But it's not a necessary argument. Because even if the unborn child cannot feel pain, we still have the same belief that God creates through the parents, not only the body, but also the soul of a developing person, the soul and body are united. That's why it is.

[_08_. Body-Soul Unity]

That's what it means to be alive, to be a human person to have a body and a soul. When body and soul are connected. You're alive when body and soul are disconnected. You're not alive. If I die, my soul is immortal. My body is not. And while we go to. And while we seek health and healthy habits, and prosperity in this life, it's not only for the good of our bodies, but also for the good of our souls. We believe in a body soul unity. A person is a body soul unity. For this reason, we believe in protecting the right to life at all stages, I bring up the artificial intelligence stuff, because the artificial intelligence idea can plant the seed the idea in you or me, that our soul our  our value is something that can be programmed, or something that can crash.

Even if Garry Kasparov “loses” to Deep Blue, Garry K.’s intelligence life – and intelligence in chess player – has inherent value.

Playing chess – as I understand – has inherent value in teaching and developing the intellect. In a similar way, a computer might “play music”, but the computer is in no way joined to a body and soul of inherent value. The computer is purely functional.

A person is not merely a function.

[_09.Inherent Value] When we want something of value, we use our intelligence to obtain it. We use our intelligence to study for exams in school (good grades are valuable), our intelligence to do work and earn a paycheck (money is valuable), our intelligence to make a persuasive argument (being recognized is valuable).

But, what about when we fall into the trap of doing something erroneous, or sinful or scandalous our harmful. We may not appear very “intelligent”. What is the next step?

Consider the episode John (Gospel), ch. 8,  the woman caught in adultery.  This woman is in big trouble. Of course, in the episode, her accusers also end up in trouble and appear foolish.

But, that is only possible because our Lord sees in her a character – a soul – of inherent value –somone worth saving.

The woman caught in adultery episode reminds us that we are not masters of life were the masters of the universe. Pope Francis in a weird way touched on this with the Martian example.

But a mother and father, a mother and father touches on it with the with the birth of every child, and Jesus touches on it in a way saying to the one, the one who comes to Him in repentance, the one who is the one who anybody who comes to Jesus in repentance may feel artificially controlled artificial control by others or condemned by others. Our Lord sums up this saying that to those who feel alone to those who feel abandoned, that his mercy is available to them. And that love is greater than any one's verdict of guilt.

Jesus says this to the person drag before him in the town square, who represents all of us, the one who realizes that no one can condemn her with Jesus at our side, Jesus asks, ask that person Has no one condemned you. And she says no one Lord, then neither do I can do go and sin no more. It's interesting that later the same crowd wants to stone Jesus. He takes the punishment for us. That too helps us to live  another day. [_fin_]

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Whom are you following? (Corpus Christi, 2022-06-19, Father's Day)

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2022-06-19 –  Corpus Christi

●● Genesis 14:18-20  ●  Psalm 110 ● 1 Corinthians 11:23-26  ●  + Luke 9:11b-17 ●●

TITLE: Whom are you following? [ [][][v.3][][] ]       

[_01_]   Right now in the Gospel, the crowds are drawn to and following Jesus because of his known ability to do miracles to heal. And in the Gospel Jesus multiplied five loaves and two fish and to feed a crowd of more than 5,000  people.

Do you and I not also follow and seek out those with the best reputation, who are famous, who do well?

Just as an example, right now, if you're following sports and the sport of golf, golf is that sport with drivers and putters, and golf balls and fairways and greens and Tiger Woods, etc.

There's a golf tournament taking place in Massachusetts, and my sister and brother in law got tickets to attend the practice round.

Earlier this week they brought their children with them. And at the practice round, you can easily get close to some of the famous players. They went to the US Open in Brookline, Massachusetts to get close to the famous players. Earlier this week, they got so close to a player during a practice round that he agreed to take a photograph with the family. His name is Brooks Koepka. A few years ago, Brooks Koepka won this particular tournament, he was the # 1 golfer in the world.

So it was thrilling for them to get a photo with a golf champion. That's why people follow.

The people are following and going after Jesus because they see something valuable and victorious in Him. Jesus is on the rise. He is doing miracles. He's healing people. He's feeding us, freeing them from evil spirits. He's even the underdog competitor who stands up to the highly favored Pharisees and scribes.

And in the multiplication of the loaves, we see that Jesus is on top of the world on top of the rankings on top of the mountain, if they had phones, they would have taken selfies with our Savior.

Are people however, only interested in Jesus because of his potential energy and potential power ? Sometimes that's what happens-  we only go after somebody because of potential energy or power or material things.

One of the reasons my sister and family went to the US Open Golf Tournament was to get close to famous player.

Now, by the way, right now – the with tournament nearly over, Brooks Koepka is in 40th place. Still, being in 40th place is good because he's playing against very good competition,

So, such a photo is a treasure because it signifies something of power and value. Even if Brooks Koepka isn't having his best day.

Jesus gives us something something even better than an image something even better than a photograph or a trophy.

He gives us His body and blood so that we can become like him and draw strength from his sacrifice.

As an analogy, consider what mothers and fathers are called to. Today is Father's Day. What did your mothers and fathers did for you as a child, what you as a mother or father are still called to do for your child.

Mothers and fathers don't simply help their children simply by material gifts of food or money, or even by saying yes to every request. Fathers and mothers pass things down to their children also by teaching them discipline by teaching them right from wrong by teaching them about love. Some of these lessons are not always materially satisfying. Some of these lessons are hard to learn. In some cases, we may have no photo or anything on paper, but rather by learning from our mothers and fathers, we take them into our bodies, our mothers and fathers gave us our bodies. And we recognize that the body and life our father and mother gave us lives on in us. Jesus also gives us his body and blood so that he might live on and endure in you and in me

        As an analogy …

Brooks Koepka did not become a great golfer because his teacher handed him anything…but because his teachers and coaches gave him an environment in which to thrive.. both to fall down and get up again.

        Parents give their children a great gift not just by the material gift of a home, but by giving them a place where they can fall and get back up again and so that the parents can foster the initiative of their children.

        Parents also do not educate their children to follow the parents’ “law” but the the law of God.

        And…while sports such as golf and basketball  or soccer or baseball ..or any competitive endeavor may be thrilling to the parent and to the child, sports are really just a way for us to realize that our greatest victory is in love for God and neighbor and in laying down our lives as Jesus did.

        He is the person and more than a personality or image.   We are called to follow Him.  [][]end[][] ]  

 


Sunday, June 12, 2022

Who is the Trinity? Who is mine enemy? (2022-06-12, Trinity)

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 2022-06-12  –  Trinity Sunday

●● Proverbs 8:22-31  ●  Psalm 8 ● Romans 5:1-5  ●  + John 16:12-15  ●●

TITLE: Who is the Trinity ? Who is the enemy ?

 [_01_]       This Sunday is Trinity Sunday. We could say that every day is “Trinity Sunday” because we begin every Mass, every prayer, with the sign of the cross: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…

          The Trinity reminds us explicitly that we are made in the image and likeness of God and that we are made for communion with God that God is a trinity or a communion, a family of three persons, and we are made to be part of God's family, no matter how alone we might feel that we are part of the Holy Trinity, and God is united to us.

                 Being made in the image and likeness of God is part of Bilbical teaching and reminds us of the following  that there is in each of us a quality or character of DISTINCTION, of DISCERNMENT, of DEVELOPMENT. (CCC 1700)

[_02_]   First, DISTINCTION.

          Genesis 1:27 “God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.”

          This is a character of DISTINCTION being human, in the image of God.

          There is also a character of DISCERNMENT of being human, in the image of God. After the original sin, fall of Adam and Eve, God did not simply ask them “what they did”, but also “why did you did you do this?”  (Genesis 3:13). So, there is a character of DISCERNMENT. Sometimes, we discern wrongly, but there is discernment.

          Also, there is a character of DEVELOPMENT. Each of us is a work in progress. And, the development is to become like God (Wisdom 8:7) or as Jesus urged, “deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me”  (Matthew 16:24).

          So, in the image of the Trinity, under the sign of the cross, we are given a  character of DISTINCTION, DISCERNMENT, and DEVELOPMENT, being in the image of God.   [pause]

[_03_]     Do you want to be happy? Thomas Aquinas writes that we want to be happy that being happy is part of the way we are made, we are made naturally to be happy.

Now I may have definitions of happiness that differ from your definition of happiness, or God's definition of happiness. I may define happiness as wealth, I may define happiness as health, or as being wise in my own estimation.

Those are material definitions of happiness. But God is saying Thomas Aquinas is reminding us that we are we are made to be happy and that everything we do is about our pursuit happiness.

[_04_]     I just like to give an example of this from an autobiography, a book I read recently, about a young man who went to law school, he went to law school to study to be maybe one day an attorney or a judge. He enrolled at Harvard Law School. This is a real nonfiction book, by Scott Turow.

The book is called “One L” because it is the abbreviation or acronym, the number 1 “uno” and L as in Lima or L as in Law School. Every first year law student – at every university is called  a 1-L. And the author writes about being a 1-L.

[_05_]     Why did Scott Turow go to law school? Well, he thought he'd be happy at law school. But, he found out he was really unhappy for a while at law school, but the solution was not to leave law school. The solution for him as he speaks and writes about was something else.

He writes that – at the law school “I met or encountered my enemy.” Who is his enemy at Harvard Law School?  

Well, he and his classmates are very competitive. They're all competing for the highest grades to score in high 90’s or 100% or get A's or to be on law review.

[_06_]     So maybe his enemy is the other students whom he is competing against. I have been in competition with others. Sometimes I compete against others or I compare myself to others have i alienated myself from others due to competition does competition create enemies?

Another example is that some of his homework assignments and classes are really difficult. And he is criticizing often the professors the teacher is the one who stand up in front of the microphone or in front of the podium. And he has he finds fault with his teachers, many of his teachers, he finds fault with them.

He is criticizing them and he and his classmates are criticizing them all the time. Even the great teachers get criticized. Maybe criticism creates enemies. Maybe his professors are his enemies?

I fault I have found fault with others. This perhaps begins early in life. Perhaps you at times or I at times have found fault. Even with a loving mother and father, we may find fault with or criticize our parents. We criticize our parents, even though they love us.

Or we find fault with a teacher or a coach or the landlord or a neighbor or some authority figure we may find fault with our spouse. We may find fault with our children, we may be critical of others. Does criticism create enemies is criticism or other people the enemy in other words,  well Scott Turow is really writing and kind of discovering in this secular example, that his enemy is not his classmates. His enemy is not his teachers. His enemy is himself.

[_07_]     He goes to law school and discovers that he is his own worst enemy and I've discovered that at times that I am my own worst enemy. Yes, Satan, the evil spirit exists as an adversary as a deceiver to you and me.

But the evil spirit sometimes just sets me against myself, because I can be my own worst enemy.

1 example in the book brought this together, that there was one particular classroom episode with a demanding professor.  There were about 200 students in the classroom and one very demanding professor. And the rule in the class was that you had to reply if the professor called on you, unless you wrote him a note 2 hours in advance of class. But who was going to do that? Who could remember to do that all the time? That was the rule. And one day, the professor called on somebody who was not prepared and who had not written the required note.

And the professor continued to ask him questions, because this is what he did. He would not hesitate to cause you some embarrassment, if you didn't know the answer. And he caused embarrassment for this young man in the class. And, all the other students rose up in rebellion. They felt that they were being treated so unjustly because the professor went so far in causing embarrassment and shame on their classmate. They had a point. But that was the rule in the class.

And so they complained to everybody who would listen. The students complained to each other students, they complained to the Dean of the Law School, the students complained to other professors that students complained to the president of the law school. It was a proof that the students were their own worst enemies as well, in that they created this big problem. It ultimately got back to the professor that the professor was extremely unpopular at this point. The very next class that came about was on a Monday morning, the professor walked into the classroom, took off his jacket, took out his briefcase, put his briefcase on the desk, opened his briefcase, took out his papers and said, “You know, it's Monday morning, I was out of town over the weekend, I didn't have a lot of time to work. So I almost came in unprepared!”

Scott Turow’s immediate reaction: “that was the closest to an admission of guilt or an apology as we were going to get. But it was enough for us and it broke the tension.”

It's hard to admit you're wrong. It's hard for us to admit our wrongs. But admitting we're wrong is part of what can make us happy. Ironically, admitting what repenting of our sins can make us happy, reminding us that we're in need of God's grace can make us happy. And that and to remind us also that if God is for us, who can be against us, that in this regard we need not we need not fear who is against us anymore.

It is your distinction to be made in the image and likeness of God. Being made this way, you can discern good and evil, you can forgive others and seek forgiveness. You can develop into the person God calls you  to be [in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit… Amen.] 

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Ascension (2022-05-29)

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2022-05-29 –  Ascension (Easter 7 sun)   ●● Acts 1:1-11 ●  Psalm 47 ● Ephesians 1:17-23 or Hebrews 9:24-28; 10:19-23  ●  + Luke 24:46-53 ●●

 [_00 _]  There may be some confusion as to when the Feast of the Ascension is supposed to be because it's normally been celebrated on Thursday.  But, in many parts of the country and throughout the world, Ascension is observed on Sunday. So we are observed are observing “Ascension” on Sunday,

There may be some confusion as to what the Ascension is supposed to be, because it reminds us of eternal life of what happens after we die, our own death and dying. And we're praying this week, especially at this time in our country, for those who have died for the children who have died for their mothers and fathers, grandparents and siblings who mourn their loss as well.

The British spiritual writer C.S. Lewis was asked this question about the death of his spouse. The death of his wife caused him to be asked -- did he experience her death more in certain places than in other places? I.e., did he experience her death more at home than when he was not at home, or did he experience her death more in a favorite place they both knew and loved. No, I didn't experience her death more in one place than another, the place I experienced her death. The place was in my body, I felt it in myself.

I was reminded of this once years ago. When my grandmother died, all of my siblings and I said to each other, I remember that grandma used to scratch my back before I went to sleep until I would fall asleep. I thought I was the only one my grandmother did that for !

Of my grandmother, we all have the exact same memory of her, in our bodies.

It is difficult to say the least to bring a child into this world, or to bring a child up whether we actually give birth or whether we're raising a child. They're called labor pains for a reason. Because it's hard to bring a child into this world. And the labor pains remind the mother that she is always connected to her child and to lose a child is to lose a part of yourself, for the mother for the father, for the siblings, for the grandparents as well. So we pray for mothers and fathers who are in mourning right now in Buffalo, and Uvalde. And everywhere.

 [_01_]   Years ago, I had the opportunity to travel, to fly from NYC to Port au Prince (Haiti) with a group of Seton Hall University students to an orphanage.

          After landing in Port au Prince, we traveled about 3 hours to the the Central Plateau region, the town of Hinche. We stayed at an orphanage where there were about 200 children.

[_02_]    It is significant to note that some of the children in this orphanage had parents, had a mother and father, but the mother and father had voluntarily – in desperation – given their children to the orphanage

in the hope of giving the children a better life.

          The mission  of the Seton Hall students was relatively brief, were in Haiti, for one week, for seven days and we spent our time in recreational and service activities with the children who were eager to learn and spend time with us.

[_03_]    The trip was a blessing for me to encounter children who had simultaneously “nothing” and “everything”.

          There were 3 things – in my impression – that the children were lacking – in their bodies – relative to me – I summarize this as CLOTHING / CONSUMPTION / CONFLICT

          What touched me deeply at the time – and I still recall my emotion from that time 10+ years ago  - was that they had no grown-up – no mother or father to help them in the areas of .. CLOTHING, CONSUMPTION, of CONFLICT.

          I am summarizing in my own way my impression of 3 areas of need for these boys and girls.

 

[_04_]         1st CLOTHING. I do not mean that the children were not clothed. They certainly had clothes. They had many donated clothes.

          In fact, one of the “corporal works of mercy” for the SHU  students and I during the trip was to take inventory and sort through box and after box of donations. I remember we took clothing out of boxes so that we could sort things by    male/female, by type of garment, by S-M-L-XL.

There were even some donated Seton Hall NCAA uniforms in there!

These items would become the children’s clothing.

When I was a kid – and for kids today still – clothing is important and even being able to choose – autonomously one’s own outfits and and colors, et cetera is part of growing up.  As an orphan in Haiti, you are really living the “vow of poverty”, because all the clothes and shoes are shared.  And, nothing quite fits perfectly. The children did not complain.

[_05_]   2nd CONSUMPTION /NOURISHMENT .   I do not mean that the children did not eat or were not fed. They were fed.  There was food.

I was reminded of this, one afternoon, when a boy playing basketball on the court next to us had arrived with a goat. I observed to one of the Seton Hall leaders that it seemed so “random” that a goat was watching us shoot hoops.   I was told that the goat would probably become our dinner.

In the orphanage, the children were certainly fed and had regular meals, but they did not eat an average of 3,000 + calories as you and I do. Their portions were strictly controlled and there was neither “mom” nor “dad“ to call out to for a snack.

Having a voracious appetite myself, I would have found this a very difficult burden.

But the kids did not complain.

On our 1 journey, I recall that we had travelled to Haiti with snacks for our long truck/van journey in the so called “tap tap” from Port au Prince to Hinche.

We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with us.  By the way, you the people of Our Lady of Lourdes responded at the time to my request and made us PB&J that we took. 

Our own needs for consumption / nourishment were taken care of. We actually had some left over at the end of our journey.  I did not want to go to waste and I told one of the orphanage leaders “Brother Michael” about our surplus and that we would like to give to the children.

We broke the sandwiches into bite size pieces. The children walked up like they were receiving Communion which they were very well trained to do…and we did go to Mass / celebrate Mass with them.

I remember the kids did not get much extra help with CONSUMPTION, with NOURISHMENT.

So..there were with all these kids, not a lot of extra help with CLOTHING, with CONSUMPTION/NOURISHMNT, but they seemed happy.

What was most remarkable and memorable to me was how they dealt with CONFLICT and with COMPETITION  at the orphanage.

 

[_06_]  Isn’t  “competition” and “conflict” an important part of growing up?

          I can recall, for example the many times – seemingly countless times in LL baseball that I stood at home plate only to fail because after 3 strikes, I had not reached base. In other words, I struck out.

          To this day, I have mixed feelings about baseball in  general but I am especially admiring of batters/players – even if they get paid a lot – can keep their cool after a strike out. 

 

In any case, the experience of striking out in baseball did not turn me off  to sports in general or  even to  all forms of getting knocked down.

          I was blessed to have a family around me, mother, father.

          These kids did not have that. They lacked that, in their bodies.

          If they struck out…or worse …maybe  they got into a fight with one of the other boys, or if someone yelled at them…who was the mother or father to console them, to make them whole again. ?

          I imagine that they cried themselves to sleep at night more than a few times.

          Children need love, 18-year old children who are mentally ill and imbalanced need love as well.

          They may need to be protected from themselves.

          But, I suggest it is not just a problem of not spending enough money to fix a mental health crisis or to institutionalize the mentally ill.

          Children need to know the truth about themselves and others , and the truth is never going to be found in a video game or in a fantasy experience or even in their own opinions.

          The Church and Christ are important because they remind us that LOVE is not a feeling or an emotion.  Love is also NOT  demonstrated merely by what we CLOTHE ourselves in, by what we CONSUME …or even if we are without CONFLICT. Love can coexist with conflict.  Love is not a concept; love is a command.

          Even to love your enemies.

          I think we all fear – after the recent violent events in Buffalo, NY and in Uvalde, TX – that we will wring our hands, cry our tears and then it’s on to the next crisis.

          The Gospel is given to us so that we will care for our children better, teach them that they are loved and that no matter how strange they may feel, they are not alienated from God their Father, and that in his love we have all been adopted.  We were all once, orphans, we are one in Christ.  [_fin_]   

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Memory / Mission (2022-05-22, Easter 6th Sunday)

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2022-05-22 –  Easter 6th Sunday  &

●●   Acts 15:1-2, 22-29 ●  Psalm 67 ● Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23 ●  + John 14:23-29 ●●   

 [_00-a_].   Many years ago, a friend of mine hired me to work as a waiter at a Marriott Hotel that had banquets or celebrations, like weddings and other things.

          One thing I remember about this job was that I really did not apply for it as much as I was asked if I would do it. The manager or maitre’d at the Marriott was a former sports / basketball coach. I had played on his team as a kid. And, the maitre’d was not just hiring me, but several of my classmates.

          I remember this summer job very fondly for the experience. I remember it paid well and my friends and I enjoyed being together.

          It was also kind of a competitive experience that was asking me to “step up my game and work ethic”.

          And, I learned some important lessons that summer, one of which I will conclude with here.

          It was about REMEMBERING, about MEMORY.

 

[_03_].  In the Gospel this Sunday, Jesus is calling – one could say “hiring” and giving assignments to his disciples who will follow after him.

          He is speaking to them about the Holy Spirit and also asking them to remember who they are and whose they are.

          This is important in our identity – for example. If you are married – you not recall that who you are as a husband or wife, but whose you are, you belong to. If you have a family, you remember not only who you are as a daughter or son or parent, but  who you belong to.

          As a priest, I do not wear my identity in a vacuum or simply for outward show. I must remember who I belong to …and I belong to you. I will need your help at times to tell me when I am lost! Thank you.

 

[_00-b_]. MEMORY    Do you remember the definition of a sacrament.  The classic definition is that a sacrament is an VISIBLE sign of an invisible realty.

          Bread and wine are outward signs of Holy Eucharist. The priests words “This my body given up for you”, but the inward reality is that God loves us so much that he died for our sins and this.

          Do you and I remember this not simply when we are in church praying but also to remember when we feel rejected or distressed or lost or alone?

          The Eucharist is a mystery, but one that asks us to participate in the mystery, to remember the mystery

 

          You might say to me …hey Padre, the Eucharist is a profound mystery, no one can fully understand it.  There is some truth to this. But there are other things which we experience as “mysterious” yet we also profess faith in them and live our lives according to that faith.

          It is a mystery, for example, how my parents have not only loved each other for their entire lives but also loved all their children and grandchildren including me and loved me despite some of the reasons I gave them not to love me.

          It is a mystery, to me, how I have been able to forgive certain people or love certain people even though I have been hurt by them.

          So, these are mysteries and I will not be able to solve them like a Rubik’s cube or puzzle. But, they are also mysteries that bring me into “communion” and communal love with others.

          The mystery requires something of me.

 

[_05_].   The mystery of the Holy Eucharist also requires something of of me, calls something of me, to respect not only myself but all those for whom Jesus has died. This means everyone in the world.

          The sacrament of Holy Communion is reminder that we are called to save life, to protect life.

          And, that I am always being called to a higher standard.

          This past week, the Archbishop of San Francisco – Salvatore Cordileone – made headline news with his letter and message to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi not to receive Holy Communion due to her public stance on legal abortion.

          When we receive Holy Communion, we are celebrating  more than a meal, but also our belief that Jesus found every person’s life – even those who rejected him – even those not yet born – to be precious enough to die for.

          The Church’s teaching on the sanctity of life at all stages reminds us that human life is still worth dying for and sacrificing for.

          You – as mothers and fathers and grandparents and grownups of all types – know that life is worth saving and protecting.

It is true that there is no 1 church leader – myself included – who a perfect track record in protecting life and caring for the vulnerable.

We are all called to examine our consciences, to go to Confession, so that we can be prepared to receive the gift of eternal life in Holy Communion.

This particular archbishop’s stance toward Mrs. Pelosi invites us all to examine our lives.

Also, this is a reminder that the Church has concern for every unborn child, every child and every mother.

Also, there is no such thing in this category as “unforgivable sin”.

Nancy Pelosi is being instructed by her Archbishop because she is commiting a sin that is very much “forgivable”.

          Your sins are forgivable; the priests of our parish – myself included as your pastor – would be very glad to hear your confession at any time.

 

 

[_06_].  It is also important to note that Archbishop of San Francisco took this step only after his own efforts to talk to the Speaker of the House directly and “away from cameras and microphones.”

          As we read in Matthew chapter 5 about coming to the altar, Jesus says this. “If you come to the altar to offer your gift and there realize that you have some difference between you and a brother/sister, go first and be reconciled with your brother/sister, then come and offer your gift.”

          The AB of SF is trying to make this reconciliation. In this regard, he is very much concerned for the life and soul and salvation of the Speaker of the House.

 

[_07_].   In that summer job at the Marriott Hotel, there is one instance of “correction” to me that has stood out to me for many years.   One evening, we had a  our pre-dinner team meeting, and our boss told us that something different was happening at this dinner because there was going to be entertainment, a singer – this was 1980’s so it was a guy in a powder-blue tuxedo singing Frank Sinatra Summer Wind (I think!)

As a result of the “entertainment”, I was told and all the waiters were told to serve the dinner and then NOT go around to help people with filling water glasses and other table service like we usually did.

          I was told that… but it went in one ear and out the other. I was 20 years old and inexperienced and not paying attention.

          So, there I was, while the Frank Sinatra guy was singing, I was pouring water and walking around the dining room. Then, I saw the maĆ®tre’d  and he was coming right towards me…. Then I remembered, oh yeah, I am not supposed to be here.

          So, I left the dining room as fast as I could and he followed me out and he was kind of mad, kind of upset.

          But, I also realized that he was trying me as an adult, he was not disciplining me like I was 14 year old kid on his basketball team.

          And, I admitted I was wrong and was so glad that my friends – my coworkers – did not see me getting called out on this.

          My boss’s attention to me also showed me that he trusted me, that he had work for me to do…and also …as he walked away from the conversation, I knew the incident was now over. He said what he needed to say, I heard what I needed to hear.

          The Lord Jesus Christ also treats us not only as beloved children, but also as his growing children, and  he was work for us to and asks us to put our faith in him.   [___END___]

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Follow the Money ? (2022-05-15, 5th Sunday Easter)

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2022-05-15 – Easter 5th Sunday    ●●   Acts 14:21-27  ●●  Psalm  ●● Revelation 21:1-5a ●●  + John 13:31-33a, 34-35  ●●   

[_01_]  When will I get going? Where are you going?

          If you were to stand up, walk away from an important meeting or family gathering, or leave the table during a meal, without saying “Would you excuse me” …. “Pardon me”, people might wonder …”where are you going?”

          Even if you did “excuse yourself”, someone still might ask or wonder “where are you going?”

 [_02_]  In the Gospel this Sunday, we read the observation – the report -- that “Judas Iscariot” had gone out, that had “left the table”…. “left the building”.

          And, the other apostles might have wondered where Judas was going.

          But Jesus Himself is not wondering where Judas is going. He knows. And, you and I – with the perspective of history and many Easter Season readings of the Gospel, we know where Judas is going.

 [_03_]  Judas Iscariot. Judas Iscariot, in the Bible, every time he's mentioned is mentioned in some negative way as the one who betrayed Jesus. And in one place, he's also described as being the one who kept the contribution money given to the disciples for charitable purposes, and that Judas used to steal money from the contributions.

          Where is Judas going? He is going to get more money.

          He is going to get more money, because he has promised to betray Jesus to the authorities who want to arrest Jesus.

[_04_]  Why does Jesus Judas Iscariot betray Jesus? All we can really know for sure is from the gospel is that Judas was motivated by the money.

          This is where Judas is going.

He was willing to hand over Jesus to get the 30 pieces of silver the more money it was a direct deposit to Jesus. The conclusion of the story for Judas is tragic because he deeply regrets what he has done after the “money is in his account”, and but unfortunately, he does not find a way to make a real withdrawal and repentance. In Judas actually returns the 30 pieces of silver admitting to the chief priests I have betrayed innocent blood.

          But, in this case, the instruction is that repentance is more than just a material “payback” or returning of the money.   Judas could have avoided further trouble if had come all the way back to his Lord and Savior.

          It’s not easy to admit you are wrong, to have your wrongdoing exposed to others.

          Judas was not the only apostle in the wrong. Peter and the others denied or doubted or departed from in other ways. Yet, they also – in the end – repented and were forgiven because they stuck together and with Christ. There is hope for sinners!

          We can be forgiven if we stick together and with God. This is where we are headed, where we are meant to go.

          I also suggest we all  need to remember that our prayers for someone's soul are always beneficial, no matter how much despair or darkness we think the other person is in or was in.

          Only God looks into the heart.

[_05_]  A few months ago, I was driving on Roseland Avenue and approaching Bloomfield Avenue at a busy intersection in Caldwell, not far from St. Aloysius Church in Caldwell.

          As I approached the intersection, I noticed cars slowing down and I figured that I could continue to maintain my speed and keep going if I changed lanes, but this also meant that I was going to have jump in front of another driver.

          In my momentary haste, I did change lanes, jump out in front of the other driver and even made it through the intersection quite safely as did the other drive who was absolutely irate and raising his voice at me.

          I knew I was in the wrong. I had broken the rules. I had “betrayed” the other driver. Where was I going?

          That was the question I really had to ask myself. Was it really worth it for me to save 2 minutes just to rush through an intersection, do something dangerous just in order to “get going.”

         

[_06_]  Have you ever heard the expression “follow the money” which is one used to express a method by which we can uncover corruption and vice and sinfulness by examining who is paying whom financially.

 It's an expression that comes from the 1970s from a U.S. Presidential Election scandal known as Watergate - with Richard Nixon, in which there were cover ups and betrayals and payments of money back and forth in an election campaign.

The police and politicians who were investigating used the phrase “FTM” to figure out who the wrongdoers were. Follow the money,

All we can really know for sure is that Judas Iscariot was following the money. But in the end, Judas was not the only one motivated by material concerns. Peter, who denies Jesus three times in order to save himself from getting arrested Peter with following the money. The other disciples who also didn't want to get caught, didn't want to get caught up or arrested. They escaped, they were following the money in order to stay safe.

And sometimes I am guilty of this. I have done things in order to be more comfortable. When I changed lanes suddenly on Roseland Avenue and went through the intersection – fortunately safely – in order to get a jump on things, I was not actually getting paid to do this… but I was listening to a voice saying …”time is money”.

So, if I save time, I save money.

Follow the money.

I’ve said said things in order to be more comfortable or to get in with the in crowd.  I follow the money

Or perhaps I've avoided saying something because I want to get in with the right crowd or be more comfortable.  I follow the money.

Sometimes we are even tempted to be dishonest. Taking what belongs to another, relying on someone else’s work or homework or test to complete our own work.  We follow the money rather than a method disciplined of studying.

The question after all of this is not whether or not we have betrayed Christ. I have betrayed him by what I have done and what I have failed to do. The question is not whether or not I am a sinner, but whether or not I am a repentant sinner and willing to come out in the open, to return to the confessional.

The story of Judas is instructive to us not so that we can avoid getting caught, but to know that we are all caught up in something that requires our repentance and where God’s grace is going to help us to get going.

[_07_]  Many years ago, I was told how my grandmother and her sister who were teenagers willingly left their home in the 1920s in Ireland, to come to the United States. They were not runaways. But they were immigrants. And they lived with relatives in New York City. They got here by traveling on the ocean, and they were as we say, fresh off the boat.

I was fascinated and impressed by their perseverance, by their bravery and asked my grandmother for more details, I begged my grandmother for more details of which you simply summarize, not by giving me past history, but telling me of the true present. I was asking because in a sense, I wanted to follow the money.  I wanted to know where she had gone how she got there.

Recently, one of my relatives visited my grandmother’s original hometown and found out that there used to be a railway station, and train that she would have traveled on. The train is not there anymore, that was very interesting to me as a detail, because I want to follow the money all the way back into the past.

So, I asked my grandmother for more details…

But my grandmother did not want to follow the money  that way.

I was interested in knowing what she had to do in order to save, survive, succeed.

 All my grandmother would tell me was this: “if I had not come here, you would not be here. In other words, James Ferry  that's, that's how your life began before you were born even before your parents were born, because I came here.”

But we are also here. I'm not here just because of my grandmother. We and you are not here just because of your parents. We're here because Jesus came before us. Because he gave us life for us. He is our treasure. Don't follow the money. Follow him. Where your treasure is there, you heart will be there.  That’s where we are going.  [_fin_]