Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Lying Tongues

"Whoever makes a fortune by a lying tongue is chasing a bubble over deadly snares."  Today’s first reading is a list of proverbs with this 6th one being about lies. 

I cannot stomach lies which is why politics is so challenging for onlookers and those wanting to base their votes on the truth, not on spin and obfuscation.    Politicians seeking fortune through donations/contributions or by other means (legal and illegal) on the right as well as the on the left seemingly or outright lie attempting to preserve their power and erode their opponents’ standing.  They have “lying tongues.”

Jesus called Satan the “father of lies.”  Consider John 8:42-44 that reads: Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here; I did not come on my own, but he sent me.  Why do you not understand what I am saying?  Because you cannot bear to hear my word.  You belong to your father the devil and you willingly carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Monday, September 24, 2018

No Devil Made Them Do It

Jesus said to the crowd: "No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care, then, how you hear. To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away."

Does our faith shine so those with us see that light?   Is our faith dimming due to the repeated, never-ending newspaper articles about past abuse of minors and young men by priests with cover-ups occurring in some instances.   Perhaps our dimmer switch has been pressed by all this coverage of nefarious behavior.

What doesn’t help are recent statements in a homily given by Pope Francis: “In these times, it seems like the Great Accuser [Satan] has been unchained and is attacking bishops. True, we are all sinners, we bishops.  He tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalize the people.  The 'Great Accuser', as he himself says to God in the first chapter of the Book of Job, 'roams the earth looking for someone to accuse'.  A bishop’s strength against the 'Great Accuser' is prayer, that of Jesus and his own, and the humility of being chosen and remaining close to the people of God, without seeking an aristocratic life that removes this unction.  Let us pray, today, for our bishops: for me, for those who are here, and for all the bishops throughout the world.”

Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Predictions of Jesus ~ Fr. Edward Healey

September 23, 2018 Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings for today's Homily 

To watch Mass in its entirety click The Mass


Better Angels

Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from?  Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess.  You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask.  You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

This passage from James reminds me of Abraham Lincoln who ended his first inaugural address with this impassioned plea about saving the Union by calming the South’s fears:

“I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Saturday, September 22, 2018

First And Last

So, too, it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living being, "the last Adam a life-giving spirit. But the spiritual was not first; rather the natural and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, earthly; the second man, from heaven.  As was the earthly one, so also are the earthly, and as is the heavenly one, so also are the heavenly.  Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one.”

It’s very rare for the spiritual to be first.  When we are born, the Spirit is with us, but the effects of that Spirit only manifest themselves when we get older and Christ is made known to us through our family and Church.  When born, man and woman become living beings; we are natural and earthly, for a while.  In a sense we bear the images of Adam and Eve, the earthly ones – the “first” man and woman (notwithstanding the fact that both result from great biblical story-telling).

Later, perhaps many years later, we become like the second man – not in appearance of course, but by nature.   The Holy Spirit’s gifts take hold and like the “last Adam,” we bear the image of Jesus – the heavenly one.   Unfortunately for many that image loses focus and becomes fuzzy.   The challenge is to keep it sharp and crisp.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Raise Your Hand

The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" He heard this and said, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."

God requires mercy for all in need of forgiveness meaning that’s what we are expected to do: show mercy.   Attending Mass is not a substitute for our obligation to be merciful.   Jesus tells us to learn the meaning of the words, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” 

We should all be physicians healing the sick of heart and mind.   The righteous can remain in the waiting room.  Sinners see the doctors right away.   Are there doctors in the house?!  Who will raise their hands?

Deacon David Pierce

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Pucker Up

A certain Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee's house and reclined at table.  Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee.  Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.  When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner."
……………………………..
Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman?  When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.  You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment.  So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little."  He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." The others at table said to themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" But he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

A “sinful woman” touched the rabbi Jesus and in front of the Pharisees.  Whether sinful of not, that was not allowed in Jesus’ time.   Yet, Jesus welcomed the touch of her tears, her hair, and her hands applying the ointment.   She obviously cared for him and respected him, perhaps even loved him.  Jesus said, “She has shown great love.”  While all around him would have sent her away and chastised, Jesus forgave her "many sins," whatever they may have been.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Greatest Of Three

If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.  And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.  If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.  For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.  At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face.  At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.  So faith, hope, love remain, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Bishop Robert Barron

Robert Barron’s series on Catholicism recently was completed at Christ the King.  A description of the video series went like this:  “For the first time, in breathtaking and high-definition cinematography, the truth, goodness, and beauty of Catholicism are illustrated in a multimedia experience.  Journey with Bishop Robert Barron to more than 50 locations throughout 16 countries.  Be illuminated by the spiritual and artistic treasures of this global culture that claims more than one billion of the earth's people. Learn what Catholics believe and why.  Discover the full meaning of the faith.”

The series was based on his 2011 book “Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith.”   A more recent book (2017) of his written with John Allen, Jr. was “To Light a Fire on the Earth: Proclaiming the Gospel in a Secular Age.”

I recommend visiting his website “Word on Fire.”  Bishop Barron has a very well stated position/opinion on sexual abuse by priests and our Church’s grossly inadequate way of dealing with that abuse – alleged and real.  View his videos dealing with this issue.  You’ll find an intelligent response with no pulled punches.   Search for “Robert Barron sexual abuse video.”

Deacon David Pierce

Monday, September 17, 2018

Eat And Drink

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, "This is my Body that is for you.  Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my Blood.  Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.  

Paul’s words are powerful.  I also like to turn the words around so they are spoken by those who receive.  When we receive we should say to ourselves, or out loud:  “This is my body that is for you.  What I do in my life I will do in remembrance of you.  My body is the cup that holds the blood I will shed on your behalf through good works, kindness, and love.   As often as I eat the bread and drink from the cup, I will proclaim your presence since you are with me now.”

This other version is consistent with the fact that we are all part of the Body of Christ.

Deacon David Pierce

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Tending the Necessities of the Body ~ Deacon Frank Fantasia

September 16, 2018 Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings for today's Homily 

To watch Mass in its entirety click The Mass

Truth To Power

Today’s readings are about “speaking truth to power,” and what is truth?  This phrase originated with the Quakers in a 1955, pamphlet entitled: Speak Truth to Power: A Quaker Search for an Alternative to Violence.”  I happen to be a birthright Quaker or Friend as well as a Catholic deacon.  Good combination, although I’ve never been much of a Quaker, unlike my grandparents on my father’s side.

That pamphlet promoted pacifism in the belief that love can overcome hatred.  It has come to mean "speaking out to those in authority" and is now used in politics and human rights activism. We Catholics can learn something from the Quakers.  Politics and religion do mix at times. 

In our first reading Isaiah speaks truth to power.  Isaiah speaks of acts of defiance against oppressors and tyrants – acts of defiance by those with no power, such as the poor, the dispossessed, and the weak. Yet, to resist with whatever little force we have seems fruitless and can result in punishment by those in control, perhaps even death, or in Jesus time, crucifixion. “Resistance is futile” is the mantra of several movies, books, and TV shows such as Star Trek: Next Generation.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Sown Seeds

Brothers and sisters: Someone may say, "How are the dead raised?  With what kind of body will they come back?"

You fool! What you sow is not brought to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be but a bare kernel of wheat, perhaps, or of some other kind. So also is the resurrection of the dead.  It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible. It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious. It is sown weak; it is raised powerful.  It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.  If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one. 

St. Paul gives us a clue to resurrection.  We are raised as a spiritual body, not a physical one.  We will be different.   But we are still left guessing.   There is no other option than to place our faith in God, and then time will tell, especially when we have no more time on earth – just eternity.  Ever wonder how we will keep busy?  Should be easy because in eternity there is no time, as we know it.  Confusing?  You bet.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Wolves

The subject of nonviolence recently appeared in the July issue of Sojourners magazine.   An article entitled, “Is Nonviolence Na├»ve?” by Andrew Klager is a must read.  He asks, “ What counts as violence?” His reply was:

Violence is any action that undermines the dignity of another human being, whether direct, structural, or institutional. This can be emotional, psychological, spiritual, or physical abuse; actions that dehumanize the Other; forms of injustice, oppression, or marginalization; and war, genocide, mob violence, and armed insurrection.  But violence is not the same as conflict. Conflict provides the space to air grievances and expose injustice; nonviolence entails ending conflict by eroding its causes without succumbing to the allure of violence. Nonviolence requires “the willingness to face conflict head on, to resolve it, and to make it a link in the chain of a new process,” explained Pope Francis. 

He concludes with:

Christian nonviolence is hard; that’s why we need practice. We cultivate nonviolence not as a strategy to dust off in urgent circumstances or international crises, but as a way of life. Nonviolence is an antidote to the violence that infects our minds and souls.  We need to practice it in everyday decisions, including interior and interpersonal struggles, our interactions with the environment, and our personal economic choices.

In all these actions, we try to recognize the image of God—the one who gives life and is life—in all human beings, whether we think they’re deserving of this or not.  The word “deserve” does not belong in the vocabulary of a practitioner of nonviolence.  Nonviolence undercuts the “us vs. them” dichotomy and refuses to distinguish between the culpable and the innocent; there are only those who are in need of more transformation, restoration, and healing than are others.

Rather than not violence and not death, the positive expression of Christian nonviolence is the percolation of life that bubbles up among the many expressions of violence in our world so that death is eventually overwhelmed.  And this sums up the entire Christian vocation: participating in life as a way to conquer death.  This is Christian nonviolence.

Klager is convincing; however, many of us still choose the path taken by empires: violence, exploitation, and competition.    Many of us, of course, choose the way of Jesus: humility, compassion, and unity.   Here’s where the story of two wolves is helpful.

A grandfather is talking with his grandson and he says there are two wolves inside of us which are always at battle.  One is a good wolf which represents things like kindness, bravery, and love. The other is a bad wolf, which represents things like greed, hatred, and fear.  

The grandson stops and thinks about it for a second then he looks up at his grandfather and says, “Grandfather, which one wins?”  

The grandfather quietly replies, “The one you feed.”

Which one do we feed?

Deacon David Pierce

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Worst Enemy

…But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.  Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful.

This command from Jesus given to us by Luke muddies the definition of “love.”  Personally, I will never love my enemies; however, I will try to understand them and that may even lead to respect  then discussion and perhaps compromise.  That’s the best I can do.   I suspect the vast majority of us feel that same way.   “Doing good to them” is a step in the right direction to sow seeds of reconciliation, but not if our enemies have no interest in reciprocating.   Hence the worldwide mess we have.

Our “reward will be great” when we love them, and we will become “children of the Most High.”  Some of us find it impossible to believe that the Most High is “kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.”  I suppose the wicked and ungrateful can change their ways when treated with kindness, and there’s our challenge and the rub.