Sunday, November 19, 2017

From the Mass of Remembrance

Reflecting on Our Lives ~ Deacon Paul Harney, November 19 2017

November 19, 2017 Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Deacon Paul Harney

Readings for today's Homily 

To watch Mass in its entirety click The Mass

Useless Servants

Don’t we all wish we were wise?  Lest we forget, wisdom is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Unfortunately, it’s a gift many of seem to have returned to sender.  Many of our tweets, the TV shows we watch, and the things we say on Facebook give evidence to that claim.  If the Holy Spirit had eyes, they would be rolling.
 
Wisdom enables us to see the world from God’s point of view. We believe that Jesus is eternal Wisdom and that through our Baptism we are asked to walk by the light of Christ and to trust in his wisdom. 

Our Bible is where we can find wisdom.  For example, our first reading is a proverb.  Great wisdom is expressed through proverbs.  This one is about the worthy wife and her value being beyond pearls.  She’s an unfailing prize.  

Friday, November 17, 2017

Sharpen Our Swords

A wild boar was busily sharpening his tusks against a tree in the forest when a fox came by. 

“Why are you wasting your time in this manner?”  asked the fox.  “Neither a hunter nor a hound is in sight and no danger is at hand.”

“True enough," replied the boar, “but when the danger does arise, I shall have something else to do than to sharpen my weapons.”

Moral: It’s too late to sharpen the sword when the trumpet sounds.

We’re getting close to the end of our liturgical year when the trumpet will sound (so to speak).    Before the end, let’s sharpen our swords through many acts of kindness and generosity we must wield on behalf of Christ.

Deacon David Pierce

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Tweeting

What have we become?   Many of us, regardless of age, have become walking zombies transfixed by our cellphones constantly seducing and enticing us to stare at the screens with no consideration for our own safety or the safety of others.  The Monday edition of the Boston Globe made this point: “Step by oblivious step.”   Just another form of soul-sapping addiction.

According to the article, “In Boston, screen addicts roam free, at least for now.  But a bill in the Legislature aimed at preventing jaywalking includes enhanced fines if the violation occurs while the person is using a mobile electronic device and/or wearing earbuds or
headphones.  Jay-texters could face fines up to $200.”

Whatever happened to polite and civil conversations and face-to-face disagreements as opposed to now frequent cyber-fights and squabbles with no-holds-barred insults?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Fool's Errand

Journeys to planets and stars are dreams many of us have.  Therefore, movies such as The Martian and then Passengers (2016) starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt have great appeal.  Years of travel from Earth to those distant locations might be feasible eventually, but are not that appealing to those who crave diversity and more than a little elbow room.

A recent Scientific American issue (February 2017) potentially makes such trips more than a little bit dangerous.  An article entitled “Deep Space Deal Breaker” began with “New studies show cosmic radiation could be even more damaging to astronauts brains than we thought” and “Can humanity still live and travel among the stars?”  

Research on mice has revealed that charged particles simulating radiation astronauts get in space causes behavioral declines and neural damage – nerves associated with learning and memory.   Radiation can pass through hulls of spacecraft and the bodies of astronauts.   However, the difference between these experiments with mice and doses men and women would receive over many months to years is mice were exposed to high doses of radiation in minutes.   Who knows what the real risks are?   Still, loss of memory and permanent cell damage is nothing to scoff at.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Sentimental Journeys

I’m a big fan of Sherlock Holmes.   He seems real because Sir Arthur Conan Dolye is a master of the mystery and character development including Dr. Watson.   Created in 1891 Holmes and Watson live on through TV series with my favorite being the latest with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.   The scripts are fantastic and their deliveries superb by everyone in the cast.  Cumberbatch has starred in "The Imitation Game" and "Star Trek Into Darkness."

I note his Sherlock series because I recently saw a poster of Holmes with the words: “Sentiment is a chemical defect found on the losing side.”  Perfectly stated by eccentric Sherlock, but not something any of us should adopt as our attitude. 

Let’s refer to the lyrics of the famous song, Sentimental Journey.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Hard Of Hearing

Young adults face many daily challenges that can be met with guidance from the Old Testament.  However, that guidance doesn’t come easy because for our young, the Old Testament tends to be silent.   It doesn’t speak to them.

Here’s a set of quotes from Therese Brown, the assistant director for operations and project management in USCCB Publishing.    Having worked for over 20 years with young people as a teacher, catechist, and youth minister, she says the Old Testament will speak to them “...as long as they [young people] are familiar with both the content and context of Old Testament readings. In a rapidly changing world, anything that is old is just old, and therefore potentially irrelevant.

The Old Testament doesn’t have to be either.  It’s possible to highlight themes and experiences in the Old Testament that are a part of today’s teens’ lives – with parents, friends, conflict, facing the future – and how key figures dealt with them.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Martin Luther

We’re celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation started by Martin Luther.    Christ the King is participating in that celebration, and as a consequence, we are learning more about Luther.   For example:

During his early life, he was prey to agonizing depression.  None of the medieval rites and practices of faith could touch what he called the ‘sorrow’ that made him terrified of death, which he imagined as total extinction.  When this black horror descended upon him, he could not bear to read psalm 90, which describes the evanescence of human life and portrays men being condemned by the anger and fury of God.  Throughout his career, Luther saw death as an expression of God’s wrath. 

His theology of justification by faith depicted human beings as utterly incapable of contributing to their own salvation and wholly reliant on the benevolence of God.  It was only by realizing their powerless that they could be saved.  To escape his depression Luther plunged into a frenzy of activity, determined to do what good he could do ion the world, by consumed also by hatred.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

End Of Our Road

We pass from this life to the next - into eternity - sometimes with little fanfare, but most of the time with a big send-off with loved ones remembering and being sorrowful.  Where did he/she go?    To God?   To heaven, wherever that may be?   So many questions with answers taken on faith.  That’s all we really have: faith and hope.  Here’s a story I occasionally tell at wakes.   

A long time ago there lived a little boy whose parents had died.   He was taken in by an aunt who raised him as her own child.  Years later after he had left his aunt, he received a letter telling him that she had a terminal illness, and from the tone of her letter, he knew she was afraid of death.

He wrote back to her and said, “It’s now 35 years since I was a little boy of six.  I was left all alone in the world.  You gave me a home and were a mother to me.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Calling Klaatu

Is today the Earth will stand still?   I ask this question because while killing time (horrible expression) I watched the movie remake, “The Day the Earth Stood Still” starring Keanu Reeves.    I still prefer the 1951 original with Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal.  Watching as a young boy, I appreciated its message, and I still do.

An alien named Klaatu warns humans for threatening nuclear annihilation and insists we abandon our nuclear weapons.  He is refused an opportunity to speak to all the leaders of Earth’s nations and is killed.  He is brought back to life by his “enforcer,” a giant robot named Gort with a deadly ray beam.   To capture everyone’s attention and to demonstrate his power, he stopped all electricity on the planet.

What makes this movie so fascination is something I missed as a child, and even as an adult I didn’t get it until recently.   The movie is a Christ allegory with Klaatu taking on the name “Mr Carpenter.”   Gort resurrected Klaatu from his “tomb” in a morgue.  

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Mushy Brains

Slavery.   We all condemn it, don’t we?   Here’s a passage from Exodus: “These are the ordinances you shall lay before them.  When you purchase a Hebrew slave,  he is to serve you for six years, but in the seventh year he shall leave as a free person without any payment.  If he comes into service alone, he shall leave alone; if he comes with a wife, his wife shall leave with him.  But if his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children belong to her master and the man shall leave alone.  

If, however, the slave declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children; I will not leave as a free person,’ his master shall bring him to God and there, at the door or doorpost, he shall pierce his ear with an awl, thus keeping him as his slave forever.  When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go free as male slaves do.” (Exodus 21:1-7, Laws Regarding Slaves)

This is an example of how slavery can be justified by reference to a Biblical passage.   Today we find such ancient “laws” outlandish and repugnant, for example, “a man selling his daughter as a slave.”  But, throughout the world there are countries and locations where slavery is the norm.   Is this simply Old Testament thinking?  Consider the New Testament and Ephesians: “Slaves, be obedient to your human masters with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ.” 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Days Of Our Lives

I’m not a soap opera fan, but I know many who are.   One notable series is “Days of Our Lives.”  The show debuted in 1965 and features an hourglass with sand slowly trickling to the bottom against the backdrop of a partly cloudy sky.  The trademark voice-over is:  "Like sands through the hourglass, so are the Days of Our Lives." 

For many of us our sands are mostly at the bottom of the glass.   Oh, if we could only turn the glass upside down and start again.   Then again, all our memories would be gone, and memories are precious, for the most part.   Wishful thinking can be fun, but if wishes were horses beggars would ride.

I think of the hourglass because yesterday we set our clocks back one hour.    It was so simple to turn back time.   Not so in real life, although we can flip the glass when we ask for forgiveness or forgive someone who hurt us.   Starting over resets our clocks, and our timekeeper, Christ, is pleased.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Friday, November 3, 2017

Gullibility Awareness

We hear so much in the news today about “fake news.”    Not much of it is good.    As noted by Renee Loth in her Boston Globe article, “Why do so many believe fake news?” (October 31), “Our algorithmic overlords – Facebook, Google, Twitter, and the like – have been slow to admit their role in the disinformation campaigns that infect US elections, promote malicious conspiracy theories, or peddle propaganda…”   Fake news turns hearts cold, spreads fear, incites anger, and just simply hurts people, individuals, races and cultures. 

She says, “…near universal access to information online has steadily devalued expertise and authority: Why rely on a medical doctor when you can diagnose your own symptoms with this handy website?  Why slog through complex news stories when a tweet is so much more satisfying?  Why insist on facts when everyone else is just ‘speaking my own truth?”

We are dumbed-down when we take the easy way and we conclude critical thinking is too hard.   Our children (and we adults) become fake news dumps manipulated by those feeding them junk news molding their opinions into a collective of lemmings gullible enough to swallow swill and follow fools.