31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, cycle C

1st Reading  – Wisdom 11: 22 – 12: 2

This reading, actually a poem, echoes our opening prayer and psalm.  It was a popularly held belief that the book was written by Solomon, but the author does remain anonymous.  The most we know is he was a learned, Greek-speaking Jew and probably a teacher, and he was familiar with Hellensitic  philosophy, rhetoric and culture .

The word love is used as a verb, an action word.  God continually creates us anew, preserves us and forgives us.   (M. Birmingham, Word and Worship Workbook,C, 517-8).

What is most mysterious is God’s superabundant life pouring itself forth, the love of God who gives and gives again but is never emptied in the giving.  This self-giving is at the very heart of who God is   (M. Downey, Altogether Gift, p. 43).  How do you experience God’s love in your life?

2nd  Reading – 2 Thessalonians 1: 11- 2:2

This is another letter that is questionable whether Paul actually wrote someone writing as Paul.  Either way, there is truth in the letter.  The people of Thessalonica (the capital city for the Roman province of Macedonia) are being told that they are being prayed for and not to be fooled by anyone saying they know when the second coming will be.  Doesn’t it feel good to know you are being prayed for?  Pope Francis recently said, “Without love, effort becomes a lot heavier.”  Praying for others is an act of love.

We must be diligent in living the Christian life…be watchful and alert.   During that time, everyone thought Jesus was coming back any minute.  This was to the point where they were just waiting around and not doing anything!  Paul was saying cut it out.  There’s still a lot to do, so get busy doing it.  (Birmingham, W&W, p. 519).  How can this reading be good for us today?

Gospel Reading – Luke 19: 1-10

Here we have story of Zacchaeus (zuh-KEE-uhs, not zuh-KAY-us).  This story is found only in Luke’s Gospel.  This is Jesus’ last encounter  before he enters Jerusalem.

Remember: Welcoming another into one’s home to share at table was an act of profound friendship.  Meals were sacred times reserved only for close friends and family. Yet, one of the most historical ‘facts’ that we know about Jesus is that he often ate with sinners and the outcasts of society. When Jesus tells Zacchaeus that he is coming to dinner, the offer is clear. Jesus is asking him for his friendship.  And, Zacchaeus responds by changing his way of doing business – and his way of living. Such generosity delights Jesus for he knows that now salvation (full health and life) has come to Zacchaeus’ whole house.(R. Fuller, “Scripture in Depth,” http://liturgy.slu.edu ; Celebrations Oct., 2004)

From “Working with the Word” http://liturgy.slu.edu :

We sometimes tend to think that we need to repent and then God will come to us. But the gospel would suggest that just the opposite is true: Jesus comes to Zacchaeus who then responds by repenting. We do not repent so that God will give us his grace; God’s grace is a free gift. We just need to be open to receiving this grace so that we can repent.

William Barclay tells us to notice that the gospel ends with the encouraging words: “For the Son of Man (the Human One) came to seek out and to save the lost.”  The word lost in the New Testament does not mean damned or doomed. It merely means in the wrong place. A thing is lost when it has got out of its own place into the wrong place . . . A person is lost when he or she wanders away from God. To come back into a right relationship with God is a cause for rejoicing and new life.    (p. 245, The Gospel of Luke)

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, cycle C

Reading #1:  Sirach35: 12-14, 16-18

Jesus Ben Sirach lived and wrote around 180 BC.  He was an educated man whose main writing concerns were reflection on the Torah and practical suggestions for upright living.  To live uprightly is to live up to the covenantal relationship one has with God – hesedHesed assumes a reciprocity and requires that love of one another flow out of love of God, (W&W, Birmingham, p.  510).  Hesed is difficult to translate. No single word in English captures its meanings. Translators use words like “kindness,” “loving-kindness,” “mercy,” “loyalty.” Perhaps “loyal love” is close.  Hesed is one of the richest, most powerful words in the Old Testament. It reflects the loyal love that people committed to the God of the Bible should have for one another. It is not a “mood.”  Hesed is not primarily something people “feel.”  It is something people DO for other people who have no claim on them (www.discovertheword.org).  What does this mean to you?

God knows no favorites.  There are no prayers better than any others.  Sometimes we are afraid to go to God with our small requests.  But Sirach says the one who serves God willingly is heard!  Pope Francis says, “Today amid so much darkness we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others.  To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope, it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds.”  The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds!

 Reading #2: 2 Timothy 4: 6-8, 16-18

Paul’s ‘departure,’ a euphemism for death, uses a Greek word that means to leave, to loosen the bonds or fetters, to relax, to be released from prison – unyoked, free, unfettered. (Celebration, Oct. 1998)  This is often a reading at funerals.

From Celebrations Oct. 2004:

Scholars suggest that the abandonment that is referred to in this reading happened at the end of Paul’s life, during his second imprisonment in Rome under Nero. Even though there was a sizeable Christian community in Rome, no one appeared at Paul’s preliminary hearing to encourage or to defend him. Paul who had brought countless numbers of people to Christ, found himself alone, with no one other than Christ to strengthen and support him. Paul likens his death to a sacrifice or a libation. Libations of wine and oil were done sometimes by Jews, but even more often by Greeks and Romans. Before meals and, at times, in between courses, as well as at religious ceremonies, a goblet of wine was poured out on the ground as a gesture of homage to the gods.

From John Kavanaugh, S.J., “The Word Engaged,” http://liturgy.slu.edu :

Remember, Paul had entered ‘the race’ only after he met the Risen Christ and realized that all his accomplishments were so much rubbish. He gave up the pretense of being a self-made, self-righteous man. In Christ, he learned the freedom and the gift that is God’s grace poured out for us. The mercy of the Lord was his hope, his joy, his faith.

Gospel:  Luke 18:9-14

From John Kavanaugh, S.J., “The Word Engaged,” http://liturgy.slu.edu :

Prayer, most surely, is not about trying to change God’s mind or heart about anything. It is about changing us. And that is why the Pharisee’s prayer is so meaningless. There is nothing in his life to be changed – no empty spaces to be filled up. Remember Mary’s Magnificat: God fills the hungry and the ‘full’

(the rich) go away empty . . .” (Lk. 1:53)  If the cries of the poor are to be heard or the orphan or oppressed are to be cared for, it will not be by some magic changing of God’s mind.  They will be heard and served by concerned people who can recognize their needs and decide how to respond to them.  Prayers can indeed be answered by a God who can ‘get through’ to prayerful people. We need to open a place for God’s entry into our lives.  This is true prayer.

From John Pilch, “Historical Cultural Context” http://liturgy.slu.edu :

To strike the breast is a Middle-Eastern gesture that was usually used by women. It was used by men only in extreme anguish, so it is touching that this tax collector uses this gesture.  The closing phrase (“whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted”) is one of those ‘floating sayings.” It occurs also in Lk 14:11, Mt 18:4: 23:12; James 4:6, 10; 1 Peter 5:6. Most of us go through life tallying successes and failures. God’s ways are not like that. With God’s help, we can discover even in our so-called failures examples of divine reversals, a better plan, a more rewarding venture, new life after hitting a dead-end. What looks like a set-back, can be an opportunity for growth. This is the Paschal Mystery: new life from death.

The Important Thanks

Fr. Bob’s homily 10/9/2016


28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Why was it so important to Jesus that he be thanked by the lepers he cured?  He is obviously upset that only one of the ten, a Samaritan at that, returned to thank him. “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine?”  Did he perform the miracle so that he would be thanked?  That would be pretty shallow.  (I never understood when you thank someone for something that they feel compelled to tell you that they did not do it for thanks.  I had not thought so, but it does not change your need to thank them.)  Did he use thanks as a test for faithfulness?  If it were me, I might have been tempted to give the other nine their leprosy back.  (Imagine the other nine lepers on their way home having been cured and then looking down, “Ooops, what…

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29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, cycle C

1st  Reading — Exodus 17: 8-13

Amalek incurred God’s wrath for attacking the Israelites when they were faint and weary on their journey out of Egypt. (Just before this passage is the section where God provides food as manna, and drink as water from a rock.)  Amalek had set upon the most vulnerable and weak, the stragglers who were too exhausted to keep up with the rest.  Amalek did not fear (respect) God.  His sin is not unlike that of the corrupt judge who “feared neither God nor humans” who we will hear in the Gospel.

Picture Moses: he is sitting on a rock holding up the staff of God with his tired and aching arms supported by fellow believers. This is not meant to be seen as magic or ritual superstition. It is symbolic of the powerful presence of God in our midst. Remember also, that Joshua, who’s name in Latin is Jesus, is the one who defends the people against the aggressors.  Who supports you in prayer?

*How do you pray?  Do you kneel down?  Clasp your hands?  Bow your head?  Our posture can be a part of our prayer.  Being mindful of our body and what it is saying about our attentiveness to God can make our prayer more holistic.  We should be in a state of openness.  Henri Nouwen says, “Praying demands a relationship in which you allow someone other than yourself to enter into the very center of your person, to see there what you would rather leave in the darkness, and to touch there what you would rather leave untouched.  The resistance to praying is like the resistance of tightly clenched fists…When you are invited to pray, you are asked to open your tightly clenched fists…Each time you dare to let go and surrender one of those many fears, your hand opens a little and your palms spread out in a gesture of receiving.  You must be patient, of course, very patient until your hands are completely open.  It is a long journey of trust…”

2nd Reading:  2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:2

Do you have a favorite verse or phrase that you find helpful – hopeful – faith-filled?

This reading reminds us that as long as we are laboring at faith, faith is winning. We just need to stay at the task, living with trust in God’s love and doing as God would have us do —  when it is easy and convenient — and when it is not. (John Kavanaugh, S.J., “The Word Engaged,” http://liturgy.slu.edu )

Henri Nouwen says, “Often I have found myself saying:  ‘The Gospel that I read this morning was just what I needed today!’  This was much more than a wonderful coincidence.  What, in fact, was taking place was not that a Gospel text helped me with a concrete problem, but that the many Gospel passages that I had been contemplating were gradually giving me new eyes and new ears to see and hear what was happening in the world.  It wasn’t that the Gospel proved useful for my many worries but that the Gospel proved the uselessness of my worries and so refocused my whole attention.”  Here and Now, p. 127

The Gospel – Luke 18: 1-8

This judge is obviously corrupt – nothing like God.  God throughout the Hebrew Scriptures speaks on behalf of the oppressed and the widowed.  The word ‘widow’ in Hebrew, admanah, means unable to speak, a silent one. Chera, meaning forsaken or empty, was also often applied to a widow. The prophets always challenged the people and leaders to care for the widow and orphan, those without power. See Isaiah 1:23; 10:2; Malachi 3:5; Jeremiah 49:11; Psalm 68:6; James 1:27.  (J. Pilch, “Historical Cultural Context,” http://liturgy.slu.edu)

Luke’s gospel is often called the gospel of prayer.  What does prayer have to do with faith?  How do you see prayer as important?  How do you keep from ‘losing heart’ about problems?

More thoughts from John Pilch:

The word that is translated, ‘strike me’ literally meant to “give a black eye.” It was used also to imply a public shaming. In other words this pestering widow puts the ‘fear of the Lord’ back in this awful judge due to her persistence and public pressure! The point of this story is that if a helpless widow can get what is needed from a shameless judge, how much more can we trust that our ever-loving, honor-sensitive God will be with us to help us.

If you are feeling like your prayers are not being heard, don’t give up.  Don’t despair.  Don’t relent to your fears.  It is in the persistence.  “Perseverance in prayer is more than true grit that will never quit; it is trust in a God who will never abandon or ignore those who entrust themselves to the divine power, care and mercy in prayer.  With this assurance, perseverance in prayer without losing heart becomes not only possible but a permanent practice in the life of the believer.”  (Celebration, 10/21/01)

True Humility

Fr. Bob’s homily last Sunday…


27th Sunday in Ordinary Time C

“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”  An astonishing accomplishment for so little faith.  Yet, is the uprooting of mulberry trees and their repositioning in the sea really the superpower we really crave?  It is not as cool or useful as invisibility or flying for instance.  But that said, if that were my superpower I would have used it all the time just to show I could.  I would have planted mulberry trees just to prove I could uproot them and send them to their new home in the ocean.

I say would have because I am not sure that would be a priority for me now.  When you are younger, or when just beginning a new ministry or job which…

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28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, cycle C

1st Reading —  2 Kings 5: 14-17

Some talking points to this story:

  • It is a small Jewish girl that suggest to Naaman (head general) to go see Elisha. She is a slave from a country they have raided.  This is a story, like so many others in the Bible, of the underdog.
  • The king of Aram wrote to the king of Israel that he was sending Naaman, who laughed and thought it was a trick. When Elisha overheard, he intervened and said to send him to me.
  • When Naaman first arrives to see Elisha, Elisha doesn’t even come outside to greet him. Naaman at first gets angry and turns to leave, but the servants (again) convince him to stay and give Elisha’s suggestion of dousing in the river a try.
  • In this time period, there were localized deities. Each tribe had land and they had a god.  So if you were traveling or at war, you had to think about how that god would react.  The idea of the Jewish people that we all come from 1 God, that we are all brothers and sisters and we could actually live in peace was BIG.
  • Notice in the last line that Naaman now refers to himself as servant. All power is temporary.  Why does he want Israel’s dirt?  Because Israel dirt = Yahweh dirt and that is what he wants to worship on.  Naaman is enlightened by being healed, but he is still using his old, familiar categories (Don’t we all do this?).

Continue reading the next 2 lines of this passage (2 Kings 5:18-19)  Elisha is concerned about what’s going to happen when he returns home and has to worship his tribal god again, Rimmon.  Rather than admonish him, Elisha tells him to go in peace.  God is with us in the complexity of life.  To reflect on this further, listen to Rob Bell’s Podcast #34:


2nd Reading —  2 Timothy 2: 8 –13

This letter in the name of Paul assures us that though he was ‘chained’ and eventually killed, “the Word of God is not chained” and that the God we find in Jesus Christ will be forever faithful – even when we are not.  God continues to work and inspire even our stage of reading and interpreting – helping these words live for us – enfleshing His love and presence in us.

“The Bible is not a book to be read,

but a drama in which to participate.” Abraham Heschel

How can the word of God free you?  William Barclay says, “Jesus must always be our own personal discovery.  Our religion can never be a carried tale.  Christianity does not mean reciting a creed; it means knowing a person,” (The Gospel of Luke, p. 121).

Margaret Silf says, “God’s life and grace will flow so much more fully and freely through empty hands, “(Inner Compass, p. 110).  How do we DO that?  Perhaps the leper teaches us…

The Gospel – Luke 17: 11-19

The leper was healed while ‘Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem.” This is what happens to us when we walk with Jesus even to and through the difficult times and places of our lives.  We are healed each time we come to Eucharist praising God and becoming more perfectly a part of Christ’s body. We are healed each time we put others ahead of ourselves. We are healed each time we choose to forgive those who wrong us even as we try to overcome the evil.  We are healed each time we pause a few seconds to ‘give thanks to God’ for the many blessings of each day. Such gratitude makes our faith a vibrant and growing reality: we owe all to God who gives us everything that is good.  Faithfulness and thankfulness go (grow?) together (Living Liturgy, Cycle C, p.224-227).

The ten lepers asked Jesus to have pity on them.  Pity, or mercy, in the Mediterranean world, means to motivate someone to meet his or her interpersonal obligation.  In effect, the ten people in Luke are asking Jesus to give them what he owes them!


Jesus as healer was constantly challenging existing boundaries and pushing them ever outward.  Sinners, the blind, the lame and lepers were welcome within the boundaries of the holy community Jesus was forming.  Now that the lepers were healed, they are restored to their communities. The nine that left may have gone to the priests to thank God there.  The Samaritan leper could not enter Jerusalem, so he couldn’t do that.  He recognized Jesus as being one with God, and so he thanked him personally.  The other nine lepers may actually bump into Jesus again…do you think they might thank him later?  The Samaritan grabbed his opportunity while he had it, (Pilch, The Cultural World of Jesus, Cycle C, p. 150).  What opportunities do you have to thank God?    

For further reflection on being grateful now, consider Rabbi Kenneth R. Berger’s 1986 sermon on “Five Minutes to Live” which can be found at:


He talks about the discovery that the astronauts had five minutes in the Challenger before their death and wondered what they thought about.  Here’s an exerpt:

You are here: I know for some its aches and pains, physical and emotional, but you are here. Be grateful for that. I don’t mean to be so blunt, but you are not in a grave, you are not in intensive care, you are not bed-ridden, you are in Shul welcoming in another New Year, and that sounds okay to me, and it should to you.


In short, say to yourself, Boy, I am blessed, with being alive, with having family and friends, with the ability to be in Shul welcoming in a New Year.


In only I appreciated what I had when I had it. . . . .appreciate it now. . . . my friends, when you have it.


Yes, If only I had known. . . . If only I had realized and appreciated what I had: and as the shuttle falls through the sky, the third possibility: “If only I had other chance, I would do things differently.”

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, cycle C

1st Reading — Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4

From Celebration, October 2004:

If scholars are right, Habakkuk might have been a contemporary of Jeremiah. He is probably here lamenting the destruction of Judah by King Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian army. He is probably also lamenting the corruption that took place in Judah before the fall. Yet, he is told that he must trust in a vision that can yet come to be. With this vision comes an assurance of God’s love and care even though there is destruction and suffering. He was told to write down this vision; in other words, make it permanent. And, it is to be in large, legible letters so that all the people may see it, read it, hold on to it – a public display of faith in the midst of tragedy. This is faith that gives life.

Br. David Steindl-Rast’s gratefulness, the heart of prayer:

How difficult it is to live in the creative tension of hope, the tension between not-yet and already!…Some people imagine that hope is the highest degree of optimism, a kind of super-optimism.  I get the image of someone climbing higher and higher to the most fanciful pinnacle of optimism, there to wave the little flag of hope.  A far more accurate picture would be that hope happens when the bottom drops out of our pessimism.  We have nowhere to fall but into the ultimate reality of God’s motherly caring  (p. 126, 136)

2nd Reading – 2 Timothy 1: 6-8, 13-14

By the time of this writing, many have given their lives for the faith in Christ; others have endured increasing difficulties and hardships. (Some have also fallen away or fallen into heresy –see 1:15, 2:17-18 and 4:9) This writer wants to use the example of Paul’s imprisonment and suffering along with some of perhaps Paul’s own words to encourage others to use their faith to live with courage, power, love and self control.   (Celebration, October 2004)

We hear Paul telling Timothy to seek God’s help through “the imposition of my hands” and “the sound words that you heard from me”.  In other words, Timothy should feel hope in the Lord because of how the Lord works through Paul.  Don’t we often find hope in the Lord through each other too?  The warmth of a loving touch and comforting words can be all we need to get through a really hard day.  It gives a whole new meaning to “being there” for someone.  We bring God into that accompaniment when we have faith.

The Gospel – Luke 17: 5-10

This whole chapter in Luke’s gospel is about “the decisiveness and urgency of discipleship.” We cannot just wait (or even pray) until we have enough faith, for then we may never begin living as the servants we are called to be. A seed is small, but it is filled with potential ‘power’ for growth. Jesus wants to convince us that our faith is like this.  We must ‘burst open’ like a planted seed allowing growth and new life to begin.

“We must use what we have.” Jesus then shows us what the faithful disciple looks like – one who not only works the fields, but also serves at table. In fact, as we put this all together we see that serving at table is as great as moving trees – and other more amazing feats of faith! Jesus like many good preachers of his time loved to use hyperbole and humor to get his point across. (Living Liturgy, Cycle C, p.220)

What do you think of the phrase “unprofitable servants”?  The Greek adjective that is used here actually means “without need.” Although it is translated here as ‘unprofitable’ it seems to mean more that this servant is without the need for ‘pay.’ He is not motivated by reward or recompense.  As servants of an all-merciful and loving God we need to do everything with gratitude that we have been called to serve such a ‘master.’ We are servants that are ‘due nothing,’ because all we have has been given to us with love. (John Pilch, “Historical Cultural Context, liturgy.slu.edu)

Mammon or True Wealth

Fr. Bob’s homily 2 Sundays ago…


25th Sunday in Ordinary Time C

This is a curious Gospel because unlike most parables like the Good Samaritan, the protagonist is not a heroic figure.  In fact, he is a fairly pathetic one. The dishonest steward, the name gives away the story, is about to be sacked by his master “for squandering his property.”  He is in desperate straits.  He memorably says, “I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg.”  (I think I might adopt that as my motto.)  He has only one plan at his disposal.   He goes back to all the master’s creditors he has dealt with and has them lessen what they owe the Master.  Whether it comes out of the steward’s take or the master’s is unclear.  What is obvious is his motivation – trying to curry favor with the creditors so they will take him in after he…

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26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, cycle C

The 1st Reading — Amos 6: 1, 4-7

Amos is continuing to lament and grow weary of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.  The rich are basking in the glow of their wealth, even drinking wine out of bowls!  Scholars think the reference to David is trying to be ironic.  Unlike David who used his musical talents for praising God, the wealthy of Israel were dabbling in the art simply for their own entertainment and enjoyment.  The prophecy of the rich going into exile first does occur.  In 722BC Assyria attacks the northern Kingdom (Celebration, Sept. 1998).  Their complacency did not benefit them in the end.  What happens when we become complacent and take for granted what we have?

Contrast this image with St. Teresa of Calcutta. In a general letter she wrote to her sisters in July 1961:

My dear children, without our suffering, our work would just be social work, very good and helpful, but it would not be the work of Jesus Christ, not part of the redemption.  Jesus wanted to help us by sharing our life, our loneliness, our agony and death…Only by being one with us He has redeemed us.  We are allowed to do the same:  All the desolation of the poor people, not only their material poverty, but their spiritual destitution must be redeemed, and we must have our share in it.  Pray thus when you find it hard – “I wish to live in this world which is so far from God, which has turned so much from the light of Jesus, to help them – to take upon me something of their suffering.”  Yes, my dear children – let us share the sufferings – of our Poor – for only by being one with them – we can redeem them, that is, bringing God into their lives and bringing them to God.

The 2nd Reading – 1 Timothy 6: 11-16

This passage tells us clearly how and what we are to be. It is an exhortation not just for Timothy, but for every baptized person. We all need to take these words to heart. It should help us realize that our faith is a living relationship of love – with God and with others(Celebration, Sept. 2001).

What wisdom do you find in this passage?  What do you make of the writer saying we should, “Compete well for the faith,”?

The Gospel — Luke 16: 19 – 31

This gospel reading is challenging us to open our eyes and minds and hearts to those around us. Let not our possessions and comforts blind us and deaden us. Perhaps the saddest aspect of this parable comes when the rich man, suffering now himself, raised his eyes and saw Lazarus. But even then he only saw him as someone who could meet his needs — not as a person in his own right with needs. The rich man has no name (although he is sometimes called Dives, a Latin word for rich); the poor man is given a name and an identity: Lazarus, which means the oneGod helps or loves. (Celebration, Sept. 2001)

St. John Chrysostom, “Thoughts from the Early Church,” http://liturgy.slu.edu:

Have you thought about why the rich man saw Lazarus in Abraham’s arms? Abraham was not only our ‘father-in-faith,’ but he was also known for his hospitality. Abraham did not begrudgingly help strangers; he would sit in his doorway and catch all who passed by – to offer them friendship and food.

He did not know that these strangers would bring the tangible presence of God and new life to him and to his wife as they did (Genesis 18:1 – 8).

From William Barclay, The Gospel of Luke, 221-222:

The details in this parable are very important. The rich man had great luxury: garments of purple and fine linen.  The word that is used for feasting is one that is used for a glutton who feeds on exotic and costly dishes – everyday. His self-indulgence seemed to give him no time for work while his servants must have slaved to keep him fed. Also, in these days food was eaten with the hands. In very wealthy houses, the hands were cleaned by wiping them on chunks of bread. The bread was then thrown away. These were the ‘crumbs’ that Lazarus longed to be allowed to eat. The rich man was not deliberately cruel; nor was he accused of being the reason for Lazarus’ poverty. His sin is his blindnesshis lack of even noticing another’s need. That lack of human concern for anyone outside of himself was a great chasm that separated him from love, life.

From Richard Rohr, The Good News According to Luke, 169-170:

Hades is the abode of the dead. It does not necessarily coincide with our term of hell. In this story there is a big chasm separating those who respond to and with God’s love and those who do not. The ‘hell side’ is the state of being where you don’t love – where you find yourself cut off and where non-life is chosen. This parable is not suppose to convince us that God’s justice is served by physically punishing people: God’s justice cannot be served by “burning people’s behinds.” The story is suppose to open us to the true way of life – to listening to God’s Word and letting it guide our life and our choices. We are to choose life – love – sharing – communion. We need to choose the good because it is good – it leads to life. Such choice leads to dignity and goodness. There is as Abraham says in the story a ‘great chasm’ between heaven and hell – between fear and faith, between death and life. This story was meant to help us overcome the chasm – not to deepen it. Continue reading →

Forgive One More Person

Father Bob’s homily 2 Sundays ago…


24th Sunday in Ordinary Time C

I have a notoriously bad relationship with the Prodigal Son.  He has always rubbed me the wrong way.  It is not so much what he did to his father or how a young man wasted money.  That is a story that has been going on for literally thousands of years.  What I have always resented was the lack of quality in his repentance.  After all, he did not return because he was sorry.  He came home because he way “dying from hunger.”  He did as anyone would when approaching an awkward situation, as you did when you broke curfew – he practiced a speech. “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”  I imagine him the whole way home, saying over and…

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