Monthly Archives: June, 2018

Walking by Faith

Father Bob’s homily 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time, cycle B

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11th Sunday of Ordinary Time B
I have been walking a lot lately, mostly on Route 7 and Union Street and I have noticed that I walk with my head down and I am not sure why. It could be that I am looking for potholes on our sidewalks. It might be that I am reacting to the Mets season and I am doing a sad Charlie Brown walk. But what I really think is that I am having a hard time just carrying this big noggin. You know how some people carry weights when they walk? My equivalent is just keeping my head up. The result however is that I have bumped into three runners and a sign post. I am learning the need to walk by sight and not by faith.
And so it seems to be with the walk of life. We like to see where we…

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Fear, Shame and Blame

Fr. Bob’s homily last Sunday…

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10th Sunday in Ordinary Time B
The readings this weekend point clearly to sin so it is time for me to give the Fire and Brimstone homily I have been waiting eleven and a half years to give. (Someone clapped when I said that at the 4:30 mass which I thought was weird.) Yet, I probably should talk about sin more and it is not a current a conversation in our lives, but it seems that our lack of discussion has not led to less sinning so let’s get into it with the Fall of Adam and Eve.
Today we hear the less well known second part of the story. We all know what happened in the first half – through mastery of language and psychological manipulation, the serpent finally seduces Eve into eating the forbidden fruit. Then Adam sees Eve eating the fruit and thinks: hungry, good, eat. Men……

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11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, cycle B

Let us prayerfully reflect on this poem by Joyce Kilmer:

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

What do you find meaningful – helpful—insightful when it comes to trees?  Have you ever had a favorite tree?

1st Reading – Ezekiel 17:22-24

Ezekiel’s allegory of the cedar tree is one source for the imagery of the mustard bush in the gospel reading. The cedar stands for the restoration of the Davidic monarchy after the exile. The shoot or twig (see Isaiah 11:1) refers to a descendant of Jehoiachin, the last Davidic king before the exile. The beasts and birds represent the nations of the earth. This indicates that the prophecy expects the kingdom after the return from exile to be more than just the mere restoration of the status quo before the exile; in fact, it is to be the realization of the messianic kingdom. It is therefore legitimate to say that this prophecy finds its ultimate fulfillment in the kingdom of Christ, of which the church on earth is a foretaste. (Reginald Fuller, http://liturgy.slu.edu/11OrdB061712/theword_indepth.html )

The cedar forests of Lebanon enjoy the unique distinction as the oldest documented forests in history.  The cedars made a special contribution to the development of the Phoenician civilization by providing the timbers with which they developed their famous sea-going merchant boats -thus becoming one of the first, if not the first, major sea-going trading nation in the world.  The Phoenicians transported the cedar to Egypt, until Egypt conquered Lebanon and gained direct access to the forests, which were highly prized for building temples and boats.  Later the Babylonians took a similar interest in the cedars and obtained them for use in building the fabled city of Babylon.  The expansion of the Roman Empire into Syria and Lebanon had a detrimental effect on the cedars until the Emperor Hadrian installed markers around the boundary of the remaining forests and declared them as Imperial Domain.  In modern day Lebanon, the legendary cedar is still revered and remains prominent in the minds of all Lebanese. The cedar is featured on the national flag, the national airline, Government logos, the Lebanese currency and innumerable commercial logos. (http://www.shoufcedar.org/)

2nd Reading – 2 Corinthians 5:6-10

For all his yearning for the life to come, Paul does not despise this life.  He is, he says, in good heart.  The reason is that even here and now we possess the Holy Spirit of God, the first installment of the life to come.  It is given to the Christian to be citizen of two worlds; and the result is, not that he despises this world, but that he finds it clad with a sheen of glory which is the reflection of the greater glory to come  (Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series, p. 205-6).  Isn’t this hopeful?  We must look for the good.  Life is in the decisions we make.  Right now.  We must live in the present, but with a foot in the future, knowing we are accountable for our actions.  What we do makes up who we are, and affects others around us.  Does this stir something up in you?

The Gospel – Mark 4: 26-34

From John Kavanaugh, S.J. — Life is slow and subtle. Love takes time to show and grow. In life, little acts count. In fact, that is what a life is all about, a long parade of moments deceptively inconsequential. Children grow before our eyes. But they age imperceptibly. We recognize growth only after it has happened. The full truth of the child is seen after the child is no more. Life, like faith and love, resists most measurement. As it develops, it is rarely noticed. We seem not to do these things by sight. Our changings are unmarked as they happen.

This is why, perhaps, a daily examination of our awareness can be so life-enhancing. Examination applies the lens of believing to the blur of the daily grind. It is to notice in faith. It is to pay attention lovingly, gratefully. Like sowers, we scatter our activities, our tiny acts of faith, flung out far and extravagantly, some taken by the wind, all landing somewhere. We sleep our nights and do our days, and the growth takes place. We may not even be conscious of the flowering.  (http://liturgy.slu.edu/11OrdB061712/theword_encountered.html  )

How would God let us know we are loved?

Fr. Bob’s Corpus Christi homily…

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Corpus Christi B
How would God let us know we are loved? He chose the best possible way in sending his son, an incarnation of the Word now taking flesh. It is in this way that Jesus becomes the translator of divine love, bringing into our daily lives and promising a future far beyond it. But as the threat grows to his own brief life, Jesus needs another way to speak perfectly of God’s grace, a way that will outlive his time on earth, a way to sustain this moment of love and self-donation forever.
How would Jesus let us know that we are loved? He would do it with his friends, those who followed him and witnessed tremendous deeds of power, who heard stunning and beautiful words; those who had journeyed, laughed and cried with him and now grow fearful as the specter of death casts its shadow upon…

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10th Sunday in Ordinary Time, cycle B

Gospel Reading:  Mark 3:  20-35

From R. Faley, Footprints on the Mountain, p. 408-409:  Today’s reading includes a concern and lack of understanding of Jesus’ family, further incomprehension from his opponents in a double accusation, Jesus’ response to the accusations of the Jews and finally a return to Jesus’ family and a response to their charge.  It is all in the context of the crowd pressing in on Jesus and his disciples, leaving them little room to even eat.  The statement that Jesus’ family thinks he is mentally unstable is not found in the other synoptic Gospels.  What does this passage stir up in you?

  • Jesus states that internal division leads ultimately to the downfall of a kingdom, a house, or Satan. If Jesus is an agent of Satan, then in his working to cast Satan out, they are at cross purposes.  Satan is doomed to fail.
  • What is unforgivable is to call the work of God evil or to call an emissary of God an agent of Satan. It is to call light darkness.  To do so is to reject the reign of God and thus by one’s own decision to move oneself to an unforgivable position.  Yet all sins can be forgiven, even the one here cited, with repentance.  What Jesus does here is underscore its extreme seriousness and the unlikely chance of reconciliation [because of our own rejection].  John Kavanaugh SJ says, “The sin against the Sprit occurs when I say, ‘I refuse to acknowledge that I need forgiveness.’ I refuse to be forgiven.  I refuse to believe that God has answered.  I refuse to believe even that there is good, for it is only another face of the evil I believe in,”  (liturgy.slu.edu).
  • When Jesus refers to his “global family”, He is referring to the new order which goes beyond that of the flesh.

From T. a Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ:  “I fight within myself and become burdensome to myself, while my spirit desires to soar and my flesh is earthbound.  Oh, what do I suffer inwardly when in my mind I behold heavenly things and a great multitude of carnal thoughts soon enters my soul!” (p. 175)…AND THEN…”It stands in a man (woman) offering all his (her) heart wholly to God, not seeking himself (herself) or his (her) will, either in great things or in small, in time or in eternity, but abiding always unchanged and always yielding to God equal thanks for things pleasing and displeasing, weighing them all in one same balance, as in His love,” (p. 143).

The Examen can help us discern when we have internal division.  We review our day to reflect on where God is by  (Taken from http://www.ignatianspirituality.com):

  1. Ask God for light: I want to look at my day with God’s eyes, not merely my own.
  2. Give thanks: The day I have just lived is a gift from God.  Be grateful for it.
  3. Review the day: I carefully look back on the day just completed, being guided by the Holy Spirit.
  4. Face your shortcomings: I face up to what is wrong – in my life and in me.
  5. Look toward the day to come: I ask where I need God in the day to come.

Reading 1:  Genesis 3:  9 – 15

A question being asked here is:  How does sin come into our life?  Innocent-seeming, a mere suggestion or conversation that soon develops legs – and lies – and walks away with our whole future.  Sin is clever that way.  It asks us simply to say no to God to believe a lie, rather than the truth of God’s Word.  Once we’re willing to do that, anything is possible  (Exploring the Sunday Readings, 2/05).

From John Kavanaugh again (liturgy.slu.edu):  All the goods of the earth were made to look tarnished by the deceptions of the serpent.  The only imposter presented as the most desirable good was the rejection of God’s will in denying our creatureliness.

In other words, we were made for good!  God intends good for us, not bad.  We need to be open and see outside of ourselves (our ego) at the good God is trying to work in us.  It will never work if we remain self-sufficient.  We must need God.  And needing God requires vulnerability…something very hard to grasp sometimes.  As a matter of fact, we don’t grasp it at all.  We unclench our fists and let God happen in us.  Henri Nouwen says, “…to be the way without being ‘in the way,’”  (Reaching Out, p. 108).

Reading 2:  2 Corinthians 4:13 – 5:1

Paul reminds us of the good news:  everything indeed is FOR us…in abundance…overflowing!

This reading reminds me of a Mary Oliver poem, “The Summer Day”:

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean-

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?