Meditation is an ideal way to pray. Using God's word (Lectio Divina) allows me to hear, listen and reflect on what the Lord wants to say to me - to one of his disciples - just like He did two thousand years ago.
The best time to reflect is at the beginning of the day and for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
Prior to going to sleep, read the Mass readings for the next day and then, in the morning, reflect on the Meditation offered on this website.
I hope these daily meditations allow you to know, love and imitate the Lord in a more meaningful way.
God bless you!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Luke 13:22-30 Strive

Luke 13:22-30  Strive

Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.  Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?”

How would you answer this question?  What would you say?  I still remember what a nun said one day in Faith Formation (CCD).  She said, “Everyone goes to heaven.”  Now that I look back at it, I think that was the moment I stopped believing in God.  Although I was a child, I could still think for myself.  And I kept thinking to myself, “If everyone goes to heaven, then why be good?”

Now, if you were taught (other than on Halloween night) about “fire and brimstone”, and that only a few souls go to heaven, then at least you were taught by someone who was a bit more knowledgeable of Scripture. 

Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching.  I do not teach or preach fire and brimstone (at least I don’t think I do).  What I try to teach or preach is what Christ taught and preached:  “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.”

I have met a lot of people throughout my life.  Most of them are still my friends.  They come from different parts of the world; they speak in various languages; they are poor; they are rich; they are married; they are single; they are men; they are women.  Some are dead, most are alive.  But what unites us all together is what we share in common:  suffering.

Life is difficult.  It is really difficult!  It is difficult for me and for you.  Why try to fool yourself?  Actually, why are we trying to fool our children?  Why do we hide from them our failures, faults, weaknesses, difficulties, trials and tribulations?  Why are we stunting their maturity, their growth?

Yesterday, a young mother passed away, leaving her young kids behind.  A week ago, a child was playing a game outside and hit her head against the cement sidewalk.  Today, she still struggles with walking.  A few days ago, a man lost his job and his wife was diagnosed with a rare disease.  They have two grown children in college.  All these things have brought very strong men to their knees.  I know.  I have seen it for myself.

Many will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.  We are not as strong as we think we are.  We really aren’t.  We are not as secure as we think we are, and 9/11 should be a constant reminder for all of us.  We are not as powerful as we think we are, and Sandy is just one of many kinds of storms we will run away from or die from in our lives. 

The problem isn’t that we are not strong or secure or powerful enough.  The problem is…we think we are.

So, instead of living more modestly and relying more on family, we think we can live in debt and that our friends or government will always come to our rescue.  Instead of acknowledging the strength and power that comes from religion, we think we can ignore it and solve every single international conflict with high-tech weapons and consumer goods.  We will not.  Our enemies have proven their courage to fight, and their willingness to die.   

We can be much stronger.  We really can, but only if we begin to strengthen our foundations, our “unions”; that is, our marriages, children, families and faith.  If we do, then we will rebuild The Union.

Out of all the lies people have created, and actually believed in, the biggest and longest on-going lie has been this one: Security through possession. 

This security through possession is known by various names:  career, infrastructures, friends, money, savings, investments, eating-right, etc… These are the supposed “lifelines” or means to success, happiness, love and fulfillment. 

Now I know that those who believe it will deny it.  But they actually live by it.  They even say it:  My career is my life.  My friends are my real family.  My dogs are my children.  My money is my guarantee.  My soap opera is my religion.  My savings are my insurance.  Eating healthy and right will keep me healthy and alive.

I think the good news is that if someone can believe in all these lies, then it won’t be difficult for them to believe in the truth; that is, in God.  Reality is on our side.  Reality slaps us back to the truth. 

Strive through the narrow gate.  How about we try something different, something that works, something new but actually old?  Something that costs very little yet produces great results. 

It is not unheard of that a little lock opened the door to a great mansion.  It’s not uncommon to find cheap solutions to complex problems.  Not everything in life has to be expensive.  Instead of our schools investing in therapists and counselors, police officers and in metal detectors, why not create a little bit of time for prayer?  It doesn’t cost a thing!  It’s natural.

If we outlawed prayer in a school just because of one student, wouldn’t it be worth it if it helped just one student?

Faith is not a crutch.  It is a lifesaver!  It does not help us to fall asleep at night; it helps us to get through the day when our days are dark. 

Life is not easy…for anyone. 

Strive.  What?  Strive.  Do something?  Yes, the Lord invites us to strive to pass through the narrow gate.  We are supposed to work for it.  We are supposed to do something.  Strive sounds a lot like try, and the words may actually be related. 

How can we do it if we are not strong enough?  Through Him, with Him and in Him.

What is the narrow gate?  It is a person.  Jesus Christ.   Strive to live your life through Him, with Him and in Him.  And you will find yourself…on His side.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Luke 13:18-21 Young and Humble

Luke 13:18-21  Young and Humble

Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like?  To what can I compare it?  IT is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in the garden.  When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.”

Yesterday, I received a card from a couple who have been trying hard and praying hard to have a baby for some time now.  It finally happened.  The card read:  “It’s a baby!”  At first it struck me as odd that it didn’t read “It’s a girl” or “It’s a boy.”  But after a while, I finally got it.  They could care less what sex their child was.  They were just happy to have a baby.

Babies are cute.  People love to be around them.  It doesn’t matter what they do in front of us or to us.  They can burp in our face.  They can poop in our arms.  They can throw up all over our shirt.  It doesn’t matter what they do.  Nothing they say or do could ever wipe away the joy in our heart or the smile from our face. 

But when babies grow up, they’re not so cute.  Why is that?  Why do kids become so ugly?  It has nothing to do with their physical size or physical appearance.  it has everything to do with their selfishness. 

When the Lord describes the Kingdom of God as being the size of a mustard seed, what he is describing is not so much its physical dimensions but rather its spiritual conditions.  The reason why the Kingdom of God is so small and so great is because God makes himself small so as to be great.  It is the reason why the Lord said:  If you wish to be great, you must make yourself small. 

Babies get everything they need and want and even more.  Why?  Because they ask for nothing.   I keep telling our school kids that if they want to get more from their parents they need to stop asking for more.

I know some parents who are very "concerned" about their kids because they never ask for anything.  So what do they do?  They keep giving them more and more.  Their kids know the secret.  One student never asked for a car and got a car.  One student never demanded more freedom and got more freedom. 


The rule is simple:  If you want to be loved, then start loving.  If you want to be great, then start serving.   If you want to receive, then stop asking and start giving.

If you think about it, the Lord does not demand much from us, except to love Him and to love our neighbor.  Oh, I forgot.  He also asks us to give Him our sins so that He can give us His love.

Be subordinate.  In his letter to the Ephesians (Eph 5:21-33), St. Paul challenges Church leaders to be “subordinate to Christ”.  He goes one step further and challenges members of the Church to be “subordinate to one another”.  He then demands wives take a leap of faith by being “subordinate to their husbands in everything.”  But like everything St. Paul writes, he demands that we do what we do just like Christ did for us.  It is not enough to love.  We need to love as Christ loves us.

The Church is a “sacrament” of the Body of Christ.  Christians are a “sacrament” of Christ’s continual presence in the world.  Husbands are a sacrament of Christ’s unconditional love and sacrifice for His bride (the Church). 

There is no demanding in any of these relationships, only giving of oneself and dying to self.  These are the conditions that make all relationships possible, powerful, beautiful, amazing and ever young and new… like a new born baby.

Like a child, the Kingdom of God will grow from a small mustard seed to a burning bush, but only if it remains forever young and humble of heart.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Luke 13:10-17 A time and place For Faith

Luke 13:10-17 A time and place For Faith
Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath.  And a woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect.  When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity”.  …But the leader of the synagogue, indignant that Jesus had cured on the Sabbath, said to the crowd in reply, “There are six days when work should be done.  Come on those days to be cured, not on the Sabbath.”

I really enjoy watching our students compete in the various competitions throughout the school year, especially the sporting events.  I really do!  And I try to make it to as many of them as possible.  Right now we are nearing the end of the volleyball and football season.  Due to the fact that our volleyball games are on Saturday and our football games are on Sunday, you can understand that, as a priest, it’s not always possible to attend.  In fact, it takes a great deal of sacrifice.  After all, I too enjoy a little break – some quiet time or alone time – as well.

So it took me by surprise, a few Saturday’s ago, that as I was walking towards the gym to watch a volleyball game, a parent kindly came up to me to tell me that this one particular coach didn’t appreciate my presence at “her” games.  As you can imagine, I was shocked.  I asked why?  I was told that I was a distraction to the kids.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  I know the kids want me at their games because they always ask me to be there.  I told the parent, “But I think I’m actually helping them!”  Well, I walked in and made my presence known and felt by cheering and stomping on the bleachers (only at the appropriate times).  The kids loved it and, I guess, “most importantly”, they won.

As a priest, I have attended a lot of catholic school games: basketball, football, soccer, volleyball, even lacrosse!  I have to admit though, this was not the first time in twenty years that a coach did not welcome my presence or cheering; but it was the first time that it came from my own school!

You see, the parents and coaches of the opposing teams consider my presence as "an unfair advantage".  And often, they come up to me afterwards and say something like:  “It was nice to see you at the game, Father.  I wish our priest could do the same thing for our kids.” 

There are some people in this world that simply don’t get it.  They think so much about the “now” that they forget the “later”.  What will our kids remember most?  They won’t remember the victories as much as they remember the support, the love, the sacrifices, and the commitment that was made for them.  Yes, they will never forget the faith we had in them.

The Lord cured the sick on the Sabbath.  He healed those who were scared and suffering.  He made sure that wherever He went His presence would be felt - regardless of whether or not He was in the synagogue or in the market squares. 

There are some people in this world that would love to limit our love, our cheer, our presence, and, of course, our faith.  The Lord made it clear:  every moment of every day is a God-given moment.  We are called to make the most of it. 

“Blessed is the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent…He is like a tree…that yields fruit in due season” (Psalm 1). 

The love of God and of our faith is a fruit that is never out of season.  Every day and every place is a time and place for faith and love.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Luke 12:54-59 You Should Know By Now

Luke 12:54-59  You Should Know By Now

Jesus said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west you say immediately that it is going to rain – and so it does; and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south you say that it is going to be hot – and so it is.  You hypocrites!  You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”

Discovery Channel has a program known as Animal Planet.  How fitting.  But what is even more fitting is its subtitle:  surprisingly human.

In today’s first readings, St. Paul urges us “to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received” (Eph 4:1).  You would think by now we would be getting closer to the Kingdom of God.  Instead, it seems like we’re moving ever closer to the Animal Kingdom.

This phenomenon might be due to the fact that we’ve gotten bad at predicting the weather.  That’s the only explanation I have in how bad we’ve become in predicting human behavior.

When you go outside in Texas, and there’s a strong cold wind that greets you, you know it’s coming from the North.  When you feel a blazing heat, you know it’s coming from the South. 

Yesterday, I was speaking to a young student who told me that their best friend had recently become their worst enemy.  They began to share with me all the awful things this “friend” had done.  I asked this young person what they thought the problem might be.  They didn’t have a clue.  When they finished, I said: “It sounds like she’s having family problems.”  There was a look of confusion.  I asked, “Do you know her mother?”  The student replied, “Well, her mother is in rehab.”  I asked about her father.  They replied, “Her father left them.  She’s being raised by her grandparents.”

Oh, I get it.  Do you? 

Is it so hard to see?  Is it so hard to judge things?  “Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.” 

What are these mysteries?  Maybe we can address them with maxims: 

·         If you try smashing the commandments, you won’t succeed.  But you will end up breaking apart.

·         If you try to crucify the Lord, you'll end up crucifying yourself.

·         The further away you get from Christ, the greater the chance you’ll get lost. 

·         Major problems always start off small.

Is this so hard to see?  Is this all a mystery to you?  What about these maxims:

·         An absent father and mother leads to a child seeking affection in all the wrong ways and places.

·         The smaller the family, the more expensive the problems.

·         Immodesty is a reflection of insecurity.

·         Promiscuity leads to poor self-esteem.

·         Spoiled kids tend to manipulate their parents.

Sure, there are exceptions to every rule.  But, who wants to live with the odds always being against you? 

Even in this political year, some things should be clear:

·         When someone attacks who, it means they’ve given up on solving the problems. 

·         When someone belittles you, it means they have little confidence in their abilities.

·         When someone resorts to foul language, it means they are desperate.

The Lord asks the crowd: “Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?”  

The world has been collecting a lot of data for some time now.  We have data in just about everything!  We know what works and what does not work.  So why are we still so confused?  It might be because what works doesn’t necessarily sell as well as what does not work as well.  There’s a lot of money to be made in false hopes and false ideas.  There’s a lot of pressure to keep the public as stupid as possible. 

At the last Presidential debate, Mitt Romney commented that we had “fewer ships today than in 1917”.  The President of the United States responded by saying, “Yes, and we have fewer horses as well.”  I have to admit:  I laughed very hard!  I laughed because of how cheap the President’s response was and how expensive the problem is.  I wish I could have responded.  I would have said, “Mr. President, you must have forgotten how a $150,000 Humvee is blown up by a $100 IED.  You must have forgotten that we have been forced to replace each Humvee with a $250,000 JLTV (Joint Light Tactical Vehicle).  Did you forget how the USS Cole was destroyed buy a raft?  Don’t you think we need quality as well as quantity, for we never know what the enemy will throw at us?”

You should know this by now.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Luke 12:49-53 To Light A Fire

Luke 12:49-53  To Light A Fire

Jesus said to his disciples:  “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!  …Do you think I have come to establish peace on the earth?  No.  I tell you, but rather division.”

People who approach the Bible for the very first time may be surprised to discover that the Church offers us only three basic guidelines for reading it:  (1) Be attentive “to the content and unity of the whole scripture; (2) Read it within “the living Tradition of the whole Church”; (3) Be attentive to the analogy of faith (keep in mind the Creed). 

Take, for example, today’s Gospel passage.  Imagine for a moment if you just read this passage and neglected all the others?  That kind of impression would you have of Jesus?  Isn’t this the problem with some brands of Protestantism?  They tend to memorize certain scriptural verses and build a church around it.  On a very positive note, Protestants devour Scripture, unlike far too many Catholics.

Set the world on fire.  It’s behind me now, but I still remember those days when I needed to make the most difficult decision of my life:  to decide whether or not to leave my family and work and follow the Lord.  Those days were truly the most difficult days of my life.  I can still remember the phone conversation I had with the vocation recruiter.  I was trying very hard to explain to him how it made much more sense to wait one more year and then enter the seminary.  I will never forget what he said:  “If you don’t enter now, you will never enter.”  In my heart, I knew he was right.  I knew I was just feeding my fears and making excuses for my lack of faith.  I was afraid.  I didn’t know what I would do if this crazy “idea of mine” didn’t work out.  I told him I needed some guarantees, a backup plan.  He told me, “Burn all your bridges and don’t look back.”

That’s what the Lord did.  That’s what He knew He would have to do:  “There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!” 

What does it mean to set the world on fire?  Does it meant to leave death and destruction wherever you go like the Nazis did in the 1940’s?  Does it mean to set your pants on fire like the Hippies did in the 1960’s?  [that is, look for every sensual pleasure known to man?].

What does it mean to set the world on fire?  It means to leave a trail of love wherever you go!  It means to set a fire, to question everything, out of love.

Question everything!  I love it (not really) when Catholic billionaires tell simple folks like us that they were “taught” to “question everything”.  They don’t know what they are talking about.  The only thing they ever questioned was what they were taught to question, and that was what their teachers were already “questioning”. 

I find it comical that “those” who question the moral teachings of the Catholic Church came to the same conclusions as those who were teaching them.

How pathetic!  That’s not questioning everything!  That’s just repeating everything!  They are not thinking.  They are just living like a puppet or a parrot! 

You want to know someone who questioned everything?  Look to the Lord.  No one questioned everything like He did.  No one!  And no one ever taught us to question everything like He did.  Remember when He said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:43-48). 

Now that’s questioning everything:  everything we ever knew; everything we ever experienced; everything we were ever taught; everything that comes naturally; everything that makes sense; everything that is logical. 

It’s shocking!  No!  It’s actually explosive!  It will start a fire!

If you wish to “question everything”, then start with your own evil and selfish thoughts; start with your lifestyle. Question that.  Question the sins you are committing.  Don’t pretend to question what you have already rejected. 

That’s not questioning.  That’s fibbing. 

The Lord set the world on fire just like he created the world:  With Love.  The Big Bang is an explosion of God’s creative Love.  Forgiveness is an explosion of God’s re-creative love.  The Cross is an explosion of God’s amazing love.  The Resurrection is an explosion of God’s everlasting love.

To light a fire, start by questioning everything!  To keep it going, live by faith!  To make it larger, think logically.  To make it spread, love illogically.  These are not the thoughts of a madman or a liar.  These are the thoughts of our Lord.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Luke 12:39-48 Entrusted With So Much

Luke 12:39-48  Entrusted With So Much

Jesus said to his disciples:  “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

The Lord is speaking to YOU!  He has entrusted so much to YOU!  He is counting on YOU!  He wants YOU!

St. Paul writes to his friends, “You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for your benefit, namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation” (Eph 3:2-12). 

What exactly was revealed and made known to St. Paul?  That Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior!  Why him?  For two simple reasons:  for his benefit and the benefit of others; for his salvation and for the salvation of others.  This revelation was entrusted to him so that he could share the Good News with others.   

And he did. 

He took it and ran with it.  In fact, he ran as fast as he could, as hard as he could and as far as he could.  Actually, he ran all over Europe and Asia Minor with it, even up to the steps of Rome’s White House:  Caesar’s palace. 

And Rome would never be the same again.

Has this mystery not been revealed to you?  If you are reading this, then it has!  And just to let you know:  much that has been entrusted to you will be demanded of you.  This is not a threat.  This is a timely reminder.

Make no mistake about it:  you don’t need to have money; you don’t need to have talents; you don’t even have to have a tongue!  What you do need to have is a heartbeat and faith in God. 

Every single day of your life, the Lord will give you the opportunity to share Him with others.  In one way or another, the Lord will ask you to make him known to another.  Are you up to the task?  If I am, then I can assure you that you are too.

Yesterday, someone sent me a text message with the following prayer request:  “Good morning Father, would you please pray for a woman I know.  She used to be a nun, became an atheist, and is now trying to come back.  She has asked me to walk with her through this journey as she returns to the Catholic Church.  Pray for me as well.  God bless you!”

I wrote back, “I will.  How exciting!”

“Easy for you to say”, she wrote, “I don’t even know anything about atheism, so I don’t know what to expect.  We will be meeting.  She will have many questions and many fears.”

I wrote back, “You don’t need to worry about anything.  Just be faithful.  That’s what she needs.”

Just be faithful. 

I know.  It’s the easiest thing to say but the toughest thing to do.  But I know it is the best way to live life to the full!

At the end of our life, the only thing that will matter will be what we did for God and what we did for others; that is, what we did with the blessings and love we received.

Where much is given, much is expected.  Elections are coming up; maybe the most important elections of our life time.  And when I vote, I will do so based on what is true; what is sacred; what is fundamental; what is important. 

It will not be rooted in me.  It will be rooted in Jesus Christ.

I sometimes imagine that at the end of my life I will be handed a few lists outlining all the things I complained about; all the time I wasted; all the excuses I made, and all the things I considered to be very important.  I fear that moment may be a bit embarrassing - not so much for what is on my lists - but when I compare it to God’s immense love and mercy I received throughout my life.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Luke 12:35-38 Stay Alert!

Luke 12:35-38  Stay Alert!
(Click here for readings)
Jesus said to his disciples:  “…Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.    Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.”
I have to admit that I no longer find it surprising when the academic world hides the truth from others; or better yet, when they decide to airbrush the truth away.  Even though the ultimate purpose of our schools is to teach the truth, more and more are caving into political correctness and religious intolerance. 
Yesterday, I read the following headline:  Holy Photoshop!  LSU erased Christian football fans’ crosses.
Now you may be thinking:  With all the important things going on in the world, why in the world waste a meditation on such a benign subject?  The answer should be obvious by to everyone:  Lying is never a benign issue.  It is a growing problem.  It is what the devil does best.  He is the prince of lies, remember? 
It turns out that Louisiana State University (LSU) officials published a photo of “The Painted Posse”, a student led organization that is very much devoted to LSU football and to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  At every home game, these students show their school spirit by painting their bare chests with their school colors and a small cross.  The school officials loved it and posted a picture of them for all the world to see.
But when these same kids saw it, they were horrified.  They couldn’t believe what they were seeing.  Actually, they couldn’t believe what they were not seeing:  the little cross.  It turns out it had been airbrushed out by school officials. 
It seems to me that these same school officials love the Painted Posse’s spirit …but not the Holy Spirit.  They love the fact that these kids love their school…but not their Savior. 
Why did they do it?  Officials responded by saying, “We don’t want to imply we are making any religious or political statements, so we air-brushed it out.”  So…instead of worrying about making a false statement, they worried more about making a political or religious statement.  What a bunch of cowards!  How sickening.  How pathetic.  What liars.  They prefer to distort the truth than to face reality.  These officials are still lying.  They did not have to make any political or religious statement when they published this picture.  All they had to do is describe the picture and state the facts below it.  That’s it.
Atheists would love for believers to believe that our nation is abandoning God.  But since that’s not true, they resort to sabotage.  They try to airbrush Christians away.  But in reality, they are airbrushing the truth away and painting for us a better portrait of whom they are and what they will resort to. 
Be aware!  Be attentive!  Stay alert!  History tends to repeat itself. 
No God = No Heaven, just Hell on earth.

Where is God?  Why doesn’t He come to our rescue?  A week ago, our seventh grade students at St. Monica finished reading “Night”, the memories of Elie Wiesel’s experience in a Nazi concentration camp.  I asked the kids if they believed (like Mr. Wiesel) that God had abandoned His people.  After all, the evidence seemed to point in that direction.  The kids didn’t know.  So I asked them some difficult questions:  Why did the Holocaust happen in the 1940’s?  Why not centuries before?  How in the world could the Nazis have gained so much power?  Why was it so easy for Hitler to convince the German people that they were superior to others?  Why did all of this happen in Germany?   
They did not know.
I continued:  What was going on in the 1900’s?  What were people reading back then?  What did they believe in? 
I then wrote on the board four names:  Darwin, Marx, Feuerbach, and Nietzsche.  [It’s amazing how science and philosophy translate into politics and life.]
Right before Hitler and the Nazis appeared, and the Holocaust and World War II began, certain theories and philosophies were receiving wide attention and acceptance in Germany.
People in Germany were beginning to place their faith in man, in science and atheism.  They were beginning to believe that man should return to the animal kingdom where he belongs; to rule where there are no rules and where only the strongest survive.  They believed in survival of the fittest and preying on the weakest (Darwin).  They believed that religion was the opium of people (Marx) and that there was no need to worry about right and wrong because there was no heaven or hell.  They believed they had finally succeeded in ridding the world of the greatest myth:  God; of killing Him (Nietzsche) and replacing him with His rightful owner:  man (Feuerbach). 
And it was all good; In fact, it was “very good”. 
Did God abandon man or did man abandon Him?  The kids knew the answer. 
God did not abandon man.  Man abandoned Him.  And even today, we continue to airbrush Him out of our lives…out of reality. 
"Brothers and sisters: You were at a time without Christ...without hope and without God in the world" (cf. Ephesians 2:12-22).

The Holocaust was not a test of faith.  It was a taste of atheism...and (I think) of things to come.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Luke 12:13-21 Beware!

Luke 12:13-21  Beware!
Jesus said to the crowd:  “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
One of the toughest challenges a priest faces is to talk about someone they did not know.  Funeral Masses can be very challenging.  Family members can find it hard to express their loved one’s life.  Friends seem to remember only the most frivolous or superficial (as well as embarrassing) things about the deceased.  The “natural” tendency we have is to turn a eulogy into a stand-up comedy.  Those who do so think they are helping the living out by breaking through a moment of seriousness and sadness with a joke.  Well, it may work, but do we have to break our sadness by just cracking jokes?  Could we not do better? 

Often I need to sit down with family members and friends to ask them to describe the deceased’s life.  Even with that, I don’t get much to work on.  I get more statistics than substance; more stories than significance; more means than ends; more accomplishments than goals.

For example:  A person’s goal in life should never be that he/she remained sober most of their life.  That’s not a goal; it’s a means to an end.   A person remains sober because they want to be a better husband or wife; a more relevant mother or father; a more loving brother or sister; a holy person.  That's the goal. 

I think it would be great if everyone wrote their own obituary.  I think it would be wonderful to let loved ones know, in your own words, what you thought of them.  Do not leave it to others to do it for you.  Why?  Because they don’t know you as well as you know yourself.  They don’t know what is important to you.  And you never know who will end up writing it for you.

A long time ago, I was specifically requested to celebrate a funeral Mass for a man I did not know.  I was honored yet surprised to learn that the family had asked me.  So I asked the family to help me give this man the recognition he deserved.  I asked them to write something down for me.  His ex-wife did it.  I won’t go into the details but it was not helpful.  I did not want his farewell to be his last confession!

Sometimes people consider it important to highlight their loved one’s economic success story; or their hobbies; or what they loved to collect (like beer cans and match boxes or lighters).  They neglect to mention what mattered the most because they don't know what matters most.  But when they do know, it makes all the difference in the world.  

Recently, I performed a funeral for a man who loved to collect things.  In fact, he collected many things.  That was interesting, but was that really important to him?  Did that really describe his life?  Finally, someone mentioned that he cherished his friends.  He never lost a friend.” 

That was it!  That’s what I needed to hear.  Yes, he collected many things in his life, but his greatest collection was his friendships.  He collected friends throughout his entire life and never lost a single one.  He cherished everything and everyone in his life.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments?  In your life, who influenced you the most?  What did your family mean to you?  Who did you listen to the most?  Who should you have listened to?  What did you consider to be important?  If there was anything you could have changed, what would it have been? What advice would you like to give to your loved ones; to others? 

In today’s Gospel, the Lord tells his listeners a parable regarding a man who stored up treasure on earth but forgot about the things that mattered most.   One night he passed away, unexpectedly. God said to the man, “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?  Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God. 

We do not know the hour or the day in which our journey on earth will end.  It’s good to start thinking about what matters most and to write it all down.  Believe me, this is not just practical advice for the elderly, the sick or the dying.  This is something that we should all be doing, and periodically updating.  Even kids should be doing this.  They could do it in religion class.  It will help them to focus more on what matters the most (God, family and friends) and less on what matters the least:  themselves and being popular.