Wednesday, October 30, 2013
It is easy to point out the Pharisee in someone else, and much more difficult to see it in oneself. That is one of the hazards of self-righteousness. Coming to an awareness of one's own failings demands some reflection. It doesn't happen all on its own. The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector illustrates this very point. The Pharisee couldn't stop talking during his prayer. He went on and on about all of the things he was not, and then boasted about all of the things he did. On the other hand, the tax collector's prayer was simple and direct: "O God, be merciful to me a sinner." He had time to listen. Why not take five minutes each day to listen to God? Turn off the radio or TV. Sit in a quiet place. Empty your mind and start with the words: "O God, be merciful to me a sinner." And then, listen!
Sunday, October 20, 2013
In today's Gospel we hear Jesus instructing his disciples about the importance to pray always. Prayer is beginning in God, awareness of God, engagement with God, abandonment to God, ending in God. To be alive to life is to pray. In the early years of Christianity, monks in the Palestinian desert took literally Jesus' command to pray always. Each day they prayed all one hundred fifty psalms, and if they still had time, they prayed the Lord's Prayer over and over. Long before Hail Mary's were used for the beads of a rosary, a circle of fifty beads three times was used to keep track of the daily share of psalms. Jesus knew, loved and prayed the psalms, and so should we. The psalms are wonderful prayers, maybe you can read one every day. Even though we may not pray always or pray the psalms every day, we can have a prayer card, a small crucifix, or a rosary in our purse or pocket to remind us of God's presence.
Monday, October 14, 2013
What are we desperate to have fixed? An illness? Our finances? A relationship? What is a problematic part of our everyday life that we want changed? This is what the lepers were seeking when they cried out to Jesus for mercy. Leprosy had changed their very existence, and the grueling effects of the disease separated tem from the very life they had known. In some ways the government shutdown, the hit to the economy and the collapse of the housing market has been a kind of leprosy. Despite campaign promises, politicians will not be the saviors. Let us recognize our need for the Lord. Be receptive of the Lord's unconditional love. Be of service to those around us. Thus we will find out salvation in the love of God, shared by fellow Christians.
Thanks to all who helped make our parish Nationality Festival a great success, especially the dedicated workers who worked in the booths, the children's games, entertainment, sponsors, setter-uppers, cleaner-uppers, tear-downers and most of all to God for providing us this opportunity to work together. A big thanks also goes to Dan Trocchio for chairing our festival. Everyone working together is what makes our parish festival so great. Thank you for all you do for the parish! Dziekuje! Merci beaucoup! Gracias! Danka!
There is probably no more chilling Gospel story about the lack of awareness of those in need than the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Wooed by the glitter and glitz of life, we can easily be distracted. In fact, we can even forget that we came from God and we are returning to God sooner than we think. The suggestion in the story is that in the end God will even things out if we don't make the efforts on our own. The rich man had plenty of comforts in life and took little notice of Lazarus' suffering. And so in the end, it was Lazarus who enjoys paradise while the rich man was in torment. The parable is a stark warning that our abundant blessings do not assure us of heaven.