Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - July 20, 2014

What?  You didn’t expect to hear from me?  Consider this my postcard.  My general practice is that while I am away on vacation, my column is about my vacation experiences (with some attempt to make a spiritual point).  Of course I cannot be too detailed since I have to write these columns before I actually go on my vacation.  But although I am composing this column before I leave, please imagine that I am writing to you from pool-side at my hotel.
Actually, I probably won’t spend much time by the pool.  My vacations are usually pretty frenetic – at least during the first week.  Ever since 1997, I have centered the main portion of my vacation around baseball.  That year I decided to pick a Major League ballpark that I had not seen and go spend a weekend watching a couple of games.  Since then my baseball trip has expanded to a week-long adventure.  I do tourist-type things (museums, historical attractions and such) during the day, and I usually attend five or six baseball games while I am there.  So each year I plan my trip by looking at when I can get two weeks off, and then I compare the schedules of the Major League teams whose current ballparks I have not yet seen.  This year I am spending my time at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Chase Field is my thirty-second park for big league baseball, including Forbes Field, Three Rivers Stadium and PNC Park here in Pittsburgh.  By my latest count, there are eleven teams whose parks I have not seen, some of whom I have seen in facilities that are now closed.  That means that if no new parks open and if I continue to do one per year, I should complete the circuit in 2026.  Meanwhile, I am looking forward to visiting Phoenix.  As of this writing, I’m not sure what I will see, but it’s always fun to visit a city’s tourism web site and pick some possibilities.  And I would think of Phoenix as a fantasy come true, except that my fantasies about Phoenix usually occur during the winter.  I admit that I do not have a full appreciation for all of God’s creation, and I find it harder to recognize the beauty of God’s handiwork in the middle of winter.  At some point every winter I find myself wondering what it would be like to live in Phoenix.  On the other hand, I love the hot weather.  Still, even I will probably appreciate air conditioning on this trip, where the temperatures routinely hit 100 this time of year.
So perhaps, in an attempt to include a spiritual point, I will simply turn to an old joke.  One Sunday morning in the middle of summer, people gathered in an old church that did not have air conditioning.  A few of them let the priest know that they wouldn’t object if he skipped the homily, but he told them that the homily is an integral part of Mass and should not be overlooked.  Instead, he gave them this homily: “Today is the hottest day of the year, and by the time this Mass is over it will be the hottest time of the day.  Just remember that there is one place hotter than this.  Stay out of it.”

                                                                       Father H