September 17, 2017
Recently, a parishioner sent me a number of Family Circus comics on prayer, going to church, trying to baptize the cat, etc. One cartoon had Billy (or Jeffy) praying: “Our Father who art in heaven how did you know my name?” Billy messes up the opening of the Our Father but in so doing expresses a core belief: God knows us, cares for us and call us by name. We are called by name at baptism into Christ’s ministry of reconciliation. Like, Simon Peter we are commanded, beyond human comprehension and capacity, to forgive seventy times seven.
Jesus asks us to pray: “Our Father” and petition God/Abba: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” In the Parable of the shady and stingy servant we find lessons for discipleship. The king expects his gesture/grant of mercy to transform his servant who has no way to pay back the loan. The king sets an example. When the king learns of the servant’s reprehensible behavior with a fellow servant in debt to him, he confronts and punishes the wicked and ungrateful servant. What the servant has received he refuses to share.
The parable should make us uneasy when we find ourselves unable to forgive. In our first reading, the author of the Book of Sirach knows our human inclination. “Wrath and anger are hateful things yet we hold them tight.” Wisdom cautions us to remember our old age and to set enmity aside. Can we imagine dying full of anger and bitterness and then opening our eyes to God who is “slow to anger, rich in kindness and compassion?” Paul urges the Church at Rome to live and to die for the Lord. He likely quotes a baptismal hymn. Forgiveness frees us from bondage. It is a death and resurrection experience. In baptism we adopt the manner, attitude, mind and heart of Jesus.
Forgiveness is a difficult task. There are times growing up that parents have to persuade (force) a child to say: “I am sorry” or to reconcile with a sibling. We can take the first step on the path of forgiveness by asking God to let go of anger in our hearts especially before we go to bed. Listen to St. Paul to the Ephesians: “If you are angry let it be without sin. The sun must not go down on your wrath: do not give the devil the chance to work on you.”
I was intently listening to a conversation with a family – 3 generations talking about turtles on the beach in Venice, Florida. The small turtles break through the sand at night and claw & crawl their way to the sea. They spend 2-3 years in the relative safety of their food source of green seaweed off the coast and then venture forth into the ocean. Years later (35) ... READ MORE
Jordan Spieth, after winning the British Open in dramatic fashion, was asked about golf being the # 1 focus in his life. Surprisingly, Jordan said the most important thing for him is his faith, family & friends, girl friend and then golf. Remarkable how this golf champion, who has won three majors before his 24th birthday, sets his priorities. In the Gospel according t... READ MORE
What is the Kingdom of Heaven? How can we understand and describe something that we cannot readily see or measure or touch? Jesus chooses to use the language poetry and parable to offer sketches of God’s Kingdom. Jesus engages our imagination and draws us into the metaphor to give us a sense of its meaning and mystery -- like solving a riddle or putting a puzzle together... READ MORE
Our devotion finds expression in art. There are paintings of Mary dating back to 1346, the early Renaissance, of Mary sitting on a cushion just above the ground with baby Jesus sitting on her lap looking at the viewer(s). The “Madonna of Humility” depicts both Mary’s earthy or lowly station and her favored status in the eyes of God. “Humility,” according to St. T... READ MORE
“Come to me.” It is an invitation from Jesus directed to “little ones” – disciples who are tired and burdened. The only way we can receive and respond to the invitation of Jesus is by the Holy Spirit. St. Paul writes to the Church at Rome that the Spirit of God that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us. Prophet Zechariah, speaking for the Lord, says... READ MORE