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Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily from the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time: CLICK HERE!

There are many ways to pray and today, storyteller Jesus shares with us two people who pray in very different ways.  The Pharisee’s prayer is “all about me” I, I, I….  If we would have to guess, his name it might be Narcissus.  The Pharisee, did not seem to ask for or want God’s help.

And then there is the Tax Collector…  He readily admits he needs God’s help and is open to receive what God wants to give.  He stands in the back of church, the temple, and he comes to God as himself, praying for mercy and ready to accept it.

So here we are, Sunday morning, and what is our prayer today?  I am sure our prayers are many, as to be expected.  And, I am sure, much like the Tax Collector, we come with humility before God.  And of course when we come to church, to Mass each weekend, our prayer, it seems to me, that we must come to church (to God) with the prayer for open minds and hearts and souls that are open to receive what God wants to give us for not only our journey of life, but of faith.

Who has not heard or maybe even said that church is boring… translation – God is boring.

God is not boring… Maybe we need to have as they say, “A check up from the neck up…”

Being Christian, being Catholic is a way of life…  Not something we do to get it done. I doubt that Jesus suffered, died and arose (and gifted us with eternal life) not as something on the list to be checked off, but rather it was done with great love.

Often what we see lacking in our world today is zeal, passion, and commitment in many areas of life, including our life of faith.  It is not that we do not have faith… Often we do not even try to live our faith…

I often think if Jesus was preaching today, what would he be saying to us?  (I am not sure we really want to know…)

But he does speak to us every weekend at Mass.  What are we hearing, what should we be hearing, and how much more can we live lives of faith daily?

Our lives speak much about what we believe, what is important.  What are our lives saying about us, including our lives of faith?

Let me end with this quote as something to consider, “the way you live your life will be affecting people for generations to come until the end of time.”

What story are you telling with your life?

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time: CLICK HERE!

This past week many people, maybe even ourselves had to lower our expectations when we did not win the $1.6 Billion Mega Drawing.

Now they hope and dream and pray for a miracle: winning a paltry Powerball prize of $750 million.  Good luck!

Speaking of miracles, I think that most of us would say that the healing of the blind man, in today’s Gospel by Jesus, was a miracle, or put another way, a Holy Moment. (And Jesus had lots of these)

What’s a Holy Moment???

A Holy Moment is a moment when we open ourselves to God; when we make ourselves available to God. We set aside what we feel like doing in that moment, we set aside self-interest and for one moment we simply do what we prayerfully believe God is calling us to do in that moment. That’s a Holy Moment…

Every day can be filled with many Holy Moments, if we wish. There is no limit to the Holy Moments we can create, each day.

  • Being more agreeable with people
  • Thanking God in prayer for today
  • Being in the moment
  • Doing what is expected of us at home, work, school or church
  • Encouraging another
  • Assisting someone with their chores or work
  • Recycling
  • Generosity

Holiness is possible for everyone…

I hear people sharing their not so perfect choices of life but every moment of the day, THIS moment, is the moment to choose to live, to share a Holy Moment.

Holy Moments are, if you will, making a choice for good, for God… Holy Moments that make God’s presence more real to others and even ourselves.

I am sure we all live Holy Moments every day and maybe we don’t realize it but imagine if we made a more conscious effort to live Holy Moments, every day. How much better the lives of people around us would be, how much better the world could be…

Let  me share one Holy Moment that I was a part of yesterday at BJ’s in Latham. Two high school students were collecting money to assist Wounded Warriors. As I approached the two students, I began a conversation with them, finding out they attended CBA (Christian Brothers’ Academy); finding out that one was a Junior and one a Sophomore; finding out that their Principal, Dr. Jim Schlegel, would be starting a Theology Class. Then one of the two adults, upon hearing my last name, asked if I grew up on 24th Street in Watervliet and thus another conversation began. I did not know the person, but he was very familiar with my two brothers and then a conversation ensured with the other adult, who shared how she began this effort to assist Wound Warriors some years back. I went inside to get something and upon departing, I shared with the two CBA students a Theological statement: “God’s Operation – Man’s Cooperation.”  (Which one of the students, put into his phone so he could remember it for his Theology Class.)

Oh, Father Joe… You never mentioned putting anything into the collection container for the Wounded Warriors. Be assured I did. (Another Holy Moment)

To repeat the quote on the cover of today’s bulletin: “We shouldn’t need to tell people we are Christian (Catholic). It should be obvious, not by how we label ourselves, but by the lives we live.”

May we never be blinded to the Holy Moments that come our way daily and may we never be blinded to the limitless opportunities to touch the lives of others with Holy Moments.

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

People went to church to pray… Sounds like the Gospel: two people went to the Temple area to pray.

Another great story – and teaching – by Jesus.

And here we are this weekend.  Maybe we relate to one or the other people in the Gospel today or maybe we relate to both of the people in the Gospel today, which is my guess.

I would share that one of the points of today’s Gospel is the example set forth by the Tax Collector.  He knows his life is a bit messed up; he knows he has not always been the best person of God that he could or should be; he knows he is not the greatest; he knows he has sinned — but he knows that his prayer, “oh God, be merciful to me a sinner,” is the first step to growing in faith, in growing in relationship to God and people.

And then there is the Pharisee.  He knows he is the greatest.  He knows or at least says he does all the right things.  He knows (or thinks) he is not like others: greedy, dishonest, adulterous.

Just maybe, if the Pharisee was a bit more in tune to the fact that one’s interior dispositions and one’s exterior dispositions do not always match, his attitude and prayer would be much different.

What you see or what you think about another person is often not true.  Yet, our God knows us, our God wishes to walk with us, to work with us and within us in our journey of life and faith.

And not to be overlooked is St. Paul.  Paul, who as his life nears the end has done his best and believes that God will bring him home, and Paul does not single himself out.  Paul, who persevered; Paul, who fought the good fight is meant to be model to us all.  And like Paul and the Tax Collector in our scriptures – both let God be God in their lives and asked (or better yet prayed) to our God for mercy and forgiveness, acceptance, understanding and so much more.

The Tax Collector and St. Paul are set before us to reminds us, that today and everyday offers us the opportunity to make the move from our playing God, to letting God be God in our lives, not just once, but time and time again.


As a sort of post script to this weekend’s scriptures, I began to think about how much of an “Inviting Church” are we as a persons, families, Parish and Church?

Obviously, an “Inviting Church” is not the Church of the Pharisee who is at the very least self-centered, proud, and judgmental.

Hopefully it gets us all thinking about being and becoming an “Inviting Church.”  Inviting to those who drift into Church on occasion or maybe never.  Inviting to those who have been here for ever and ever – Amen.  Inviting to those we call neighbors, co-workers, family and friends.

“Being an Inviting Church” needs to be the work of each and every one of us.  “Being an Inviting Church” means we need to share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ of yesteryears and today.  Through our words and actions of invitation and welcome to those inside these church doors and to those outside these church doors.

People went to Church this weekend and God spoke to them, God touched their hearts and minds and souls.

People will be going home from Church this weekend, sent forth to share the Good News, the Gospel of mercy and forgiveness; the Gospel of great love and invitation and so much more lived out today by his disciples of St. Mary’s, Crescent and others twenty-four hours a day; seven days a week, more and more.

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Deacon Andy

This weekend we celebrate the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time. There is nothing that makes this Sunday Celebration any more special than other Sunday celebrations, except that because it is the 30th Sunday out of 33 we know that most of the year is now past.

As you look back on this past year, how do you feel about the things that you did or didn’t accomplish?

  • Has it been a good year when you did most of the things that you had planned to do at the beginning of the year?

Have you thought about how you got them done?

  • Or, are you feeling frustrated because you didn’t, or couldn’t get many of the things that you had planned to do done?
  • And, if you’re feeling frustrated have you asked yourself why?

If your life is anything like mine I’m sure that as you look back over the past year you can pretty easily identify times that were good… when you accomplished something that you had planned to do. AND I’m sure you can identify at least a few times when you were frustrated because things didn’t work out as you had planned or hoped they would.

You may even be able to identify some times when you were frustrated because of your own actions or behaviors toward someone else… maybe a family member.

Now, think for a minute about the times when things went all your way and times were good.

  • It’s refreshing to remember those times, isn’t it!

Now, I’m going to ask you to close your eyes for a moment and think about those times when you were frustrated, and things didn’t go your way.

  • Were your filled with Joy?
  • Did you feel delivered?
  • Did you ask yourself is there anything that you could have, or should have done differently that would have resulted in a different outcome?

As you reflect on the events in your life, both good and bad, did you ask yourself, where was God in those moments of accomplishment or frustration?

I’m sure that Bartimaeus thought about God and where He was throughout his life.

  • Why else would he have asked Jesus to have pity on him?
  • How, but through God’s intervention, could his sight have been restored?

It’s the Jesus question!

It’s the question that we need to be asking ourselves every day!

It’s the one question, with two parts that we need to make the center of our lives!

Okay, so I’m guessing that many, if not most of you are sitting there asking yourselves…what is the Jesus question?

You all already know the Jesus Question, you probably just can’t remember it right now. But it is THE ONE QUESTION that if we work to be sure it is always top of mind will change our lives!

It is the question that will make us look at everything that happens in our lives differently.

It is the question that will so completely change our individual relationship with Jesus and God that our lives will never be the same.

You see when you start asking yourself the Jesus question every day you will realize that although you can’t go back and fix the things that you did wrong in the past, you can’t move forward in your relationship with Jesus without Him and in His Grace… and through His Grace, you may not be perfect, you will be a better person.

So, what is the Jesus question?

It’s really quite simple…

  • Where is Jesus at this moment in my life, AND will I confess that He has saved me?

No more than Bartimaues could have restored his own sight, can we go forward without a relationship with Jesus.

  • Don’t hide it!
  • Don’t be embarrassed by it!

And, remember to thank Him by giving of yourself to others who have not been blessed with the gifts given to you.

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings:  Exodus 22:20-26;  1 Thessalonians 1:5-10;  Matthew 22:34-40

What’s important in your life ???

A Pastor once shared that he attended a workshop and was asked to list 10 things he considered priorities in his life.  Then on the other side of the paper to write down the date of the last time he actually did one of those things.

Point is: thinking about something is not close to doing something about it! (Rarely do we live our priorities)

Think of today’s Gospel:  Love God, love neighbor, as yourself.

We do know it is not always easy to love, especially as Jesus asks of us…  It is not easy to love another who harms you and pray for them.  It is not easy to love another when they interfere with our plans.  It is not easy to love another when they are “different.”  …and the list can go on and on and on.

St. Francis de Sales tells us, “always put yourself in your neighbors’ place and put your neighbor in your place….  imagine yourself being the seller when you are they buyer; imagine yourself being the buyer when you are the seller.    In this way you will sell and buy according to justice.”

How do we love others in real situations?  Are we willing to put ourselves in the other person’s place as we want the other person to put us in theirs?

Love is not always easy, but with practice, loving as Jesus loves is possible.

How do we love as Jesus?  Start small:

  •  Offer an act of kindness to a stranger…
  •  Smile more, say hello to others…
  •  Offer more kind words, say “yes” more…
  •  Be more positive in your e-mails, texts, and even snail mail…
  •  Speak more positive of people, especially behind their back…
  •  Hold the door for someone…
  •  Thank someone for their kindness…
  •  Try to understand the situation of your:  spouse, child, parent, friend, co-worker, class mate, neighbor, stranger, homeless pastor, I mean – homeless person, and yes even the Pastor…
  • Pray to see the other person as God does or as you want God to see you…

They say practice makes perfect.  Practice these and other acts of kindness every day, starting today, and we will all be pleasantly surprised at how loving others seems to become more and more easier.

One day a woman went into a sandwich shop to buy lunch.  A man who looked to be homeless opened the door for her and held it.  She thanked him.  As she walked by he said, “I’m hungry.”

She bought her sandwich, chips and drink and walked out of the store.  The same man opened the door again.  After thanking him, he said, “I’m still hungry.”  Pausing, she looked into his eyes, and then handed him her lunch.  Speechless for a moment, he said, “thank you.”  She went back into the shop, purchased another lunch and asked if she could sit and eat with him.  He agreed.  They dined together, conversed, and then parted ways.