To watch Fr. David Berberian’s homily from the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time: CLICK HERE!
St Paul’s letter to the Romans today is most timely not only in the midst of the COVID Pandemic or the unrest that we see on TV on a regular basis, but even in our ordinary day to day lives.
St. Paul reminds us all today to owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another.
The Commandments are summed up in the saying “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no evil to the neighbor.
How do we, each day, love our neighbor (all people)?
As you may recall in the Mass of the Assumption, I shared that one of the qualities of God that we can see is God’s respect for Mary, the Mother of Jesus, of God… A respect that God has toward you and me, all people here on earth.
And maybe what is missing today is our living that respect, call it love for others. I remember a few years ago attending the graduation ceremony of new police officers. The speaker of the day reminded the new police officers “to treat people, like they were your mother”. Not a bad bit of advice. But his words also related to us… How are we treating others? Are we treating others like we wish to be treated?
Last weekend, there was a severe thunderstorm alert and even a tornado alert in our area… and area TV stations broke into regular scheduled programming and they stayed on till the watch ended, for some 60 to 90 minutes or more late Saturday afternoon.
And I am sure a few phone calls were made to the TV stations to get back to the TV schedule… But as one TV meteorologist, Reid Kisselback, shared more than once, “We are staying on till the watch is over. The safety of your neighbors is more important than whatever program you were watching.”
How do we, maybe how did we react to this situation last week or at other times? Did we see it as loving and caring for our neighbor?
Maybe many of our concerns and problems that we have in life, personally or even nationally, might well stem from our need to respect and love others, not just more, but like God loves us.
We can make this world a better place. That’s something worth doing as a person, family, parish, people community and nation!
Maybe starting today our daily efforts might center around the words, “treat everyone like you would treat your mother”!
Oh, one more thing about loving and caring for our neighbor:
- Wear a mask, including over your nose
- Socially distance 6 feet from people
- Avoid large gatherings/groups of people
- Stay home if you are sick
- Wash your hands often
Love of others needs to happen in the big things of life and the small thinks of life, in the moments that are the here and now…
Again, let’s treat everyone we meet like they were our mother! Like God who treats us with love and respect and even forgiveness!
To watch Fr. Joe’s homily for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time: CLICK HERE!
It seems to me that 3 qualities that can be challenging for us – maybe not all the time, but at least sometimes – are:
In this era of “it’s all about me,” whatever my attitude and whatever my understanding – whether right or wrong – you just live with it.
This weekend, might I suggest that Jesus is challenging us to reconsider that “it’s all about me” way of living. As a matter of fact, Jesus makes it pretty clear that being a Disciple of Jesus must include God, others, and a life style that puts this all in balance.
Take going to Mass on weekly basis, we have all seen the decline…
- Well, we were on vacation…
- Well, the kids have sports…
- Well, we got to bed late…
- Well, I/we just didn’t feel like going…
We may be consistently late; or consistently leave early. And the list goes on…
And in the meantime, our faith, our Discipleship, is not nurtured, is not supported… is slowing eroding…
We need to be and become more and more models of faith in action.
A few days ago, I heard someone say, “I would die for my kids” and a person responded by saying, “How will you LIVE for you kids?” (Great question!)
How are we living for our kids? How is our lived life an every day model and reminder of what is of God, goodness and faith, hope and love, Disciples of Jesus, and so much more. Whether people are watching or listening or not.
When I was on vacation a week or so ago, I played in the World Golf Amateur. One night at a reception, I heard one golfer who played the tournament share, “I was standing next the golf ball of a fellow competitor what could not find his golf ball. After the 3 minutes for looking for the ball expired and he hit his provisional golf ball for the lost ball, I then told him his golf ball was here.”
Simply put, this is not good sportsmanship.
Oh, I know you are asking, and Father how did you do in the tournament? The answer should be obvious. I was victorious.
Living life is about balance, better choices… about better perspective, about our attitudes and our understandings of things and people, about our faith and our relationship with God and one another…
Often we have other gods come into our lives that detour us from the one true God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Where in our lives is something a false God? Where in our lives is a checkup from the neck up needed? Where in our lives is our faith fading instead of growing and glowing?
Finally, let me end with a smile:
After a short trip to Earth, the martian astronaut returns home, to Mars, and presents his superior with a TV screen and a smart phone. “Sorry,” he says to his superiors, “that I could not capture and bring back any Earthlings, but I did better than that… I brought back two of their gods.”
To watch Fr. Joe’s homily for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time: CLICK HERE!
A parishioner of a Parish in Minneapolis tells the story of one Sunday, a few years ago, when she walked toward the front entrance of the church, and spotted a shabbily dressed man asking people for money as they entered church. The parishioner wasn’t sure what to do if the man approached, so they decided to avoid eye contact and walked quickly into church.
Right before mass began, the parishioner turned around, looked back and saw the panhandler looking for a place to sit. Like a passenger on a plane with an empty seat next to them, the parishioner hoped the man would not take the seat next to her. To their relief, the man sat somewhere else. And of course other church goers looked at this man with leery eyes.
Mass began and then during the singing of the “Alleluia” before the Gospel, the panhandler walked down the aisle toward the altar. When the singing stopped, the shabbily dressed man walked up to the pulpit and read the Gospel. He then returned to his pew and sat down.
Then the Pastor approached the pulpit for his homily and the parishioners soon learned they had been set up. The shabbily dressed man was in cahoots with the Pastor. He was a plant. The Pastor began his homily by saying:
“The message of today’s readings is ‘it is the poor who announce the Good News.’” And using the words of St. Paul today said, “Brothers and Sisters, show no partiality… Do not make distinctions among yourselves… Do not judge with evil designs.”
Maybe the story from the church in Minneapolis, maybe the words of St. Paul, are a reminder that what the world needs every day is not only love but respect.
+ Respect that is reflected in our kindness and civility toward all.
+ Respect that is reflected in those sacrifices we make for others.
+ Respect that is reflected in our willingness to lend a helping hand.
+ Respect that is reflected in our forgiveness.
+ Respect that is reflected in our consideration of others.
+ Respect that is reflected in our kind words.
May the scripture readings we hear every weekend, continue to be seen in the lives we live… Lives filled with increasing faith, with hope, with love… Lives filled with increasing respect for all – (with no partiality).
The story is told of a Naval Officer who was given the command of a battleship, something he always wanted. On his first night at sea, he noticed a light in the distance and called the Communications Officer to send a message for the boat to turn 20 degrees to the south. A message came back telling the Captain to turn his ship 20 degrees to the north. Another message shot back, “you turn your ship as I ordered; I am Captain O’Brien.” A return message, “you turn your ship, I am third-class midshipman Patrick Murphy.” Now infuriated at this impertinence, the Captain sent one last message, “you better turn now! I am a destroyer!” The return message: “YOU better turn now. I am a lighthouse!”
In this story, the captain was convinced he was right in ordering the apparent offender to change course. Often we ourselves are quick to judge another without all the information we need. We can often have the habit of judging the intention of others. “Did you see that guy deliberately pull out in front of me in traffic? What a _____!” (You can fill in the blank) Perhaps he was rushing to the hospital after hearing his child was injured.
OR – How could people not leave when a hurricane is approaching? Incredible!!
The question today is, could our ship possibly be off course?
Imagine, if we could hold the tension until we could non-judgmentally resolve our difference out of love for one another. Who knows the “other” could well be our “lighthouse” for today, guiding us safely home to loving harmony with each other, now and forever.
This past week in our Diocesan newspaper there was an article entitled, “A Child’s Eye View of Recent Events” which I think links very closely to today’s message. Allow me a few extra moments to share this with you…
(Father Joe then continued to share the following article with the people of St. Mary’s, Crescent. This fantastic article can be found at THIS LINK.)
A Faith Formation teacher asked her eight eager 10-year old students to hold up their hands if they would give one million dollars to the missionaries.
The response was great. All their hands went up immediately and they shouted, “YES!” Their generous arms raised again when the teacher asked, “Would you give them $1,000?” She tried again, “How about $100?” and their proud arms waved like tall trees in the wind.
Then the teacher asked the final question, “Would you give just one dollar to the missionaries?” Again, the students exclaimed, “Yes,” except for one of the boys. He remained silent and lowered his arm. The teacher asked him, “Why didn’t you say ‘Yes’ this time?”
“Well,” he stammered, “I actually have a dollar.”
There is no doubt that our response to today’s Gospel is, we want to be Disciples of Jesus. But, honestly there may be times we may not be willing to give or to share our possessions. Times when the call to be a Disciple seems too much for us, for me.
This weekend (Sunday, September 4, 2016) Mother Teresa of Calcutta will be “Proclaimed a Saint” by Pope Francis.
As you may know, the Missionaries of Charity that Mother Teresa founded minister to the “poorest of the poor.” (Talk about being Disciples of Jesus in today’s world!)
If we were to sum up the message of Mother Teresa it would probably be, “that love and caring are the most important things in the world.”
To quote Mother Teresa, “do small things with great love.”
Today, tomorrow, during the coming week… what daily things, what ordinary things, what routine things, what small things might we do with great love and maybe even have a smile on our face?
Scripture Readings: Isaiah 35:4-7; James 2:1-5; Mark 7:31-37
Some years ago, many Christians would say: WWJD. Translation, “What would Jesus do?”
Today in the Gospel we hear what Jesus did!
He cured people; He gave people life; He gave people hope; He cared about everyone through his words and actions of everyday life.
Just read the newspapers or your electronic news and it is quite clear that many people in our world today are not meeting Jesus in their lives and in their needs.
Quite frankly, “Jesus wants us to continue to carry on his work!”
After the biggest meeting of his life went very well. Paul could not wait to tell his wife and boss. As he and his team rushed out of the NYC office building, they noticed a vacant cab – a rare sight during rush hour.
Eagar to catch their flight home, the bolted toward the cab. As they made their way across the sidewalk that inadvertently knocked down a small produce stand. The team seemed not to notice until Paul stopped and turned around to go back.
From the taxi cab the others called, “Paul, come on, you will miss your flight.”
“Go ahead without me,” Paul replied as he made his way back to the sidewalk covered with produce. At that point, Paul realized that the woman behind the produce stand was blind. She was just standing there crying softly with tears running down her face.
“It’s ok, it’s ok,” Paul said as he got down on his hands and knees and began picking up the fruit and vegetables. There were a hundred people passing in every direction, but nobody else stopped to help. They just scurried off to what ever they were doing.
When the fruit was all back up on the stand Paul neatly organized it, and set aside anything that was spoiled. Then he turned to the woman and asked, “are you ok?” She nodded through her tears. Then Paul took some money out of his wallet and gave it to the woman saying, “this money should cover the damages.”
With that Paul turned and began to walk away.
“Mister,” the woman called to him. Paul paused and turned around. She said, “Are you Jesus?”
“Oh, no,” he replied.
The woman continued, “I only ask because I prayed for Jesus to help me as I heard my fruit all over the sidewalk.”
Paul turned to leave again, on this time his eyes were filled with tears.
For a long time Paul looked for a taxi. He found one eventually, but the evening traffic to the airport, resulted in his missing his flight that Friday night. Paul spent the evening at a nearby hotel. This time gave him time to think. He could not get one question out of his head: “When was the last time someone confused you for Jesus?”
Scripture Readings: Ezekiel 33:7-9; Romans 18:8-10; Matthew 18:15-20
What did you hear in the Scripture Readings from the Prophet Ezekiel, St. Paul’s Letters to the people of Rome and from Jesus in the Gospel according to Matthew?
And whatever it was, just maybe the Responsorial Psalm sums it up: If today your hear His voice, harden not your hearts!
I would suggest a few things that our God wants us not only to hear, but to live more deeply and more faithfully each day, as person, family and parish, for starters.
For sure we are all sinners. For sure, none of us is perfect.
As Pope Francis shared recently, “the Lord always forgives us and walks at our side. We have to let Him do that.”
Today Scriptures remind us of how to let God into our lives. God wants us to listen to what HE has to say.
We do listen, but how are we living it?
We do so, not because God says so, but because God lived it himself as the Word made flesh: Jesus, our Friend, Brother and Savior.
As one priest said in a tweet, reflecting on the Pope’s admonition not to judge people, not to gossip about people:
“The Gospel says: stop judging, stop condemning. That’s Jesus speaking to the people of His day. That’s also Jesus talking to everyone on Twitter.”
Second, God says, “Love one another” and “do no evil to others.”
God knows there are far too many examples (big and small) of our evil, our hatred of others at home and across our world.
Again, as Pope Francis shared recently, “Christians know how to give. Their lives are filled with generous acts, sometimes hidden, towards their neighbors.”
Now you might be saying: Father, the scriptures today also speak about addressing the faults of others. For sure there is a place for this, but not as often as maybe some would think. And maybe this following story is a remind of this:
A mother, whose son had an insatiable desire for sweets, brought him a long distance to talk to Gandhi, the Holy Man of India, who told them to come back in two weeks. When they came back, Gandhi told the boy to stop eating so much sugar and the boy agreed. The mother then asked Gandhi, “Why did you not just say this to the boy two weeks ago and save me the hardship of traveling back here?”
Gandhi replied, “Two weeks ago, I ate too many sweets. I needed to see if I could stop before I counseled the boy.”
Finally, let’s pray each day for ourselves, for our family, for one another, that we will live a bit more consciously the voice of God we hear daily. A voice that calls us to love God and to love one another in word and deed a little bit more today than the day before!
We owe it to one another!