We don’t much like tax collectors today. But in first century Israel, they were held in even lower regard. Many of them were corrupt – lining their own pockets in a way that would make Illinois politicians look like saints. And worse – they were collecting taxes for Rome. The enemy – who not only occupied their land but defiled it by their presence, their idols and their false gods. Tax collectors were the sorts of people drug dealers wouldn’t let their kids hang out with. Read More
On the Inside; On the Outside
Just the other day I was flipping through TV channels and came across a show about a guy who picks up road kill for a living. I thought, “Why in the world would anyone want to watch this?” And then, of course, I couldn’t turn it off! That show was called “Dirty Jobs,” and Mike Rowe was the man who became famous for trying some of the dirtiest jobs on the planet. He has waded through sewers, castrated horses, farmed worm poop, and sorted through medical waste, just to name a few. He goes out and learns about the jobs that none of us would ever want to do, and gets coached by the people who do these jobs every day for a living. It’s not just for entertainment, because Mike goes deeper in order to pay respect to the men and women who roll up their sleeves and do these challenging jobs every day. Read More
The expression, “Don’t have a com, man!” was made popular by Bart Simpson in the TV sitcom The Simpsons. But its history can be traced back to the 1950’s when first introduced in Great Britain as an expression of “having kittens” rather than a cow.
“Don’t have a cow” means to chill out, calm down, to not to be worried, upset or angry about something. I also think this expression has a significant meaning in our own Lenten journey. Read More
What if someone were to write a book about your life? What would they say? We all like to think that it would be something like: he loved his family; she was so self-sacrificing; or he made such a difference in the world.
But what if the story they wrote about your life sounded more like this: he worked really hard all his life to make himself happy and to have good things and to retire in order to do whatever he wanted; she was so focused on having the perfect house that she didn’t spend much time serving other people – but the house was really beautiful! Or success consumed her so much that she would do whatever it took to become a success and to look good in the eyes of others. Is that the type of book that you would want written about yourself?
Our first reading today from St. John (1 John 3:11-21) gives us a definition about what the book of our lives should be about. Here are some key points worth noting:
- “Love one another” is not only a prescription and description of our Christian life, but it’s also one of the tests of our Christian life. Love one another and you will be happy. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.
- It’s impossible to say that you hate your brother or sister and remain in fellowship with God. We must love everyone!
- As Catholic Christians, we constantly move from death to life, and even our desire to love is affected by that. Each of us angels only have one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.
- Loving one another is not overlooking someone’s sins and letting them live however they want. Loving one another is acknowledging their brokenness and helping them find righteousness, like Jesus did for us.
- God expects us to forgive and love others in the same way that He forgives and loves us.
In our book of life, the answers are never in the back. You will always find the answers within. Let us pray that our eyes be opened to see how God would have us humbly, practically and sacrificially love another person this week – especially those who have hurt us. Let our lives be an open book so that we can truly love one another; for where love is, there God is.
October 4, 1979: I remember it well, for it was a day like none other. On this particular crisp autumn afternoon, my family and I headed to Chicago to see Pope John Paul II as he made his way from O’Hare Airport to Holy Name Cathedral. And being the first Pope to visit Chicago and the first and only Polish Pope, he was going to be traveling right through our old Polish neighborhood of Jefferson Park. Read More
Everyone knows about Saint Patrick — the man who drove the snakes out of Ireland, defeated the Druids in contests of magic, and used the shamrock to explain the Trinity to the pagan Irish. It’s a great story, but none of it is true. The shamrock legend came along centuries after Patrick’s death, as did the miraculous battles against the Druids. Forget about the snakes — Ireland never had any to begin with. No snakes, no shamrocks, and he wasn’t even Irish! Read More
A farmer painted a sign advertising puppies for sale and was nailing it to a post on the edge of his yard. As he was driving the last nail into the post, he felt a tug on his overalls. He looked down into the eyes of a little boy. “Mister,” he said. “I want to buy one of your puppies.” “Well,” said the farmer, “these puppies come from fine parents and cost a good deal of money.” The boy dropped his head for a moment. Then reaching deep into his pocket, he pulled out a handful of change and held it up to the farmer. “I’ve got thirty-nine cents. Is that enough to take a look?” “Sure,” said the farmer. And with that he let out a whistle. “Here, Dolly!” Out from the doghouse ran Dolly followed by four little balls of fur. The little boy pressed his face against the chain-link fence. His eyes danced with delight. Read More
I was in 6th grade and about to take a big science test. But this test was not with just any teacher. It was with Sister Bernadette – the holy terror of my Catholic Elementary School. There was just something about her that gave me the creeps. I was a fairly average student back then, holding my own in all of my class subjects. But when it came to science, it just didn’t make sense to me. I couldn’t tell you the difference between a proton, a neutron, or a Klingon. I was terrified of this test! My Mom and Dad were always proud of my efforts to get good grades and I didn’t want to let them down. So just before the test, I wrote several of the answers on the top of my desk in barely legible pencil. I sat nervously as Sister started to hand out the tests. I didn’t want to get caught, but I didn’t want to fail either. Read More
I can still remember that horrific day as if it were yesterday. When my boys were very young, we were at the shopping mall when I suddenly noticed that one of them had gone missing. And I was experiencing a number of feelings: fear, anxiety, worry, helplessness, and desperation. I began to search everywhere, even in the silliest places. I was not going to leave any spot unsearched. And I even remember crying out to God, “Do whatever you want with me, Lord, but let me find my son and let him be safe.” In a matter of moments, I found him – and I gave him a gigantic hug and let him know how much I loved him. Then, I thanked God for allowing him to be found safe and sound. Read More