Has this ever happened to you? You are in a grocery store, the mall, maybe even taking your dog for a walk, and someone comes up to you all smiles and beaming eyes. They say “Hey! How have you been? It’s been such a long time. You look great.” You look deep in their eyes and you think for a second and the truth begins to sink in….you have no idea who this person is. This is truly embarrassing to say the least. Unfortunately, this happens to me more times than I care to admit. I have met so many people through the church and sometimes the face looks familiar but the name escapes me. I think we’ve all had a case of an unrecognized identity at one time or another in our lives. Read More
On the Inside; On the Outside
One of the many wonders of nature is a cocoon. A caterpillar encloses itself in a type of tomb and then emerges transformed and flies through the air in the form of a beautiful butterfly. We view this as a type of death and resurrection.
An image for the Gospel today is that of a cocoon. Rather than a transformation into beauty, we witness a deformation into misery. The Gospel never says that this rich man committed any crime, but it seems that he is just so overly focused on himself that he cannot see beyond his clothes, his meals and his own doorstep. His wealth is something that he spends on himself and not something he shares with others. He is so tightly woven into his cocoon that he cannot seem to break out.
This disturbing parable tells us to not be absorbed with ourselves, to pay attention, and to wake up. We need to remember that our possessions are not owned by us, but loaned to us. They are entrusted to us; not only that we can meet our basic needs, but also so that we can help others. St. Augustine described sin as being caved in on oneself. Sin closes us in on ourselves and charity draws us out of ourselves and that is where we find joy.
We’re instructed to pay attention to Moses and the prophets; that is, to pay attention to God’s word given to us in the Scriptures and by Jesus.
And we need to wake up because most of us at times can be like the rich man. And the five brothers – they represent us too. We are not to expect some sort of personalized message, but should instinctively live out our faith by loving God and our neighbor. Actions have consequences, and so do our inactions. We can sin by what we do but we can also sin by what we fail to do.
This Lent, let us pray that we receive the grace to not be imprisoned in the cocoon of self-absorption. Rather, let us strive to live generous and joyful lives not selfishly but selflessly.
Have you ever noticed on the back of a hotel door, they post information about your hotel rate as well as instructions of what to do in case of a fire? Ever since I was a member of the fire evacuation team at my former job, this is something that I always check out when I stay at a hotel. I want to share an actual description from one such hotel: Read More
Have you ever accidentally missed a big moment? It feels terrible! You got distracted right before your child scored a goal. You missed the winning touchdown because your cellphone rang. You were driving to the hospital to witness the birth of a grandchild, and the baby arrived before you did. Maybe you missed the two Popes being canonized this morning because you overslept. It’s a terrible feeling, and this is exactly how Thomas feels in today’s Gospel (John 20:19-31). Read More
Have you ever wondered what God is saying to us? Are we even listening? Many of us feel as if we can’t hear God, and as a result we walk around aimless, clueless, and lost. What we need to do is to ask if the words of Jeremiah apply to us (Jeremiah 7:23-28). How carefully do we listen? How well do we carry out the will of God in our lives? How clearly can we discern the presence of God in our daily lives?
To help answer these questions, here are five steps that we need to follow to help us walk in God’s ways: Read More
Have you ever noticed that when you attend your class reunion that we do not always recognize a former classmate? It happens to the best of us. There could be a number of reasons why this happens: perhaps the person added some pounds over the years, has a new hairstyle (or even lack of hair), or maybe even that they had a little plastic surgery done. But then you hear a familiar laugh or see a gesture that tips you off to his or her identity. It is that “aha” moment that makes everything clear. Read More
Sunday’s Gospel reading from Luke (Luke 4:14-21) is a hard text to get your head around from preaching. There is no dramatic story for me to break down, no wise and confusing parable for me to explain, nor is there a dramatic miracle that takes place that I can talk about. This is a simple short story about Christ’s first sermon. Read More