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
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.
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
Tonight, I want to share with you a powerful story:
I hired a carpenter to help me restore an old farmhouse. After he had just finished a rough first day on the job, a flat tire made him lose an hour of work, his electric saw quit, and now his ancient pickup truck refused to start. 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
The following song was written years ago when I was reflecting on what Jesus had gone through in order to save us. Despite the fact that we were not actually present when all this occurred, we continue to persecute and kill by our words and actions. I pray that these words allow us to become one with the suffering Christ and to make the changes needed in our lives to live according to his word. Let us carry our cross in order to bring resurrection into the lives of others. Read More
“Whoever keeps my word will never see death.”
Spoken to the Jews by the man from Nazareth.
The crowd, they thought, “This man is possessed!”
What was he thinking?
Was he greater than Abraham or the prophets of old?
This statement he made was really quite bold.
“We’ll never taste death.” Of this we were told:
What was he thinking? Read More
When I was younger, every time I heard the phrase “harden not your hearts” (Hebrews 3:7-14) I always visualized a human heart turning into a rock. Even to this day, this image still pops into my mind. And I was never quite sure why – until now. Read More