|Luke 14; 12-14|
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
"12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
I sat down and realized that I had felt something that I had not yet heard in my life. I knew that there is more to the meaning of the word "nations" than what constantly enters our mind. It suddenly struck me that there are several "nations" all around us. It suddenly struck me that we walk around surrounded by borders of many descriptions, each one separating us from the "nationals" living on the other side.
If you think that was a deep trip, it really got to me when I realized that I know a lot of "foreign" people, as in French, Spanish, Australian, Brazilian, Guatemalan, Canadian, Filipino, Japanese and of course, Mexican. That didn't make me as happy as it normally would because it was accompanied by the consciousness that I could never in my most strenuous efforts think of such a rich list of truly poor people with whom I have an on-going relationship. Yes, that is one border that I have not yet crossed. Here I am, a child of Mary at La Salette who tells me every day to "make this known to all my people" and I walk around only inviting my friends and relatives into my life with great gusto, just like the pagans do. If I don't fix that in my life, you will have reason to cry at my funeral.
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
The other day I received an email message that read:
"I'm sure even Jesus didn't expect his apostles to hit their mark 100%. What he expected was they fixed it if they see it needs fixing. Seems to me like the history of the Church followed the same story."
I could write a book in response, but I also have to make a living. So, I will just leave you with these six hundred words.
I have to say that some statements at the top are slightly out of context.
You don’t believe that 1 bad thing in 1,000,000 is not acceptable. You don’t believe that there is no room in Catholic life for an AQL attitude. [Acceptable Quality Level] I know that you don’t believe it because you can write what you wrote above. I am telling you that what you wrote is dead wrong. The history of mankind, not just the history of the Church is a history of falls and rectifications. In fact, the history of creation going back to the angels is a history of falls and rectifications. Never in this history has God ever expected anything less from His creatures than total perfection. Never.
If God expected humans to be anything less than perfect, He Himself would then be imperfect. When God does something, it is perfect. He expects it to maintain its perfection. For humans to accept anything less than what God expects, which is perfection, is a sinful attitude.
To say that God expects humans to fail a certain percentage of the time is to degrade the value of human life to a degree that is outside the Divine Will. To say that in the Divine Will humans are expected to fail and then to say that He expects them to “fix it if they see it needs fixing” is beyond the ability of humans to produce. The only way to fix immorality is in conjunction with God Himself. It is erroneous to think that it’s OK to miss the mark because God expects it anyway. It is erroneous and presumptuous to think that humans can be saved because they can fix it if they are less than perfect. It is erroneous to think that Jesus was tortured, crucified and died and resurrected because he expected humans to continue being less than perfect. To think that He did all of that to remove the burden of being perfect from them, is flat out wrong.
You will not find in the Sacred Writ, Jewish or Christian, Words from God indicating that He expects anything less than perfection. You will see a lot of condemnation for imperfection, to the point of damnation for human obduracy in immorality. You will find nothing in Traditional, Apostolic and Church documents indicating that a life of falling short is OK. You will not find a Saint who accepted the attitude of expectation that humans will fail a certain percentage of the time. You will find confessions of human frailty, and in those confessions you will find the glory of having overcome the frailty and found perfection.
I repeat, and I will not be dissuaded by anyone, because it is a matter of Divine Will, God does not expect His Human Creatures to be anything less than perfect. There is no AQL in God’s plan. No, not even in His Church. With Him, perfection is the expectation, and only perfection. We, His collaborators do not have the freedom to expect anything less than what He expects. From ourselves or from those around us.
To you I say, Believe it, or else.
Now you know why you won't have to cry at my funeral.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Seven years ago I did not know that this poster existed. Today, a friend sent it to me. I have decided to re-publish what I wrote seven  years ago below this gripping image.
By Paul Dion, STL
We all know the legendary story about Thomas Edison who didn't discover the secret of how to make a working light bulb until after being unsuccessful nearly 1,000 times. When someone asked him how he had the courage to keep going after failing over 900 times, Edison responded, "those weren't failures, they were learning experiences".
We also know the story of the Samaritan Woman who met Jesus at the well. After a short conversation she ran back to the village and brought all her friends and Jesus stayed in the village for three days more.
Going farther back we all know the story of Abraham and his unfailing obedience to God's wishes. God picked the right person. He promised Abraham that he would be the father of God's people, whose progeny would outnumber the stars of the sky. Sarah, Abraham's aging wife, laughed out loud when she heard it. Look around, Sarah!
I am reminding you of these stories because all of us need to be reminded that God knows how to cultivate the seed that He asks us to plant.
We forget that. I forget that, all the time.
I start to do something and I set my goal at 200 participants. I am lucky to get 60, despite my best efforts. One time I set my sights on getting at least 15 participants in a class of 5 sessions spread out over 5 weeks. This is the precursor of the 2006 Mom and Pop Theology event - a highly successful parent Religious Ed program we launched at my parish of St. Christopher in Moreno Valley, CA. - that is now quite well attended.
I had to be blind! The first day, I had 6. I figured, oh well, half isn't all that bad. HHmmm, notice the optimistic math there?
Inside of myself I was thinking that the Lord was testing me for the first day and that the second session next week would bring me twice as many. So I plowed ahead. The next week, things did get better. I had a lot more room to move around in since only two people made it to the room. The good thing was that they had both been to the first session, so I didn't want to disappoint them by cutting off the effort. We went ahead and it was a nice session. It got to be a little informal, but quite effective in its sincerity.
Now I went to have a little talk with my Maker and told Him in no uncertain terms that I didn't appreciate the way I was being treated by Him and His heavenly minions. I told Him that I was doing His work here and that I didn't expect Him to hang me out to dry.
So He didn't.
The next Tuesday the only person who came was the prettiest and the youngest woman of the original six. I had the "Mom" but the "Pop" was nowhere to be found. I invited her in, left the door open, kept myself visible and smiled on the outside while my mind was letting God know that I wasn't totally happy with His pranks. She looked around and actually offered to leave because she felt as though it wasn't fair to take up my time just for herself. I think her guardian angel was slyly giving me an opening to take at shot at God.
I looked at her and simply said, "No, we will stay because both you and I have the same commitment to God for this subject." There, take that, You!
We finished the course. The two of us.
She went home and I went on about my business managing the project for which I was expecting at least two hundred. This was to be the first SONshine Summer Bible Camp for children at the parish. Things were going quite well on the organizational part of the project, but recruitment was slow. Milestones were coming and going, but the number of registered children was not increasing very quickly. I knew that we were not going to get to entertain 200.
As we got closer to the opening date I was still looking for a few volunteers, but three in particular were becoming difficult to find because they needed special talents. I was continuing my "conversation" with the "Man Upstairs" and I think that I was running out of diplomacy because nothing was happening.
So, one morning after the Holy Mass I told my wife, "You had better have a talk to God about the volunteer situation. It's so bad that I'm going over to talk to His Mother, you know, the Weeping One." Now, when it comes to prayer, my wife is an expert. I don't know why, but I think that Jesus is afraid of her. I don't blame Him.
After I had my talk with Jesus' Mother, I went home to work and wifey went to her office.
You know, I hate to tell you this, but by 11:00 AM spouse called me to tell me that the young lady from my Mom and Pop class was so enthusiastic about volunteering on the SONshine Summer Bible Camp Project I was working on that she didn't leave the office for two hours after hearing about it. As she left she gave us the name of another person whom she was sure would be very happy to volunteer as well. I called the other person and sure enough, there I was two out of three, all set for the time being.
I'm writing this to confess to "You-know-Who" that I'm sorry that I mistreated Him. He sure gave me a big lesson. My "student" told my wife that she couldn't stay home while there was someone working for God who would sacrifice his time for one person. She kept saying that she didn't think that she would ever come to meet a person who loved God that much. My wife said that she nearly choked on that one.
These two ladies that God sent us have been absolutely marvelous. Believe me, I didn't do a thing, God did it all, and He is still doing it. The seeds that these two generous ladies have sown in our parish are still producing sweet fruit. I was just the hick farmer who threw the original seed on the ground. Our parish will never be the same because of these two saintly ladies.
All of you out there who have grandiose dreams of going out and being the next Abraham and creating a new generation of God's people, listen to this: Abraham had two children, one of a slave and one of God. Just ONE of each.
Look at me, just ONE and she brought me ONE.
The project continues to repeat itself, and it continues to grow. Abraham's progeny repeats itself over and over again, and it continues to grow in number and in wisdom. The "Mom and Pop" theology grew out of those first 5 weeks of struggle and now has numbers in the hundreds.
Never call off one of God's projects based on numbers. God knows that His Son and His Spirit flunked math, so He covers for them. Talk to Him, talk to His Mother, tell Him I sent you in my waning years.
He'll support you and you won't have the least temptation to cry at my funeral.
Sunday, August 11, 2013
The Scripture readings of today called forth many of the same hackneyed homilies that we have heard for years. Be ready or else be punished. The same old stuff about the master goes away and the servant who is left in charge carouses and when the master comes home unexpected, the servant gets punished. I sat there in church this morning and from the first syllable I knew what the next twelve minutes were going to be like.
I sat there asking myself when someone would think of talking about the trust of the master that has to be fulfilled by the servant in order to please the master? When is someone going to give a meditation on what it means to please the master? There is nothing in these readings that indicates an employer/employee relationship, is there? There is nothing here that speaks of pay is there?
There is not one place in the gospel that shows God remunerating anyone according to a strict adherence to productivity or time. God doesn't ever pay anyone. God rewards those who please Him. He punishes those who displease Him. God is not bound by any legal requirement to pay anyone for collaborating with Him. God and we are bound together in a love covenant, not by an employment contract.
Yes, we are bound to collaborate with God in the work that has to be done in the world. From the very first pages of the Bible God enlists us as His collaborators. Not employees. Collaborators. We find out the depth of the relationship when we are taught to pray by Jesus. He tells us that we pray and develop a relationship with "Our Father."
I don't know about you, but I know that in my house my father had expectations of me and of my siblings concerning the chores that needed to be done. You know what? We did them, or else. I remember one time I asked my father why he didn't give me an allowance like some of my friends got at their homes. My father just looked at me and said, "I feed you, don't I?" I was ashamed that I had even asked. It also came to me that he not only fed me, but bought my school books, my clothes and even gave me a sip of wine at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.
All of that to say that <Yes, God expects us to collaborate with Him in the "chores" that need doing.> If we do not meet expectations, He is not pleased. If we meet expectations, He is pleased. If we exceed expectations He is well pleased. The more pleased He is the deeper our relationship with Him gets because the more His Grace flows our way.
The more we displease Him, the worse things get. You don't believe me? There's a book on your shelf that has that teaching ennumerable times written into the more than 2,000 pages that are sitting there. You will find the expression about God being pleased many times.
Stay ready? Why tell me to stay ready when you could be telling me to keep my Father's loving satisfaction and pleasure in mind? Staying ready is easy when you are doing what it takes to please the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When you tell me to live in constant and persevering readiness through loving collaboration with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, then you won't have to keep harping on "staying ready." Was it so hard for the five wise virgins to stay ready?
Remember, God doesn't pay wages, He shares His love and His spiritual treasure out of love to those who please Him by living in His presence by constant and collaborative faith, love and hope.
Think about it. Do something about it in your life. If you do, you'll be glad I reminded you about it and you won't have to cry at my funeral.
Saturday, August 3, 2013
|RESURRECTION OF A NEW DAY IN GALILEE|
All that money sure didn't cement that relationship.
That's the same wedding, Catholic, by the way, where one of the Scripture readings was read from the Jehovah Witness version of the Bible and no one but me noticed. Trust me, friends, strange things happen in life. You will see that a similar thing happened to me today.
The present thoughts are occasioned by a funeral that I attended this morning. Catholic funeral, of course. Well, it took place in a Catholic church, anyway. Things were normal until the presiding priest took to the pulpit. It was then that we got a stream of thoughts about the goodness of God and His everlasting and wide reaching Divine Mercy. It didn't take long before the deceased was pronounced as being comfortably ensconced in the bosom of Abraham and seated at the right hand of Jesus. So, and I paraphrase, as we mourn the departure of our dearly beloved, our faith tells us that she is happily enjoying the eternal bliss of being with God in heaven. This is 21st century Catholic drivel, and contradictory at that. Why are we mourning someone whom you are telling us is in heaven?
Hmmm...Wait, it doesn't end there. After the sad attempt to comfort people with questionable Catholic doctrine, the priest returned to the altar and announced that we would now pray for the repose of the soul of the deceased. Really? Not me, after what you said I want the deceased to pray for me from her exhalted position at the right hand of God Almighty.
By this time, swamped by these mixed messages, I was not a happy camper. I was saying to myself that we Catholics deserve better than this. Then I was interrupted in my reflections by the crown jewel of Protestant theological hymnology, "Amazing Grace." I did say that this funeral took place in a Catholic place of worship, right? I didn't anticipate that I might also be attending the canonization of the latest saint.
There were two acts that I appreciated, yes, only two.
1. The priest explained why the Paschal Candle was present and was lit.
He explained that this happens only for three occasions, Easter
Season, during the conferring of Baptism and at Funerals. Each use of
the Paschal Candle has the same meaning, the Resurrected Christ is
the center of our life.
2. The priest used the traditional Canon of the Mass, not the short form to which we have all be subjected on a regular basis, ad nauseam, I
might add. Yes, I noticed. The church was full. I would dare anyone
to take a poll to see how many of the congregants noticed.
Fortunately for the priest I noticed. It gave me something good to
say about my experience at this quasi Catholic funeral.
Here are the preliminary rules for my funeral. Follow them if you want. It just so happens that I won't be in a position to care.
* No crying allowed.
* Two nights of waking. 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM.
* If cremation will keep the price down, do it before the funeral.
* If you keep me in the box, remember, I have the right to have my
face toward the assembly. My wife will explain this to you.
* $2,500 limit for the whole thing (Inflation makes it that high)
* No eulogy. Everyone at the funeral knows me. That's good enough.
Besides, eulogies tend to make people heretics because they have no
idea what judgment has been meted out by God to the dead person.
* 1st reading is the story of Enoch from Genesis. Not more.
* Psalm 15 - in its entirety .. no singing, slow meditative, clearly
* Gospel, "I am the way, the light and the truth." Not more that 3 or 4
* Homily, no eulogy. Remember, it is not the dead guy you want to
speak about, it is God. Do it.
* No Latin, no Protestant hymns.
Remember that I said that God is Merciful and He is a Fair judge. Hell is a reality and that means that some of us will be there. Don't dance around it by taking away God's justice by making him exclusively loving and merciful. Then he would no longer be God. So don't make Him less than what He is. It should not be consoling to us to make God fit us when we are experiencing death. The true consolation that we should seek is the understanding of whom He is and the acceptance of His Divine judgment whatever it may be. Anything else diminishes Him and diminishes us.
So don't cry for me. I know what I am getting into. I am 76, so I face the reality of death every single day as the probability of my disappearance gets ever greater. I am not afraid...I believe in the truth in the conviction that Jesus has liberated us from the teeth of death. I repeat, do not cry at my funeral. Remember and believe that no matter what, I got what I deserved from God the Loving, Merciful and infinitely Fair Father of us all.