Jan 1-Mary, Mother of God - Homilies and Stories

Anecdote: There is a beautiful, little story about a long, tedious train journey made, one Christmas day, by some elderly residents of a nursing home who were on their way to a vacation spot. At one station, a young mother with a small child entered the train. The child smiled at all the grim faces around him and began moving from one lap to another talking, shouting with joy and chatting with everyone. Instantly, the grim and silent atmosphere in the train was changed to one of joy and happiness. Today we remember with joy and gratitude, how Mary and her Divine Son Jesus transformed a hopeless, joyless and sinful world into a place of joy and happiness.
A boy asked his father, "Dad, if three frogs were sitting on a limb that hangs over a pool, and one frog decided to jump off into the pool, how many frogs would be left on the limb?"

The dad replied, "Two." 

"No," the son replied. “Here is the question again: There are three frogs and one decided to jump, how many are left?" 

The dad said, "Oh, I get the point! If one decided to jump, the others would too. So there are none left."
The boy said, "No dad, the answer is three. The frog only DECIDED to jump." 
Does that sound like our last year’s resolutions?  Great inspiration and great resolutions, but oftentimes we only decide, and months later we are still on the same limb of doing nothing. 


FAMILY - Illustrations

Clovis Chappell, a minister from a century back, used to tell the story of two paddleboats. They left Memphis about the same time, traveling down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. As they traveled side by side, sailors from one vessel made a few remarks about the snail's pace of the other. Words were exchanged. Challenges were made. And the race began. Competition became vicious as the two boats roared through the Deep South.
One boat began falling behind. Not enough fuel. There had been plenty of coal for the trip, but not enough for a race. As the boat dropped back, an enterprising young sailor took some of the ship's cargo and tossed it into the ovens. When the sailors saw that the supplies burned as well as the coal, they fueled their boat with the material they had been assigned to transport. They ended up winning the race, but burned their cargo.
God has entrusted cargo to us, too: children, spouses, friends. Our job is to do our part in seeing that this cargo reaches its destination. Yet when the program takes priority over people, people often suffer. How much cargo do we sacrifice in order to achieve the number one slot? How many people never reach the destination because of the aggressiveness of a competitive captain?
In the Eye of the Storm by Max Lucado Word Publishing, 1991, pp. 97-98.

The Carpenter - Story

Once upon a time, two brothers who lived on adjoining farms fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side-by-side, sharing machinery and trading labor and goods as needed without a hitch.

Then the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference and finally, it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence.

Christmas 2013 A - Homilies and Stories

Jesus sells: One never tires of Jesus as a subject. The cover stories of Time, Newsweek, and US News and World Report regularly mark His nativity. One reason for featuring Him so often is that their circulation invariably increases. Born twenty centuries ago, Jesus still sells. Mel Gibson broke all records with his DVD of The Passion of the Christ. He sold nine million copies in three weeks at $22 a clip. The first book published by Pope Benedict XVI is called "Jesus of Nazareth." It quickly found a home on the Best Seller list of The New York Times. Artists at their easels struggle to paint His portrait again. Have you seen Andy Warhol's Nativity? Composers struggle to salute Him with a fresh musical score. Will it ever be otherwise? I believe not. Tell others of Jesus. But firstly allow Him to be born in you. He can't be born again, but we can. (Fr. James Gilhooley)


“But I did show up”: A story is told of an old woman who lived all alone. Each year as Christmas drew near she would sigh and lament her loneliness, wishing that some people would visit her. Since nobody would visit her, she decided to pray to the baby Jesus and his mother requesting that they pay her a visit. Finally the baby Jesus appeared to her in a dream and told her that her prayer had been heard and that the Holy Family would visit her on Christmas day. Oh, how excited she was! She began cleaning and polishing everything in her house squeaky clean in preparation for the divine visitor. She cooked her best dish and baked her best cake in readiness for the visit of Jesus and his mother. Who knows, maybe if she pleased them well enough, they might decide to stay on and live with her!

When Christmas day finally arrived her house was squeaky clean. Everything was in place to give her divine guests a befitting welcome. She sat by the door and read a book, just to make sure the visitors would not have to ring the door bell twice before she would open the door and let them in. It was a cold and rainy day. At about noon she spotted a gypsy couple in the rain making their way to her house. The man was dirty and disheveled. The thinly-clad woman was nursing a baby who was crying in the rain. “Why can’t these gypsies just get a decent job,” she said to herself. Then she screamed at them, “Turn back, turn back immediately. Come another day if you like. Today, I am expecting very important visitors.” The gypsy family turned back and left. The woman continued to wait. She waited all day and no divine visitors showed up. At sunset she fell asleep on the chair and there in her dream was Jesus. “Jesus,” she screamed, “how could you disappoint me? You said you were coming to visit me for Christmas and I waited all day and you never showed up.” “But I did show up,” replied Jesus. I came with My father and mother in the rain and you turned us away.”

Nelson Mandela: Quotes -ppt

Christmas - Dec 24

I wonder what I would have heard had I been there that night. It is a question that annually haunts me. Would I have heard the choirs of angels singing or simply the sounds of barnyard animals shifting around? Would I have seen the star in the sky that night or simply two poor and very frightened kids? Would I have understood the hushed silence of the divine presence, or simply the chill of a cold east wind. Would I have understood the message of Emmanuel, God with us, or would the cosmic implications of that evening have passed me by?

Christmas Videos

Christmas Videos-1

CHRISTMAS - Illustrations

Consider Again Christmas

When Pope Julius I authorized December 25 to be celebrated as the birthday of Jesus in A.D. 353, who would have ever thought that it would become what it is today.

When Professor Charles Follen lit candles on the first Christmas tree in America in 1832, who would have ever thought that the decorations would become as elaborate as they are today.

It is a long time since 1832, longer still from 353, longer still from that dark night brightened by a special star in which Jesus the king was born. Yet, as we approach December 25 again, it gives us yet another opportunity to pause, and in the midst of all the excitement and elaborate decorations and expensive commercialization which surround Christmas today, to consider again the event of Christmas and the person whose birth we celebrate.

Brian L. Harbour, James W. Cox, The Minister's Manual: 1994, San Fransico: Harper Collins, 1993, p. 254.

There is a stage in a child's life at which it cannot separate the religious from the merely festal character of Christmas or Easter. I have been told of a very small and very devout boy who was heard murmuring to himself on Easter morning a poem of his own composition which began 'Chocolate eggs and Jesus risen.' This seems to me, for his age, both admirable poetry and admirable piety. But of course the time will soon come when such a child can no longer effortlessly and spontaneously enjoy that unity. He will become able to distinguish the spiritual from the ritual and festal aspect of Easter; chocolate eggs will no longer seem sacramental. And once he has distinguished he must put one or the other first. If he puts the spiritual first he can still taste something of Easter in the chocolate eggs; if he puts the eggs first they will soon be no more than any other sweetmeat. They will have taken on an independent, and therefore a soon withering, life.
C. S. Lewis

Advent 4 A

Thomas O’Loughlin
Introduction to the Celebration

We are beginning the celebration of God coming to us, God being with us, we being brought into the presence of God. This is the great mystery of Christmas: it is the feast of Emmanuel which means ‘God is with us.’ This is our special celebration this Sunday, but each time we gather here we remember the words of Jesus: ‘When two or three are gathered here in my name, I am there among them’. So, let us spend time reminding ourselves that Jesus is among us, we are in his presence in this gathering, and recalling that we are the people who proclaim him as Emmanuel: God is with us.
Michel de Verteuil
General Comments

Advent: Cardinal Luis Antonio (Chito) Tagle

We are in the holy season of Advent, a time to prepare for the coming of the Messiah through prayer, penance and good works. A few days ago a friend told me that my coming into the Archdiocese of Manila as its 32nd Archbishop is truly Advent. “You are the one who is to come,” he declared. The remark made me laugh. It also made me think. Is this occasion really about me? I know many people are asking “who is this new archbishop of Manila? What is he like? What are his vision and plans?” But like John the Baptist I am inviting you to focus on the One mightier than all of us, Jesus Christ, the Risen One and the True Shepherd of the Church. My Episcopal motto says it plainly, “Dominus Est! It is the Lord!” 

Advent 3A - John the Baptist: What do you see and hear?

Thomas O’Loughlin
Introduction to the Celebration

In these weeks before Christmas our reflection and prayer as a community focus on the various ways that the Lord is near to us:
he is the One who is continually coming into our world with his good news of liberation and joy; we are the people who welcome him and become his hands, and mouth, and feet. So we can now reflect on the joyfulness that is ours because we are in Christ’s presences — he is near to us; but we must regret the times when our actions have been far from him.
Michel de Verteuil
General comments
The passage is clearly in two sections:
Verses 2 to 6: The meeting between John’s disciples and Jesus.
Verses 7 to 11: Jesus speaks of John.

You can read verses 2 to 5 as a journey into a deeper faith which John the Baptist made, letting your meditation guide you to interpret this journey from your own experience. What was John’s prison? Why did he send disciples? What was the purpose of his question?

Advent 2 A - Conversion

Introductory Stories:

From Father James Gilhooley

A millionaire announced to Mark Twain, "Before I die, I will go to the Holy Land. I will climb Mount Sinai and read aloud the Ten Commandments." Twain observed, "I have a better idea. You could stay home and keep them."

I introduce this homily on sin with an illustration from a layman precisely because many people do not like priests speaking on sin. Many Catholics no longer buy into the concept of personal sin.

We live our lives in an era which has dry cleaned sin away. How else can one explain that so few of us go to Confession? 

Eg, a university professor was arrested for collecting his mother's social security for six years after her death. He didn't understand what was wrong.

Nowadays you must feel guilty about feeling guilty. If you send people on a guilt trip, God help you! No one else will. You will be called a killjoy. ----

A Catholic professor in a private college told freshmen that in ethics there is no right or wrong, only points of view. Can you imagine what John the Baptist would have to say to him? Infinitely worse, what he would say to us who tolerate this nonsense?

To airbrush sin away is to turn religion into cherry vanilla ice cream. To bury sin with socio-economic buzz words is to sell

Christ out. It makes John the Baptist retch.
Thomas O’Loughlin,
Introduction to the celebration

Christmas is coming! If you are not already busy preparing, then you will have at least heard many people telling you it is time you started getting ready. As the people of God we too need to start thinking about the welcoming of the Christ and the preparations that we are called upon to make as disciples. We must prepare the way for the Lord to enter our lives, to enter the lives of those around us, and to enter into our world with his word of peace and forgiveness. 

Michel de Verteuil
General comments

This is a long passage with many themes worked into it. Identifying the different themes before starting your meditation will help you to enter into the passage.

Verses 1 to 5 summarise the story of John the Baptist, but even in this section there are various points being made: the fact that John preached in the wilderness; that he appeared ‘in due course’, meaning at the time fixed by God; that he was fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah.

Tagore's Beautiful Poems

Gitanjali: Selected Poems
"Song Offerings"
Translations made by the author from the original Bengali.

Mind Without Fear
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up
into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason
has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action---
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Advent Meditations: Videos By Christine Sine

Alzheimer's and a Husband's Love for his Wife

Written by Stanton O. Berg 

A Story as told by an anonymous doctor's office nurse.
Old Couple 1.
It was a busy morning at the clinic, about 8:30, when an elderly gentleman in his 80's arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb. He said he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00 am.
I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would to able to see him. I saw him looking at his watch and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound.
On exam, it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound. While taking care of his wound, I asked him if he had another doctor's appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry.
The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife. I inquired as to her health.

Advent 1 Sunday A - Homilies and Stories

Introductory stories and prayers:

Christ May Be Closer Than You Know

EXPECTATION - Illustrations

Stephen Hawking is an astrophysicist at Cambridge University and perhaps the most intelligent man on earth. He has advanced the general theory of relativity farther than any person since Albert Einstein. Unfortunately, Hawking is afflicted with ALS Syndrome (Lou Gehrig's disease). It will eventually take his life. He has been confined to a wheelchair for years, where he can do little more than sit and think. Hawking has lost the ability even to speak, and now he communicates by means of a computer that is operated from the tiniest movement of his fingertips.
Quoting from an Omni magazine article: He is too weak to write, feed himself, comb his hair, fix his classes--all this must be done for him. Yet this most dependent of all men has escaped invalid status. His personality shines through the messy details of his existence.
Hawking said that before he became ill, he had very little interest in life. He called it a "pointless existence" resulting from sheer boredom. He drank too much and did very little work. Then he learned he had ALS Syndrome and was not expected to live more than two years. The ultimate effect of that diagnosis, beyond its initial shock, was extremely positive. He claimed to have been happier after he was afflicted than before. How can that be understood? Hawking provided the answer.
"When one's expectations are reduced to zero," he said, "one really appreciates everything that one does have." Stated another way: contentment in life is determined in part by what a person anticipates from it. To a man like Hawking who thought he would soon die quickly, everything takes on meaning--a sunrise or a walk in a park or the laughter of children. Suddenly, each small pleasure becomes precious. By contrast, those who believe life owes them a free ride are often discontent with its finest gifts. 
James Dobson, New Man, October, 1994, p. 36.

Advent - First Week

Creighton University's Online Ministries
First Sunday of Advent
Daily Advent Prayer

“Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall declare your praise.”
 Entrance Antiphon:
To you, my God, I lift my soul,
I trust in you; let me never come to shame.
Do not let my enemies laugh at me.
Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God,
the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ
with righteous deeds at his coming, so that, gathered at his right hand,
they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever .
Daily Meditation:
Let's begin this week with a deeply felt prayer.
Even if we don't know exactly what we need or long for,
today, let's try to express our desire for God's help and assistance.
The readings invite us to be prepared and to be hopeful.
This week I could ask for the grace to grow in anticipation
of what the Lord is offering me and to ready my heart
to receive it gratefully.
What renewal, what end of 'hostilities' is our Lord offering me?
They shall beat their swords into plowshare
and their spears into pruning hooks;
one nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.
Isaiah 2
Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Psalm 122

Christ the King - 34 Sunday C

Thomas O’Loughlin
Introduction to the Celebration 

Way back in January we began the year by celebrating the Baptism of Jesus when a voice was heard calling him ‘the beloved Son’. During the year we have greeted Jesus under all the views of him we find in the gospels. Now today, at the end of the year, we greet him with the all-embracing title: Jesus Christ, Universal King.

The Christ is the one who will gather us all together at the end of time, the one who will judge the living and the dead, and then present his kingdom to the Father. In our pilgrimage of faith that kingdom of justice, truth, and peace is to be our beacon, and Christ our guide. But before we join Christ in his banquet, we must ask pardon for the times when we followed other paths and other ways, when we listened to false prophets of greed and materialism, and for when we have failed to work for the coming of the kingdom. 

33 Sunday C - Fighting Back or Falling Back - Homilies

Introductory Story:

The world’s “canned laughter”

The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) tells a parable of a theater where a variety show is proceeding.  There are musical acts, dancers, magicians, comedians, acrobats – one amazing act after another. Each act receives thunderous applause from the audience.
Suddenly the manager comes forward. Speaking calmly, not wanting to panic the patrons, he says, “Ladies and gentlemen, I regret to inform you that the theater is on fire. Please get up and move in an orderly fashion to the exits. There is plenty of time for you all to leave safely, but please do so at once.”
The audience think this is the most amusing act of the evening, and again cheer wildly, thinking the manager is a comedian! He again implores them to leave the burning building, but he is again applauded vigorously.
Even when smoke and flames appear at the back of the stage, the audience thinks it is part of the act done for special effect. The manager soon realizes he can do no more, so he runs off the stage and out of the building. The audience, meanwhile, whistles and cheers and claps in appreciation of the manager’s “performance.”
“And so,” concluded Kierkegaard, “will our age, I sometimes think, go down in fiery destruction to the applause of a crowded house of cheering spectators.”
And so it is today.  Those who attempt to warn others of the impending doom to come are laughed at as part of “the show.”  The prophet has become a comedian, like someone out of a Monty Python skit.  The cynical world laughs at the message, believing it is all a joke.
Yet the world indeed is on fire; the whole theater is destined to be turned to ash – and one day soon. Despite the witnesses God has faithfully called — including the message of His Son – the canned laughter of the world, the mindless cheering, and the idiotic applause will continue, right up to the end of the age….
As it was in the days of Noah…. until the flood came and swept them all away….

Easter: RESURRECTION - Illustrations

As Vice President, George Bush represented the U.S. at the funeral of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Bush was deeply moved by a silent protest carried out by Brezhnev's widow. She stood motionless by the coffin until seconds before it was closed. Then, just as the soldiers touched the lid, Brezhnev's wife performed an act of great courage and hope, a gesture that must surely rank as one of the most profound acts of civil disobedience ever committed: She reached down and made the sign of the cross on her husband's chest. There in the citadel of secular, atheistic power, the wife of the man who had run it all hoped that her husband was wrong. She hoped that there was another life, and that that life was best represented by Jesus who died on the cross, and that the same Jesus might yet have mercy on her husband.
Gary Thomas, Christian Times, October 3, 1994, p. 26.

32 Sun C- Resurrection of our Bodies

At the very end,  watch Video Reflection by Fr Bill Grimm, mm
Starting Point: 

Missing the Point! 

One New Year's Day, in the Tournament of Roses parade, a beautiful float suddenly sputtered and quit. It was out of gas. The whole parade was held up until someone could get a can of gas. The amusing thing was the float represented an oil company. With its vast oil resources, its truck was out of gas (C. Neil Strait, Minister's Manuel, 1994, 315). 

They had the entire resources of heaven at their disposals. They were entrusted with the oracles of God; however, in Luke chapter 20 the parade of Chief Priest, Elders and Sadducees come to a sudden halt when they cut themselves off from the resources of God who was now in Christ. 

Brett Blair
Thomas O’Loughlin,
Introduction to the Celebration

We gather here on Sundays because this is the ‘day of the resurrection’. We call ourselves the people of the resurrection and of new life. We proclaim the mystery of faith: ‘Christ has died, Christ is risen.’ But we often do not stop and think about what we mean by ‘resurrection’ and ‘rising from the dead’. These questions will echo through our celebration today.

31 Sunday C - Zacchaeus - Homilies

From Tony De Mello:

A basic ingredient in the attainment of freedom: adversity that brings awareness. A traveller lost in the desert despaired of ever finding water. He struggled up one hilltop, then another and another in the hope of sighting a stream somewhere. He kept looking in every direction with no success.
As he staggered onwards his foot caught on a dry bush and he stumbled to the ground. That’s where he laid, with no energy even to rise, no desire to struggle any more, no hope of surviving this ordeal.
As he lay there, helpless and dejected, he suddenly became aware of the silence of the desert. On all sides a majestic stillness reigned, undisturbed by the slightest sound. Suddenly he raised his head. He had heard something. Something so faint that only the sharpest ear and the deepest silence would lead to its detection: the sound of running water.
Heartened by the hope that the sound aroused in him, he rose and kept moving till he arrived at a stream of fresh, cool water.

Thomas O’Loughlin

Is there a more memorable scene in the whole gospel than that of the little man Zacchaeus climbing a tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus? Then despite Zacchaeus being the outcast in the community, Jesus choosing to have supper with him. The Lord has come among us today, coming to seek and save, and calling us to share his supper now in this sacred banquet. Let us focus our minds on our need to be forgiven, our need to begin afresh, and that we are gathered around the Lord’s table.


SALVATION - Illustrations

The Romans' Road  to Salvation. Romans: 3:23, 6:23; 5:8; 10:9, 10, 13.

During the Spanish-American War, Clara Barton was overseeing the work of the Red Cross in Cuba. One day Colonel Theodore Roosevelt came to her, wanted to buy food for his sick and wounded Rough Riders. But she refused to sell him any. Roosevelt was perplexed. His men needed the help and he was prepared to pay out of his own funds. When he asked someone why he could not buy the supplies, he was told, "Colonel, just ask for it!" A smile broke over Roosevelt's face. Now he understood--the provisions were not for sale. All he had to do was simply ask and they would be given freely.
Our Daily Bread, October 11, 1992.

PRIDE - Illustrations

Golf immortal Arnold Palmer recalls a lesson about overconfidence:
It was the final hole of the 1961 Masters tournament, and I had a one-stroke lead and had just hit a very satisfying tee shot. I felt I was in pretty good shape. As I approached my ball, I saw an old friend standing at the edge of the gallery. He motioned me over, stuck out his hand and said, Congratulations." I took his hand and shook it, but as soon as I did, I knew I had lost my focus. On my next two shots, I hit the ball into a sand trap, then put it over the edge of the green. I missed a putt and lost the Masters. You don't forget a mistake like that; you just learnfrom it and become determined that you will never do that again. I haven't in the 30 years since.
Carol Mann, The 19th Hold,  Longmeadow.

During the Battle of the Wilderness in the Civil War, Union general John Sedgwick was inspecting his troops. At one point he came to a parapet, over which he gazed out in the direction of the enemy. His officers suggested that this was unwise and perhaps he ought to duck while passing the parapet. "Nonsense," snapped the general. "They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist--." A moment later Sedgwick fell to the ground, fatally wounded.
Today in the Word, August 30, 1993.

HUMILITY - Illustrations

A truly humble man is hard to find, yet God delights to honor such selfless people. Booker T. Washington, the renowned black educator, was an outstanding example of this truth. Shortly after he took over the presidency of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, he was walking in an exclusive section of town when he was stopped by a wealthy white woman. Not knowing the famous Mr. Washington by sight, she asked if he would like to earn a few dollars by chopping wood for her. Because he had no pressing business at the moment, Professor Washington smiled, rolled up his sleeves, and proceeded to do the humble chore she had requested. When he was finished, he carried the logs into the house and stacked them by the fireplace. A little girl recognized him and later revealed his identity to the lady.
The next morning the embarrassed woman went to see Mr. Washington in his office at the Institute and apologized profusely. "It's perfectly all right, Madam," he replied. "Occasionally I enjoy a little manual labor. Besides, it's always a delight to do something for a friend." She shook his hand warmly and assured him that his meek and gracious attitude had endeared him and his work to her heart. Not long afterward she showed her admiration by persuading some wealthy acquaintances to join her in donating thousands of dollars to the Tuskegee Institute.
Our Daily Bread.

30 Sunday C -Humility-Homilies

Thomas O’Loughlin
Introduction to the Celebration
Today we are going to reflect on self-knowledge and humility. By gathering here in public we are telling the world that we take the need to profess faith in God seriously; we are saying we are people with a definite way of life, that we have taken up the cross of discipleship. But without humble awareness of our faults and our need of God’s mercy, we could be deceiving ourselves. Let us ask the Spirit to enlighten our minds that we might know our failings, and to give us the humility to ask for mercy.
Michel de Verteuil
General Textual comments

General Comments
This Sunday’s gospel reading is in three sections
- verse 9, introduction to the parable
- verses 10 –14a, the parable
- verse 14b, general saying of Jesus.
As always with gospel passages we are free either to focus on the sections independently or to see the connection between them so that each one serves as a guide for interpreting the others.

PRAYER - Illustrations

The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoving it all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.
C.S. Lewis

He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day.
John Bunyan

The fewer the words, the better the prayer. To have prayed well is to have studied well.
Martin Luther

PERSEVERANCE - Illustrations

Young William Wilberforce was discouraged one night in the early 1790s after another defeat in his 10 year battle against the slave trade in England. Tired and frustrated, he opened his Bible and began to leaf through it. A small piece of paper fell out and fluttered to the floor. It was a letter written by John Wesley shortly before his death. Wilberforce read it again: "Unless the divine power has raised you up... I see not how you can go through your glorious enterprise in opposing that (abominable practice of slavery), which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature. Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? Oh, be not weary of well-doing. Go on in the name of God, and in the power of His might."
Daily Bread, June 16, 1989.

29 Sunday C - Persistence - Homilies

The persistent widow in our midst

It may be a spouse’s Parkinson’s disease, a parent’s Alzheimer’s, a sister’s breast cancer, a child’s leukemia.  The illness of a loved one, a catastrophe striking their family, the suffering of someone dear to them transforms these moms and dads and sons and daughters and friends into dedicated advocates and determined guardians.

 They fight hospitals and insurance companies for the critical medical care needed by their loved one.  They take on the most obstinate bureaucracies for the assistance and services their child is entitled to but denied.  They work tirelessly to raise awareness, raise money, and, when necessary, raise Cain, so that their loved one may live as fully a life as possible, so that a cure might be found, so that other families will not have to experience the pain and anguish they have known.

These dedicated men and women are the Gospel widow in our midst.  They face down the “dishonest judges” of arrogance and avarice; they take on the “fearful judges” of insensitivity and unawareness; they go toe-to-toe with the “judges who fear neither God nor respect any human being,” save themselves.

Brain Teasers - Try some

Something to think about

CHURCH has 6 letters, so does MOSQUE.

BIBLE has 5 letters, so does QURAN.
LIFE has 4 letters, so does DEAD.
LOVE has 4 letters, so does HATE.
FRIENDS has 7, so does ENEMIES.
TRUTH has 5, so does LYING.
HEAL has 4, so does HURT.
POSITIVE has 8, so does NEGATIVE.
SUCCESS has 7, so does FAILURE.
ABOVE has 5, so does UNDER.
JOY has 3 letters so does CRY.
HAPPY has 5 letters so does ANGER.
RIGHT has 5 letters so does WRONG.
Are they by coincidence?
Choose wisely.
This means LIFE is like a double-edged sword.
We should choose the better side of Life!


It is said that on his retreat from Greece after his great military expedition there, King Xerxes boarded a Phoenician ship along with a number of his Persian troops. But a fearful storm came up, and the captain told Xerxes there was no hope unless the ship's load was substantially lightened. The king turned to his fellow Persians on deck and said, "It is on you that my safety depends. Now let some of you show your regard for your king." A number of the men bowed to Xerxes and threw themselves overboard!
Lightened of its load, the ship made it safely to harbor. Xerxes immediately ordered that a golden crown be given to the pilot for preserving the king's life -- then ordered the man beheaded for causing the loss of so many Persian lives!
Today in the Word, July 11, 1993.

Mother Teresa and Dr. Lombardi -Interesting Video

28 Sunday C -10 Lepers - Homilies

Almost every age has had its social outcasts, people barred from normal society whether through physical illness or national origin. One person who stepped across these barriers in India was pioneer missionary Mary Reed. Already working in India, Mary visited a leper colony and was deeply moved by the people's plight. Later Mary contracted leprosy herself and went to work with the lepers, eager to tell them that she knew firsthand their pain and trauma. She became head of the leper colony she had visited, and in the years following many were saved and a church built. Mary retired at the age of eighty-four after many years of faithful service to these social outcasts. 
Today in the Word, January, 1990, p. 24.

Once upon a time there was a man who was struck down in his early thirties who was diagnosed with  brain cancer. He had a wife and young children and a promising career. Suddenly all of that was swept away from him. He could barely talk or walk. He was in constant agony. His friends and his family, except for his wife and mother, avoided him. The doctors shook their head. It was too bad. He was a nice man and deserved longer life. But there was nothing they could.

At last he went to a very famous doctor who offered to operate on him, even though everyone else said the tumor was inoperable. The doctor warned the patient and his wife that he could very well die during the operation, though he (the doctor) was pretty sure that he would survive and return to health. They decided that they should take the risk.  

After nine hours of surgery, the doctor came into the waiting room, grinned at the man’s wife and said, “Got it!” The man recovered and went on to a happy and successful life. Twenty years later the surgeon died. We should go to the wake, the patient’s wife said. I’d like to, her husband replied. But it’s on the weekend and I have an important golf tournament. 

Andrew Greeley 

Does Everyone Do That?   

The story is told of a farmer who went into town for a little breakfast. As his meal was set before him, he bowed his head and offered a silent prayer. The man at the next table derided him, "Hey, does everybody do that where you come from?" "No," said the farmer. "The pigs don't."  

 Frank Lyman

Faith - Quotes and Stories

Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore seek not to understand that thou mayest believe, but believe that thou mayest understand.

Faith has to do with things that are not seen and hope with things that are not at hand. 
Thomas Aquinas.

Faith and works should travel side by side, step answering to step, like the legs of men walking. First faith, and then works; and then faith again, and then works again -- until they can scarcely distinguish which is the one and which is the other.
William Booth in The Founder's Messages to Soldiers, Christianity Today, October 5, 1992, p. 48.

FAITHFULNESS - Quotes and Stories

One of the most tragic events during the Reagan Presidency was the Sunday morning terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, in which hundreds of Americans were killed or wounded as they slept. Many of us can still recall the terrible scenes as the dazed survivors worked to dig out their trapped brothers from beneath the rubble.
A few days after the tragedy, I recall coming across an extraordinary story. Marine Corps Commandant Paul X Kelly, visited some of the wounded survivors then in a Frankfurt, Germany, hospital. Among them was Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton, severely wounded in the incident. Nashton had so many tubes running in and out of his body that a witness said he looked more like a machine than a man; yet he survived.
As Kelly neared him, Nashton, struggling to move and racked with pain, motioned for a piece of paper and a pen. He wrote a brief note and passed it back to the Commandant. On the slip of paper were but two words -- "Semper Fi" the Latin motto of the Marines meaning "forever faithful." With those two simple words Nashton spoke for the millions of Americans who have sacrificed body and limb and their lives for their country -- those who have remained faithful.
J. Dobson & Gary Bauer, Children at Risk, Word, 1990, pp. 187-188.

27 Sunday C - Faith and Responsibility - Homilies

Video Messages at the Bottom: One for 27th Sunday and the other for Pro-Life Sunday
The Church works best we are advised when we see ourselves not as spectators but as participants.

Arthur Tonne tells about the seventeenth century St Francis de Sales. As a young man, Francis was seriously ill. It was felt certain he would die. He begged his professor, "Sir, arrange my funeral as you see fit. I only ask that after my funeral you give my body to medical students." The professor demurred.  Bur de Sales persisted. "It is very consoling to me, as I lie dying," said Francis, "to think that if I have been a useless servant during life, I will be of some good after death."

Incidentally, it would be wonderful if we were useful in life and also after our deaths. Why not copy the style of de Sales? We need not be as generous as the saint. We can give our families the consolation of burying our bodies in the family plot. But why not make provisions now to donate our organs after death? Why not enjoy two resurrections? The auto decal correctly instructs us, "Heaven knows we need your organs here."

I have already made arrangements. In New York State, it is a very simple matter. One signs the back of a Driver License in the presence of a witness. Why not today find out what the law is in your own state? Surely, by the time the second resurrection of our respective bodies comes about, God will have figured some way to put us all back together again. In the meantime, we shall hear from a smiling Christ, "Well done, good and useful servant."

10 Steps To A Balanced Ministry

By James Smith

Ministry is an occupation where balance is often hard to find.  While others punch a clock and work only one job, the minister is often times required to wear multiple hats and even work a secular job as well.    Here are 10 points to consider to discover balance for your life and ministry.

Stay focused
Your dedication to what God has called you to do will require stringent concentration.  There are going to be many opportunities for you to become distracted.  Stay Focused.  Remain prayerful and know that God has called you to a work because of your uniqueness and giftedness.

26 Sunday C - Lazarus - God Turns Tables

Note: Video message from Fr. William Grim, mm at the bottom

What parable would make a man with three doctoral degrees (one in medicine, one in theology, one in philosophy) leave civilization with all of its culture and amenities and depart for the jungles of darkest Africa? What parable could induce a man, who was recognized as one of the best concert organists in all of Europe, go to a place where there were no organs to play. What parable would so intensely motivate a man that he would give up a teaching position in Vienna, Austria to go and deal with people who were so deprived that they were still living in the superstitions of the dark ages for all practical purposes. The man who I am talking about, of course, is Dr. Albert Schweitzer who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952. And the single parable that so radically altered his life, according to him, was our text for this morning. It was the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.

The rich man of today's story was "a winner in this life," says James Tahaney, "and a loser in the next."

Dogs and cats in the United States eat more nutritious food than do the homeless in refugee camps in the third world. That chilling information is reported by The New York Times.

What a masterful storyteller and wordsmith the Master is. It boggles the mind to reflect how much He was able to squeeze into twelve verses. He is a teacher par excellence.
(James Gilhooley)


A very apt description of INDIA TODAY

                    May your happiness increase like Petrol Price,
                    May your sorrow fall like the Indian Rupee, and
                    May your joy spread in your heart like
                    Corruption spreads in India ?!!!

Husband of the year Awards - Humour

The honorable mention goes to:
The United Kingdom

25 Sunday C - Stewardship - Homilies

Gospel Reading: Luke 16:1-13

Michel de Verteuil
General Textual Comments

The passage is in two movements:
- verses 1 to 7, the parable;
- verses 8 to 13, a collection of six sayings of Jesus, all connected with the parable.

Most people find this parable one of the most difficult to interpret, seeming to condone the dishonesty of the steward. The main problem here is our tendency to read the gospels and the parables particularly, in a rational, moralizing way. We then find ourselves passing judgement on the parables:  “a touching story but ….” With this approach to our parable we have to do mental gymnastics to explain how the master could “praise the dishonest steward”.

We are not meant to read parables in such a heady, moralizing (basically self-righteous) way. We must enter freely into them (“with a willing suspension of disbelief”), get a feel for the characters, and gradually let them reveal some deep lesson about human living.

With this parable, for example, we must identify with the steward, allow him to become a person whom we feel to praise, just like the master in the parable did. If we look at him in that perspective, we find that he is very likable, not efficient – “wasteful” as the parable says – but very likeable. We imagine a person who knows how to enjoy life. He doesn’t like hard work – “Dig? I am not strong enough” – but he likes people and enjoys the company of his friends.

Blind Woman, Dog and the Pilot - Story

A woman was flying from Seattle
to San Francisco .  Unexpectedly,
the plane was diverted to
Sacramento along the way.

24 Sunday C – Lost and Found - Homilies

Thomas O’Loughlin
Introduction to the Celebration 

Each of us can stand here because the Lord has sought us out and forgiven us. We call Jesus is ‘our saviour’, but we could just as easily call him ‘our pardon’ or ‘our reconciliation’ or ‘the One who reveals the Father’s love to us’. Now we gather to join with Jesus in offering thanks to the Father for his love, and to grow in our awareness of how we are sought out and welcomed home by the Christ.

Gospel Notes 

The three parables are part of the basic memory of Christians about the content of the good news, so much so that we could go so far as to say that if someone did not have these stories in his/her store of memory, then they would be deprived of some of the keys to how Christians view God. So it is important that people hear these together as Luke preached them, but also hear their subtle differences: the first two stories are addressed to the cause of the welcome the Jesus offered sinners:

'What goes around comes around - Story

One day a man saw an old lady, stranded on the side of the road, but even in the dim light of day, he could see she needed help. So he pulled up in front of her Mercedes and got out. His Pontiac was still sputtering when he approached her.

Even with the smile on his face, she looked worried.. No one had stopped to help for the last hour or so. Was he going to hurt her? He didn't look safe; he looked poor and hungry.

If you have a heart ....Stories from real lives

Reader's Digest:

If you have a heart, you can help anybody

When I began planning to move to Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, to study, my mother worried about the uncertainty of living in a place that was so different from India. She worried particularly about a lack of jobs, cultural differences and racism.Despite these concerns, I came to New Zealand in July 2009. I found the place and people to be very gracious and supportive. When I arrived, I soon realized the importance of getting a job to supplement my living allowance.Determined to do this on my own, I spent a whole day going door-to-door asking for a job, but found little or no response. This became my daily routine after college for a few weeks.

Illustrations for Sermons

You can download a copy:

23 Sunday C – Discipleship – Counting the Cost

The Word Hate 

"If anyone comes after me and does not hate ..." "Hate" is not primarily a feeling word in the Aramaic language, the language Jesus spoke. It is primarily a priority word. It means to abandon or to leave aside; the way a sailor needs to abandon a sinking ship or the way a general needs to leave aside distracting things to win his battle.

John G. Lynch
Thomas O’Loughlin,
Introduction to the Celebration

 We have gathered here because we are disciples of the Lord Jesus: we have chosen his way as our way. Today he reminds us that this is no easy choice for his way led to the cross. He reminds us: ‘Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.’ Discipleship embraces every aspect of our lives. Discipleship means that we have to plan for the best way to live our lives in the light of his truth. Yet, we all fall short of that way, we follow other paths, we avoid the cross, we think of the immediate rather than the goal of life. So as we gather for this meal of discipleship, let us renew our commitment to the way of the Lord and ask pardon for our deviations from it. 

Our following of Christ can easily become an unreflective adherence to a faith into which we were born. We may continue going to Mass merely out of habit or even fear. However, today it is as though Jesus turns around to us and says: ‘This is not for the fainthearted. Following me is not about having things easy with God on your side. It is all about forgetting yourself and that, my friend, is a hard road.’ From time to time we need to be shocked out of our complacency and today’s invitation to make our own the wisdom of Jesus aims to do just that.