The Bible has far-fetched legends that are there to stress some lesson, but not to be believed.


Wednesday, 2/1/12
The first reading gives us a legend about three choices that God had his prophet propose to David. In punishment for his sin of pride David could choose either a three-year famine for his people, a three-day flight from his enemy for himself, or a three-day pestilence for his people. In this legend David chose the three-day pestilence; and it resulted in an infection that took the lives seventy thousand of his people. 
This tall story is like Monday’s Gospel legend about two thousand swine, possessed by devils, rushing down a hill to deaths by drowning. Both stories are too weird to be believed, and God does not want us to believe them. Each is a popular legend that was given a place in the Bible because it illustrated an important fact. The legend about the two thousand swine not wanting to live after they had been possessed by devils is a story told to show how awful it is to live a life opposed to God. The legend of David being given three terrible choices to atone for his opposing God tells us that opposing Gold is no small crime.

We are meant to stage this Gospel in the theater of out imaginations.


Tuesday, 131/12 
It is good for us to let the performers in today’s Gospel act out the drama on the stage of our imaginations.
Jesus had a fine audience on the docks of Capernaum, and the disciples were happy at seeing his teaching go over so well. Then, this guy Jairus from the synagogue had to ruin everything. He butted in, asking Jesus to come lay his hands on his daughter.
Showing no resentment at being interrupted, Jesus, with the crowd following, started up from the docks.
A bent-over woman who had been hemorrhaging for a dozen years edged her way through the crowd. In an aside to the audience she said, “With my flow of blood I make anyone I touch ritually unclean. I wouldn’t want to do that to this prophet; but the holiness radiating out of him is so strong that it could cure me by my touching his robe.”
She got one finger on the sleeve of Our Lord’s robe, and with that, she stood up full of health. 
“Who touched me? Jesus spun around.
Surrounded by the friends congratulating her, the woman came forward, saying, “Thanks, oh thanks, Master.”
Don’t thank me. It is your own great faith that cured you.”
As the crowd approached the synagogue they were met by a throng of people who were beating on pans and blowing on horns in an effort to scare away the hidden demons who were gathered to snatch the spirit of the girl who had just died.
“She isn’t dead, only asleep,” Jesus declared.
“We don’t know who you are, but we know dying when we see it. This kid sent off her last breath, and she’ll never have another.”
Jesus told his disciples, “Scatter this crowd. Just let the child’s parent come into the house with me.”
Mark gave us the very Aramaic words spoken by Jesus. Taking the child by the hand, Jesus said, “Talitha, koum,” Or, “Little girl, get up.”
Jesus handed the child over to her mother, saying, “Give the child something to eat.”

Our readings from Second Samuel let us see that David was wrong for letting his sons get away with murder.


Monday, 1/30/12
David is one of the Bible’s great heroes, and that being so, it confuses us when the Bible seems to approve of his behaving in a sinful way. Like, he spoiled his children rotten. Is that to be an example for us? No.
This week we are reading from the Second Book of Samuel. It helps to know how these stories were put together. After the death of David his Kingdom of Judea carried on for almost four hundred years. Without printing, and certainly without television, those people got their history and entertainment from storytellers. Those men, unable to read or write, chanted long epic poems about past kings. They didn’t dare openly criticize royal behavior, but they could relate the facts in such a way that the listeners could see where their kings had gone wrong.
David’s big sin was that he let his sons get away with murder. When his oldest, Annon, raped his half sister, David was very angry about it; but he did not want to alienate Annon by openly blaming him.
When his son Absalom raised a rebellion against him, David, the doting father went slinking away. When troops royal to the king put Absalom to death David mourned for him as though he were part of the rebellion.
Without openly speaking against King David the storytellers left it to our good sense to see David was wrong for letting his sons get away with murder.

Only the law came through Moses. Christ, additionally gives us the grace to follow the rules and the reasons behind them.



Sunday, 1/29/12
Today’s first reading invites us to consider the relationship of Moses to Jesus, and of Judaism to Christianity.
That first reading came toward the close of the forty years Moses spent with the people in the desert. He recalled for them an incident from when they were just three months into those forty years. Before issuing the Ten Commandments God did something to put the fear of God in the people. He had them assemble before Mt. Sinai, then, he had the mountain erupt in roaring flames.
Shivering on their bellies the people begged Moses to prevent God coming to them again in such a fearful way. In today’s reading Moses told the people that in answer to their request when God came to them again he would come in the form of a prophet who would be as mild as Moses himself.
When Jesus drove out devils and performed instant cures the people began saying that Jesus must be that promised Moses-like prophet.
There is a half sentence in the first chapter of John’s Gospel that compares the contributions of Moses and Jesus, of Judaism and Christianity. It is John 1:17 “While the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.   
There is a lot there. All Moses gave us was the rules. Jesus gives us the grace to live up to the rules; and he lets us know why the Father makes these demands for us.

Grime builds up on our hearts the way it builds up on our furniture. We need to call God in to create clean hearts for us.


Saturday, 1/28/12
Jennifer Prive, the past president of our Ladies’ Guild cleans my condo once a month. With my doing the normal picking up and washing I never notice the place getting dirty; but Jennifer did her strong one-over here yesterday, and I sure can notice the place being clean. How marvelous it is to get a reflection off the marble sink!
I suppose it is the same with ourselves. We don’t notice the grime taking over our hearts. Jennifer is grand for a chat and a scrub, but today’s 51st Psalm calls in God to do a real clean-up of our inner being. Confident that God will get us on to the right program, we plead,
A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me.

God pours in over our sleeping souls the way the tide washes in through tidal marshes.


Friday, 1/27/12
In the Gospel Jesus spoke of the mysterious ways in which God gives life and growth to scattered seed while the farmer who scattered them sleeps unawares. That might remind you of Sidney Lanier’s great poem about the tidal marsh land in Glynn County Georgia just north of here. In the closing verse of his “Marshes of Glynn” Lanier described the enriching tide rolling in through the marshes at night, comparing it to God’s sleep working its wonders as we lay lost in dreams.
The creeks overflow: a dozen rivulets run:
Twixt the roots and the sod; the blades of the marsh grass stir;
Passeth a hurrying sound of wings that westward whirr;
Passeth and all is still; and the currents cease to run,
And the sea and the marsh are one.
How still the plains of the waters be!
The tide is in his ecstasy.
The tide is at his highest height;
And it is night.

And now from the Vast of the Lord will the waters of sleep
Roll in on the souls of men,
But who will reveal to or waking ken
 The forms that swim and the shapes that creep
Under he waters of sleep?

And I would I could know what swimmeth below when the tide comes in
On the length and the breadth of the marvelous marshes of Glynn.

Titus could be the patron saint for young men with responsibilities thrust upon them.


Thursday, 1/26/12
St. Titus, a Greek pagan converted by Paul, is often paired with Timothy in that they were young men to whom Paul gave major responsibilities; and Paul wrote letters to both of them. An odd difference between them was that while Paul catered to Jewish sensibilities in having Timothy circumcised, he made a more decisive break with the past by refusing to have Titus circumcised.
In sending Titus to Crete to put the Church there in order Paul forced Titus to develop mature ways. It was similar to what it must be like for a boyish married man to suddenly find he is the father of triplets. Titus could be the patron saint of young men with responsibility thrust on them.
The finest scholar on Paul’s letters was the Jesuit, Rev. Joseph Fitzmyer. In taking a course from him one time I asked him if both the Protestant and Catholic version of Paul’s Letter to Titus didn’t mistranslate the second paragraph in the letter. Father Fitzmyer agreed that they had.
In that paragraph Paul told Titus to appoint worth presbyters in every place. Protestant Bibles translate the word presbyter as elder; but our Catholic version, calling it priest seems better, since our word priest is actually a contraction of the word presbyter.
Father Fitzmyer agreed with me that Catholics mistranslate the next sentence. In it Paul gave the qualities needed for a man to be a presbyter. He wrote that a presbyter should be blameless and married only once; and the sentence concludes with Paul saying that as overseers they should not be arrogant. Our Catholic translation seems to go wrong there in breaking the sentence in two. In the second part they translate the Greek word for an overseer as bishop. While the whole passage naturally reads as a list of moral requirement for the presbyterate, our Catholic translation injects the bishops there.

Titus is the patron sint of young men with authority thrust upon them.


Thursday, 1/26/12
St. Titus, a Greek pagan converted by Paul, is often paired with Timothy in that they were young men to whom Paul gave major responsibilities; and Paul wrote letters to both of them. An odd difference between them was that while Paul catered to Jewish sensibilities in having Timothy circumcised, he made a more decisive break with the past by refusing to have Titus circumcised.
In sending Titus to Crete to put the Church there in order Paul forced Titus to develop mature ways. It was similar to what it must be like for a boyish married man to suddenly find he is the father of twins. Titus could be the patron saint of young men with responsibility thrust on them.
The finest scholar on Paul’s letters was the Jesuit, Rev. Joseph Fitzmyer. In taking a course from him one time I asked him if both the Protestant and Catholic version of Paul’s Letter to Titus didn’t mistranslate the second paragraph in the letter. Father Fitzmyer agreed that they had.
In that paragraph Paul told Titus to appoint worth Presbyters in every place. Protestant Bibles translate the word presbyter as elder; but our Catholic version, calling it priest seems better, since our word priest is actually a contraction of the word presbyter.
Father Fitzmyer agreed with me that Catholics mistranslate the next sentence. In it Paul gave the qualities needed for a man to be a presbyter. He wrote that a presbyter should be blameless and married only once; and the sentence concludes with Paul saying that as an overseer a presbyter not be arrogant. Our Catholic translation seems to go wrong there in breaking the sentence in two. In the second part we translate the Greek word for an overseer as bishop. While the whole passage naturally reads as a list of moral requirement for the presbyterate, our Catholic translation injects the bishops there.

Jesus told Saul not to kick against the goad.


Wednesday, 1/25/12
An odd thing about Paul’s story of his conversion on the road to Damascus is that he told it three times in the Acts of the Apostles. It is in Chapters Nine, Twenty-two, and Twenty-Seven. Although he tells the story in almost the same words each time, the last time, in Chapter Twenty-Seven he recalls one detail he left out the other two times. The detail he finally remembered is that the voice from heaven told him, “It is hard for you to kick against the goad.”
A goad is a pointed stick a farmer uses to prod his beast the go the right way. In saying it was hard for Saul to kick against the goad, Jesus was saying that all along while Saul was persecuting the Christians his conscience was telling him he was hurting good people. I say. “his conscience was telling him;” but in bringing the matter up, Jesus was saying that he himself was behind those promptings of Saul’s conscience. When we say, “let your conscience be your guide” we are often really saying, “Let the Lord, speaking through your conscience be your guide.”
I have a personal matter to deal with this January 25. Twenty-five years ago today I officiated at the wedding between Henry and Nanie Papa. At the rehearsal the evening of the 24th we had to wait while some of the wedding party made the trip up from Gainesville. The guests asked if hey could go to confession while we waited; and with twenty Pilipino people making fine confessions I realized that the Philipino people on this side of town are an important part of the Church here. (I later had the privilege of teaching Sarah, Sheena and Henry jr.) I hope Henry srenior is not put out by this, but I’d like to tell a story on him. When I had finished all the confessions the night of the rehearsal, Henry came in. He said, “I don’t need to go to confession, but I want to thank God for Nanie.” 

Francis de Sales was saved from despair on hearing that God is love. He spent his life convincing others of that beautiful truth.


Tuesday, 1/24/12
Today we honor St. Francis de Sales. Going beyond honoring him, we take him as an example of how we might overcome life’s difficulties.
The oldest of six in a well-to-do family from where France borders on Switzerland and italy, Francis was sent to the University of Padua where he obtained a doctorate degree in law. His father had a lucrative post prepared for him. At that time France’s intellectual circles, weary of Rome’s high living, were going over to Calvin’s simplistic approach to Christianity. Going along with Calvinism, Francis was floored by his personal conviction that he was predestined for hell. His health and his prospects fell away. Then, one day, visiting a Catholic Church, he heard the simple words, “God is love.” So touched was he that he disappointed his father by abandoning a law practice, giving his life to letting people know that God is love.
Returning to his hometown of Annecy in Savoy, he entered the service of the bishop of Geneva, Switzerland. However, with Geneva having gone over to Calvinism, it was death for Catholics who ventured into that old city. When that bishop died Frances was consecrated as Geneva’s bishop.
AS bishop Francis devoted himself to ordinary people, writing a marvelous guide for them in his “Introduction to a Devout Life.”
He shared his preference for ordinary people with a widowed mother of six, Jane Frances de Chantal. He backed her in bringing widows like herself to the service of ordinary people. Jane Frances said, “I like sick people. I’m on their side.” Her Sisters gave themselves to visiting the needy, and that resulted in their being called “Visitation Sister.” Unfortunately, Rome’s fondness for keeping women cooped up, led to a decision to convert the Visitation Sisters to a cloistered order.

The Israelites knew they were of one bone and flesh with David. So the Scribes should have known they were made in Our Lord's image and likeness.


Monday, 1/23/12
The Scribes were out to get Jesus because his popularity threatened their political power. They were at t a loss for explaining his supernatural power. It has them grabbing at an accusation to  justify their stand against him. It had them saying his greatness came from the devil.
The first reading tells us how they should have regarded Jesus. In that reading the Israelites accepted David as their king because they werel “bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh.”
The Scribes were far from recognizing the fact, but they had a similar deep-seated relationship with Jesus. He was the Father’s own Son, and they were created in his “image and likeness.”

Jesus began his public life by askng people to make their hears part of God's kingdom.


Sunday, 1/22/12
In the Sunday Masses from the First Sunday of Advent to the Last Sunday after Pentecost of the following year the Church reviews the history of the world: beginning with creation, coming to the birth of Jesus, following him through Lent to his death and resurrection; then going on with the history of the Church until we come to the end of the world at the last Sunday before Advent.
Today, in that long sequence, we look at the beginning of the public life of Jesus. Let’s look at his first steps.
First, Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is at hand.” His audience had been counting on a Messiah who would restore the power and glory of David’s kingdom. Instead, Jesus calls for “the kingdom of God.” That kingdom has an open membership for everyone who recognizes God as the final authority over his or her heart.
Our English Bible mistranslates the second thing that Mark quoted Jesus as saying. Actually, Jesus didn’t tell us to repent, dwelling sadly on our past failings. What he told us to do was more positive. He said, “Turn your thinking around.” In other words, we should redirect ourselves toward selflessness, and away from selfish pursuits.
Next Jesus called four young men to become fishers of men. That’s what churchmen should be: fellows who know how to bait their hooks to draw people into the boat.

In the Psalm we say, "Let us see your face, Lord." When we look upon it we will see everything we have loved in this world and so much more.


Saturday. 1/21/12
In the Responsorial Psalm we say, “Let us see your face, Lord.” I have lately been getting a better idea of what we might see when we look upon God.
Without a car I have been walking good distances, and as I walk I have been chewing over the First Chapter of John’s Gospel. He wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God; and the Word was God. All things were made through him.”
Thomas Aquinas explained how the Word could both be with God and be God. He used the Letter to the Hebrews that says the Son was “the imprint of the Father’s being;” and  the letter to the Colossians that says the Son is “The image of the invisible God.”
From that Aquinas theorized that in the vast stretch of eternity when there was nothing but himself God formed a perfect mental picture of himself. Finding that mirror image entirely satisfying, he stayed with it. And that Son, his brainchild, partook of the substance of God.  
The Father loved the Son, and the Son loved the Father. As St. John tells us, “God is love.”
Aquinas then theorized that the Father, looking at the Son saw all the elements that he would then incorporate into creation. In my  walks through our neighborhoods I have been thinking about this. I have been picturing the Father using the Son as the model for all he created.
Then, wearying of all this high theological theorizing, I looked up at the blue sky, at the clouds, and the trees like filigree against the sky. I began thinking of how I loved our world so much I didn’t want to leave it.
But then my thoughts returned to “all things were made through him.” With that it came to me that God, being all good, wanted to share his beauty with us. These wonders of nature are just cheap copies of the wild beauty of the Son. It came to me that when we see the face of God we will no long lament over the loss of earthly joys. Like Francis Thompson we will say, “All these you took from me not for my harms, but that I might find them again in your arms.”

Pope John XXIII made the Roman Catholic Church more catholic, while recent popes have made it more Roman.


 Friday, 1/20/11
The new liturgy is having more success as the weeks go on, with some people liking the way it makes us have fresh thoughts. However, the complaints are still strong. People are saying that Pope John XXIII and Vatican II took the Roman Catholic Church, making it more Catholic; while Popes John Paul II and Benedict have made the Roman Catholic Church more Roman than Catholic.
Yesterday I received my twice-a-month copy of the “National Catholic Reporter,” and I appreciated the very Catholic aspect of its coverage. It picture Jerusalem’s Catholics who were permitted to visit the Jordan for the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus. It told of 800 Christians slaughtered by the radical Boco Haram movement in Northern Nigeria. It says Columbia had six of its priests slaughtered by drug lords.
This issue of the N.C,R. gave full coverage to the 48 schools slated for closing in Philadelphia. That gives rise to deep thinking on the future of American Catholicism.
Benedict XVI appointed 22 cardinals: one each for Brazil, Canada, India and China. The States got two, but one of them works full time in the Curia, as do 17 others of the new cardinals.  

Pope John XIII made the Roman Catholic Church more catholic, while recent poes have made it more Roman.


 Friday, 1/19/11
The new liturgy is having more success as the weeks go on, with some people liking the way it makes us have fresh thoughts. However, the complaints are still strong. People are saying that Pope John XXIII and Vatican II took the Roman Catholic Church, making it more catholic; while Popes John Paul II and Benedict have made the Roman Catholic Church more Roman.
Yesterday I received my twice-a-month copy of the “National Catholic Reporter,” and I appreciated the very catholic aspect of its coverage. It pictured Jerusalem’s Catholics who were permitted to visit the Jordan for the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus. It told of 800 Christians slaughtered by the radical Boco Haram movement in Northern Nigeria. It says Columbia had six of its priests slaughtered by drug lords.
This issue of the N.C,R. gave full coverage to the 48 schools slated for closing in Philadelphia. That gives rise to deep thinking on the future of American Catholicism.
Benedict XVI appointed 22 cardinals: one each fro Brazil, Canada, India and China. The States got two, but one of them works full time in the Curia. Italy got nine new cardinals.

God preferred David to Saul because David's religion was heartfelt, while Saul's was just for political show.


Thursday, 1/19/12
For some time now our first readings have been from the First Book of Samuel. They seemed to have been tales sung by court story-tellers after the time of King David.
When I was a seventeen-year-old seminarian I took down a book of sermons by John Henry Newman, and I read one that explained why God rejected King Saul while he called David.
He said that although David had committed some awful sins, afterwards his sorrow over  offending God almost tore him apart. Saul, on the other hand, had no feeling for God. He only used religion as a political tool. Let me mention three occasions on which he showed his religion to be fake.
One time was when Samuel was to offer a sacrifice for the Israelite’s success in a battle with the Philistines. When Samuel was slow showing up Saul offered the sacrifice himself, though he wasn’t a priest, he didn’t see that it mattered.
Then, when the battle was going his way,he thought a fancy religious thing for him to do was to vow under pain of death that none of his soldiers would taste food until sundown. Then, when his son Jonathan, not knowing about the vow, ate something, Saul ordered him killed as part of his religious charade. The soldiers had to explain to him that our loving God would not be pleased by a father killing a son.
Then, to show off his religious side he banned all witches and soothsayers from his kingdom. But when his cruel campaign against David brought him to the edge of defeat he himself had recourse for help to the Witch of Endor.
To be truly religious we must have an ongoing relationship with God, trying to know what he wants of us.

In spite of his sins, David loved God deeply; while with Saul, religion was just another political tool.


Wednesday, 1/18/12
For some time now our first readings have been from the First Book of Samuel. They seemed to have been tales sung by court story-tellers after the time of King David.
When I was a seventeen-year-old seminarian I took down a book of sermons by John Henry Newman, and I read one that explained why God rejected King Saul while he called David.
He said David had committed some awful sins, but afterwards his sorrow over  offending God almost tore him apart. Saul, on the other hand, had no feeling for God. He only used religion as a political tool. Let me mention three occasions on which he showed his religion to be fake.
One time was when Samuel was to offer a sacrifice for the Israelite’s success in a battle with the Philistines. When Samuel was slow showing up Saul offered the sacrifice himself, though he wasn’t a priest, he didn’t see that it mattered.
Then, when the battle was going his way, he thought a fancy religious thing for him to do was to vow under pain of death that none of his soldiers would taste food until sundown. Then, when his son Jonathan, not knowing about the vow, ate something, Saul ordered him killed as part of his religious charade. The soldiers had to explain to him that our loving God would not be pleased by a father killing a son.
To show off his religious side he banned all witches and soothsayers from his kingdom. But when his cruel campaign against David brought him to the edge of defeat he himself had recourse for help to the Witch of Endor.
To be truly religious we must have an ongoing relationship with God, trying to know what he wants of us.

Jesus taught that the laws of religion are made to help us, not to hurt us.


Tuesday, 1/17/12
Mark’s short Gospel appears to be a narrative of Our Lord’s public years; but the incidents in his narrative are not there simply as events in his life. No, Mark chose today's incident to convey to us a basic truths about Christianity. Jesus defended the right of the disciples to harvest handfuls of grain on the Sabbath, but the words he used have a wide application beyond the events of that Sabbath Day.
Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
Take the second part of that first. As “lord of the Sabbath” Jesus had the authority to allow his Church to move the Lord’s Day from Saturday to Sunday.
Taking the first part. In saying that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath Jesus wass agreeing with Exodus 23: 12 which states, “For six days you may do your work, but on the seventh day you must rest, that your ox and your ass my also have rest and the son of your maidservant and the alien may be refreshed.”
In saying that the law of the Sabbath was made for our good Jesus was saying something of a wider application. He was saying that all religious rules were formed to make mankind happy. They need not be applied if they have a deadly effect on people.

An expanive life of faith will not fit into a resticted selfish life.


Monday, 1/16/12
In today’s Gospel with two metaphors Jesus tells us we cannot just use our Christian faith as something extra to add to the comfortable lives we have worked out for ourselves.
The demand of our faith cannot be like a square of fresh cloth that we use to fix up our worldly life style. In Our Lord’s example the fresh patch by its shrinking at the first washing would pull rents in the older garment. By the metaphor Jesus was saying that the new life of faith would not fit in with our old worldly life style. It would create a need for honesty and kindness that wouldn’t it our selfish life style.
Then, there is the thing about storing wine in goatskins. A goatskin has just enough   stretch in it to let the goat put on weight one time, and this bit of elasticity will be needed when the skin forms a bag for storing grape juice. The grape juice will expand as it ferments into wine, and it will use up the last bit of elasticity in the goat skin. But, an old wine skin with all its stretch used up, won’t accommodate itself to the bursting energy of fresh grape juice. So, the necessary expansiveness of a life of faith won’t fit into the narrow life restricted by heavy drinking and cheating. Or, something!

What would you tell Jesus if he asked you, "What are you looking for?"


Sunday, 1/15/12
This is a Gospel about Andrew and John who were neighboring fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. Andrew and his bother Simon worked a boat with their father Jonah, while John worked with his brother James, both sons of Zebedee. It seems that the two teams worked opposite ends of the same long seining net.
It must have been a down season for fishing, because Andrew and John got permission from their fathers to go south to where the prophet John was baptizing people in the Jordan. Thinking that John might be the promised Messiah, they attached themselves to him, perhaps helping old people out to be baptized by John.
One day Jesus passed by, and pointing to him, John said, “Behold the Lamb of God.” At that, Andrew and his neighbor boy left John the Baptist, and they followed after Jesus.
Being simple young fellows, Andrew and John kept their distance. Jesus turned and asked, “What are you looking for?”
You should imagine yourself as a companion to Andrew and John. You should imagine Jesus putting that same question to you. Have you any real goal? What are you doing about attaining that goal?
What the boys answered was, “Rabbi, where are you staying?”
Jesus said, “Come and see.”
So, “they went and stayed with him.”
The word “stay” is the key word to John’s Gospel. On average it occurs more than twice a page. It’s importance is that John’s Gospel is about the state of Sanctifying Grace by which we abide in Jesus as he abides in us.  

As the physician of our souls Jesus welcomes sinners.


Saturday, 1/14/12
Last week I was handed an article by one of the Burmese Sisters who attend the old people at St. Catherine Laboure Manor. Sister is doing a course for certification as a parish religious leader. The article was meant to give her guidance in welcoming sinners back to the Church. The author of the article, Father William Malloy S.J. said that in welcoming sinners our main guide should be the way that Jesus dealt with them in the Gospels.
Father Malloy made much of Our Lord’s story of the shepherd who had greater joy over recovering one strayed sheep than he had over the fidelity of the ninety-nine that had never strayed. He also made much of today’s Gospel with Jesus happily sharing a meal with all the town’s sinners, letting each feel how he valued him.
Father Malloy’s also pointed out that although our Catholic training has us seeing sexual lapses as very awful, Jesus hardly ever mentioned them.
As high school kids lapses in sexual matters were almost the only sins we were aware of. When school was out at 3:00 in the afternoon Len, my pal from the First Grade, and I would rush to the first of two streetcars we had to take to get home in time to play some ball before dinner.
It often happened when we were to serve Mass the next day that when we got out of school we couldn’t take the quick way home. One or both of us would have to take the long detour down to confession at the Jesuit Church so we could receive Holy Communion at Mass.
Today’s Gospel tells us that instead of bringing our dirty thoughts or wet dreams to  the Jesuit confessional we should have brought them to Jesus in Holy Communion. He is the physician of our souls. And he said, “It is not those who are well that need a physician but those who are sick."

The paralytic might have wanted his sins forgiven more than he wanted a cure.


Friday, 1/13/12
This Gospel story is a story as familiar as the story of Cinderella or Ebenezer Scrooge, but like those old stories it is one we don’t mind hearing again.
The synagogue in Capernaum was not only packed out, but it was surrounded by crowds anxious to hear any word of Jesus that escaped out. Four men carrying a paralytic on a stretcher fought their way through the crowd behind the synagogue, then they hosted the stretcher up onto the building’s flat roof. Setting their patient down, they made an estimate of where Jesus was standing below. Moving five feet in front of that spot, they began removing the roofing tiles.
Inside the people listening to Jesus teach were distracted by the noise from above that got worse as bits of straw and clay began falling in from of Jesus. Our Lord, though, went on telling his Father’s word, paying no heed until the man on the rice sack stretcher was lowered down before his face.
Jesus said, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” You can imagine how people took those words. The men holding the four corner ropes would have been disappointed that they didn’t get their cure. The half ring of scribes sent up from Jerusalem as spies would have been happy because Jesus had committed the capitol sin of blasphemy by claiming to forgive sins, something only God can do.
I think the paralytic might not have been disappointed. It might have been that he felt his sinful excesses had brought on his paralysis; and his biggest fear was of the consequences that would follow from his dying in his sins.
Jesus turned on the scribes. And he overturned their intent of accusing him of blasphemy. By working a cure that could only be done by God’s power he spoiled their fun. He told the man to fold up his stretcher, and walk out of there, which he did to everyone’s amazement.

The leper asked to be cleansed rather than to be cured, because being able to again join the others in prayer meant more to him than being cured.


Thursday, 1/12/12
It is interesting that the leper asked Jesus to make him clean, rather than to cure him. Is leprosy was a double whammy for the man. For one thing, it made him ill, gradually crippling him; for another thing, it made him ritually unclean, so that he could not join others in the synagogue.
By asking Jesus to make him clean, rather than to cure him, the man was showing that his health did not mean as much to him having an end put to his being kept from joining others in prayer.
Which means more to us, our spiritual or our physical well being? Are we more likely to fast for our spiritual health,or to diet for our physical well being?
Those of us trained by nuns, and regularly lined up for confession grew up with a strong need to avoid things that would be sins. We don’t hear similar fears express by today’s kids. They just don’t want to do things that would get them into trouble.

The leper asked to be cleansed rather than to be cured, becausr being agsain able to join the othrs in prayer meant more to him than being cured.


Thursday, 1/12/12
It is interesting that the leper asked Jesus to make him clean, rather than to cure him. Is leprosy was a double whammy for the man. For one thing, it made him ill, gradually crippling him; for another thing, it made him ritually unclean, so that he could not join others in the synagogue.
By asking Jesus to make him clean, rather than to cure him, the man was showing that his health did not mean as much to him having an end put to his being kept from joining others in prayer.
Which means more to us, our spiritual or our physical well being? Are we more likely to fast for our spiritual health,or to diet for our physical well being?
Those of us trained by nuns, and regularly lined up for confession grew up with a strong need to avoid things that would be sins. We don’t hear similar fears express by today’s kids. They just don’t want to do things that would get them into trouble.