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Today we honor St. Justin who was born in the year 100, and who was beheaded as a Christian in the year 165. He is often referred to as Justin Martyr, but he might also be called Justin the Philosopher. He was a lover of Greek philosophy for its honoring the one God and creator of all things. One day he met an old man who complimented him on his knowledge about God; but the old man told him that Christians not only know about God, but they actually know God. Becoming a Christian, Justin opened a school in Rome where he posted his reasoned rejections of lies about Christianity voiced in the Roman Senate. When a senator made the claim that Christians assembled to worship a goat, Justin posted the following description of what we call the Mass.
Martin Luther in 1520 made the claim that the Mass had only been devised a thousand years after the birth of Christ. It is reassuring to read Justin’s description of it from 160 A.D.
"On the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons." In chapter 65, Justin Martyr says that the kiss of peace was given before the bread and the wine mixed with water were brought to "the president of the brethren." The language used was doubtless Greek, except in particular for the Hebrew word "Amen", whose meaning Justin explains in Greek (γένοιτο), saying that by it "all the people present express their assent" when the president of the brethren "has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings."
Today is the Feast of the Visitation. It recalls Mary’s bold three-day journey to be with the aged Elizabeth who was to give birth. For many Christians this feast is a reminder of our duty to visit those in need. It is a special day for the Visitation Sisters founded my Jane Francis de Chantal. Jane’s father was the president of the parliament of Burgundy. She with her husband, the Baron de Chantal, brought six children into the world. After the Baron was killed in a hunting accident, and Jane Francis had made fine arrangements for her children’s education, she was looking for more to do. That something came along when she heard Francis de Sales preaching in the cathedral of Dijon. He implanted in her the idea of leading a fully devout life of service, and he agreed to exchange letters with her. What came of it was that Jane Francis gathered a group of like-minded ladies who drew up a program for visiting any and everybody in need.With aid from Francis de Sales, they applied to Rome for approval of their ministry; but what happened was that Rome was dedicated to the need for cloistered nuns striving for spiritual growth and praying for the mission of the Church. It resulted in establishing the order of Visitation nuns who were not allowed to visit. Should Mary have stayed home where she belonged?
Jesus told his disciples, “Those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority felt, but it shall not be like that among you.” That should be a lasting lesson for church leaders. They should never get caught acting big, but sometimes they are pushed into putting on the dog. Historically that happened in the year 500. Back around the year 320 there was an old priest named Arius who began telling the people that while Jesus was an excellent man, he was not the Son of God. Then, over the next two hundred years half of the Christian world went over to the message of Arius. They were called Arians, and a seminary for Arians was opened in Constantinople. That seminary welcomed boys from the barbarian nations that were invading Europe. A Gothic boy named Ulfilas wrote his own translation of the Gospels, changing things here and there to make Jesus appear to be just a good man. That Gothic New Testament was written in a simple language that was read by people of all the Germanic nations, so that Visigoths, and Lombards and Huns and Burgundians all became Arians who were determined to wipe out the Christians who believed in the divinity of Christ. By the year 470 it looked like the Arians might succeed in eliminating us. Then, a new Germanic nation that never heard of Arianism invaded Europe. They were the Franks, and their king, Chlodwech, married a Christian girl who convinced him that by accepting Baptism he could become as great as Constantine. So, in 496 the whole nation of the Franks were baptized, and Christian people became as strong as the Arians. Then, the priests and bishops ran into this social problem: The Franks, like all barbarians had only two social classes. They had people with inheritances who were called nobles, and they had people without inheritances, and they slept with the pigs. Now, the priests and bishops didn’t want to sleep with the pigs, so they rigged a ceremony in which they came before the assemblage of the noble, and each of them announced, “I have an inheritance. My inheritance is the Lord.”Now the old German word they used for “inheritance” was klerk. So the priests and bishops came to be called clerics. That solved most of the difficulties, but one problem remained. The nobles demanded that the clerics carry themselves with dignity (as the French put it noblesse oblige.) So it happened that they came to be called reverend, very reverend, right reverend, and most reverend. In their consciences they were left to wrestle with what Jesus said about not lording over people.
Priests and nuns are getting a bashing these days. The priests are getting it from the press, and the nuns are getting bashed by their own church. It’s comforting to hear Our Lord say a few words in their favor. He points to their sacrifice of what is normal and right for young people, namely the pleasure of having mates and children of their own. Who will argue with Jesus when he praises them for what they have given up? Still, Jesus rightly points out that those who gave up families for his sake receive their reward even in this life. They receive new brothers and sisters. When it comes to caring for its priests and nuns the Catholic community is a warm family. Many priests and nuns choose to stay with their new family rather than returning to their home towns. With those who come to it from overseas the church family can be especially kind.
Jesus telling the rich young man go sell what he has, and give to the poor made me recall that the Bible’s Book of Proverbs had things to say about being poor. Here are some. 14:20 “The friends of the rich are many, but even his neighbor hates the poor man.” 14:31 “He who oppresses the poor blasphemes his Maker.” 30:8-9 “Let me be neither rich nor poor, lest being full I deny you, saying, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or being in want, I steal.” That last bit is sensible. If someone has a starving family, and there is no honest way to come by food, he must steal to keep the family alive. There is a kind of justice of which we hear too little. It is Distributive Justice. It expresses God’s wish that the good things of the world should be distributed with some evenness. God does not want there to be some people with more than they can use, while others die of hunger. Of course there are some people living well on unemployment benefits. It would be good to cut off benefits to those undeserving. But, with unemployment hovering around ten percent, and with twenty percent of Americans living below the poverty line, it is clear that those cheaters are only a small segment of the needy. If we make drastic cuts in our aid to the poor we might be able both to balance our budget and punish those free loaders. But then, we might as well have a yard sale to get rid of our Bibles.
To appreciate Pentecost to the fullest we might savor something of what it meant to people in 5000 B.C.; then, of what it meant to people in 1250 B.C., and finally what it meant to people in 30 A.D. By 5000 B.C. farm people on the Nile had become well organized in their growing of winter wheat. What they planted in late autumn was ready for harvesting from the day of the first full moon in springtime. On that day they would hand-harvest the first ripe wheat, feasting on the cakes baked without leaven. Then, to get the grain in from the fields before the onset of late spring rains, they set themselves to complete harvesting in fifty days. By working from sunup to sundown for fifty days they completed their work. On the fiftieth day, that they called Pentecost, they would have their wedding parties. Jesus told a story about a rich man whose harvest was so great that he put off rejoicing, instead he worked hard building bigger barns. In Our Lord’s eyes the man was a fool for not getting the pleasure of God’s rich harvest. Pentecost is a God-given day for rejoicing. In 1250 B.C. on the night of the first full moon of springtime the Israelites in Egypt baked the first grain of the year in unleavened cakes. Then they set out on a seven-week trek to Mount Sinai. On the fiftieth day, Pentecost, they made their covenant with God. He became their God, and they became his people. In 30 A.D. Jesus sat down with his Apostles on the feast of the unleavened bread. Then, it was fifty days later, on the ancient farming feat of Pentecost, and the Jewish, feast of Pentecost that the Spirit entered the disciples. Christianity came to life on that ancient feast day when the streets were filled with local farmers and with Parthians Medes and Elamites, and with people from Mesapotamia and Cappadocia. They were all celebrating the wonderful works of God.
Today the Church honors St. Philip Neri, whom we might contrast with St. Charles Borromeo. They were from noble Italian families, and they knew each other at the close of the Council of Trent in 1563. Charles was thirty-three that year, Philip was forty-eight. They were saints in quite different ways. St. Charles Borromeo, was a business-like man who had authority thrust on him at an early age. In his twenties he was placed at the head of an important Italian family. While he was still in his twenties, his uncle, the pope, made him governor of the Papal States; as well, he named him the archbishop of Milan. His diocese covered several Swiss cantons where Catholicism was the official religion. In compliance with the law for officially Catholic cantons, Charles authorized officers of his Golden League to use torture in the trials of Calvinists accused of heresy. In contrast, Philip Neri was a Sixties Person. Coming from an important Florentine family, he too had a well-placed uncle. His uncle put him in charge of a trading company on Naples. Then, one day Philip told his uncle, “Thanks, Uncle, but no thanks.” He left Naples to pursue studies in Rome, supporting himself tutoring children. Having completed his education, he simply took to wandering about Rome, caring for sick people, teaching children how to pray. The great number of women forced into prostitution aroused his sympathy, and drawing funds from his family connections, he found housing and support to let many women live in decent comfort. They called him their Father. Attending Mass whenever it was available, Philip would get carried away in prayer. St. John’s words “God is love” captivated him, leading him in to deep contemplation of the Blessed Trinity. Rome’s scholarly young men, clerics and laymen, were attracted to Phillip, always engaging him in discussions. One well placed young scholar provided Phillip and the others with an abandoned hall where they could gather for religious and scholarly discussions. Phillip enjoyed introducing music into the mix. When he was thirty-six the priests of Rome persuaded him to take ordination to the priesthood. When he was thirty-nine Pope Paul IV, Charles Borromeo’s uncle, gave them standing as an order of the Church, calling them the Oratorians. It remained a loose outfit, with everyone sharing the chores. Charles Borromeo, raised to the level of a cardinal, urged the Oratorians to conform to set rules, taking the vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience. The Oratorians resisted, saying one set of robes doesn’t fit all comers. Since he might fall into contemplation while offering Mass, he instructed the server boys to ring the bell in his ear to keep him going. Hating having people calling him a saint, he bought a monkey, and he carried him around on his shoulder to look foolish.
Most of us feel that the reason for Jesus three times asking Peter if he loved him was that Peter had three times denied knowing him. What we should notice about the way he asked him is the formal way he put the question: “Simon, son of John.” “Simon, son of John.” “Simon son of John.” That was putting the words in the form of a formal oath. This ceremony came as the full enactment of the intention Jesus stated at Caesarea Philippi when he said, “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” St. Peter was put to death by Nero in 67 A.D., and since this passage from the Gospel according to John wasn’t written until twenty years later we can rightly assume that the office given to Peter was handed on to his successors. The bishops of Rome are the leaders of the Church Jesus built. That does not mean we must approve every move the pope makes. St. Paul shows us that at times we might try to straighten out the Holy Father. He gives us an instance of that in Chapter Two of his Letter to the Galatians. Jesus had done away with the need for his followers to observe the rules of kosher. St. Mark told us that in 7:19 of his Gospel where he wrote, “He declared all foods clean.” According to that, Paul felt he was obliged to sit with Gentiles sharing in food that he had long considered unkosher. St. Peter too, when he visited with Paul sat and ate with Gentiles; but when conservative Jewish people came up from Jerusalem Peter stopped sitting down with Gentiles. Referring to Peter’s changed behavior, Paul wrote, “I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong.” Likewise, it is possible for good Catholics today to have opinions different from the Holy Fathers.
After the Last Supper, Jesus, who had greatly loved his apostles, offered a heart-felt prayer for them. One of the things he asked the Father was that the Apostles might come to see his glory. By his glory he meant himself in heaven, enjoying his reward. He was asking the Father to grant the Apostles a full life in heaven after this one was over. In the midst of that prayer he was offering for them Jesus did something unusual. He told the Father he was not asking for a full heavenly existence only for the Apostles. He said, “I pray not only for those, but for all those who will believe in me through them.” When we think of Jesus making that prayer we should picture him looking over the heads of the Apostles, seeing us in the far distance. And, if he can speak to us over the years, then we can speak back to him. We should promise to do our part in having his prayer for us come true. What he asked for us was that we might be one with him and the Father. What might being one with him and the Father be like? How can we be one with God?Well, God is beauty. God is truth. God is goodness. We can be one with him by loving beauty, loving truth and goodness; by staying away from ugliness, lying, and meanness.
In 1941 when I was thirteen my home parish in St. Lois got a new priest, and he was wonderful. Today’s Gospel makes me think of Father Jim Curtain. On his wall he had framed those words: “You are in the world, but not of the world.” Father Curtain told me that the passage was Christ’s prayer for his priests. He said their Roman collars told everyone that although priests live in the world, they do not belong to the world. Father was right in calling it Christ’s prayer for his priests, but his prayer was not just for those who wear the Roman collar. In our baptisms, following on the pouring of the water, we are anointed with the oil of chrism. It reminds us that having been baptized into Christ we are baptized into a share in his role as priest, prophet, and king. The Christian priesthood is not restricted to those who wear Roman collars. All Christians have a share in Christ’s roles as priest and victim. Today’s Gospel records the prayer of Jesus following on the Last Supper. It was a prayer he offered for all who share in his priesthood by reason of their baptism. None of us belong to this world. All of us must take active parts in the Mass.
There is a likeness between today’s readings. In the first reading St. Paul, in saying goodbye to the presbyters of Asia Minor, looked back on the work he had done, and he said that he had served the Lord with humility, and he never shrunk from telling the full truth. In the Gospel, with his disciples gathered around him, Jesus was making a similar report on his work. Speaking not to the disciples, but to God, he said, “I revealed your name to those you gave me. I glorified you on earth by accomplishing to work you gave me to do.” The example of Paul and Jesus commenting on their lives could lead each of us to look back over what we have done. It makes me think of some words of Socrates. He said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” If the unexamined life is not worth living, I have assumed the opposite must be true: there must be real value in examining one’s life. To that end I wrote a five hundred page book on my personal experiences. By examining my life I have surprised myself by seeing that I often seesawed from being liberal to being conservative. I have kept changing on all kinds of things. If nothing else, it has made me a slight bit tolerant. With that personal life of mine all printed and bound, I have turned to examining something else: my beliefs. I am writing a book on my take on Christianity. I have found that these efforts at examining my life have made my life more worthwhile.
Let me tell a story about the value of reviewing one’s life. On a Saturday afternoon thirty years ago I was at Amelia Island watching a great tennis match between Chris Evert and Martina Navratalova, but I had a problem: I had to prepare a homily for the evening Mass. I slipped out to the backseat of my car, and I was putting some ideas together when I heard my name on the PA system.
I thought it was a mistake; but when it came again, I went back to the stadium. The play was stopped for a visiting man from New York who was sprawled, having some kind of fit. In his groaning and slobbering he made it clear that he wanted to go to confession.
I felt so sorry for the guy, making a display of himself before his daughter and future son-in-law, before a thousand beautifully dressed young people. I heard his confession, then checked on him in the hospital two days later. From his sick bed the man said, “It was the most wonderful thing that could have happened. For years I have been pulling all kinds of tricks, making all kinds of money. Nothing else mattered. This has given me the chance to see where I have been, and where I have to go.”
Yesterday we celebrated Our Lord’s returning to heaven. In leaving his disciples, he told them to announce the good news to all the world. The good news is that Jesus passed through death and was going on to his reward. But, there was more to it: he said he was going to prepare places for all of us. “In my Father’s house there are many mansions.” When I come to think about heaven I always think of my father’s last days. Up to age ninety he had been a busy, happy man. He had a Mercury coupe that he liked “scooting” around in. Every week he had his regular poker game and two bridge games. He had a budget from the parish Holy Name Society that allowed him to buy flowers and smokes to take around to ailing members. But at ninety all that was winding down. So, wondering what he could do next, he asked his priest son, “Tom, what is heaven really like?” I hated to let my father down, but I have contented myself with I Corinthians, 2:9, “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, the things that God has planned for those who love him.” I think that means that the happiness of heaven is of such a high order, that we can’t picture it. All the Bible tells us about heaven is that we are neither married there nor are we given in marriage. That’s not much. There is a joke about that. Maybe you have heard it. It is about a fleshy man who said, “If there is no sex how can it be heavenly?” So, a spiritual man who knew that heaven was great had a little story to tell the fleshy man. The story was about a little boy who was the opposite of the fleshy man. When someone told the little boy that having sex was the keenest human pleasure, the little boy said, “I don’t believe it. Say, can you eat chocolate while you are doing it?” Silly jokes aside, I have come to know a little bit about what heaven is like. I have learned it on long walks in this neighborhood. The Bible tells us that everything is created in God’s image. God is like lightly clouded skies, only much finer. He is like trees putting out leaves, only fresher. He is like a baby’s laughter, only more endearing. The good things in life are little tastes put here to make us yearn for the real thing.
As his last words before he was taken up, Jesus commanded the Apostles, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel.” Our missals rightly uses a small g in quoting Jesus as saying, “Proclaim the gospel” He didn’t say, “Proclaim the Gospel” with a big G, as though he was telling them to proclaim the Gospel story of his life. No, what he told them to proclaim was the good news. What good news? Why, the good news that there can be another life for us after this life is finished. Jesus himself was proof of that. After passing through a terrible, complete death he was back better than ever. What’s more: he promised we could pass through death to new life just by clinging to him, by following his word. In the second reading, which is from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, in verse 1:18 Paul prayed that our eyes might be opened to the hope that is ours to possess “the riches of glory in his inheritance among his holy ones.” In his death on the cross Jesus represented all of humanity, atoning for all out sins. In somewhat the same way when he was disappearing through the clouds he did it as the representative of humanity. It was our common human nature that he was taking up to a place next to the Father. He was making a place for all of us there.
The first reading today introduces Apollos, an educated Jew from Alexandria in Egypt. From all that Apollos had heard of Jesus, he recognized him as the true Messiah; so that even before he was baptized, Apolllos was encouraging people to follow Jesus. As highly cultured as Paul was, Apollos outdid him in eloquence. That won many of Paul’s followers over to him. In his Letter to the Corinthians Paul scolded both those who identified with him and those who identified with Apollos. In telling them their loyalty should all go to the Lord, Paul wrote this memorable sentence: “I planted, Apollos watered, but it is God who gave the increase.” Paul’s statement could not have been more true; and yet we might suspect that Paul was human enough to resent losing followers to Apollos. Paul had to control his jealojsy. Every person who lives has a problem with jealousy. I cannot answer for anyone else, but I know I am no stranger to it. There are many older and younger priests who arouse in me no feelings of jealousy. Still, the mention of some others has me pulling out a mental yardstick to gage how we measure up against each other. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that school teachers, young brides, teammates and others comparable individuals have similar problems. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that some confrontations have them pulling out that mental yardstick, forcing them to stand on tiptoes to look taller. One of my favorite Scripture verses has Paul asking, “What have you that you haven’t received? And if you have received why do you glory as though you hadn’t?” If you haven’t the next guy’s looks or brains, but you still make a go of it, you are the winner.
The first reading tells us that one night while Paul was in Corinth the Lord appeared to him saying, “Do not be afraid. . . I have many people in this city.” That was surprising, because Corinth was the wickedest city in the ancient world. It was set on the narrow isthmus between Greece proper, and its island-like lower part, the Peloponnesus. Its position gave it a seaport on the Aegean to the east and another on the Adriatic to the west. There was active thievery of the goods carted across from one port to the other. Then, there was a great temple that employed thousands of girls to help sailors in worshiping the goddess Diana. Around the Mediterranean the common name for a prostitute was a Corinthian girl. For all that, God was able to say, “I have many people in this city.” If God had many people in that most wicked of cities, how many he must have here in our town? To gain an appreciation for the wonderful people sharing our city, it is necessary for us to turn off the TVs, to lay aside the newspapers, and to get out. The papers I looked at today both carried the story of a priest who fathered a child. The papers make no mention of this town’s priests who are teaching schools, visiting nursing homes answering the doorbell to callers. On a walk through your neighborhood you might pass by a hundred well kept lawns before you see one gone to weeds, but it’s that last one you will see pictured in the newspaper. If you have gone for years without riding a city bus, you might have wondered what those black people were up to. If you take to riding the buses you will see that many are reading Bibles. Others are reading course material for school. People on their way to work will talk about their jobs. They are friendly, laughing easily. God has many people in this city.
This is no longer Ascension Thursday. The first reading tells us that at his arrival in Corinth Paul met with Aquila and Priscilla who were part of a mass banishment of Jews from Rome under Emperor Claudius. The Roman writer Suetonius puts that expulsion in the year 40 A.D. So this mention of Aquila and Priscilla helps us fix the year of Paul’s coming to Corinth. The name Aquila fits into one of my old Korea stories, and I’m afraid you will have to put up with it. In September of 1954 I was made pastor of a county north of the 38th parallel. Our Marines had won it back from North Korea in the fighting. I found that all the young men from our county had been drafted into the North Korean army, and they had left dozens of young wives with children behind. One such left-behind wife came to me, asking for the job of doing my laundry and cleaning. She soon surprised me with her ability to recite the answers to our catechism. When I came to baptize her, she and her god-mother told me they had chosen a Bible name for her. It was Aquila, so Aquila she became and remained. It was only later I noticed that Aquila was a man, the husband of Priscilla. Aquila had a four-year old boy I baptized Paul. She also had a six-year-old daughter I baptized Donna. The rectory and church linen that Aquila did for me were spotless and beautifully pressed. So, it came as a surprise for me when I learned that Aqjuila, Paul, and Donna lived in a cave they had dug in a nearby hill. Donna grew up to marry a fine young man. Paul became the spokesman for all our young people. I sent him through school. Sadly, he wasn’t very old when he passed away in Germany, where he raised a fine Catholic family. That little family turns my thoughts to the millions of refugees who are trying to make a go of it. I feel they put me to shame.
Today’s first reading from Chapter Seventeen of the Acts of the Apostles is a favorite with many people. It pictures Athenians as people who were occupied with philosophical discussions the way Jacksonville people occupy themselves talking about football teams. The Athenians even had a stadium, the Areopagus, where visitors aired fresh theories before eager audiences. The men on the street corners of Athens heard Paul professing his belief in another life following this one. They even heard him insisting that it was a better life than ours. That had them escorting Paul to the Areopagus. They told him to speak freely. He began by acknowledging the Athenians to be a most religious people. He observed that while every Mediterranean port had its own god, the Athenian merchants who set up shop in those ports, had brought back images of the gods. In his sightseeing, Paul had stopped to examine the altars honoring those gods that the Athenians had set up on their street corners. He mentioned one of those altars, cleverly using it to lead into his message. He said, “I even discovered an altar inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.” He gave a name to that unknown God. It was Yahweh. He went on to give us the Scripture’s finest statement about our God. He said, “He is not far from any of us. For in him we live and move and have our being.”
The night before he died Jesus told his Apostles, “It is better for you that I go.” Now, how could that be true? How could it be good for the Apostles to lose Jesus? I don’t know the answer to that. Al I can give anyone is two possible answers that occur to me. One answer involves the difference between the name Jesus and the name Christ. The difference seems to be that while he was the living son of Mary, the Bible called him Jesus. After his death and resurrection the Bible called him Christ. St. Paul came along after our Savior’s death, and Paul always called him Christ. When he used the name Jesus it was always coupled with the name Christ. He never speaks of Jesus, only of Jesus Christ, or Christ Jesus of just Christ. In his Letter to the Philippians Paul wrote, “Now as always Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or death. For me to live is Christ, and death is gain.” In his thirteen letters Paul never retold any of the stories he had heard about Jesus before his death. He never related to the Jesus he had heard about, he always related directly to Christ alive in his heart. So, we started with the question, “How could it be good for the Apostles to lose Jesus?” And my first shaky answer is that having Christ in one’s heart is better than it would be to have Jesus physically present in ones company. A second answer to the question of how it could be better for his followers to have Jesus leave, would be that the Spirit could not come to them until after Jesus left. That seems to be what the Gospel is saying, and that is the answer most people go for; but I have trouble with it. My trouble with that answer come from the first item in our creed, namely, “I believe in one God.” I am not at ease with people talking about Christ and the Holy Spirit as though they were separate individuals. Rather than speaking of the Holy Spirit as a distinct individual, I prefer to think of the Spirit as the Spirit of Christ. In imagining the indwelling of the Spirit I think in terms of the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ.
St. Matthias was chosen to take the place of Judas as the twelfth Apostle. Christianity had to be the equal of Judaism with its twelve patriarchs, the sons of Jacob. We know nothing more about Matthias. I knew a priest named Matthias, and I might as well talk about him. There were only forty students spread over the six years in our major seminary. However, we had la larger number of students in our Irish seminary. One year the powers that be decided they would send some of the Irish boys over to study with us. Matthias Keane was two years behind me. He had a most charming appearance, but one day I found that he had a temper that was hard for him to control. I became aware of Mattie’s temper in a soccer match when I came up from behind him as he was dribbling the ball toward the goal. Slipping around, I took the ball off him, turning it toward the goal my side was shooting for. As I sped up the field with the ball I heard Mattie’s feet pounding after me. It got to be a little menacing, so I was happy when I could pass the ball off to a forward on my team. Even though I had gotten rid of the ball, I could still feel Mattie pounding hard after me. In anger, he chased me a hundred yards off the field. At last I stopped, and turned, pleading, “Mattie!” With that he came to, and he apologized for losing his temper. Fifteen years later I was chancellor of our diocese in Korea, and Father Keane was the diocesan bookkeeper. With his temper often getting the better of him, he did not fit in well at parish work. Even at headquarters Mattie had something to set him off. There was a Sister Madeleine who was bookkeeper for the Irish sisters who ran a dispensary near us. Although she got on Mattie’s nerves, she kept making overtures to us. Our bishop was off on business in the States, but before he left he gave Sister Madeleine permission to run a cooking school for Korean girls in our kitchen. Every day they prepared something special to try out on Mattie and me, but Mattie, as a meat-and-potato Irishman, hated it all. The girls would take turns peeking at us through a little window in the door, but Mattie never pleased them. One evening as we sat at the table, spreading the napkins on our laps, two girls put before us plates bearing hardy shish kabobs. Skewered together the sticks held rich pieces of lamb, separated by roasted tomatoes and onions. Having never seen anything like it in Ireland, Mattie sat, fuming as the girls and Sister Madeleine took turns viewing us from the window. At last, Mattie took one end of the skewer in his left fist, then sticking his fork under the bottom piece of lamb, he ripped his fork upward. Crying, “Holy Janie Mack!” he sent everything on the skewer flyng up above the dining table. Then. He stomped back to his room.Mattie was given the job of bookkeeper for a church headquarters in Manchester England. And of all things, Sister Madeleine was assigned to the same house. Mattie died short of fifty. That temper was too heavy a cross for him to carry any longer.