Isaiah described Jesus seventeen hundred years before Christmas.

Tuesday, 12/1/15

Today’s readings are replete with fine thoughts. It would be well for us to make a copy of both the Gospel and the readings from Isaiah. We could then pray over them between now and Christmas.

But for handling them today, we might compare Isaiah’s build up for Jesus to the types of campaign promises from our candidates for president. None of them can boast of Wisdom, Understanding, Council, Fortitude, Knowledge, and Fear of the Lord.

Wisdom is Our Lord’s double-barreled ability. He is wise in that he never opts for foolishness. Then too, he is wise in that he spends his nights in prayer, begging the Father for light for the courses to follow.

He is understanding in that he forced himself to day and night put up with the company of unlearned fishermen. He did that by constantly reminding himself that as bad as they were, they were doing their best.

Then, even as a twelve-year-old he practiced counsel by listening to the wise men in the temple.

He practiced fortitude by sticking to what the Father had laid out for him to do, even though he knew it would lead to his being scourged and spat upon.

He practiced knowledge by appreciating the hidden wisdom of the Samaritan woman and of the widow who in giving two pennies was showing she loved God with all she had.

He practiced Fear of the Lord by forcing himself to live by his resolve to “Come doing not his own will, but the will of the one who sent him.” And, as hard as that was for him, he, like Isaiah, could say, “The fear of the Lord is my delight.” 

Andrew and his close friend John followed Jesus at a distance.


Andrew and John were neighbor boys who teamed up tending a long seining net in the Sea of Galilee. In slack season their fathers allowed the boys to travel ninety miles south to where John the Baptist was baptizing people in the Jordan. They served as ushers where the line of people was winding out to where John was submerging one person at a time. Young John and Andrew were assisting the old who were not sure of themselves wading out.

Then, one day the Baptist called out, “Look, there he is, God’s chosen Lamb.”

Jerking their heads around, the boys caught sight of Jesus walking past on the shore, and they dropped what they were doing to quickly lift their knees through the water to the shore. But then, they didn’t know what to do. Holding back, they were following at a distance, when Jesus turned, and asked,

“What are you looking for?”

“Rabbi, where are you staying?

“Come and see.”

They went and stayed with him that night.

There were two parts of that which you could come back to every day. First, to keep your priorities right, you should be able to give a solid answer to the question “What are you looking for?”

The second part of that exchange to which you should give attention is the matter of staying with the Lord. Some variation of te verb “to stay” appears fifty times in the twenty-one chapters of John’s Gospel. Its insistent recurrence reminds us that our Christian lives are ones of staying with the Lord.  We are not looking just for that help over difficulties that is known as Actual Grace. No, we are looking for living our lives completely at one with the Lord. We are looking to spend every hour of our lives in the state of Sanctifying Grace.  

In Advent we celebrate the many ways in which the Lord comes to us.

Sunday, 11/29/15

Today is the first day of Advent. With “Advent” meaning, “He is coming.” The Lord comes to us.

We like to restrict Advent to preparing us for the Lord’s coming to us on Christmas, but the Church does not oblige us there. No, she gives us a wide range of readings that deal with the Lord coming to us in many different ways.

He came into the world back in the year One. He will come in power and glory at the end of the world. In our Mass today he will come to us. On the last day of life he will come to  each of us individually.

But, let me speak of a quite different way of his coming to us.

Thirty years ago there was a Rabbi Lebowitz who taught a popular course in primitive religions at J.U. With his setting off on a Sabbatical, someone came up with my name for replacing him teaching the course. They sent me the books they used for the course, and I dug into them, but my name didn’t draw students enough for them to hold the course.

In the books they sent me there was one fact that surprised me: almost every primitive people had something like the story of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden apple. In each place they did something that drove their god away. In Africa, the Lozi people of Zambia said their god ran away on seeing our wickedness. The Pangwa of Tanzania said their god made us out of ant excrement, and fled from the smell. The Yoruba people of Nigeria said their god was drunk on palm wine when he made us. (They put offerings of palm wine on their god’s altar, and our Catholics sometime stole it.)

Peoples on six continents share the idea of their god fleeing from them after he created them, but what I found more surprising was that many primitive people, thinking of how their god showered them with blessings at creation time, got the idea that if they could trick their god into thinking creation-time had returned they could get their god to return. For that they would portray their creation myth in colorful dances. (Pictures of those weirdly costumed dances used to grace the pages of “National Geographic.”)

The most common holiday throughout the world is New Years. In country after country that has been the day they celebrated creation to entice their god to return. (They celebrated the chaos that preceded creation on New Year’s Eve.)

There is one Bible story that separated the Israelites from those people who believed their god had altogether deserted them. That story is Jacob’s dream when he saw an endless string of angels going up and down a ladder to God, bringing our prayers up to God.  

Our New Testament improves on that Old Testament story. St. Paul assures us that “God is not far from any of us, for in him we live and move and have out being.”  

"Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening."

Saturday, 11/28/15

The readings are in a somber mood today-- the last day of the church year. They ask us to look forward to each of our individual worlds coming to an end. The Gospel asks us to not be caught unawares, warning us against letting our hearts “become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness.”

Now, even though we don’t get lost in carousing and drunkenness, we still should not get lost in mindlessness.”

Jesus tells us, “Pray always,” and we can do that by constantly reminding ourselves that we are in God’s presence. “In him we live, and move, and have our being.”

We each should be like young Samuel. He would fall asleep next to the ark of the covenant in its shrine at Shiloh. One night he awoke on hearing a voice calling, “Samuel!” Twice on hearing it, he rose and reported to the old priest Eli; but when it happened a third time, old Eli told him that it must be the Lord calling him.

Samuel went back to sleep, but when for a third time he heard his name being called, he answered, “Speak, Lord. For your servant is listening.”

You must be ever ready for when the Lord calls you. You must answer, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

The son of man comes to us, riding on the clouds of heaven.

Friday, 11/27/15

These long readings from the Book of Daniel were meant to e prophesies of the kingdoms that would rule the Middle East for four hundred years from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. The four beasts that rose from the sea would have been the Babylonians, the Medes, the Persians, the Greeks.

The ten horns would be those of the Seleucan dynasty that followed Alexander. While the arrogant horn that pushed three others aside would have been Antiochus the Fourth.

There doesn’t seem to be anything about that history lesson that merits it a place in the Bible. However, we must rightly be impressed by the prophesy of the “one like a son of man coming on the clouds of heaven.”

It is thrilling to picture the lord of the universe coming to us in human form. We should given silent time to considering how wonderful it is to have him coming to us on the clouds of heaven.  

Our word "Thanks" comes from the word "Thinks." We thank God by thinking of how he gives us all we are.

Today we give thanks to God for all his gifts to us.

But, what does giving thanks mean? Is it simply the words, “Thank you?”

Whole industries, supporting many families, are devoted to printing and selling Thank You Cards. But what are they meant to tell the people they are sent to?

It you look up the word “thank” you will see that it is derived from the word “think.” So, to thank someone is to assure them you are thinking of them.

You are thinking of them, not in a vague way, but as the source of your joys. Today you think of God as the source of the love you have received from your family. You think of him as the one who devised your body and your mind. You think of him as the inventor of clouds and trees and baby faces.  You acknowledge your debt to him for all he has given to you and to the rest of us.

Following Pope Francis, we should cooperate in keeping our world from coming to an end with global warming.

Wednesday, 11/25/15

This is the last week of the Church year that starts anew next Sunday with the First Sunday of Advent. As we come toward the end of this year, our readings at Mass give us pictures of this world coming to an end, but with each prediction assuring us that we cannot tell when it will happen.

However, solid scientific fact tells us about coming disasters. The figures on global warming assure us that if we continue at our present rate of burning fossil fuels, our global temperature will rise 7 degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100. That would certainly bring the melting of our polar ice caps; and that will take away the habitats of many animals and birds; and it would raise sea levels enough to do away with many of our favorite coastal cities.

Starting next Monday representatives of over a hundred nations will meet in France for two weeks of striving to fix attainable goals for saving our world.

Since it was Pope Francis’s encyclical, “Laudato  Si” that got the ball rolling on this, we should add our efforts and prayers to saving our world.

While Hinduism,Buddhism, and other ancient religions were just myths, our Judaeo-Christiaiity history is true and factual.

Tuesday 11/24/15

One outstanding thing about most ancient religions is that they honored only  mythological gods, heroes, and events. But Judaism and Christianity are based on hard facts.

What strikes Catholics returning from visits to the Holy Land is that Cana, Bethsaida, the Garden of Olives are real; and Peter, John, and the Samaritan woman were as real as we are.

While the Book of Daniel was a work of fiction, composed in 167 B.C., about a supposed dream four hundred years earlier , it did picture true historical eras and personalities in Nebuchadnezzar’s prophetic dream. He saw a giant statue as a review of the kingdoms that would rule the Middle East from 570 to 165 B.C..  

First, Nebuchadnezzar’s own Babylon was its gold head. Its silver shoulders was the Kingdom of the Medes, (that the composer of the Book of Daniel mistakenly thought to have ruled following on Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon.)  The belly and thighs of bronze stood for the Persians.

The legs of iron were Alexander’s Macedonians; while the feet of clay were his generals, Seleucus and Ptolemy who took over in Syria and Egypt. The boulder that would knock them over was the Hasidic followers of Judas Maccabeus.   

Th story of Daniel was fictitious, leaving us to give atterntion to today's problem.

Monday, 11/23/15

For our First Readings this week we take up the Book of Daniel. However, it loses some of its punch when we learn that it is fiction.
Our reading begins with telling us how Nebuchadnezzar in 597 B.C. conquered Jerusalem, carrying off some leading citizens to Babylon, with Daniel and three scholarly companions in that number.

The trouble is that this story was written in a language not in use in 597 B.C.. It was written as historical fiction in 167 B.C.  Then, King Antiochus of Syria was trying to get Israel’s young men to eat pork, and to practices the worship of the Greek gods.

That matter was settled back twenty-one hundred years ago by the uprising of Judas Maccabeus Mightn’t we do well to face up to the problems our world faces now?

Like, yesterday I read the well-documented story of two Syrian college girl, Awa and Duia. They had been keen on Twitter, the Internet, and all the fashions; but all that ended when their town became the center of the new ISIS Caliphate.

The two young ladies had only one way for staying alive. It was for them to join the Morality Police. They accepted the husbands to whom ISIS awarded them. They helped rounding up women who showed skin and men who shaved their beards. They were forced to witness the public flogging of such offenders. Their lovely streets were littered with the unburied bodies of the offenders whose severed heads replaced the commercial signboards along the way. They had the job of driving to the Turkish boarder to pick up the silly English girls who come to join something exciting.

Using one such trip to the boarder, Awa and Dua  slipped over to freedom. Now, though, they find no one on this side who remembers Jesus saying, “Come and possess the kingdom prepared for you, because I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.”    

Christ is our king in that he is the first of our race to land on heaven's shore.

Sunday, 11/22/15

This is the day on which we honor Christ as our King.

Recalling how he told us, “My kingdom is not of this world” we must come to an understanding of the unusual way in which he is our king. For that, we search for clues in  the reading the Church gives us for the feast of our King.   

Our second reading calls Christ “The firstborn of the dead.” So, what is the significance of saying he is the firstborn of the dead?

When the crowds acclaimed Jesus as their king on Palm Sunday they did it by greeting him as the Son of David. That tells us that his claim to kingship was similar to David’s claim. We can fix on what that claim was by checking on the scene in Second Samuel when the leaders of the twelve tribes declared David their king. We read, “All the tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron and said, “Here we are, your bone and your flesh.”

The Bible follows the ancient idea of kingship where it belongs to the founder of a new race or to one who is his direct descendent. All the people who later came to live in that land came to see him as the link which that had them related to each other.

Let me describe something similar that I repeatedly came across in my dozen years in Korea’s farmland. In America we have hear each politician identifying themselves as the true friend of the American people. What we hear in Korea is a little different.  They don’t call themselves the Korean people. They call themselves the Korean paiksung. That translates to them calling themselves the  Korean Hundred-Names. 

While there are fifty thousand different family names in America, there are only a hundred of them in Korea. We know the common ones like Kim, Pak, Choe, Lee; and they believe that all Korean individuals with the same family name had the same ancestor.They believe that there were a hundred pioneers who three thousand years ago settled on different parts of their peninsula. 

After all these centuries, old people in each of Korea's hundred clans is still aware of the man among them who is the direct descendent of its original founder, of the pioneer who landed of their shore. 

While I was in Korea fifty years ago, I often saw the yearly gathering of people with the same name. They would come together at the home of the man who was the direct descendent of the first of that name to land on Korea's shore.  They would say to him, as the leaders of the tribes said to David, “Here we are your bone and your flesh.”

So, in the same way,  we honor Christ the King because he is “The firstborn of the dead.” He is the first of our race to land on heaven’s shore. As the first reading puts it, “He has made us into a kingdom.” 

Jesus told us that our ancestors are alive with God.

Saturday, 11/21/15

Some Catholics keep this day as the feast of the Presentation of the child Mary in the Temple. It is a scene that many Renaissance artists commemorated in beautiful paintings. However, since there is no record of its every having happened, you might want to turn your attention to the Gospel.

In Our lord’s time, every faction in Jerusalem was so troubled by the crowds favoring Jesus over them that they jointly agreed on fining a way of using the law to get rid of him.

After the failure of one group after another, the strangest group of all, the Sadducees, took a shot at it. They qualified as being Jewish, in that they took pride in being descended from Abraham Isaac, and Jacob; but they did not believe in an after-life.

Their strategy was to get Our Lord’s belief in the afterlife make him look ridiculous to the crowds.

Now, the Jews had a custom by which, if a married man died without a son to carry on his name, another of his brothers would need to take on his widow until she bore a son for her dead husband. It was called, “The Law of the Brother-in-law.”

So, the Sadducees, to make Our Lord’s belief appear ridiculous, made up a story of seven brothers in a row dying after taking on the one woman who didn’t bear a son.

The Sadducees asked Jesus which of the seven men would be her husband in heaven. They were trying to make Our Lord’s belief in an afterlife seem laughable, in that it would have his heaven appear as a place for multiple bed swapping.

Jesus turned the tables on the Sadducees. He reminded them that they professed to be children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. So, by glorying themselves in those ancestors, they were implicitly saying that those ancestors were still alive.

I have been to funerals at which the preacher spoke of our lives in heaven as though he knew all about how it will be. Jesus, however, said very little about it. That should make us treasure this story in which he definitely says that our ancestors and others as well live on. 

Judas Maccabeus led to rededicating the temple in 164 B.C., and Jewish people celebrate that event with Hanukah.

Friday, 11/20/15

Our first reading tells us that in the year “one hundred and forty eight” they rededicated the Temple.

(That was our year 164 B.C.) 

For a century and a half, Jerusalem had been ruled by the Seleucid dynasty. Their dynasty had been founded in 312 by Seleucus , a general who took over from Alexander the Great. Counting from 312, their year 148 translates to our year 164 B.C.

 In i68 B.C.  Antiochus Epiphanes, the tenth descendent of Seleucus,  tried to convert the Jews to worshipping with the Greeks. He put a statue of Zeus on the Temple’s altar, and he tried forcing young Jews to eat pork.

Mattathias, a Jewish priest, led a rebellion against the Greeks; and at his death, his third son, Judas Maccabeus, led a resistance, concluding with his men purifying the Temple from all remnants of idol worship. He instituted the feast for rededicating the Temple., and Jewish people celebrate it as Hanukah around Christmas every year.

For whom was Jesus weeping?

Thursday, 11/19/15

In the Gospel, Jesus wept for the destruction of Jerusalem that would come some thirty-five years after his crucifixion. The Romans would not leave a stone upon a stone.

In a larger sense, Jesus was weeping for all of us chosen ones for whom Jerusalem is a symbol. His ancestor David made Jerusalem his own city in 1,000 b.c. However our identification with Jerusalem goes further back to when our father Abraham offered up his child on Moriah, the future cite of the Jerusalem.

Then, in Revelation the heavenly Jerusalem has the names of the twelve tribes on Jerusalem’s gates, and the names of the twelve apostles are on the twelve courses of stones in the heavenly Jerusalem’s walls.

So, if you ask for whom Jesus wept that day, your answer would be like that given by John Donne. “Send not to ask for whom Jesus wept, he wept for you who constantly disappoint the Father.”

We must carefully make the best of the gold coin God has entrusted with each of us.

Wednesday, 11/18/15

The first readings yesterday and today were thrilling stories taken from the Second Book of the Maccabees, but they lose much of their appeal when we learn that rather than their being historical accounts, they come from a collection of pious Jewish fiction tales.

Our Lord’s story in the Gospel is based on fact. In around the year 50 b.c., a young Herod, leaving his belongings with friends, fled to Rome for protection from rivals who were seeking his life. All went so well for him in Rome, that in 40 b.c. with Rome’s backing he came back as king of the Jews. He proceeded to reward those who had stayed true to him, while punishing those who had not.

Of course, Jesus addressed his parable to each of us to whom he has entrusted an equivalent of a precious gold coin. Your gold coin was your fine family, your health and abilities. You will be seriously quizzed on what you have done with your gold coin.

There is a 63 year old man named Perry who had breakfast with us one day a week. But, yesterday he phoned to say that he can’t again leave his room and his oxygen. He said, “My lungs are all gone.” Now, he is left checking over what he has done with his gold coin, as you and I will be doing soon.

Jesus was always telling people like us to turn our thnking along.

Tuesday, 11/17/15

Matthew, Mark and Luke, in describing the preaching of Jesus from village to village, said he was telling people to turn their thinking around. In today’s Gospel, that is what Jesus moved Zacchaeus to do.

So forcibly was Zacchaeus impressed by Our Lord’s goodness, that he wanted to be like that too. Anxious to be near that kind of goodness, he first of all, climbed a sycamore. Then, after gaining Our Lords ear, he experienced a strong need to be like him. He tried accomplishing that  by doubly compensating all those whom he had cheated.

This weekend I had pleasant phone chats with first a niece and then a nephew, both of whom had stories about how other individuals among their siblings and their kids  had turned things around, finding happiness by throwing off their vices.

But turning our thinking around is not just a life-changing move we make once through our years. In taking stock of ourselves each morning we can  find something to turn from to make our lives happier.

In 168 b.c. the Syrian king, tried forcing the Jews to abandon their Religion.

Monday, 11/16/15

Let’s look at the historical background for today’s’ opening sentence:

“From the descendants of Alexander’s officers there sprang a sinful offshoot, Antiochus Epiphanes.”

Alexander, coming out of Macedonia in 333 b.c., conquered all of the Middle East before dying in 322. At his death his General Seleucus had himself crowned as king of Syria, establishing his capitol at Antioch, eighty miles north of Jesusalem,  founding a stabile dynasty.

Then, in 169 b.c. the tenth descendent of Seleucus, King Antiochus IV, set out to replace the Religion of the Jews with worship of the Greek gods. He erected an the idol of Zeus on the altar of the temple in Jerusalem, and he forced the youn men to break kosher by eating pork.  

That sparked the rebellion of the Jewish priest Mattathias and of his four sons. One of them, nicknamed Maccabeus (the hammer) gave the name to the rebellion that overthrew the dynasty of Antiochus IV.

Today we take a gloomy look at our world coming to an end

Sunday, 11/18/12

For centuries, before people agreed on seeing each year beginning on January First, Christians saw it first as beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. (What we called the First Sunday of Advent.) Along with that, they saw the world coming to an end in the final Sundays leading up to Advent.

Next Sunday, the last Sunday of the year, we will witness the beginning of  eternal glory with Christ the King presenting up with a heavenly Jerusalem.

But in our long, Sunday-by-Sunday, history of the world, before next Sunday’s view of the beginning of eternity, today we must venture into the  unknown, trying to form a picture of what the end might be like.

The only thing we can know about when this word will end is what jesusm says at the end of out Gospel: “But as to the day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels n heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

While Moss inaugurated the Old Covenant with the Ten Commandments, Jesus inaugurated the New Covenant with the Beatitudes.

Saturday, 11/14/15

The Gospel urges us to pray without ceasing, but since I have nothing more to say about that, let me switch to saying a few words about the Beatitudes. Jesus meant them to be as central to the New Law as the Ten Commandments were to the Old Law.

Chapter twenty-four of Exodus recounts the way the Old Law was ratified, While Moses had the Israelite community assemble at the foot of Mount Sinai, he brought the leaders of the Twelve Tribes up the mountain with him. Then, going  farther to where he was alone with the Lord, he inaugurated the Old Law with his great One-liners, the Ten Commandments.

With the New Law, Jesus did something similar. Leaving the people at its foot of the mountain, he brought the Apostles up with him. Then, in his role as God’s Son, he alone sat. Then, opening his mouth, he inaugurated the New Law with his own great One-liners, the Beatitudes:

 Blessed are the poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Blessed are they who mourn, they will be comforted.”
“Blessed are the meek, they will inherit the earth.”

Somehow, the Beatitudes have never caught on with us. All that the people confess in  the confessional are lapses in keeping the Ten Commandments. 

Jesus meant the Beatitudes to be central to his New Law, the way the Ten Commandments are to the Old Law.

Saturday, 11/14/15

The Gospel urges us to pray without ceasing, but since I have nothing more to say about that, let me switch to saying a few words about the Beatitudes. Jesus meant them to be as central to the New Law as the Ten Commandments were to the Old Law.

Chapter twenty-four of Exodus recounts the way the Old Law was ratified, While Moses had the Israelite community assemble at the foot of Mount Sinai, he brought the leaders of the Twelve Tribes up the mountain with him. Then, going  farther to where he was alone with the Lord, he inaugurated the Old Law with his great One-liners, the Ten Commandments.

With the New Law, Jesus did something similar. Leaving the people at its foot of the mountain, he brought the Apostles up with him. Then, in his role as God’s Son, he alone sat. Then, opening his mouth, he inaugurated the New Law with his own great One-liners, the Beatitudes:

 Blessed are the poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Blessed are they who mourn, they will be comforted.”
“Blessed are the meek, they will inherit the earth.”

Somehow, the Beatitudes have never caught on with us. All that the people confess in  the confessional are lapses in keeping the Ten Commandments. 

With God as an amazing watchmaker, each of us is a timepiece that clicks for a ttime.

Friday, 11/13/15

Today’s Gospel reminds me of s scene from the Everglades that I watched on the Nature Channel. Eighteen ducks were gliding along in formation, when a gator, coming from nowhere, snatched and ate one of them. The others, after shifting their course a few feet, showed no concern over their being reduced by one. Like that, when you or I are snatched away, ,the world will instantly adjust to our absence

The First Reading takes up our puniness, contrasting it with the power and beauty of the oceans and the stars. After asking us to fix our attention on such marvels, the reading then asks us to consider that the Lord who fashioned such things is far greater than them.

The people who need to put up with me weary over my marveling over the intricacies of our bodies. I am sorry about that, but I can’t stop marveling.

Science observes that each of our bodies is composed of over five trillion cells with each of them functioning as a busy unit of life. Each cell is outfitted with the millions of atoms in our distinct DNA.

Each cell is enclosed in a membrane tailor made to let in the food special to that cell, while each is so perforated as to let out the proteins they have assembled.

Today’s first reading, after leading us to marvel over such universe, then asks us to consider how far greater than them is their devisor.

Our reading asks you to consider the trillions of parts and functions of your body and your mind. You could compare your person  to a fine timepiece, created by God, and kept ticking for generations.

It’s like the song “My Grandfather’s Clock.” It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born, but it stopped short, never to go again when the old man died. 

The Bible recommends two kinds of Wisdom. She contrast one with her sister Folly, while she presents the other as the divine Wisdom that comes to you in prayerful silence.

Thursday, 11/12/15

Our first reading tells us that Wisdom is a spirit that is intelligent, holy and unique.

The Scriptures have two wonderful ways of presenting Wisdom to us. First, sometimes the Bible pairs Wisdom with a sister named Folly.

While Folly urges us to go for immediate pleasure, her thoughtful sister, Wisdom, urges another course of action that will be more difficult,  but  will bring us greater happiness in the long run.

In line with that, while we usually think of a wise man or woman as one who has amassed a store of learning; the truly wise man or woman is one whose memory of past disappointments will keep him or her away from repeating the mistakes.

Still in line with that, it’s a good thing each morning for you to review the choices you will need to make during the day, resolving to follow the wise courses, rather than your plunging on with those urged on you by Wisdom’s sister, Folly.

 But, today’s first reading recommends the second kind of Wisdom. It recommends divine Wisdom

You make use of divine Wisdom when you fully open your mind to her direction. When you have patiently awaited her input, divine Wisdom will remind you of an important thought or of a possible course of action.

Often, the way Wisdom does that for you, is by causing you to recall something Jesus said in the Gospels.

We must thank God for some wonderful authorities he has placed over us.

Wednesday, 11/11/15

In our first reading, the Bible addresses kings and magistrates, saying, “Authority was given to you by the Lord.”

And St. Paul backs that up in Chapter 13 of his Letter to the Romans where he says, “Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed.”

I one time quoted that to a group of twenty-year-old boys and girls; and they agreed in saying, “Well, we don’t believe that!”

We can see where the many misuses of authority would lead young people to say that. One misuse that pops into my head was that of Pope Leo X. In the year that Martin Luther took his stand against Rome, Leo was saying,  “Since God has given us this papacy, let us enjoy it.”   

In Chapter Two of the Bible after God had created his first human, he said, “It is not good for him to be alone.” In creating us as social beings whose ideas would differ, he was also creating the need for someone who could say, “The buck stops here.”

I am most grateful for three authorities God placed over me.

Every time my father got close to paying off his house, one of us six kids would need a serious operation. It would force my dad to take out a hateful mortgage, but his authority from God forced him to it.

We trusted our seminary rector in every decision he had to make for our lives. He wouldn't sanctimoniously tell us, "I have prayed over this." No, he'd say, “This seems to be the reasonable thing to do.”

Then, we know that Pope Francis, in exercising his authority, does what God wants him to do.

Each of us is made with the potential of being like God in a unique way.

Tuesday, 11/11/15

The first reading tells us that God in “the image of his own nature he made men.”

The readings often tell us that we are made in God’s image, and each time I tell the same story about Casey Corrigan. She was in the Sixth Grade back in 1988 when she raised her hand to ask, “If we are all made in God’s image, how come some people are left handed?”

I told Casey then that my sister Peggy was left handed, and God made all mean people left handed so we cold know who they were.”

Actually, Peggy was a wonderful mother of thirteen kids, who thanks to her, turned out well.

But, Casey’s question set me to wondering how we can all be like God, when we are all so different from one another. I came up with an answer that I like, even though It isn’t in the Bible.

My answer is that we can compare God to a many faceted diamond, with each of us created to mirror a different facet.

Again, back in 1988, Cardinal William Baum (who just died, as the oldest of the cardinals) wrote an explanation of  the Church’s goal in educating children. It ties in with my notion of us each being created to mirror our own facet of God. The Cardinal said, “The purpose of Catholic education is to assist each individual in fully achieving his or her potential.”

If you or I could do that, then, you or I would each be God-like in a unique way.   

Like the water streaming from the temple, giving life along the way, the grace with people leaving church gives life along their way.

Monday, 11/9/15

Today we celebrate the dedication of Christianity’s oldest church, the Lateran Basilica. I dates back to when Emperor Constantine became a Christian in 315 when he donated a famous building to the church.

As a dowry for his marriage to him, his wife had given Constantine the Lateran Hill, one of Rome’s seven famous hills. It was topped by a building constructed as a residence for visiting monarchs. It was called a basilica, after basilous, the Greek word for a king.

 Our word “church,” is also of Greek origin; coming from kyrios oikia, said over and over rapidly so that the “k” sounds become “ch” sounds.

 In honoring the Lateran Basilica we are really thanking God for all of the churches where he deems to abide with us.

The water flowing down from the east of the temple in the first reading represents all the people who go out from church with God’s grace in their hearts. The benefits they bring to people are pictured as trees blooming year round, and as brackish water freshened with love.