God is calling each of us to be one with him.

Friday, 7/1/16

The readings today feature men engaged in unholy pursuits, and in the Gospel Jesus said, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners. So, whatever pursuits one is engaged in, he or she has an immortal soul made in God’s image, and God is calling him  or her to be one with him.

Let me digress on the picture of the wealthy shop owners that Amos pictures in the fist reading. They trample on the needy, and they destroy the poor. They sprawl on polished wooden floors, trying to make the best of blue days when the law will not let them open for business. “When will the new moon be over that we may sell our grain? We will diminish the containers for measuring, we will add to the weights, and fix our scales for cheating.”  

In my ten years in a little Korean town I often walked by the shops of people like that one for whom adding to their wealth is everything.

Once when I was riding a bus back from the capitol, the bus broke down twenty miles short of our town. A stranger came up to me, addressing me as a priest, and suggesting that we split the price of a taxi to get us home. Riding with him, I showed surprise that he knew me, but he said, “I’ve watched you walk by for years; but we shopkeepers never go to church, because we make our living by cheating people.”

That reminds me of another one of my stories, this one from Fernandina. Once I accompanied friends to watch a Saturday tennis match at Amelia Island. Needing to prepare my Sunday sermon, I went out to sit in my car. After a bit, I heard the P.A. System from the tennis match calling for Father Sullivan.

Going back to the stadium, I found that the match was suspended for a man from New York who had come to meet the man his daughter was about to marry. He was having a stroke, and in the midst of all those sprightly dressed people, he was writhing between the aisles, slobbering.

After I heard his confession, they carried him away and Chrissy and Navratilova finished their match.

I felt so sorry for the man, making such a disgusting display of himself, but when I checked on him in the hospital two days later, he told me, “It’s the best thing that ever happened to me. After going for years with no thought other than making money, this has brought me to see what life is really about.”

Bible passages become clearer when we compare them with passages elsewhere,

Thursday, 6/30/16

The sense of Bible passages become clearer when we compare them with what we find elsewhere n the Bible.

First, today’s Gospel story from Chapter Nine of Matthew is enhanced by comparing it with the same story in Chapter Two of Mark.

Secondly, we see the aptness of the Responsorial Psalm’s words “The fear of the Lord is pure” when we weigh them with Chapter Eleven of Isaiah, and with today’s first reading’s picture of the outspoken Amos.

This Chapter Nine of Matthew comes alive when we read Mark’s version of the story in his Chapter Two. There we have the delightful details of the men carrying the paralytic having the great crowd keeping them from getting the man on the stretcher close to Jesus.  

Using their ingenuity, they carried the stretcher up onto the flat roof of the synagogue. There, after they had taken away enough roof tiles to make an opening, they lowered the man on ropes, dangling him right in front of Jesus. The story in Mark then proceeds just as we have it today in Matthew.

Chapter Eleven of Isaiah described the virtues of the Messiah when he would come. He would have Wisdom, Understanding. Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, and Fear of the Lord. The passage went on to say that of those six, the finest would be Fear of the Lord.

Amos was not an established Prophet, he was just a vine dresser. Two things earned him a place in the Bible. One was his burning awareness of God’s holiness. The other was his horror at seeing men doing evil in God’s holy presence.  

Happy Feast Day. Peter. Happy Feast Day, Paul.

Wednesday, 6/29/16

Today is a feast day, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, and in mentally looking around for something fresh to say about them, I happened to think of our Christian custom of naming children after our saints. When we do that, at least in the back of our minds, we commit the child to the care of that saint. So, in a way, today is also the feast day of every Peter and of every Paul. So, “Happy feast day, Peter,” “Happy feast day, Paul.”

Happy Feast day, Father Peter McGlinchey. In 1953 Father P.J opened a parish on Jeju-do island, ninety miles off Korea’s south west coast. He wondered why there were no sheep grazing on the slopes of Hallasan, the island’s dormant volcano. He hit on the idea of importing sheep from Australia where he had seen similar grass. And it worked. His first shipload of Australian sheep multiplied, becoming the parents of wide grazing flocks, and going on to start a weaving industry that has lifted people out of poverty.

Happy Feast day, Paul Smyth. Paul has allowed his wonderful dad to stay in the house he has owned for fifty years. He mows Frank’s lawn, does is shopping, and enables him to keep working on his studies.

Paul Karabinis is married to my niece Laura. He is a Fine Arts and Photography professor at the University of North Florida. Since 1981, any time his name comes up, there are former students who enthuse over how his mentoring added value to their lives. Happy Feast day, Paul!