"Nearer my God to Thee!"

Wednesday 3/1/17

Lent is a time when we devote ourselves to alms giving, to praying, and to fasting. In today’s Gospel Jesus makes it clear that all these good practices have the same purpose, namely, that they bring us closer to the heavenly Father.   

“When you give alms do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”  

When you pray do not pray that others may see you, so that your Father who sees in secret will repay you,”

“When you fast do not appear to be be fasting, for then, your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

Your Lent must be a time when at the end you will be able to sing, “Nearer my God to Thee, nearer to Thee; e’en though it be a cross that raiseth me.”

Alcohol and tobacco can turn useful lives into useless lives.

Tuesday, 2/28/ 17

On reading today’s Gospel, I recall a wonderful priest who spoke to us students about today’s Gospel. That priest, Father Tim, was my idol. Anytime I saw seminarians gathered around him I would join the group to hear his sharp comments.  Unconsciously, I picked up some of his mannerism, and people sometimes said I sounded like Father Tim.

After twenty hears or so I visited a priests’ residence where I saw a sad old man with half a drink in one hand, and half a cigarette in the other.

 I asked who he was, an I got the answer, “You should know him. That’s Father Tim.”

Although I have never had any will power, with God’s help I had my last cigarette over forty years ago, and my last bit of alcohol over thirty years ago. In exchange for those deadening crutches I have a clear mind and an appreciation for everything real in the world around us.

Jerusalem had no gate called The Needle's Eye.

Monday, 2’27/17

Please pardon me for setting aside the task of preparing a homily today. In its place I will make three unrelated remarks prompted by Our Lord’s interchange with the disciples.

First, after Our Lord said that the rich have difficulty entering the kingdom, the disciples then asked. “Who then can be saved?” Their question betrayed their understanding that the rich are dearer to God than the poor. That is a long way from the example of Francis of Assisi whom God rewarded for his love of poverty.

Jesus said it was easier for a camel to pass through a needles eye than for a rich man to enter heaven. Two centuries ago Fundmentalist Christians who took everything in the Bible literally published a book that said one of Jerusalem’s gates was known as The Needle’s Eye. Unfortunately for them, no such gate exists. We must see that Jesus used hyperbole, as when he told us to pluck out an eye that leads to sin.

The third thing I’d like to say about the rich young man is that there was a large painting of him
on the stairway’s landing in our seminary. Eight times a day, over six years we rattled past that painting, getting the message that we should not be seeking wealth.