Monthly Archives: October 2017

A Thursday Reflection 10.26.17

Last Sunday, Abby and I were walking with several members of this parish as well as members of other area churches (and some from no church at all) in the “Crop Walk” which was to raise both awareness and funds to fight hunger.  So as she was leading / pulling / dragging me up one hill after another, she posed a question:  “Why can’t you humans feed yourselves and each other like you feed me? I don’t get it.”
I could have probably (maybe) provided her with all the ecological, economic, philosophical, social and political realities that create this issue.  I understand that sometimes choices must be made among providing for shelter, clothing or food.  I know such sad realities exist among so many of the world’s poorest.  I don’t want to believe, but of course we know it is true, that too many in our own nation face the same kinds of choices for themselves and their children.
I explained to Abby that nature itself (with its unpredictable cruelty) can devastate an area and remove food sources.  However, there are also the bad decisions we humans make upon our environment when we confuse “care for” our land as dominating and doing whatever we please simply because we can.  Some of us are blessed because we have been given so much.  Some of us for reasons beyond our control must make due with less and less.
Finally, I did console Abby with the fact that each year, when I work with the young teens who are preparing to receive Holy Confirmation, I impress upon them both how fortunate we are, as well as our responsibility as Christians, to care for those who have less than we have.
There are many wonderful organizations that exist simply to provide nourishment for the forgotten among us:  Bread for the World; Food for the Poor; or Crop Walk – to merely name a few.  The next time you stare at the filled plate in front of you, don’t feel “guilty” (a stupid emotional reaction that accomplishes nothing) but take the time to contribute either food or finances to those whose mission it is to feed the hungry. (At least this is what Abby thought I should tell you!)   – Fr. Joe

A Thursday Reflection 10.19.17

I’m certain that I’ve previously written about this topic, but after last Saturday morning’s experience, I believe that I should offer this reminder for your prayerful reflection again.
Like most clergy, I am deficient when it comes to self-care.  Thus, with some annoying physical symptoms appearing, I postponed any trip to the doctor with the illusion that this would go away on its own.  Of course, it did not.  Saturday found me at the emergency clinic being tested for the possibilities of something potentially serious.  Fortunately, none of those issues are of any concern; however, and totally from “left field,” I was asked to submit to another x-ray because there was a spot showing up – something serious and for which I was completely unprepared.
So I waited in the quiet for the next 12 minutes (only seemed like 12 hours) to hear whether this “spot” was a fluke or something that required immediate attention.   In that time, I reflected not only on the plans for this year, but also the now available time to spend with JoAnne as she has pretty much recovered from her own surgery.
Not only was I planning the “what-if’s,” I was also ruminating over the “what-I-haven’t-done’s!”    What of the opportunities for spiritual and personal growth I’ve let pass by?  What of the chances to reach out to those whom I have hurt, even if unintended?  What of all the times I might have tried something new but failed to do so either because I didn’t want the hassle of listening to the predictable complaints or because I want complete assurance that something new would work before I change course?  How have I wasted time when it could have been spent living out the Gospel mandate of doing good for those less fortunate?  So much wasted time that we never get back.
Bottom line: the “spot” was not real – and while I have no idea why my body projected a nonexistent image, I am obviously relieved.  But now, what should I be doing to avoid such regrets?  Did God send me a “wake-up call?”   Perhaps. – Fr. Joe

A Thursday Reflection 10.12.17

This post really got me thinking, so I share it with you …   Fr Joe

Stormy Weather

By Deborah Boston

“The floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”

Are you sick of hurricanes yet? My in-laws live near Tampa, so after Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, they braced themselves for Irma. They sunk their patio furniture in the pool, slashed their outdoor awnings, and boarded up all their windows. In the end, my in-laws lost only one tree and never had to evacuate. Puerto Rico, on the other hand, is still reeling from Hurricane Maria’s vast destruction, with reports of widespread shortages of potable water, ice, and other necessities.

And then there’s today’s parable about the house built on rock and the house built on sand. It’s so tempting, isn’t it, to think that those of us spared these recent natural disasters have done something right? We chose our locations more wisely, or prepared more thoroughly, or were rewarded for our fortitude during snowy winters. It’s hard for us to imagine what our neighborhoods would look like after the kind of weather that Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico have faced. No house could withstand those winds and floods. Indeed, today’s parable is not about where or how to build our homes — it’s about on whom we should build our lives.

Whether we live on the beach, or in the mountains, or plains, we can never be fully safe from wind and rain and disaster of every sort. The fallenness of our natural world, of our human communities, and of our hearts will find us in any earthly fortress. Only God, who made the heavens and the earth, can keep us safe. Don’t read today’s lesson and congratulate (or condemn) yourself for your earthly safety. Instead, remember that clinging to God doesn’t mean the storms will spare your neighborhood, but that when the rain comes and the devastation is apparent, you will never, ever be abandoned by the loving God. Pray for your brothers and sisters in trouble, and for yourself, in good weather and bad.

Matthew 7:24-29

24“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. 26And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”

28Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, 29for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

A Thursday Reflection 10.5.17

If you were in Church this past Sunday (or if you have Italian DNA within you), you know that yesterday, on October 4, almost all the church traditions of Christianity celebrated the memory and Feast of Francis of Assisi.
I’m not going to repeat my sermon verbatim, but there are aspects about this extraordinary man that we all should seriously consider.
While there are so many dimensions of his life that are worth imitating, I think what most impresses me was his capacity to see beyond life’s limitations.  He “saw” what was not obvious.  Believing to have experienced the voice of God from within to “rebuild My church,” he undertakes the obvious (physical repair of the local village church building that had fallen into ruin), but from there he “sees” that so much more was being asked of him.  He needed to begin to rebuild a broken ecclesial community – a gathering of leaders more concerned with their own prestige than in spiritually nourishing God’s people.
The medieval world was severe.  Warfare, disease, abuse of power, ignorance, superstition, poverty, etc. were the norm and not the exception.  Francis (not a 60’s radical or some flower power child) was a man of passion and insight.  He could see the goodness of God in all of God’s creation.  He was a man of peace with all to whom he ministered, be they those wanting to follow his lifestyle of poverty, chastity and obedience or the animals that were the hallmark of medieval life – thus the images of Francis preaching to animals and why we bless animals on his day.  He wrote a powerful hymn about the beauty of God’s creation when he was sick and had lost his sight, and thus he could not physically “see” the very things he was describing and yet he saw them with the clarity of a poet and mystic.  He interjected himself into the crusades to stop bloodshed in at least one battle forcing both Christian and Muslim armies to back away from the killing field.
This was a man who knew that Christ had called him to make a difference.  He did.  So should we!
– Fr. Joe