Monthly Archives: October 2018

Thursday Reflection 10.18.18

Thursday Reflection
Inspired to Make a Difference
October 18, 2018
     I have a small banner hanging in my office. It displays a picture of a lighthouse with the words of Ps. 119:105 beneath: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”
         That image of a light shining from an old New England lighthouse is a powerful one. A light in the darkness! A light that shows me where I am going. A light that keeps me from tripping and falling. A light that guides the ship in a storm, gives it a sense of both placement and direction, and importantly keeps it from being ripped apart by rocky coastline and hidden reefs.
         I keep wondering from where that light, which humans really need, is going to come if our culture has determined in its hubris that there really is no God, and matters of religion are of just such nonsense for the elderly or the weak willed.
         If the Lord does not light my path, how do I get a sense of direction or see what really matters? Is it any wonder that the numbers of the poor or homeless grow, but we don’t see them among us?
A few weeks ago, we all were immersed in a tragic drama – televised for our viewing “entertainment” – as we were forced to listen to memories of what may have been sexual criminality or inappropriate high school drunken behavior or memories of an incident that did not occur as remembered – we will never know – but I had kept asking over and over where the parents of those privileged youth had been that night. How can we hope that our youth walk that right path if there is no light to guide them?
         I am looking more and more at a world that ignores its Creator, scoffs that matters religious as merely mythological, and then wonders why it is torn by violence and hate. Take away the light, you get darkness. Remove the guidance in the storm, you get a ship wreck.  St. John in one of his letters has the very brief verse: “God is light.” So take away the light that guides us. And you’re surprised that all you’re left with is darkness?
–Fr Joe

Thursday Reflection 10.11.18

Thursday Reflection
“What is God Calling Us to Do?
October 11, 2018
           This is the time of the year when, as a Mets fan, I am so often asked if I am rooting for or against any particular team in the baseball playoffs since, for reasons only divine wisdom will fathom, the team of my rooting interest is usually long eliminated. It’s been my experience that this simple question is usually a veiled attempt by the supporters of New York’s other team to either elicit praise and support (“last man standing”, I suppose) or just a way to rub salt in already festering wounds. Now, if truth be told – so often it is not – I was raised to be a gracious loser even if I seethe within. For in truth, while I always acknowledge those who have bested me, I HATE to lose. Always have! Always will!
           I really can’t bounce this idea off Abby because she doesn’t understand acknowledging our limitations, congratulating those who do succeed, or dealing with the times when we were not good enough. Border collies may (almost) always win. We humans – not so much.
           I have seen enough of how our political landscape has deteriorated into a battleground where there can only be chest bumping / taunting winners and rage filled losers. I have seen this spill into youth sporting events where parents who make the conscious immoral decision to live vicariously through the success of their children act out in utterly reprehensible fashions. We see this in the media from time to time.   I can even tell you a story of a long ago incident where a teen boy [someday to become a priest] was asked to substitute referee a CYO basketball game in the place of a sick classmate. There was a foul call made against a player whose elbow clearly connected into the shooter. Then there was then an outraged aggrieved and disagreeing / disagreeable parent who ran on to the court, screamed at this 16 year old, threatening him physically in front of a ¼ packed gym. Oh and yes, I even could tell you about the equally unpleasant aftermath where, after the game , this parent ran into a certain uncle of that teen [who would someday become a priest] and the physical consequences endured by that parent for his lack of “respect”. One should not be happy about either incident – both are shameful!
           The point I hope you all get is that how we deal with “winning” or “losing” – when the symbolic “referees” of our life miss the calls, when the unfairness of life brings either something expectantly joy filled or outrageously unpleasant into our lives – how we deal with our feelings at such moments speak volumes about not only our maturity but also the sincerity of our discipleship. If social media is a mirror of exactly how much rage and taunting, shaming and intolerance for any opinion other than my own truly infects this culture of ours, then God help us. We have all lost! We can’t be authentic disciples only when it pleases us or when life goes well. I choose to follow Jesus in this faith community as long as I get my own way. I love those who agree with me personally or politically and hate all others. How do I deal with being a disciple, living into my calling, and knowing that at times all will not go well with me or my life!
–Fr Joe

Thursday Reflection 10.4.18

Thursday Reflection
Inspired to make a difference
October 4, 2018
         Today is the date that Christians of all shapes and perspectives honor one of the truly unique, dangerous and incredible leaders / reformers of all time. He was born as Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, but remember him by his “informal” name of Francesco or Francis – Francis of Assisi.
           I could not possibly write anything insightful or laudatory that hasn’t already been written, preached or just opined. Born into the flawed medieval Church, he injected his own brand of spirituality into an institution that was in dire need of reform. A child of middle class wealth and values, a legendary ne’er-do-well youth, a soldier, prisoner of war, thinker who listened to the voice within, heard his redeemer whom he insisted was telling him to “rebuild my church,” and he literally started to do so as he went about to repair a broken neighborhood chapel.
           But that voice from within was calling him to do more than fix the plumbing! Eventually he discerns the call challenging him to proclaim the good news not by preaching alone, although he was to do this well, but rather by living a lifestyle of radical poverty and to move his church away from the siren’s song of materialism.
Most are aware that he found God in all of nature and not necessarily in grand cathedrals. He was the original “Dr. Doolittle” at times found preaching to the animals in the forest, allegedly claiming they actually listened!
           He was such a strong personality that he attracted others, men and women, to embrace this crazy new way to live as (not just speak as) as Christian. Even the depths of the medieval papacy was wise enough to recognize such an extraordinary witness to Christ,
He was an extraordinary man of peace. You all now know that (in a truth is stranger than fiction moment) Francis and the Sultan of Egypt (a nephew of the great warrior prince Saladin) prevented what would have been a bloodbath encounter between warring armies during the crusades. This is just one forgotten moment when peace defeated pride, and the message of Jesus was actually taken seriously by all those who had the power to change history.
           I long for such men (and women) of witness and conviction. But I also know that as much as we admire them in retrospect, reformers are very often rejected in their own time. Who really wants to take all this seriously? Who really wants to live the good news as the Lord intended we do? Who is secure enough to not only not fear poverty but to embrace it as a way to get rid of the clutter in our lives? People claim to admire Francis. But I wonder if we are really willing to listen to him and join him on the pathway that he insists will bring us to our God.
–Fr Joe