February 24, 2019

O. T. VIII (March 3, 2019) Sunday Homily

One-Page Synopsis: OT VIII [C] (March 3) Homily on Luke 6:39-45 

Central theme: Jesus draws our attention to practical points of Christian living and challenges us to use our words as he used his in his preaching and healing ministry — to heal, to restore, and to bring back life, joy and hope. Today’s readings also instruct us to share our Christian life, love, and spiritual health by our words, and to avoid gossiping about, and passing rash, thoughtless and pain-inflicting judgments on others, thus damaging their good reputation and causing them irreparable harm.

Scripture lessons: The first reading, taken from the Book of Sirach, teaches that what is inside us is revealed through our conversation – as the grain and husks are separated in a farmer’s sieve, as the quality of the metal is revealed in the potter’s fire, and as the size and quality of a tree’s fruit reveal the care it has received from the planter. Sirach’s teaching serves as an excellent preview for today’s Gospel, which reminds us, when we’re feeling judgmental, to think before we speak because what comes out of our mouth reveals our heart. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 92) advises us to spend our time praising and thanking God for all His blessings. In the second reading St. Paul advises the Corinthian Christians “to be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain,” instead of wasting time on useless and sinful conversations, which bring punishment instead of the victory of resurrection and eternal reward. In today’s Gospel passage, taken from the Sermon on the Plain given in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus condemns our careless, malicious and rash judgments about the behavior, feelings, motives or actions of others by using the funny examples of one blind man leading another blind man and one man with a log stuck in his eye, trying to remove a tiny speck from another’s eye.

Life messages: We should avoid judging others because 1) No one except God is good enough to judge others because only God sees the whole truth, and only He can read the human heart. Hence, only He has the ability, right and authority to judge us. 2) We do not see all the facts or circumstances or the power of the temptation which has led a person to do something evil. 3) We are often prejudiced in our judgment of others, and total fairness cannot be expected from us, especially when we are judging those near or dear to us. 4) We have no right to judge because we have the same faults as the one, we are judging and often in a greater degree (remember Jesus’ funny example of a man with a log in his eye trying to remove the dust particle from another’s eye?) St. Philip Neri commented, watching the misbehavior of a drunkard: “There goes Philip but for the grace of God.” Abraham Lincoln said that the only one who has the right to criticize is the one who has the heart to help. 5) Hence, we should leave all judgment to God, practice mercy and forgiveness, and pray for God’s grace to get rid of all forms of hypocrisy in our lives. Let us remember the warning of saints: “When you point one finger of accusation at another, three of your fingers point at you.”

OT VIII [C]: (Sir 27:4-7; Ps 92:2-3; 13-16; I Cor 15:54-58; Lk 6:39-45)

(O. T. VIII-C occurred in the lectionary  last time, nearly two decades ago) Homily starter anecdotes: (“Stories have power. They delight, enchant, touch, teach, recall, inspire, motivate, challenge. They help us understand. They imprint a picture on our minds. Consequently, stories often pack more punch than sermons. Want to make a point or raise an issue? Tell a story. Jesus did it. He called his stories ‘parables.'”(Janet Litherland, Storytelling from the Bible). In fact Mark 4:34 says, “he [Jesus] did not speak to them without a parable…”Visit the article: Picturing the Kingdom of God by Fr. Brian Cavanaugh, TOR: http://www.appleseeds.org/picture.htm).

# 1: Rash judgment on buying “Luxury items” with food stamps: A grocery store check-out clerk once wrote to advice-columnist Ann Landers to complain that she had seen people buy “luxury” food items—like birthday cakes and bags of shrimp—with their food stamps. The writer went on to say that she thought all those people on welfare who treated themselves to such non-necessities were “lazy and wasteful.” A few weeks later Lander’s column was devoted entirely to people who had responded to the grocery clerk. One woman wrote: “I didn’t buy a cake, but I did buy a big bag of shrimp with food stamps. So what? My husband had been working at a plant for fifteen years when it shut down. The shrimp casserole I made was for our wedding anniversary dinner and lasted three days. Perhaps the grocery clerk who criticized that woman would have a different view of life after walking a mile in my shoes.” Another woman wrote: “I’m the woman who bought the $17 cake and paid for it with food stamps. I thought the check-out woman in the store would burn a hole through me with her eyes. What she didn’t know is the cake was for my little girl’s birthday. It will be her last. She has bone cancer and will probably be gone within six to eight months.” Today, Jesus advises us to leave the judgment to God and to show mercy and compassion. (Rev. Richardson). http://frtonyshomilies.com/

# 2: Valuables in safe custody: In his little book, Illustrations of Bible Truth, H.A. Ironside points out the folly of judging others. He relates an incident in the life of Bishop Potter. “He was sailing for Europe on one of the great transatlantic ocean liners. When he went on board, he found that another passenger was to share the cabin with him. After going to see the accommodations, he came up to the purser’s desk and inquired if he could leave his gold watch and other valuables in the ship’s safe. He explained that ordinarily he never availed himself of that privilege, but he had been to his cabin and had met the man who was to occupy the other berth. Judging from his appearance, he was afraid that he might not be a very trustworthy person. The purser accepted the responsibility for the valuables and remarked, ’It’s all right, Bishop, I’ll be very glad to take care of them for you. The other man has been up here and left his valuables for the same reason!’” (Daily Bread). This is what happens when we make rash judgments. http://frtonyshomilies.com/

# 3: Don’t judge a book by its cover: Schoolteacher Dodie Gadient decided to travel across America and see the sights she had taught her students about, for the last 13 yrs. Traveling alone in a truck with a camper in tow, she launched out. One afternoon rounding a curve on I-5 near Sacramento in rush-hour traffic, the water pump blew on her truck. She was tired, exasperated, scared and alone. In spite of the traffic jam she caused, no one seemed interested in helping. Leaning up against the trailer she prayed, “Please Lord send me an angel, preferably one with mechanical experience!” Within 4 minutes a huge Harley drove up ridden by an enormous man sporting long black hair, a beard and tattooed arms. With an incredible air of confidence, he jumped off and without even glancing at Dodie went to work on the truck. Within another few minutes, he flagged down a larger truck, attached a tow chain to the frame of the disabled Chevy and whisked the whole 56-ft rig off the freeway onto a side street where he calmly continued to work on the water pump. The intimidated, schoolteacher was too dumbfounded to talk. Especially when she read the paralyzing words on the back of his leather jacket: Hell’s Angels. As he finished the task, she finally got up the courage to say, “Thank you.” Noticing her amazement at the whole ordeal, he looked her straight in the eye and said, “Don’t judge a book by its cover!” With that he smiled, closed the hood of the truck and straddled his Harley. With a wave he was gone as fast as he had appeared. (Rev. Jeffrey Stewart). http://frtonyshomilies.com/
# 4: That person is me: C.S. Lewis wrote, “there is someone I love, even though I don’t approve of what he does. There is someone I accept, though some of his thoughts and actions revolt me. There is someone I forgive, though he hurts the people I love the most. That person is me.”

Introduction: Jesus draws our attention to practical points of Christian living and challenges us to use words as he used them in his preaching and healing ministry, to heal, restore and bring back life, joy and hope. Today’s readings also instruct us to share our Christian life, love, and spiritual health by our words, and to avoid gossiping about and passing rash, thoughtless and pain-inflicting judgments on others, damaging their good reputation and causing irreparable harm.

Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading from the Book of Sirach teaches that what is inside us is revealed through our conversation — as the grain and husks are separated in a farmer’s sieve, as the quality of the metal is revealed in the potter’s fire, and as the size and quality of a tree’s fruit reveal the care it has received from the planter. Sirach’s teaching serves as an excellent preview for today’s Gospel. It reminds us, when we’re feeling judgmental, to think before we speak because what comes out of our mouth reveals our heart.

The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 92) advises us to spend our time praising and thanking God for all His blessings. In the second reading St. Paul advises the Corinthian Christians “to be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain,” instead of wasting time on useless and sinful conversations which bring punishment instead of the victory of resurrection and eternal reward. In today’s Gospel passage taken from the Sermon on the Plain given in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus condemns our careless, malicious and rash judgments about the behavior, feelings, motives or actions of others by using the funny examples of one blind man leading another blind man and one man with a log stuck in his eye trying to remove a tiny speck from another’s eye.

The first reading explained: In the Greek version of the Bible, the first title of this book was “The Wisdom of Ben Sirach.” It was the book most used in the liturgy. In fact, in the early Church it was a kind of official catechism used in the catechumenate, and hence its Greek name in the Septuagint is Ecclesiasticus. According to the prologue and other passages in the book, the inspired author was a learned scribe, a humble and zealous man, who lived in Jerusalem. From an early age he had meditated deeply on Sacred Scripture. This book played an important part in shaping the Faith of the Jewish people. It equipped them to cope with the imminent menace of Greek culture, which ran completely counter to the monotheism of the people of the Old Covenant. Since the book was written in Greek, not in Hebrew, the Jewish scholars who finalized the canon of the Hebrew Bible after Jesus’ resurrection did not include it in the canon of the Hebrew Bible. But since it was included in the Septuagint, the Catholic Church retains it as an inspired book of the Bible. Sirach advises us not to praise any man before he speaks, for it is then that men are tested. Speech is the principal criterion for evaluating a person’s character. The sacred author first uses an agricultural imagery to explain his point. When a sieve is shaken, the grains fall to the basket beneath the sieve and the husks remain in the sieve showing their ugly emptiness. The same thing happens when a man speaks: his faults, his pride and his ignorance are exposed. The second image used is the potter’s furnace. If the clay isn’t completely dry, the piece explodes in the kiln (furnace). In the same way, conversation is the test of a man. The fruit of a tree shows the care it has had; As an example, sycamore fruit had to be punctured to grow fat and juicy; this was the job of the “dresser of sycamores.” In the same way, a man’s speech discloses the bent of his mind. Praise no man before he speaks, for it is then that men are tested. The same metaphor is used by Jesus in today’s gospel. To become a good tree in God’s garden we have to produce the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Scripture gives nine fruits (Galatians 5:22-23), and the Church the Church gives twelve: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Long-suffering, Goodness, Benevolence, Mildness, Fidelity, Modesty, continence and Chastity.

The second reading explained: When Paul called the Corinthian Christians to affirm their Faith in the power of Jesus over death by his Resurrection, he challenged them to affirm their freedom from death, from sin and from the Law and to exercise that freedom “by being fully engaged in the work of the Lord,” (v. 58) instead of divesting themselves of the body and all that it entails. Thus, the faithful will transform their corruptible physical bodies into incorruptible spiritual bodies in their resurrection, and experience immortality. Paul denies the teaching of the Corinthian philosophers that the attainment of the “ideal” existence or salvation from this world could be accomplished in individuals by their own efforts to live “properly.” Paul teaches that the transformation to immortality has been made possible for all only because of Jesus Christ. Christ’s resurrection was not only the first example of the final resurrection but also one that will make all other resurrections of the believers, at the end possible. Paul also argues that our resurrection is an elevation to an entirely new mode of existence because the resurrected will acquire a “spiritual” body. Christ’s death on the cross and his rising alone have accomplished the victory over death. Hence, Paul concludes: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” The hard work of the Christian life is not in vain, because the Christian is “in the Lord” who has already won the victory.

The Gospel exegesis: Luke might have collected together sayings of Jesus which were spoken on different occasions, thus giving us a kind of compendium of rules for life and living. We may be able to trace four pieces of advice from today’s Gospel passage.

1) Advice for students & teachers of Scripture: The Christian disciples are called upon to be both guides and teachers. Since a teacher cannot lead his students beyond what he himself has been taught, he must learn from the best teacher and then continue to learn Scripture from all available sources, the best being the Holy Spirit Who inspired Holy Scripture. Then, the learner must apply what he has learned to his own life before trying to teach others. Our goal in the Christian life must be to become like our Teacher, Jesus, in our thoughts, words, and actions.

2) We should not be blind guides: In order to lead a blind person, one must be sighted; in order to teach, one must be knowledgeable; otherwise the blind person and the student will be lost. The sight and the knowledge specified here are the insights that come through Faith and the Holy Spirit, and the knowledge that comes from a Faith-filled relationship with the Lord. The point of this image of the blind leading the blind is that we must be careful when choosing whom to follow, lest we stumble into a pit alongside our blind guide. A corollary is that we have no business trying to guide others unless we ourselves can see clearly. This is an important message in a day when so many self-appointed gurus vie for control of our spiritual affairs, our financial affairs, our medical affairs, our romantic affairs, our family affairs. Some are blind, but others see our vulnerabilities—see where they can take advantage of us. When choosing a guide—particularly a spiritual guide—it pays to be very, very careful. This is why it is so important to go in for regular “eye exams.” Every day, Christians should go to God, our spiritual Eye Doctor, to ask Him to check our vision. As we get into the Word, as we pray, He corrects our sight, and He shows us what to watch out for. It is vitally important that we have this regular “eye exam,” because we are not alone in the car. There are people who trust us to lead them to safety. It may be our children, or our spouse. It may be a friend. It may be people in the Church or community who are following where we lead. If we lead them off a cliff because of poor vision, God will hold us accountable. Listen to the words of Paul in Romans 2:19-23. “ If you are confident that you are a guide for the blind and a light for those in darkness, that you are a trainer of the foolish and teacher of the simple,  because in the law you have the formulation of knowledge and truth, then you who teach another, are you failing to teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who forbid adultery, do you commit adultery? You who detest idols, do you rob temples? You who boast of the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?”

3) We have no right to criticize and judge others: The first reason Jesus gives us is we have no right to criticize unless we ourselves are free of faults. That simply means that we have no right to criticize at all, because “there is so much bad in the best of us and so much good in the worst of us that it ill becomes any of us to find fault with the rest of us.” Jesus clarifies his point by presenting the humorous simile of a man with a log stuck in his own eye trying to extract a speck of dust from someone else’s eye. It means that the task of fraternal correction (removing specks, etc.) should not be attempted without prior self-examination, though the disciple need not be completely without imperfections before the process can begin.

What did Jesus mean when he said not to judge others? Jimmy Akins: 1) Not a cover for immoral behavior in general. It’s clear that Jesus did not intend his words to be used as a cover for immoral behavior. 2) Not even a cover for sexual misbehavior [Matt. 5:27-28]. 3) Not a prohibition on admonishing others. Jesus also did not intend his words to be used to stop others from admonishing others when they are committing sinful behavior [Matt. 28:19-20]. 4) Not an endorsement of moral relativism. Taking Jesus’ teaching out of context, one might try to use it as a pretext for moral relativism—the idea that all moral judgments regarding the conduct of others are to be suspended and each person is to be allowed to define what is morally good for himself. Then what did Jesus actually say? In both Matthew and Luke, the statements that follow the prohibition on judging indicate that it is an elaboration of the Golden Rule—the idea that we should treat others the way that we, ourselves, want to be treated. 6) When Jesus says, “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” he means: “Don’t judge or God will judge you.” What Jesus means is that God will judge us. He’s made that perfectly clear in the Bible, and in the teaching of Jesus in particular. There will be a Last Judgment at the end of the world, as well as a particular judgment at the end of our earthly lives. So, it isn’t a question of escaping God’s judgment. It’s a question of how we will be judged. The right approach is to ask: Given that you will be judged for what you have done, what kind of judgment do you want? If we are in our right minds, we want a judgment done with mercy, compassion, and forgiveness. And that’s the way Jesus wants us to treat others: He wants us to be merciful, compassionate, and forgiving to them. In this context, what he means by “judging” is the opposite of doing those things—being unmerciful, uncompassionate, and unforgiving. In addition to “not judging” involving being merciful, compassionate, and forgiving to others, it can include other things, such as: Giving others the benefit of the doubt. Leaving the ultimate judgment of others to God instead of simply concluding that someone is (or should be) damned. (http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/what-did-jesus-mean-when-he-said-not-to-judge-others-10-things-to-know).

4) We must be good at heart to be good at our deeds: In order to distinguish the good tree from the bad tree we need to look at the fruit the tree produces (deeds) and not at its foliage (words). “The treasure of the heart is the same as the root of the tree,” St Bede explains. “A person who has a treasure of patience and of perfect charity in his heart yields excellent fruit; he loves his neighbor and has all the other qualities Jesus teaches; he loves his enemies, does good to him who hates him, blesses him who curses him, prays for him who calumniates him, does not react against him who attacks him or robs him; he gives to those who ask, does not claim what they have stolen from him, wishes not to judge and does not condemn, corrects patiently and affectionately those who err. But the person who has in his heart the treasure of evil does exactly the opposite: he hates his friends, speaks evil of him who loves him and does all the other things condemned by the Lord” (In Lucae Evangelium Expositio, II, 6). In verse 46, Jesus asks us to act in a way consistent with being Christians and not to make any separation between the Faith we profess and the way we live: “What matters is not whether or not we wear a religious habit; it is whether we try to practice the virtues and surrender our will to God and order our lives as His Majesty ordains, and not want to do our will but His” (St. Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, II, 6).

Life messages: 1) We need to avoid hypocrisy: Let us acknowledge the hypocrisy we all live every day. It is the word Jesus used. We tell people how concerned we are about our kidneys and hearts when we don’t give a second thought to the gaping, rotting wounds of sin covering us from head to toe. It is even worse when someone else falls into sin. Ignoring the glaring faults of our own, we point the finger of accusation, and whisper about them, and say, “How could they?” instead of asking “How could we?” We must look to our own sin first. This is the truth of Luke 6:39-42. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I must be honest with myself. If I have trouble seeing my sin, and my failures, I have to go to Jesus and ask Him to point them out to me through prayer and through His Word. And He will. I must be ready for some painful “I” surgery. But I am sure to come out with better vision, and better eyesight, because I looked to myself first.

2) We should stop judging others harshly and unreasonably because 1) No one except God is good enough to judge others because only God sees the whole truth, and only He can read the human heart; hence, only He has the right and authority to judge us. 2) We are often prejudiced in our judgment of others, and total fairness cannot be expected from us. 3) We do not see all the facts, the circumstances or the power of the temptation, which have led a person to do something evil. 4) We have no right to judge others because we have the same faults and often to a more serious degree than the person we are judging (remember Jesus’ funny example of a man with a log stuck in his eye trying to remove the dust particle from another’s eye?) St. Philip Neri commented, watching the misbehavior of a drunkard: “There goes Philip but for the grace of God.”

3) Hence, we should leave all judgment to God and practice mercy and forgiveness, remembering the advice of saints: “When you point one finger of accusation at another, three of your fingers point at you.” Let us pay attention to the Jewish rabbi’s advice: “He who judges others favorably will be judged favorably by God.

Jokes of the week

Source: (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/223280094010936796)

1) Judgmental husband: There’s the story of the conscientious wife who tried very hard to please her ultra-critical husband but failed regularly. He always seemed the most cantankerous at breakfast. If the eggs were scrambled, he wanted them poached; if the eggs were poached, he wanted them scrambled. One morning, with what she thought was a stroke of genius, the wife poached one egg and scrambled the other and placed the plate before him. Anxiously she awaited what surely this time would be his unqualified approval. He peered down at the plate and snorted, “Can’t you do anything right, woman? You’ve scrambled the wrong one!”

2)“Go thou and do likewise!” After a minister preached a sermon on spiritual gifts, he was greeted at the door by a lady who said, “Pastor, I believe I have the gift of criticism.” He looked at her and asked, “Remember the person in Jesus’ parable who had the one talent? Do you recall what he did with it?” “Yes,” replied the lady, “he went out and buried it.” With a smile, the pastor suggested, “Go thou, and do likewise!”

3)Judge Not

I was shocked, confused, bewildered
As I entered Heaven’s door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
Nor the lights or its decor.

But it was the folks in Heaven
Who made me sputter and gasp–
The thieves, the liars, the sinners,
The alcoholics and the trash.

There stood the kid from seventh grade..
Who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor
Who never said anything nice.

Herb, who I always thought
Was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
Looking incredibly well.

I nudged Jesus, ‘What’s the deal?
I would love to hear Your take.
How’d all these sinners get up here?
God must’ve made a mistake.

‘And why’s everyone so quiet,
So somber – give me a clue.’
‘Hush, child,’ He said, ‘they’re all in shock.
No one thought they’d be seeing you.’

Websites of the week

  1. Movie & DVD reviews: http://www.catholicnews.com/movies.cfm
  2. Catholic perspectives: http://sansecondodasti.org/!SanSec_htm/Catholic%20Perspectives/catholic_perspectives.htm
  3. Catholic calendar: http://www.cathcal.org/index.php
  4. http://thecatholicguy.tv/lent2016/
  5. Healing in marriages: http://www.maritalhealing.com/

15 Additional anecdotes:

1) Mom with one eye:My mom only had one eye. I hated her… She was such an embarrassment. She cooked for students and teachers to support the family. There was this one day during elementary school where my mom came to say hello to me. I was so embarrassed. How could she do this to me? I ignored her, threw her a hateful look and ran out. The next day at school one of my classmates said, “EEEE, your mom only has one eye!” I wanted to bury myself. I also wanted my mom to just disappear. I confronted her that day and said, “If you’re only gonna make me a laughing stock, why don’t you just die?” My mom did not respond… I didn’t even stop to think for a second about what I had said, because I was full of anger. I was oblivious to her feelings. I wanted out of that house and have nothing to do with her. So, I studied real hard, got a chance to go abroad to study. Then, I got married. I bought a house of my own. I had kids of my own. I was happy with my life, my kids and the comforts. Then one day, my Mother came to visit me. She hadn’t seen me in years, and she didn’t even meet her grandchildren. When she stood by the door, my children laughed at her, and I yelled at her for coming over uninvited. I screamed at her, “How dare you come to my house and scare my children! GET OUT OF HERE! NOW!!!” And to this, my mother quietly answered, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I may have gotten the wrong address.” – and she disappeared out of sight. One day, a letter regarding a school reunion came to my house. So, I lied to my wife that I was going on a business trip. After the reunion, I went to the old shack just out of curiosity. My neighbors said that she died. I did not shed a single tear. They handed me a letter that she had wanted me to have. “My dearest son, I think of you all the time. I’m sorry that I came to your house and scared your children. I was so glad when I heard you were coming for the reunion. But I may not be able to even get out of bed to see you. I’m sorry that I was a constant embarrassment to you when you were growing up. You see……..when you were very little, you got into an accident, and lost your eye. As a mother, I couldn’t stand watching you having to grow up with one eye. So, I gave you mine. I was so proud of my son who was seeing a whole new world for me, in my place, with that eye. With all my love to you, Your Mother.” (https://mygoodtimestories.com/2013/09/16/the-mother-with-one-eye/) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

2) Things are never quite as they appear — sometimes!! A woman was flying from Seattle to San Francisco. Unexpectedly, the plane was diverted to Sacramento along the way. The flight attendant explained that there would be a delay, and if the passengers wanted to get off the aircraft the plane would re-board in 50 minutes…Everybody got off the plane except one lady who was blind…A man had noticed her as he walked by and could tell the lady was blind because her guide dog lay quietly underneath the seats in front of her throughout the entire flight… He could also tell she had flown this very flight before because the pilot approached her, and calling her by name, said, “Kathy, we are in Sacramento for almost an hour, would you like to get off and stretch your legs?” The blind lady said, “No thanks, but maybe Buddy would like to stretch his legs.” All the people in the gate area came to a complete stand still when they looked up and saw the pilot walk off the plane with a guide dog for the blind! Even worse, the pilot was wearing sunglasses! People scattered. They not only tried to change planes, but they were trying to change airlines! (https://mygoodtimestories.com/2014/02/16/things-are-not-always-as-they-appear/) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

3) A brick hit his Jaguar XKE: (Chicken Soup for the Soul – 5th Portion. The story was written by Josh Ridker) A little while ago, a young and very successful executive named Josh was traveling down a Chicago neighborhood street. He was going a bit too fast in his sleek, black, 12-cylinder Jaguar XKE, which was only two months old. He was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something. As his car passed, no child darted out, but a brick sailed out and – WHUMP! – it smashed Into the Jag’s shiny black side door! SCREECH..!!!! Brakes slammed! Gears ground into reverse, and tires madly spun the Jaguar back to the spot from where the brick had been thrown. Josh jumped out of the car, grabbed the kid and pushed him up against a parked car. He shouted at the kid, “What was that all about, and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing?!” Building up a head of steam, he went on. “That’s my new Jag, that brick you threw is gonna cost you a lot of money. Why did you throw it?”

“Please, mister, please. . . I’m sorry! I didn’t know what else to do!” pleaded the youngster. “I threw the brick because no one else would stop!” Tears were dripping down the boy’s chin as he pointed around the parked car. “It’s my brother, mister,” he said. “He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can’t lift him up.” Sobbing, the boy asked the executive, “Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He’s hurt and he’s too heavy for me.” Moved beyond words, the young executive tried desperately to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. Straining, he lifted the young man back into the wheelchair and took out his handkerchief and wiped the scrapes and cuts, checking to see that everything was going to be OK. He then watched the younger brother push him down the sidewalk toward their home. It was a long walk back to the sleek, black, shining, 12-cylinder Jaguar XKE –a long and slow walk. Josh never did fix the side door of his Jaguar. He kept the dent to remind him not to go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at him to get his attention. . . Some bricks are softer than others. Feel for the bricks of life coming at to you. For all the negative things we have to say to ourselves, God has positive answers. https://mygoodtimestories.com/2014/03/07/a-chicago-story-the-brick/ http://frtonyshomilies.com/

 

4)My sins run out behind me, and I do not see them: A member of a monastic order once committed a fault. A council was called to determine the punishment, but when the monks assembled it was noticed that Father Joseph was not among them. The superior sent someone to say to him, “Come, for everyone is waiting for you. So, Father Joseph got up and went. He took a leaking jug, filled it with water, and carried it with him. When the others saw this they asked, “What is this, father?” The old man said to them, “My sins run out behind me, and I do not see them, and today I am coming to judge the error of another?” Source: unknown http://frtonyshomilies.com/

5) The Elephant Man (https://youtu.be/oRPARnyPiOI?list=PLEA7F76BFCF2A5BB7)

Under the name of John Merrick, the movie The Elephant Man tells the true story of Joseph Carey Merrick, born in 1862 in Leicester, England. Within the first few years of his life it became apparent that Joseph suffered from deformities on his face and body. These deformities grew to be significantly noticeable, and tumors on his mouth affected his speech. His mother loved him dearly but died when he was ten. After leaving home, Merrick was unable to make a living and at 17 he entered Leicester Union workhouse. After four years in the workhouse, Merrick contacted a showman who agreed to exhibit him as the “Elephant Man” in carnivals. People would pay money to line up and observe him like some animal in a zoo. While on display in a penny gaff shop in London, Merrick met a surgeon named Frederick Treves who invited Merrick to the London hospital to be examined. Soon after, Merrick’s exhibition was shut down by the police and Merrick travelled to Belgium under a new manager. After being robbed and abandoned, he found his way back to London and into the care of Treves. Merrick was allowed to live in rooms at the London Hospital where he became a celebrity in London’s high society. Dr. Treves discovered that Merrick was in fact highly intelligent and sought to nurture his growth. Yet Merrick’s greatest hurdle was still to come. All his life Merrick had known only fear and rejection from women. So, Dr. Treves asked an attractive widow he knew if she could come into Merrick’s room, smile at him and shake his hand. When she did Merrick broke down into a ball of tears, later telling Treves that she was the first woman in his life apart from his mother to have showed him kindness. That was a breakthrough moment for Merrick. In the coming years more and more people, women included, would meet him and show him kindness. He began meeting Countesses and Duchesses. He even had many visits and letters from the Princess of Wales, forming a friendship with her. Throughout this time, Dr. Treves reports, Merrick changed dramatically. Merrick stayed at his London hospital room until his death in 1890. Merrick’s story shows us the power of love and acceptance. Rejected all his life, treated as a “thing”, it was the loving welcome of others that liberated him to become all he could be.  His life was made tragic not by his deformities but by the response people made to them. (Source: Reported at www.elephant-house.fsnet.co.uk & Wikipedia). http://frtonyshomilies.com/

6) The rejection and acceptance of a sinner: It was one of the most extraordinary birthday parties ever held. No, it wasn’t in a plush ballroom of a grand hotel. No, there weren’t famous celebrities, nor anyone rich or powerful present. It was held at 3 AM in a small seedy cafe in Honolulu, the guest of honour was a prostitute, the fellow guests were prostitutes, and the man who threw it was a Christian minister! The idea came to Christian minister Tony Campolo very early one morning as he sat in the cafe. He was drinking coffee at the counter, when a group of prostitutes walked in and took up the stools around him. One of the girls, Agnes, lamented the fact that not only was it her birthday tomorrow but that she’d never had a birthday party. Tony thought it would be a great idea to surprise Agnes with a birthday party. Learning from the cafe owner, a guy named Harry, that the girls came in every morning around 3:30 AM. Tony agreed with him to set the place up for a party. Word somehow got out on the street, so that by 3:15 the next morning the place was packed with prostitutes, the cafe owner and his wife, and Tony. When Agnes walked in, she saw streamers, balloons, Harry holding a birthday cake, and everyone screaming out “Happy Birthday!” Agnes was overwhelmed. The tears poured down her face as the crowd sang Happy Birthday. When Harry called on her to cut the cake she paused. She’d never had a birthday cake and wondered if she could take it home to show her mother. When Agnes left there was a stunned silence. Tony did what a Christian minister should. He led Harry, Harry’s wife and a roomful of prostitutes in a prayer for Agnes. It was a birthday party rarely seen in Honolulu – thrown by a Christian minister for a 39-year-old prostitute who had never had anyone go out of their way to do something like this and who expected nothing in return. Indeed, so surprising was this turn of events that the cafe owner found it hard to believe there were Churches that would do this sort of thing, but if there were then that’s the sort of Church he’d be prepared to join. Would Jesus call us blind hypocrites? http://frtonyshomilies.com/

7) A worthless creature: In the seventeenth century France a humanist scholar by the name of Muretus was an ailing fugitive. When he presented himself to the medical doctors he was dressed in the rags of a pauper. The doctors discussed his case in Latin, thinking he would not be able to understand them. “Faciamus experimentum in anima vili” one said, which means “Let us try an experiment with this worthless creature”. Imagine their shock when this pauper replied, also in Latin, “Vilem animam appellas pro qua Christus non dedignatus est mori?”, “Will you call worthless, one for whom Christ did not disdain to die?” Source: Reported in Charles Birch, Regaining Compassion (University of NSW Press, 1993). http://frtonyshomilies.com/

8) You can’t please everyone: Aesop’s Fable, “The Man, the Boy and the Donkey,” illustrates this truth! A Man and his son were once going with their Donkey to market. As they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said: “You fools, what is a Donkey for but to ride upon?” So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their way. But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said: “See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.” So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn’t gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other: “Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along.” Well, the Man didn’t know what to do, but at last he took his Boy up before him on the Donkey. By this time, they had come to the town, and the passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The Man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at. The men said: “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey of yours and your hulking son? “The Man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought and they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied the donkey’s feet to it, and raised the pole and the donkey to their shoulders. They went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to Market Bridge, when the Donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the Donkey fell over the bridge, and his fore-feet being tied together he was drowned. — “That will teach you,” said an old man who had followed them: “Please all, and you will please none.” [www.taleswithmorals.com] http://frtonyshomilies.com/

9) No entry was ever made: People who are willing to complain about others in their absence are reluctant to do so to their faces. A preacher, capitalizing on this fact, devised an effective way of handling such critics. He kept a special book labeled, “Complaints of Members Against One Another.” When one of them would tell him about some fault of a fellow parishioner, he would say, “Well, here’s my complaint book. I’ll write down what you say, and you can sign you name to it. When I see that person, I’ll take up the matter with him.” That open ledger, and the critic’s awareness of his own faults, always had a restraining effect. Immediately the complainer would exclaim, “Oh, no, I couldn’t sign anything like that!” In 40 years, that book was opened a thousand times, but no entry was ever made. http://frtonyshomilies.com/

10) The American blame game: We are a people who like to make excuses for failures. Nothing is ever really our fault. Think about it! From Creation, we have blamed others for our own decisions — Adam blamed Eve for enticing him to eat the forbidden fruit and Eve blamed the serpent. And we are still playing the blame-game. We are dysfunctional because of what our parents and grandparents did or did not do to/for us. The prisoner blames his parents for his illegal activity. Divorcees blame each other for the demise of marriages. Our children’s yearning for material goods is blamed on television. We blame school violence on the lack of prayer in school. Sex and Drug use among our youth is blamed on the Internet, television, and Hollywood. Sinful behavior is now being referred to as compulsive behavior and is blamed on chemical imbalances. Whenever we do something wrong, we are apt to point the finger elsewhere. Fingers are being pointed at the increasing Hispanic population as the cause of higher rates of unemployment. Declining neighborhood property values are being blamed on the increasing number of minorities. The Democrats and the Republicans blame each other for increase in taxes and for increasing the country’s deficit. We are a people who like to point the fingers at others for the problems we have to deal with. (Rev. A. LaMar Torrence). http://frtonyshomilies.com/

11) Prejudiced isolation: David Suzuki is one of the world’s best-known campaigners for the environment. He is now a respected and highly regarded citizen of his homeland Canada. Many people are unaware however of the painful memories Suzuki has from childhood. On December 7, 1941 the Japanese air force bombed Pearl Harbor and so Japan entered the Second World War. People of Japanese descent were immediately suspect in Canada. Within nine days of the bombing they were required to register with the authorities as “enemy aliens”. Their property was confiscated, their bank accounts were frozen and they were told they would have to leave their homes. David Suzuki was five years old at the time, and his parents were second generation Canadians…of Japanese descent. By the time David turned 6 he, his mother and his sisters had been sent to an internment camp in British Columbia. His father was sent to work on a road gang, rejoining his family in the camp a year later. The conditions were filthy and cramped. Toward the end of the war the internees were given a choice. The Canadian government would pay for them to move to Japan, or they could remain in Canada, on condition that they lived east of the Rocky Mountains. Japanese-Canadians were no longer welcome in the Suzuki’s hometown of Vancouver. David’s family chose to remain in Canada, destitute and in poverty. The entire episode left a terrible legacy in David Suzuki’s life. Proud to be Canadian he began to despise his Japanese descent and his Asian appearance. For years as a teenager he saved money for an operation to enlarge his eyes and dye his hair. He refused to walk down the street with his parents because he felt ashamed of them. His father drummed into him that to do well with white people he would have to be twice as good as they were. Even today Suzuki struggles with the past. He says “The terrible burden I’ve had all my life is that I seem to be constantly trying to reaffirm to Canadians that I’m a worthwhile human being. It’s really ridiculous to be 64 years old and still feel that you’ve got to prove to them that you’re not somebody who should be locked up.” (Source: Information reported in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Weekend Magazine, April 8, 2000). http://frtonyshomilies.com/ v

12) “Don’t judge others. Show God’s love to all you meet, because you don’t know their story.” With this, came the realization of how often I do unknowingly judge the people I encounter every day. I say “unknowingly,” because I don’t usually take the time to learn who people really are, or what they’re going through. Instead, I slap a label on them based on the little I can see on the outside. Let me explain. If she’s quiet, that mean she’s rude. If they cut in front of me in traffic, they’re a jerk. If she’s always smiling and laughing, she’s shallow, and has a perfect life. If he refuses to make eye contact, he’s hiding something. If she wears low-cut shirts, short shorts, and dark makeup, she’s wild and no good. But what if I knew their stories? Could hear their thoughts? Looked inside when they went home and let their guard down? Instead, what if it was…She’s quiet because it’s the anniversary of her dad’s death and she’s trying not to burst into tears. They cut in front of me because they just heard their family member was in a car accident and they’re rushing to the emergency room. She’s always smiling and laughing, but in reality, it’s just a cover-up for the pain she goes through every day in her bad marriage. He refuses to make eye contact because he suffers daily from PTSD and he’s afraid of letting me see the “real him.” She wears low-cut shirts, short shorts and dark makeup, because she’s deeply insecure, has been wounded again and again, and no longer believes she’s worth anything more than the amount of skin she shows. What if I knew all that? How would I act? How would we all act? Would we be more gracious, kind, and loving? Less judgmental and harsh? I love this quote by Mother Teresa. She says, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” (By Sara Barratt). http://frtonyshomilies.com/

13) Crab and the ocean: Once upon a time there was a crab. It was walking on the shore of ocean, leaving its beautiful footprint behind. The crab adored its footprints. Suddenly as the crab was adoring it footprints, the waves of the ocean washed the footprints away. The crab turned towards the ocean wave and said, “Hey!! I thought you were my best friend. Why did you do that?? Why did you wash my footprints away?” The ocean said, “A fisherman was chasing you, my dear friend, looking at your footprints, so I washed them away so that fisherman could not chase you.” It’s a general human tendency. We all judge each other in different situations and conclude about the person. Even in our relationship we judge the people by the actions or behavior. But it is important not to conclude about that person and react without understanding other person’s intentions. (Divya Nimbalkar). http://frtonyshomilies.com/

14) Follow VFR-Visual Flight Rules: In 1999 John F. Kennedy, Jr., his wife, Carolyn, and her sister, Lauren, had a wedding to attend in Hyannis Point, Massachusetts. Since John had his pilot’s license, they decided to fly there. Now John had 310 hours of flying experience, but not a lot over water at night. I suppose he must have believed he could handle it, though, and they set out for Hyannis Point. But the plane never made it to its destination and unfortunately all were killed. The National Transportation Safety Board investigation found no evidence of mechanical malfunction in airframe, systems, avionics, or engine, and determined that the probable cause was “the pilot’s failure to maintain control of the airplane during a descent over water at night, which was a result of spatial disorientation. Factors in the accident were haze, and the dark night.” According to the National Transportation Safety Board, three simple letters resulted in the tragic death of such an influential young man, VFR-Visual Flight Rules. In essence, John Kennedy was flying that evening only by what he saw visually. For all he knew, it was a picture-perfect flight. But he made one very fatal mistake; he failed to fly by IFR-Instrument Flight Rules. If he had used his instruments and relied on them to guide his flight, he probably would have known that he was headed straight down into the ocean. The instrument panel is what identifies the truth. Pilots cannot depend on their feelings, eyesight, or the opinion of others. Those instrument gauges are the only reliable source for determining the airplane’s true position. That is why pilots who only fly by visual contact don’t like flying at night or in bad weather. Though most of us aren’t pilots, and therefore don’t need to know about airplane instruments, most of us here are claiming to be disciples or followers of Jesus. We claim and think our lives are headed in the right direction, but are they really? How would we know? What identifies true disciples who are going in the right direction? Can we depend on our feelings, ideas or the opinions of others to guide us to the right answers and in the right direction? No! Just as a plane has instruments to indicate its true position there are also the spiritual indicators or gauges that indicate our true position as true followers or false followers of Jesus. What indicators identify true disciples? The answer to that question is found in Luke 6:43-45. (Rev. Davi Elvery). http://frtonyshomilies.com/

15) Refrain from making rash judgments. An engineer, a psychologist, and a theologian were hunting in the wilds of northern Canada. They came across an isolated cabin, far removed from any town. Because friendly hospitality is a virtue practiced by those in the wilderness, the hunters knocked on the door to ask permission to rest. No one answered their knocks, but, discovering the cabin was unlocked, they entered. It was a simple place–two rooms with a minimum of furniture and household equipment. Nothing was surprising about the cabin except the stove. It was large, pot-bellied, and made of cast iron. What was unusual was its location: it was suspended in mid-air by wires attached to the ceiling beams. “Fascinating,” said the psychologist. “It is obvious that this lonely trapper, isolated from humanity, has elevated his stove so he can curl up under it and vicariously experience a return to the womb.” “Nonsense!” replied the engineer. “The man is practicing the laws of thermodynamics. By elevating his stove, he has discovered a way to distribute heat more evenly throughout the cabin.” “With all due respect,” interrupted the theologian, “I’m sure that hanging his stove from the ceiling has religious meaning. Fire lifted up has been a religious symbol for centuries.” The three debated the point for several minutes without resolving the issue. When the trapper finally returned, they immediately asked him why he had hung his heavy potbellied stove by wires from the ceiling. His answer was succinct: “Had plenty of wire, not much stove pipe!” A Christian who lives graciously, understands that things are not always as they seem, so he seeks to refrain from making rash judgments. (Dave Mcfadden). http://frtonyshomilies.com/

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle C (No. 14) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com

Visit this website: http://frtonyshomilies.com/for missed homilies, 141 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at akadavil@gmail.com. Visit http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html for the Vatican version of this homily.

Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604.

Bind leading the blind