Sunday, February 19, 2017
In the Louvre Museum in Paris there stands a seven-foot-long stone on which is inscribed the Code of Hammurabi – who ruled ancient Babylon over 3500 years ago. It is among the oldest written laws in the world. It gives great insight into the laws of the time. It also contains the great Law of Talion – Lex Talionis – an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. It may seem to be a very cruel law, but historically it was a great move forward. It limited vengeance. Because of this, the Torah of Moses embraced the Law of Talion. And yet, someone like Gandhi would say – if all of us were to practice the “eye for eye” the whole world would be blind and toothless.
Some might say that there are basically two responses to oppression or injustice: Fight or flight.
Fight – we oppose evil on its own terms. They want to fight you – you fight them. The answer is violence – and it can only get worse.
Flight – run away. Do nothing.
Jesus proposes a third way
- Turn the other cheek – see, I will not lower myself to your level.
- Take your cloak, give your shirt
- Roman soldier could force you to carry his things 1 mile – like Simon of Cyrene – no, go 2 miles. (Now he will get in trouble!)
Lincoln once let a southern prisoner go – received a letter criticizing him – you should destroy the enemy. Lincoln wrote back – If I make him a friend, don’t I destroy an enemy?!
Example: Day after the Inauguration – Woman’s March in Washington. Not all women, of course. Woman part of Respect Life Groups were told they were not welcome. Anyway, it turned out that there were many women and not enough rest rooms. Some Dominican Friars noticed and kindly let a few in to use their rest rooms. Before they knew it, hundreds of people lined up.
Now, this became a source of great anxiety for the Dominicans. First, a large crowd had descended. But also, many had disagreeable signs, shirts and hats. Some messages were anti-Catholic, pro-abortion, vulgar and even pornographic. Realizing where they were – the people had the courtesy to cover them up. The Dominicans spent time in conversation with the women and realized that they had many reasons for being at the March. Some were very anti Catholic and Anti Life, but others believed in the dignity of women, or laborers, of the poor and the importance of the environment. They wanted their daughters to grow up in a world that would not mistreat them.
Amazingly, some marchers started to take up a collection for the Friars. Some were fascinated by the Dominican Habit with their Rosaries (you know the chant) and why they would give their lives to God. This very strange and uncomfortable experience reminded the Friars of today’s teaching – to love you enemies – to will the good of all! How to be rid of an enemy – make them your friend. Remember: if all of us were to practice the “eye for eye” the whole world would be blind and toothless.
Thursday, February 16, 2017
Sunday, February 12, 2017
I am sometimes asked – how late can you come to Mass and it will still count?
Our older priests would have told you – back in the day, the priest would take the veil off the chalice – the bell would ring – and that would be the cut off.
I was taught – you had to make the Gospel – after that, you were out of luck.
Now – it is in your hands! Do your best to arrive and leave on time. And remember, there’s a difference between being caught in traffic & checking my email. Difference between getting to Marios 1st after Mass and the baby getting sick all over you!
Do I do the minimum, the least amount that I have to do - or do I give my best?
Gospel is calling us to more.
1) You have heard it said – thou shalt not kill. But – whomever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment. There is such thing as righteous anger – In Hidden Figures, Dorothy Johnson, a human computer at NASA is asked – why do you go missing at times – there is no bathroom – no bathroom? – no colored bathroom, have to walk ½ mile. She is angry and rightfully so. Danger when anger turns to hate, that destroys us and others.
2) You have heard it said- thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. That woman is someone’s daughter, sister, even mother. There are made in the image and likeness of God. This lust turns them into an object for my possession. Pornography is an awful thing. Ruins lives and destroys marriages. Do everything you can to be faithful!
3) You have heard it said – do not take a false oath. But – do not swear at all. Judge Judy with dad. Take oaths – and half would lie anyway. Let your Yes mean yes & no mean no. Person of honesty and integrity.
Can rightly say – too hard – how can anyone live up to all these.
Who said living the Catholic Faith was easy?!
Bishop Barron – extreme standards – after all, the church wants to raise up saints.
but extreme mercy.
How to do it? Brother had dog – Yogi – my favorite dog – yellow lab. Beautiful.
Yogi loved to eat – eat anything. Tom taught him obedience.
Would put food in bowl and say NO
Yogi, of course, was dying to eat – but tried to obey. He never looked at the food.
Like – if he did, the temptation would be too much.
He always looked at Tom’s face What a great lesson – keep our eyes on Master’s face!
Sunday, January 29, 2017
2nd Season on National Geographic Channel - “The Story of God” narrated by Morgan Freeman. It is a study of all things God – how God is understood and worshipped across the whole earth. As Morgan has suggested – there is truth to be found in many religions. It is interesting to learn about the Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists. Many have exceptional teachers – Mohammed, Confucius and the Buddha. But only one – Jesus - has said – I AM THE way, THE truth and THE life. Follow me!
Today we follow Jesus up the mountain – just like Moses went up the mountain to receive the 10 commandments.
Then Jesus sits down – the posture of a teacher - Cathedral come from word Cathedra – the chair – from which the bishop teaches.
This is the path to happiness – to true joy! Beatitudes - Be-Attitudes - Attitudes for being.
1) Happy are the Poor in Spirit – not praising poverty – rather, how good it is to be detached from things – do things own us or do we own them?
2) Happy are those who mourn – not good to be depressed – rather those filled with compassion, to suffer with.
3) Happy are the Meek – sounds like allowing people to walk all over us. Rabbis described Moses as the meekest person ever, yet he erupted in anger when they worshipped the Golden Calf. The meek person empties themselves out so they can hear God.
4) Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Makes us think of being self-righteous. No – righteous means in right relationship with God. Stay in God’s good graces. Do it God’s way. Thy will be done!
5) Blessed are the merciful - Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Det Steven McDonald said the boy damages my body, I will not allow him to damage my soul – I will let go of the hate! Allow the divine life in us to grow!
6) Blessed are the Clean of Heart – pure of heart – My heart is focused on God – not divided between my life on the internet or TV & my life with my family.
7) Blessed are the peacemakers. – Madonna “I’ve thought about blowing up the White House.” Later - "However, I know that acting out of anger doesn't solve anything," she said. "And the only way to change things for the better is to do it with love." Exactly! Can we listen? I have monthly lunch with local Protestant clergy. Many differences – but can listen.
8) Persecuted for the sake of righteousness. Very hard in certain areas of the country to say you are Right to Life. But if we don’t experience some ruffled feathers, we are probably not living our faith.
Nietzsche thought that Christian values were mere “consolation prizes” for those who could not make it in the world. For losers. And Jesus was the ultimate loser – hanging on the cross – or was he? Where there is death – now there is life! So consider the Beatitudes – path to true joy – as way that leads to heaven!