FIRST IT WAS SOCKS...

 So the Ebay auction for the Fr. Jim School for Campus Ministry and Theology socks just ended... And I can't tell you how floored I was with the bidding - with the final, winning bid topping $555.00

Thank you all so much for your thoughtfulness, generosity and support.  I'm really beyond stunned with how this went and grateful for the winning bidder's bid which will be a help with our fundraising efforts here!

Because of that, I've decided to auction off the other three items that were sent.  A MUG; a LARGE T-SHIRT and a small NOTEBOOK.  They can all be found here: http://www.ebay.com/usr/frjicher0?_trksid=p2047675.l2559 

These auctions are the last three and will end next Monday - August 21st.  And again, these all go to benefit THE NEWMAN CATHOLIC CENTER AT MONTCLAIR STATE UNIVERSITY not the Nasty Muppet, his handler, the Catholic Channel or myself...

I can't tell you how much all of this support means... When a few weeks ago, on The Catholic Guy Show, the #NastyMuppet producer decided to make a "commercial" that basically mocked me - (you can hear it here: https://soundcloud.com/siriusxm-news-issues/fr-jim-school-for-theology-and-campus-ministry  ) I never imagined that it would turn into something that the listeners would get this involved in  first making a "logo" for the imaginary school,  [which included on the crest, fortunately a Cross and a graduates cap but also a pair of glasses (poking fun at my new "dumb" glasses that I have succumbed to wearing in middle age) as well as a sock, recalling the times I foolishly forgot Lino would insist I de-shoe upon entering his rat-infested apartment for the show and was found to have holes in my socks on three separate occasions]

Let alone to start sending items like socks, notebooks, mugs, and T-shirts to me, Lino and Tyler... and certainly never imagined a pair of socks would raise a couple of hundred dollars to benefit the ministry I'm serving at...

You guys are truly the best.

So these will be the last three auctions!  And thank you to those who even though they didn't win the socks asked if they could still donate to Newman - absolutely... just go to our website www.MSUNEWMAN.com


SELF IMAGE REMADE IN GOD'S VISION

Hi everyone, here’s my homily for the SOLEMNITY OF THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY - August 15, 2017. The readings for today can be found at: http://usccb.org/bible/readings/081517-mass-during-day.cfm Thanks as always for reading; sharing on facebook, twitter and reddit; and for your feedback and comments. God Bless! Fr Jim

– If you’d like some more info on this feast day, check out Mark Hart’s column on Lifeteen: http://lifeteen.com/blog/missing-jesus-mom-the-assumption-explained/

HOMILY:
A former High School teacher shared a somewhat surprising, as well as sad occurrence, that seems to get repeated each and every start of the school year. He would ask his students to take a sheet of paper and divide it in half. On the left side he said "I want you to write down all your gifts, all the talents you have... things that you’re really good at." After a few moments he said, "on the right side write down all the things you want to change about yourself, things that you’re not good at, things your embarrassed about."

The sad reality was that he would often have to stop the students writing the second list. 9 times out of 10, the things they want to change list far exceeded the things they were grateful for list - sometimes even continued on the back of the paper. Truth be told, I’d probably fall into that majority group myself and I suspect a lot of you would as well. For a variety of reasons, we seem quite able to see the negatives of ourselves, the failures, the sins so much easier than the unique, special tremendous gifts that God blesses each of us with.

There’s probably a lot of different reasons for that: some have a poor self image of themselves. Some get caught up in sins of jealous or envy where they constantly make unhealthy comparisons of themselves to others. And for some, this mistaken understanding of being humble where they put themselves down to the point of being dishonest takes hold to the point that they are really embracing a "false humility."

I was thinking about that in reading this Gospel today. Mary and Elizabeth have both had miraculous things occurring, participated in divine conversations. Elizabeth pregnant with John the Baptist who will become the prophet heralding Jesus coming. And Mary, bearing Jesus Christ in her womb.

Imagine Elizabeth writing her own list on why she shouldn’t have a child? The Gospel tells us that Elizabeth was older when she had conceived John the Baptist. She was called "barren". Her list of negatives probably would have said "I’m too old to have a child now." "My husband, he’s a good man, but he’s not going to believe this [he didn’t in fact, which is why he is silenced by the angel until the birth of John]." "I’ve been infertile, barren, for so long... surely there could be someone better."

Mary could write her own list too. Quite the opposite of Elizabeth she could argue "I’m too young!" "People are never going to believe what is happening" "Surely there’s someone else who is better suited or prepared to be a Mother for this special son."

It’s not unreasonable for us to imagine that some of these thoughts had to have crossed the minds of these important women. Which is what makes the wisdom that comes from age spoken by Elizabeth to Mary that much more dramatic and important. We almost miss these - because there’s so much packed into this Gospel passage. Listen again:

Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.

Those words of insight gives way to Mary singing a beautiful hymn, that the Church prays daily called the "Magnificat"- a song that very simply contains the hopes and prayers of the Old Testament grounded in the reality of Mary’s vision: where God is ruling all things with perfect power and wisdom. She can rejoice in God because she has rejoiced in all that God has done and will do in her own life.

Mary and Elizabeth give witness to us of two women

-who don’t believe the lies the world would put on them about their situations;
-who don’t allow truths or facts about themselves get manipulated that they become filled with fear and doubt that they stop believing all that God had told them.

Instead they are grounded in the reality of seeing themselves as God sees them.

Elizabeth and Mary’s example should give us some things to reflect on ourselves. 
What is God speaking to each one of us right now? 
How is He trying to do something new in our lives or in the lives of those around us through our ‘yes’ to Him? 
How is He asking us to trust Him that He has equipped us with the gifts, the talents the abilities to accomplish whatever it is that is going to give birth to Jesus Christ in this day and age? 
How is He asking us to believe in Him, have faith in Him and not be deterred by the lies of the world or the lies we tell ourselves that we’re not worthy, we’re not able, we’re not good enough.
May we too be called "blessed" to see ourselves as the beloved sons and daughters that God created us to be, and follow Mary’s example, believing in all that the Lord is speaking to us will be fulfilled.

HOW COULD FATHER LEAVE THE PRIESTHOOD?

Hi everyone, here’s my homily for the 19th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - AUGUST 11, 2017. The readings for today can be found at: http://usccb.org/bible/readings/081317.cfm. As always, thanks for reading; sharing this blog on Twitter, Facebook and Reddit; and for all your comments and feedback. Grateful for all your support! God Bless - Fr Jim

HOMILY:

On the list of challenging, difficult, even awkward things for Catholics to discuss (and there’s quite a few things on that list) one has to be when parishioners learn that a priest has decided to leave the priesthood. It’s something that can be shocking, and saddening for people - both parishioners and priests alike. People describe it as this weird mixture of emotions that would often be associated with a death or a divorce – while at the same time the parishioners want the man to be happy and at peace. It’s a confusing experience. What makes it so shocking for many is that after anywhere from 4-7 years of prayer, study, talking, discussions, and formation people assume that a man would be reasonably sure of who they are, what they are called to when they are finally ordained. And there’s some truth to that. It’s not like it’s a surprise on ordination day to find out that priests make promises that include obedience and chastity.

But - life's rarely that cut and dry... And this isn’t to judge or interpret the actions of other priests who’ve left. We can never know what’s in another person’s heart or what it is they are going through. So I’m trying to be careful not to make assumptions and lump everyone together because no two cases are the same.

One great spiritual director, the late Fr. Benedict Groeschell, once shared an insight he gained from his experience in counseling many priests. He said that whenever a priest would tell him that he is leaving the priesthood, the first question he always asks is "When did you stop praying? When did you lose sight of Christ?"

I know that when I was on the receiving end of that question about 11 years ago when I was at a crossroads and was close to leaving the priesthood, I was angered by the question. Because in my mind I was going to leave, not because I had a girl friend or anything like that – but because I was ticked off about certain things, disillusioned about others. So just hearing that question ticked me off even more - because I felt that my anger was justified, my disillusionment was valid - and his question to me... well I didn’t realize it initially, but in time I began to see was completely appropriate. I’m embarrassed to admit (and can realize now) that I had put more focus, more energy in the things I was upset about – than I had in my prayer life. I had relied on myself more than on Jesus (because I didn’t like the way He was handling it), and so I found myself at the breaking point... and I give thanks to God that I wasn’t too far gone - that in time with help and especially the prayers of good many people - some of whom are still unknown to me, I was able to call out to the Lord and found He had been there all along, waiting for me to do so.

That’s the lesson that Peter learns in the Gospel we just heard. Just hours before this episode Jesus had fed thousands with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish. That was an amazing experience for everyone, especially the disciples to witness and experience. Now Jesus had gone off on his own, we learn, to pray (right there we should take notice and realize, that if Jesus would need time to connect to God then perhaps that is telling us something...) Not long after, the disciples find themselves in a jam - the winds pick up, the waves start crashing, they grow increasingly scared and fearful. So Jesus, taking the short cut - walks right on the water towards them. Peter who’s seen so many incredible things isn’t sure what’s going on, so he says "if it’s you, tell me to come out and walk on the water to you." And Jesus does! Peter experiences yet another amazing feat as he is able to walk on water...


Yet his amazement is soon diminished. The waves, the winds, the fears, the distractions... they grab his attention and he starts focusing, thinking, worrying about those things instead of focusing, thinking, trusting  in Jesus who called him out on the water. As soon as he does, he becomes overwhelmed, he starts to flounder, he starts to sink.

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, a follower of His can be hard. We have heard all of the miracles and incredible stuff that He is capable of. We hear those beautiful words in the Gospel "Nothing is impossible for God." And when we experience or hear of a genuine miracle, those words ring true. But in the day to day, week to week routines of life, when a few rain clouds start popping up and eventually turn into a storm, when a slight breeze turns into heavy winds... Almost so subtly we didn’t even realize it was happening - that’s when we’re tempted towards something (or someone) that makes us compromise our commitments, question our values, doubt our promises... When we’re overwhelmed by bad news, trials and struggles. What do we do? Do we turn inward and believe the lie that Jesus has forgotten us because he hasn’t rectified all these situations, or made us stronger to resist those temptations? Or do we cry out with all our hearts "Lord save me?"

The beautiful thing we learn in this Gospel is that as soon as Peter does cry out with those very words, he comes to find that Jesus hasn’t gone anywhere... in fact he hasn’t stopped looking at Him. Jesus respects that first gift given to us – our free will – so much that even when he knows what’s better for us, He is not going to violate that without our invitation.

Unfortunately as we go through life, we realize that this isn’t just a one time experience or test that we’ll encounter at some point and never go through again. In many ways, this is a daily challenge that we as followers will go through over and over again - whether we’re priests, married people or single people... Again, look at Peter - he will learn all too well how often the temptations, the distractions re-emerge. Good Friday, in the midst of His Passion, not only would Peter not look to Christ for strength for himself - he abandoned Jesus at the moment Christ needed him. Yet, we’ll read how after Jesus rose from the dead, he searches Peter out, and lovingly reaches out to him, inviting him to trust in Him again...

For each of us, as we go through life with our own commitments to the Lord and to one another, it might feel like we’re all alone at times, that Jesus has forgotten us as we’re going through whatever it is that makes us believe that. Yet the reality is often the reverse. It’s us who lose sight of Him. And everyone of us can be susceptible to this challenge: Whether it’s the married couple who can’t even pinpoint when challenges first crept in and now they’re on a verge of a divorce; the college graduate who got their degree but then can’t find a job and feels lost and hopeless about what they are to do next, or the priest who "leaves" the priesthood.

One of the questions that needs to be considered, "When did you lose sight of Christ" or more directly Jesus’ words from the gospel ask "...why did you doubt?" Because too often we forget that its more than just showing up to Mass and being in Church waiting for something to happen, we have to do something and want something more. The good news we have heard today is that Jesus never leaves us. And sometimes the something we have to do is to see that He is waiting for us, looking for us... The something we have to want is Him in all humility and sincerity to cry out "Lord Save Me."

Will we let go of our egos, lift up our eyes to God, look into His, and say those same words - and trust Him?

FR JIM SCHOOL FOR THEOLOGY AND CAMPUS MINISTRY

Yes... This just happened.

A few weeks ago, on The Catholic Guy Show, the #NastyMuppet producer decided to make a "commercial" that basically mocked me - you can hear it here: https://soundcloud.com/siriusxm-news-issues/fr-jim-school-for-theology-and-campus-ministry

This inspired a listener to make a "logo" for the imaginary school, which included on the crest, fortunately a Cross and a graduates cap but also a pair of glasses (poking fun at my new "dumb" glasses that I have succumbed to wearing in middle age) as well as a sock, recalling the times I foolishly forgot Lino would insist I de-shoe upon entering his rat-infested apartment for the show and was found to have holes in my socks on three separate occasions.

This has also inspired people to send me personally more socks than I could ever possibly need.  As well as one very funny and creative listener making a pair of socks with the Fr Jim School logo on it.

I've decided the best thing I could do after these months of mockery is to auction these socks off.  If you go to Ebay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/-/152652818748?  you will have an opportunity to bid on these socks until WEDNESDAY AUGUST 16th.    ALL PROCEEDS WILL BENEFIT THE NEWMAN CATHOLIC CENTER AT MONTCLAIR STATE UNIVERSITY not the Nasty Muppet, his handler, the Catholic Channel or myself...

Who knows, if this goes well, perhaps some other merchandise will end up being auctioned as well.  Of course, if you simply want to donate to Newman, we're always grateful for people's support - especially as we enter this Jubilee year celebrating the 50th Anniversary of our founding!   you can do so at www.MSUNEWMAN.com

THANKS IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION!

GET THIS INTO YOUR HEAD

Hi everyone, here’s my homily for the SOLEMNITY OF THE TRANSFIGURATION OF THE LORD - SUNDAY, AUGUST 6, 2017. The readings for today can be found at http://usccb.org/bible/readings/080617.cfm . Thanks as always for reading this blog; for sharing it on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit and for your comments and feedback. Have a great week! God Bless - Fr Jim



HOMILY:
I don’t know how many times or the many different places I heard that phrase "What is it going to take to get this into your head?" growing up. Teachers and Coaches used that phrase with me. I thought my parents had invented that phrase for me. My brother’s used a slightly different variation using other words but the meaning was pretty much the same - What is it going to take to get this into your head.

Looking back at the times I heard that growing up, it usually was said because I wasn’t paying attention, I didn’t want to do something, I was bored, I had something else in mind. My little league coach was trying to "get into my head" how to cover first base in baseball. But I was still angry that I was not the starting pitcher, wondering why Frank Pasquale was picked (even though I had no reason to believe I could really pitch well, but that’s another story) Next batter, I mess up the same way I had done before and I hear my coach somewhat exasperated screaming, when I got back to the dugout "What is it going to take to get this into your head!"

My teacher going over the difference between "there" and "their." Actually sitting with me trying to explain the difference between the two words and I’m not there myself - I’m staring at the clock waiting for lunch. I’m pretty sure she muttered, "What is it going to take to get this into his head" the next time she graded my test paper.

My parents, well I’m sure that they could probably write a book on the times, instances and occasions that they shared those words with me and my brothers.

In reading this Gospel of the Transfiguration of Jesus, I kind of imagine Jesus wanting to say to Peter, James and John - What is it going to take to get this into your head? Trying to break through the importance of what he’s been saying to them about who He is, what His mission is...


Quick recap here - these guys following Jesus were, at a minimum, confused. Somehow Jesus was able to touch their hearts; He compelled them to drop everything and follow Him. In this time with Him, they’ve witnessed -- healings, they’ve seen Jesus walk on water, they’ve heard Jesus teach. They think they know who he is - "You are the Christ," Peter accurately proclaims about Jesus just a few passages before this Gospel.

But they still have their preconceived ideas, of what the Christ would do for them, in mind. They’re thinking that they can’t wait to see God fulfill his promises as he restores His people Israel. To see their kingdom re-established... to have their place as the "Chosen People" renewed, by finally sticking it to the Romans and everyone else who’s mistreated the Jews over the many, many years they were waiting for the Christ.

But right before this Gospel we just heard, Jesus drops this bombshell. He tells the apostles, that He’s going to suffer and die. So now maybe they’re thinking Huh? This same guy that healed that leper? This same guy that performs miracles? How could this be? It doesn’t make sense to them. After Peter protests this Jesus kind of gave him a smack down (actually he called him Satan... so that’s a pretty epic smack down) and follows up by saying- look - if you’re with me, you need to take up your cross and follow me.

Not exactly what they had in mind. The Messiah was supposed to come and save them, not lead them to gruesome, painful deaths. So as Peter, James and John are walking up the mountain with Jesus, I could imagine they had a few doubts. Thoughts like: "Maybe this guy is simply crazy" - "Maybe all those people who’ve been doubting him, the Pharisees and all those other religious leaders, have been right" - "Maybe we’ve been foolish all along to follow this Jesus..."

You can almost imagine Peter trying to work up the courage as he walked up the mountain for some alone time with Jesus, trying to pull his thoughts together to say to him - "You know, I gave up a lucrative fishing business to follow you - what’s the deal here? Messiah’s aren’t suppose to die. And if that’s what’s going to happen to you - which is bizarre and bad enough - um, what’s going to happen to us???"


It’s just then when this Transfiguration of Jesus happens. Jesus is transformed before their very eyes - these two important figures from the Old Testament, Moses and Elijah, appear and talk to Jesus as his bodily appearance is glorified. They don’t realize it, but they are getting a sneak preview of what the Resurrection of Jesus will look like. Oh, yeah, and then the voice of God comes from a cloud overhead saying, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him."

What’s it going to take to get into their heads that Jesus’ glory will only come after he has suffered through the passion, died and risen from the dead? In fairness to the three of them, a lot of us have difficulty believing in the idea of someone "rising from the dead," even after Jesus has already done just that; I can only imagine how much harder it would have been to comprehend it before it had happened.

But here’s the thing I think the Transfiguration was trying to do for them. In giving them the glimpse of the future - of experiencing, for a moment, what Jesus would be like after his Resurrection, it was meant to give them the hope they will need when things go very, very bad - for Jesus and for them. So they experience this humble, meek man - whose gentleness and love compels them to follow him - transfigured in a flash, where Moses and Elijah, two central figures from Judaism who have been dead for centuries alive and conversing with him ... they see Jesus radiating in a supernatural light... they hear the voice of God and then, just as quickly, there he is again, walking in his beat-up sandals, saying, "Let’s go back down the mountain - oh, and don’t tell anyone about all this, it would just confuse them." They needed this experience to sustain them for what was to come.

He wants to get into their heads that this way; His way of the Passion and the Cross is better. That in Jesus Christ, God is here with humanity in a more complete, intimate way then ever before. God’s no longer speaking through a flaming bush to Moses, he’s no longer speaking through a prophet like Elijah. Did you hear the voice of God saying, "This is my beloved Son" - Jesus is saying: I am all that you need... listen to me, trust me.

Jesus says that to us today, too. We come to Mass with so many questions, so many fears and anxieties. We are looking for answers. We want to know "everything’s going to be alright," or "somehow things will work out," "that God is listening to me." And for a moment, we’re up that mountain. And it is here that Jesus takes a simple piece of bread and a cup of wine and it becomes his body and blood... about which he says "take and eat.

He wants us to know He has never left His followers... He is with us and will remain with us as long as we remain with Him.

Are we ready not just to get that 'into our heads', but into our hearts and lives, as well?

WHEN GOD ASKS - WHAT DO YOU WANT?

Hi everyone, here's my homily for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time - July 30, 2017.  The readings for today can be found at:  http://usccb.org/bible/readings/073017.cfm
Thanks as always for reading, sharing and commenting on this blog.  Grateful for all your support and interest.  Have a great week - God Bless - Fr Jim

HOMILY:
Imagine you were having a dream, and in that dream, God appears, saying to you Ask something of me and I will give it to you...

What would come to your mind?

Sit with that for a second.

If you heard the first reading today - we know what the right answer is... right? The answer we’re supposed to give. The selfless, sacrificial one... that makes us feel a bit embarrassed over the things that we might feel is a little less important as we hear King Solomon’s beautiful answer - for an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right and wrong . We hear that and it’s like we start to immediately judge ourselves harshly and put our lists aside saying "YEAH US TOO!" knowing that’s the thing we should be praying for. More than likely, that’s there too... When we hear that, we know that’s what should be what we’re praying for, asking God for. But there’s so many other things that come to mind.

Our families...

Our friends...

Someone who’s sick.

Someone who’s died.

That loved one who is going through a painful divorce that we don’t know what we can do to help them.

The other one who has a doctors appointment this week that we’re all worried about...

The kids - whether they’re 2 or 42 - who you never stop hoping for their health and happiness...

The things that stress us...

The things that make us afraid...

Ask something of me and I will give it to you...

Where do I even begin?

Just sitting with that question myself, my own personal lists of intentions - people, things, fears, concerns - as well as hopes and dreams go all over the place. I hope that our campus ministry has a really successful year... I hope so and so who I think is discerning the priesthood is being called and that I can help him make that step.... I hope that the wall in front of the Newman Center that crumbled we’re able to get fixed in time for the new school year (and that it’s not too expensive). I pray for so and so who’s dying - and I’m not sure what to pray for them.

My prayers are an "A.D.D." nightmare that goes from one part where I feel almost like I’m asking for certain wishes to a heavenly genie to a heartfelt prayer.

And I’m sure I’m not alone like that.

Which is why perhaps we can go back to that first reading and not look at Solomon with envy or the "know it all" teachers pet sitting in the front row trying to be impressive with the spot on perfect answer and instead see why it actually is the spot on perfect answer.

When Solomon asks for an understanding heart - which can also be translated from Hebrew to mean a listening heart - He’s doing so out of necessity. He recognizes the responsibilities, the stresses, the challenges, the tasks that he’s being entrusted with in becoming King of Israel. More than likely he went to bed that evening with many things that were weighing him down... not the least of which was his own insecurities (he says I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act) Just sitting with that, my image of this regal, aloof king melt away and I see this young guy, called into this role, not quite sure what to do next. So he asks the one who he trusts, who he knows – the one who has given him everything to equip him - to strengthen him - to guide him. To temper those moments when his instincts are kicking in telling him to do something impetuous. To be attentive to someone he might have dismissed who could open his mind to a new (and even better) answer to a problem that he is struggling with. To not allow the things out of his control be things he obsesses over and begins to view as his responsibility. To simply recognize that nothing he has, nothing he does, no one in his life means more than the Lord God.

That’s the treasure - the pearl that Jesus is talking about in the Gospel. Once we’ve come to recognize who God is... who we are - it has to reshape our priorities so that nothing that has happened or will happen has the potential of us losing that focus on the Lord.

Easier said then done. For most of us, each year, each month, each week, each day (each hour??) Brings it’s own emotional roller coaster of ups and downs that seem to renumber what is the most important thing, what is the thing we’re most worried about, what is the thing we need answered here and now.

The wisdom of King Solomon, tells us that if we ask for, seek and pursue that single minded, humble, generous heart attuned to the Lord - we will withstand whatever those extremes might be, because we will never lose sight of being held safely in the hands of the one who made us, loves us, and wants to walk with us here and now and for all eternity.

PRAY FOR CHARLIE GARD... AND OURSELVES


I just finished reading the latest on what has become an international story. Charlie Gard - the small, ill boy in the United Kingdom; who’s parents desperately were trying to find any treatment that could possibly save their son - they’ve been desperately arguing against those in their government authority who made the determination that there wasn’t anything left that could be done for little Charlie.

I’m not going to pretend that I know the ins and outs of this rare, genetic condition that causes brain damage that little Charlie has been suffering from. Nor will I presume that everything I’ve heard or read in the news or from people’s social media sites has given me an accurate picture of what the disease was or what the odds were for this experimental treatment to be successful. Today, young Charlie’s parents have dropped their court case in the UK basically conceding that there’s no longer hope that Charlie will recover. One of the story lines that has emerged that the UK’s dragging it’s feet on this case, forcing the parents to beg, and sue, and appeal on behalf of their son has made it less possible then ever that anything could be done for Charlie. Again, I don’t know if that’s true or not.

What’s sickening and frightening to me is that story line is even a viable possibility. In the not so distant past, there was this common held belief that Life was seen as the ultimate good... the thing that we fight for, protect, support, encourage.
- Yes there were wars - but others joined in those wars to end the carnage... and we revered the lives of those who made the ultimate sacrifice...
- Yes there were murders and crimes... but people were horrified and outraged by those occurrences.
- Yes there were sicknesses and diseases... but everyone rallied, from the doctors, to the families, to well wishers - moving heaven and earth to try to address those illnesses... particularly when it was an infant. 

Because Life was the supreme good. It was the thing we all shared in common - whatever race, gender, belief, class you came from... We all share this precious; irreplaceable; what many of us believe is God-given, but we can all agree is – this beautifully mysterious gift of Life. I can recall hearing cases where someone’s religious beliefs prevented medical care of a sick child going against the "Freedom of religion" argument and forcing the parents to provide the medical care because it was that important. Life was seen as more important than religious beliefs. Or at least - we realized we needed to be alive in order to fight that fight another day.

Never did I imagine a day where you would have parents, who had found medical practitioners willing to try something - coupled with the financial resources necessary to attempt this - being forced to beg the government to let them try to save the life of their child. That in itself has left me feeling a bit sickened... somewhat frightened... and definitely saddened. And so as I pray for Charlie Gard, and his devastated parents and family members... I also feel the desperate need to pray for ourselves to, who seem to have lost a sense of the preciousness of life.

LOOKING PAST THE WEEDS

Hi everyone... here’s my homily for the SIXTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME- July 23, 2017. The readings for today can be found at: Thanks as always for reading; sharing this on your social media feeds and your feedback and comments... Have a great week! God Bless- Fr Jim

HOMILY:
In college, I took a class called the Philosophy of God. One of the most interesting debates we had in that class was over Why do people decide not have any religious affiliation? Probably not very surprising - the major reason that those who fell into that group cited was: they felt people who go to Church are just like everybody else (actually, the way they put it - "people who go to Church are as lousy as everyone else") They said Christians were hypocrites, they knew "church goers" who were liars, gossips, cheats, etc. just like everywhere else in society.

The second reason wasn’t too surprising either - They argued "If there’s a good God, why does he allow so much evil to exist in the world?" People seem upset, (justifiably by the way) that things are not perfect. They are upset just like the servants in the Gospel today –why are there weeds among the wheat? Why isn’t the harvest going to turn out right? Why would the work of the good master fail?

There’s something to the argument... I think most of us are intimidated by these weeds. We wonder why they are there... We start to perhaps doubt the "sower" as we focus solely on the bad things in the world, in our worlds that have the potential to discourage, distract and upset us... We focus just on the weeds - their existence - their presence among us and forget the beautiful garden - the flowers that are blooming alongside the weeds.

Sorry to disappoint you - I don’t have the answer as to why God allows the devil to cast his evil into the garden (anymore than I can answer why I ever allow it to enter into my own life in when I commit sins) All Jesus promises us is that the Lord will take care of it in His time.

That, unfortunately, requires patience (something I’m not a great fan or practitioner of myself). We are challenged not to dwell, not to be discouraged, not to give more attention to the weeds or more importantly to the Evil in the world.

We are called to recognize the evil, we are called to resist it and to pray that God will take care of it in His time.

In the meantime, we are simply called to do Good instead of Evil -
to bless instead of curse,
to praise instead of criticize,
to forgive instead of resent
to love instead of hate.


The reality is that doesn’t make us feel too good, does it? We still are frustrated by those weeds in the field. But the more we reflect on it, the more relieved we should be about that... Thankful that God waits a while - that he tells his servants to hold back - that he allows the harvest to grow. Because truth be told - sometimes I’m the weed. There are times things I have done (or failed to do) that didn’t help the Lord’s harvest, didn’t glorify him, didn’t build up his garden.

And yet he gives me - he gives you - he gives us time to come back to him. He allows the evil to exist so that what is good might grow - not in the fields - but in the hearts and souls of each and everyone of us. God created us in his divine image and even though we sometimes act like weeds, we still have the potential within to turn good.

Think about it what a blessing that for us as Catholics, we are one good confession away from removing the weeds in our garden. To take time to do a true examination of conscience - to see the temptations I’ve succumbed to; the commandments I’ve ignored; the forgiveness I’ve withheld -and to ask for and receive forgiveness for my sins and turn things around.

Because what has always been a comfort to me... Is that recognizing how that was the case for the first ones who heard Jesus utter this parable... That even among Jesus’ first followers, men and women that today we call Saints this was a great truth. St. Peter - how many times did that guy screw up? How often did the one Jesus call "the rock" on which he would build the Church - turn out not just to be a weed but a thorn in Jesus’ side? Yet Peter would keep going through the difficult, painful process of recognizing his faults, recognizing his sins, trusting in Jesus love and asking (and receiving) His forgiveness.

For each of us, we can’t hide our heads in the sand and pretend the presence of evil in the world or in our lives isn’t there. But we always, always, always have to come back to the truth that God’s Love is stronger and even more real, even more present in our lives. So we’re not to despair over the weeds in our lives or the lives of others around us - and how ugly and destructive they are. Rather, we are to call on the Holy Spirit who is challenging us to yank those weeds out of our own lives - and to recognize what a beautiful world God has given us - what beautiful creatures he has made us.