Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Lectionary: 101
Reading 1 Ez 2:2-5 Hard of face and obstinate of heart are they to whom I am sending you. But you shall say to them: Thus says the LORD GOD! And whether they heed or resist—for they are a rebellious house— they shall know that a prophet has been among them.they shall know that a prophet has been among them.
Responsorial Psalm PS 123:1-2, 2, 3-4 Our souls are more than sated with the mockery of the arrogant, with the contempt of the proud.
Reading 2 2 COR 12:7-10 : for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Gospel MK 6:1-6 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.
Two men rummaged through the remains of their deceased Uncle’s estate. They happened upon a stack of canvas paintings, unframed, piled high in a corner.
“What a waste of money, buying all this junk” said the older brother to the younger. “He was a foolish man.”
“You didn’t know him as I knew him,” said the younger. “He enjoyed supporting the locals, the shops that were on the verge of closing. Maybe some of these are worth something. I’m going to have them appraised.”
His brother retorted: “Don’t waste your time or your money. Not much of an inheritance. That’s all I can say,”
In time, the paintings were appraised. Alas, all worthless, except for one. It brought a great price.
“Here’s your share,” said the younger to the older.
“It’s yours,” said the other. “I didn’t want any part of it.”
“If you knew him, you would know he wanted us both to have something from him. He was a very generous fellow. Take it.”
The crowd in Jesus’ home town didn’t really know him. They couldn’t have. Evidently, they didn’t take the time to know his story – Angels at his birth, light and revelations at his Baptism, conflict with religious authorities through which he stood his ground and healings that occurred through him in Capernaum and other villages south of the lake.
What’s more, they didn’t know their own stories very well. Not necessarily their personal stories, but their collective stories; stories from the Torah and the prophets: Remembrances of things past meant to inform the present. Why were these stories recorded on scrolls if not for edification, for learning, for hope? Inspiration and Wisdom to be gleaned from reviewing the conflicts among the great patriarchs, matriarchs, prophets and kings; Passovers of deliverance on more occasions than one; battles between good and evil within human hearts as much as among and between rival tribes and nations. They must not have personalized their own biblical and national histories, otherwise those stories of arrogance and humility, greed and generosity would have kept them constantly aware of the human condition ever in need redemption.
Ignorant or forgetful they were—probably some combination of both—the people who dismissed Jesus. They reduced him to his contemporary family links. No one special. No one unique. Didn’t they realize that negating Jesus’ uniqueness they were denying themselves of their own uniqueness, and their universal needs? How foolish they were.
How foolish are we! It is essential that we be mindful of our pasts if we are to live fully in the present. I’m not speaking only of our personal pasts–our families’ pasts, but that of our nation and our biblical heritage as well. These are the realities that impact our minds and hearts consciously and subconsciously every day; they are the realities that bring our need for Jesus and His communion of disciples—those on earth and in heaven—working together in prayer and action to navigate the rights and wrongs, the truths, the lies, the generosity, the self-serving aspects of human nature and society in every generation, in every age.
The Good News is whether we know Jesus or not, whether we claim our identity and our heritage as His Disciples or not, His love and Wisdom is for everyone. And, on wider circles, the same is true for God the Father as the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures reveal God – generous, kind and forgiving to all including the ungrateful, the clueless and the wicked.
Let’s face it, even we who know, we who follow Jesus and seek communion with him, exploring, discerning, illuminating Christ’s Spirit in ourselves and others, yes, even we could be more knowledgeable of Biblical, Church History and that of our nations. All offer innumerable examples of virtues that triumphed, goodness that failed; hospitality and selfishness, of peace and violence, the ever-constant approach / avoidance of God we all experience – a treasure chest of knowledge with great potential for Wisdom for today.
Come to the Eucharist today with a greater willingness to wrestle with our past—the failings of Saints and Nations as much as their successes. Gauge them alone and with others as to the degrees of our ancestors’ cooperation with God, with 10 Commandments, the extent of their identification with Jesus and the Spirit.
Confident that Memory is one of God’s most vital gifts to humanity for Growth and Wisdom, may today’s mass motivate us to keep learning from our mistakes, acknowledging our ignorance, inspire us to know more who of we are, who we’ve been and what the signs of our times call us to be. Pope Francis has written encyclicals that urge us to attend to care for the Environment and our relationship with the animal world (Laudato Si), to re-evaluate the way business and commerce commence (part of Lumen Fidei—light of faith—an encyclical that insists we engage the world not just our individual souls). And let us not forget the 1986 US Bishops “Economic Justice for All” – so much of the wisdom and compassion of that document has yet to reconcile our culture to the values of Faith. Nor should we forget the warnings of Pope Saint John Paul II on that same topic: Centesimus Annus – on Capital, Labor and Catholic Social Teaching.
May we trust Christ’s indwelling in us will strengthen us to name the sins of the past, undo the damage done that continues to threaten the land, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the relationships among nations and within and among peoples. May faith, hope and love be strengthened in us through today’s sacrament, moving this entire generation of Christians forward –ever-ready, ever-willing to access every possible opportunity for GRACE, knowing that Christ Jesus and his truth make him not just yesterday’s Savior, but Our Savior for today, tomorrow and always.
All four of these Best Picture Nominees are worthy of your time and investment. Here’s Why:
THE POST directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks confirms the essential role of the press to insure a healthy democracy and honesty in government. It’s an important slice of history. If you happened to see the recent Ken Burns/ Lynn Novik VIETNAM documentary on PBS this fall, you’ll appreciate THE POST even more. THE POST relays how the Washington Post struggled with the ethics of printing The Pentagon Papers –US classified reports documenting the futility of the Vietnam war. The papers revealed how a succession of American Presidents (Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon) sacrificed TRUTH to perpetuate an “American Myth” — INVINCIBILITY! The TRUTH: Cold War fears prompted administrations to reject stalwart military advice to end the war and prevent the violent death of millions. The film centers on Kay Graham (Streep), the first ever female major newspaper publisher, and the plethora of ethical and legal considerations she must wade through as Ben Bradlee (Hanks) demands publication. Streep inhabits her role with the usual aplomb and, this time around, Tom Hanks cultivates outward quirks and idiosyncrasies that brings his performance closer to an outright impersonation. Not his usual style. It works.
There’s a high degree of cohesive interplay among the supporting cast that creates an aura of “in-the-moment” authenticity—all to Director Spielberg’s credit. Standouts: Bruce Greenwood as Robert McNamara (whose friendship with Kay Graham causes her considerable angst), Matthew Rhys as Daniel Ellsberg and Bob Odenkirk as reporter Ben Bagdikian. The film’s pace is slow; the script is familiarly linear. The result is a more comfortable movie-going experience despite the high-pitch stress THE POST depicts. The movie is almost contemplative–but not quite. Its message is irrefutably vital: The Courage to speak (and print) the Truth makes life worth living. The Truth will set you free.
THE SHAPE OF WATER is a grand, spectacular adult fairy-tale, a riff on Beauty and the Beast that insists on the audiences’ transformation rather than that of the characters who are perfect as they are. Well, almost. Beauty’s arc includes a sexual awakening along with developments in courage. In this venture, director and writer Guillermo del Toro (with co-writer Vanessa Tyler) melds fantasy with more traditional Hollywood suspense seamlessly with dream-like impressionism in sharp contrasts with metallic laboratories with the burgeoning technologies of the 1950’s. His movie deserves a wide audience from high schoolers on up for the plot not only depicts Love’s triumph but exposes the many false ideals and vanities of American manhood that continue to confound and confuse every generation. Actress Sally Hawkins is intrinsically believable and enchanting as the mute Beauty. The “Beast” is strikingly portrayed by Doug Jones with an assist from CGI and inspired costume designer Luis Sequera along with an army of terrific makeup artists. Their collaborative Amphibian Man creation is more appealing and less freaky than del Toro’s PAN’S LABYRINTH creature. I found it most engaging. Once again actor Michael Shannon is a standout as the villain while Richard Jenkins and Octavia Spencer offer sensitive portrayals of the milk of human kindness. Michael Stuhlbarg as a scientist and (spoiler alert) spy with an ethical backbone offers another informed, convincing performance. The music by Alexandre Desplat richly enhances the proceedings with a fitting appropriation of “You’ll Never Know” (music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Mack Gordon, 1943) at significant plot points. Opera diva Renée Fleming uses her pop alto voice for a lovely version of that plaintive Oscar winning hit during the closing credits. A wonderful, all-around entertainment.
LADY BIRD might just be the most enjoyable coming-of-age, mother-teenage daughter, old school-new school conflict to hit the screen in quite some time. Captivating performances by the fast becoming Irish (and now American) Living Treasure Saoirse Ronan as the teen and Laurie Metcalf as the Mom and fine supporting cast make this “little picture” a major one. With a clever, funny script and adept direction by Greta Gerwig, the movie is a gem. Gerwig elicits first-rate performances from the entire cast, especially Lucas Hedges (a boyfriend), Lois Smith (Sister Principal) and Beanie Feldstein (the girlfriend). The “feel” of the film is impressive in the way each of the character’s respective flaws are as much humbling for the audience as they are dramatically engaging. And, in a surprising change from the usual Hollywood wisecracking, LADY BIRD offers an honest and overall positive depiction of a contemporary Catholic school. Hurrah! Best of all, LADY BIRD is more than just a story of growing older and wiser, but an incisive exposé of conflicted social mores and the perils these present to moral development, personal authenticity and integrity in relationships from family to the wider world.
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME offers another kind of coming-of-age story with a central emphasis on sexual awakening, in this case with same-sex attraction, albeit with bisexual undertones. Tomothée Chalamet is excellent as Elio Perlman, a seventeen-year-old whose fascination with an exceedingly handsome thirty-something research assistant (solidly and sensitively played by Armie Hammer) is fraught with age appropriate confusion and elation, awkwardness and excitement. Director Luca Guadagnino offers a stylized romantic view of the relationship highlighted by stunning views of summers in the Italian countryside and earthly delights of teens and young adults swimming in lakes and rivers.
This love story occurs in the context of a highly educated Jewish Italian American family residing in Italy as Elio’s father (once again, a formidable presence and well-crafted performance by Michael Stuhlbarg) pursues and catalogs artifacts of ancient Roman Art. Mom is played by international actress Amira Casar with strength and grace. The three that make up the Perlman family are true contemporary Renaissance figures, exceedingly well-read, fluent in multiple languages (Italian, French, German and English), dignified, warm, welcoming and hospitable to special friends ranging from foreign academics and local neighbors.
An only child, Elio is in some ways more mature than others his age and it is easy to see how his emergence into manhood would include an attraction to an older man even if that man weren’t as Adonis-like as Mr. Hammer is in appearance. Still, one would think a sexual attraction on the part of a mature teen would emerge from mentor/ mentee relationship, with mutual likes and dislikes established, common visions and life goals. But the characters, at least initially, have little in common except their masculinity and their connection to Elio’s parents. Still, Elio’s youth accounts for a great deal here. What is not clear, however, is what makes Elio attractive to the older Oliver? Was it Elio’s infatuation with Oliver that elicits comparable sexual response in Oliver? Perhaps, but the script does not clarify the relationship enough beyond the sensual dimensions, nor does it explore in any detail the realities of a grown man initiating a minor into gay sex, although Oliver does express some misgivings at the onset. Overall, the story presents Elio as ready and willing, and primarily the initiator –more the cat than the mouse, but the ethical question remains. I left the film asking, “is this a story of a genuine first love or more a sentimental episode of sexual attraction and exploration?” Professor Perlman’s words to his son, Elio, near the conclusion of the film offer some insights as to the importance of self-acceptance and the value and beauty of intimacies in friendships, but the moral dimensions of each character’s actions are left for the audience to decide. These questions, by the way, apply to Elio’s heterosexual encounters with an adventurous (same age) female neighbor, but would apply with equal gravity to this story if it concerned an adult woman with a not-yet-eighteen teenage boy.
Adults introducing teens into sex, no matter the sexual orientation, no matter who initiates the invitation or who evokes the desire or the foreplay, is rife with psychological, emotional and spiritual consequences. Considering contemporary issues such as Kevin Spacey’s scandal, for example, or the tragically long-standing cases of priests’ abuse of teenagers, I hope my reflections here offer some food for thought regarding even “consenting minors. ” Indeed, this film engenders wide-ranging public discussion.
I welcome you to read another of my movie reviews: The Oscar contender: GET OUT!
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Homily by Fr. James DiLuzio C.S.P.
Reading 1; EX 22:20-26
Responsorial Psalm: PS 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51
Reading 2: 1 THES 1:5C-10
Gospel: MT 22:34-40
Considering recent headlines of women being harassed, exploited, intimidated in the workplace, it should be evident we need to look at the relationship between men and woman in accordance with the Great Commandment that irrevocably link Love of God and Love of Neighbor. “How should men treat woman?” is the primary topic, but its counterpart, “How should women treat men?” is also an aspect in the equation. How may we remedy the sexism of our age and the not uncommon practice of sexual harassment?
First let’s look at its probable cause: There is an erroneous concept and/or belief that sexual engagement is an entitlement rather than a sacred gift. This idea is legion in social media in ads and programs that focus on sexuality at the expense of all other facets of the human person. Who is not tempted in some fashion to indulge in the fantasies these constant images and temptations provoke? We can and often do feel helpless in the realm of sexuality because of too many mixed messages, too many insecurities about our bodies and too little certainty of what it means to be a fulfilled human being.
It seems obvious today that many people are apt to let their feelings overpower logic, desires outweigh morals, appetites take precedent over respect—a respect which expresses Love of God and Neighbor. With the prevailing attitudes toward love-making as sport and entertainment, human sexuality is reduced to “favors” and “benefits” as if our bodies are commodities, means to a financial end.
Sex as recreation and entitlement continue to hold sway in the mind of many—an aspect that is not at all divorced from the abuse of women, the manipulation of women and in some cases men, too, in the workplace, in college and universities and everywhere else. It is also a component in psychological disorders and the abuse of vulnerable minors and children—scandals that continue to be a grave concern.
Church and society may agree that no one should be pressured into surrendering themselves against his or her free will in any circumstance. Lacking is the commitment, time and patience required to nurture reverence of the human person-body, soul and spirit. This Spirit of Discipleship is not to control people (a common secular accusation against the Church) but to cultivate maturity, trust and commitment in all friendships and associations. This is the role of Church and family. This is what we are called to contribute to improve society.
In truth, in the past, a disproportionate negativity regarding human sexuality on the Church’s part in some ways contributed to the current confusion and the libertarian approach to sexual expression. Still, the Church has learned and keeps on learning to see the gift of sexuality in a far more holy and holistic light. Acknowledging sexual thoughts and feelings as part of an aspect of human experience that cannot be ignored, refuted or demeaned but rather as a component of the beings God made and intended is where we now begin. This is what is called for: Respecting ALL the respective components of the human person, not dismissing or avoiding them—but rather integrating them in healthy balance: the intellectual self, the emotional self, the psychological self, creating a beautiful harmony between a well-informed conscience and the generative and creative/ productive/ artistic dimensions in each of us.
The truth is that Society and even some (though not all) sexual education programs continue to give very confusing, mixed messages. People of faith must work together to transform society’s mixed message to one of positive, healthy relationships that guide men and women to higher values and greater integrities in our friendships, in business relationships, dating, in courtship, in marriage. If the schools don’t offer courses on “how to be Friends,” “How to be Healthy Families,” “How to be Respectful Workplace companions” then Families and Church must take up the slack and take advantage of the many spiritual and therapeutic tools offered us.
Hopefully you know that many Religious Education courses for children up to and including teen confirmation classes explore how faith in Jesus cultivates harmony among family members, emphasizes the joy that respectful dating brings and the self-esteem that can be achieved by overcoming temptations to be self-indulgent at the expense of another human being. Yet, discipleship insists on extending these values beyond the classroom to the words we choose to use at home about our bodies and other peoples’ bodies. Discipleship must extend to how husbands and wives treat one another alone AND in front of their children and to the way parents cultivate friendship, patience and compassion among siblings, cousins and neighbors. Compare our language and conduct in private and social situations. What words and gestures do we use at high emotional events such as baseball and football games? Do we insist that every woman be recognized as someone’s mother, wife or sister –with all the integrity those roles provide? Do we acknowledge that every man is someone’s father, husband or brother? Seeing each other first in this way needs to be the foundation of all relationships, including those that potentially may lead to dating, romance and marriage for that sacrament insists on a relationship of equal partners. Millions of married people affirm that friendship is the most long-lasting dynamic of any marriage. These are Catholic Christian values. Catholic Christian goals.
Goals must be worked at, inform our daily choices. What we clearly need are more hours spent at-home with in-depth discussion about the songs and films and tv shows and books the children encounter –and that we adults encounter. Yes, scrutiny is needed to discern the most age-appropriate programming for each member of a family, but because the state of the media and electronics do not prevent kids from stumbling upon less wholesome content at home or elsewhere, our families must commit to setting time aside that not only address the topics, characters, the stories, and the friends and adults that kids encounter but allow time for children to express feelings, explore attitudes and social conventions with parents and other trusted adults. And to assess all these in the light of Christ and our Catholic sensibilities. Of course, this isn’t only a message for parents and guardians. We all can benefit from more conversation among adults about what we read and see—not condemnatory, but honest sharing of feelings, vulnerabilities and our temptations, too. More conversation, more understanding among friends, dating partners, engaged and married couples can bring greater integrity and respect to all adult relationships.
The Church’s insistence on weekly Eucharist is a constant reminder that we need help applying the Two Great Commandments to our lives. Consider, also, the Persistence of the Word – how often and in how many ways these Great Commandments are articulated, their benefits exemplified in countless Scriptural encounters throughout the Hebrew and Christian Bibles preached for thousands of years. What’s more, within and beyond the Bible there are innumerable historical tragedies evidencing the terrible consequences of people who thwart these Commandments. And because we’ve all become lax and at times unwilling to incarnate them in all our relationships, in all our social, business and political endeavors, we return to Mass and Sacraments. What else can we do? No! Not “what we can do?” Rather, what will we let GOD DO with us as boys and girls, men and women on our pathway to heaven?
A friend asked me why, as a priest, I continue to comment on politics. Here’s why:
My politics aren’t limited to any one realm but they are informed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus was very critical of all peoples in power and in institutions that run without mercy just as God is mercy. Jesus would condemn terrorists, communists and greedy capitalists equally as each in their own way (terrorists most explicitly) contribute to the suffering, and yes, death of many peoples far beyond “self-defense.” It’s a social sin that governments build up armaments at the expense of fare trade food, health and education for their people. I certainly think Kim of North Korea is filled with evil and so is his nuclear tests, and he should be handled with harsh criticism and sanctions, but hasn’t our country set the example of “might makes right” long ago? Not that we shouldn’t be able to defend ourselves and innocent people–and, yes, hindsight regarding our pacifism to Hitler early on was a terrible mistake, but, all the same, if we spent an equal amount on diplomacy and support of our poorest citizens, and assist, when we can, other countries to do the same, there would be far less to criticize. Peoples who have basic needs met are far less likely to revolt, turn to violent revolutions, racisms and the like. In the 1986 the United States Bishops Conference issued a researched paper calling for Justice in the Economy (See Below) Wall Street and Conservative Catholic Economists crucified the contents saying that religious leaders need to keep out of non-spiritual matters. However, Jesus received the same hostility when he began his public ministry (See Luke’s Gospel Chapter 4) and his criticism of established norms of state and church put him on the Cross. (He called Herod “a fox.” And “render to Caesar what is Caesars and to God what is God’s “is not about separation of Church and State but pointing out the limits of the state because, for believers, all belongs to God. All prominent Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox scholars have affirmed this for almost a century, but people still hold on to old world views and old ways of interpreting the scriptures. The point of the Cross was to put a mirror onto society and its violent, selfish aspects to forgive and transform them. Not simply forgive and let business continue as usual. Nothing should stay the way it is because it worked in the past. People forget the Bible is as much future-oriented as it informs us of the past. At any rate, that is just some of the basis for my informed, prayerful sense that religion and politics must be kept in dialogue and that religion considering Jesus is asked to take a critical stance and look at the consequences for as many people as possible, not just a few, in reviewing current trends and legislations.
Meanwhile chick this out http://www.usccb.org/upload/economic_justice_for_all.pdf
Homily for Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
By Fr. James DiLuzio C.S.P.
1 Kings 19:13-19
Gospel of Matthew 14: 22-33
Some people shout but never say anything. Some people scream, but never learn to speak. Some people hate without ever thinking why, and how they came to hate another person or group. Others live by a rule that say, “Fire, Ready, Aim!” Our nation and our world is becoming more impulsive and compulsive—people acting from gut feelings, fears and prejudice without reflection, certainly without prayer–thinking in very limited terms, self-serving terms. More and more people are losing a sense of the bigger picture—a larger, wider, more embracing approach to life and its diversity of peoples.
This weekend’s tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia is an excellent example of the evil that cultural, ethnic and economic isolation and impetuosity create. What motivated people with a white supremacist perspective to travel from Ohio and other places throughout the country to come to this Virginia town to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E Lee? Since the ethnic and prejudicial killings over the past several years in our country, were there sufficient Town Meetings, Conferences, Dialogues from coast to coast to dissect the complexity of these and related issues to prevent more violence? In fairness, the Charlottesville Mayor and Council did conduct town meetings to let people air their perspectives and their feelings before taking down its Confederate Flag and deciding on moving Robert E. Lee and other Confederate Statues into museums which could better contextualize these historical figures’ characters and life choices than displays in public parks allow. But perhaps there was insufficient outreach and dialogue with and about the Supremacist Organization before their rally was allowed in the name of “Free Speech.” Was there sufficient and significant preparation conducted by the protestors and police prior to the event—and, equally important, because our nation has been crying out for more Town Meetings, have there been (and will there be) significant number of meetings in churches, synagogues, mosques and council halls to address the seeds of hatred, prejudice coast-to-coast? Why or why not? Everybody knows “Violence doesn’t occur in a vacuum.”
We all fail to initiate and perpetuate the kind of dialogue about morals, logic, faith, culture, diversity that this Age requires. We fail, in part, because we rely upon ourselves alone without the patience to prayerfully allow God to work through all our thoughts and feelings before we act. For example, thankfully, there were many protestors responding to the KKK/Supremacist March, but I wonder if instead of posters of condemnation there were also (and there may have been) placards stating things like and “God loves us all,” “All Nations Shall Come Together,” “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
Not that by that time, on that day, it could have made much difference with the Hate march. But if there were such ideas floating around in the protest, there would at least be some clarification of the kind of thoughtful, preventative action Christianity call us to embrace.
How much, for example, did anyone at that march really know about Robert E. Lee? I had to do some research myself. I was surprised to read he was against slavery and against violence. Against his better judgment he joined the Confederate Army to, in his mind, protect his native Virginians. He could have been known for pleading for more dialogue among Virginia’s Legislature and with President Lincoln and his Cabinet, more caution on behalf of the Southern States before cessation. Instead, he compromised his conscience and his deeper values, he didn’t choose to act with a bigger picture in mind. Lee’s story and conflicts could be better known, better discussed and could lead to more self-scrutiny for our world today, but alas, as in the times of Jesus, only some, not all, are willing to join in the conversation. Many won’t ever, many don’t, but who do we say we are? What do we think the proper response of faith is?
Now what does this have to do with today’s Bible Readings? Everything! In 1 Kings, we find Elijah hiding in mountain cave. More dialogue with the previous passages of Scripture is needed to understand the context. He’s hiding because he acted impulsively, filled with his own zeal for the Lord, he slaughtered all the prophets of Baal, the pagan cult of Jezebel, the wife of Israel’s King Ahab. The king and queen now seek the prophet’s life. Of course, Elijah expects the Lord to come in Elijah’s own image –with the wrath of whirlwind, an earthquake, in fire. Instead, God arrives in “a tiny whispering sound” through which Elijah listens and defers more fully to God’s counsel, becoming more rooted in God’s love for him rather than his own zeal to love the Lord more. This conversation results in Elijah being prepared for heaven. His ministry is over. God wants him to ordain a new prophet in his stead, Elisha. Then Elijah is taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire. Something about prudence, patience, and repentance seems to be the thought for the day.
Now let’s look at the Matthew’s Gospel: What made Peter so impetuous as to try and walk on water to Jesus? Was he ready? Had he fully acknowledged Jesus as both human and Divine? Jesus walking on Water was manifesting His Divinity, His Union with God to be in command of Nature as well as the source of life for human souls. Obviously, Peter wasn’t ready; he didn’t understand this nor the degree to which he had to focus on Jesus rather than the raging wind. Thankfully, Jesus knew that. He knows we aren’t often ready to let faith’s wisdom sustain us, so he extends his hand. However, what if Peter were less anxious to act and more open to simply let Jesus come to him? What if he chose to surrender to the bigger truth that “God loves us First” and that God will act “First” — through our conscience, through our prayer. Patiently allowing our conscience and our consciousness to be centered in God makes us more fittingly responsive to the evils of the world, more preventative, less reactionary. Jesus was coming to Peter and all the disciples in the boat. Could / should Peter have waited? What might have occurred had Peter allowed Jesus to make his point as God and Man first, allowing the Spirit to seep more fully in his mind and body and find more communion with the disciples before boldly reacting and presenting Jesus with his own “state of emergency?”
All this is “food for thought,” regarding our degrees of dependence upon Christ as we address the problems of our times. One thing for sure, we must speak out against evil, hatred and violence, but how we do it, and more importantly, the extent to which we let the Spirit move us to daily efforts of prevention–THIS is the question we must address today, tomorrow and the next day. Jesus came, He continues to come and thankfully, we arrived today to let his Word penetrate us again and this Eucharist to nourish our conscience, bodies and spirits. Allowing Jesus to come to us first, to allow him to do what He Will Do for Us first before we act, react, respond –knowing that we must put our faith into action—can and will make all the difference in our responses to the evils that abound in our nation and in the world.
by Paulist Father James DiLuzio www.lukelive.com
THE BIG STICK is a film about individuation: what it takes to define the true self as it wrestles with expectations of family, culture, religion and their associated guilts. It boasts a semi-autobiographical script and stars its author Kumail Nanjiani, a prolific and talented stand-up comedian / actor / writer best known for the HBO series SILICON VALLEY. Here, we meet Kumail as an almost-no-longer young adult thrust into discernment about life and love. He still treads lightly, however, vying to honor his role as the younger son of a Pakistani Muslim family. They moved to Chicago as he’s been told “for your sake” during his childhood.
THE BIG STICK also addresses critical illness and how the reality of death / possibility of impending death forces us to face ourselves and, hopefully, if we let it, make life-giving choices. The movie is a welcomed change to the current film offerings and a bit retro, offering the familiar but with some novel twists and perspectives. Ultimately, THE BIG STICK is a serious comedy, offering chuckles and giggles, appropriately lacking in hilarity to pursue its important, universal themes.
The film is poignant, touching and entertainingly aggravating as we witness the foibles and comedic dynamics of family, friendship and romance. Nearly everything about the characters and their responses to their predicaments rings true. Each one, in his or her own way, tackles to claim personal TRUTH. That’s a topic any priest would applaud, and, as scripted by Kumail and his wife Emily Gordon, the film succeeds on, oh, so many levels. THE BIG STICK offers honesty and tenderness that is truly refreshing in our cynical age.
And what a wonderful roster of actors has assembled for this enterprise: Nanjiani may be a bit too dead-pan-to-a-fault in this role, but he has a fine screen presence and holds his own with veterans Holly Hunter (captivating), Ray Morano (strong and appealing), Zenobia Shroff (wonderful!) and the charming Zoe Kazan (granddaughter of legendary director Elia Kazan). Kazan plays Kumail’s love interest and her character’s complexities offer a wide range of emotions that she delivers with aplomb. I recommend THE BIG SICK to you when you find yourself in one of those wonderful “down-to-earth moods,” ready to eschew the need for thrills, grand violence, murder and mayhem, and enjoy being a member of the human race. .
Now, you may expect that WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES will offer you plenty of the thrills and chills. Surprise! There is war and violence at the onset, but, all the same, a better title might be: ACCESSION TO THE PLANET OF THE APES. There’s a great battle at the end, but our title characters do not participate. For the thrust of the plot echoes the Biblical Vision of Isaiah 2: “He shall judge between the nations, and set terms for many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” A most honorable and inspiring theme, an essential Hope for this age as for any other. And, humbling, too, to see it accomplished by what we consider the lesser of the species. To those familiar with the franchise, these apes embody a deeper humanity than many who claim the classification of human, and, in what may be the final chapter of the series, they supersede us completely. But this fable has, from its inception in 1968 and into its re-boot that began in 2011 warned of humanity’s capacity for self-destruction, and has always focused on our need for humility –to learn from nature and all of nature’s creatures, insisting that we attend to our essential common bond. Here, humanity loses its power of speech as the apes learn to use language to cultivate HOPE — the reason it was bestowed upon humankind in the first place. Along with the gift of free will and the capacity to love fully, language is the third aspect that made us in the biblical “image of God.”
In addition to plot, character and theme, you’ll find the special effects most rewarding and the digital motion-captured acting of Andy Serkis memorable. He’s assisted by many others but the most notable: Karin Konoval as the wise orangutan Maurice, and Steve Zahn, as a sad-clown sidekick named Bad Ape who ushers in some welcomed comic relief in the second act and beyond. Director Matt Reeves keeps the plot moving at an enjoyable pace and some of the visuals—especially the winter scenes can take your breath away along with the natural look and feel of each and very ape. NYTIMES film critic A.O Scott noted in his review “There is a scene toward the end of “War for the Planet of the Apes” that is as vivid and haunting as anything I’ve seen in a Hollywood blockbuster in ages, a moment of rousing and dreadful cinematic clarity that I don’t expect to shake off any time soon.” I urge families with kids 12 and older to venture forth to your local Cineplex for this one. Your experience will give you some wonderful conversations in many-a-family-meal to come!
 John 8: 32: “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+8%3A32&version=NABRE Also Psalm 15: “Who may dwell on your holy mountain? 2 Whoever walks without blame, doing what is right, speaking truth from the heart;” https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+15&version=NABRE/ And from the Islam quotes website I found this: ‘“Always Speak the Truth, even if there is fear in speaking the Truth. Remember there is Freedom in speaking the Truth” – Prophet Muhammad (saw) https://islamiquotes.wordpress.com/category/truth/