Time to Ask the Hard Questions

These days invite time for moral inventories and reflections, especially in our relationship to Nature. May we repeatedly ask ourselves these questions in perpetuity

1. For every decision I make, my family and co-workers make, my local, state and national governments make, ask will these decisions ensure clean air and clean water in my community and beyond?

2. Will this technology/ this invention / this policy offer healthy, sustainable environments for humans, animals and plant life?

3. How may we improve recycling in our area and in our nation?

4. What purchases can I make that support our communion with nature?

5. How may this choice eliminate or reduce my and my families’, my community’s garbage?

6. How may I support re-structuring and re-training our community’s workforce in ways that care for earth, air and water and animals and limit the negative effects of fire and carbon emissions?

7 May I reduce my consumption of meat and meat products to two times a week and eat more plant-based proteins like lentils and nuts?

FEEL FREE TO ADD MORE TO MY LIST!

Homily for The Presentation of the Lord Sunday February 2, 2020

There are times when we all become consumed with longing–desires for an end to all the divisiveness in our nation. For all the problems in our weary world, we insist on visions of peace, we surrender to HOPE that reconciliation-true reconciliation between hostile peoples (yes, even in our families) will become realities; that all people will be free to know and Love God and their neighbor as themselves.  

This is the longing, the hope, the faith of Simeon and Anna, the elder wisdom figures in the temple to which Mary and Joseph brought the child Jesus for his Presentation and Dedication to God.  They grounded their lives on this longing, allowing their minds to keep focused on the blessings they experienced as part of a greater promise for all people.

We, too, our sorrows and disappointments notwithstanding, yes, even during these cynical times, must follow their example.  We must not capitulate to the angers of the day. 

This is especially important for those of us in our senior years because as we get older it gets easier and easier to hold on to memories of the negative events, the worst events of our lives.  Far more readily do bad memories enter our consciousness than those that savor the good times.  Today, on the Presentation of the Lord, we must reclaim the faith into which WE have been baptized.  We were baptized into the promises of Christ that all life is blessed.  God has brought us to this day for God’s good purposes.  Yes, we’ve had bad times, sorrowful times, but also times of blessing–experiences of true love for us and with others.  We must have faith that we will have these again.  

In this the early decades of the 21st century, Simeon and Anna must become our Patron Saints. They had difficult lives, lived to an old age, but they held on to hope.

Hope is what Simeon and Anna saw in the child Jesus –hope that God’s Will would, in God’s good time, become the lived reality of the nations.  Of course, their life experiences, like ours, brought them realistic expectations.  Simeon acknowledges that often enough the true longings of human hearts encounters opposition–“contradicted.”  Many people try the thwart the true, the good, the beautiful, often, but not always, because of their own sorrows and sufferings.

Simeon says this to Mary for the benefit of all.  He acknowledges the reality of evil while naming its antidote: live with humility and honesty so that “the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.” This means that identification with the sorrows of others will liberate evil from the world.  As we name a comprehensive TRUTH–the good and the bad from all sectors of God’s peoples–all perspectives—Grace will inspire us to take the next steps, the right steps forward.

 Saint Paul described this in his letter to the Corinthians: love entails that people will “not rejoice in what is wrong but rejoice only in the truth.’’ In John’s Gospel Jesus insists “The Truth Will Set You Free.”  As we come to the Eucharist today may we ask the Lord to strengthen us in the PROMISES OF CHRIST and truly believe and live confident that hope is eternal, and that hope is NOW for “THE KINGDOM IS AT HAND.”

Pity The Nation — # 1 and # 2 A Wake Up Call to America

PITY THE NATION – Kahil Gibran

Kahlil Gibran > Quotes > Quotable Quote

Kahlil Gibran
Kahil Gibran

“Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion.
Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave
and eats a bread it does not harvest.

Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero,
and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful.

Pity a nation that despises a passion in its dream,
yet submits in its awakening.

Pity the nation that raises not its voice
save when it walks in a funeral,
boasts not except among its ruins,
and will rebel not save when its neck is laid
between the sword and the block.

Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox,
whose philosopher is a juggler,
and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking

Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpeting,
and farewells him with hooting,
only to welcome another with trumpeting again.

Pity the nation whose sages are dumb with years
and whose strongmen are yet in the cradle.

Pity the nation divided into fragments,
each fragment deeming itself a nation.”  
― Kahlil Gibran, The Garden of The Prophet

PITY THE NATION – Lawrence Ferlinghetti, American Poet Laureate (After Khalil Gibran)

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, left, at the Grolier Poetry Bookshop in Harvard Square, 1965, with Bookstore Owner Gordon Cairnie . Photo from http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Lawrence_Ferlinghetti

Pity the nation whose people are sheep
   And whose shepherds mislead them
 Pity the nation whose leaders are liars
            Whose sages are silenced
  And whose bigots haunt the airwaves
 Pity the nation that raises not its voice
          Except to praise conquerers
       And acclaim the bully as hero
          And aims to rule the world
              With force and by torture
          Pity the nation that knows
        No other language but its own
      And no other culture but its own
 Pity the nation whose breath is money
 And sleeps the sleep of the too well fed
      Pity the nation oh pity the people
        who allow their rights to  erode
   and their freedoms to be washed away
My country, tears of thee
                   Sweet land of liberty


Lawrence Ferlinghetti, American Poet

Lawrence Monsanto Ferlinghetti is an American poet, painter, social activist, and the co-founder of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers. He is the author of poetry, translations, fiction, theatre, art criticism, and film narration. Ferlinghetti is best known for his first collection of poems

http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Lawrence_Ferlinghetti

There is, of course, a SOLUTION, an ANTIDOTE to this realization: Christians may find it in the Gospel, Jews in the Books of the Prophets. Here’s my homily for Sunday, 2 February 2020:

The Presentation of the Lord Sunday 2 February 2020

There are times when we all become consumed with longing–desires for an end to all the divisiveness in our nation. For all the problems in our weary world, we insist on visions of peace, we surrender to HOPE that reconciliation-true reconciliation between hostile peoples (yes, even in our families) will become realities; that all people will be free to know and Love God and their neighbor as themselves.  

This is the longing, the hope, the faith of Simeon and Anna, the elder wisdom figures in the temple to which Mary and Joseph brought the child Jesus for his Presentation and Dedication to God.  They grounded their lives on this longing, allowing their minds to keep focused on the blessings they experienced as part of a greater promise for all people.

We, too, our sorrows and disappointments notwithstanding, yes, even during these cynical times, must follow their example.  We must not capitulate to the angers of the day. 

This is especially important for those of us in our senior years because as we get older it gets easier and easier to hold on to memories of the negative events, the worst events of our lives.  Far more readily do bad memories enter our consciousness than those that savor the good times.  Today, on the Presentation of the Lord, we must reclaim the faith into which WE have been baptized.  We were baptized into the promises of Christ that all life is blessed.  God has brought us to this day for God’s good purposes.  Yes, we’ve had bad times, sorrowful times, but also times of blessing–experiences of true love for us and with others.  We must have faith that we will have these again.  

In this the early decades of the 21st century, Simeon and Anna must become our Patron Saints. They had difficult lives, lived to an old age, but they held on to hope.

Hope is what Simeon and Anna saw in the child Jesus –hope that God’s Will would, in God’s good time, become the lived reality of the nations.  Of course, their life experiences, like ours, brought them realistic expectations.  Simeon acknowledges that often enough the true longings of human hearts encounters opposition–“contradicted.”  Many people try the thwart the true, the good, the beautiful, often, but not always, because of their own sorrows and sufferings.

Simeon says this to Mary for the benefit of all.  He acknowledges the reality of evil while naming its antidote: live with humility and honesty so that “the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.” This means that identification with the sorrows of others will liberate evil from the world.  As we name a comprehensive TRUTH–the good and the bad from all sectors of God’s peoples–all perspectives—Grace will inspire us to take the next steps, the right steps forward.

 Saint Paul described this in his letter to the Corinthians: love entails that people will “not rejoice in what is wrong but rejoice only in the truth.’’ In John’s Gospel Jesus insists “The Truth Will Set You Free.”  As we come to the Eucharist today may we ask the Lord to strengthen us in the PROMISES OF CHRIST and truly believe and live confident that hope is eternal, and that hope is NOW for “THE KINGDOM IS AT HAND.”

Annual Paulist Fathers Appeal

Today the Catholic Church commemorates the Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle – patron of the Paulist Fathers. I’ve been invited to preach the Annual Paulist Appeal that supports our lives and ministries here at our church in New York. I will be at two masses this weekend. Tonight at 5:15 and tomorrow Sunday at 8 AM. Other Paulists will be presiding and preaching at other masses. For those who follow me, I wanted to share my best effort. here it is:

Paulist Appeal 2020 by Father James DiLuzio C.S.P.
Most of you know that Saint Paul the Apostle parish is ministered by the Paulist Fathers, the first order of Catholic priests founded in the United States in 1858. Five priests–Isaac Hecker and four others –all converts to Catholicism—insisted we enhance the American Spirit with Catholic sensibilities. Paulists, then and now, strive to keep Catholics sustained in faith, hope and love amidst the strengths of American liberty and diversity and the reality of all human weaknesses.

I am here today for the Annual Paulist Appeal. Once again, asking for your financial support to maintain our lives and collaboration with you, the Catholic faithful. We are grateful to be blessed that so many of you work with us in our service to the Church and society. We hope and pray you do, indeed, appreciate our efforts and are willing and able to offer ongoing financial support.

What do Paulists offer this parish and other parishes, campus ministries and national offices in 15 cities throughout the country? Paulists value practical, relevant preaching. We apply the Gospel to everyday life. We honor dialogue. We listen. We appreciate where people are at.

Established in full devotion to the Holy Spirit, Paulists insist we recognize the good and beautiful in all people. By extension, we affirm the good in all faiths and cultures to lay the groundwork for the loving challenges Faith and true collaboration provide–challenges to ourselves and others to grow deeper in hope, cultivating virtue for our good and the good of our country and our world. As Jesus insisted: “lay a foundation on rock, so when the storms come, our spiritual homes will not be shaken.”

Our Catholic sensibilities reveal compassion as Christ’s foundation. The biblical evidence is abundant: Jesus had insight to the deepest longings in the human heart. Jesus looked upon the crowds with pity. Jesus fed the crowds, inspired the destitute, healed the sick, forgave the hate thrusted upon him on the Cross; offered Peace to those who abandoned Him. As Jesus was moved to compassion for Jew and Gentile alike, so must we be. Paulists model Jesus’ commitment to compassion by dedicating ourselves to the ministry of welcoming and reconciliation. Paulist are healers, offering reconciliation in and outside of the confessional. “Come as you are, for all are welcome.” This is the foundation of Paulist service, so essential in these times when our country and our world have become increasingly factious and divisive.

Paulists have much in common but our devotion to the Holy Spirit insists we attend to the unique individual gifts in each of us. We hope you experience us honoring the uniqueness within each of you. My ministry, for example, is considered unique. I am one of 7 Paulists missionaries to the U.S. — 7 out of the 114 Paulist Fathers worldwide. We visit Catholic parishes a week at a time, preaching at all weekend masses and offering weekday Mass and presentations morning and evenings for spiritual enrichment. My ministry is called Luke Live! – a semi-dramatic recitation of Luke’s Gospel in 4 specific missions that include preaching and Song Meditations (sacred and secular) to keep the Gospel in dialogue with our lives, our culture and contemporary issues.

This Paulist appeal supports three of our National Offices in need of your funding: the uniqueness of Busted Halo –a ministry to young adults (college and post-college) who may or may not be participating in Church life. It’s outreach that assures the new adult generation that the Church is here for them, welcoming and open to dialogue. Furthermore, YOU were the ones who inspired this outreach as so many of you came to us saying, “Help us get our college and post-college kids back to Church!”

Busted Halo has two platforms: a website BustedHalo.com with articles, videos and podcasts (and a talented lay staff of 4 extraordinary talented young adult women plus host of freelance writers) and a 2 hour weeknight program Monday through Friday on Sirius Radio’s Catholic Channel, produced and hosted by Fr. Dave Dwyer, who often presides and preaches here.

Your contributions will also support Openings, our NYC outreach to artists of all faiths, offering support and dialogue focused on the spiritual underpinnings of art and creativity, shepherded by Paulist Frank Sabatté, an artist himself. See his embroideries of Isaac Hecker, Saint Bernadette on back walls before you go. The third ministry is called LANDINGS International–-designed to train and support lay parishioners to welcome “on the fence Catholics” who need friendship and support as they consider returning to the sacramental life in the Church. Their numbers are legion.

We also need your support in more practical matters, the care of seniors– a growing group of almost 50 men aged 72 to 97 in need of room and board, medical care, fraternal and spiritual enrichment. I am pleased to report that many if not most are still at work, at least part time offering sacraments, missions, classes, support groups, and, of course, ongoing prayer for you and the Church as a whole. The average cost of care for each Senior Paulist Father is $53,000 per year. Perhaps your income enables you to support one of them this year. Whatever you can give, I know that you would want to thank them for over 50 years of service each.

This appeal also helps us educate and train our 10 Paulist students to assure our Paulist charism continues. Each student requires 4 to 5 full years of tuition at Catholic University plus a year of prayer, discernment, and some ministry in the DC area called “Novitiate Year.” In addition, we require students to have a year of pastoral experience before his ordination, to assure us that each has the opened mind and heart and welcoming spirit of the Paulist Fathers. The average cost of each Seminarian is $70,000 per year. All of this completely is subsidized by your support.

Your gift also subsidizes our Vocation Office. Our Director, Fr. Dat Tran, visits parishes and campus ministries throughout the USA to invite men to consider Paulist priesthood; he also offers several annual retreats with that resolve. We know you want more priests with the Paulist Spirit for not only this but future generations. Only you can make all this happen with your willingness to collaborate, to grow in faith with us, and your financial support.

Remember the Paulists, like all Religious Orders, were created and are sustained with the kindness and collaboration of the people. We hope you have come to believe in us as we believe in you –true and faithful servants of the Gospel. Paulist Appeal Envelopes have been mailed to all registered parishioners and for the rest, with faith and trust, we have placed more envelopes in the pews. You may contribute what you can today or better, take the envelope home for further prayer and discernment. If you choose to give today, please write your name and address on the outer envelope (pens are in the pews), so we thank you and you’ll have a record of your donation. You may consult our website http://www.paulist.org/ for more examples of our lives and make a monthly pledge on line to sustain us through the year. No contribution is too big or small.

Wherever you are on your faith journey, I hope you experience Paulist leadership as welcoming and accepting. We have entrusted our lives to the Eucharistic, all the sacraments and the best of the American spirit: “for the people” by the people, and with the people;” or, to us Church language: “Together in mission.” Isn’t this the kind of Priesthood you want to support? Please don’t give up on us! Thank you, thank you, with all our hearts. God bless you!

See Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/paulists/ and also http://www.paulist.org

Fr. Richard Rohr on Scripture — Indispensable!

Practice: Midrash

The best way in which a Christian can interpret Scripture is to do so as Jesus did! It almost sounds too simple, doesn’t it? Yet, ironically, this has not been the norm for most of Christianity. So, what does it mean to read the Bible as Jesus did?

Jesus approached the Hebrew Scriptures with the assumption that God had been dialoging with humanity since the beginning. He used the Jewish practice of midrash as a way of participating in this dialogue. Midrash is a method of interpreting Scripture that fills in the gaps, by questioning and imagining a multitude of possible interpretations. Midrash allows the text and the Spirit of God to open up the reader to transformation, instead of resisting change by latching onto one final, closed, and certain interpretation. This open-horizon approach was common for most of the first 1300 years of Christianity, where as many as six levels of interpretation and numerous levels of truth were perceived in any one Scripture text.

The traditional forms of midrash demand both a prayerful approach and scholarly familiarity with the Bible and commentaries which have formed the tradition over the centuries. However, it is possible for someone who is not a biblical scholar or theologian to get a sense of the practice of midrash.

The following practice, drawn from Teresa Blythe’s book 50 Ways to Pray, offers an interactive experience with the Bible through openness, contemplative attitude, and critical thinking.This practice invites us to trust that God will meet us where we are and will take us where we need to go as we consider the meaning of the text. We could engage in this dialogue often, even with the same text, since there will always be more discoveries about the meaning(s) of sacred texts.

Dialoguing with Scripture:

Choose one of the following Scriptures for reflection:

  • Exodus 1:8-22 — The Hebrew midwives fear God
  • Exodus 18:13-27 — Jethro’s advice to Moses
  • 1 Samuel 3 — The call of Samuel
  • Mark 9:14-29 — Jesus heals the afflicted boy
  • Luke 8:22-25 — Jesus calms a storm
  • Luke 10:29-37 — The good Samaritan

Read (or listen to) your selected Scripture passage slowly. You may want to read (or hear) it more than once.

Consider which character in the story you would like to interact with. It could be a person you find agreeable, or a person with whom you want to question or debate. Who are you drawn to? When you decide on a character, write the name at the top [of a piece of] paper.

Hold an imaginary conversation—on paper—with the character in the story. You may want to stick with the theme of the Scripture and talk about that, or you may want to discuss other topics. It is completely up to you. Let your imagination roll free and see what transpires. (20 minutes)

When you are finished, read your dialogue out loud.

What is it like to have a conversation with a biblical figure? Why did you choose the character you chose? Did anything in the conversation surprise you? Did anything in the conversation move you? Did you feel any inner blocks to doing this sort of exercise? Did you feel the presence and guidance of God in the dialogue? What did you learn about yourself as you engaged this biblical figure? How easy or difficult is it for you to have these kinds of imaginary conversations? How useful would you say such conversations are for you?

End your reflection time with a prayer of gratitude for what you experienced.

Tip—You don’t have to be an excellent writer to enjoy this exercise. No one but you has to read what you’ve written. Just write from the heart and imagination. [1]

[1] Teresa A. Blythe, 50 Ways to Pray: Practices from Many Traditions and Times (Abingdon Press: 2006), 17-18.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Hierarchy of Truths: Jesus’ Use of Scripture (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2013), CDMP3 download.

Image credit: Palm Sunday (detail), Sinkiang, 683-770 CE, Nestorian Temple, Qocho (Xinjiang), China.

For Further Study:

“The Future of Christianity,” Oneing, vol. 7, no. 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2019)

Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle, Richard Rohr, Alexie Torres-Fleming, Shane Claiborne, Emerging Church: Christians Creating a New World Together (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2009), MP3 download

Sebastian Moore, The Contagion of Jesus: Doing Theology as If It Mattered (Orbis Books: 2008)

Richard Rohr, What Is the Emerging Church? (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2008), MP3 downloadCD

C. S. Song, Jesus, the Crucified People (Fortress Press: 1996)

Phyllis Tickle, The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why (Baker Books: 2008)

Freedom of the Children of God – the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Writer Bianca Vivion Brooks posted an Op-Ed in the NYTIMES on Friday.  Titled I USED TO FEAR BEING A NOBODY, THEN I LEFT SOCIAL MEDIA.  In it, she shared how her identity and wellbeing were tied up in the world wide web.  She wrote:

 “For years I poured my opinions, musings and outrage onto my timeline, believing I held an indispensable place in a vital sociopolitical experiment.

But these passionate, public observations were born of more than just a desire to speak my mind — I was measuring my individual worth in constant visibility.

 “After all, a private life boasts no location markers or story updates. The idea that the happenings of our lives would be constrained to our immediate families, friends and real-life communities is akin to social death in a world measured by followers, views, likes and shares.

“I grow weary when I think of this as the new normal for what is considered to be a fruitful personal life. Social media is no longer a mere public extension of our private socialization; it has become a replacement for it. What happens to our humanity when we relegate our real lives to props for the performance of our virtual ones?”


Ms. Brooks was right.  That is the message we get from our culture because culture often addressed our most basic human instincts: it is so very human to crave affirmation from strangers, to desire blessed assurances of our worth.  Everyone wants to feel valued by others beyond our immediate circle of family and friends, certainly everyone needs to feel that we certainly are more valuable than our bank accounts. Still, to live with constant expectation that somehow, somewhere we will be acknowledged, that we will be awarded, we will achieve recognition—these are the burdens society thrusts upon us.  We must remember these do not comprise the yoke of Christ, the blessed burdens of Christianity.

Sure, it is disappointing to write a book that nobody reads or organize community outreach on important issues –spiritual or social– and nobody shows up.  But that’s not the same things as centering our lives on social acceptance, praise and success. 

Jesus walked the way of the humble, rejected by his hometown natives, he made the Lord God his foundation–nurturing disciples to be sure–but not dependent on their adulation or even their solidarity,  Indeed, they often misunderstood him, they could not comprehend all that he taught. nor did they exquisitely follow his example.  What kept him going?  His honesty, his willingness to sigh, trusting  that all will come to pass in God’s time. Jesus was content to plant seeds, finding comfort in life’s basic pleasures while offering hope, insisting on a better future but not manipulating people into it.  Critical of all established institutions –He called the tetrarch Herod “that fox” and many religious leaders “you hypocrites!” –all the while witnessing to the Great Commandments and not despairing when his followers didn’t or couldn’t live up to them.  

When disappointments plague us, we may recall the prophet Habakkuk as Jesus must have recalled him:

For the vision still has its time,
 presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint;
 if it delays, wait for it,
 it will surely come, it will not be late.
 The rash one has no integrity;
 but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.

Meanwhile, Jesus was content to praise God for life’s little pleasures, close friends and family, however imperfect, yet still sharing meals with disciples and strangers alike, engaging with people of wealth and of little or no means, always seeing the inner soul of whoever sat beside him; observing nature’s beauty and challenges –the lilies of the field, the birds of the air, pastures of sheep and farms cultivating wheat, and, like Abraham before him, the stars of the skies, the sands on the shores of the ocean.  

Simplicity doesn’t mean not to try writing the great American novel — if that is your ambition.  It doesn’t mean not bringing your ideas to your boss or high school principal or your local Congress person.  In fact, we are obliged to live, to be engaged, to share insights and experiences with those who make decisions for us and for others.  And, should we be the ones who are making the decisions, it is vitally important that after expressing our ideas, our preferences, we listen to others who think differently, live differently without needing their adulation –or even their votes! 

In all this, Jesus insists we keep the bigger picture whether we are heard or not, our ideas are accepted or not, whether our dignity is acknowledged or not.  Truth, Goodness, Justice, Mercy are not rooted in imperfect society, or culture of meritocracy but in Faith, Hope and Love.  There is no better foundation, no great truth.  

Emily Dickenson grounded herself in spiritual realities and knew the distinction between integrity and popularity when she wrote: 

I’m Nobody!  Who are you?

Are you – Nobody – too?

Then there’s a pair of us?

Don’t tell!  they’d advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!

How public – like a Frog –

To tell one’s name – the livelong June –

To an admiring Bog!

But today is SUNDAY and we must let Jesus have the last words: Are we feeling dejected, bereft of camaraderie, devoid of success and affirmation?  Recall Jesus speaking from his own experience:  “No prophet is ever accepted in his own native place. ” And, like Jesus, we must move on.   Yes, we can dream, yes, we still can share. We can give and forgive.  We must do all these things FREED from our drives for self-importance so we may give thanks to God and say: ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.'”

THE SPIRITUAL & THE MATERIAL TOGETHER — GOD IS ALL IN ALL

HOMILY FOR 18TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME AUGUST 4, 2019

Woe to the family that does not anticipate retirement, make provisions for health care and reduce its credit card debt.  Practicality entreats us to model ourselves on the squirrels.  In summer and fall, they gather nuts for sustenance in winter and spring.  We, too, must prepare prudently investing in annuities and 410Ks, or, if those are not available to us, we try to go without some luxuries today so we may expand our savings accounts for tomorrow.  Forthright foresightedness is  a top priority for all–or, at least for those among us who don’t have to live hand-to-mouth on a weekly basis.  Either way, we’re probably befuddled by Jesus’ parable.  No precautions for the future? Are there not retirement scenarios we can dream about?  Goals for creative hobbies, lengthier leisure time, Church and community involvement?  Hmmmm. 

We mustn’t see today’s Scripture readings as a threat to these very human concerns,  but we must engage in conversation with the Bible to assess our priorities among our passions, properties and possessions.  

Jesus isn’t against us having things—in fact, he’s not against us at all.  He is the Savior who is FOR US, WITH US and IN US.  He invites us to celebrate life as we allow Him to diminish our worries and anxieties.  He does that, in part, by endowing us with faith, intelligence and talents to make our way in this world including our relationship with things. Jesus invites us to honor the gift of work to procure for ourselves, our children and dependents the necessities of food, clothing and shelter.  Beyond that, the Holy Spirit engages us in what we buy in the way these things reflect our personalities, our likes and dislikes.  What we own—and how we take care of what we own– is an expression of ourselves and even our beliefs.  For all that, Jesus invites us not to take our money, our belongings or ourselves too seriously.   He bestows on humanity intelligence and the ability to cultivate a sense of humor.  Here are a few jokes that might put us at ease:  Who was the world’s first stockbroker? Noah.  Noah?  Yes, he floated his stock while the world was in liquidation.

Once an investor asked his advisor: Is all my money truly gone?
No, of course not. It’s just with somebody else!

Dear Friend,  I’ve come to realize Money can buy a House…But not a Home; Money can buy a Bed…………..But not a Good Night’s Sleep; Money can buy a Clock…………But not Time; Money can buy you a Book….But not Knowledge; Money can buy you Medicine…….But not Health; Money can buy you Sex…………But not Love.  So you see money isn’t everything. It often causes pain and suffering. I tell you all this because I am your Friend, and as your Friend I want to take away your pain and suffering.  Send all your money to me and let me suffer for you.

The cynicism of Qoheleth in the Book of Ecclesiastes offers helpful insights as well. The things we treasure, what we work hard to have and appreciate, may not be treasured or appreciated by those who inherit what we have, what we saved for. Some people prioritize a comfortable home, others money for travel.  Some value collections of books or recordings, paintings, momentos, Nativity sets and Statues of the Saints –others prefer large screen smart tv’s and sound systems, others gardening and landscaping. IF the next generation doesn’t love what we love, what do we leave them?  Do we owe them anything at all?

Jesus says the key is to know that for all that we value, know what matters most to God.  Scriptures make it clear that God cares about relationships –ours with God and others.  Clearly God delights in every human being, all animals and all creation because God sustains all with a life force that engages all.  As Saint Paul once said to the Greeks at the Areopagus: “In God we live and move and have our being.” This is the concept that grounds all faith and therefore must be the foundation of all our lives’ choices: Thanksgiving for life itself and responding to God’s graciousness by consciously reminding ourselves that our lives are not our own; that ownership is always and forever will be temporary; that what we can or cannot afford has nothing to do with our innate dignity or the place or state of being that Christ offers us here and now and what Christ reserves for us in heaven.  Practically speaking, what we think we own are God’s gifts to us to be shared– to learn from and to engage with others. 

Our pray for today is for Prudence.  The more commercials and pop up adds on our computer bombard our psyches, the more we need the Spirit of Wisdom. We must not throw caution to the winds but exercise cool judgment.  Our culture readily cultivates jealousies and envies, manipulating us to equal or exceed our neighbors’ buying power. It tempts us to assess  ourselves and others on the quality of our clothes, cars, homes or apartments.  None of these things last, but our relationships will.

An act of love resounds unto eternity. Today we recognize that what we buy and recycle has a much greater impact on others and future generations than we may like to acknowledge.  The Spirit of God and Jesus’ love will guide us if we attend to their Holy Spirt.  Remember, our Eucharists direct us to cultivate community, to care for ourselves and others without material excess so that not only our futures but future generations can benefit from what we own, what we accomplish, what we recycle, how we care for the air and water and the animals with whom we share them, and , equally important,  how we may inspire them to allow Jesus to expand their lives with faith, hope and love.  And the greatest of these is love.

Reading 1 Ecc 1:2; 2:21-23

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,
vanity of vanities!  All things are vanity!

Here is one who has labored with wisdom and knowledge and skill,
and yet to another who has not labored over it,
he must leave property.
This also is vanity and a great misfortune.
For what profit comes to man from all the toil and anxiety of heart
with which he has labored under the sun?
All his days sorrow and grief are his occupation;
even at night his mind is not at rest.
This also is vanity.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14 and 17

R. (1) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
You turn man back to dust,
saying, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in your sight
 are as yesterday, now that it is past,
 or as a watch of the night.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
You make an end of them in their sleep;
 the next morning they are like the changing grass,
Which at dawn springs up anew,
but by evening wilts and fades.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Teach us to number our days aright,
 that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Return, O LORD! How long?
 Have pity on your servants!
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
 that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
And may the gracious care of the LORD our God be ours;
 prosper the work of our hands for us!
 Prosper the work of our hands!
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Reading 2 Col 3:1-5, 9-11

Brothers and sisters:
If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died,
and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears,
then you too will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly:
immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire,
and the greed that is idolatry.
Stop lying to one another,
since you have taken off the old self with its practices
and have put on the new self,
which is being renewed, for knowledge,
in the image of its creator.
Here there is not Greek and Jew,
circumcision and uncircumcision,
barbarian, Scythian, slave, free;
but Christ is all and in all.

Alleluia Mt 5:3

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 12:13-21

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus,
“Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.”
He replied to him,
“Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?”
Then he said to the crowd,
“Take care to guard against all greed,
for though one may be rich,
one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

Then he told them a parable.
“There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.
He asked himself, ‘What shall I do,
for I do not have space to store my harvest?’
And he said, ‘This is what I shall do:
I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones.
There I shall store all my grain and other goods
and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you,
you have so many good things stored up for many years,
rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’
But God said to him,
‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you;
and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’
Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves
but are not rich in what matters to God.”