Monday, October 21, 2019

29th Sunday in Ordinary time Cycle C October 20, 2019

29th Sunday in Ordinary time   Cycle C                  October 20, 2019
          In today’s Gospel we hear the story of the unjust judge.   I think of Jesus as having some fun with this parable.    There are colorful characters and not a little exaggeration: a notorious judge who is a real curmudgeon, and a shrewish widow who is obsessive and persistent.   Neither are particularly attractive characters.  What are we to make of all this???
          In the second reading St Paul instructs his pupil Timothy, and us, to  “be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient;”    Persistent in what?   In proclaiming the word.   St. Paul writes:  “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, …, proclaim the word;  be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient;”
          Jesus in the Gospel tells us to pray always without becoming weary, and St. Paul tells us to be persistent in proclaiming the Gospel whether it is convenient of inconvenient.  Sounds like a lot of work.  And it is.
          To be a disciple requires persistence, or to say it another way, stick-to-itiveness.  Following Jesus, being a disciple, being a Christian, requires persistence.  The task of being a disciple is not done quickly nor easily.  It takes persistence. 
          Even to be good at some sport, or some skill, or some business, requires persistence.  You don’t pick these things up overnight. 
          This is even more true for a relationship, a friendship, a marriage.  It requires persistence.  You have to push through the difficult times, the embarrassing lapses, the boredom, to achieve real, deep, relationship.
          So also with Jesus.   In Jesus’ day He had to instruct us to be persistent in prayer.  With our current addiction to instantaneous results, instant communications, with no patience, this message of the need for persistence is hard to hear.   But we need to hear it.
          I do not believe that persistence in prayer will change God’s mind.   But I hope that persistence in prayer will change me, opening and shifting and bending me to be more open to God’s Will, rather than my own. 
          I do not think that persistence in proclaiming the Word of God, whether it is convenient or inconvenient, will change other peoples’ minds and hearts, and bring large numbers of converts to Christianity.  But I do think persistently proclaiming the Word of God, both by word and even more so by action, will convert me more and more to God’s Word, and help me to grow as a disciple.  And maybe that example, and God’s grace, will convert others.
          Christianity and the life of the Spirit are not instantaneously achievable realities.  They are not instant coffee.  Like a fine wine; they take time.  They take fortitude.  They take persistence.   And, Jesus assures us, they are worth it.  
God bless!    

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Fr. Chuck's Column, September 29, 2019

It has been a long, hot summer. A very loooooong summer! As I write this, we have had over 50 days of triple digit temperatures in Austin. Will it never end? We look at the calendar and see it is the end of September. Soon the heat will break, the humidity will drop, the air will become cool and fresh, and we will open our windows and turn off the AC. Meanwhile we live in anticipation and hope.
In the same way, Christians live in anticipation and hope. We look forward to, or are supposed to look forward to, the Second Coming of Christ and the summation of history. The earliest Christian prayer we have is “Maranatha!” It is Aramaic, Jesus’ own language, and means, “Come, Lord Jesus!” Like the return of cooler weather, we anticipate and look forward to the coming of Jesus in triumph and judgement. Bring it on!
Every Sunday in the Creed we profess our belief that Jesus “is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.” OR we state “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.” While we probably don’t spend much time thinking about it, the teaching of the Second Coming is very important to our faith. It gives us a grounded hope in the future. Evil loses, God wins. It is already determined.
Vatican Council II teaches us that this Second Coming is already a work in progress.
“Already the final age of the world is with us (cf. 1 Cor 10:11) and the renewal of the world is irrevocably under way; it is even now anticipated in a certain real way, for the Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real though imperfect. However, until there be realized new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells (cf. 2 Pet. 3:13) the pilgrim Church, in its sacraments and institutions, which belong to this present age, carries the mark of the world which will pass, and she herself takes her place among the creatures which groan and travail yea and await the revelation of the sons of God (cf. Rom. 8:19-22).”
So as you know that cooler days and more comfortable nights are certain to come, have faith that God’s justice will prevail. We believe, and look forward to the coming of the Lord in glory and power to establish God’s Kingdom in all of reality. Come, Lord Jesus!

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Homily Outline Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle C Sept 29, 2019

Homily Outline   Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time   Cycle C    Sept 29, 2019
NOTE:  This is an outline from which I worked, but it gives you the general idea of the homily.

This past Wednesday I went for my annual check up to my ophomologist, my eye doctor. 

Seems that our eyeballs = basketballs, but I have eyeballs shaped like footballs.    It makes focusing difficult.

Therefore, I have worn glasses…         they are a nuisance, but necessary.

I mention this because in the spiritual life, like in regular life, seeing is very important.  An important question at the beginning of growing in the spiritual life, and throughout, is “WHAT DO YOU SEE?”

Our Gospel today poses that question to us.  What do you see? 

Our Gospel presents us with two men:  Lazarus the beggar, and a rich man with no name.

Our Psalm today describes those who “delight in the law of the Lord…”  It says “They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.  In all they do they prosper.”   Sounds pretty good.

Those who do not follow the Lord or keep God’s laws, on the other hand, “are like chaff that the wind drives away.”    A big NOTHING.    In another place the wicked are compared to withered shrubs in a barren, salt waste. 

The contrast is between luxurious growth and dried-up, withered, barrenness.   Between the well irrigated and watered gorgeous trees on UT..

So which of the two men in the Gospel is which?   What do you see?

Is Lazarus, the poor begger, covered with sores, longing to eat the scraps that fall from the rich man’s table, the tree planted by water, full of fruit and leaves that do not wither, or is the rich man, dressed in fine purple, feasting sumptuously each day, the verdant tree?

Which is like the chaff blown away by the wind, or like the dried up shrub in the desert, barely alive?

The Gospel challenges us to change our focus.  To see not the exterior, but the deeper reality that God sees.  To look beyond the surface.

When you see someone dressed in Armani suits, and driving a Lexus or a Tesla, with a big home and lots of material wealth, do you see someone who is really fortunate, someone you wish you could be like, someone you envy?  OR do you see someone who puts his pants on one leg at a time?   Someone who has hopes and dreams, fears, limitations, insecurities, foibles?   A fellow human in need of redemption?  \

And when you see when you see some dirty, smelly, off-putting beggar on Guadalupe Street, do you see just a bum?   Or an unfortunate fellow?  Or a fellow human being?  A brother?   A fellow human in need of redemption?

The Gospel today is like a pair of spiritual glasses adjusting our sight, to see better, to see deeper, to see more as God sees. 

What do you see?