Showing posts from September, 2020

Paving the road

Today's Mass readings (link) If the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and the streets of Heaven are paved with gold, what about the road to Heaven? Mud. Mud and potholes, and the signposts are faded, slanted, and often printed in some totally unfamiliar script. And it's uphill! Hell is "down there" somewhere, and good intentions are so slippery you can just sit down and slide to Hell on your sofa cushion. Heaven is a hard climb.  OK, I'm in danger of getting hopelessly lost in this metaphor, so let's just move on....  This is what I want to say: Always we begin again. It's a motto of the Benedictines. My spiritual director used to repeat to me a quote from one of the desert fathers, who when asked how the monks lived, answered, "we fall down and we get up ... we fall down and we get up." The Mass readings today are all about the possibility of change -- for the better or for the worse. It's a really important theme for me!  I wrote

The parable of the day laborers

Today's Mass readings (link) .  In today's gospel reading, Jesus tells the story of a vineyard owner who goes down to the local Home Depot (or was it a 7-11? my translation just says "the marketplace") early in the morning, and there finds a bunch of men loitering around hoping to pick up a day's work. He agrees on a standard day's wage, loads them into his pickup truck and takes them back to the vineyard, where they immediately start working. He goes back a few hours later and brings back another pickup-truckload of day laborers, again at lunchtime, again in the afternoon, and then again just an hour before the working day is finished. When time comes to start paying them off, the boss tells his foreman to call the workers forward, starting with the last hired. Each one is paid the standard day's wage. Seeing this, the ones who had been there first perked up, thinking that they would no doubt get paid more since they had been working hard for many more ho

Binding and loosing

Today's Mass readings:  Ezekiel 33:7-9, in which the prophet is told that he has the obligation to call out evil -- that if he sees someone doing wrong, and fails to call them on it, then they will be punished for their sin and he, too, will be held responsible for their guilt . If, on the other hand, he calls them out and they ignore his warning and continue in their sins, then they will be punished but he will be held guiltless. Romans 13:8-10, in which Paul says that everything in the Law -- thou shalt not lie or steal or kill or covet -- is rolled up in the one commandment: "love your neighbor as yourself." Don't get hung up on details, just love. Matthew 18:15-20, in which Jesus tells his disciples: if someone wrongs you, confront him (or her, etc.) privately. Maybe he'll hear you and apologize and change his ways, and you will have done him good as well as yourself. If they don't listen, then talk it over with some friends, and if they agree that this pe

Love is an Action Verb

LOVE  is a word with a lot of definitions. It gets confusing! In fact, I don't think we have nearly enough words in English to cover all the things "love" is used for. from noun a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend. sexual passion or desire. verb (used with object), loved, lov·ing. to have love or affection for: All her pupils love her . to have a profoundly tender, passionate affection for (another person). So this covers filial love, romantic love, friendly love, sexual attraction ... all nice, warm, pleasant feelings . Nothing to do with the Christian definition of "love," actually. Nothing, really, to do with the grown-up  definition of "love."  St. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13:4-6, says: Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irrita