Sunday, September 30, 2007


I missed posting last week, I got very busy on a project where I work. You may have noticed on the side of this blog a link to the Hazelwood Chapel Fund. The Hazelwood Center, where I am employed, is a residential care facility for developmentally disabled adults. We set out a couple of years ago to build a chapel and today it was finally opened. The chapel will be a great blessing to the residents, their families, and the employees, providing a quiet space for prayer and reflection. It's also been a painful couple of weeks, since I managed to break a couple of ribs, (stupidity on my part, don't ask!). Thanks to all who lent their support through prayer for the success of our effort to make this dream of a chapel a reality. God bless you.
Deacon John
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sept. 30, 2007

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary time

Am 6:1a, 4-7
1 Tm 6:11-16
Lk 16:19-31

“Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.” This is the Gospel according to Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street. Greed, avariciously filling all of our wants and desires, without regard to the consequences, the consequences to ourselves or those around us. Get it while you can, and keep it for yourself. Unfortunately that seems to be a pretty good description of our world. I got mine, you’re on your own. We are complacent, self-satisfied, ignoring the collapse occurring around us. Lest we make the mistake of thinking this is a modern phenomenon, the prophet Amos for the last two weeks has assured us it is not. He excoriates the people of Israel, complacent in their wealth, taking what they want, cheating the poor, while society crumbles around them. Their world did crumble, but I suppose the darker side of human nature is just too persistent. The wealthy man in the Gospel reading today has all he could want or need. He lives life large, a fine home, the best clothes, rich and sumptuous food, all the while ignoring the poor man at his door step. Or perhaps he didn’t actually ignore Lazarus, he just didn’t see him. Lazarus, and all those like him, simply didn’t exist, at least not in this wealthy man’s world. Not until he needed him. Suffering torment after death, he begs Father Abraham to send Lazarus to comfort him with water. Abraham says no. Realizing that he is where he will be, without hope of reprieve, he begs Father Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers, for “if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.” But Abraham again refuses, telling the wealthy man that his brothers have the words of Moses and the prophets. If they won’t listen to them, “neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.” Our wealthy friend’s fear for his brothers was well-founded. The darker side of human nature is persistent.
Greed is good. We are complacent in our wealth. We live well without seeing the poor on our doorstep. We don’t even notice them, don’t even know they are there, until we need them. We continue on our merry way, with out regard for the consequences to ourselves or others. We still do not see, we still do not hear, even though Someone from the dead has come to us.
Deacon John
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sept. 30, 2007

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ex 32:7-11, 13-14
1 Tm 1:12-17
Lk 15:1-32

I used to have a calendar that basically contained my entire life. Appointments, notes, places I was supposed to be, things I was supposed to do, all of them were in that calendar. Without it I could not function. Once, I lost it, and despair ensued. This was a paper calendar, in the days before PDA’s. There was no computer backup. How could I possibly hope to recreate this calendar? I could never remember all of it. That’s why I had it in the first place. I searched everywhere for that calendar. If it was lost, so was I. Without it things were incomplete. It finally turned up (thank you, St. Anthony!), even though the most exhaustive search I could mount didn’t find it. That calendar was lost, like the coin was lost by the woman in the Gospel. She had ten coins, looked again, and only had nine. How did it get lost? Who knows? It just wasn’t there. She searched everywhere until it was found. That coin mattered. The lost sheep in the other story, however, is a little different. Unlike the coin, it didn’t simply vanish without explanation, it wandered away. I doubt the sheep intended to wander off, it simply wasn’t paying attention and found itself separated from the flock. The shepherd, realizing the sheep was gone, began to search, refusing to stop until the lost sheep had been found and returned to the fold. That sheep mattered. Then there is the son who decided he wanted to go off and live it up. He did not just vanish, or wander off without realizing how lost he had become, he left intentionally. He was lost, but not exactly in the same way as the coin or the sheep. He chose to jump off the edge, a decision he came to regret. Even though he left voluntarily, his father never stopped looking for him. He didn’t mount the massive search that the woman or the shepherd did, but he looked, he watched, and he waited. The passage says that he caught sight of him while he was still a long way off. I can only conclude that he was looking for him, watching to see if he would return. Even though he essentially abandoned the family, even though he squandered part of the family wealth, this son mattered.
When we get lost, we get lost in much the same way. Sometimes we just vanish. Maybe we stop praying, maybe we just stop thinking about God, we forget that we need our faith, and we are just lost, no real explanation, it just happened. Sometimes we are like the sheep, we get distracted by all of the stuff in the world around us and we wander away following this whim or that fad and look up one day to find ourselves lost, away from the fold, and not really sure we can find our way back. Too often we are like the Prodigal Son, we take our inheritance and toss it away. We get lost alright, we get lost because we want to get lost. We are certain that all of this other stuff the world has to offer is a lot more fun, and we dive in until we find ourselves bankrupt, spiritually and emotionally bankrupt, lost, and wanting to go home, but afraid. No matter how we manage to get lost, the search for us is on. Just like the woman searching for the vanished coin, God seeks us when we disappear. When we wander off like the sheep, God, like the shepherd, searches for us until we are found. When we throw it all away and run off like the Prodigal Son, God never stops looking for us, watching, waiting for us to return. When the coin was missing, when the sheep was lost, when the son was gone, things were incomplete. When we are lost, somehow things are incomplete, so God seeks us out, looking for us, waiting for us, to welcome us back, because we matter.

Deacon John
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sept. 16, 2007

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wis 9:13-18b
Phmn 9-10, 12-17
Lk 14:25-33

Can't you just read the headlines?
Religious Leader Urges Breaking Up Families!!
Dump the wife and kids and follow me, says Galilean fanatic!
Experts fear societal devastation!
No, what Jesus is really calling for is a plan, a cost/benefit analysis. What will it cost to follow Jesus? What will it cost to not follow? A person going into business can't go blindly. There has to be a plan, a knowledge of what it will cost, what sacrifices will have to be made so the business can succeed. A person going into a business must know if the rewards that can be reaped are worth the cost, worth the sacrifice. Decisions have to be made, after all, not deciding is deciding.
Each of us must plan, make decisions in the same way for our lives. I'm diabetic, so I have to plan. I have to plan what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat. I have to plan so I can remain healthy. If I don't plan, if I don't decide what to do about food, I pay a price. I may feel bad in the short term, and do real harm in the long term. I have to sacrifice the things I want now, so I can have a better future. Sometimes, the decisions are really , really, hard. They are nothing, however, compared to the decision each of us is called to make in following Christ. We have to plan. We have to weigh the cost of the sacrifices we may be called to make in order to follow Jesus. We have to make decisions, we have to be proactive. Just like the business person who plans, who sees the reward that follows the sacrifice, just like the diabetic planning meals, we must plan, we must decide. Not deciding is deciding. Sacrifices may be made at great cost, but
the reward is priceless.
Deacon John
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sept. 9, 2007