I Pity the Fool!

Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time Cycle A

Dt 11:18, 26-28, 32 Psalm Ps 31:2-3, 3-4, 17, 25 Rom 3:21-25, 28 Mt 7:21-27

Active imagination gone wrong
“The A-Team” was a show about a bunch of soldiers who were on the run from the law who went about taking care of people in unjust situations. One of the hero’s of this show was Mr. T – A huge body-builder with a Mohawk who was always saying – “I Pity the Fool… and then went on to dispense some pithy wisdom.

I often encourage you to listen to the Scriptures with an active imagination, placing your self in the scene and watching the gospel unfold on the little TV set inside your brain. Taking my own advice I cracked open the scriptures this past week and listened to the Gospel, and the image that flashed across the scene was Mr. T (the guy with the Mohawk) playing the part of Jesus telling the parable saying “I pity the fool who builds his house on sand…” So with that visual image fixed firmly in our brains, let’s set about reflecting on today’s readings.

Blessing and Curse
Moses begins our readings today by inviting us to “Take these words of mine into your heart and soul”. What words are we to invite into our heart and soul? “I set before you here, this day, a blessing and a curse: a blessing for obeying the commandments of the LORD, your God, which I enjoin on you today; a curse if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD, your God”. Moses is inviting us to take the commandments of the Lord into our heart and a soul – If we do, we are accepting the blessing of God. If we don’t, we are rejecting the blessing of God (which is a curse). If we do nothing, we are rejecting the blessings of God.

The four kinds of law
Eternal Law – This is the way the universe is in God’s mind. It applies to everyone everywhere. An example of Eternal Law – Physics. Every truth reflects Eternal Law, because Christ is the Truth.

Natural Law – Do good and avoid evil. It is our ability to cooperate in Eternal Law. We recognize that there is an order in the universe, and we choose to cooperate with that order in the universe. Killing the innocent is a violation of the Natural Law.

Human Law – These are things that we make up to solve problems. People are getting killed when they drink too much alcohol and then drive – so don’t drink and drive.

Divine Law – This is the law of God that is set up to lead us to true freedom. It is revealed law (in the 10 commandments and in the Beatitudes) to guide us into an eternal relationship with God. Following the divine law is the choice that today’s readings call us to. We have divine law because we are created for eternity – but this is revealed to us.

It is this last law, Divine law that we are called to bring into our hearts and our souls today.

What does it mean to take the Law of God into our heart and soul?
Jesus answers this question in the Gospel when he says “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.” In other words, We learn to listen to Christ in the Church and to carry out the will of the Father in the world. There is a natural synergy here; it is in the Church, in the Mass that we learn to listen to the Father and it is in the world that we learn to do the will of the Father.

The Church helps us to listen to Christ by feeding our Heart, Mind and Soul.
The Church feeds our hearts – by inviting us into the Body of Christ. It is in the Church, through our friends and neighbors in the pews, or over a doughnut that we have the opportunity to grow in relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Church feeds our minds – with the Scriptures and the Catechism that give reasons for our faith. The challenge of Sacred Scripture, and the teachings of the Church causes us to stretch, to think and to grow.

The Church feeds our souls – with the Eucharist. It is here that our souls are fed, nourished and exposed to the intensity of the love of the Father. The Eucharist gives us the strength to endure our trials with the strength of Christ on the Cross. This is why we begin the Eucharistic prayer with the offertory, to enable us to offer up our struggles, anxieties and temptations with Christ on the Cross. The Altar is the Cross, it is here that Christ is sacrificed, and we enter more deeply into the love of God.

How do we do the will of the Father in the World?
Jesus addresses the problem of our Christian tendency to hear with our ears, but not to act in our souls. He delivers a stern warning to us when he says “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” We need to examine our lives and answer the question seriously, am I doing the will of the Father in the world?
  • Do we come to Mass on Sunday and say “Lord, Lord!” and then Monday lie to our bosses, or our mothers, or our friends?
  • Do we come to Mass on Sunday and say “Lord, Lord!” and view pornography on the internet?
  • Do we come to Mass on Sunday to say “Lord, Lord!” and then campaign for political candidates who support abortion, or neglect of the poor and immigrants?
Jesus and Mr. T - I Pity the Fool!

If we do then we need to repent – to change our minds, to turn around and to begin anew! Let us not become hypocrites, but rather let us allow God to write His law on our hearts, so that throughout this week we can give authentic witness to the reality of God’s presence in our lives. Imagine that Mr. T is reading the Gospel today instead of Deacon Paul. Jesus is saying to us – I pity the Fool who comes to Mass, hears my words and refuses to act on them. Why would we come here and refuse to change? Why are we here if we are not here to listen to the Word of God in our hearts, and not act on them in the world this week?


My Words, Gods Word

Saturday the Sixth Week of Ordinary Time

Jas 3:1-10 Psalm 12:2-3, 4-5, 7-8 Mark 9:2-13

Two modes of thinking
There are two levels of thought, emotional thought and rational thought. Emotional thought is composed of the world of sensing, of feeling and emotions. Rational thought is composed of words, and allows us to think about more abstract things, such as time, truth, love etc. Words are the foundation of Rational thought. Without words we are unable to think.

How do we use our Words?
St. James goes on to challenge us about how we are using the gift of words in our life. If we have a trained mind, then we can have a trained body. Our words guide the mind either along a good path or a bad. We use our words to Bless God, and to Profane Him.

How does God use His Word?
Christ was sent to reveal the Fathers love to the world. In the Gospel today we hear the Father reveal His love for Jesus. St. Augustine described Jesus as the fullest expression of God’s Love – the Word made Flesh. Atop Mount Tabor Jesus speaks with Moses and Elijah about what He must do to demonstrate the Fathers love for us. It is by dying on the Cross and entering into death out of Love and obedience to His Father that Jesus opens for us the possibility of eternal communion with God. God uses His Word to express the depths of His Love.

How can we learn to listen to the Word of God?
God the Father challenges the Apostles today atop Tabor. He says to them, and to us – “This is my beloved Son – Listen to Him”. Why? Because when we listen to Jesus we experience the fullness of the Fathers love. He does this through the actions of His Son, the Word Made Flesh – become man. In listening to Christ we receive God’s love into our minds, and it is there that Christ is able to transform our lives. As St. James says – A ship can be steered by so small a rudder.

How can we learn to allow the Word of God to penetrate our Hearts?
God’s word is the Word of Forgiveness, Healing and Love. He can only be received when we are able to acknowledge our own weakness. If we do not acknowledge our sins, then we have no need for forgiveness. On one hand if we have no need for forgiveness, then our wounded-ness, our pain remains. If we are distracted by pain, it is more difficult for us to receive God’s love. On the other hand, if we are humble; we recognize our need for forgiveness. When we approach God asking for forgiveness, we experience His love, which cleanses us and heals us.

So today, let us approach the Sacrament of God’s Love in humility. Let us recognize our need for forgiveness, our thirst for God’s love so that when we receive the Word Made Flesh into our souls, we can truly “Listen to Him”. Because when we listen to Him, he shows us the fullness of the Fathers Love that heals all.


Play Ball!

Seventh Sunday of Easter Cycle A

Acts 1:1-11 Psalm Ps 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9 Eph 1:17-23 Mt 28:16-20

A New Season for the Rockies
About a month ago, Baseball season began again, and everyone in Denver is asking the question – How will the Rockies do this year. This time last year, no one expected that the Rockies would make it to the Pennant Race, let alone the World Series, and this year, there is great expectation for our boys in purple – Will this be the year when Denver wins the World Series?

A New Season approaches – Ordinary Time
The Readings for today are kind of along the same lines. Today we are celebrating the Ascension of the Lord, and next Sunday we will celebrate the great Feast of Pentecost – the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church. Then we will be back into “Ordinary Time” – The start of a new season in the Church.

What are we focusing on this Season?
In the readings today, we hear Jesus speaking with the Apostles. They ask Him “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus replies - “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority.

Many today ask the question – Is now the time for the Rockies to win the World Series? If you came to Mass today wondering if you would learn the answer to this great question, Jesus tells you “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons…”

What we need to focus on this Season
The Apostles are focused on the Kingdom of God, and Jesus tells them not to worry about that but rather to focus on what is important – He goes on to give them our mission – “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Will we make it to the World Series?
This same kind of dialog probably happened in the Rockies dugout at the beginning of the Season, the players, like the Apostles going to Coach Hurdle– “Is this the year to win the World Series” – and Coach Hurdle responding to the team – “Don’t worry about that, let’s focus on the basics of good ball – the future will take care of itself.”

The Coach says – focus on the basics
Likewise, Jesus says to his disciples “Don’t worry about that – lets focus on the basics – Accept the gift of the Holy Spirit and be my witnesses to the ends of the Earth!” Then Jesus ascends into heaven, and the disciples are still standing around looking up at the heavens (probably waiting for the Kingdom of Heaven) – when two Angels appear to them and remind them to get busy about the mission of the Church – “To be my witnesses to the ends of the earth”.

How is the Season shaping up?
How are we doing, as Christ’s Disciples in witnessing to His life to the ends of the Earth? Some would say well, and others would say not so well. If we look about the Church universally, we would see that 2 out of every 3 people living are not Christian. That means that there is still more evangelizing for us to do. Looking at the problem of evangelization at this scale is too difficult, let us leave that problem for the Holy Father, and focus on a more regional area, say in Denver, Here at St. Anthony of Padua, in our homes, at our work or School. Did we witness to Jesus Christ this past week? To whom? How? Why or why not?

Our witness starts with our own relationship with Christ. Do I know Jesus? Do I know him personally? How do I come to know Jesus? - In the body of His Church – the living community that worships and remembers Him.

Bible Thumping and the Canon of Scripture
Our culture views Christians as “Bible Thumpers”. Some of this view is justified, and some not. Do we go to work armed with the Canon of Scripture and Blast away at our Co-Workers. “You cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven unless you are born again from above” “For God so Loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son…”. The Gospel message is not witnessed to by words alone, but by words and action. It is not enough to proclaim that Jesus is Lord, rather we need to witness to His Lordship in our lives and our speech.

Witness first with your actions…
When we stand up for those who are bullied at school, when we refuse to listen to gossip at work or at church. We witness to God when we oppose those who murder the innocent with abortion, oppose those who oppress the poor and take advantage of the immigrant. Our action of love are our primary witness of the Gospel. When people ask us why we are doing these things, then we need to reply with the reasons why our hearts have been converted.

The Elevator Speech – Batting Practice
Once a friend challenged me to write down the reason why I am a Christian in 100 words or less. I think that this is a great challenge for all of us, and if you have never had to do this, sit down this next week and try it out. It really is quiet challenging because it forces us to really think about why we are Christian, and what we would share with someone if asked. Mine went something like this…

I am a Christian because God blessed me with health, security, happiness and faith. Every time I encounter struggle God uses it to show me His love.

When I studied the saints I discovered that I shared their burning love for God, and I saw how God cared for them.

In emulating the Love of Christ, the Love that the saints have for God changes me from a selfish lover to a selfless lover. In this selfless love for His brothers and sisters I have found true happiness.


Then with His Word
To be Christ’s witnesses to the ends of the earth in a truly Catholic way means that we witness to the whole Gospel, and the scriptures that come to mind and frame our lives as we engage in the mission of being Christ’s witnesses to the ends of the earth include “When I was sad you comforted me”, “When I was naked, you clothed me”, “When I was hungry you fed me”, “When I was sick, you cared for me”, and “Whenever you did this for the least of my Brothers, you did it for me.” We are called to be Christ’s witnesses to the end of the earth in our actions, actions of love that mirrors Christ’s selfless love on the Cross.

Christianity is a Team Sport – So Get in the Game!
It is important that all of us here today hear the call of the Gospel – We are all on Jesus’ team. His challenge to all of us this next week is to be His witnesses to the ends of the Earth. At the end of this Mass, it is not just the Priest, or the Deacon, or the Extra-ordinary Ministers, or the Musicians who witness to Christ, but rather all of us are on the same team. Our mission this week is to focus on the fundamentals – and for all of us, Laity, Musicians, and Ministers to get in the game – because Christianity works best when everyone on the team is playing their part! Don’t be a Pew Potato – Go out and Play Ball!