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Roman Catholic Priest, still in reasonalby good standing; aka: eminence, the emeritis cardinal archbishop of HGN

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Homily For the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Cycle A

I am tired of looking at Fred Phelps. There is more I could say, but I will leave it unsaid. This past weekend, I had parish duties. I appreciated the readings.  I decided to share my reflections.

Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Cycle A

      A number of years ago when I was a pastor in northern Alabama, the neighboring town of Tuscumbia, Alabama was the home to Helen Keller, a woman not blind from birth but whose hearing and sight vanished by the time she was about a year and a half old.  Through the efforts of her teacher Anne Sullivan, Helen  learned to name and recognize objects by the braille method as Anne, her teacher, tapped letters into her palm. Later Helen learned to speak.  She went on to college, wrote several books, and lectured around the world. Helen's life has been celebrated by the movie and play titled The Miracle Worker.

      I always thought Helen Keller was a woman whose life in many ways exemplified what I thought this gospel story about the man born blind was trying to say.  Helen Keller was a person who was blind but could really see.  There is a heroic quality about her life.

     The gospel and the first reading about the choice of David as the successor to Saul are very much about seeing and blindness. The Pharisees in this gospel from John think they have all the answers and profess to see, but they are blind.

      The blind man who is not too steady or sure of himself is the one who sees. By the end the gospel passage the man born blind sees so well that he recognizes and professes his faith that Jesus is the Messiah.

      What is the blindness of the Pharisees?  In John's gospel the Pharisees were the authorities and thought they had all the answers. The Pharisees argue for the established way.  They were legalistic. They accuse Jesus of not keeping the Sabbath.  In their stubbornness the Pharisees refuse to recognize goodness in the man whose sight had been restored.  The Pharisees failed to rejoice with him.  They reject the man born blind and cured of his blindness by throwing him out bodily.

      In the first reading the focus is also on seeing.  This time the scriptures remind us that it is not always simply by judging the external appearances that we arrive at really knowing the truth and the value of the other.   When the person to be chosen to follow Saul as king is being picked by Samuel from among Jesse’s sons, it is not the tallest, or most handsome;  the words the scripture uses: mention “his appearance or lofty stature".

      After examining and rejecting seven of Jessie’s sons, Samuel settles on the youngest who had been sent off to the fields during the selection process to tend sheep presumably because Jessie did not think him kingly material.  He is the one God chooses.  Today’s scriptures especially this account of the choice of David as Saul's successor, as they often do, favor the underdog.  The sacred writer reminds us that God sees into the heart, beyond external appearances.
      The readings today, particularly the story of the person born blind, are meant as a meditation for those who will be baptized at Easter.  They are meant to be a reflection on the quality of life that faith in Jesus brings.  The gospel tells those who are to be baptized that Jesus comes as light and sight for the blind. That quality of life that Jesus brings through baptism is an invitation to us,also, who have been baptized to get over any of our blindness whether it is blindness like the Pharisees that keeps us entrenched in some kind of stubborn position. Faith that comes with baptism enables us to see. We are invited to overcome that kind of blindness that perhaps keeps us from valuing the goodness and beauty in the other person.

     In the yard of Helen Keller's home at Ivy Green, the water pump is still there, that water pump where Helen and her teacher, Anne Sullivan, made the breakthrough that allowed Helen to fully live. It was the water from that pump splashing over her hand as her teacher tapped out the braille letters w-a-t-e-r on her other palm that Helen made the connection that this liquid was water. The world opened up for her. Helen referred to that day as her "soul day".  This Easter will be the "soul day" for those preparing for Baptism. The waters of Baptism are just like that. Baptism takes away our blindness and allows us to see in a whole new way. Baptism offers us life in a whole new way to live.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Fred Phelps

New International Version

Judging Others

New International Version

     "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Matt 7:12

     This makes Pope Francis' declaration: "Who am I to judge" seem prophetic and outstanding.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Is That A Dollar Sign On Cardinal Dolan's Chasuable?

Picture credit: Photo: Cardinal "G.O.P." Dolan "...was blind but now I...uh...I'm still blind." from

"Outmarketed" on gay marriage! Those are the cardinal's words. It seems they are a rather unfortunate choice of words. Here is a supposed religious leader, Dolan, hawking moral values using capitalistic language. I appreciate Bill Lidsey at Bilgrimage for taking up this discussion about being "outmarkedted" and the many wonderful comments that follow.
Bill Lindsey's Bilgrimage Blog On The Money and Dolan

Dolan is doing this after the new pope, Francis, has just released one of the first letters of his papacy criticizing capitalism.
Pope Francis -- Evengelii Gaudium

Not only are Pope Francis' statements about capitalism an affront to Cardinal Dolan's vision of went wrong with his anti-equality crusade,  now there are reports that Pope Francis leaves the Vatican at night to go out to visit with the homeless in Rome.
Pope Francis really meets with and knows the poor...

I will not expect Cardinal Dolan to go out and spend a night on the streets with the homeless of New York. Rather I'd just like for him to meet with a group or even groups of gay and lesbian people. I want Dolan to meet with at least one gay couple, maybe a couple who have been married for years.

It Seems to me, Dolan and his capitalist language and opposition to gay marriage always, always reduce gay and lesbian people and their relationships to an object. It's easier to hate an object. Has Cardinal Dolan ever met, well has he ever gone out on the street to meet gay and lesbian people?

If Pope Francis can leave the Vatican going out and sitting with being with the homeless of Rome, what would keep Cardinal Dolan from talking with and visiting a gay or lesbian couple? If Cardinal Dolan would meet with real gay, lesbian, transgender-ed, even queer people or just  a committed gay or lesbian couple, he might not be so quick, to reduce them to a dollar sign.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Message For The 30th. Sunday In Ordinary Time - Cycle C

Historical Marker at the Corner of 4th. and Walnut in Louisville, KY

      This gospel parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector is one more of those parables only found in the gospel of Luke. It’s a great story. Two attitudes are portrayed one by the Pharisee and the other by the tax collector. At the end of the story only the tax collector goes home “justified” in contrast to the Pharisee and those represented by his attitude who are convinced of their righteousness and critical and despising everyone else. 

       At times we can be a little like the Pharisee seeing sin everywhere around us while absolving ourselves. It’s like saying: “Let me get that spec out of your eye all the while overlooking the beam in my own eye.” This led the Pharisee and can lead you and me to that attitude of holding all others in contempt. There is a classical rule in spiritual direction that reminds us to be careful about judging because what you despise in others is probably part of your own behavior. 

      The lesson from today’s gospel is that we are all sinners. It is the tax collector who humbly acknowledges that and is the one who stands justified before God and can go home with a peaceful conscience. Even Pope Francis made more news lately in one of his interviews when the reporter asked the first question. “Who is Pope Francis?” He answered: “I am a sinner.” Yes, we are all sinners. It is an important reminder from Luke in today’s gospel.

      I’d like to end this reflection this morning by going in a slightly different direction to a different time, place, and person for an example of taking these words and the attitude of the Pharisee that he is better than everyone else and turning them, well upside down. The time is March 18, 1958. The place is a busy and crowded street corner in Louisville, Kentucky. The corner of 4th. and Walnut. The person is Father Louis or as he is better known, Thomas Merton, a monk from the Abbey of Gethsemani near Louisville. 

      There is now one of those historical markers put there by the State of Kentucky to commemorate the event. It is called a "A Revelation". Here is the text from that historical marker, put up around 2004. “Merton had a sudden insight at this corner Mar. 18, 1958 that led him to redefine his monastic identity with greater involvement in social justice issues. “He was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that he loved all these people…” He found them “walking around shining like the sun.” The experience is related in his book: Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander.

      Merton at this time had been in the monastery for about sixteen or seventeen years. He had gone there to find God and become holy through a routine of prayer and discipline by taking himself out of the work-a-day world of everyday life. Then Merton has this Revelation on this busy street corner on a late winter day. Merton in his description of this moment says that he almost blurted out: “Thank God, thank God that I am like other men, that I am only a man among others.” He adds that we do not know it, but we all are going around shinning like the sun. Merton adds if we could see that in one another: "There would be no more war no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed."  Yes, we are sinners. We are also, you and I, going around shining like the sun.