Thursday, February 10, 2022



A Few Short Sections, Listen To All Of Them, Especially The Last Section On The Four Mantras




Thich Nhat Hanh had an experience as a seven year old when he knew he wanted to become a Vietnamese Buddhist monk.
I had an experience as a seven year old when I knew I wanted to become a Catholic priest. 

Thich Nhat Hanh 
Who Died on January 21, 2022

Sunday, February 6, 2022



They caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing.
They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them.
They came and filled both boats so that the boats were in danger of sinking.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said,
"Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man. "For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him,
Luke 5:1-11

Every time I read a passage about Saint Peter – and I have read and preached on them many, many times since I was pastor of Saint Peter Mission Church in Monticello – I chuckle to myself. Good old Saint Peter has to be one of the worst “people pleasers” in all of scripture. He is always kissing up to Jesus and then proceeding to fall on his face. You have to love this bumbling old fisherman, who had an almost insatiable desire to please Jesus whom he obviously loved so much.

Peter would have made a great clown for kids. I sure kids back then loved him because you can’t help laughing at his antics, and nowhere are those antics more obvious than in the gospel stories about him.

First, his name was originally “Simon.” It was Jesus who gave him the nickname “Peter,” meaning “Rock.” I am sure the other apostles might have thought that “Mr. McGoo” or “Marshmallow Man” would have been more like it. He was always rushing into delicate situations, bragging and making a scene, then falling on his face at the end.

He and the other apostles, in one gospel, are out on a lake in a storm. They are struggling at the oars against the huge waves trying to get to shore, when all of a sudden, they look up and see Jesus walking on the water toward them. Peter, as always, sticks his foot in his mouth. “Lord, if it is really you, let me walk on the water toward you!” Jesus invites him to get out of the boat and walk toward him. Peter, out of the boat, out into deep water and high winds, begins to sink. “Lord, help me! I’m going to drown!” Jesus rescued him at the last minute.

Today, Jesus is teaching people along the shore from one of Peter’s boats. When Jesus finished teaching, he told Peter to put out into deep water and lower his nets for a catch. Peter had quit for the day and was washing his nets in preparation for putting them away. A little irritated that a professional carpenter would tell him, a professional fisherman, how to fish, Peter speaks up. “Lord, we have worked hard all night and caught nothing. We are just now putting the nets away, but if you insist, we will do what you say.” Peter started out by “humoring” Jesus and ended up with having to eat his words. When Peter raised the nets, they held so many fish that they were tearing the nets – enough to fill two boats.

At the transfiguration, after having been through a powerful religious experience, Peter does not know how to handle it except to open his big mouth and make the outrageous suggestion that it be made permanent. “Wow, Jesus, this is so cool! Let’s set up tents and just stay up here forever!” Jesus is forced to explain to Peter the whole purpose of this peak experience – to strengthen them for the tough days ahead.

At the Last Supper when Jesus approached Peter to wash his feet, overcome with humility, Peter begins to protest that he would never allow such a thing! When Jesus explains to him that if he would not allow it, then he could never be a part of him, Peter throws it in reverse! “Well if that is true, then wash my hands and head as well! Wash me all over!” With Peter, it is always an “all or nothing” proposition.

When Jesus predicts that he will be betrayed by one of his disciples, Peter jumps into the discussion to brag. “Even if everyone else abandons you, I will never abandon you!” Not too much later, after Jesus is arrested and the heat is on, Peter denies Jesus - not once, not twice, but three times! “Jesus who? Woman, I don’t know who you are talking about!”

Then there is the story of Peter out fishing again after the resurrection. It is so typical of Peter. First, it tells us that Peter was stripped to the waist so that he could haul the wet nets back into his fishing boat. When he recognizes Jesus on the shore, he gets so flustered that it says he puts on his clothes, jumps into the water and then swims toward Jesus standing on the shore. You can just imagine Peter dragging himself out of the water with soggy clothes, dripping wet, and gushing with enthusiasm.

Second, it tells us that when Jesus asked Peter for some of the fish to put on the grill he had fired up on the beach, Peter runs back to the boat and drags the net to Jesus, dumping 153 large fish at his feet. You can almost hear him say breathlessly, “There! How’s that? Is that enough? If not, I’ll be happy to go get some more!” Jesus, knee-deep in fish, probably shook his head in laughter at Peter’s impulsive need to please. Jesus, no doubt, sees the big heart inside his clumsy klutz of an apostle, Peter!

Peter should give us all hope. He always teaches me a lot about our relationship to God. Reading about him, I have come to believe that God is more interested in our goodhearted attempts than our mistakes, that God wants a relationship with us, not matter how rocky it is!

I believe this is precisely why so many people resonate with the famous prayer of Thomas Merton.

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not
see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where
it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that
I think I am following your will does not mean that I am
actually doing so. But I believe the desire to please you
does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all
I am doing. I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right
road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, will I
trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the
shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

My friends! God wants a relationship with you, not after you settle down, not when you can get it right, but now, just as you are, no matter how clumsy and rocky it might be! If you give your heart to God, “the desire to please him will in fact please him.” If St. Peter can fall on his face, over and over again, and still be loved by Jesus, so can we!

That’s why I resonate with Saint Peter more than Saint Paul. Saint Paul was a religious perfectionist. Saint Peter was full of human weaknesses. But whether you are more like Saint Peter or more like Saint Paul, know that God loves you, just as the father in the parable of the prodigal son loved both of his sons – the one who stayed home and got it right all the time and the son who got down with the pigs and had to come crawling back home.