Saturday, May 11, 2024



The Parable of the Lost Sheep
Luke 15:1-7

1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Thursday, May 9, 2024




A famous monastery had fallen on hard times. Formerly its many buildings were filled with young monks, but now it was all but deserted. People no longer came there to be nourished by prayer, and only a handful of old monks shuffled through the cloisters serving God with heavy hearts. On the edge of the monastery woods, an old rabbi had built a little hut. He would come there, from time to time, to fast and pray. No one ever spoke with him, but whenever he appeared, the word would be passed from monk to monk: 'The rabbi walks in the woods.' And, for as long as he was there, the monks would feel sustained by his prayerful presence.

One day the abbot decided to visit the rabbi and open his heavy heart to him. So, after the morning Eucharist, he set out through the woods. As he approached the hut, the abbot saw the rabbi standing in the doorway, as if he had been awaiting the abbot's arrival, his arms outstretched in welcome. They embraced like long-lost brothers. The two entered the hut where, in the middle of the room, stood a wooden table with the scriptures open on it. They sat for a moment in the presence of the Book.

Then the rabbi began to weep. The abbot could not contain himself. He covered his face with his hands and began to cry too. For the first time in his life, he cried his heart out. The two men sat there like lost children, filling the hut with their shared pain and tears. But soon the tears ceased and all was quiet. The rabbi lifted his head. 'You and your brothers are serving God with heavy hearts,' he said. 'You have come to ask a teaching of me. I will give you a teaching, but you can repeat it only once. After that, no one must ever say it aloud again.' The rabbi looked straight at the abbot and said, 'The Messiah is among you.' 

For a while, all was silent. The rabbi said, 'Now you must go.' The abbot left without a word and without ever looking back. The next morning, the abbot called his monks together in the chapter room. He told them he had received a teaching from the 'rabbi who walks in the woods' and that the teaching was never again to be spoken aloud. Then he looked at the group of assembled brothers and said, 'The rabbi said that one of us is the Messiah.' The monks were startled by this saying.  

'What could it mean?' they asked themselves. 'Is Brother John the Messiah? Or Brother Matthew or Brother Thomas? Am I the Messiah? What could all this mean?' They were all deeply puzzled by the rabbi's teaching, but no one ever mentioned it again. As time went by, the monks began to treat themselves and one another with a new and very special reverence. A gentle, warm-hearted, concern began to grow among them which was hard to describe but easy to notice. They began to live with each other as people who had finally found the special something they were looking for, yet they prayed the Scriptures together as people who were always looking for something else.

When visitors came to the monastery they found themselves deeply moved by the life of these monks. Word spread, and before long people were coming from far and wide to be nourished by the prayer life of the monks and to experience the loving reverence in which they held each other. Soon, other young men were asking, once again, to become a part of the community, and the community grew and prospered.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024


I am not talking about selfishness here! The "great commandment" of Jesus says, "Love your neighbor as yourself," not "Love your neighbor, but not yourself!" In other words, if you have no love for yourself, you will have no love to share! You cannot give anybody else anything, if you don't have anything to give! As I learned in High School Latin class, "Nemo dat quod not habet." "If you ain't got it, you can't give it!" 

I would translate "mind, body and spirit" as "education, health and spirituality." Whichever words you prefer, the task is to fill your mind with truth, fill your body with a balance of healthy food and exercise and fill your spirit with help from the "higher power."  If you "fall in love" with caring about and pursing those three things, you will have an abundance of love to share. 

Sir Ranulph Fiennes makes a great point. We can complain about the weather or how bad the world is, but it comes down to us taking the necessary personal precautions to survive and thrive in the world as it is! If it's cold, wear a coat and hat. If it is weak, crooked and selfish, then make sure you personally are strong, honest and communally focused! If the world is filled with ignorant, unhealthy and materialistic people, then make sure you individually are educated, healthy and spiritually based. 

Alexis de Tocqueville was so right when he said this about personal responsibility and how it affects the society we live in when he said, "A nation cannot long remain strong when every man belonging to it is individually weak; and that no form or combination of social polity has yet been devised to make an energetic people out of a community of pusillanimous (cowardly) and enfeebled citizens.”

As a country, as a church, as a community and as a family, nobody can save us from us, but us - one person at a time who is strong in mind, body and spirit! 

Sunday, May 5, 2024


If you were to die today and you stood before the gates of heaven and you were asked this one simple question to see whether you got in or not, could you answer that one simple question? Here is that question. “Who does God love?”

Well, if you are not sure, I am going to give you the answer - the answer found in today’s first reading. It is so simple, yet unbelievably astounding! Who does God love? He loves everybody – everybody - no ands, ifs or buts about it!

Then Peter proceeded to speak and said,
“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. While Peter
was still speaking these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were
listening to the word. The Jewish converts who had accompanied
Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit
should have been poured out on the Gentiles too.
Acts of the Apostles 10

One of the parables that most brings this point home to me is the parable of the vineyard workers. The parable of the “Vineyard Workers” is enough to make wine growers all over the world cringe! This parable is not an instruction on to operate a profitable vineyard. If you followed this example, you would be broke in no time! No, it’s a story about how God treats us, a story about God’s unbelievable generosity! For Jesus, the whole purpose of this parable is to shock in order to teach! This parable is insane, according to human thinking, but that’s the whole point of the parable. That’s its genius! It tells of God’s unexpected insane love for us, no matter what we have done or what we have failed to do! That’s why it is called “the gospel,” “the good news!”

Those who had “worked all day in the sun” were the religious authorities. Those “hour before quitting time” workers were the “tax collectors and sinners,” those who felt unworthy in God’s eyes, the simple people who followed Jesus! You can imagine how both groups reacted when they heard the punch line, “Give them all a full day's pay!” “Give them all a full day's pay!”

This message is very close to the message of another parable, the one we call the Parable of the Prodigal Son. In that story, the father loves both his sons, the one who stayed home and followed all the rules, as well as the one who strayed away and got down with the pigs! The message is simple: God loves all his children, not matter what they have done or failed to do!

The tax collectors, sinners and rejects were delirious with joy when they heard that message! The Scribes and Pharisees, who taught that God’s love depended on people’s behaviors, were outraged. In the words of Jesus, they were “envious because I am generous.” They made the mistake of believing that there is not enough God-love to go around!

One of the worst things to happen to the church was when it started to “conditionalize” this “good news” and started teaching people that God will love you if you do this and God won’t love you if you do that!” It is not uncommon to hear some religious people tone down the “good news” because it is “too dangerous.” I was often criticized at the Cathedral by them when I welcomed home hundreds of fallen away Catholics by preaching this message. Their worst nightmare is that if people really believed the message of the parables and the church really taught it, all hell would break loose! People would start doing any damned thing they wanted! That’s the same thing that worried the Scribes and Pharisees. In reality, the opposite was true in Jesus’ day and the opposite is true in ours! People’s lives are transformed by this message! They are converted by this message! This message inspires them to love others the same way they have been loved by God.

What do you believe? Are you one of those people who still believes that God’s pays us with love depending how many hours we have loved him? Are you one of those people who still believes that God turns his love on and off depending what we do or fail to do? If you are, really listen to the message of the parables. If it sounds too good to be true, then you have gotten the message! God’s incredible unconditional love does sound too good to be true, but the fact of the matter is, it is true! As St. Paul says in his famous Letter to the Romans (5:8), “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” He died for us before we ever thought about shaping up. He didn’t die for us as a reward for our shaping up! While we were still sinners, he died for us!

So, what are we going to do about it? In the Gospel today, Jesus does not command that we love him back. He doesn’t say, love me and then I’ll love you back! All he asks is for us to love one each other “as he loves us.”

This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
John 10

How does he love us? He loves us without condition, no ands, ifs or buts about it! He commands us to love each other the same way, without condition, no ands, if or buts about it – even our enemies, even those who will not love us back! God would not demand that we do something he wouldn’t do! He loves us even when we treat him like an enemy, whether we ever love him back or not! We can reject God’s love for us, we can turn our heads and refuse his love, but we can’t stop him from loving us no matter what we do! Hell is not full of people that God has punished for not loving him! It is full of people who condemned themselves by refusing to accept God’s unconditional love for them! It was they who did themselves in!

This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
John 10

The biggest sin we can commit is not our failure to love God back. The biggest sin we can commit is our failure to love each other. Our biggest sin is our failure to forgive each other. Our biggest sin is holding grudges against each other. Our biggest sin is mistreating each other, ignoring each other and demeaning each other! If God can forgive his enemies and love them anyway, why can’t we forgive our enemies and love them anyway? And that, my friends, would probably be a whole lot easier without FACEBOOK, the home of mean, nasty, vicious back-biting comments and condemnations!

This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
John 10