Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Daily HOMILY for October 13, 2018: Sunday in the 28th Week in Ordinary Time

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28thSunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B
October 13, 2018
50thReunion
Clare Court, Baltimore, MD

A Time of Remembering and Reconnecting
By (Rev. Msgr.) Nicholas P. Amato 

 

Penitential Rite


Today we gather to honor and celebrate the faith and life of 10 women in the graduating class of Regina Coeli Academy

Fifty years — or better 500 years taken together — of faith lived out of a small, intimate, and loving community of faith right here at Regina Coeli Academy

There is cause for celebrating and calling to mind the sisters and staff who created such an atmosphere of faith 

Let us take a moment and call out their names as we begin this Eucharist

Disconnect 


Many of us, when confronted with the challenge of love that Jesus presents to us  are inclined to say, “I am a good person.”

I don’t steal or cheat or cheat. I love my spouse, my parents, and I try to respect others.

And yet, we surmise, there may be more we could be doing to live out the Gospel in our lives. Something may feel incomplete in our loving and caring for others that causes us to ask, “Jesus, am I doing okay?”  

This is what the individual in today’s Gospel is feeling and doing.  And then Jesus answers our questions and says, “Well, Nicholas, as a matter of fact, there is one thing that is lacking.”  

You anxiously ask, “What’s that?”  And Jesus responds to you and me with a 2018 answer that is a bit different from what he says to the person in the Gospel, but just as unsettling.

He says, “Power off your cell phone and turn off your tablet and your laptop.  And just be there for your family or friends or for anyone you are with and for anyone who is in any kind of need.”

And much like the individual in the Gospel, you and I are really put off, “Give up my Smartphone and shut down my tablet and my laptop?

“Are you kidding?  I might miss out on something.”

FOMO


And that is precisely the issue, perhaps the heart of the problem.

Psychologists are now studying this fear of missing out on something as an addiction.  They refer to it by the acronym FOMO – F-O-M-O – Fear of Missing Out.

It is the fear of missing out on something or someone more important, more interesting, or more exciting than the thing we are now doing or the person we are now with.  

This other something or someone may be better or worse. We don’t know, so we feel compelled to check it out.  The thought of missing an email or a text or a tweet could terrify us.  

As a result, we interrupt one call to take another.  We’re constantly checking FaceBook or LinkedIn to make sure we are not out of the loop.

We are connected and available 24/7.  This is the “wealth” we are holding on to, much as the man in the Gospel was holding on to his financial or material wealth. 

Shocking Us

It is important to say that Jesus is not telling us to throw away our cell phones, tablets and laptops.

In fact, the fellow in today’s Gospel is the only person that Jesus ever tells to sell all that he has and give the money to the poor. He never says this to the Apostles or to Martha and Mary and Lazarus, or anyone else.

Jesus apparently is saying this here to shock this individual – to shake him into looking more deeply at himself and his life.  And I think it is the same thing with us and all of our electronic and social communications.

Communicating or being connected is a wonderful thing, Jesus would say.  But the kingdom of God is not digital, and real caring is not a virtual experience.  

Disconnect to Connect

Today, Jesus would be saying: “Disconnect in order to connect.”

Disconnect from the cell phone or tablet or laptop and do this to connect with those around you.  The purpose of communication is not just communication, but communion – communion with others and with God too.

The persons around us are the “poor”to whom Jesus tells the person in the Gospel to give his money.  They may not be financially poor or any more emotionally or spiritually in need than we are…

But they are the persons we are with right now – your family at home, your friend with whom you are a cup of coffee or tea, and the person next door. 

Jesus is challenging us to let go of what we are afraid we are going to miss – FOMO – the Fear of Missing Out.  

The goal is to “Disconnect in order to connect.”  Make sure our communications are for communion and don’t miss the communion with others that they are meant for.

It is for this very goal that you are gathering today.

Doing this allows us to truly be with another person or with God, or even with God by being with that person.  From such communion flows an experience of inner peace and the letting go of FOMO – the Fear of Missing Out.




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A time to celebrate a very special school, friendships, and education we received in this very small school so you can direct the homily to us and to the Sisters if you see fit. Only one sister who taught us will be the. There is one other Sister still alive who taught us and she is in Milwaukee. There were ten girls in my graduating class. Most other graduating classes were one to four girls. So you can imagine how special Regina Coeli Academy was to us in this intimate setting. Most of us came to live at the school from up the states where our Sisters had schools--some from New York, some from Virginia, some from Pennsylvania. There were some Baltimore girls who also lived there--only one or two day students. We were quite a little community.  

Daily HOMILY for September 30, 2018: Sunday in the 26th Week in Ordinary Time

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26thSunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B
Terranova Hermitage
September 30, 2018

“Whoever is not against us is for us.”
By (Rev. Msgr.) Nicholas P. Amato 


Hopkins Buildings

One day several years ago, I was leaving Johns Hopkins Hospital after visiting a person who had major cardiac surgery. 

I noticed something at Hopkins that really caught my attention. I was leaving the Sheikh Zarad building. 

This building is for patients who are in critical care, including heart surgery. It is named after Sheikh Zarad who was the major donor. 

He is from the United Arab Emirates. And, of course, he is a Muslim. 

What caught my eye is that the ground floor hallway connects the Sheikh Zarad building to the Weinberg building. That building is a cancer center and the major donors are Harry and Jeannette Weinberg. 

They are a Jewish couple from Baltimore. And then, not far from these buildings is the Anne Pinkard School of Nursing. 

Anne Pinkard was a Catholic, a member of the Shrine of the Sacred Heart Parish in Baltimore where I served as pastor for 6 years. She and her husband Walter – an Episcopalean – were major donors to this building. 

“Whoever is not against us is for us.”

Well, today’s Gospel triggers my memory of these buildings at Hopkins and this is why. 

The apostles are upset because someone, who is not part of their group, is helping others and invoking the name of Jesus. So, the Apostles try to stop this man for just one reason: he is not part of their group. 

But Jesus says:“Let him alone. Whoever is not against us is for us.” 

Jesus’ point is that he wants us to recognize good wherever and by whomever it is done. 

He doesn’t want us to be exclusivist and think that only those who are part of our group are good and can do good. 

He doesn’t want us to think that only Christians or only Catholic Christians or only those who agree with us on everything can do good. He wants us, as I said, to accept good wherever and by whomever it is done. 

Jesus is calling us to embrace this open attitude and mindset. And if we do, there will be good results. 

The Effects in General

This is why I am remembering those buildings at Hopkins. 

Muslims, Jews, Catholics and other Christians are all cooperating in the mission of Johns Hopkins Hospital. The results are good – and that word is an understatement! 

Hopkins is one of the finest hospitals in the world. This happens because of openness to the good that everyone can do – even though there are major differences among those involved. 

And besides doing great good, this openness to the good that others can do and collaborating in doing it brings people closer together. It prevents differences from becoming a source of division and it helps to melt some of the divisions that we have allowed differences to create. 

The Effects for Our Church

Jesus’ words today – “Whoever is not against us is for us”– are a good caution for our Church. 

We as a Catholic Church and any religious group can easily slide into the attitude of the Apostles in this passage. In fact, historically, we have done that very thing at times. 

In the name of God and of what we believe to be true, we can slide into a kind of exclusivist mindset. We can fail to see the good in those who are not part of our group – our Church. 

Sometimes we have done this because of disagreements – maybe on issues of faith or morality. 

And connected with that, sometimes we have done this out of fear of watering down our faith – I have heard that expression used – the fear of watering down our faith if we recognize the good and cooperate with others with whom we disagree.

In truth, we water down our faith when we fail to do this. We are not living the Gospel.

Conclusion

The truth is that Jesus calls us to recognize the good that others do regardless of who they are. 

If we do that, much good and more good will be done. If we do that, we not let differences become a source of division. 

In fact, we will melt some of the divisions in our relationships, our community, our country and our world that we have allowed differences to create. 

Daily HOMILY for September 23, 2018: Sunday in the 25th Week in Ordinary Time

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Sunday, September 23, 201825thSunday in Ordinary Time
COMPARE AND DESPAIR +++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Ø  Fr. James Martin, S.J. published an excellent book entitled: A Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything. 
Ø  At one point, Martin talks about the human tendency to compare ourselves with others
Ø  Sometimes we look at others and feel down because we dont have it as good as they do
Ø  Martin calls this tendency to compare a trap  
Ø  He uses the saying: Compare and despair.
CONSEQUENCES +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Ø  When we compare, we tend to minimize good things in R own lives & maximize good things in others life
Ø  & ironically, well maximize bad things in R own lives and minimize the bad things in other personslife
Ø  So, Compare and despair  
Ø  Martin advises that we just B with our own strengths and challenges and find our peace right there
STRIVING TO BE FIRST +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Ø  This insight helps us appreciate todays Gospel
Ø  The AA have been arguing about who should be number 1 over all the others
Ø  Each of them is asserting that he should be number 1 because of his own special talents
Ø  Beneath surface, each feels less than the others & being designated as #1 would make them feel better
Ø  As Martin says: Compare & despair  
SEE THE VALUE OF EACH PERSON +++++++++++++++++++
Ø  In response to this, J points to a little child and with the child, he grounds the need NOT to compare
Ø  Each of us is already valuable just in being ourselves
Ø  In the culture of Jesusday, children were at the bottom of the ladder
Ø  E.g., if a family didnt have enough food, dad ate 1st, then mom, & then children get what was left over
Ø  This sounds backwards to us, for in our culture, most parents would hold back on eating or on buying something so their children could have enough 
Ø  By J saying, Whoever receives a child such as this, receives me,hes saying a child and who that child symbolizes is valuable, viz, anyone whos seen as insignificant or powerless
Ø  So if a child has such value and worth, then each of us does too
Ø  Our value is inherent in our very being and is given to us by God
CONCLUSION ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Ø  Bottom line? We dont have to compare ourselves with anyone and we dont have to be above others, as the Apostles are trying to do
Ø  Our value, our self-worth is already there
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Daily HOMILY for September 21, 2018: Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

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Friday, September 21, 2018

Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist
THE CALLING OF MATTHEW ++++++++++++++++++++
Ø  The Gospel for today speaks of Matthews call from what was then a dishonorable job.
Ø  Matthew was a Jew, collecting taxes for the Romans from his fellow Jews and probably adding substantial surcharges to the real tax for his own profit
Ø  He was viewed as a sinner, a sinful person, taking advantage of his own people
Ø  And yet, Jesus calls him to be an Apostle.
Ø  Jesus says, I did not come to call the righteous but sinners
WE’RE ALL SINNERS MADE RIGHTEOUS +++++++++++
Ø  Jesuspoint is that it is necessary for us to recognize that none of us is righteous and all of us are sinners
Ø  From a theological perspective, we say that we have been made righteous by Jesus
Ø  What this means is that we have been placed into a right or good relationship with God by Jesus
Ø  It does not mean that we are free of sin and shortcomings
Ø  In fact, being righteous, in the sense we are using it, is a gift from God
Ø  It is a gift given on only one condition that we recognize that we are not righteous, that we are sinful and that we need Gods grace
THE BEGINNING OF MASS ++++++++++++++++++++++
Ø  This is why we always begin Mass with a recognition of our sins and failings and our need for forgiveness
Ø  This Penitential Act is not just a remnant of a past age when people were too guilt ridden
Ø  And it is not intended to begin Mass on a downer
Ø  It offers us a touch of realism, as we approach God and receive the Jesus in the Eucharist.
Ø  Its intended 2 lead us 2 a bit more self- knowledge & 2 remind us to look within
Ø  It is intended to help us admit our own humanity and need for growth, especially when we might be tempted to call others sinners, as Matthews fellow Jews were calling him today
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Daily HOMILY for September 19, 2018: Wednesday in the 24th Week in Ordinary Time

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Wednesday of the 24thWeek in Ordinary Time


HELPING OR HINDERING? ++++++++++++++++++++++
Ø  One warm summer day a boy walking in the woods, finds the cocoon of a monarch butterfly
Ø  Watches it for several hours, butterfly struggling 2 force its way thru tiny hole of cocoons casing
Ø  But the butterfly eventually stops making progress and appears stuck
Ø  So the boy decides to help the butterfly
Ø  He takes a small penknife his jeans & carefully cuts away the rest of the cocoon
Ø  The butterfly is now free of the cocoon, but its body is small and its wings are shriveled 
Ø  Boy expects any moment for the wings to enlarge & expand & butterfly will take off flying
Ø  But that never happens
A LESSON LEARNED +++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Ø  Boy doesnt understand that butterflys struggle thru the cocoon forces fluid through its body & into the wings which gives them the stability and strength they need for the butterfly to fly
Ø  Doesnt understand butterflys strength & ability 2 fly come thru struggle 2 free itself
WE CAN BE LIKE THEBOY +++++++++++++++++++++++
Ø  Sometimes we can be like the boy who tries to help the struggling butterfly
Ø  Often we try to avoid what is painful and difficult
Ø  Truth: It is in hard work & struggles we learn & become strong: mentally, spiritually, personally
THE GOSPEL LESSON ++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Ø  In todays Gospel, the people dismiss John the Baptist as too rigid
Ø  Then they dismiss Jesus as being too lax
Ø  But the real issue is that both John and Jesus are calling them to do some hard things & they want 2 avoid that at all costs so find fault w/ both men
Ø  They end up like the butterfly not fully developed, not real adults spiritually
CONCLUSION ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Ø  Lesson is clear: We need 2 accept hard & challenging things & well grow strong, able 2 fly
Ø The potential and the promise lie within us!
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