Fr. Phil Bloom
Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
July 15, 2012
Bottom line: A fresh start, liberation and healing – great gifts, indeed. To receive such blessings, we must lift our heads and recognize the Source of all.
The Russian people have a fable about a foolish boar. (By boar I am not referring to the guy who puts you to sleep -like I sometimes do – but the animal: a wild pig.) This particular boar was very greedy for acorns. If he found one, he would keep digging, looking for more. He dug so deep that he began tearing the roots of the oak tree. Finally the tree spoke, “Look up, you foolish animal. I am the source of your food. If you destroy my roots, you will have no more acorns.”
Today Jesus asks us to look up and see the Source of all. He does this in a counter-intuitive way: not by loading the Twelve with gifts of food and clothes, but by sending them with “nothing for the journey.” No food, no back pack, no credit card, no money in their belts. They did, however, bring three wonderful gifts: the chance for a new beginning by repentance, liberation from demons by apostolic authority and healing of sick by anointing with oil.* A fresh start, release from demons and physical healing – these gifts Jesus offers, but only if we turn to the Source.
This Sunday we have a magnificent opportunity to lift our heads and recognize the Source of all. Today we dedicate our new bell and tower. One of the the local pastors sent me a “Meditation on the Blessing of a Bell” by Thomas Merton. Merton had turned from a worldly life to become first a Catholic, then a Trappist monk. He saw the bell as a powerful reminder of God. Here is what he says:
“Bells are meant to remind us that God alone is good, that we belong to Him, that we are not living for this world. They break in upon our cares in order to remind us that all things pass away.”
I remember once I was feeling very anxious. My worries made me want to run away. At that moment a church bell rang. I stopped and thought about God. The bell helped me re-focus.
Merton says that bells “speak to us of our freedom.” Freedom is much more than doing whatever one wants. Freedom means the ability to realize one’s purpose. Each of us has a hidden purpose that God knows. A bell breaks into our anxieties and invites us to pray.
If you visit a Moslem city you will hear a call to prayer at certain moments during the day. Similarly our parish bell will ring a couple of times each day. I hope that it will make us pause and think about the Source.
In the beginning of the homily I told you about the boar who was so greedy for acorns that he didn’t recognize the oak tree. I’d like to ask you to imagine this: Suppose that entire universe were reduced to the size of an acorn that you could hold in your hand. Ask yourself: From what Oak Tree did this acorn fall?
Jesus sent his disciples with nothing for the journey. He did it for a reason: So that we would look up and recognize the Source of all.
To sum up: Even though the apostles took nothing for the journey, they did bring some beautiful gifts: a new beginning by repentance, liberation from demons by apostolic authority and healing from illness by anointing with oil. A fresh start, release from demons and healing – great gifts, indeed. To receive such blessings, we must lift our heads and recognize the Source of all. Amen.
A Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
July 15, 2012
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Mark 6:7-13
Jesus summons the Twelve and sends them out two by two. He gives them power over unclean spirits, and instructs them to take nothing for their journey but a walking stick. He warns them about rejection: people will not always welcome them or listen to them. The disciples go out and preach repentance, drive out many demons, anoint the sick with oil and cure them.
Fifteenth Sunday: Preaching to Those Not in the Choir
This weekend about 80 of our young people are attending a Youth Conference hosted by Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. There will be 3 to 4 thousand young people there. There are actually 19 of these conferences throughout our country. Over 50,000 Catholic Teens will attend. Another 2,000 will merge play and spirituality at Cove Crest Camps, and the other Catholic Camps run by Life Teen. The most spiritual and intense of all of the experiences was completed a few weeks ago when 450 Teens, including 15 from our parish, attended the Life Teen Leadership Conference.
God Likes to Choose the Unlikely: The Readings for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The readings for this upcoming Sunday are united by the theme of God’s choice of his messengers. And, as is typical for God, he chooses some unlikely candidates.
1. Our first reading is from the prophet Amos 7:12-15:
What’s a scapular and what does it represent?
Over the years, scapulars have become more and more popular. For some it’s a way to show devotion. For others, it’s merely a fashion statement. But, not everyone knows the history of scapulars. They actually date back to the 12th century to the Order of Carmelites.
As these days seem to be marked by no shortage of tensions and emotions in no shortage of places among our lot, lest anybody else can use it, it just feels like a good moment to step back and reflect on What It’s All About.
Much as the 13-month observance doesn’t begin until October, the following is fairly timeless, and just as worthwhile….
The true story of For Greater Glory
The recently-released motion picture For Greater Glory: The True Story of Cristiada is raising awareness of a long-forgotten chapter in Catholic history that seems increasingly relevant for religious believers in America today. Few Americans—and amazingly few Mexicans—have been aware of the epic, three-year struggle to save the Catholic faith that convulsed Mexico in the 1920s, an almost mystical event that has come to be known by the faithful as “La Cristiada.”
What the Bible Actually Says about Judging Others
I’m finding that more and more people are using phrases like ‘Don’t Judge Me’, or ‘Stop Judging and Love’, or other similar ones these days. There is this mistaken idea today that judging is bad. This crowd would even dare say that it’s a teaching of Jesus that we shouldn’t judge each other.
The truth of the matter is that inasmuch as people say they don’t want to be judged or hear others being judged – what they are actually saying is that they don’t want to be held accountable for their actions. ‘Just accept my actions without holding me accountable for them’ is what they really want to say. Moreover, they don’t want to hear others judging others because they know eventually it will turn on them and, again, they don’t want to be held accountable.
No Vague Believer: The Specificity of the Person of Christ According to Flannery O’Connor and Benedict XVI
The Onion, America’s favorite satirical newspaper, featured a story with the headline, “Pope to Ease Up On Jesus Talk; Pontiff Trying Hard Not To Be So In- Your-Face With That Stuff.”1 Of course, the title is funny because it’s not true—it is actually the furthest thing from the truth. The article was published just as Benedict’s second volume of Jesus of Nazareth was being released, a work in which the Holy Father continues his life-long project of understanding the person of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior of the world. Yet this is how satire works—it exposes the truth in a backhanded sort of way, disclosing what is present by means of what is absent.
The Many Disguises of Satan
It would be easy if Satan came as he is often portrayed, with horns and a pitchfork. We would naturally flee this ugliness.
Alas, he often comes cloaked in beauty, in sheep’s clothing:
He claims to offer us freedom and autonomy from an unreasonable God and Church, liberation from rules and being “told what to do.”
He cloaks himself in the false righteousness of being “tolerant” and “not judging others.”
He exalts us by telling us we have finally come of age and can disregard the “hang-ups” and “repression” our ancestors had of sex and pleasure.
Top Ten Saints For Sinners
If you’re struggling with sin, if temptations are half-killing you, if all seems lost – maybe have a word with one of the following in prayer, and ask for a little help. After all, as my parish priest always reminds me, we are a community.
1. St. Margaret of Cortona
Formerly a mistress and rather loose woman, St. Margaret is now known as being a humble penitent of the Third Order of St. Francis. She struggled with all kinds of sexual sin and temptation during her life, but turned that strife into a newfound love for the poor. If you are the kind of person who struggles in a similar way, perhaps a quick prayer to St. Margeret might be in order?
Too much stuff!
Around the end of the nineteenth century a tourist from the Untied states visited the famous Polish Rabbi, Hafez Hayyim. He was astonished to see that the rabbi’s home was just a simple room filled with books. The only furniture was a table and bench. “Rabbi, Where is your furniture?” asked the tourist. “Where’s yours?” replied the rabbi. “Mine? But I am only a visitor here.” “So am I,” said the rabbi.”
Over and Over Again
Pro-lifers routinely refer to “the miracle of life,” a phrase which isn’t really theologically accurate. A miracle is, technically and strictly speaking, an event which wouldn’t happen ordinarily in nature. It’s something which only happens because of the special intervention of God.
If you’re going to look at sheer numbers, it’s hard to imagine anything less miraculous, or more ordinary and natural than the conception of a child. It’s something that’s happened billions of times, often without anyone meaning or wanting it to happen — often without anyone even realizing that it’s happened. I’ve seen pro-choice people roll their eyes and patiently explain, “Yes, babies are cute, but they’re hardly a miracle, any more than it’s a miracle every time a weed grows. It’s simple biology; happens all the time.”
Go with the Flow
How does God work in the world? It seems to me that his goodness, truth, beauty and grace flows out to the whole world all the time as an active, outgoing force.
It’s like this: when I was a boy I used to like making dams in the stream that ran through our country property. The clear, cold water flowed down the mountain to the river and then from the river eventually into the sea. We’d get big rocks and put them in the stream. We’d pile up smaller rocks to fill the gaps. We’d shovel in gravel to plug the holes to make a dam. We’d dig up plant with mud in the roots to push into the gaps in the rocks.
The Mortal Sins of Immortal Souls
A regular non-Catholic reader of this blog asks,
Doesn’t “Mortal Sin” as described by the Roman Catholic Church present some issues?
I mean, why wouldn’t a Roman Catholic just spend all of his time waiting right outside a confessional booth, lest he commit one and die soon after?
I mean, is it not believable that God might still forgive a man who dies before such an event occurs? How common do you think “Mortal Sin” is?
I appreciate this question, because I end up becoming complacent about Catholic teaching, and I assume everyone understands it – which of course is hardly the case. So this is a good opportunity for me to flex my apologetic muscles and take a swing at this.
From drug dealer to Ukrainian Catholic monk
After years of a life of hedonism and drug addiction, he returned to the faith and for about a dozen years now he has been serving as a hieromonk (pastor-monk) in the Ukrainian Catholic Church.
Father Taras (Terry) Kraychuk, who currently lives the monastic life in the Derwent, Alberta area, gave a partial testimony of his life at the Catholic Family Life Conference at Lac Ste. Anne July 1.
A conversation with my gay friend
The other day we got together with a friend of mine from high school named Andrew*, and his boyfriend, Tom. They moved out of state earlier this year, but a business trip brought him and Tom back through town recently, and we jumped at the chance to go out to dinner with them. This was one of the first times in a long while that we’d had a chance to sit down and talk with them, just the four of us. We caught up on life and work, Andrew and I clicking as well as we always have. I wore waterproof mascara because I knew I’d end up laughing to the point of tears, which, in fact, I did.
Then, when my husband and Tom went to pick up a round of drinks at the bar, Andrew had a question for me.