Father James Gilhooley
October 14, 2012
28 Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B – Mark 10:17-30
A monk was lost in meditation at a river bank. A novice put before him two exquisite jewels as a sign of his devotion. The monk opened his eyes and picked up a jewel. It rolled out of his hand into the river. The novice jumped in immediately. But he could not find it. He asked the monk to point out the spot where it fell. The monk picked up the second jewel and tossed it into the river. He pointed and said, “Right there.” The monk then added, “Do not allow yourself to be owned by objects. Only then will you be free.”
Contrary to what many may think, Jesus invited but one person to give all his possessions away. That individual is the rich man of today’s Gospel. The delicious irony is that this solitary command was turned down flat by him.
Did the Christ never ask anyone again because He had become gun shy at this put-down? Or could it be that we do not understand His views on possessions and poverty? The latter I submit is the case.
The Teacher stayed often in the large comfortable home of Martha and Mary outside Jerusalem. He never asked them to sell the mansion and share the dollars with Jerusalem’s poor.
He never asked the apostles to sell their costly fishing boats. We know He sailed in them often for business and pleasure. The record shows He enjoyed parties, took delight in five star meals, and drank vintage wine. He obviously enjoyed the good life whenever it came His way.
Why then did Jesus make this extraordinary demand of the wealthy man of today’s Gospel? Well, the fellow had told Him of the sins He did not commit – adultery, murder, etc. The Master invites him to speak not of the evil he had avoided but of the good he had done. His problem was spiritual poverty. He suffered from “sleeping sickness of the soul.” Christ’s teaching is not a system whereby one avoids doing wrong. It is a way of life that impels us to do good and then, after a time, better.
This was the difference between the Gospel rich man and Martha and Mary. They were not merely avoiding sin. They were anxious to do good. They were giving away 10% of their wealth to the synagogue and charity. They were volunteering to help the poor. They held a welcoming hand to people on the run such as Jesus and His apostles. They were not owned by their possessions. They used them for others.
The reaction of the Nazarene to the rich man’s departure was disappointment. He saw in him what He sees in all of us – the potential of leaving our old lives and becoming new people. Like the novice with the jewels, the wealthy gentleman had an inordinate love for his possessions. He was more fond of his own comforts than he was of others’ needs.
The Christ is not condemning the comfortable and affluent but the way they use their resources. Once there lived a wealthy fellow nicknamed Fishhooks. He put his hands in his pockets so seldom one might think fishhooks were waiting there to attack him. And so his nickname. He did no evil, but he did little good either. He was stingy. One could hardly call him a Christian according to Jesus’ yardstick. There is I fear much of the Fishhooks in each of us.
This piece by Author Unknown is what Jesus is condemning. “I was hungry and you formed a humanities club to discuss my hunger. I was imprisoned and you crept off to pray for my release. I was naked and in your mind you debated the morality of my appearance. I was sick and you knelt and thanked God for your health. I was homeless and you preached to me of the love of God. I was lonely and you left me alone to pray for me. You seem so holy, so close to God. But I am still very hungry and lonely and cold.”
Run this test by yourself. When the collection comes around for the poor, do you give the same amount you gave three years ago? Do you give your money reluctantly? Do you think that while ten dollars is of no value in the supermarket, it is an extraordinary sum in church? If you say yes to any of these questions, this Gospel may have your name on it.
Remember the aphorism. We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.
The monk reminds you that if your Christian life is a drag, worldly weights may be slowing you down.
Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
October 14, 2012
A Tale of Two Men: King Solomon and the Rich Young Man
Jesus’ encounter with the Rich Young Man from the gospel of Mark is contrasted with King Solomon’s choice in the liturgy of the 28th Sunday in ordinary time. Both men are presented with opportunities that demanded each make a very difficult choice. In a similar moment of decision, what would be the desire of your heart? Wisdom and adventure, or comfort and convenience? Where do true riches…and security…lie?
One day a fisherman was lying in a beautiful beach, with his fishing pole propped up in the sand and his solitary line cast out into the sparkling blue surf. He was enjoying the warmth of the afternoon sun and the prospect of catching a fish. About that time, a businessman came walking down the beach, trying to relieve some of the stress of his workday. He noticed the fisherman sitting on the beach and decided to find out why this fisherman was fishing instead of working harder to make a living for himself and his family. “You aren’t going to catch many fish that way,” said the businessman to the fisherman, “you should be working rather than lying on the beach!”
Vatican AnnouncesPlenary Indulgence for Year of Faith
Pope Benedict XVI is to grant the faithful a Plenary Indulgence for the occasion of the Year of Faith, the Vatican announced today.
The decree states that the indulgence will come into effect on the 50th anniversary of the solemn opening of Vatican Council II, which marks the beginning of the Year of Faith. It says it is “especially dedicated to the profession of the true faith and its correct interpretation, through the reading of – or better still the pious meditation upon – the Acts of the Council and the articles of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”
A better way of reading the Catechism, for the Year of Faith
The Year of Faith, called by Pope Benedict, extends from 11 October 2012 to 24 November 2013. Beginning on the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and also on the twentieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Year of Faith will conclude with the Feast of Christ the King 2013.
During this Year, the Holy Father desires a renewed study of our faith, especially through a return to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. However, this Catechism is over five hundred pages long (and nearly three thousand paragraphs) – How, then, might one approach such a large and theologically daunting book?
This Is My Body: 10 Questions to Help Explain the Holy Eucharist
Q. 869. What does the word Eucharist strictly mean?
A. The word Eucharist strictly means pleasing, and this Sacrament is so called because it renders us most pleasing to God by the grace it imparts, and it gives us the best means of thanking Him for all His blessings.
Q. 870. What is the Holy Eucharist?
A. The Holy Eucharist is the Sacrament which contains the body and blood, soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ under the appearances of bread and wine.
The Most Holy Rosary
The month of October is traditionally dedicated to Our Blessed Mother under her glorious title, “Our Lady of the Rosary.”
The holy rosary, a devotional prayer of the Catholic Church, is both mental and vocal, honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary. It consists of 15 decades of Aves (Hail Mary), each decade being preceded by a Pater (Our Father), and followed by a Gloria (Glory be), all recited while fingering the rosary beads. A different mystery is contemplated during the recital of each decade. They are the 15 joyful, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries of the life of Christ and His Blessed Mother. Recently, Pope John Paul II added five new mysteries: the mysteries of light, or “luminous” mysteries. The rosary begins with the recitation of the Apostles’ Creed (on the crucifix), one Our Father, and three Hail Marys.
How the Blessed Virgin Mary Presented the Rosary to Saint Dominic
In the year 1214 Saint Dominic, the founder of the Order of Preachers, was in anguish because he was failing in his attempt to convert the Albigensian Cathar heretics. St. Dominic attributed this to the deepness and gravity of sinfulness of the heretics and the poor example of Catholics. He went alone in to the forest and wept and prayed continuously for three days to appease the anger of Almighty God. He flogged his body and scourged his flesh. From the fasting, pain, and exhaustion, he passed in to a coma.
Dominic experienced an apparition of Blessed Mother Mary while in the coma, which forever links Saint Dominic and the Rosary. The Immaculate Mary with three angels appeared and asked St. Dominic, “Dear Dominic, do you know which weapon the Blessed Trinity wants to use to reform the world?” Dominic’s response was Blessed Mary knew better than he because she is a part of our salvation.
Blessed John Henry Newman, a Great Teacher of the Faith
On Oct. 11, the Church begins the Year of Faith called for by Pope Benedict XVI to encourage the faithful to seek spiritual renewal and a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith in response to the grave crisis of faith in the contemporary world.
One tried-and-true way to learn more about our faith and progress with spiritual renewal is to read the lives of the saints, teachers of the faith who, through their example and word, nourished both their contemporaries and Christians of future generations.
Pope: Church Must Not Be Debased to Fashion of the Times
Pope Benedict XVI today reiterated that the Second Vatican Council did not break with Tradition but rather was an expression of Tradition’s continued vitality.
Reflecting on Pope John XXIII’s controversial use of the word ‘aggiornamento’ (updating) to describe the Council, the Pope said he was convinced that the word “was and remains correct” because Christianity “must not be considered as ‘something that has passed’, nor must we live with our gaze always turned back, because Jesus Christ is yesterday, today and forever. “
The Heavenly Attitudes
The human desire for everything that is positive is planted by God in our souls. The deepest desires of the human heart are for truth, justice, love, goodness, and beauty. When we are alone in a moment of silence, we can reflect on the key questions which confront us about the meaning of life: Why am I here? What is the purpose of my life? Why is there suffering? What will happen when I die? To confront these questions, throughout our lifetime, is to fulfill what it means to be human. To avoid thinking at all about these questions, is to fill up our day with every possible distraction. These distractions may become our attachments, where we have replaced any thoughts about the existence of God, with other “gods.” We are what we think. If we invest all our thoughts into money, power, sex, and fashion, then these will become our “gods.”
The religious life requires faith, but what is ‘faith’? One of the greatest misunderstandings among believers and non-believers alike is the concept of ‘faith’. Let’s rattle through the misconceptions before we try to say what ‘faith’ really is.
First is the idea that faith is ‘blind’. The non believers often blame believers for believing something which we know isn’t true. We are accused of not only having blind faith, but demanding it of others. We are accused of not allowing questions, that the ‘faithful’ must simply go along with what they are told and should they question or challenge they will be shunned, blackballed, exterminated or excommunicated in some way.
Burial in Ancient Israel Part 7: The Burial of Christ
This post concludes a series about graves and tombs in the ancient Levant, from the Paleolithic Period until the time of Christ. The entire series can be found here.
This 100,000 year history of human burial converges on a single point and a single day: a Friday in Jerusalem around the year 30 AD. Jesus of Nazareth dies on the cross, and his body is taken down at the request of a wealthy man from Arimathea named Joseph. The sun is setting and the sabbath is about to begin, when no burial will be allowed. Joseph must get the body of Jesus in a tomb or it will not be properly buried within 24 hours after death, as required by Jewish law.
Renewing Our Faith by Old Habits
Here I am in Rome all month for the Synod on the New Evangelization. I miss all of you already – – but my next bowl of Spaghetti alla Carbonara will snap me out of it.
How do we renew, restore, repair, re-energize our faith in the Person, message, and invitation of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
That’s the challenge posed by the New Evangelization.
To renew, restore, repair, and re-energize our faith, individually, and communally, as the Church . . .
. . . and then to be agents of the New Evangelization to others.
Catholic and Pro-Choice? I Don’t Think So
Back in my pro-life atheist days, long before I had kids, I used to spend a lot of time on bulletin boards debating abortion. One thing that always astounded me were the number of self-proclaimed Catholics who supported abortion rights. Many of whom unabashedly defended their own abortions, too. Who insisted they had every right to call themselves “a Catholic in good standing” despite choosing to support the heinous evil of abortion.
Making a Mystic a Doctor of the Church
With the October 7th announcement that Pope Benedict XVI will pronounce that 12th century German mystic St. Hildegard of Bingen is a doctor of the church—as well as announcing that same honor being bestowed upon St. John of Avila—there is a renewed interest in the understanding of “mysticism” with our church.
The church’s history with mystics actually goes back to the Jewish roots of the faith.
Comic actor Kevin James wants to ‘glorify God in every way’
He doesn’t exactly advertise it, but the “king of Queens” is a Catholic family man.
Kevin James, who played Doug Heffernan for nine seasons on the CBS sitcom and has since branched out into movies, has no problem talking about his values and how it affects his career.
“I am involved in my faith, it becomes more and more — you know, it becomes a difficult, difficult position. You have a platform and you don’t want to do anything that doesn’t glorify God in every way,” James told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview from Philadelphia.
The Vertex of Love
When Mary was predestined in one and the same decree with Jesus Christ by the design of God—before the creation of angels or the universe, and before the existence of sin or evil—she was predestined to be the Spouse of the Holy Spirit … to hold within herself all the love of creation.
In the return of all created things to God the Father (cf. Jn 1, 1; 16, 28), “the equal and contrary reaction,” says St. Maximilian Kolbe, “proceeds inversely from that of creation.” In creation, the saint goes on to say, the action of God “proceeds from the Father through the Son and the Spirit, while in the return, by means of the Spirit, the Son becomes incarnate in (the Virgin Mary’s) womb and through Him, love returns to the Father.” 1 The Saint of Auschwitz goes on:
Spousal Sparring: How to Fight the Fair Fight
I’ll never forget the first fight my husband and I had when we were dating, just a few months into our long-distance relationship. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t still affect us, because it does, even though it was over 7 1/2 years ago. Up until that point, I had had starry-eyed daydreams of him waiting for me at the altar and of us growing old in wedded bliss. I thought I wanted to marry him. It wasn’t until the thick of the argument, however, that I knew I had to.
In our first fight, there was no yelling, accusing, or insulting. While the circumstances surrounding our tension were riddled with misunderstanding and generally not knowing each other as well as we do now, the whole conversation resembled a formal debate more than a boxing match. No joke either – we took turns making points and rebuttals calmly and respectfully