“That’s Not My Job”, OK, Thanks I’ll Do It For You.

The phrase, “That’s not my job”, is heard from time to time in staff meetings throughout the land.  At a time in our history when you’d think we would be grateful for keeping any job, the phrase is still heard from time to time.  What prompts it?  Thinking that we are better than ‘that job’ and someone else of lesser abilities should do it.  Sounds a lot like ego talking doesn’t it.

Want to get ahead in your organization?  Then avoid that phrase, and more importantly, respond to it by saying, “hey, I’ll do it”.  Little by little you end up picking up pieces of jobs that others don’t want and you will become more valuable to your organization, the can-do person.  I know of people who have made a career out of picking up pieces of the jobs of others and eventually had enough pieces that they became invaluable, and ultimately, rose to the top of the heap.

What a great strategy for serving the good Lord.  Pick up jobs or pieces of jobs that others consider themselves too good to do and you end up creating a whole ministry and way of serving God.

Judging Others, Why Not?

The scripture that tells us “not to judge others lest we be judged” has caused consternation down through the centuries.  The phrase is so glib and sounds so spiritual, yet it flies in the face of reality in which we are forced to judge whether we like it or not.  As one prominent person said, “we are hardwired to judge”.

We make thousands of judgments everyday as we live our lives.  Is that car going to stop at the stop sign or should I wait to make sure?  What did that person mean by what they said to me?  Does it call for a response?  I feel creepy walking down this street at twilight is that a God-given protective response or have I been watching too many TV movies.  The list of judgments is endless.  What does that scripture about not judging really mean?

At the risk of oversimplification, the call to not judge is most likely calling us not to judge the life value of another human being.  We are to stop guessing at their worth or guessing at their intent and then labeling them negatively.  Further, we are to stop talking about them in a negative fashion to others.  Our mothers were correct when they told us to “not say anything about another person if we could not say something nice”.

What about the case where we have been placed in a position by our authority figure that necessitates us judging others, ie, giving annual work performance reviews, safeguarding the sanctity of an environment so that others cannot be bullied by the more assertive, giving life directions to others who request it.  Certainly those are the exceptions.

Overall, God’s word to not judge others is a solid piece of wisdom and we would all do well to follow it, not just because of the negative effect on others of judging them, but for our own peace of mind.

Brook Cherith Beckons To All Of Us

There is a wonderful story in 1 Kings about Elijah hiding out at Brook Cherith after insulting King Ahab and threatening no rain would fall until he, Elijah, said so.  Wow, those old testament prophets were tough.

God told Elijah to hide at the brook where he would have cool water and that He would direct the ravens to bring him bread and meat in the morning and evening.

All went well for a season until the drought caused the brook to dry up.  At that point God directed Elijah to move on to another location where He had arranged for a widow to provide for him.

This is an interesting story that shows God can protect us and provide for us in our need.  The question is, do we recognize the Brook Cheriths that come into our lives, more importantly do we recognize when they run dry and it is time to leave.

Often we get comfortable in our own Brook Cheriths and think they are to last forever or at least we want them to last forever.  The problem then becomes staying too long in a situation where the life-giving conditions that attracted us, begin to dwindle.  We rationalize our diminishing returns and stay on too long and what was once a blessing slowly becomes a curse.

We need a dash of pragmatism that allows us to evaluate our present situation & “know when to hold and when to fold” as the old song tells us.

Let us thank God for the opportunities He provides for us and let us pray for the wisdom & courage to know when He is saying for us to move on.

Corpus Christi Homily

Homily, June 9 & 10, Cyc B, 10th Sun of Ord Time,(Corpus Christi)

Today we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi.

Since the days of the Apostolic Church, Catholics have been celebrating the Eucharist as the meal in which we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ.

Even though we highly esteem all of the sacraments, the Eucharist has traditionally held a special place.  Down through the centuries many have commented on its value.

Ignatius of Antioch (105 AD) referred to the Eucharist as the “medicine of immortality”.  Thomas Aquinas considered the Eucharist to be the greatest of all sacraments (In his Summa).

So, while Catholics have honored the Eucharist from the day Jesus instituted it in the Upper Room, it really did not assume individual Feast Day Status universally in the West, until the 14th Century.

Back in the 1970s, when there was a lot of liturgical innovation going on following Vatican II, and I’m not just talking about guitars & singing Kumbaya, Dorothy Day invited a young priest to celebrate Mass at the Catholic Worker Office.  He decided to do something that he thought was relevant and hip. He asked Dorothy if she had a coffee cup he could borrow. She found one in the kitchen and brought it to him. He took that cup and used it as the chalice to celebrate Mass.

When it was over, she was seen, quietly picking up the cup, taking a small trowel, and going to the backyard.  She knelt down, dug a hole, kissed the coffee cup, and buried it in the earth.

With that simple gesture, Dorothy Day, a somewhat controversial person, showed that she understood something that so many of us today have let slide to the back burner: she knew that Christ had been truly present in that ordinary ceramic cup.  And, for her it could never be just a coffee cup again.

She understood the power & reality of His presence in the Blessed Sacrament, which is really the sum & substance of what we celebrate on this feast, Corpus Christi.

A month ago at First Communion, I was standing at my station in front of the Ambo with the cup.  From my vantage point, I could watch each child approach Msgr.  It reminded me of the scripture where Jesus said, “let the little children come to me”.  I expected to see fear in them, but what I noticed was innocent reverence as they came forward.

Surely, as they grow into adults they will go through many iterations of understanding of the significance of the Eucharist.  But, on that day, there was no mistaking the reverence that had been instilled in them, and we can only pray that that reverence will continue.

The reason for what we do at Mass isn’t to glorify an inanimate object, a bit of bread.  It is to remind us & the world that in that bread, we have been given Christ.

Not an idea.  Not an ideal.  Not a symbol.  Not an abstract bit of arcane medieval theology.

No.  It is wider, deeper, and more mysterious than that.

Jesus, under the appearance of bread and wine comes home in us, in a unique way.  He makes Himself present in us, to be used by us to change ourselves, to become more like Him.

We can allow ourselves to be transformed in union with Him, not only for our good, but also for the good of others.  We can take on the ability to serve others at a depth that is only possible by His presence in us.

We can open up to Jesus Christ and become all that He is calling us to be, giving up old destructive patterns of prejudice, hatred, deceit, and blaming others, all those things that rupture our relationships with one another.

We can open ourselves to a relationship with Him that makes us valuable in His hands.  We can become more like Him in our service of others.

We can be healed of the effects of the worst that humanity can visit on us.

Look at the host when Msgr elevates it, and you look at Christ.  That’s our belief structure – that’s our reality.

Everything we are, everything we believe, everything we celebrate around this altar comes down to that incredible truth.

What began two thousand years ago in an upper room continues here, and now, & at other altars around the world.

The very source of our salvation is transformed on that altar into something we can hold in the palm of our hands.

There’s a story of a priest who was pouring some unconsecrated communion wafers from a bag, into his ciborium to get ready for Mass.  Some fell on the floor.  He bent down and picked up the stray hosts, just ordinary wafers, unconsecrated, to throw them out.

And, he held one between his thumb and forefinger and showed it to a sacristan. “Just think,” he said, “what this could have become.”

Just think what we become when we receive the Body of Christ.  We become nothing less than living tabernacles.  God dwells within us.  As the hymn tells us, we become what we receive.

And, what we receive becomes us. That is the great mystery, the great grace, and the great gift of this most Blessed Sacrament.

My question on this feast: what will we do with that knowledge? Once we have been transformed, by bread that has been transformed, how can we leave this place without trying to transform the world around us?

The words in today’s Gospel are a shortened version of  the words you will hear at the Consecration, “He took the bread, said a blessing, broke it, gave it to them and said, “Take it, this is My Body”.

“Then He took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, This is My Blood of the new covenant, which will be shed for many.”

These life changing words have been spoken millions & millions of times over the last 2000 years,

When we leave here today, we carry something much greater than ourselves, with us.  And, that makes us instruments of God’s great work in the world – literally.

When we leave here today, we carry with us an awesome responsibility!

Deacon George 6-10-2012

Obey My Authority Figure, Are You Kidding?

One of the harder scriptures to follow is the story of the Centurion talking to Jesus about authority.  He stated that to “have authority you have to be under authority”.  Humm, you mean if I am out of sync with my authority figure then I am vulnerable.  Yep!

That’s a bit of a stretch isn’t it?  Well, to those of us who are pretty much ego driven it may seem to be a stretch, but in all reality that concept is one more way God has set things up for our protection.  Authority figures in our lives are smaller icons of God Himself.  If we fight with our authority figure then we are fighting with God’s representative.

In our culture today we don’t like to have anyone tell us what to do.  America leads the world in placing great value on rugged individualism.  One of the greatest complaints for workers is that the boss is too bossy.  We like to do what we think is best and the way we prefer to do it.  By placing such value on individualism we fail to recognize that the real issue is, in fact, nothing more than naked ego.  Ego demands that we be correct and others incorrect.  Ego thrives on competition and tolerates win-lose only.  I win, you lose, even if you are my authority figure.  Ego will not accept a win-win solution; nor will it tolerate my obedience to that authority figure unless I agree with them.

The Centurion was correct 2000 years ago.  If we are to exert authority, we must be subject to an authority figure ourselves.  Sorry Charlie, we may get away with fighting with our bosses for awhile, but eventually it will cost us dearly,