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Choosing Heaven or Hell: It’s Up to Us

Pastor’s Column 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time September 30, 2018 “If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out! Better to enter into life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna.” Mark 9:48 Jesus uses very stark language in today’s gospel, which he repeats no less than three times for emphasis. Better to have only one foot, hand, or eye than to have two of each and go to hell! Is this hyperbole? Does Jesus really mean this? In a sense it is easier to believe in heaven than it is to believe in hell, but Jesus talks about both of these realities quite frequently. On September 11 of this year, I watched a few videos from the World Trade Center Attacks that had never been se

The Great Flower Pot Battle

Pastor’s Column 25th Sunday Ordinary Time September 23, 2018 There is something about most men and women that makes us want to “get ahead”, to improve our position in life or to make wise investments that will pay off for us down the line. It’s really amazing just how often we find Christ giving out this kind of advice. In fact, Jesus goes out of his way to let us know exactly how to get to the top of the pack in the kingdom of God. The gospel for this Sunday (Mark 9:30-37) finds the disciples engaged in a very human argument: who is first in the “pecking order”! Apparently, they were having quite a lively discussion until Jesus interrupted. All he asked was “What were you just discussin

Who Do You Say I Am?

Pastor’s Column September 16, 2018 24th Sunday Ordinary Time “And he asked them, ‘but who do you say that I am?’” (from Matthew 8:27-35) Who do you say that I am? This gospel always reminds me of a “pop-quiz” that teachers use to check on the progress of their students. One can imagine the disciples and Jesus enjoying an evening meal, perhaps by a fire, just relaxing after a successful day of preaching and healing. In the course of a simple conversation, without warning, Jesus asks a seemingly innocent question: “Who do the people say that I am?” Who do you say that I am? Many answers are forthcoming: “Some say John the Baptist or Elijah or a prophet!” Perhaps they were laughing as they

Jesus Performs an Unusual Healing

Pastor’s Column 23rd Sunday Ordinary Time September 9, 2018 In this Sunday’s gospel (Luke 4:38-44), Jesus heals a deaf man with a speech impediment, but he does so in a curious way. First, he puts his finger into the man’s ears, and then spits on his hand and touches the man’s tongue with it. Finally, raises his eyes up to heaven, groans, and then looking at the man, says “Ephphatha! Be opened!” Following Christ’s example, the church uses words, gestures and physical signs when performing the sacraments. For example, in the Anointing of the Sick, the priest prays using the Oil of the Infirm to make the sign of the cross on the sick person’s forehead and hands, as well as the laying on of

What’s That Smell?

Pastor’s Column 22nd Sunday Ordinary Time September 2, 2018 I once returned to the rectory after several weeks away to find that the place smelled like someone had died in it while I was gone. Eventually, the odor was narrowed down to something in the kitchen. I went through every drawer and shelf, one by one, until finally I found a can of peaches that had a small hole in the bottom. It was on the top shelf, and out of this hole was oozing the most awful black muck that had spread out over the shelf. Needless to say, I got out the bleach and got to work. The can went in the trash, but can you even imagine what the smell would have been like if I had actually opened this can?! Now, you

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