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Father Joe's
Reflections on the Scriptures

December 9 2012
     This past week, as Advent began, one of the daily readings included a passage from the Gospel of St. Luke, Chapter 10, Verse 22. It reads, “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him.”
     It got me to thinking about the story of a little boy beginning Catholic school. He was a first grade student and it was his first day in religion class. The teacher asked all the children to draw a picture of something they had learned about in Church. The little boy was drawing away diligently, his tongue sticking out the side of his mouth, trying to get it just right. The teacher asked, “What are you drawing a picture of?” The boy replied, “I’m drawing a picture of God!” “But, no one knows what God looks like,” said the teacher. The little boy responded, “They will when I get done.”
     Let me ask you to take that story back two thousand years. The school is the home at Nazareth. The teachers are Mary and Joseph. The child is Jesus. When he says, “They will when I get done,” it has special meaning. When Jesus completes his life, his mission, people will know God in a special way. They will know him in a way they have never known him before because the life of Jesus has revealed him.

     We who make up the Body of Christ here on earth, who share in his ministry, should also reveal God by our lives. Do we? During this Advent Season let us reconcile ourselves with God. Let us take up the challenge, “They will when I get done.” And live in such a way as to reveal God’s love and compassion to others.

April 22, 2011
     As we begin Easter week let’s take a look at a passage from the Gospel of St. John beginning in Chapter 20 with verse 11. It is the story of Mary Magdalene at the tomb. When she came to the tomb she found it empty. She was probably confused. She peered inside and saw two angels. The sight of two strangers may have been even more unnerving. When asked why she was weeping she replied, “Because the Lord has been taken away, and I don’t know where they have put him.” His body must have been stolen. Resurrection probably didn’t even cross her mind. It was impossible. Right?

April 5, 2011
     Some of you may remember a series on the A & E network called American Castles. It spotlighted some of the great architectural masterpieces that were at one time homes to people like the Vanderbilts and the Rockefellers. They were more like museums than homes. Each house was a showplace filled with treasures from around the world; carvings, paintings, antiques, and woodwork. In fact today most of them are museums.

     In a passage of his Letter to the Ephesians St. Paul speaks of building a holy temple, but he is not talking about a building. Instead he speaks of the household of God, a temple built of living stones, “built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.”

March 28, 2011
    There is an interesting story about a young woman who was about to enter religious life. Her friends were trying to dissuade her. She had had many suitors the most recent of which had all the qualities the friends admired. They asked, “Is he not chaste? Is he not handsome? Is he not wealthy? What more could you ask?” In reply she held up a shoe and said, “Look at this shoe. Is it not new? Is it not well made? Is it not expensive? Yet none of you can tell me where it pinches me.” You see it wasn’t that the suitor was bad, but like the shoe there was something that just wasn’t right.

March 11, 2011
     There once were two men who were discussing the merits of their respective jobs. Bob said to his friend Jim, “So your job gives you independence does it?” Jim replied, “It sure does. I can come in whenever I please … as long as it’s before eight and I can leave whenever I want … as long as it’s after five.”
     To us listening in it is clear that Jim’s job not only gave him freedom but limitations as well. Limitations are sometimes hard to accept especially when we have no control over them, when they are imposed by others or merely the circumstances of life. A good example is a person who must give up driving. Maybe their reflexes are too slow or their eyesight too poor. The person can’t control those things but they still chafe at the loss of freedom and independence.

March 7, 2011
     By and large the Acts of the Apostles relates the exploits of Sts. Peter and relates the exploits of Sts. Peter and Paul. However there were others who also contributed to the growth of Christianity. One of those individuals, St. Barnabas, was a companion of St. Paul in many of his travels. As we can see in chapter 11 Barnabas played a significant role in establishing the church at Antioch.
     Consider verses 19 – 26. Because of the martyrdom of St. Stephen and the persecution that followed, many of the believers were scattered far and wide. Some came to Antioch where they began to speak of Christ, not only to Jews, but also to the Greeks, the gentiles. Verse 22 tells us, “News of this came to the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.” Barnabas was so happy to see that the faith had taken hold that, even in this time of persecution, “he exhorted them to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose.” He didn’t do it alone. He went off and found Saul (St. Paul) and the two of them met with the church and continued to encourage them for a whole year.

February 25, 2011
      In statues or paintings St. Joseph is often pictured holding, if not the Christ child or his carpenter’s tools, a budding lily stalk. This symbol, like many others, has no basis in Scripture, but comes from a legend that has sprung up around the particular saint. In the case of St. Joseph legend has it that Zechariah the high priest, after being approached by an angel, told Mary that the Lord would choose a husband for her from among a group of marriageable men. Each of the suitors left his staff in the temple overnight. When morning came the staff of Joseph was found to have bloomed while those of the other suitors were barren. While this can be called a pious legend with no supporting evidence it contains within it a clear truth, Joseph was chosen by God for his role as husband of Mary and foster father of Jesus.
     Just look at the story of the birth of Christ in chapter 1 of the Gospel of St. Matthew, verses 18 – 24. The story that Matthew relates highlights Joseph’s compassion. When Mary was “found with child” Joseph was going to “divorce her quietly.” Why quietly? She would be suspected of adultery a crime punishable by stoning. Joseph did not wish “to expose her to shame.” That’s an understatement. He wanted to protect her from the force of the law. He must have loved her deeply. Yet this “quiet divorce” never happened. God intervened, “the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream” and advised him to take Mary into his home. God chose Joseph. It was through his cooperation that the prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled, “the virgin shall be with child and bear a son. And they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.”

February 18, 2011
     There once was a minister who was given a new assignment. Because he only had a short time to move he engaged a group of parishioners to help him pack his things. At one point the minister, realizing how many things he had acquired over the years, commented on the size of the job and the number of things he had to take with him. One of his helpers said, “Well, there’s one thing you can’t take.” The minister asked what that happened to be. His helper replied, “Your influence.”

February 13, 2011
    Many years ago in the early days of her career Katherine Hepburn was in a show called “The Lake.” She received a scathing review in which one critic said, “She ran the gamut of emotions from A to B.” Obviously he thought she showed almost no range of emotion. This could never be said of St. Paul. We can see that in the story of his conversion which we find in chapter 22 of the Acts of the Apostles.

January 27, 2011
     There once was a man who decided that each year for his vacation he would tour at least one of our national parks. After he had seen Yosemite and most of the other large parks he came one year to Mammoth Cave National Park. The tour guide took his party down into the cave and as was the custom the guide asked that all lights be turned off. They were deep in the cave and it was pitch black. The eyes of the tourists tried to adjust but there simply was no light to adjust to. Then the guide lit a match. It seemed to light the entire cave.

January 20, 2011
     This Monday, January 24th is the annual “March for Life.” While the primary focus of the march is the effort to overturn the “Roe vs. Wade” Supreme Court ruling allowing virtually unrestricted abortion in this country, it is good for us to remember that the ideal of the sanctity of life from conception to natural death includes many other life issues. “Roe vs. Wade” simply opened the door to the devaluing of human life in many other ways. One particularly troubling example in recent years is the number of states that have introduced legislation to legalize euthanasia.

January 13, 2011
     On Monday January 24th, the March for Life will be held in Washington, D. C.  All over the country people will pray for a reversal of the Roe v Wade Supreme Court Decision, an end to abortion and euthanasia, and the dignity of life. One of the many Scripture passages that come to mind is MT 2:16-18, the death of the Holy Innocents: When Harod saw he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
               ‘A voice was heard in Ramah
                wailing and loud lamentation,
              Rachel weeping for her children;
                She refused to be consoled,
                Because they are no more.’ ”

January 6, 2011
    You may remember the famous pianist, Arthur Rubenstein. He was once asked if he could get a ticket for a friend at one of his concerts. As it happened the concert was sold out, but Rubenstein made an offer to his friend, “Alas, I have only one seat at my disposal, but you are welcome to it.” The friend asked, “Where is the seat?” Rubenstein replied, “On the piano bench.” Suddenly his friend had second thoughts. It would be one thing to watch the performance, but he was reluctant to have to take part in it.

December 23, 2010
     There is a story told about a second grade girl who, along with the rest of her class, was asked by the teacher to draw a picture of anything they wanted. As the teacher was looking at the various works in progress she came to the little girl and asked, “What are drawing?” The girl answered, “I’m drawing a picture of God.” The teacher responded, “No one knows what God looks like.” Proudly the girl concluded, “They will when I’m done.”

December 18, 2010
     Proverbs are supposed to be gems of wisdom, but if you’ve ever taken time to think about some of the proverbs you’ve heard over the years you’ll come to realize that many of them seem to oppose each other. For example, “Many hands make light work” and “Too many cooks spoil the broth.” This is because while these seeming opposites both carry a grain of truth, they have their fullest meaning only in the context of a situation. Unless we know the situation we cannot hope to understand the full meaning. And sometimes an even fuller meaning appears when we look at both proverbs together.

December 9, 2010
     There is a story told about a Bridge tournament that was being held in New York City. Two women partnered for the tournament were playing in the second round when one of them made a bad misplay. Later her partner asked, “did you lead that card from strength of weakness?” “Neither,” the woman replied, “I led that card from ignorance.” en we act out of ignorance. On the other hand we can’t possibly know everything either. No one does.

December 2, 2010
     Have you ever watched children playing “King of the Hill?” It’s a simple game. The child at the top of the hill is king. All the others try to knock him off; dethrone him so that they can be king. The one at the top has an advantage. It’s easier to defend the high ground. came from real life. It came from watching would-be kings fight for power. It came from watching those kings build their castles in high places. The mountain became a place of power.

November 25, 2010
    You may have heard the story of scientist who had heard reports that a dinosaur was seen alive in the jungles of South America. He thought the rumors were worth checking out so he got a flight into the Amazon. He followed his guide to the place where it had been sighted. He met the native who had first reported it.

November 18, 2010
     The story is told of a Sunday School teacher who asked her students to tell the story of the prodigal son in their own words. On reaching the point where the son hires himself out to tend the swine one little boy said, “He didn’t even get to eat the pig’s food. First he had to sell his coat to buy food. Next came his shirt. He sold it to buy more food. But he was still hungry. He came down to his undershirt and sold it to buy food. Then he came to himself.”   That little boy stumbled upon a pretty good definition of conversion. The sinner comes to himself. He awakens to the need for change. This is the message that Jesus repeats over and over again. Repent, the kingdom of God is at hand. Turn away from sin.

November 11, 2010
     There once was a man who took his car to a mechanic. He complained, “It knocks when I get it up to eighty.” The mechanic, who had looked the car over responded, “I don’t see nothing wrong with it. It must be the Good Lord a warnin’ you.” He could just as well have said, “Change the way you drive, slow down.” from God, “repent, change your life.”

November 4, 2010
     There is an old adage that we hear often in the insurance industry, “The man, who fails to plan, plans to fail.” Planning is important. Whenever possible we plan major events in our lives. In our younger years we plan for college and a career. As we grow older we plan for retirement.

October 28, 2010
     A humorist once wrote this definition, “Advice is something most of us give … until it hurts.” How accurate he was. Sometimes the advice is solicited; sometimes it is unsolicited. It may be good or bad. It may be given freely or we may pay experts for it. Sometimes the advice we get is biased by the feelings of the person giving it. The one thing we can be sure of is that any time we attempt something we will get lots of advice. The trick is to distinguish good advice from bad advice.

October 21, 2010
     There once were two men who were best friends from childhood. One went on to be a priest, the other an attorney. One day the attorney received a request from his friend to draw up a will for him. All the details were provided. When the job was completed the priest received a note advising him that it was that all was in readiness for his approval. The attorney could not resist the creative impulse. He wrote in the note, “Stop in on Tuesday, ‘Thy will be done.’” awyer jokes, and most of them are not as genial as this. Many portray lawyers as unscrupulous.

October 14, 2010
     There is a story that is told about a pupil approaching a sage and asking for advice, “How can I become a good conversationalist?” The wise man held up his hand, stopping the young man and said, “Listen, my son.” After some time had passed the pupil said, “I am listening, father … continue your instruction.” The sage responded, “There is no more to tell.”