Archive for October, 2011

The Wealthy Road to Heaven

October 31, 2011

Today is Halloween.

It is supposed to be a scary day.

In times past, it was a Holy Day Eve, connected to the commemoration of the Saints who died in a state of grace.

A corrupt society, filled with doubt and unbelief, prefers to celebrate Satan and his followers who died at enmity with the Father.

Too bad.

Another issue where Satan is gaining traction today is the false notion that “the wealthy” are automatically evil and greedy.

How does King Solomon fit in then?

The F.L.E.A. Party, aka, the Occupy Wall Streeters, are about as far from God’s Will as possible.

There’s no evidence in Scripture that Government should be formed to take from the wealthy and give to the lazy.

Today’s reading from Luke 14 lays out a plan for the wealthy to score big with God at the Resurrection.

Check this out from Luke 14:12-14.

12 Then He also said to him who invited Him, “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. 14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

Sounds easy doesn’t it.

Even though the concept is simple, the carrying out of such acts is not.

I haven’t had too many dinners at my home for the poor.

God have mercy on me.

I need to figure this one out.

Maybe I can give to organizations who feed the poor?

That might work.

In the meantime, notice how Jesus puts the redistribution of wealth in the hands of His followers.

Instead of criticizing the 1% whose home He is visiting, Christ gives him a road to follow that leads to salvation.

Good work Jesus…as usual.

Too bad MSNBC wasn’t there to catch the lesson.

The Seat of Moses and the Plausible Road

October 30, 2011

Let’s just say for a minute, we have no idea what Jesus means in this passage from Matthew 23.

Here it is–KJV style.

1Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,

 2Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:

 3All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

First things first.

We know who the Scribes and Pharisees are, we know who Moses is, but what is this “Seat” Jesus is talking about?

Careful analysis has to agree this might be Jesus changing the guard.

The Old Covenant is going away in favor of the New Covenant.

Is everyone with me, that this could be plausible?

Also, a good Bible Scholar would look for similar words to describe “seat.”

How about “throne,” especially since Jesus is speaking of a “seat” that has authority, due to its connection to a great man from the past–Moses?

Also, research on “thrones” being taken from one group and given to another could be worth looking up.

Agreed?

Here’s where that interesting idea might take them.

Isaiah 22.

19And I will drive thee from thy station, and from thy state shall he pull thee down…

  21And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.

 22And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.

 23And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house.

 24And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house,…

 25In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall; and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off: for the LORD hath spoken it.

It doesn’t matter whether one uses the King James Version or not, it’s difficult to read these passages and not see that Scripture predicts a changing of Dynastic Authority.  

Moses Seat, to someone else’s seat.

Who could that be?

A Father, a Robe, Keys, Opening and Closing, a Throne…and the Gates of Hell not prevailing against it?

Hmmm…this reminds me of Matthew 16:18,19 a little.

 18And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

 19And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

OK folks, here’s another question…what exactly do they mean when they say “All roads lead to Rome?”

Can you say “plausible?”

Humility, Even False, Is Great Attribute

October 29, 2011

The best life lessons come from the Gospels.

Today’s is one of my all time favorites.

Luke 14: 1, 7-11

One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched.

7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

The first thing we see is how the Lord, noticing people exalting themselves, uses this opportunity to remind believers to keep our pride in check.

The next thing He says, insight into how to move up, acknowledges the desire for “esteem” is not evil, just how it’s attained is at issue.

Jesus teaches success comes through humility.

The prize though, remains honor and acknowledgement, amongst your peers.

So, even if one thinks they deserve praise, but they take the low road to the top, that’s OK.

Huh.

In this land of cry babies, declaring the world is not fair and too many wealthy have more than what’s right, it’s refreshing to read Almighty God laying out a plan on how to reach the top, even through means of cunning.

Never does He decry success, personal esteem, or wealth.

God wants us to be like Him.

That is, benevolent, giving and at the top.

Take that F.L.E.A. Party.

Who Invented the Hall of Fame?

October 28, 2011

Several years ago, 1992 exactly, the local newspaper had an essay contest for the “Best Idea to Jump Start the Economy in the Berkshires.”

Guess who won first prize?

I remember racing up to my bedroom and handwriting the idea that I had.

My wife scolded me for bragging about how I thought I had the winning submission before I had even sent it in.

Oh ye of little faith.

My idea was for Pittsfield to set up a “Classical Music Hall of Fame Museum” in the downtown area…preferably in the defunct England Brothers Department Store.

Since so many world-renowned conductors had lived here, like Arthur Fiedler, Leonard Bernstein and Seiji Ozawa, I thought we had the perfect location to get it off the ground.

I made comparisons to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, just 50 miles up the road.

The concept of a Hall of Fame is not a human concept, but divine.

In Hebrews 12:1 we read the following.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us

This cloud that the Bible says has such “great” witnesses is clearly a place.

I like to call it Heaven’s Hall of Fame.

Even though no one knows for sure who wrote the Book of Hebrews, it’s pretty clear that it predates the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown New York.

I like how the cloud of witnesses is there to encourage us.

In an earthly Hall of Fame, the same is true, except for one thing, pewter is not a living thing.

The faces of inductees on earth have no idea what’s happening.

The folks above do.

We Catholics call them Saints.

Protestants do too, they just don’t capitalize the “s.”

I wish grammar woes were the only difference.

So, the next time you’re thinking about going to a Hall of Fame, thank God and the Christians.

God gave the inspiration for their selfless lives and we Catholics nominated them for induction.

How’s your audition going?

Legal Standing of Christ’s People

October 27, 2011

Today’s reading gives us insight regarding God’s Courtroom and who it is that’s able to make it through with flying colors.

Here’s the bottom line.

Romans 8.

Study this, commit it to memory…then stop worrying about your legal standing with God.

If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:

   “For your sake we face death all day long;
   we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Since Romans 8 is plain talk on how we’re not condemned, it should cause two reactions within committed believers.

Here they are.

1. Once acquitted of crimes we have freedom.

2. With that freedom we must help others find salvation.

Paul said, ” for your sake we face death all day long .”

You’ve been forgiven…now…what are you doing about it?

Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ…nothing.

Who have you told that to lately?

You’re not condemned if you don’t, but you’re missing out if you let opportunities slip by.

Give it a try.

Speak up when you can.

Be more than a conqueror.

When You Don’t Know What to Pray

October 26, 2011

Has there ever been a time when you wanted to kick yourself  because of something inappropriate you said?

I’m the king of those moments.

Here’s a lesson my dad often taught.

You’ll never lose sleep over something you didn’t say…when in doubt…leave it out.

That’s good advice for relationships with our fellow-man.

Though we cannot see it clearly, the things we say to God ar far more important, eternally speaking.

We learn today that “copping” the attitude, “I don’t know what to pray,” is not an excuse to ignore communion with the Father.

I often find myself having no idea what to pray.

It must be a common problem amongst Christians, otherwise God wouldn’t have inspired the Apostle Paul to write Romans 8.

Here’s what our Liturgy is teaching us today, verses 26 & 27.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

The key word here is “weakness.”

It’s not a sin to have them, but it is a hindrance to assume we don’t.

When we don’t know what to pray, that’s the time God digs deepest in our Spirit to draw out things only understood in “wordless groans.”

Wow…I like that.

It sounds almost like a deep tissue massage.

Let God in and then just shut your mouth.

You won’t lose sleep over things your heart says to God, even if your mind can’t interpret the words.

Cab Driver Spy Work

October 25, 2011

I’m not sure why the occupation of cab driver in big cities is so attractive to Arabic speaking men.

Whenever I travel out-of-town, I’m almost always guaranteed a quick refresher course in how to say hello and goodbye the Arabic way.

Salaam Alaykum.

Recently I met a driver from the Sudan named Hussein.

By his name, I already knew he was a Muslim.

Since the ride from the airport was generally long, we spoke about many things, mostly in Arabic, with me nodding my head, pretending I understood fully.

Until those times when he looked at me expecting an answer.

Duh…

Finally it hit me, why not ask Hussein about his religion?

In fact, why not ask him if it is permissible in his culture to convert to Christianity now that he is in America?

I was surprised by his answer.

“Yes.  It is permissible.”

Good.  Now what Lord?

I got an idea.

“Hussein, I want you to read the Book of John in Arabic…Njeel Yohanna.”

I said.

Here’s an even bigger surprise.

He reached down into a pouch on his front seat and pulled out a New Testament to show it to me…in Arabic by the way.

Holy Bible!

Never be afraid to bring up the subject of faith.

Especially when the meter is running and you’re the paying customer.

Freedom has it’s consequences.

Look at these people not as our enemy, but as fertile ground.

They’re the ones who came here.

Forget what the ACLU says.

These men think America is a Christian Country.

Our job should always be to prove them right.

You just might be the fare that pushes one across the finish line.

Yalla!

That means “toute de suite!”

White Marigolds

October 24, 2011

This past weekend my daughter Marisa sang professionally from the balcony at a wedding at St. Anne’s Church in Lenox, Mass.

I was just a wall flower, hiding out with her and the sweet lady organist, out of sight.

Marisa’s performance was flawless.

No bias, just the facts from her biggest fan.

One thing about grabbing free entertainment like this, is the potential to have to sit through a snoozer ceremony.

This one was great…thanks in part to the music.

Wedding sermons are also not necessarily that good.

This one was a home run.

Forgive me for stealing this Father Waitekus…but you were right on.

Here’s his bottom line.

Scientists for years were trying to create white marigolds–but couldn’t.

Somehow, an amateur florist from New Hampshire figured it out.

Using patience and a fine eye, she kept mating the lightest colored yellow marigolds she could find, until finally all the pigment was gone.

End result?

White Marigolds.

It was a painstaking process, but her patience outperformed scientific genetic tricks from the supposed experts.

There’s no shortcut to making a happy marriage.

That was Father CJ’s premise.

The bad must be weeded out, put to death and only the memories of good times carried forward.

Nice.

In today’s first reading from Romans 8, we learn how to rid ourselves of the types of hindrances that can affect our personal lives–that would include marriages.

God bless the bride and groom…you started things out right…good music…good sermon.

12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Fisk’s Karma vs. Fisker Karma

October 23, 2011

I can’t listen to Dick Stockton’s voice without reliving game 6 of the 1975 World Series.

If you’re a Reds, Red Sox, or just a pure MLB fan, you know about Carlton Fisk’s Karma and heroic double-hand-persuading Home Run over the green monster, that tied what many have called the greatest Series of all time.

Sadly for me, the next day, Joe Morgan won it for the Reds.

I was 15 and it hurt to watch.

The Red Sox just couldn’t “finish” off the Big Red Machine.

What’s just as bad, for the U.S. taxpayer, there’s another “Finnish” problem that’s starting to get more scrutiny.

It seems the U.S. Department of Energy, under President Obama, lent a company in Finland over $500 million.

I guess that’s the guaranteed minimum these days.

They promised to develop an electric car, called the Fisker Karma and build it in the U.S.

Guess how many jobs in the U.S. they’ve created thus far?

That’s right…0.

Guess where the factory is?

Bingo…Finland.

Mr. President, when are you going to resign?

Do you really want to lose the election 49 States to 1?

That would hardly be an epic battle for the history books.

By the way, that 1 State you will win is Massachusetts.

My own blind land of liberty.

Folks from Boston, when they hear this latest scandal, will think you lent money to Carlton Fisk, rewarding him for his Karma.

Old Red Sox fans aren’t that smart.

Well…there are a few.

Folk Singer “Capitalizes” on F.L.E.A. Party

October 22, 2011

I like Pete Seeger.

He and Arlo Guthrie were part of my childhood growing up here in the Berkshires.

But, that doesn’t make them my role models for political points of view.

92-year-old Mr. Seeger has decided he would go to Wall Street in solidarity for the F.L.E.A. Party (Far Left Environmentalists and Anarchists).

I have no business judging his motives.

They’re probably more sincere than mine.

From a business standpoint, this might be his best week ever for I-Tune downloads.

I can hear the conversation right now.

Here’s the scene.

A 23-year-old multi-inked and excessively body-pierced Westchester County basement dweller type, addresses a 65-year-old Woodstocker with a nest-like beard at any Wall Street protest across America:

“Hey dude, who’s this old guy Swagger?”

“No man it’s Seeger…check out his music sometime, it’s righteous.”

I-Tunes “look up”–hit Select–then Download–99 cents against the debit card with a $27 balance…times 1,000…ka-ching!

Smart move Pete…even if it is “incidental” capitalism.

Now…the President on the other hand…he’s decided to show sympathy and support for the F.L.E.A.’s.

But, his approval rating, since this started, is at an all-time low–41%.

How’s that workin’ for you B.O.?

The AP says 1/3 of American’s support the F.L.E.A.’s…that’s 33%.

Looks like you’re almost  home Barry…8 more points to go, until you finally reach the bottom.

Suggestion to Mr. President’s handlers.

Stay as far away from the F.L.E.A.’s as you can.

They’re not improving your sales.

With your vanishing base, I can see how you’re having a hard time resisting them.

Just remember, salt water never cures your thirst.

But sometimes there’s no alternative.