Neighbor

Today’s Gospel from Luke is a familiar story – that of the Good Samaritan. I was well into my adult years before I learned that Samaritans were not upheld with respect by the people of first century Palestine. That’s why every time you hear about a Samaritan or a visit through Samaria in a Gospel, pay attention. That is a big part of what you are being taught by Christ.

It matters that it is not the priest or the Levite who helped the wounded man. The men who are those upholding the “law” keep on going because touching someone would likely have violated the law. There was ritual cleanliness and certain guidelines to follow as with any legal situation, church law or civil law. The Samaritan however, stops to help when he sees another human – a neighbor – in dire need.

Let’s take a quick look at that Continue reading

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Rerun

This post is a rerun of something from 2017. Randomly chosen, I find myself struck by it as I got into a “thing” on social media yesterday. How we treat one another matters. FWIW, I poked the bear, the bear struck back hard. Score? As  I see it, Bear-Nothing and Fran-Nothing. In the end, although I found the bear unkind, no one wins except for cruelty.  In any event, welcome to the blog if this is your first visit.

Camino Edith Wharton QuoteIt has been a little while since I have blogged. I’ve been either too tired, too busy, or too uninspired.  Anyway, I was reminded of this quotation from Edith Wharton today, always a favorite one of mine, so I made a meme out of it.  That got me thinking about how often my own desire and willingness to live as Wharton’s words suggest.

With the reminder that when I write, I’m talking to myself allow me to begin. Right up front we are reminded that being unafraid of change is step one.  Change?! Unafraid of change?! Oh sure, many of us will say we are fine with it… that’s generally the case as long as it is a change of our own choosing. Any change that chooses us? Not quite so easy to like that kind of change. That goes for change that comes forth as challenge in both large ways and small, as well as the less obvious invitations to grow. You know, like the promptings of the Holy Spirit? Those kinds of changes… are they so welcomed? Not always.

Having said all of that, I have long believed the words of a little wallet card that came into my possession in the mid-90’s. It read said, “Change always comes bearing gifts.” The moment I read those words, I immediately hated them. Yet, something in them caught my attention, the slightest little tug Continue reading

Memory and forgiveness

502abc1410abc1122e8ef52ff8a34df5It is as if I am being pursued by them,  so constant is my pace when it comes to them. What am I talking about? A few topics that have been an obsession for me for most of my life, even during my earliest days.

One of those topics is the Holocaust. When I was young I was aware that my father had grown up in a Jewish family, but that he no longer practiced that faith. My mother was Catholic, and after visiting many churches in the years before I was 5 or 6, we ended up Catholic too. (I was baptized in a Catholic church about 5 months after I was born. Honestly, I’m not sure how that happened in the 50’s given the irregular status of my parents marriage and general lack of church attendance at the time, but somehow it did.)

That said, my obsessive curiosity about Judaism started at an early age. And while I cannot tell you how old I was when I first became aware of the Holocaust, I can tell you that the tumble down the rabbit hole of interest came quickly and with intensity. Perhaps it began with Anne Frank’s diary? Who knows? Whatever it was, I was hooked for life.

By time the Continue reading

America the beautiful

ATB Lemon Bougainvillea

Lemon and bougainvillea, Tucson, AZ June 2019

For all of my complaining, I do love this land. If I didn’t, I would not have so many issues with what has happened and with what continues to happen. During the past week, a friend mine was posting photos of all 50 states, many of them taken by her during a lifetime of travel. Another friend sent a video of his 4th of July on Lake George. Between the two of them I was inspired to do something.

From last August to this moment I have been to Arizona three times, New Mexico, Texas, and Pennsylvania twice, to Florida, Alabama, North Carolina, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Tennessee  once. The big one was going to Alaska. I flew there stopping in Seattle for about 2 hours – does that count?

Not every state ended up in this little video, but lots of places did. So yes -while I complain a lot, I also love the great and remarkably diverse beauty of the United States. Everywhere I went, politics aside, I met the nicest people. America is indeed beautiful.

None of this gets anyone off the hook for the ugly behavior that treats human beings as less than human. Maybe we can rise to the promise and ideal that all men and women are indeed created equal. And if you  – like me – believe in God, that we are all each created in the image of that same God. How can we mistreat others or diminish them if we think of it like that?

Feed them yourselves

World Refugee Day Borys Fiodorowicz“Children as young as 7 and 8, many of them wearing clothes caked with snot and tears, are caring for infants they’ve just met, the lawyers said. Toddlers without diapers are relieving themselves in their pants. Teenage mothers are wearing clothes stained with breast milk.” – From ‘There Is a Stench’: No Soap and Overcrowding in Detention Centers for Migrant Children, New York Times, June 21, 2019

Mary Jesus in CageA 14-year-old girl from Guatemala said she had been holding two little girls in her lap.“I need comfort, too. I am bigger than they are, but I am a child, too,” she said. –From Attorneys: Texas border facility is neglecting migrant kids, AP News

Today we celebrate the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Today’s Gospel is embedded upon my heart. When the disciples were pretty much about to dismiss the crowd because they were in a deserted place and seemed to lack the resources (or the will) to care for them. Jesus said to them:

“Give them some food yourselves.”

Today he might add that toothbrushes, sleep, Continue reading

Moral courage

Today Jon Stewart showed more moral courage in this nearly nine minute speech to Congress than most people show in their lives.

Meanwhile, up the road from DC, at the USCCB meeting in Baltimore, the scene was a little different.  Bishop Robert Barron talked about why young people have left/are leaving the church. He spoke of how Jordan Peterson (sorry, not linking to his page, you will have to go look yourself) has connected to young people through social media. (Here is a link to Jack Jenkins’ report on Religion News Service.)

USCCB

At which point I had a moment. Wait, what? What? Who? Why?

giphy

Of course, Catholic Twitter, which was on fire all day, had some fine responses. My first favorite came from Villanova professor of Religious Studies and Theology, Dr. Massimo Faggioli. That was quickly followed by a clever retweet by David Gibson who heads up the Center on Religion and Culture.

On this crock

Of course my wry laughter over their tweets was not enough for my distress over everything else – both at the Congressional hearing with Jon Stewart, nor the USCCB meeting.

It all feels incredibly frustrating, even when tempered with a little dark humor. Moral courage is hard to come by these days, in any circles. When we see it, we know it. May God grant more of it to the Church; we need it. Holy Spirit, please – lead the way.

Each one heard

266297.pToday, Sunday, June 9, 2019 is Pentecost, that great feast of the promised coming of the Holy Spirit.
At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd,
but they were confused
because each one heard them speaking in his own language.

Yesterday I read this at church, and as I stood at the ambo, I was filled with a Holy Spirit moment of my own. Having practiced the reading enough to memorize some of it, I was able to look up and out at the congregation before me, I had one of those Thomas Merton moments. If you are not familiar, one day he was standing on a street corner and saw through new eyes, in a Pentecost-like moment.

42b3fc66-c2d1-4bd7-9291-7bc6f6e931fcEveryone looked the same – yet so different to me at that moment. Not unlike what we read in the Acts of the Apostles, “When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together.” Yes, here we were, a church full of Catholics, a big church – literally and figuratively – gathered as one in Christ. At a time when I feel deeply upset and highly frustrated about the Church, I felt awash in a wave of love.

Somehow that love eluded me today as I read some things in the newspaper that were upsetting to me.  In these fractious times, as we grow Continue reading