Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, Cycle B - May 27, 2018

Solemnity of the Holy Trinity

Cycle B

May 27, 2018      11:00am 

Saint Mary Parish Pylesville    4:00pm

Saint Matthew Parish, Baltimore    8:45 and 11:15am


Trinity and Diversity 

Today I want to share one idea about the Trinity.

Many, many things have been written about this central mystery of our faith – one God, three persons. We keep trying to understand more fully the mystery of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Today, I want to share one insight that is proposed by Father Richard Rohr. Father Rohr is a Franciscan priest, a theologian, and a leader of spirituality.

He writes this: “The mystery that we’re talking about here is clearly diversity on display! The Three [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] are diverse, different, and distinct – and yet they are one.”

In other words, the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the Father. As Father Rohr says,“The Three are diverse, different, and distinct – and yet they are one.” 

Creation and Diversity

Richard Rohr draws an important conclusion from this.

He says that this insight means that there is diversity at the very core of reality. God is being itself – the origin of life and of all that is.

So, if there is diversity in God, there must also be diversity in creation. And that means that there must be diversity in humanity since we especially are made in the image and likeness of God.

Richard Rohr also states it this way. He says that God is goodness, goodness itself. 

Since there is diversity in God, this means that goodness is not sameness or uniformity. God did not make us to be uniform – everyone and everything the same or alike.

Instead, God made us diverse, different, and distinct. As the Book of Genesis says, God looked upon all that he had made and saw that it was good. 

And so, the more we welcome and embrace this diversity, the more we are in the flow of the divine life. And the more we welcome and embrace this diversity, the more we are participating in the divine goodness. 


We and Diversity 

A few weeks ago, I noticed a small poster hanging on the wall in the sacristy. 

It has the word diversityspelled out – but with the letters lined up one on top of the other, vertically. Next to each letter is a word or two that helps to explain what diversity means. 

So, just follow along with me:

D – Different.
I – Individuals.
V – Valuing.
E – Each Other
R – Regardless of 
S – Skin
I – Intelligence
T – Talents and 
Y – Years.

I really like that. The letters in the word diversity help us to understand what the word means. 

Different – Individuals – Valuing – Each other – Regardless of – Skin – Intelligence – Talents – and Years.

We could, of course, include other differences like language, nationality, religion, culture and on it goes. Diversity includes all the rich differences within the human family. 

Respect Diversity 

So, maybe ten minutes ago it would have sounded strange, but the calling of Trinity Sunday is to embrace diversity.

This tells me that I have to get hold of my human tendency for uniformity. I have to resist the temptation to make others like myself and to think that they have to be that way to be good.

This also tells me that I have to get in touch with any prejudice or stereotypes I have. I need to take persons as they are.

And this also tells me that I have to keep in check my fear of those who are different from me. I need to see diversity for what it is – as a richness, as opening me up more fully to the richness of humanity, and as leading me closer to God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

So, there it is. This may be challenging, but who ever said that the mystery of the Trinity is not challenging? 

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Feast of Pentecost, Cycle B - May 20, 2018

Feast of Pentecost

Cycle B

May 20, 2018      4:00pm and 9:30am

Saint Mary Parish, Pylesville 


Our Language 

Today I want to reflect with you about our language – the words we use when we speak.

Our words are very important. They have an effect on us and to some extent, they form us as persons.

Our words also have an effect on others. They may lead others to feel esteemed or worthless, or to become angry or compassionate.

And our words have an effect on our relationship with God. So, my concern is that we need to be intentional about our use of words.

As the saying goes, we need to think before we speak. For the past three or four months, I have been thinking about some basic rules for our use of words.

I have identified five positive rules for the kinds of words we are to say, and, there is a corresponding negative for the kinds of words we are to avoid. So, here goes!

Five Rules on Words 

First, use words that are affirming and not belittling.

Affirm the good qualities of others or else just say nothing. Don’t belittle others and make them appear as no good.

Second, use words that are unitive and not divisive.

Speak about the values or practices that you share in common with others and that unite you. Don’t divide yourself from others as if there is no common ground between you. 

Third, use words that are reconciling and not distancing. 

Ask for forgiveness or be forgiving, or at least speak in a way that leaves the door open to reconciling. Don’t distance yourself from others especially by holding yourself as absolutely right and them as absolutely wrong.

Fourth, use words that are protecting and not bullying.

Be protective of others who are vulnerable. Don’t bully them by taking advantage of their weakness or inferior position.
And fifth, use words that are persuasive and not coercive.

Treat others as rational and reasonable persons and try to respectfully persuade them about whatever the issue is. Don’t try to coerce others into seeing or doing things your way.

Many Languages…One Understanding 

Okay! I see these as five basic, but important rules on language – on our use of words.

I think they are a timely refresher. And I am moved to do this especially by today’s first reading.

The passage says that the Holy Spirit comes down upon Jesus’ disciples and there is a miracle of language. People from many different nations, speaking all different languages, understand what the disciples are saying.

Apparently, each language group hears the disciples speaking in their own language. That was the effect of the Holy Spirit.

So, my idea is that when we use words that are affirming, unitive reconciling, protecting, and persuasive – when we speak this language, then God the Holy Spirit is flowing through us. This is a language that everyone can receive and understand, regardless of their native tongue.

And the results will be much like what Saint Paul describes in the second reading. We will be one, one body, in one Spirit – one, regardless of differences.

But when we use words that are belittling, divisive, distancing, bullying, and coercive – when we speak this language, then God the Holy Spirit is not flowing through us. Then we are blocking the flow of the Spirit.

This is a language that others will not be able to receive and understand. And the results will be fragmentation and probably hostility.


So, to go back to where I began, our language, our use of words is very important.

It has consequences. The words we speak to your husband or wife, to your parents or children, to our classmates or co-workers, to our neighbors or friends – these are important and they have effects.

The words may be about those with whom we are speaking. Or they may be about other persons or groups – maybe persons of other nationalities, races, religions, or cultures.

The Scripture today calls us to let the Holy Spirit flow through us in our language. Then our words will be able to be received and understood and have life-giving effects. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Ascension of the Lord, Cycle B - May 13, 2018

The Ascension of the Lord – Cycle B

May 13, 2018

4:00pm at Saint Mary Parish, Pylesville

11:00am at Saint Matthew Parish, Baltimore 


Traits of Mothers

I’m guessing that Mother’s Day gets some special attention from all of us.

I know that’s true of me, even though my mother has been dead for forty-five years. I got thinking this past week about all that my mother did for my brother and me.

And that eventually got me thinking about mothers in general. And I then got focused on three traits of mothers. 

These aren’t the only traits. But I think that these three are core traits or core things that a mother wants to provide for her children.

1.    A Stable Center

The first thing that mothers want to provide is what I would call a stable center. 

Very basically, they want to give their children a home, a good, physical home. And then, they want to provide their children as mush as possible with their own personal presence, a relationship that they can count on. 

I know that my mother did that for us. In our younger years, my father worked five to ten hours each week at a second job. 

He did this to make enough money to do the things that he and mom wanted to do for us. So during that time especially, my mother really provided that stable center, and I think all mothers want to do this. 

2.    A Safe Space 

The second thing that mothers want to provide is a safe space. 

They want to give their children a place where they can grow and be themselves. They also want their children to know that they will be forgiven, maybe corrected and punished, but forgiven for back-talking or disobeying or whatever it is.

My mother did this for us. For example, when my grades on my report card were not what they should have been, I got “guidance” and I knew I had to study more. 

But mom especially made sure that we knew we were still okay and loved even when we fouled up. So, I think all mothers want to provide this safe space.

3.   A Real Purpose 

And the third thing that mothers want to provide is a real purpose. 

They want their children to be happy. And they know that for them to be happy, they need to be able to develop their God-given gifts and pursue their dreams. 

I know my own mother was proud that I became a priest, but she and dad never pushed me on this. She wanted each of us to pursue our own paths in life.

And, she did not want us to be self-focused, but to live with a sense of purpose beyond ourselves. So, I think mothers want to provide that real purpose for their children.

Mothers and Jesus

Well, as I reflected on today’s Scriptures, what came to me is that Jesus wants to provide the same three things for us that our mothers do. 

First, Jesus provides us with a stable center. 

In our first reading, Jesus reminds the disciples about his promise of the Holy Spirit. In other words, he is not just leaving them. 

Jesus will remain with them and with us through the Spirit. He is and will be our stable center. 

And then, like our mothers, Jesus also provides a safe space. 

Just look at the twelve apostles. They were very imperfect persons and really fouled up at times, but Jesus accepts them for who they are and allows them to grow.

He also accepts us as we are, forgives us when we need that and allows us to grow. He provides a safe space.

And finally, like our mothers, Jesus provides us with a real purpose.

In today’s gospel, Jesus tells the apostles that they are to be his witnesses to others – his alter egos, his presence to others. He gives them and us a rich sense of purpose for our lives. 

This is true whether we are a homemaker or a hygienist, a doctor or a dock-worker, a farmer/firefighter or a financial manager. Jesus gives us a bigger purpose and with that, the opportunity to be happy persons. 


So, Mother’s Day and Jesus’ Ascension into heaven – 
the traits of our mothers and those of Jesus:

1.    Providing a stable center
2.    Providing a safe space
3.    Providing a real purpose.

That’s what I’m thinking about today!

6th Sunday of Easter, Cycle B - May 6, 2018

6th Sunday of Easter

Cycle B

May 6, 2018



Today’s gospel really got me thinking.

Jesus first says, “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love.”  Notice that he speaks of commandments– in the plural.

Jesus is apparently referring to the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament and how he stretches their meaning.  And by the way, 7 of those 10 commandments are negative – the “Thou shalt not”kind – I’ll come back to that in a minute.

Then, a few sentences later in today’s passage, Jesus says, “This is my commandment: love one another.”  Here the word is the singular and that one commandment is very positive.  

This led me to think of some of Jesus’ other moral teachings or commandments.  Like, “Blessed are the peacemakers,”or, “Whatever you do for the least of my brothers and sisters, that you do for me.”

Well, all of this got me thinking: might it be possible to express all of these commandments and moral teachings in a positive way and in just several statements that might ring true for us here in the 21stcentury?  I decided to give this a try.  

I like the number 3 and so I came up with three, what I call Summary Teachings of Jesus.  Here goes.

1. Be Mindful of God

First, be mindful of God.

Make room for God in your life.  Live with an awareness of God’s presence with you right now.

Live with the big picture and the long run of life in mind.  With this, come to Mass and really put yourself into it.

Participate in the Eucharist every week.  And then, pray, on your own, personally, every day.

It’s really pretty easy to do this.  For example, read a few verses of the gospel, pick out just one word or a phrase, and let that be with you and be your prayer throughout the day.  

Or pray the prayers that you have learned by heart and memorized. Or use a book of prayers that you may have. 

Or even find some prayers on the Internet that you can pray every day.  So, be mindful of God.     

2. Be Faithful to Commitments

The Second Summary Teaching: Be faithful to commitments.

Be steady and faithful to your spouse or, for me, to the priesthood.  Be faithful to your job or profession or volunteer commitments.

And especially in our vocational commitments, be proactive.  Communicate well with your loved ones.

Share what is going on in your life, listen carefully, and speak thoughtfully.  For me, being proactive here means to seek ways to enrich my ministry to you.

At the same time, expect that there will be bumps in the road.  Be ready to work through these instead of just quickly giving up.

Be humble enough to seek outside assistance to at least try to deal with the problems.  In all of this, just think of God’s unconditional, enduring commitment to us.

Allow that to lead and empower us.  So, be faithful to commitments.

3. Be Considerate of Others

And the Third Summary Teaching: Be considerate of others.

This commandment includes an awful lot.  For example, seek the common good and not just what is for my own good. 

Be open to acting for the overall good of the entire community. Very connected to this is caring for life and the quality of life.

So, cherish the life of the unborn.  Care about the dying person and take positive measures to provide support and comfort.

Keep in check the pitfalls of consumerism.  Remember that when we use too much or waste food, water, electricity or gas, we are really taking from those who do not have the basics.

Be respectful of the earth.  Look for ways to recycle and not pollute the planet.

And, by all means, share with those in need without judging persons who depend on food stamps or other forms of assistance.  Be considerate of others.


So, Jesus’ statements today about commandments led me to all of this.

Maybe this will be a helpful way to recall the entire moral direction Jesus gives throughout the gospels.  
1)  Be mindful of God.
2)  Be faithful to commitments.

3)  Be considerate of others.