The Heart of the Matter

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time September 13, 2020
Sir 27:30-28:7; Ps 103; Rom 14:7-9; Mt 18:21-35

These times are so uncertain
There's a yearning undefined
And people filled with rage
We all need a little tenderness
How can love survive in such a graceless age?
The trust and self-assurance that lead to happiness
They're the very things we kill, I guess
Pride and competition cannot fill these empty arms
And the work I put between us
You know it doesn't keep me warm

I'm learning to live without you now
But I miss you, baby
The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I figured out, I have to learn again

[Chorus 2]
I've been trying to get down to the heart of the matter
But everything changes
And my friends seem to scatter
But I think it's about forgiveness, forgiveness
Even if, even if you don't love me anymore

This is from a song called “The Heart of the Matter” by Don Henly of the Eagles
I think the lyrics are appropriate for today’s uncertain time and the age we are living

Forgiveness…
It seems to me that is the heart of today’s scripture readings
And Peter is the one to ask Jesus… the question
How many times? How many times do we forgive? 

And Jesus’ answer is hard
Our forgiveness should be unlimited.
And Jesus tells a story
I get so angry at this wicked servant 
He is forgiven of a great debt
But he will not forgive a small one.
And then I have to ask myself
Am I this servant? 
I confess
It is hard for me to forgive
“Wrath and anger are hateful things, 
yet the sinner hugs them tight.” (Sir 27:30)

How do we learn to forgive?
We will begin CCD, religious education soon
But religious education for our children should be year round
Because the first place for religious education is the home.

Listen to the Catechism of the Catholic Church
“Thus the home is the first school fo Christian life and ‘a school for human enrichment’. Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous-- even repeated-- forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and offering of one’s life.” (CCC 1657)

Fathers… it should begin with you.
You are to be the spiritual head of the household
Lead your family in prayer
Love your wife
Love your children
Forgive them when they sin against you
And ask for forgiveness, when you have wronged them

Forgiveness leads to reconciliation and healing
We cannot be healed of our hurt until we can forgive

But you might say, “I can’t. I hurt to bad”
Ask Jesus to help you 
Ask Him to help you forgive

Forgiveness, forgiveness
It’s the heart of the matter


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The Gift keeps on giving

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Today marks 37 years of marriage for Teague and me. What can I say? She has blessed me greatly.

 

 

 

God gave me a Gift many years ago.

The Gift I did not know,

Would always with me grow.

As I have traveled through life,

the Gift is by me day and night.

I have no fear when my Gift is near.

The Gift does not just sit idle,

but watches out for the family in this daily battle.

At times I have thrown this Gift aside,

And many times It has not gotten the care.

Those are the times that God has showered It from above

with things like Grace, Mercy, and Love.

When God gives His care the Gift blooms like flowers that She loves.

I thank God for this Gift, and hope to do as He does.

So that is what I shall strive to do.

Give to the Gift and watch Her grow.

Give to the Gift and see Her glow.

The Gift is my friend, confidante, and mate.

God has given me far more than I deserve to this date.

He gave me a Gift that loved me back.

Now tell me how cool is that!
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My Heart is Full

58589388_10218761259612410_2007192827653521408_oOur son Reid is the author of today’s Mary Mail. Reid lives in Fort Worth. He is the president of the Fort Worth branch of Legend Bank. Imagine my surprise when I opened my email last night, and I saw this reflection from Reid. 

This dad’s heart is full.

Life has been challenging of late.  A global pandemic brought the world to a stand still.  Untold challenges, hardships, sickness, and fear of the unknown has gripped us all.  Racism and riots once again rear their ugly head.  Yet through it all, my heart is full.  How is it my heart can be full through such trials and sadness?  My faith.  

I’ve been working on myself (or at least trying) through the Q, and have found that the time away has been good for the soul.  I have read more these last three months than the last 30 years of my life.  I have picked up old hobbies and worked on developing a few more.  Friendships have grown stronger, though not without their challenges.  Work has been more fulfilling, a funny thing for a damn banker to say in the midst of a global recession and pandemic.  However, there can be victories in the face of defeat.  Foolishly, I often claim these as personal victories.  However the Q has helped me understand true thanks is attributed to the Maker. 

Psalm 90: 

Lord, you have been our refuge through all generations.  Before the mountains were born, the earth and the world brought forth, from eternity to eternity you are God.  You turn humanity back into dust, saying “Return, you children of Adam!”.  A thousand years in your eyes are merely a day gone by.  Before a watch passes in the night, you wash them away; They sleep, and in the morning they sprout again like an herb, In the morning it blooms only to pass away; in the evening it is wilted and withered………………….Relent, O Lord!  How long? Have pity on your servants!  Fill us at daybreak with your mercy, that all our days we may sing for joy.  Make us glad as many days as you humbled us, for as many years as we have seen trouble……..May the favor of the Lord our God be ours.  Prosper the work of our hands!  Prosper the work of our hands!

Prosper the work of our hands. 

-Reid-

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Longing & Waiting

undefinedI have the great honor to be able to serve mass every week in our parish.  These masses have been both private and, most recently, public with the usual guidelines to follow.  After every mass I find myself saying, “wow that mass was weird/tough.”  Don’t get me wrong, the mass is a great joyful occasion because God is present and we get to receive Him and fill ourselves with His grace, mercy, and love.  I am thankful for this Holy Feast every time I serve.

The mass, however in these unusual days, has also been tough and weird because the people of God are missing.  Their spirits are there but their bodies are missing.  This weekend the people were present! What a time to rejoice!  But, I did not get to shake any hands nor see one single smile that expressed their joy of being present at the mass.  This felt weird.  

Today in mass, I also witnessed a young boy cry.  Why was he crying? He was crying because he is waiting.  He was crying because he longs for Jesus.  He was crying because he knows the date for his first communion has passed and he must wait again.  In that young boy I saw the tears of an entire faith community.  I saw the tears of Christians all over the world that long for Jesus and must wait.  I saw the tears of families because of missed celebrations and graduations.  I saw the tears of priests who long to share the mass with the communities they serve.  I saw the tears of children who do not understand why they cannot go to school and miss their friends.  

I remember waiting for my first communion.  Even though I was 27 at the time, waiting was extremely hard.  I remember longing for the body of Christ and counting down the days till I could say the word AMEN while putting out my hand to receive Him.  My day arrived in 2015.  This boy’s time will also arrive.  I pray to God that this day happens, I pray that this day comes soon, and what joy there will be when that young boy will finally be able to stick out his hands and say AMEN while receiving the body of Christ.  First communion cannot get here soon enough.  

Ryan

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Holy Spirit is our Advocate and Guide

93933287_10218916050150796_2479563531414929408_nThis Fr. Anthony’s homily from last Sunday, the Sixth Sunday of Easter.

Holy Spirit is our Advocate and Guide.

There is a saying, “We need Jesus Christ for our eternal life and the Holy Spirit for our internal life.”

The focus of today’s readings is on Apostolic preaching of salvation and the promise of the Holy Spirit by Jesus.  We shall reflect on the Holy Spirit and the continuation of the work of salvation in our daily lives.  In the first reading, we listen to how the Holy Spirit helped Philip, the Deacon, of his preaching for the conversion of the Samaritans, who received the anointing of the Holy Spirit through the imposition of hands by the apostles’ Peter and John.  In the second reading, St. Peter speaks of the opposition and persecution which was faced by those who believe in the presence of the Holy Spirit.

In the Gospel, Jesus says, “I shall ask the Father and He shall give you another Advocate.”  The context of these works is that the disciples were disappointed and troubled because Jesus was leaving them and thus comes the promise of sending His Holy Spirit.  Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus indwells in our hearts every day, and every time.  We are experiencing the Power and Presence of the Holy Spirit through the reception of the Holy Eucharist and prayer life.  The word Paraclete refers to one who defends or pleads the cause of someone at trial.  Therefore, every time we face difficulties, sicknesses, problems, and trials, the Holy Spirit assists us and defends us from harm and guides us along the right way.  

Let us be open to the Holy Spirit, our Paraclete to indwell in us throughout our life to experience His power and presence of Holiness, and wholeness.  Many times we ignore the power and guidance that is available by the Holy Spirit.  We all commit sins that take away the presence of God.  “But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one” (1 John 2:1).  It’s because we are all imperfect.  St. Paul expressed this predicament thus, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do” (Rom 7:19).  Let us pray according to the Psalm 51:11, “cast me not away from your presence; take not you Holy Spirit from me.”  St Peter in his first sermon said, “Repent and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you shall receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38).  Let us also remember the Promise of Jesus in Luke 11:13, “if you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give to Holy Spirit to them that as Him?”  St. Paul tell us, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor 3:16).

God the Holy Spirit helps us to see the truth in ourselves and to discern the right way.  He gives us strength in difficult times and times of pain.  Let us be assured that we are not left as orphans.  His presence is in the Church, family, Scripture, Sacraments, and in the praying community.

May we pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit 

“Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful, and renew the face of the earth.”

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Spiritual Jazz

f0efa38d72b500fb4753d7714d5c7afcPapoo’s office was in the back of his and Noni’s house.  You could always find him back there doing something, whether it be surfing the web, forwarding some email, reading a book, or talking on the phone to one of his many friends.  My fondest memories of my time spent with my late grandfather, Papoo, were back in his office talking about anything and everything.  In these conversations, he challenged me to be a better man and Christian.  And back in his office, all those years ago, he introduced me to Jazz!

I have loved jazz from the very first moment I heard Hello Dolly by Louis Armstrong.  Jazz is a unique kind of music where any note or rhythm is possible.  Jazz seems random… but it is also not random.  Playing jazz takes great skill and I admire the musicians that can control the notes and rhythms to produce a grand song that not only gets people to dance but also, like most music, can be felt deep down in their soul.  

In today’s world of quarantine and social distancing, the churches’ are closed and we are asked by our Bishops, Priests, and Pastors to become more spiritual people.  We are asked to embrace a type of faith that is not typical.  We participate in Mass live on tv while using the prayer of Spiritual Communion.  We are in a unique time.  Any note or rhythm seems possible.  But during this time, I see the people of God growing significantly spiritually and I am thankful for the Grand Musician that knows how to play the melody and notes just right.  I cannot help but feel that this Spiritual Jazz we participate in now, will be felt deep down in our very souls.  I, for one, can’t wait to listen and hear the next note.

 

Ryan52156623_10107479387294868_3619661955893035008_n

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A Horse and His Boy — Horse Prayer

220px-thehorseandhisboy281sted29“The Horse and His Boy” is the title of a book by C.S. Lewis. It is part of the Chronicles of Narnia series. I don’t remember much about the book except the title. I love the title. I think it’s good for every boy and girl to have a horse, and a horse to have a boy or girl.

It’s interesting how I can still so clearly remember the story of Ryan and his horse. I can still remember praying to God for Turtle, and I still remember being at peace (and I still am) even when my prayer wasn’t answered the way I prayed for it.

There are to many things that I don’t understand, and this pandemic is just one of many. I find myself praying for it to end. I find myself praying for those who are sick and suffering. I find myself praying for the care givers. I find myself praying for the economic fallout. I’m not sure any of my prayers will be answered in the way that I think they should, but I am at peace.

And I know… God is involved.

Horse Prayer

Posted on May 23, 2007by dwinger

Publisher: dwinger      Volume No.  1     Issue No 15      Date : Nov. 21, 02

“Turtle is down in the pens and I can’t get him up.” Dad told me over the phone.

Turtle is Ryan’s horse, and he had come down with the West Nile Virus according to our local veterinarian. A mosquito carrying the virus had bitten him. Turtle couldn’t move his back legs. He could eat and drink, and he didn’t seem to be in any pain, but his back legs were as good as paralyzed.

The vet was cautiously optimistic because Turtle kept trying to get up and had actually gotten on all fours for a few seconds. We were to keep hay and water available for Turtle and the vet would come by morning and evening to give him a shot.

There is nothing sadder than a beautiful animal like a horse that is helpless and doesn’t know what is going on. It was August and he needed water often. Turtle seemed happy when I came by to see him. He gladly ate his hay and drank or played in his water.

Ryan liked his horse. You see, Turtle was a horse that not just anyone could ride. He could be ornery at times (sometimes all the time.) He was a horse that needed much riding. Granddad told Ryan if he would ride Turtle a certain amount of time he could have the horse. The riding was good for the horse and for Ryan.

Ryan took the news of Turtle and his situation well. On the second day of disease, Ryan went out with me to feed and water Turtle. I was across the pen when I saw Ryan giving his horse some hay, and then rub his ears and pet his head. My teenage boy, who usually doesn’t show compassion very easily, (and I would suspect is uncomfortable with that feeling) was loving his horse. It has been a few months since this scene, and Dad still can’t forget it.

I said a prayer for Turtle that night. I prayed that he would get up and be fine.

Turtle wasn’t up by the morning of day 4, and we had him put down, which by then was the humane thing to do. Granddad backed the tractor up to the dead horse, and I wrapped the chain around his legs and watched as Turtle was drug off. I was kind of sad.

I don’t know why God didn’t save Turtle, but I do know God was involved.

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5th Sunday of Easter

96668816_1547384058750819_8007713927775387648_nYesterday, the virtual Lectio Divina group met again. We are beginning to know one another. Our time was special. One member of the group shared this image of Jesus that she had seen before. Jesus is the way. (If you would like to join our group on Sunday mornings, please contact me).

5th Sunday of Easter May 10, 2020

Acts 6:1-7; Ps 33; 1Pt 2:4-9; Jn 14:1-12

It was soccer day! The boys were running to the field. Today, they were playing their favorite game, ¡Fútbol! 

The coach called two boys to the front. They were to be the team captains. They would be picking the teams. Many of the boys were anxious and ready to play. They were good athletes, and knew they would be picked right away. But some of the boys had a bad feeling. They were worried that they would be picked last. They would only be chosen because they had to be on a team.

It feels good to be picked first. It feels good to be chosen.

St. Peter says in the second reading, “You are ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises’ of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful life.”

You have been chosen. Chosen by God.

In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we read of the choosing of the first deacons. The community of believers was growing. The Apostles needed help. There were basically two different groups. One spoke Aramaic, and the other spoke Greek. A little like here at Sacred Heart in Spearman. We have two different groups. One speaks English, and the other speaks español, two groups in one community. So, the Apostles decided to have the Greek speaking community choose some men to represent them. These men were holy. Their job was to serve. They were the first Deacons. 

In today’s Gospel, we see Jesus with his Apostles. The men he has chosen. He is with them at the Last Supper. Jesus has just finished washing their feet. He has shown them how to serve one another, and he will show them sacrifice, by sacrificing himself.

The Lord has chosen each one of us. We are his people. We are precious in his sight. Each one of us is like a stone. A living stone. Together, we are like a house built with living stones, and the Lord has chosen each stone of this spiritual house.

He has chosen you. He has called you to be holy. He has called you to eternal life.

“Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.” (Jn 17:3)

When we know Jesus. We know God.

When we know God, we can become holy. He has called us to be holy, because we are his chosen ones. He has chosen you to follow in his way, to live in his truth, and to have eternal life.

And there is a place for you in his Father’s house.

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The Josephine Tree

IMG-1238The sun was just beginning to peak over the horizon. She loved to feel the warmth of the sun. The days were getting longer, and the weather was getting warmer. She hoped the girls would come out and play today.

All of a sudden, she heard the door slam. She could hear the girls running her way. They were coming to play! One of the girls said, “Come on let’s go see Josephine!” When she heard her name, she couldn’t help but smile inside. She was named after the woman of the home. Josephine was the matriarch. She was a sweet woman, but late in life, she had suffered from a stroke. She couldn’t talk, and she was partially paralyzed.

Her husband was a good man. He never left Josephine’s side. He cared for her during these hardest of times. He used to put Josephine by the window, so she could watch the birds sing and land in the tree. He called it Josephine’s tree.

After Josephine died, the house got quieter, and Josephine’s tree died a little too. But now the house has a new owner, and they have children! The story of Josephine’s tree was passed down.

The children play under the tree and call her by name.

Josephine is the happiest tree in town.

 

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4th Sunday of Easter

93933287_10218916050150796_2479563531414929408_nToday’s Mary Mail is by Fr. Anthony Yanamala.

Fr. Anthony is the priest for Sacred Heart of Jesus in Spearman and Cristo Redentor in Gruver. Fr. Anthony is from India. He is a blessing to me and our parish.

Jesus is the gate for the sheep. Jesus is the way to eternal life, and way to the Father.  

On this Good Shepherd Sunday and the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, the Church reminds us of our call to become good shepherds of God’s flock and good  and invites us to pray for vocations to the priesthood, the diaconate and the consecrated life.

The first reading is taken from St. Peter’s first sermon, given on the day of Pentecost. He reminds his Jewish listeners that they have crucified their true Shepherd. Hence, they need to receive forgiveness for their sins by getting baptized in the name of Jesus.

The image of sheep dominates the readings today. The psalmist addresses Yahweh as his Shepherd.  Psalm 23:1 “The Lord is my Shepherd; nothing shall I want.” “He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand” (Ps.95:7).    Ezekiel foretells what the Messiah will do as Good Shepherd.  “I myself will tend My sheep …I will search for the lost and bring back the strays.  I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak” (Ezekiel 34: 15-16).   God is the ultimate Shepherd of His people, providing guidance, sustenance and protection (Psalm 23), and He intends their Kings and other leaders to be their shepherds as well. In the Gospel of John (chapter 10), Jesus declared that He is the Good Shepherd who not only loves and cares every time, even in difficulties, sickness especially who suffer with fear of COVID 19, and also  Jesus lays down His life for us. We are the Sheep of Christ; and we belong to Him at all times.

The Sheep know their shepherd: Christ knows his people, and God’s people know their Christ. The Shepherd knows his sheep intimately even by its name “I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands (Is 49:16). Jesus has intimate knowledge about each of us. One of the important ways to learn about Christ is to read the Word of God. St. Jerome said, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is the ignorance of Christ”.

The sheep know His voice: we are being the sheep of Christ’s flock, must be familiar with His voice. These days there are many who claim to echo the voice of God, but in reality, they are thieves. Christ is one and His way is one; if the way does not lead to Christ, it leads away from Him. We need to be cautious to identify the voice of Christ.

The Sheep love and trust Him: God’s priority is the sheep and their wellbeing. In the book of prophet Isaiah, the Lord said, “I love you with an everlasting love.” We only reciprocate God’s love. “Like a shepherd, He feeds His flock; in His arms He gathers the lambs, carrying them in His bosom, and leading the ewes with care” (Isaiah 40:11). Because He loves and cares for us. The sheep follow Him: in the presence of Jesus we are safe; under the leadership of Jesus, we will never miss the way; for He alone knows the way to the heavenly Father.

We need to become good shepherds and good leaders.  Everyone who is entrusted with the care of others is a shepherd.  Hence, pastors, Deacons, parents, teachers, doctors, nurses, government officials, and caregivers in this time of Pandemic, and among others, are all shepherds.  We become good shepherds by loving those entrusted to us, praying for them, spending our time, talents and blessings for their welfare, and guarding them from physical and spiritual dangers.  Parents must be especially careful of their duties toward their children, giving them good example and instruction and training them in Christian principles. Jesus is the High Priest, the Bishops are the successors of the Apostles, the pastors are their helpers and the parishioners are the sheep. Let us pray for the vocations. Today, let us also pray for the protection from Covid 19 of our Parish family in Spearman and Gruver, and all the people around the World. Let us always remember that Jesus, The Good Shepherd is with us, and loves us with unending love. Amen.

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