Tag: Father Mark

Solemnity of All Saints

A little joke written by John Bach: 

Finally, after years of testing business software, I landed my dream job — trying out computer games. My first day at work I was listing various ideas in a spreadsheet program when my manager walked by.

He looked at my screen for a moment, then said sternly,

I’d better not catch you using spreadsheets on company time when you know you should be playing games.

Obviously, our joke and the scripture this weekend reminds all of us that we might need to change our perspective on things, every now and then.

Our Gospel is from Matthew, and this passage is often used at funerals, not only because we live in Mountain Country, but also the Beatitudes speak of how the beloved deceased family member held on to what was most important in their lives and what made them truly successful in life. If we polled 100 people out on Main Street in Littleton and asked them, “What is a sure sign of success?” What do you think they would say? Most likely they will say things like: a college education, a family, a big house, lots of money or power, a state championship, etc. In today’s Gospel, Jesus describes a very different kind of success, that of a disciple. He speaks of attitudes, behaviors, and actions that exhibit a different kind of power.

Jesus comes to a resting place alongside a mountain, where he can sit down, but on higher ground, where he can instruct not only his disciples, but the crowds of people that just wanted to hear him speak. Jesus offers them some human experiences that he had experienced and wanted them to know that if they did as well, that they would be “Blessed”.  Trust me, the people did not feel like God even knew that they existed. Yet, Jesus tells them that if they find life hard and burdensome in the here and now, how different, and better it will be within the Kingdom of God. Instead of Blessed, think about the word being Fortunate.

Worldly success, no matter how wealthy or powerful a person is, does not bring peace of mind or of the heart. To be in the right place might seem strange if we are experiencing mourning, meekness, hungering for justice, in need of mercy, having a pure heart, and/or striving for peace. In this world, it is as good as it gets. In the kingdom of heaven, there is a lot more to come. It brings the symbol of the cross to a whole new level of understanding!

Jesus encourages us to keep making the right choices, the moral choices — in our relationships, conversations, and actions. That is not always an easy thing to do.

This weekend we celebrate “All Saints”, and we should be encouraged by those who have gone before us, who now rejoice in the heavenly kingdom.  Our saints are cheering us on, lifting us up by their faithfulness and helping us by their prayers. Remember, when humans die, they do not change into angels, but rather, hopefully have become members of the Communion of Saints in the Holy Kingdom of God. Angels are created by God, and have souls, minds, and free will.

All of us might have a favorite saint, possibly it is the name that we chose for our confirmation. Think about what that saint is popular for, and then think of how hard their lives might have been. Because of their example, how “Blessed” or “Fortunate” we are for not only knowing of them, but also trying to imitate them.

We now head into the Liturgy of the Eucharist, where we will gather with people of every nation, race, people, and tongue — seeking in the Eucharist the strength to live the Beatitudes!

Readings for Sunday, November 1, 2020

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

A little joke written by Noah Hart:

Carpooling to work, a man got increasingly stressed with each trip. After a week of panic attacks, he went to the doctor. “I’m fine on the bridges, in the traffic and even in the dark after a long day,” the man explained. “But when I go through tunnels with those four other guys, I feel like I’m gonna explode. Am I crazy?” “Not at all,” the doc said. “You just have CARPOOL TUNNEL SYNDROME.”

I know, another stupid joke! But I picked this one to emphasize the point that we all might get to the point that we might panic when life hits us hard, and things simply do not make sense to us.

In our first reading from Exodus, we hear of the people Israel being at the base of Mount Sinai. There they accept the challenge to serve God, who alone has delivered them from captivity and protected them thus far along their journey to the promised land. They are reminded of how good God is to them — and even though they were considered aliens in the land of Egypt — they are now the Chosen children of God, and will receive His generosity and protection. Because of this, they all must promise (make a Covenant) with God to protect the less fortunate of the family of God, namely the widow and the orphan, those who had no one to otherwise provide for them. This responsibility is seen as vital in the eyes of God, and if someone does not do what is expected, it would be a reason for them to panic.

So, we skip ahead in time, and we find Jesus, within the Gospel of Matthew, who always likes a little controversy. Jesus had just silenced the Sadducees, and we see a group of Pharisees hanging around in the temple courtyard discussing which Law of the Covenant was the most important — something they did on a regular basis — and look who they catch walking nearby, this one they call Jesus, let’s see what he has to say about this question.

Jesus looks at them with pity, seeing that they not only should have known, but also be the ones who sets the example for others to follow.

A little history — Judaism believed that, in addition to the Torah, Moses also received from God 613 oral laws. 248 positive ones and 365 negative ones.

So, a scholar of the law, a scribe, tests Jesus regarding which law is the greatest. Jesus does not just have an opinion, he does the obvious thing, he quotes scripture: 

Deuteronomy 6:5…

Hear O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord our God with all of your heart, and with all of your soul, and with all of your strength.

and Leviticus 19:18…

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Once Jesus combined these two teachings, the scribe along with the Pharisees had reason to panic. Everything made sense! Their hypocrisy was made apparent.

This became solid orthodoxy for not only Judaism, but also for Matthew’s Jewish Christian community.

My brothers and sisters, simply keep this Golden Rule as the Law of your lives, and there will be no reason to panic. And, if for some reason you do — do not worry, you too might just have CARPOOL TUNNEL SYNDROME.

Readings for Sunday, October 25, 2020

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This past week, I was on a retreat in Biddeford Pool, Maine with 15 of my brother priests of NH. One afternoon as I had some free time, I was walking on the beach, looking down I was wondering what treasures I might find that would be washed in from the waves.

It reminded me of a joke I once heard:

A man finds a magic lamp while walking down the beach. He rubs the lamp and out pops a magic genie! The genie says, I’ll grant you three wishes BUT!!! There is a catch, whatever you wish for, three of your worst enemies will receive double. After thinking long and hard about his decision the man finally answers, “I’d like a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO.” “Done” says the genie and snaps his fingers. The man instantly feels the weight of the keys in his pocket.  “I’d like $500,000 tax free” says the man. “Done” says the genie, and the man reaches into his other pocket and finds a power ball ticket. Finally, the man takes a deep breath and wishes his third and final wish. “I wish to donate a kidney!”

If you ever found a magic lamp, or won the lottery, what would you wish for? What would you do with your fortune? I know I would try to buy back the old school next door for our religious education program and our other parish activities, I would also add on to the back of St. Rose of Lima Church for better handicapped parking and entryway, and of course; storage. I would also build a food pantry and housewares storage building on the Franconia property. Don’t get me wrong, I would also take a nice vacation somewhere.

Our Scripture readings this weekend talk about “Having a second chance and having it all. 

I shall live in the House of the Lord,
all the days of my life.

What is important to you?

What do you value the most?

How best do you convey to others what you think and feel that brings eternal value to your existence?

I know these questions are difficult for our younger parishioners, but I know you too simply want to make a difference!

We can’t make a difference by ourselves; we all need the Grace of God to see clearly.

I’m sure you have all heard of the story of the little fish in the sea searching for the ocean, and the adult fish stating “you’re in it”, and the little fish stating, “No this is just the sea, I’m looking for the ocean!”

People ask me all the time, “Where is the Kingdom of God?” I always, state: “Look around, it’s right in front of you!”

Readings for Sunday, October 11, 2020

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Here’s a joke I’m sure you’ve heard before, but it’s a good one and worth repeating, it is from Mel Greene:

A guy died and was waiting at the Pearly Gates while Saint Peter leafed through his big book to see if the guy was worthy. Saint Peter went through the book several times, furrowed his brow, and said to the guy,

You know, I can’t see that you ever did anything really bad in your life, but you never really did anything good, either. If you can point to even one really good deed, you’re in.

The fellow thought or a moment, and said,

Yeah, there was one time when I was driving down the highway and saw a giant group of bikers assaulting this poor girl. I slowed down my car to see what was going on, and, sure enough, there they were, about fifty of them, tormenting this terrified young woman. Infuriated, I got out of my car, grabbed a tire iron out of my trunk, and walked up to the leader of the gang, a huge guy with a studded leather jacket and a chain running from his nose to his ear. As I walked up to the leader, the bikers formed a circle around me. So, I ripped the leader’s chain off of his face and smashed him over his head with the tire iron. Laid him out. Then I turned and yelled at the rest of them, “Leave this poor innocent girl alone! You are all a bunch of sick, deranged animals, go home before I teach you all a lesson in pain!”

Saint Peter, impressed, says,

Really? When did this happen?

Oh, about two minutes ago.

Doesn’t our first reading from Isaiah and our Gospel from Matthew sound alike? Looking a little closer, we notice that in Isaiah, the Vines and the Fruit are the problem; and in Matthew we notice that the produce is fine, but the delivery system is malfunctioning (that the real problem is with the tenants).

In Isaiah, the vineyard represents God’s people. God gives them every advantage to produce the good fruit that represents right judgment and justice. But instead, their prideful ways lead to oppression, bloodshed, and cries for help. To change for the better, the nation will have to experience deprivation and ruin. Only such harsh measures will make them wiser in the things that really matter.

In the Gospel, at first glance, you might think that the story is about how God takes his vision of salvation away from the Jewish people and gives it to the Gentile people (if it was a tenant problem). It is not a story of how God favored the Christians over the Jewish people. It is a story of the replacement of the Jewish leaders of the time, who were not doing what they were supposed to be doing and they were to be replaced by new competent, faithful Jewish leaders that would become the structure of the Church. (The Apostles).

Like the joke that I began with, God gives each of us every chance to do what is right, even at the last action of our lives. He is constantly rooting for us (cheering us on) to do the right thing.

Let’s choose to be a part of God’s Kingdom — not by hanging on to old grudges or hurts, not by thinking we are not good enough, not by living on “auto-pilot” — but rather, by living in thanksgiving and celebration.

Saint Paul challenges us to keep on doing what we must (prayer and petition) — so what you have learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me — and then the God of peace will be with you.

This week, may we be challenged to gain insight on how we must become a great harvest for the Lord… As we come to the table of the Lord, let us offer ourselves as the fruit of the vine, and work of human hands.

Readings for Sunday, October 3, 2020

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

All three of this weekend’s readings have to do with three simple things:

  1. Love of God
  2. Love of Neighbor
  3. Love of Self

Are all three of these happening in your lives? For many of us, it is easier for us to love God than our neighbor, or to love our neighbor more than ourselves.

However, the Golden Rule has been given to us a challenge: Love God with your entire being and love your neighbor as you do yourself! For the true disciple of Christ, this can take a life-long endeavor!

I’d like to share a little joke written by Amy Bertman:

While attending a convention, three psychiatrists take a walk. 

People are always coming to us with their guilt and fears.

One says,

but we have no one to go to with our own problems.

Another suggests

Since we are all professionals, why don’t we hear each other right now?

They agree this is a good idea. The first psychiatrist confesses;

I’m a compulsive shopper and deeply in debt, so I overbill patients as often as I can.

The second admits,

I have a drug problem that’s out of control and I frequently pressure my patients into buying illegal drugs for me.

The third psychiatrist says,

I know it is wrong, but no matter how hard I try, I just can’t keep a secret.

Obviously, this is not living out the Golden Rule!

In our first reading, God tells Ezekiel to continue warning the people of Jerusalem about their sins lest their blood be on his hands. We too are called to be a “Prophet,” not by standing on street corners with a sign and yelling at people, but rather by taking advantage of every situation life gives us and handle them as a disciple of Jesus.

In our second reading Paul tells the Romans, “Love is the fulfillment of the law.” All of us must see that there is deeper meaning within the laws and the rules that we keep, and if we keep in mind the Golden Rule, we will be sure to see that.

The Gospel of Matthew encourages us to seek reconciliation with anyone who sins against us. Think about it in these three ways:

  1. As children of God and believers in Jesus Christ, our actions must mirror what Jesus taught us.
  2. The power of the community is emphasized by Jesus: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
  3. Forgiveness, even though difficult, must be sincere.

As we know of the Trinity as being one God, and three persons, so too must we think about the Golden Rule as being intimately connected as one rule, but contingent upon God, self, and neighbor.

Readings for Sunday, September 6, 2020

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Milton Berle once said:

My doctor recently told me that jogging would add ten years to my life. I think he was right. I feel ten years older already!

We often hear about “Free Will”, and “Everything happens for a reason.” If you think about it, these two terms don’t coincide. How can one have the freedom to choose right from wrong, and then when there are consequences from our choice (good or bad), can we really justify our actions by stating that it was all a part of God’s Plan for us? Yes, God is eternal (always was, always is, and always will be), so he already knows what we are going to choose, but that doesn’t mean it is a part of His Plan.  However, it does mean He will use what we choose.

Jeremiah in our first reading felt duped by God. He thought that seeing he was a prophet for God Himself, he would be on Easy Street, however quite the opposite happened. And the more he tried pulling away from his obligation, the more he felt pulled into God’s plan for him and the world.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus must’ve had a glimpse of what the Father wanted of him, but that didn’t make his choice any easier. Just because He is the Son of God, that didn’t cheapen the ultimate sacrifice of giving up his life for us in any way imaginable. He knew why he had to go to Jerusalem and suffer on many different levels. The same must be true for his disciples, who had given up everything to follow him. Then they hear that he was going to Jerusalem to die?

During these hard times that we find ourselves in, we ask the question of “What’s next?”  

The focus of today’s message has to be found in our second reading from Romans: 

Do not conform yourselves to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you many discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.

Like today’s response to the Psalm, we say: “My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.”

Everything doesn’t happen for a reason, if it did, we would hold no responsibility for our thoughts, words, or our actions. We would hold no consequence or personal responsibility for them. However, God doesn’t make it that easy for us, rather he tells us to pick up our crosses daily, and simply follow him, even if we might feel duped every now and then.

Readings for Sunday, August 30, 2020

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Joke written by George Goldtrap:

A pastor hired a painter to paint a sign for the church. The painter painted a sign which read:

Church of Christ. 

The pastor saw the sign and was very unhappy. 

This is not a Church of Christ

he scolded the painter. So, the sign painter reworded the sign to say:

This is not a Church of Christ. 

This time the pastor was furious. Exasperated, the painter packed his tools and told the pastor:

When you make up your mind, call me!

We must remain steadfast in our faith even when we are faced with adversity!

In our 1st reading, from 1st Kings, we hear of an exasperated prophet named Elijah. We all know Elijah. The greatest of prophets! He has given up, he fears for his life, he simply wants to die. He separates himself from God’s people. He journeys to the desert. God intervenes seeing that Elijah isn’t fulfilling his mission as a prophet. Even Moses stayed with his people.  So, God provides him with nourishment and sends him to a cave on a mountain to wait for God to come to him. As we hear, God doesn’t come to him in the ways that others might suspect (fire, earthquake, etc.), but rather in a gentle, whispering breeze. After God’s visitation to Elijah, Elijah knows what must be done, and fulfills his mission.

We must remain steadfast in our faith even when we are faced with adversity.

In the Gospel of Matthew, we hear of the story of the Apostles being tossed by waves and wind, in a boat, and Jesus coming to them walking on the water, and calming the sea. Instead of a boat, I want you to do the same as Matthew, I want you to think of the Church as the boat. When tough times happen such as this pandemic, when the Church gets rocked with scandal, when the future of the Church seems uncertain — trust in the Lord, He’ll be the one who will calm our storm, and He is the one who will save us!

Of course, the story in Matthew’s Gospel, has a little add on, doesn’t it? Yep, Peter gets out of the boat, and Jesus invites Peter to come to him, and immediately fear takes over and Peter begins to sink, but Jesus immediately catches him. So, the obvious question is: What should Peter have done? The answer: Stayed in the boat! This is true for all of us! We must stay in the Church! The Body of Christ saves us!

We must remain steadfast in our faith even when we are faced with adversity!

In the Eucharist, we experience Christ’s power in a profound way.  He has made it possible for us to receive him in his body, blood, soul, and divinity.  Let us approach his altar with faith, trust, and confidence in him who can calm all our storms.

Readings for Sunday, August 9, 2020

Eighteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time

A joke by Steve Anderson:

While I sat in the reception area of my doctor’s office, a woman rolled an elderly man in a wheelchair into the room. As she went to the receptionist’s desk, the man sat there, alone and silent.

Just as I was thinking I should make small talk with him, a little boy slipped off his mother’s lap, and walked over to the wheelchair. Placing his hand on the man’s, he said,

I know how you feel. My mom makes me ride in the stroller, too.

Couldn’t you just see the elderly man just smile! 

A whole new perspective!

I’m sure most of you remember the poem called Footprints in the Sand, written by Mary Stevenson, but for those who haven’t, it goes like this:

One night I dreamed…

I was walking along the beach with the Lord.

Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.

In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.

Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,

Other times there was only one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed

That during the low periods of my life,

When I was suffering from anguish, sorrow, or defeat,

I could see only one set of footprints.

So, I said to the Lord,

You promised me Lord,

That if I followed you, you would walk with me always.

But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life

There has been only one set of footprints in the sand.

Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?

The Lord replied,

The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand,

is when I carried you.

All three of our scripture readings today give us the common theme that God is on our side, even when we choose not to be on His side. Isaiah prophecies that God wants his people to return to him and enjoy the party!  In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus empowers his disciples to give way beyond what they thought even possible — and in the sharing, they have plenty left over — meaning they have much more to give. 

Our second reading from Romans, tries to shake us up, and have a whole new perspective! What is it that can keep us from the love of God? Only, in the way that we see things. In these troubling times, may we work together to build up the kingdom of God, and keep focused to the truth before us!

Readings for Sunday, August 2, 2020

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Once a third-grade teacher told her class,

Today we will be discovering where objects come from. 

She then held up a piece of paper and asked,

Where does paper come from?

Immediately a girl answered,

Paper comes from fibers that are extracted from a tree and converted to pulp, which is then combined with water, flattened, dried, and cut into sheets.

The teacher said,

Very good!

Next the teacher held up an eraser and asked,

Where does an eraser come from?

A young boy proudly said,

Erasers are made from either natural or synthetic rubber. 

The teacher said,


Then the teacher held up an apple that a student had given her that day and asked,

Where does an apple come from? 

All of the students yelled out in unison,

From the grocery store!

What a beautiful Gospel from Matthew! We all are aware that as we journey as disciples of Jesus, we will have so many opportunities to have great influence on many people. This can be from our good example or from our sinfulness. What we do with our sinfulness also can have a great influence on others! Strive to plant the seeds of Christ by your daily actions! If you do so, you may never know the goodness you plant, but as Jesus says it will multiply 30, 60, or even 100 times!

I know, it is another short homily!  

Forgive me!

Readings for Sunday, July 12, 2020

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Did you notice a word that was in the 1st reading that was also in the Gospel? The word was Meek. What does ‘Meek’ mean? Meek is from the Greek language Praotes meaning “Not easily provoked.” It is the virtue between the extremes of excessive anger and a complete lack of it; the perfect balance point where the control and direction of one’s temper displays moral character and power. Meekness is not weakness, but power fully controlled. Think about the power of fire — uncontrolled it burns down a house, but a controlled fire properly heats a house.

In the Gospel we hear of the word Yoke. Jesus knowing the trade of carpentry, would have probably measured and fitted many yokes for animals to work together. The yoke is a symbol of discipleship. If we are to be disciples, we have no choice but to be ‘Yoked’ up with Jesus. Remember what he says,

come to me, all of you who find life burdensome.

He wants us to give him everything that is weighing us down. He wants to take on what we can’t do ourselves. Why? Because he knows that if we are supposed to take care of our brothers and sisters, then our loads need to be lightened first. This is why both prayer and relationship go hand-in-hand.

A joke, written by Sheldon Levitas: 

Believe it or not, I just received a check from Medicare for all of one cent.  Why, I don’t know, but concerned that some arcane regulation — complete with penalty — would apply for not cashing a government check, I took it to the bank. The teller looked at the amount, checked the endorsement and then asked, “How would you like this, heads or tails?”

Things in our world today really don’t have to make much sense, for them not to be real. Yes, as disciples we are called to be Meek, and we are expected to give over to Jesus, what we simply can’t handle on our own, but most especially we have to be willing to be Yoked up with Jesus, knowing that he will steer us onto a straight path, and also give us the added strength to continue to work in the Kingdom of God!

Readings for Sunday, July 5, 2020