Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Ecumentical Soup Supper - Hope At The Cross,


In Law School, my professors encouraged me, early on, to re-arrange my classes out of the usual order, so that I could take all of my Criminal Law classes as early as possible. So I crammed in Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Constitutional Law, and Evidence all at once during my second year. 

Why? You might ask was this? 

They wanted me to enroll in a Public Defender Clinic, because they thought this would be formative for me to get this under my belt. 

For the record, anyone who’s watched a movie with a courtroom scene has heard, “Objection! Hearsay.” That is, if you aren’t a witness to something, you may have heard about it, but that’s not good enough. 

Although there are exceptions. Rules 803, and 804 of the Federal Rules of Evidence provide roughly 30 exceptions to the Rule Against Hearsay, and Rule 805 provides that even when there’s hearsay within hearsay – that is, for those of you who remember the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, that immortal line:

My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it's pretty serious. 

could possibly be allowed in courtroom testimony “if each part of the combined statements conforms with an exception to the rule.”

Anyway, for us as Christians, our hope is in Christ, and in Him crucified. And so the first pericope provided for our reflection speaks of the two thieves on either side of Jesus at the Crucifixion; and provides a stunning comparison and contrast between hope and despair.

In the First Letter to Saint Timothy, Paul admonishes us to “put all our hope in the living God.” In the Letter to the Romans, Paul tells us that we are saved in hope, but that “hope that is seen is not hope.” And in the First Letter of Saint Peter, we hear that “we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

This is what I like to call “supernatural” hope, what Catholics call the “Theological Virtues,” with virtue meaning a strength or power.

We can hope that it might not rain tomorrow, but if we were facing imminent death, would we be able to hope? Or would we struggle with despair? The graces of God provides us with a hope that goes well beyond our own ability to hope. A powerful hope, that continues to hope, even when there is no light at the end of the tunnel. 


N. T. Wright speaks quite a bit about what he calls the Resurrection Movement within the early Christian community. For both Jews and Gentiles, the idea that Jesus was risen from the dead was mind-blowing. 

For the Sadducees, resurrection was heresy. It was some new-fangled idea that wasn’t in their Scriptures. The Pharisees, on the other hand, embraced the idea of a resurrection, but more as an end-of-time concept. The prophecy of Ezekiel in chapter 37 – the dry bones in the desert. 

But the resurrection of Jesus was ridiculous. The Sadducees didn’t have time for it. And the Pharisees weren’t ready for any resurrection before the end of time. What’s a Jew to do?

For the Greeks, maybe there was a transmigration of souls – a re-incarnation of sort. But for the Romans, life one one-and-done. Live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse. 

For us as twenty-first century Christians, we might take the resurrection for granted. Missing the point that this should be mind blowing for us just as it was mind blowing 2,000 some years ago. The Resurrection of Christ Jesus should be for us more than an idea. It should be a paradigm shift, that takes us out of this world and into the next. 

We don’t live our lives like the rest of the world. Not because of a rule-book; but rather because we know that the world as we know it is passing away. And that we will be united with Christ in a bodily resurrection.

As the Apostle’s Creed says it: “I believe in . . . the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

In the season of Lent, we seek to deepen our faith in this hope. To live our lives in a better way. More prayer. Less worldliness. More charity. 

These three pillars of our Lenten practice are meant to help us grow, not only in Hope, but in Faith, and in Love. Making us better sons and daughters of God, siblings of Christ Jesus, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.


The hope that we express in the resurrection should spur us on the emulate the generosity of God in what we say and what we do. Too often, we can get stuck – where our beliefs become something in our minds, leaving us ruminating without much action. Our Hope in Christ’s Resurrection should lead us to act on what we believe, so that our Faith becomes action – not for the sake of acting, but out of Love. Emulating the generosity of God, from Whom we have received everything that we have, as well as everything that we are.

This is what sets Christians apart in the world-at-large. Our relationship with God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And as we take our faith out into the world, our acts of charity and love provide opportunities for us to show the Love of God to a world lacking in Hope and in missing out on Faith. 

I want to thank you for hosting us tonight at the Burt Methodist Church. Let’s stand and sing the hymn on the back of your programs. 

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Father at Law @ Living Exponentially / Blue Water Healthy Living

 Video interview on Living Exponentially with Eileen Tesch.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Solemnity of Jesus Christ King of the Universe @ Ss. Francis and Clare, Birch Run, MI

There is a current among historians that on several occasions have asked the question:

What if George Washington had been the first King of America, instead of the first President?

Recently, an online researcher from Ancestry dot Com took the challenge, and began the process of attempting to trace the would-be royal lineage back over two centuries.

It’s not easy being king.

And it’s also not too easy to figure out just who would be king.

Royal succession is in itself difficult to determine because of the variations that exist in passing on the crown. For example, does the throne go only to male successors? Or in an enlightened society, should women be included in the royal succession? Is this mythical monarchy a patrilineal – only through the father’s side, or is it bilineal?

Add to that what is probably the most apparent difficulty – namely, that George and Martha Washington had no children.

Tracing the line back through every possible family permutation yielded various claimants to the throne over the last two centuries who would have been the kings: Lee, Bushrod, and Spotswood. Not to mention the queens: Estella, Odelle, and Brynda.

After much time and research, the most likely royal successor was finally determined to be Paul Emery Washington. He was born in Texas in 1927, served in the US Navy, and worked until his retirement for a supply company – which interestingly was based out of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. During his retirement he volunteered at San Antonio Zoo, and was active in the community.

But since that article was written, I have some sad news: His Royal Highness, Paul I, has gone on to his eternal reward. And so, it would seem, the hypothetical throne of America is once again up for grabs.

Today we celebrate the last Sunday of Ordinary Time, known as The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. The feast was originally put forth by Pope Pius XI in 1925 in response to growing secularism and nationalism after the First World War.

And while the Scripture readings may lead our minds to the eschaton – that is, the end of time – the emphasis of this feast day is on the here- and-now. Writing in 1925, the pope stated that for all of us, Jesus Christ must reign in our minds ... in our wills ... in our hearts ... and in our bodies.

Christ’s reign is not some distant event ... rather, we must work to make it a reality every day by our own willingness to allow Him into our lives.

As we approach this altar to receive the Sacred Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ ... let us pray for a deeper openness to God’s grace ... so that we might truly allow Christ to be *our* King.

May we surrender ourselves totally to His reign ... so that His kingdom may come ... on earth ... as in heaven ... through us living out our lives ... every day ... for Jesus Christ ... in all that we say and do.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time @ Ss. Francis and Clare, Birch Run, MI

Howard William Osterkamp from Dent, Ohio served for nine months of his two-years of service on the 38th parallel in Korea with C Company, 5th Regimental Combat Team.About half-way through those nine months, he was wounded in the leg with schrapnel, and suffered two breaks in his leg, but this was misdiagnosed by Army doctors, and he was returned to the front lines for four more months.

Osterkamp is credited with originating the phrase: “All gave some; some gave all.

This weekend we celebrate Veteran’s Day – which originated as Armistice Day 105 years ago at the end of the First World War – commemorating the signing of the armistice at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

That day is also the memorial of St. Martin of Tours, who originally was a military man from a military family, and lived in the fourth century.

Pious legend tells us that Martin, seeing a poor beggar in the cold, took his sword and cut his own military cloak in half – sharing it with the shivering man. That night he had a dream where Christ appeared and repeated that well-known phrase from the Gospels “what you did for this the least of my brethren, you did for me.” And upon waking up, Martin saw that his cloak was no longer half, but restored to 100%.

This led to his conversion, and eventually becoming a bishop in France.

Interestingly, the word “chapel” come from the French word for cloak or cape … and refer to the small buildings in villages where St. Martin’s cloak would be displayed for prayer; and to the clergy, the “chaplains” who attended to the cloak as it travelled from place to place.

Today is the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. And today is our parish memorial weekend.

We remember 19 people who died over the past year, ranging in age from a few weeks to over 100 years old.

As Jesus says at the end of today’s Gospel: “you know neither the day nor the hour.

During the month of November, the Church calls us to reflect on our own mortality by remembering in prayer those who have gone before us. Indeed, “the souls of the just are in the hands of God,” and that, too, should include us. 

When we pray for the souls of the Faithful Departed, we do a good and just thing, knowing that when our day or hour should come, we can count on our family and friends to remember us in prayer when we have gone on to the Lord.

As we approach this altar to receive the Sacred Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ; let us place within His hands the souls of all the faithful departed … those from the past year, and every year. And in honor of Veteran’s Day, let us remember those who died in service to our great nation as well. 

Eternal rest … 

Saturday, July 22, 2023

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time @ Ss. Francis and Clare, Birch Run, MI

Luca Signorelli, born Luca d'Egidio di Ventura in 1441 in Cortona, Italy; was an artist of the Tuscan school, although he spent most of his time in Rome and Umbria. 

It was in Orvieto that he produced his life’s masterpiece: five frescoes depicting events from the Apocalypse in the chapel of the Madonna of San Brizio in the Cathedral or Duomo of that city.

Beginning with “The Preaching of the Antichrist,” the series proceeds through “The End of the World,” “The Resurrection of the Flesh,” “The Damned in Hell,” and “The Elect in Paradise.” All of these surrounding the existing art on the lower walls done 50 years before by Fra Angelico – “Christ in Judgment,” and “Angels and Prophets.”

In the first of Signorelli frescoes, “The Preaching of the Antichrist,” we see what at first might appear to be Christ preaching to the crowds. The resemblance ends upon closer examination, as this false Christ has horns; and receives his message from Satan, who is whispering into his ear and controlling him like a puppet.

In the fresco, the Antichrist displays wonders and miracles, but he is surrounded by corruption and wealth, massacres and iniquities, horrors and chaos.

Signorelli died in 1523, 500 years ago this October. 

A major exhibition of his works began a month ago in his hometown of Cortona, and will continue for the next 3 months.

Today is the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time. 

The brief four verses we heard from the Book of Wisdom are a brief profession of faith, rooted in the Old Testament, but speaking of righteousness – or what I prefer to translate as “right relationship” – the proper state of humanity in harmony with God.

The God of Israel is unique. Not only is He “one,” but He is the “one” creator of all. He is “all powerful,” and despite that power, He is good, moral, and just. God is full of kindness, mercy, and forgiveness. All unique qualities in a pagan world with many, fickle, capricious gods. 

In the two verses from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, we hear how the Spirit accompanies us through the difficulties and trials of this world, assisting us through Supernatural Grace, to live according to the most Holy Will of God. The Supernatural Grace through Baptism, and all the Sacraments, especially the most Holy Eucharist.

The Gospel, on the other hand, presents three parables of Christ – or perhaps three similes is a better term – Our Lord attempting to give us a glimpse into just what is the Kingdom of God.

Only one explanation is given, for the first parable.

The Kingdom of God is like wheat and the tares growing together, not because they are equal or identical, but because they will be separated at the harvest.

Tares are known as the darnel, lolium temulentum, which initially appears identical to wheat, and even the grains appear similar. But darnel flour is poisonous and imparts a bitterness if it is accidentally used in cooking. 

Because of this similarity, it is difficult to separate the two.

The world is filled with many contradictory voices, some which confuse or conflate, and others which are outright noxious and dangerous to the soul. Some parts of these messages may appear similar to the Gospel, but fall short of the fullness of the Gospel. 

In this world, it may be easy to put on pious externals with a wicked heart. We may not notice the difference, but God can separate the elect from the damned … and He will.

A friend and seminary professor of mine would often remind us: “half of the truth is not the truth.” And in a similar way, half of the Gospel is not the Gospel.

Jesus Christ has told us that He is “the Way, and the Truth, and the Life,” and we must ensure that in following Him, we allow Him to be “our Way, our Truth, and our Life.” 

As we approach this altar to receive the Sacred Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, let us make a firm stand for Christ and Christ alone. Let us reject what is not of God, and embrace Jesus Christ as our Way, our Truth, and our Life. And let us then go forward through, with, and in Christ Jesus; that we may follow Him, and Him alone.

Saturday, June 17, 2023

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time @ Ss. Francis and Clare, Birch Run, MI

This weekend we celebrate Father’s Day. Happy Father’s day to all ...

My own Dad handed on to myself and my siblings a love of reading – by taking us to the Public Library on weekends to check out books; an ability to work on … and sometimes fix … things – by teaching us to work with tools; to problem solve by teasing us with riddles and puzzles; to work hard – by his own example of hard work; and above all to love and to forgive – because we weren’t always the best of kids … or maybe that was just me.

Dr. Scott Hahn, a rather well-known theologian … in a talk on the Lord’s Prayer – the “Our Father” – makes the observation that we do not call God “Father” because He is _like_ a Father. Rather, Dr. Hahn says that in the truest sense “Father” is “God's name, His personal identity, [since] God is Father eternally.” 

The rest of us – those who are male parents or those who bear the professional title of “Father” – we are the ones who are _like_ a father … _like_ our Heavenly Father – namely, God.

And so, based on my life experience, and seeing God’s Fatherhood reflected in my own Dad, has shown me that God reveals what things are … by teaching us, challenging us, guiding us … as the old Catechism’s said: “to serve Him in this world and to be Eternally happy with Him in the next.” 

God sent His Only-Begotten Son to show us how to live … and not just live, but how to “live hard.” And of course in God’s eternal plan, he also shows us how to love and how to forgive; how to be merciful and how to reconcile.

Today is the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. 

In the Gospel we hear the call of the Apostles. The word Apostle comes from the Greek word meaning an emissary or an ambassador. It literally means “one who is sent,” and as God the Father sent Jesus into the world to redeem the world … to redeem and save us; Jesus sends the Apostles as emissaries of “the Good News,” the Gospel of Salvation.

And in this passage, we are told the names of the Twelve Apostles … Simon, meaning “listen;” Andrew, meaning “strong;” James, meaning “to follow closely;” John, meaning “gracious;” Philip, meaning “warrior;” Bartholomew, meaning “farmer;” Thomas, meaning “twin;” Matthew, meaning “gift of God;” Thaddeus, meaning “from the heart;” and Judas, meaning “praise.” 

Jesus calls them _by name_ … not by title, not by function. 

In the Garden of Eden, God asked the man to name what He had created. But only we – individual humans, are made in the image and likeness of God – only we have proper names, eternal souls, and inherent dignity. 

Each and every one of us is called by name, called by God, through our own Baptism, to be “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own …” 

This means that we are to worship God, love one another, and to use the things of this world to build the Kingdom of God and spread the Gospel. But we must be careful not turn this around, and end up worshipping things, using one another, and leaving God completely out of our lives.

Jesus Christ calls us to follow Him (closely), to listen (and hear and obey), to be strong (when we are helpless), to be gracious (and merciful), to receive His gifts, to work in the world, to battle the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil; and to praise (and worship) Him and Him alone, from the (depths of the) heart. 

And then He sends us, as His emissaries … to live out the Gospel in our lives … by what we say and what we do. Every day of our lives.

As we approach this altar to receive the Most Holy Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ – may we hear God’s voice, through His Son Jesus Christ, calling us to follow Him … He who is our Way, our Truth, and our Life. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Wednesday of the 5th Week of Easter @ St. Elizabeth Seton School, Golden Gate, FL

 This morning we heard Jesus tell us that He is the Vine and that we need to remain in Him, stay connected to Him, and to be part of Him. We do this by being part of the Church. And on Sundays and on Solemnities, we hear these four words in the Creed: ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC, and APOSTOLIC.

We are ONE because we are connected to Christ as the Vine. We aren't all tall or short, old or young, dark or light, skinny or fat. We are unique, but we are all part of the Church and we are all part of Christ. God is one, Christ is one, and the Church is one.

We are HOLY not because of anything we do, but because God shares His Grace through Christ in the Power of the Holy Spirit. If we disconnect from Jesus, we unplug that power for holiness. And we are called to be holy as God is holy. God is Truth, God speaks the Truth, and God's thoughts are True. When we think, act, and speak the truth in Christ, we show forth God's holiness in our lives.

We are CATHOLIC, not just because it's the name on the sign out front. We are Catholic because we are universal. We allow all sorts of people into the Church, and we seek out a diversity of people; because all are called to be saved in Christ Jesus.

Finally, we are APOSTOLIC. First, because we can trace our faith to the Apostles, but also because the Greek word apostello means to be sent. And we, too, are sent out to spread the Gospel by what we say, think, and do.

So, let us remain in Christ by remaining in His Church: ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC, and APOSTOLIC. Because, like we heard in John 15:5, "without [Jesus] we can do nothing." The converse of which is: with Jesus, we can do everything. So let us do everything today through, with, and in Christ Jesus our Lord.