Mike and the Beggar 10-24-2021

October 22nd, 2021

A few years ago a father and mother sent this open letter to the
parents and students of a high school in a southern city.
Dear Teens & Parents:
We buried our son Thursday. He got into bed Tuesday night and very
deliberately took his own life.
Mike was bright, handsome, witty, shy and with ease did well in
school. His phone rang constantly and his friends were in and out of the
house all the time. The Coroner’s report showed no drugs.
In reality Mike had lots of friends. Each individual, however, has
their own perception of reality. Sunday night, Mike got drunk and we
had a long talk, and for the first time we realized that our rosy perception
of the state of his life wasn’t his. He was very sad. He felt his friends
didn’t care about him – even though we know they DID.
We believe you all can help God make this world a happier place
to live. Somewhere between the ages of 20 and 35, people begin to feel secure enough to tell their friends “I love you” or “I’m glad you’re my
friend”. Please be brave, because at your age it is a scary, chancy thing
to say; but please tell your friends that they are your friends and you do
care. This is most important because a person can feel most alone when
surrounded by people.
There are also some in your school who truly have no friends.
Their phone never rings and friends never come over. Please make
friends with them. They are really lonely. If Mike felt such despair
when he had friends, just imagine the sadness and loneliness those
teenagers must feel and endure.
God put each of us on earth to do good and bring joy. Please help
make Mike’s death bring love and joy to the world in a concrete manner.
Growing up is very hard and there is so much each of you must
sort out for yourself. Your parents and family are there, but your peers
are so important too. Please, please open your hearts and tell your
friends how much they mean to you. – Love to you all.
The letter was signed by Mike’s mother and father. It took a lot of love and courage for Mike’s parents to write that letter. That’s what makes it so beautiful. That’s what makes it so
powerful. That’s what makes it a letter that every young person and
parent should read.
I think it’s especially appropriate for us to read it today, because
the blind beggar in today’s gospel might well have been about Mike’s
Like Mike, he was trying to reach out to Jesus as best he knew
how. And like Mike, he sought help from those around him.
But like young Mike, instead of getting help from those around
him, the blind beggar got just the opposite. Instead of getting support
from the crowd, he got abuse and outright rejection.
Today’s gospel says that when the beggar called out to Jesus, “Son
of David! Have mercy on me!” many people yelled at him and told him
to keep quiet.
In other words, instead of taking the beggar by the hand and
leading him to Jesus, they took him by the neck and shoved him farther
away from Jesus. Only one person came to the beggar’s aid. And who was that person? It was none other than Jesus himself. When Jesus heard the
people shouting at the beggar, he stopped and asked that the beggar be
brought to him. Only then did the people change. Only then did they
help the unfortunate man.
Today’s gospel prompts us to ask ourselves, how many Mike’s and
how many blind beggars are there in today’s world?
How many of these Mike’s and how many of these blind beggars
are trying to reach out to Jesus?
How many of these Mike’s and how many of these blind beggars
are being treated the way the people treated the blind beggar in today’s
How many of us, perhaps even without realizing it, are
discouraging these Mike’s and these blind beggars?
Even more to the point, today’s Gospel invites us to ask ourselves,
who are the Mike’s and the blind beggars in our own lives and what are
we doing to help?

The Secret of Greatness 10-17-2021

October 16th, 2021

We see on T.V. many special award shows, the Emmy’s, the
Grammy’s, the Oscar’s, the Espy’s, you can name more of them. Our
Gospel challenges us to reflect on a different kind of awards
presentation. Our show is entitled – The Secret of Greatness.
When Doug Meland and his wife moved into a village of Brazil’s
Fulnio Indians, he was referred to as “the white man,” an
uncomplimentary term. Other white men had exploited the villagers,
burned their homes, and robbed their lands. But after the missionaries
learned the language and began to help people with medicine and in
other ways, they began to call Doug, “the good white man.” And when
the Melands began adopting the customs of the people, the Fulnio spoke
of Doug as the “white Indian.”
Then one day, as Doug was washing the dirty, blood-caked foot of
an injured boy, he heard a bystander say, “Who ever heard of a white
man washing an Indian’s foot? Certainly this man is from God.” From
that day, whenever Doug entered an Indian home, it would be announced, “Here comes the man God sent us.”
The Secret of Greatness.
Eighty-year-old Clara Hale has served as foster mother to over 500
babies born to drug-addicted mothers. She cares for them until their
own mothers can do so. These babies enter life with a drug dependency
themselves. That makes “Mama” Hale’s job harder. “When a baby is
crying for a drug,” she says, “all I can do is hold it close and say to it, ‘I
love you, and God loves you, and your mama loves you. Your mama
just needs a little more time.’”
The Secret of Greatness.
John Penne is a retired businessman. He and his wife developed
cancer at the same time. His wife died, but John lived; and his cancer
went into remission.
While driving back and forth from the hospital for regular
treatment, John noticed the number of sick people waiting at the
hospital’s bus stop. Sometimes the weather was bitter cold and these people, many of them elderly, were obviously in pain. John went to the local chapter of
the American Cancer Society and said, “Give me a car and a little gas
money, and I’ll volunteer my days driving these unfortunate people
For ten years now, John has donated his time doing just that.
The Secret of Greatness.
After graduating from Georgetown University, Anne Donahue
volunteered a year of her life to work at Covenant House in New York
Every night at ten o’clock Anne and another volunteer put gallons
of hot chocolate and bags of sandwiches into the Covenant House van.
For the next couple of hours, the familiar van with a dove painted
on its door tours the city’s juvenile prostitution areas.
Anne explains the reason behind the tour. “We’re out there
because we know that a lot of kids haven’t tried Covenant House yet.
About two-thirds have never heard of us.” Anne goes on to say that they accomplish something else, too. They show kids that somebody truly cares, that somebody’s out there
who’s not interested in buying or selling them. After her first year as a
volunteer, Anne said: “I was very depressed. What kind of God would
let kids suffer so much? … Finally it got to me…God’s not going to
come down and show us his love. We have to let God’s love work
through us.”
The Secret of Greatness.
In reading a review of this unique awards presentation — a certain
reviewer – by the name of Jesus had this to say:
“To the winners — Well Done — Good and Faithful Servant”
I wonder, what will Jesus say to us?

Lord, What Must We Do? 10-10-2021

October 9th, 2021

Let me tell you a little more about the young man in the Gospel
This young man who came to Jesus was no teenager. He was
a successful young businessman—a sales rep for his company
living in a large all-brick home in one of the fashionable
subdivisions on the growing edge of town, one with underground
utilities, a neighborhood pool and tennis courts. In his garage are a
two-year-old Jeep Cherokee and a new Lexus. He’s proud of his
attractive wife and two active children. But still he’s searching.
He is well-schooled in manners and morality. When Jesus
tells him to keep the commandments, “Do not kill, do not commit
adultery, do not steel…” he answers that he has kept the
commandments from his youth. He has everything going for him.
He is smart, he is responsible, and he is on his way up in the world.
Why, then, does he feel so empty? Maybe he should start his own
business, try skydiving, and learn karate. He isn’t sure what he
needs. But he needs something. His heart is a shell. He feels restless, unfulfilled, as if it is all a meaningless game. Maybe this
itinerant teacher could give him the answer, What must I do?” asks
the young man with great earnestness, “to inherit eternal life?”
This young man is being challenged by Jesus to do some
serious soul searching. To ask some very hard questions about his
life and what fills his life. What gives him meaning?
This Gospel is about Priorities.
What or Who is at the Center of our lives?
What or Who is first and foremost in our lives?
What or Who ranks number one in our value system?
What or Who do we turn to in our quest for fulfillment, our
search for happiness, or desire for peace of mind and heart
and soul?
What or Who?
For the man in the Gospel, money was the answer to most of
these questions. And that is why he went away so sad.
What would I answer? What would you answer? I guess because I am a priest you would expect my answer to be
God. Sometimes it is, sometime it isn’t. When it isn’t, there is that empty feeling inside me—just like this young man I
introduced you to, had in his heart.
I don’t think that Jesus meant that money—possessions were evil
in themselves. Rightly used, money and things can be a blessing.
But when they give us a false sense of security, they become
dangerous. When our possessions possess us—we are headed for
Some few years ago, the world mourned the death of Mother
Teresa. She had devoted most of her life to helping the poorest of
the poor. The people of Calcutta called her “the Saint of the
Gutters.” Money meant nothing to Mother Teresa except a chance
to help. A pope once gave her a nearly new Lincoln Continental.
She never got in it. Instead, she sold it and used the money to start
a leper colony in West Bengal. In 1970, she was awarded the
Nobel Peace Prize. That included a large amount of money. She
gave every penny of it to feed the poor.
Fr. Andrew Greely wrote an article about Mother Teresa for Newsweek magazine. He told of riding in a cab with her one hot
day in June. The ride lasted an hour. And the two of them just chatted about various things. Looking back on that hour, his most
vivid memory is the radiance and glow of Mother Teresa. He said:
“She was the happiest human being I had ever met.” Who says
you can’t buy happiness? It all depends on how you spend the
A question for this week: Who or What is the Center of our
lives? Who or What?