Tuesday, July 13, 2010

This is Kevin Smith-Fagan and his son Eamon. Both were daily present at Gesu School when Eamon was in kindergarten and Kevin was the Director of Development. They now live in Sacramento, CA but came east to visit Kevin's dad, Dennis, in Wilmington. Eamon is a junior at the Christian Brothers School in Sacramento and plays baseball, especially third base and sometimes pitches for the school team. His dad pitches as Vice President for Development at KVIE, the PBS station in Sacramento. I neglected to picture Nancy, and younger brothers Brendan and Aidan, their other family members.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Fifteenth Sunday of the Year. July 11, 2010

Mass with the Medical Mission Sisters in Fox Chase

Reading from Luke's Gospel of the Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan story encourages us to be generous of spirit like the Samaritan and, when we conduct ourselves in the way that the Samaritan conducts himself, to expect also the admiration of all of history. Sometimes I am sure, you are like me and you wish you were as lucky as that Samaritan and that you had two silver coins to distribute to every needy person that you meet on the street. Such activity would certainly gain some admiration and affirm a status even among those who don’t like you.

Father, I hear you say, be careful. This story is among the best in the Christian canon. Please respect it and don’t question the circumstances or the motives of the Samaritan. He certainly acted out of generosity of heart especially in contrast to that ignorant priest and Levite who passed by the groaning man in the ditch.

I do remember a first experience of generosity when I was very small and playing in the backyard of my home. A hobo came to the kitchen door and asked my mother for something to eat. I bashfully watched from a distance while this hobo sat on the back steps, exchanged conversation with my mother and ate some of the food that I thought belonged to me. It was my first lesson in selfishness seeing myself in contrast to the generous spirit of my mother.
Jesus establishes the Samaritan in this story as the ideal, the unexpected stranger usually shunned who quietly reaches out across ethnic and religious boundaries to exercise basic charity, identifying himself as a remedy to human misfortune and suffering.

In the light of the teachings that come down to us in the gospels I think of this story as evidence of the generosity of the pre-Christian Jewish law. Certainly in the story Jesus expresses his discontent with the religious establishment by ridiculing the conduct of the priest and the Levite but the respect for Jewish law is clear. The story suggests a broader way of considering the Jewish law. But the story falls short of a deeper understanding of the place of Jesus among us.

We find a deeper understanding in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 25. 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

I experienced a vivid illustration of this on my visit to Calcutta some years ago. We visited the original of the hospices for the dying poor that Mother Teresa had established. There were two large dormitory rooms in the hospice, one for men and own for women. Those dying and they literally were so, were clothed in green smocks and resting quietly on low cots. The rooms were overseen by hovering sisters. Some young men and women volunteers sat with the dying, holding their hands, feeding them or giving them drink.

Everything was peaceful until suddenly I heard horns honking outside on the busy street and there was a bustling at the street door. Two volunteers, young men who appeared to be from Korea, made their way from the street and through the door; between them they carried an emaciated and street-soiled man, hardly alive. They passed by me and their thin burden accosted my sense of sight and smell. He looked little better than a piece of trash. He had been brought to the hospice by someone who knew he deserved a more dignified death than one on the curbside.

I had already seen the bathing room where the volunteers were taking this man and I knew instantly that they accepted the responsibility of carrying this poor dying man there because of what they had learned from Mother Teresa. Written in big letters over the bathing area, Mother Teresa had placed the words, “The Body of Christ.”

With a full understanding of Christian teaching we complete the story of the Good Samaritan by considering Matthew 25, by considering the identity of Jesus and by considering his brutal reception by the powers of religion and government. It is he who is left to die in the ditch, ignored by the priest and the Levite.

As Luke introduces the story of the Good Samaritan, the scribe who occasions the story speaks of the law of the love of God and neighbor. Then Luke has the scribe question Jesus in this way: Because he wished to justify himself the scribe asks Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Should questions about the law of love of God and love of neighbor arise today in the context of

today’s world, young thoughtful persons might ask the same kind of question. But I suggest that, when they wonder about justifying themselves, their question will not be about the neighbor. They will ask rather “Who is my God?” “Who is my God?” How would you respond? Perhaps you would tell the same story that Jesus told, knowing that our God is present in the spirit of all those in need as well as in the spirit of the one who reaches out in response to that need.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

These two photos illustrate the July 4th celebration at Independence Hall. The drum and bugle corps was a big hit.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

====================(Pictures: Mayor Nutter speaking at Independence Hall. View of Liberty Bell)
Give God the praise and blessings to God’s People!
Brothers and Sisters gathered here on this the 234th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, we gather in the same spirit as those who first heard it proclaimed. In our prayer we read the words of George Washington when he resigned his Commission as Commander in Chief of the Army in 1783. This prayer asked the guidance we needed as a Nation in 1783 and continues to ask what we need in this different world of the 21st Century. It echoes the words of the ancient prophet Hosea.

Washington spoke in 1783: “I now make it my earnest prayer,

that God would have You (leaders of the various states), and the States over which you preside, in his holy protection,

that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens
· to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government,
· to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field,
· and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation.”

Washington prayed to our God who has ears to hear us and eyes to see us and we pray in this season in particular for those with the duty of governance, our President and those in Congress, our Mayor Nutter and City Council members. We pray for the unemployed, for those beset by disasters such as that on the Gulf Coast, for parents, especially the parents of children who require a special love, for the homeless, for immigrants, for the safety of those guarding our public places, for those serving in the Armed Forces, for volunteers who extend their helping hands.

Send us, O gracious God, your Spirit so that we become more clearly a beacon of freedom, justice and peace for our suffering world. Let us say: Amen.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

At the Jesuit Secondary Education Colloquium June 20-25 at Santa Clara University, we wined and dined. The campus grounds provided a comfortable bug-free site for our meals. Below we ate at Fisherman's Wharf on an evening free of meetings.
Some of us made presentations. All of us learned something from colleagues attending and representing about forty of the 60 or so Jesuit high schools in the USA, Puerto Rico and Canada.