Nitroglycerine and anger

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Fr. Tony’s 8-minute Homily (everything on one page)

Someone has compared anger to nitroglycerine. Nitroglycerine is an unstable liquid which, in paste form, constitutes dynamite. However, nitroglycerine in very small amounts is what is given to heart patients to keep their hearts beating. The little molecule that dilates blood vessels wherever they are in the body is nitric oxide. It is the active ingredient in nitroglycerine, which is a widely used as a little pill for the treatment of heart pain (angina). When the heart arteries are constricted, the heart becomes starved for blood and a crushing chest pain results. Put a nitro pill under the tongue and “ah, relief!” as the nitric oxide relaxes the arteries and allows the blood to flow again.

Anger, of itself, is not sinful. The sin is in getting angry over the wrong things.  We get angry when someone cuts us off in traffic, or when someone takes credit for something we’ve done at the office. We get angry at the kids when they are too noisy and at our spouses when they don’t meet our expectations. Sometimes we get angry when we’re simply tired and cranky. We don’t even need anything to set us off.

The media reported sometime back on a fight that broke out in a nursing home.  The Spring Haven Retirement Community in Florida found their peace disrupted over a nasty incident at the salad bar. Mealtime turned ugly when an 86-year-old man complained to another gentleman about picking through the lettuce. Name-calling soon gave way to punching and the police was summoned.  Those in the way paid a price. One resident was bitten in his attempt to stop the fight, another knocked down. While no one was seriously injured, one of the men was expelled from the home.(www.PalmBeachPost.com)

You and I get angry over all kinds of things, some of them exceedingly silly. Sinful human beings exploit religion just as they exploit everything else and for the same reasons–wealth, power, prestige.

Jesus got angry when he saw people exploiting religion for their own gain. That’s a little different from getting miffed over a salad bar.

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Righteous anger, good anger, healthy anger

Abraham Lincoln was angry at slavery. Martin Luther King Jr. was angry at racial discrimination, Mahatma Gandhi was angry at the racial discrimination against the “untouchables” by the “high castes” in India … righteous anger. Nelson Mandela was angry at apartheid in South Africa. That was righteous anger. When we see a bully beating up on a young kid, when we see a thief stealing an old woman’s purse, when we see a group of girls being catty and mean to another girl at recess, when a husband beats up his wife — the list goes on and on.

The Lord God has wired us in such a way that most healthy human beings are angry inside when we see evil and injustice being done to someone. “Anyone can be angry. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, with the right purpose … that is not easy.” (Aristotle).

Today’s Gospel pictures the righteous and healthy anger of Jesus, seeing the desecration of a holy place.

(Pastor Edward F. Markquart; online). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Rhetoric of Stokely Carmichael

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One of the angriest young men picked out by the American spotlight over the past five decades was the black activist of the sixties, Stokely Carmichael. Remember Stokely, with his rhetoric of hate and rebellion? Why was he so angry? There were reasons. Let me give you an example.  A school was being desegregated and Stokely Carmichael took his six-year-old niece to the school to begin kindergarten. Six years old. Remember that.

The cops in that southern town weren’t about to let the school be integrated. One cop grabbed Stokely’s niece, put the girl on the ground, put his boot on her neck, stuck his gun in her ear, and said, “This is the last time I’m gonna tell ya. You’re never gonna go to school with white boys.”

Carmichael took his niece home in shock. Naturally, she was a frightened mess. At that moment Stokely Carmichael vowed that he would never let a boot hold down the neck of another black person again. He would kill the person wearing the boot rather than let it happen.

[Larry King, The King, (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1988).]

There are times when it is right to get angry. Jesus was angry when he drove the money-changers out of the Temple. Christ’s example tells me there are times when a Christian ought to get angry.

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Jesus: Meek lamb, ferocious lion

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C. S. Lewis illustrated the contrasting qualities of Jesus in his character Aslan, the Lion. In the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, two children, Lucy and Edmund, come to a grassy area. The field covers an area almost as far as the eye can see in greenery, except for one small white spot. The children can’t figure out what the white spot is from a distance, so they hike down to it and discover that it’s a lamb.

This white woolly creature is not just any lamb but a lamb that can cook breakfast and have a conversation with them. The children want to know how to get to the land of Aslan. While the lamb is giving them directions a marvelous thing happens: “His snowy white flushed into tawny gold and his size changed and he was Aslan himself towering above them and scattering light from his mane” (C.S. Lewis, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, as found in “What’s it going to take?” a sermon by Rev. John H. Pavelko).

Lewis graphically illustrates one of the great truths of our Faith: Jesus, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world is also the Lion of Judah. In Christ we find both the meekness of the lamb and the ferocity of the lion. Jesus could be both the strong and gentle man who welcomed children and the angry man who swung a powerful whip to clear the Temple.

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Picasso’s Bad Shepherd

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The famous modern artist Pablo Picasso was born into a Catholic family in 1881.But he rejected his Catholic upbringing in his early 20s, mostly because he saw religious morals as an obstacle to the hedonistic fashions of his age. Picasso never publicly returned to the Church, although a priest was present at the artist’s funeral. Throughout his life, he associated himself with various secular movements, one of them being Communism, a violently anti-Christian ideology.

Soon after Picasso became a Communist, he made an interesting sculpture called “Man with Sheep.” It was a conscious re-interpretation of a famous and beloved image in Christian art, one we are all familiar with because it is taken directly from the Gospels – the Good Shepherd. In traditional sculptures and paintings of the good shepherd, a tranquil lamb curls gently around the shepherd’s shoulders. This is how shepherds used to teach rambunctious and foolish lambs that would run off on their own and leave the flock. The shepherd would break one of the lamb’s legs, so that it couldn’t run off into danger, and then carry the wounded lamb for weeks, until it healed. By that time, the lamb would have learned that the shepherd is good and trustworthy, and so it would never again stray away from the shepherd into danger. Picasso’s “Man with Sheep” is a complete contrast. In this bronze sculpture, the shepherd is a stark, distorted man with the bulging eyes and a fierce expression. He clasps the sheep in one arm, while the animal twists its head away, open-mouthed and protesting, resisting with all its might. Picasso’s figure seems like a butcher bringing a lamb to the slaughter.

That’s what happens when we try to understand suffering without Christ – it just doesn’t make sense. But with Christ, all our crosses bring salvation, wisdom, and deeper intimacy with God.

(E-Priest) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Lydia Broadnax’s testimony

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There is a most interesting story from American history about a man named George Wythe (pronounced with), a signer of the Declaration of Independence and perhaps one of the period’s most noted legal minds. In 1776, George Wythe, Thomas Jefferson, and Edmund Pendleton began the task of reworking and updating the laws of the state of Virginia. The task took most of their time for three years. It was really an extraordinary piece of work. However, there was at least one flaw – a flaw that would one day haunt the family and friends of George Wythe.

In 1806, Wythe suffered for almost 2 weeks from what almost certainly was arsenic poisoning and finally died. It is also reasonably certain that Wythe’s grandnephew, George Wythe Sweeney, had added the arsenic to his elder’s coffee. However, the only person who saw Sweeney commit this act was Lydia Broadnax, Wythe’s devoted mulatto housekeeper; and negroes and mulattoes were forbidden under Virginia law to testify in court against whites – a law that George Wythe had chosen to let stand during his revision process. So, despite fairly certain knowledge that Sweeney had murdered Wythe, the court had to let Sweeney go free. [Brother C. Edward, FSC. “The Law That Failed,” American History Illustrated (Jan., 1973), pp. 38-45.]

I suppose we might consider that a case of poetic justice. If George Wythe had recognized the rights of African Americans, his killer would not have gone free. Justice does not always work out that neatly, of course, but we should tremble when we reflect that God is a just God. For eventually justice does prevail.

There is a time when Christians ought to get angry about some of the inequities and injustices in our world. As Melvin Wheatley once said, “There are situations in life in which the absence of anger would be the essence of evil.” There is a time for anger.

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

“Never argue with him when he’s drunk!”

A man was driving without his seatbelt when he spotted a patrol car right behind him. He grabbed for the belt and put it on. But it was too late, and the red lights began to flash.

“You weren’t wearing your seatbelt,” said the officer. “

Yes, I was,” said the man, “and if you don’t believe me, ask my wife.” “

So how ABOUT it, ma’am?” asked the cop.

“Officer,” she said, “I’ve been married to this man for forty years, and there’s one thing I’ve learned: Never argue with him when he’s drunk! Just give him a ticket for not wearing the seat belt.”

In today’s Gospel, Jesus doesn’t bother to argue with the unjust merchants and moneychangers who have converted the Temple of Jerusalem into a noisy “marketplace” and a “hideout of thieves.” Instead, he frightens them with his angry order and chases them away, holding a whip in his hands.

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Beware of whip-lashing Jesus in April while you file your tax returns!

A man was having trouble sleeping because of frightening dreams of an angry Jesus chasing him with a whip in his hands.  He knew in his heart it was his conscience that was keeping him awake. He’d been less than honest in filing his tax return, and it was getting to him. So he sent a check to the IRS with the following note:

“Dear Sirs, in filing my 2016 tax return, I did not report all my income. Therefore, I am enclosing my check for $100.00. P. S. If my conscience still troubles me with those dreams of whip-wielding Jesus, I’ll send you the rest.”

Guess what happened next!

Today’s Gospel challenges us to examine ourselves to see if Jesus will have to take a whip when he comes to our hearts – the temple of the Holy Spirit – in Holy Communion.

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

“Mother Who Abandoned Son Wins Half of His $300,000 Estate.”

Did you read about a Connecticut Supreme Court case in which the court reluctantly ruled that a Suzanne Benson is entitled to half the estate of her dead son? If the newspapers are correct, this mother abandoned her two-year-old son 13 years ago. Recently the son was killed in a car/bicycle collision. His dad’s insurance company awarded $300,000 to the son’s estate. Mrs. Benson showed up after all this time to claim half the money.  Under Connecticut law, if Mrs. Benson had officially terminated her parental responsibility, she could not have profited from the money. Abandonment of a baby, however, does not constitute formal parental termination. [“Mother Who Abandoned Son Wins Half of His $300,000 Estate,” The Knoxville News Sentinel (May 10, 1989), Section A, P. 7.] So she collected $150,000.

That violates my sense of justice, doesn’t it yours? It’s not fair. It’s not right. But listen. There are far worse injustices taking place in our world than that one isolated case. We all know it’s true. There are racial injustices, religious injustices, economic injustices.

In today’s Gospel Jesus reacts forcefully against religious injustice.

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

“In his note there was a very naughty word.”

Paul Harvey tells about a robber in Oceanside, California wearing a motorcycle helmet and carrying a gun who strode into a branch bank. He selected a teller who appeared fiftyish, soft, kindly, an easy mark. He handed her a note demanding money or her life. The woman reached for the cash drawer.

Then she looked again at the note and her eyes flashed, her lips clenched. She pulled the entire cash drawer out, but instead of giving him money, she clobbered the robber over the head with the drawer. And again and again. She was scolding him. Money was flying everywhere and she was beating him and shouting shame on him and bouncing blows off his helmet “until the young man turned and ran.

Police caught him in nearby shrubbery. Then they asked the woman teller how come she was about to give him money at gunpoint and then, suddenly, instead, became enraged? She said, ‘In his note there was a very naughty word.’” (Paul Harvey’s For What It’s Worth“).

Different people get upset at different things. Jesus shouted, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s House a marketplace!” Jesus got their attention. Sometimes we need to get angry. Anger can lead to creative and constructive solutions. However, Jesus’ anger is not the focus of this story.

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

“Somebody ought to do something about that.”

A man named Leonard Haslim got angry watching the 6 o’clock news. Hundreds of people had died in an airliner crash in Washington, D.C. because the plane’s wings iced up, making it too heavy to fly. Haslim decided to make sure it didn’t happen again. Haslim came up with a brilliant, but rather simple solution. Everyone who has studied science knows that opposite charges attract and like charges repel. Haslim used that principle to come up with the ultimate wing deicer. He wrapped a thin sheet of rubber around an airplane wing, with wire ribbons carrying electrical current underneath. When he threw the switch on, the positive wires jumped away from each other, as did the negatives, breaking the ice that had frozen to the layer of rubber above them.  “It’s like snapping a hall carpet,” drawls Haslim, “and watching the dust fly.” His invention can pulverize ice an inch thick on the surface of a wing. Yet it uses no more power than a single landing light, and costs less than an airplane tire. “It’s so simple, lightweight, and cheap, it’s nauseating,” says Haslim. It may be that over the next several years, hundreds of lives will be saved because Leonard Haslim got angry watching the 6 o’clock news. (Success, October, 1990).

Is there something making you angry? Is there some evil in the world that a voice within you keeps saying, “Somebody ought to do something about that.”

That is what Jesus did, as described in today’s Gospel, by cleansing the Temple. Fr. Tony


One-man army

Two men stood in front of a taxicab arguing about who had the right to the cab. While they argued, the wife of one of the men stood and watched. After they had argued for a few of minutes, one man became calm, opened the door for his opponent, and returned to his wife. Curious, his wife asked him why he’d suddenly allowed the other man to take the cab. He explained, “You see dear, he needed the cab more than we did; he was late for his martial arts class. He’s the teacher!”

Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus had no such fear in confronting the animal merchants, the moneychangers and the Temple police in the Temple of Jerusalem in his cleansing of the Temple operation with prophetic courage.

[The Pastor’s Story File,  January 1996.] Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Herman Kahn and nuclear war

Herman Kahn who founded the Hudson Institute, a private center for research on national security and public policy, had been working on a paper on nuclear warfare, which he was to deliver at the Pentagon on July 8, 1983, when he died very suddenly on July 7. For 23 years he had been repeating the same theme: that nuclear war was not only a possibility but a probability, insisting that a nuclear war would not mean the annihilation of civilization. He believed in “degrees of awfulness,” and prescribed arms control, negotiated disarmament, and a strong military deterrent to nuclear war. Kahn’s critics insisted that he minimized the dangers of nuclear war and played into the hands of the militarists calling for more powerful weapons systems. Some claimed that his thinking, writing, and speeches merely supported the system when he ought to have been challenging it.

Jesus could never be accused of such a sell-out in the scheme of things prevailing in the Temple. He shook the building – and the system – right down to the very foundations of both. Why wouldn’t the priests and the other leaders be upset with him and begin to consider how they might get rid of this Jesus?

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

The Temple Jesus cleansed

It had a series of ascending courtyards. Your first entry was into the outer courtyard … the place that was called the Court of the Gentiles. You could be admitted there … because anybody could be admitted there. But if you were a Gentile … which virtually all of you are … you could not go beyond there. For it was “death” for a Gentile to penetrate further. Next came the Court of the Women, entered by the arch that they called the Beautiful Gate. Any Israelite could go there. This was followed by the Court of the Israelites, entered by Nicanor’s Gate (a gate of Corinthian bronze which required 20 men to open and shut). It was in this court that the men of Israel assembled for Temple services. Lastly, came the Court of the Priests, into which only the priests might enter. There could be found the great altar of the burnt-offering … the lesser altar of the incense-offering … the seven-branched lamp stand … and the table of the shew bread. It was at the back of the Court of the Priests that the Holy of Holies stood, accessible only to the High Priest, and that only once a year. To enter the Holy of Holies was to approach the very throne of God, which is why legend has it that more than one High Priest attached a rope to his ankle before passing through the veil, thus ensuring that (should he be struck dead by the power of God while praying), his colleagues would be able to pull him out without endangering themselves.

So when Jesus went into the Temple for purposes of “cleansing,” where did he go? Not to the Holy of Holies. Not to the Court of the Priests. Not to the Court of the Israelites. Not even to the Court of the Women. Jesus went into the outer court … the Court of the Gentiles.

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Jesus and the IRS

The voice on the other end of the line identified its owner as a representative of the Internal Revenue Service. The caller asked, “Did John Jones give $10,000 to your Church last year?” The pastor thought for a moment, and then carefully replied, “He will!” If there is anything that strikes terror into the hardiest of hearts it is the dread acronym: IRS. “The Infernal Revenue Service.” Er, I mean, the Internal Revenue Service. Someone has said, “You may not agree with every department in the government, but you really have to hand it to the IRS.” Another cynic has said, “Death and taxes may always be with us, but at least death doesn’t get any worse.” Arthur Godfrey once said, “I feel honored to pay taxes in America. The thing is, I could probably feel just as honored for about half the price.” Benjamin Franklin said, “In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.”

The one we will have to confront but once; the other, like Gospel on Jesus’ cleansing the Temple of Jerusalem, comes around once a year, frightening us about what would happen if Jesus had to come to our hearts with a whip in his hands.

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

The Ten Commandments Indicator

On 3rd February 1959, 10,000 meters above the Atlantic, Captain Lynch took a last look at the flight panel of the Boeing 707. The co-pilot was studying a map. Captain Lynch decided to stretch his legs, thinking that the worst was over. Shortly after leaving Paris they had run into a 120-kph headwind. But by now they had climbed above the storm. The captain made his way down the aisle. Just then the Captain felt the right-wing tip and he was thrown against the seats on the right-hand side. At the same moment all the lights in the plane went out. Next, he found himself lying on the floor. But then he realized it was the ceiling he was on. The Boeing was on its back. He began to make his way back to the cockpit. He decided to try to hold the plane at 2,000 meters. The co-pilot had been knocked unconscious. He came to again and he and the captain managed to bring the Boeing to the horizontal. A few more seconds and the plane would have crashed. The whole incident lasted four minutes. What caused it? While the co-pilot was studying the map, he did not notice the blue light on the indicator panel warning that the automatic pilot had stopped working.

God has given us an indicator panel to guide us through life. That indicator panel is the Commandments. The Commandments are a gift from God to help us enjoy life by not getting lost along the way.

(Author Unknown; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Living the Law

Several years ago, a preacher from out-of-state accepted a call to a Church in Boston, Texas. Some weeks after he arrived, he had occasion to ride the bus from his house to the downtown area. When he sat down, he discovered that the bus driver had mistakenly given him a quarter too much in change.

As he considered what to do, he thought to himself, “You’d better give the quarter back. It would be wrong to keep it.” Then he thought, “Oh, forget it, it’s only a quarter. Who would worry about this little amount? Anyway, the bus company gets too much fare; they will never miss it. Accept it as a ‘gift from God’ and keep quiet.”

When his stop came, he paused momentarily at the door, and then handed the quarter to the driver and said, “Here, you gave me too much change.”

The driver with a smile, replied, “Aren’t you the new preacher in town?” “

Yes,” he replied.

“Well, I have been thinking a lot lately about going somewhere to worship. I just wanted to see what you would do if I gave you too much change. I’ll see you at Church next Sunday.”

When the preacher stepped off the bus, he literally grabbed the nearest light pole, held on and said, “Oh God I almost sold your Son for a quarter.”

Our lives are the only Bible some people will ever read! As someone has said, “We need Christians to make Christians.”

(J. Valladares in Your Words Are Spirit and They Are Life; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Knowing the Law

One of President Reagan’s favorite stories involves a farmer and a lawyer whose cars collided. The farmer took a look at the lawyer, then reached in the back of his car and took out a bottle of whiskey.

“Here, you look pretty shook up,” “Take a nip of this; it’ll steady your nerves.”

After taking five or six gulps, the lawyer suggested the farmer have a drink himself. “

Not me,” declared the farmer. “I’m waiting for the traffic police.”

(Christopher Notes; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

No Smoking

Modern life is becoming more and more cluttered with No- signs. No smoking is spreading like a rash out of control. No Trespassing is growing abundantly all over the land, and there is a fair yield of No Fishing and No Shooting in the remoter scenic regions. No Dumping is to be found here too, but it does well in all types of terrain. The back-packing hiker will not have to venture far before encountering his first No Camping. The Don’ts (sometimes called the Do Nots) are another member of the same family. Don’t Walk on the Grass is a favorite in city parks. Don’t Cycle on the Pavements thrives on asphalt or Cement. We are familiar with the Don’ts from childhood. They were the first prohibitions we were taught to recognize, almost from infancy. Don’t Cry, Don’t Wake the Baby, Don’t Cross the Road, Don’t Talk to Strangers were mother’s favourites. School was a whole world of them. Teacher had a whole bagful, graded for every occasion. Some were simple admonitions like Don’t be Late or Don’t be Long. Others were more menacing like Don’t be Smart or Don’t be so Stupid. When we emerged from the school system as young adults, we were ready to face the world and its Don’ts. Since then, life has fluctuated from an official reprimand Don’t Rock the boat to a wifely pat, Don’t Worry.

When Moses came down from the smoke-wrapped Mt Sinai, he brought with him two tablets of stone, on which were carved the Ten Commandments and eight of them were Thou Shalt Nots. Since then, the Ten Commandments have formed the basis of every legal system in the civilised world. The Don’ts of the Decalogue have evolved into a charter of human rights.

Christ drove the money-makers out of the Temple with “Don’t turn my Father’s house into a den of thieves.”

(Biblical IE) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Divine gift and gracious guidance of a loving God

In his 1965 novel about Israel through the ages, The Source, Michener chronicled the development of an ancient people who shifted their allegiance to a new god “partly because his demands upon them were severe and partly because they had grown somewhat contemptuous of their local gods precisely because they were not demanding.” (James A. Michener, The Source, Random House, Inc., New York: 1965).

In the readings selected for the Third Lenten Sunday, the Scriptures invite the gathered assembly to consider some of God’s demands, albeit from a different frame of reference than Michener’s. Whereas the god featured in The Source appears to be the product of human reasoning and imagination and is portrayed as an ever evolving and maturing concept in the minds of believers, the God of the Hebrew and Christian Covenants is the transcendent Creator of all, Who, through Personal revelation chooses to be known immanently and intimately by humankind. For this reason, the demands of the Law, as featured in the first reading and the demands for authentic worship as featured in the Gospel are to be understood, not as orders that burden, and entrench humanity in a maze of moral gridlock, but as a Divine gift and gracious guidance.

(Sanchez Files).

Permission granted for the use of the materials on this page for education and homiletical purposes at no charge. If used in writing, please make acknowledgment of the author, Fr. Anthony Kadavil.. For more information, contact Fr. Tony by clicking here.

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