I've been lucky enough to go to Mass during the mornings this week, and along with that comes the homilies.
My pastor took some time for R&R last week, but he was back in the saddle on Monday. Monday's gospel reading was the Sermon on the Mount (or the Sermon on the Plain? - I get confused). In any case, it was what we call the Beatitudes. Things that were once "curses", Jesus turns into "blessings". And that is pretty much how Jesus operates. He came to raise the bar, to change our way of thinking about things, etc. What a difference it would make, if we each embraced all of the Beatitudes in our life!
Yesterday and today, I went to Mass at Our Lady of the Holy Library. Yesterday, the priest shared his Katrina story. If you want to read an account of the saga from a seminarian's point of view, you can do so here. But he shared a personal incident. At the time, he was a faculty member at a seminary in New Orleans. For Katrina, he and about 45 others remained at the seminary. Katrina hit on a Sunday night. On Monday, they thought that Katrina was just like any other hurricane. They spent Monday picking up sticks and trying to figure out how to patch holes in the roof, he said. Then on Tuesday, they heard that the levees had been breached, and they watched the water slowly rise, until they were surrounded by water. By Thursday they were able to leave - some in "high-wheeled vehicles", but most by boats floating down the street. Thursday night, he reached his hometown, exhausted. On Friday, he rented a car - the last one in town - and then took some seminarians to the airport in Baton Rouge, so they could fly home.
Then he proceeded to take care of some pressing matters for himself. One was sunglasses. He wears them when he drives, and they had been left behind. The other was a certain kind of pillow. He said he went into a mattress store - dressed in street clothes - and mentioned that he was a Katrina victim. The man corrected him, saying that he was only a "displaced person", not a victim. Whatever. So he selected his pillow and took out his credit card to pay for it. He said the man took his credit card and seemed to be spending a long time getting it to work, and then finally returned and told him that the other managers and he were buying the pillow for him. He said at that point, he broke down in tears. All of the emotion of the preceding days and then that random act of kindness that touched him so deeply.
He tied his story in with the act of kindness given to Elijah from the old woman, and challenged all of us to remember to be kind to one another. He also praised those in attendance, mentioning how kind and caring they are. I saw that in action the other day when my dear son wasn't feeling quite "right" during Mass.
Today he reminded the people that a prophet is not someone who foretells the future, but someone who speaks the truth. He tied in the false gods of the people in the first reading and mentioned Elijah's humor, "Go ahead, call your god louder. Maybe he's meditating or on vacation and he can't hear you..." "Maybe we need to look for the false gods in our own lives, " he said gently to the people. Ask God to help you see your false gods, so you can move on from there.
So far, we're batting 3 for 3 on great homilies, and I suspect we'll finish pretty strong. As for me...I'm falling asleep at the keyboard....