About Friar Musings

Franciscan friar and Catholic priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in downtown Tampa, FL.

terebinth

I am often asked what is a “terebinth” when it appears in a daily reading. It is a small tree – and there the opinions diverge. It is either a Palestinian type of oak or it is a small tree of the cashew family and once a source of turpentine. Its more formal name is pistacia palaestina. It has a Southern European cousin, P. terebinthus. But then again the word might be referring to Quercus calliprinos, the Palestinian oak. Continue reading

First and Last

This coming Sunday marks our journey in Ordinary Time, the 21st Sunday in Year C. You can read a complete commentary on the Sunday Gospel here.

22 He passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He answered them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. 25 After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ 26 And you will say, ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’ 27 Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where (you) are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!’ 28 And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out. 29 And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. 30 For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” (Luke 13:22-30) Continue reading

The road to being perfect

The young man said to him, ‘All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’” (Mt 19:20-21)

I would offer that the word “perfect” in the text from today’s gospel is not the best choice for translation for the underlying Greek word teleios – because of the way we understand the word in English. In Classic Greek and in Scripture the word can indeed mean perfect as, without fault, – but those uses are, by in large, references to sacrificial offerings indicated by religious worship. Outside of those cultic uses, the word means to be complete, whole, developed or adult – and generally points to a future time. One might say it looks forward to a time when maturation is complete. In other words, it has a future reference implied in the word itself. Continue reading

Temperature, change and grace

I have two words for you this morning: “thermometer” and “thermostat.” Regular, routine, and household words we rarely give a second thought to: “thermometer” and “thermostat.”

I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” Those are Jesus’ words from the gospel. They well could have been the prophet Jeremiah’s from the first reading. Jeremiah began his public ministry in the streets of Jerusalem when the good King Josiah was instituting religious reforms to bring the tribes of Judah and Israel back into covenant with God. It was the best of times. The people were being taught the Word of God and right worship – and Jeremiah was on the vanguard of the reforms. And so, it was for about 10 years. King Josiah died in battle and everything changed. Continue reading

Stewards of our Lives

I never thought about becoming a pastor. As many of you know, I entered the Franciscans as a “delayed” vocation. That’s a nice way of saying I wasn’t in my 20’s any longer. But generally, “delayed” means someone in their 30’s.  Fr. Tim Corcoran, the pastor at St. Mary’s in Lutz, a long-time parishioner at Sacred Heart, was already retired as a Federal judge when he entered the seminary. Does that make him, “double-delayed?” I fall in between, received into the Franciscans at the ripe old age of 48 – maybe “delayed plus”? Like Fr. Tim, I entered having discerned that my Time and Talent was meant to be given as a priest, serving the Church and the people of God. It was a decision about Stewardship, which in simple terms, is the act of putting God’s priorities before our own. Good Stewards do four things… Continue reading

Of the same mind

Have you heard the phrase, “Don’t be a thermometer, be a thermostat”? A thermometer reads the temperature of the room and responds to it. A thermostat sets the temperature.

Are you setting the spiritual temperature of the room? Or do you find yourself constantly responding to how your kids are acting (and are you letting that determine the kind of parent you will be)? Are you basing the kind of spouse you are today on your husband or wife’s mood? Are you responsive to the virtue – or lack thereof – in your workplace, and letting that determine how you interact with the people around you? Continue reading

Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary

Today marks the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (August 15th). The Assumption was defined as dogma only in the 1950.  In our Catholic Church ‘dogma” is defined as a truth revealed by God, which the magisterium of the Church declared as binding upon all Catholics. The term Dogma Catholicum was first used by Vincent of Lérins (450), referring to “what all, everywhere and always believed” – with the emphasis on katholica meaning universal. The term dogma derived from the Greek dogma (δόγμα) meaning literally “that which one thinks is true” and the verb dokein, “to seem good.” Continue reading

Let it start now

This coming Sunday marks our journey in Ordinary Time, the 20th Sunday in Year C. You can read a complete commentary on the Sunday Gospel here.

49 “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! 50 There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! 51 Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53 a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:49-53) Continue reading

A Good Life

The story of Abraham and Sarah is a story that should begin, “Against all odds….”  It is a pretty amazing story of perseverance, endurance, and life lived for a mission greater than one’s self. Abraham and Sarah persevered and endured the long journey from modern-day Iraq to Israel on to Egypt and back to Israel. Even as the reached their older years, they continued to hope for a child of their own. They believed in the Lord’s promises even when his timeline was a whole longer than their timelines. They bore the hopes and expectations of all the people they led. Certainly, they lived out St. Paul’s message from 1 Cor 13:7 “[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.Continue reading

Stewardship: Talent

Back in the day – which in my stories increasingly means “last century” – we did not start school until after Labor Day. So, the August startup of schools always surprises me. Even if the start of school is not on your radar, it was kinda’ hard to miss the crowds of parents and kids out there in the stores last weekend. People walking around with lists of things to purchase, stores with sales on school supplies, iPads, and everything needed to succeed. And what could be better? The tax-free weekend that accompanies the return to school! Continue reading