Wednesday, September 13, 2017


                                                   Where Are You From?

Timothy W. Obrien wrote an article for the August 7th edition of America entitled: The Discomforts of Home.  He says: “For migrants and Christians alike, the question ‘Where are you from?’ is haunting and elusive.

This is what I think he means.  Refugees and migrants are caught between homelands.  If someone asks where they are from, what should they say?  Christians are caught between homelands too.  We have our eathly homeland, but we also have a heavenly one.  Sometimes it’s hard to pledge allegiance to both of them. 

Here is a case in point.  It is the issue of the ‘DACA’ children who were brought here by their parents when they were much younger.  For most of them, the USA is the only country they know.  So, where are they from?   

Pope Francis says that the treatment of the ‘DACA’ children is a ‘pro-life issue’.  That’s such a good way to see a common meeting place for our two homelands. 

Are there other ways that our heavenly and earthly homelands are in sync?  Can you name times when our two homelands are in conflict?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


                                                          Passion

Today, August 29th, is the feast of ‘The Passion of St. John the Baptist’.  I never noticed that title before.  I always thought it was called the ‘Beheading’ of St. John the Baptist.  But the word ‘Passion’ adds a new dimension.  First of all, the connection to the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ becomes crystal clear.

What’s more, the word ‘Passion’ has a double meaning.  It not only describes the details of John’s suffering and death.  It also describes the strength of John’s commitment, his passion for being honest and faithful no matter what it would cost. He didn’t back down.  John gave his whole life to his calling.

Questions:  What’s the current passion in your life?  What was it when you were 20 or 40?  For what would you be willing to die?

Here's some follow-up to Jesus’ question from last week: “Who do you say that I am?” Annette says: “He is my anchor.” Terri mentions that He’s the one I can “lean on”. Don says: He’s the center of my heart.” Konni calls the Lord: “My Graceland.” And Sheila adds: “He’s my bridge over troubled water.” Thanks for those wonderful responses!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

                              “Who Do You Say that I am?” (Mt. 16:15)
                                                        
Jesus poses this question to His disciples when He takes them to a remote place for a retreat-like conversation.  Prepare yourself for next weekend’s Gospel by answering Jesus’question: “Who do you say that I am?”

Here are some suggestions to prime the pump. 

Jesus is my safety pin that holds things together when I think they’re going to fall apart.  He is a magnet that draws me close to Him.  He is the core of my being and I am the apple of His eye.  He is the oasis I seek when I feel like I’m in a desert.

Jesus is the potter and I am the clay.  He is the vine and I am a branch.  He is my anchor that keeps me from drifting and drowning.  He is the hub around which my life revolves. He is my compass by day and my north star by night. 

Jesus is my companion on the journey.  He stays with me even when I take detours. He is my Good Shepherd who finds me when I am lost, and He puts me on His shoulders to carry me home.  He is the still point at the end of my journey.

I’d like to hear your descriptions of who Jesus is for you.  Please send them to me at: rjgramza@gmail.com    Thanks!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


                                           Don’t Die Before your Dead

Jesus says: “I came that you might have life and have it to the full.” (Jn 10:10)

Mary was in Home Hospice Care for 7 months before brain cancer took her life.  But she wasn’t worried about it.  She showed no fear.  She never said: “Why me?”  She didn’t complain.  The Hospice Nurses and her family gave her great care.  And her mom and I brought her Communion…food for the journey…nearly every week. 

She died recently. Her breathing was very shallow and her husband knew it wouldn’t be long.  So what did he do?  He got an ice cream bar from the freezer and shared it with Mary.  She ate some of it and so did he. 20 minutes later, she took her last breath. 

Mary didn’t die before she was dead.  She lived her life fully until the end. 

Anxieties, worries, regrets and fears can deaden us.  They disguise the fact that we can’t control everything. They keep us from living the present moment.  And that’s sad.

Doesn’t sharing ice cream with a loved one just before dying sound pretty good?   

What does it mean to live life fully?  What deadens your spirit? What and/or who could help you die with grace? 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


                                                   Hidden Treasures

“The kingdom of God is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all he has and buys that field.” (Mt 13:44)

In his commentary on this parable, Bishop Sklba says that parables are normally about God. And he suggests that this parable may point out that God hides treasures for us to discover.* Where does God bury them?  My guess is that they’re buried in our hearts. 

That helps me explain the recent discovery of some self-love, which was hidden in my heart for as long as I can remember.  Growing up with a negative self-image, led me to a variety of insecurities and ways to put myself down.  With the help of a good spiritual director and some trusted friends, I’ve finally uncovered the treasure of self-love. 

It makes a huge difference.  It clearly affects the way that I love my neighbors.

Are there some treasures hidden in your heart?  What could those treasures be and who could help you find them?  Take some time to think about this…and then…start digging! 

*Bishop Sklba’s commentary is found on page 294 of “Fire Starters”.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


                                                Wheat and Weeds

A man sows wheat in his field.  But an enemy sows weeds in that same field.  When the wheat sprouts, umpteen weeds also pop up. The servants want to pull out the weeds  But the landowner says: “Don’t do that. You’ll also pull out the wheat.  Wait until harvest. Then we’ll separate the wheat from the weeds.” (Mt.13:24-30)

At harvest, the wheat was stored in barns and the weeds tied in bundles for burning. 

It’s a parable about the mix of people in God’s Kingdom.  The wheat is the group of committed disciples.  The weeds are the rascals who persistently sin.     

Are you the wheat or the weeds?

I’m both.  I want to be kind, but sometimes I’m selfish.  I want to be honest, but sometimes I fib. I want to pray well but then I fall asleep.  What will happen to me?

Here’s my hope.  The grain is in the barn.  And the weeds tied up in bundles for burning.  Both of them had a purpose.  The grain was a source of food.  And the weeds provided fuel for the ovens and kindling for camp fires on chilly nights.

The bottom line is: Our merciful God loves the whole package that we are.  That’s the best news I’ve heard in a long time.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


                                                      Sowers of Seeds

“A sower went out to sow some seeds…” (Mt 13:3b) So starts a section of parables in Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus was a genius at telling these stories which made various points and which often had twists or surprises that captivated His audience.

The ‘Sower’ parable is among the most famous.  The usual interpretation is that God sows seeds on the hard, rocky, thorny or good soil in our hearts. In spite of everything, there is a 30, 60, or 100 fold return.  (Such a return was a twist because farmers of Jesus’ day were used to a ‘good’ return of only 4 or 5 fold.)  So the crowd was entertained, but they were also left thinking and talking about what Jesus meant.   

But this parable can also be about us as sowers. Don’t parents and grandparents try to sow good seeds in their children and grandchildren?  Name a few seeds you’ve tried to sow.  Can you see how some of them are bearing fruit?

Think about people who sowed particular seeds in you when you were young. Who sowed which seeds in you that are producing a good harvest now? 

What kind of seeds will you sow this week?