Tuesday, November 14, 2017


A couple weeks ago the Gospel highlighted the roots of the conflict between Jesus and some of the Scribes and Pharisees. (Mt. 23:1-12)  Jesus looked into their hearts and saw that they were not people of integrity.  They neglected to do the very things that they told other people to do. For Jesus, hypocricy is the ‘worst sin’.

Jesus encourages His disciples and us to avoid falling into that same trap.

But it’s easy to be pretentious and to wear ‘holy’ masks.  I can profess to be committed to loving others in one breath, and then criticize people behind their backs with the next breath. (I do this all the time with politicians!) Or I can tell children not to lie, but then fabricate a story to explain away something I actually forgot to do.      

When was the last time you told someone to do something that you don’t always do?   

Being a person of integrity means owning up to our duplicity and committing ourselves to make our actions match our words. I have some work to on this. What about you?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

                                                        Unexpected People

Several weekends ago, the first reading from Isaiah (45:1, 4-6) told us about Cyrus, whom God  called to free the Jews from their 70 year Babylonian Captivity. 

The Babylonian Captivity occurred in 607 BC. When King Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple. Then he forced the Jews to leave their homeland and live as captives in Babylon (60 miles from modern day Baghdad, Iraq).

The amazing thing is that Cyrus was not a Jew!

So God put someone completely unexpected into the lives of His people. He even called Cyrus ‘his anointed’ which means a ‘messiah’!  And in addition to freeing the captives, Cyrus also rebuilt their temple.

Think about unexpected people that God has put into your life.  Remember their stories and some specific ways that they affected you.   Make a Top Ten list of them.  If they are still alive, send them a message to say ‘Thanks’ and tell them how they impacted your life. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

                                               Tending the Holy

I attended a special prayer service at Sacred Heart Parish on a recent Friday night.  A wonderful atmosphere arose from good readings and the repetitive, moving music of Taize. This refrain still haunts me: ”Sacred is the call, awesome indeed the entrustment: tending the holy, tending the holy.”

What does it mean to tend the holy? 

Maybe we tend the holy when we stoke the fire of the Holy One within. Or maybe we tend the holy by simply sitting silently, muting all our inner chatter.    

Or maybe we tend the holy when we help the man with the flat tire or hug the woman who mourns her husband or lend money to the one whose pension is spent.

On a plane ride home from Israel I think I tended the holy when I held the fussy baby whose mom went to the restroom. What a surprise that was for me.   

How have you recently ‘tended the holy’?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

                                                 Majorities and Minorities

The biggest problem in the early church was integrating Gentiles into the Christian community. It was a real mess until Sts. Peter and Paul had a meeting of the minds in the Council of Jerusalem. (Acts 15)  They agreed that Gentiles didn’t have to follow most Jewish customs. So the Gentile church group grew and it ultimately became the majority. 

That situation comes to mind as we face similar issues in our country and in our Catholic Churches too. Demographic studies tell us that within 30 years Anglos will be a minority in the USA.    

I assume that’s why White Supremacist groups are on the rise. 

It’s not easy being a minority. Just ask Latinos or Blacks who’ve had to deal with that reality for a very long time.

In the light of this, what can Pastors or Congregations do to oppose hate groups and to help our communities face the new reality? What have we learned as the ethnic make-up of our Churches and Pastors has changed over recent years?  What helps us and what hinders us?   Send email responses and comments to rjgramza@gmail.com

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


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!