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I am now fifty-eight years old and have spent my life praying with, reading, studying, preaching, and teaching the Bible. I have taken classes on Scripture in Rome, Princeton, Harvard University, Boston College, and have studied under some of the most renowned scholars in both Old and New Testament. I can honestly say that I rather read a book entitled The Enigma of the Hebrew Verbal System than go to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Yes, I am a bible guy. Scripture is not just a way of life or a resource for wisdom. For me it is food. As with anyone, the soul hungers for inspiration and the culture provides plenty of unhealthy means to add a little zip to life. Comfort food tastes good at first, but soon we feel bloated, weighed down, and tired. Healthy food gives us energy and motivation.
I went fishing once with dad and his friend. After several hours in the sun, we took a break. Dad and I had some water, and our friend cracked open a beer. After I drank the water, I said, “I think I will go back out and fish.” My father said, “I’ll go with you.” We then both turned to our friend and asked him he wanted to join us. He said he was tired and done for the day. I think if our friend chose the water over the beer, he would have caught more fish that day.
In the book of Proverbs, it says that Wisdom builds her house with seven pillars. Does that strike you as odd? It does because seven is an odd number. Most buildings have an even number of pillars. That is because buildings have balance and symmetry. When you have an odd number of pillars, one side of the building is going to be longer than the other side. So this raises a question. Why, then, does the house of Wisdom need an extension? Well, it tells us. The house of wisdom needs extra room for a bigger kitchen. The feeding area needs expanding. Why does the kitchen need more room? Wisdom just invited everyone over for dinner. Wisdom wants to feed everyone’s spirit, so we are all at our best. When I go to the hospital to be with a family who is grieving the loss of their loved one, I need to be at my best. When I go to Saint John’s Seminary to teach Scripture so they will be able to inspire others with the word of God, I need to have my A-game. I need to continually feed the spirit because I cannot give what I don’t have.
One day I was walking with Fr. Jerry and we saw a potted bush out on someone’s balcony. The bush was withered from top to bottom. Ironically, beside the pot was a watering can. I said to Jerry, “I think the dead bush is trying to say something I can hear it say, “What good is a watering can if you are not going to use it.” We can ask to what advantage is having the word of God and not using it.
Often we hear that people feel tired, weary, and drained of energy during the Christmas season. I think it is because we may be eating the wrong spiritual food. At this time of year we are exposed to stimulate overload, and as a result, we get tired. Ironically, this is the time when we welcome the Word made flesh to be among us, a gift that should give us energy and inspiration. The shepherds saw the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and left rejoicing. They didn’t leave saying, “Boy, what an exhausting night this turned out to be.”
I met someone who no longer felt any meaning in life. The person said, “I just run from one thing to the next, but no longer feel life has a particular purpose anymore. I asked the person, “When was the last time you felt your life had any meaning?” The person said, “When I used to go to church.” I replied, “I have no further questions.”Back to All Homilies