Today’s gospel is the story of the martyrdom of John the Baptist from Mark 6:14-29. John had justly warned Herod of his sin of taking his brother’s wife, Herodias, as his own. She wanted John dead. This verse caught my attention:
But an opportunity came one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. Mark 6:21
Who were these “leading men?” We only know of them and they are only remembered because they were invited to Herod’s party and were witnesses to Herod’s murder of The Baptist. These were the important people of the time. But now they’re long forgotten. All their plans, loves, dreams, and stratagems are no more, only remembered now as witnesses to the martyrdom of someone who was far greater than they could ever imagine. There is no record that anyone of them spoke up for John. Perhaps if even one of them had spoken, Herod would have spared John’s life. “Young lady that was a beautiful dance, but is it really worth the life of a man? What evil has John done to you that justice demands such payment?” No, only silence. Likely they were afraid of Herod.
As years passed, these “leading men” faced their own death and judgment. It’s a sad testimony that their lives are noted only for silence in the face of the murderous injustice done to one of the greatest Saints. They were “leading men,” yet that is their legacy.
Consider today – who are the “leading men” and do they still refuse to speak out for the weak and helpless? Perhaps the “leading men” are vying for your attention, your money, and your vote? Or are they are plying you with useless information to the point of mind-numbing distraction? And they would stand by in silence as innocence is slaughtered to defend evil?
Don’t be deceived. The end of all “leading men” is the same. Pray for the grace of wisdom and final perseverance.
Those whom we love and lose are no longer where they were before. They are now wherever we are.
Saint John Chrysostom
November is the Month of the Holy Souls. At my home parish, All Saints Catholic Church, a scroll of all those who have died in the past year is hung all month as a memorial and reminder. I doubt anyone on that list thought they would be there this time last year. During the All Souls’ Mass of Remembrance this evening all the names were read aloud as family members placed a flower by the altar; it was simply beautiful. Sorrowful, yet full of hope. Mass is always wonderful, but for me the November 2 Commemoration of the Faithful Departed is particularly special. Death is not the end of the story.
I visited my father’s grave at Arlington Cemetery this afternoon; he been gone 14 years and I miss him more than ever. Yet I sensed a real peace while saying prayers there for him at the graveside. At Mass tonight, in the liturgy of the Eucharist, being present with Christ, I had a profound sense of how I am also present with all those with Him. Just a glimpse of what is to come. Hope, indeed…
My wife and I talk a lot about getting older. We married young, I was 23 she 21, and have been busy with family the last 30+ years. Many of my children are grown and gone; my youngest turns 13 next week, and our lives are in a transition. My wife recently asked me if I had anything on my bucket list. I didn’t have a ready answer; I don’t have a bucket list. Since that conversation I’ve been trying to compose one, but when I sat down to write one out it just didn’t happen. It didn’t bother me that I didn’t have a bucket list. But, and this may sound a bit strange, what did bother me was that it didn’t bother me.
Until I thought about it some more. A long time ago, as a very young man, I wrote out a list of my life priorities, and that list has not changed. It is not a list of things to do, places to go, or achievements to make. It may not seem as such at first glance, but it is really a list of the same things. I have at the same time both fulfilled it and only yet started. So here it is:
- My wife
- My children
- My family
- My friends
- My neighbors
- Everyone else in the world
So I’ve already been been working on my bucket list for a long time. It’s not about what I’m doing or where I am. It’s about who I’m with and what I’m doing for them. Relationships. The one thing that I can take with me after the bucket falls over. And that doesn’t bother me at all.
I’m just going to say it plainly. I know more about the business end of having babies than any man (excepting doctors) should. Besides my personal experience of attending all nine of our children’s births, I support my wife in her very active role as a childbirth educator and Doula. Babies are what she does, and being she is my favorite person in the world …let’s just say I have a lot of exposure. Fortunately, she likes me too, so much in fact that when we get a break, I really do get to hold the TV remote. Of late though, she has been complaining of my choices (which is a whole other story) and has been asking to watch the BBC series Call the Midwife. Why is she asking me you say; why doesn’t she just watch it on her own? Well she wants to watch it with me. Beside her. The. Whole. Time.
So I did. This weekend we watched the first three episodes. Gentlemen, if you’re still reading, this is your warning. You will be mesmerized and bedazzled by some of the finest television made today. This is one realistic human tale with some of the most intrepid characters you will ever see. Breaking Bad, no comparison… Walking Dead, pshaw. This is no fancy made up fable, this is the stuff of life, real and gritty. And so well done you will be in astonishment. You have been warned. Enjoy.
Less noise; more quiet,
Less self; more prayer,
Less food; more fasting,
Less ignorance; more reading,
Less talking; more listening,
Less television; more family,
Less coldness; more warmth,
Less anger; more patience,
Less gossip; more reverence,
Less selfishness; more generosity,
Less blindness; more awareness,
Less envy; more complimenting,
Less jealousy; more acceptance,
Less sitting; more exercise,
Less fear; more trust,
Less hesitation; more courage,
Less me; more them, O Lord,
Less me; more You, O Lord. Amen.
Excerpted from the All Saints Catholic Church Parish Bulletin, Manassas VA
22 February 2015
Tonight’s meeting of the Manassas City School Board at city hall was a bit eventful. The bids for the new Baldwin school came in, and they are 30% over budget. The MCPS staff presented new plans to get that number down, and are putting out another request for bids based on these new plans this week. Looks like a lot more trailers in addition to a new Baldwin to replace the old one. I know the old Baldwin is not a palace, but tearing it down and replacing it with bunch of trailers does not seem like a good plan. Did I mention the original plan was 30% over budget? Someone is not doing their homework. When School Board member Ellen Purdy questioned the new Capital Improvement Plan estimates and their origin, she was shouted down by Chairman Demeria, saying, “…we discussed that for 45 minutes last Saturday, this is beating a dead horse!” Seems more of a discussion might have been in order, considering the serious budgeting errors. After all, the School Board leadership heavily campaigned the City Council for the money for the new Baldwin. I think they too, as well as the taxpayers, might be interested in some answers to Ms. Purdy’s questions.
The meeting ended with the resignation of School Board member Ilka Chavez, effective immediately. Ms. Chavez has been a hard-working School Board member for 2 ½ years, but due to personal reasons is unable to continue her service to the City. Chairman Demeria announced that the School Board will appoint a new member to serve until a special election can be held in November 2015. For anyone interested, resumes are due 2 February to the Clerk of the Board, with an appointment on or about 17 February. Just in time for budget season!
There are a lot of veterans in my family: myself and three of my sons, my brother, my father and all six of my uncles, and a few of my cousins. Between us we have been serving during every major U.S. conflict of the last 75 years, from World War II to Iraq. Before that I had great-uncles and great-grandfathers in the Great War and the Spanish-American War. In fact, my forebears have been serving in the military of our country since before its beginning, starting in Fort Ticonderoga and Valley Forge.
There is one of us in particular, my uncle Charles Hahn, who I believe deserves special recognition. A country boy from central Pennsylvania, he enlisted in the Army during World War II. He became a Sherman tank driver who made the landing at Normandy on Day+17. While he met no conflict there, that was not to last. In the campaign across France, he earned a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and a Purple Heart; he still has German shrapnel in his leg.
This never slowed him down. He returned home a war hero, married my aunt, and got to work building roads, dams, and power plants. You really can’t drive very far in Pennsylvania without crossing a bridge he helped build.
Charles lives quietly and peacefully now in a retirement home near Lewistown, Pa. He is nearly 90 years old, one of the few remaining of the ‘Greatest Generation.’ I remember as a young boy listening in awe to his stories of his war adventures, yet still not realizing the great sacrifice that he and his friends made. Today I do. Especially this day. Veterans Day.