My niece, Sloan Elizabeth Bashinsky,
my 1st wife, Dianne Lawson Baker, and moi
at Dianne's home 2 days ago
Has Roy Moore confused Icarus with the Holy Spirit? Captain Precious and other pre-Thanksgiving homilies
My Key West homeless girlfriend Kari told me on the telephone yesterday, that she felt really strong that I should stay in Alabama through Thanksgiving, and spend more time with my family here. I told her that I would take it up with them.
John, Nelle and moi
at their lakehouse getaway
on my 75th birthday last month
John and Nelle said they are having a gathering at their home starting this Wednesday. Their daughters, whom I have not seen since mid-1998, are coming from out state. John's mother and sisters and other relatives and friends are coming. John and Nelle are turning their home into a hostel. Would I prefer sleeping on a couch or an air mattress? An air mattress, said he who not all that long ago was sleeping nights on a metal bench in the front lobby of the Key West police station.
Dianne said she is driving over to Starkville, about 2 hours west of Tuscaloosa, tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday). I said I will follow in Nelle and John's spare car, which they had loaned me, and I will come back to Tuscaloosa with Dianne on Friday morning and start driving her Porsche again, until I fly back to Key West.
Nelle giving me Porsche "shakedown" driving lesson
on September 7
Thanksgiving afternoon, Mississippi State plays Mississippi in Starkville on national television. I'm going to the game with John and Nelle and maybe some of John's family. John is Mississippi State's Athletic Director. Before that, he was their head baseball coach. He gets to sit way up high in the luminaries condo. I ain't never sat that high up at any kind of sporting event.
Nelle said it might be cold in that condo. I said I have my padded arctic coat, double-lined skull cap and ski gloves with me. I won't be cold. Maybe I'll borrow Nelle's cowbell to rattle a bit. I think maybe every person in Starkville has a cowbell. A designer cowbell. Among other courses of study, Mississippi State is the state agriculture school.
I told John that pro and college football teams should not be allowed to pay on Thursday after playing on Saturday. Not enough recovery time. Too dangerous for the players. John said, well, it's Mississippi State's only time to be on national TV without a lot of other games competing. I said I understood that, but in the future schedules need to be changed so that there is no Thursday game following a Saturday game. Talk to the powers that be about that.
Nelle texted her daughters that I will be at the family gathering, and they texted back that they are looking forward to meeting me. Nelle got the airplane reservation moved back a week.
John's father was one of my favorite law professors at the Alabama School of Law. I bet he and Clinton McGee, if they were still in this life, would have a few words to say to Roy Moore.
John's family is Jewish. Nelle converted to Judaism quite a few years ago. Converted from not being particularly religious. I'm 1/8th Jew, which makes Nelle and her sister, Alice, 1/16th. I told Nelle, John and Dianne yesterday, that when people ask me what I am (religious sect)?, I say, "Human."
When I asked Dianne yesterday if I should go to a costume shop and try to find a pair of red satin devil horns to put on my head at the gathering, when that seems called for?, she said, No.
I called Kari and told her about all of that. She seemed really happy for me. I said that I thought this is about the dream she had right after I got to Tuscaloosa last Monday.
In Kari's dream, I was in an airplane at the Birmingham airport, headed back to Key West. The plane tried to take off, but it was not able to get off the ground. Kari yelled at me that I needed to take a later flight! The dream had freaked her out. She thought it was about me being killed in a plane crash.
Given premonitions Kari had in the past, I felt a real plane crash was possible, but the dream might have another meaning, I told her, and maybe time would show the meaning. Yesterday, I told Dianne, Nelle and John about Kari's dream. After we had agreed that I will stay another week.
I dreamed last night of going into heart surgery. It seemed like it was going to be complicated. The surgeon began by slicing open the top of both of my feet. I asked if that's where the anesthesia was going to be put into me? I didn't get an answer. The dream ended.
My cell phone buzzer went off. Kari calling. 4 a.m. Just to chat. It was raining in Key West. She had to pack up her stuff where she was sleeping outside and beat it to cover. No, she'd had no dream about me that she remembered. Then, why'd you call me so early? Just to talk. You need to get up and start on your blog for today. At 4 a.m.? Yes. I'm turning off my phone. Good bye.
I was not able to go back to sleep. I got up and started on my blog.
My G.I. tract is being wrenched by all of this change.
Historically, I don't do large gatherings well.
Maybe being in Alabama another week is the heart surgery.
I need lots of help.
Meanwhile, maybe the Pope should come to America, a great many of whose citizens claim is a Christian nation, or at least one nation, under God:
Jesus ministers to leper
.- On the first World Day for the Poor, Pope Francis said caring for the needy has a saving power, because in them we see the face of Christ, and urged Christians to overcome indifference and seek ways to actively love the poor that they meet.
“In the poor, we find the presence of Jesus, who, though rich, became poor,” the Pope said Nov. 19. Because of this, “in their weakness, a saving power is present. And if in the eyes of the world they have little value, they are the ones who open to us the way to heaven.”
“They are our passport to paradise,” he said, explaining that it is an “evangelical duty” for Christians to care for the poor as our true wealth.
And to do this doesn't mean just giving them a piece of bread, but also “breaking with them the bread of God’s word, which is addressed first to them,” Francis said, adding that to love the poor “means to combat all forms of poverty, spiritual and material.”
Pope Francis spoke during Mass marking the first World Day of the Poor, which takes place every 33rd Sunday of Ordinary time and is being organized by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.
Established by Pope Francis at the end of the Jubilee of Mercy, the World Day for the Poor this year has the theme “Love not in word, but in deed.”
In the week leading up to the event, the poor and needy had access to free medical exams at a makeshift center set up in front of St. Peter's Square.
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Council for Evangelization, led a Nov. 18 prayer vigil at Rome's parish of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls the night before the big event. After Mass with Pope Francis, the poor will be offered a three-course lunch at different centers and organizations around Rome, including the Vatican's Paul VI Hall.
According to the Council for Evangelization, some 6-7,000 poor from around Europe, as well as some migrants from around the world, were estimated to attend the Mass along with the organizations that care for them.
In his homily, Pope Francis said no matter our social condition, everyone in life is a beggar when it comes to what is essential, which is God's love, and which “gives meaning to our lives and a life without end. So today too, we lift up our hands to him, asking to receive his gifts.”
Turning to the day's Gospel passage from Matthew recounting the parable of the talents, the Pope noted how in God's eyes, everyone has talents, and consequently, “no one can think that he or she is useless, so poor as to be incapable of giving something to others.”
“God, in whose eyes no child can be neglected, entrusts to each of us a mission,” he said, explaining that God also gives us a responsibility, as is seen in the day's Gospel.
Francis pointed to how in the day's passage only the first two servants make their talent profitable, whereas the third buries it, prompting the master to call him “wicket and lazy.”
Asking what sin the servant had committed that was so wrong, the Pope said above all “it was his omission.”
Many times we believe that we haven’t done anything wrong, and so are content with the presumption that we are good and righteous, he said, but cautioned that with this mentality, “we risk acting like the unworthy servant: he did no wrong, he didn’t waste the talent, in fact he kept it carefully hidden in the ground.”
However, “to do no wrong is not enough,” Francis said, adding that God is not “an inspector looking for unstamped tickets.” Rather, he is a Father that looks for children to whom he can entrust both his property and his plans.
“It is sad when the Father of love does not receive a generous response of love from his children, who do no more than keep the rules and follow the commandments,” he said, noting that someone who is only concerned with preserving the treasures of the past “is not being faithful to God.”
Instead, “the one who adds new talents is truly faithful...he does not stand still, but instead, out of love, takes risks. He puts his life on the line for others; he is not content to keep things as they are. One thing alone does he overlook: his own interest. That is the only right omission.”
Omission, Francis said, is also a big sin where the poor are concerned, though it has a different name: indifference. This sin, he said, takes place when we feel that the brother in need is not our concern, but is society's problem.
The sin typically shows up in our lives when we choose to turn the other way, or “change channels as soon as a disturbing question comes up, when we grow indignant at evil but do nothing about it.”
“God will not ask us if we felt righteous indignation, but whether we did some good,” the Pope said.
Asking those present how we can please God, Pope Francis said when we want to give someone a gift, we first have to get to know them. And when we look to the Gospel, we hear Jesus say “when you did it to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
These brothers, he said, are the hungry and the sick, the stranger and the prisoner, the poor and the abandoned.
In the poor, “Jesus knocks on the doors of our heart, thirsting for our love,” he said, adding that “when we overcome our indifference and, in the name of Jesus, we give of ourselves for the least of his brethren,” only then are we being faithful.
An example of this attitude is seen in the woman who opens her hand to the poor in the day's first reading from Proverbs, he said. In her, “we see true goodness and strength: not in closed fists and crossed arms, but in ready hands outstretched to the poor, to the wounded flesh of the Lord.”
Choosing to draw near to the poor among us “will touch our lives” and remind us of what really counts, Francis said, explaining that this is love of God and neighbor.
“Only this lasts forever, everything else passes away,” he said. “What we invest in love remains, the rest vanishes.”
Pope Francis closed his homily saying the choice we all have before us is whether “to live in order to gain things on earth, or to give things away in order to gain heaven.”
“Where heaven is concerned, what matters is not what we have, but what we give,” he said. “So let us not seek for ourselves more than we need, but rather what is good for others, and nothing of value will be lacking to us.”