Branching-Out

The Everyday Gospel: Keeping Clean

Posted by Charles Paolino on Aug 25, 2021 6:00:00 PM

In the 1997 movie As Good As It Gets, Jack Nicholson plays Marvin Udall, author of more than sixty romance novels. Udall lives alone in an upscale New York City apartment where he writes love stories.

He also washes his hands again and again during the day, each time peeling the shrink wrap off of one bar of antiseptic soap after another, passing each one across his hand only once and then throwing it out, because it has been contaminated. And he rinses his hands in water that is as hot as he can stand.

When he ventures outside of his apartment onto the busy Manhattan streets, he uses all kinds of maneuvers to make sure that he doesn’t come in contact with the other pedestrians.

So, from that point of view, Marvin Udall is clean, but there are other aspects to his personality. He is not interested in anything or anyone that does not serve his needs. He is rude. He is insulting. He is openly abusive of people he doesn’t approve of, such as homosexuals and Jews.

If Jesus had known about Marvin Udall—clean on the outside, on the inside not so much—he might have used him as the subject of a parable to answer the critics we read about in the synoptic gospels­—asking why Jesus’ disciples or, according to Luke, Jesus himself did not follow the Jewish practice of washing their hands before eating.

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Topics: RENEW International, The Everyday Gospel: Deacon Charles Paolino, interior life, say yes to God's will

The Everyday Gospel: Rushing to Jesus

Posted by Charles Paolino on Aug 18, 2021 6:00:00 AM

When we visited Krakow in Poland many years ago, our guide pointed out a monument to Thaddeus Kosciuszko.

I mentioned to the guide that there is a street named after Kosciuszko near my home in Whitehouse Station. She was surprised, but I don’t know why.

Kosciuszko came to the American colonies to take part in the revolution against Great Britain; he was one of the best engineers in the Continental Army.

He went back to Europe and led military resistance against attempts by Russia and Prussia to overrun their neighbors.

It would take hours to describe what Kosciuszko achieved and what he endured over 40 years of campaigning for human freedom.

Because of his passion for democracy and religious tolerance, he is the only person in human history to be a national hero in four different countries.

There are cities named after him in Mississippi and Texas; a county in Indiana; an island in Alaska; two bridges in New York and one in Connecticut; a park in East Chicago; a museum in Philadelphia; a mountain and a national park in Australia; numerous monuments and statues and uncounted streets, and a portrait in the lobby of the Polish-American Citizens Club about a mile from my house.

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Topics: RENEW International, The Everyday Gospel: Deacon Charles Paolino, renewing our faith

The Everyday Gospel: '... to the point of folly.'

Posted by Charles Paolino on Jul 14, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Rabbi Leon Klenicki wrapped up an interfaith-dialogue meeting I attended by saying, “We all believe that the Messiah is coming. Whether it’s the first coming or the second coming we can sort out after he arrives.”

The remark got a good-natured chuckle from the Jewish and Christian people in the room.

Of course, Rabbi Klenicki, a leader in interfaith dialogue, knew that differences between the two religions were more complex than his comment expressed, but still, his message was important.

His point was that in order for Jews and Christians—or any two or more communities—to coexist in peace there must first be good will. Another way to say that is that in order for any two or more communities to coexist in peace there must first be love.

Amid the information flying past me on the internet recently, I noticed a post by the magazine Commonweal with this statement attributed to Dorothy Day: “We must love to the point of folly.” That is not a soft-soap message from a Hallmark card. That is the unvarnished reality that governs our successes or failures as civilized people, and, for us, as disciples of Jesus.

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Topics: RENEW International, The Everyday Gospel: Deacon Charles Paolino

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