Posted by FrGamble
Oct 16, 2011

Homily for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Questions about taxes are always difficult to answer? Lately we have been hearing a lot about taxes and plans that different presidential candidates propose. I’ve heard some talk about eliminating taxes altogether, some want to cut taxes, some want to raise taxes, I’ve even heard about something called the 9-9-9 plan? It is all so confusing and I think everybody knows it is a no win situation. Whatever your take on taxes it seems like somebody is going to be furious. In Jesus’ day it was similar and the Gospel recounts a tricky question posed to Jesus about should we pay the tax to Caesar or not? If Jesus says yes he is siding with an occupying and unwelcome government, imposing its will on his people; if Jesus says no he is fomenting sedition and an enemy to the state.

Somehow Christ recognizes this is a test and finds a third answer and transforms this trap into a teachable moment. It is kind of like a story I heard recently about a new pastor who arrives in town and wants to take a little tour of his parish. He hops on the bus to ride it around and notices that when he sits down the driver had given him an extra dollar in change. He thinks about just pocketing the money – it is a surprise gift from God for my ministry and the city would never miss just one dollar. Well at the end of the route he is getting off the bus and he hands the dollar back to the driver and says “you gave me too much change.” The driver responds, “Thanks Father, I was testing my new pastor, congratulations you passed, guess I‘ll see you on Sunday.”

There are a lot of things we could talk about in regards to Christ’s statement to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.” We could say that Jesus is reminding us that Caesar doesn’t know what is going on and that the temporary things he values are nothing compared to the eternal and priceless things that last forever.

Jesus could also be reminding us of the separation of Church and State, and that our obligations as citizens do not disappear because we are Christian. This of course would also mean that we are obligated to speak out passionately for morality in government, for the protection of all human life, and the protections of our conscience which are under attack.

However, what if the main point of this Gospel is not about the analogy Jesus makes to taxes, but rather to be ready to tackle the complex questions about faith and life that come our way. The simple answers are not always the best ones, and most often complex and difficult questions require complex and difficult answers. Some classic examples of these types of big questions are: why do we suffer? Or what is the purpose of life? One easy answer is to say there is no meaning or purpose to suffering or life at all, we are all cosmic accidents caused by random acts of nature that has somehow always existed; so empty your mind and fill your belly and accept the cold stark reality that nothing really matters in the long run. I know that is a pretty awful thought and something inside us just recoils from this attempt at an answer. However another easy answer is to say our suffering or purpose is wrapped up in the mystery of God, just accept it, don’t question God and dare not doubt. God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good and you are not so just grin and bear it. I’m not saying any of us here believe that this is the right answer either because something inside us must also say it is not correct. Like in the Gospel today is there a third answer that can transform this trap into a teachable moment for us?

Jesus who is the way, the truth, and the life leads us closer to a sufficient answer. Here is God who comes down from Heaven to share our lives with us. The suffering, the sorrow, the joys, and the happiness are all embraced by God. Emmanuel, God-with-us, shows us that part of the answer is a love that transcends the easy answers our minds are searching for with something that goes deeper inside us – and hits us in our hearts. The question of suffering and/or purpose in our lives seems closest to an answer when a loved one is holding our hand in the hospital, not in some debate in a chat room somewhere or in a theological tract. God is love! While this answer doesn’t seem to fill our logical heads completely it fills our bellies and our souls with a feeling that we are on the right track.

Another way this Gospel may bring us closer to an answer is to think of life as a test. God has given us something special, some extra change if you will on the bus, and He wants to see what we will do with it. Ultimately we are going to have to give everything back to God when our route is over, but what will we do during this ride we call life? Again this idea is not a complete answer to these complex questions but it gives us an image that avoids the despair of atheism and the smugness of fideism. I don’t know the perfect answers to these complex questions but that won’t stop me from following the example of Jesus in trying to love others the best I can and using the God given gifts I have received in service of God and neighbor so that when I get off the bus the driver will say, “I was testing my pastor, congratulations you passed, I’ll see ya in Heaven.”


DJTeddyBear Oct 18, 2011

>> not in some debate in a chat room somewhere

Woo hoo! We got mentioned in the Homily! LOL

But seriously, it was interesting how you tied everything together. Nicely done.

Posted by FrGamble
Oct 08, 2011

Homily for 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: Is. 25:6-10; Ps. 23:1-6; Phil. 4:12-14,19-20; Mt. 22:1-14

My good priest friend who was visiting me early this week was sharing some more stories about his time with Mother Teresa’s sisters in Calcutta. The stories of poverty he experienced are almost unbelievable to me. He told me about having to walk down the middle of the street in the morning because the sidewalks were so full of people sleeping that there was no room to walk. He had an opportunity to see many of the homes where Mother Teresa and her sisters worked and still work today. These homes cover the gamut [edit: thanks, Mosca] from abandoned children to lepers to hospice care for the elderly. In all of them he ministered to the poorest of the poor in what is arguably the most poverty stricken place on the planet. He then told me that on the way home they had to stop in Thailand for a day or two. He said it was amazing the shock of going from sleeping on the floor wrestling with a mosquito net and living on a couple of handfuls of rice to having a deluxe room on one of the top floors of a luxury hotel and enjoying gourmet meals for pennies to the dollar. I asked him how his experience in Thailand did not manage to weaken the life altering time spent in Calcutta. Basically I wanted to know how my good friend and St. Paul (who we hear in our second reading) can say they know a secret of how to live in abundance and how to live while going hungry and in great need? What is the secret?

This secret seems to be something that anyone can know and understand. In our Gospel parable everyone is invited to come to the king’s feast. The good, the bad, and the ugly are all invited – everyone! They are all lifted up to something greater than have ever experienced in their normal lives. Remember these are all the people who were not on the original guest list. All of the sudden the guy who was cleaning out the barn, the mother at home with three kids, the beggar on the street corner, and the chariot salesman all find themselves invited to the King’s palace and have set before them a feast to end all feasts. When the King comes in he looks around and is quite pleased, but one guy catches his eye. Out of all the guests who came there is only one who apparently doesn’t get it. The master comes right up to this person and asks why he alone does not have a wedding garment on. At first I thought the king was being a little harsh; maybe he didn’t know there was a dress code and maybe he didn’t have the right clothes, but is that worthy of being thrown outside where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth? Then I started thinking if it is just this one guy, then obviously everyone else was dressed up, maybe there was something else going on, maybe this guy’s mistake was bigger than I thought?

An invitation to a grand party is just that an invitation. You still have to accept it. By the way, did you know priests are notorious for never sending in RSVPs? It’s true. Maybe it’s because we get so many wedding and party invitations or maybe it is because we are so busy and have such fluid schedules we never feel sure enough to say yes or no in fear of disappointing people either way. Anyway when normal people get an invitation you have to accept it. This means accepting the requirements that go along with it. You need to be on time and at the right place. You also have to follow the dress code. These are not suggestions; these are requirements to be at the party. If the invitation means enough to you, come hell or high water you will get there on time, at the right place, and have on the right clothes. If you don’t care about the party you’ll be late and you won’t care what you have on. You could use the analogy of Sunday Mass, God sends you a standing invitation every Sunday to share in the most awesome meal ever, are we on time and dressed appropriately? Let’s not go there today, ahem!

Okay where was I, yes this one guy gets to the right place supposedly on time but he is not wearing a wedding garment. I do think he was dressed up, I mean come on, anyone going to such a great event would be looking nice. However, I don’t think he knew what type of wedding garment he needed. He dressed as if he was going to someone else’s wedding when God was really inviting him to his own wedding. He didn’t need to be dressed up as a party goer; he needed to be dressed up as the groom. Here we are getting closer to the secret. God is in love with us in such a way that the only analogy that fits is bride and groom. God wants to marry us. He is radically in love with us, head over heels crazy for us in the most awesome and radical sense. A sense only reflected in the unconditional, intimate, and everlasting way a married couple love each other. God wants to share every moment of life with us, every breath, every sorrow, every joy – God wants to be there with you through it all.

Everything hinges on knowing this secret truth. How we go about living our lives, how we dress for the party is essential to letting God know you recognize that you accept His invitation to come to the marriage feast, not as a wedding crasher but as God’s spouse. Notice the requirements are not that you have to be perfect in your love for God – that would be impossible. God just wants you to make sure you dress for the part and anyone can do that. Another part of this secret is that you don’t need any fancy clothes or diamond rings. It is about having a knowledge deep in your soul that God loves you and you are dressed to the nines in God’s sight.

Now why is this the secret that allows us to be comfortable in both the clutches of crippling poverty and the lap of luxury? The words from the vows of marriage sum it up. “ I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health I will love you forever.” Like two people in love the only thing that matters is the other is with them. Without the other they are incomplete. Whether they just won the super bowl or lost their job. With their beloved they can make it through anything this broken world throws at them. Together with God one is just as happy in Calcutta as in a brief stop in Thailand. God loves you. God proposes an invitation of love to you today. Please accept that love and enter into a deeper relationship with the one who loves you unconditionally and for goodness sakes please dress properly!


Mosca Oct 08, 2011

Gamut, not gambit.

EvenBob Oct 08, 2011

Why do all organized religions think god lives in

their church, and he can only be contacted there.

Its because the clergy can't control you if you don't

go to church regularly. In the 1600's and 1700's,

the Church of England had services every day and

woe to you if you didn't attend the cold, damp, drafty

proceedings. God doesn't live in a church, if there is

a god he's everywhere and everything.

FrGamble Oct 08, 2011

Think of Church as headquarters, where we are strengthened and get reminded about our mission. God doesn't live in a Church just like we are not called to live in a Church. We only stop by for a visit, be encouraged, forgiven, inspiried, whatever and then sent out into the world where we truly live and where we hope to help others see that indeed God is with them always.

Wizard Oct 08, 2011

Thanks for the homily, father. However, if the king were forgiving don't you think he would forgive the guest for not being properly attired? At least he showed up, which is more than some others did. If god wants me at his banquet, I have yet to get an invitation.

odiousgambit Oct 09, 2011

The wedding feast parable starts off with the Master having a lot of disappointment with that first group he invited! Hopefully those that merely " paid no attention and went their way" did not meet the same fate as the murderers. That's my protestant upbringing kicking in, wanting to analyze the Scripture myself. From what I know about it, Jesus was no doubt slamming his religious enemies; that the Pharisees are the subject of the very next story is probably not a coincidence.

If there was anything I ever really enjoyed about my church-going days, it was Bible Study, but I am afraid the Higher Criticism, as it is called, attracts me and is not very welcome there ultimately. This is something I understand actually; the result, though, is that it all becomes impossible for me. Am I mistaken in thinkgin that Roman Catholic traditionally relies on the priest interpreting the Bible for the congregation without having the latter participate much, and with direct Bible study discouraged?

odiousgambit Oct 09, 2011

> If god wants me at his banquet, I have yet to get an invitation.

Padre, if you can do a homily that addresses this one satisfactorily, you will do a great service indeed. It is a puzzlement to many of us to which perhaps a priest or other long-comfortable people no longer can relate.

Also, if ever called, I think many of us fear 'showing up' and being told something has made us be rejected that we do not comprehend, such as in this very parable [I have to wonder if this one gave fits to good translation]. The poor guy is "speechless"! I think I'd feel better if he smarted off about how other people dress or something!

Wizard Oct 09, 2011

OG, your comment about bible studies gives me an idea. How about instead of discussing this here making a thread to discuss the Wedding Banquet Parable? I would participate, and come down on anyone using it as a place to defame religion in general. Like you, I enjoy looking at the details. Also, father, I enjoy your homiles, but think they be more appropriate as a forum post, not a blog entry. Blogs should be like a diary, a place to write about your daily life.

FrGamble Oct 09, 2011

I too love Bible Study and I know we encourage it here at my Church and everyone seems to really like it. You are right that the Catholic Church in particular was a little shy about doing serious Bible study with everyone at first, because there was a worry that people would come up with all types of different interpretations. Most Bible studies now will explain the "official" interpretation and why we believe this or that first and then allow people to come up with their own personal reflections. It is amazing how the scriptures strike different people in different ways and I don't think anyone should get in the way of that because God will often move our hearts in surprising "unofficial" ways.

I worry about posting a homily as a thread just because of the abuse it would receive and they are usually pretty long. They also usually have some personal stories about me or others that I'm not quite sure I want to put out there in a thread.

What about this idea? If I post a parable or text from Scripture on Monday that I will be preaching on that Sunday and then allow the forum members to comment on it. This would actually be helpful to me to hear what questions people have, what people are confused about, or what they like, or what they are upset about. Then at the end of the week I put together a homily that was no doubt helped by the forum's comments in this blog for people to read. It sounds like a win-win. I get some interesting observations on the Scriptures and a better sense where the people are in regards to certain passages and the forum members get to do a little informal Bible study and maybe see their comments/questions in a homily delivered on Sunday. For example your honest comment about waiting for an invitation could very well have been the focus of my homily this weekend if I had heard that earlier in the week. Peace and thanks so much!

odiousgambit Oct 10, 2011

>What about this idea?

gets my vote!

Wizard Oct 10, 2011

Thumbs up from me too. I shall await to see the passage you suggest for next Sunday.

Posted by FrGamble
Oct 01, 2011

Homily for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: Is. 5:1-7; Ps. 80:9,12-16,19-20; Phil. 4:6-9; Mt. 21:33-43

“The Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”

These are pretty challenging words from our Lord in today’s Gospel and the first reading from Isaiah intensifies the same theme. We do not want to have Kingdom of God taken away from us, so let’s ask ourselves a more positive question today: How can we be good tenants in the vineyard of the Lord and produce the kind of fruit the Lord is asking from us?

First of all we need to remember that it really is not that hard to work in the vineyard of the Lord. I imagine most farmers realize that the most important work, that of actually producing the fruit is far beyond them. Trust and faith is the most essential ingredient in the work the Lord asks of us. Don’t you find it peculiar in both the reading from Isaiah and Matthew that they go into rich detail about how nice this vineyard is? It is on fertile ground, it has a hedge to keep out the animals, it has a wine press and even a watchtower, the fields have even been cleared of all the stones (as my dad who grew up on a farm always told me walking the fields and taking out the stones was the hardest job of all). It sounds like all God is asking us to do is watch over His work and provide it with what it needs to grow. We can do that. The first problem for many of us is that we think we can’t do a good job, we are worthless workers for the Lord. We can point to all our sins and repeated failures, blah, blah, blah. God doesn’t want to hear it – you were made for this work and you can do it, so lets get to work.

You need to feed and water the vineyard of the Lord. St. Paul mentions prayer. This is the water needed for us to grow any fruit at all. We need water all the time, I know I am always thirsty and we all should be always thirsty for prayer. Water is a part of everything, so should prayer be. Paul explicitly mentions petition or supplication and thanksgiving. The other forms of prayer are adoration and contrition. An easy acronym is ACTS for adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, and supplication. All these types of prayer should be constantly used to water our garden. You might say, “shouldn’t we just wait for God to send rain to water the vineyard”. I don’t think we should wait for that, nor do rain dances, we should rejoice when it happens, but prayer shows its true value especially when it is not raining and we have to do the watering. Prayer is what makes sure we don’t dry out waiting for the rains from above.

Now you have to feed a vineyard too. The vineyard of the Lord is the only type of plant that will be killed by manure. You dump that junk on God’s plants and it kills it. Stuff like Jersey Shore, violent video games, pornography, curse words, lies and gossip flat our starve ourselves and produce no fruit. Paul says we need to spread and keep before us, “whatever is honorable, pure, just, lovely, and gracious.” This is what causes the plants in God’s vineyard to grow and produce good fruit.

Finally, the most important thing that you and I can never forget is this – you and I are on a lease, we are renters! You do not own anything! All that you see is passing away and even your life is on loan. Remember too who your landlord is! There is nothing you can hide from God. Eventually God is going to come knocking and ask you for your harvest. We are all going to have to answer to God for the fruit we produced or the lack of it. The mistake of these crazy tenets in the Lord’s parable today is that they had obviously forgotten that they did not own that vineyard. Neither they nor we can just do whatever we want; mistreating people and ignoring the Lord – eventually the Son of God, who is the true owner, is going to come and ask for an accounting.

Let’s remember God has done and will do most of the work, the vineyard has been planted and is put into our care. We need to make sure we water it with prayer and only feed it what is good, pure, holy, and true. We also need to never doubt that we can do this work the Lord asks of us, he will forgive and help us if we call upon him. Then instead of finding a wretched end, like the tenants who thought they were in charge, we will one day hear the loving words of Jesus say to us, “Well done my good and faithful servant!”


Wizard Oct 02, 2011

Amen father! I always suspected god liked wine.

FrGamble Oct 02, 2011

Yep after a long day in the vineyard the Lord loves wine and a good time. Hope you and yours have a great week!

odiousgambit Oct 03, 2011

keep it coming, Padre.

>I always suspected god liked wine

here's my version of the miracle at the wedding: Jesus, who really loved celebrations like weddings and such, shows up at one and is told "we've run out of wine". Jesus's reaction: "What?!!!" I think it was going to get ugly [remember the money-changers at the Temple]. But finding out there is plenty of water, problem solved. He orders a miracle and the water has been changed to wine! Everybody celebrates!

EvenBob Oct 03, 2011

Posted by FrGamble
Sep 25, 2011

Homily for 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

I know it is surreal to post a homily on a gambling forum and I will gladly take it down if there is no interest or the Wizard doesn't think it fits, but I've heard more than a couple members complain about the homilies they hear at their Churches on Sunday. Not saying mine are that good but it improves the odds a little bit that you might hear something that inspires you on a Sunday.

For context here is the Scripture passages proclaimed: Ez. 18:25-28; Ps. 25:4-9; Phil. 2:1-11; Mt. 21:28-32

I loved college! I was off on my own in a new place dedicated to learning and making yourself a better you. I was in the best shape of my life and a walk-on in football and basketball. The coach at JMU was Lefty Driesell and he even called me 'Rudy' once. What I really loved was my freedom! One of the things I decided to do with my new found freedom was to learn about other religions which I had heard very little about in my youth. I joined the Muslim Coalition. This was a great group and I made lots of friends, I was the token Christian there and I was welcomed and encouraged to contribute my point of view or thoughts on things. I helped out with events - it was fun. There were a few interesting things that happened though. Once a group of guys came into the meeting and sat in the front row, I was towards the back and when the meeting was about to begin one of them noticed me and they all stood up in unison. "What is he doing here?" they asked pointing at me. The leader of the Muslim Coalition reminded them that this was not the Nation of Islam meeting that was down the hall - it was a little awkward. After a year with the coalition my friends presented me with a beautiful Koran. We started the meeting on folding chairs and I wanted to take some notes so I placed the Koran of the floor, no sooner did I do that then the meeting came to a crashing halt. I didn't know you are never supposed to place the Koran on the floor. You know what from that day I have never put the Holy Bible on the floor, I was so moved by their reverence. Okay now for the story that I thought of when I read these readings this weekend. We were talking about forgiveness and they were flabbergasted by the idea that God would allow a deathbed conversion or the conversion I told them about which took place on the cross next to Jesus, when he had forgiven the good thief with both of their last breaths. They made it clear to me that this made them think of Jesus as weak and unfair.

Is the radical nature of God's forgiveness that we believe in weak and unfair? Let's look at this question together. Let's first tackle the charge that God is weak when he forgives someone who has sinned their whole life and only at the end converts and changes their ways. Power to me is not just to create but I have always been enthralled with the ability to transform. This is like one upping creation. There are many superheros who can control created things like stopping metal bullets or create things like ice to surf on and the like, but it is power of a whole new magnitude that can change those bullets to bunny rabbits or ice into fire. God is in the business of transforming. The entire Bible from puny David, a bunch of uneducated fisherman, to us today is a story of the transforming power of God to make a great king, the greatest evangelists who ever lived and spread the Good News of Christ to the four corners of the Earth, and a wonderful Church full of people who are called to live up to their name of Christian, by being another Christ for our world to see. Yes, the true power of God is not seen only in creation but rather in conversion and redemption. We re able to do the impossible by allowing God to work in us. He takes us as ordinary men and women and sees in us a potential we could never reach on our own and that too many of us are blind to. God wants to unleash it. He wants you and I to be better than we ever thought possible, he wants to continually convert and transform us into better and better people who love deeper, forgive more fully, and serve more generously than ever before. This is how true power is seen. It is weakness to create and then condemn, it is strength to create and convert, change, and transform that creation into something truly awesome. So central is this to Christianity that we are obliged to gather here every Sunday to receive from this altar simple bread and wine that we believe has been transformed by the power of God into the True Presence of Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. When we receive Him we are inwardly transformed more and more into His likeness - that is true power!

Now, is it unfair? You bet it is! Unfair for God. Let me be clear here: you and I no matter how much we change to be like Christ, no matter how perfectly we follow Him, will never deserve or earn such a gift as Heaven. The eternal life God promises us is more than we can ever imagine or hope for and it is always more than we deserve! It is unfair that we receive it and that God lovingly and purposely takes the bad side of this deal. He dies so that we may live and live forever in the perfect joy of Heaven. It is unfair that He loves us more than we can ever possibly hope to love God. I'm glad for this unfairness though because if God was perfectly fair to me, I would be in big trouble, dare I say we all would be.

However, this isn't the only thing that is thought to be unfair about God is it? We also see it as horribly unfair that good people suffer and my neighbor who never goes to Church has just got a new boat or a nice pool in his or her backyard. It is unfair that my mom who loves God and has been to Church every day of her life has been diagnosed with cancer while the prisoner on death row has a perfect set of teeth. Yes the weight of the unfairness of this broken world can be oppressive at time to all of us. It would be devastating and cause us all to despair if we ever thought that this world was all there is. The gift of eternal life makes everything and anything this world could give us, whether bad or good, seem as a blink of the eye compared to eternal happiness. Yes, the passing and fleeting world does not define us or have the last word, it is here today and gone tomorrow, and what really lasts is what God so unfairly gives to us which makes the perceived lack of justice we encounter here on earth seem as nothing.

This first answer to the unfairness we encounter in this world can seem a little too pie in the sky or impractical for us here today though can't it? So if we look again at St. Paul's letter to Philippians he gives us another way to handle the brokenness of the world. It involves an attitude adjustment. Christ's attitude was one of a slave who looked at us as his masters. Can you imagine that? His main concern was for you and not himself. Paul recommends we all take on this attitude and, "think of others as more important than ourselves." This is the antidote to feeling the brunt of unfairness and it cuts out the legs of the green eyed monster of jealousy. If we stop competing with and trying to keep up with Jones'; if we stop measuring our worth as human beings based on what we have, or how healthy we are, or what jobs we have; then we may begin to see how silly it is to think anything as temporary as worldly possessions or lack thereof means anything. In fact if we change our attitude from one of grabbing and taking to one of giving and serving we find a wonderful freedom from comparing and judging ourselves against other. Your neighbor's success becomes your success, his failings become something to help him with and the reversal is true for you too. Can you imagine a community in which we all saw each other as more important than ourselves, a community in which every first thought was what can I do for you and not what is in it for me? This is what we are trying to build here, this is the type of community we are called to be. If we can do that; than not only would we individually be transformed into the presence of Christ for others but all of us together would truly be the Body of Christ and a great witness to a world that so desperately needs that example, now that is some awesome power!


odiousgambit Sep 25, 2011

well, fair/unfair is a good topic for a gambling group. As a matter of fact this feels like the scene in "Guys and Dolls". First Sermon this old Sinner has heard since I don't know when. Good for the soul by definition!

Good story re the Moslems. btw what is the difference between a homily and a sermon?

PS: I'm worried about Nareed. He is having a fit of apoplexy over this. How do I know? I just know. [g]. Nareed: he did post this as a Blog post. You have to just let it go. [g]

imperialpalace Sep 25, 2011

I am looking forward to the next homily!

FrGamble Sep 26, 2011

A homily and a sermon are very similar, but with a homily you take a given text from scripture and try to help people learn from it and glean something from it for their daily lives. A sermon is usually longer and you have the freedom to preach about any topic or Scripture passage you would like, they are often more heady and a little less practical than homilies.

Glad you guys liked it, I can easily post one on Sundays, I just hope its okay with other forum members. Peace!

DJTeddyBear Oct 01, 2011

No need to worry that your blog in inappropriate. Heck, after the lengthy religious discussions here, and now this, I wouldn't be surprised if the Wiz creates a forum section devoted to religion.

I'm surprised that you would have even placed the Koran on the floor. It's something I learned in Hebrew school: The floor is no place for religious books or other religious items. I would have expected a similar teaching in other religions.

Like your Muslim friends, I'm not a fan of the deathbed confession or conversion. It seems like a lot of people tend to "find God" when the end is near. While it's understandable to suddenly be consumed with one's own mortality when it seems like there isn't much time left, the last minute conversion seems like hedging a bet. It's almost as if their newfound belief in God could just as easily have been a belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, if they knew of it.

Don't get me wrong. I have a lot of respect for people like you who have found God early in life, and have devoted a lifelong lifestyle around that belief. Although I have different opinion, I think you're entitled to your belief.

Personally, I tend to look towards song lyrics rather than scripture for guidance. My favorite is a line from the song And When I Die:

"Swear there ain't no heaven and I pray there ain't no hell,

But I'll never know by living, only my dying will tell."

I just don't think anyone is entitled to change their belief at the last minute, just before it's time to find out.

FleaStiff Oct 01, 2011

I found it all rather confusing.

I did however go to dictionary dot com and now I understand the distinction between homily and hominy. So I guess I got off to a good start but I think thats about as far as I'm going to go with it.