It was barely noticeable…if I wore a loose fitting shirt and didn’t tuck it in. A small navel hernia had popped about a year and a half ago. Not really much trouble, but bothersome, just knowing it was going on. My doctor just said to “avoid any heavy lifting and twisting”. Apparently, a couple stomach muscles in my 6-pack ab area (could possibly be on some guys other than me) weakened and separated with an intestine, really trying to come out and get some sun. He told me, “You’ll know when it’s time to get it taken care of.” Didn’t sound too difficult, with being retired because of a bum back… Some days if I would strain or twist wrong, yep, he was right. But little by little it got bigger and caused more bother… and discomfort. It was like something was trapped inside of me, trying desperately to get out. Think Sigourney Weaver in “Alien”. (Well, not quite as big ;)) Finally, after some problems I didn’t want to deal with again, (you guessed it) while fishing, I decided it was time. Yesterday I had the minor, same-day surgery to have it repaired and I’m home resting now for a couple weeks, being lovingly looked after by my wife and checked on by my daughters, and thankfully prayed for by many! A big shout out to my daughter Nurse Becky, who led me to the best surgeon at her OR and even drove us there and home yesterday, making sure everyone there knew who the VIP was.

In our Gospel today (MT 23:27–32), Jesus once again gives the Scribes and Pharisees the “Woe to You!” treatment.

He tells them they are “like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing…You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’ Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets; now fill up what your ancestors measured out!”

We all have things inside us wanting to get out, whether it be intestines or rude remarks, hurtful words and acts, prejudices, judgements, repressed angers and resentments, (filth) etc.. When our outer defenses get weakened (or we turn our filter off) these things begin to protrude. It starts in little ways; we feel angry or frustrated, we feel offended or hurt, we start little by little being more and more conscious of these thought, feeling, judgements and urges. Then a weak spot gives and we lash out, usually just a little. We say something under our breath, then we go a little louder and we don’t care who we say it around or to (even on social media like a recent senator did about a death threat). Next thing you know, that little marble-sized protrusion pushes totally out and your guts strangle inside and all that filth and stench bubble up and got to go somewhere, or you will die. Just like Jesus was talking about, being all whitewashed on the outside (like us respectable Christians), but inside are full of dead men’s bones and filth…

We need to treat the problem on the inside first by doing some really deep examination of conscience with some helpful guides or spiritual direction, and get to the sacrament of Reconciliation. The Holy Spirit can lead us if we allow Him. The next step is to put some mesh in and suture it in place… by digging into God’s word and prayer and getting back to church if you’ve been away. And finally, our core muscles need to be reattached and sutured together and heal… by getting tied into your faith community and faith friends who can help you get and remain strong and spiritually healthy! Going to a gym alone won’t cut it. You need work out buddies and a doctor to get there…physically and spiritually. I’m on the mend now. Are you going to get yourself there too? I hope so. Peace and All Good, my friends!