For Sunday, June 04, 2017
Genesis 11:1-9 or Exodus 19:3-8a, 16-20b or Ezekiel 37:1-14 or Joel 3:1-5
When we are children, we need our parents to watch over us. We haven’t learned yet that we’ll get burned if we touch the stove or that it’s dangerous to run into the street. As we grow older, though, we start learning how to protect ourselves and how to stay out of trouble. The discipline that our parents imposed on us, often against our will, eventually comes to be an almost automatic way of thinking and living for us. We absorb from our parents values and attitudes that will be with us for the rest of our lives. We know how true this is because so often we catch ourselves saying something to our children or grandchildren that our parents used to say to us. We internalize the messages we received from our parents and act on them as we mature.
When Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit as a river of living water that flows from within a person in the Gospel reading for the vigil Mass, he is describing much the same reality. When the Holy Spirit dwells in us, then we have Jesus’ values and attitudes operating within us. We see things as he sees them. We begin to recognize him in the people we meet. We begin to understand that it is Jesus speaking to us when we read the Bible. Just as we absorb our parents’ attitudes and values by the discipline they imposed on us, so Jesus’ word begins to penetrate our hearts and minds through the gift of the Holy Spirit, and we begin to change from within. (more…)
For Sunday, May 28, 2017
The Ascension of the Lord
In the world of nature, the eagle evokes powerful images of freedom, dignity, and courage along with a Native American connection to the divine. Eagles nest in mountain cliffs or large, tall trees, sometimes as high as 150 feet. Conservationists indicate that eagles build their nests with sticks and line them with pine branches, grass, moss, and feathers to make it soft. The nest provides the place for the eagle to lay and incubate her eggs. When her eaglets hatch and are strong enough to begin to fly, the eagle starts to take the nest apart with her fledglings in it. One branch goes, then some grass, then the pine needles while the chicks begin to scurry around the large nest wondering, “What is happening here?” Their security being whittled away, the eaglets’ mother takes each one up on her back to the sky and allows them to feel the wind. As the eaglet finds its balance in the wind, she drops down to allow the bird to find its way. When the bird drops she flies beneath him to hold him secure once again. This goes on until the bird flies on its own. It will never again return to its nest!
The entire image becomes for me a model of transition, moving from one state of life, one season of life, to another. For most of us, when change rings our doorbells we are not eager to answer. Change requires we move from our comfort zone. It means letting go! (more…)
For Sunday, May 21, 2017,
6th Sunday of Easter
Acts 8:5-8, 14-17
1 Peter 3:15-18
In difficult times, we all need someone to stand up for us and to be at our side. We all know how disappointed we feel when we are abandoned by our friends because of something someone may have said about us or something we may have done. We also know how encouraged we feel when someone has the courage to stand by us.
Jesus promises the apostles in today’s Gospel that he will never abandon them. He promises that, even though they will not see him, he will still be active among them. How does he plan to do that? Jesus tells the disciples that he will send them “another Advocate.” An advocate is someone who stands up for you, who pleads your case, who defends you against a prosecutor who has brought up charges against you. Jesus is the first advocate. He is our first defender. By offering his body on the cross, he took away the charge against us, serving the sentence in our place. Jesus is continuing to advocate for us in heaven. He is continuing to pray for us before the Father until the day we are finally with him in glory. (more…)
For Sunday, May 14, 2017,
5th Sunday of Easter
1 Peter 2:4-9
Stress! On May 1, USA TODAY headlined that Americans are breaking records for being stressed. What is happening to us? Americans have a long history of being resilient, strong, free, and brave. Our history is filled with a vast array of experiences and events that should have led to record-breaking periods of stress. Two World Wars, threats of nuclear war, riots, assassinations, 9/11, just to name a few. But 2017 is the record-breaking year. Again, what is happening to us?
According to psychologist Melanie Greenberg, author of The Stress-Proof Brain, “Changing the way you think about stressors can eliminate this phenomenon.” So, it isn’t our fast-paced life, our political turmoil, the world threats that are causing stress, but our reaction to these stressors that has caused the American Psychological Association’s new evaluation. (more…)
For Sunday, May 07, 2017,
4th Sunday of Easter
Acts 2:14a, 36-41
1 Peter 2:20b-25
Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.”
In 2013 in his message for the 50th World Day of Prayer for Vocations (which is celebrated each year on the Fourth Sunday of Easter), Pope Benedict XVI observed, “Hope is the expectation of something positive in the future, yet at the same time it must sustain our present existence, which is often marked by dissatisfaction and failures… To have hope, therefore, is the equivalent of trusting in God who is faithful, who keeps the promises of the covenant.”
This sense of hope is at the heart of this Sunday’s Gospel, which places before us one of the greatest biblical images of God’s faithful care and mercy: the Good Shepherd. The Evangelist John uses the image of the Good Shepherd (cf. chapter 10) to illustrate the intimate way Christ knows each of us—the flock entrusted to his care—and how, like a faithful shepherd, he constantly watches over us and lifts us up. (more…)