For Sunday, September 03, 2017
22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
Having four kids (and three of them boys close in age) guarantees me at least two things in life: there will always be messes and there will always be fights. The latter is something that is, most days, minor or done in jest. But every once in awhile we get two of the stubborn ones fighting over a beloved toy and chaos ensues. One thing that catches my eye is the outside motivation that defuses the rage. I can usually tell how beloved the object is simply by what gets them to pull away for a second and get their head on straight again. “Oh, you’ll trade me for a cookie?” Then I secretly note the true value of the toy that I can likely donate in the future.
But the ones that really tell me something are the fights that end on their own with little help from me. When I remind them that pulling at the toy will likely break it, the first one to let go is usually the one that truly loves that toy—the rudimentary life lesson that if we truly love something (or someone) we have to be ready and willing to let it go if that is what is best for it. (more…)
For Sunday, August 27, 2017
21st Sunday of Ordinary Time
A monumental debate. A police chase. Political shake-ups. An eclipse! There always seems to be plenty to report on and the past few weeks have been no exception. Once we fall into the black hole of the next tragic thing, it’s easy to have one of two responses: an overwhelming discouragement at the “world today” or a disillusioned shutting down and turning out. This Sunday’s readings shake us out of our despair and hardness of heart, if we let them, because they speak something strangely unnerving and deeply comforting: that Jesus Christ is Lord.
The Gospel features Peter’s confession of faith. When questioned as to Jesus’ identity, then-Simon proclaims his Messianic role without hesitation. Two weeks ago Peter sunk on the waves. Several months from now, when Lent rolls around again, we’ll hear him deny Jesus at the most critical hour. But in the midst of that oscillating conviction, Peter’s confession stands. We might not always understand why or how, but Jesus Christ is Lord. In the tumult of this world, we might not always understand his ways, as St. Paul writes in the second reading: “How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor?” (vv. 33-34). All the same, Jesus Christ is Lord. (more…)
For Sunday, August 20, 2017
20th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Isaiah 56:1, 6-7
Romans 11:13-15, 29-32
A simple authentic and honest encounter with another human being can reveal hidden truths, allow enemies to embrace, and mutual respect to flourish. It is necessary to journey into the heart of a person in order for walls, prejudices, and antiquated barriers to be removed. Inclusivity has been one of the hallmarks of God’s agenda from the beginning of time. His house is intended to be “a house of prayer for all peoples” where human dignity is safeguarded regardless of who we are, where we come from, and what we believe. (more…)
For Sunday, August 13, 2017
19th Sunday of Ordinary Time
1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a
Have you ever heard five hundred teenagers singing? As a music minister, it’s not always easy to pull off. When I worked in a Catholic high school, there was one song that nearly everybody always sang, whether it was in the Mass, on retreat, or at a prayer service: “Oceans” by Hillsong, the music ministry of an Australian evangelical church. Here are some lines of the refrain: “And I will call upon Your name. Keep my eyes above the waves when oceans rise.”
I spent a lot of time considering why this song roused an instinctive response in so many students, regardless of grade, race, and social clique. In many ways, I think this simple song reflects the cry of the human heart. We all, at times, feel storm-tossed and unconsoled. The song isn’t just about our effort to reach out to Christ, but the steadfast presence of God as we brave the unknown.
I don’t know the history of the song, but I have no doubt it was at least somewhat inspired by today’s Gospel. Jesus has spent time alone, consoled in his weariness by the presence of his Father, and he returns to his friends by night, supernaturally walking on the waves of a stormy sea. Peter, in a classic display of bold faith, trusts that if the figure really is Jesus, than he too can walk on the water. His Lord will do the miraculous, keep him from sinking. (more…)
For Sunday, August 06, 2017
The Transfiguration of the Lord
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
2 Peter 1:16-19
The death of Chester Bennington, lead singer for the popular group, Linkin Park, has stunned the music world. His alarming death by suicide follows that of another popular singer of his generation, Chris Cornell, who fronted the seminal grunge rock groups Soundgarden and Audioslave.
While such deaths have not been uncommon in the world of music, the suicides of the rich and famous shock us because we think they “have it all.” In fact, they only prove that success, money, fame, and power do not ultimately fulfill us and cannot shield us from life’s difficulties. (more…)