For Sunday, September 24, 2017
25th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a
The parable of the laborers in the vineyard stuns the conscience.
We readily relate with the workers toiling all day in the hot sun. We feel their disappointment and anger when they are paid no more than those who labored only an hour. It brings to mind the times we have been shortchanged and denied our fair share. In a societal context, it reminds us of efforts to raise the minimum wage. That Jesus would compare God and his kingdom to such an arbitrary landowner challenges our sense of fairness.
What if we saw the parable in a different light? What if we put ourselves in the place of the workers who were in the field only part of the day?
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…)
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 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, April 02, 2017, 5th Sunday of Lent
John 11:1-45 or 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33b-45
We are familiar with the story of how God created the first man, Adam. After forming him from clay, he blew into his nostrils the gift of life. This is different from the way God created any of the animals or any of the plants. By giving Adam his very breath, God was sharing his life with him. Breath is life. We are aware that someone is alive if he or she is breathing. To stop breathing—or to be unable to breathe—is to die.
The word “spirit” is closely related to the word for breath. We call breathing “respiration.” To stop breathing or to breathe out is to “expire.” Both of those words are related to the word for “spirit.” In this way we can understand the Holy Spirit to be the breath of God, the life of God. We have that life not only because we have been created by God, but also through the gift of faith. Through baptism and confirmation, in particular, God breathes the Holy Spirit into us. God shares with us his very life. (more…)
For Sunday, February 12, 2017, 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time
We have all had the experience of telling what we thought was a harmless white lie. It may have been to spare another person’s feelings or simply to avoid an uncomfortable conversation. Later on, however, it turned out that we had to tell other lies to cover our tracks or that others discovered the truth on their own. As a result, feelings were hurt or a friendship was damaged. What we thought was a harmless lie ended up causing us needless anguish.
On the other hand, we have also had the experience of doing a good deed. We may have given someone a hand with a project or listened to a friend’s problems. At the time, it seemed like a small gesture. Then, months and sometimes years later, that person reminded us of our good deed and told us how much it meant. What we thought was a trivial act of kindness turned out to touch someone profoundly. (more…)
For Sunday, December 25, 2016, The Nativity of the Lord
God created the world out of nothing the power of his Word. He spoke and it came to be. He said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. He caused the mountains to rise up from the sea. He filled the sea with fish and the land with animals. Finally, by the power of his Word, he created man and woman to be the crowning achievement of his great work. He created in us hearts to hear his word and mouths to proclaim it.
When he called Israel out from among the nations to be a people peculiarly his own, he sent them prophets to proclaim his word among them. Such was the prophet Isaiah who speaks to us in today’s first reading. He proclaimed to the people of Israel—and to us today—the good news of peace and salvation from God. Through the prophets, God promised Israel a mighty savior who would forgive them their sins and lead them in the ways of peace. Not only would this great Messiah lead Israel to freedom, but all the nations would witness the great power of God at work through this Savior. (more…)
For Sunday, November 27, 2016, 1st Sunday of Advent
Before a football team signs a new player, it spends hours scouting his performance on the field. The scouts want to see not only if he can make plays, but whether he works hard at practice and how willing he is to listen to the coach. Not only are the player’s skills important but also his character. And so, not only do they monitor his performance on the field, but they investigate what he does with his free time. When he is not at practice or at the game, is he studying and spending time with his family? Or is he going to parties and getting himself into trouble? (more…)
For Sunday, November 13, 2016, 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
There are many unpleasant facts of life we try to avoid thinking or talking about. First among these is our own death. Our life is precious, and we cannot bear the thought of losing it. Nonetheless it is a reality that we need to be aware of and come to terms with. As unpleasant as it may be to think about, it is unavoidable.
Every year in November with the days growing darker and winter fast approaching, we as a church reflect upon some disturbing and sometimes terrifying realities—our death and the end of the world. (more…)
For Sunday, November 6, 2016, 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
For about five years now, a new translation of the Mass has been implemented in parishes throughout the English-speaking world. It has been the most important change to the liturgy since it was first translated into English after the Second Vatican Council. The hope has been that by presenting a translation that is closer to the original Latin, we will gain a deeper understanding of the words we pray during Mass.
One of the interesting changes in wording that has taken place is to the Nicene Creed, which we pray together after the homily. The words “We believe” have been changed to (more…)