For Sunday, March 18, 2018
Fifth Sunday of Lent
I remember the first time I was in the exam room as the ophthalmologist tested various prescription strengths for glasses. “Which is better … 1 or 2 … 2 or 3?” Soon afterwards, my first prescription eyeglasses arrived, and I was amazed that the blur in my vision was gone! I no longer had to strain to see the chalkboard at school or road signs as I was driving. No longer did I get dizzy when I looked through binoculars or sat in the nose-bleed seats at stadiums. I could see, and seeing no longer troubled me.
I think the same is true in our spiritual life. Allow me to assume that we all want to see Jesus, just like the Greeks who asked Philip in this week’s Gospel (Jn 12:21). Isn’t that the point of Christianity? We need help to see him, and we need people in our lives to help make that initial introduction. I had many “first introductions” to faith in Jesus when I was younger. I grew up in a strong Catholic family and went to Catholic schools. I was involved in many activities in my home parish and have led hundreds of retreats around the country telling people about my faith in Jesus. But I wondered if I had really seen Jesus when I was a young adult doing all these things. Even now, in monastic life, I’ve asked myself, “What is the instrument to use so I can see Jesus?”
For Sunday, January 21, 2018
Third Sunday of Ordinary Time
Jonah 3:1-5, 10
1 Corinthians 7:29-31
My favorite childhood movie is The Three Amigos. In this comedy, three American cowboy-actors come to the realization that their movie career is dwindling and there’s not much waiting for them in America. They receive a curious telegraph from a small town in Mexico inviting them to put on a show. Soon after their arrival, they realize that this is not a movie they are in, but a real-life scenario of a villain who is harassing a tiny villa. Instead of leaving the town to its fate, they help the village in their plight against the menace, El Guapo. In a poignant scene before the final showdown, the villagers are asked, “What is it that this town really does well?” An elderly grandmother responds, “We can sew!” This is met initially by a quizzical look from our would-be heroes, but then the actors begin to brainstorm.
For Sunday, December 10, 2017
Second Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
2 Peter 3:8-14
Before I entered the monastery, I enjoyed hosting dinner parties at my house. I enjoyed planning the entire evening – from choosing the dinner and dessert menu, to selecting a good bottle of wine, to shopping, cooking and cleaning, and setting the table. I would prepare topics for conversation and even readied a board game if the mood felt right! By late afternoon, I had freshened up and the last minute food prep underway. As the appointed time drew nearer, I put the flowers in the vase, lit the pine-scented candles, and vacuumed the rug one last time! I would feel a nervous excitement. Then “ding dong” went the doorbell and the party was on!
The Advent season takes on this same anticipatory sense. (more…)
For Sunday, October 29, 2017
30th Sunday of Ordinary Time
1 Thessalonians 1:5C-10
There are familiar themes in today’s Gospel: love of God and love of neighbor. But how are these one and the same reality? Allow some wisdom from a Desert Father, Dorotheos of Gaza, to explain:
Suppose we were to take a compass and insert the point and drawn the outline of a circle. The center point is the same distance from any point on the circumference. For the sake of the example, let’s suppose that this circle is the world, and that God is the center; the straight lines drawn from the circumference to the center are the lives of men. To the degree that the saints enter into the things of the Spirit, they desire to come near to God; and in proportion to their progress in the things of the Spirit, they do in fact come close to God and to their neighbor. The closer they are to God, they closer they become to one another, and the closer they are to one another, the closer they are to God! Now consider in the same context the question of separation; for when they stand away from God … it is clear that the more they recede and become distant from God, the more they become distant from one another. See! This is the very nature of love. The more we turn away from and do not love God, the greater the distance that separates us from our neighbor. If we were to love God more, we should be closer to God, and through love of Him, we should be more united in love to our neighbor; and the more we are united to our neighbor, the more we are united to God. (more…)
For Sunday, September 10, 2017
23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time
Recent events in our nation’s history ought to make us pause and ask one convicting question: “What’s going on here in Ferguson, in Charlottesville?” As we scroll through social media feeds and listen to news reports and talk with our neighbors, we rationalize an understanding of how we got in this place. But how can this technological advancement and racial violence be compatible in the same heart of our country?
G. K. Chesterton, when asked what’s wrong with the world, is said to have penned the most poignant answer that could have been given: “I am.”
For Sunday, July 09, 2017
14th Sunday Ordinary Time
I remember getting the message that my godson was about to be born. Weeks previously, I was honored when my friends asked me to be the godfather for their second child, and then I was shocked that they’d also asked me to be present when that child was born.
After a stressful day, I found myself in the hospital. With her husband by her side, and the nursing staff assisting, this soon-to-be mother gave a few strong final pushes. After the initial excited announcement of “it’s a boy,” silence fell. There was still more activity going on, but everything seemed a lot more peaceful. After about fifteen minutes, this tiny, seven-pound, wrapped bundle of human miraculousness was placed in my arms for the first time. (more…)