For Sunday, April 22, 2018
Fourth Sunday of Easter
1 John 3:1-2
As a newly pregnant mother years ago, I remember hearing that newborns could distinguish their mothers from other women by scent, and mothers could smell random clothing and know exactly which ones belonged to their babies. I was so intrigued by this. I mean, I could recognize my husband’s cologne or feel nostalgic at the scent of laundry detergent I remember my parents using. But to have the scent of one’s personhood be the deciding factor of knowing was incredible to me. When my first child was born, it rocked my world, and I experienced firsthand that amazing chemical bond between mother and infant.
Knowing that comes from more than intellect and observation is something that forms who we are. When an infant knows his mother by scent, he knows more than just what his olfactory cells are telling him. The scent is just what sets her apart from those around him. But what it means is safety, warmth, nourishment, and wholeness. The mother’s knowing goes far beyond being able to pick her baby out of a crowd. Her knowing engulfs a sense of urgency to protect the child and care for him and the feeling of utter incompleteness when she’s away from the baby. Knowing by these standards is more about intimacy than knowledge. And it’s the same kind of knowing we hear of in the readings this weekend in our relationship with God the Father.
For Sunday, April 15, 2018
Third Sunday of Easter
Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
1 John 2:1-5a
If you want to be reminded of your mortality, turn on the news and see the recent attacks in Syria, the growing tensions over gun violence in the United States, and the latest tragedy in your local news. If you want to be reminded of the hope that awaits our mortal bodies, look no further than this Sunday’s readings!
“The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses!” The promise of Christ proclaimed by Peter is not only good news for us in the present moment — the redemption from sin — but good news for us for eternity, too. As Catholics, our theology of the end is very specific. While our bodies and souls separate at death, we do not continue on as glowing, disembodied spirits for all of time. The resurrection of Christ foretells our own destiny — the resurrection of the body.
For Sunday, April 8, 2018
Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday)
1 John 5:1-6
When people are feeling afraid or insecure, they often find security and solace behind the locked door of a room. While locking oneself in a secure place may relieve an immediate threat or reduce anxiety, it is not a place in which you can stay for very long. Being afraid to leave a secure place when taken to the extreme can lead to agoraphobia and actually cripple a person’s life. Fear caused the disciples to lock themselves in a room. Fear does the same to us.
For Sunday, April 1, 2018
Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8
John 20:1-9 or Mark 16:1-7
In his book, “The Dwelling of the Light: Praying with Icons of Christ”, Rowan Williams (the former archbishop of Canterbury) reflected:
“Orthodox theologians have said — surely rightly — that the moment of resurrection could not be depicted, any more than you could depict the moment of creation or the moment of incarnation. You cannot paint a picture of the simple act of God … You can only show the effect of God’s action: the creation itself carrying the mystery of God in its very being, the human situation transformed by God. So you can depict the Risen Christ, but not the event of the resurrection.”
“So the classical Easter icon shows something more than an historical event: it shows, you might say, the effect of God’s action on human history up to that point, and implicitly, the effect of God’s action on all history … this icon shows Jesus bringing Adam and Eve out of the realm of death into the same light-filled presence.”
For Sunday, March 25, 2018, Palm Sunday
Over the past few decades, what has become known as the “Prosperity Gospel” has gained popularity among televangelists. It claims that following Christ should result in increased financial success for the believer as well as improved health and well-being. For those who follow such a doctrine, religion is a way to win friends and influence people. The word of God becomes a means to reach our goals and fulfill our potential.
While there is no doubt that Jesus wants us to be happy and to live an abundant life, there are many problems with interpreting Christianity as a program for material prosperity or psychological well-being. First and foremost, it is not the example that Jesus left for us. He did not come to earth to fill himself with wealth but to empty himself for us. He did not come to claim places of honor for himself but to take the lowest place. If Jesus’ primary concern was his well-being, he would never have accepted the humiliation of the cross, and we would never have been forgiven of our sins. (more…)
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, March 11, 2018
Fourth Sunday of Lent
2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23
As a military family, we often find ourselves living far from those closest to us and going at life alone. While some years have felt lonely, others have felt full depending where we were stationed. Right now, we live less than a mile from the ocean, which has guaranteed us one thing over the past three years: a steady flow of visitors. Each year, we’ve housed friends and family who are either traveling through, coming to vacation, or staying awhile to help. Our most recent guests were my parents, who trekked miles and miles to find reprieve from the snowy north. (more…)
For Sunday, March 4, 2018
Second Sunday of Lent
1 Corinthians 1:22-25
“When is the last time you were alone — really alone — and how did it feel?” I asked a room full of teenagers. They discussed the answer amongst themselves. I crouched down into a conversation between a few boys and repeated the question. “I don’t actually know,” one of them said. “I can’t remember.” Teenagers reportedly fill nine hours a day with various forms of media. They’re not alone in their priorities. Netflix released their 2017 viewing statistics, and 109 million members across 190 countries stream 140 million hours a day.
For me personally, the trouble lies with scrolling through the popular photo app Instagram. Even there — where content provides no more than a quick visual hit — users average 24 to 32 minutes a day, depending on their age demographic. Are we captured in awe and wonder by beauty and good story telling? Or are we addicted to the physiological high that media consumption gives? (more…)
For Sunday, February 25, 2018
Second Sunday of Lent
Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18
Life can be uncertain. Fergie sings a version of the National Anthem that belongs more in a jazz lounge than the NBA All-Star game. For those of us following the Olympics, we’ve seen unanticipated falls, photo finishes, and controversy in the most unlikely places. Back home, unexpected tragedy in Florida and election-tampering indictments exacerbate division and uncertainty. This Sunday’s readings also introduce us to the unexpected, both exciting and alarming.
For Sunday, February 18, 2018
First Sunday of Lent
1 Peter 3:18-22
The story of Noah and the flood is one of the most fascinating narratives in the Bible. Not only is it a gripping saga of survival, it also relates the destructive power of sin and God’s desire to
The book of Genesis tells us that when God saw the wickedness on the earth, “[He] was sorry that he had made mankind …” (Gen 6:6). The people whom He created “very good” had turned out to be wicked. God is saddened by the sinfulness of His people.
This story gives us some insight into how sin offends God. Our Heavenly Father is all good, and He created us to be good also. However, when we sin, we reject God’s goodness and choose something less. (more…)