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…)
For Sunday, February 11, 2018
Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46
1 Corinthians 10:31—11:1
“If you wish, you can make me clean … I do will it. Be made clean.” This dialogue can easily be on each of our lips as we begin the season of Lent this week. This season is a wonderful opportunity to take an assessment of where we are on our journey of faith. Lent is a time of discovery, renewal, conversion, and repentance. To be fully engaged in this intimate walk with God, we must be prepared to be vulnerable, humble, and brutally honest. Not only does God want to make us whole, but we desperately desire, in the depths of our being, to have our often fragmented and disjointed lives gathered and healed.
Lent is a time of healing and wholeness. St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater development and greater riches. Children have very little time for their parents and parents have very little time for their children and for each other. So the breakdown of peace in the world begins at home.” (more…)
For Sunday, February 4, 2018
Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Job 7:1-4, 6-7
1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23
Part of the genius of Saint Benedict of Nursia was his emphasis on a balance of work and prayer. Saint Benedict, who founded 12 monasteries in Italy in the 6th century, brought together the wisdom of generations of monks before him but re-shaped those teachings in the light of his own understanding of the human psyche. This is part of the reason that the way of life he established remains a vital part of the Church today. (more…)
For Sunday, January 28, 2018
Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 7:32-35
Imagine what the scene would have been like 2,000 years ago when Jesus preached at the synagogue in Capernaum. Right before their eyes, demons were being cast out, convulsing and shrieking as they left. We can imagine how shaken up and amazed they would have been. What if such a thing were to happen in the middle of Sunday Mass? It would either make us want to come back next week to see what else would happen or make us so afraid that we would never want to come back again.
By such a display of power at the beginning of His earthly ministry, Jesus is demonstrating that, with the Kingdom of God now among us, the reign of Satan has come to an end. As Son of God, He will undo all the evil that the devil has wrought in the world. By forgiving sinners who come to Him, He will show His power over sin. By healing the lame, the blind, and the deaf, (more…)
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.