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, December 03, 2017
First Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 63:16B-17, 19B: 64:2-7
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
We hosted two other families for Thanksgiving this year, which means I spent the week of Thanksgiving like many of you – cleaning, cooking, and preparing. After the pomp and chaos, I settled in for a long weekend ready to rest (and eat more turkey). I stumbled upon a Hallmark-type Christmas movie centered on the predictable worldly pair falling in love as the snow flurries around them. At one part in the film, the lead female missed a warning sign on the banks of a lake not fully frozen and found herself stranded in the middle, ice skating, as the lake began to crack around her. As expected, the leading male arrived just in time to help her off the ice, admonishing her for missing the warning sign.
In an unexpected way, that scene in the low-budget film has me reflecting a lot on the connection between Advent and the stern warning our Lord gives us in the Gospel. “Be watchful! Be alert! … What I say to you all: ‘Watch!’”
For Sunday, November 26, 2017
Solemnity of Christ the King
Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28
In his encyclical Laudato Si Pope Francis writes: “The creation accounts in the book of Genesis contain, in their own symbolic and narrative language, profound teachings about human existence and its historical reality. They suggest that human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbor and with the earth itself.” In other words, we are designed by God to keep these fundamental relationships in proper perspective and order. With our reading from Ezekiel and Matthew’s Gospel front and center on this Feast of Christ the King, we are able to give these primary relationships some much needed reflection. Also, assessing these relationships is a wonderful way to end one liturgical year and begin another.
For Sunday, November 19, 2017
33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time
Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31
1 Thessalonians 5:1-6
What is the purpose of the Christian life? Or, to ask the question in a simpler way, what’s the point of all this?
As the Church Year comes to an end, this essential question is brought into sharp focus. The answer is as simple as it might be unpopular: we’re waiting for the fulfillment of time and of hope-filled promises of an untold future. We are awaiting the return of Christ. I would go so far as to say that if we’re not watching and waiting in hopeful expectation, then something vital is missing from our individual faith.
For Sunday, November 12, 2017
32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
The first time I considered this question seriously was after the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013. Up to that point, it had seemed as though every other terrorist attack happened far away. However, we live only 45 minutes south of Boston and 20 minutes west of where one of the perpetrators attended college.
For Sunday, November 05, 2017
31st Sunday of Ordinary Time
Malachi 1:14B-2:2B, 8-10
1 Thessalonians 2:7B-9, 13
These words may be familiar to you. We hear them in Mary’s Magnificat, as she sings the praises of God, who acts in a way counterintuitive to the plans of the world. They aren’t in this Sunday’s readings, but they perfectly capture the theme of the Gospel and the latest stream of current events.
In the era of the 24 hour news cycle, it seems like anyone and anything are up for grabs. As much as we thrive on thrusting people into the limelight, we seem to be equally—if not more so, fascinated by their demise. Entertainment icons Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey have received just opprobrium. Former strategists for President Trump have been indicted for pre-campaign white-collar crime. And who can miss the ongoing controversy in the NFL? These events raise the age-old questions: “what does it mean to have power?” and “how do we exercise it with integrity?”
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, October 22, 2017
29th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Isaiah 45:1, 4-6
1 Thessalonians 1:1-5B
Something somewhat unique about my family is that we have three boys pretty close in age. This means we have a lot of fun, a lot of energy, a lot of messes, and a lot of fighting each and every day. It’s a joy to watch them grow in community with each other, and in a lot of ways the littleness of their actions is a school of love for me as I tend to them.
One thing that really fascinates me is how particular they are about their possessions.
Growing up with four siblings of my own, I totally empathize and remember going through this phase. But being an adult spectator is something brand new to me. There have been many times when the boys receive the exact same gift from a family member, yet they can quickly identify the owner of each toy in a glance. The most recent objects of their affection are Minions placemats sent by my mom. Within seconds, each of the boys had their prized possession and no sooner than they put their hands on the mats they could easily tell me which was theirs (despite the fact they were all quite literally identical). This means if I try to give someone the wrong item or mix things up, there is always a heated quarrel as they take it upon themselves to find the proper owner of each item. (more…)
For Sunday, October 15, 2017
28th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20
Wedding registries. Christmas lists. Return policies. Gift cards. No one can deny that these modern conveniences make our lives easier. What do they all have in common? Personal preference. In each of these things, we have a say over the gift we receive. It’s something to which we’ve become accustomed. But does God work that way?
For Sunday, October 8, 2017
27th Sunday of Ordinary Time
God created the beautiful glory of the heavens and the earth, animals, plants and human beings. All things were placed in proper order and he blessed it all with the gift of free will. He placed within the human heart the desire to know him, the author of all that is. It is with this gift of free will that all can find their paths to freely love God, their very selves, one another, and the world he has entrusted to our care. After all was finished and properly in place, God looked at all that he had made and found it very good. What more was there to do that God had not done?
The virtue of temperance helps us discover balance and harmony. We are meant to live in proper relationship with one another, the world, and the God who made us. But that gift of free will that makes life so creative, meaningful, and engaging can, if not properly used, lead us down a very different path. By choosing not so virtuous and balanced choices, we can quickly find our relationships very disordered. (more…)