Moving Closer to the Center

Posted on October 25, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Moving Closer to the CenterFor Sunday, October 29, 2017
30th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Exodus 22:20-26
1 Thessalonians 1:5C-10
Matthew 22:34-40

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…)

To Whom Do We Belong?

Posted on October 18, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: To Whom Do We BelongFor Sunday, October 22, 2017
29th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Isaiah 45:1, 4-6
1 Thessalonians 1:1-5B
Matthew 22:15-21

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…)

Gifts on God’s Terms

Posted on October 11, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Gifts on God’s TermsFor Sunday, October 15, 2017
28th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Isaiah 25:6-10a
Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20
Matthew 22:1-14

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?


Harmony as God Intended

Posted on October 4, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Harmony as God IntendedFor Sunday, October 8, 2017
27th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Isaiah 5:1-7
Philippians 4:6-9
Matthew 21:33-43

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…)

Obedience Based on Relationship

Posted on September 27, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Obedience Based on RelationshipFor Sunday, October 1, 2017
26th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ezekiel 18:25-28
Philippians 2:1-11 or 2:1-5
Matthew 21:28-32

Graham Greene was a British novelist who has come to be regarded as one of the greatest English-language writers of the last century. Greene (who passed away in 1991) wrote more than two dozen novels as well as several plays, screenplays, and collections of short stories. Woven throughout his writings are religious themes, especially about the themes of forgiveness and redemption. Anyone who has read the story of the nameless “Whiskey Priest” in The Power and the Glory, of the adulterous Sarah in The End of the Affair, or of the Cervantes-inspired Monsignor Quixote knows Greene, who was also Roman Catholic, artfully weaves together questions of God and faith with the complexities—and darkness—of life and love.


Laboring in God’s Vineyard

Posted on September 20, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Laboring in God’s VineyardFor Sunday, September 24, 2017
25th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Isaiah 55:6-9
Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a
Matthew 20:1-16a

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?


Hope and Healing in the Aftermath

Posted on September 13, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Hope and Healing in the AftermathFor Sunday, September 17, 2017
24th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Sirach 27:30—28:7
Romans 14:7-9
Matthew 18:21-35

These past few weeks, the United States has been battered by events of cataclysmic proportions. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the Equifax data breach have shoved tit-for-tat political headlines out of the limelight. Compelling, community-driven stories abound, whether it’s the quirky tenacity of Key West residents, a moving letter from the mayor of New Orleans, or Beyoncé volunteering in her hometown.

For those of us without connections to the South, the events could seem distant, and beyond the sphere of immediate concern, a matter of sympathetic thoughts, $20 donations, and passing prayers. For residents, however, the aftermath can stretch far into the future.


The Way of Little Sacrifices

Posted on August 29, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Bending Towards JusticeFor Sunday, September 03, 2017
22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 20:7-9
Romans 12:1-2
Matthew 16:21-27

Having four kids (and three of them boys close in age) guarantees me at least two things in life: there will always be messes and there will always be fights. The latter is something that is, most days, minor or done in jest. But every once in awhile we get two of the stubborn ones fighting over a beloved toy and chaos ensues. One thing that catches my eye is the outside motivation that defuses the rage. I can usually tell how beloved the object is simply by what gets them to pull away for a second and get their head on straight again. “Oh, you’ll trade me for a cookie?” Then I secretly note the true value of the toy that I can likely donate in the future.

But the ones that really tell me something are the fights that end on their own with little help from me. When I remind them that pulling at the toy will likely break it, the first one to let go is usually the one that truly loves that toy—the rudimentary life lesson that if we truly love something (or someone) we have to be ready and willing to let it go if that is what is best for it. (more…)