For Sunday, June 11, 2017
The Most Holy Trinity
Exodus 34:4b-6, 8-9
2 Corinthians 13:11-13
This Sunday we celebrate the feast of our origin and destiny as human beings, our beginning and end, the One who made us and the One to whom we return. It’s Trinity Sunday.
Thinking too hard about the Trinity can cause some intellectual hurdles. At the idea of three Persons in one God, our mind stops up short. The medieval Italian poet Dante Alighieri said, in his words on the Trinity in Paradisio, “My wings were not meant for such a flight… Here powers failed my high imagination.” It’s an awe easily evoked on the edge of the sea or below the night sky. When we earnestly aspire to grasp the infinite, we find we can’t hold it in our hands. (more…)
For Sunday, June 04, 2017
Genesis 11:1-9 or Exodus 19:3-8a, 16-20b or Ezekiel 37:1-14 or Joel 3:1-5
When we are children, we need our parents to watch over us. We haven’t learned yet that we’ll get burned if we touch the stove or that it’s dangerous to run into the street. As we grow older, though, we start learning how to protect ourselves and how to stay out of trouble. The discipline that our parents imposed on us, often against our will, eventually comes to be an almost automatic way of thinking and living for us. We absorb from our parents values and attitudes that will be with us for the rest of our lives. We know how true this is because so often we catch ourselves saying something to our children or grandchildren that our parents used to say to us. We internalize the messages we received from our parents and act on them as we mature.
When Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit as a river of living water that flows from within a person in the Gospel reading for the vigil Mass, he is describing much the same reality. When the Holy Spirit dwells in us, then we have Jesus’ values and attitudes operating within us. We see things as he sees them. We begin to recognize him in the people we meet. We begin to understand that it is Jesus speaking to us when we read the Bible. Just as we absorb our parents’ attitudes and values by the discipline they imposed on us, so Jesus’ word begins to penetrate our hearts and minds through the gift of the Holy Spirit, and we begin to change from within. (more…)
For Sunday, May 28, 2017
The Ascension of the Lord
In the world of nature, the eagle evokes powerful images of freedom, dignity, and courage along with a Native American connection to the divine. Eagles nest in mountain cliffs or large, tall trees, sometimes as high as 150 feet. Conservationists indicate that eagles build their nests with sticks and line them with pine branches, grass, moss, and feathers to make it soft. The nest provides the place for the eagle to lay and incubate her eggs. When her eaglets hatch and are strong enough to begin to fly, the eagle starts to take the nest apart with her fledglings in it. One branch goes, then some grass, then the pine needles while the chicks begin to scurry around the large nest wondering, “What is happening here?” Their security being whittled away, the eaglets’ mother takes each one up on her back to the sky and allows them to feel the wind. As the eaglet finds its balance in the wind, she drops down to allow the bird to find its way. When the bird drops she flies beneath him to hold him secure once again. This goes on until the bird flies on its own. It will never again return to its nest!
The entire image becomes for me a model of transition, moving from one state of life, one season of life, to another. For most of us, when change rings our doorbells we are not eager to answer. Change requires we move from our comfort zone. It means letting go! (more…)
For Sunday, May 21, 2017,
6th Sunday of Easter
Acts 8:5-8, 14-17
1 Peter 3:15-18
In difficult times, we all need someone to stand up for us and to be at our side. We all know how disappointed we feel when we are abandoned by our friends because of something someone may have said about us or something we may have done. We also know how encouraged we feel when someone has the courage to stand by us.
Jesus promises the apostles in today’s Gospel that he will never abandon them. He promises that, even though they will not see him, he will still be active among them. How does he plan to do that? Jesus tells the disciples that he will send them “another Advocate.” An advocate is someone who stands up for you, who pleads your case, who defends you against a prosecutor who has brought up charges against you. Jesus is the first advocate. He is our first defender. By offering his body on the cross, he took away the charge against us, serving the sentence in our place. Jesus is continuing to advocate for us in heaven. He is continuing to pray for us before the Father until the day we are finally with him in glory. (more…)
For Sunday, May 14, 2017,
5th Sunday of Easter
1 Peter 2:4-9
Stress! On May 1, USA TODAY headlined that Americans are breaking records for being stressed. What is happening to us? Americans have a long history of being resilient, strong, free, and brave. Our history is filled with a vast array of experiences and events that should have led to record-breaking periods of stress. Two World Wars, threats of nuclear war, riots, assassinations, 9/11, just to name a few. But 2017 is the record-breaking year. Again, what is happening to us?
According to psychologist Melanie Greenberg, author of The Stress-Proof Brain, “Changing the way you think about stressors can eliminate this phenomenon.” So, it isn’t our fast-paced life, our political turmoil, the world threats that are causing stress, but our reaction to these stressors that has caused the American Psychological Association’s new evaluation. (more…)
For Sunday, May 07, 2017,
4th Sunday of Easter
Acts 2:14a, 36-41
1 Peter 2:20b-25
Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.”
In 2013 in his message for the 50th World Day of Prayer for Vocations (which is celebrated each year on the Fourth Sunday of Easter), Pope Benedict XVI observed, “Hope is the expectation of something positive in the future, yet at the same time it must sustain our present existence, which is often marked by dissatisfaction and failures… To have hope, therefore, is the equivalent of trusting in God who is faithful, who keeps the promises of the covenant.”
This sense of hope is at the heart of this Sunday’s Gospel, which places before us one of the greatest biblical images of God’s faithful care and mercy: the Good Shepherd. The Evangelist John uses the image of the Good Shepherd (cf. chapter 10) to illustrate the intimate way Christ knows each of us—the flock entrusted to his care—and how, like a faithful shepherd, he constantly watches over us and lifts us up. (more…)
For Sunday, April 30, 2017,
3rd Sunday of Easter
Acts 2:14, 22-33
1 Peter 1:17-21
I was roaming about on the Internet and found a great website about travel to Greece called Mysterious Greece. With an extremely thorough portrayal of all that Greece has to offer, it makes Greece look like a must-see destination for everyone. In one of the blog posts, the writer speaks of the rich history of hospitality in the country and how we have a real need for a more welcoming demeanor in all aspects of our daily living. The post begins with the words, “If there is one Greek word that everyone should know it is this word— ‘philoxenia.’” The word literally means “friend to the stranger,” but the practice of this form of hospitality speaks to a much deeper reality and should rest near the top of all the virtues. (more…)
For Sunday, April 23, 2017,
2nd Sunday of Easter
1 Peter 1:3-9
All of the happenings in our world have people very concerned and worried. Whether its chemical weaponry, suicide bombers, religious persecution, or just violence in general, people—especially those who possess some kind of faith—are wondering what is God doing about all of this? Asking where God is when we experience hurtful and frightening things is normal. It may appear at first that God is deaf to our concerns, lacking empathy for our fears and suffering. Depending upon where people are on their faith journey, this apparent absence of God can easily lead them into a doubt where they begin to question the existence of God altogether.
For Sunday, April 16, 2017,
Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord
Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8
John 20:1-9 or Matthew 28:1-10 or Luke 24:13-35
Our responsorial psalm sings: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.” Easter is a time that invites rejoicing, gladness, and celebration, even when our life events might not feel so joyful, happy, or worth celebrating. But isn’t that what the Resurrection of the Lord is all about? From death, God raised Jesus to new life. From arrest, false accusation, and crucifixion, God brought about freedom, truth, and an empty tomb. From sin and darkness, God made possible reconciliation and light. We celebrate a paradox today, but the paradox reveals the mystery that God does not give evil the last word. God’s unconditional, merciful love wins the day, and the dark nights of our lives. Offered to us all, we are asked to respond by clearing out the old yeast of malice, wickedness, sin, and darkness, to let God bake us into the bread of kindness, goodness, forgiveness, and light. This is the day to rejoice and be glad. This is a day for hope. (more…)
For Sunday, April 09, 2017, Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
Human suffering cascades into our homes with the consistency of spilled oil. We can never seem to clean it up and the frustration leaves us sad and, most the time, feeling helpless. Beyond writing congressional representatives, contributing to charitable outreach and praying, we can’t escape the menacing cloud of knowing that half our brothers and sisters in the world are struggling with starvation, war, disease, or homelessness. I pray that we do not become immune to it all, but realize that those big starving eyes affect all of us and the entire world.
There is an incredible loneliness attached to suffering. In my last year of undergraduate work at a small Midwest Catholic women’s college, the Franciscan leadership reached out to Dr. Sterling Stuckey, now a professor of history at the University of California–Riverside, to teach a class in Black History. It was in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement and we were enthusiastic to find out more about the surge of justice that called us forth. Dr. Stuckey, facing an audience of well-mannered young white women, held back nothing. He taught black history with a passion and a fury that brought the reality of the slaves right to our study niches where we poured over the material. (more…)