For Sunday, January 22, 2017, 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time
The call to repentance flew from the lips of John the Baptist and into our ears during Advent. Now, after our Christmas trees have been picked up from their inglorious positions on the curb; now, when the confetti of New Year’s Eve has been swept up; now, when we have witnessed an inauguration, we again hear the call to repentance, this time from the lips of Jesus. Is there a difference in those calls? What is God urging us to do? Urging—is there an urgency in these calls?
To begin with, there is a difference. John asks for a change of heart to prepare the way of the Lord. Level the hills! Fill in the valleys! He, the long-awaited one, is coming! Subsequently, Jesus urges repentance because “the kingdom is at hand.” It is here! (more…)
For Sunday, January 15, 2017, 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
This weekend’s readings are all about knowing who you are. That being said, many reading this reflection may immediately react by saying that they know exactly who they are. But do you? We know the particulars of our lives, the nuances of our personalities, our successes, our weaknesses, and our personal histories. These traits define us and assist us in presenting ourselves to the world and interacting with others. But is this the end of the story? Who we really are is rooted in something we all share: baptism. (more…)
For Sunday, January 8, 2017, The Epiphany of the Lord
“See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples” (Is 60:2a). The news these days has been filled with darkness: the trial of a white man accused of shooting nine African American people in a Charleston, SC, church; the desire for and resistance to the living situations of Jews and Palestinians in Israel; the continued tragedies in the Middle East; fear of terrorist attacks in major cities around the world as we prepare to begin 2017; hate crimes increasing due to race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political stance; people continue to be martyred for their faith; and news about the deaths of respected entertainers and leaders. Darkness covers the earth. (more…)
For Sunday, January 1, 2017, Mary, the Holy Mother of God
It is wisdom that the Church begins the New Year with Mary, the Holy Mother of God as its portal. For Mary is clothed in the wonder of history. She is the iconic feminine figure who has been shaped with maternal care from the most sketchy of Scriptures. Of her we know so little from the text. Even Paul only mentions her once in all his works and that is minimal. Mary would have it that way, self-effacing as she seemed. Paul’s words are in the context of her magnum opus: birthing the Savior. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption” (Galatians 4:4-5).
For Paul, Mary is nameless. (more…)
For Sunday, December 25, 2016, The Nativity of the Lord
God created the world out of nothing the power of his Word. He spoke and it came to be. He said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. He caused the mountains to rise up from the sea. He filled the sea with fish and the land with animals. Finally, by the power of his Word, he created man and woman to be the crowning achievement of his great work. He created in us hearts to hear his word and mouths to proclaim it.
When he called Israel out from among the nations to be a people peculiarly his own, he sent them prophets to proclaim his word among them. Such was the prophet Isaiah who speaks to us in today’s first reading. He proclaimed to the people of Israel—and to us today—the good news of peace and salvation from God. Through the prophets, God promised Israel a mighty savior who would forgive them their sins and lead them in the ways of peace. Not only would this great Messiah lead Israel to freedom, but all the nations would witness the great power of God at work through this Savior. (more…)
For Sunday, December 18, 2016, 4th Sunday of Advent
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Looking at the American landscape as the year draws to a close, you may wonder how we got here. The intense divisions, the harsh rhetoric, and the damaged relationships brought about by politics, racial tensions, and the news media can seem to be all too much. We made it through the Thanksgiving holiday, yet some of us apparently needed to call a special hotline set up to assist in the maneuvering through dinner conversations. (more…)
For Sunday, December 11, 2016, 3rd Sunday of Advent
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.
Indeed, the Lord is near.
—Philippians 4:4-5 (Entrance antiphon for the Third Sunday of Advent)
On this Third Sunday of Advent, the Church gives us a very specific mandate: rejoice! And, during these pre-Christmas days, it seems that there is joy all around us. Actually, there has been for a while. Businesses, public spaces, and homes are filled with the sights and sounds of Christmas and the dark hues and somber tones of Advent seem to be largely confined to our churches and chapels. (more…)
For Sunday, December 4, 2016, 2nd Sunday of Advent
I am walking. It’s only been a few days now. But I am tired. There is no place to sit in this desert, in this wilderness. I look out ahead and can barely see the goal. I must keep going. My heart and my hope drive me on. As I look ahead, I stumble. Another’s hand pulls me up.
We are walking. It seems for only a few minutes. A finger points toward the goal and we trudge ahead with heads higher. No longer alone, there is more energy in the quest. Is the vision ahead sharper? As it clears, I turn and share what I see. And beside me (more…)
For Sunday, November 27, 2016, 1st Sunday of Advent
Before a football team signs a new player, it spends hours scouting his performance on the field. The scouts want to see not only if he can make plays, but whether he works hard at practice and how willing he is to listen to the coach. Not only are the player’s skills important but also his character. And so, not only do they monitor his performance on the field, but they investigate what he does with his free time. When he is not at practice or at the game, is he studying and spending time with his family? Or is he going to parties and getting himself into trouble? (more…)
For Sunday, November 20, 2016, Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
“Jesus Christ,” Pope Francis writes, “is the face of the Father’s mercy… Merciful like the Father, therefore, is the ‘motto’ of this Holy Year. In mercy, we find proof of how God loves us. He gives his entire self, always, freely, asking nothing in return. He comes to our aid whenever we call upon him… Day after day, touched by his compassion, we also can become compassionate towards others (Misericordiae Vultus, #1, 14).
The night of our American presidential election I took a walk as the sun was setting. A pink ribbon cast across the full horizon of the western sky wove itself around the falling night clouds. The beauty of it lifted my angst set in motion by an agonizing political year. Shakespeare came to mind. (more…)