There has been a surge of attention given to the WWII vets who are fast dying off. The remnant who are healthy enough are being taken in Honor Flights to the Washington DC WWII National War Memorial where their buses deposit their frail bodies. These gentlemen and women either walk or are wheeled to the negative pool where they can remember their contribution to America’s freedom. The large pavilion pillars marking the battle sites where many watched their buddies die, rise high into an open sky. It is all so surreal. Usually a state senator meets the vets to offer the gratitude of the country. After a lunch down in the district, they are flown back to their home state with awakened memories of harder days when the skies were blackened by grenades and gunfire. (more…)
We have all had the experience of telling what we thought was a harmless white lie. It may have been to spare another person’s feelings or simply to avoid an uncomfortable conversation. Later on, however, it turned out that we had to tell other lies to cover our tracks or that others discovered the truth on their own. As a result, feelings were hurt or a friendship was damaged. What we thought was a harmless lie ended up causing us needless anguish.
On the other hand, we have also had the experience of doing a good deed. We may have given someone a hand with a project or listened to a friend’s problems. At the time, it seemed like a small gesture. Then, months and sometimes years later, that person reminded us of our good deed and told us how much it meant. What we thought was a trivial act of kindness turned out to touch someone profoundly. (more…)
In 1989, Stanley Hauerwas and Will Willimon published what was for some a landmark work, Resident Aliens. Without going into too much detail, it asserted that the United States was no longer a Christian nation, if it really ever had been from the beginning, since we are a nation built on the foundation of freedom of all religion. The body of Christ then truly exists as a “colony” in a foreign land. The implication then was that Christians should be more concerned with the transformation of those in our places of worship instead of the state. As church, we needed to truly be Christ in a world that will never understand what that truly means. (more…)
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
—Matthew 5:1-2 (more…)
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…)
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…)
“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…)
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…)
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…)
“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…)