Reflections

The Lenten Journey

Genesis 22: 1-2, 9-13, 15-18; Romans 8:31-34; Mark 9:2-10

Transfiguration-Perugino

If you single out almost anyone in the Bible – the Old or the New Testament – the chances are pretty good that the individual made a journey. Our ancestors, from the very beginning, were incredible travelers. And those Scriptural travelers have several things in common. By any standard they were, most of them, remarkably ill-prepared for their journeys, many were unwilling to set out on the trip in the first place, and all of them were transformed by the process of getting from here to there.

Being transformed by the journey – or at least being open to the possibility of transformation – is what sets travelers apart from tourists. …

Learning to Rejoice in the Lord

Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11; Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28

In our second reading, St. Paul tells us to “rejoice always,” as does our whole liturgy. And our opening antiphon states what is to be the principal cause of our rejoicing, citing another Pauline text (Phil 4:4), we are to rejoice “in the Lord.”

Now, to “rejoice” is not the same as taking in the pleasure of the senses, not the same as basking in comfort. Pleasure and comfort are the rewards that our own society so often has to offer us; but do they bring joy? Nearly 40 years ago, Pope Paul VI already stated that our ‘technological society has succeeded in multiplying occasions of pleasure, yet has found it very difficult to engender

St. Lucy's Day

247px-Salisbury Cathedral St Lucy

There’s an Advent hymn that bids us “look east” to see the “turning of the year.” I don’t know whether you hate these short days of autumn as much as I do, but today is the day I look forward to almost more than Christmas, because today the year actually begins to turn. But if we want to see it, we must look to the west, not the east. 

Many of the songs we sing at this time of year – and certainly our Scripture readings – speak of Jesus as the Sun, the Dawn, and the Daylight, so it makes sense to look east for the turning of our year. However, the year doesn’t turn all at once, and – perhaps surprisingly – it begins to turn in the west. 

Still Needing a Savior

Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7; Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Gospel: Mark 13:33-37

Today we celebrate the First Sunday of Advent. It is often noted that there is a similarity between the end of the liturgical year, Christ the King, when we look especially to the second coming of Christ, and the beginning of the liturgical year, when we begin to commemorate the first coming of Christ.

In this, the Church is not proclaiming a kind of endlessness of time, as if we are forever doomed to repeat the past. Rather, the anticipation of the first coming of Christ is a type, pointing forward to the expectation of his second coming. …

Christ the King is Lord of All

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Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17; Psalm 23:1-2, 2-3, 5-6; 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28; Matthew 25:31-46

As we celebrate today the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, we would do well to consider what it meant in the Old Testament for Israel to have a king, as well as what this means for the New Testament, in which the hopes of the Old Testament are fulfilled.

In the Scriptures, we can see a conflicted tradition about kingship – that is, about who is really ought to be considered the king. On the one hand, Israel affirmed that only the LORD could be the true king of Israel. On the other hand, the LORD allows Israel to have its visible, human king. …

Silver Jubilee

September 21, 2014 -- Silver Anniversary of Fr. Gregory Tatum’s Ordination
Readings: Isaiah 55:6-9; Phil. 1:20-24, 27; Matthew 20:1-16

St. Thomas Aquinas tells us justice is the permanent and constant will to render each person his due. One of my Dominican brothers says justice is the first virtue we learn. As children we may lack the vocabulary to describe reality as eloquently as St. Thomas, but we don’t have to be very grown up to know whether an outcome is fair, or whether we’ve gotten what we deserve.

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Which is the case in today’s gospel. When the workers hired early in the day saw what the latecomers were being paid, they reasonably assumed they would get more. …

Palm Sunday

PalmSunday2014

On the first Sunday of Lent the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the devil. In a full frontal assault, Satan goaded Jesus to prove he is the son of God, by “turning stones to bread” to end the pangs of his hunger. To prove his sonship Satan demanded that Jesus dramatically fling himself from the temple parapet so that God’s angels could catch him - to the astonishment of the crowds. Finally, Satan tried to entice him with a promise of worldly power.

Jesus resisted these temptations and began an assault on Satan’s realm. The good news of God’s love and mercy was preached and his kingdom made manifest in the blind who received sight, in leprous bodies healed, and through demons expelled from the possessed. …

Seeing with the Eyes of Faith

Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Ordinary Time
Readings: James 1:19-27; Mark 8:22-26

The account of the cure in this evening's gospel is unique to Saint Mark. I suppose that's not particularly important, except to remark the gospel is a story told about us, and to Jesus, each of us is unique. Perhaps that's why Jesus calls the man away from the crowd this evening -- so that we will understand just how special we are, how very highly he regards us, and so we will know that no matter how dark things may be in our lives, his love is there to create a safe, intimate, and private space where ther's no one but him, and no one counts but us.

Calming the Storm

20120409132539!Rembrandt Christ in the Storm on the Lake of Galilee

Readings: 2 Samuel 12:1-7, 10-17; Mark 4:35-41

After preaching to the crowds in parables about the kingdom of God and how it mysteriously grows, Jesus invites his disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee.

The Sea of Galilee lies 680 feet below sea level. It is surrounded by hills, and on the east side they reach 2000 feet high. From these heights cool, dry, air flows down the hills until it reaches the semi-tropical warm, humid air above the sea. Large temperature and pressure changes produce violent winds. To this day, storms arise quickly and without warning, with terrifying waves produced as the surface of the shallow lake is raked by the wind.

St. Albert the Great

For the past eight days we have been praying a novena to St. Albert, and our prayer has said, “…God endowed you with wisdom and understanding.” These words can be somewhat deceptive, because the popular notion of “wisdom” and “understanding” equates them with a high IQ. Our faith, by contrast, tells us that wisdom and understanding are gifts of the Holy Spirit. Neither has anything to do with being smart, but each has a lot to do with making us great. And because each of us has received these gifts, each of us shares St. Albert’s vocation to greatness, at least potentially.

St. Albert introduced the West to the world view we call Western Civilization. …



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