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June 26, 2016

On my tenth birthday my father gave me a plaque with a poem on it by Robert Frost, called "The Road Not Taken." You may have heard this poem before; it starts, "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood..." The poet tells of coming across two paths while walking and having to decide which one to take. (It's a poem; the paths are clearly a metaphor.) It's a tough choice: both paths look exactly the same from where the poet is standing, both are equally worn ("the passing their / Had worn them really about the same"), and it is impossible to see where either path leads. At the time, the speaker can discern no reason to choose one path over the other. There are no guides or signposts, no indication that one path is preferable to the other. But the poet does have to choose one of them, which means not choosing the other one. The poems ends famously, "I shall be telling this with a sigh / Somewhere ages and ages hence: / Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- / I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference."

June 15, 2016
The human spirit longs to be free. People want to chart their own course -- to be in control of their own destiny. The people who lived in the land that Jesus called home were not free. Except for about one hundred years of Jewish rule, the territory of the two former Israelite kingdoms was governed by foreign military powers since the eighth century B.C. Jesus lived his entire life under Roman occupation and he died by order of the Roman prefect of Palestine. Some people of Jesus' day were looking for a "new David" to end the Roman occupation, making it possible for them to determine their own future.
June 12, 2016
As perhaps the best-known prayer in the world, the 'Our Father' is a remarkable testimony to our faith. Despite its gender specific language that troubles so many, it is prayed by hundreds of millions of people every day. In it we acknowledge our family relationship with God, God's universal supremacy, and our total dependence on divine providence. We pray that God's plan of salvation be accomplished in and through us, and that we will be able to withstand the temptations that assail us. While some of the needs mentioned in the prayer may not immediately touch every life at all times, the prayer contains one petition that does: "Forgive us our trespasses." Whether or not we have updated the language to say 'sins,' the meaning is the same. We are all sinners and we all need forgiveness.
June 5, 2016
Each of our scripture readings today presents a dramatic story of prophecy. The biblical prophet is a person who has been grasped by God's word so completely that his or her whole life becomes its transforming manifestation. Yet even within biblical traditions, prophets are not all the same. These three stories give us quite different portraits of how a prophet works. Examining them closely can help us to reflect on different ways that being "grasped by the word of God" might look like in our own, more ordinary lives.
May 29, 2016

As those to be baptized are splashed by or are plunged into water three times, we hear named the God who is Holy Trinity, the Three-in-One. But this naming is not about math. Nor is it about a desiccated doctrine that does not matter in everyday life. Trinity is about the reality of right relationships, not just among the "Persons" of Father, Son, and Spirit, but of God's relationship with us and our relationship with God, each other, and all of God's creation. These relationships are wrapped up in the doctrine of what theologian Catherine Mowry LaCugna called, "The Practical Trinity," [The Christian Century, (June 15-22, 1992): 268-272.] We know this Triune God in our very concrete, practical lives, in our everyday experience of being part of creation that was loved into being and continues to be sustained in that love.

May 22, 2016

As those to be baptized are splashed by or are plunged into water three times, we hear named the God who is Holy Trinity, the Three-in-One. But this naming is not about math. Nor is it about a desiccated doctrine that does not matter in everyday life. Trinity is about the reality of right relationships, not just among the "Persons" of Father, Son, and Spirit, but of God's relationship with us and our relationship with God, each other, and all of God's creation. These relationships are wrapped up in the doctrine of what theologian Catherine Mowry LaCugna called, "The Practical Trinity," [The Christian Century, (June 15-22, 1992): 268-272.] We know this Triune God in our very concrete, practical lives, in our everyday experience of being part of creation that was loved into being and continues to be sustained in that love.

May 15, 2016
The readings from Acts, Paul and John for Pentecost speak to us both about the life of the early church and how the witness of our Christian sisters and brothers in the first century ought to serve as a model for the contemporary church. It is in fact an ecclesiological model that Pope Francis is trying to instill in the global Catholic community today. Overall, these readings remind us of how central a force the Holy Spirit was for the church in the early period of its existence.
May 8, 2016
Today in the United States is "Mother's Day" and in the Church's liturgical calendar it is the Sunday on which most dioceses celebrate the feast of the Ascension. While the grateful remembrance of our mother's nourishing love needs little explanation, the meaning of the feast of Ascension may pose a bigger challenge.
May 1, 2016
For the last ten years or so, Smith magazine, an online magazine dedicated to story-telling, has published a series of books referred to as Six Word Memoirs. Inspired by Ernest Hemingway's six word short story "For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn", the editors asked various people to sum up their lives in exactly six words. The first book in the series was entitled, "Not Quite What I Was Planning," with others having similar titles. This attempt to condense one's life into six words has become a popular writing project in many a college English course.
April 24, 2016
A Change is Coming! I am reminded in today's readings of the words of two of my favorite singer-songwriters, Curtis Mayfield and Sam Cooke. Mayfield's classic song, People Get Ready (written during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s) encouraged listeners that they need to 'get ready' for something momentous was about to happen, while Cooke's reminds people to be attentive to the signs of the times with his words, A Change is Gonna Come. Change may be welcomed while at other times change will be resisted. We are not always ready for change. These songs are apropos today as we journey through the readings for this upcoming Sunday in Eastertime. Over the past weeks, we have again heard and remembered the stories of the early apostles as they were witnesses to the many changes and challenges that formed a new community of believers. Today's readings shed a light on the changes that were still to come for the apostles as "Paul and Barnabas proclaim the Good News," as John sees a new heaven and a new earth and as Jesus shares with his disciples the message that it is love must shape all that they do and the persons that they are becoming.