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August 20, 2014
Who do you say that I am? (Matt 16:15) The question Jesus poses in today's Gospel is not a pop quiz for the disciples. Since it comes halfway through Matthew's Gospel, at a critical turning point, we might be tempted to think Jesus is giving a kind of midterm exam to see how well the disciples are understanding him and to test whether they have what it takes to go the rest of the journey with him. But, the scene may also reflect Jesus' own development in understanding his identity and mission. Taking Jesus' humanity seriously, and recalling Luke's assertion that "Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor" (Luke 2:52), we might say that in today's Gospel and next Sunday's, we see a glimpse of Jesus' deepening understanding of what it meant to be "the Christ, the Son of the living God" (v.16).
August 13, 2014

A young couple to whom I am close has twin girls who are now eight years old. One of the twins was born with a rare genetic condition. It is a complex syndrome with multiple manifestations. In the case of this little girl, it was manifested in serious spinal issues that included two floating vertebrae. Her parents were tenacious in finding out all they could about this condition and in tracking down a surgeon in Iowa who is proficient in performing the delicate surgery that their daughter needed. Her mother was especially dogged in her determination to get the best help possible.

August 6, 2014

This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most important and influential documents of the Second Vatican Council. Entitled Dei Verbum, "The Word of God," it dealt with the Catholic understanding of divine revelation found in our Scriptures and in the tradition of the Church. A fundamental assertion of this document was that God's "revelation" did not consist first and foremost in a series of doctrinal propositions but was essentially a relationship between God and human beings.

July 30, 2014
Who/What can separate us from the love of God? I write these reflections with a heavy heart. More than usual the world seems in disarray, pulled loose from any kind of ethical mooring. The crisis in Gaza continues and claims the lives of more and more innocents caught in the violence of an intractable conflict. The humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied children seeking asylum at our border with Mexico continues with some voices crying "not our children, not our problem" and closing their eyes to the needs of these vulnerable boys and girls.
July 23, 2014

Once upon a time there was a little girl who was at the department store with her mother. While her mother was having a battery changed in her watch, the girl was gazing at all of the beautiful pieces of jewelry when her eyes caught upon a string of pearls which seemed to capture her. When she asked her mother if she could buy them, the mother replied that no, she would have to earn the money to buy them. And so she did - the girl's heart was set on those pearls - and she was attentive to every opportunity to earn the money to buy them.

July 16, 2014

Recently Pope Francis visited the Calabrian region of Italy located at the southern tip of the Italian boot. It is an exceedingly poor and depressed area, with 59% unemployment and, worse, it is in the death grip of the Mafia which controls all aspects of the region's life. When the Pope arrived there he did what we have come to expect of this gracious and loving man: he visited a hospital, a prison, and a home for developmentally disabled persons.

July 9, 2014

God as the Extravagant Sower. Jesus purposefully describes God in his parables in ways that go counter to our usual expectations. Among many quirky characteristics, in today's Gospel Jesus implies that God is extravagant - even wasteful. In order to appreciate this, we need to "tune in" to the world that was of great concern to his listeners - the world of crops and harvests that would naturally be a concern for the poor farmers listening to his teaching. Jesus begins his story describing a sower who would be considered rather inept by most standards. Seeds are precious ... and this sower goes out to sow seemingly without caring where the seeds will fall. Some fall on the path, others on rocky ground, and still others among the thorns. For all intents and purposes these seeds are lost. The sower has been wasteful. Only some of the seeds land where they where they actually take root and flourish. Jesus' listeners would naturally wonder, what is wrong with this sower?

June 25, 2014

"The Church's [real] foundation is Jesus Christ the Lord"

Within the recent past, the church has been tossed to and fro in storms of controversy. Not one storm - many storms. And not in one country - in many countries. It has been the target of fierce persecution, and it has also allowed evil to contaminate it from within. Whether in circumstances of harassment or scandal, the lives of many have been diminished, their confidence undermined, and their faith tested.

June 18, 2014
CONSUMED BY CHRIST'S LIFE. "[W]e, though many, are one body" (1 Cor 10:17). Scientists tell us that we are literally connected to one another and to all that is part of one vast web of life in our universe. It is not a metaphor or a symbol; it is literally true that the material of all of our bodies is intrinsically related because they emerged from and are caught up in a single energetic event that is the unfolding of the universe. Our common ancestry stretches back through the life forms and into the stars, back to the primeval explosion of light that began our universe. Atoms that may have been part of Jesus' body are now part of our bodies.
June 11, 2014

The Scripture readings for Trinity Sunday are as beautiful and rich as the mystery this feast celebrates. The Biblical peoples stood before God with awe and reverence, so much so that no one was even to say God's holy name; various euphemisms were used instead. Yet, at the same time, the Bible also portrays God as infinitely tender and close to his people.