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October 15, 2014

In one of his famous interviews with a journalist, Pope Francis noted that "God is not a Catholic" - a comment that startled many! The Pope, of course, is an exemplary Catholic and has nothing but love for his Catholic faith. The truth he was expressing is that all people belong to God, no matter what their religious, or for that matter, non-religious persuasion may be. This was also the strong conviction of Paul the Apostle - he was convinced that God was not a Jew either. The God of Israel was also the God of the Nations.

October 8, 2014

There is a real and important code of hospitality in the Middle East: people are generous in their invitations, and invited guests are expected to accept.

October 2, 2014

Each of us experiences disappointment in some of our relationships with others. Sometimes we even come to know the pain of rejection. That experience can leave an indelible mark on our hearts and minds. Such moments can run the gamut from the ordinary to the traumatic: not getting chosen for the team when we were young; the gossip of friends who talk behind our back; the refusal of people with whom we live or work to take our needs and insights seriously; alienation in a marriage or other family relationship.

September 24, 2014

Walking the Walk

We've all heard the line that it's not enough to "talk the talk." To be authentic human beings, and authentic Christians, we also - and more importantly - need to "walk the walk." It's not hard to see that this is the principle message of today's readings: "walk the walk," or as Eliza Doolittle sang famously in My Fair Lady, "don't talk of love - show me!"

September 17, 2014

Are you envious because I am generous?

I grew up in southwestern Minnesota - in a small town surrounded by vast fields of the world's richest loam soil - agricultural areas that stretched from horizon to horizon and that provided food for the world. We always planted a huge garden yielding every kind of vegetable and fruit imaginable. My most treasured "gardening memory" is this:

September 10, 2014

The cross is a symbol that Christians often take for granted. This is probably because it is omnipresent in Christian art and architecture. It appears crowning steeples, inscribed on foundation stones, grave markers, and carried in liturgical processions. But the cross as a symbol was not always so popular. In fact, the symbol of the cross was used sparingly if at all during the first four centuries of the Church's existence.

September 3, 2014

Our lectionary places three slices of Scripture before us every Sunday. The first reading has been selected because it has some relationship to the Gospel. Either it is the scriptural foundation, which Jesus references, or it may contain the stories, which are alluded to in the Gospel passage. But the second reading is often a selection from an epistle, which is read continuously. Last Sunday, the second reading was from Paul's Letter to the Romans Chapter 12. This Sunday we hear from the next chapter, Romans 13.

August 27, 2014
LEAVING THE SHORE BEHIND. Toward the beginning of his amazing Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis quotes a few lines from the last Latin American Bishops' Conference in Aparecida, Brazil, lines that the bishops call "a profound law of reality." "Life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort. Indeed, those who enjoy life most are those who leave security on the shore and become excited by the mission of communicating life to others" (Paragraph 10).
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.