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October 9, 2013

The Broad Embrace of God. What is called leprosy in the Bible may have been any skin ailment, from the dreaded disease itself to psoriasis or eczema. Such conditions were not only feared because of the possibility of contagion, but also abhorred because of the nature of their oozing sores. Besides the hygienic reason for the quarantine imposed on all those who were so afflicted, there was a religious stigma attached. Running sores kept people from participating in religious celebrations. They were thereby deemed unclean, unfit to be counted among a people who considered themselves "a kingdom of priests, a holy nation" (Exod 19:6).

October 4, 2013

"Write down the vision clearly" (Hab 2:2). The lament of the prophet Habakkuk, as he decries the violence, strife, and clamorous discord in his day, seems to have a timelessness to it. During the recent hot summer, several US cities saw a spike in gun violence and senseless deaths. Public discourse has grown more rancorous as marchers proclaim competing visions for what would make for a peaceable world.

September 30, 2013

In the movie of John Grisham's novel "A Time to Kill," two lawyers engage in a battle of legal tricks and attempted power plays in a Southern U.S. courtroom.  The younger lawyer, who is defending a black man who killed his daughter's white rapists, knows he is losing the case. At the eleventh hour it dawns on him that it is not strength, but weakness, that will turn the tide.  He stands up in front of the jury, admits his ineptness, and then simply recounts the horrifying story of the child's rape.

September 18, 2013
The process of evaluation is one that strikes fear into the best of us!  Unfortunately, evaluations tend to focus on failings, not measuring up, weakness.  Sometimes, those messages are important; but never without positive feedback as well.   The readings we are given to hear on this Sunday in Ordinary Time challenge us to reflect on God's priorities and our own, as well as God's evaluative judgments and our own.


September 12, 2013

"To What Lengths". On September 2, 2013 at the age of 64, Diana Nyad completed a roughly 110 - mile swim from Cuba to Florida. Fighting off jellyfish and chilly waters, not to mention the danger of getting attacked by fierce sharks, Diana swam for more than 48 hours to reach her goal, which she had previously attempted four times and failed. She is now the first person to officially complete the swim without the help of a shark cage. For me, this is a tremendous physical feat and a display of relentless will power. She definitely went to great lengths to achieve her dream. Interestingly, the Scriptural readings for this Sunday speak similarly about the determination of God, who goes to great lengths to show mercy and to find even one lost individual.

September 6, 2013

This Sunday and its Scripture readings come as a lot of us are get things underway again as fall arrives.  Labor Day has passed.  The school year has begun.  And the days of summer have flown by too quickly - as they always seem to do. 

August 28, 2013

Every culture has its proverbs-pithy sayings that give wisdom about how to live well. The readings from both Sirach and the gospel pass on proverbial wisdom about the virtue of humility. This is earthy wisdom. The word humility comes from the Latin word humilis, which means literally "on the ground," deriving from humus, "earth." So when we are advised to humble ourselves, it is an invitation to be "grounded," to be attentive to our connectedness with Earth. This entails consciousness of our interconnectedness with all persons and all Earth's creatures and with God. As Ben Sira, who penned the book of Sirach, avers, in humbling oneself one finds favor with God. In other words, through humility we gain proper consciousness of our place in relation to God.

August 21, 2013
All are God's people. As surprising as it may seem, there is a divine characteristic that many religious people find very troublesome. It is God's universal concern for all the people of the world. It seems that some people resent the thought that God would be gracious toward people who hold different religious and political views. They prefer to see such people punished for their errors rather than accepted by God and even saved.
August 14, 2013
Where's the good news? The word "Gospel" means "good news" but after listening to the Gospel reading for this Sunday we could legitimately ask, "Where's the good news here?" Jesus, who we most often associate with peace and forgiveness, presents himself rather as a source of division. "I have come to set the earth on fire " and "Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No I tell you, but rather division." Is this really Jesus, the "prince of peace?"
August 7, 2013
The phrase 'Seeing is believing' is well known to us all. It suggests skepticism; it implies that we will not accept the truth of something unless we can somehow see it ourselves. While the phrase may validly express a concern for verification, it contradicts basic religious faith. To paraphrase the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews: 'Not-seeing is believing.' This phrase may, at first, be difficult to grasp? But then so is real faith.