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May 20, 2015
A Spirit Rally for the Church. So many customs and feasts of our Christian Catholic tradition are rooted in the customs and feasts of the Jews. Pentecost is one such event. In Judaism, Shavuot is the Hebrew word for "weeks" and refers to the Jewish festival marking the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai; this feast occurs seven weeks after Passover. Providentially, on the very day that Jews from around the world gathered in Jerusalem to reaffirm their commitment to the covenant with Moses, the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples of Jesus to offer the promise of the new covenant to all who will believe (Acts 2:1-42). This new covenant is a matter of the heart, touched by God's Spirit, leading to a life fruitful in the praise of God.
May 13, 2015
When I was a kid, my family often watched the television show Mission Impossible on Saturday evenings. A movie version of this show was made in 1996, starring Tom Cruise and Jon Voight. I always liked the way in which the television show began. Viewers saw Peter Graves, as Mr. Phelps, on his way to some secluded location where he would discover a hidden tape recorder. The extremely serious voice on this recorder spelled out the mission that Mr. Phelps and his intrepid MI team were being asked to assume. It would say, "Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is ..." Viewers heard just enough of the message to get a sense of the mission, which usually involved thwarting some dastardly plot that would ruin civilization or blow up the world. At the end of the recording, the somber voice would tell us that the tape recorder was going to self-destruct in five seconds. And, sure enough, we would hear a "puff" and see smoke billowing out from the recorder. (I always liked that part!) Then we would see a series of snapshots of the Mission Impossible team springing into action as they prepared for their cosmos-saving endeavor.
April 29, 2015

Readings: Acts 9:26-31, Ps 22:26-27, 28, 30, 31-32; 1 John 3:18-24, John 15:1-8

Our Easter Season readings remind us that the effects of the Resurrection are on-going and unimaginable. The persecutor of the Church becomes the Apostle to the Gentiles. The community that arose around the beloved disciple continues to read Jesus' command and re-interpret it in their day. And the vine and branches stands as the metaphor of life in Christ, a life in which we are to bear abundant fruit.

April 22, 2015

Readings: Acts 4:8-12, 50; Ps 118; 1 John 3:1-2; John 10:11-18

If we were playing the familiar TV quiz show, Family Feud, and the question was: "What is the most well known verse of the Bible?" the number one answer would be Psalm 23: "the Lord is my shepherd." It is well known for the tenderness and the consolation that it offers. This fourth Sunday of Easter is sometimes known as "Good Shepherd Sunday" because of the text we hear from John's Gospel where Jesus proclaims: "I AM the good shepherd."

April 8, 2015
The first time I laid eyes on Caravaggio's painting of "The Incredulity of Saint Thomas" it literally sent chills down my spine.* The painting depicts Jesus holding Thomas' hand and guiding his index finger into the wound of his side while Thomas' face shows surprise and disbelief. Thomas' poking into the freshly healed wound of Christ is both shocking and disturbing. While the painting is a masterpiece of art, it does not capture the actual story of the Gospel. In the Gospel story, John the Evangelist does not say whether Thomas actually touched Jesus' hands and side. More importantly, while all the other disciples remain silent, Thomas professes extraordinary faith by saying, "My Lord and God!" For me to narrowly interpret today's Gospel story as the story of "Doubting Thomas" is to miss the big picture and the significance of today's celebration. The center figure of today's Gospel is really the risen Jesus, not Thomas!
April 4, 2015
I am always mesmerized by the Service of Light which begins the Easter Vigil. We gather outside the assembly area to light a fire in the dark of night, often in chilly springtime weather. From that new fire we light a candle and mark it with the five wounds of Christ. We then follow that Christ Candle into the darkened assembly, stopping three times to chant: "The Light of Christ. Thanks be to God." Each time we light tapers from that Candle, passing the light from taper to taper, we bit by bit dispel the darkness in the assembly. Gradually the flickering tapers shed their rays on the faces around us, until the entire assembly is revealed in the light. With Christ, we have become the light of the world.
April 3, 2015
Have you ever wondered why the Holy Thursday liturgy has no dismissal and the Good Friday liturgy has no opening or dismissal rites? This tells us that these three days of the Triduum are one extended celebration. In the early church, we celebrated the events of the Paschal Mystery in one continuous liturgy, without interruption. We now spread our remembrance of these events out over three days, to give us more time to ponder them.
April 2, 2015
Have you ever wondered why there are two accounts in today's celebration of the Mass of the Lord's Supper? The second reading from 1 Corinthians recounts the prayers that Jesus said over the bread before and over the wine after that last meal he ate with his disciples. The Gospel reading from John, seemingly giving it the place of honor, tells the story of Jesus washing their feet. What do these two accounts ask us to ponder today?