September 16, 2015
As Catholics gather to celebrate Mass on this Sunday, September 20, Pope Francis will be completing his visit to Cuba and about to embark on his first visit to the United States. It is going to be an exceptional week for all of us, I think. And in a certain way, the Scripture readings for this Sunday awaken us to some of things that we are likely to hear from this extraordinary servant of God and herald of the Gospel.
September 10, 2015
Jesus' native land was occupied by the Romans for more than sixty years when Jesus began his itinerant preaching and healing ministry. His people were convinced that God was about to bring an end to the brutal Roman occupation. They had dreams of freedom and self-determination and they were looking for some indication pointing to the dawning of a new age. Some even expected that the Judahite national state and its Davidic dynasty were to be restored. Jesus' proclamation of the imminent coming of God's Reign surely heightened the sense of expectancy among some people. It is not surprising then that Peter asserted that Jesus was the Christ, i.e., the Messiah who would usher in that new age, leading to a new birth of freedom for the people of Judah. Jesus, however, distanced himself from such expectations. He warned his disciples not to broadcast Peter's assertion.
September 2, 2015
EPHPHATHA! Even to say this Aramaic word is to feel a deep, energy-filled breath pass one's lips. Mark's gospel adds the detail that Jesus "groaned" as he prepared to say this word, revealing his total concentration and engagement as he sought to heal the deaf man. It is unusual for the gospels to record a word in Aramaic, which suggests that the teller actually heard Jesus speaking this word and felt its power in a way that impressed him or her deeply.
August 26, 2015
"God is Good all the Time and All the Time, God is Good." This common acclamation from the African American religious tradition attests to the belief that all that God created is good and that if we just look closely we can see and experience God's good grace. In today's readings we have three communities who are living out their faith and responding to God's goodness in distinctive ways to the paradigm of "what you focus on is what you give power to."
August 19, 2015
What choice did I have? How many of us have proffered that response when challenged about a decision we made? For the most part, we try our best to discern the right option, the best choice, sometimes the lesser of two evils. Today's readings are about choices, major choices. Which God will the Israelites serve? How is the early Christian community to manage its growing numbers in light of the delayed Parousia? And, perhaps most important of all: will the disciples follow Jesus or is the gospel message too hard to swallow?
August 12, 2015
Readings: First Reading: Proverbs 9:1-6 Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
Second Reading: Ephesians 5:15-20 Gospel: John 6:51-58
Food For Life - "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life" (John 6:54)
August 5, 2015
WHO'S IN CONTROL?. "I'm in control here!" These are the famous or infamous words that Secretary of State Alexander Haig blurted out on the day of the assassination attempt on President Ronald Regan, March 30, 1981. He was wrong, of course. According to the US Constitution, if the Vice-President would be unavailable in such a crisis - and that was the case here with Vice-President Bush in a plane over Texas and not in secure voice contact - the succession passed to the Speaker of the House and then the President pro-tem of the Senate, not to the Secretary of State. That mistake exposed Haig to a great amount of ridicule, and ended any ideas that he was fit for the presidency.
July 29, 2015
Doing the Work of God. Many Catholics will automatically associate today's readings about the manna in the wilderness from Exodus, the psalm response that the "Lord gave them bread from heaven," and Jesus' self-identification as the bread of life in the Gospel of John with the Blessed Sacrament. This association would be traditional and appropriate - but in a way its also distracts us from the more profound message of the scriptures. What did these readings mean to those who first heard them who would not hear this association? On a deeper level these reading have to do with faith and belief - they describe a response to the amazing generosity of God, first on the part of the Israelites and then the people who follow Jesus. In order to grasp the full depth of what is said in today's Gospel we need to examine what the word "belief" meant in Jesus' response to the question "what is the work of God?" His answer was "that you believe in the one God sent."
July 22, 2015
In today's gospel, a crowd had gathered to see Jesus after he had withdrawn to the mountain for some solitude. Concerned that the people were hungry, Jesus asks his disciples where they could buy provisions to feed them and the puzzled Philip exclaims that "two hundred day's wages" won't be enough for a crowd numbering five thousand. When Andrew mentions that one boy brought five loaves and two fish, Jesus takes them, gives thanks, and then distributes the food so that everyone has more than enough.
July 15, 2015
"His heart was moved with compassion for them" (Mark 6:34). In contemporary ecumenical dialogues, today's second reading is used most frequently to set forth the ideal of the visible oneness for which we long. How do peoples who are separated become united? Today's readings emphasize the role of compassionate leaders in the work of reconciliation. In the New Testament texts the focus is on the person of Christ as the one who accomplishes oneness.