March 17, 2014Third Sunday of Lent (A), March 23, 2014
When my oldest son was a little boy, he was shopping with my mother and father and saw something on a display shelf that he wanted. He said so. “I want that, I want that.” My mother explained that you cannot have everything you want, but that we buy what we need. He thought about that for a while and then said, “I need that, I need that.” God knows we need things—material things, friends, spiritual insight and love—and God knows that our true needs do not...
March 10, 2014Second Sunday of Lent (A), March 16, 2014
Sometimes we can be held back from the spiritual renewal offered through Lent by a primal emotion that keeps faith from flourishing: fear. Fear is a crucial response in human life to protect us from physical, emotional and even spiritual threats, but misplaced spiritual fear can keep us from living out the Gospel call to faith. Debilitating spiritual fear can emerge from two seemingly disparate sources.
March 3, 2014First Sunday of Lent (A), March 9, 2014
In the temptation scene in Matthew, the dark heart of the reality of sin is exposed when Satan offers Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor,” with only one simple condition: “if you will fall down and worship me.” Every act of sin we commit participates in this tacit agreement to worship something or someone other than God, which is why the “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy” of the Second Vatican Council describes sin as “an offense...
February 24, 2014Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), March 2, 2014
My parents spoke German at home when they did not want the children to know what was being discussed, which was often the children themselves. It is a method parents use, with varying success, depending upon how well they have passed on the mother tongue. I was not very old when I heard my parents describe me as nervös and ängstlich.
February 17, 2014Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), Feb. 23, 2014
In the movies, a persecuted protagonist can exact revenge on the evil antagonist and the theater audience cheers! Movie heroes and heroines have limitless scope to exact vengeance on the villains because “they have it coming.” Moral considerations melt away in the shared reverie of personal payback. We in the cinema seats can relate because we share the desire to take vengeance on those who have hurt us or a loved one. When we are harmed, intuitive, pre-...
February 10, 2014Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), Feb. 16, 2014
Christians in general and Catholics in particular sometimes have an uneasy relationship with the notion of law. This uneasiness can be traced back to Jesus’ own confrontations with Jewish authorities regarding his interpretation of the law of Moses, and later to the Apostle Paul’s antithesis between the law and faith, as seen in Gal 2:16: “yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ.”
February 3, 2014Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), Feb. 9, 2014
In the midst of a recent arctic freeze in Minnesota, I sent out a tweet: “Best part of a #polarvortex is ability to be in a warm house and to cozy up and enjoy time with the family. Pray for those who are not warm.” Someone, known on Twitter as @RiskyLiberal, read my tweet and found it lacking: “Don’t pray for them—HELP them! Take some blankets, winter coats, MONEY to your local shelter TODAY.”
January 20-27, 2014Presentation of the Lord (A), Feb. 2, 2014
The Presentation of the Lord places us in the midst of the Law of Moses that governed the sacrifices due for the purification of a mother following the birth of a male child (Lv 12:1–8) and the regulations concerning the consecration of a firstborn male child (Ex 13:1–2, 13, 15). There are in fact no Old Testament rules that insist upon the presentation of the child in the Temple. Rather, the presentation of Jesus in the Temple marks the public recognition...
January 20-27, 2014Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), Jan. 26, 2014
The Gospel of Matthew sets the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in a particular historical context: Jesus began his mission only after the arrest of John the Baptist. It was time. But in moving from his home in Nazareth to Capernaum, in the ancient territory of Naphtali, Matthew also sets Jesus’ ministry in the geographic and prophetic context of the prophet Isaiah.
January 6-13, 2014Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), Jan. 19, 2014
John the Baptist has not just one of the greatest roles in salvation history, but one of the great lines in the Bible. The day after John baptized Jesus, “he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, ‘Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” The sacrificial image draws on rich symbols from the Old Testament, but since the phrase “lamb of God” appears only in the Gospel of John, does it reflect John’s creation of this descriptive...