February 15, 2016Second Sunday of Lent (C), Feb. 21, 2016
Everyone’s life seems more glamorous on social media, basically a curated series of magical moments and constant achievements, but much more of our time is spent attending to the things of daily life, like making coffee, changing diapers, cleaning out the garage, commuting to work, writing out the minutes for a church committee, shoveling snow, taking the car in for repairs or tidying the house. Not much of it seems glorious....
February 8, 2016First Sunday of Lent (C), Feb. 14, 2016
The Second Vatican Council’s “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy” outlines the two essential features of Lent. Christians are to recall or to prepare for “the celebration of Christian Initiation,” and they are to participate in penance which “disposes the faithful…to celebrate the Paschal Mystery” (No. 109). In stressing the need for penance, by various spiritual disciplines and ascetic acts, the council fathers understood that the goal of all these acts was...
February 1, 2016Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), Feb. 7, 2016
The prophet Isaiah’s call narrative is also a theophany, in which Isaiah perceives God on the heavenly throne. God’s majesty and transcendence overwhelm the prophet, and Isaiah’s descriptions of God by means of physical images— a vision of a high throne and the hem of a garment that fills the Temple—evoke God’s universal kingship and splendor.
In this divine vision, the seraphim minister to God, praising God’s holiness and...
January 18-25, 2016Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), Jan. 31, 2016
I do not recall hearing the question and I do not recall offering my answer, but my parents and grandparents remember the question and they certainly remember my response. The story goes like this: The pastor boomed a question from the pulpit, “Does anyone here know what love is?” The congregation was pondering in silence, until I answered back, a 2-year-old toddler, “Oh, how should I know?”
If someone asked for a definition...
January 18-25, 2016Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), Jan. 24, 2016
The broad context for Ezra’s reading of the Law of Moses to the people “before the Water Gate” is the return from the exile in Babylon and the reconstruction of the religious life of the people of Israel. This reconstruction included rebuilding the Temple but also rebuilding the knowledge of God’s law. The people are hearing the commandments of God, newly codified, for the first time.
The scene at the Water Gate is a public...
January 4-11, 2016Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), Jan. 17, 2016
No one, except for the rare perverse person, marries anticipating the relationship will be filled with torment, hoping that the marriage will crumble in ruin. Marriages begin with profound love for one’s spouse, the hope of harmony and faith in each other. Marriage is the source of great and profound love, as well as deep loss and numbing pain in some instances.
This is one of the reasons a variety of biblical texts describe...
January 4-11, 2016Baptism of Jesus (C), Jan. 10, 2016
The title “servant of God” (Hebrew, ebed ) in Isaiah, which appears in a number of “Servant Songs,” is a complex one. When ebed was translated from Hebrew to Greek in the Septuagint, it was translated in roughly equal numbers as pais (“child”) and as doulos (“slave” or “servant”). In the case of Is 42:1, where the Hebrew reads “Here is my servant” ( ebed) , the Septuagint has “Jacob is my child” ( pais ) and adds “Israel is my elect one.” The servant who “...
December 21-28, 2015Mary, Mother of God (C), Jan. 1, 2016
The title Mother of God (Greek theotokos ), is limited by definition. No one gave birth to God, but the title is true, as it defines Mary as the one who gave birth to the incarnate Son of God. It is a remarkable role Mary was called on to play, unbelievable in some ways, with which Mary had to come to terms before she gave birth to Jesus and even after giving birth to him. How could a young woman—we might even call her a girl—be called upon to give birth to...
December 21-28, 2015Holy Family (C), Dec. 27, 2015
My sister-in-law posted a video on Facebook recently in which the oldest member of our family, my mother, soon to be 90 years old, is walking down the hall of her residence with a walker. In front of her, pushing a bright, primary-colored walker, is her great-grandson, soon to be 1 year old, babbling and cooing as he looks back at his great-grandmother. The picture envelops the generations of family and captures the beginning and the end of the stages of...
December 7-14, 2015Third Sunday of Advent (C), Dec. 13, 2015
Throughout the biblical tradition, in both the Old and New Testament, there are prophetic denunciations of sin, personal and corporate, that call people back to the ways of God. What often gets lost is that these exhortations are not intended primarily as threats to condemn but as wakeup calls for people lost in the false promises of the world. The prophetic call to repent is a gift of forgiveness, an invitation to freedom, a promise of love. It offers the...