October 27, 2014All Souls (A), Nov. 2, 2014
What happens when we die? This is a question most people ask at some point, perhaps especially Christians, who look forward to the resurrection at the end of time. But in the interim, prior to the general resurrection, what happens to those who have died? Where do they go? This is a confusing issue for more people than is often acknowledged. As a boy, I pondered the resurrection and assumed that when I died I would be “resurrected” straightaway into heaven to...
October 20, 2014Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), Oct. 26, 2014
In the covenant code in Exodus, in which Moses reveals God’s prohibitions and commandments to the Israelites, we quickly learn that God is a God who hears the voices of the powerless, who sees the needs of the poor.
October 13, 2014Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), Oct. 19, 2014
One of Jesus’ most famous sayings challenges us to consider a simple question: what do I owe to whom? The saying is mellifluous in the King James translation, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” It is teasingly straightforward, so straightforward that the saying cannot be made simpler, and yet its meaning is not obvious. What are the things due Caesar and what does not belong to God?
October 6, 2014Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), Oct. 12, 2014
There is no more compelling image for the city of God than that of the banquet, drawing as it does on the common experiences of good food and drink. I remember the cities I have visited by the food I ate in them, so this picture of the feast resonates at a deep, human level. Feasts recall times of joy in our lives, of families gathered together eating in celebration.
September 29. 2014Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), Oct. 5, 2014
In biblical poetry a vineyard often represents the beloved. The prophet Isaiah begins to “sing for my beloved my love-song concerning his vineyard,” a song in which God’s affectionate care of Israel is recounted. The love song quickly becomes a lover’s lament, though, as Isaiah tells how the vineyard was prepared with tenderness, but since it produced “wild grapes,” it will now be abandoned. God speaks: “I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I...
September 22, 2014Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), Sept. 28, 2014
And more, much more than this, I did it my way,” sang Frank Sinatra. There is something life-affirming about doing it “my way,” charting one’s own path, following one’s conscience and talents and not compromising one’s values along the way. But when it comes to the ways of God, it is best to do it God’s way, as Jesus did in following the path to the cross.
September 15, 2014Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), Sept. 21, 2014
What are the ways of God? There are twin dangers for us when we consider this question. On the one hand, some people consider God’s ways so inscrutable that they no longer trust we can know how God acts or what God demands of us. This draws some people to the point of disbelief. If God’s ways challenge or confound human expectations, can God be trusted?
Sept. 1-8, 2014Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), Sept. 7, 2014
What does it mean to love your neighbor? Paul says that “love does no evil to the neighbor” and that “love is the fulfillment of the law.” How do these two statements coalesce to produce a practical Christian ethic of behavior? One is stated negatively—love does no evil—while the other is stated positively—love fulfills the law. But how do we know when we are enacting these demands?
Sept. 1-8, 2014Exaltation of the Holy Cross (A), Sept. 14, 2014
We are called to travel many paths, some that challenge us, others that inspire us. To trust in God is to trust that whatever path we are now on is the one that will ultimately bring us to the Promised Land.
This is easy to say, especially when one’s path is not meandering through war zones or famine, caught up in the horrors of this world, and it is important not to dismiss the journey itself as insignificant. It is the locus...
August 18-25, 2014Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), Aug. 31, 2014
Much modern talk about God tends to reduce the creator to a living doll, who wants to give us a divine cuddle. There is no doubt that the essence of God’s being is love, but the experience of that love and of God’s being is not always an experience of comfort and ease. God can disturb the relaxed meditations of the satisfied and push believers to the breaking point. The awful power of God can overwhelm.