February 2, 2015Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), Feb. 8, 2015
Our evaluation of work is equivocal. A person without work is in a precarious situation, financially and emotionally, and being jobless can erode a sense of worth. But those lucky enough to have jobs seem always to be plotting when to retire. Although work is sometimes a burden, it is also necessary. The tension between the need to work and the desire to leave it behind is inherent in the human condition.
January 19-26, 2015Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), Feb. 1, 2015
We are all formally students for some time in our lives, and it is best to remain informal students throughout our lives, for there is no point at which there is not something we can learn. At the same time, most of us function as teachers at many points in our lives, some of us professionally but most of us casually, guiding and directing people in ways that might even escape us.
January 19-26, 2015Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), Jan. 25, 2015
When is the best time to repent? Now. Now is the time. Now is always the time. Who knows whether there will be time if you wait? This seems to be the approach of the Ninevites, who appear in the prophetic book of Jonah as the most eager of penitents. Scholars do not see Jonah as a historical account of a mission to Nineveh, but a didactic tale, even a satire, in which irony abounds.
January 5-12, 2015Baptism of the Lord (B), Jan. 11, 2015
In a number of Servant Songs in Isaiah, a mysterious individual appears who sometimes represents the nation of Israel, though later Christians understood him to represent Jesus. In Isaiah 42, this person is designated “my servant” (ebed in Hebrew), while in the Septuagint “my child” (Greek pais) is identified with the nation of Israel. But whether we see the servant, God’s child, as the nation of Israel or as a prefiguring of Jesus Christ, God’s...
January 5-12, 2015Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), Jan. 18, 2015
How do relationships begin? There is naturally not just one way, one place or one word needed to start a relationship. But is there a common process by which friendship is built from nothing to the point that neither party can imagine life without the other? Some friendships begin in childhood, their origins hazy with time, while others start late in life; but some factors, it seems, are essential to every friendship.
December 22-29, 2014Epiphany (B), Jan. 4, 2015
A summer ago my family set off on a cross-country car trip from Minnesota to Vancouver, B.C., in part to pick up a wooden bench that my great-grandfather had made when my family immigrated to Canada. It was the first thing he built when he arrived. As an old man, he was too old to work in the fields, so he took care of his grandchildren as they played outside and he needed a bench to sit on.
December 22-29, 2014Holy Family (B), Dec. 28, 2014
The truth of the supposedly clichéd phrase “every child is a miracle” hits home for most people when a child is born to them or an adopted child is welcomed into the family. The instantaneous recognition of the child never before seen is a spiritual experience made tactile as a mother takes the newborn in her arms and a father gazes at an infant who evokes on sight the deepest of loves.
December 8-15, 2014Fourth Sunday in Advent (B), Dec. 21, 2014
The fulfillment of hope, especially divine hope, fundamental hope, does not rest on intricately calculated human plans, in which we chart the future according to algorithms that never vary and on the basis of mathematical certainty await the fulfillment of our calculations. Perhaps this works for 401k plans, but Messianic hope is far more significant than investment strategies.
December 8-15, 2014Third Sunday in Advent (B), Dec. 14, 2014
Christians read the Old Testament today, understandably, in light of Christ’s fulfillment of the promises and prophecies found there. It is a simple thing to do, since the early church read the Old Testament in the context of Jesus’ incarnation and teaching and the experience of Easter and then formalized these readings and understandings in the texts of the New Testament.
December 1, 2014Second Sunday in Advent (B), Dec. 7, 2014
What comfort is there in waiting? Comfort is usually not found standing in line at the D.M.V. or waiting for an appointment at the doctor’s office as the minutes tick away. Then you simply hope, as frustration builds, that you can get out as quickly as possible and get on with your life.