December 9-16, 2013Fourth Sunday of Advent (A), Dec. 22, 2013
The baby Jesus still grabs our attention, and the sweet obsession of the gypsy Yerko in Robertson Davies’s The Rebel Angels for the “Bebby Jesus” reveals that deep attraction. After a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where Yerko sees a medieval crèche scene, he returns to Toronto and works on his own nativity scene “with his great skill as a woodworker and craftsman to make it the most splendid thing of its kind his imagination...
December 9-16, 2013Third Sunday of Advent (A), Dec. 15, 2013
Remember when you were a child, how little understanding you had of how things happened, if they would happen or when they would happen? When you were waiting for something you wanted, like Christmas for example, excited anticipation fused with a vague sense of time to make waiting a consuming reality: When will it be? How long is that? Is that soon? As a child, you get used to waiting. I recall thinking that when I was an adult, I would have the knowledge...
December 2, 2013Second Sunday of Advent (A), Dec. 8, 2013
The Greek word that refers to Jesus’ arrival, most often translated as “second coming,” is parousia. The term was adopted by Christians from the common Greek usage and imperial Roman ideology of the day, in which a city prepared for and eagerly anticipated the arrival of a major political personage. This ancient data became known among students of the Bible through the groundbreaking study of ancient Hellenistic papyri by Adolf Deissmann, Light...
November 25, 2013First Sunday of Advent (A), Dec. 1, 2013
There is a bittersweet gentleness to Otis Redding’s classic song “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” as the singer looks homeward to Georgia while “wastin’ time” on the San Francisco docks. Everyone has experienced a longing for home, whether at summer camp as a child, as a student away at university or as someone separated from home for more somber reasons—as a refugee, for example, or an economic emigrant. And everyone has had to process that...
November 18, 2013Christ the King (C), Nov. 24, 2013
The whole nature of kingship can be confusing. At least it is confusing to me, raised as I was in Canada, a democracy that nevertheless retains a monarch as head of state. It does not necessarily get clearer in the United States, whose founding as an independent nation goes back to the casting off of an unjust king. These seem to be the two modern views of monarchs: pretty figureheads who wave to adoring crowds or petty tyrants who exploit their...
November 11, 2013Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), Nov. 17, 2013
There is an inherent tension in Christianity between the indicative and the imperative, what we are and what we are intended to be, between the present and the future, the life we are now living and the world to come. If we focus only on this world or only on the world to come, the Christian life is out of balance. For most of us, our attention is on the life we live now, but the eschaton, the end, the apocalypse is a part of the Christian hope and...
November 4, 2013Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), Nov. 10, 2013
As we ponder Jesus’ confrontation with the Sadducees regarding life in the world to come, we are compelled to ask, “Do I believe in resurrection?” How one answers this question orients how we live today. It is a question that is not so much answered intellectually, though it is not beyond reason, as in the ordering of our loves. Who or what is our true love? Do we find our loves fulfilled in the living God or in the promises of this world?
October 28, 2013Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), Nov. 3, 2013
The passage from the Book of Wisdom about God “overlooking” sins has a wry humor when juxtaposed with little Zacchaeus, too small in stature to be seen. That is not true, of course, for no matter where Zacchaeus was standing, hidden among the crowd or walking away from Jesus, God “sees” our sins. From the story of Adam and Eve, to Cain and Abel, Moses and the Egyptian slave driver, and David and Bathsheba, all of whom try to carry out their acts of...
October 21, 2013Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), Oct. 27, 2013
Sin is attractive. I have watched a lot of television shows in my life and a lot more commercials, and the one thing I know for certain is that sin is fun, often accompanied by happy young women and men, and there are no, absolutely no, consequences for bad behavior! If you want to be justified in your pathologies, let the pleasure bleed out from the TV screen and wash over you. You will be greeted by an audacity of entitlement for whatever behavior you...
October 14, 2013Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), Oct. 20, 2013
‘Hey, want to hear the most annoying sound in the world?” That is Jim Carrey’s character, Lloyd, speaking in the 1994 comedy “Dumb and Dumber.” He goes on to demonstrate the world’s most annoying sound. Some people might find a lowbrow comedy like this, as a whole, a collection of some of the most annoying sounds in the world. Hold on to that thought; this might work out for you spiritually.