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.
November 24, 2014First Sunday in Advent (B), Nov. 30, 2014
Pope Francis said, on World Environment Day, June 5, 2013: “We are losing the attitude of wonder, contemplation, listening to creation. The implications of living in a horizontal manner [is that] we have moved away from God, we no longer read His signs.” He was referring to the physical environment, but he links the lack of awareness of our physical surroundings, nature and the human milieu to inattentiveness and distraction concerning the spiritual world....
November 17, 2014Christ the King (A), Nov. 23, 2014
The correlation of the roles of king and shepherd precedes even the Old Testament. Akkadian, Babylonian and Sumerian texts, including the Code of Hammurabi, all invoke the king as shepherd. Clearly this association emerges from the pastoral context of the time, when sheep- and goat-herding were central to the ancient Semitic way of life.
November 10, 2014Thirty-Third Sunday in ordinary Time (A), Nov. 16, 2014
To be “awake and sober” seems like a minimalist approach to the Christian life, but it is a figurative sign of the Christian spiritual life engaged and diligent. Paul exhorts the Thessalonians in the context of the parousia, the second coming of Christ, which the early Christians hoped might arrive in their own lifetimes.
November 3, 2014Dedication of the Lateran Basilica (A), Nov. 9, 2014
The Lateran Basilica in Rome is not the home parish for many of us, though some might have visited it. It is the pope’s own cathedral, but we are parishioners at churches closer to home, with less ancient and lofty origins and nicknames like St. Joe’s and St. Mike’s. Our home parish is where we attend Mass, run the scouting den and bake cookies for the fall festival. For all of its foibles and problems, our home parish is, well, home.
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...