Sunday, December 28, 2008

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Hebrews 11: 8, 11-12, 17-19; Luke 2: 22-40
A celebration of family today, and look at what families we have. Abraham, Sarah, & Isaac: two old sterile people and a son offered up in sacrifice. Joseph, Mary, & Jesus: an old man, his young virgin bride, and the Son of God (also to be offered up in sacrifice). So much for traditional family values! We are given a sign here of what it means to be true family: obedience to the will of God. It is not genes, law, or ritual that makes us family, it is faithfulness to that which is our true mother and father. Above all, it is faithfulness to love.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)

Isaiah 9: 1-6; Titus 2: 11-14; Luke 2: 1-14
Rejoice my friends, for tonight love comes into the world once more. Did you think that the nativity was a one time event? Did you think that Jesus only came once, and now we must patiently await his return? Fools! Jesus never left us, because love never leaves us, we just forget about it for awhile. Tonight is a moment when we are called to remember that God comes to us each day in love. We are his beloved children, not just in some symbolic sense, but in a real and true way. So let us celebrate not just the divine birthay of our Brother, but also our own. Have a very merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Luke 1: 26-38
To you devotees of natural law and logic, I say this: just how natural and logical was it for God to use a virgin to bring Jesus into this world? My father does not operate by your rules, you operate by hers. What you see as natural is but a moment of order in the grand chaos of love. Just because you understand the mechanics behind a small portion of life, does not mean that you know life itself. There are grander things in this universe than you can possibly dream of, and they all fail to follow your natural law and logic. God has but one law: love.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Third Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 61: 1-2a, 10-11; 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-24; John 1: 6-8, 19-28
My friends, I struggle to find my voice today. (Who am I kidding, this is my constant struggle.) How do I share all the "glad tidings" that our Father has shown to me? How can I "not quench the Spirit" that moves inside of me? How can I "not despise prophetic utterances" when I fear the consequences of my own words? How I long to "testify" like my brothers and sisters before me. This is what I pray for this Advent, this is what I cry out to my God for: the grace to speak his truth boldly and clearly, so that I may be truly worthy of her anointing.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Second Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 40: 1-5, 9-11; 2 Peter 3: 8-14; Mark 1: 1-8
Why do you await the arrival of my Brother like some celebrity red carpet event? Don't you know that he'll sneak in through the back door and tap you on the shoulder when you're not looking? Maybe he's already here! Stop looking for signs of something better and embrace the Spirit that is already present. She's tired of being ignored.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

First Sunday of Advent

Mark 13: 33-37
"Be watchful! Be alert!" During this season, we prepare not only for the coming of our Brother at Christmas, but for his approach throughout our lives. We never know when Jesus will present himself to us, or in what disguise. Every person, every moment offers the possibility of encountering God. Will we be ready, or will we be asleep? "Be watchful! Be alert!"

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day

Sirach 50: 22-24; 1 Corinthians 1: 3-9; Luke 17: 11-19
On this day, let us acknowledge that all we have comes from God. Whatever blessings we have obtained in life are gifts from our Father's bounty. We did nothing to deserve them, so we lose nothing by sharing them. Our true wealth and poverty lies not in material things, but in the strength of our faith in our Brother Jesus. This is a treasure that cannot be stolen, foreclosed upon, or repossessed. So on this day, let us give thanks to a God who loves us beyond measure, and who eagerly awaits our return home. Have a happy and joyous Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King

Matthew 25: 31-46
The simplicity of this passage is almost as stunning as our failure to listen to it. The Kingdom of Jesus is based not on power and wealth, but upon love, most especially love of those without power or wealth. He turns our notions of royalty on their head, so we ignore him. Look at the world we have created! We serve Lord Greed and Prince Fame, not our Brother the King. The hungry, the thirsty, the strangers, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned: they are all Jesus in disguise, asking us who we serve? How can we continue to allow any of our brothers and sisters to go without, when we have so much? Let us find a way to stop being blinded by our false notions of celebrity, and embrace the one, true Celebrity who is Lord of All.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 25: 14-30
Another parable about the cruel side of God, or is it? Our Master has indeed given each of us a share of his wealth. How will we use it? Do we strive to increase love in the world? Do we share God's wealth with others? Do we try to bring our brothers and sisters into our Master's House? Or is our concern only for our own well-being, our own salvation? Do we fear using the wealth entrusted to us, afraid of risking its loss, afraid of our Master's punishment? Our soul does not belong to us, but to God. We must use it to increase his harvest. We must not hide it away in a desperate attempt to preserve it. For if we do so, we will lose it anyway.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome

1 Corinthians 3: 9c-11, 16-17; John 2: 13-22
Oh, the irony. Today we celebrate a cathedral, a building, a physical temple to God and Church. Yet what does our Scripture speak of? A cathedral of a different sort: "Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" How easy it is for us to imagine God dwelling in things of grandeur: a magnificent basilica, a mighty institution. And yet look where our Brother chose to be born, where the temple of his body first graced our little world. Even in the Eucharist, we are not satisfied with the simplicity of the gift Jesus left for us: bread and wine. We have to puff them up, shroud them in gold and jewels, build lofty structures to house them. Why is it so hard to see that our Father cares not for appearances?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls)

Wisdom 3: 1-9; Romans 6: 3-9; John 6: 37-40
Death is not really death. Our Father desires eternal life for all of her children. That is the "Good News" that Jesus came not just to tell us, but to truly give us. "This is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day." Our Father gave Jesus the task of not losing a single one of us. Can we not trust that our Eternal Brother will make good on this task? On this day of all others, let us say "Amen!"

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Solemnity of All Saints

Revelation 7: 2-4, 9-14; 1 John 3: 1-3; Matthew 5: 1-12a
The Communion of Saints is one of our hidden treasures. As a concept it reminds us that we are a family first and last. As a reality is tells us that we are children of God, not metaphorically or symbolically, but really and truly. This is powerful stuff: we are God's family. There are a lot of ways we could take this, and in our history we have taken it down some very dark roads. We did that because we weren't truly listening to what Jesus was telling us in the Beatitudes. He was not telling us how to be, but how we already are. He was our Brother telling his siblings the beauty he sees in every one of us. We are God's children! We are blessed! But these blessings are not ours alone: "Love your neighbor as yourself." We have been given these blessings to share. We are not an exclusive family, but one who welcomes everyone into its midst. That kind of family is truly a communion of saints.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 22: 34-40
The Great Commandment: love God, your neighbor and yourself. Sounds so simple. But look at the world we've created. Look at the Church we've created. We forget the key hidden ingredient: balance. We must balance these loves so that they become one harmonious way of being. How? How on earth are we supposed to do this? The example that's right in front of us: the Trinity. Father, Son, and Spirit, balanced as one harmonious God. That is our model. Yes, a tough act to emulate, but remember that it's the effort that matters most.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 22: 15-21
Woe unto you Christians who demand simple answers from God. "Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?" Clear, straight-forward, yes or no, black and white. And what does our Brother say in reply: "Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God." You can almost hear them saying, "So is that a yes?" And you can almost see Jesus shaking his head in disgust. He is telling us that life is infinitely more complex than yes or no; that love is gloriously more multi-faceted than black and white. But haven't I talked of the simplicity of love? YES! And once more we greet our beloved paradox: love is easy, yet impossible to define. We know in our heart what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God, whether we are giving love or withholding it. But how do we get our brain to recognize the truth in our heart and soul? How do we live this truth in the world around us, with so many others refusing to recognize it? Now there are some interesting questions: difficult, complex, certainly not yes or no, nor black and white. In part, the answer is that we must remember that the Kingdom of God is more about effort than accomplishment. Our Father knows if we are really trying to repay what belongs to her. All that remains is for us to acknowledge this in ourselves and one another.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 22: 1-14
Our bishops give us an interesting choice this day. We can stop with the king's hall filled with guests, bad and good alike. Or we can keep going to watch our benevolent king toss out the poor man who has arrived without his wedding garment. After all, "many are invited, but few are chosen." I wonder which option our priests will choose today? Which option would you choose? We all know which option is more pleasing. Surely none of us would be among the fools who actually reject the king's invitation. Of course we will be his guest. But will we remember the wedding garment? A little tougher question. No, we definitely don't want to keep going; stop at the easy line where we've all made it inside; let's not think about getting thrown out into the darkness. But wait, did the poor man get thrown out for not having the garment, or for remaining silent before his king? Does his silence come from fear, embarrassment, or guilt? Surely our benevolent king can tell. So the real question is this: do we have the courage to face our king bare naked, or do we want to stop at the easy part?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 21: 33-43
We reap what we sow. When we focus on greed, our fruit is death. When we focus on charity, our fruit is love. The evidence of this simple truth is all around us in the world today. It's obviousness is overwhelming; so we have to find ways of hiding from it. We fight over economic and political ideology. We play chess games with real people as pawns. Anything to avoid the reality that we have badly abused the "vineyard" given to us by God, that we are producing sour fruit. Life has a way of humbling the proud, especially those who proclaim that they are too great to fall. God desires good fruit, and one way or another she will get it. Do we want to be his tenants or not?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi

Luke 10: 17-24
"Blessed are the eyes that see what you see ... many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it." As he took the hand of Sister Death, I imagine that Francis was greeted by Jesus with these words. He truly saw the the absolute glory of all creation. Francis saw the world, and most especially his brothers and sisters, through the eyes of God. What love and joy he must have seen! And yet he told us that he was nothing special; just one who paid attention when Jesus spoke. As much as we might want to disagree and place him on a pedestal, we must take Francis at his word. For he says that each of us can see through God's eyes if we choose to listen to Jesus. Francis' greatest desire is that we might all come to see one another as true brothers and sisters of our One Father, that Jesus will say to each of us: "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see."

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 21: 28-32
No one is beyond redemption. No one is beyond hope. Do not get caught up in the trappings of the here and now. They do not matter to our Eternal Father. What she desires is that we are swept away by the joy of Divine Love, a love of action, not words. Pious sayings in church mean nothing if they are not translated into deeds. We must live our faith as did our brother Jesus. But here's the best part: it's never too late to start, or even pick up where we left off. God doesn't care when we show up for work, just that we show up. Good news indeed!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 20: 1-16a
God loves all her children. He offers eternal joy to saints and sinners alike. Why should we be upset at the idea of an empty hell? How is this unfair to us? We refuse to love as God loves. We demand that the wicked be punished, that the thoughtless be sent to bed without dessert. We are like the spoiled child who throws a tantrum because our lazy brothers and sisters are given the same toys and allowance, even though they failed to complete their chores. We should be grateful that our Divine Parent's love is not as conditional and unequal as our own. It is his love to give, so who are we to be envious simply because she is generous?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Numbers 21: 4b-9; Philippians 2: 6-11; John 3: 13-17
We see here a God who desires to be our lover, but we see ourselves as too lowly for such a prize. It is much easier to believe in a jealous king who would smite his queen for any complaint. Was God really the author of the Israelites misery? Or was it just easier for the weary spouse to blame her more powerful partner for not wiping away the bumps of the journey? How could God get us to see the seriousness of his desire for our love? Only through Jesus, in whom we see a God of humility. A God who comes to us as only a true lover can do, opens his arms wide, and sacrifices himself for our sake. "For God so loved the world ..." How can anyone deny these words? God is asking to be your lover. What will your answer be?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Romans 13: 8-10
Love is the pinnacle of all things and the essence of Truth, not law. Law exists to support the love of God, not the other way around. If we love truly, we fulfill all that God wants of us. To love truly, we must love as God does, with hope and mercy. God sees beyond our masks and scars to who we truly are. That is the love we must aspire to.

Matthew 18: 15-20
"If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector." This is sometimes used as justification for excluding from the Church those whose beliefs and opinions stray outside the lines. But how did Jesus treat the Gentile or the tax collector? Did he not treat them with love and mercy, and even break bread with them? And who is "the church": the people of God or only its leaders? What should we make of our leaders when they ignore the Spirit's presence within the faithful? Are they not refusing to listen to the church? Which brother is the sinner and which the victim? Perhaps the point is to treat all with love and mercy, most especially the sinner. When Jesus speaks once again of binding and loosing, why should we not see it as a call to judge and love as God does, not as we might do. For if Jesus is truly present wherever two or three are gathered in his name, then he is present even when we gather with those Catholics with whom we disagree.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 16: 21-27
Jesus has just given Peter the keys to heaven and declared him to be the foundation of the Church. And then Jesus calls Peter "Satan" and an "obstacle" to his plans. What are we to make of this stunning reversal? Did Jesus change his mind? Or was he telling us something of his expectations for community and discipleship? "You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." Let that truly sink in: we are called to unity with the mind of the Divine. What does that mean when we think of power, authority, responsibility, judgment, mercy, love? Can we abandon our own needs and desires to embrace the will of Our Father? God loves each of her children and wishes all of them to return to his embrace, but do we believe this? Perhaps one of our crosses to bear is the relinquisment of our need to be unique and special, and to instead put on the garment of the simple human who is already unique and special enough in the eyes of God. For what will it profit us to gain the mantle of the extraordinary if the cost is to lose our place as an ordinary child of our Creator.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 16: 13-20
When Jesus gave "the keys to the kingdom of heaven" to Peter, was he giving the Church the power and authority of God? Or was he perhaps inviting us to share in the mind and love of God? When he declared that whatever Peter bound and loosed on earth would also be bound and loosed in heaven, was he giving the Church the power and authority over our eternal destination? Or was he perhaps inviting us to assume the responsibility of seeing, judging, and loving one another as God does? Whose desires does our Church reflect: ours or God's? Whose needs does our Church serve: ours or God's? Do we truly embody the love and mercy of the Father who sacrificed his only Son on our behalf? Or are we the greedy little child who is given the key to the candy store and gorges himself until he is sick? Do we plead the case of each and every one of our brothers and sisters before the Divine Judge? Or are we the spoiled brat who is given the job of doorkeeper to the party and delights in keeping more people out than he lets in?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 56: 1, 6-7
We do not worship the Christian God, but God. She is the creator of all peoples, not just those that believe in him. She hears and calls out to everyone. He loves everyone. We must always remember that we are not an exclusive tribe, but simply messengers of the one family of the one God.

Matthew 15: 21-28
How should we understand Jesus calling the Canaanite woman a dog? Most would dismiss it as a test of her faith: "He didn't really mean it." I say that he meant every word he spoke, testimony from his own lips to the fullness of his humanity. Jesus chose to be one of us, with all our tribal tendencies. It is not pretty to us, not what we expect of our God, but God's will does not follow our expectations or desires. He has her own plan and we should expect it to be confounding most of the time. Our notions of imperfection may be anything but to the author of perfection itself.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Luke 1: 39-56
Who was Mary? Why was she so special? Was she superhuman or just the one who actually said "yes" to God? What might our own lives be like if we had the same courage and faith to say "yes" to God? What might God accomplish through us if we truly believe that what was spoken to us by Jesus will be fulfilled?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

1 Kings 19: 9a, 11-13a
God is not at all what we expect. To know God, we must shed all our images and be open to seeing whatever it chooses to show us. Most of the time, she likes to appear exactly where we assume he is not present. Nothing is off limits to God. We may be left uncomfortable, confused, and uncertain, but God is there as well. Do we desire to admire God or know God? What will it be? Seek with bold humility and you shall find a well deeper than the universe.

Matthew 14: 22-33
Jesus became human not only that we might truly know God, but also to share with us his own divinity. We are called to join in his divine love, to truly become children of the Father. To have faith in such things seems impossible, but God's desires know no boundaries. Just as Jesus called Peter to rise out of the boat and walk across the water to meet him, so too are we called to rise up out of our fear and walk across the chasm of doubt to where he stands ready to greet us with joy and open arms. How he longs to embrace us with his love, and whisper in our ear: "Truly, you are a child of God."

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

Matthew 17: 1-9
Jesus became human to tell us "do not be afraid" to gaze into the face and heart of God. He is not something to be feared. She is "Our Father", our eternal parent that desires nothing more than love. We exist to live that love as best we can, fully knowing that we will fail. And yet the Incarnation assures us that we will ultimately hear these words: "You are my beloved child, with whom I am well pleased."