Sunday, August 30, 2009

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23
"You disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition." Are these words for us today? Surely our traditions are more essential than "the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds", or are they? Our Parent's commandment is to love. Is that what our rituals, doctrines, and institutions are about? Or do they arise from our fear of "the things that come out from within"? We have become just as paranoid of our own pollution as the Pharisees were, if not worse, as the source of our contamination is not food or drink, but our own hearts and minds. So "hear me, all of you, and understand", the Spirit is the judge of all that arises "from within people, from their hearts", not tradition. And tradition must be obedient to the Spirit, not the other way around. Listen to the Spirit, especially you "elders" of the Church, for she will tell you that God's love is a living thing, constantly growing and developing, and so our own love must be the same, if we are to truly follow our Parent's commandment.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ephesians 5: 21-32; John 6: 60-69
Our pastors had a choice today. They could say "wives should be subordinate to their husbands", or not. Who among them were bold enough to poke this hornet's nest? But the real tragedy is that whether or not those words were spoken, the words that come before them were most likely lost: "Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ." How much angst was spent in either defending or explaining away the former statement, and how little in truly exploring the latter one? In a delightful bit of irony, the gospel begins with "Many of Jesus' disciples who were listening said, 'This saying is hard; who can accept it?'" Who indeed? But which saying is truly hard? We should easily be able to strip the cultural anachronisms from Paul's marital advice and see the divine wisdom within. After all, this advice is premised on a more basic statement: "Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ." Clearly this saying is hard to accept, for we see all around us the evidence of our failure to heed its truth: homelessness, starvation, disease; all brought on because we believe in a world where it is acceptable for some to have any toy they can dream of, while others lack even the most basic necessities. If we have truly accepted Jesus as the Bread of Life, such a reality should be intolerable. So today, let us put aside the petty politics of modern America, gender conflicts or otherwise, and strive to be people who live for others, all of them.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

John 6: 51-58
Here are such clear and obvious commands to partake of the Eucharist. And yet, is Jesus really saying that all we are required to do to obtain "eternal life" is eat the bread and drink the wine? What does it truly mean to "eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood"? What intention, purpose, and desire are necessary for the sacrament to come alive in our soul? Call me crazy, but when Jesus says "the one who feeds on me will have life because of me", I think he is talking about something a little more involved than standing in line for a cracker.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

John 6: 41-51
How often have we encountered God, only to pass on by because we didn't recognize her? We expect the Divine to have a certain grandeur and mystique. But the reality is that the Father is rather ordinary after all. How could we truly get to know him if she wasn't?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

John 6: 24-35
Once again, the crowd demands signs, and once again, Jesus refuses to give them: "Do not work for food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life." Recent news items have included updates on the Shroud of Turin and the visitations at Medjugorje. As tantalizing as these things are, all "proofs" and "evidence" eventually perish. They can only take us to the edge of the chasm, not provide a bridge over it. Eventually faith comes down to a choice, we either leap across the void or we do not. Do you believe that Jesus is the Bread of Life, or not?