"Seek what is above." That is why Jesus came to be. Yes, "doing good and healing" was part of the package. But any old martyr can promote those things. If that was the reason for his life, God could have called it a day at the end of Good Friday. But that is not what happened. We go through this life as if on a snipe hunt, constantly striving to build our fantasy realms. The resurrection slaps us awake and directs our gaze to the only kingdom worth seeking, and the one already in front of our face.
Sunday, March 31, 2013
Saturday, March 30, 2013
"Let there be light." Who is this God? How many Egyptians does he kill to free his chosen few? Yet he refuses to lift a hand against the Romans, or the Nazis for that matter. She demands the sacrifice of Isaac as proof of Abraham's obedience. But then sacrifices her own son as a sign of love. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD." No kidding. But is God the changed one or are we? Did our Parent just mellow out over the millennia? Or have their children grown up, albeit incompletely? "Let there be light." But are we willing to be amazed by it?
Friday, March 29, 2013
"The LORD laid upon him the guilt of us all." For many of us, today is just one big guilt trip. The day of doom-and-gloom that we must endure before we can have Sunday's joy. But what if today is one of joy as well? My favorite gospel adaptation is the movie "Judas", which tells the story of Jesus from the title character's perspective. It ends with an untraditional sort of resurrection scene. Peter, Andrew, and James arrive at the tree where Judas is still hanging after having committed suicide. James grumpily questions why they are doing this, coming to minister to the one who betrayed their master. Peter's response is one of the best summaries of the gospel ever written, "Because Jesus would've wanted us to." So they cut down their friend and pray the Kaddish over his body. Radical love; that is what the cross gives us, and that is worthy of rejoicing, not guilt. God does not want to scold us today, they want us to stand up for our siblings, all of them. "So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help." Amen.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Tonight, we remember death; death that makes us free. But which of these deaths do we trust most? Yes, we honor Jesus' gift of body and blood. But we act out God's final plague upon the Egyptians on a far more regular basis. "Do you realize what I have done for you?" Obviously not, for how long was it before the Israelites were slaves to a foreign power once again? Freedom attained through violence does not last. God humored our petulant selves for a time, but they had to tell us to grow up at some point. "I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do." What will it take for us to finally surrender our fear and "wash one another's feet"?
Sunday, March 24, 2013
We are as clueless as the first disciples. How many ways must God find to tell us that the suffering servant is the greatest of us all before it finally penetrates our think skulls? How many of us are so utterly amazed by Pope Francis, as if we never knew anyone like him? “Stop, no more of this!” We are meant to imitate him, not be enchanted by him. And not just him either. Today we celebrate both an ancient gift of self-sacrifice and a more recent one. Today is the anniversary of the martyrdom of Oscar Romero. He died proclaiming that we are all God's children, every last one of us. He died while sharing the bread and the cup with our brothers and sisters. He did not want praise. He wanted us to embrace one another as family. Why do we insist on humiliating, and violating, and killing each other instead? Why do we still choose Barabbas? Brother Oscar, pray for us!
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
The logical choice was to walk away. Who could have blamed him? But he didn't, and that has made all the difference. He is the unsung hero. The man in the background. And the Patron of our Church. He sought righteousness, not prestige. And reminds us of our duty to serve God's family with all our soul and strength. It is fitting that our new pope, Francis, is inaugurated on this feast today. As we enter into this new chapter of our history, may we all strive to resemble our Patron ever more closely. God's will, not mine. That is the lesson of Joseph's life. May we never forget it.
Sunday, March 17, 2013
"Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." Popular culture uses the story of the adulterous woman to promote a vision of tolerance and non-judgmentalism. That may feel good, but is it really what Jesus meant to teach us? Yes he does not "condemn" her, but he also tells her "from now on do not sin any more." Sounds like a judgment to me, and an order to boot. In the fantasy world of pop culture, Jesus waves away her, and our, sin as if it never happened. That is denial, not reality. What Jesus offers to her, and us, is true mercy, not the fantasy version. He gives what God delights in giving: a second chance. "See, I am doing something new!" And he also tells the Pharisees, and us, that if we want the grace of that second chance, we must offer it first to our brothers and sisters. No, this is not the easy road of denial and tolerance, but it is the only road that leads to love. So let us do something new for ourselves, and help our siblings to do the same.
Sunday, March 10, 2013
"Taste and see the goodness of the Lord." When we read the tale of the Prodigal Son, how many of us overlook the elder son? How often is he relegated to a supporting role, whose existence is simply to heighten the drama of the father's actions? And yet, who is the believer more likely to resemble: the humiliated son returning with his tail between his legs, or the self-righteous son furious that he must share his father's grace with one so utterly undeserving? Shouldn't he have to work off his debt first? Shouldn't he have to prove his remorse? Shouldn't the little brat have to do something to earn back the family's love? Does "the message of reconciliation" we preach come from God or from our own very conditional hearts? Our Parent desires union with all of her children, every last one of them. Will we stand outside the banquet hall, stupidly protesting their generosity?
Sunday, March 3, 2013
The paradoxes of our God. They are "kind and merciful," but fail to "bear fruit" and it's "cut it down." Should it be any other way? After all, what good are we if we fail to bear fruit? It's certainly a truth we seem fond of, with our "makers vs. takers" ideologies. But is the fruit we value what God desires to eat? Does she have a hankering for our money and power? Or does he prefer something a little more kind and merciful? Is repent or perish a threat to the abused children of a harsh parent, or a warning to the lemmings who stubbornly refuse to see the looming chasm? "Whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall." Yes, indeed. But fall we shall, and fail to bear fruit we will. And when we do, whom will God be: the landowner demanding we be cut down or the gardener pleading for one more year? Perhaps it will depend on which one we were when we dealt with our brothers and sisters. If we're lucky, God keeps asking for one more year until the landowner gives up or dies.