Sunday, December 28, 2014

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Look at these families that God chose to create. They are not the sort of families to whom we would affix the labels natural or traditional. And yet they served as some of the greatest instruments of our Parent's will. This should be a warning to us to be careful in our assumptions about which families do and do not meet with God's approval. They desire trust and obedience, not proper demographics.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone." Today we remember our Brother, who came to illuminate the kingdom. And as terrifying as that sight can be, no other will ever match its beauty. So let us sing alleluia, and give glory to our God. For they are our hope and salvation, now and forever.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Despite our protests faith is truly blind. We do not have the faintest clue of where we will end up by following God's will. Even our great exemplars, David and Mary, could never have dreamed that their obedience would lead to the triumph of the cross. But they trusted our Parent, and we rightly praise them for their faith. And so now it is our turn. Will you sing forever of the goodness of the Lord, even as you obediently follow them down the unlit path to places unknown?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Third Sunday of Advent

"I rejoice heartily in the LORD, in my God is the joy of my soul." For our Parent has anointed me, so that I might bring their glad tidings to you, my brothers and sisters. Look in the mirror; be you rich or poor, gleeful or brokenhearted, master or captive, jailer or prisoner, every one of you is adorned with the trappings of salvation, justice, and love. Do not worry if this vision escapes you. Many are those who never recognize it. Just trust. Let these final days of Advent be a time of trust. For the One who created you is faithful, and they have accomplished all that you need. Alleluia!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Second Sunday of Advent

I have struggled so hard today to come up with words of comfort. I struggle, because I know that the comfort you desire is not the comfort I have to offer. You hope for such lovely things during Advent: peace and justice and new heavens and a new earth. And the only response I can make is to point to the same old kingdom that our Parent has tried to share with us from the very beginning. The one we find confusing and a bit disappointing. The one that demands from us an unconditional love that feels impossibly out of reach. The one that reveals that eternal life is a banquet hall where murder victims joyfully and eagerly greet their killers with a kiss. Who among us, especially in light of recent events, could possibly be comforted by such truth? But it is the only comfort I have to give.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

First Sunday of Advent

We watch. We wait. We assume that we know what to look for, just not when it will arrive. But what if time is not the unknown factor? What if our Parent's love and salvation is already here, just not in a form that we recognize? After all, do the servants expect their master to look the same after traveling for so long? And could they possibly recognize the strange gifts brought back from distant lands? If most of our siblings were unable to grasp the reality of the first Christmas, why are we so confident in our own powers of perception? How many blessed souls have we looked right through, because we could not even begin to imagine them as bearers of grace? So be alert! Look closely at the faces you encounter this Advent, for the Lord of the kingdom is certainly among them.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Day

It is hard to feel thankful today. Too many of our children have died a violent death lately. And the air is just too thick with anger and despair. So some of us march and rage against the darkness. While others of us bury our heads in the sands of denial and privilege. But neither reaction truly soothes our aching souls. For the truth none of us wants to face is our impotence to prevent such death. As long as we are human, we will hurt one another. Pride. Ignorance. Fear. Do the motives really matter? At the end of the day, over and over again, we will kill one another. Yes, we have a duty to struggle with all our might against injustice and evil. But we must also remember that Jesus never cured leprosy, only a mere handful of lepers. If it was not his job to fix the world, why do we think it is ours? No, our task, our calling, is to open our eyes to the glorious kingdom already in our midst. A kingdom that is not a what or a where, but a whom: our brothers and sisters, our family.

Yes, our Parent has truly "done wondrous things on earth!" And so we have much to be thankful for today. For the gifts of Michael Brown, Rhasson Hamilton, Tamir Rice, and Christopher Walker. And yes, for the gifts of Timothy Loehmann, Darren Wilson, and killers still unknown. They are not friends or foes, nor demons or monsters. They are our brothers, one and all. And we are called to love them, one and all. It is perhaps our greatest cross to bear, this call to recognize both victim and murderer as our siblings. And it is something else to be thankful for this day.

As for me personally, I am thankful for a special group of hundreds of my brothers and sisters here in Los Angeles County, whose unclaimed bodies will be buried in a mass grave early next month. I did not know any of them, but I mourn their loss and celebrate their lives. I am thankful for the residents of the International Space Station, who provide a glimpse of our family's grandeur. I am thankful for the wild green parrots of my hometown, whose chatter and aerial acrobatics bring laughter to my lips and joy to my heart. And I am most thankful for my best friend, my lover, my partner in this journey, the woman who eleven years ago tomorrow became my wife.

I could go on and on. I have much to be thankful for. We all have much to be thankful for. We belong to a family whose glory cannot be measured. So let us give thanks and praise our king's name, today and every day until we draw our last breath, for we are their mightiest work.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Some of us are rescued. And some of us are destroyed. Some will inherit the kingdom, while others will wail outside its walls. So what is the "it factor", that thing determining whether you end up on the king's right or on her left? Perhaps it is a willingness to acknowledge that one is lost and broken, not sleek or strong. For how can you claim that God is your shepherd, without first admitting that you are nothing more and nothing less than a common sheep?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Fear. Where does fear drive you? Into the arms of faux peace and security? Or to heights you never dreamed of visiting? Are we like the lazy servant, so afraid of Big Daddy that we entomb grace rather than risk it being squandered? Or are we the good spouse, who uses every resource at our disposal to do our Lover's will? Let us be bold and daring in our love of God and neighbor. Let us remain alert to every opportunity to increase the kingdom, and not allow sobriety to twist itself into a fearfulness of wonder and surprise. For our Parent delights in mystery and paradox, and beckons us to embrace their joys. Will you run to them with awe and reverence, and bathe in their light? Or will you cower in terror in the darkness, wailing and grinding your teeth? Fear. Will it bless you or haunt you?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome

"Stop making my Father's house a marketplace." Do you ever expect a return, in this life or the next, on your contributions to religious institutions? Do you ever view participation in the sacraments as a way of accumulating spiritual wealth? Do you ever strive to monetize the divine gifts entrusted to you for the enrichment of your brothers and sisters? How many temples have been built from our lust for divine rewards? How much bread and wine has been consumed by hearts and minds fixated on greed rather than grace? How many of us approach God and faith with a "what's in it for me" attitude? Must our Brother come along with a whip? Or will we open our eyes and see that our Parent's city was not created for our exploitation, and their temples are not our playthings.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls)

Where will death take us? Heaven? Hell? Purgatory? Resurrection? We scour Scripture for answers. We eat up tales of those who claim to have returned from beyond. We twist logic and imagination to the breaking point while formulating the most elaborate visions. Such time and energy, all spent on a fool's folly. Yes, human nature seems to demand such attempts at ripping the veil from the unknown, especially when it is as tantalizing as this. But at some point, it ought to occur to us that it is not our mind that is being tested. No, for the mind cannot answer the right question: Do we trust our Parent? So do you? When it comes to death, be it yours or a loved ones, do you trust God?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Solemnity of All Saints

Is there one among us who is not named in the Beatitudes? No, somehow, someway, we can all be found there. We are all blessed. Even when we think we are not. Even when we are told we are not. We are blessed. You are blessed. For no other reason than the simple truth that you are God's child, and our Parent will never neglect their offspring. And that is the truth behind our Brother's words; that somehow, someway, a divine inheritance awaits each of us.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Love God; love your neighbor. It seems so simple, so easy. And yet we make such an unholy mess of it, over and over again. Why? Why are we are so bad at love? Perhaps because we do not treat it as simple or easy. Yes, life is complicated. But love does not have to be, especially when it comes to our siblings and our Parent. The latter showers us with their love, even desiring to physically meld with us through the Eucharist. What do we do with this gift? We treat it like a reward for following our rules. But what if we stopped that nonsense, and instead made it simple and easy? What if we told our neighbors to just come and eat, and let grace do the rest? Would it tarnish God's love? Or might that love spread like wildfire? Where else might we suddenly find love to be simple and easy? And all this is possible, if we recognize that love is a measure of God's strength, not our own. Which makes love, especially when it comes to our family, the simplest and easiest of things to do.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Pharisees and Herodians did not approach Jesus out of concern that Caesar was stealing God's glory and honor. No, they were looking to protect their own wealth and power. But what about us? Are the motives for our interventions in today's conflicts between God and Caesar truly purer than those of our hypocritical ancestors? I have watched the religious freedom battles of the last few years with much amusement. I have particularly enjoyed the histrionics, by both God's and Caesar's defenders, surrounding the so-called contraception mandate. Yes, within a healthcare system designed to allow the few to make a profit from the illness and suffering of the many, who pays for birth control pills is the real threat to God's glory and honor. Yes, the Pharisees and Herodians are well represented even today. But for those willing to hear, our Brother's wisdom still rings true. So let us not get caught up in outrage over minutiae, and focus instead on that which is truly offensive to our Parent.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

"Many are invited, but few are chosen." So who exactly does the choosing, because God does not seem all that picky. Sure, she gets angry at the ones who turn down his invitation. But the only guy who actually gets thrown out of the party is the one who refuses to open his mouth. Otherwise, the "bad and good alike" are enjoying the feast. So again, who does the choosing? Corporate religion has claimed the job for eons, but volunteering to be hall monitor does not guarantee one the position. No, the truth is that we choose for ourselves, sans intermediaries. Right now, our Parent is preparing "for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines." A feast for all peoples, not just the ones who play by the clerical rules. A feast that is our birthright as sons and daughters of the King. So will you take your seat at table? And when you are challenged about your attire, will you boldly proclaim for all to hear, "I have chosen to dwell in the house of our Lord all the days of my life."

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

How could the tenants in today's Gospel behave so atrociously? Did they think that the owner would let them get away with such mayhem? Did they somehow believe that they were irreplaceable? And are we really any different? Generation upon generation, we have taken the fruit of this planet to fulfill our desires, with little regard for the Landlord's intentions. We ignore sign after sign that we are doing evil to our family and to ourselves. Even those who see the truth fall prey to our anthropocentric lies; falsely believing that it is the vineyard that is in mortal danger. No, it is we the tenants who face that wretched death. And there is no shortage of siblings waiting in the wings to replace us. Our family is not limited to one minor species of talking monkeys. Nor are we the favorite child, as depicted in the fantasies of corporate religion. Our Parent will happily lease this kingdom and its bounty to another people, unless we wake up and see that we are not the artists of this world, free to use it however we might will, but merely the audience for a grand master and their most magnificent work.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Why do we find it so hard to do God's will? Perhaps because our Parent says to us, "humbly regard others as more important than yourselves." We want to do good. We want to live righteously. But we do not want to put ourselves last. I recently saw an advertisement for a campaign to end childhood hunger. It asked us to dine out at a restaurant. That is the American Way. Do good without having to sacrifice a thing. Live righteously while embracing all the fruits that capitalism has to offer. We say "yes" to God with the best of intentions, but we have not yet set foot in the vineyard. We might stare at it from across the fence, but who dares to enter, if doing so means "taking the form of a slave"? It all seems so very unfair. But is it? Is the path of greed really more fair than the path of grace, even if the latter demands obedience to a cross? Well, the good news is that it is never too late to make the right choice; the even better news is that doing so cancels out all of the prior wrong ones.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

What about the foreman? Did he try to talk the landowner out of being so generous? Did he grumble as he handed over the wages? And what would he have done if the landowner had not been on the scene? Who could possibly condemn the poor fellow if he refused to follow his master's instructions out of fear of squandering the resources entrusted to him? So I can understand why the Church acts so stingily when it comes to the sacraments, especially Eucharist. But it is also clear to me that God does not care if one of their children receives more grace than he or she has happened to earn at any particular moment. Our Parent desires to be close to all who call upon them, regardless of the caller's worthiness or cleanliness. So let us be a good foreman and pay our siblings their wages.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life." How many of us see our Parent's generosity as an invitation to join the new chosen tribe? Do we think that the Israelites just bitched too much on their way to the promised land, so God decided to replace them? How much death and destruction has its source in our belief that the Divine One has a favorite child? We may not agree on which child that is, but most of us seem willing to bet that there is a favorite, and that we should all do what he says. I say to you that such notions insult the sacrifice that our Brother made upon that lovely cross. He became one of us, and died as one of us, so that we might know that our Parent anxiously awaits our arrival at the eternal banquet. And this home is not just for the one or the many, but for all of us, even those who forget or refuse to acknowledge the wondrous works of our Lord.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Do not assume that Ezekiel's and Jesus' advice is meant for you. It is just as likely, if not more so, that the intended recipient is your neighbor. Few among us want to see ourselves as participants in wickedness and sin, but we are, and if we love our neighbors, we will listen to them when they speak disconcerting truths. "If today you hear their voice, harden not your hearts."

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Many days I lament not experiencing the "derision and reproach" of which Jeremiah speaks. Better to be an infamous prophet than an obscure one, or so it seems in those moments. But that is just me "thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." My job is to take up the cross and to walk my own Via Dolorosa wherever it may lead. Whatever beauty emerges from that journey belongs to the One from whom I cannot escape and for whom my soul thirsts "like fire burning in my heart."

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Binding and loosing. If the Easter story is any indication, our Parent seems most interested in the latter activity. And if the nightly news, or the morning newspaper, or social media, or a history book are any indication, we have chosen the former. Is it really God whose judgments are inscrutable and whose ways are unsearchable? There is no need to worry about the Divine One forsaking the work of their hands. It is their children running amok that should concern us.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Bossemptele, Central African Republic. Sinjar, Iraq. Ferguson, Missouri. These place names ring out like a litany of shame. Tribalism is a stubborn malady, and has always been so. Even the God-Man succumbed to its tendencies, however briefly. And that last fact is important, for it tells us how deep this infection has burrowed into our blood and bones. It is a disease we cannot cure, but one that we can find a way to manage. How? We need to stop pretending that "tolerance" and "coexistence" do anything more than cover up the symptoms of our illness. Chicken soup and a group hug might make us feel better, but they do not make the virus go away. What is needed is work; long, uncomfortable work. Every day, we must choose to actively love our neighbor. And in so doing, our hearts will open to see that the foreigner is really our sibling. "O God, let all the nations praise you!"

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Our eyes are fixed upon Iraq this weekend. We see armies warring over land and truth. But God is not in any of them. We see governments and political parties yelling about plans to fix the situation. But God is not in any of them either. We see religions and popular movements crying out for justice and mercy. But still we do not find God, even within those ranks. So our brothers and sisters, friends and foes alike, meet their gruesome fates. But before the end, beauty comes to them, be it a grain of sand, a puff of wind, a ray of sunlight, or some other insignificant delight. And when they experience this, they open their eyes wide and gaze upon love most glorious and wonderful.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

"The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs." And don't we know it. How often do we turn to God to fix our intractable problems? War in Gaza, Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere: Pray for peace. Child refugees streaming across our borders: Pray for mercy. The families they left behind: Pray for justice. Drought in the southwest: Pray for rain. Thousands of hungry siblings, and only "five loaves and two fish": Well, we know how that went. Yes, "[the Lord] answers all our needs." But I wonder how many of these pleas for divine intervention are prompted by human laziness or incompetence? Can you see the exasperation in Jesus' eyes as the disciples hand him the loaves and fishes? First they wanted to pawn off the crowd's needs onto the local villagers. Then they held up their meager resources and shrugged. And finally they gave him that look; the look that children give when they expect adults to swoop in and save the day. Now, could the disciples have really fed all those people without a little miracle? Maybe not, but how much effort did they make before expecting one? And so rather than simply oohing and aahing over the outcome of this episode, let us remember our Brother's ignored command: "There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves."

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

No matter how great a treasure might be, there is a bit of craziness to the idea of selling everything one has in order to go all in on a single item. We try so hard to make faith sensible. Why? What are we afraid of? Solomon's wisdom did not come from rational intellect, after all, but from the gift of an "understanding heart". Without this latter grace, how could anyone make sense of God's commands, let alone love them? Yes, it takes a bit of lunacy to find the kingdom of heaven, but do not fear the act of embracing such faith, for only a beautiful insanity could reveal such wonderful Truth.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

There is a certain appeal to today's first parable, given the evil that surrounds us. This weekend, the headlines come from Gaza and Ukraine. Next weekend … Too many of our brothers and sisters have already been cast into a "fiery furnace", from where even the deaf can hear their "wailing and grinding of teeth". So yes, there is a certain appeal to the idea that those who cause this misery will get what is coming to them in the end. But such vengeful delight can only be indulged by ignoring the caution implicit in the parable. Who is wheat, and who is weed? How many of us turn a blind eye to our own complicity in the headlines that make us wince? Are there any among us who have not caused one of our siblings to sin? Are there any among us who have never participated in some form of evil? By all rights, those bundles of weeds should be as numerous as the stars. We are most fortunate, then, that God is "good and forgiving", "lenient to all". And I say that our Parent will never consider one of their children to be a weed. So is the parable a bluff to get us to behave? Or is it a warning about the nature of the kingdom of heaven, where the veil of our limited vision will be lifted, and we will know with certainty of the misery we have caused? Such knowledge would indeed be a "fiery furnace" and just cause for "wailing and grinding of teeth". "Whoever has ears ought to hear."

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

We are creatures of such stunningly limited vision. I was reminded of this truth in an unexpected way this weekend. LeBron James' decision to return home to Ohio was a jolt to our conventional wisdom. As one sportswriter, who four years ago referred to James as the "King of Crass", wrote yesterday, "Few actually believed he would pick Cleveland. How can spending four years as the leader of a renowned sports circus actually make an athlete more grounded?" In other words, few saw Miami as rich soil, and yet it seems like it was. Perhaps more significantly, many questioned whether James himself was rich soil, and now they are rejoicing at being proven wrong. But what if James had made a different choice? Would that have spoken more to the quality of his soil or our vision? How often do we misjudge the ground upon which our Parent has sown their seed? "My word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it." We are a product of that word. And there is not a single one of us who is not rich soil. Each of us will produce the fruit that God desires, even if that means "groaning in labor pains" for generation after generation. So let us "shout and sing for joy", for never has there been a harvest more wonderful that this.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

"For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live." The frightening truth is that our time on this speck of rock is not nearly as monumental as we would like to believe. Perhaps if we stopped scurrying around trying to build our various fiefdoms, especially the ones being built in God's name, we might notice how very grand life is and how very little our Parent demands of us in return for that gift. "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest … For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles

God chooses the unqualified and the enemy to be their agents in this world. Not exactly who we look for to be our leaders. Which is perhaps why our institutions, religious and otherwise, seem so unholy. We fill our resumes and highlight reels with the trivial and pointless, and our kingdoms reflect these choices. Our Parent, on the other hand, looks only for faith, hope, and love. And their kingdom is the most wondrous of sights to behold. To them be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

I wonder: Did our Parent shower manna only on those whose relationships bore the proper ecclesial authorization stamps? And did our Brother quiz the crowd members on their political records before offering them his flesh and blood? Is it God who thinks that some of us need to go hungry, or is that one of our issues rearing its ugly head? Well, in any case, this is my prayer: Lord, there is no one who is unworthy of having you as their soul's guest, because that is the way you love. Alleluia!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

How often do we turn on the evening news only to be greeted by the spectacle of countless brothers and sisters being slaughtered or exiled because they proclaimed the "wrong" name for God? And how often do we turn away from such visions certain in the knowledge that we are better than those who perpetrate such evil? But are we? Yes, we put down our swords, at least the faith-based ones, a few centuries ago. But that has not stopped so very many of us from asserting that the "infidels" will get their comeuppance in the end. "Whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." But then the Trinity wanders into the mix. If we confess that God goes by multiple names and faces, how can we be certain that any of our siblings are worshipping the wrong one? Two thousand years ago, we knew less than half of God's faces. But now we know that we have seen them all? If the Trinity teaches us anything, it is that the Divine One is not an I, but rather a very big we. It also reminds those of us who use the "correct" names that we are still a "stiff-necked people" who do not understand our Parent nearly as well as we think we do. Fortunately, our stupidity, not to mention "our wickedness and sins", has never stopped them from embracing us as their own. "Glory and praise for ever!"

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Pentecost Sunday

"Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." We tend to view this as a gift of power and authority, but it is not. No, it is a test, a test of our ability to listen, and of our willingness to love. Our Parent has shown us their boundless mercy. Our Brother told us to love our enemies. The Spirit simply offers us the opportunity to live out such mercy and love. She continuously gives us the chance to recognize and act upon the truth that the greatest divine gift is our brothers and sisters, human and otherwise. Will we tarnish that precious gift by abandoning them to the bondage of sin, or will we lift them up with mercy and love into new life? There is no studying for this test. Nor are there any clever tricks to letting go of the anger and fear that hold us back from forgiveness. Our Lord has sent out his Spirit, and if we trust in their mercy and love, she will renew the face of the earth. The choice is ours.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

"And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." God with us. Always. Not on a throne in some cloud realm, but sitting beside us wherever we happen to be. Not swooping down from above to make everything better, but whispering reminders in our ears of the bountiful grace set before us. Not locked behind mighty fortress walls where only the pure may enter, but wandering the dirty and broken highways of our hearts begging us to accept their love. Yes, God with us. Always.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sixth Sunday of Easter

"On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you." You and God are intertwined in such an intimate way that it is impossible to tell where one stops and the other begins. But is this good news or a terrifying reality? We are comfortable with the divine as Parent, Sibling, or Advocate. But as Lover and Self? Such notions give birth to relationships and kingdoms many of us are just not ready for. But if you are willing to be so seduced, revelations more strange and wonderful than you can possibly imagine await. "Let all the earth cry out to God with joy!"

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Fifth Sunday of Easter

"Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me?" How many times each day does our Parent repeat this line? So many words and deeds devoted to our pursuit of the divine, and yet we still struggle with the basics: faith, hope, and love. It's all there, right in front of our noses! But instead we scheme, and plan, and toil away, trying to build a kingdom that is already built. How much grace do we ignore, because we are too busy doing "God's" work to notice? Stop! Just stop, let go of the program, and simply trust. "Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you."

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Fourth Sunday of Easter

"The sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice." Do we? We certainly obsess over words spoken to our ancestors. No detail is too small or obscure where they are concerned. But what about today's words? Do we even acknowledge their presence? Do we really think that Jesus rose from the dead so that he could stop speaking to us? Do we follow the memory of a shepherd or a living one? Yes, the shepherd is good, but do the sheep share that distinction?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Third Sunday of Easter

"Their eyes were prevented from recognizing him." And how is our vision? Prior to the Resurrection, the disciples believed that they had read the whole story and knew how life was meant to go. Why do we think that we are less clueless than they were? Because we have read a few additional chapters? Because now the book really is complete? No, we are just like those disciples, expecting God to look as he always has, oblivious to the truth that love presents herself in an infinite array of disguises. So open your eyes! For a stranger draws near, and they will show you "the path to life."

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Second Sunday of Easter – Sunday of Divine Mercy

Proof. It's always about the proof. We couldn't even canonize John XXIII and John Paul II without a little supernatural evidence. Do we really think God is that stingy with salvation? Yes, we can blame it all on ecclesial bureaucracy, but those rules don't just emerge out of nowhere. We've always been more comfortable retaining sins than forgiving them. Perhaps that is the real original sin Jesus tried to wash away: our stubborn unwillingness to take divine mercy for granted.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Resurrection of the Lord – The Mass of Easter Sunday

Yesterday, a local church left a door hanger at our home advertising their service for today. It is a very nice door hanger, with the tagline, "There Is More". I cannot help but think how right they are, although I doubt they had these words in mind when they wrote their own. Yes, there is more, much more that our Parent has to share with us. In fact, they offer it every day, freely and without strings. But we ignore them, because in our logic anything that good must be false and worthless. After all, the only reason that some of us will be lucky enough to enjoy heaven is because Jesus took a nasty beating on our behalf and then showed us what real power looks like. (Cue the Christian rock ballad.) But what if this weekend wasn't about God getting his pound of flesh? And what if she doesn't see us as the pieces of shit that we seem to see when we look in a mirror? What if they were just trying to get their beloved children's attention in some wild attempt at letting us know that their love for us is utterly limitless and unconditional? Yea, there I go with that too good to believe crap again.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ash Wednesday

I am going to be taking a break from blogging this Lent. I have posted a bit more detail about this at the "Family of the One" blog, but suffice it to say that this choice is my way of returning to God with my whole heart. I will resume writing on Easter Sunday. Have a most delightful Lent!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today brings more truth that we do not want to hear. Last week, Jesus told us to love our enemies. Now, he says we must choose between God and wealth. And he wants us to be more like birds and wildflowers. Go ahead, let yourself sputter about such notions being impractical and imprudent. Get it out of your system. And then ask yourself, has trusting in mammon brought rest to my soul?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

"For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God." And what is that wisdom? The only good enemy is a dead enemy? Violence solves problems? Might makes right? How many of us will listen to today's Gospel and then declare, if only in our hearts, that it is Jesus who is the foolish one? Love our enemies? Show them kindness and mercy? We scoff at such notions on a daily basis. But what if Jesus is not alone in challenging our conventional wisdom? Just this month, former California congressman Pete McCloskey, a war hero if ever there was one, finally fulfilled a fifty year old desire to "salute, shake hands and embrace one of those kids" whom he fought against during the Korean War. And the result of this encounter? "We ended up friends." Foolishness indeed.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

God knows the depths of our hearts and souls. They see the games we play, especially our quests to find loopholes that will enable us to fulfill our whims without the hangover of a guilty conscience. So they sent our Brother to call BS on our foolishness. He tells us to open our eyes and be honest with ourselves. We know when we do our family wrong. And we know that our lawyerly minimizations cannot remove the sting. So let us stop acting like spoiled brats. God is not trying to harsh our fun. They simply want us to treat our family like family. Or is that a wisdom beyond our age?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

We are called to be salt and light, and to do good deeds. But too many of us approach these tasks as if they were a mandate to fix the world. Those efforts always fail, however, because it is not our ingenuity that is being tested. No, we are invited to be and do these things so that we might awaken ourselves and our siblings to the glorious Presence swirling in our midst. And if we trust in the grace they shower upon us, the darkness and gloom in which we dwell shall be lifted. Alleluia!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

What if God stood before you today? How would you respond? Could you respond? It is no wonder that so many of us believe in an impersonal divinity. All cosmic forces and metaphors and such. God is easy in the abstract. Something comforting and affirming, but nothing that would ever stand in our way. Or so our wishful thinking goes. But all fantasies must come to end. At some point in our lives, each of us will suddenly come face to face with our maker. And we will know that we come from a whom, not a what. In that moment, we will know the refining and purifying love of our Parent. And we will weep with joy, and sing: Who is this king of glory before me? It is my Lord!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

We love division. God creates us as a single family. We split up into tribes. Jesus comes to reunite us. We split up into more tribes. Is this just about jockeying for power and control? Or do our rivalries stem from deeper longings? Our plethora of tribes do have a sort of "look at me" quality about them, don't they? Well, guess what, it is time for us to get over our fear of being lost in the crowd. God is tired of our divisions. They do not want more churches or sects. No, they want their children to start acting like the family that they are. For that family is our light and our salvation.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

I too have "waited, waited for the LORD." I wonder how John felt, day after day, waiting for the one he did not know. Or Paul, waiting for word that his letters had found "ears open to obedience". Did Isaiah know that God would wait generations before fulfilling the song they had placed in his mouth? Did he care? The servant works on the master's timeline, not her own. So we wait. Because that is our delight, however frustrating it may be. "Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will."

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Why would Jesus need to be baptized? Because our Parent comes to us on our terms, speaking our language and fulfilling our rituals. But why? Could it be that our Brother is not the only one whom they desire to grasp by the hand? Open your eyes! Stop living in darkness! God has something to say to the whole world and it is all about you: "This is my beloved Child, with whom I am well pleased."

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

To whom do you go and pay homage? And before whom do you prostrate yourself? Who would ever choose the anonymous child of a nobody over someone from the multitude of wealthy and powerful persons clamoring for our obeisance? And so in our cluelessness about grace, we will castigate the Herod of history, while gleefully adoring the Herods of today. Is it really a big surprise then that we continue to live in Herod's kingdom rather than the one belonging to that newborn?