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."