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.