Sunday, October 25, 2015

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

A teenage boy: lost, alone, being raised by institutions. An elderly man: depressed, dependent, dying in diapers. A mother finding refuge in a strange land, hoping to build an escape ladder for her children. An accidentally pregnant woman and the unborn baby in her womb. They are our brothers and sisters, crying out for mercy to our Parent and to us. But far too often, our response is to rebuke them, telling them to be silent. How can we respect life, if we are not willing to listen to our siblings' pains, sorrows, and hopes? How can we deliver mercy, if we are more interested in ending their cries than in meeting their truest needs? It is our hearts and souls who need to hear these stories, not our minds which are looking for evidence to advance agendas and ideologies. The latter seem incapable of coming up with solutions other than death or dollars. We can do better. Our hearts and souls are full of creativity and grace. If we are willing to unleash them, they will find countless ways for us to guide and console our brothers and sisters who "departed in tears." And if we are willing to make the required sacrifices, we will all find ourselves in a kingdom full of joy. Yes, we can do great things, we can love.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

We like to believe that we are free and in control. But not a day goes by where we do not feel the urge to obey some modern version of one of the seven deadly sins. We joke about living in bondage to our smartphones, blind to the truth that our digital utopia is just the latest incarnation of mammon. We are slaves, all of us. But we are slaves with the power to choose our owner. We can keep serving corrupt masters who entice us with the sweet illusion of autonomy and other pretty lies. Or we can submit to a Lord and their family who offer us the pain and joy of sacrifice. It is no mystery as to why so few of us choose the latter. But it should also be no mystery as to which of them will in the end leave us by the roadside in humiliation. So place your trust in our Parent and their children, "confidently approach the throne of grace", and you will receive kindness beyond all measure.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

"How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" Our first inclination today will be to minimize those words, to come up with all sorts of excuses for why they do not apply to us or to our wealth. Resist that urge with all your might. Let them pierce you instead, like a "two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow." Does your wealth truly encourage you to enter into oneness with our family, to place our siblings' needs and desires ahead of your own or your tribe's, to sacrifice all that you have for the enemy who is your brother or sister?

Uncomfortable questions, but we need to go there, even if there are no easy answers. I live in a nice apartment in a nice neighborhood in a nice suburb. I know that I am wealthy, though most Americans would probably disagree. I also know that I have no intention of surrendering my wealth anytime soon. Now, I could try to minimize this truth by reflecting on the meagerness of my bounty, or my efforts to simplify my existence, or the idea that everyone deserves a nice home in a nice community. But that is the comfort of denial. I am sinning against my family and there is no point pretending otherwise, for "everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of them to whom we must render an account."

Yes, I know, everyone does deserve a nice home in a nice community. But I also know that I am not doing everything in my power to make that a reality. I might have one eye on that goal. The other eye, however, is focused on protecting what I have. Where are your eyes focused? What is wealth drawing you into? Let these questions burn within your heart and soul until they become a plea for the spirit of wisdom to come upon you. And if she does, follow her wherever she may lead, for it will certainly be a realm that gives our family reason to "shout for joy and gladness all our days."

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

We do our family a disservice if we focus only on divorce today. If we "all have one origin", then all of us together are "one flesh", not just the married couples. How often do we seek to deny or even break the bonds we share with our brothers and sisters? And how many laws and customs exist to facilitate such actions, not for the sake of justice or love, but because of the hardness of our hearts? From the beginning of creation, we have been family. And from the beginning of creation, that truth has terrified us. It is hard enough being bound to those we love, but to strangers and enemies as well? Only a fool or a child would embrace a truth like that, and the latter for only a short while; we adults make sure of that. But what if we chose to live as fools? Would we open our hearts and recognize that the kingdom we crave was right there in the "bones of our bones and flesh of our flesh"? Would we come to accept that what our Parent has joined together can never be separated? May we be blessed to live like fools all the days of our lives! And may peace be upon our family until the end of time!