December 1, 2014Second Sunday in Advent (B), Dec. 7, 2014Readings: Is 40:1–11; P
What comfort is there in waiting? Comfort is usually not found standing in line at the D.M.V. or waiting for an appointment at the doctor’s office as the minutes tick away. Then you simply hope, as frustration builds, that you can get out as quickly as possible and get on with your life.
November 24, 2014First Sunday in Advent (B), Nov. 30, 2014
Pope Francis said, on World Environment Day, June 5, 2013: “We are losing the attitude of wonder, contemplation, listening to creation. The implications of living in a horizontal manner [is that] we have moved away from God, we no longer read His signs.” He was referring to the physical environment, but he links the lack of awareness of our physical surroundings, nature and the human milieu to inattentiveness and distraction concerning the spiritual world....
November 17, 2014Christ the King (A), Nov. 23, 2014
The correlation of the roles of king and shepherd precedes even the Old Testament. Akkadian, Babylonian and Sumerian texts, including the Code of Hammurabi, all invoke the king as shepherd. Clearly this association emerges from the pastoral context of the time, when sheep- and goat-herding were central to the ancient Semitic way of life.
November 10, 2014Thirty-Third Sunday in ordinary Time (A), Nov. 16, 2014
To be “awake and sober” seems like a minimalist approach to the Christian life, but it is a figurative sign of the Christian spiritual life engaged and diligent. Paul exhorts the Thessalonians in the context of the parousia, the second coming of Christ, which the early Christians hoped might arrive in their own lifetimes.
November 3, 2014Dedication of the Lateran Basilica (A), Nov. 9, 2014
The Lateran Basilica in Rome is not the home parish for many of us, though some might have visited it. It is the pope’s own cathedral, but we are parishioners at churches closer to home, with less ancient and lofty origins and nicknames like St. Joe’s and St. Mike’s. Our home parish is where we attend Mass, run the scouting den and bake cookies for the fall festival. For all of its foibles and problems, our home parish is, well, home.
October 27, 2014All Souls (A), Nov. 2, 2014
What happens when we die? This is a question most people ask at some point, perhaps especially Christians, who look forward to the resurrection at the end of time. But in the interim, prior to the general resurrection, what happens to those who have died? Where do they go? This is a confusing issue for more people than is often acknowledged. As a boy, I pondered the resurrection and assumed that when I died I would be “resurrected” straightaway into heaven to...
October 20, 2014Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), Oct. 26, 2014
In the covenant code in Exodus, in which Moses reveals God’s prohibitions and commandments to the Israelites, we quickly learn that God is a God who hears the voices of the powerless, who sees the needs of the poor.
October 13, 2014Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), Oct. 19, 2014
One of Jesus’ most famous sayings challenges us to consider a simple question: what do I owe to whom? The saying is mellifluous in the King James translation, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” It is teasingly straightforward, so straightforward that the saying cannot be made simpler, and yet its meaning is not obvious. What are the things due Caesar and what does not belong to God?
October 6, 2014Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), Oct. 12, 2014
There is no more compelling image for the city of God than that of the banquet, drawing as it does on the common experiences of good food and drink. I remember the cities I have visited by the food I ate in them, so this picture of the feast resonates at a deep, human level. Feasts recall times of joy in our lives, of families gathered together eating in celebration.
September 29. 2014Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), Oct. 5, 2014
In biblical poetry a vineyard often represents the beloved. The prophet Isaiah begins to “sing for my beloved my love-song concerning his vineyard,” a song in which God’s affectionate care of Israel is recounted. The love song quickly becomes a lover’s lament, though, as Isaiah tells how the vineyard was prepared with tenderness, but since it produced “wild grapes,” it will now be abandoned. God speaks: “I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I...