June 6-13, 2016Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), June 12, 2016
A tension in the church today mimics a tension Jesus felt with the religious experts of his own day: Why did Jesus welcome sinners without asking for a change or transformation, a turn away from their sin? Some Catholics sense something similar going on with Pope Francis. Why does Francis seem to water down the faith, welcoming in those who seem at odds with the teaching of the church? Jesus did, of course, ask sinners to stop sinning, as does Pope Francis;...
June 6-13, 2016Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), June 19, 2016
Matters of personal identity loom large in today’s culture. Yet elements of identity that once seemed stable, like gender, are often seen today as products of self-construction. These elements, which might also include sexuality and definitions of family, create a fluidity of self-identity that seems to leave no solid ground, no stable place.
Many Christians find that this sort of shifting ground wreaks havoc on traditional...
May 23-30, 2016Body and Blood of Christ (C), May 29, 2016
The solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ emerged as a feast in medieval Europe through the urging of St. Julianna of Cornillon, a Belgian mystic and prioress who had visions that directed her to strive to establish a feast in which greater devotion was focused on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Because of her own caution as to the significance of her visions, and the ecclesial and political intrigues which she suffered, it would take many...
May 23-30, 2016Tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (C), June 5, 2016
The account of Jesus raising from the dead the only son of a mother, a widow, recalls a similar story of the prophet Elijah healing the only son of a mother, a widow, in the First Book of Kings. The fact that the women are widowed is an important piece of information for understanding their situations, especially since they are without any children. A widow in antiquity could suffer terrible economic hardship if she did not have an extended family network or...
May 9, 2016Pentecost (C), May 15, 2016
If you have a teacher, you are a student and you have things to learn. There are, naturally, students who believe they know it all or, even if they do not, are not compelled to learn anything else. They are comfortable with what they know. Some students, too, are simply bored and uninterested. Whether they know a little or a lot, they are not inspired to put in the work to learn something new. These issues are cast into an interesting light when we recognize...
May 16, 2016Holy Trinity (C), May 22, 2016
Even careful readers of the Bible who are attentive to the church’s tradition can read the biblical texts that informed the doctrine of the Trinity and see three persons, each acting separately from the others. In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” Later in the same passage, though, Jesus declares that the Father “will...
May 2, 2016The Ascension of the Lord (C), May 8, 2016
The ascension is a proof of the significance of the incarnation and, as a result, the significance of each of our lives. Certainly, the ascension directs us to the uniqueness of Jesus, as God and man, and specifically to Jesus’ enthronement as Lord, but it also points to the uniqueness and value of each human life. Because Jesus’ human being does not cease with his resurrection or his ascension, Jesus’ incarnation, the particularity of his human personhood,...
April 25, 2016Sixth Sunday of Easter (C), May 1, 2016
When discussing questions of tradition and change in the church, whether at the parish level or that of the universal church, “peace” is not the first word that jumps to mind. The tensions in the life of the church today, though, mirror those at the time of the Apostles.
Acts 15 outlines the deliberations of the Council of Jerusalem, which took place around A.D. 49 or 50. Prior to the gathering, certain disciples of Jesus in...
April 18, 2016Fifth Sunday of Easter (C), April 24, 2016
Psalm 145 says that “the Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” God’s steadfast love for humanity is the through note that brings harmony to the psalms. Even more, deep engagement with the psalms transforms the reader and brings harmony to the soul. Brian E. Daley, S.J., writes in The Harp of Prophecy that the church father Athanasius recognized “in this mimetic, modeling role of the psalms an anticipation of the...
April 4-11, 2016Third Sunday of Easter (C), April 10, 2016
The Gospel of John presents the apostles after Jesus’ resurrection as getting on with their lives, even after he had appeared to them, in as normal a way as one could expect. Peter and a number of the other disciples, including Thomas, James and John, were at the Sea of Tiberias when Peter decided to go fishing, which is what fishermen do. The rest of them said, “We will go with you.” They fished all night and caught nothing, and then Jesus appeared on the...