Have you ever heard that the Gospel is radical?
In our times, we hear that word and think of fundamentalists, radical activists, or extremists - people who go beyond limits to achieve their goals and may not consider themselves bound by normal propriety or morality. Their ethos might not be so different from James and John in today's Gospel. "Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?" This isn't so foreign to some of the stories of the Old Testament. Yet Jesus rebukes them. He won't be exacting in the way his contemporaries expected. There will be no radical rain down of fire and brimstone. Jesus is radical in another way: the call to discipleship.
"They all ate and were satisfied." Why read the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves this Sunday? Here we see the mystery of our physical and spiritual realities intermingling. Too often, they can feel separate. When we go to Mass, how often we appear more ordinarily human rather than stretching toward the divine.
Perhaps our experience of the Eucharist is fairly mundane. We notice when a new sacramental wine has been selected. We feel the varying textures of the host and wonder if they'll ever bring back the one that tasted distinctly like wheat. As we shuffle up to the front and stride back to our pew, we notice the looks on people's faces and the clothes on their backs. We get distracted by the crying child, the man blowing his nose, and the mechanical sound of the air conditioner kicking in. How human we are, how earth-bound, how material!READ MORE
If God is one, how can He be three? The most intelligent theologians have racked their brains over the problem, and the most prayerful ones have surrendered to the mystery. How it can be, we can't explain. But what it means, we can join! Our God is an ever-unfolding relationship. Theologians speak of the immanent and economic Trinity. The Trinity is immanent in the sense that the Persons are close and entirely sufficient within Godself. In other words, God doesn't require us for God to exist. The word economic is rooted in the Greek word for management of a household or family. TheREAD MORE
El Espíritu de Dios viene de la mano de la paz de Cristo y debemos recibirlo con el Corazón abierto. Antes de irse, Jesús les promete a sus discípulos que enviará al Espíritu Santo: "Y cuando venga él, el Espíritu de la Verdad, los guiará, en todos los caminos de la verdad". (Juan 16:13). Las personas tienen la experiencia que el Espíritu siempre deja huella, cambia la vida, y produce efectos. Así es que, algunos dicen: "abrí mi corazón al Espíritu Santo y cambio mi vida, ahora soy diferente. Menos egoísta, más justo con mí esposa y mis hijos". Hoy es el día que Dios regala su Espíritu al mundo, y a cada uno en particular.READ MORE
I travel a good bit, which means I am away from my wife and children for decent periods of time. But what makes it easier for me, besides being able to share the Good News of Jesus with people all over, is that I know I will not be gone forever. I will return, and then all will be well again. I have been called by God to be away from them at times, but God always brings me back to them.
Each liturgical year, we celebrate Jesus' ascension into heaven. The feast speaks much to who Jesus is theologically. But in a very practical way, we also acknowledge that he has gone to be with the Father, but will return someday. Just as I return after a conference or visit with a parish to those God has entrusted to me and I love, Jesus will return to those entrusted to him and whom he loves.READ MORE
We all face obstacles in life. Perhaps it's a lost job, the death of a loved one, a sudden accident that places an unexpected dent in our finances. Sometimes the challenges are of our own making. Perhaps we've developed patterns of sin in our personal lives or our family relationships. We've all felt the jolting shock of, "This is all my fault." How do these things affect our relationship with God? Or, perhaps more poignantly, how do we now view God's relationship to us?READ MORE
I am struck by how Jesus addresses the disciples in the 21st chapter of John. They have been fishing all night, and when the dawn comes, Jesus asks, "Children, have you caught anything to eat?" They hadn't caught a thing, so he tells them what to do to finally fill their nets. These children thought they knew best, but they couldn't get the job done until they listened to Jesus. Like a child who needs a parent, these early followers of Jesus were learning that real maturity of faith requires trusting in and listening to the Teacher.
The stewardship way of life demands of us a certain maturity of discipleship. Just as a child is not yet ready to be a parent, an immature disciple may not yet be ready to sacrifice regardless of the cost or understand the true value of his generosity. So every day, we are challenged and called to respond, sometimes even with little cost to ourselves. But each step, no matter how small, brings with it growth. We are growing not only in maturity, but in the ability to trust in God and how to listen for the call as well.READ MORE
He has you in mind. Do we think about that much? The God of the universe has us in mind, individually as persons and together as one human family. We hear this truth in today's Gospel story of Thomas. His doubt is likely familiar to us by now. "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."READ MORE
Can you imagine that moment? Can you imagine the stomach drop with dizzying realization: "It's all true. All of it is true! The past three years weren't a dream that ended horribly wrong." Can you imagine all the doubts and despair of the past days chased away like smoke on the wind by a rolled up burial cloth? By an empty tomb?
It didn't start that way, of course. "'They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don't know where they put him.'" This frantic news from Mary Magdalene would have been another unexpected blow. After all that happened, now his body has been stolen? The love and devotion in Peter and John is apparent. They don't wait to collect more information or stop by the tomb when they have a chance. They run to the site. When is the last time you ran for something? This isn't a run for exercise, but a huffing and puffing bolt fueled by desperation. Can you imagine that moment? The fear pounding in their temples, matching their accelerated heart rate. Can you imagine the impatient affection of John, who outruns Peter but refuses to enter the tomb alone? And then, upon entry, "He saw and believed."READ MORE
Palm Sunday is a strange day in our liturgical calendar. We begin by waving palms, but somewhere in the middle, we call for Jesus to be crucified. We celebrate today an equally paradoxical God, one who comes to save through suffering.
"I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!" Jesus, who so often in the Gospels tries to hide his true identity, speaks thunderously to the Pharisees who would still the rejoicing crowd. At the Last Supper, Jesus confirms the Messianic promise to his disciples, saying "I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father has conferred one on me." Yet, before the night is over, Jesus has been betrayed.READ MORE
"The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle." The episode of the woman caught in adultery is a powerful story. We have perhaps all felt as the woman has at some point in our lives, surrounded by those who would condemn us. The beauty of Christ's mercy at the end is clear ? and a welcome relief as we all struggle to be good and holy people. But have we ever imagined ourselves on the edge of the circle? Have we pictured ourselves in the sea of dusty robes? Perhaps, we hope, we're hovering at the edge of the circle of judgment. But we've all been there.READ MORE
Repentance. Envy. Joy. Hope. Have you felt these human emotions? Today's Gospel offers a rich story, one we can all find our place in. As we reflect on our own spiritual lives this Lenten season, it can be helpful to imagine ourselves in the story of the Prodigal Son.
"I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers." The younger son has sinned greatly, betraying his father's trust and squandering his money in sin. Yet the parable turns on his deep repentance and humble return to his father. Is there any area of your life you have been wandering from God or you've squandered good gifts? This Lent, return to the sacrament of Confession! God, a merciful Father, waits for you there.READ MORE
"There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it [he] found none." We live in a results-driven society. It can be easy to put pressure on ourselves to succeed. If we're not keeping up with the perceived "good life" of those around us, we feel anxious and disappointed. Some of the Gospel stories about fruitfulness can seem to play out in this fashion. "For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down." The message seems to be clear. Abide in God and bear fruit! Stand apart from God and be barren. But what happens when we're trying, but the growth we wanted doesn't seem to be coming our way? What if it feels like life just isn't bearing fruit?READ MORE
As we march through Lent, it can be easy to think it's all about sacrifice. No chocolate, no alcohol, no meat on Fridays. Yet here, only in the second week of Lent, we have the story of the transfiguration. This reading reminds us of the "why" behind what we do. We don't fast from dessert to lose weight. We don't donate money or serve others because it's merely a nice thing to do. Lent is about transformation!READ MORE
It will take too long. I can't spare it. I don't know anybody. I am just too busy. How many excuses can you think of to put forth as reasons why you should say no to the call of Jesus Christ? Wait. You didn't know to whom those responses were directed? We say no to many things and many people, but we wouldn't say no to Jesus. Really?READ MORE