How do we speak of things that we sense are true, but which lie beyond our ability to see or touch or know? How can we, with our limited language and concepts, begin to describe the spiritual world which we sense is all around us? What can we say of unseen and mystical realities that do not lend themselves to observation or analysis? Continue reading
“Consider your own call,” the Apostle Paul writes to the fledgling disciples of the Church in Corinth. Now of course Paul knows that every disciple’s call comes from Christ alone, that they are each and all chosen to serve and to be glorified in the one Lord. Yet Paul says, “Consider your own call.” From his own transformative encounter with the risen Christ, Paul also knows that each disciple’s vocation is unique. For just as each person is an image and likeness of the one God unlike any other, so too the circumstances, gifts, and mission of each disciple called into Christ’s mystical Body have a personally peculiar manifestation in each one. Paul says, “Consider your own call,” reminding us that each woman or man’s call will be transformed by God into a strikingly particular life of love and self-offering in Christ.
This is Herod Antipas, who was the instrument of death for both John the Baptist and ultimately, for Jesus himself. Herod was a massively powerful Jewish puppet, appointed by Rome. His job was to maintain the Pax Romana, the peace of Rome, the status quo, to which Jesus was a threat. Jesus was a Jewish nobody from nowhere… but people were listening to him and following him, and that was a political problem. Herod’s family cast a wide shadow over Jesus since the day of his birth. It had been Herod the Great who was responsible both for Joseph and Mary’s fleeing for safety to Egypt with their infant child. This same Herod was also responsible for the slaughter of the Holy Innocents, his in-vain attempt to exterminate this promising newborn, Jesus. Continue reading
Today’s Hebrew Scripture lesson from the scribe Ezra describes the decrees of good King Darius and the search for documentary evidence concerning the First Temple and its records. The Third Temple, built by Herod and in its final construction stages in Jesus’ time, is said to have contained tens of thousands of genealogical records. After the Babylonian exile, there was an almost obsessive preoccupation with proving the purity of one’s family bloodlines. Many of Jesus’ Jewish contemporaries searched these records in their effort to demonstrate their good standing in the post-Exilic community. Galilean families, living in a mixed Gentile- Jewish area and often marginalized by the Judean elite centered in Jerusalem seemed to have been particularly intent in proving their connection to this community and as we know, Jesus was a Galilean. Continue reading
If you were to find this Gospel lesson appointed for today either confusing or offending, you would not be the first. It would seem that Jesus is extolling the practices of a dishonest account manager. So we hear, this manager falsified the amounts owed to his employer so that, when the manager was out of a job – fired because of his dishonesty! – these same people with whom he is currying illicit favor would admire him or owe him, and ultimately welcome him into their hospitality. Continue reading
Think for a moment of the images of Jesus you have seen over the years. Jesus, standing with arms stretched out in welcome, radiating gentleness and peace. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, with a lamb resting contentedly on his shoulders. Jesus, seated, tenderly welcoming little children to come near to him. These images show us a Jesus who is full of compassion, the One who reveals to us a God of compassion, mercy and love. Continue reading
We heard in today’s Gospel that Jesus was setting out on one of his preaching tours. At first thought today’s Gospel may appear to be just another narrative about one of Jesus’ walkabout tours for ministry. The purpose of those tours was to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God, and to bring that message to the towns and villages of the region of Galilee. Continue reading
What have you seen today?
I have no doubt that all of us who are blessed with the gift of sight could construct a lengthy list of people, places and objects that we have seen over the course of this day. But we would all have to admit that there are times when we engage in the act of seeing but fail to notice or perceive, when we hear sounds but fail to listen to what is being expressed, when we take in food but fail to taste what we are eating. To really see, to really hear, to really touch or taste or smell, requires a degree of attentiveness which is often difficult to attain. Continue reading
In July 2011, our brother Tom and I spent a few days in Rome. In many ways, the highlight of our visit was the pilgrimage we made, deep underground, into the Christian catacombs. I remember it was a very hot day, but as we walked down and down, through the intricate labyrinth of tunnels, the temperature plummeted. I remember shivering with cold, but also with awe. We were on holy ground, for on each side of the tunnels were recesses for burial chambers. Here, in the very first centuries after Christ, Christians buried their dead. As my eyes slowly got used to the dim light I began to see that the walls were covered with a plethora of beautiful colored frescoes. Continue reading
Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross that he might draw the whole world to himself: Mercifully grant that we, who glory in the mystery of our redemption, may have grace to take up our cross and follow him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. Continue reading