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Sunday, February 23
Our readings for today remind us of our call to holiness. Leviticus tells us, “You shall be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am Holy” (19: 2). Saint Paul tell us “Do you not know that you are the temple of God” (1 Cor. 3: 16)? Matthew’s Gospel tells us, “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (5: 48). But what does it mean to be Holy? Our Gospel comes from Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount from which Jesus is crafting a vision for our moral behavior.
Sunday, February 16
This past Friday was Valentine’s Day; a day in which we celebrated the loves in our lives. It is a day of the heart. It is a day when we take stock of how the law of love has impacted our lives. The law of love is ruled by the heart and as such, hearts are the symbol of the day. A common candy for the celebration are the candy hearts which have words and phrases on them. You could say they have the intentions of the heart written on them.
Sunday, February 9
Salt and Light
The theme of light appears again in our readings for today. Light is elemental to our living. In the book of Genesis, the first thing God does is create light. Our scriptures end with God giving light to all people forever in the book of Revelation. In the light, things that are hidden by the dark become visible. Light is good for our living. It enhances our ability to see. We see not the light but what it illuminates. Salt is similar in that regard. Salt enhances our ability to taste. Used properly we taste not the salt, but rather the food on which it is used. Both of these ideas of salt and light refer to actions that that Isaiah describes as actions we might take, to “. . . remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech” to “bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted . . .” (Is 58: 9-10). When we do these things, our light “shines,” and we add flavor to and “season” life.
Sunday, January 26
This time of year can be difficult. If we leave for work early enough in the morning, it is dark outside. Depending on our commute and when we leave, it can be dark on our return. The extended darkness can feel oppressive and be depressing or worse, cause seasonal affective disorder. It can leave us longing for the darkness of winter to pass and the longer days of spring to come.
Sunday, January 19
Think of time of personal failure. That memory probably conjures up some not so wonderful feelings. The question is, what do we do with our failures or those feelings that accompany them? No one likes failure. We also might think the Church does not like failure if we see that today’s lectionary expunges the fourth verse of Isaiah, which reveals his own sense of failure. Isaiah says, “Though I thought I had toiled in vain, for nothing and for naught spent my strength” (49: 4). Why does he say this? Because he failed to accomplish what he set out to do; turn Israel back to God. The Apostle, Paul, fails in his attempt to establish a peaceful church in Corinth. He writes this letter to them because there are factions and divisions in the community of faith. Even Jesus fails. If he is the Messiah that John the Baptist testifies to in today’s Gospel, by the world’s standards, he fails in his death.
Sunday, January 12
Today we are at a threshold in time where we cross over from Christmas time to Ordinary time. We cross this threshold with the story of Jesus’ baptism. The question we may have about this event in his life is, why did he choose to be baptized? He is the sinless son of God, after all. Matthew narrates how John the Baptist’s response to Jesus echoes that question, saying, “John tried to prevent him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?’ Jesus said to him in reply, ‘Allow it now, for this it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness’” (3:14-15).
Sunday, January 5
Isaiah proclaims; “The glory of the Lord shines upon you” (60: 1). With this proclamation, today we celebrate the Epiphany – which is the coming of the Magi. The story is one of light, hope and a Star. It is also a story of darkness and evil. The story includes a journey, foreigners, and gifts. We can wonder about the story, whether it is history or legend? Regardless of the story’s origin, we can look to the deeper spiritual message of the story.
Sunday, November 24
Today we come to the end of our liturgical year with this feast of Christ the King. Interestingly, the gospel focuses not on Jesus’ resurrection, but on his crucifixion. Why is that? After all, the disciples only come to faith and an understanding of his kingship after experiencing him as resurrected. But it is in his very crucifixion that he is established as “king.” He subverts the traditional notion of kingship through his ministry and rules through his service to others. In his death he spurns the typical notion of other kings who rule through violence and conquest. Instead he rules with love and mercy, ultimately embracing the deadly violence of the world and willingly submitting to a cruel and painful death.
Sunday, November 17
As we approach the end of the liturgical year, today’s readings paint a picture of the end time: nation rising against nation, plagues, famines, great signs, persecutions and trials. The biblical “day of the Lord” will be a time, as Malachi tells us, “when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire” (3: 19). But are these signs new? What age has been absent of these types of calamities? In reading these words, I cannot help but recall the R.E.M. tune “It’s the end of the world as we know it.” The song lyrics speak of earthquakes, hurricanes and the world serving its own needs. It paints a picture of chaos and disharmony, similar to that of the scriptures. Nearly two thousand years have passed since the writing of Luke’s Gospel, and we are still waiting for “the end.” So what are these texts trying to tell us?
Sunday, November 10
The Day of the Dead is a central celebration of our Mexican brothers and sisters that occurred at the beginning of this month (10/31-11/02). This multi-day celebration involves gathering with friends and family to remember their deceased relatives and celebrate their lives, often times in the graveyards where they are buried. Their practice echoes the early Christian practice of celebrating Mass in the catacombs with those heroic martyrs whose witness and life inspired the early community and whose memories they wished to keep alive.