According to the flesh

The first reading for today is from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans. The verses that caught my attention were: “…we are not debtors to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rom 8:12-13). As you read it, the natural question that arises is “what does it mean to live according to the flesh?” Continue reading

Context and More Questions

This coming Sunday is the 31st Sunday in Year B. Our gospel is taken from the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus is asked which of the commandments is the first and greatest: 28 One of the scribes…asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” The response is very familiar to Christians: 29 Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! 30 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.  Continue reading


Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” (Mark 10:47)  Chuck Roberts was not an exceptional person – at least not in the way the world would account for such things. He graduated high school, held a number of jobs, saved a little, married, and settled down to have a family. He was laid to rest at age 32 on a gray raining morning. His wife Marie and their two small children stood at the graveside – no money, no insurance, no near-by family. Chuck was the only wage earner. They had never been rich, but now they were on the edge of poor ready to tumble in head first. Continue reading

Celano’s First Life of St. Francis

The earliest written account of Francis and the Leper occurs in Thomas of Celano’s The First Life (1C) written c.1229. The work was commissioned by Pope Gregory IX who asked Celano to write a vita of the newly canonized saint. Francis died in 1226, was declared a saint in rapid order and by April 1228, Gregory called for a burial church to be built for Francis. The commission to Celano was complementary to the architectural celebration. The vita was written in short order and declared official by Gregory in February 1229. Continue reading

Bartimaeus: another thought

This coming Sunday is the 30th Sunday in lectionary cycle B. The gospel is the story of Bartimaeus, a blind man, who cries out to Jesus for pity – or as pointed out in a recent post – for compassion or mercy. This is the last of the miracles recorded in the Gospel of Mark. It is a bookend to Mark 8 healing of the man born blind. It stands in contrast to the rich man who asks Jesus what he must do to inherit the kingdom. It stands in contrast to Peter and the disciples who are having their own problems. The commentaries of this week only began to plum the riches of this gospel. Here is an interesting bit of background come from Dan Clendenin at Journey with Jesus

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Early in the pandemic there was an expectation of reduced demand while at the same time factories in the Pacific Rim region were shut down because of Covid-19 quarantines and infections. In response, shipping companies cut their schedules in anticipation of a drop in demand for moving goods around the world.

Meanwhile in western countries, especially the United States, the timing and quantity of consumer purchases swamped the supply chain system. Factories whose production tends to be fairly predictable ramped up to satisfy a surge of orders. But the problem is the ability to obtain needed materials and the timing as the delivery system tattered on the edge of disaster. Shortages beget more shortages. A paint manufacturer that needs 27 chemicals to make its products may be able to buy all but one, but that one — perhaps stuck on a container ship off Southern California — may be enough to halt production. Continue reading

World Mission Sunday

Last evening I attended the annual Franciscan Mission Service celebration/gala. It was 25 years ago that I joined FMS and headed to to Kenya. Yikes! That was brought to my attention when a pre-dinner slide showed the commissioning of overseas group #36. I was in group #7 sitting with a friend who was in group #1. There is a great energy at FMS – and all this right before World Mission Sunday.
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Bartimaeus: the petition

This coming Sunday is the 30th Sunday in lectionary cycle B. The gospel is the story of Bartimaeus, a blind man, who cries out to Jesus for pity: Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.”  Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way. Continue reading

Who are you?

Recently our Sunday gospel recounted the story of Jesus’ question to the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29)  It is a question we should each be able to answer in a way that reflects the impact and meaning that Jesus has in our life. Thomas’s answer, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28) is a great answer, but perhaps just a summary. What are the details? Can you combine your answer with the admonition of 1 Peter 3:15 (Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope)?

I wonder if there is also an “always be ready” moment to think about who people say that you are? Hopefully your thoughts on the matter are close to the answer others would give…but, these days, I wonder. We live in a world in which our political affiliations are increasingly the lens by which we see and are seen. Continue reading