Repent and Repeat

One of the most common things one hears in the Sacrament of Reconciliation is the sin of gossip. It has been said that the act of gossip is like buying a chicken in the marketplace, feathers and all, and then walking through town, plucking the feathers one by one. As a priest, how do I direct a person to undo all the damage caused by gossip. It is akin to asking the person to return and pick up all the feathers. Such is the nature of gossip and its redress.

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Jonah: prayer

When last seen Jonah had just hit bottom, swallowed alive. Up to this point, despite lots of opportunities, Jonah had not prayed, even when commanded by the ship’s captain in the midst of the raging tempest at sea – even as all the crew around him offered prayers to a pantheon of gods. But now it is different. He is alone, his choices and their consequences have “consumed” him, and … and what?

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Curiosity

I have written about calumny as sin, which it is indeed as noted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. There are times I wonder if a “lack of curiosity” is very distant cousin. This would be a place for a “wink” emoji, but I will easily resist such temptations.

The recent power struggles during the February 2021 bitter cold snap are a case in point. It did not take too long for the leadership of the State of Texas to place the blame for the extensive loss of power on the renewable energy (solar panels, wind turbines) as the culprit. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Rep. Dan Crenshaw were quick to jump on that “party line” – pun intended – and people I know held that up as a demonstration of what’s wrong with this country; the green movement forcing people to adopt renewable energy – and “look where that got Texas.” I would such a reaction as one of many examples where a lack of curiosity helps lead people down a dead-end path.

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Making things new

Sunday next is the 3rd Sunday of Lent in Year B. You can read a full commentary on the gospel here.

13 Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money-changers seated there. 15 He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, 16 and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” 17 His disciples recalled the words of scripture, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 18 At this the Jews answered and said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” 19 Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the scripture and the word Jesus had spoken. 23 While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing. 24 But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, 25 and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well. Continue reading

Showing Mercy

Today’s gospel is short, sweet with many good points. Let me muse upon just one: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” One way to consider this admonition is to ponder what are the consequence of withholding mercy.

In the early 19th century, Mary Shelley wrote the novel, Frankenstein.  While we associate the name with the creature, the name is the moniker of the novel’s scientist. This character is often thought about as the archetypical product of the Enlightenment and Industrial Age.

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Jonah: swallowed up

1:15 Then they took Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea’s raging abated. 16 Struck with great fear of the LORD, the men offered sacrifice and made vows to him. 2:1 But the LORD sent a large fish, that swallowed Jonah; and he remained in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Interestingly, many modern translations position Jonah 2:1 as Jonah 1:17, including it with the previous chapter where it makes more sense from a literary point of view. It is good to be reminded that chapters/verses were assigned by Robert Estienne in 1551 for the New Testament and 1571 for the Hebrew Scriptures for his print editions and so chapter/verse is not sacrosanct. But if you read other Bibles and commentaries and are wondering why the verses are “off” by a single digit…now you know.

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Both-And

Did you know that our Christian brothers and sisters proclaim the gospel of the Transfiguration on the Sunday before Lent while we hear it this 2nd Sunday of Lent? For them it is the end of the liturgical season of Epiphany that starts with the first revelation of the Christ child to the world and end with the account of the divine glory of God being revealed in the person of Jesus. There is a lovely symmetry to that. On the first Sunday in Lent, both traditions proclaim Jesus’ temptation in the desert – and with the exception of this Sunday, both traditions proclaim the same Gospels for the remainder of Lent.

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Stations of the Cross: compared

The Traditional Stations of the Cross have long been celebrated in many forms with the 14 Stations familiar to us a relatively recent form. Several of the stations arise from long-held traditions among the Christians of the Holy Land, but they are not necessarily Scriptural. In 1991, Pope John Paul II instituted a form of the Stations that are based solely on Scripture. This too forms a wonderful means of reflecting upon the events of the Holy Week which put the love of Christ in the forefront of our hearts and minds. Continue reading

On the high mountain

Tomorrow is the 2nd Sunday of Lent in Year B. It is an account of the Transfiguration as told by St. Mark. You can read a full commentary on the Gospel here.

2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. 4 Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. 5 Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. 7 Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” 8 Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them. 9 As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.

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The pattern of the Gospel

It is later in the autumn of 1206 that with his decision to “leave the world” Francis began to be aware of the powerful Divine Presence in his life through, his work among the lepers near Assisi, and his habit of taking refuge in churches for prayer and rebuilding the structures.  At San Damiano he encountered the consoling presence of the Savior who had suffered and died for him. It was a presence he soon came to recognize in other church: “And the Lord granted me such faith in churches that I would pray simply and say: We adore you, Lord Jesus Christ, in all you churches throughout the world, and we bless you, because by your Holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.” (Testament 4-7).  Francis was at the beginnings of an inner peace. Continue reading