Momentum

In today’s Mass readings we encounter the well-known story of Zacchaeus the tax collector who was curious to see Jesus, this wonder worker about whom he had heard so much. It is a much different encounter of the blind man in yesterday’s gospel. Both are example of the laws of momentum, but on a spiritual plain.

The first law of momentum states that every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force. The blind man used his inner desire, the movement of the Spirit, the presence of Jesus – we are not told specifically – to ask Jesus for his sight. Acted upon by the greater force of God’s power and love, the course of that man’s life changed.
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Christ the King Crucified

This coming Sunday marks our journey in Ordinary Time, the 34th Sunday in Year C – the Solemnity of Christ the King. You can read a complete commentary on the Sunday Gospel here.

33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. 34 (Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”) They divided his garments by casting lots. [The above is not part of the Sunday reading, but is generally considered within the narrative. ] 35 The people stood by and watched; the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God.” 36 Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine 37 they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” 38 Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.”  39 Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” 40 The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? 41 And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:35-43) Continue reading

The temple within

In Jesus’ day there was one thing that dominated the skyline of Jerusalem – the Temple – easily seen from across the way on the Mount of Olives, hovering over the Old City, and visible from every balcony in the upper city. It wasn’t the original Temple, that had been destroyed some 600 years before by the armies of King Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon. This the second temple. Construction started about 520 years before Jesus’ time but it was King Herod the Great who make the temple a “wonder of the world.” While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings (Luke 21:5). Continue reading

Contagious Gratitude

GratitudeI don’t remember – it has been so long now – but somewhere, sometime ago, I began to start emails, letters, cards and the like with the same phrase: “May the grace and peace of Christ be with you.” It is an expression that begins many of St. Paul’s letters, in one form or another, e.g., Galatians 1:3. It is not a scripted beginning; there is a great deal of intention about it. There are times when I am in a hurry, responding to emails, that I am reminded at the end to return to the beginning and insert the greeting. It often leads to editing of the email if there is some part that does not have grace or peace about it. Continue reading

What signs will there be?

This coming Sunday marks our journey in Ordinary Time, the 33rd Sunday in Year C. You can read a complete commentary on the Sunday Gospel here.

5 While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, he said, 6 “All that you see here—the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” 7 Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” 8 He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them! 9 When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” Continue reading

Hope, Love and Resurrection

One of the amazing stained-glass windows in our church is the triptych window of the Resurrection on the first Easter Sunday. It is a piece that takes its place in the gallery of Resurrection artwork across Christianity. Depictions and artwork that has graced the walls of catacombs of ancient Rome, as well as more formal works such as frescos, icons, illuminated manuscripts, altar pieces, Romanesque reliefs, sculptures and more. The Resurrection has been depicted by the great artists of the West: Caravaggio, Peter Paul Rubens, Annibale Carracci, Giotto, Titian, Piero della Francesca, Fra Angelico, El Greco, Jan van Eyck, Raphael, and Michelangelo. Continue reading

A little-known saint

Duns Scotus1November 8th is the feast day of Blessed John Duns Scotus, a Franciscan friar from Scotland noted for his theological and philosophical work in the high-middle ages (late 13th and early 14th centuries). Scotus’ work was in the generation that followed Thomas of Aquinas and Bonaventure. His work was complex and nuanced, and he is generally considered to be one of the three most important philosopher-theologians of his time. He was given the medieval accolade Doctor Subtilis (Subtle Doctor) for his penetrating and subtle manner of thought. Continue reading

Practice, practice, practice

GratitudeI am often given to repeating St. Bonaventure’s wise counsel: humility is the guardian and gateway to all the other virtues…and the first evidence of it is gratitude. We can all have moments in which we are profoundly grateful, but are we grateful people? The first is a description of a moment in time, deeply remembered; the second is an intrinsic condition of who you are as a person. It is at the root of your being, it is the lens through which you see the world, and it is the mode by which you engage the world. Even as I write that last sentence, I am thinking, “Gosh, I want to be that person!” Continue reading

About Resurrection

This coming Sunday marks our journey in Ordinary Time, the 32nd Sunday in Year C. You can read a complete commentary on the Sunday Gospel here.

27 Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and put this question to him, 28 saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us, ‘If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother.’ 29 Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman but died childless. 30 Then the second 31 and the third married her, and likewise all the seven died childless. 32 Finally the woman also died. 33 Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her.” Continue reading

Words

I finds words fascinating and surprising. Especially the connection between words that, in English, we would not give a second thought to connecting. I am of an older generation that during high school was required to take Latin, so from time to time, I see connections in the Latin roots. But words retain the ability to surprise. Continue reading