Thoughts for Labor Day

Jesus was a master of the story form known as parables. One of the most memorable parables can be found in Luke: the story of Lazarus and the Rich man (Luke 16:19-31). The parable starts simply enough: “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores.” Very quickly in the parable the two men die. The unnamed rich man goes to a fiery afterlife of torment while Lazarus rests in the arms of Abraham, awaiting the day when Jesus will open the gates of Heaven for the faithful. Continue reading

The Sign of Peace

Back in 2014, after 9 years of study, the Vatican announced that the sign of peace, currently placed after the consecration and before the recitation of the Agnus Dei in the Roman Rite, will not be moved to another part of the Mass, as had been proposed by some bishops. 9 years? While that may have been a concern of liturgists, bishops, and others, I think the concerns of the average person in the pew lay elsewhere. Continue reading

Honor and Humility

This coming Sunday marks our journey in Ordinary Time, the 22nd Sunday in Year C. You can read a complete commentary on the Sunday Gospel here.

1 On a sabbath he went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully. … 7 He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table. 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, 9 and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. 10 Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’ Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” 12 Then he said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. 13 Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; 14 blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:1,7-14) Continue reading

Thessaloniki

The first reading for today’s daily Mass is from St. Paul to the citizens of Thessaloniki (Thessalonica in English). The original name of the city was Θεσσαλονίκη Thessaloníkē. It was named after princess Thessalonike of Macedon, the half sister of Alexander the Great, whose name means “Thessalian victory” honoring the Macedonian victory at the Battle of Crocus Field (the bloodiest battle recorded in Ancient Greek history; 353/352 BCE). The victorious forces were under the reign of Philip II of Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great. The city has its own history, but today is the second-largest city in Greece, with over 1 million inhabitants in its metropolitan area, and the capital of Greek Macedonia. Continue reading

Gifted, graced, and get going

In the first reading, it has been about 40 years since the armies of Babylon captured, destroyed and burned Jerusalem. The Prophet Isaiah is speaking to people who have lived their life in exile with only the stories of the Jerusalem-that-used-to-be as solace. A people that are wondering if they will ever be saved from exile. Will God rescue them as He did when he led the people out of exile and slavery in Egypt those many years ago? Continue reading

Core Values of Stewardship

The rains came to the hollows of Appalachia. The forecast was that rains at the higher elevations would be especially heavy resulting in rising floodwaters in all places and flashfloods in the steeper hollows and valleys of the county. The emergency warnings were for all residents to seek high grounds and keep away from streams and rivers.

When the neighbors saw Jonas, an older resident and a member of the local congregation, they encouraged him to leave his homestead and come with them to higher ground. Jonas thanked them for their offer but said, “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me.” The neighbors drove on up the road. Continue reading

Judges

The Book of Judges remains a bit of a mystery to lots of Christians, although some of the more notable names from Old Testament scripture are from the Book of Judges: Deborah, Sampson, and Gideon. The Hebrew word translated “Judges” in the English title of the book refers not to specialized judicial officers or magistrates but to leaders in general. According to the biblical narrative these judges led Israel from the end of the conquest of Canaan until the beginning of the monarchy. The period of the Judges, therefore, extended from the death of Joshua (Jos 24:2931; cf. Jgs 1:1) until the installation of Saul as Israel’s first king by the prophet Samuel, who was also the last judge (see 1 Sm 7:1517). Continue reading

terebinth

I am often asked what is a “terebinth” when it appears in a daily reading. It is a small tree – and there the opinions diverge. It is either a Palestinian type of oak or it is a small tree of the cashew family and once a source of turpentine. Its more formal name is pistacia palaestina. It has a Southern European cousin, P. terebinthus. But then again the word might be referring to Quercus calliprinos, the Palestinian oak. Continue reading

First and Last

This coming Sunday marks our journey in Ordinary Time, the 21st Sunday in Year C. You can read a complete commentary on the Sunday Gospel here.

22 He passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He answered them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. 25 After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ 26 And you will say, ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’ 27 Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where (you) are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!’ 28 And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out. 29 And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. 30 For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” (Luke 13:22-30) Continue reading