Rebirth and Birth

The gospel for yesterday and today combine to cover John 3:1-15, the encounter of Jesus and Nicodemus. In the passage, Jesus says to Nicodemus, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless one is born anothen, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” As is characteristic of John’s gospel, it is in the subtly of words that people are offered a choice. Popularly, Bibles translate the passage as “unless one is born again.” And indeed that is an acceptable translation, but not the primary or best if being true to the text. The best translation is “unless one is born from above.” It not only takes the primary meaning of the word anothen, but also ties into the “direction” of the references in the passage: Continue reading

Perception and Response

Next Sunday is the 3rd Easter of Sunday. You can read a complete commentary on the Gospel here.

13 Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, 14 and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. 15 And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, 16 but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19 And he replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. 21 But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. 22 Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning 23 and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. 24 Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.” Continue reading

Pope Francis on Divine Mercy

Here is the opening of Pope Francis’ homily on Divine Mercy Sunday. The gospel is the well-known account of the Sunday evening of the Resurrection: “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews…” It is the story we mostly remember as the story about “doubting Thomas.” But all the disciples were there. People who had heard the women’s account of having encountered the Risen Jesus. Perhaps the travelers to Emmaus had already returned. What they found was fear and locked doors. Continue reading

What wondrous love

I have been leading Bible studies for a long time now. I think the first one was in 1984. When I think back, it seems to me, that each time we study St. Luke’s account called the “Road to Emmaus” the same basic questions arise. “How could these two people, clearly disciples, people who may have followed Jesus for maybe three years – having seen the miracles, the mighty works, heard the preaching, seen Lazarus raised from the dead, and heard Jesus proclaim that he would be put to death and then rise – how could they then hear the reports of the empty tomb and then walk away in a slow descent into despair? Don’t they get it?  How could they not get it? Where is their faith?” Continue reading

Blessed

My dad once told me that anyone who comes into this world with a blank sheet of paper and a pen has already put themselves at disadvantage. It was his way of saying creativity was truly a gift. Use it if you have it. Otherwise be well read and versed, ready to add other people’s words to your blank sheet of paper. I have already done one post this morning and have another one schedule later, but here are some other words from someone else. Continue reading

In hours before dawn

I mentioned to some folks this week that the rhythm of my life seems to have re-adapted itself to life from my days in the submarine service. While underway, life unfolded in an 18-hour day. Six of the hours were spent on watch/duty operating the nuclear reactor or piloting the boat (submarines are always referred to as “boat”). The other 12 hours were allocated to rest, meals and the on-going work. For my part, I seem to remember 4 hours or so of sleep as the norm. That norm seems to have returned as I seem to routinely get about 4-5 hours a night. The parish business manager just smiles and tells me it is not a reversion to submarine duty, its old age. This is my blog, so you can just ignore his input. Continue reading

Not the finish line

As a liturgical season, Lent is rather straightforward. It is kinda’ easy to write about. There is Ash Wednesday to dramatically mark its beginning, and we all know we are moving relentlessly towards Easter. We count the days even as we mark Lent’s beginning. The Ashes make a visible mark upon us, reminding us that we are dust and to dust we shall return – but that is not the end of the story. We are reminded to repent and believe in the Gospel – but that is not the end goal. We are encouraged to pray, fast, and give alms – but those practices are meant to make room in our lives for God that we too may rise to the newness of life at Eastertide. Continue reading

A Bible Bard

I have been leading Bible studies “since Jesus was rowing on the Sea of Galilee.” Not really, but it been for more than 30 years. Over the years I have written and posted lots of commentaries and have even begun to collect all the posts into groupings of the Liturgical Year (see the menu above). I will admit that the written commentaries tend to be a bit nerdy, especially when it comes to the nuances of words. But, I think when I am leading a Bible Study I default to my more natural motif… story teller – the bard of things biblical but without the musical accompaniment. If someone asks me about being a student of God’s Word and how will they know when they “know” enough, my answer is always, “when you can gossip the Gospel over the backyard fence.” People telling people the story and stories of the Bible is at the heart and soul of what it means to be the People of God. Continue reading

Images of empty

To be sure, every locale has its own set of “images of empty” – places normally teaming with life, people, and activity. This is one from Clearwater, Florida. On any given day the beach and parking lot are jammed by early morning. Not these days

Photography by Tampa Bay Times photographer Luis Santana