Disciples and Discipline

Next Sunday is the celebration of the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. You can read a complete commentary on the Gospel here.

15 “If your brother sins (against you), go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.16 If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.  If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.18 Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.19 Again, (amen,) I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:15-20) Continue reading

Remembering the fire

“You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped” Wow…strong words from the prophet Jeremiah.  Duped, tricked, suckered, fooled, hoodwinked.  No one likes to be the unwitting tool in another’s hands, the butt of a joke, or play the part of the fool.  Not too many people are keen to say they were Bernie Maddoff’s friend.  I am sure his investors look back, knowing their money is forever gone, and think, “How could I have been duped like that?” No one likes such moments.  Jeremiah doesn’t like it at all and cries out against the circumstances.

God called Jeremiah to be the prophet and Jeremiah answered –twice!  No doubt those were heady days – to be so connected to the Lord, called to do his work, and now…. And now.  Where was God when I was ridiculed, ignored – when people scorned and laughed at me.  Maybe God is weak and I was duped into thinking otherwise.  Ok, call me once to be prophet – shame on you.  Call me twice – shame on me if I answer. This is why Jeremiah says to himself: “I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more.” This has the passion and the sound of an argument between lovers! Continue reading

Leadership

What kind of leaders do we want? Certainly, a good question here with the 2020 election approaching. It is always a good question for the Church. I have lived during the pontificates of seven popes and, in my lifetime, we have certainly had a wide variety of types and styles of leaders. In our history, we have had 266 popes. We have had some spectacularly amazing leaders, saints in the making, and we have had some spectacularly horrific leaders, who would have been quite at home in Game of Thrones (so I hear, I actually haven’t seen it.) All took up the Keys of Peter, with the same job description given Peter: Feed my sheep; tend my lambs. The Pope is the most visible of leaders in the Church, but not the only ones with that same job description. The simple mandate, “feed my sheep; tend my lambs” applies to priests, pastors, parents, principals, police, and anyone who would lead – anyone who would answer the call to minister in the Holy Name of Jesus. Continue reading

Letter to the Ephesians

Ephesians is the great Pauline letter about the church. It deals, however, not so much with a congregation in the city of Ephesus in Asia Minor as with the worldwide church, the head of which is Christ (Eph 4:15), the purpose of which is to be the instrument for making God’s plan of salvation known throughout the universe (Eph 3:910). Yet this ecclesiology is anchored in God’s saving love, shown in Jesus Christ (Eph 2:410), and the whole of redemption is rooted in the plan and accomplishment of the triune God (Eph 1:314). The language is often that of doxology (Eph 1:314) and prayer (cf. Eph 1:1523; 3:1419), indeed of liturgy and hymns (Eph 3:2021; 5:14). Continue reading

Turning point

Next Sunday is the celebration of the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. You can read a complete commentary on the Gospel here.

21 From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. 22 Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” 23 He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? 27 For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct. 28 Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:21-27) Continue reading

What good can come…

Today is the Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle. We know very little about the saint other than In the New Testament where Bartholomew is mentioned in the lists of the apostles. Some scholars identify him with Nathanael, a man of Cana in Galilee who was summoned to Jesus by Philip. It is thought that Jesus paid him a great compliment: “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him” (John 1:47). The encounter continues with some unmentioned event that lead Nathanael to exclaim, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel” (John 1:49). Jesus promised even great revelations. Those revelations drove him to mission. The Roman Martyrology says he preached in India and Greater Armenia, where he was flayed and beheaded, dying a martyr’s death.  Many of the images of the saint show him with the skin of his body and legs, flayed open. Very gruesome. Continue reading

A question for a lifetime

Who do you say that I am?” It seems like one of those “fish-or-cut-bait” moments, doesn’t it? Peter and the disciples have been with Jesus several years now.  They have heard the sermons, listened to Jesus open up the deeper meaning of the Commandments, witnessed the miracles large and small, seen all the people healed, restored, and heard the amazing words of forgiveness and love. Wouldn’t it seem as though they have had enough time to know Jesus in a deep, intimate, and personal way? Continue reading

Bourbon and the Spiritual Life

(This is a reprint of a column from last year.  In these days a good bourbon augmenting the Spiritual Life seemed somehow appropriate – Fr George)

Bardstown, Kentucky, is not a large town; the population is only 12,000 or so. It was the first center of Roman Catholicism west of the Appalachian Mountains in the original western frontier territories of the United States. The Diocese of Bardstown was established on Feb. 8, 1808, by Pope Pius VII to serve all Catholics west of the Appalachians. The diocese served Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and parts of other states. This area is now served by 44 dioceses and archdioceses across 10 states. Bardstown and the local surrounds are home to the Basilica of St. Joseph (the first Cathedral before the diocese center moved to Louisville), the Sisters of Loretto Motherhouse and the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemane, the Trappist monastery that was home to Thomas Merton. If that weren’t enough, several distilleries operate in and around the Bardstown area, including Jim Beam, Heaven Hill, Barton 1792 and Maker’s Mark, among others, and thus the town is known as the Bourbon Capital of the World. And perhaps bourbon and the spiritual life are connected and not just a consequence of history. Continue reading

The Wisdom of Generosity

In the well known parable of today’s gospel, the landowner goes out to secure laborers for the harvest. At the end of the day, all laborers are paid the same regardless of the time of day at which their labor began. Some complain that they worked from sunrise, while the ones who only began day’s end are paid the same. This has been a week of teachings on wisdom and riches…. what is today’s lesson?

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Eye of the Needle

In today’s gospel we have the famous expression: “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God” It is a continuation of the encounter with the rich young man of yesterday’s gospel.   In other form, the expression also appears in the Jewish Talmud and in Qur’an 7:40: “Indeed, those who deny Our verses and are arrogant toward them – the gates of Heaven will not be opened for them, nor will they enter Paradise until a camel enters into the eye of a needle.” Continue reading