The Prologue

Today’s gospel is the Prologue from the Gospel of John (1:1-18). The words are familiar and are the gospel for Christmas Mass during the Day. When musing about what to write, I kept coming back to opening lines of books or first chapters that made me want to read the rest. For me the most memorable comes from Norman Maclean and his masterpiece  A River Runs Through It:  Continue reading

What we thought we knew

Cue the music marking the entry of Indiana Jones on horseback (replete with leather jacket, hat tilted at a rakish angle, whip at the ready) accompanied by skilled Bedouin horsemen all at a mad-dash gallop – and all we need is an amazing backdrop. The Nabatean world historical site at Petra, Jordan was happy to supply the setting for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Part of my summer pilgrimage was a two-day excursion into Jordan visiting the place of Jesus’ baptism, Mt. Nebo, where Moses overlooked the Jordan River into the Promised Land; and Petra. Petra is an amazing place for which my photographs do not do justice. But other than “how I spent my summer vacation,” why would I bring it up in this column? Continue reading

Nunc Dimittis

The gospel for today is one of my favorite passages: Luke 2, the Nunc Dimitis, or the encounter with Simeon in the Temple. The moniker of the passage comes from the opening words in the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible: “Nunc dimittis servum tuum Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace” – 29Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation,31 which you prepared in sight of all the peoples,32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”  (Luke 2:29-32)

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Visitors from the East

Next Sunday is the The Epiphany of the Lord. You can read a complete commentary on the Sunday Gospel here.

1 When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” 3 When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: Continue reading

Villains and Innocents

The video above is a classic Christmas song known as the Coventry Carol. The carol was traditionally performed in Coventry in England as part of a mystery play called The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors. The play depicts the Christmas story the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 2. the carol itself refers to the Massacre of the Innocents, in which Herod ordered all male infants under the age of two in Bethlehem to be killed. It is a lament that is imagined having been sung by the mothers of the children lost to Herod’s cruelty. It combines the sound of their weeping with the gentle cadences of a lullaby. The lullaby is known as “Lully Lullay.” The account of the Holy Innocents is today’s gospel.

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John the Evangelist

Today is the feast of St. John the Evangelist, the name traditionally given to the author of the Gospel of John. John was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, the youngest apostle, son of Zebedee and Salome. His brother was James, who was another of the original Twelve. According to the Synoptic Gospels (Matt 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Lk 5:1-11), Zebedee and his sons fished in the Sea of Galilee. Jesus then called Peter, Andrew and the two sons of Zebedee to follow him. Continue reading

End of Watch

Preparations, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day followed immediately by the Feast of the Holy Family; a long stretch. Serve in the military and at some point you will “stand watch” as we would say in the Navy. Each branch of the service has its own name. The experience is the same. I think anyone who has ever stood sentry, stood watch, served during the “dog watch”, been on duty during the long hours of the night as others sleep – we all remember the dilation of time as it seemed to slow and stretch forever. Biding time. Scanning for the first glimmers of light through the long shade of night. The tiring body, the yawns, talking to one’s self… and then the morning star pushed the first light over the horizon, slowly glowing, pushing back the night, and painting the world with a new day. At last, duty is done and one reports in to command, “Lord, now let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled…Continue reading

What makes a family holy?

Is your family holy? What makes a family holy? Most often when we think of families, we think of what makes them healthy – and that too is a good question, a good goal, and something worth time and energy to ensure. A family should want to be a place where its members feel welcomed, warm, embraced, safe, supported, loved and so much more.  But do all those things – as good as they are – make a family holy? Continue reading

Thinness of Attention

There is an idea in Celtic Christian thought about the “thin veil,” that the presence of God is there before us, behind us, all around us – veiled by only the thinness of our attention. It has been that way since the Spirit of God hovered over the primordial waters and brought forth life.

“In the beginning was the Word,and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.”

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