German Reform: princes, patricians, and peasants

In a previous post we introduced the dynamic of taxation as one element of the German Reformation. But who was specifically the target of Imperial and Papal fund raisers? To answer that one needs to consider the social strata of all who would be caught in the taxing nets of the “outsiders” – the Pope and his ostensibly all-Italian Curial mafia, or, the gapping maw of the Holy Roman imperial court. Continue reading

Following Jesus

This Sunday is the 3rd Sunday of Easter. Our gospel describes the Apostle’s encounter with Jesus at the Sea of Tiberias. Fishing and breakfast are completed. Peter has been restored from the denials of Holy Week and now he is commissioned anew.

18 Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.” Continue reading


In today’s first reading we see religious politics in play in the Sanhedrin which consisted to Sadducees (the majority) and Pharisees. The Sadducean leaders were so enraged by the defiance of their orders, they wanted to put the apostles to death. For such drastic action they needed the support of the Pharisaic members of the Sanhedrin. The Pharisees commanded much more public respect than did the Sadducees and it was important to have them “on board” in a case like the present, in which the defendants (apostles) enjoyed the people’s goodwill.   Continue reading

Do you love me?

This Sunday is the 3rd Sunday of Easter. Our gospel describes the Apostle’s encounter with Jesus at the Sea of Tiberias. As noted previously, after a fruitless night of fishing, Jesus sent the disciples back out with the result that they just caught a “boatload” of fish. They had not recognized Jesusm, but now they have hauled catch ashore and Jesus (whom they now recognize) has prepared breakfast. Continue reading

Seamless Catholics

What does it mean to be a pro-life Catholic? What issues come under the umbrella or pro-life – certainly abortion and euthanasia. Some people are surprised to discover capital punishment is also on the list. There is a lot more on the US Bishops’ list of issues to which we as Catholics are called to take into prayer and action. It includes topics such as trade and debt, climate change, poverty, and more. It is a wide range of issues which have in common the deeply held conviction of the sanctity of life from conception to natural death. Admittedly the issues which bracket the timeline are more focused: abortion and euthanasia. As horrific as they are, as issues, they are easier to frame morally and focus action and prayer. But the issues in the between become more challenging to garner a consensus of action among the faithful. We are challenged to have a consistent ethic of life that is enacted in our Church. Continue reading

Something curious

Take a moment and peruse John 3 taking note of who is speaking. The exchange between Nicodemus and Jesus is clear (vv. 1-21). The testimony of John the Baptist is clear (vv .22-30). And then you come today’s gospel (vv. 31-36). It is hard to know who is speaking. If it is John the Baptist, then it is amazing God-inspired insight and no less powerful than Peter’s confession in the Gospel of Matthew. It is more likely that it is the Gospel writer offering a commentary. Continue reading

God so loved

From today’s gospel we have one of the best known verses in all of Scripture: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” But… I’ve wondered whether, if people thought about what this verse says for just a little longer than it takes to read a bumper sticker, it might just prove to be far less comforting and far more troubling.

Love is the language and logic of the kingdom of God. It is by the calculus of the Kingdom that God is “all in” sending his only Son. God comes in love to redeem loss, turn tragedy into victory, and demonstrate true power through sheer vulnerability and absolute sacrifice. What is troubling about that? Let me offer two reasons. Continue reading

Fantastic Fishing

This Sunday is the 3rd Sunday of Easter. Our gospel describes the Apostle’s encounter with Jesus at the Sea of Tiberias. This after the Resurrection and, as instructed, the disciples have returned to Galilee – and it seems, taken up their former profession as fishermen:

4 When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” 6 So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. Continue reading