In the course of final chapters of the Book of Job, when God has appeared and speaks to Job, there is an interesting passage in Chapter 40 in which God asks Job if he thinks he is up to the role of being divine creator and ruler, dispenser of wisdom and justice …. In other words, if he thinks he is capable of running the universe according to his limited understanding of order, justice, and balance. God challenges Job: Adorn yourself with grandeur and majesty, and clothe yourself with glory and splendor. Let loose the fury of your wrath; look at everyone who is proud and bring them down. Look at everyone who is proud, and humble them. Tear down the wicked in their place, bury them in the dust together (Job 40:10-13) Continue reading

An Invitation to Wisdom

The first reading this week has been taken from the Book of Job. It is considered to be one of the scrolls belonging to the Wisdom category and is a narrative that, in its own way, attempts to address the question of suffering during one’s life. Our story began with Monday’s reading in which we learn that Job is pious and upright, richly endowed in his own person and in domestic prosperity. He suffers a sudden and complete reversal of fortune. He loses his property and his children; a loathsome disease afflicts his body; and he is overcome with sorrow. Nevertheless, Job does not complain against God. Continue reading

Graced Service

This coming Sunday is the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time. In yesterday’s post we considered the nature of faith and what Jesus was asking of his disciples: understanding that faith allows God to work in a person’s life in ways that defy ordinary human experience. In today’s post we consider what that right understanding of faith will allow the disciples to do. Continue reading

Under the fig tree

Today is the Feast of the Archangels with a reading from the Gospel of John in which Jesus encounters Nathaniel under a fig tree. It is only at the end of the reading that angels get a mention: “you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:51) Otherwise, Jesus is involved in the calling of the disciples, having found Peter, Andrew and Philip at work. He finds Nathaniel sitting under a fig tree. Micah 4:3-4 and Zechariah 3:10 suggest that “under a fig tree” may be a place of contemplation. It may be that Nathanael was a “thinker”. He wouldn’t accept anything at face value, but he would question and contemplate everything until he was sure of its truthfulness. On the other hand, sitting in the shade, eating the free figs, might indicate that he was just a lazy bum. Continue reading

Memorial of Saint Wenceslaus

Today includes an optional Memorial in honor of St. Wenceslas of Bohemia (which today we would understand as modern Czechoslovakia). The first reading for the memorial is from 1 Peter 3:14-17 and has what I think is one of the most foundational of Biblical and life commands, especially for these times in which we live: “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope…”  In various and sundry ways people have asked me that question. Often it comes from a family member in the ICU waiting room, a loved one hovering between life and death. The surgeons come to say, “We’re doing all we can.” What is the reason for hope at that moment? Continue reading

When to Rebuke, When to Forgive?

This coming Sunday is the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time. In yesterday’s post we considered the nature of sin and the consequences of leading others into sin. Again we consider the opening verse of Luke 17: 3 Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’ you should forgive him.” Continue reading

Things That Scandalize

This coming Sunday is the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time. In yesterday’s post we looked at the ongoing context for Luke’s narrative. Today, although occurring just before the Sunday gospel reading, we will consider the opening verses of Luke 17: 1 He said to his disciples, “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. Continue reading

Lessons from Suffering

Job was nearly crushed by the pain of suffering. He tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell to the ground when he heard that his children had died (Job 1:20). And yet in the midst of such pain and heartache, Job cried out.

Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back again. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD!” (Job 1:21)

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