A Way of Life

I am often given to repeating St. Bonaventure’s wise counsel: humility is the guardian and gateway to all the other virtues…and the first evidence of it is gratitude. We can all have moments in which we are profoundly grateful, but are we grateful people? The first is a description of a moment in time, deeply remembered; the second is an intrinsic condition of who you are as a person. It is at the root of your being, it is the lens through which you see the world, and it is the mode by which you engage the world. Even as I write that last sentence, I am thinking, “Gosh, I want to be that person!” Continue reading

The logic escapes me

It is a quiet morning before the sunrise. I am getting used to the change of parish, locale, and of course weather. The autumnal days of Virginia in October are far different than those in the Tampa Bay region. Since Virginia is not a “swing state” for the upcoming elections, I am also getting used to being able to watch television without the bombardment of political ads. I am not sure what is more refreshing the lack of political ads or the autumnal days and nights.

I was reading the news online (from a variety of sources) and several of them reported that in the face of steeply rising coronavirus infections, increasing positivity rates and hospitalizations, and the decreasing level of available ICU beds,a governor is moving to mandate the wearing of masks and social distancing in all public settings. The lieutenant governor agrees that masks and social distancing are vital to controlling the virus, but held that the mandate of wearing a mask is an infringement on personal freedom and an unnecessary intrusion of government into the lives of its citizens. This logic escapes me.

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Character Matters

Yesterday in Philadelphia, former President Barak Obama gave a speech in support of his former Vice-President, Joe Biden. I have no doubt that potential GOP voters dismissed the speech without listening to it or reading it. I have little doubt that potential Democratic voters accepted it in glowing terms, even if they also did not listen to it or read it. And I have no doubt that some now reading this post will think, “I knew it, he is a ______” (please fill in the blank as you see fit; for the record I am unaffiliated and quite independent). But, one might wonder why I posted this. The reason is simple and has come out in many homilies over the years. “The thoughts we have become the words we speak. The word we speak shape the actions we take. The actions we take form the habits we develop. The habits we develop reveal the character we possess. The character we possess shapes our destiny.” We Christians are asked to take all that and ask, “Do the thoughts, words, actions, habits and character we display reflect the image of God, the likeness of Christ to others?”

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When He Comes

One of the themes of this week’s gospels asks if the Lord, at his return, will find faithful people: “You also must be prepared,for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” (Luke 12:40 from today’s gospel) Yesterday Jesus warns his disciples that they are to have their lights at the ready, lit, and prepared for His return. So, if the Lord came today, are you prepared? Continue reading

The Light

One of the great communal celebrations is to welcome an infant into the community through the waters of Baptism. There are many ways in which the celebration occurs, depending on the construction of the church – especially the location of the baptismal font. At my previous parish, to give you an idea, there was no narthex. The large wooden front doors were perhaps 16 feet behind the last pew and opened up to the sidewalk and the main downtown thoroughfare.

It was right at the front doors that we greeted the beaming family and their newborn, along with the godparents. The first part of the Baptismal ritual occurred there at the doors of the church, the family was escorted to their pew in the front of the church as part of the entry procession, and we continued with the celebration of Mass. Continue reading

Greed

“Take care to guard against all greed” (Luke 12:15; from today’s gospel.) The text uses two verbs (horate & phylassesthe) in the present tense imperatives, i.e., continual action, in other words “continually take care” and “continually guard yourself from.”  Perhaps this is a Lucan warning that the human condition is akin to alcoholics and their desire for alcohol, we are never cured of our greediness. We are always in recovery; always in need to watch out for and to guard ourselves from this evil power in our lives. Continue reading

Holiness

God’s holiness is rooted in his unique identity as the creator of the cosmos and the powerful source of all life and beauty and goodness. However, the power of God’s holiness is also dangerous to us as mortal creatures. But, in God’s desire to partner with humanity, he made a way for us to access his holy presence safely through Jesus. Jesus applies the dangerous heat of God’s holiness to the things that separate us from God.

As we read the Bible, we see that wherever Jesus goes, sickness is healed, brokenness is made whole, and death gives into life. This tells us something significant about what it means to participate with Jesus’ ongoing work in the world. Those who follow Jesus are called to be agents of God’s transforming holiness.

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Real Strength

After acknowledging that real strength comes from Christ and not himself, St. Paul writes: “So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Taxes and Choices

Next Sunday is the celebration of the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time. You can read a complete commentary on the Gospel here.

15 Then the Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap him in speech. 16 They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion, for you do not regard a person’s status. 17 Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” 18 Knowing their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin that pays the census tax.” Then they handed him the Roman coin. 20 He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” 21 They replied, “Caesar’s.” At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” 22 When they heard this they were amazed, and leaving him they went away. (Matthew 22:15-22) Continue reading

Jonah in early art

From today’s readings:  While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. At the judgment the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation and she will condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here. At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.” (Luke 11:29-32)

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