Some thoughts

Today’s readings continue Micah’s challenge to the people of Jerusalem: “I remember the devotion of your youth.” There is something haunting about the phrase, hoisting up the image of our ventures, projects and endeavors that we begin with such enthusiasm, hope, and expectations. There is something inspiring about see a person years on that carries that same passion and hope for the now many years of efforts, the venture still ongoing. Continue reading

What else could go wrong?

We here in Florida, the current epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, are entering the heart of hurricane season. All seasoned Floridians are quietly watching the forecasts from the tropics and west of the Azores Islands. As the philosopher George Santayana remarked, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” So in case someone has forgotten, our friends at NOAA are here to help us remember the past. Continue reading

Apostle to the Apostles

Magdalene Penitent
Donatello
Museo dell’Opera del Duomo – Florence

Did you know that Mary Magdalene is mentioned 12 times in the gospels, more than most of the Apostles. She was present at the crucifixion and was the first witness to the Resurrection (John 20 and Mark 16:9). She was the “Apostle to the Apostles”, an honorific that St. Augustine bestowed upon her in the fourth-century, and possibly he was but repeating a moniker already in use.

Mary Magdalene has long been confused with other women in Scripture also named Mary as well as an anonymous women, the unnamed sinner (commonly thought to have been a prostitute) in Luke 7:36-50.  In time, the identities of all these women were conflated into one in the person of “Mary Magdalene, the repentant prostitute.” The first written evidence we have of this conflation  of Mary Magdalene being a repentant prostitute comes from Ephraim the Syrian in the fourth century. Continue reading

Who are my mother and brothers?

The reading from today’s gospel (with a few extra verses) and St. Francis of Assisi’s answer to the question.

20 Jesus came with his disciples into the house. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. 21 When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” … 31 His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him. 32 crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers* [and your sisters] are outside asking for you.” 33 But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and [my] brothers?” 34 And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 35[For] whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3) Continue reading

Growing weary

We all have people in our lives with whom interaction leads to weariness. We get tired of hearing the same story, tirade, commentary, joke, response, the same sameness. We all have moments in our lives when “life” just adds up to makes us weary. We lack motivation, energy, enthusiasm, and sometimes are just bone tired. Maybe it is the realization that you have already explained how to do something, the same something, to the same person, and nothing changes. You grow weary and are on the road to not caring, emotional shutdown, and not a whole lot seems attractive or not engaging enough to actually get up and engage. Continue reading

What is your “Bible Plan”?

It was a simple email. The writer said that she was committed to reading and studying the Bible. For her first time through, she wanted to accomplish it in a two-year period. She had already researched the internet for Bible study plans and discovered there are tons of plans, lots of perspectives, and advice a plenty. So much so, it was hard to sort through it all. And such was the genesis of the email asking for advice on “the plan.” Continue reading

A moment of mindfulness

Today is the Feast of St. Bonaventure the great Franciscan saint, theologian and provincial minister of the Order in the mid-13th century. There are a special set of feast day readings for the Saint. I was particularly taken by the feast day’s first reading that describes a deep abiding intercessory prayer by St. Paul for the community of Ephesus: Continue reading

Gravity’s Center

I have always thought yesterday’s gospel was harsh. Likely, we all prefer the comforting, peaceful Jesus rather than the Jesus who proclaims: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword.” And that is just the warm-up – here is what follows: “For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household.” While I might think it harsh, perhaps a more important question is was it necessary. The Christian writer Flannery O’Connor has some insight about this: Continue reading

How to begin to read the Bible

From time to time people tell me that “this year I am going to get into the Bible!” Music to my ears! Their declaration is quickly followed by something akin to “So, what should I do?” Maybe next week I will take a cut at answering that question, but for now let me explain how not to read the Bible! I would offer you five basic principles to keep in mind: Continue reading

Be Forgiving

Forgive him (or her)? Forgive myself? How could God forgive me? These are all questions we have asked ourselves at some point. We who were raised in the Christian tradition in which forgiveness is intrinsic to our faith. We, who as children, freely asked for and so easily received forgiveness. Sometime between our childhood and our teen/adult years, we learned to savor and recall moments of hurt or regret. Regrets that continue to haunt us and enter our lives, our dreams unwelcomed. Memory of hurt too often recalled, nursed, leading to thoughts of how such egregious actions can be balanced out in an uncaring universe. “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Sounds like a quote from a Shakespearean tragedy, but it is all too modern, a blithe saying speaking to something as old as humankind. Continue reading