Lampstands of gold

12 Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me, and when I turned, I saw seven gold lampstands 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, wearing an ankle-length robe, with a gold sash around his chest. (Rev 1:12-13)

As I was preparing for this coming weekend’s homily, I read the two verses, paused and wondered about all the symbols that populated two simple verses. I thought it good to share the results of my curiosity. Continue reading

Eastertide

In my homily of yesterday I pointed out that the Easter Sunday gospel does not actually have the Risen Christ make an appearance. The gospel is a narrative of an empty tomb and three people’s reaction to it. I wrote, “One sees and believes. The one chosen to be the Rock, … he keeps his thoughts to himself. One remains in the [half-light of the dawn] – but she stays, remains present even when the others returned home.” Continue reading

One Short Sleep Past

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so; For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow Die not, poor Death…. One short sleep past, we wake eternally, And death shall be no more, Death, thou shalt die.” So wrote the 17th century poet John Donne about the freedom from the seemingly unsurpassable power of death and the promise of new life, eternal life at the core of our Easter celebrations. Continue reading

Notre Dame

The experience of watching Notre Dame burn is at least a reminder that places matter. Physical places become sacred spaces because they are the places where we find God — or more accurately, places where God finds us.  Cathedrals like Notre Dame were built to be a visual teaching tool in a largely illiterate culture.  They proclaim the gospel without words.  Historian Jon Meacham described the cathedral as a “physical manifestation of an unseen reality.”  He said that one of the most important words in scripture is “remember” and that he shows up at mass whether he feels like it or not in order to remember and experience again the meaning of the death and resurrection of Christ.

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Perhaps the image of the Notre Dame cross glowing amid the smoke and ashes will draw us back to the sacred places where we remember and experience the presence of the One who said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit…And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:24-32) 


Jim Harnish, Why the Fire Matters

A short guide to Holy Week

Every year Christians commemorate the week before Easter Sunday with special traditions and devotions that help them enter into the Passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a special time of the year, culminating in the biggest feast of the Church’s calendar – Easter. Here are the basics of what Catholics look forward to during the week that precedes Easter Sunday.

Palm Sunday. This day inaugurates Holy Week with the triumphal entrance of Jesus in Jerusalem. In the Gospels Jesus comes to the city riding upon a donkey with the people placing palm branches in front of him. At Mass on this day the congregation relives this event with a procession in the church and a solemn blessing of palm branches. The Passion narrative is also read on this day. Continue reading

Holy Week

When I was a child, I used to walk five miles to school in the snow, just to let them know that I was too sick to come to school that day.” So my father used to tell me. Hmmm…? Really – but hey, dad was really old, right? He probably grew up in the ice age and maybe the weather was very different back then. Such are the stories of our youth as parents try to teach us the lessons of life, sometimes wrapped in yarns, tall-tales, and memories of a different time and place. I still wonder how the to-and-from the store was uphill both ways. Continue reading

Judas

I find that Luke’s treatment of Judas offers an important message. There are some major differences between Luke’s account of Judas and what the other Gospels say about him — and in our day and age, it might be good to hear about Judas — at least Luke’s presentation of Judas.

First of all, there is some significant agreement about Judas in all the Gospels. All indicate that he was one of the select 12 of Jesus’ followers. All indicate that Judas betrayed Jesus. That’s about where the similarities end. Three gospels say that he received money for betraying Jesus. John says nothing about money. But John says that Judas was the disciples’ treasurer and a thief. None of the other gospels describe him in this way. Continue reading

A letter to my older brother

A week or so ago, at our Men’s Prayer Group meeting, at the very end of the meeting, I offered a spiritual exercise in the light of that weekend’s Sunday gospel – the Prodigal Son. The exercise was to write a letter to one of the characters in the parable. Here is one of the letters that was sent to me. It is an interesting Lenten reflection for all of us. My homily of that weekend was essentially my letter and reflection.There was a previous letter one of the men in the group wrote that I posted.  And here is another. If other’s share their thoughts, I will post them. Continue reading