Good advice

We get lots of advice all through our lifetime. And it comes from many different venues. For example: advice on the best schools, places to live and vacation, and places to dine. If you buy a book on Amazon, watch a movie on Netflix, or do anything online, they are quick to advise you on other books to purchase, movies to watch, or what’s next in your life. Go to a brick-and-mortar book store and check out the self-help section for a universe of advice. Every aspect of our lives is a portal for advice; consider fashion advice. I have to admit I don’t pay too much attention these days. These days, my wardrobe consists of a basic brown Franciscan habit and minimal accessories – a knotted white cord to be precise. Still, it is all difficult to avoid in the course of a day. Continue reading

Waking Up

sleep2Note: Fr. Chuck Dormquast, the diocesan vocation director, is preaching all the Masses this weekend. So, I thought I would post a homily from three years ago. Enjoy.

To sleep, perchance to dream” such are the words of the great William Shakespeare written for his character Hamlet. It is only in such dreams can we mark the passage of sleep. Short of dreams, we really do not know we are asleep until we wake. We can be aware of the long glide path to sleep – the yawns, the stretching, the telling ourselves “just one more chapter in this book….” Or perchance, our afternoons when we think “I am just resting my eyes.” The thought gives away to the sweet rapture of the most awesome afternoon ever. Perhaps the reverie of our daydreams leave unperturbed the here and now. One short sleep past and we awake and the here-and-now is like our pet dog at the end of the bed or couch waiting for us to get up and fetch them a doggie treat. Continue reading

The King of Hearts

Christ, our eternal Priest-KingWhile we as an American people might be fascinated with things of the royal family, tales of King Arthur and his Round Table, affairs of Lords and Ladies, and all manner of things of the Royal Court – we fought a revolutionary war to throw off the burden of kings in order to live free. As a political people we want no king. But what about as a people of faith? Of course the answer is “yes” on this day we celebrate “Christ the King Sunday!”

If you search the internet for images and graphics of Christ the King you will find lots of images depicting Jesus with a royal crown familiar to us as a vestige of medieval royalty…like the one on this page. Probably OK, right? But…

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua – some of the great names of Israel’s history. And none of them were king. Yet under the leadership of God, they led Israel from slavery to the freedom of the promised land.  Deborah, Gideon, Samson – none of them were kings, yet under the leadership of God, these Judges united Israel to defend itself and identity against the other nations. To be the qahal Yahweh– the people of God. And the last of the judges was Samuel. It was to Samuel that the people came and said “Now that you are old, and your sons do not follow your example, appoint a king over us, as other nations have, to judge us.”  When Samuel prayed about this before the Lord, God said in answer: “Grant the people’s every request. It is not you they reject, they are rejecting me as their king.” Continue reading

The temple within

In Jesus’ day there was one thing that dominated the skyline of Jerusalem – the Temple – easily seen from across the way on the Mount of Olives, hovering over the Old City, and visible from every balcony in the upper city. It wasn’t the original Temple, that had been destroyed some 600 years before by the armies of King Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon. This the second temple. Construction started about 520 years before Jesus’ time but it was King Herod the Great who make the temple a “wonder of the world.” While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings (Luke 21:5). Continue reading

Hope, Love and Resurrection

One of the amazing stained-glass windows in our church is the triptych window of the Resurrection on the first Easter Sunday. It is a piece that takes its place in the gallery of Resurrection artwork across Christianity. Depictions and artwork that has graced the walls of catacombs of ancient Rome, as well as more formal works such as frescos, icons, illuminated manuscripts, altar pieces, Romanesque reliefs, sculptures and more. The Resurrection has been depicted by the great artists of the West: Caravaggio, Peter Paul Rubens, Annibale Carracci, Giotto, Titian, Piero della Francesca, Fra Angelico, El Greco, Jan van Eyck, Raphael, and Michelangelo. Continue reading

A year from now

In our gospel story, the tax collector went home justified. Sure, he has been extorting people, shaking them down for the Roman overlords and some profit for himself. Sure, he is considered a traitor and an outcast from Jewish life – someone whose life is “breaking bad.”  But he has reached a moment of conversion, right?  He is about to get right with God; get justified.  Here is the one moment, a moment when all the trappings of life are torn away, he finally sees himself in humble relationship to God: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”  And the tax collector went home justified. Continue reading

Prayer and the long defeat

In the epic novel The Lord of the Rings, the elves of Lothlorien admit that they are losing their forest lands. But they battle on. The describe their struggle as “fighting the long defeat.” This is source of the comment made by Paul Farmer, who has fought a “losing battle” for health care for the poor. In Tracy Kidder’s biography of Farmer called Mountains Beyond Mountains, Farmer says, “I have fought the long defeat and brought other people on to fight the long defeat, and I’m not going to stop because we keep losing… I actually think sometimes we may win… So, you fight the long defeat.”

Reminds me of the persistent widow. Continue reading

Being Grateful

In the first reading, we hear the end of the story of Naaman, a Syrian general, who has just been cured of his leprosy. But we don’t get to hear the start of the story. It turns out that when Naaman comes to Israel he encounters the prophet Elisha. Naaman has come bearing all manner of riches and gifts, but Elisha wants none of it. He simply instructs Naaman to wash seven times in the Jordan. Pretty simple and ordinary, yes? Continue reading

Fences and bridges

During WWII there was a platoon of Army Rangers deployed well behind enemy lines on a critical mission during the European campaign. A single sniper bullet had killed one of the platoon members. The mission had to continue, but they just could not leave their friend as a stranger in a strange land, buried in an unmarked grave that they might never again find. They remembered a small Catholic church in the area. So, under the cover of the moonless night, they approached the church and rectory, and knocked on the door. After a while a single light came on in the house. Eventually, the door cautiously opened, and the parish priest even more cautiously greeted them. Continue reading