Timbuktu

I remember when I was a kid, I was fascinated with a place of mystery called Timbuktu. I loved the sound of the name and the possibility of being as far away from home as Timbuktu. No doubt it was a place of mystery, intrigue, and stories. There were tales of gold, riches, and the place where East Africa and Saharan Africa met. The stories abounded so much that in 1855, the French Geographic Society offered a major prize to the first European to go there and report back. What amazing, fantastic stories could be in Timbuktu! Continue reading

From silence to the heroic

In helping couples prepare for the Sacrament of Marriage, one of the questions I ask is, “Do you know what each other prayers for?” I am not asking if they can infer, deduce, guess or just have a “pretty good idea” – but do they know? And in this case that probably means, to have direct knowledge because their fiancé told them. The overwhelming response is “No, but….” This is but one example from our everyday life of how private we are about our life in faith. Continue reading

Set as a covenant

Over the Christmas season, the gospels we proclaim are so familiar, so memorable, that perhaps we a prone to listen to the other readings as but prelude to the story of the Christ Child. Prelude they are indeed, but they in themselves are also the powerful Word of God come to us. Perhaps none more powerful than the Prophet Isaiah or St. Paul. This week we hear Isaiah mightily proclaim: “I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people.” (Is 42:6) While they are indeed prophecy pointing to Jesus and his mission, they are also words proclaimed to us, to the baptized, those thus commissioned and sent into the world for the victory of justice. Continue reading

Assumptions

“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” (Matthew 2:2)

This reading resonates with assumptions. Heck, we hear the beginning of the verses and think to ourselves, “Sure, I know this one. This is the story of the three kings.” I mean, we all know the story, right?  Star of the New King. Magi from East. Herod. Directions to Bethlehem. Instructions for the Magi to go, but “ya’ll come back.” Baby Jesus. Did homage. Gifts. Dreams. Home by another way.  We all know the story. Or at least we assume we know the story from Scripture.  Continue reading

A work in progress

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. We’re not celebrating “perfect family Sunday.” Offered as a point of humor, let us remember Jesus was without sin and Mary, by God’s grace was kept free from sin – not such claim was made for Joseph. He wasn’t perfect, but he was holy. And so celebrate and consider holiness this Sunday as we are all called to remember that it was into a family that God sent his Son. A family that has its ups and downs, joys and sorrows, agreements and disputes, and all the things that are tossed into the cauldron called family life. A family like yours in many ways. A family that was holy, not perfect. My point being, that holiness lives and grows apart from perfection and perhaps even thrives best among the flawed and messy. And in family life, that means something far different than a Norman Rockwell painting. Continue reading

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