What’s fair?

So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner.” If we are honest about it, we empathize with those folks who worked hard all day. At one level we agree that they received what they were promised, but…there is that voice within that says, “it isn’t fair.” The workers’ notion of what is fair gets challenged pretty quickly when the landowner asks them: “Are you envious because I am generous?Continue reading

Forgiveness, gardens, and hard work

How do you offer forgiveness? I suspect that the most common offer consists of “I forgive you” or “Don’t worry about” “Don’t give it a second thought” or “It’s nothing.” And that all might be true, but sometimes it is only the socially-expected response. It is what we do because we are Christian and we are called to forgive 70 times 7 – or about 490 times…and maybe, just maybe, some of us keep track. But, are we really at peace with our response? Continue reading

Remembering the fire

“You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped” Wow…strong words from the prophet Jeremiah.  Duped, tricked, suckered, fooled, hoodwinked.  No one likes to be the unwitting tool in another’s hands, the butt of a joke, or play the part of the fool.  Not too many people are keen to say they were Bernie Maddoff’s friend.  I am sure his investors look back, knowing their money is forever gone, and think, “How could I have been duped like that?” No one likes such moments.  Jeremiah doesn’t like it at all and cries out against the circumstances.

God called Jeremiah to be the prophet and Jeremiah answered –twice!  No doubt those were heady days – to be so connected to the Lord, called to do his work, and now…. And now.  Where was God when I was ridiculed, ignored – when people scorned and laughed at me.  Maybe God is weak and I was duped into thinking otherwise.  Ok, call me once to be prophet – shame on you.  Call me twice – shame on me if I answer. This is why Jeremiah says to himself: “I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more.” This has the passion and the sound of an argument between lovers! Continue reading

A question for a lifetime

Who do you say that I am?” It seems like one of those “fish-or-cut-bait” moments, doesn’t it? Peter and the disciples have been with Jesus several years now.  They have heard the sermons, listened to Jesus open up the deeper meaning of the Commandments, witnessed the miracles large and small, seen all the people healed, restored, and heard the amazing words of forgiveness and love. Wouldn’t it seem as though they have had enough time to know Jesus in a deep, intimate, and personal way? Continue reading

Leaning

These days there are lots of ways in which we get our news – the classics: the evening news and the daily newsprint. The more modern 24-hour television and radio news – and even that gives way to the online, instant news that is a click away, a pop-up notification or just a swipe away.  While the modality changes, these days what is common is that each is a venue in our hunger for good news. Perhaps “hunger” does not describe our condition. These days we are starving for good news as we are offered an unending buffet of devastating headlines about the pandemic, the economy, Beirut, civil war, the rise of intolerance, … all fueled by rumor, innuendo, and the well-placed lie …. I could go on. Continue reading

Making time to listen

Several years ago, I was fortunate to have the time and opportunity to go to Israel on pilgrimage. I remember when I first caught sight of the Sea of Galilee…. I thought it would be bigger. Trust me it is big, but not “Lake Michigan” big. The Sea of Galilee is 8 miles across at it widest and 13 miles in length. So it’s big… I just thought it would be bigger. Continue reading

Nine Words and a Question Mark

It is a probing, provocative, and pointed question. Yet, it is a deceivingly simple nine words and a question mark. St. Paul in his letter to the Romans, our second reading, asks: What will separate us from the love of Christ? (Rom 8:35).

St. Paul answers: “Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? (Romans 8:35) No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. (Rom 8:37). How can we not be swept up in St. Paul’s fervor, his energy, his hope, his faith, and his conviction. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Continue reading

Keeping up

Deacon Ray is preaching this weekend at the Mass I am celebrating, so here is one from a past 17th Sunday, Year A.

The kingdom of heaven is like…. There are lots of parables that begin with those words.  Maybe we can do a thought experiment – a kind of fill-in-the-blank thing. Keep your answers silent within your own thoughts. And since no one is listening, you can be completely honest with your answer. For you…. the kingdom of heaven is like……. What? (No hurry, I’ll wait….) Continue reading

Those who are just must be kind

It’s your first baby. It has been great. Sure, it has been hard work, but what a bundle of joy. And tomorrow is the last day of maternity leave. You have a great job and love the people you work with. Maybe you should stay home longer? Maybe the family can get by on one salary? But there is a great day care center near work. Maybe we could nanny-share with a neighbor? But the big project that you really want to be part of is coming up…. Such is the circumstance of ambivalence. Continue reading