Entry to the Heart of Holy Week

Back in the day, two friends and I started a business. The company was a good mix of skills, dispositions, and work ethic. One of the partners, Jack, was the best project manager I ever encountered. His staff loved him and the clients always wanted to know if Jack was managing their particular project. We had one client in the mid-west that made a very large contract contingent on Jack being the manager. That was fine. Jack had a demand of his own – and it was non-negotiable.  The client waivered, but Jack held firm. He was clear, convicted, and certain: no matter what, he would be attending the Summer Olympics and the World Track and field championships. That was his non-negotiable: his vacation. Continue reading

As Tears Fall

#AloneTogether. #SocialDistancing. #StayAtHome – these are just some of the many “hashtags” being used online in the various text messaging applications currently in vogue. It is the year 2020 and here on the 5th Sunday in Lent much of the world is “sheltering in place” in order to slow the spread of a coronavirus, Covid-19. On Thursday morning there were 471,802 cases worldwide – but then that is a count of test-confirmed cases. A day later the count surpassed 500,000.

The vast majority of people are not able to be tested, so no one really knows how many people are infected. And so, we keep apart from others in an attempt to hamper the mobility and spread of the disease; as they say, to “flatten the curve.” Non-essential businesses are closed with the lucky ones able to work from home. Schools are closed and teachers across the nation are scrambling to implement online classes. Unemployment claims are skyrocketing as people are furloughed or laid off without warning, savings are draining away as families helplessly watch, and countless numbers, without medical insurance, pray they don’t experience the worst of the disease. Families worry about their loved ones in assisted-care facilities or nursing homes – family elders in quarantine whom they are unable to visit. And people are dying while family and friends mourn their dead without the dignity of a funeral. The world weeps. Continue reading

Being Church

What a difference a day makes. Wednesday, I woke up with a full day of ministry awaiting. Lots of people calling, emailing – all asking “Are we going to shut down? Will the Bishop suspend Masses? What’s going to happen now?” Today I awake wondering what I will do with all the time on my hands. Not that there aren’t a lot of things to do, but the rhythm of the day is changed. Changed dramatically. What a difference a day makes.

It made a difference for the man born blind. One day was all it took, and he had to figure out how to live in a world that was completely new to him. What a difference a day makes. The rhythms of his life dramatically altered needing to figure out what to do with the time given.

Here we are celebrating a live stream Mass as are many churches and chapels across this country and the globe. The rhythms of our life are changing. Today for sure. Tomorrow…? Who knows, it is will be a new world perhaps. Continue reading

Nuance

The Gospel of John is a wonderful text at every level of reading and understanding. It is poetic, it has amazing narratives such as the Samaritan Woman at the Well (today’s gospel), and more. It is also a quite nuanced text. Consider the following segment of the conversation:

16 Jesus said to her, “Go call your husband and come back.” 17 The woman answered and said to him, “I do not have a husband.” Jesus answered her, “You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’ 18 For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. Continue reading

It’s good to be here

In our well-known account of the Transfiguration, Peter simply says, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.”  Of course, he could mean Mount Tabor all in and of itself. It has an amazing 360-degree view of the Jezreel Valley, the mountains of Samaria, Mount Carmel, the Golan Heights, Mt Gilead, Mt Horeb, the whole of Galilee, all as far as the eye can see. On a clear day it is where heaven and earth meet. There atop a mountain, the place where man has gone to meet God, where human and divine touch, the meeting place of the temporal and the eternal. Matthew, Mark and Luke describe the miraculous event of the Transfiguration, as does 2 Peter 1. We celebrate the event that was the revelation of Jesus’s divine nature, exalting him above the Law/Moses and all the prophets/Elijah, foreshadowing his death, and prefiguring his Resurrection. Maybe Peter understood what was unfolding or maybe he was flummoxed and all he could come up with was “…it is good for us to be here.” I am not sure I would have understood what I was seeing much less think of something to say. Continue reading

Three Invitations

 “After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’” Turn the page and we hear the opening verses of today’s gospel: “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.” This passage is famously known as the Temptation in the Desert (or the Wilderness) Continue reading

Habits

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment” (Matthew 5:21-22). Yikes!  What are we supposed to do with such dire warnings?  Where is the unconditional love we’d much rather hear about?  This sounds like it’s chock full of threats by a God that expected too much of us. I mean, come on, I haven’t murdered anyone! Sure, I have experienced anger at times and with even with people I love. But, hey, it happens. “It’s not like anyone has died!” Continue reading

Christian saltiness

My friends, associates, strangers on the street, heck, just about anyone has probably heard me babble on about a book written by Mark Kurlansky: Salt: A World History.  Yup, you heard it correctly. A whole history of the world written in the context of salt.  As the author writes, “from the beginning of civilization until about one hundred years ago, salt was one of the most sought-after commodities in human history.”  And you took salt for granted. Continue reading

The Light and the Story

All stories begin somewhere. Here is where our story begins:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:1-5)

And that is just the start. The story of light and Jesus the Christ continued. Continue reading