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

First step: empathy

Lazarus-Rich-Man…between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.…”  Such are words spoken about Lazarus and the rich man, traditionally known as Dives. The words describe their fates in the afterlife: Lazarus comforted by Abraham while Dives languishes in a hellish afterlife.

But here is the thing – the chasm really wasn’t new; it was fixed a long time ago and made wider every time the rich man came and went to his safe, secure and plush home and ignored Lazarus. Don’t get me wrong, this parable indeed talks about the eternal consequences of the life we lead, but it is also about our lives now. And maybe, just maybe, St. Luke has been talking to us about the chasms, the great divides we have slowly built into our lives – and our failure to see them in the here and now. Continue reading

Infinite Mercy

In Jesus’ time, large agricultural operations such as the one described in our gospel parable were rarely run by the owner or the family, such things were left to the steward to oversee. The steward had the full faith and backing of the owner to operate the business. The steward would sell the oil and wheat production for cash, trade, or in exchange for promissory notes. The bartering that preceded the execution of the promissory note was classic commodity bargaining:  I will give you so many measure of oil now, and at this future date you will repay with a higher measure of oil.  There were two thing buried in the difference between the higher amount and the original amount: profit for the owner and commission for the steward. That was the way things worked. Continue reading

It’s Complicated

The Parable of the Lost Sheep – you’ve heard it countless times before and have taken in just as many homilies. I suspect the “take away” from the parable and the homily was focused on the shepherd – as it should be. I will simply say that indeed Jesus is the Good Shepherd and is relentless in search for and finding us. No matter how far we have strayed or what we have done, Jesus will find us and ever offer to take us up on his shoulders and bring us home.  Always. That my friends, is as good a Good News as you can get. People of God, can I get an “Amen!”

Now there is a “take away” that you can take, consider, pray about, and reflect upon your life. Continue reading

Invited

In this day and age, we receive all manner of evites: to meetings, parties, events and more. Upon receiving the evite are we excited? Were we just hoping for a day or evening off? Does this seem more obligation than interesting? Do we have to rearrange schedules? Are hoping something more exciting comes along? We have choices – delete, never open, don’t answer, answer with regrets, or accept. And then come all the consequences of all those choices we make, intended or no. Does all this seem like a phenomenon of the internet age? Not really. It is as old as time and part of the gospel. Continue reading

Being Humble

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Not my favorite verse in Scripture because of they way I think we tend to hear the word “humble.” I suspect a lot of people hear “get too arrogant, prideful or presumptuous – you’ll be put in your place and get what’s coming to you.” Merriam Webster defines humility as freedom from pride or arrogance. That seems a little thin; it tells us what humility is not and by implication tells us what not to do in life…but… Continue reading

Gifted, graced, and get going

In the first reading, it has been about 40 years since the armies of Babylon captured, destroyed and burned Jerusalem. The Prophet Isaiah is speaking to people who have lived their life in exile with only the stories of the Jerusalem-that-used-to-be as solace. A people that are wondering if they will ever be saved from exile. Will God rescue them as He did when he led the people out of exile and slavery in Egypt those many years ago? Continue reading

Temperature, change and grace

I have two words for you this morning: “thermometer” and “thermostat.” Regular, routine, and household words we rarely give a second thought to: “thermometer” and “thermostat.”

I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” Those are Jesus’ words from the gospel. They well could have been the prophet Jeremiah’s from the first reading. Jeremiah began his public ministry in the streets of Jerusalem when the good King Josiah was instituting religious reforms to bring the tribes of Judah and Israel back into covenant with God. It was the best of times. The people were being taught the Word of God and right worship – and Jeremiah was on the vanguard of the reforms. And so, it was for about 10 years. King Josiah died in battle and everything changed. Continue reading

A Good Life

The story of Abraham and Sarah is a story that should begin, “Against all odds….”  It is a pretty amazing story of perseverance, endurance, and life lived for a mission greater than one’s self. Abraham and Sarah persevered and endured the long journey from modern-day Iraq to Israel on to Egypt and back to Israel. Even as the reached their older years, they continued to hope for a child of their own. They believed in the Lord’s promises even when his timeline was a whole longer than their timelines. They bore the hopes and expectations of all the people they led. Certainly, they lived out St. Paul’s message from 1 Cor 13:7 “[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.Continue reading