Praying for Wisdom

Last week the question was “who do you say that I am?” Did you come up with an answer? Maybe some of you are thinking to yourself… “did he really expect us to think about that question?” Short answer: yes. Seems like a pretty important question, don’t ya’ think? I didn’t say it was an easy question, just an important one… perhaps the most important you will ever answer in this lifetime. It is the kind of question that calls for wisdom.

When was the last time you prayed for wisdom? Continue reading

The Next Step

While each of the gospel writers has their own style, pace and priorities – each is a masterful storyteller. Each weaves the accounts and stories into a meta-narrative that reveals something about the person of Jesus and thus is revelatory about the person of God. If your only encounter with the gospels is here on Sunday – while any encounter is a good one – you’re missing the whole of the narrative, missing the ebb and flow. It is like trying to understand the beauty of a quilt by staring into one patch. The one patch is beautiful, the stitching elaborate, but you miss the larger pattern, the greater beauty. Continue reading

Being Open

ephphathaWhen I was fourth grade I suffered a long series of ear infections and operations that temporarily left my hearing very reduced, some days, virtually deaf. I missed a lot of school that year and when I did return to class there were two things that still stand out in my memory: (a) I had to sit in the front of the class directly in front of the teacher so that I could maximize the chance of hearing her, and (b) I had to stay behind during recess for extra lessons or studying for all that I had missed. Continue reading

Dangerous Times

pharisees-n-scribesA popular line of anti-Catholic apologetics centers on our gospel reading. The argument is this: “you Catholics have lost your way. You rely on human traditions and ignore the commandments of God.” Their usual list of Catholic errors includes the veneration of Mary, her Immaculate Conception, and her bodily Assumption into Heaven. There is also transubstantiation, praying to saints, the confessional, penance, purgatory, and more. We might take great offense at their assertions – but it is a reminder that we should always be mindful about losing our way on the journey to God. We do in fact have our Traditions and our traditions.  Lots of Catholics confuse the two. One can easily lose one’s way. Continue reading

Mary of Portraits, Mary of Life

Carracci-Assumption_of_the_Virgin_MaryMuch of our religious consciousness is affected by art; we have inherited specific images that are more artistic than biblical.  For example, we always imagine St. Paul being knocked from a horse on the Damascus Road.  There is no mention of the horse in scripture.  Is that a big deal? Perhaps not.  But when Caravaggio placed Paul on the horse, a sign of royalty, he removed Paul from the midst of Corinth, the hard-scrabbled seaport town, from among the drunks, slackards, ne’er-do-wells, and people who sorely needed salvation. Continue reading

You just don’t get it

ADULT-MOTHER-DAUGHTER-TALKINGEver been in a conversation with someone – usually not an easy conversation – when the other person, exasperated with you, the conversation, or whatever just blurts out, “You just don’t get it, do you?”  ….and there it is… the end of the conversation.  Just a few words, well delivered that can kill  conversations or end relationships.

I suspect that along with exasperation, it can often be delivered with the characteristics that St. Paul warns us about: “all bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, reviling [and] malice must be removed from you.” We might well add to his list: “You just don’t get it, do you?”  None of the above fulfills the proposal to “be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.” Continue reading

Through this belief

bread-of-life-tabernacle“But these are written that you may (come to) believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.” (Jn 20:31)

The Gospel of John is a wonderful gospel, rich in language, theologically vibrant and deep, and written, as it says. “…that you may (come to) believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God…” That you may come to believe… Continue reading

Understanding and Joy

FindingJoyBack in the day, the 1980s to be exact, there was a year in which my job required me to spend a lot of time as a road warrior in support of our clients. There are approximately 250 working days in a year. I spent about 200 of them in a hotel. At first it was kinda’ fun. There was someone who cleaned your room every day, you got to eat out at the restaurant of your choice, you could drop your laundry off at the front desk and it would show up in your room at the end of the day. What’s not to like, right? By the second week, the thrill was gone and now all that was left was HBO. Remember this was 40 years ago, a hotel that had HBO had a serious leg up on the competition. But here’s the thing. HBO did not have a lot of choices that interested me. And now we are at week three. Continue reading

For a while…

eremos10,000 hours – Katy Ledecky, Yo Yo Ma, Simone Biles, and many others understand. There is a threshold of practice that raises one’s level of performance to expert. And then a dedicated persistence and perseverance in that practice is needed to maintain that level of expertise. Last century, when I was in college I had reached 10,000 hours and more. I competed at a national level, in the deep end so to speak, where lots of people competed in races that were resolved in tenths or hundredths of seconds.

Continue reading

Risky Business

Amos-prophetOff with you, visionary…never again prophecy in Bethel.” (Am 7:12–13) Amaziah, Beth el, Amos, Israel, Judah…. Isn’t it often the case that the first reading from the Old Testament is this jumble of odd names and places – and not enough of the story to really know what is going on? Let me  fill  you in.

This whole scene takes place well after the time of King David when the 10 northern tribes have broken away from David’s and his successors, forming the nation called Israel – leaving 2 tribes in the south to form the nation of Judah.  The folks up north in Israel have built a rival capital to Jerusalem and even a rival temple – Beth El – literally, the “House of God” – and it has been that way for more than a hundred years. Continue reading