Missing the mark

The gospel reading begins with questions about the nature, causality, and consequences of sin before it goes on to describe the miraculous healing of the man born blind. The gospel then follows various encounters emanating from the healing as the story becomes known in the community. There is the dialogue among the neighbors, round-1 between the man and the Pharisee, the inquisition of the parents, round-2 with the Pharisee, and finally man blind from birth, meets and sees Jesus. Continue reading

The arc of this life

There is a document from the US Bishops, “Fulfilled in your Hearing” that is a wonderful reflection on what is the purpose and mission of the Sunday homily. There is a line in the document that says the purpose of the homily is to shine the light of the gospel into the lives of the people of the parish. I hope I come close to fulfilling that purpose. The document makes clear that a homily is not a Bible study, although it can include salient points. It is not a theological discourse nor a course in ethics or philosophy. The document holds up one image that captures the purpose: to shine the light of the Gospel into people’s lives so that they can see the path leading to Jesus so that there is a personal encounter with the Incarnate Son of God, Son of Mary. An encounter that fulfills the divine command from the top of the mountain: This is my beloved Son… listen to him. An encounter that fulfills the Blessed Virgin Mary’ words to us as she points to her Son: Do whatever he tells you. An encounter that changes, or begins to change, the way you see the world, your community, yourself and your Savior. Continue reading

It is good for us 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, the whole of Galilee, all as far as the eye can see. On a clear day it is where heaven and earth meet. Continue reading

Perfect Moments

There is a picture in my office that I have had since last century. It is a picture of Jeff Pierce. You probably have never heard of Jeff. He was a professional bicycle racer. He rode for the 7-Eleven team back in the late 1980s when they were the first American team to race in Europe. In the 1987 Tour de France, Jeff was a domestique, a rider whose principle task was to be a support for the team leaders: carry water bottles, protect the top riders from the ravages of wind, and at the end of the day to struggle across the finish line well after the leaders. Against all odds Jeff won the grand finale, the last stage in Paris on the Champs Elysees. A gendarme in the background of the photograph stares in disbelief. Jeff is alone. Crossing the finish line, arms raised in unbelieving triumph. He won against the greatest riders of his day. An American in Paris.  I look at that picture and know that perfect moments are possible. Continue reading

The Habit of Anger

“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).  Everyone here has experienced anger and is liable to judgment. We have experienced anger in so many times and places, with so many people, and with people we love. Maybe we think, “Well, it’s not like anyone has died,” but even as we think that, we know that real damage has occurred. And sadly the response of anger has become habitual for many of us. Continue reading

The Beacon

By June 1944, the United States had been embroiled in a world war for some 2.5 years. From the earliest and darkest days of the war, the tide was beginning to turn. In the Pacific the might of the US Navy and Marine Corp had been assembled to capture and liberate the Marianas Islands of Guam, Tinian and Saipan – a vital and strategic step in the Pacific War.  The US 5th Fleet’s role was to guard the massive troop and supply ships mounting the amphibious landings. Meanwhile the Japanese Mobile Fleet was assembling its Plan Z/A-go for an all out naval engagement to cripple the invasion force and stem the tide of the war. Continue reading

The Remnant

Today’s first reading is from the Prophet Zephaniah. It is only three chapters long and it is filled with darkness, distress, destruction, death, doom, and despair. Yet, in the midst of all that – there is a message of hope, for a remnant of the people; people described as humble and lowly. People who take refuge in the Lord. People who remain faithful to God even as all around them crumbles and falls apart. A remnant who has already seen the Assyrian empire conquer most of the promise in the promised land. A remnant that can already see the Babylonian threat on the horizon. A remnant that even as they wonder how this all plays out in God’s plan, they are the faithful …. and hanging on. They recognize that they are blessed by God. It might be hard for us to see it, but they see it. And that challenges us just as the more famous beatitudes of today’s gospel also challenges us. Continue reading

The Sweep of History

Recently, I read “The History of Florida” by Michael Gannon, a professor emeritus at the University of Florida. The book is a monographic sweep through Florida history from the pre-Columbian landscape, the settling by native peoples, the arrival of the first European explorers, the history of ethnicity and immigration, and to the changing landscape of life and people that forms the great state we live in. So far I have also learned an amazing amount by the early Franciscan missionaries in Florida and Georgia in the 16th and 17th centuries. It put me in a “historical mindset” when looking at this week’s readings. Continue reading


Your average Catholic only needs to stand next to a born-again, evangelical Christian to understand how private we are about our life in faith.  Of course, you’re thinking, “All that public praying and witnessing, that’s their thing. Our faith was more discrete, more private, more, well…… more sophisticated than asking someone in the local WalMart if they had been saved. Ours is a faith steeped in tradition, liturgy, sacraments. This is how we serve the Lord.” Continue reading