The promise of my Father

This coming Sunday marks the Pentecost Sunday (Year C);  You can read a commentary on the Gospel here. The commentary covers more than the gospel reading, including John 20:19-31.

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 (Jesus) said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. 23 Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”  (John 20:19-23) Continue reading

Save the Date Sunday

When I was in seminary, our homiletics professor had lots of advice and pointers for the Sunday homily – I am about to ignore one of the pieces of advice. The professor was pretty adamant about not explaining theology. And I mostly agree with his point – it can make a homily really dry and fill it with language that needs its own explanation. The professor’s final point was that you are likely to give an inaccurate or heretical version of the theology in any case.

The professor in Systematic Theology would also agree. He made the point that almost every early heresy in the early Church came from people trying to explain the Incarnation, trying to explain how it is that Jesus is vere Deus, vere homo – truly God, truly human. The words in the Gospel of John seem so simple: the Word became flesh. And indeed, the heresies of the first four centuries of the Church are filled with controversies, serious in fighting, involvement of the Roman Emperors, and sometimes armies were formed, and battles fought. Explaining theology can be very dangerous stuff. Continue reading

Ascension and Mystery

The Ascension of the Lord is a great celebration of the Church. It commemorates the bodily ascension of Jesus into heaven. According to St. Luke it occurred 40 days after the Resurrection (Acts 1:3). It is a feast of great antiquity with liturgies and art of the 4th century already addressing it as a norm of the Church. In the Eastern Church this feast is known in Greek as Analepsis, the “taking up,” and also as the Episozomene, the “salvation from on high,” indicating that by ascending into his glory Christ completed the work of our redemption.

Especially in Western Europe, the Feast of the Ascension, falling on Thursday, traditionally has been a public holiday, allowing the faithful to participate in the holy day of obligation. In modern times, there are no mid-week public holidays in most places, and so, celebration of the feast diminished. There are many Christian traditions that do not celebrate the Ascension. In the early 1990s the Vatican gave permission for the local bishop to move the observance of the Feast of the Ascension from the traditional Thursday to the following Sunday, the Sunday before Pentecost. The permission to move was given so that the faithful might maintain contact with the importance of the feast. Continue reading

The promise of my Father

This coming Sunday marks the 7th Sunday of Easter (Year C); however, most dioceses will celebrate the Ascension of the Lord.

46 And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day 47 and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And (behold) I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” 50  Then he led them (out) as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. 51 As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven. 52 They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and they were continually in the temple praising God. Continue reading

Witness to these things

This coming Sunday marks the 7th Sunday of Easter (Year C); however, most dioceses will celebrate the Ascension of the Lord. You can read a complete Ascension commentary on the first reading from Acts here.

The scene of the Ascension is the first account in the Acts of the Apostles. Acts tells how Jesus’ disciples received his Holy Spirit and continued his work after he ascended into heaven. From the opening linchpin of the Ascension, much of Acts is carried along a travelogue, following the Christian missionaries, especially Paul, as they spread God’s word  outward from Jerusalem. Similarly, Luke’s Gospel had put a unique stress on Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51 to the end of the book.).  Acts carries the journey to the “ends of the earth.” Continue reading

Things held dear

This spring has been a season of record-breaking floods across the Midwest, submerging farms, businesses and houses. The flooding this year could be worse than the historic floods of 1993, which devastated the region. In the coming days, the Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi Rivers are all at risk of spilling over their banks, levees, and inundating places like Sand Springs, OK, Jefferson City, MO, and a whole lot of small towns. The spillways in New Orleans are already open trying to get ahead of the coming waters. Places like Hardin, Ill., a village of about 900 people, sits in a particularly vulnerable spot on the Illinois River near where it flows into the Mississippi River. The city clerk updates river forecasts every 20 minutes to let the residents know if the village is about to become an island. It almost did on May 7th of this year. It will be a long weekend of watching and waiting. Continue reading

The Spirit comes

This coming Sunday marks the 6th Sunday of Easter (Year C). You can read a complete commentary on this gospel here.

Our passage is taken from the “Farewell Discourse” of Jesus contained in five chapters of John (13:1-17:56). In other words, we have but a few verses which are an integral part of a much larger passage. Accordingly, the Discourse can be outlined in a number of ways, though three main parts are fairly clear: Continue reading

Last words, first things

If you knew this was your last week, your last day on earth, what would you tell the people you love? Would it be advice? Your hopes for them? Would it be the dreams you have? Perhaps, the gratitude and love in your heart?  What would be your last words to the ones you love? Beyond the fact we’d really not like to think about it, even if we were ready to do so, this is something difficult, daunting, and delicate. Continue reading

A fraternity in mission

Occasionally, people will ask me “What order are you?” and other questions that eventually lead to the inquiry, “Where are y’all from?” I have noticed that people not native to the South have picked up that Southern expression. But it leaves me in a dilemma. I wonder if the one I am speaking with understands there is a difference between “y’all” and “all y’all”. So, I am not sure if they are asking where I am from (y’all having, in some cases, a singular use) or they are asking where all we friars are from (all y’all would have been clearer in use and intention). The answer to the question “Where are all y’all from?” might well be “Holy Name Province.” Continue reading