Look deeply and see

The great thing about being a child is that you can grow up to be a fire truck (my ambition at one point in life), not be concerned with gravity and the laws of physics, and your world in not limited by “that is not just the way things work.” It is a world of imagination and wonder that sometimes befuddles babysitters, teachers, and parents. It consumes lazy summer afternoons, creates space adventures, and can conjure up a most challenging collection of wisdom and insight. Nothing captures it better than my favorite comic strip of all time, “Calvin and Hobbes.”  Calvin is a preternaturally bright six-year-old; Hobbes is his stuffed toy who, in Calvin’s imagination becomes into his best friend, the innocently wise Hobbes. To read Calvin and Hobbes is to be infused into wondering and wandering on a cosmic scale; to engage the innate human capacity to be surprised, to imagine, and be absorbed into mystery. No topic in the universe is closed to such capacity – not even the theological arts. Calvin mused how predestination is molded by procrastination, finally concluding, “God put me on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now, I am so far behind that I will never die.” Continue reading

Eucharist: a pattern of life in Christ

I would wager that most people would guess that in Francis’ own writings he spoke at length about poverty, his love of nature and animals, and other topics for which Francis is so well known in the modern world. Yet, in his own writings, there is perhaps no other topic that he addresses more than the Eucharist. In his Eucharistic writings, Francis expresses a deep view of the continuing Incarnation of Christ in the world, and in that vision is an entire way of life. These writings represent part of the movement of Francis’ mystical life from prayer and devotion in solitude before the cross, to a pattern of communal prayer and devotion in the Mass as well as a devotion to the Eucharist apart from Mass. Continue reading

Being Simeon

In today gospel account, it is now forty days after Jesus’ birth. Mary and Joseph are performing their duty as pious Jewish parents by coming to the Temple to fulfill the requirements of Exodus 13. It is a ritual that reminds the parents that this child is now a member of the family that God redeemed from the slavery in Egypt. And so, they come to offer a simple sacrifice as they dedicate their first-born child to the Lord and to the larger, holy covenant family of God. Continue reading

The Bread of Life: other thoughts

emaus02Where the principal focus of the previous section is the bread of life as the divine revelation given to men by and in Jesus, John 6:51 adds a clearly Eucharistic theme – ‘I am the living bread come down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.’ While some argue the words are metaphor, the Jews clearly understand. Jesus is referring to eating of his flesh. He recounts this action verb several other times between vv. 51-58, while adding the drinking of his blood to the command. This is no metaphor for accepting his revelation, already adequately expressed. Continue reading

Corpus Christi – metaphor and Eucharist

Christ_with_the_HostThe Eucharist. This section is written at two levels. At one level it is an on-going commentary on the verb “to eat” (cf. v. 31) summoning up a rich tradition of Eucharistic language: “bread,” “food,” “flesh,” “blood,” “to eat,” “to drink,” “will give,” “for your sakes.” The discourse, from v. 25 down to v. 59, presents Jesus as the true bread from heaven, replacing the former bread from heaven, the manna of the Law. The believer must accept the revelation of God that will take place in broken flesh and spilled blood (vv. 53-54), a never-failing nourishment (v. 35) that the Son of Man will give (v. 27). Continue reading

What gives you Joy?

FindingJoyDuring the holiday season with winter storms roaring about, one can be quite happy that the airplane finally got off the ground; yesterday in Chicago, 1000 flights were cancelled. So if you got airborne, you were indeed happy. A new round of happiness came when the pilot finally found smooth air. And even if it was 6 hours late, you are happy that you have arrived.  When you finally get off the plane, pass thru security, and at last see your spouse, your kids, your parents or grandparents, your fiancé, or whomever you have longed to see…. that is not happy. That is Joy.  You hear it in the tone and energy of the voices, the embraces, and the hugs.  And even when the reunion is right in the middle of everyone else’s way, when the reunion is clogging up the entire flow of foot traffic trying to get somewhere, you can’t help but notice even the most curmudgeon-y of travelers, however reluctantly, is giving evidence of a smile. Joy is embedded in the warp and woof, in the very fabric of relationships.  Just like Mary and Elizabeth. Continue reading

The Eucharist and Justice

EucharistWhen the English historian Christopher Dawson decided to become a Roman Catholic, his aristocratic mother was distraught, not because of Catholic teaching, but because now her son would, in her words, have to “worship with the help.” His background would no longer set him apart from others or above anyone. At church he would be just an equal among equals because the Eucharist would strip him of his higher social status. It was this very thing that first drew Dorothy Day to Christianity. During the Eucharist, she noticed the rich and the poor knelt side by side; all humbled before the great gift of Christ. Around the Eucharistic table what Mary prophesized in her Magnificat came to be, that, in Jesus, the mighty would be brought down and that lowly would be raised up. Continue reading

The Gospel of Luke – The Passover Meal

Introduction to The Lucan Passion Narrative: The passion narratives provide the climax for each of the four gospels, catching up themes that weave their way through the evangelists’ entire portrayal of Jesus life and bringing them to a dramatic completion. In deft strokes the evangelists tell us of the final hours of Jesus’ life – his last meal with his disciples; his arrest in Gethsemane; his interrogation by the religious leaders; the trial before Pilate; and finally the heart clutching scenes of Jesus’ crucifixion, death and burial. Continue reading

Looking for the next wall

SwimmingAs many of you know I competed in swimming in high school, in college, and even today continue as a Masters swimmer. I wasn’t much of a sprinter; 200 and 500 freestyle were my best events. True then and true now. About six years ago I signed up for a long-course meters meet. One the events I entered was the 1,500 meter freestyle – a little outside my best events, but certainly do-able. Continue reading

Becoming what you see

Bread-of-Life-John-6The reading from Old Testament, 2 Kings, and the Gospel both described miraculous multiplications of bread that nourishes the people – such a small offering – a couple of barley loaves – yielding such tremendous results, feeding thousands upon thousands. Truly miraculous…but what effect did it have on the people who were fed? The gospel reading is just the first part of The Gospel According to John, Chapter 6 – over the following four weeks, we will read the remainder of that chapter in its entirety. We can actually take a peek ahead and answer the question. The recipients of that wondrous bread – well, they wanted more. They wanted to make Jesus king so they would always have bread. Jesus will keep trying to explain to them the meaning and the implications on what has just happened, but once they figure out that Jesus’ meaning is Eucharistic… well, they walk away. I guess it would be fair to say the whole thing did not have the effect Jesus wanted. Continue reading