Ross Douthat, NY Times columnist and a committed Catholic, writes some interesting op-ed pieces – but are often religious essays about faith’s intersection with life lived in an ever secularizing world. In his Sunday essay, he writes:
The resilience of religious theories is matched by the resilience of religious experience. The disenchantment of the modern world is a myth of the intelligentsia: In reality it never happened. Instead, through the whole multicentury process of secularization, the decline of religion’s political power and cultural prestige, people kept right on having near-death experiences and demonic visitations and wild divine encounters. They just lost the religious structures through which those experiences used to be interpreted.
It is a long read, but completely worth your investment of time and thought.
This is the year in which we primarily read from the Gospel of Mark – at least on Sundays. But since it is the shortest of the gospels, we supplement it with a lot from the other three gospels. Like this morning, when read the traditional Johannine scene of Mary Magdalene mistaking Jesus for the gardener. We get to encounter the risen Jesus, the first witness, some next steps, and all quickly moving to proclamation “I have seen the Lord.”
“Then they went out and fled from the tomb, seized with trembling and bewilderment. They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” (Mark 16:8)
In today’s gospel, the Pharisees ask Jesus for a sign from heaven. They are testing him because they have no faith nor trust in him. Interestingly, faith-belief-trust, etymologically it is the same word in Greek. So rather than think about “faith” which sometimes befuddles people, let’s consider “trust” and our own experience of trust. Why do we trust some, not others? Continue reading
This coming Sunday marks our journey in Ordinary Time, the 27th Sunday in Year C. You can read a complete commentary on the Sunday Gospel here.
1 He said to his disciples, “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. 3 Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’ you should forgive him.” Continue reading
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
There are weeks that are so marvelous that you want to relive them, hold them and keep them ever safe. I hope your summer had one of those weeks. A family reunion, a vacation, a solar eclipse in totality, evenings at the coast watching sunsets, the week when the all-grown-up kids were home, time with the grandchildren – a week that was by any measure, “a keeper.” Continue reading
Being Lead to Decision: Faith or Disbelief. Where the authorities drive the man away (v.34), here Jesus finds the man (cf. 6:37) and asks: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” Just as the Samaritan woman was confronted by Jesus with the possibility of the anticipated Messiah’s being already present (4:25-26), so also the healed man is confronted by Jesus with the possibility that the future judge is already present. To this point in John 9, the theme of the judgment evoked by the light of the world (9:5; cf. 3:17-21; 12:31-36) has largely been implicit. Jesus’ question makes this theme explicit as he asks the man whether he recognizes in his healer the one who brings of salvation. As v.36 indicates, the man is ready. Continue reading
15 And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; 16 and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? 18 Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” 19 Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”
The Samaritan fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. Some might argue that it reads too much into the posture to say that it is an act of worship (although I think that is a fair reading of Luke) – but in any event, is it an act of humility. St. Bonaventure, sometimes referred to as the second founder of the Franciscan friars, wrote in his work The Tree of Life that humility is the guardian and gateway of all the other virtues and that gratitude is its first evidence. Continue reading
11 As he continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was entering a village, ten lepers met (him). They stood at a distance from him 13 and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” 14 And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; 16 and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? 18 Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” 19 Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”
“Stand up and go; your faith has saved [sozo] you” (v.19). Such are the words spoken to the Samaritan leper, the only one who returned and gave thanks to Jesus. sozo has as a basic meaning, “to rescue from danger and to restore to a former state of safety and well being.” Thus it is translated with words like “save,” “heal,” “make whole,” depending upon how the danger is understood. How are we to understand the use of sozo here in this verse? Continue reading
The telling of this encounter seems straight forward: (a) Jesus encounters a group of lepers on the road to Jerusalem, (b) they ask for his mercy, (c) they are cured, but (d) only one returns to thank Jesus and that one is a Samaritan. A simple miracle story, yes? A narrative about faith as the foundation of healing? Such simple summaries, even if true, miss several key aspects of the encounter and the chance to reflect further on our own life of faith in Jesus. Faith and the response to Mercy inevitably leads one to cross boundaries. Continue reading