Recognizing Blessings

sermon-on-the-mountWho doesn’t know the opening words of Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” in which He gives us the Beatitudes – “Blessed are the poor…” I sometimes think that the powers-that-be should not have it in the Sunday cycle of readings. The text is so dense with meaning, so rich in teaching, and has been addressed by people far more capable than me. When this reading rolls around most years, I feel the onset of writer’s block, brain freeze, and the slow rise of that “oh-my-gosh-what-could-I-possibly-have-to-say-this-time.” This is when temptation is the greatest to borrow something from online or to dip into the files of sermons from years past.  But then my guardian angel tells me to suck it up and get to work. Oh well… maybe inspiration will come to those who need it…. Continue reading

Gaudete

FindingJoyThe prophets Zephaniah and John the Baptist are not the two most joyful characters in all of Scripture, yet we hear from them both today. They are paired with the great Advent refrain from the Letter to the Philippians: “Gaudete in Domino semper,” – “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!” This is Gaudete Sunday. Everything about today’s readings call to the people of God to get excited, be demonstrative, and above all be joyful, celebrate, and rejoice. Even the dour, prophet of doom, Zephaniah can’t restrain himself and tells us “Shout for joy…Sing joyfully… Be glad and exult with all your heart!” The book of Zephaniah is only three chapters long, filled with death, doom, fire, flood, pestilence and plague – yet even he tells us to shout for joy! Continue reading