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26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 28, 2014

WALKING THE WALK

When I first entered the novitiate as a Basilian, we were told to wear a sort of habit. It was a white shirt with a distinctive cross. It was meant to identify us as priests in training. What I appreciated about it was that it was not overly religious, but when we were together, it clearly meant something.

Now that I am ordained, I am most often in black. It identifies me as a priest, which can be a scary thing because it demands that I live up to the role.

But it also quite helpful, because it reminds me that my actions matter more than my words. I think the same is true for those who wear wedding rings or other identifiable garments or jewelry.

And I think God would agree. In our Gospel today, Jesus is clear: we will be judged, not on what we proclaim, but how we act. If we say we are Christian, then we have to walk the walk, but first we need to know what that means.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ezekiel 18:25-28; Psalm 25; Philippians 2:1-5; Matthew 21:28-32).

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25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 21, 2014

GENEROSITY AS THE ONLY RESPONSE

Last week, we exalted the cross and if you recall, I spoke that it is for us a great truth-teller. It reminds us of who we are – sinful and often egotistical. We are not as special as we would like to think ourselves to be, but we are so very important and so very loved.

In today’s readings, we are reminded of who God is and how very different God’s ways are from our ways. They demand that we take a hard look at our sense of justice and our sense of worth. For the most part, they are a bit of a slap in the face to the ethics of a western civilization that prides itself on earning our keep.

But we must also understand that this Gospel is not about economics or wages. Catholic Social Thought is very clear about the necessity of just and fair wages. Rather, this a parable about the spiritual life.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Isaiah 55:6-9; Psalm 145; Philippians 1:20-24, 27; Matthew 20:1-16).

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Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

September 13, 2014

A TRUTH-TELLER

This past week, I had a chance to see King Lear in Stratford. I couldn’t help but think that everyone should have their own fool – someone to tell you what you really need to hear, but in a manner that does not threaten or belittle.

In Scene One, Act Four, Lear is having a conversation with Goneril and his Fool. At this point, his world has been turned upside down. He has lost his power, his cast out the one daughter that loved him; and the two he trusted betrayed him.

He asks, “Does anyone here know me? Why, this is not me? Who is it that can tell me who I am?”

CLICK HERE for the readings for the Feast of the Exultation of the Cross (Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 78; Philippians 2:6-11; John 3:13-17).

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23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 7, 2014

LOVE IN DIVERSITY Today’s readings are extremely practical, for they offer instruction about how we are to resolve our conflicts with one another. The Gospel tells us if you are in conflict with a person, or feel that person has caused you harm, then you must first confront that person.

Now that isn’t what we like to do is it? What do we like to do? (go tell someone else – do you know what she did?) Or if we are at work, we go to the person above the person who caused us harm so that they can be corrected. Of course we do, because we don’t like conflict.

Now to be clear, the Gospel says that this approach of talking to others is okay, but ONLY AFTER you have tried to confront the person directly. This, by the way, is a basic tenant of Catholic Social Doctrine as well: Subsidiarity is a principle that says all problems should be dealt with at the most immediate or local level.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ezekiel 33:7-9; Psalm 95; Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 18:15-20).

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Opening Mass for The University of St. Michael’s College

September 2, 2014

KNOWLEDGE AND MEANING

If you were to follow me on Twitter, you would discover that my byline reads, “Great questions are an art form worthy of study.”

I think St. Paul would agree for in our first reading, St. Paul writes to the Corinthians that nothing is beyond scrutiny – even the depths of God, but that we must also be wise enough to know the limits of human knowledge. Time and time again, scripture gives us permission to ask questions of God and ourselves, but when we do, it is done with humility rather than arrogance.

Perhaps there is no better time than now – your years at university – to learn the art of asking questions. Most often we ask questions in hopes of an answer, but these are not the great questions. Answers are great for the ego, but they fail to inspire the soul.

Instead, ask questions about meaning and purpose. Don’t just ask how; ask why; ask about its purpose. This is the type of scrutiny St. Paul writes about.

CLICK HERE for the readings of the Mass (1 Corinthians 2:10-16; Psalm 145, Luke 4:31-37).

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22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 31, 2014

OUR LIVING SACRIFICE

Our readings tell us today that whoever wishes to follow Jesus must deny themselves – they must lose themselves – they must offer themselves as a living sacrifice.

Such sacrificial language is at the heart of our faith – and it sounds nice – but when it happens to us – when we are truly sacrificed and suffering – I think most of us feel like Jeremiah in our first reading: we feel duped – like God confused us with somebody else because. . . . this was not what we had in mind.

We question, like Jeremiah questioned: How could God, who claims to love me, allow for such violence against my heart and soul? And like Jeremiah, perhaps we want to turn and run away from God and all concerned with religion, but the void it leaves burns like a fire in our heart.

And so we ask ourselves why it is necessary that we deny ourselves in order to follow Christ? Why must we suffer as Christ suffered? Does God really demand that we make a sacrifice to win our salvation?

CLICK HERE for the readings for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Jeremiah 20:7-9; Psalm 63, Romans 12:1-2; Matthew 16:21-27).

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21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 24, 2014

WHO DO YOU SAY. . .

Paul writes to the Romans that God can be strange and hard to understand: How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways. St. Augustine agreed, for he said, “if you understand, then that isn’t God.” Likewise St. Thomas Aquinas said, “whatever can be known or understood, that is less then God.”  Elsewhere in scripture, the Prophet Isaiah said, “so high as the heavens are so are high are my thoughts above your thoughts and my ways above your ways.”

And yet scripture also tells us that God is not distant from us. Psalm 139: Lord, you search me and you know me. God is also intimate with us. Jesus: God knows every hair on your head. Isaiah also said, “Could a mother forget her child? Even if she does, I will never forget you.”

This intimacy is modeled in our Gospel today. In answer to my earlier question, Peter describes Jesus as the Messiah, which we know as the “Great Confession.” Jesus describes Peter the Rock.

So we might ask ourselves, which is it? Can God be known to us and yet so misunderstood?

CLICK HERE for the readings for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Isaiah 22:19-23; Psalm 138; Romans 11:33-36; Matthew 16:13-20).

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