Archive for December, 2017


Second Sunday of Advent

December 11, 2017


Years ago, I was assigned to the deserts of Southern New Mexico.  Only after living there for a time, did I understand why it was often in the desert where our ancestors encountered God.

The desert is a place of simplicity and poverty – a place where all the distractions go away.  I would often go out for long runs through the desert in the cool of the morning.  In the beginning, it was almost unnerving because I felt so exposed.   The desert requires a unique balance of confidence and humility.  Because too much confidence got your in trouble and too much humility would keep you inside all day long.

Not only are there no distractions – no building on the horizon, no clouds in the sky, not hustle and bustle, but there is nothing to be attached to.

The people whom I met in New Mexico were often from this part of the world.  The went to reinvent themselves, many of whom are now artists, writers, farmers, and artisans.  But only discovered the art in them after a period of time.

You see, we need silence and stillness in order to hear our inner voice – the voice of God.  It is the same reason John went out into the desert – so that his voice could be heard clearly.  Of course, the people who went to see him couldn’t just drop in, they went out to see him.

And that is the thing about the desert – you don’t understand it in five minutes.  You have to dwell in it for a period of time before the simplicity allows you to see yourself for who you really are and who you really want to be.


Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

December 9, 2017


In our first reading, we hear that after eating from the tree of knowledge – Adam realized he was naked.

Now, as many of you know – knowledge wasn’t the problem, it was power – the desire to be AS God. . .which is quite different than trying to be LIKE God.  That thirst for power left Adam feeling exposed.  The lesson is one many people only learn the hard way:  if you take power for yourself – it can (and most likely will) be taken from you. However, if you allow power to be bestowed upon you, then it will be yours – precisely because you will realize it was never really yours in the first place.

And thus the contrast with Eve and Mary.  With the fall and the redemption.

When we take power – we fall; when receive power, we are redeemed.

Mary’s grace was that she accepted what she did not want for herself.  Her grace was that she believed God could do the impossible.


First Sunday of Advent

December 4, 2017


This past Thanksgiving was my first Thanksgiving that did not involve a plane trip in a very long time.  I must confess that it is still a bit strange for me – being back home.  The places are familiar, and yet my life is life is very different than anything I could have ever imagined it would be.

I didn’t really know what I wanted to be when I grew up – I considered all the normal boyhood careers:  firefighting, astronaut – and since my father was/is an engineer – that was also a possibility.

Be Prepared is the scout motto and it has stayed with me ever since those early teenage days.  It is also the motto of Advent in many respects.  Today’s readings tell us to be prepared for surprises – we don’t know the hour or how God will come into our lives.