The Measure of the Man: 2nd Sunday Advent

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., said: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Albert Einstein said, “The true measure of a man is the degree to which he has subjugated his ego.” Robert Savage said, “you can measure a man by the opposition it takes to discourage him.”

It’s the age of the internet, so you should probably assume that every quote you ever hear is fake. But these, real or not, all get at what I love and admire in the man God chose to raise Jesus.

St. Joseph is the focus of the Advent devotional books we gave out. I’m even doing the journaling, which is unusual for me, but it’s always good to try something a little outside your groove! The author admits that for much of his life, St. Joseph was merely a mild-looking statue holding a flower. If that’s true for many of us, then there’s a great surprise waiting when we start getting to know the actual man.

I think…

Running to Meet the Christ: 1st Sunday Advent

Happy Advent everyone! It is my very favorite liturgical season and I love diving in headfirst — because you have to, because it’s so short. If you’re slow getting into it it’ll be half over.

So let’s do it! Let’s really do Advent this year, make it about more than a decorating scheme or a passive waiting period. I’ve heard so many 1st-Sunday-of-Advent homilies about "waiting." Mmmm… I guess. But you have to understand the kind of waiting we’re doing.

We had a little ritual with the family dog where we’d give him a treat when we came home. We’d hold the treat up and tell Sam: “waaaait………” and he’d have to sit back and be still and patient before we dropped it, sitting there so excited that he was just twitching, and I guess this was teaching patience or discipline… or something, come to think of it I’m not quite sure what the point was, but he had to prove he was really good at waiting before he got the treat.

For some of us I worry that this is all the meaning we find in Ad…

Christ the King 2019

José Sánchez del Río was born in Michoacan, Mexico. He grew up in a devoted Catholic home: daily rosaries and devotions, faith as the clear center of family life. His activities included playing marbles, horses, and convincing other kids to make holy hours. José was born in 1913, so he could conceivably have still been alive today as one of the oldest people in the world, at age 106. As it happened, he made it to 14. By then, practicing the faith in his country had become… not so simple. Mexico was ruled by a maniacally anti-Catholic socialist government. Many USA citizens today think of Mexico very simplistically as a Catholic country, totally unaware that within a current lifespan Sacraments were outlawed, Bishops exiled, and resisting priests tortured and killed on sight. A rebellion called the Cristeros rose against this, and young José was eager to join. It wasn't easy for him to find a role he could play at such a young age, but his courage and actions turned out to be astou…

Perfect: 32nd Sunday OT

C.S. Lewis said, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

It’s a simple conclusion based on a simple observation. The observation is from within himself, observing his own nature and the way his heart works. Lewis finds in himself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy. I hope you’ll turn that observation on yourself. Is it true for you, too? Do have desires that nothing in this world can satisfy?

The truth is that everyone does. The tragedy is that not everyone knows it. Some of the unhappiest people you will ever meet are the ones who think everything their heart wants can be found in this world. They’ll keep looking and looking for that perfect satisfaction.

It’s a little tragic that they’re looking for something they can’t find. It’s much more tragic that because of it, they’ll miss out on the best things in life. All the best things in life will be disappointing to them, beca…

Through Him, With Him, In Him: Mass at the Monastery of Our Lady of Mercy

I like the phrase “walk with Jesus.” I’ve heard it a lot, I’ve used it too. It emphasizes that Jesus is with us, He is our companion through whatever is happening in our life, and it has that sense of progress and pilgrimage - we haven’t arrived yet, we’re on the way, and He’s with us. He can and does continue to work with such imperfect instruments as we are! I could go on, but anyway I like this common phrase about “walking with Jesus.”

But Colossians 2:6 says to “walk in Him,” and to ‘walk in Jesus’ sounds somehow more radical, somehow more challenging. The verses that follow underline this sense of not just being near Jesus, but radically identifying with Him, a sense that somehow His divine life and our own lives become so intertwined and cooperative that it’s hard to draw a line between one and the other. I don’t know if that’s the right way to say it, so let’s let Paul speak for himself: “You were buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him,”… “He brough…

Committed: 23rd Sunday OT 2019

I won’t ask for a show of hands of who’s recently read the Book of Philemon. It’s probably competing with Jude for least-quoted book of the New Testament. And when you first look at it, it’s kind of a head-scratcher, and you might be inclined to say “well this is fine but I think I’ll go read Colossians again.” But Scripture cannot be set aside, and God promised that His Word would not return to Him without bearing fruit. So what’s the deal with Philemon?

It’s a personal letter from Paul to Philemon, and there’s one more person whom it’s all about: Onesimus, who is Philemon’s slave. Paul’s purpose in the letter is to ask Philemon to free Onesimus.

So the drama here is within Philemon and the decision he has to make. He’s come to a moment when being a disciple of Jesus means something about his life has to change; it means he has to lose something. His relationship with Onesimus — a relationship that is exploitative and ungodly — is suddenly seen for what it is in the light of the Gosp…

Game Changer: 17th Sunday OT

A young woman got in touch recently to ask me if it’s okay to be angry with God... definitely not the first time I've heard that question. I wonder if Genesis 18 doesn’t give us part of an answer. Is Abraham angry at God here? If not angry, at least exasperated, right? GOD I JUST DON’T GET YOU RIGHT NOW.  We are all Abraham at one time or another, telling God we don’t understand, asking what the heck He’s doing and is this really for the best?

Jesus gives us another image, and it also has that edge of pestering, silliness, let’s just say humanity. He describes that persistent neighbor who won’t quit knocking on the door, not as an example of bad theology, not as an example of lack of trust, but as an example of prayer we shouldn't be too proud to imitate.

Prayer is not the performance of a theologically perfect and unfailingly Saintly act. Prayer is giving God what you actually think, what you actually feel. God isn’t interested in an act; He wants you — confused you, angry yo…