Sunday, July 8, 2018

Six Words You'll Need Someday: 14th Sunday OT 2018

I want you to remember this verse from 2 Corinthians and tattoo it on your brain, because someday you’re going to need it, and I hope it’ll come back to you when you do. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, God tells St. Paul: “My grace is enough for you.”

It’s a verse that’s popular in music, printed in greeting cards, and embroidered on pillows, because it sounds so nice and reassuring and comfortable… and good, great! It’s always a good time to remember that His grace is enough.

But I said this verse will come back to you someday when you need it. Maybe it’s today, maybe it’ll be a long time from now. But I can tell you some things about that day. The day you need this verse you won’t be swinging in a hammock between two coconut trees sipping a Mai Tai. The day you need this verse you won’t be celebrating a big win that’s got everybody telling you how great you are. That day you probably won’t be surrounded by supportive friends who make you feel loved and wanted.

No, I don’t guess that anyone who was having a day like that ever thought much about this verse.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Is this darkness in you too? (13th Sun OT 2018)

I try not to overdo movie quotes, really I do, but this is from The Thin Red Line, spoken by a soldier in war.
(I first heard the quote in this astonishing music and you should seriously skip my homily and spend all day listening to Explosions in the Sky)

“This great evil--where's it come from? How'd it steal into the world? What seed, what root did it grow from? Who's doing this? Who's killing us, robbing us of life and light, mocking us with the sight of what we might have known? Does our ruin benefit the earth, aid the grass to grow and the sun to shine? Is this darkness in you too? Have you passed through this night?”

I thought of the soldier’s question because it's answered to some degree in all of these readings. The Book of Wisdom says it bluntly: “Death was not God’s doing.” So a clever person might jump on that and ask “Well if God didn’t make it how did it get here? I thought He made everything. And why doesn’t he stop it? I thought He was all-powerful.”

Which are questions that can’t be brushed aside. I don’t think anyone’s lived a human life without asking these questions in their heart, in some way. Why the suffering? Why the evil?

Saturday, June 23, 2018

He Had One Job: Nativity of John the Baptist

Today we celebrate the birthday of John the Baptist. It’s always June 24. This year it happens to hit Saturday and Sunday, and John is so crucial a figure in our Faith that it’s one of the few Saint’s feasts that preempts the regular Sunday Mass.

John is shocking and astonishing in a lot of ways, but ultimately he’s not complicated. He does one thing. He points to Jesus.

Everything else about him is just backing up that one thing. His shocking lifestyle and appearance, his attention-getting gestures, his powerful words of repentance and hope, even his geographic location just across the Jordan, outside the Promised Land, it’s all just backing up the defining moment when he points into that Promised Land and says “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.”

Friday, June 15, 2018

Sic Parvis Magna: 11th Sunday OT

I love that this Gospel reading comes right in the middle of our growing season. ““This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day, and through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.”

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Four Basic Relationships: 10th Sunday OT

Bryant Myers writes about four basic relationships that we have, and his way of describing them has found a lot of traction among fellow Christians. He talks about our relationship with God, with ourselves, with other people, and with the world. It’s not a totally original idea so much as a way of describing these relationships that seems really helpful and illuminating.

As with all good theology, it starts by considering God himself, who is essentially relational, a community of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. Remember Trinity Sunday two weeks ago?

And we are made in His image and likeness, which means that relationships are not something sort of added on to us, but are essential to our identity. I’ve heard it put this way: you don’t have a relationship with God, you are a relationship with God. To be with God forever is your deepest purpose; it’s what you are for.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Eyes, Heart, Commitment, Joy: Corpus Christi

Four very brief thoughts about Eucharistic eyes, and Eucharistic hearts, and Eucharistic commitment, and about Eucharistic joy:

Eucharistic eyes are trained to see holiness where it isn’t expected. They are accustomed to encountering the presence of God in the unimpressive, unimposing, ordinary things. Eucharistic eyes know not to look for glory according to what is most pompous or dazzling, but in what is humble and unassuming. They discern the presence and activity of a God Who does not assert himself with force and compulsion, but Who chooses to meet us in the most humble and gentle way. Eyes that have learned to recognize the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ in a little round host have learned to recognize Him where He wants to meet us elsewhere out in the world: in the people He’s given us to love and serve. In the people who are easy to overlook. In the moments that are utterly ordinary. In the tasks that fail to impress.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Greatest Thing Ever: Holy Trinity Sunday

“DID ANYTHING SO GREAT EVER HAPPEN BEFORE??!!!!! WAS IT EVER HEARD OF??!!!!”

That sounds like something you’d hear from an excited little kid, doesn’t it? I’d easily believe that was a direct quote from one of my nieces.

But… it’s actually quite the opposite. These are the words of a dying old man. Moses speaks them in the Book of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy is his last testament and teaching before he dies on very threshold of the Promised Land, toward which he’s led Israel these forty years, and into which he now knows he will never set foot. And Moses says: just think how amazing God’s self-disclosure is. Did anything so great ever happen before? Was it ever heard of?

It’s a rhetorical question. The answer, obviously, is: it’s bonkers. It’s unheard of. It’s amazing and unprecedented.