Sunday, January 19, 2014

Taking Sin Away: 2nd Sunday OT

Just to clear something up right off the bat, the following is a list of sins that, if you’ve committed them, you shouldn’t be here:

[end of list]

There are, of course, no entries on that list. That’s the sort of thing that gets said a lot, the sort of thing everyone should know. But for many of those most wounded, most haunted by sins of the past, it can be difficult to believe. In my experience, in pastoral counseling and in the confessional, there is no sin of which this is more true than abortion.

If you’ve had an abortion, or cooperated with one, or paid for one, or driven somebody to get one, or failed to speak up when someone was considering one, or pressured someone to get one… I won’t stand here and tell you it’s not a big deal because you know better. You know better than anyone. And that isn’t my job anyway. My job is to preach the forgiveness of sins. All of them.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Nunc Dimittis: Epiphany

Here we are at Epiphany, and the last of the four original Christmas carols. The Canticle of Simeon is in Luke 2:29-32, and occurs when Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the Temple to present him to the Lord. This is sort of like the Christening ceremony done in some churches. In the Law of Moses that Jesus’ family followed, the firstborn son is presented to the Lord and a sacrifice is offered. So they go to Jerusalem to the Temple. That’s where we meet Simeon.

Here’s what we know about Simeon, Luke 2:25-26: He was “righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Anointed.”

And that day has come. Their are two scenes in the Bible that always make me wish I was a painter. The first is the fall of Uriah the Hittite. The second is this very moment. I picture Simeon in the foreground, but turned away, barely visible as an old man in a dimly lit Temple colonnade. He is looking up toward an open door, with a beam of light streaming through the door almost to his feet. Silhouetted in that door are a man and a woman holding a baby. And Simeon knows.

This is what he says.

“Now, Lord, you let your servant go in peace.
Your word has been fulfilled.
My own eyes have seen the salvation 
which you have prepared in the sight of every people:
a light to reveal you to the nations,
and the glory of your people Israel.”

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Magnificat: Solemnity of Mary

Our third installment in the series of "Four Original Christmas Carols" takes us to the scene of the Annunciation, Mary having just received some bracing news. After Gabriel had spoken, this is what Mary said, or more likely sang (Lk 1:46-55):
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.