Sunday, August 21, 2016

Unassuming: 21st Sunday OT 2016

For reasons you will easily understand, I read a book not long ago about dealing with merging and closing of parishes. It said a lot about grief and pain and conflict and reconciliation. Something started to feel a little bit ‘off,’ and it eventually dawned on me what it was: Jesus was barely mentioned. This book was written by a brother priest, and Jesus does come up from time to time — just not a lot. I think that the author probably assumes that Jesus is behind and beneath everything he’s saying, a constant foundation, the cornerstone the whole thing is built on. Even if he isn’t mentioned very often, Jesus isn’t some mantra you call up like name-dropping; He’s the background and the basis of everything. He’s an assumed presence that goes without saying.

For the sake of discussion, let’s call this the Big Assumption. I realized I’ve been guilty of it too. I’ve given sermons and counseling sessions that were about lots of things connected to Jesus, connected to discipleship, but just assumed that everybody knew it was all about Jesus and so I maybe didn’t really… you know… mention Him.

That assumption actually works sort of alright for many of you. You live out your relationship with Jesus daily and intentionally. You might not claim to be doing great at it, but it’s most definitely your goal. You know and could never forget that everything we do and say here about flows from the living presence of Jesus Christ, Who is someone we know and follow in a personal and intentional way. It’s obvious to you that everything — every bit of incense, every drop of holy water, every genuflection, every word and every action is about the worship of Jesus Christ, as someone we know and follow as disciples. You get that! But does that describe everyone in a Catholic pew, or a Catholic classroom, or a Catholic house? The Big Assumption is that it does. The Big Assumption: the moment you identify it and name it, you know the assumption is wrong.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Finish Line: 20th Sunday OT 2016

I’m a sucker for sports metaphors, but you have to be careful not to overdo them. But Hebrews 12 is arguably the best sports metaphor in the Bible, so we’re going to let it rip. It’s all about running, which I appreciate, because that’s the only form of athleticism I’ve made much progress with. It’s good for me because it doesn’t take a lot of coordination. You just have to not fall over, which I usually don’t, and not run into a pole, which I’ve only done like twice. I’d also claim that a footrace is the simplest and purest form of athletic competition there is: we’re going to start here and the first one to get to there, wins!