Showing posts from March, 2015

Work in Progress: 4th Sunday Lent

James Tissot, The Flight of the Prisoners 587 B.C. The Temple was destroyed, the city laid waste, the people exiled to a foreign land. Preachers are always trying to find an analogy to communicate how devastating this was for Israel. Here’s my try: if ISIS succeeded in destroying every Catholic Church in the world, blew up most of our cities, annihilated every last vestige of our government, and if you survived but were forced to live the rest of your life in Syria, it was kind of like that…maybe. Anyway, it was a tragedy that couldn’t be overstated. After the Fall of Adam and Eve, it was the defining tragedy of the Old Testament. It occupies the attention of most of the Prophets and a big chunk of the historical books, even a Psalm or two: “by the Rivers of Babylon we sat and wept…how could I sing the songs of the Lord in a foreign land?… if I forget you, Jerusalem, let my right hand wither.” Anyone can write down what happened. It’s another thing entirely to say why. That’s

Making a Scene: 3rd Sunday Lent

Part of the preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage that we do is this big inventory thing where the couple answer a bunch of questions individually, it generates feedback, and then we get together and go over it. One of the statements, presented as sort of a True/False item, is: “I know everything there is to know about my partner.” You wouldn’t believe how many engaged people agree. Well, I’m not allowed to slap people, but… Truth is, of course we never know someone else completely; another person is always a mystery. But we do this thing where we fill in the blanks. Right? To take the most extreme example: how many times have you seen a young person fall madly in love, not with a real person, but with the ideal soulmate they’ve projected on to someone? Come to think of it, people fall madly in hate the same way. Let me propose a True/False question to you. True or False: every relationship - friend, family, spouse - involves a tug between who they really are and who we’ve ima

What God takes: 2nd Sunday Lent

I read a piece by a writer who was explaining why he could never be a Jew or a Christian.  Though he found certain elements of these religions really attractive, he pointed to Genesis 22 as a deal breaker. He wanted nothing to do with any God who would ask a father to sacrifice his son. He couldn’t believe in such a God and wouldn’t want to worship Him if he did. It’s not so hard to sympathize. But I wished there was some way I could write to him and suggest that perhaps he didn’t read all the way to the end. Isn’t it more the point of the story that God didn’t ask Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? Especially if you know the context, that the Canaanite religions all around Abraham and his descendants did practice human sacrifice, as have many religions through history. But the God of Abraham lets it be known here on Mt. Moriah that this is not worship, this is not devotion, this is not what He wants. It’s not a story about God asking something horrible, but a promise that He doesn’t.