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Memorial of Saint Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church

Scripture Readings

As I read today’s gospel, it seems easy to question how the people of Jesus day could be so blind to the signs all around them.  And yet, as I think about this situation, I wonder how our generation will be viewed by future people.  I wonder if our lack of regard for others, creation, and even God will be signs of our times that others find hard to understand.

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

From the time I began to read the lives of saints in the seminary, I have come to admire many of them. Francis of Assisi and Teresa of Avila were among some of my favorites. However, my hero all through seminary was not a canonized saint - Archbishop Oscar Romero. That changed today. Nov 14, 2018 will remain and red-letter day in my priestly life. After 35 years of anticipation, today, Archbishop Oscar Romero was canonized by Pope Francis.  

Saturday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

As far back as I can remember I had a love-hate relationship with buying brand name stuff.  I knew it was important to some people whether your shirt had a little bird on it or if your brown cola was actually made by Coke or Pepsi.  Now that I am older, I only wear name brands if they come from the thrift store (I’m doing what I can to rock my dad-style).  However, I find myself torn about brand names when I get sent on food retrieval missions (aka grocery store runs).  I also struggle with what brand is better when buying tools and the like.  And I am persnickety about my paint brushes. I’m sure I’m not the only who struggles with the question “In what should I clothe myself?”  Our first reading gives us the answer.

Friday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Sometimes it feels like we American Catholics are more scattered than gathered, to use the words from today’s Gospel (Luke 11:15-26). US Catholics are scattered on a variety of things, especially relating to American politics: economy, immigration laws, abortion. These are all also key aspects of our faith and therefore important topics for discussion: ultimately the point of such discussion is to try to understand our faith better and to help each other live better lives.

Thursday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

It’s not often that we see the humanity of the biblical writers, but we certainly see it today.  Paul calls the Galatians “stupid,” and Jesus calls his audience “wicked.”  Do you ever get tired of the world’s resistance to our best efforts to do good?  St. Paul certainly did.  Are you ever amazed at the inability of your fellow men and women do to good and avoid evil?  Jesus was amazed and frustrated as well.  But perhaps for you the opposite is true.  Are you even amazed at your own wickedness?  Or brought low because of your inability to fully understand the gospel?

Wednesday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Chaplaincy in a hospital can be very challenging when it comes to prayer.  Catholics of a certain age see prayer as something private or if spoken the prayer should be grounded by praying the Our Father.  For most other Christians, prayer is extemporaneous.   This extemporaneous prayer and the ministry that surrounds it, often reflects back to the minister spiritual depth in which it is offered.  Many times it is affirming, but sometimes the image that one conveys it not the one reflected back.  This reflection illuminates both strengths and weaknesses.  The toughest times arise when the mirror image highlights hypocrisy.

Tuesday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

For a long time, I struggled with the story from Luke’s gospel that is before us today. Here we have a woman, Martha, who the text says has welcomed Jesus into her home and is hosting him. To host Jesus was surely a big deal, and she is stressed out about it. She is also clearly focused on the tasks before her, which have become a burden to her. And she is irritated by her sister, Mary, who instead of helping her out is hanging out with Jesus.

Monday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

In today's Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan. A man—robbed, beaten, and 'half dead’—by the side of the road is ignored by a priest and Levite while a Good Samaritan goes out of his way to attend and provide ongoing care for him. Let's take a moment and think of each of the characters in this parable—the robbers, the ones who pass by, the Samaritan, the victim. Can we not identify with each of them? Have we not each passed by someone in need and overlooked an 'other'? Helped someone in trouble? Experienced being the 'other' passed by, disdained, rejected? Have we not, at times, been the cause of someone else's suffering or misfortune? Each one of us have played these roles at times. It is a mixture of seeing someone as neighbor and seeing them as 'other'.

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

It is not uncommon for me to receive calls about troubled domestic life. Sometimes these calls are about children, but most of the time, it is about a troubled marriage. I am not a professional counselor, hence, most of the time, after initial conversation, and some spiritual guidance, I point them out in the right direction for help. On the other hand, for every couple that encounters marital discontent, I know another family that is blissfully happy. I am sure you too know families that both have marital discontent and those that are content. In reality, there are no perfect families and there are no perfect marriages.  Most of the time bliss is experienced amidst imperfections, and imperfections amidst bliss. What shall we say about families, since, the liturgy compels us to reflect on marriage and divorce?   

Saturday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

People who know me would agree that I am easy to sidetrack.  Students and friends know that I am one derailed train of thought away from twenty minutes of tangential, and likely trivial, conversation.  This tendency sheds light on my affinity for blazes.  I don’t mean fires, I mean trail markers.  I love that purple square painted on a tree or the cairn (small pile of rocks) that guides your hike through the wilderness.  It is these trail markers that keep you on track.  They are a sign reminding us how we got here, where we are going, and why we are on this journey in the first place.

Friday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Won't hurt us? Will kill us? Would fill a bucket? 

Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi

Scripture Readings

All week we have been hearing the familiar story of Job – the one who loses everything and calls upon God for answers. God’s answer to Job is a three chapter long an assertion of His power over everything, which illustrates how God’s ways are not the ways of humanity. In today’s first reading we see Job’s response to God’s speech. Let us note the profound humility with which Job responds to God. Confronted with the utter majesty of God, Job realizes that he does not know and cannot do all that God knows and does, therefore he respectfully withdraws his challenges to God (Jb 42:2-6).

Wednesday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Feeling that God is on your side is easy when things are going well.  When life seems to be one difficulty after another God’s loving support seems not so clear.  Still we are reminded in the readings that we are to follow the Lord completely, even when the going gets tough.  The dialogue in Job goes back and forth between understanding God’s power and then asking the question is it wise to challenge God’s wisdom.  This discourse is a response to Job’s friend Bildad who says that God is a God of knowledge whose justice is fair.  For Job who has lost much, and yet has a clear conscience, God’s justice feels more like divine anger.  Job’s suffering feels not as a “just” reward for sin, but more as a recipient of an arbitrary allocation of God’s power.  Job realizes that the person (God) to whom he wishes to complain may in fact be responsible for his pain.  Job’s catch twenty-two leaves him feeling powerless.

Memorial of the Guardian Angels

Scripture Readings

Do you believe in angels? What about guardian angels? We’ve probably all heard stories of people having “close calls” and “near misses” which one may attribute to the work of their guardian angels. But we’ve also heard (or said) “his/her guardian angel must have been sleeping that day.” We may make light of it, but today’s readings and memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels gives us reason to pause and consider serious questions.

Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church

Scripture Readings

Today’s first reading about Job reminded me of a book that I recently read.  The book (“Everything Happens for a Reason and other Lies I’ve Loved” by Kate Bowler) is about a 35 year old married mother who finds out that she has stage 4 colon cancer. Kate (the author) was raised as an evangelical Christian whose faith was heavily influenced by the prosperity gospel mindset-a belief held by some Christians which asserts that by having a strong faith, God will deliver security and prosperity. Kate tries to come to grips with her devastating diagnosis through the eyes of faith. Even though Kate had been taught that if she had great faith all would be well, in the end what she realizes is that God’s love and His presence in the suffering are truly what provides hope for the journey.

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Who is the richest person in the world today? It’s Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Whole Foods fame. His net worth is more than $164 billion. Recently, he made news when he created a $2 billion fund to help the homeless and set up a network of schools. Jeff Bezos has often been criticized for taking a back seat on philanthropy. So when he made news with his new philanthropy, there were skeptical reactions. Imagine that I had $164 in my wallet. Now imagine that a very hungry family approached me for food. Imagine that I gave them $2. What would that look like? Even though $2 billion is a lot of money, not only did most influential people see Bezos’ action as too little, but also questioned whether his charity was meant to create a positive image in society. Either way, this story is a good starting point for my homily.

Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, archangels

Scripture Readings

Perhaps no part of our Christian faith today is so extracted from its original Christian context as angels. Angels! We see them as statues, on stationery, and in books. Those who do very little to practice Christianity are often drawn to the cute little cherubs. Those who do practice Christianity often take very little notice of angels, other than accepting this sentimentalized and sanitized version of winged figures flitting about doing good.

Friday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Living in society today we often expect our lives to follow a particular timeline.  We expect ourselves to achieve certain life goals by a certain age: marriage, children, job promotion, retirement, etc.  It is easy to fall into this way of thinking.  Yet it is a mistake to think that everything has to be wrapped up and neatly decided by a particular time.  The scriptures for today emphasize the idea that we often need to wait on the Lord and that God often works more slowly than we might expect or even desire.  Nevertheless God does have a plan, and we need to trust in it even if we do not completely understand what it means for us at the time.  

Memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul, Priest

Scripture Readings

Sounds like poor Qoheleth is having a bad day.  He’s tired, he’s bored, and he feels like he has seen it all again and again.  ‘What’s the point,’ he wonders.  Boredom was described by one minister as ‘the self, stuffed with the self.’  How often prosperous people feel this way!  We consider what we’re going to do, what we have done, what we could have done.  Whether your disposition is to think of the great things you’ve accomplished, or how little you have done well, the outcome is the same; excessive self-focus. We grow tired, thinking of ourselves. 

Wednesday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

In the first reading from Proverbs, the writer is asking God for two things.  The first is protection from falsehood and lying and the second is to be provided with only what is needed.  The writer desires to trust fully in God and in God’s ability to provide, not of their own doing.