Sunday, March 26, 2017

God sees us – 1 Sam 16:1-13, John 9:1-41

Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year A; Holy Infant Parish.

Humans don’t see as God sees. Yet. As we put our first reading and gospel together, I think that’s what we’re left with. We have the negative confession: the humans don’t see as God sees. We have the good news that God sees in a world-changing way. And we have what excites us to hope: that God will transform how we see.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Christ brings the heavenly down the mountain for us – Matt 17:1-9; Gen 12:1-4a

2nd Sunday of Lent, Year A; Holy Infant.

“Luke, I am your father;” the de-masking at the close of the Marriage of Figaro; the transformation of the Beast into Belle’s prince; the quite frankly bizarre moment in more than one Shakespeare play when a woman lets down her hair and only then do the rest of the dramatis personae realize she’s not a boy: we’re fascinated by these kinds of scenes, where a character’s true identity, hidden from other characters or even from the reader, gets made visible, when the dramatic x-ray machine cuts through flesh and marrow and discloses bone.  This is the vision God granted these three disciples, a disclosure of the glorious light Christ was in their midst, in contrast to the hiddenness and homelessness with which he was more normally clothed.  But this is not just a revelation about Jesus with no relevance for the rest of humanity; this is a preview of the glory of resurrection that awaits us. It’s a re-echoing of the heavenly voice from Christ’s baptism, the unwavering assertion of his beloved sonship, and another invitation to hear that voice speaking to us.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Christ raises us to be who were created to be – Gen 2:7-9, Matt 4:1-11

1st Sunday of Lent, Year A; Holy Infant parish.

I have to admit that whenever I’m bored, one of my go-to “this’ll-distract-me” instincts is to pull out my phone. Of course, it doesn’t always work, and I have at times caught myself looking at something on my phone, still being bored at it, or frustrated at how slowly something’s loading, and realizing that my left hand is instinctively reaching down to my pocket to take out my phone. Forgetting what I’m doing makes me think that something’s going to satisfy me that isn’t, in this case that isn’t even there.  What’s much more dangerous though than forgetting what you’re doing is forgetting who you are.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

God beautifully and painfully re-members us – Isa 49:14-15

8th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A -- Holy Infant parish, on the occasion of reception of a catechumen and candidate for reception into full communion.

Can a mother forget her child? That’s the tender comforting word God has for his people in the reading we heard from Isaiah. The passage continues of course, after the point we stopped reading, and maybe as much as we read is enough. It certainly is a rich banquet of word, of Gospel in the deep sense of good news, to just sit and reflect on and marvel at God’s love for us, as the love of mother for child. But, the passage continues and lets us in to God’s emotional attachment to humanity. Just after these verses, God tells us, “I have engraved you in the palms of my hands.” I did a little research on palm tattoos this week (I dread to think what kind of ads I’ll start getting online soon…), and consistently sites I went to made three points about hand tattoos: they’re painful, they’re very hard to hide, and they fade quicker than other tattoos so need regular retouching to look good. God has engraved us in the palms of his hand. God’s etching of our memory into God’s hands is public, is bold, is extravagant, is regularly re-inscribed, and is painful.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

God has changed the world that we might love like Him – Matt 5:17-48

Ordinary Time, Year A, Week 6; Holy Infant parish.

Suppose we were all good law-observant Jews, and you heard these words of Jesus’ and decided to follow them. The next day I have to go out of town, and I ask you if can look after my ox while I’m gone. You’re a decent sort, and pretty well set up for ox-tending, so you say, “sure!” Unfortunately, while I’m away, the ox catches what you think is a bad case of flu. It gets sicker and sicker and then dies. I come back, and I’m pretty upset about my dead ox, who wasn’t a cute pet, but really essential to my ability to provide for my family (let’s say we’re all subsistence farmers here too). I demand you pay me the price of an ox, something you definitely do not have the resources to do, not without ruining yourself. “Hold on,” you say, “that’s not fair, it wasn’t my fault, the ox just got sick and died.” You remember that the law of Moses actually deals explicitly with this situation, and you’d just heard Jesus say that he hadn’t come to abolish the law. The law says that in this exact situation, all you have to do is swear an oath that the ox’s death wasn’t your fault, and I would have no claim against you. But, Jesus just said no oaths. None at all. And the law of Moses doesn’t say you can swear an oath if you like, it says, Exod 22:10-11, in this situation, you must. The debt-collectors are at your door, and they’re telling you, “follow the law, the law God gave on Sinai, if what you’re saying about the illness is true, and swear the oath. If not, cough up.”

Sunday, February 5, 2017

God’s work in us lights up the world – Matt 5:13-16

5th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C; Holy Infant parish.

Now, I know that in this congregation we have quite a few scientists, engineers, physicians, etc., and people whose gifts lie in different areas. But, I’m pretty sure that everyone here knows the First Law of Thermodynamics.  Now, I don’t mean that you can necessarily recite it, but you know it.  The first law of thermodynamics states that work is heat and heat is work.  Knowing the first law of thermodynamics really just amounts to knowing that when you run your car engine, it gets hot.  Now, that’s not really its function (its function is to spin the gears and thus wheels and move your car forward), but a side-effect (a pleasant one during those chilly morning commutes we’ve been enjoying recently) is that doing that work creates heat.  You know the first law of thermodynamics if you know that when you exercise, you’ll start to warm up.  Doing the work of contracting and extending your muscles to move around creates heat.  A room full of children running around won’t just be noisy, it’ll warm up.  And when things get hot enough, they start to give off light.  Think of sparks on a bandsaw.  Or, think of those light bulbs, which are designed to give off light and, incidentally give off heat.  The work there is the electrons in the metal of the filament moving backwards and forwards, changing direction over a hundred times a second.  These tiny particles buzzing around do enough work to heat those coils and produce enough light to light up this Church.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

God lifts us up, so we should dare to fall – Matt 5:1-12a (Celebration of St. Francis de Sales)

Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A, parish celebration of St. Francis de Sales; Holy Infant parish.

When I was teaching confirmation class, this passage we just heard from Matthew, the beatitudes, was in our textbook. But, rather confusingly, it was in the section on Christian morality, on a right hand page, right next to the Ten Commandments on the left. I, at least, was confused by this, because the beatitudes aren’t primarily about what we’re meant to do at all. We have beautiful Christian teaching about what we are to do and not do; the Ten Commandments, inherited from our Jewish roots, work great as a to-do list (along with a not-to-do-list). I could tell the kids, make sure you honor father and mother this week, careful of that coveting. But the beatitudes? How could I tell them, go out and be poor this week, or go mourn?