Sunday, December 10, 2017

God brings us exiles home – Isa 40:1-5,9-11, Mark 1:1-8

2nd Sunday of Advent, Year B; Holy Infant parish

To exiles, comfort is spoken, comfort is tenderly spoken.  The Israelites heard this comfort after living for well over a generation in Babylon, after the Babylonians had razed Jerusalem and brought them captive to Babylon.  So many had grown up with talk of their Land, their own king, their own Temple being foreign to them, being something almost unimaginable, something they had never known, something that they know engenders a sparkle in the grandparents’ eyes, but not something they had ever touched or seen for themselves.  They were Israelites who had not known Israel, but only Babylonian captivity.  They had only known lush gardens they were shut out of.  They had only known themselves as foreign, as alien, as unwanted except as cheap labor.  They tried to sing their people’s songs in a strange land, but the melodies had never been wrapped around their tongues in their homeland.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Christ meets us in our offering – Isa 63:16b-17, 19; 64:2-7; Advent I collect

Advent I, Year B; Holy Infant church

Our readings today began without could have been understood as a formulaic profession of faith, “You, God, are our Father.” But it’s not just a statement of fact. Actually, in the Hebrew that verb “are” isn’t there, the reading would just begin with a list of titles for God: “You… God… our Father! Redeemer! (so named for ever)… Why do you make us stray from you, God?” It’s a long introduction to a question, a long crying out to God, to God whose absence is felt very keenly.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Jesus hungers for us – Matt 25:31-46, Ezek 34:11-17

Christ the King, Year A; Holy Infant parish.

What is it to be glorious?  I ask, because I don’t think we use that word a lot.  Words we use to say that something’s very good tend to suffer deflation over their history and new words need to be coined.  Something can be awesome without actually causing anyone much awe anymore, or brilliant without really make much of anything shine, or amazing without anyone being all that amazed.  But, glorious, that word seems to have kept a mystique, a value all of its own.  Our gospel tells us that at the end of time, the Son of Man will come in his glory, that he will be glorious, but we kind of have to hunt through the text to find what glory really means.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

God gives us the oil to light up the world – Matt 25:1-13, Wis 6:12-16

32nd Sunday in OT, Year C; Holy Infant.

Ever have the experience of looking for something that’s right under your nose? Like going searching for your glasses when you’re wearing them (which I guess would make them on your nose, not under it, but the point stands). Or, my personal favorite, the time recently when I noticed that my trouser pocket seemed a little light, reached down to check what was in it, thought “Oh no! Where are my car keys,” then realized… I was driving. Well, both our first reading and our gospel are about that kind of possibility, only not with glasses and keys, but with Wisdom, and Wisdom incarnate, Christ at his coming.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

God loves us over-flowingly – Matt 22:34-40, Exod 22:20-26

Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A, Mass with baptism; Holy Infant parish.

When I was in college, our student apartments where heated by storage heaters. For those who’ve never had the misfortune to live somewhere heated like this, let me explain how they work. They’re electric heaters that only turn on overnight, when the electricity’s cheaper. Inside them are bricks that absorb the heat and slowly release it over the day. At night, it works great. You get great heat throughout the morning too from the bricks. But, I remember some pretty chilly early evenings, as we sat around the stove after dinner, waiting for the magic time (9pm I think?) when the heaters would turn back on and warm both us, and the now cold bricks.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

God makes us gift – Matt 22:15-21

OT, Year A, Week 28; Holy Infant parish.

When I was a child, I collected coins.  Growing up in England in the pre-Euro zone days, it was pretty easy to travel around Europe collecting different coins from different countries and, when my dad would travel for business, he’d bring back coins from more far-flung places.  I was fascinated at first by the different sizes, shapes and colors, by the different ways value was shown, and finally by the different values projected by the coins in a deeper sense: how did each nation make a statement about who they were by how they decorated their coins?  Now, I soon came to realize that coin-designers did not tend to be especially imbued with the virtue of national humility, but none that I can remember made as bold a claim as that coin the Pharisees probably produced from their own purse at Jesus’ request.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

God extends mercy to those we'd least suspect to show us the way – Matt 21:28-32

Twenty-sixth Sunday of OT, Year C; Holy Infant parish.

“Tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.”  What would be your reaction to that?  Imagine you’re a chief priest, you’re standing in the Temple, your home base, the place you feel most grounded in the presence of the God who called you into his service, into leadership in his service, and this odd, homeless, wandering preaching who had just shown up in Jerusalem to great acclaim from the people has the nerve to say to you: “Tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.”  I’m sure we can imagine various responses, and, knowing how the story ends, we know that their reaction culminated in plotting to have this wandering preacher killed.  I think the first thing we should notice is that if someone else is entering the kingdom before us, then we’re entering the kingdom! And maybe if I was a better person, I’d be entirely fine with that. But, I do have to admit that I think in their shoes, I’d feel a little stung by Jesus’ throwing shade. I think there’s somewhere that sting is meant to lead us. I don’t think we’re meant to just concentrate on the fact that we’re en route to the kingdom of heaven and ignore the tax collectors and prostitutes ahead of us that cause that sting. But the response to them is to convert that sting into gratitude.  Gratitude followed by conversion of heart.