Sunday, October 20, 2019

God urges us on in struggle – Luke 18:1-8, Exod 18:8-13

Twenty-ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C; Holy Infant parish.

I wonder what you might come up with if you were asked to tell a story that encapsulates your image of prayer. I think that could actually be a really interesting spiritual exercise, especially for people who naturally like to make up and tell stories, to think through what story you would tell if wanted to talk about prayer through a narrative. It could be something from your life, a story from the life of a saint, or a completely made up story that nonetheless is deeply true. To maybe spark your imagination, and I hope not to shut it down, Exodus and Jesus’ parable in Luke give us two such stories, or maybe, actually, three, and I’ll get to why I think there are three stories there later

Sunday, October 13, 2019

God heals the fear that makes us shun – Luke 17:11-19, 2 Tim 2:8-13

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C; Holy Infant parish.

I think the worst thing we could ever teach someone is that they should keep their distance from Jesus.  Yet, this is what these ten lepers were taught.  Not specifically from Jesus, of course, they’d been taught to keep their distance from everyone who didn’t share their disease.  When the first signs of leprosy were noticed on someone’s skin, there would be a funeral style liturgy in which the victim would be mourned as if dead when cast out of the community, shunned, told to remain perpetually separate, to cry out to warn people not to come near them.  They were taught that their skin was so dreadful, literally, something that people dreaded so, that they must keep away, because they were dangerous, because they were to be feared.  They were taught to hate their own skin, taught that the only useful thing they could do with their lives was to help others avoid them.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

God looks upon our faith – Luke 16:1-13, Amos 8:4-7

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time; Holy Infant parish.

In general, the beginning is a very good place to start, but there are some stories with which it’s best to start at the end. I think this parable, which is confusing and strange in a lot of ways, is one of those.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

God seeks out the lost – Luke 15:1-10

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C; Holy Infant.

Have you seen the AT&T ads about times when just OK is not OK? There’s one about a carnival worker who claims he did an “OK job” assembling a thrill ride, and so the fair goers swiftly walk away. There’s another about a tattoo artist who says, “Don’t worry, your tattoo is going look OK.” And when the tattoo-recipient asks him if he’s meant to sketch it first, the artist replies, “Stay in your lane, bro.” Well, I’ll admit that sheep care is not exactly my lane, but I think I’d do a pretty OK job at it. I mean, if I managed to keep 99% of my sheep, I’d view that as a pretty good batting average, actually. I’d probably do a pretty OK job at looking after the 99, and sell some wool to make reasonably OK sweaters now and again. If one wandered off, I’d probably say to myself something like, “Oh, don’t sweat the small stuff.”

Sunday, September 8, 2019

God, and God alone, is enough for us – Luke 14:25-3

23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C; Holy Infant parish.

When most of us hear this gospel reading, I think we’re more shocked by Jesus’ command to hate their family than to take up their cross. And I think that’s because we’ve domesticated the cross. And I’ll get back to what Jesus says about family, but we need to start with the cross.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Christ has brought us to the holy mountain – Luke 14:1, 7-14; Heb 12:18-24

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C; Holy Infant parish.

If you looked in last week’s bulletin or online at what the readings would be for this week, (and I definitely do recommend reading the readings before Mass if you can) you might have noticed that what we just heard from Luke’s gospel was chapter 14, verse one and verses seven through fourteen. If you’re anything like me, that immediately gets you fascinated to find out what goes in verses two through six. What are we skipping? What we’re skipping is Jesus healing a man with dropsy. The Greek term Luke wrote that we translate “dropsy” means basically “water-logged.” The understanding of this disease was that it was an insatiable thirst. Someone suffering from this disease would keep feeling thirsty even though they were perfectly well hydrated and would take on more and more fluid until they swelled up. And I know, we have lots of medical personnel here who could talk all about modern understandings of this, and how it relates to edema… what matters is how Luke understood the disease.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Christ leads us up the mountain – Luke 13:2-30; Isa 66:18-21

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C; Holy Infant parish.

I don’t know how many of you have climbed a mountain. If you haven’t, spoiler alert, it’s quite difficult. And I’ve never done any of what they call “technical climbing,” where you actually need ropes and harnesses and things, but I have made it to the top of Pike’s Peak, one of the many 14,000-foot-high mountains in Colorado. If you want to walk it, as I did, you start at an altitude of around 7,000 feet, and over the course of walking 14 miles, you ascend the other 7,000 to make it up to 14. Between 11,000 and 12,000 feet is what they call the tree line. That’s the altitude above which no trees grow. One of the many realizations I had on that walk was that the trees are probably a good deal smarter than we are. Air that low in oxygen is really hard to walk through. The whole climb took me about seven hours, but the last mile, over which we climbed almost 1,000 feet, took me an hour. Now, Pike’s Peak also has a Cog railway that you can take to the summit, as well as a road. You can drive up. And at the top, is a little café and gift shop. All I remember about the café is that they served chili, and, at that moment, the chili was the best thing I’d ever tasted.