I have to admit that I’ve never really understood why Noah’s ark is included in every abbreviated children’s bible going. I mean, I guess it’s cute to have all those animals. But, at is heart, the flood story is about the unrepentant wickedness of humans, a level of wickedness that drove God to destroy almost the entire world. What we heard as our first reading is God’s promise to never to do that again. And, I have to admit, that sometimes when I read the news, I wonder if God gets tempted to break that promise sometimes. But, he won’t, because God is ever faithful.
Sunday, February 18, 2018
Sunday, February 4, 2018
5th Sunday of OT, Year B; Holy Infant parish.
Jesus seems to be having a pretty good day. Today’s reading picks up right where last week’s left off, and maybe we should have preceded it by a “previously, on ‘the Gospel according to Mark.’” He showed up in Capernaum, preached in their synagogue, freed someone from a demon and everything was amazed at him, and marveled at his teaching. And the day goes on. Now, he heals Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, gets a good meal out of it, casts out more demon, cures many more sick people. The whole town turns up at his door, seeking his help. People are responding to the call! It appears he’s up half the night with these people. And then he leaves, quietly, when no-one’s watching.
Sunday, January 21, 2018
3rd Week of OT, Year B; Holy Infant.
I know someone who fell in love while dancing to a Beatles song, but not exactly to the person she was dancing with. Let me back up. When I was at Notre Dame, one Spring break I led a bunch of students on a trip to spend a week at a L’Arche house. L’Arche houses are places community where people with and without intellectual disabilities live and work together as peers, creating communities of faith and friendship. I taught a class where for the first half of the semester, we studied the L’Arche movement and the spiritual and theological principles that undergird it, then we spent Spring break living it and the rest of the semester unpacking that experience. One of my students told me afterwards that she was going to apply to spend a year living as part of one of their communities. “I still want to be an attorney,” she told me. “I still want to help people professionally in that way, maybe run for office someday, but I need more of this first.” “Can you expand that, what’s ‘this’ for you?” I asked her. And that’s when she told me about the Beatles song. We’d been in the kitchen, preparing dinner. The student had shown up a minute or so late to the work shift, and there wasn’t really anything for her to do, all the tasks had been assigned. She told me how frustrating this was, as she’d come here to help people, but then that opening harmonica riff of “Love, love me do” came on the radio, and one of the core members (the community members with intellectual disabilities), asked her to dance. It was while dancing that she realized that there’s something more fundamental than helping people, and that’s loving, loving life, loving people. I encouraged her to remember that moment of clarity, that delightful dance, whether that be through journaling, telling her story to others, sketching it, whatever works for her, because things won’t always feel that naturally easy, even if objectively they’ll still be just as beautiful.
Sunday, January 14, 2018
2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B; Holy Infant parish.
There are some questions that don’t allow for short answers, that open things up that can’t be simply put back in their can. “Harry, how was it you got that scar again?” “Ishmael, did you ever happen to meet a ship’s captain, name of Ahab?” “What an interesting piece of jewelry around your neck, Frodo!” Well, when the disciples ask Jesus, “where are you staying?” that ends up being one of those questions too, whose answer is very much longer than the question.
Sunday, December 10, 2017
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
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
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.