A couple of months after my priestly ordination, I ended up checking in to Holy Cross House. For about a week, I’d been really tired and had an annoying cough that wouldn’t go away, and then one Sunday evening, I passed out while saying Mass. It turned out that I had walking pneumonia, which isn’t a lot a fun at the best of times I’ve heard, but that also interacted another condition that I thought I had been managing adequately, and resulted in gastric fluid collecting in my lungs. After a few really difficult days of isolation on the medical floor, which were certainly difficult because of the pain and the fever, but even more because of the complete lack of knowing what was going on, I was finally allowed out of my room, and allowed to come down to concelebrate Mass. Still smarting from the realization of how out of breath I was from walking from the elevator to the chapel, I remember well the first time I concelebrated Mass at Holy Cross House. I remember saying, “This is my Body,” and it meaning something new and different than the last sixty or so times I’d said that. I remember seeing the Body broken at the fraction rite and knowing that I now knew Christ in a new way. I knew him in the breaking of the bread.
Sunday, April 26, 2020
Sunday, March 15, 2020
Third Sunday of Lent, Year A, with a reception into the catechumenate; Holy Infant parish.
Why was this woman going to the well on her own at noon? Let’s start with the easier part of that question. Why was she going to the well? Presumably, she was going to the well because she wanted water. Or, probably, because she needed water. It seems that this well was some ways out from the village. She must have needed water badly enough that she was prepared to walk through the noon day heat to go to the well. She was thirsty. Why did she go on her own, and why did she go at noon? Noon in a hot climate is not the best time to do your well run. And leaving the village alone is not a normal safe thing to do. Maybe, and we’re left with guesses about this woman, maybe she chose noon precisely because it was not a popular time to go to the well. Maybe she was not just lacking in water, but in community, not just having no one to go with, but really preferring not to be around others.
Sunday, March 8, 2020
Second Sunday of Lent, Year A; Holy Infant parish.
“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 1, 2020
First Sunday of Lent, Year A; Holy Infant.
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. We so often reach for what is ultimately unsatisfying when we forget what we’re doing, forget who we are.
Sunday, February 23, 2020
7th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A; Holy Infant parish.
The sun produces energy at a rate of 400 Yotta-Watts, that’s 400 Yotta Joules each second, and that’s 4 with 26 zeroes after it. That’s the equivalent of this: if every man, woman and child on God’s green earth had their own nuclear power plant, and ran it for fifteen years, the total amount of energy produced would be the same as what the sun produces each second. That’s powerful. That’s energetic. God makes the sun rise. That’s a tiny fraction of God’s action in the world, of God’s love, of God’s grace. And God makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good.
Sunday, February 16, 2020
6th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A; Holy Infant parish.
Suppose we were all good law-observant Jews. Like Sirach in our first reading, we read the law of Moses, and we find it refreshing as water when there’s fire all around, and reach out to it and try to follow it. Then we hear these words of Jesus’ and they’re compelling and we decide 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 nasty cold. But then, it gets sicker and sicker and finally 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 2, 2020
Feast of the Presentation; Holy Infant parish.
A recent Taylor Swift song opens with the defiant statement: “We could leave the Christmas lights up ‘til January // This is our place; we make the rules.” Only, I’m not really sure quite what she thinks she’s defying. Of course you can, Taylor, it’s still Christmas in early January. While Christmas Day being on December 25th has been pretty consistent throughout Christian history, quite when the Christmas season ends has varied a little. Currently, in the Roman Catholic Calendar, as reformed in 1970, the Christmas Season ends with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which is normally the early side of mid-January. We celebrated that on the twelfth this year. For a long time before that, about four hundred years prior to 1970, the Christmas season ended on Epiphany which was always twelve days after Christmas. I went to a great twelfth night party just under a month ago, where we had a King Cake and a rosca de reyes, which are really variants of each other, but both great ways to celebrate Epiphany. Anyway, before the reforms that followed the council of Trent that standardized Epiphany as the last day of the Christmas season, in some places, including parts of England, the last day of the Christmas Season was today, or rather, tomorrow, February 2nd, the Feast of the Presentation, or Candlemas as it’s also known. So, if somebody could let Taylor know… if she becomes a super-old-fashioned pre-Tridentine Catholic, she can leave the Christmas lights up ‘til February!