Sunday, January 23, 2022

Jesus frees us – Luke 4:14-21

 Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C; St. Ann's.

Good news for the poor, for the captives, for the blind, for the oppressed. I wonder when you hear that list, whether or not you think you’re a part of that or not. I imagine different people here hear that list differently.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

God welcomes and embraces us – Luke 1:39-45

Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year C; St. Ann's Parish.

One of my favorite statues is by Fr. Tony Lauck, CSC, a member of my community who had died before I joined. From a distance it looks like a black cone, about 6 feet tall. As you get closer, though, you realize that the surface is not smooth, but imitates the folds you would see in cloth, and that there’s a subtle divide that means that two clothed figures are depicted. Emerging from those fold, you can see four hands, and if you look from the appropriate angles, you can see one face or the other of two women who are embracing, heads nestled on each other’s shoulders. It’s a depiction of the Visitation, the Gospel passage we just heard, Mary and Elizabeth embracing.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

God levels all obstacles, including our sin – Bar 5:1-9, Luke 3:1-6.

 Second Sunday of Advent, Year C; St. Ann's and Chapel of Mary.

Every valley filled in; every mountain and hill brought low. Why? So we can walk home. In its original context, this prophecy is addressed to the Israelites during their exile in Babylon. The Babylonians had come and destroyed the Temple, that placed where they found God so powerfully, had blinded the king, and had taken the people away from the Promised Land and brought them to Babylon. A lifetime later, news comes that there’s a new military power in the Ancient Near East. The Persians are coming, and they’re likely to conquer the Babylonians, and let the Israelites come home. The prophet proclaims: This is God’s doing, and now our task is to walk home, and God is going to do everything in God’s power to help us do that, even reforming the earth to help us take the most direct route home possible.


Sunday, November 21, 2021

Jesus’ reign reflects its brightness off of us – John 18:33b-37; Rev 1:5-8

 Christ the King, Year B; St. Ann's.

Crucifixion was not just designed to kill. It was not just designed to superadd pain or terror on top of what would necessarily accompany death. It was designed to mock. Specifically, it was designed to mock those who had “ideas above their stations,” those who thought they were higher than they were. When people who were enslaved revolted or harmed their slaveholders, crucifixion was a common punishment meted out. The message was clear: “You think you were high and mighty? Well, we’ll show you who’s mighty: The Roman Empire is. And we’ll show you just what happens to people who try to exalt themselves: we’ll exalt you, we’ll lift you up, as we slowly kill you.”


Sunday, October 31, 2021

Jesus offers everything for our love – Heb 7:23-28; Mark 12:23-282

 Thirty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B; St. Ann's parish.

So, I’m not trying to make excuses, but I think this is a really hard gospel passage to preach on. I was discussing this with a friend earlier this week and he asked me, “what’s it about?” I replied, “it’s Jesus telling us to love each other and love God.” “Well, that sounds like good advice,” he said. And I have to disagree. I don’t think it’s good advice. “Use lemon juice to erase yellow highlighter in a book,” or “dryer lint makes a great fire starter”: those are examples of good pieces of advice (you’re welcome by the way if you didn’t know that); simple instructions designed to solve a problem by adding a new piece of knowledge to your collection. “Love each other and God” isn’t like that. I think it would be a wonderful outcome; if all of us left this place more ready to actually love each other, the rest of humanity, and God more whole-heartedly (and, we should add, whole-bodiedly, whole-mindedly, whole-spiritedly), that would be probably the best of all possible outcome. But I don’t think simply being told to love more is going to get us there.


Sunday, October 17, 2021

Christ leads us home together – Heb 4:14-16

 Twenty-ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B; Immaculate Conception and Chapel of Mary.

Journey and homecoming are two themes that fascinate us. Some of the oldest stories we know, like Gilgamesh and the Odyssey, involve journeys and going home. More recently, we have The Wizard of Oz, so such classics as Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, or even Spiderman: Homecoming. Maybe journeys fascinate us so much because that’s how God is saving us.


Sunday, October 10, 2021

God fills us to overflowing – Mark 10:17-27, Heb 4:12-13

 Twenty-Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B; St. Ann's

You’ve all probably heard that familiar adage that a pessimist says a glass is half-empty and an optimist says that it’s half-full.  Well, as Christians, we’re not called to be pessimists or optimists. We’re called to be something much more exciting; we’re called to be people of hope. A person of hope doesn’t deal in these half measures: hope pays attention to the reality of the water and the reality of the space, and hope proclaims that the glass can be filled.  Christian hope in particular is the assurance that God can fill us up, that through the blood of Christ out poured, we can be filled to overflowing with holiness and love. God longs to fill us up. God is acting to do just that. That’s what Jesus means when he says that “All things are possible with God.”