Ascension of the Lord (Year C) May 8 (Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47; Ephesians 1:17-23; Luke 24:46-53)
What is it like to ascend to the heavens? The sight of astronauts floating effortlessly around a space station or outside on a repair mission has become so commonplace that it doesn’t even elicit much comment. When we read the account of the Ascension in Acts, it seems to pale in comparison to the accomplishments of our own time.
Sixth Sunday of Easter (Year C) May 1 (Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Psalm 67; Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23; John 14:23-29)
There are two basic approaches to drawing people to a relationship with God and an experience of divine love and mercy. Some anxiously, and usually angrily, place as many obstacles before others as possible. They set conditions that have to be met before someone can belong to the community or dare to approach God. But there is another approach, and that is to place as few obstacles or conditions before people as possible — in short, do everything in one’s power to bring them home.
Fifth Sunday of Easter (Year C) April 24 (Acts 14:21b-27; Psalm 145; Revelation 21:1-5a; John 13:1, 31-33a, 34-35)
What sort of word did Paul and Barnabas proclaim to the communities they founded? We can expect that the death and resurrection of Jesus was first on the list — details about His life came later. Most importantly, their proclamation included the warning that Jesus had been appointed judge of the living and the dead.
Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year C) April 17 (Acts 13:14, 43-52; Psalm 100; Revelation 7:9, 14b-17; John 10:27-30)
There are many ways to relate a series of events, poetic, scientific, artistic and journalistic modes among them. When most people hear the word “history” they think of a straight-forward narration of unvarnished “facts.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. There is no such thing as an unbiased or dispassionate narrator — everyone has a point to make, an axe to grind, an agenda to address or an ideology to advance. This should not really surprise anyone, and there is nothing nefarious or sinister about it.
Third Sunday of Easter (Year C) April 10 (Acts 5:28-32, 40b-41; Psalm 30; Revelation 5:11-14; John 21:1-19)
The leaders of the temple had every reason to silence the apostles. Their open and fearless proclamation of the Risen Christ exposed for all the huge mistake that they had made. Jesus had challenged their authority, attitudes and way of life. People in general do not like to be challenged in this way, even less so those in positions of power and prestige.
Resurrection of the Lord (Year C) March 27 (Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Psalm 118; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-18)
The most profound and gripping theologies take the form of a story. Few people are moved by dry metaphysical speculations or hairsplitting, but many are moved by a powerful story. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus is as one movie title had it, The Greatest Story Ever Told. Perhaps that is part of the problem in our own time — we have opted for an overly rationalized and skeptical approach to our faith, allowing the power and excitement of the great story to slip away.
Fifth Sunday of Lent (Year C) March 13 (Isaiah 43:16-21; Psalm 126; Philippians 3:8-14; John 8:1-11)
The biblical witness is resounding — God is always compassionate and just, and concerned with the well-being and happiness of humanity. Freedom and redemption are expressions of God, and these qualities never wavered throughout Israel’s history. But in the mid-sixth century B.C., the people of Israel found themselves captives and exiles in Babylon. Jerusalem, along with its temple, had been utterly destroyed. This caused a crisis of faith among many people, and a collective search for the meaning of the disaster. Most blamed themselves for what had happened. Infidelity to God in so many ways could only end badly.
Third Sunday of Lent (Year C) Feb. 28 (Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15; Psalm 103; 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12; Luke 13:1-9)
God often appears in the midst of the ordinary and mundane. Moses was only doing what he had done for so long — minding the flocks of his father-in-law. The bush that burned without being consumed was a flash of the transcendent and extraordinary.
Second Sunday of Lent (Year C) Feb. 21 (Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18; Psalm 27; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 9:28b-36)
Sometimes the future looks bleak and it is difficult to believe in a happy or satisfying outcome. That is the point where many lose hope, and with the departure of hope, faith and love are endangered.
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Feb. 7 (Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8; Psalm 138; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Luke 5:1-11)
How would we react if we suddenly found ourselves out of our element and where we had no right to be? Fear, embarrassment and a sense of vulnerability all come to mind — and Isaiah experienced them all. No one could be in God’s presence and live to tell the tale — and there Isaiah was, in the midst of the heavenly court. This was a vision, not an actual physical journey, but no less powerful and frightening.
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Jan. 31 (Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19; Psalm 71; 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13; Luke 4:21-30)
The prophetic call from God made brave men quake. Most of them knew exactly what it could mean — hardship, rejection, persecution, failure and even death.