Holy Family (Year B) Dec. 28 (Genesis 15:1-6; 17:3b-5, 15-16; 21:1-7; Psalm 105; Hebrews 11:8, 11-12, 17-19; Luke 2:22-40)
Even though Abraham is our father in faith because he trusted in God, that faith was sorely tested. Abraham had left everything behind — his land, kin and security — and became a wanderer, going wherever God led him.
We are often eager to do favours for others without considering how they might feel about it. Do they really want or need what we have in mind? Are we satisfying our own needs under the guise of being openhanded and generous? This is even more the case when God is the recipient of our favours and gifts.
Does God want or need what we offer?
Third Sunday of Advent (Year B) Dec. 14 (Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11; Luke 1; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28)
What would good news sound like in our world? A steady diet of negativity reported by the news media can leave one feeling depressed, fearful, hopeless and helpless. Often people turn to pain-numbing diversions of every variety to escape the darkness and confusion around them.
Second Sunday of Advent (Year B) Dec. 7 (Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11; Psalm 85; 2 Peter 3:8-14; Mark 1:1-8)
Anyone who has accompanied someone who is deep in grief or suffering knows how difficult it is to find the right words. In fact, most of the time it is better to say very little — presence and comfort go a long way. Above all, explanations or “answers” are seldom helpful.
First Sunday of Advent (Year B) Nov. 30 (Isaiah 63:16b-17; 64:1, 3-8; Psalm 80; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37)
Who is responsible when disaster or collapse strike? It is human nature to make excuses and look for something and/or someone to blame. The passage from Isaiah dates from the fifth century B.C. The exiles had returned from Babylon but the land of Israel still had not recovered. The temple and the city of Jerusalem were shadows of their glory days, and the land was depressed socially and economically. Various factions competed for dominance in the governance of the nation. People were clearly disillusioned and cynical, and most of us at one time or another have shared their feelings.
Christ the King (Year A) Nov. 23 (Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17; Psalm 23; 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28; Matthew 25:31-46)
There are many models of power and authority in the world but far too many of them are based on brute force, authoritarianism and domination. When coupled with a powerful ideology, they have enslaved millions and been the cause of countless deaths. There are less dramatic forms that constrict thought and expression or seek to control the lives of others.
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Nov. 16 (Proverbs 31:10-13, 16-18, 20, 26, 28-31; Psalm 128; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6; Matthew 25:14-30)
The job description of a good wife in the Book of Proverbs is daunting. The described individual is a combination of social worker, business woman, mother and companion. One can only hope that equal standards apply to the husband in question.
Dedication of the Lateran Basilica (Year A) Nov. 9 (Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9, 12; Psalm 46; 1 Corinthians 3:9b-11, 16-17; John 2:13-22)
In ancient Israel the temple was a rich metaphor for the life-giving presence of God. For people of the ancient world, temples were theology books in stone. Their mathematical proportions and symbolic structures were meant to reflect divine and cosmological principles. The temple was often referred to as the navel or axis of the world.
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Oct. 26 (Exodus 22:21-27; Psalm 18; 1 Thessalonians 1:5c-10; Matthew 22:34-40)
Remember who you were and what it felt like to be abused and oppressed. Exodus addressed this admonition and guidance to the Israelites but it is also meant for us. The people of Israel were reminded to remember the bitterness and suffering of slavery in Egypt in all of their dealings with other people. It is a variation on the Golden Rule — if you didn’t like the way you were treated, then don’t treat others in the same manner.
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Oct. 19 (Isaiah 45:1, 4-6; Psalm 96; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5ab; Matthew 22:15-21)
Who are the “good guys” and “bad guys” in our world? We are prone to dividing the world into the sheep and the goats and attaching the appropriate tags. It can be rather satisfying, and it doesn’t take much reflection or discernment. A mere negative visceral reaction to someone is usually sufficient grounds for a damning label.
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Oct. 12 (Isaiah 25:6-10a; Psalm 23; Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20; Matthew 22:1-14)
Modern people climb great mountains simply because they are there and they want to prove themselves. In the ancient world, mountains were frightening and awesome places where human beings encountered God. Isaiah painted a prophetic picture of the encounter for which so many people had yearned.
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Oct. 5 (Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 80; Philippians 4:6-9; Matthew 21:33-43)
The prophets of Israel had an array of instruments at their disposal in their struggle to reform the nation. Symbolic behaviour — a form of street theatre — was one such technique, and it was very effective in the hands of someone like Jeremiah.