Thirteenth Sunday Ordinary Time (Year C) June 26 (1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21; Psalm 16; Galatians 5:1, 13-18; Luke 9:51-62)

Many personnel managers would envy Elijah’s situation. God not only told him when it was time to train a successor, but also whom he should choose. Finding Elisha, the designated successor, Elijah threw his mantle over him in a traditional prophetic gesture of selection and empowerment. Elisha’s response was immediate and positive — he was willing, but needed just enough time to say goodbye to his parents. Elijah was rather nonchalant, and indicated that Elisha was a free man and could do as he liked. No one was forcing him to follow in the prophet’s footsteps. Elisha slaughtered the oxen and threw a farewell feast for his family and the people, and then he followed Elijah. 

The deep things are under the surface

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The spirituality writer Tom Stella tells a story about three monks at prayer in their monastery chapel. The first monk imagines himself being carried up to Heaven by the angels. The second monk imagines himself already in Heaven, chanting God’s praises with the angels and saints. The third monk cannot focus on any holy thoughts but can only think about the great hamburger he had eaten just before coming to chapel. That night, when the devil was filing his report for the day, he wrote: “Today I tried to tempt three monks, but I only succeeded with two of them.”

God’s compassion shatters the hardened heart

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Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) June 19 (Zechariah 12:10-11; Psalm 63; Galatians 3:26-29; Luke 9:18-24)

Sometimes it takes an act of God to touch and move the human heart so that the tears can flow. Throughout history, up until this very day, people have often meted out countless acts of cruelty, injustice and unkindness towards one another. Leafing through history books, one could get the impression that history is written in blood. The worst part of it is the calloused and numbed consciences that seem unable or unwilling to acknowledge guilt or empathize with the pain of the victims. 

Today's youth: a work in progress

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A seminarian I know recently went to a party at a local university campus. The group was a crowd of young, college students and when he was introduced as a seminarian, as someone who was trying to become a priest and who had taken a vow of celibacy, the mention of celibacy evoked some giggles in the room, some banter and a number of jokes about how much he must be missing out on in life. Poor, naïve fellow! 

Forgiveness opens our hearts wide

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Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) June 12 (2 Samuel 12:7-10, 13; Psalm 32; Galatians 2:16, 19-21; Luke 7:36-8:3)

We usually think of a “flash of recognition” in positive terms — a form of enlightenment. But David’s experience of this recognition was disturbing and even devastating. His climb to the top of the heap as king of Israel had been successful but not pretty. It had involved a lot of questionable decisions and actions, but he seemed disinclined to quibble — after all, it had worked. He had almost unlimited power and wealth — what more could one want? 

Faith challenged in our final hours

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A common soldier dies without fear, yet Jesus died afraid. 

Parish must become the centre of one’s life

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It can be easy to feel lost and lonely in church; and that’s twice as lost and lonely as anywhere else.

God is near to all of us

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10th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) June 5 (1 Kings 17:17-21a, 22-24; Psalm 30; Galatians 1:11-19; Luke 7:11-17)

Should we ever reproach God for human suffering? People have usually been reluctant to do so, and they spend a lot of effort try to vindicate God. 

Mercy puts a credible face on God

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Among the Ten Commandments, one begins with the word “remember”: “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.” There are commandments of mercy written into our very DNA. We know them, but need to remember them more explicitly. What are they?

Pain, suffering draw us closer to the one who suffered for us

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It is all but impossible to discuss the multi-dimensional aspects of assisted suicide and euthanasia without a discussion of suffering. Suffering is the underlying factor around which the discussion on euthanasia ultimately takes place.

With God, there’s more than enough for all

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Body and Blood of Christ (Year C) May 29 (Genesis 14:18-20; Psalm 10; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Luke 9:11b-17)

God has always been at work in the most unlikely places and individuals. The strange story of Abram (Abraham before his name change) receiving a blessing from King Melchizedek of Salem stirs up a lot of questions.