Beware falling into the judgment trap

“It’s hard getting to church in the city,” a man remarked. “By the time you’ve finished judging everybody you see on the subway, you’re not really in the frame of mind for church.”

Why is it so difficult for us to stop judging? Even becoming aware we’re doing it is a task-and-a-half. The subway man may be readier for church than most of us, since he at least sees that he’s judging.

God's compassion is reserved for all

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Oct. 10 (2 Kings 5:14-17; Psalm 98; 2 Timothy 2:8-13; Luke 17:11-19)

What happens when your hated enemy comes asking for help? Naaman the Syrian was a foreigner and non-Israelite as well as the commander of the enemy army — not much to commend himself to Elisha. There was more than enough reason to reject his request for healing of his leprosy.

Faith helps give us hope in our world

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Oct. 3 (Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4; Psalm 95; 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14; Luke 17:5-10)

When is God going to do something about this mess? How could a compassionate and just God permit the things that go on in our world? These are not trendy modern questions — the folks in ancient Israel were asking them too.

The day of reckoning awaits the unjust

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Sept. 26 (Amos 6:1, 4-7; Psalm 146; 1 Timothy 6:11-16; Luke 16:19-31)

Tough times are rarely equally tough for everyone. Even during the present economic crisis the sales of extreme luxury cars has actually increased. The beautiful people have continued to play, CEOs of failing companies have continued to receive fabulous bonuses and oil companies have raked in record profits.

We can only serve one master

25th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year C) Sept. 19 (Amos 8:4-7; Psalm 113; 1 Timothy 2:1-7; Luke 16:1-13)

A right-wing commentator in the United States recently proclaimed that social and economic justice is a code word for fascism or communism. He went on to insist that anyone hearing references to these concepts in a sermon or homily should leave that particular church immediately.

Living in harmony

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Sept. 12 (Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14; Psalm 51; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; Luke 15:1-32)

The Golden Calf is a potent symbol in our religious and even cultural consciousness. It seems to epitomize idolatry, immorality and infidelity and is the “stick” used in many sermons or moral exhortations. Worshipping the Golden Calf can of course take many forms — money, possessions, success and the like — but these are the more obvious manifestations of something that is far deeper.

Triumph of the Cross is all about love

Over the millennia of human existence, we’ve thought about the stars. We’ve drawn them, personified them, deified them, told stories about them, named them, speculated how to get to them. Our Milky Way galaxy is one of billions, our sun one of billions of stars in it and we’re one of eight surrounding planets (too bad, Pluto). Remember the speck of dust Horton the Elephant noticed and that it carried millions of tiny creatures? Are we at least as minuscule as that? Take a night-time trip out to the countryside and see for yourself.

In Christ all are one

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Sept. 5 (Wisdom 9:13-18; Psalm 90; Philemon 9-10, 12-17; Luke 14:25-33)

Who indeed can learn the counsel of God? There are many, far too many, who claim to be able to do just that. The result is spiritual bedlam as so many diverse voices claim to possess the absolute truth.

There are no 'losers' dining at God's table

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Aug. 29 (Sirach 3:17-20, 28-29; Psalm 68; Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24; Luke 14:7-14)

The virtue of humility has suffered much from human misuse. Often it is understood as passivity in the face of injustice or allowing oneself to be used as a doormat. Sometimes it is used as a tool to dominate and control others.

Only through trust can we encounter others

One of the three things that give meaning in life, according to Viktor Frankl, is an encounter with someone or something. An unanticipated encounter I once had raised many questions about meaning and trust.  

I hadn’t seen my friend Eric in a couple of years; he’d gone one direction to attend school, and I’d gone another for a new job. Now he was in hospital, critically ill.

Entrace to God's Kingdom is through love

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Aug. 22, 2010 (Isaiah 66:18-21; Psalm 117; Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13; Luke 13:22-30)

Thoughtful reflection on our experience is our greatest teacher. During their exile in Babylon the people of Israel had much to reflect on — not only the destruction of their nation and temple but the new sights and peoples that greeted them in Babylon.