Listened to any voices lately?

Sometimes it takes a while to see what’s at the end of your nose. I was groaning under the weight of things: impossible duties, unfulfilled hopes, unending worries, immovable problems. My inner chambers had become cramped and narrow, like a house I saw once. It was crammed from floor to ceiling with things, sofas on chairs on tables, broken crates, old hub caps, huddles of books, while the owner lived in narrow crooked pathways carved through the piled mountains. Like the man in the narrow pathways, I felt constricted and controlled, trying to live in tight little mental warrens hemmed in by earthly cares.

God's plan revealed in Christ

Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year B) Dec. 21 (2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16; Psalm 89; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38)

Who are you to build me a temple? Do I need one? Did I ever ask for one? God is definitely not keen on the proposed temple (in the omitted verses) and does not seem at all impressed with David’s offer. There is a degree of control and self-aggrandizement in a project such as a temple construction and it would go a long way to enhance David and his entire dynasty.

Set aside ego to be instruments of God

Third Sunday of Advent (Year B) Dec. 14 (Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28)

Isaiah’s words must have been music to the ears of the exiles in Babylon. They were going home — God was delivering them from captivity and granting them a future.

God works ceaselessly on our behalf

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)

It is difficult to speak to broken hearts and spirits. Affliction, disaster and pain often take their toll, leaving victims so dispirited that it is difficult even to imagine a future let alone prepare for one.

Who wins at Christmas?

In far-away Turkey, in a certain village, two different images of a gift-giver had a kind of cage-match, and one of them won mightily. 

In Demre, near the ancient city of Myra, a bronze statue was donated and set up in the town square. It was a likeness of an ancient bishop, a man of compassion and wisdom. The bishop was St. Nicholas, because Myra was his see in the fourth century, when he is thought to have lived. He stood on top of the world, this lover of the poor, his feet mounted on a globe. Recently, he was taken from this prominent place and put in a back courtyard. Atop a pedestal, in his place, was put a jolly red Santa statue. Apparently the change was made because Santa is more popular and better-known than St Nicholas, his forerunner.

We must weather the storm in God's 'absence'

First Sunday of Advent (Year B) Nov. 30 (Isaiah 63:16-17; 64:1, 3-8; Psalm 80; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37)

Where is God? Is God angry with us? These are anguished questions that people have always asked. In our own time the first question seems to have even greater importance and it is often joined with doubt that God even exists.

True religion is caring for others

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)

God’s disappointment and anger are evident when we read chapter 34 in its entirety. Those appointed as shepherds of the people have shown a shocking lack of concern for their welfare. Instead of tending to the needs of the people they used their positions to enrich themselves and increase their power.

Give the Lord more than we receive

Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time (Year A) Nov. 16 (Proverbs 31; Psalm 128; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6; Matthew 24:36; 25:14-30)

A capable wife, who can find her? The same question could (and should) be asked of husbands.

God is closer than our heartbeat

Dedication of St. John Lateran (Year A) Nov. 9 (Ezekiel 47:1, 2, 8-9, 12; Psalm 46; 1 Corinthians 3:9-11, 16-17; John 2:13-22)

Where does God dwell? To ancient people the answer was simple: In His house, where else?

Life can overcome death

My friend Susan had been thinking about death. “What if there’s nothing after?” she mused to me, with some alarm. “How do we know? I love life — with all its suffering. Life is too wonderful for it just to end in nothing. But how do I know?”

Our culture makes it easy to ignore death (up to a point). The reality of death can get lost among our flurried lives, just another “issue” we might or might not decide to put on today’s to-do list.

God doesn't promise a free ride

All Souls (Year A) Nov. 2 (Lamentations 3:17-26; Psalm 103; 1 Corinthians 15:51-57; Matthew 11:25-30)

How do we react when we experience loss and tragedy? Many act with shock and outrage, especially if they consider themselves religious. Why me? Am I not faithful to God? Haven’t I practised my faith diligently?