Those who overcome fear change history

Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A), June 22 (Jeremiah 20:7, 10-13; Psalm 69; Romans 5:12-15; Matthew 10:26-33)

Jeremiah was not the most enthusiastic prophet in the Old Testament. When God called him the only response he had was a long litany of his unworthiness, youth and incompetence. This was the usual pattern for those called by God — few went eagerly or willingly.

God goes to great lengths for our salvation

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) June 15 (Exodus 19:1-6; Psalm 100; Romans 5:6-11; Matthew 9:36-10:8)

Protectors, champions and warriors — so many ancient peoples compared their gods. Nations, peoples and tribes each had their own deities with whom they entered into a covenant. These gods were meant to protect a people, as well as defeat and destroy their enemies on the battlefield. Gods inspired awe and fear with their displays of power — natural signs such as thunder, lightning, plagues and famines. 

God seeks the lost, wandering

10th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) June 8 (Hosea 6:3-6; Psalm 50; Romans 4:18-25; Matthew 9:9-13)

Sometimes the limitations of human language can obscure the beauty and subtlety of the intended meaning of a word or phrase. Hosea chastises the people of Israel in God’s name, highlighting the fickleness and superficiality of their commitment to God. He ends his tirade with a warning: God will not be manipulated or bought off by behaviour common to religious people of all times and places. This is the attempt to placate God with sacrifices, rituals, acts of asceticism and the like, while protecting the core of one’s selfish personality. The assumption is that punctilious religious observance will persuade God to ignore or overlook the less admirable areas of our lives.

God seeks the lost, wandering

10th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) June 8 (Hosea 6:3-6; Psalm 50; Romans 4:18-25; Matthew 9:9-13)

Sometimes the limitations of human language can obscure the beauty and subtlety of the intended meaning of a word or phrase. Hosea chastises the people of Israel in God’s name, highlighting the fickleness and superficiality of their commitment to God. He ends his tirade with a warning: God will not be manipulated or bought off by behaviour common to religious people of all times and places. This is the attempt to placate God with sacrifices, rituals, acts of asceticism and the like, while protecting the core of one’s selfish personality. The assumption is that punctilious religious observance will persuade God to ignore or overlook the less admirable areas of our lives.

Hope does not disappoint us

In a downtown housing complex, I met Anne. Her parents raised her in this place, and since their deaths she’s lived here alone.  She’s well-known in the neighbourhood; it’s her home.  As a child, she was picked-on, teased and called a “freak” because of a disability.  She has a meagre education, partly because she was so unaccepted in school that it was difficult for her to finish, partly because her disability reduced her mental capacities.

We please God with forgiveness

Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) June 1 (Deuteronomy 10:12-13; 11:18, 26-28, 32; Psalm 31; Romans 1:16-17; 3:20-26, 28; Matthew 7:21-27)

What is most pleasing to God? Deuteronomy insists that loving and serving God alone, walking in God’s ways, brings happiness and gives life. The author defines loving and serving God as absolute loyalty and a refusal to incline one’s heart or mind towards other gods. Indeed, the Deuteronomist considers idolatry the worst of all possible sins, provoking God’s anger and punishment.

Jesus is the source of life, sustenance

Body and Blood of Christ (Year A) May 25 (Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14-16; Psalm 147; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; John 6:51-59)

Meeting the demands of hunger and thirst is the most basic of human drives. Physical survival must be ensured before people turn to those things we consider of a higher nature: self-expression, society, culture, the quest for knowledge and so on. And yet there seems to be a problem right from the beginning of human history as recorded in the Bible. Humans allow hunger and thirst — the basic drives of life — to crowd out and obliterate their relationship with God.

God does not conform to human understanding

Trinity Sunday (Year A), May 18 (Exodus 34:4-6, 8-9; Daniel 3; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; John 3:16-18)

A sudden change in perspective or a new view of reality can be shocking and unsettling for many. Suddenly the conventional wisdom is no longer so wise, and reality is far more complicated than we ever imagined.

The Spirit dwells in hearts of those who do good

Pentecost (Year A) May 11 (Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104; 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23)

What was the “real” giving of the Spirit like? The Gospels present us with two distinct but rather inconsistent possibilities.

Live as the Lord's disciples

Ascension of the Lord (Year A) May 4 (Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47; Ephesians 1:17-23; Matthew 28:16-20)

When is God going to topple the totalitarian regimes of the Earth and banish dictators? When is God going to restore democratic governments and put an end to human rights abuses? These are some of the questions in our own minds today, similar to the ones the followers of Jesus were asking: When are you going to eject the hated Romans from our land and restore the Kingdom of Israel? But God is not in the business of king making.

Just say yes

Have you ever said no to God? Consciously, that is, and deliberately. Very likely, most of us have a constant “no” running through our bloodstream, even when we think we’re saying yes. But occasionally we may be aware of ourselves saying no.