Avoiding the detour

{mosimage}How can I help? A question that lurks everywhere, ubiquitous with suffering.

Emerging into adulthood, I discovered the world is tilted: a few at the rich end, a multitude at the poor end. More shocking: everyone knew, and still it didn’t change. Didn’t people want to help? Or were they unable?

Recently, a 16-year-old let go his fury. He’d been raging a long time, repeated arrests, failure in school and nothing seemed better; childhood traumas had erected mountains he couldn’t scale. Family and professionals had seemingly tried and failed. Why couldn’t love help?

'Believe in Him whom He has sent'

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Aug. 2 (Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15, 31; Psalm 78; Ephesians 4:17, 20-24; John 6:24-35)

People often idealize the past and forget the painful struggles and difficulties that they experienced. Previous jobs or living conditions become the source of nostalgia and wistful longing when we face the difficulties and struggles of the present. In the years following the momentous changes of 1989, many cast wistful eyes back to the period of communist rule. Things were “better” economically and there was “law and order.” The terror and lack of freedom were forgotten.

God assures us there is more than enough for all

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) July 26 (2 Kings 4:42-44; Psalm 145; Ephesians 4:1-6; John 6:1-15)

Many have attempted to separate the Old and the New Testament and even to build a barrier between them. But both testaments speak to each other for they both witness to the action of the same loving God. Each of the testaments is unique, as is each individual book within them. And Christians can in no way expropriate the Old Testament for themselves and claim to be its only legitimate interpreters.

Righteousness will lead the way

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) July 19 (Jeremiah 23:1-6; Psalm 23; Ephesians 2:13-18; Mark 6:30-34)

Despite the peaceful and idyllic image of the shepherd’s life it is anything but easy. Keeping wandering members of the flock together and searching after the wayward is itself a full-time job. But on top of all that, there is the constant and unwavering vigilance that must be exercised to protect the flock from predators that strike without warning. Little time is left for the shepherd who has little time to think of his own comfort and safety — at least in the case of a reliable and trustworthy shepherd. The shepherd must account for the safety and well-being of the entire flock to the owner.

We are 'saved' for life with and in God

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) July 12 (Amos 7:12-15; Psalm 85; Ephesians 1:3-14; Mark 6:7-13)

The threats and bullying of Amaziah the priest of Bethel meant very little to Amos. Amos wanted no part in the role of a prophet. It was not something that he sought, nor does he belong to any of the prophetic guilds. He was gainfully employed as a tree dresser and was minding his own business.

God's power makes us strong in our weakness

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) July 5 (Ezekiel 2:2-5; Psalm 123; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Mark 6:1-6)

Who is this nation of impudent and stubborn rebels? In its original context it referred to Israel, for Ezekiel is being empowered and sent to bring his nation back to the ways of God. But in a much broader sense it describes any nation, including our own, for the Israelites were no more rebellious and wayward than people of our own day.

Breaking the lock

Lee felt the familiar exasperation, defeat and desolation. He didn’t stop to list these feelings; they remained in the background of the all-too-foreground argument with his wife. 

“Nothing ever changes,” he said to himself, and eventually he said it out loud, in just that contemptuous tone Julia had been expecting, with dread. “You don’t change, and this so-called relationship doesn’t change,” she flashed back, as if from the script of one of those plays that run 35 years, the same dialogue repeated night after night. Theirs had run only 12 years, but both were feeling ready to shut it down forever.

God is life

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) June 28 (Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24; Psalm 30; 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15; Mark 5:21-43)

Don’t blame God for death, it wasn’t His idea! Or so the author of Wisdom claims. It’s a very strange statement, for all that lives eventually dies. Living organisms experience entropy and finally return to the dust of the earth.

We are always in God's hands

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) June 21 (Job 38:1-4, 8-11; Psalm 107; 2 Corinthians 5:14-17; Mark 4:35-41)

The source of much human misery lies in our desire to play God. The universe runs quite well when we allow God to drive the bus — it is only when we think that we can do a better job that everything begins to go wrong.

A deal is a deal, signed in blood, but we humans keep breaking it

Body and Blood of Christ (Year B) June 14 (Exodus 24:3-8; Psalm 116; Hebrews 9:11-15; Mark 14:12-16, 22-26)

In the ancient world, ratifying covenants and treaties was a rather bloody and messy affair. The rights and responsibilities of each party were clearly articulated, as were dire consequences for non-compliance.

'Free choice' has its consequences

{mosimage}Years ago, in the 1960s and ’70s, friends met in my parents’ living room. They were reflecting prayerfully on the legalization of abortion — then in its early stages in Canada — and forming a pro-life group because they considered abortion an unthinkable answer to social problems. Long before ultrasound, in-vitro surgery and other developments gave supporting evidence, they were sure a human person exists from the moment of conception. They felt “not speaking” and thereby sanctioning the conditional legalization of abortion (1969) would slide us towards a culture of death.

They spoke, and their pro-life descendants are still trying to speak, but with voices muffled at times, impaired by connotations of “pro-life” as narrow-minded, anti-woman, blind, hate-filled, uneducated and so on. Whatever the origins of those connotations, however inaccurate they may be, they have their effect. Many find abortion abhorrent but would never associate themselves with “the pro-life movement.”