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.

Mary's heart, mind in harmony with God

Assumption of Mary (Year C) Aug. 15 (Revelation 11:19; 12:1-6, 10; Psalm 45; 1 Corinthians 15:20-26; Luke 1:39-56)

The Book of Revelation should not be read before bedtime. We are subjected to a steady flow of terrifying beasts, plagues, rivers of blood and warfare on a cosmic scale plus enigmatic celestial liturgies. It seems far removed from the moving and uplifting teachings of the peaceful and gentle rabbi of the Sermon on the Mount. And in the wrong hands this book can be dangerous indeed, for over the centuries it has been the fuel for many apocalyptic movements and an incredible amount of violence.

God will lead us out of the darkness

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Aug. 8 (Wisdom 18:6-9; Psalm 33; Hebrews 11:1-2; 8-19; Luke 12:32-48)

What did they know and when did they know it? This old legal question from the Watergate era can also be applied to Wisdom’s retelling of the Exodus story. We are given to believe that the Israelites knew beforehand exactly what was going to transpire. They knew God’s plan, the impending destruction of the Egyptians, as well as their imminent deliverance. But this does not square with the Exodus account itself, and indeed Wisdom is a theological reinterpretation of Exodus written over a thousand years after the event. It also does not explain Israel’s infidelity and lack of faith in the wilderness immediately after their escape.

Character will make you wealthy

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Aug. 1 (Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23; Psalm 90; Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11; Luke 12:13-21)

Who is Ecclesiastes? In some translations Qoheleth is rendered the “Teacher” or “Preacher” while others translate Qoheleth as the name of a person. But one thing is clear: he is probably not the sort of person you would invite to a party or an outing.

He often strikes the reader as dour, cynical and world-weary. In fact, a fair number of rabbis were somewhat reluctant to admit this book into the canon of Scripture — it seems to lack joy, hope or a sense of life’s purpose.

God gives us second chances to get it right

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) July 25 (Genesis 18:20-32; Psalm 138; Colossians 2:12-14; Luke 11:1-13)

We are all familiar with the fire and brimstone story of Sodom — perhaps a bit too familiar. There are many strange overtones to the story. First of all, despite the alleged enormity of their sin God is somewhat in the dark and has to go down to check things out Himself — never mind His omniscient nature.

Abraham stands before God as if before a human being. Then there is the haggling and bargaining that Abraham engages in. He almost sounds like an auctioneer! And in the course of his haggling he upbraids God and “shames” Him into behaving as God should! We might also ask if it is proper for God to nuke an entire city for the failings of its inhabitants.

Spiritual maturity in Jesus

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) July 18 (Genesis 18:1-10; Psalm 15; Colossians 1:24-28; Luke 10:38-42)

Having houseguests isn’t always a joy even for close friends and relatives. Inviting strangers to stay over under one’s roof is almost unheard of today. In the ancient Middle East, offering hospitality to travellers and strangers was serious business — in fact, it was a life and death matter. Once hospitality had been extended, the host was responsible not only for the comfort and well-being of his guests but their very lives.