The Bible’s ‘big picture’ revealed with patience

Body and Blood of Christ (Year C) June 2 (Genesis 14:18-20; Psalm 110; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Luke 9:11-17)

In a good story there is almost always more than meets the eye. The plot and main characters in the foreground are not necessarily the only or the most important elements of the story. Characters that play important roles only much later in the story make brief and fleeting appearances throughout the earlier portions of the narrative. Reading the story carefully and with attention to detail will reveal aspects of the story that are missed by others.

    Maturity, boldness with God

    Some years ago, a woman shared this story at a workshop. She had a six-year-old son whom she had conscientiously schooled in prayer. Among other things, she made him kneel beside his bed every night and say aloud a number of prayers, ending with an invocation to “bless mummy, daddy, grandma and grandpa.” One night, shortly after he had started school, she took him to his room to hear his prayers and to tuck him in for the night. But when it came time for him to kneel by his bedside and recite his prayers, he refused and crawled into bed instead. His mother asked him: “What’s the matter? Don’t you pray any more?” There was remarkable calm in his reply: “No,” he said, “I don’t pray any more. The sister teaching us at school told us that we are not supposed to pray, she said that we are supposed to talk to God ... and tonight I am tired and have nothing to say.”

      At Pentecost vigil, Pope shares personal stories of his faith

      VATICAN CITY - With humor and passion, Pope Francis shared highlights of his personal faith journey and explained some key points of his teaching to an enthusiastic crowd of representatives from Catholic lay movements.

        Rethinking the parish concept

        The ideals of parish life aren’t hard to identify. Priests everywhere remind people in front of them on Sunday they are the Church — a community bound together by sacrament and the word of God. It isn’t just the building that is named after a saint but every family and each individual whenever they come together to worship and reach out for the kingdom of God.

          Church should be less serious, more loving, says Pope

          VATICAN CITY - The Catholic Church needs to revive its loving and tender side, which gets lost when the Church becomes too serious, Pope Francis said.

            God gives us His promise of friendship

            Trinity Sunday (Year C) May 26 (Proverbs 8:22-31; Psalm 8; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15)

            How does one describe that which is infinite and beyond human comprehension? In other words, how do we talk about God?

              Guidelines for the long haul — revisited

              Twenty-five years ago, I wrote a column entitled “Guidelines for the Long Haul.” Revisiting it recently, I was encouraged that my principles haven’t swayed during the past quarter-century, only taken on more nuance. I still recommend those same commandments, nostalgically revisited, somewhat redacted, but fully re-endorsed:

                Archbishop says people returning to confession because of Pope

                VATICAN CITY - The head of the Vatican office promoting new evangelization said that while he does not like the terms "Francis effect" or "Francis bump," it is true that "Pope Francis has touched the hearts and minds of many people."

                  God is love, God is light

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

                  What actually happened at Pentecost? What would a video recorder have registered? The issue is clouded by the fact that we have two accounts in the New Testament and they are very different. The descent of the Spirit in Acts is rather noisy and flashy, and it results immediately in public proclamation of Jesus by the assembled disciples. The giving of the Spirit in John was a quiet, intimate affair in the upper room. Jesus bestowed the Spirit personally on His followers, but there was no record of an immediate public ministry.

                    God is love, God is light

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

                    What actually happened at Pentecost? What would a video recorder have registered? The issue is clouded by the fact that we have two accounts in the New Testament and they are very different. The descent of the Spirit in Acts is rather noisy and flashy, and it results immediately in public proclamation of Jesus by the assembled disciples. The giving of the Spirit in John was a quiet, intimate affair in the upper room. Jesus bestowed the Spirit personally on His followers, but there was no record of an immediate public ministry.

                      Stone jars and softer containers

                      In his novel A Month of Sundays, John Updike presents us with a character, a lapsed vicar, who, though struggling himself with faith, is extremely critical of his young assistant whose faith and theology he judges to be fluffy and lightweight. He describes his young assistant this way: