We must surrender to God's will

Fifth Sunday of Lent (Year B) March 29 (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51; Hebrews 5:7-9; John 12:20-33)

Ignorance is the breeding ground for human sin. This is especially the case when the ignorance refers to the quality of one’s knowledge of God. It is paradoxical that one can be quite religious in the conventional sense and have little or no direct or personal experience or knowledge of God. True knowledge of God consists in far more than what is gleaned from books, teachers, culture, family, friends and authority figures. In these cases a personal quality is lacking and the deeper levels of the heart, mind and soul remain untouched. This can easily spin off in either of two directions — fanaticism on the one hand or apathy on the other.

Choose the abundant life God offers

Fourth Sunday of Lent (Year B) March 22 (2 Chronicles 36:14-17, 19-23; Psalm 137; Ephesians 2:4-10; John 3:14-21)

When the terrible and unspeakable happens people want to know why. Often there is a twist to the “why”: who is to blame? Why the Holocaust? Why 9/11? Why the tsunami or earthquake? Questioning and reflecting on negative experiences gives rise to many interpretations. They can range from a conclusion that there is no God to a conviction that the victims “had it coming.”

The temple shall be raised in three days

Third Sunday of Lent (Year B) March 15 (Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1:18, 22-25; John 2:13-25)

A few years ago a conservative politician in the United States was pushing energetically for the display of the Ten Commandments in public buildings in his state. He was challenged during a TV interview to name the commandments but a blank and stricken look was his only reply. The interviewer lowered the bar and asked him to name even one commandment but the hapless politician remained mute and embarrassed before the unblinking eye of the camera.

We are never separated from God's love

Second Sunday of Lent (Year B) March 8 (Genesis 22:1-2, 9-13, 15-18; Psalm 116; Romans 8:31-35, 37; Mark 9:2-10)

Most people keep a death grip on all that they hold dear. They live in dread and fear of losing possession, loved ones, relationships and personal achievements. It is the driving force behind much of our fear-filled and selfish behaviour.

Following the quest

Two young women were talking: Andrea a petite blonde and an artist, Kelsey a winsome brunette and a manager.

Andrea told of her longing for a soul mate who would connect with her and love her as she was. She wanted to be a person, to be someone. In a way, she sought salve for the perpetual sense of “not good enough” from her parents’ divorce of long ago. She felt like a ball of anger, sometimes. She also felt like a person with a quest, revealed in art. And a quest for the divine, sensed but unexplored. For Andrea, yearning had tipped into addiction. Her best friend was alcohol; when everybody and everything else failed her, the salve was there. Somewhere down deep she hated this best friend, but it seemed to enable.

Christ leaves no one behind

First Sunday of Lent (Year B) March 1 (Genesis 9:8-15; Psalm 25; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:12-15)

A flood is terrifying and destructive even if it consists of only a few feet of water. Images from the tsunami in Asia, Katrina in New Orleans and a host of other regional floods are still fresh in our minds. Destruction is great and loss of life can be heavy.

Faith essential to healing a broken world

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Feb. 22 (Isaiah 43:18-19, 20-22, 24-25; Psalm 41; 2 Corinthians 1:18-22; Mark 2:1-12)

We have a massive memory problem. Those things that we are supposed to remember slip like sand through fingers. Included in this category are the principles of spiritual and humane living and the ethics of God’s kingdom, as well as the many blessings and graces we have received from God or others. We also forget the most important thing in life: why we are here.

Respond with compassion

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Feb. 15 (Leviticus 13:1-2, 45-46; Psalm 32; 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1; Mark 1:40-45)

Ignorance and fear are close and frequent companions. Together they often produce the tragic attitude we find in the reading from Leviticus. A leper is to be shunned and excluded from society. Lurking below the surface of the words is the assumption that their predicament must somehow be a punishment from God. And to “treat someone like a leper” has entered our own language to describe shunning another with repugnance and exclusion.

The best guarantee we have is God

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Feb. 8 (Job 7:1-4, 6-7; Psalm 147; 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23; Mark 1:29-39)

When people are young, a year seems like an eternity — especially a school year! No one can imagine themselves as “old” (25 or maybe even 30!). But years fly swiftly by and before we know it we are “there.” Then life seems short indeed and for some it may even be the painful servitude described in Job. Some might even be moved to question the meaning of it all — here today and gone tomorrow.

Devote ourselves to the Lord

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Feb. 1 (Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Psalm 95; 1 Corinthians 7:32-35; Mark 1:21-28)

Many claim the mantle of prophecy for it can surround one with an aura of moral and spiritual authority. It can also be a sort of free pass to say and do a lot of things that might normally be unacceptable.

Look within before passing judgment

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Jan. 25 (Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Psalm 25; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20)

What if the people we criticize and despise were to change their ways? “Wonderful,” you say, but it isn’t always that simple. There is a rather distressing human need to have enemies and others to condemn and look down upon. The greatest hell for the moralist and reformer is to have no available targets.