All is possible with God by our side

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Feb. 3 (Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19; Psalm 71; 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13; Luke 4:21-30)

    Politics without God bound to fail

    ROME - Politicians who act as if God did not exist and as if there was no such thing as objective moral truths are bound to fail in their efforts to promote the common good, said the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    “The politics we have today in Europe and North America without ethical foundations, without a reference to God, cannot resolve our problems, even those of the market and money,” said Archbishop Gerhard Muller.

    Speaking Jan. 11 at a Vatican bookstore in downtown Rome, Muller said, “Faith and reason are like two people who love each other deeply, who cannot live without each other, and who were intimately made for one another, so much so that they cannot be considered separate from one another and cannot reach their goals separately.”

      A just world puts us in the Lord’s favour

      Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Jan. 27 (Nehemiah 8:2-4, 5-6, 8-10; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 12:12-30; Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21)

      Conversion is not always easy or joyful — in fact; it can sometimes be a very painful experience. The reviewing of one’s life with all of the “should haves” and “could haves” can bring grief and shame.
      Nehemiah recounted the story of the returning exiles and their conversion and renewal. They had spent a couple of generations in Babylonian exile and their way of life prior to the disaster of 586 B.C. was but a dim memory. Only a small group of prophets, priests and scribes had kept the traditions alive. Now that they were back in the land of Israel they had to put the collective life of the nation back together. Jerusalem and the temple lay in ruins and the land had been devastated.

      During the exile, there had been much soul-searching and reflection. Why had God permitted this disaster? How could they prevent such a thing from happening again? They did not blame God but themselves. In their own eyes, they had not been obedient to the covenant and the Law. They had been guilty of injustice and idolatry. Only a firm recommitment to the Law would save them and put them on the right path again. In the scene described in our reading, the Law has just been read in its entirety before the assembled people. They were devastated and grief-stricken, for it was very clear to them how far they had fallen from the ideal. Nehemiah and Ezra gave the people excellent advice. Guilt, self-condemnation and sorrow are all useless. A conversion or repentance should be a joyful time. Move resolutely forward and don’t look back unless it is to learn from one’s mistakes. They were told even to celebrate and have a good time — the joy of being in harmonious relationship with God would provide them with the strength they needed. It is never too late to make positive and even radical changes in one’s life or in the collective life of a group.

      Paul’s mini-essay on the body of Christ and the community was deflating news for many in Corinth. They had been engaging in the age-old practice of competition and one-upmanship to the detriment of the community’s unity. The bad news from Paul to the Corinthian community is that in God’s kingdom no one is more important than another — all are different but equal in worth and dignity. Every part of the body has an important role to play and injury to any part affects the whole. The body is a symbol of interdependence and harmony rather than hierarchy, domination or exclusion. We still have so far to go in understanding and appropriating this lesson.

      Jesus returned from His testing in the desert filled with the Spirit of God and on fire for His mission. He made a favourable impression on most of those who heard Him. Luke lets us in on his debut in the synagogue of his hometown. Isaiah’s words that were read aloud cut deeply for they revealed the gap between ideal and reality. In the passage from Luke, Jesus read from Isaiah 61 and proclaimed that its promises were fulfilled in Him. The words were meant to be joyful and to give hope — how could such wonderful promises do otherwise! But they also carried a challenge that became evident in the part of this story not included in the lectionary. There would indeed be sight for the blind, liberty for captives, hope for the oppressed and good news for the poor. These marvelous acts were seen as signs of the divine presence and would go hand in hand with a more expansive and universal view of God. We might ask if the promises have in fact been fulfilled since we still have a world full of captives, oppressed and poor.

      The arrival of Jesus signaled a sign of compassion and favour on the part of God for suffering humanity. They described perfectly the earthly ministry of Jesus and what He did for those whom He met. As we return to the long journey through human history, these promises serve as ideals and goals for us to implement with the aid and guidance of Jesus. Building a just, compassionate and peaceful world is the way we continually proclaim a year of the Lord’s favour.

       

        Bishop in Mali says people in hiding, afraid to enter churches

        OXFORD, England - A Catholic bishop in war-torn Mali whose diocese lies in the path of Islamic insurgents said "people are hiding in their homes, unable to venture out."

          In times of tragedy, Jesus’ presence is felt

          GUELPH, ONT.  - In my role as a vice principal in a Catholic high school, God is revealed in raw emotional landscapes: old-fashioned fist fights, cruel words in 120 character texts that ravage reputations, startlingly tragic losses.

            Jesus heralds the dawning of a new age

            Second Week in Ordinary Time (Year C) Jan. 20 (Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 96; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; John 2:1-12)

            What is in a name? More than we might think! The ancients believed that a person’s name was a reflection of their nature and the direction of their life. The Old Testament is filled with odd names and mid-life name changes that reflected changing relationships with God.

              Encountering faith on our way

              A young couple was crossing the Atlantic by boat. During the trip, they got to know their fellow passengers, some of whom were Christians. The couple were atheists, and having Christian friends was a new experience for them. They were astonished to discover that people of faith could also be people of intelligence and sense. Then, they were astounded to realize that they’d always assumed otherwise. Why shouldn’t faith and intelligence go together?

                Be like Good Samaritan, help those in need, Pope says in message

                VATICAN CITY - In a message for the 2013 World Day of the Sick, Pope Benedict XVI called on everyone to be a good Samaritan and concretely help those in need.

                  Peace is impossible without openness to God, Pope tells diplomats

                  VATICAN CITY - Deploring war, civil conflict and poverty around the world, Pope Benedict XVI told foreign ambassadors assembled at the Vatican that peace-building requires charity, religious liberty, a proper understanding of human rights and openness to divine love.

                    Bishops must stand firm in truth to lead people to Christ, Pope says

                    VATICAN CITY - In their task of leading people to the light of Christ, bishops must have the courage to face opposition and peacefully stand firm in the truth, Pope Benedict XVI said.

                      In baptism we are God's beloved children

                      Baptism of the Lord (Year C) Jan. 13 (Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11; Psalm 104; Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7; Luke 3:15-16, 21-22)