Child of God understands love, compassion, justice

Second Sunday of Advent (Year A) Dec. 9 (Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72; Romans 1515:4-9; Matthew 3:1-12)

The people of the first millennium B.C. were no different than we are. They had seen — and experienced — their share of tragedy, violence, war and natural disaster. They were certain that there was a tragic and dreadful flaw in the world, and they longed for the arrival of someone who would fix everything.

Baby Jesus points us to our humanness

How do you prepare for Christmas? One year, when I was working in parish ministry, we decided to hold an Advent retreat. Many parishioners were eager for such a time of reflection. We arranged it well in advance, made posters, booked rooms and soon had abundant pre-registered participants.

Blessed are the peacemakers

First Sunday of Advent (Year A), Dec. 2 (Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:37-44)

When we say “utopia” or “paradise” peace usually pops into our mind. Isaiah doesn’t disappoint us, for he uses some of the most beautiful and evocative language in the Old Testament to set human hearts afire with hope and determination: Swords into ploughshares, and spears into pruning hooks — an end to war and even thinking about war.

The one who rules humbly serves

Christ the King (Year C) Nov. 25 (2 Samuel 5:1-3; Psalm 122; Colossians 1:12-20; Luke 23:35-43)

Words can communicate with precision and unite people. But they are sometimes divisive, as when groups of people use the same word but have profoundly different understandings of its meaning. Throughout the Bible, “power” and “king” are two such terms.

We must endure in our faith

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Nov. 18 (Malachi 3:19-20; Psalm 98; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12; Luke 21:5-19)

For the prophet Malachi the visitation of God is a dreaded and awesome event, with the destruction of the arrogant and wicked as its aim. But he hastens to assure the faithful and devout that they have nothing to fear, for God will grace them with righteousness and healing.

God always keeps His promises

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Nov. 11 (2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14; Psalm 17; 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5; Luke 20:27-38)

Sometimes suffering and negative experiences can lead us into a deeper understanding of ourselves and of God. Such was the case with the people of Israel during their persecution at the hands of the Greek king Antiochus IV Epiphanes in the second century BC.

Love the spirit in all

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time, Nov. 4 (Wisdom 11:22-12:2; Psalm 145; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2; Luke 19:1-10)

An encounter with other cultures, ideas and philosophical systems should never leave us unchanged. Often it is an enriching experience, as it was for the Israelites. They did not leave Egypt or Babylon empty-handed. In Egypt they borrowed some of the customs they would later practise, and later they would adopt portions of Egypt’s wisdom tradition. In Babylon they refined their views of God by adapting and transforming Babylonian creation myths. It was during this sojourn that they developed a theology of angels and of the resurrection of the dead.

Part of Christian life is preparing for death

A rather superficial movie, a murder mystery, struck a deeper note with me. The movie was about a group of people on an island holiday. Every so often, one of them would disappear, never to be seen again. They didn’t know who would be taken next, or when, how, why or where the person went; but they knew they were all subject to the mysterious phenomenon. Not so different from real life, except that in the movie, the mystery got solved.

God will be judge

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C), Oct. 28 (Sirach 35:15-17, 20-22; Psalm 34; 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18; Luke 18:9-14)

It would be wonderful if justice were as swift and unambiguous as the passage from Sirach implies. As long as you are the aggrieved or oppressed party, your prayer will reach heaven and God will execute speedy justice. Case closed!

God’s spirit will guide and instruct us

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Oct. 21 (Exodus 17:8-13; Psalm 121; 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2; Luke 18:1-8)

The power that Moses seems to wield in this account of the battle with the Amalekites would be the envy of any military general or hockey coach. In an ancient version of high-tech warfare, Moses is able to make his army prevail simply by keeping his arm raised and extended. All that was needed were two assistants to hold up his weary arms.

God has compassion for all

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C), Oct. 14, 2 Kings 5:14-17; Psalm 98; 2 Timothy 2:8-13; Luke 17:11-19

What if someone you hated and regarded as an enemy or undesirable were blessed and healed by God? Would you be pleased or appalled? The two healings in these readings teach us that God’s compassionate mercy is not narrow or limited and is intended for all humanity.