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.

The voice of God seeks all who listen

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Jan. 18 (1 Samuel 3:3-10, 19; Psalm 40; 1 Corinthians 6:13-15, 17-20; John 1:35-42)

How well do we listen? Most people could stand some improvement in that area. We don’t really listen to other people as we should — so often we are thinking of something brilliant, witty or caustic to say in response. And shouting at one another is an unfortunate reality in our time. But developing listening skills has an even greater urgency in our relationship with God.

God promises us the richest gift of all

Baptism of the Lord (Year B) Jan. 11 (Isaiah 55:1-11; 1 John 5:1-9; Mark 1:7-11)

Scarcity, real or perceived, is the source of much of the world’s fear and violence. The scarcity or limitation can take the obvious forms — scarcity of food, water and resources. On a higher level, God can seem limited and available to only a select few. In the fearful minds and hearts of many people, life is a deadly struggle to acquire what we need — or think we need — before someone else gets there ahead of us.

Abraham's trust redemptive

Holy Family (Year B) Dec. 28 (Genesis 15:1-6; 17:3-5, 15-16; 21:1-7; Psalm 105; Hebrews 11:8, 11-12, 17-19; Luke 2:22-40)

The future must have looked rather bleak for Abraham. He had left his homeland and all that was familiar to him because God asked him to. God promised in return that Abraham would have a land in which to dwell and he would be the father of a great nation. In a time in which descendents were the only way one achieved any sort of immortality, he had been promised a child to carry on his name.

We must be open to God's light

Epiphany of the Lord (Year B) Jan. 4 (Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72; Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12)

Light and darkness form a powerful biblical symbol for the contrast between God and humanity’s ignorance and sin. The symbol is especially poignant in our own time for we face more than the usual amount of darkness: violence and terrorism, severe economic hardship and a collective crisis of faith and meaning.

Listened to any voices lately?

Sometimes it takes a while to see what’s at the end of your nose. I was groaning under the weight of things: impossible duties, unfulfilled hopes, unending worries, immovable problems. My inner chambers had become cramped and narrow, like a house I saw once. It was crammed from floor to ceiling with things, sofas on chairs on tables, broken crates, old hub caps, huddles of books, while the owner lived in narrow crooked pathways carved through the piled mountains. Like the man in the narrow pathways, I felt constricted and controlled, trying to live in tight little mental warrens hemmed in by earthly cares.

God's plan revealed in Christ

Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year B) Dec. 21 (2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16; Psalm 89; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38)

Who are you to build me a temple? Do I need one? Did I ever ask for one? God is definitely not keen on the proposed temple (in the omitted verses) and does not seem at all impressed with David’s offer. There is a degree of control and self-aggrandizement in a project such as a temple construction and it would go a long way to enhance David and his entire dynasty.

Set aside ego to be instruments of God

Third Sunday of Advent (Year B) Dec. 14 (Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28)

Isaiah’s words must have been music to the ears of the exiles in Babylon. They were going home — God was delivering them from captivity and granting them a future.