Why carry rocks around?

Long ago, I let a friend down. It’s still vivid in my memory. I’d promised, but at the last minute I phoned up and cancelled, leaving her in the lurch. She was cold and angry on the phone; we hung up quickly. I couldn’t blame her; I’d hurt her. Though I’d apologized, the effects remained.

I don’t know what happened with her, because she stopped speaking to me. But for me, a burden was created which I long carried: guilt. A paralysing burden. Perhaps part of me was reluctant to put it down, as though staggering under it would gain me points, and enough collected points would earn me forgiveness. This type of guilt, someone observed to me, is like a knapsack full of rocks strapped to one’s back: a dead weight that gradually, increasingly wearies the bearer.

God calls us to change our ways

Third Sunday of Lent (Year C) March 7 (Exodus 3:1-8, 13-15; Psalm 103; 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12; Luke 13:1-9)

Many of God’s manifestations in the midst of everyday life are quiet and subtle. But sometimes they are anything but subtle — in fact, they can be dramatic, awe-inspiring and even a bit frightening.

Take up the cross and follow in His footsteps

Second Sunday of Lent (Year C) Feb. 28 (Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18; Psalm 27; Philippians 3:7-4:1; Luke 9:28-36)

Gazing into a starry sky on a dark night can be a humbling experience. The entire universe seems alive with billions of points of light. The inspiring nature of this encounter with the infinite can deepen one’s faith. But it can also be extremely humbling and some may even find their faith shaken as they contemplate comparative human insignificance in the face of such incredible expanse.

God alone

First Sunday of Lent (Year C) Feb. 21 (Deuteronomy 26:4-10; Psalm 91; Romans 10:8-13; Luke 4:1-13)

Ingratitude is a poison of the heart and soul and many suffer its deadly effects. For so many, the glass is always half empty rather than half full and there is a corresponding willingness to focus on lack rather than abundance.

The cry of the downtrodden is Jesus' cry

Years ago, a friend of mine volunteered to teach in a Haitian orphanage. When she returned home temporarily due to political upheaval, I was rapidly educated about this country, its beauties and its pains.

Among many discoveries was that Canadians waste water. Growing up surrounded by fresh water, I’d never considered that water might be finite and we could waste or should conserve it.

God's path leads to success

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Feb. 14 (Jeremiah 17:5-8; Psalm 1; 1 Corinthians 15:12, 16-20; Luke 6:17, 20-26)

Do we need God? That seems to be the question of our age, and for many the answer is a resounding “no.”

The humanist or atheist claims that religion is dangerous and retrograde. Humans can do quite well on their own and have no need of silly superstitions and childish beliefs. Human efforts will do just fine — far better to rely on science, technology and human reason.

We must have faith in God's guiding hand

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Feb. 7 (Isaiah 6:1-2, 3-8; Psalm 138; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Luke 5:1-11)

What would it be like to find oneself standing in the heavenly court before the throne of God? The thought is simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying. In his interior vision, that is exactly where Isaiah finds himself. His reaction is similar to someone in shorts and a t-shirt who accidently wanders into a black-tie state dinner.

God is great. So, what are you so afraid of?

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

Fear and an overwhelming sense of limitation and unworthiness completely possessed Jeremiah. He protested that he was too young — no one would take him seriously — and he was not a gifted speaker. None of the prophets in the Bible responded willingly and eagerly to their call from God.  Almost to a man they wished fervently that God had chosen someone else. And no wonder — the job description of the prophet included huge quantities of abuse, rejection, humiliation, and physical danger.

Jesus frees His people from unjust burdens

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Jan. 24 (Nehemiah 8:2-4, 5-6, 8-10; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 12:12-30; Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21)

How do people react to traumatic or catastrophic events in their lives? There are many ways to react but one of the most common is the attempt to “remake oneself.” This can take the form of a complete change in values or lifestyle in an effort to make a complete break with the past and all of its associations. Sometimes the “new” person is difficult to recognize.

If we could see through God's eyes

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Jan. 17 (Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 96; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; John 2:1-12)

We are all familiar with the cliché “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Cliché or not, most clichés bear an important truth. In this case we are warned about making judgments — either positive or negative — based on external appearances and popular values.

Called to participate in what's humanly possible

Are New Year’s resolutions still popular? Probably: gyms tend to be flooded with new members in January. Sometimes we make resolutions knowing we won’t be perfect, but committing to the walk anyway.

Several decades ago, the Catholic Church resolved to work towards full communion with other Christian communities. At times, we’re unaware of the pain of non-communion; when we do feel it, it can be powerful.