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.

God works ceaselessly on our behalf

Second Sunday of Advent (Year B) Dec. 7 (Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11; Psalm 85; 2 Peter 3:8-14; Mark 1:1-8)

It is difficult to speak to broken hearts and spirits. Affliction, disaster and pain often take their toll, leaving victims so dispirited that it is difficult even to imagine a future let alone prepare for one.

Who wins at Christmas?

In far-away Turkey, in a certain village, two different images of a gift-giver had a kind of cage-match, and one of them won mightily. 

In Demre, near the ancient city of Myra, a bronze statue was donated and set up in the town square. It was a likeness of an ancient bishop, a man of compassion and wisdom. The bishop was St. Nicholas, because Myra was his see in the fourth century, when he is thought to have lived. He stood on top of the world, this lover of the poor, his feet mounted on a globe. Recently, he was taken from this prominent place and put in a back courtyard. Atop a pedestal, in his place, was put a jolly red Santa statue. Apparently the change was made because Santa is more popular and better-known than St Nicholas, his forerunner.

We must weather the storm in God's 'absence'

First Sunday of Advent (Year B) Nov. 30 (Isaiah 63:16-17; 64:1, 3-8; Psalm 80; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37)

Where is God? Is God angry with us? These are anguished questions that people have always asked. In our own time the first question seems to have even greater importance and it is often joined with doubt that God even exists.

True religion is caring for others

Christ the King (Year A) Nov. 23 (Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17; Psalm 23; 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28; Matthew 25:31-46)

God’s disappointment and anger are evident when we read chapter 34 in its entirety. Those appointed as shepherds of the people have shown a shocking lack of concern for their welfare. Instead of tending to the needs of the people they used their positions to enrich themselves and increase their power.